Thierry Mugler Alien

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It’s been a whole year since I received this cute little bottle of Alien EdP. That gave me a nice long testing period plus time to read up on other people’s reviews. There is a noticable geological rift in the perception of this perfume: people in the US seem to not like it, while people in Europe view it more favorably? (With exceptions on both sides of course.) For statistical reference: dear reader, which continent are you on and what is your opinion on Alien?

Notes: floral (jasmine), woody, amber

Alien EdP was created by Dominique Ropion and Laurent Bruyere

Some people say ‘ok, that’s too much jasmine’. I say ‘there is no such thing as too much jasmine’. Signed, Dandygal, known hoarder of jasmine tea. But even I can’t deny this alien can be pretty intense when applied too much. But in proper dosage, what’s not to love? The jasmine is dark but not really dirty. (I cannot detect indole in Alien. One day I might tell you about the highly indolic jasmine spray in the bathroom of my workplace. Well I guess I just did. I think the spray is an olfactoric joke.)

Lasting power is good and sillage is medium to strong. Two more reasons for application in small doses.

Apart from the fact that I like it, my first thought upon opening that small bottle up there was: I have smelled this a hundred times. Alien is always among the 10 most sold perfumes of the year in my country. Lots of people wear it. So yes, my positive reaction might be due to familiarity. If you want something uncommon and edgy, alien is not the droid you’re looking for. I guess we are the aliens by now.

Some people report using Alien in high doses as olfactoric bomb and people repellant (maybe that’s what makes it a bestseller?). But honestly, I think the eldritch abomination that is Angel is much better suited to that. Alien is just the weirdo from next door, but Angel is an angel – the kind with six wings, three faces and eyes all over.

 

… this review has gotten away from me somehow. In other news, guess what I’ll be wearing on halloween?

MAC Eye Kohl Smolder

Can anyone explain to me why it is “Eye Kohl” but “Crayon Khol”? Anyway, this post is about my Kohl eyeliner from MAC in the color smolder:

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It’s black. I guess calling it ‘black’ would have been too boring, so it’s ‘smolder’.

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Swatch! The pencil goes on very creamy. It’s not one for precise lines, it’s for smudging and for putting on the waterline. I like using it for smoky looks, using a cotton bud for blending. It needs to be smudged immediately, since it sets after a while. Once it has set, it holds very well. It does get smudgier throughout the day on my lower lid though. But in a good way.

Recommended for all looks that, well, require a kohl. If you are looking for a precise line, go for a regular pencil, or even better a liquid or gel liner.

Availability: Smolder is part of the regular MAC lineup.

Bobbi Brown Blush Desert Pink

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Today I want to show you a staple in my makeup stash: the Bobbi Brown powder blush in Desert Pink 18. Desert Pink is in the regular line up, not limited (there’s also a desert rose, these are different colors).

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The blush has no shimmer whatsoever. It is finely milled and easy to apply.

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Finger swatch. This blush can be worn as light or strong as one wishes.

A note on the color: I am about to say that these pics pull blue and it is more yellow than it appears here. I’ve said this several times on this blog before, thinking my camera is at fault. However recently in art class I learned that “exact color on screen is an illusion” because every screen shows color differently. Despite this being super obvious it never occurred to me that my screen could be at fault here! So please always take swatches with a grain of salt.

The color is a dusty neutral pink, a pretty universal color that will work on many skin tones.

Quality is great. The blush lasts all day on me.

I think it’s a good blush to start with. You don’t need to be as careful with brushes or blending, since it pretty much blends itself.

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia

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I’ve been trying Guerlain‘s Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia again and again this year. And then I finally bought a bottle.

Lys Soleia is a so-called sun scent or sunny floral. (Basically that means tropical flowers and maybe a hint of coconut.) In Lys Soleia I mostly detect Ylang Ylang. Official notes are: zesty citrus, lily, ylang ylang, tuberose, white musk, vanilla. The citrus opening is very short, so short that usully I don’t even notice it unless I look for it. And then it’s exotic creamy flower for many many hours. I don’t notice a dry down, it seems unchanged to me.

The really fascinating thing about Lys Soleia is that it smells different every day. I don’t know if it’s because I am learning to detect notes better, but the first time I tried it I dismissed it as “sweet” (but not as sweet as gourmands). The next time it was all tropical flowers and the third time it was all banana! Today I detect a little green and vanilla. Despite the fact that I see something different every time, it’s not an overly complicated scent. I find it very comforting. As sunny florals go it’s less “in your face” than Terracotta Le Parfum. Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess is a little similar but has a lot of coconut, which I can’t smell in Lys Soleia.

You should try Lys Soleia if: you like the idea of tropical flowers, but don’t want them too strong; you want something sweet and comforting that doesn’t smell like creme brulee.

 

 

My Skincare Emergency Helpers

Thank you for 200 follows! I am utterly amazed so many people (or bots?) took the time to click on the follow button. :)

To celebrate I thought I’d write about my SOS skincare. (Sorry if you wanted a giveaway – I don’t have the time.) Sometimes skin is just not behaving. Be it acne, allergic reactions or annoying dryness, there are all sorts of skin problems that might pop up or get worse than usual when skin is “angry”. Sometimes, when you’re really lucky you get all of them at once! :|

And then it’s time to step back from all the fancy stuff and elaborate skin care routine and reach for the SOS helpers. (Please note I can only write about what works for me here. I cannot guarantee it’ll work on everyone.)

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Yes, it’s all La Roche Posay. While I like many skin care brands, I have found that when worse comes to worst, I reach for LRP.

Starting from the smallest: It’s a sample of Effaclar Duo. You’re not allowed to be a blogger if you don’t at least own a small tube of it. ;) Kidding, but there is a reason it’s so popular among bloggers and that is because it’s quite strong and shows visible effects in a matter of days. The Effaclar Duo is for acne, especially for the really big lumps deep inside the skin. It’s a strong exfoliant. This means while using this you’ll have a worse pizzaface than usual. While it seems as if it pulls the pimples to the surface, it really exfoliates and removes the top layers of the skin, so what was deep down before is on top now. That doesn’t sound so great, but it is a lot better than having massive lumps deep down for weeks!

When I use Effaclar Duo my skin starts shedding a whole lot more and I think it helps with the healing process. But it also means there’ll be dry pieces of skin every day. I tried to put a thin layer of this all over my face a few times thinking it would help prevent more acne. That did not work out so well for me. My face was red and even swollen all over and then shedding for two weeks. This is simply too strong for me, so I only use it on the lumps in very small amounts. Some bloggers report using it all over; I guess it depends on how sensitive you are. I still have the old version, I don’t know how the new version differs.

 

The middle tube is Cicaplast. This is my answer to pretty much every skin problem. It’s a soothing balm that helps with healing and calming down the skin. It was created to be used after chemical peels, but you can use it whenever. When my skin is really bad I use it instead of moisturizer and primer, but it’s not either. It’s more a salve and not made to be used every day. Emergency only. For me, it helps calm down and heal up pimples, angry red skin, cracked lips, you name it. It even works on small wounds (don’t use Effaclar Duo on wounds!). While I’d use the aggressive Effaclar Duo only at night or when I’m staying in, I’ll use Cicaplast evenings and mornings. Immediately after application my skin is redder, but then it settles down. It’s not really a good primer unless your skin is very dry. When I wear it under makeup I usually leave the nose or it’ll get too shiny.

 

And last is a cleanser, the Toleriane cleansing milk. It’s a gentle cleanser made to not aggravate the skin any further (very important for people with allergic skin problems and similar things). The bottle also claims it can be used for makeup removal all over including eyes. Well, I tried it and it didn’t work so well. It didn’t get the makeup off very well and it burned in my eyes. Funny that such a gentle cleanser burns, but it is gentle as long as I keep it away from eyes. (For gentle makeup removal try Garnier Micellar Cleanser instead.) That’s why I use this only on makeup free skin.

Before I got into makeup I used the same products morning and evening, but when I got into makeup I noticed two things: first, that strong cleansers made my skin red, which fades later but is annoying when putting on makeup. You don’t know if you’ve used too much, too little etc. And secondly, my skin seems to have a yo-yo effect. The stronger the cleanser is, the more sebum my skin produces afterwards. And that is noticeable in how oily and shiny my skin gets. Using a gentle cleanser like Toleriane in the morning makes my makeup last longer. So my philosophy to skin care became: gentle in the morning and stronger in the evening. The only times I use Toleriane morning AND evening is when my skin is so bad I don’t want to irritate it any further.

 

So these are my SOS skin care helpers, may you never need them. All of them are fragrance free and paraben free.

What are your favored helpers, tips, approaches?

OPI Do you have this color in Stock-holm?

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The next OPI mini from my little northies: Do you have this color in Stock-holm?

Shown are three coats, no top coat. I put on a top later for shine. So yes, three coats and it’s still patchy in places. Beautiful color though. The pic pulls a little blue, it’s more purple than that. I swear it’s the color and not the camera; the color looks like this on other blogs as well, haha. So this one is NOT blue, it’s purple. And very pretty. And dry time was extra fast, which is good since I needed three coats.

Alphabet Cream Central

I was going to call this the BB & CC post, but then I saw that some companies are as far as EE by now, so umbrella term. In this post I will explain about BB and CC creams and list all reviews I’ve done on this blog.

In the last few years, double letter creams have popped up all over the place, every brand has one or more of them. So what are they?

A marketing gag, of course. All those creams might have been sold as foundations, tinted moisturizers or primers respectively, but the term BB Cream proved to sell, so that is what we got.

 

What are BB Creams?

The term ‘BB’ usually stands for Blemish Balm or Beauty Balm. They have been around in Asia for a while, and then someone discovered it for the western market. The very first Blemish Balm ever seems to have come from German brand Christine Schrammek, though. Lisa Eldridge tells us about the origin of BB Creams in this video.

In general, BB Creams include some sort of coverage, so they come in flesh tones (sometimes they are colorless in the tube and gain color upon application, for example the one from the Body Shop). They are also suposed to have skin care ingredients, making them the new generation of tinted moisturizers. They also usually contain SPF, but that ranges from very high to very low. Some don’t list SPF, but at least with all the creams I looked at they still contained some sort of sun protection ingredients. Creams created for the Asian market often also claim to have whitening properties.

Even with these three things in common, one BB Cream can be very different from the next. At the moment, some brands offer more than one BB Cream (Dior, Guerlain etc).

BB Creams I have reviewed on this blog:

Aok Blemish Balm

Biotherm Aqua Source BB Cream

Clinique Age Defense BB Cream

Diorskin Nude BB Creme

Guerlain Lingerie de Peau BB

La Roche Posay Hydreane BB Cream

 

What are CC Creams?

Since BB Creams proved to be a seller, companies were on the lookout for the next big hit, and this sort of seemed like the logical consequence. The CC usually stands for Color Correction or Complexion Correction. I think the name operates on the assumption that Blemish Balm is for skin with pimples, and skin with age spots and such needs its own cream. Sometimes the marketing or SA will try to tell you that BB is for young and CC for mature skin, but frankly that is a gross overgeneralisation, also because I’m sure BB Creams weren’t really created with this in mind. (Compare Clinique‘s Age Defense BB Cream. And also, my approach for skin care is that anti-aging skin care is the best for skin with acne.)

The color correction is approached from two sides: one, the skin care side, which (hopefully) includes ingredients to help with pigmentation and discoloration from scars. Two, the cream itself is tinted to optically help with discolorations. And here we have two versions, lets call them Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 comes flesh-toned, just like BB Creams. That, like most BB Creams, makes them a form of tinted moisturizer or even foundation. Examples for Type 1 are Chanel‘s CC Cream, or the creams by Dr Brandt. Type 2, on the other hand, comes in pastel colors to color correct the skin before you put makeup on top. That means they are primers. Examples for this type are the CC Creams from YSL or MAC. Both have CC Creams in several different shades (lavender, peach etc), to combat different discolorations.

What do CC Creams have in common with each other? Pretty much only the tinted aspect (and even that is sometimes very slight, see Diadermine). They should all include skin care ingredients that help even out the complexion over time, but some contain more and some a whole lot less. SPF is also not a common denominator. Some have a high SPF, and some have none at all. I think they all should have some, because if you boast that you’re helping with pigmentation you should protect the skin from further UV damage. That’s just my personal opinion, though. So, really, CC Creams are all over the place, even more so than BB Creams.

CC Creams I have reviewed on this blog:

By Terry Cellularose Brightening CC Lumi-Serum

Diadermine Lift+ CC

Dr Brandt CC Mat

 

Recently smelled: Guerlain L’Homme Ideal and Narciso Rodriguez Narciso

I received some very tiny samples in the mail, and decided they get a joint review.

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First off the new male fragrance by Guerlain, L’Homme Ideal EdT. The advertising tells us that, nope, the perfect man doesn’t exist, but his perfume does.

At first dab, I wasn’t all that impressed. It just had this regular, sorta fresh and slighly sharp opening. I was like, whatever, and went on with my day. An hour or half in, I suddenly thought, yep, that’s a Guerlain. It seemed so familiar. Reading up on the official notes, it must be the “amaretto” heart, based on tonka bean and almond. So after a while, this turns into a softly sweet scent, is what I’m trying to say. The longer I wore it, the more I liked it. The review over at Bois de Jasmin calls it the Petite Robe Noir for the man. And I agree. So is it the ideal man fragrance? If the lady you want to impress calls La Petite Robe Noir her favorite perfume, probably.

Personally, I think I’d rather keep it on myself. ;) That or Dior Homme. If you like sweet scents, but find the female offerings way too cloying, try those two.

I almost forgot: lasting power is pretty good.

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List of ingredients, click to enlarge. L’Homme Ideal was created by Thierry Wasser.

The other perfume that fluttered into my house was Narciso EdP by Narciso Rodriguez:

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I don’t know how I can begin to describe this one. This is the fragrance Cara Delevigne will wear when getting gay married to lady of her choice. (Disclaimer: nobody’s getting gay married to Cara Delevigne. SO FAR.) What I mean is, this is incredibly sexy to me and at the same time makes me feel like I can rule the world. Yet I find it clean and elegant, not raunchy. What does it smell like? According to official notes list, rose, gardenia, vetiver, cedar and musk. I am not a big fan of rose, but I couldn’t really make it out here. Unofficial lists also include amber.

I think it’s not that dissimilar to L’Homme up there (notes are different, but the development is similar).

Longevity of Narciso is pretty good, lasts all day on my wrist.

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There was no ingredients list on Narciso, just the promo image. Might be the only time that I think promo image and scent match.

In a nutshell: I wish those samples had been bigger.

Dr Brandt CC Mat

Dr Brandt offers two different lines of CC Cream: CC Glow (pink packaging) and CC Mat (grey packaging). I got testers of CC Mat and I’ve been using them on and off since July.

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This is the last pack. I received the color “light to medium”; I’m pretty sure both lines of CC cream also have a “medium to dark”. You can see a bit of the color left on top. At first I was critical if the color would work for me; light to medium is usually too dark. However, it spread out pretty thin and the coverage is light, so it worked.

I think I’m writing this review backwards. Let’s get the stats: This is a CC cream, meaning it has skin care properties and is supposed to help with discolorations. It comes with SPF 30 PA +++, and it comes flesh-toned. There are two sorts of CC creams if you ask me, one type comes in soft pastel colors, which makes them primers. The others come in flesh tones, which means you can use them instead of foundation (or as primer).

I’ve been using this instead of foundation. The coverage is light, but it’s there. The color of “light to medium” matches up to MAC NC 20, that was the shade of concealer I was using along with this CC cream. But when I fell back to NC 15, it worked as well, so there’s certainly a range of tones it works with.

At first I tried to use it on its own, without any primer or moisturizer underneath, but I found it sinks into pores and highlights them instead of hiding them. So a pore-filling primer was a must. And that’s why this CC Mat does not work as a primer itself. But with a primer underneath I was pretty happy with it. For a while I’ve combined it with the By Terry CC Lumi Serum, that gave the prettiest result.

The product is mattifying as the name suggests and it did control the shininess on my nose. Since our summer wasn’t overly hot this year and my skin isn’t that oily to begin with (my nose gets shiny throughout the day, usually I need to blot twice) I cannot promise it works with very oily skin. I didn’t have to blot during the day while wearing this, though. Since it is mattifying and I applied all over my face I was afraid it might be drying on the cheeks. But that didn’t happen.

Since I used it with a pore-filling primer to keep it from sinking in I cannot say if it had any positive effects on skin, but it didn’t have any negative effects.

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The back with a long list of ingredients. Click to enlarge.

All in all I think this is a pretty good product. I won’t buy a full size because I prefer better coverage, but I think it’s worth checking out if you’re looking for only a little bit of color in a mattifying cream with sun protection.

OPI My Dogsled is a Hybrid & My Voice is a Little Norse

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Out of the cute Little Northies set by OPI I tried the green one first, My Dogsled is a Hybrid. To my own surprise I discovered I own a lot of clothes in this color so I had fun color-coordinating outfits for a whole week. Shown in the picture are two coats and no top coat. It is a little streaky, the polish is very thick and while the brush is as good as the regular size brushes, it was a little smaller, so I needed more strokes than usual. But the strokes aren’t as visible in real life as they are in this picture, especially with top coat over it. The pic pulls blue, the color is greener than it looks like here.

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Then I decided to put the glitter topper on my ring finger. This is one coat of My Voice is a Little Norse. It’s the best glitter top I own. What you see up there is what happens when you drag the brush once across. No placement of glitter needed, no fishing for glitter in the bottle either. This pic doesn’t do the sparkle any justice, so I made another out of focus:

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I hope you can see the multi colored sparkle better here.

After I took these pics I slapped Essie Good To Go on top and the mani has been holding like cement for a week.