Escada Cherry in the Air ($56)
Fruity and candy-sweet notes are not what I’d usually like to smell in a perfume. But I remember being a big follower of Escada fragrance releases for years. Now they became too much to handle for my nose. I don’t appreciate sweet and I can’t wear fruity any more – go figure.
Fresh black cherry is the dominating note in Cherry in the Air, but it feels more like it had been soaked in a maple syrup before it was bottled up. And then there is that marshmallow that is infused into sooooo many fragrances lately, it’s getting old by the minute.
Top Note: Black Cherry, Raspberry, Mandarin
Heart Note: Marshmallow, Gardenia Petals, Coconut Orchid
Base Note: Sandalwood, Suede Accord, Oakwood
When wearing Cherry in the Air, I started feeling florals only on the drydown, while fruity bubble gum cloud never faded on me. The fragrance is actually not bad, it feels kind of fresh and carefree, just not exactly what I can deal with. And it had some sort of vinyl aftertaste that I wasn’t able to wrap my mind around.
Escada markets it as “colorful and delicious, the enticing aroma stimulates the senses, conjuring youthful daydreams of cycling with friends through the orchards of southern France and feasting on a fruit-laden picnic basket under a canopy of bountiful cherry trees”. Very nice visual, but the scent itself won’t make it through all that orchard cycling – the staying power of the fragrance is quite poor, so be ready to reapply couple of times a day.
Swisspers Cotton Squares (about $4-$5 for a pack of 100)
I discovered Swisspers Cotton Squares at my neighborhood grocery store only last fall. Durable face pads have always been a necessity for me, but unfortunately good and inexpensive ones were hard to find, until now that is. Swisspers squares are soft and plush in texture yet durable and shed-free no matter how you use and abuse them. Made of 100% pure natural cotton, they are gentle and absorbent, which makes makeup removal and toner application a breeze.
Swisspers cotton squares
They are neither too thin nor too thick, just right to hold enough product to clean the whole face without making any mess. They are versatile, compact, and strong – never fall apart on you, even when soaked in astringent or nail polish remover. I don’t think any other pads in the same price range come close to these.
Swisspers Cotton Squares can be found anywhere from drug stores to Target stores to grocery stores.
YSL Manifesto Eau de Parfum ($62-$102)
Top Notes: black currant, bergamot, green notes
Middle notes: lily-of-the-valley, jasmine sambac
Base notes: cedar, sandalwood, vanilla, tonka bean
YSL introduced Manifesto as an “expression of audacity, excess, and desire” in a flacon “reminiscent of the silhouette of a woman”. But it’s powdery vanilla composition mixed with sweet florals feels too creamy and overpowering. The flavor that I initially picked up was of a butter cookie – sugary and milky. Vanilla takes center stage from the start, fading into tonka bean and lily-of the-valley.
The scent failed to impress and turned out to be excessively sweet for my taste, lacking character and uniqueness at the same time. It’s difficult to get enthusiastic about a new fragrance that reminds you of a number of already existing ones – D&G Pour Femme, Flowerbomb, Miss Dior Cherie, Britney Spears Fantasy, to name a few. Manifesto seems plastic and moldy to the extend of giving me a headache. It’s overpowering powdery accord gains strength all the way until the drydown, and doesn’t go away unless you scrub it off of you with a loofah. I wish sandalwood, cedar and black currant had stronger presence, they may have saved the fragrance from being boring and ordinary. Manifesto resembles a rancid syrupy mass that wraps around you tighter and tighter, making you feel congested and suffocated. It’s uninspiring and very-very-very sweet – huge disappointment.
Oscar night is not just about the movies, it’s about glitz and glamor of the stars, their gowns, jewelry, hair and makeup. It’s hard to imagine how it feels to be constantly scrutinized for the way you look while having the whole world watch your every move. But for us it’s always been a good way to pick up fresh trends and innovative ideas. This year’s Oscar makeup was predominantly safe and classic. We’ve seen plenty of red lips and smokey eyes strutting around the Red Carpet – nothing new, just beautifully done come hither peepers and perfect pouts. Here are some of my favorites:
I’ve never seen Charlize Theron look less than stunning, and Oscar night was no exception. She managed to look beautiful and radiant with minimum makeup on her face. She got away with just a touch of eyeliner, mascara, a swipe of blush, and nude lipstick. It seems like she’s also wearing some light-reflecting highlighter which added a nice dimension to her face.
Chinese actress and singer Fan Bingbing opted for an unexpected combination of pretty pink lips, classic black eyeliner, and major lashes. Now I’m on a mission to find the exact same lip color for moi.
Jennifer Hudson’s dewy complexion drew attention to her face right away. She didn’t have a lot of eye makeup on, just a swipe of soft silver eyeshadow and black liner, both of which paired well with her hair and earrings.
Jennifer Laurence wore old school black smokey eyes and light pink lips combo – nothing new, but it complemented her hair and dress perfectly.
Jessica’s Chastain’s glam old Hollywood makeup was done in tune with all the rules of red lip maquillage: thin black eyeliner, mascara, and beige shimmery shadow to make her eyes stand out; classic red lipstick and barely there pink blush to play up her skin tone.
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution ($85)
Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution is a so-called “professional strength” serum-like fluid that was created to treat and prevent wrinkles, sun damage, dark spots, and even out skin tone.
Ferulic Acid: plant-based antioxidant that enhances properties of other vitamins for healthy skin; protects from sun damage
Retinol: helps smooth wrinkles and lines; increases moisture and elasticity
Bearberry Extract: corrects hyperpigmentation and helps increase cell turnover; natural alternative to Hydroquinone
Azelaic Amino Acid: controls oil secretion to prevent formation of blackheads and whiteheads; fades dark spots and brightens skin
Licorice Root Extract, Mulberry Extract, Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Willow Bark Extract, Hyaluronic Acid
How to use:
Twice a day after cleansing.
Brightening Solution is a light fluid that was designed to be fast absorbing and super hydrating. I haven’t noticed any dramatic changes in my skin texture, but experienced skin brightening part, together with some smoothness and radiance. Lack of dramatic changes can be my own fault though, as I was only applying it once a day, before bed, since retinol is typically advised to be used at night.
The serum feels good and delicate on skin and doesn’t clash with other products or moisturizers. I applied it all over my face and neck, and also on the backs of my hands before using a hand cream. It softens and firms skin up a little, but doesn’t work quite well on hyperpigmentation. It lightens dark spots to some extend, but not enough to notice radical change.
I also didn’t find the need for the enclosed micro-fiber cotton pads that you are supposed to “target specific areas” with, and used them up for cleansing instead.
Overall the serum is predominantly a good quality product, suitable for all skin types. The idea here is that the longer you use it, the better your skin looks. In reality it all comes down to money, whether you’re willing to experiment with an 85 dollar price tag for an indefinite period of time.
I’ve noticed a long time ago that the prettiest makeup is usually the simplest, one that doesn’t require an extensive arsenal of products and a full hour to apply. It allows you to always look like yourself, but a tiny bit better. Both makeup ideas here achieve exactly that – elegance and polish with minimum product involvement.
To get Rosie’s luminous skin, a swipe of sheer, light-reflecting bronzer or skin illuminator will do the trick. They will warm up your complexion and give it a beautiful glow. Brush a shimmery champagne or beige eyeshadow along the upper lashes and up to the crease. Then, with the light hand, line the upper lash lines with soft black or brown pencil, but don’t extend the liner too far at the outer corners of the eyes. Finish with couple of coats of black mascara. Choose a natural shade of pink blush to define your cheeks, keep it light and barely-there. For lips – try pressing a vivid pink color lipstick with your finger, concentrating in the center and blending it out. Resist going for sparkle, a touch of creamy shimmer will create the most flattering effect.
Olivia Munn’s soft purple eye makeup will work for practically everybody. You can line your lash lines, top and bottom, either with a creamy purple eyeliner or an eyeshadow, using a wet liner brush. Then go around your liner with a clean, soft-bristled brush or a Q-tip to soften the shade and blend in the edges. Coat lashes with black mascara to make your eyes pop. To finish, copy blush and lipstick application techniques from the previous look.
See By Chloe Eau de Parfum ($58-$98)
New See By Chloe is one of those fragrances that hit your nose with a strong white-floral bouquet right away. Jasmine screams out louder than other notes, overpowering them at all times. You better be madly in love with jasmine if you decide to get yourself a bottle. I was surprised by the wide range of other notes incorporated into the fragrance mainly because I couldn’t detect the majority of them.
Top notes: bergamot, apple blossom
Middle notes: jasmine, ylang-ylang
Base notes: musk, sandalwood, vanilla
Bergamot, sandalwood, musk, vanilla? I either lost my touch or my never-ending allergies are to blame, because I don’t feel any of those ingredients. Apple blossom shows up and stays apparent for a few minutes at the very beginning, and then it dissipates for good. Everything else fails to emerge at any point and make any sort of statement.
See By Chloe feels generic, without a lot of personality, but on the bright side it’s a very long-lasting perfume. Maybe it feels this way because I’ve never been a fan of sweet florals, therefore to me they seem to never fade. The fragrance also feels flat and a bit synthetic on the drydown, not light and luminous like many other florals. It seems too strong and heady for warm weather, but too sweet for cold. So when do you wear it? Whenever you feel like it, I guess, if you are into it.