Bath and Body by Providence Perfume Co.

Apricot Blossoms

Providence Perfume Company has branched out into the realm of bath and body products which came as a very pleasant surprise to me. I knew nothing of this development until a box filled with samples of body lotions and shower gels landed on my doorstep. I’m not inundated with press packages like many bloggers, especially since I’m on a bit of a break,  but I get a few, so I don’t normally get too excited over these things. This was an exception. When I lifted the top off of the box, I was truly thrilled and couldn’t wait to give them all a try knowing full well I would want to share my thoughts with all of you.

There are five scents in this bath and body line: Stonefruit & Ylang, Sandalwood, Fern, Gin & Tonic, and Chai Cocoa. Stonefruit & Ylang is the standout for me, hence the image of apricot blossoms above.

Regarding their ingredients, the shower gels, body lotions, and hand creams are 100% natural and contain 90-97% organic ingredients. The shower gel is sulfate free and is infused with organic aloe juice. The lotion is made with olive, aloe, coconut and jojoba oils, while the hand cream boasts shea, kokum, mango and cocoa butters.

As you would guess from such high quality ingredients, these products feel wonderful on the skin. The lotion is lightweight and melts into the skin immediately. It provides excellent hydration and leaves your skin feeling smooth and soft. The hand cream is thicker of course, and takes a little more time to fully absorb, but is by no means greasy and is a very lovely treat for dry winter hands. The shower gel is very mild and non-drying, and doesn’t lather up a great deal on its own. I used it with a shower pouf to augment the suds which worked very well, and the scent from all of the five fragrances filled the shower beautifully but did not linger on my skin afterwards.

As I mentioned, Stonefruit & Ylang is my favorite. I did not receive a sample of the hand cream in this scent, but the lotion is fantastic. The fragrance lasts for hours and is juicy apricot perfection. It’s ripe and floral with an indolic tang that bursts when you first apply the lotion (or suds up in the shower). After the scent settles on your skin, ylang’s tropical blossom-like quality adds to the sweetness of the fruit, creating such lushness that it is hard to believe that it came from a small application of lotion on one hand! Stonefruit & Ylang is truly a fragrant experience, and I can only imagine that using it all over one’s body would be truly intoxicating.

sandalwood

Sandalwood is my second favorite, as it’s smooth with just the right interplay between creamy and dry. I like that it’s not too overpowering and find that it layers beautifully with Stonefruit & Ylang. As for the other fragrances, Gin &Tonic is a lighthearted lime with a floral twist; Chai Cocoa is a dark chocolate confection laden with cardamom and ginger; and last but not least there’s Fern, which will knock the socks off any oakmoss-chypre loving perfume nerd out there.

gin and tonic

These are all very reasonably priced for such gorgeously and botanically perfumed body products. $24 for the hand cream (3oz), $36 for the body lotion (9oz) and $30 for the bath gel (9oz). Available at ProvidencePerfume.com

Samples are also available.

Happy New Year + Acure Day Cream Review

robin

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I’d like to say that one of my resolutions is to start posting on a regular basis again, but I’m not one for resolutions. I will say in earnest though, that I do hope to post more in the new year, and it feels good to be here now, sharing my newest find with you all.

acure

Prominently printed on the box and tube of Acure’s Day Cream are the ingredients gotu kola stem cells and 1% chlorella growth factor. The former is supposed to protect your skin’s hyaluronic acid and provide firmness, while the later is purported to support collagen fibers while providing antioxidant benefits. I can’t say I noticed anything that dramatic after a couple months’ use, but I have enjoyed its efficacious hydration and lightweight texture.

acure 2

Acure Day Cream is less of a cream and more of a lotion in terms of its feel on the skin. It absorbs immediately and wears very nicely under mineral powders, tinted moisturizers and foundations. It has a very light orange scent that dissipates after 15-20 minutes, and I imagine this might be irritating only to those who dislike orange scents and for those with a strong aversion to scented face products. (I am one of those people who prefer unscented skin care, and this did not bother me at all).

Considering the lightweight nature of Acure’s Day Cream, it seems best for people with combination to dry skin, and probably would not provide enough hydration for very dry skin. Although, it might be a nice option for very dry skin in humid climates during the summer and the orange scent would be refreshing!

I bought my tube while it was on sale at Whole Foods. I was out of my usual moisturizer, Dr. Hauschka’s Quince Day Cream, and felt the urge to check out less expensive alternatives. I wish I could say that I love the Acure option as much as I love my Quince Day Cream, but I don’t. I find the Quince Day Cream to be a little more of everything for me. It moisturizers a little better, it sinks in a little better, it feels better, and even though it’s quirky, it even smells a little better. But having said all that, the Acure Day Cream is an excellent daily go-to moisturizer and just might be a little more of everything to you.

Acure Day Cream is $18.99 for 1.75oz. At Whole Foods, acureorganics.com 

Ingredients: Organic Curoxidant Blend (Organic Euterpe oleracea (Acai) Berry, Organic Rubus fruticosus (Blackberry), Organic Rosa canina (Rosehips), Organic Punica granatum (Pomegranate), Organic Calendula officinalis (Calendula), Organic Matricaria recutita (Chamomile), Fair Trade Certified™ Organic Aspalanthus linearis (Rooibos), Organic Aloe Barbensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Cetearyl Alcohol, Fair Trade Certified™ Organic Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Organic Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Glyceryl Stearate SE (vegetable derived), Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil, Infusion of Organic Calendula Officinalis Flower in Fair Trade Certified™ Organic Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil, Glucono Delta Lactone (fermented Sugar), Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola) Stem Cell Culture, Marrubium vulgare (white horehound) stem cell culture, Echinacea stem cell culture, Fermented Resveratrol Extract (Probiotic), Organic argan oil, CoQ10, Olive Leaf extract, Organic Chlorella pyrenoidosa (Chlorella Growth Factor), Citrus Reticulata (Red Mandarin) Oil, D-Alpha Tocoperyl Acetate (Vitamin E), Organic Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Potassium Sorbate, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Bud Oil

Photos of Acure Day Cream are mine. New Years Image from The Graphics Fairy

Zohar by Ayala Moriel Parfums

orange blossoms2Ever since my spring break visit to Scottsdale, I have been obsessed with the scent of orange blossoms. The orange trees were teeming with their impossibly pungent flowers, and rekindled my passion for its very special perfume. Luckily it didn’t take long to quell my obsession, as I had something awaiting me at home that would satiate my orange blossom needs. 

I mentioned in an earlier post that Ayala of Ayala Moriel Parfums had treated me to a lovely “thank you” package after staying with me in Portland. Fortuitously, not only did it include the Vetiver Racinettes soap that I reviewed, but also a sample of Zohar, her orange blossom soliflore. 

Zohar

The beauty of Ayala’s creations, even her soliflores, is that they are never simple, and Zohar is no exception. There’s no doubt this is an orange blossom fragrance from start to finish, but it has an interesting and beautiful progression that maintains a surprising amount of depth. Even Zohar’s opening which is bright and full of citrus clarity is not a zesty blast. The yuzu and petitgrain are more sweet than bitter, allowing for a richness which is a prelude to the ambery nature of things to come.

The luminosity of the top notes becomes a little hazy, the buzz of musky honey and the fuzzy legs of bees dance around the trees. Just as Ayala had in mind, Zohar morphs into “an orchard in full bloom.” It’s slightly animalic, with hints of fecund soil and overly ripe fruit. Jasmine and tuberose mingle with the orange blossoms, but do not overpower them. They do their assigned job of enhancement, and are allowed to shine only ever so slightly.

Regarding the amber, I mentioned that it makes its first impression at the beginning of the Zohar experience, but only subtly. It isn’t until the heart and base of the fragrance that the fullness of the amber develops into one that is deep, warm and uniquely honeyed. I think it is this honey-amber aspect of Zohar that makes it so rich and ripe, giving it the fertile fruit orchard atmosphere Ayala strove to create. (And successfully did so.)

Zohar also comes in an Anointing Body Oil, which is just as lovely as the perfume, but slightly different. The body oil plays with the brighter, crisper notes of Zohar and is less about the amber. I am more aware of the petitgrain in the oil, and it exudes a cleaner almost sun-dried laundry quality. It’s a beautiful companion to the perfume, and as to be expected, they meld seamlessly when layered. I love how the oil makes the perfume just a little more crisp, which provides the opportunity to appreciate Zohar from another perspective.

Like all off Ayala Moriel Parfums’ products, the Zohar Anointing Oil and Zohar perfumes are 100% all natural.

Zohar EDP $48 for 4ml, $120 for 15ml. Body Oil $25 for 15ml. Please see Ayalamoriel.com for more sizes and pricing information.

Images: Picture of Orange Tree is mine. Zohar image is courtesy of Ayala Moriel Parfums.

Thoughts on Mother’s Day

iris bouquetMy older son went to an iris farm outside of Portland yesterday. He had a sleepover at a friend’s house, and in the morning his buddy’s dad drove them to Salem and I’m assuming they went here. When I woke up this morning, this enchanting bouquet awaited me at breakfast and their delicate but delightful aroma warmed my heart almost as much as my boys’ hugs and excitement.

But this post is not a humblebrag about my charmed life as a mom. I wasn’t going to post at all actually. After I read Anne Lamott’s piece about Mother’s Day on Salon.com (thank you to IndiePerfumes for posting it on FB) I started to think more about all of the expectations around the day. Ones that aren’t met, either by us or for us. I thought about those who have lost their mothers literally or figuratively. Those who have lost children, or who have had difficulty in having children. As a midwife, I have to break the devastating news to women and couples quite frequently that the pregnancy they have been nurturing is no longer viable. I just had to tell a couple this last week. It’s a lot to bear on this day. This is a day that carries a lot of weight.

These irises look like they carry a lot of weight too. Their petals appear worn and seem like they’ve lived a thousand lives. The light pink ones look like stained vintage silk and the dark burgundy ones take on the appearance of old thick velvet. And for all of their beauty, there’s a sadness to them that’s apropos for Mother’s Day, which for me, holds a bit of both in its hand today.

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Vetiver Racinettes Soap by Ayala Moriel Parfums

Ayala Soap

Ayala Moriel Parfums has begun offering bar soaps, which I am so happy about since they are my favorite delivery mechanism of getting suds to skin. Ayala sent me Vetiver Racinettes, along with a couple other goodies that I will soon review, as a thank you for hosting her and her lovely daughter in our home about a month ago. The pleasure was all ours, as we (my boys, husband and I) had such a terrific time getting to know them and showing them a little bit of Portland during their short visit.

It should go without saying, but I will say it anyway, that I do not feel compelled to write good things about this new soap because it was a gift from Ayala, nor do I feel that is the reason she gave it to me. I am writing this review because I LOVE THIS SOAP! It is truly wonderful. Its slip is silky and its lather is luxurious. It is non-drying and smells just like the listed notes, a perfect balance of vetiver, ginger, cardamom (a favorite of mine) and coffee. It’s of special interest to me as well, that Ayala is working with Open Source Soap of Oregon in creating these all natural, handcrafted soap bars. And for those Film Noir fans out there, the bar form of this fragrance will be released next!

Ayala Soap 2Ayala 3

Vetiver Racinettes Soap Bar available at AyalaMoriel.com $12 for 4.5oz bar

All photographs are mine.

Gracing the Dawn by Roxana Villa, revisited

Gracing the Dawn

Last July, Roxana Villa sent me a sample of what was then a new release, the solid version of Gracing the Dawn. We had just moved back into our newly remodeled home, and I was still on my blogging hiatus, so I tucked it away in my “special scent” drawer, and didn’t open it until just a few days ago.

I don’t have my sample of the liquid version anymore, but smelling the solid fragrance on my skin brings its memory right back to life. Gracing the Dawn is a glorious chypre redolent  of oakmoss and leather, but the solid downplays the chypre aspect and lighter florals swirl in the foreground. Orange blossoms and mimosa flutter about, along with blades of grass, and subtle herbs, showing off their brightness. Richer flowers like jasmine, rose, and narcissus are present, but dwell subtly with the oakmoss, all the while providing a chypre foundation by bolstering Gracing the Dawn’s fullness and feeling of abundance.

Gracing the Dawn 2

In my review of the liquid version of Gracing the Dawn, I focused on its vintage kinship which is not the case with the perfume solid. There is a quiet nod to the past of course, it is a chypre after all, but it does not harken to the past like the liquid did for me. The solid has more warmth and I don’t recall such a delicious buzz from the orange blossoms and a flurry of leafy-hay in the heart.

Like all of Roxana Illuminated Perfumes’ fragrances, Gracing the Dawn is 100% all natural, and her solid perfumes are in a base of organic jojoba oil with beeswax from her own bees or other bee keepers in her area.

Gracing the Dawn Locket

Gracing the Dawn is available in a locket at the Roxana Illuminated Perfume etsy site for $35. (See above photo from Roxana’s site). Other sizes available.

Gracing the Dawn Lookbook: here

The top two photographs were taken by me. Bottom photo courtesy of Roxana Illuminated Perfume.

Discovering Phoenix Botanicals, again.

Saffron Veil Close UpPhoenix Botanicals caught my eye nearly two years ago when I bought their terrific Wild Rose Lip Balm on a whim, but I was unaware that fragrances had become a part of their repertoire as well. Irina Adam, creator of Phoenix Botanicals contacted me recently, and asked if I would like to sample some of her all natural perfume oils. Having been impressed by her lip balm, I decided to take her up on her generous offer, and I am so glad I did.
Saffron VeilTo begin with, the presentation of her perfume oil is simply charming. I adore the silk ribbon around the top of the vial as if it were a bow on the forehead of a pretty flapper from the 1920′s. In fact, Saffron Veil, Irina’s latest fragrance, smells like it could be straight from that era as it sings with a smoky violet voice that’s so deep it’s inky without a trace of sweetness. Freshly puffed smoke hangs in the air, as does tobacco resin from old pipes.

Saffron Veil, as the name suggests, is not all darkness as the opaque opening gives way to a lighter heart of boronia that’s tannic, but also fruity. A gentle wafting of tuberose joins the party at this point, and is also the last one to leave. The tuberose doesn’t make much of a scene though, this is a subtle one that’s happy to linger in the background, only to be noticed if you draw her in closely.

And that’s how it goes with most all natural perfume oils. Phoenix Botanicals’ fragrances are in a base of organic jojoba oil, wear very close to the skin, and on me, last just under a few hours.

Phoenix BotanicalsIrina also sent me samples of Bonfire Rose, Meadow & Fir, and Amber & Blues. While I found Saffron Veil interesting, Bonfire Rose left me the most impressed. Like Saffron Veil, its top notes are shadowy and smoky, and I enjoy those initial moments of secretive intrigue which contrast against the lighter and brighter top notes of many other perfumes. Bonfire Rose takes a minty, resinous turn that’s mildly rosy, but not what I would call overly floral in the slightest. It brushes up against charred sage and lingers around camphorous leaves, evoking memories of woodland strolls and crackling campfires.
Phoenix Alchemy Samples

Amber & Blues and Meadow & Fir both reside squarely in the amber family. The prevailing amber triad of vanilla, labdanum, and benzoin oversees these two fragrances in a lovely manner. Meadow & Fir has fir of course, but it also has a jammy quality that reminds me a touch of Aftelier’s Fig. Amber & Blues is more of a straight-up amber, with a very pillowy,  woody-vanilla drydown, not unlike Roxana Illuminated Perfume’s Lyra. I do think Fig and Lyra are more nuanced and more complex fragrances, but Phoenix Botanicals has a price point more people can afford which broadens the natural perfume community and keeps us smelling beautiful.

Leave a comment and I will enter you in a drawing for my Saffron Veil (minus the ribbon and a some dabs by me for the purposes of this review). US addresses only. I apologize to my international readers. The winner has been chosen.

There are other fragrances to explore at the Phoenix Botanicals etsy site. $24 for 1/8oz vial. Other sizes and samples available.

All photographs were taken by me.

Inflorescence by Byredo


Laura-Gurton_128

Upon first sniffing Byredo’s Inflorescence, I thought silently to myself how perfectly this perfume had been named. I immediately associated that lyrical word with phosphorescence since the fragrance radiates day glow pinks, yellows and every other bright color of spring.Thankfully I remained quiet with my inner dialogue, as I was heading down the wrong path. Inflorescence as I have come to learn, is a group or cluster of flowers on a stem, which as it turns out, truly is the perfect name for this perfume.

inflorescense-byredo

I was at Barney’s in Scottsdale when I spotted the bottle lurking behind the counter. It’s not available yet, and no samples were to be had, so I went back the next day to get spritzed again because I fell in love with this unabashedly, hyperfloral, anti-depressant of a perfume. As listed, the notes are rose and freesia at the top, magnolia and muguet in the middle and jasmine at the base. But let’s call Inflorescence what it truly is, a freesia soliflore almost to the extent of Antonia’s Flowers (which has the same notes save for the rose), but dialed down and more contemporary. For those of you who might be gasping because you despise the “bug spray” note in Antonia’s Flowers, rest assured, it’s not in Inflorescence. This freesia is smoothed out by a creamier magnolia (but it’s not a creamy fragrance per se) and the muguet has enough of a presence to lend a squeeze of citrus, some leafy greenness and rich florals.

I don’t get a sense of the rose, or the jasmine from Inflorescence. There’s the subtlest suggestion of musk that emerges in the heart and remains throughout the drydown, which bestows a tenderness upon Inflorescence where Antonia’s Flowers becomes cold and aloof. This veil of musk, which I’m assuming is synthetic, has an air of ambrette seed to it, allowing for an organic quality to the peppery freshness of its freesia, making it more dewy and even greener.

freesia

I am so happy to now have inflorescence in my vocabulary. I finally have a word to describe what I have long admired about freesia. Its inflorescence has always mesmerized me with sparse blossoms protruding brightly, yet precariously from a slender stem. I am also immensely happy to have Inflorescence on my perfume wishlist. Most of you know that my perfume preferences are on the natural side of the spectrum, but I’ve been having fun exploring the other side in recent days, and Inflorescence is a wonderful discovery.

Image by Laura Gurton from the Unknown Species Series #49
Stock image from Byredo
Botanical image from plantillustrations.com

Available at Byredo.com and soon to come at Barney’s. $220 for 100ml, $145 for 50ml.

Hourglass Ambient Powder in Dim Light & Ambient Powder Brush Review

Hourglass Compact and Brush

Along with my perfume and scarf collection, I’ve acquired quite the heap of highlighters in an attempt to achieve that ever elusive “lit from within” look. What I’ve found so far in my valiant effort to find said effect is either a nice glowy enhancement at best, or too much sparkle or even glitter at worst. I’ve settled for the glow and have been pretty happy leaving it at that.

It’s time to make a little more room in my highlighter drawer because Hourglass has muscled its way in with something new. Many of you beauty blog followers are probably already aware of this latest offering, the Ambient Powder line. It consists of six finishing powders that impart a skin-perfecting “light” and I opted for Dim Light, a neutral beige per the website.

Hourglass Ambient Dim Light and Brush

Hourglass Ambient Open Compact

Hourglass Ambient Dim Light Close up

As you can see from the photos, the powder reads slightly pink in the pan, but once applied it truly is neutral, at least on my light to medium olive skin (NC30). Cutting to the chase regarding sparkles, there are none to be seen in natural light, nor under your typical bathroom or other indoor lighting. The only circumstance where I could find the tiniest trace of sparkle was under the direct and intense light of the heat lamp in the bathroom with my hand mirror. Not your normal situation. So hooray, it passed!

More importantly, this powder is the most beautiful highlighter I have ever used. I have used it every day for over a month on my cheekbones and am continually impressed with how much softer it makes my skin appear. For the first week of use, I kept forgetting that I had applied the powder, and when I would look in the mirror I’d think to myself, “Did I get more sleep than usual last night?” And yep, you guessed it, I also thought more than once, “I kinda look lit from within!”

Hourglass Ambient Powder Brush

I’ve only applied Dim Light with the Ambient Powder Brush and I am loving this as well. Its shape is perfect for applying the powder along the cheekbone, but might not be ideal for applying over your entire face if you truly want to use this as a finishing powder. Because of the powder’s pinkish tone, I feel more comfortable using this on my cheekbones and I do adore the effect that the powder and the brush create. I highly recommend them both, with the caveat that while there are no parabens, phthalates or fragrance in Hourglass cosmetics, this is not an all natural product.

Hourglass is available at Hourglass.comSephora.com and Barney’s, $45 for the powder and $35 for the brush.

Check out The Non Blonde for a review of Hourglass Ambient Powder in Radiant Light.
All photographs were taken by me.

Disclosure: Samples were sent to me for consideration by Hourglass PR. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.