Beauty Without Fuss

Wednesday 31 August 2011

Aftelier Perfumes - Haute Claire

 A couple of weeks ago, my good friend (and evil perfume enabler) Nathan Branch decided to do a little perfume matchmaking because he'd decided it was time Mandy Aftel and I got acquainted.  I was delighted, as I've been following the reviews of Mandy's perfumes for months, and had spent many happy hours filling imaginary shopping baskets on her website.  Then not ordering any of the samples I had because I simply couldn't choose between them.

For those who don't know, Mandy is a self-taught perfumer, specialising in all-natural perfumes.  She has an uncompromising approach to ingredients, demanding the best, and using only those things she feels are right in every one of her fragrances.  And what fragrances they are ... Mandy sent me a box of tiny sample bottles of her fragrances a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say that I love them all, very much.

But, for me, so far, there has been one fragrance out of all that I selected (including Fig, Tango, Lumiere and Cepes & Tuberose) that stands head and shoulders above the rest and that is Haute Claire.  Put simply, I sprayed one spray and my heart was gone, there was nothing else I wanted to wear.  Which is a difficult position to be in when one is eight months into a year-long perfume project!

Conceived during Nathan's Letters to a Fellow Perfumer series whereby both Liz Zorn and Mandy Aftel came up with a fragrance using a similar theme, Haute Claire is a marriage of resinous galbanum and tropical ylang ylang, or, if you want to be reductive, a smoky-floral-green-banana (my description, not Mandy's!).  It is exceedingly difficult to describe the scent - Mr Lippie describes it as "sharp", and as the meaning of "Haute Claire" is "High and Clear", I think he's onto something there.

However, Haute Claire is also soft and rounded under the sharpness, and it is this constant interplay between a sharply resinous scent, and a rounded banana-vanilla -which doesn't actually exist, Haute Claire doesn't smell of banana at all, but there is a definite creamy note to this fragrance, chocolate-y even, but it doesn't smell of chocolate either. Not exactly. - that makes this interesting. It doesn't smell like anything else, it smells precisely of itself.  That makes no sense written down, but it makes sense from over here.  Well, in my head it does.  So there.

I've found that Aftelier Perfumes tend to whisper rather than shout, staying close to the body, but they're very longlasting overall, and Haute Claire has been no exception to this, it's office safe, but very distinctive. 

Haute Claire is a playful fragrance, it likes to play hide and seek on my skin.  When I go hunting for it, sniffing at the spots I've sprayed, I can never find it, and yet, a few seconds or minutes or even hours later, I'll get a little hint of it, seemingly out of nowhere, and it makes me smile.  Every. Single. Time.

In a nutshell, if perfume were available on prescription, Haute Claire would be Prozac.  Haute Claire costs $150 for a 30ml bottle from Aftelier Perfumes. But you can also buy a 0.25 ml sample for $6, which would be good for at least a week's worth of daily wear.

Now, if you've made it this far in the review you probably think I've gone mental - and you'd be right, but it's not because of this, I assure you - but if you're intrigued, even a little, then Mandy and I would like to offer you the opportunity to try the fragrance for yourself. If you leave a comment on this post, alongside your email address, telling me what your favourite "unusual" smell is, then you're in with a chance of winning the 5ml spray sample vial you can see pictured.  Mandy will ship the fragrance worldwide, so this giveaway is open to everyone.  Good luck!  I'll draw the winner at random, on Wednesday of next week.

The Fine Print: Samples provided by Mandy Aftel for review.  Links, as always are for informational purpose only, and are not affiliate links.

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Tuesday 30 August 2011

More Chanel Nails - Graphite, Quartz and Peridot

I am nothing if not predictable, for, after my last Chanel post, I did indeed go out and add Graphite and Quartz to my collection:

I'd initially disregarded Quartz and Graphite as not being unique enough, but, on discovering that Peridot was possibly slightly ... um ... too unique for me, I thought I'd pick them up anyway.  And I'm glad I did, because they're both very lovely.

 Graphite is a speckled grey foil, with hints of silver, grey, and green.  It's very sheer on application, but covers nicely.  Here, I used two coats, with no topcoat:

No word of a lie, this is similar to OPI's Glitzerland, but it's slightly greener, and leans more pewter than silver.  I like it a lot, but there was still a lot of visible nail line, and I could probably have done with a third coat.

I surprised myself for really falling for Quartz:

A soft pearlised taupe, with a fine silver shimmer running through it, this is really lovely:

I was delighted to see that under the right lighting conditions, Quartz has a multi-coloured micro-shimmer.  Sadly, because I am a photographic doofus, I couldn't recreate the lighting in-camera, though I kept trying:

It's not quite how it appears under the right lighting, but it's close.  Under most lights, it just appears a nice pearly taupe, not quite as grey as it appears in the bottle.

And, because I'm a completist, and I know a few of my readers are too, here's Peridot, once more (but just once):

And there you have it.  The sad, sad signs of a makeup addict ...

The Fine Print: Purchases.  Sweet, sweet, purchases.   
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Monday 29 August 2011

An Old Favourite - Chanel Rouge Noir

 Right after whipping off Peridot, I decided to go with a real classic, and painted my nails with this, Chanel Rouge Noir.  This is an old, old, bottle as I've been wearing Rouge Noir on and off since the 90's.

It's a dark, wine-red creme, a bit gothy, but I find it goes with everything, and always looks classy.

Wear is about average, I tend to get three/four days or so before chipping, if I use a sticky basecoat like Orly Bonder, and this mani was three days old when I took the pics, hence the tipwear in the next photo:

This just reminds me that I need to get much, much better at painting my nails ...mind, before I started this blog, I never used to paint them at all ...

The Fine Print - This was a purchase by me.  Possibly in another century. Or it could be a backup bottle.  I'm not sure.

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Sunday 28 August 2011

Lipstick of the Week - 28 August 2011

It's that time of the week again!  A mixed bag this time around, though you might not think so when you look at the swatches.  Here's what made my handbag this week:

Tom Ford Pure Colour - Pink Dusk 
Chanel Rouge Allure - Incognito
Chanel Rouge Coco Shine - Bel-Ami
Ilia Pure Lip Care - Arabian Knights (full review on this coming soon)
Chantecaille Lip Chic - China Rose (full review on this coming soon)
L'Oreal Studio Secrets - 460 

It's been a bit of a themed week, I wore the Tom Ford lipsticks to the launch of the Tom Ford Full Colour Range, (well, you have to, don't you?) and the Chanels have been in use with my stash of new Illusion D'Ombre eyeshadows.  The Ilia and Chantecaille both appeared in my collection this week, and I'll be talking more about them soon, and the L'Oreal was a failed attempted at my perfect nude lip shade:

 You can see the L'Oreal is far too brown for a nude shade, and the Ilia is actually a nice red stain.

And one last shot for luck:

 Just for a laugh, I added up the cost of these lipsticks.  I shouldn't have done ...

The Fine Print: I bought four of these, and was sent a couple to review.  I like lipstick.  What can I say?

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Saturday 27 August 2011

In Love - By Daniel Sandler Home

 When two of your favourite people decide to collaborate, it's a cause for celebration.  When those two people are as talented as Daniel Sandler and Jonathan Ward, it's a time for jubilation.

I have to admit, I've been (impatiently) waiting for this candle ever since Daniel and Jonathan started chatting on Twitter a few months ago, and I'm happy to say that it's definitely been worth the wait.  The first presentation from Daniel Sandler Home, In Love is an ideal introduction to scented candles!

Made to Jonathan's normal exacting standards, the candle is from his usual clean-burning soy base (100% organic) housed in a weighty crystal holder, and smells ... divine.  Ingredients include (according the the box) amber, patchouli, clove, cardamom, violet, black pepper and sheer white florals:

It's a double wicked candle (my own personal favourite kind, they're less prone to runnelling, and disperse the scents more quickly), and will have a burn time of 40 hours if treated right.  I had this burning for about four hours or so last night - handy tip, with any new candle, always burn it for a minimum of three hours (or until the entire top layer of wax is melted), it'll burn cleaner in future if you do - and today, my living room still smells wonderful.  Jonathan Ward candles always perfume a room beautifully, even when they're not lit!  Happy to see that Daniel Sandler Home continues that great tradition of wonderful craftsmanship.

The scent is a wonderful soft powdery-spice, powder from the amber and sandalwood, coupled with the spice from the cardamom and pepper. The listed florals are present, but they don't dominate, they just add a little light sparkle to the scent.  As such it's a lighter scent than you'd expect from the notes list, but it's still a delightfully heady, sensuous fragrance.  Personally, I think this is very much an evening candle, and it would also make a wonderful candle for the bedroom.   It's one I'll be saving for the cooler months, as the warm spice and powder are more suited for long dark evenings, and the scent fills the room in a very comforting fashion.  Also perfect for thundery August nights!

In Love by Daniel Sandler in collaboration with Jonathan Ward will be available on from October, and will cost £30.  Personally, I make it a habit to purchase everything that Jonathan releases, pricey though they are, I can't really help myself.  They make wonderful gifts, and everyone I know who I've introduced to the range has immediately fallen for it.  If you look closely, you can see my beloved Santissima Amalfi (an intriguing blend of tomato vines and myrrh, which is amazing),  in the background of the last picture there!  Only a limited number of In Love have been made, so make sure you snap yours up!  I look forward to seeing what both Daniel and Jonathan do next ...

The Fine Print: PR Sample.

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Friday 26 August 2011

Tom Ford Launches Full Colour Cosmetics Range - Preview

I was delighted to be invited to the recent press launch of Tom Ford's new full colour range of cosmetics. Here are the pictures I took of the day:

Initial thoughts are that it is all very wearable, the packaging is divine, and that there are a good few pieces going on my Christmas list ... as well as some great palettes, I thought there were some innovative ideas, the brow pencil looks great, I love the contouring and highlighting gel compact, and the brushes look fantastic.


All that said though, I'm disappointed that fully half of the newly expanded lipstick range are nudes, and that they've discontinued some of the best (for me!) shades. I'll be picking up a backup of Pure Pink post haste. Quality of the range overall appears to be very high, but, I will say that for the price point, I'm going to wait and see before I declare it a success or not.

I can't wait to bring you my thoughts when I've had a chance to play with some items ... 

Tom Ford Full Colour will be available from Harrods and Selfridges on September 3rd, and nationwide a month later.
The Fine Print: No samples harmed in the making of this post.

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Thursday 25 August 2011

A Gin Special with Penhaligons Juniper Sling and Sipsmith

Yay! Gin!
I like gin. There, I said it. In fact, I like it so much that the day before my birthday this year I went to a perfume launch, simply because it had a gin theme. Then, on my birthday, someone (naming no names, MrLippie) bought me tickets for a tour of a gin distillery. So, I guess today's post was kind of inevitable...

I've been wearing Penhaligon's Juniper sling on and off for a couple of months now, and the truth is that I like it a great deal - I've read it panned on another blog for not being interesting enough as a male fragrance, but my take is that as a unisex fragrance, it's actually rather wonderful. Heady with cloves, black pepper and coriander in the top notes - and of course, replete with nips of juniper, too - it's both bracing and spicy, spicy, spicy. At first, I thought this was an odd launch for September, because of the bracing quality, but, on living with it for a while, it makes sense, because what is more comforting when the evenings begin to draw in than a crisp, spicy cocktail? Further down the ingredients list are orris, brown sugar, amber and cherries, making this into a soft skin-scent in the dry down.
Gin ingredients macerating at Sipsmith
On wearing, it's quite noticeably reminiscent of a G&T for the first few seconds, an icy blast of juniper and clove, then it perceptibly warms up with the pepper and coriander, and is spicy and, oddly, comforting. I like this stage of the scent very much, but if I have a criticism (and if you've read my blog for long enough, then you'll know there's always a "but" in every review), I do find that the mid-stages don't last long enough. Ordinarily this wouldn't be too much of a problem, but I do find the dry down rather ... dull, at least compared to those extraordinarily composed, and highly reminiscent, top and mid-stages, so personally, I'd have preferred the spice to have been ramped up, and not to have bothered with the sweetish skin scent. But that's just me! Oh, and I can't get Mr Lippie to wear it for love nor money, which drives me bonkers.

Various trial gin batches at Sipsmith
Last week, I wore Juniper Sling to my tour of Sipsmith, just to get in the mood. Sam, who runs the company is an extraordinary host, and if you get a chance to pop along, then you really should make the most of it. It struck me that the process of making gin is very similar to the process of making perfume, the balancing act of the various ingredients required in the initial stages,the care and attention to detail throughout the process, all dedicated to producing a product that, whilst not a necessity, will bring a little cheer to life.

The Distillery itself is a petite and bijoux garage in Hammersmith, and it is the first all-copper distillery to be set up in London since the 1800's. I was interested to find out that Sipsmith spirits are distilled in a one-shot process, and are sold unfiltered. Always having been taught that filtering is one way to gauge the quality of a spirit (the more filtering processes it goes through, the purer the end product, is the thought process), this was quite a revelation. For Sipsmith gin (and vodka for that matter) are both exceptionally smooth, and wonderfully flavoursome. Indeed, Sipsmith vodka is probably the only spirit I've ever tried that I'm happy to drink at room temperature, and without ice. Unheard of! Discovering there's a Summer Cup (similar to Pimms, but rather more flavoursome, remarkably similar in taste to how Juniper Sling smells), and a Damson Vodka now too was a nice surprise!

So, um yeah. Gin perfume and gin, is there anything finer?

The Fine Print: Juniper sling review based on a sample received at the launch event, and Sipsmiths tour has nothing to do with anything, I just enjoyed it and wanted to share.
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Wednesday 24 August 2011

A Little Bit of Chanel ... Peridot, Illusoire, Epatant and Ebloui

So, I went a little crazy at the Chanel Counter again.  I picked up three of the Illusion D'Ombre eyeshadows, which are a remarkable texture, and, I cracked and bought the nail varnish in Peridot.  I passed over Graphite as it's dead ringer for OPI's Lost in Glitzerland, and Quartz looked too similar to Illamasqua Bacterium for comfort. That said, I'll probably be picking them up anyway ...

So, the eyeshadows I picked up were:

86 Ebloui:

84 Epatant:

And 83 Illusoire:

They're a very interesting texture, unlike the recent Armani Eyes to Kill shadows, they're a powdery mousse, rather than a powder-cream texture, but, similar to the Eyes to Kill shadows, they are very, very, very sparkly.  But, it's a more subtle gleam than the rather glittery Armani formula:

Swatches at the top are over Urban Decay Primer Potion, bottom are on bare skin.  The pots come with a synthetic brush, and you do need it to apply, as using your fingers will just result in the barest wash of un-pigmented glitter, but the brush will pick up a goodly amount of the shade too.

Here's an out-of-focus shot to show off the sparkle:

Rather pretty, I think.  Hopefully, I picked versatile shades.  There was no taupe ...

I also bought Peridot:

Which I had no intention whatsoever of buying, but, I just couldn't resist when I saw it in store.  It's very beautiful.  Alas, it's not the shade for me.  At all:

Yup, on me, it pulls yellow.  Sickly yellow, and not the beautiful scarab-beetle effect you see in the bottle there.

It's not too bad in slightly different light, but man, it gives me lobster hands!  Also, the other shade is the one I mainly get, and it's just so not me ...!  Great to apply, like most Chanel polishes, can't comment on the wear yet though.

So, what will you be picking up from Chanel this season, anything?

The Fine Print: I purchased these.  You would have seen the post sooner, but I realised that the sales assistant had given me the wrong shade of eyeshadow ...

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Tuesday 23 August 2011

On Massage with Aromatherapy Associates, L'Occitane and Liz Earle

Lippie Underground HQ - soon to be Lippie Towers, but more about that anon - has been the scene of a lot of massage lately.  For a variety of reasons, it's become a slight necessity, prime among them is the fact that for the last few months I've been suffering from a skeleto-muscular problem, which isn't quite as serious as it sounds but has been causing continuous headaches since April.  Even so, this is all way less scary - and stressful - than the brain tumour I thought it was initially.  I don't recommend worry as a beauty aid.

Anyhoo, a decent massage begins with a decent massage oil, and I've found these to be my top contenders (one isn't a massage oil at all actually, so I hope I'll be forgiven for so heinously misusing it!):

Aromatherapy Associates Enrich Massage and Body Oil.  A glorious blend of Geranium and Ylang Ylang in a blend of olive, coconut and macademia oils, this has plenty of slip, and warms delightfully in the hands to provide a nice scented massage oil, that isn't too heavily fragranced.

I've found that it leaves the skin soft, scented, and wonderfully moisturised without being at all sticky, and, for that, I love it.  One downside is that the frosted glass bottle is a little tricky to handle with oily fingers, and it has been dropped once or twice because of that, (luckily the glass is thick and heavy, so no major spillages!) so I tend to decant in order to use this.  This costs £33 for 100mls, and I'd happily purchase another bottle.

Next up is L'Occitane Lavande Body and Massage Gel, which surprised me by arriving in a large, flat, plastic tub.  For some reason, I'd been expecting a tube. But, no matter, it's already more fit for massage purpose than a heavy glass bottle, even when you consider my heebie jeebies about jarred products.  If you like the smell of lavender (and I do, very much so), then you will love this, and even if you don't, then you still might like it, for in use, this has an odd effect that that in the jar, the smell is pungent, and heady, but on the body, it's a rather light and delicate scent.

As this is a gel, I was expecting it to be sticky, and, it is stickier than the two other oil products, but not unpleasantly so, and not so much that you'll notice it really.  It still gives very good slip, and is great in use.  It can, however, be very, very, very cold straight out of the jar, so this is one that you must warm in your hands before applying it your massage victim partner.  It's a fairly reasonable £20 for 200mls too, so is the cheapest option I'll be showing you today.

And now, my controversial choice: Liz Earle Superskin ConcentrateProbably Definitely the most extravagant oil here, by far (costing £37.50 per 28ml, or £133.93 per 100ml), this has been a pleasure to use for massage.  Now, ordinarily, this is a facial oil, hence the small bottle and the whopping price comparison, and I wouldn't recommend it for this use as a rule, but, personally,  I adore the neroli/lavender/camomile scent, and it makes for a highly fragrant experience if you do use it for anything other than the recommended usage.  Also, I had a bottle handy nearby. Also surprising is that this tiny bottle (easier to handle than a big glass bottle) actually lasted through around a month of massage!  Excellent slip, and it led to pleasantly scented dreams ...

The Fine Print: PR Samples all, and gratefully received, too.  Thank you very much to all the firms who listened to my pleas for massage products.  And sincere apologies to Liz Earle for misusing her fine facial oil ... As always, the links are here for informational purposes only, and are not affilliate links.

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