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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Spring Blahs: What’s exciting, what’s frustrating, and what Ben Affleck did for my beauty routine.

It’s been a while since I posted last- over two weeks!  It’s hard to write about something like beauty and hair and the latest trends when you’re not feeling particularly inspired, and I haven’t been so much lately.  I’ve been dealing with a lot of what we’ll just call blah these days, and that’s okay.  Beauty and fashion are constant and probably won’t ever really “go away” so to speak, but sometimes I peek into the lives of people in these industries and it’s like they try to rely on these things to keep calm, stay happy and escape from the reality that life deals them … and that’s called self-medicating.  I don’t want to fall into that cycle, and so I’ve been allowing myself to accept the fact that there are times when I will feel “meh” about hairstyles, colored eyeliner, and CC creams.  There will be times when the things I typically enjoy won’t bring me joy, and that’s okay.  It’s a season, and the joy will come back.

This doesn’t mean, however, that I cannot practice joy in makeup, beauty, and hair.  I still see the goodness in identifying something that I really, really like and expressing how much I like it, even if it feels functional and not as interesting as other times.  And so here, in the midst of blah, I’m listing what I’m currently excited about (or perhaps what I’m not excited about) in beauty.

1.  Early one morning before taking off for teaching, I attempted to do this seemingly easy slicked-back hairstyle.  I thought I had the right product for it, and I had planned to wash my hair that afternoon so it seemed like a good chance to use plenty of gel.  I ended up looking more like a wet Pekingese than anything, or like a cow got really friendly with me and decided to lick me and just not stop until the cow’s tongue turned to sand.  I’ll try it again later when I’m not planning on standing in front of teenagers all day, susceptible to their scathing criticism and underappreciation for the avant-garde in the classroom.  Such peasants, they are.

2.  I’m excited for these.

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Every year, InStyle comes out with an issue that’s just about hair (awesome) and People StyleWatch‘s May issue always features a big beauty section covering skin, makeup, hair, and the works (awesome).  InStyle‘s main edition also features a “Best Beauty Buys” section in it’s May issue (more awesome).  I think I just like pouring over up-close shots of celebrities with inspiring hairstyles and makeup shown in hi-def, and issues like these are loaded with them.  I swear my hair gets healthier and prettier during the week after reading a new magazine like this.  I also swear that the longer you stare at a picture of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s hair, the more likely you are to grab a curling rod and get to work on your own.  It’s this thing I call “envy”.

3.  I got through my whole bottle of Lancome’s La Vie Est Belle!  It’s a miracle, I tell you!  I never get through a whole bottle of perfume in just one season (because I frequently forget to put it on, in the first place), and I am so proud of myself for finally doing it.  I can officially call that my Fall/Winter 2012/2013 scent and I can now move on to bona fide summer fragrances, like my beloved D&G 3 L’Imperatrice, so I can smell like an unmistakably rich juicebox.

4.  I acquired the supposed shade of lipstick that was used on Jessica Alba in my post here (Avon’s Totally Kissable Lipstick in Lovey Dovey Pink, as my reputable resources tell me), but I proceeded to find that the shade was in fact a frosty pink that had me feeling more like this than anything.  I’ll be needing to do a little more research on that shade of Jessica’s.  I’m not convinced.

5.  I’m not at Coachella looking so impressed with myself that my eyes are rolled into the back of my head.

6.  But I WAS impressed enough with myself AND my hair one night to shamelessly Instagram this selfie.

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But come on, cut me some slack.  My hair was behaving like a voluptuous attention hog, I’d had an extra twenty minutes that evening to do a perfect smoky eye, and my bathroom lighting can get weird to the point where you can leave some photos unfiltered and they’ll still have a nice, flaw-concealing sheen to them.  And lest you believe this is a common occurrence, here I am, as I exist, right now:

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No filter, IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING.  Now if you’d excuse me, IMG Models is calling and I’m replacing Miranda Kerr in the Victoria’s Secret Angels lineup.  This is the face that will crush Gisele.

7.  I had my hair color refreshed recently, and I’ve found that since then my hair texture has slightly changed.  It dries much straighter, and each strand seems, I don’t know, perhaps a bit more wire-y or thick.  My friend said she’s seen it happen particularly with dark shades, and so I’m not really worried.  But I am prepping myself for going lighter in less than a month, I’d say.  I have relatively no layers in my hair at this point (what I’ve wanted- mission accomplished).  It’s weird though, I’ve had layers basically for the last ten years up until now.  I’ve finally grown them all out (and had them cut to one length) and now I’m now sure how I feel about it.

8.  I watched Argo the other night and proceeded to bite off all of my nails until each finger started to burn with pain.  No nail polish now for nearly a month.  Thanks, Ben Affleck.  You and your movies make a crap manicurist.

Alright, I’m done.  Time to go sleep on a satin pillowcase to keep my hair and skin smooth and to prevent split ends and breakage.  Yes, I obsess over breakage even in my sleep.  xo, MR