Beauty: 84 posts

Scented products other than perfume: candles, creams, incense, oils, soap and much more. I also include skincare tips, favorite makeup discoveries, DIY ideas and beauty rituals incorporating scents.

My Name is Red : Chanel Rouge Allure Ink and Guerlain Nahema

“I’m so fortunate to be red! I’m fiery. I’m strong. I know men take notice of me and that I cannot be resisted… Wherever I’m spread, I see eyes shine, passions increase, eyebrows rise and heartbeats quicken. Behold how wonderful it is to live! Behold how wonderful to see. I am everywhere. Life begins with and returns to me.” Orhan Pamuk’s description of my favorite color in My Name is Red has stayed with me ever since I first read the book, and I often think of it whenever I see another red that draws my attention–fabric, autumnal leaves, lipstick, the lacquer of Japanese bowls or perfume. Yes, perfume can also be red.

The impression of red in fragrance is subjective the way synesthesia tends to be, but Guerlain Nahema is a perfume that makes me feel as if I’m enveloped in layers of crimson silk. The effect comes from the combination of rose essence and the damascones, aroma-materials with the aroma of rose jam and stewed apples. This accord alone has a lipstick red hue, but paradoxically it comes across as even more saturated against the background of green citrus and hyacinth. Reds often stand out best against contrasting colors, and this is the case with Nahema.

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Vetiver Mist

Forest Essentials is an Indian beauty brand inspired by Ayurvedic treatments. It has a collection of skincare, creams, lotions, soaps, body mists and perfumes. I can’t comment on the Ayurvedic authenticity of its formulations, but the scents–jasmine, sandalwood and rose, turmeric, vetiver, narcissus–are beautiful. I like that they are based on the Indian perfume palette, and using these products is one of those small pleasures that make a day better.

One of my favorites from Forest Essentials is its simplest–Vetiver Spring Water, which is a vetiver hydrosol. It can be used as a facial toner, body mist or even a middle-of-the-day, pick-me-up spritz. Vetiver is soothing for the skin, and while it can be used on all skin types, it’s especially beneficial for oily skin. It’s also known for its regenerative properties, which is why vetiver extracts are often used in formulations designed to treat scars and acne.

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On the Japanese Incense Trail with a Paris Detour

I’m sitting in front of smoldering joss sticks trying to determine whether they smell of the milky sweetness of sandalwood or the raspy sharpness of cedar. A young woman with a glossy black bob lights one stick after another, blowing each out with a gentle wave of her hand. I’m unused to kneeling for so long, and I feel the crunch of tatami mats through my thin wool trousers. The back of my head throbs slightly from jet lag, and I am being overwhelmed by the size of Tokyo and the strain of trying to remember Japanese covered by layers of other languages I’ve learned since my university days. I also feel anxious that I may not be able to guess the scents correctly, but then I remember my perfumery teacher’s words “don’t think, just smell,” and I let myself go.

I’m inside a Shoyeido incense store hidden in the elegant Aoyama district of Tokyo. Nearby are the glittering avenues of Harajuku, lined with fashion boutiques and populated by some of the most stylish people on the planet, but inside the earth toned store, there is only serenity and incense.

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The Art of Scented Candles

When my mother travels, she packs with her a votive candle in her favorite scent, rose, violet or mimosa. A familiar scent makes even the blandest hotel room feel cozier and brighter. I started following her example some years ago. Should one want to select from the range of excellent scented candles, the choice these days is overwhelming. So, in my new FT column, The Art of Candles, I’ve selected my current favorites.

Here is one, for instance.

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Antioxidants in Skincare – The Ordinary EUK 134

Ethylbisiminomethylguaiacol Manganese Chloride is not a name that rolls easily off the tongue, but it’s touted as a powerful antioxidant and a new miracle skincare ingredient. Granted, so far the studies have been sponsored mostly by Estée Lauder, but since The Ordinary, a company it invests in, offers ethylbisiminomethylguaiacol manganese chloride, also known as EUK-134, I decided to try it.

The Ordinary EUK-134 is available as a 0.1% dilution, a transparent brown colored gel. It’s meant to be applied in the evening on clean skin. It absorbs slowly, leaving a tacky finish, and despite the color, it doesn’t stain. It didn’t make my skin react in any way–no redness, itching or spots. I’ve used it for almost two months with hardly any changes to my skincare. During the day I’ve been using The Ordinary Buffet, followed by a simple pharmacy moisturizer and a sunscreen, and in the evening, after washing my skin, I’ve been applying a thin layer of EUK-134. My skin is normal-combination, so I don’t need anything else to follow the serum.

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From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Old Herbaceous in Recommend Me a Perfume : October 2020: I’m currently enjoying Hermes’ L’Ambre des Merveilles, a gentle, warm amber with vanilla but not sweet. I like Adam Levine for Women in cooler weather, and SJP Stash, for two… October 27, 2020 at 8:25pm

  • Julia in Recommend Me a Perfume : October 2020: Thank you for your kind suggestion! I don’t really like fragrances with oud that much. I have tried many but it just doesn’t work with me, in my personal taste.… October 27, 2020 at 7:21pm

  • Julia in Recommend Me a Perfume : October 2020: Wow Patricia, sounds really like something I could easily pull off. It’s just a pity this brand is not easily found in Italy, where I’m based. October 27, 2020 at 7:15pm

  • Julia in Recommend Me a Perfume : October 2020: Hi Hilde, sounds like I should try them all! I have never tried the above mentioned fragrances. However, Eau de Soir is in my bucket list! October 27, 2020 at 7:12pm

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