Gold leaf? Yes, please.

On May 3, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

The Camellia Nourishing lip balm was the product that turned me on to Tatcha,  a brand with skin-care at its core inspired by the simple, elegant beauty regimen of geisha. Hooked already, right? Founded by a Harvard Business School grad with extremely sensitive skin who couldn’t find anything in the market that suited her needs. The line is relatively small, mostly skincare with a few cosmetic offerings, and all of the products center around the key skin-friendly ingredients of rice bran, green tea, and red algae, ingredients featured in ancient beauty texts.

They initially caught my interest with an emollient lip balm that was, for no reason other than the beauty of it, topped with gold leaf, an elegant way of imparting gold shimmer to the balm.

Gold leaf? Yes, please.

IMG_9672I don’t even care about shimmer balms, typically, though when done right they can be subtle and nice, which this is. Doubtless there are other shimmery lip balms [as if I didn’t have enough lip balm] but I suspect this one would beat them on presentation. Heavy glass pot, GOLD LEAF.

If more brands were whacking gold leaf on top of their products I have a feeling I would be in real trouble.

Their packaging is beautiful, too, by the way. When you open the box there is a ribbon pull tab for a drawer in which the product is nestled with a detailed infoscrap rolled elegantly around (as opposed to folded into a small rectangle and relegated off to the bottom or side as in standard skincare procedure).

It’s the little things.

IMG_9673Beauty, no?

It’s so satisfying to acquire beautiful things. Especially when you (upon ordering) have hopes of their being beautiful which they meet or even exceed, as with this balm. I seem so often to be returning disappointing items that only seem beautiful from their promo shot angle/distance, and are, upon inspection, awful. By which I mean: unwearable, really genuinely bad. I am certain that I am not alone here.

I also picked up a few of Tatcha’s skincare items as well as the ridiculously beautiful (and seriously expensive) Kyoto Red Silk lipstick, which I’ll have to report back on. I’ve had them for about 3 weeks and I’m really, really liking the exfoliating powder.

Also liked this post on their blog about lessons learned from a geisha, including:

“Some of the most attractive, mesmerizing geisha I have known are the ones who were in their 70s and beyond, because they have honed the art of being an interesting person over all those decades. In the West, we are obsessed with youth and beauty, but these women have taught me that beauty is something to be gained over time, not something that is lost over time.”

So great to find new brands. Let me know any recommendations you might have!



rosy lips

On October 11, 2014 by theseventhsphinx


I was pawing through the lip balms recently and realized that the rose-heavy pattern I noticed previously is going strong, and expanding. This is what my patterns of interest and preference are like, they tend to run long and deep, playing out over months or years. I don’t mind repetition, either. I still haven’t gotten sick of this Fitz and the Tantrums track.

I use and enjoy all of these, special mentions to Smith’s Minted Rose, Dior Crème de Rose, and By Terry Baume de Rose.  These last two are the most expensive but also the most emollient. Right now my favorites are the Dior and the Smith’s Minted Rose and I switch up depending on if I want a cream vs an ointment texture. The By Terry is really nice but it’s a little too dear for me given that I like so many less expensive alternatives. That said…I kind of want to try one of the tinted versions of this Baume de Rose formula, the Nutri-Coleur line.

Also pictured:

Korres Wild Rose lip butter — beautiful deep red tinted balm, love this color

Smith’s Rosebud Salve — cult classic, the smell of this is attached to so many phases of my life that it triggers a complex nostalgia, in a good way

Jurlique Rose Love Balm — firm, wax-based, very nice light rose scent, not too glossy so it gives a very natural look to the lips

Vaseline rosy lips — sweet candied rose smell to this, but I like it, as I like plain Vaseline now and then. They totally get me with those teeny tubs. Gah! So cute.

organic Rose Petal Balm — this one is from a friend of the family in Maine but a number of etsy sellers (and indie beauty chemists all over) make essential oil infused balms like this, and I wouldn’t hesitate to try anything with this beeswax/jojoba/shea or cocoa butter base (though I know that my skin doesn’t have issues with any of the popular essential oils). Hard to go wrong.

on a rose kick

On June 18, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

I recently realized that all of the lip balms out on my dressing table are rose scented.


What?! I like options! (Oh, I got this acrylic organizer at TJ Maxx, which liking.)

Completely unintentional!

I have a thing for rose, definitely (well, yes, and lip balm). I knew that already, but I seem to be on a real kick at the moment.

Here we have Rosebud Salve, a classic (I like the minted rose one, too), Jurlique’s Rose Love Balm, a deluxe sample of By Terry Baume de Rose (ridiculously expensive but also really, really nice. Wonderfully emollient, thick, feels productive to put it on), and an organic rose petal balm by a family friend. Which balm I reach for depends on the state of the lips and how I’m planning to follow up. I really do use all of them.

What you don’t know is that the Dior Creme de Rose balm (still love) and rose-scented Vaseline (which I don’t like as much as Rosebud Salve, not by a longshot, and won’t repurchase) are on my bedside table…

[Along with the unsexy Blistex Lip Medex, the mentholated tingle of which I enjoy.]

on the lips: …more lip balm

On October 15, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

Remember how I don’t need any more lip balm?

Well…I got some more lip balm.


1. Jurlique Rose Love Balm – brilliant product from the Australian biodynamic* brand Jurlique. This is essentially olive oil fixed with beeswax, so it melts on contact, like putting coconut oil on your lips (which is also nice)…or olive oil. I love rose. This is a multi-purpose balm (though I suppose you could consider most lip balms a multi-purpose balm – it’s all marketing), but on the lips it feels especially like a nourishing treatment.

2. Dr. Hauschka Lip Balm –  officially my favorite lip balm right now, especially at night, and prominently placed on my dressing table. And from another biodynamic brand. This has a peculiar texture I haven’t quite come across before. It’s another blend of oils (a lot of them) mixed with various herbal extracts and fixed with beeswax, but the oil content is high, and the texture is incredibly soft and yielding. It is blended in such a way that the effect is not oily (as with the Jurlique balm), but creamy. This has to be in a pot because the texture could never survive in stick form. Smells to me vaguely and pleasantly herbal/medicinal. Melts into the lips beautifully and not in an oily way, it maintains presence of friction, isn’t slick…obviously I am an obsessive case and whether or not I am willing to spend $17 on a lip balm maybe doesn’t help you much, but I will say that I have spent more on products I liked much less. This is the kind of product I plan to begin giving indiscriminately as a gift.

3. Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Moisturizing Stick – a great blend of shea butter, honey, and luxurious (argan, macadamia) oils in convenient stick form. I happen to prefer the softer formulations that tend to come in pots but sticks are convenient to carry around, and this is a beautiful one. Not as bizarre as the ultra-nourishing version, texture-wise. This is more a luxe version of your standard non-wax based (actually nourishing, not just protective) balm stick.

Yes, I think about lip balm a lot.

*Worth investigating the basics of biodynamics, I think. There is a fair amount of what I consider empty ceremony built into the structure of biodynamics but what the process is able to achieve, and the extent to which it is in harmony with the environment, can’t be refuted.

into: Korres lip butter in guava

On May 10, 2013 by theseventhsphinx


I mentioned Korres lip butter briefly in my post about lip balm but I’m going to mention it again. It has a great, creamy, emollient formula that, thanks to the shea butter, does absorb into the lips (rather than just sitting on top of them). And it does, unlike many products called ‘lip butter’, have a texture close to that of butter. From one month to the next I’ll favor certain lip balms over others, and this is the one currently featured on my dressing table. Great as a night treatment or to start the day.

Most of the scents in the lip butter line I don’t like, admittedly, though I am in general pro-Korres. They are too sweet, cloying, synthetic for me (although if you know about yourself that you like this kind of scentflavor, this needn’t deter you), and I only like the guava and plum scents. The guava is quite strong as well, a pungent tropical scent, and not without a synthetic element, but I am more tolerant of tropical fruit scents, maybe, because it doesn’t bother me, or perhaps I just like the formula enough to neutralize any faint misgivings.