We Need To Talk About Perfume

Fragrance is a peculiarly emotional thing for me. I weirdly feel like my identity is tied up in the fragrance I wear, so I can’t just choose something that “smells good.” I have to choose one that feels as if it fits both my personality as I am and the kind of person I fantasize myself to be- mysterious, layered, not consuming jalapeño Cheetos late at night at age thirty-two.

But finding a fragrance that both fills me with a feeling of  wonder and relatability, of “beyondness” and a sense of grounding, of myself and very much not myself, is difficult. Identifying a smell that is both aspirational and cozy – two words that I often need to feel  if I am to love it – is a challenge. And what makes things more complicated is after finishing a particularly excellent scent, I’m not interested in just purchasing the same one over again. I want to find something new. There are too many options out there in fragrance, and there’s always something unexpected emerging. The right, new fragrance can seem to open up an unexplored cavern in your imagination, a possibility or way of sensing the world previously unknown to you. And once that perfect, unexpected combination of notes hits your olfactory system, you’re addicted.

So the problem for me arises during the turning of fall and spring, when the latest fragrances make their debut. I have an itch for something new! This August, there are a couple in particular that have grabbed my attention: Lancome Idolê, Yvés Saint Laurent Libre, and Azzaro Wanted Girl.

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Idolê is beautiful, with a lightly sweet and very feminine air to it. It smells like optimism! But for how wearable it is, I can’t quite identify with it. I love the ambassador for Idolê – Zendaya – but I can’t quite relate with her in an intimate, fragrance-type way because of 1. her age and 2. her HBO show, Euphoria. I’ve not heard great things content-wise, other than what I’ve heard about the makeup. It’s funny how much the face of a fragrance will affect me. It’s the same as when I smell Dolce & Gabbana The Only One and love it, but can’t quite pull the trigger on the purchase because its ambassador is Emilia Clarke, and I can’t identify with her most known work in Game of Thrones. While smelling Idolê, I asked the lady at the Lancôme counter if she thought the fragrance was too young for me (she insisted not), mostly because I wonder if Zendaya is too young for me? Who knows. And the bottle is gorgeous, but it does evoke the feeling of a phone in your hand. You can definitely tell what generation they’re targeting.

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I have a different issue when experiencing Yvés Saint Laurent Libre. The bottle itself is stunning, a true work of art that anyone would love to display on their counter with its over-the-top glamour. The fragrance itself is sophisticated and luxurious. It smells like wealth, like something a Bond Girl would wear. However, Libre is a little too much on the aspirational side for my taste. I think I’d feel like a fraud if I wore it regularly. There’s certainly a depth and mystery to Libre, but it’s missing the approachability I need to feel comfortable wearing it every day. It feels more meant for a night out at Marché Moderne and less for work days at churches and schools where I often find myself.

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Azzaro Wanted Girl is the sweetest, most easily likable of the three fragrances. It’s juicy and warm (dulce de leche!), with a coziness that I always crave in perfume. However, I feel like I’ve done this fragrance before when I wore Lancôme La Vie est Belle for three years. I loved the warmth and tranquility that perfume brought to my mind – I’d wear it again, even with the obnoxiously sparkly commercials with very shiny Julia Roberts teeth – but buying a new fragrance with a similar feel doesn’t sit right. While I often have an urge to repeat fragrance purchases, the call of the undiscovered is too strong for me.

And so, what do I wear this fall? What will feel new, but what will also feel like me? What will smell sophisticated, but somehow friendly too? Well, this go-round I’ve managed to do something I’ve never done before- I’ve purchased a fragrance sight unseen, or moreover, smell unsmelled. Yes, I’ve made an online purchase that I’ve not sampled or smelled before. How on EARTH, in my world of extreme preparedness, did this manage to happen?

A Google rabbit trail lead me to discover Jeremy Fragrance, an award-winning German YouTuber who thrives on reviewing fragrances of all kinds. I’m sure I’m late to the party but WOW- the content is GOOD, y’all. You wouldn’t imagine a YouTube channel about fragrance to be particularly intriguing – I mean you can’t exactly “participate” – but somehow Jeremy takes you there. His uber- classy German accent, combined with an impeccably tailored wardrobe and perfectly-rolled R’s, make for the greatest listening experience next to hearing Mary Berry praise a lovely bake. Seriously, listen to him say “Carolina Herrera.” It’s unreal.

So upon discovering his channel several days ago, I watched Jeremy’s video ago titled “Top 10 Most Seductive Perfumes for Women Romantic Date Night Fragrances 2019”. Bit of an awkward mouthful there but hey, I was curious. I listened to him describe a range of scents – all veering on the sweeter side – that he perceived as sexy and seductive. Now, I’m pretty sure no matter what fragrance I’m wearing, I’ll still cross my eyes too much in conversation and emanate more Liz Lemon vibes than Kate Beckinsale vibes, but anyone can agree they’d still like to smell like Kate Beckinsale even if they can’t look like her. And so, I chose to take maybe the biggest gamble of my life and purchase the number-one fragrance on Jeremy’s list without smelling it first (because it’s literally sold nowhere so I had no way to smell without buying): Hugo Boss The Scent Private Accord. Apparently it makes Jeremy want to “smash [his] head into a wall.” I mean that’s a little violent but ok! I had never heard of it but as the youths say …….. “Yolo.”  I am all about a good recommendation and this one was so off-the-wall confident that I thought, you know what, this is what I’ll buy.

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The (um gorgeous?!) bottle arrived just less than an hour ago on my doorstep. And yes, the scent is good. Very good. I have to give it a bit to feel like me, but wow- I am excited about this. The description provides the following: “Addictive Cocoa Absolute pulses at the heart of BOSS THE SCENT PRIVATE ACCORD For Her. The freshness of Sweet Mandarin and captivating Osmanthus contrast with warm Tonka, for an irresistible Eau de Parfum that seduces the senses.” I can confirm it is indeed like a mandarin orange dipped in chocolate. Aspirational? Yes, decently. Approachable? Definitely, maybe too much. Sweet? Yes. Mysterious? My guess is yes. But suited for me? We’ll have to wait and see.

What are you wearing this fall? I want to know! xo, MR

 

 

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Some things and some stuff.

This post is going to be about exactly what the title says:  some things and some stuff.

I couldn’t think of some fancy, well-scripted intro where I blather on about the latest this and that without it simply sounding too contrived.  And so, to quote some nonexistent animated persons that I respect and admire deeply, I’m going to write about some things … and some stuff.

1.  I had Justin put some highlights back into my hair.  They’re subtle, ombre’d bits of caramel that provide just enough color to make me feel like summer is just around the corner.  I plan on going progressively lighter, but this was enough for now.  With my single-process hair color, I felt very one-dimensional (duh.) and I just didn’t have as much fun with my hair as I did when it had some lightness to it.  And so, it is with a heavy heart that I admit the possibility that a leeeeeeeeeeetle bit of blonde may help you have a leeeeeeeeetle bit more fun.  But hold your hosses thar!  I didn’t straight-up say that blondes unilaterally have more fun than brunettes.  Why, that would be plumb silly!  But I do believe that I am more satisfied with my hair when it’s provided with some colorful dimension, if only to use my hair as a metaphor for my life and provide the illustration that sometimes we need a little warmth and sunshine to shake us up out of the drab monotony of everyday existence.  This all sounds much better when you say it in the voice of Kenneth Parcell from 30 Rock.

Here is my hair as it was this spring, as colored and cut by Justin Kamm and as styled and photographed by Laura Licata:

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I have to say, it was raining that afternoon.  How Laura managed to keep my hair from turning into this, I’ll never know.

And this is the best picture I have of my new highlights, as well as, ahem, my awesome nephew:

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2.  I graduated with my Master’s degree last Saturday, and received some gifts for doing so (and some may have been for my birthday as well, which was celebrated here).  Some of those gifts included Sephora giftcards, which burn bigger holes in my pockets than lit matches.  Seriously, I don’t know what it is but I will save gifts of cash and any other such cards for weeks or even months, but you designate a mere twenty bucks for me to spend at that magical house of facepaint and I just go cuhhhh-raaayyy-ZAY!  There may not be a thing I need, but I will haul my butt down to the nearest Sephora and just stand in front of the NARS counter for a solid fifteen minutes, looking like a freak, without a single expression on my face, doing absolutely nothing.  I just stare.  And touch EVERYTHING.  I’ll bring my own brushes and by the time I leave that place, it looks like Jackson Pollock came back from the dead and decided he just wanted to do a quick masterpiece on someone’s wrist.  I’m convinced that dead artists would have a thing for me.

3.  If I could look like this as a redhead, that would be an okay thing.

4.  This is what I came back with from my most recent Sephora trip.

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Well, the one on the left I’ve actually had for a couple months, but the one on the right is brand spankin’ new.  I haven’t so much as smudged it with a finger.  It’s called Stylish Move, and I look forward to using the bottom right and top left shades for bridal makeup.  But really, this one was kind of more for me.  Dior 5-Couleur palettes are the holy grail of eyeshadows, and while they are quite expensive (I’ll never purchase one without some kind of gift card), they blend so well, coordinate so perfectly, are almost always universally flattering, and I make long-lasting use of them.  I’m breaking this sucker in tonight, so I’ll have to let you know how it goes (though hopefully not via an obnoxious Instagram selfie, but I have a bad feeling …). Honestly, if you’re not too sure about what eyeshadows are right for you but hate wasting time on a bunch of individual shades (that add up in cost anyhow and can be difficult to store and keep track of), I’d recommend looking into just one of these palettes and letting it be your one-step solution to your whole problem problem.  Might I suggest Rosy Tan or Earth Reflection?

5.  I smell bad and get sweaty.  Sometimes.  Maybe.  If so, it’s because I don’t wear antiperspirant.  And I haven’t done so in years.  Why?  Because what makes antiperspirant do its thing is something called aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex, a substance linked to early-onset Alzheimer’s as well as breast cancer.  Weird.  And we shave our armpits and layer on the stuff every day.  Weirder.  And our armpits are suspiciously situated quite near our breasts.  Weirdest.   So here’s the thing:  I use deodorant, but I don’t use antiperspirant (and no, there are no “natural” or “safe” kinds of antipersp; the aluminum ingredient is always the active one in antipersp).

For a couple years I used Tom’s of Maine’s Natural Unscented Deodorant Stick and my body adjusted well.  However, a couple months ago, my armpits started experiencing a burning and itching sensation that left my armpits peeling in a big ring and looking as if they’d been out in the sun with no protection.  At first I thought it was razor burn or something, but then I realized that the sensation was returning just minutes after applying the Tom’s.  And to my surprise, I found that many users had experienced the exact same symptoms after years of using Tom’s (Bless you, Internet only sometimes because mostly I hate you!).  Why all this burning and itching only started occurring after years of use, I’ll never know.

Anyhow, I discovered that Tom’s, while being free of aluminum and not an antiperspirant, still contains a chemical called propylene glycol.  PG, as we’ll call it, is meant to keep many body products from either melting or freezing, but it unfortunately also “alters the structure of the skin by allowing chemicals to penetrate deep beneath it while increasing their ability to reach the blood stream”.  Additionally, PG has also been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive issues, allergy developments, and other bodily issues (as is the case with many substances in our body products).

So what do I use?

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Desert Essence strikes again!  This brand is seriously so awesome.  My face and now my pits owe so much to it.  You can find Desert Essence’s deodorant at Sprout’s, Whole Foods, or any of your local hippie-dippie hotbeds, and it has no aluminum (and just realize if the product does not say it is an antiperspirant, it doesn’t have aluminum anyhow) nor any propylene glycol.  Excellent.

And now the inevitable question:  But don’t you have B.O.?

Yes.  Not all the time, and not every day, but sometimes, yes.  And do I care?  No.  Let me throw this out there:  Your body, as it naturally functions, is supposed to sweat.  It’s one of the processes that your body uses to eliminate toxins from your body.  Your skin operates like a third kidney, sweating out urea, metals, and minerals.  You get rid of about 30% of bodily wastes through sweating, with the other methods being pooping, peeing, and other glamorous things we talk about on beauty blogs where Kate Beckinsale and perfume are also talked about regularly.  I just said “poop” and “Kate Beckinsale” in the same sentence.

So anyhow, I’m honestly okay with sweating a bit through the day.  It’s literally meant to be.  And I’ll be straight with you- If I’m planning on wearing a delicate fabric or know that I’m going to have an anxious morning (interviews, standing up to rebelling freshmen in their math class, etc.), I do wear the clinical strength antiperspirant.  And I mean, like, the 25% aluminum kind (because if I’m going to wear the stuff, I’m going whole-sweaty-hog).  But I try to severely limit these occurrences.  And I’m trying to bulk up around the freshmen.

Anyhow, that’s my blabbering about some things and some stuff for now.  Until next time, stay sweaty, shop Dior, get your highlights on, and stay poopy Kate Beckinsale!

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xo, MR

And thanks to thegoodhuman.com for the smarts on PG.

My eyelids look exactly like Kate’s eyelids.

Ever see red carpet makeup, or makeup in a movie, or makeup on a magazine cover and you think, “Hmm, I’ll bet I could do that”? And do you ever get even more excited when you’re able to find out what products were used on the look? That’s like striking gold for me. A lot of times websites or magazines will simply suggest items that they claim will “recreate” the look, but they won’t list the exact products. This always left me feeling a little cheated. I mean, come on! If it’s good enough for fill–in-the-blank-celebrity-name, it’s good enough for me … right? So anyhow, when I’m able to dig up the exact products used for whatever look it is that I’m loving, I know I’m that much closer to really looking like Jennifer Aniston. Uh huh.

Just kidding. I don’t really want to look like Jennifer Aniston.

But I did find myself quite enamored with this beautiful shot of Kate Beckinsale as the August cover girl of Allure magazine. She’s been on the cover for this magazine more than a couple times, but hey, why not?

Allure always features a page in every issue that gives the details on their cover shoot, including the makeup that was used. Now, to be honest, I’m still not sure if the products referenced are the real goods used for the shoot. They may still have me fooled after almost ten years of reading this magazine (yes, ten). But I decided to make a run down to my drugstore and try out the eyeshadow they referenced because it looked easy, gorgeous and it was cheap. And I try not to buy drugstore makeup too frequently, however tempting it may be. The suspect- L’Oreal 24HR. Infallible eyeshadow in “Bottomless Java”.

We’ve all got a million brown eyeshadows (especially if you have brown eyes like me), but I’d really recommend this one for your “best bargain” category no matter what eye color you’ve got. The color is incredibly rich without too much fall-out, it builds well, and is highly pigmented. While it’s decidedly neutral (I mean, it is brown), a couple layers of the stuff make for quite the smoky eye.

While I don’t quite look like Kate Beckinsale post-shadow application, I’d say it’s a pretty good match to the shade observed on her cover look. Hopefully this means Allure really is giving their most accurate information and we can all have Kate’s eyelids together. xo, MR