loving: Oi oil

On May 12, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I’ve been using Davine’s Oi Oil for about 4 months or so, and I think it’s been long enough to be able to say with confidence: it’s love.

IMG_9172This is what I would call a serum oil, a slightly viscous liquid that has an oil-like effect on hair in terms of providing gloss and moisture while being extremely lightweight and unobtrusive on the hair. Really liking this serum oil tech across the board, from skincare to haircare. It tends to absorb quickly and lacks the grease factor that straight oil has. I don’t actually mind the grease factor, my hair is dry enough that it can take an astonishing amount of oil without appearing greasy, and I still enjoy many oils…but still, the texture is really nice, and the shine factor is subtly brighter and superior to that which oil provides. I use it both on the ends of the curls and to tame frizz in the front. Curly folks, I recommend this to you especially.

It was recommended to me after I complimented a friend on her very long and glossy, slightly wavy hair, the health and shine of which she largely attributed to Oi oil. This is lightweight enough to be suitable for all but perhaps the most delicate, fine hair types. Even then I think it could be OK on the ends.

All this, though, is nothing compared to how fantastic this stuff smells. Davine’s, well done. Evidently the active ingredient here is Roucou oil, also known as anatto, derived from the seeds of the Brazilian achiote tree. Wikipedia describes the scent as ‘slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg,’ which I think is a good beginning. I would add that there is a nutty richness, the aroma of an exotic (unfamiliar) nut, and an intensity of fragrance I associate with proper parfums. A gourmand scent but not in an explicitly edible way. I don’t experience it as a strong scent at all in practice, you use such a tiny quantity of the product that the effect is much softer than sniffing the bottle, but honestly either way, gentle or full-on, this smells incredible. Quite unisex, too. Maybe especially good on men. Full marks.

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Here, too, is a fittingly beautiful comb, the Mason Pearson Rake Comb. Handcut teeth, made in Switzerland, high quality celluloid, etc. Not a bad price point, and basically just a wide-tooth comb…but such a lovely one. My hair is always getting presents. Totally worth it.

x

reading: Durrell, Ellis, Bettelheim, Vaughan/Guerra

On October 19, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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Clea, Lawrence Durrell — The last book of Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, a vivid and beautiful series. I find Durrell highly musical, though not always pitch perfect (as I often find, for example, Nabokov). I remember being amazed that he mentions in his Paris Review interview writing these books in some incredibly short amount of time, and they have a fast fluidity about them. Good.

American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis — I haven’t seen this movie but was drawn to the book after 1, hearing this Bookworm interview with Ellis, who came across as sort of thoughtful and interesting, or I think it was this podcast, and 2, being directed to the business card scene in the movie, which is entirely worth your time. Christian Bale so fitting here. The book is fascinating if you are into first person narrators and doing strange things with them, and presents a surreal juxtaposition of minutely detailed hyper-consumerism with excessively violent homicidal mania, all dotted with bright insightful moments. Parts of it were nearly too gruesome to read, for me, and I don’t have any wish to watch more of the movie, being possessed of an impressionable imagination. I really still wish I hadn’t watched The Exorcist. Still. It’s interesting. Especially if you are a writer.

The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales, Bruno Bettelheim — I love stuff like this. Really can ingest no end of it. This is I guess popular in child development circles but I find it engaging in its own right.

Y The Last Man, Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra — Such a great, thorough, thoughtful (often creepily believable) execution of a thought experiment; what would happen if (almost) all the men died? Totally riveting, in parts, and Agent 355 is such a badass [black! female!] character. Recommended. My geek friends have only been telling me to read it for 5 years or something. You were right, geeks, you were right.

in the pink

On January 13, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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I have three very specific and very different ideas about what color I want to wear on my cheeks this winter.

The first*, the acquisition of which has been on my mind for some time, is this coral-leaning pink, Bobbi Brown’s aptly named Pink Coral. There are a number of peachy pink blushes out there but this one stands out to me. It stays nearer to the pink camp, trespassing only slightly into peach/coral territory, and has for me that instant, visceral appeal that certain colors have for whatever reason. It’s hard to imagine a skintone this would not suit, it is so near to the embodiment of ‘the pink of health’. This shade walks that line between bright and pastel, vibrant but not in the way of neon or bubblegum. Other blushes I categorize as pink look dim, almost mauve in comparison. It also comes highly recommended by Guardian beauty editor Sali Hughes, the most sensible and appealing beauty editor around as far as I can see. How pleasant, in the bleak midwinter, to forego the dark autumn palette and go straight to summer pink.

*The second and third [ideas] are a true red and a deep berry, respectively, about which more later.

I once came across the advice (can’t recall where now, rubbish memory) to select a blush color that approximates the shade you actually blush, or the color your cheeks go in the cold, which is particular to you. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed myself blushing but in the cold my cheeks turn a faintly rosy red. Mostly red. [Isn’t it a shame that beyond a certain threshold the red is not confined to the cheeks and simply splotches over the entire face?] If going for a natural look I think this is excellent advice, though I think most people could look well in a range of shades, each having its own effect. I don’t naturally blush pink…but you don’t know that. I don’t blush orange, either, and my lips aren’t ever burgundy by their powers alone. Natural isn’t always the goal.

It is this kind of thinking that helps one justify getting several blushes in one season. All quite different, you see!

And it was impossible to justify the above without justifying in tandem the acquisition of the NARS yachiyo kabuki brush, which is, as you see, a thing of beauty. The handle is hand-spun with black wisteria (!), and the hairs are densely packed in the kabuki style yet gently tapered for a soft diffusion of color. I cannot count the number of favorable reviews I have seen on this brush, which has been on my wishlist for years. I wish I’d gotten it sooner as it excels as promised at the sheer, uniform application of highly pigmented powders (otherwise quite scary, those powders).  This is the kind of brush that will do most of the work for you.**

**Look into good brushes, which need not mean expensive though in some cases I find it does not mean cheap. A few discerning brush purchases make for an excellent investment (and a bad brush is waste of time and money both). Tasks that used to be tiresome and difficult become suddenly pleasurable and simple.

Then I went out in search of something else entirely and came home with this little gem, MAC’s Huggable lipcolor in Love Beam, an emollient, high-shine formula that performs beautifully and is very much in the same pink coral vein (which I attribute not to conscious matching but to a phase of affinity to this kind of shade). It seems silly to say when I have so many lip products but I really have nothing else like this color. Must look into pink more, I see. Pink (really red but also pink by association) is opposite green on the color wheel and sets off green and hazel eyes especially.

So many brands are coming out with these lipstick/nourishing treatment hybrids now and the formulas are getting better and better. This means uniform depositing of pigment, uniform fading (no issues with patchiness), pleasant sensation on the lips (a bit tacky, this formula has something of a lipgloss about it). I’m wearing both this and the blush with the chunky knit scarf, though I find you really have to whack blush on for it is show well in photos so it’s not a great showcase. I’ll point it out in future shots. I certainly anticipate getting a lot of wear out if it.

smell this: winter 2013 fragrance picks

On February 1, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

The cold weather makes certain heavy scents particularly appealing to me. The molecules aren’t as mobile and stay closer to the skin, evaporating more gradually, and a fragrance that would be deadly or cloying in the summer is rendered subtle and fine.

Here’s what I’ve been wearing:

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Montale – Red Vetyver. Just gorgeous. Pricey, but do you want to smell like a sexy, resinous tree or not? A little like Chanel’s Sycomore.

Lalique – Encre Noir (pour homme).  This actually does smell a lot like black ink, the kind you would buy for calligraphy or what have you. Like ink + a dark, earthy vetiver. Great on a man, better on a man with stubble, but maybe better still and more charming/unexpected on a woman.

C.O. Bigelow Musk perfume oil. A little goes a long way, but great to mix with a body oil to dilute and slather away. Rich, powerful musk that isn’t too…fecal. I also like to put this on as a base and temper with something sweet and light, like a simple floral like

Tea Rose by Perfumer’s Workshop. Olfactory equivalent of a photographic representation of a tea rose, or, to me at least, a wild rose. Simple, light, refreshing (not a dark, syrupy, honeyed rose), and so inexpensive. Men, try this on. Plays well with others. Mix it with Guerlain Vetiver and you become just about effervescent. This will be great for spring as well, but winter is when I miss florals. Same idea behind

CB I Hate Perfume – M2 Black March. [not pictured as I only have a sample vial] This smells precisely like a handful of freshly turned earth with crushed flower petals and roots mixed in. Incredible. Not cheap. Lovely old-school apothecary packaging. Get the perfume absolute if at all, which is a viscous oil that lasts on the skin for hours. Also great in the rain. Or give it to a gardener.

L’Occitane – Eau de Vetyver. A creamy, rich, slightly dirty vetiver. Cozy and enveloping.

Paloma Picasso EdP. A kind of sparkling chypre (which genre I usually don’t like) from the 80s that is often marked down at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx. Not for everyone, but a wonderful respite from the saccharine fruity-florals that dominate the market. Give it a while to develop on the skin before you veto, as it starts out a little green and screechy like Grey Flannel or Halston I-12 (both of which I also like in winter, but like more so in the rain). Points to guys who give this a go.

Bulgari Omnia. Now discontinued, it is superior to all of the flankers it spawned. Lactic and nutty with a distinct note of cinnamon, this will make you smell like a gorgeous, sophisticated chai latte.

Some fragrance resources:

Not familiar with vetiver yet? Get familiar.

http://www.basenotes.net/ (reviews, descriptions, note lists, and a good place to look up the year a fragrance launched or the perfumer behind it)

http://theperfumedcourt.com/ (try fragrances on your skin first if you can, blind buying full-sized bottles is risky business)