Friday, 29 December 2006

A nice break from slapping

Ok, I’m supposed to list the beauty products I’ve most enjoyed using over the last twelve months. I’m so the wrong person for this kind of thing: I hardly ever buy new stuff; in fact, I now buy fewer things than I used to before I joined MakeupAlley. Somehow talking about perfume all the time keeps me satiated and with no desire to ‘own’ anything much. Also, as far as make-up is concerned, I don’t get so much pleasure out of testing new products because, when you’re 58, it’s not much fun testing weird and wonderful eye shadows on crêpey eyelids (you should have seen what I wore in the ‘60s) and seeing the – usually – awful result. Still I haven’t stopped using cosmetics altogether, so here goes…
Durance Lip Balm; pic:
Lip Balm by Durance en Provence
Last year, I ended my list of favourite products by saying that I had just received a tube of lip balm that was so good that I would probably rave about it this year. I was right: it turned out to be just as emollient as my staple, Rêve de Miel Lip Balm by Nuxe, and even a little more practical since it’s in one of those applicator tubes, you know, with a slanted end pierced with a tiny hole through which the balm comes out and can be spread on to one’s lips. So no contamination of the rest of the product. It tastes of honey, which is what the Nuxe one should taste of since it’s got the word ‘honey’ in its name but which for some reason tastes of grapefruit (search me!). I love and use both equally these days. The search for the perfect lip salve is definitely over.

Cream Blusher by Estée Lauder
I’m really cheating here: I’ve used this particular blusher for the past ten years and I don’t mean I’ve bought it again and again; I mean the same one. You see, selecting and buying a blusher has never excited me (as far as I’m concerned it’s a little more fun than choosing a mascara but not much) so I was chuffed when I finally found the right one. For years I’d worn all sorts of shades, mostly recommended by silly sales assistants in department stores. Some very eccentric ones that didn’t suit me at all: I am a ‘blue/red’, yet at different periods of my life I was advised to use brick reds, browns, oranges, stupid shades like that. Also, since I’m not a pale blonde with a peaches-and-cream complexion I don’t blush in ‘pastel’ and pale pink blushers do nothing for me. After years of buying then chucking out blushers that clashed with my complexion rather than enhanced it, I read somewhere that everyone blushes more or less the same: dark blood-red. At last, something that made sense! The advice probably came from Leslie Kenton, who used to write in Harpers & Queen and who, unlike other beauty editors, had a lot of common sense. (For example, when I was still battling with oily skin, I read in her column that ‘only grease removes grease’: it was a revelation. I remembered how, when I was a child, my mother always used butter to remove the black greasy stains left on my legs by my bicycle’s chain. So I threw away all the astringents I owned and started using an oil to remove my make-up, and my skin improved immediately.) Anyway, back to the blusher quest, I looked for a burgundy-coloured blusher and found it: it was part of a limited range that was launched when the film Evita was released. It was perfect. In all those years, I’ve never had the urge to change and there’s still an awful lot left. I can’t tell you the exact name of the shade because I got rid of the original compact a while ago and it now sits in a small Muji palette. Sorry, I’m not much help here. However, there must be some other similar blushers around.

I do have another blusher, which I use lightly on my eyes, under my eyebrows. It’s Lancôme Pommette in Fuchsia. It’s also discontinued, but I know you can still get it on eBay. It was meant for cheeks and eyes and was featured in a magazine a few years ago. They said it was a scary shade (they weren’t kidding) but that once on the skin it just made it ‘glow’. How could anyone resist? I looked for it on what was at the time a very skinny Lancôme website: it was still mentioned as being available but in fact wasn’t. I was so disappointed that I wrote to Lancôme asking why it still appeared on their website. A nice woman apologized and said she would try to track it down for me. A few days later, a small package arrived: it was the blusher, and it was a gift. That was such a nice gesture! I would like to publicly thank that generous Lancôme employee, who went to extra mile to satisfy a potential customer. It doesn’t happen very often.

Tubéreuse Criminelle; pic:
Tubéreuse Criminelle by Serge Lutens
It’s so funny: the first perfume I mentioned last year in Best of 2005 was Cèdre, and this is what I wrote, ‘For me it was love at first sniff. It reconciled me with tuberose, which until then had made me gag. I was even tempted to retest Tubéreuse Criminelle, also by the Divine Serge and his acolyte Chris Sheldrake, and found I did like it after all. Cèdre doesn’t have the mentholated opening of Tubéreuse Criminelle, which is a bonus really since you get to the “nice” notes that much quicker.’ Well, I tried Tubéreuse Criminelle again and again and again and it grew on me so much that I recently bought a bottle of it – directly from the Salons du Palais-Royal (it seems I only travel to Paris in order to buy perfume: the last time, four years ago, I bought a bottle of Fleurs d’Oranger, which I have worn since and which I still love). Poor Cèdre was just a go-between, a means of connecting with tuberose; it was left behind as, in the end, I found it a little too ‘perfumey’, a little too ‘pleasant’. Tubéreuse Criminelle doesn’t make me go, ‘Aaaaah!’and fall into a rapture when I apply it, like Fleurs d’Oranger, but it intrigues and delights me nevertheless. I’m still slightly puzzled when I become aware of it on me: ‘Is this me?’ The top notes are strange and harsh; I think they smell of kerosene. That’s actually the bit I like best now.

Bourjois Lip Stain Pen; pic:
Bons Baisers de Paris Lip Stain Pen by Bourjois
I have this friend in Nice. She used to be my boss, back in 1971-73. She’s a lovely woman. She regularly sends me stuff from France (the Durance lip balm, for instance) and sometimes – very rarely – I ask her for something specific. I saw an ad for this product in a magazine and it created a ‘lemming’ – as we say in our business. LOL!, which was soon fulfilled. It’s a delightful product. I have it in Raspberry (the colour of most of my few lipsticks; the one that suits me best, I believe). It glides on the lips and creates a very natural look, with no thickness. Unlike other lip stains I’ve tried it’s very easy to apply, thanks to the felt tip, but like all other lip stains it’s quite drying so needs to be used sparingly or under a clear gloss or, in my case, a lip balm. Ta da! It sticks to the lips like a limpet, thus colouring them for hours and hours. It does remove the pleasure of reapplying lipstick, though, but, hey, you can’t have it both ways.

Frankincense Nourishing Cream; pic:
Frankincense Nourishing Cream by Neal’s Yard
For a while now I’ve been trying to avoid using products that contain nasty stuff like petrochemicals and preservatives (they’re the parabens you see mentioned in lists of ingredients): it’s better for me and it restricts my choice – there are too many products out there and I very often feel overwhelmed by their number so I like the fact that I can ignore masses of them. Therefore, after using some very high-tech Avon creams (they have the best researchers, you know; they produced one of the first and best AHA creams on the market), I went back to a moisturiser I had bought several years ago, when readers of YOU Magazine voted it ‘Best moisturiser ever’. I believed the hype and bought a jar of it. They weren’t lying: it was great then and still is. It’s for mature skins and therefore quite thick, but it goes in easily (anyway, massaging cream into the skin is enjoyable, I think) and it does the trick: it’s soothing and plumping and, as it says on the jar, nourishing. It’s Neal’s Yard’s star product and it deserves to be.

Raw Sugar Body Lotion; pic:
Crema Fluida per il Corpo con Zucchero di Canna by Angel’s Spa
This is another TK Maxx find. As I said last year, our local branch is wonderful for lovely sweaters (although this year there were only big knits and I get engoncée – look it up – in those, so I didn’t buy any), but quite hopeless for toiletries and fragrances. They have nothing for weeks and then suddenly they will have a shelf-ful of bottles of stuff you’ve never seen anywhere else before. This Rich Body Lotion with Raw Sugar (I think it sounds better in Italian, don’t you?) is good enough to drink. I don’t know why I was attracted to this one in particular – I don’t like sweet smells usually: they had other flavours, oops, scents: cinnamon, ylang-ylang, mint and something else, but I kept going back to that comforting scent of sugar. I didn’t buy it straight away – I didn’t need a body lotion, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind so in the end I caved in (I told myself it was a bargain, which it was, and it had no parabens, which it doesn’t). I mostly use it as a hand lotion, last thing at night, in the hope that it will induce sweet dreams. And it sometimes does.

That’s about it, really. Oh, hang on, there are some cute Bourjois mini make-up things sitting on a shelf over there: a tiny lip gloss that’s supposed to hang from your mobile phone (does it matter that I don’t use lip gloss and my phone is so old I can’t hang anything from it?) and some cute eye shadows. I just couldn’t resist getting them in Paris, a couple of weeks ago. They look lovely. That’s a good enough reason for having them, I think.

Enough blah blah from me, go and check out what my pals recommend. Here’s a list of who’s taking part in the fun today:

  • Afrobella
  • All About The Pretty
  • Aromascope
  • Beauty Addict
  • Beauty Blogging Junkie
  • Beauty by Nadine
  • Beautiful Makeup Search & Beauty Blog
  • Beauty Hatchery
  • Beauty Jones
  • Blogdorf Goodman
  • Bois de Jasmin
  • BonBons in the Bath
  • Brain Trapped in Girl's Body
  • Capital Hill Barbie
  • C'est Chic
  • Coquette
  • Crazy Jay Blue
  • eBeautyDaily
  • Girl's Handbook
  • Hautemommastuff
  • Koneko's *Mostly* Beauty Diary!
  • Legerdenez
  • Makeup Bag
  • Monkeyposh
  • My Muse
  • No one knows why the wolf laughs
  • Now Smell This
  • Perfume Smellin' Things
  • Peppermint Patty's Perfume Posse
  • Platinum Blonde Life
  • Product Girl
  • Scentzilla!
  • She'll Be Feverish After So Much Thinking
  • The Customer Is Always Right
  • The Daily Obsession
  • The Great She Elephant
  • The Life of a Ladybug
  • The Non-Blonde
  • Urbane Girl
  • Victoria's Own

    1. What a lovely list! I absolutely adore Tubereuse Criminelle! (And most things that Lutens does :-))
      Happy New Year!

    2. I love Bourjois and have suspected that there's more to them than what I can find in Sephora. Cedre is among my most favorites of all time, so maybe I'm ready to give tuberose a chance.

      Happy New Year!

    3. Oh wow, I NEED that Neal's Yard Frankincense lotion, like, yesterday. It screams out to me. (Lurve frankincense and hate my dry gross elbows.) I wonder if that Bourjois lippie is available in the States? Hmmmm... will have to go on mini-hunt for it. This is a great list, Bela. Very concise, but I want all those things you mentioned. The lotion goes onto the top of my birthday wishlist now (well, behind a few books I want badly, but I'm sure you know how that goes!)

    4. My mouse stopped on that Frankincense lotion and I stared at with lust for a good five minutes.
      I will get that. I have no idea how...but I need and covet that jar.
      That lip balm also sounds promising.

      A few weeks ago..I met up with my cleveland fragrance gang that consists of cavewoman, Griff, Koneko and Tussah.
      Tussah brought a sample of TC. She warned me that I was in for a wild ride when I dabbed it on my wrist.
      That fragrance is a journey. I had times of horror, hate,and then extreme joy. I think that fragrance makes you realize just how magnificent SL is. It is a piece of fragrance art.

      Have a wonderful New Year J!

    5. Oooh, I want that Frankincense cream too! And want to try it regardless, but you neglected to say if it actually smells like frankincense??

    6. That lipbalm is calling out my name! Honey and Nuxe. Sold.

    7. Hello Bela!
      Oooh... I am also smitten w/ the idea of the Frankincense lotion. It sounds so very necessary!
      Bourjois looks like a very neat line! I always find myself drawn to the displays, but now I think I will have to really give it a go!
      Happy New Years!!! =)

    8. I read your lovely review of Tubéreuse Criminelle, C. I never thought I would love a tuberose scent so much, or at all, in fact.

      TNB, Bourjois is such an old brand. It's always coming up with good-quality, nicely priced, fun products. I still love Cèdre - just not quite enough to wear on a regular basis. I do 'sniff' it with great pleasure.

      Everyone needs that Frankincense cream, K. The Bourjois lip stain was a limited edition, of course, aren't they always: it wasn't on sale in Paris any longer the other day. Sorry.

      One more sale for Neal's Yard, A. LOL!

      As you say, Tubéreuse Criminelle is a ‘journey’; you have to be prepared to go with it. Then it’s so rewarding.

      Wow, R, Neal’s Yard should pay me commission. LOL! I wish I could say it smells strongly of frankincense; it doesn’t. The smell is very light, but pleasant.

      G, I have a slight obsession with honey in toiletries. You can almost ‘feel’ it doing good to your skin.

      K, that’s it, I’m writing to Neal’s Yard this instant to ask to be hired as their PR person. Btw, it's meant for the face, although I'm sure it would work on elbows too (a bit expensive for that purpose, maybe).

      Do give Bourjois a try: for years they had the best blusher (Cendre de Rose) and they carry on being innovative.

      Happy New Year to you all!

    9. Am a hopeless perfume junkie, but am a beauty products minimalist to the core. Read your post yesterday. Went on to read other "best of" blog posts. But that Durance lip balm and the Bourjois lip stain continued to haunt my thoughts. Broke down and ordered them just now. Those are the very first beauty products I have ever actually ordered.
      Hope you have a wonderful new year which requires only a minimal number of personal slaps. :-)

    10. fantastic list, Bela! i'll have to check out the ingredients of the frankincense cream. ;)

      happy horrodays!

    11. Love your list...Will seek out the Tuberesue...sounds interesting! Thanks!

    12. Oh my you have created a stir with that Frankincense Cream! I want to try it too, as I'm umm ... in your age group. :O) I'm on a quest to find the right one at present.

      I will look for the lip stain too, I love stain as I tend to eat/lick? off all my lipstick in under 1/2 hour usually. Although sometime the stain clings to the outer edges and looks like badly applied lip liner. Geesh maybe I should just spring for the lip tatoo job. Anyway, great list, I've taken diligent notes! Happy New Year! - Victoria

    13. Hi, J! Like everyone else, I'm stuck on the thought of a really good moisturizer that smells like frankincense...mmm! The Bourjois lip stain is available here at Ulta - they actually carry quite a nice selection of Bourjois, for all of us American gals - I had it in my hand the last time I was there, but chickened out. I will definitely pick one up next time! Thanks for a lovely list.

    14. Happy New Year! May all your moisturizers and lip stains be lovely. I'm far too lazy for that type of thing. It's not that I'm not vain. Because I am.

      So, of course, I have "permanent" eyebrows, translation: they're tattoos. I had an eyelift 4 years ago, and all the lines around my mouth are GONE thanks to my plastic surgeon. You know, I think it was all cheaper than all these beauty products.

    15. I love learning about new brands, and you just introduced me to a bunch. I can't wait to try them!

    16. I love your list. You always have the best tips. I am definitely going to search several of these out. I should google Neal's Yard. I thought they made wonderful cheese that I could find at a Paris restaurant called The Rose Bakery, no? If they make both cheese and the best moisturizer ever I bow down to them. I need to try Cedre. I know about the euphoria you describe with F d'O and I also love Tub. Crim. (I like to abbreviate that cuz it sounds like a class in law school). Happy New Year!!

    17. Oh, E, forgot to add a disclaimer. Hope you won't be cross with me if those products don't work for you. Ouch, ouch! I hope they do. Do let me know what you think of them.:-)

      Thanks so much for the good wishes: no 'personal' slaps would be great.

      Happy New Year, R! Thanks for stopping by.

      Thanks, G! Hope the TC is to your liking. :-)

      I believe that sometimes less is more, V. Skin gets more sensitive as one ages: I used to be able to use fairly strong AHA and retinol creams but not any longer. I had a massive reaction to one product and gave up on them.

      Yes, lip stains can be a bit of a problem. I wonder if The Body Shop still do their waxy lip liner: it stopped lipstick from bleeding. I've been using the Guerlain one (see last year's recs.). It does the trick beautifully. I sometimes use the lip stain as a lining - under ordinary lipstick: it remains when the lipstick has vanished. Happy New Year to you too!

      D, that cream doesn't really smell of frankincense. I wouldn't want you to be too disappointed. They've used frankincense EO because it's supposed to be a good moisturiser.

      Do give the lip stain a try (if you can get a shade that suits you: the range is tiny). It won't break the bank and might be a nice surprise.

      Happy New Year, TLP! I'm sure you look absolutely wonderful (I know you do: I've seen pics), but no one comes anywhere near my eyes with a scalpel unless it's a question of life and death (which it was the last time someone did). No way! LOL! And my cosmetics/toiletries budget is minuscule.

      Thanks for visiting, BC. :-)

      CS, Neal's Yard is a great company: they make scrumptious cheese and delicious beauty products. If I lived near their dairy shop in Covent Garden I would be broke.

      Tub. Crim.! I won't be able to call it anything else now. LOL! Happy New Year!

    18. Happy 2007! I hope that it will bring lots of good fortune and happiness for you and your family.

      I love your your list. Your passage about blushers (and oil cleansers) is great. I finally gave up my rainbow array of blushers and stuck to a burgundy one that I can blend to look like real flush. Moreover, I cannot live without my DHC Cleansing Oil. It completely cured my skin problems. Now, I am intrigued by your EL blusher. :)

    19. I have the very same lip stain pen and I love it. Happy New Year!

    20. Lovely list dear Bela-

      I love Tubereuse Criminelle too. So unique and haunting.

      Have a beautiful New Year!

    21. Thank you so much, V! The same to you! :-)

      Isn’t it funny how some facts are still not widely known? Most beauty editors repeat the same rubbish over and over again.

      I’m so glad you like the lip stain pen too, C. Happy New Year to you too! :-)

      Thanks, P! Happy New Year!