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.

2014 summer fragrance picks

On July 18, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

It’s often not mentioned, as it doesn’t show up in photos, but I’m nearly always wearing some perfume or another. Or, one way or another, I smell like something in addition to smelling like myself. Something good.

Here are the fragrances I’ve been reaching for so far this summer.

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 Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine – Literally, ‘blood orange’. A gorgeous orange scent with the bitter and acidic elements elegantly balanced with a mix of bright florals. Nothing overly sweet, cloying, or synthetic about it. It smells…like sunshine. A wonderful, unusual summer citrus. Unisex.

Guerlain Vetiver – OK, so I’ve mentioned this numerous times, but this is a gold standard vetiver, and one that smells great on many people in many contexts, in every season…and especially in summer. Leans a bit masculine, but in a way that makes me appreciate it all the more on a woman.

Guerlain Homme – I got this…must be 6 years ago now? I haven’t stopped liking it one bit. Smells like a mojito that is wearing cologne. Awesome. Younger guys, I would especially like to smell this on you. [Older guys, you could be potentially devastating in the Guerlain Vetiver, give it a sniff.]

Clarins Eau Dynamisante – Lemony and herbal, very light and unassuming. I’ve reviewed this before. Perfect to spritz on post-shower, like a luxe, actually appealing body spray.

The Body Shop’s Love Etc. – Smells like grass and popcorn, what more do you want for summer? Master perfumer Dominique Ropion did the mixing, so the blend is surprising and sweet, on the girlish side in a playful, innocent way.

Bulgari Pour HommeGrapefruit of the gods. Many summer fragrance lists plug citrus but this most often means lemon. Lemon is, for me, the most difficult of the citruses, the one most often disappointing in a fragrance. The one most likely to smell like pez. Or Pledge. Enough of lemon. Give me grapefruit, orange, and lime. I don’t know that I can call this my favorite fragrance—it is too difficult, and too unnecessary to choose such a thing—but I can say that when I am wearing it, I love to be wearing it.

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Body Oil Spray – Smells like the beach, in the best way. Or like the way you wish suntan lotion smelled. No longer available in this form, evidently, but the eau fraîche skinscent is close, and also lovely, as is the body cream.  [Not pictured because I forgot, bafflingly.]

I have a few samples from the extraordinary Italian brand Profumum that I am loving, too, and will have to tell you about them as well. I got a handful to try and they are nearly all stunning for summer.

 

on the menu: pho!

On July 7, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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Pretty pleased with my first pho attempt. Used this recipe, roughly. I had with it that kind of pseudo-success that gives me the impression I can do much better next time. I am so sure of this that it is almost as if I have already done it so well as I soon will.

Of course I would like a dish that is almost wholly made up of garnish.

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on the menu: tofu pad thai

On June 6, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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I recently had one of those unfortunate cravings for which I possessed, at the time of the craving (which was powerful, which would not be denied), almost zero of the ingredients needed to satisfy that craving. I had only the fish sauce.

Very interested in Thai flavors lately, the combination of sour/bitter/sweet/salty/spicy. The cuisine uses lot of the same ingredients needed for Vietnamese dishes, so it’s paving the way to pho and green mango salads. And perhaps I needed an excuse to acquire more condiments and useful little jars of stuff. How did I not have tamarind paste already?

I suppose it is plebeian of me but I love peanuts.

I followed something along the lines of this recipe. Kind of.

on the menu: gin tonic with cardamom, mint, lime

On February 19, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

 

gin tonic

gin tonic

Guerlain Homme was one of the first fragrances I got myself. It smelled fresh and good, and I later learned that what smelled fresh was mint, and what smelled good, was vetiver.

Perfumer Thierry Wasser explains that his inspiration was, in part, the mojito, and it isn’t far off. It smells like…a manly mojito. I was wearing it today and so started craving mint. Not wanting a mojito, quite, I made my own thing: a gin tonic with cardamom, mint, and lime.

Beefeater 24 gin, Fever-Tree tonic water, cardamom pods

Beefeater 24 gin, Fever-Tree tonic water, cardamom pods

Guerlain Homme, gin tonic

Guerlain Homme, gin tonic

 

Salud.