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.

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.

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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.

the baseball cap

On July 4, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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I’ve mentioned before wanting a baseball cap but could never quite find something that suited me. What I really like is that broken-in look that caps get when someone actually wears them a lot, curves the bill, ideally the bill gets a bit frayed, etc. I don’t care so much about the color or logos as the look; classic/vintage baseball shape, nondescript, Everyman’s cap. So, I reasoned, it would be great if some friend with too many hats anyway just gave me an old one. For years this seemed reasonable, and I left no small number of hints about how reasonable I thought it would be. I’d given up but IT FINALLY HAPPENED! A friend gave me a hat!

A baseball cap can be such a strangely feminine touch. You can throw it on with anything; dress it up a little, dress it way, way down, take it in a sporty direction, a butch direction, an editorial direction. It always adds for me (on others and on myself) an air of friendliness and approachability. It seems more likely that I would be asked for directions, randomly smiled at, that kind of thing. There’s also something inherently wholesome about them, not least because properly worn, you should be outside. [Here I run into problems because once it’s on…I can’t exactly take it off. A curly hair thing.]

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I love it.

What’s a governor’s club? Who cares!

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I’d also like to make a case here for the exposed, unadorned neck. A young, healthy neck is decoration enough, in so many cases, especially as in a case like this, with such a clean, abundant expanse of skin showing. It can be a shame to break up that expanse, even more so than with the wrist, for me, as there is such an appealing, intricate arrangement of bones and tendons around the clavicle and the base of the throat. [Am I losing you?] I think the play of light in these varied hollows can be stunning, as good as or better than jewels – a simple presentation of the occasionally lovely human body. Have oiled up here with some Nuxe Huile Prodigeuse (and sunblock), which is phenomenal.

Strapless sweetheart bodysuit from MotelRocks (via asos), Paris Blues shorts*, Skagen watch, Mexican bone bracelet, amber ring, Converse.

*I am into white shorts. With the cap I really wanted to wear [more casual] cut-offs but I realize I don’t have white cut-offs. Project.

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And of course a baseball cap is the quintessential American accessory. Happy 4th of July.

x

 

into: lip balm

On February 25, 2013 by theseventhsphinx
the stash

the stash

 

Ah. Lip balm. I have a thing for lip balm.

I love all formulas; waxes, ointments, creams, butters, oils…

I clearly don’t need any more lip balm, but I like to have options (options, options, everywhere) and I always want to try something new (and lip balms are a great way to reach the free shipping threshold…).

Some standouts:

Dior Crème de rose – the latest and most luxurious addition to the stash. Expensive but loving it. After all, nothing is too good for my lips, is how it goes in my mind.

Boots No. 7 Protect and Perfect lip cream – creamy and entirely non-oily, this feels like putting moisturizer on your lips, a lot like the much more expensive Clinique All About Lips, but I think better (and cheaper). In this same vein, many eye creams make great lip conditioners, and some inexpensive eye creams are cheaper than expensive lip conditioners…

L’Occitane shea butter – great multi-purpose skin conditioner. Especially long-lasting effects. This is one I keep by the bed.

Kiss My Face ginger and mango – this flavor is a favorite. I have a powerful affinity toward ginger. This is an especially buttery/soft and smooth stick formula that is great for winter, when a tiny bit of tugging can mean a cracked lip. The Yes to Carrots balm has a similar consistency, and neither is as waxy or firm as the standard Burt’s Bees.

Smith’s Rosebud Salve – it’s basically petroleum jelly with a nice fragrance (I also like the minted rose but do not like the Brambleberry), but I love petroleum jelly, and these ointment-like balms. I forgot to put Vaseline in the picture, but I use it all the time. These products don’t condition but sometimes protection is all that is needed. Aquaphor also good for this. I don’t find the Kiehl’s balm to be much different. I would also put the Murad lip care and  Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream in this category, though they are more nourishing and long-lasting than a plain petroleum jelly. They can all also be used to add shine to eyebrows, lashes, eyelids, cheekbones… versatility.

Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm – thick, entirely unique texture that requires a lot of working in, but conditions wonderfully. Expensive but…if you are obsessed with lip balm you will understand how one comes to own these things.

Dr. Lipp nipple balm – basically medical grade lanolin (which I also got some of, not pictured, and which, aside from smelling medicinal, works great), which is protecting and healing. Great for cracked, chapped situations. Note that it is extremely thick. The Molton Brown and Laura Mercier lip treatments (both nice if you can find them on sale…too expensive if not) are somewhere between Carmex and this in consistency.

Carmex – I am virtually never without Carmex. Smells medicinal, I know, and is possibly causing my addiction to lip balm…but I don’t care.

Nivea Olive Oil & Lemon lip care – this is a great stick formula. The texture is a lot like the pai bergamot lip balm, a hard oil that melts on contact and leaves a very thin slick on the lips. No tugging on the lips like with waxy formulas (the Mario Badescu lip balm is the same texture, but the scent is an awful species of herbal). I also like this kind of packaging a lot, and find it much cleaner than the standard chapstick tube. Sidenote that I don’t like the new Nivea lip butters at all, and find the flavors cheap and synthetic.

Korres lip butters – if you can find them on sale and choose a flavor you like (I don’t like a lot of them), the texture is gorgeous, and the tints are high quality (not patchy, surprising color payoff). This is the only product called a lip butter that I actually think is similar in texture to butter. These are superior, though, because they are less oily than butter (which I suppose you could use, but it would be a little Handmaiden’s Tale). I like the guava and wild rose flavors.

I’m really liking the cheapo Wet ‘n Wild juicy lip balm I just got, too. Actually one of the better tinted options I’ve used, though the pricier MAC lip conditioner is also excellent (Oh, they seem to have discontinued the tinted ones…fools).