summer bodycare favorites

On July 23, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

Sunscreen, moisturizers, body oils, body scrub…here are a few of the body products I’ve been enjoying so far this summer.

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Banana Boat Sport sunscreen — I’m not that fussy about which sunscreen I use on my body, I mostly want an old-school sunscreen smell (I really enjoy that smell when it is authentic, in the context of sunscreen), and happily turn to brands like Banana Boat and Coppertone.  For a great explanation of the various types of and methods for rating/categorizing sunscreen, and what that means for you, check out this video, which I found educational. Facialist Caroline Hirons interviews plastic/reconstructive surgeon Marko Lens, the brains behind the Zelens skincare line, who has an excellent Italian accent.

Elemis Frangipani Monoi body oil — Smells awesome. Frangipani (or plumeria) is a tropical flower with a lush, peachy, creamy scent that reminds me of some lilies, but more fruity. Monoi is a term for coconut oil that has been infused with the tiaré flower, or Tahitian gardenia (which smells a lot like frangipani). Great for (easiest to get out of the bottle in) summer because coconut oil is solid below 76°.  The fragrance is nicely balanced and I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts but won’t repurchase. I will instead go for

Monoi Tiare Tahiti Monoi Tiiki Tahiti Coconut Oil — Same idea as above (sans frangipani) but much less expensive. The scent is stronger here, and a bit less complex (fewer ingredients), but also lovely. I find that it dies down pretty quickly, anyway, so don’t be afraid of how it smells out of the bottle. This brand also has a vanilla version, with a vanilla bean in the bottle, and it smells like frosting in a really authentic and delicious way (not in a synthetic, gross way). A bit too sweet for me but I know there’s an audience out there for it.

The Body Shop Olive Cream Body Scrub — I exfoliate year-round but with particular care in the summer. This smells great, bright and herbal. I wouldn’t mind if it were a bit scrubbier…but it works. I use a body brush beforehand, and sometimes an exfoliating glove along with the scrub, so there’s no shortage of friction. I like a number of salt and sugar scrubs as well, and am not too particular about the specific product slotted in here.

Weleda Citrus Deodorant — The active ingredient here is biodynamic (good for you, Weleda!) lemon peel oil but to me this smells like lime water with a little something else in it, which means it smells like a gin and tonic. Mojito, gin and tonic – why not smell like your favorite summer tipple? I don’t use this under my arms, typically, more as a refreshing body spray (all natural ingredients here, and no antiperspirant function) on the parts of my body most likely to overheat, or the parts that have already overheated. This bottle will last a while but I’m interested to try the rose one next.

Trader Joe’s Coconut Body Butter —  Coconut oil and shea butter whipped into a rich, luxurious cream. I like using straight coconut oil, too, or one of my options above, but this sinks in quickly and leaves skin moisturized for a good while. Such a good use of $5 or whatever it is. This smells like coconut frosting, so you’ll need to be OK with that. Not too sweet for me, though.

Nuxe Huile Prodigeuse — Having a dry oil to hand is really useful. So quick to apply and you don’t have to worry about getting oil stains on your clothing. This oil smells particularly lovely, a slightly old-fashioned (rather, currently out of fashion, but no less beautiful for that) floral bouquet that reminds me of classic French perfumers working directly from floral extracts (say, Houbigant, and others from Grasse). This floral is complex, restrained, elegant. It can easily be worn in lieu of perfume or, as I often do, layered under perfume to add longevity and interest. This one is a bit of a cult favorite, and there’s also a version with shimmer in.

Jergens Natural Glow Moisturizer — As I’m using sunscreen so faithfully, if I want a deeper tan (a noticeable-to-me tan) it’s got to be a fake one. Tanning is your body trying to protect you from sun damage, and also the sign that the damage is done…so a safe tan is a fake tan. I think the main complaint is that fake tanners tend to smell like biscuits, but as far as I’m concerned they smell like those awesome Speculoos ginger cookies I love, and I can’t at all see the problem. I use this just on my legs, when I think to. I don’t have streaking issues as long as I wipe off the excess with a paper towel or some such, and have exfoliated beforehand. I have the St. Tropez bronzing lotion as well, and while it is a bit nicer, the color a bit more realistic, the formula a bit more effective…it’s not so much better that I’m inspired to pay for it again and again when there are decent alternatives like the Jergens (and now many others) out there. As for ‘firming’, good grief. Don’t believe that stuff.

My face is a whole different story.

skincare: brazil nut oil

On February 21, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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Brazil nut oil smells so incredible, like cocoa butter and vanilla and roasted hazelnuts rolled into one. This one from c. Booth smells great if you like gourmand scents and smelling vaguely edible. As it is a dry oil it doesn’t linger on the skin or stain clothing (at least, I haven’t noticed it staining anything, though it does have some dye in it). This Brazilian Nut spray is discontinued, I gather (I found it randomly discounted), but they make a Tahitian Monoi one I fully intend to try after this, and a Honey Almond one that sounds good, too. The spray bottle is convenient for getting the middle of my back, and generally seems to speed things up.

I’m always using oils in the winter (all year round, really, but with especial faithfulness in the winter, and on my face as well), which is great for both conditioning and protecting the skin. I often find their effects more lasting than a standard moisturizer, and I often find them to be less expensive, too. That is, inexpensive oils condition better, to me, than inexpensive moisturizers. I apply oil immediately after showering, when the skin is still damp, and (especially in the case of sweet almond oil, another favorite, or any non-dry oil) give it a moment to be absorbed before putting clothes on*. I’ll often add a bit of a pleasant smelling oil (often a more expensive blend) to an inexpensive base oil (say, avocado, coconut, olive, or sweet almond) to luxe it up, and extend the life of the former.

*I really only run into problems with oil transferring onto my clothes when I have tried to put too much on (more than the skin can take), or am wearing light, fussy fabrics. In the latter case I am simply more careful, or will moisturize with something else.

The Body Shop also does a Brazil Nut Oil, which isn’t a dry oil but smells great, too, and I find the texture of their oils to be light and pleasant.

smell this: Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess body oil spray

On July 30, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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Estée Lauder’s Bronze Goddess fragrance has been coming up in a lot of lists of best summer fragrances*, and I am in complete agreement, particularly wrt the body oil spray (which I find richer and longer lasting than the eau fraîche skinscent). This is summer in a bottle. Imagine a nostalgic suntan lotion smell–an old school Coppertone kind of smell–then remove all of the harsh-smelling chemical elements, amp up the coconut, and add a summer flower bouquet. What you get is a creamy base of coconut and vanilla (kept from being too sweet with some subtle vetiver and sandalwood) layered with a variety of citruses, lavender, and delicate white florals: jasmine, magnolia, orange blossom**.

*This one being the best I’ve seen. I am so often in agreement with Guardian beauty columnist Sali Hughes. Her videos are great, too, extremely knowledgeable and well researched. And sensible. I like sensible people.

**You can see all the notes and more on basenotes, which is a great resource if you’re not already familiar.

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They re-release it every summer with the Bronze Goddess collection so the packaging and formula may vary slightly from one year to another. I have smelled it the last four years running, though, and it always smells great (and essentially the same) to me.

There is nothing heavy-handed about this. It is light, effortless, sunny and fantastic. The notes that really stand out on me are coconut, vanilla/amber, and jasmine, all with the lightness that indicates citrus, too, without feeling explicitly like citrus at any given moment. Be warned that it does smell rather like suntan lotion, only really luxurious suntan lotion. I like the smell of suntan lotion anyway. It may smell different on you (some report a cheap vanilla ice cream effect, try everything on your skin first), and for some it’s not interesting enough…but who cares about smelling interesting if you already smell great? I like a complex scent as much as the next perfume maven but there is something to be said for smelling, simply, good.