the morning routine

On February 22, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

There was a post recently on Garance Dore’s blog about morning routines in which a few people chimed in with the key aspects and products of their regimen. I enjoyed this post so much, as I enjoy so many kinds of detailed glimpses into the daily routines and practices of others, especially the ones most often done alone, the result public but the process private.

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The morning routine is the kind of thing that varies widely from one person to another, and from one day to another for any given person. It’s the kind of thing one often doesn’t think much about (rather like, as a small child, for a while it doesn’t occur to you how bizarre your parents are; you don’t know any other parents, you don’t know any other life). These kinds of routines, often established early in life, changing periodically—but perhaps not consciously, perhaps arbitrarily—highly personal and often featuring illogical elements (ingredients you use independent of scientific evidence to prove their efficacy, a faithful order of operations which, if compromised, throws off the whole morning), often entirely unknown to any but you (often entirely uninteresting to anyone but you), are deeply interesting to me.

Here’s my morning routine at the moment:

10 mins: Shower (maybe, if time), shampoo every few days with Klorane Chamomile or Organix Coconut Milk shampoo (not too fussy about shampoo, have a few inexpensive/good ingredient options at any given time, and these change a lot). If my scalp is feeling dry, maybe once every few weeks, I’ll use Phyto Phytéol Intense. Condition with whatever is on hand (these change a lot as well), I like Neutrogena Triple Moisture and the L’Oreal sulfate-free line (the rosemary mint ones), as well as conditioners from Organix and Pantene. For body wash I often use Dr. Bronner’s castile soap. I like the peppermint and eucalyptus scents (not so much the rose), want to try the almond next. Once in a while I’ll get something more luxurious like the La Roche-Posay Lipikar Surgras body wash. Exfoliate with a loofah or sugar scrub. I don’t shave anything without a compelling reason.

1 min: Massage conditioner (this Awapuhi Wild Ginger line from Paul Mitchell smells great) throughout the hair and an oil blend into the ends, throw into bun and pin into place. If it’s humid or I want a bit of added shine and definition, I’ll add some Aveda Brilliant Anti-Humectant Pomade to the top layers.

1 min: Moisturize with a blend of sweet almond oil and brazilian nut dry-oil. Put on underwear. [Possibly also a bra but nothing else. This is key, giving the moisturizer a chance to be absorbed. Also, though, this has been the routine for so long that it feels totally wrong to have clothes on at this point in the process. If I accidentally put clothes on here I get confused (now why did I do that? we don’t do that…) and take them off again.]

2 mins: Wash face, massaging cleanser into skin for a full minute. Currently switching between the Neutrogena Grapefruit scrub (though I think I prefer the one with no exfoliating beads) the Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser and the Murad Time Release Acne Cleanser but there are many I like. [Unquestionably I have too many, as a result of a couple of quests. Nighttime is an entirely different story, with its own set of products.]

2 mins: Brush teeth (I really like my electric toothbrush).

2 mins: Apply moisturizer plus treatments as needed (currently liking this Olay one but not loyal to anything, I like a lot of French pharmacy brands as well), eye cream (one or the other of these Vichy ones, but again not loyal, and not sure if I quite believe in eye cream but, well, I bought it, so I will use it) and sunscreen, lip balm, deodorant (this Vichy one or a Dove one). Tap cream or gel blush onto cheeks (often Tarte cheek stain in Blissful, just with my fingers).  Brush eyebrows (maybe a few quick swipes of Benefit Gimme Brow to define). Apply perfume, currently loving Bruno Acampora Musc for winter but I switch it up a lot (or go without). If I’ve got extra time I may apply a natural, brown mascara like the Almay One Coat Nourishing Mascara. I’ll curl my lashes beforehand if feeling fancy.

1 min: Get dressed.

et voilà

total time: 18 mins

There are extended and severely truncated* versions of this routine as well.

*i.e. dampen and regroup hair, brush teeth, wash face, sunscreen, tinted lip balm or lipstick (which can be later tapped onto the cheeks). 6 minutes.

How about you?

Alternatively, any suggestions for me?

smell this: Lalique Encre Noir

On January 31, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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Lalique’s Encre Noir is aptly named. It does indeed smell like black ink, specifically like the black ink I have from the calligraphy shop in Chinatown (different inks can have quite different odors, depending on their origins and ingredients). Put any ideas of unpleasantly chemical toner cartridges out of your mind, proper black ink smells incredible. There is something dark and earthy, like rich, freshly unearthed soil, as well as a slight saltiness combined with a metallic tang that I find reminiscent of both blood and the more enticing of of the various darkroom chemicals. A certain mustiness might creep in, yet it is not unappealing. Rather like the smell of only just moldy bread, the richness of yeast with the touch of mold adding a bit of depth and interest.

Ink smells like… ink, OK?

So to this concept of dark, earthy black ink is added an equally dark and earthy vetiver. This is neither the bright, sparkling vetiver of Guerlain Vetiver nor the rich creamy vetiver of L’Occitane Eau de Vetyver, and it is worlds away from the sweet sophistication of Vetiver Tonka. This is the darkest of my vetivers, and it has the kind of powerful, distinct personality you would remember. It is closer to the raw scent of vetiver oil, which is, undiluted, basically unpleasant. Imagine the root of a bitter grass any human would know instinctively not to eat, and imagine it is still covered in loamy earth, and imagine there are cuts in the root emitting a bizarrely fresh scent, almost minty (in countries where vetiver is harvested people will scrub the roots clean and put sections in a pitcher of water to add a bit of zest, as one might do with mint or lemon). Then you add a bit of smoke, a bit of bourbon, a bit of cedar, a teeny bit of musk (this comes forward later in the day), and goodness knows what else.

This is unapologetically dark. An obvious masculine, which means, of course, that it is fabulous on a woman who loves it*. So obvious a masculine, though, that I think a lot of men wouldn’t touch it, either. It’s not for the faint of heart, and watch out if you do touch it. Vetiver is a common base because of it’s excellent lasting power on the skin, and the smallest drop of Encre Noir lingers for hours on skin and for days or weeks on the inanimate (coats, scarves, sweaters, watch bands, pajamas, etc). For some people the booze is too prominent, for some the smoke, for some it is just too much vetiver (depends on your nose and your taste). That said, for me, this smells goood. This smells alluring. Dare I say it, sexy. It’s dark, rich, intriguing, unforgettable. I apply with a light hand and only when I’m in the right mood (usually when it’s cold out, it can be too much for me in the warm weather). Sometimes I’ll just spray it on a coat or a scarf at a distance to get a gentle cloud of it that isn’t too much a part of me. Great bottle (though the pump sprays copiously, which I find not ideal). Not difficult to find it at a great price, either.

*There is an Encre Noir pour Elle but I haven’t had a chance to smell it yet. Curious, though.

smell this: Bulgari pour Homme

On September 15, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

 

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OK, so Vétiver Tonka is a top favorite, and Guerlain Vétiver never lets me down, and we haven’t even talked about Chanel Sycomore yet…but Bulgari pour Homme is my favorite, too.

Bulgari pour Homme smells like the grapefruit of the gods. This is a bright, ripe (sweet) citrus blended with a soft darjeeling-like tea note. The notes list bergamot and orange blossom, but I get grapefruit and more grapefruit. The base is noted as amber and musk, but to my nose neither of these elements translates directly. They serve instead to make sweet notes feel sweeter and to make the overall effect more sumptuous.

Bulgari pour Homme Extrême smells similar but with a bit more of the green, bitter aspect of the pith allowed to come through, and with better lasting power (the regular pour Homme is too weak for some but – as with Vétiver Tonka – if I like the scent enough, I’ll just spray more). Extrême could be seen as the more conventionally masculine of the two, and is the one I would recommend those who prefer a masculine style to smell first. I like to wear both at once, the sweetness of one balancing the bitterness of the other and vice versa.

These are some seriously voluptuous citruses, and you can completely ignore the ‘pour homme’ bit if you like. I recommend that course.

smell this: Gucci Rush

On August 13, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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I don’t usually like even a hint of powder but for Rush I make an exception. What does it smell like? Technically it smells like peaches and patchouli, at once earthy and unmistakably sweet, with almost no evolution on the skin. Actually it smells like you intend to have a great time. Like maybe your clothes are a little tight and you went to town with the hairspray. This launched in 1999? To me it is already old-school awesome.

Typical Rush scenario, which truly happened:

Me (to guy): …Did you just rub your chin on my shoulder?

guy (now sheepish): I was smelling you…is that cool?

Me (laughing): It’s cool.

 

You may want to wait until after sundown, but wear Gucci Rush. People will smell you. [So, as long as you are cool with that.]

 

 

reading: wine, wine, wine, perfume

On July 28, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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This is seriously what I am reading.

The Diary of a Nose, Jean-Claude Ellena – Ellena is the in-house perfumer for Hermès, and behind a number of fragrances I admire and enjoy: Hermessence Vetiver Tonka, Cartier Déclaration (more on this later), Voyage d’Hermès, Bigarade Concentrée, Different Company Osmanthus, Terre d’Hermès edp, the list goes on. If you are curious about the art, skill, theory, philosophy, etc*. behind perfume, this is an interesting little book, though I admit not as interesting as I had hoped (or maybe I just wish it were longer – it is much shorter than it looks). I like his more technical book better, Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent, though I warn you it is extremely technical.

*Here, for the interested, is a good New Yorker article about the process behind creating the Hermès fragrance Un Jardin sur le Nil.

Wine Politics: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters, and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink, Tyler Colman

Perfect Pairings: A Master Sommelier’s Practical Advice for Partnering Wine with Food, Evan & Joyce Goldstein

Essential Winetasting: The Complete Practical Winetasting Course, Michael Schuster

The World Atlas of Wine, 6th ed., Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson

I have decided to be a bit serious about wine. Wine suits me, and being serious about wine suits me better still. Took a tasting course and enjoyed it so much. The act of parsing out the notes is exactly parallel to assessing a perfume; all a matter of attention, concentration, and recognition (and, the most challenging, expression).

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