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Monday, 22 August 2016

Urban Reivers - Damn Rebel Bitches Fragrance Review


In Edinburgh, at least until the 29th August, Urban Reivers is holding a pop-up shop at 46a George Street, and (yes, I know it's late notice) I do urge you to pop along if you have any interest in Scotland, Scottish history, or (I almost hate to mention it), Outlander, because Urban Reivers have developed a very interesting fragrance based on Scotland's rather, um, tempestuous past.

Called Damn Rebel Bitches (inspired by the book by Maggie Craig, which tells tales of the women who took part in the Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745), and created in partnership with Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays,  the fragrance  utilises ingredients, both rare and everyday, that would have been available to women during the Jacobean era. Combing blood orange and hazelnuts leads to a very creamy citrus effect (if you've ever heard of an Orange Julius - it's the smell of one of those on a hot day) at first, which is compounded by a warm and conforting malty (Ovaltine!) undertone.  The pink pepper  adds a slight prickle of fizziness to the creamy effect, which sounds rather odd, but works very well on the skin, and there is apparently clary sage underpinning the whole thing, but my nose can't pick that out at all (my problem, rather than the fragrance's though, to be honest).  It's really rather lovely, and it's one of those fragrances that seems familiar, without ever being able to put your finger on what precisely it reminds you of, which is an effect I enjoy.

Easy to wear, but not in the slightest bit boring - Mr Lippie is a fan of this one - Damn Rebel Bitches might not be quite as big in effect  as it's name suggests it will be (it plays far too close to the skin for that), but it's a gorgeous fragrance all the same.  I've used up my sample bottle already, and miss it very much.  If you're into a little history with your perfume, then you can't really go wrong with this one.  If you can't get along to Edinburgh for a sniff, you can buy it from the Urban Reivers online shop, here: https://www.urbanreivers.scot/reek/perfume.html where it will cost you £70 for 50mls.


The Fine Print: PR samples.


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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

DHC Rich Eye Zone Care Pack


I'm old.  I'm tired.  I don't get enough sleep.  I stare at computers too much.  I read a lot.  I rub my eyes a lot, and did I mention that I'm tired?  My eyes are definitely starting (ha! "starting") to show the signs of ageing these days, laughter lines get deeper each day, and dehydration lines take longer and longer to disappear once they arrive too.  So eye masks have become a slight obsession recently.  It started with these Rich Eye Zone Care Pack eye masks from DHC, but I'll show you the others some other time.



Used to other sheet-style masks that are soaked in a serum, or other liquid, it was a surprise that these were rather dry and stiff, then it turned out that the masks were put together in pairs with a "proper" eyecream in between.  Once you pulled the masks apart the cream - and it really is a cream, not a serum - is revealed.  The masks remain rather stiff, however, and positioning them can be tricky.


I struggled a bit getting the upper strips into a comfortable position, but I persisted, and wore them for around 20 minutes/half an hour or so, and found when I removed them that my eyes definitely felt more comfortable and hydrated, and the skin was plumped up.  They contain multipeptides which they claim stimulates collagen, olive fruit and hyaluronic acid.

I liked them a lot, actually, and will use them again, particularly as they cost £15 for six treatments, and the clever packaging (a resealable bag, which contains a resealable clam-shell package) means they will keep fresh for a while without drying out.  I think best used as a treat before a big appointment or a night out rather than a weekly indulgence, but good for a quick boost when you need one.

You can buy them direct from DHC here.


The Fine Print: PR samples and purchases

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Aquis Lisse Luxe Long Hair Towel Review


My hair. It drives me nuts.  You know this, I've written about it endlessly over the years, and after recently buying it a hat to keep it quiet during the night, I thought it was time to treat it to a new towel too, so I got in touch with the lovely people at Aquis and begged them to let me trial their new, and rather lovely, Lisse Luxe Hair Towels. Luckily for me, they said yes, and now I'm the extremely happy owner of one of their long hair towels.


Now, those of you with long memories will remember that I bought my hair a special towel last year too, one specifically designed to encourage curls which is deliberately not that absorbent, but the Aquis Liss Luxe is designed to dry your hair super-quickly without damage. Also, to dry it superquickly without being made of those nasty really cheap microfibres, which, if you're anything like me, set your teeth on edge and just have that "squeaky" feel against skin.  I have a few (cheap) microfibre turbans, but they are just so horrible to the touch that I can't bring myself to use them.


Made of a blend of polyester and nylon called Aquitex, Aquis towels are super light (literally a few grammes, even in the larger sizes, rather than a pound or two for terry-towelling) and actually feel wonderfully luxurious to the fingers. They're slightly textured without that horrific squeaky microfibre feel.  They're amazingly aborbent for such a light towel, too.  I have a lot (and I do mean a LOT) of hair, and it takes hours and hours to dry naturally even after an hour or two wrapped in a normal towel usually, but I've found that the Aquis Lisse Luxe towel can cut that drying time at least in half, if not more. In fact, after around half an hour in the towel last time I used it, my hair felt more than halfway dry already, just about perfect to start heat styling.  If I could ever be bothered blowdrying, that is, which I can't, usually.


Unlike my curl-towel, which at £19 I thought was expensive for a clearly cut by hand with scissors and unhemmed piece of stretchy cloth (even though it does a sterling job, frankly), my Aquis Lisse Luxe towel at £30 seems priced correctly, even though it is on the pricey side.  The quality of the cloth, the finishing details of an envelope to keep it in when dry (it even comes with a pony tail band!), and best of all, the time saved from not having to use a hair dryer to rough-dry before styling all make me happy. And no squeaky microfibre!

The website for Aquis claims that using the towel after every wash for three weeks will improve the health of your hair - I'm still a little sceptical about that, but then I never ever rub my hair with any kind of towel anyway, my hair just doesn't need that kind of help creating frizz, frankly.  However, for drying my hair gently, but quickly, and without having to carry around several pounds of heavy terry-towelling on my head for a couple of hours, it's already definitely a winner in my book.  Any improvements to the health of my hair will just be the cherry on the cake, frankly.

You can buy the Aquis Lisse Luxe Long Hair Towel here for £30.


The Fine Print: PR samples and purchases


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Monday, 15 August 2016

Amouroud Safran Rare Review




Oud.  It's a funny old ingredient, essentially it's the smell of infected tree sap, and yet it's one of the most prized (not to mention that it's currently hugely trendy) and expensive fragrance ingredients around.  When I heard that a new range of entirely oud-based fragrances was launching, I'll be honest, my heart sank a bit "another oud range?" I thought, how ... utterly predictable.  But I'll be honest, I was completely wrong, the Amouroud launch is definitely something to love, and, even though it's rather embarrassing, I shall tell you why.  

First, a little about the  brand.  Amouroud is the brainchild of the people behind Perfumers Workshop, whose previous masterpieces include the 80's hit "Tea Rose", which was, allegedly, the favourite fragrance of Princess Diana.  Not that well-known in the UK, Amouroud represents a concerted effort to bring Oud-centric fragrances out of their rather niche ... um ... niche,  and showcase the ingredient as a supporting player in a range of wonderfully crafted, beautifully longlasting fragrances that can be worn even if the idea of wearing rotting tree product leaves you a little cold.

To wit, there are six fragrances currently available from Amourod, all of which feature oud as a key player - if not always the star - of the scents.  They're all very different, and very lovely, but my heart decidedly belongs to Safran Rare, which I'll get to momentarily, but first, some sketches of the other fragrances in the range:

Miel Sauvage: a blend of honey, bergamot, jasmine, incense and sandalwood (and oud), Miel Sauvage begins bright and frisky from the sprightly bergamot,  then mellows slightly into a less animalic honey than expected, and slowly warms into a gorgeously narcotic blend of jasmine and sandalwood.  It's more floral and ladylike than expected from the name Savage (or Wild) Honey, and is unexpectedly easy to wear for an oud.

Santal des Indes: I couldn't smell this one very well at the launch, but it's absolutely beautiful to me now.  Woody and complex, it appears to open with an almost aniseedic whoosh, at once both slightly medicinal and slightly intoxicating, before settling into a woodsiness that smells at once green and brown, and just alive with leaves and grounded by earth covered in cedar wood chips.  Smelling it again now, for the first time since the launch, I could happily smell this one forever.  I can easily picture MrLippie wearing this, and me never letting him out of the house in it. It's astonishingly clean for an oud fragrance, and it's an amazing composition.  I'd buy a full bottle of this in a heartbeat.

Midnight Rose: Supposedly opening with lychee and pomelo, this is a rose both jammy and dark.  I don't get the fruit at the beginning, and fall straight into what initially appears to be a slightly sour rose.  When this dries down, the sour-bite of the fruit wears off, the rose blooms into a jammy loveliness, surrounded by amber and resin.  it's a big, and gloriously 80'sesque (in a good way!) wear.

Dark Orchid: As the name pre-supposes, this is another bold floral.  This time opening with a sweet citrus accord, Dark Orchid soon turns into something darker and deeper, and more intriguing. Beyond the citrus there is jasmine and gardenia alongside ylang ylang, which creates a creamy note which works well with the smoky patchouli and vanilla in the base.  It's a powerhouse fragrance, which has parallels to a certain other "dark" orchid fragrance which I shan't name, but it's a perfect one for night-time wear. 

Oud du Jour: Sadly, my sample of Oud du Jour has gone missing, and at the launch there was something in the formula that triggered my parosmia, so Oud du Jour is the "lost" fragrance in this collection to my nose.  The notes make it sound interesting though, and I look forward to trying it again one day, as my parosmic recovery continues.



And finally, as promised, Safran Rare:  as many of my regular readers know, I lost my sense of smell a few years ago, and my recovery from that anosmia has been both a long and an extremely difficult one at times.  Even now, more than two years later there are things that I can't smell, and still things that trigger my parosmia, but on a day to day basis, I'm almost entirely recovered, if maybe a little underpowered in the smelling department compared to life in the great "before".  But, that  day I lost my sense of smell, I also lost another "sense" that I'd come to rely on, one that assisted me greatly in writing about fragrance, and that was my synaesthesia.  On smelling things for the first time, back in the day, my mind would draw a picture of the fragrance for me, and that would usually be the first impression of the fragrance that I would draw any subsequent reviews from.  I'd get impressions of colours, of fabrics, of coloured fabrics, or of unexpected scent memories ("It smells like a hug from the seventies" is one of my favourites), but since the anosmia: nothing.  Even with the parosmia and the cacosmia: nothing.  My life has truly been less colourful since anosmia, in an almost literal kind of a way.

Until Safran Rare. At the launch, Safran Rare came to me in a blinding flash of yellow chamois leather, so vivid I could almost reach out and stroke it with my fingertips.  It was so an unexpected sensation that I began to cry, because I hadn't realised just how much had been missing from my life, was still missing from my life in spite of my recovery, and I realised just how much further I still had to go.  An odd mixture of happy ("It's back!), and sad ("I've missed it so much") tears, but genuine tears nonetheless.  I am, as many people are aware, a massive wanker, and crying in the Soho Hotel because a fragrance "smells yellow" just confirms it, really.  Luckily, the gentlemen behind Amouroud were very understanding, and I'm incredibly grateful for both their discretion, and their creation, because Safran Rare is a great perfume, as well as being a yellow one. 

It's funny that Safran Rare doesn't list leather in its ingredients list (which includes cedar, jasmine, olbanum, saffron, vetiver and benzoin), because Safran Rare is very definitely a sexy leather fragrance.  If not quite Raquel Welch's chamois leather bikini in One Million Years BC, that's definitely the ballpark we're playing in.  Ballsy and not very sweet, Safran Rare is beautiful, even though it's probably not Amouroud's easiest wear.  Sexy on a man, it's incredibly memorable on a woman.

So there you have it.  Amouroud have pulled off an incredibly neat trick, an oud for everyone whether you like big, in your face oud, or prefer cleaner, fresher, lighter fragrances, and its something to be applauded.  Something else to be applauded is their generosity, at counter (currently exclusive to Harrods), when you purchase, you'll be asked which is your second favourite fragrance, and alongside the fragrance you buy, you'll be given a generous size sample atomiser (one big enough for several weeks of daily wear) of your second choice to go alongside your full-size bottle.

And did I mention the price?  £145 for 100ml.  When standard mass-produced fragrances these days come in at around £70 for 50mls, that's practically giving it away.  Amouroud is currently exclusive to Harrods.
 


The Fine Print: PR samples and purchases


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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The best bath oil in the world? Olverum Bath Oil


One of the best things about being a beauty blogger is the fact that all kinds of things arrive in an unexpected fashion,  and occasionally those things turn out to be products you never realised you couldn't live without, and Olverum Bath Oil is one of those things. 

Random fact, I don't think I've actually taken a bath since Kneipp discontinued my favourite Juniper-scented bath salts, and Shu Uemura discontinued Hinoki bath oil,  and then I ran out of my beloved Elemis Aching Muscle Super Soak (which was certain used to be called something else, but on a quick google search, it seems I'm merely  misremembering), because yes, I am that fussy about my bathing products.  I'll happily shower in any old (cheap) crap, but baths are for lingering, for loitering, for indulging in*, and, it turns out, I do want a strong herbal element to my bath.  I have no idea why, except maybe it's linked to the fact that I grew up in the heyday of the "badedas bath", and ALL baths in the seventies smelled of pine as a result.

Olverum Bath Oil smells not only of pine (from Siberian Fir Needle oil), but also of eucalyptus, lavendin, lemon, rosemary, verbena, lavender, lime, juniper and geranium, and combined in a ground nut and sunflower oil base, those scents are amazing.  It's like being surrounded by the alpine forest of your dreams.  I spent some time near Lake Bled in Slovenia last year, and this bath oil smells how those forests looked.  It's beautiful.  Deep and distinctive, resinous from the woods, yet also sharp and bright from the citrus, and yes, it is ever-so-slightly medicinal. It simply smells like it would do you a world of good even before you pour it into a hot bath.  And actually, bearing in mind it contains eucalyptus, it'll probably help soothe a head cold too.

At around £25 for a 125ml bottle, there's no denying Olverum Bath Oil is an indulgent treat, but as it is highly concentrated, you need only 5ml to scent your bath, and your bottle should last 25 baths as a result.  £1 for a bath in the middle of a Alpine forest is a bargain, no? 

You can find Olverum Bath Oil at Liberty, House of Fraser and Roullier White. 

The Fine Print: PR samples and purchases


* And, of course, reading in**
** and only occasionally, you know, washing in.

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Monday, 8 August 2016

Fornasetti L'Eclaireuse Candle

Fornasetti L'Eclaireuse Candle Get Lippie 20160807

Fornasetti is the most whimsical design brand around, and I can never resist it.  This is a surprise to me, as I'm not really a fan of whimsy. I generally prefer strong graphical design, bright colours and geometrics to more representational art (basically, give me art deco over almost anything else, and I'm a happy woman), but somehow, Fornasetti's sense of the surreal and absurd appeals to me in the most delightful way.  The RIP design which debuted in time for last Christmas actually made me laugh in delight (I like skulls, sue me) when I first laid eyes on it, and whilst this year's L'Eclaireuse hasn't quite made me giggle, it is definitely beautiful, and a lovely addition to my collection.

Fornasetti L'Eclaireuse Candle Get Lippie 20160807

Half Maharani, and half pirate; Fornasetti's muse Lina Cavalieri gazes out from the candle jar bedecked in either a golden eyepatch, or (my favourite) adorned in golden eastern-style jewels.  Jewellery, I can also get behind!


Fornasetti L'Eclaireuse Candle Get Lippie 20160807

Inside the jar is a new fragrance for this year; Mistero. This is a spicy blend of pink pepper, incense and cedarwood, which fizzes gently on the nose when sniffed from the jar, but I'm just waiting for the nights to draw in a bit so I can light it and see how the scent throws out in a room.  Fornasetti candles generally burn well and very cleanly, and the other scents I have in my collection throw well, scenting even my high-ceiling-ed rooms gently but decisively, so I can't wait to light this one.

Or, it turns out, not. 

Fornasetti L'Eclaireuse Candle Get Lippie 20160807
It's not a shrine.  It does need some plants though.

 I do have a small Fornasetti problem in that I can't bear to burn them at all simply because they are so damn beautiful! What a dilemma, I know ... They are gorgeous objects in their own right, not just as candles, and I should just get over myself and burn them so I can use them for other purposes but I just need to finish admiring them first.  Don't I?

The Fornasetti L'Eclaireuse candle will be available from September, and will cost £125.

The Fine Print: PR samples.


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Friday, 5 August 2016

Monotheme Verbena Eau de Toilette

Monotheme Verbena Eau de Toilette Get Lippie 20160731

The press release for Monotheme Verbena Eau de Toilette arrived last week, and I was literally kicking myself for not having paid any attention to them earlier.  Verbena sounded right up my street, promising green notes of verbena with white flowers surrounded by a base (its a perfume, it can totally be "surrounded by a base".  Honestly*) of vetiver, amber and musk sounded intriguing, and at a price point of only £18 for 100mls, what a bargain!

Monotheme is an Italian fragrance house, founded by Lorenzo Vidal, and it is sold exclusively in the UK by M&S.   From what I can gather from the names on the M&S website, the fragrances seem to either be soliflores or simply-themed smells based around a single accord.  Not such a bad thing really, especially at this kind of price point.

Verbena is normally a green and fresh lemony kind of a fragrance, and so Verbena by Monotheme also proves to be, but instead of being lemon-sharp and sparkling, Verbena has a green and mineral-flinty aspect to it, which is reminscent of mint and crushed green leaves, almost a green tea note.  It's simple, but it's very appealing, I've been wearing it non-stop since it arrived a couple of days ago, and I love it.  Projection is low, and sillage stays close to the wearer, but it's surprisingly intriguing for such a simple "fresh" scent, and it's proved popular with MrLippie too.  You'll need to reapply regularly as it has the lasting power you'd expect from a citrus, but that's not really such a hardship!

And how cute is that darned bottle?  Too darn cute, that's how cute.  I'll be investigating more from the range ASAP, colour me hugely surprised and happy to have discovered these! 


 * I think.

The Fine Print: PR samples and purchases


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