about make-up and beauty

“Could I Have a Sloe Gin Fizz, Without the Gin?”: Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling

“What’s the point of that, Miss?” the waiter said.
“Tomorrow morning,” Mabel said. 

The Diviners (2012) by Libba Bray

The anonymous waiter in Libba Bray’s novel was right: what’s the point of drinking a gin-based cocktail if there’s no gin in it? Gin, my favourite liquor, has a festive meaning to me: its juniper notes are sparkling and scorching. In particular, the union of gin and vermouth has a sacred importance, which I started appreciating in the late 1990s. At the time, drinking Martini made me feel incredibly classy (indeed), but bear with me: I was a grunge-looking university student who liked drinking à la James Bond, I guess. Nowadays I rarely drink alcohol, but you can be sure gin would definitely be on top of my drinking list, if I had one.

You can understand my excitement when, in 2011, I learnt about the creation of a gin-inspired perfume by Penhaligon’s – Juniper Sling. I just loved the idea of the peculiar notes of my favourite liquor turned into a fragrance, so Juniper Sling quickly hopped into my busy perfume wish-list. Since I first heard about it, many things have happened: I’ve bought other perfumes which I’ve fallen in love with, yet that intriguing gin scent was still there, waiting in my list. Last June I wanted to celebrate in style the end of a ghastly school year: after reading two lovely posts about gin-inspired and cocktail-inspired perfumes, I knew the time for my eager hands to grab a bottle of Juniper Sling had finally come.

penhaligons_junipersling_superqueen (1)Isn’t it beautiful? The bottle and the box would be enough to make me surrender to the charm of Juniper Sling.


Born Unicorn, Or the Fine Art of Talking to Yourself

hotelchevalier_petitemort_bornunicornThis beautiful shot from Wes Anderson’s Hotel Chevalier is the perfect depiction of myself. Far from being as glamourous as Natalie Portman’s character in the quirky introduction to The Darjeeling Limited, we share a certain dose of boredom and loneliness, plus a taste for perfumes. I think “loneliness” is the key word here, because I’ve recently come to realize that it has an important part in my life. I’ve always fought for moments to spend alone and my online activity is part of what I do when I’m alone. Despite the oversharing trend of recent times, I’m a very private person online as a reflection of being such in real life. Loneliness is precious to me but is online loneliness as precious? What happens when you realize that you’re alone online, too, because nobody seems to care about your own obsessions? You feel frustrated, of course, and ask yourself what is wrong with you; you make the mistake of comparing your work to others’ and you can’t understand why they are successful and you’re not; you decide to quit but there’s something which tells you not to because you *need* that space to channel your passions. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” you finally tell yourself: this conclusion gives you the unique chance to perfect and master the fine art of talking to yourself on Internet. It’s a goal which is hard to achieve, but it’s a goal nonetheless, whose implications are quite interesting: your only judge is yourself (nobody is reading, so who cares what people think), so you must keep up to your own standards, which in my case are sky-high (sorry, but my ego is talking). Can you imagine? No negative comments (no positive ones either, true), no haters, no pressure but the one you put on yourself. It’s bliss, if you ask me.
I’ve come to kind of treasure this status, but it would be a pity not to share it with you. It’s a contradiction, I know, but whatever. Sharing usually doesn’t change anything, so I’m safe. Born Unicorn is the triumph of my obsession with cosmetics, beauty products and perfumes appearing in movies and tv shows. Please don’t comment on this because I know I’m talking about something very, very, very niche-y, but deal with it. I’ve spent most of my blogging life trying to hide my fixation with archives (something which has come out with the Friday Guessing Game), but what’s the point of it? Real life is hard enough, so I can’t see why I should stifle my voice. Nobody cares, nobody listens, which means it’s my playground! If you want to take a look (and then leave ;)), you’re welcome ♥

“Secrets … Are the Very Root of Cool:” Penhaligon’s Tralala

I’m often asked about the perfumes I wear, but explaining in detail what draws me towards a certain scent is hard. Choosing a perfume is a very personal, intimate and subjective act, which deals with memories, echoes and dreams. Moreover, what works for you may not work for others, because perfumes adapt to their wearers with different outcomes. It’s frustrating when you want a perfume to work for you [1], but there’s nothing you can do about it (I guess it’s a chemistry matter); on the contrary, when you realize something works wonderfully on your skin, that’s pure bliss. I don’t believe in love at first sight, but with perfumes… well, that’s a different story.

Penhaligon’s Endymion struck me like thunder, and the same happened with the latest scent of the British brand. Tralala is the result of a unique combination of creativity and artistry: created by Bertrand Duchaufour in collaboration with Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff, it will officially launch next spring [2], but I was lucky enough to get a sample from Penhaligon’s [3].

It’s taken me days to “study” it. I’m not joking: there’s so much hidden in this perfume, that whenever I wear it, I know there’s something more I can’t quite grasp. I don’t think I’m able to describe in detail, but let’s see what the official report says about the olfactory pyramid. The head notes include aldehydes, saffron, whiskey, ambrette seed butter, galbanum and violet leaf absolute; the heart notes are carnation, leather, tuberose, ylang ylang, orris and incense; the base notes include myrrh resinoid, opopanax absolute, patchouli, vetiver, cedarwood, heliotrope, musk and vanilla. It’s definitely the most complex composition I’ve ever smelt, but let me tell you I immediately connected it to two Penhaligon’s perfumes I own and love – Artemisia and Cornubia. Both perfumes have musk and vanilla as base notes, just like Tralala, but despite this similarity, the latter succeeds in standing out.

02_tralala_image-2To my nose, the perfume opens with a fresh, yet romantic, scent of violet, soon followed by a slight note of incense (which I love, and would smell it among millions of scents) and a rich tuberose. When the floral notes subside, the wooden/spicy heart of the perfume opens up with comforting and earthy notes of vanilla, patchouli and musk; on the background, a fresh hint of vetiver. Perfumes usually don’t last long on me, but this one lingers on my skin for hours – you can definitely tell it’s there for a long time. It’s a fragrance you can lose yourself in, but there’s more about it, a subtler yet deeper meaning: to me Tralala speaks of warmth and comfort, ideas I connect to Artemisia, too, but here there’s a mysterious element which I guess  is of its charm, a feature that beautifully echoes the imagery of its creators, along with the perfume bottle.


Diary of a Nail Polish Addict: December 2013

Sorry for the lack of updates, but December was such a busy month and January kind of caught me by surprise. I’m currently stuck home with a flu, so I guess this is the right time to see what my nails wore in the last month of the year. FYI: I haven’t done my nails since then because of split ends; I think they need some time polish-free to get healthier.

56505bf25b4311e3b7d2127ea6e65569_8Loving this look so much! Lynnderella Tidy Whities is gorgeous on dark colours, especially in blue shades. I used it over Kiko 294 Indigo Blue and it looked fantastic: the result is a bit snowy/galaxy.

“The Amount of Perfume She Had On Was Like a Human Sacrifice on Incense Night”: An Ode to Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet

Have you ever had a signature scent, one of those perfumes you’ve been wearing for years? The idea of it is appealing – a perfume becomes you from an olfactory point of view – but I could never make it happen in real life. As a perfume lover, I’m constantly looking for perfumes which remind me of pieces of my life. I can find one which doesn’t really tell me anything, which is not connected to memories, but it rarely occurs. Just before Christmas I added another perfume to my small collection: it speaks of the past with a beautiful and serene approach. Needless to say, I’m hopelessly in love with it.

penhaligons_blenheimbouquet (2)There’s a special story behind this perfume. Some time ago I was playing with my Penhaligon’s scent library: I had my mind focused on Bluebell and Lily of the Valley, but when I smelled Blenheim Bouquet I forgot the rest. Call me crazy but my mind immediately went to one of my favourite perfumes ever, Cacharel Pour l’Homme, an iconic 1980s scent which has been spoiled by a recent reformulation. If you compare their perfume pyramids, you’ll see they are part of the same family: both of them are aromatic/fresh spicy, even if Cacharel Pour l’Homme is woody and Blenheim Bouquet citrus. The unusual thing? I can smell frankincense in both of them but that specific note is missing. I don’t know what gives me the illusion of frankincense, which is – for me – a very evocative smell: it’s probably the nutmeg in Cacharel Pour l’Homme and who knows what in Blenheim Bouquet.

Diary of a Nail Polish Addict: November 2013

For me, one of the unmistakable signs of anxiety/depression is the lack of nail inspiration. That’s the reason why I did my nails only 4 (yes, four) times last month. I felt miserable for a number of reasons and all I wanted to do was lying in bed and sleeping. I don’t know if devoting some time to improving my painting skills has helped me to feel better, but it has surely helped me to focus on other than my own fears.

photo (5)I definitely want to do this manicure again because I loved it so much! I’ve got a thing for half-moon manicures (for me they’re the epitome of chic), so I decided to go for an untried combination – nude and sparkling red. I used Deborah Lippmann Putty in Your Hands as base and China Glaze Ruby Pumps (aka the best red glittering shade ever).

Diary of a Nail Polish Addict: October 2012

October was a very hard month for me: adjusting to the new school routine was harder than expected and, as a result, tiredness and anxiety hit hard. This is the reason why I didn’t devote much time to manicures; now I realize I should have, since this activity usually relaxes and calms me down. I’ll try to go back to them next month. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy what I came up with in the past 31 days.

d7c632c829f311e38b9a22000a1f9d42_8I’ve recently found myself more and more drawn to Deborah Lippmann nail polishes, which is not a surprise. I’ve always loved the American celeb manicurist’s shades, especially the glitter bombs, but now I’ve found out even the “regular” colours are stunning! I was lucky enough to get a bottle of Through the Fire from a German swapper. This dark, rich merlot red with metallic shimmer was originally released in the 2012 Holiday collection: it’s such a great winter colour. I used it in a manicure along with Chanel Malice, another red shade released for the 2012 holiday season as part of the Eclats du Soir collection. They’re not dupes (Malice is darker), but they’re definitely part of the same family.