Current Faves: Fragrances, 2016

For the longest time, Stella by Stella McCartney was my signature fragrance. Amber is a note that I’m consistently drawn to. The mixture of rose, rose absolute, peony, mandarin, and amber always did something magical on my skin. Often, I was told that I smelled like a well made birthday cake or a bright summer day. I even had a very pregnant lady tell me that I smelled delicious and inviting. That might seem odd to hear, but I definitely took it as a compliment.

Over the last few years, I’ve gotten away from Stella. My body has changed, my hormones are working differently. Stella, while a beautiful scent, doesn’t quite do it for me like it did a decade ago. Also, I love change, even if I’ve been a creature of habit lately. I don’t like smelling the same every day. On the days I know I’ll be at a gym, I’ll just smell like my clean, masculine deodorant I’m wearing (I can’t stand the smell of women’s deos). When I wear a fragrance, it’s never the same one as the day before. Variety keeps people interested.

I have a few fragrances that are on regular rotation right now.

Jo Malone Earl Grey & Cucumber

A couple years ago, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. “Are these scents really worth the hype and money?” I thought. Well, out of all of the fragrances I tried, only two made a positive impression on me. Two! Earl Grey & Cucumber was one of them. I put some on my wrists and the back of my neck, and walked around for awhile. I wanted to see if anyone commented on how I smelled. A few people actually stopped me and told me I smelled good. Later that night, I asked my mother what she thought. She’s not a huge fan of fragrances in general, so she’s definitely a good person to ask. She was impressed and gave me the go ahead.

This fragrance is a perfect blend of bergamot, Earl Grey, cucumber, vanilla, and musk. When I wear it, it smells very refreshing, inviting, bright, and creamy. Because of the “masculine” notes of musk and Earl Grey, many people would consider this better for winter and/or evening. I love it all year round, as the bergamot and cucumber give the fragrance a very lively element.

Tocca Emelia

There is a group of people who blend together well. Our births fall somewhere between 1972 and 1983.  (I still claim I am a Gen Xer, because I have no emotional connection with Millennial). We are the Pearl Jam loving, super grungy, flannel and ripped jeans wearing people. We were the ones who paved the way for what fashion looks like today. Who wore cK one as religiously as me in the 90s? You know you bought, at the very least, a small bottle. You and your beau smelled and dressed alike. I wanted a bottle of cK one, because I wanted to be cool. Yes, I bought into the nonplussed, “alternative” lifestyle that Calvin Klein ads promoted. I remember loving the way cK one smelled. The fresh and crisp elements made me happy. I felt energized when I wore it. I also loved that people thought I was cool with my big bottle of cK one sitting on my desk. [I remember the day I got it. My mother agreed to buy it for me while we were waiting to get on a ferry between Ireland and England (or possibly Wales). It was duty-free, so I’m sure that’s why I was able to convince her.]

Well, I finally found something that reminds me of cK one (as it’s so hard to find these days, and I’m not 15 anymore). Toque’s Emelia is extremely reminiscent of cK one. In fact, the first time I tried Emelia on, I was taken right back to eighth and ninth grade. I immediately wanted to change into a pair of loose fitting 501s, a white tank top, and an oversized flannel. Pearl Jam’s ‘Daughter’ came flooding into my mind. Later that day, as I walked past a group of people, I heard one of them say “oooh, what’s that smell? It reminds me of being a teenager!” She looked my age, so I had to assume she was talking about cK one. I didn’t ask her, so I could be completely wrong.

There are so many notes in this fragrance: magnolia tree lead, bison grass, geranium, praline, coconut water, clementine, and so many more. It is a very green and citrus fragrance, but unlike an extremely popular and overused fragrance. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, hallelujah!) Emelia wears extremely well. It stayed on my skin for about 9 or 10 hours. It may have stayed longer, but I fell asleep smelling delicious.

LaVanila Vanilla Summer

Vanilla definitely has a bad reputation. There are many vanilla based fragrances out there in the world, and you can tell the quality of the fragrance by the way the vanilla smells. If it smells too sweet or synthetic, it’s probably not the best quality. It’s also probably not very expensive either. I am definitely picky about what kind of vanilla I have on and the concentration of the note.

LaVanila is known for their vanilla based fragrances. What sets them apart is that they don’t use synthetic chemicals to produce any of the notes in their perfumes. Each fragrance in the line is made with essential oils and ingredients that come from naturally derived ingredients. Even the alcohol in the perfumes is sugar cane alcohol. All of the products are free of synthetic fragrance, petrochemicals, parbens, synthetic dyes, and other ingredients that appear on consumers’ no-no lists.

Long before LaVanila created Vanilla Summer, I wore Vanilla Coconut. It smelled amazing and I got a lot of compliments. The only problem that I had was that the fragrance would quickly brown, due to the fact the coconut essential oil was naturally derived instead of synthetic. I love spritzing my clothes with a bit of perfume to allow the scent to linger. With Vanilla Coconut, I could only do that with black clothes. The moment Vanilla Summer was released, I was in love. It is absolutely a mood elevator. It makes me think of being on a beach in Hawaii, sipping an icy cocktail after a long day of swimming and surfing and running around. The fragrance motivates me to be active and get outside.

Aside from vanilla, the notes of Vanilla Summer are pineapple, mango, coconut milk, and sugar cane. Seriously, it’s exactly what a tropical smoothie or cocktail should be made out of. Every time I wear this, people who don’t like the smell of traditional vanilla (overly synthetic and saccharine) tell me that they love how I smell. This perfume seems to put everyone in a great mood. I wear this all year round, and it is very helpful during dreary, cold winter days. It snaps me out of any gloomy mood I might be in.


I do have other favorite fragrances, but these are the fragrance I am wearing regularly. Seek them out! Try them for yourselves. Sure, they might not work for everyone, but keep an open mind. It’s nice to try something new. These fragrances, in my opinion, are very versatile and can work for most people.

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day & remember to love yourself!

Sunday Skin Favourites: Wallet Friendly Masks!

As you know, in my last post, I raved about GlamGlow’s Thirstymud Mask. I’m still obsessed, even though the mothball scent is starting to occur. Surely that means it’s starting to turn. Right? Whatever the case, I think it is pretty awesome, despite the smell change. When I wrote the post about Thirstymud, I was so tired that I couldn’t focus on writing much more. I did want to talk about all of my favorite masks and promised myself that I would write a post about them.

First, I should clarify what kind of skin I have: dry, sun damaged, mildly sensitive, with blackhead issues on my nose. Also, I do get the very occasional hormonal breakout (so annoying as my skin is dry). In an effort to take care of my skin, the products I like to use are generally in the hydrating, calming, soothing, brightening, and occasional exfoliation realm. Therefore, the products I use frequently and love are not suitable for everyone.

The masks I have been obsessed with lately are:

  1. Lush Cosmetics Oatifix ($6.95)
  2. Lush Cosmetics Catastrophe Cosmetics ($6.95)
  3. Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque (ranges from $3.99-$5.99)

For those of you who don’t know, Lush Cosmetics makes masks completely preservative free, called Fresh Face Masks. Every week, each store is shipped small batches of these masks and they are kept in a small refrigerator. Those of us who are obsessed with these masks know the day of shipment, so that’s when you’ll find us at or local Lush. I generally shop at the two South Bay locations: Valley Fair & Oakridge malls. Their delivery day is Thursday. For a long time, I really wanted to try them, but I always seemed to go to Lush on a Wednesday. Of course, no fresh face masks left! Finally, I went in one Thursday & decided to purchase a mask. The first one I purchased was Catastrophe Cosmetic, then a week later, I bought Oatifix. Ever since, I’ve been totally in love. Another fun fact about Lush is their recycling program. Pretty much all of their packaging is recyclable. So, if you bring in 5 clean, empty pots (make sure it has a recycle marker on it), you can get a Fresh Face Mask for free! I was able to get a new pot of Oatifix on Thursday, which allowed me to splurge on a Catastrophe Cosmetic & some leave in hair treatment.

Oatifix is a blend of oatmeal, bananas, kaolin, ground almonds, illipe butter, and some essential oils & other ingredients. I have a feeling I can make a duplicate of this at home & get pretty much the same results. At $6.95, I don’t mind buying a tub of it every few weeks. The main purpose of this mask is to hydrate & calm the skin, so it is ideal for normal to dry skin, especially anyone with a sunburn! Two consecutive Sundays, I managed to burn my face. Oooops! This helped, at least, soothe the skin and add a bit of hydration to the raw skin I had left of my face.

Catastrophe Cosmetic is another great mask for soothing irritated, angry skin. Its main ingredients are calamine powder, irish moss, and blueberries. We know how wonderful calamine is for bug bites, poison oak & ivy, and other topical rashes. Irish moss is a great hydrating and calming agent. Blueberries are little antioxidant powerhouses. Another great ingredient is Blue Chamomile, which is commonly used topically for irritated, sensitive skin. Between this & Oatifix, my skin has been able to heal itself, even just superficially. (I am well aware of the deep damage the sunburn has done to my skin & there is not a lot of repair that can be done.) This mask is great for all skin types, from super dry to insanely oily. It does have some kaolin in there, which helps draw out impurities without stripping the skin.

All Lush Fresh Face Masks are left on the skin approximately 5-10 minutes. You can leave them on longer, but I find that 10 minutes does the job. Enough time to make a cup of tea and get my bed ready for cozy time.

Finally, let’s talk about Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. If you live anywhere in the US, you must have seen this at some point in your life. Most of us have been in a CVS, Longs, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Safeway, etc. We’ve grabbed toothpaste, sunscreen, body lotion, soap, shower gel, or any other hygiene necessities at some point in our lives. Therefore, by default, we have seen the ultimate drugstore staple: Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. And, quite a few of us have used it in the past, currently use it, and/or call it a staple. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, let me break it down. It is a simple clay mask that is targeted for clarifying the skin, whether it be acne, blackheads, or plain old oily skin. It has the added benefit of being minty fresh. As I mentioned before, I have dry skin. So, why would someone like me use a mask like this? Because, people with dry skin get breakouts and blackheads too! Also, clay isn’t bad for dry skin. It can be very healing on any skin. I use this frequently on my nose and leave it on overnight. Once a week I’ll use it all over & simply rinse it off once it is dry. This also serves as a great pimple fighter when I get hormonal breakouts.

There are other amazing masks that are cost effective. But, these three are my favorites & the ones I use most regularly. Freeman, as many people know, make some great inexpensive masks. Anyone born in the 70s & 80s are surely Freeman savvy. Also, I do use some expensive ones as well, but not as frequently, and have mentioned the two I love before: GlamGlow Thirstymud & Ren Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask. I hope this can inspire some of you to try Lush & their Fresh Face Masks. They have quite a few options for many different concerns. They also have vegan options!! Both masks I mentioned are vegan, which is a huge bonus for me. And, Lush is very much anti-animal cruelty, so you are supporting a positive, supportive, worldly company by purchasing from them.

Hope everyone is having a great summer so far! Stay hydrated & protected! And, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, I hope you are enjoying your winter!

I Can Be Your Hero Baby!

So, ladies who have the luxury of having things, including makeup, we often have a signature of ourselves. It could be just a thing we’re known for, like a niche musical taste or being the [xyz] girl, or it could be a signature part of our physical appearance.

Me? Well, many people have different things they attach to my persona, but one thing does seem to be a constant… My eyelashes. Almost every day I have people asking if they are fake or telling me how lucky I am. Yes, I’m glad I have long lashes, but I’m not lucky. The length of my lashes is set in DNA stone. This is one of the many positive traits that I biochemically got from my parents. [Thanks, you two!]

With that said, pretty much any mascara I swipe on works well for me. However, there are a select few mascaras that I swear by. And, because my lashes are naturally long & curly, these mascaras may not be for you. Let’s face it, people who want their lashes to look like mine have very short, sparse, straight lashes and the best option for them to replicate my lashes is very natural false lashes.

My hero mascaras:
1. Fresh SuperNova mascara. Sephora stopped selling this a really long time ago, which drives me bonkers! The only place I know that has it currently is the Fresh website & I can’t quite reason with myself ordering one $25 mascara every 3-4 months. Sure, I could call the Fresh boutique up in San Francisco, but again, I can’t fathom driving 30 miles into a crowded city for one tube of $25 mascara. But, it is still my ultimate favorite mascara…
2. Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara. I was gifted this mascara over the summer and immediately fell in love that I purchased a tube three months after falling in love with it. The brush is very similar to the SuperNova brush and the formula is almost as soft as SuperNova. Also, the finish was exactly the same as SuperNova, if not slightly better. So glad to find a replacement! I can get my hands on this mascara with a lot more ease, so I have a feeling this will be a staple for awhile. The name gets on my nerves, but I overlook it because it’s worth it.
3. Milani Runway Lashes mascara. Let me be honest here, I’m not a fan of many drugstore mascaras. For me, a lot of them don’t do much or feel to stiff, drying, or clumpy on my lashes. So I took a major leap of faith with this one. I was in a bind and needed a mascara. I don’t like carrying expensive mascara with me, so when I was due to meet someone, I needed something to wake my face up. $4.99 on a mascara was exactly the budget I was hoping for. I was immediately wowed. I love that I got volume, plushness, and a soft finish that I always love. I’m so happy with this mascara! If you are on a makeup budget, please invest in this mascara! Amazing results without hurting your wallet.

This mascara technically isn’t one of my heroes, but it deserves some recognition. Guerlain Cils d’Enfer Maxi Lash mascara. This mascara is pushing it as far as price. I always used to believe that $25 was far too much for mascara (SuperNova). Then I tried this on… It was love at first swipe. As I’m well stocked on mascara right now, I don’t own nor have I ever owned a tube of this $30 mascara. But, I might consider buying this as a gift to myself when my mascara stockpile is down to one lonely tube. I wish I could afford this mascara every three months. Let’s be real though, I’d rather switch between $23 and $4.99 every four months.

I’d love to hear what some of your favorite mascaras are! Please do share! Also, what is your signature?