Fragrance: the quick ‘n dirty beginners’ guide, part three

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Congratulations, burgeoning fragrance junkies! We’ve made it to the third day. As promised, I have just a bit more information for you…

Fragrance finders

Once you know the names of a couple fragrances you’re into, the internet becomes your best friend! Both Sephora and Nordstrom have handy frag finders that sort out scents by their families and subfamilies, leading you towards other things you might like. (Sephora also has an in-store version of a fragrance finder on cool, touch-screen monitors.)

Formulations, and concentrations
Fragrances can be found in a ton of forms, from the traditional sprays, to solids, to silicone-y gels, to candles, to lotions, to body washes and bars of luxurious soap… at the end of the day, though, the one thing you need to remember is to smell the form you’ll be buying! Most fragrances will smell quite similar in spray form vs. lotion (for instance,) but some fragrances are less precise.

When it comes to traditional perfume, though, you still have to keep an eye out for EdT, EdP, and parfum concentrations! Not only do they include different percentages of pure parfum, they can sometimes vary in the absolute used, as well! Two of the best examples that come to mind for this are Chanel’s Coco and Dior’s Miss Dior Cherie. Coco is spicier in its EdT formulation, and a sharper floral in its EdP formulation; Miss Dior Cherie is gorgeous in its EdP formulation but watered down and more synthetic in its EdT formulation. (I thorougly dislike its EdT — but that’s a story for another day.)

Perfume extract/Extrait/Parfum: 15-40%
Eau de Parfum/Parfum de Toilette/ Eau de Perfume: 10-20%
Eau de Toilette: 5-15%
Eau de Cologne/Cologne: Chypre citrus type perfumes with 3-8%
Splash and After shave: 1-3% aromatic compoundsvia Wikipedia and previous knowledge… how unglamorous!

Helpful reads
Now Smell This is definitely my favourite ‘fume blog, and there’s a handy perfume-for-beginners article here! This is a stellar example of a blogger who does her “job” much better than I. Even just googling for reviews can be handy too, though — the only place I’d avoid would be something like Sephora.com. (Have you noticed how 99% of the fragrance reviews are “I love this! It’s perfect! So sexy!” for every bloody fragrance?! It annoys the crap out of me.)

I’d also recommend reading Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez’ Perfumes: the A – Z Guide. While I don’t treat their word as the bible by any means, their reviews are often insightful (and hilarious!), and the book’s (albeit much too short!) introduction provides a brilliant background on the world that is the perfume industry. Here is an excerpt from my favourite chapter! There are a number of fragrance books in existance, but this was an easy read, and it was easy to find — the public library isn’t too focused on perfume, apparently!


That’s the end of our fragrance beginner’s guide, ladies! Thanks for sticking around, and remember: my door (or, rather, my comments thread) is always open for questions or comments :)
Missed an installment? Check out the first two parts of this guide here and here!

Fragrances: the quick ‘n dirty beginners’ guide, part two

Monday, April 26, 2010

I don’t want to write too much of an introduction for this, but simply put: here’s a few lists of fragrances that I think are worth checking out! Are there more worth mentioning? Certainly — but I wanted to keep this list fairly short, so most of the “harder to wear” (and harder to find!) scents have been left out. Fragrance doesn’t have to be exclusive to be good, and you shouldn’t have to pay a ton in order to figure out what you like! One of these days, I’m sure you’ll all see your first niche price tag, but for now? I’ll try to prevent that heart attack.


(Just kidding. I’m lusting after Guerlain’s Spiritueuse Double Vanille right now, and it boasts a $225 price tag.)

Deciphering your tastes


Aquolina: Pink Sugar. Sweet and syrupy. A teenage gourmand on steroids — and yet, it can really suit some people! (In a good way, I assure you.)
Balenciaga: Balenciaga Paris. Demure and understated; I can’t get enough of this fruity floral.
Chanel: Cristalle. Light, fresh, and very… Chanel.
Coty: Vanilla Fields. A basic-but-beautiful entrance vanilla (or so I’ve been told! I still haven’t tried this one.)
D&G: Light Blue. Fresh, juicy, clean. A no-perfume perfume that has become overwhelmingly popular. It now bores me half to death, but this was my first fragrance love!

Dior: J’adore. A delicious ultrafeminine floral with sillage aplenty.
DKNY: Be Delicous. This is about as clean as fruity scents go — hey there, green apple! Though this is overwhelmingly popular, I can’t bring myself to love it… there’s just something there that’s too synthetic for me.
Hanae Mori: Hanae Mori Butterfly. Woody and oriental; a sweet, warm vanilla.
Kenzo: FlowerbyKenzo. Finally, a floral that smells simply of an interesting flower! Soft and not too crisp.
Kiehl’s: Musk. Another that I haven’t tried yet, but it’s said to be a very pure incarnation of musk — which makes it a great think to smell if you’re starting out!
Lolita Lempicka: Lolita Lempicka. I’ve never loved this, but I do love the gorgeous bottle! Crisp, warm, and sweet.

Narciso Rodriguez: Narciso Rodriguez For Her EdT. Musky and woodsy, though it can be overwhelming. Interesting.
Marc Jacobs: Daisy. One word: supergreenfloral.


Prada: Prada. A good leather is hard to find (no, really — the good leathers are a pain in the butt to track down,) but some people get a bit of a leathery note from this sexy, woody perfume. Again, not for the faint of heart!
Prada: L’Eau Ambree. A fragrance that quite honestly changed the way I viewed fragrance. 

Robert Piguet: Fracas. You know when people say “big white floral”? Yah.
Serge Lutens: Ambre Sultan. Incense, minus the strange tree-hugging populus. (I have no qualms with tree-huggers. Even I’ve hugged trees on occasion. But I do not like most incense sticks!)
Thierry Mugler: Angel. I don’t even know what to say. Loud. Love-it-or-hate-it. Wear sparingly.
Victor & Rolf: Flowerbomb. Another love-it-or-hate-it that has become immensely popular over the past year or so. Unabashedly loud and floral. 

Iconic fragrances

Chanel: No. 5 EdP or parfum. Classic aldyhidic floral. Heck, it even has its own Wikipedia page!
Chanel: Coco EdT and EdP (they’re very different) and Coco Mademoiselle. It’s rare that a flanker becomes more popular than the original fragrance, but Mademoiselle added a sweet edge to the distinguished “floriental” Coco and turned into an instant (and ongoing) hit.
Dior: Poison. I guarentee you’ve smelled this on someone else at least once in your life — so head to the counter and try a spritz of this bold creation, even if it’s just for an afternoon. 
Estée Lauder: Youth Dew. The first fragrance ever marketed specifically for women to buy for themselves… it had to be included!
Guerlain: Shalimar. Warm, oriental, and very bold. This may not be for the faint of heart, but it’s worth a smell anyway!
YSL: Opium. A true oriental; loud, brash, and stunningly spicy.

images credit norstrom.com.

 

This is by no means a complete list (there’s no such thing, frankly,) so: fellow fragrance junkies, what would you add to this list? (And why?) Let us know in the comments, but make sure that it’s accessible!

Want more? Check out part one here, and come back tomorrow for our final installment!

Fragrances: the quick ‘n dirty beginners’ guide, part one.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

(Gingerbee, this is for you!)


So.


Starting out with fragrances.


Daunting, right?


[OH MY GOD, why am I trying to write a guide on this?! I'm not qualified to do this!]



Finding a family

No, not the kind that’ll adopt you and fund your perfume-habit-to-be. Rather, you need to figure out what kind of fragrance family you like! Most people break woman’s fragrances into four categories; floral, fresh, oriental, and woody. (But, of course, there are confusing subcategories as well.) To some degree, this “guide” will awkwardly attempt to help clarify just how you’re supposed to go about finding your favourite family.

The easiest way to go about doing this is to get thee into a fragrance shop and start smelling! However, there are a few “tools” that you might have access to that I’d definitely recommend using to your advantage. Which takes us to our next category…

image via sephora.com.
 

Using what (or who) you can 
The first “tool” I’d “use” is the sales associate. About half of them have no idea what they’re doing or  continually push the same fragrance the whole day to make a larger profit are sub-par, but the half that do know their way around their counter? Gold. Try to go when the shop isn’t too busy, but not too close to closing time — I find bright in the morning, dinner hour, or during the workday are the best times, if it’s possible for you to go then! That way, you’ll be able to explain that you’re new to fragrances and would like a hand getting started, and there won’t be (as much of) a rush. 

If you do find a great sales associate, make sure to bring your buisness back to them! Most of them are on commission, and even if they’re not, it’s still only polite. There are huge advantages to finding a great sales associate and forming a relationship with them: it can make fragrance shopping more fun, they’ll be able to recommend scents just for you, they’ll be more likely to spend time helping you, you’ll always get the heads-up when a new launch or deal might interest you… the list goes on!


The second tool to utilize is the sampler set. Larger stores, like Sephora or Shopper’s Drug Mart, put them out around Christmas, and they’re a wonderful way to try out new fragrances. They come with a gift certificate for a full-sized bottle of one of the fragrances in the sampler set, so as long as you find something to love in the set, they’re a pretty good deal! (And if you don’t? Well, you can always use it to buy a full-size for gifting.) Coffret-esque sets are wonderful, too; the difference is that they’re larger sizes in adorable mini bottles, and don’t come with the gift certificate.


(On a side note, I’m looking at the set through the link… and it actually looks perfect for a beginner! Heck, now I’m tempted O.o)

image via getty images.

Trying on fragrances

The one thing I cannot push enough is the importance of skin. A fragrance can smell entirely different on a blotter (or a “touche;” they’re the little paper slips scents are sprayed on) vs. on your skin. A good fragrance takes time to develop, and you won’t know how it’ll smell after a few hours unless you try it on!

So — beg ask for samples, when possible, and turn up to the fragrance counter without perfume, so you can try perfumes on your skin. But when you do sample them… one perfume per arm, please! (I know people who do more; I personally find it too overwhelming and confusing.) If you have access to a store like Sephora or Nordstrom, you can also ask if they can decant a small sample for you if they don’t have carded (from the manufacturer) samples around.

Wear your newfound fragrance for a couple of days, and see how it makes you feel! If by the end of your sample vial you’re bored half to death, it’s clearly not for you. But if it leaves you craving more? The answer is obvious!


Want more? Check out part two here :)
Have a wonderful Sunday, lovelies!

Get Chatty: open thread!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Okay, ladies — so you all know you’re allowed to talk to me about whatever, whenever, right? (Now is when you nod.) Well, I realize that some of you have more decency than I do might be shy, so here is your formal invitation to say hello!


Honestly. Leave a comment, introduce yourself, say hey… this’ll stay open until midnight Saturday, so I hope you have a moment to be a chatty sally ;) 

Getty Images thinks this man is gossiping. I say he’s a lurk.
Then again, they also think these pigs are gossiping, but I say pigs can’t gossip. What say you?

Can’t think of what to chat about? How’s this for a promt: let us know what fragrance you’re wearing today! I have on one of my newfound favourites, Balanciaga Paris. Every time I catch a wiff, I feel like I’m dying — it’s so lovely it hurts. 

But like, in a good way. In a good, non-masochistic, healthy-living kind of way.

The end of the second reich

Remember, way back in October, when I told you ladies I would be trying and reviewing a new Marcelle line? Well… I finally finished those reviews!

(Y’know. Not like I procrastinated it or anything.)


I do want to give you a “final breakdown” of this line, because it’s the only one I’ve ever tried to go steady with! Normally, I’m all over the place with skincare — a lotion from one company, cleanser from another, no toner at all…


… which you totally didn’t need to know. USE ALL YOUR SKINCARE STEPS. Cleanse. Moisturise. Tone. Use night creams and eye creams and foot creams and belly creams. Feel the peer pressure. Do it.

But I digress. On to the minireviews, behind the cut! (As well as links to full reviews) I do think that there are some items in this line worth checking out, but at the same time, I wouldn’t use it exclusively — if you’re doing that, the line on the whole is only as strong as its weakest link, after all!

Try: oil-free moisturizing regulating lotion
Buy: clarifying lotion, purifying foaming cleanser
Pass: blemish control




The moisturizer:
Due to its scent, I’m not actively using the AC-Solution moisturizer. However, if you like the scent, go get head checked out or are anosmic to it for some strange, unexplainable reason, I would definitely recommend it! It feels amazing on my skin, and helps (to a degree) in keeping the oilies away.

The toner:
I’m not using this one either — but it has nothing to do with how much I liked it or disliked it! Rather, I stopped using it because I’m lazy, and my oilier-skinned sister has taken to using [my bottle of] this every day. We both find it helps keep a slick t-zone at bay, so props for that ;)


The cleanser:
This is the one I’m still using on a regular basis. I love the packaging — very easy to use, and the thickness of the foam is great. This may be nothing to write epic novels about, but in terms of finding a utilitarian, paraben-free, fairly-non-drying foam cleanser? It’s a winner.

The spot treatment:
This was the one item that I just flat-out didn’t like. Though cute, the packaging got pretty messy pretty fast, and I don’t find it’s effective in treating acne. I’d pass on this one, unless you find salicylic acid really helps your skin.



Overall, I think this is a pretty solid skincare line — but it’s not going to solve your problems if you have major acne, and it won’t overwhelm you with cuteness or fun scents. If you’re looking for a no-frills regimen to keep fairly-normal skin in good condition, I would check this out! (Except that spot treatment. It was kinda a bummer.)

The price point is a touch high for the drugstore, but I’ve always grouped Marcelle with the mid-range products anyways (and it does perform at that level, so I have no qualms with doing so.) Plus, even if it is a touch expensive, it seems to be on sale 300/365 days per year anyways.

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