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Fragrance love: In the kingdom of nymphs - Guerlain Flora Nymphea

Dear Roses and Lilies,

Although summer is still far away, I like to dream about the sunny days. Winter does that to me... at least the post Christmas season.

And I go back to sniffing my bottle of Aqua Allegoria Flora Nymphea from time to time...

The Aqua Allegoria line was created as an ode to nature. Except for 4 permanent fragrances, Guerlain launch a new version each spring and have been doing so since 1999. Each version is very joyful and luminous and beneficial.

Flora Nymphea is all about honey and sunlight: "The Spirit of Orange Blossom and a note of Honey. On the bank of a sunny lake/ Bees gather nectar from the heart of flowers/ Paint a watercolour to capture this moment".

This was a limited edition Guerlain fragrance, launched in 2010, and it is composed of: green notes and red berries; orange blossom, syringa flowers and honey; musk and woody notes.

On my skin, it smells of delicious honey and it lasts for about 10 hours. The drydown is sweet and orange-y.
And I simply love the bottle design, with the bee engraved on the golden cap! ( the bee is an iconic symbol for Guerlain )

If you are into fresh and easy going fragrances, I encourage you to test any or all of the fragrances still available in the Aqua Allegoria line. You will surely find one to cheer you up.


P.S.: For this spring, Guerlain are launching another citrus aromatic fragrance called Aqua Allegoria Limon Verde - a joy for everyone who loves limes and Caipirinha ( go Brazil! ).


The art of touching up - lipstick

Dear Roses and Lilies,

Let me tell you about a very feminine and old fashioned gesture that I absolutely love: touching up your lips in public.

We don't see women do that very often nowadays... And I really wonder why. Is it something we now consider too old fashioned or maybe pretentious?

When I go shopping for makeup, I normally am drawn towards the very chic looking items. And products with chic packaging don't come cheap, most of the time.
So, one summer day, I ended up buying a super expensive powder - Chanel Les Beiges ( which is the softest face powder I've ever had the privilege to try ), but it spends a lot of time in my handbag or in my makeup bag.

Same with my lipsticks - most of them are name brands and they too stay hidden most of the time.

Touching your lips up in public is not an easy affair. You need a fair amount of skill and practice, so you don't end up looking like a clown. Remember not to open your mouth like at the dentist's, not to get lipstick on your teeth and, most importantly, be natural about it.

I love to get my Chanel compact out of my bag every now and then and touch up my lips in public. With one of my expensive lipsticks, of course.

Does this seem a little vain? Maybe a bit... but then again, when you spend your hard earned money on something chic and expensive, you might as well show it off a bit!

In the end, ladies, it's our Divine right to be beautiful and elegant and proud.



On long lasting makeup

Dear Roses and Lilies,

Today was just one of those days that seem never-ending. It rained all day ( in January, rain! ) so I could hardly wait to come home.

For such days - when makeup would be last thing you'd want to worry about, there are some nice products you can use.

You want to aim for long lasting finishes, so you don't have to touch up during the day ( or, at least, keep the touching up to minimum ).

Start with foundation: you need to create a flawless base you can build on and it needs to be long lasting. I used Clarins Everlasting Foundation in 103 Ivory. It is a medium to full coverage one, with a velvety finish. It lasted on me for 10 hours without fading.

Clarins promises 15 hours of flawless wear. But, on oily skin, no foundation will keep the 15 hours promise. At some point, all the oil absorbing ingredients will have kept back all the oiliness they could. After that, your foundation will start to fade and you'll get shiny.

On to eyes: I had a taupe blouse on, so I figured I would go with a similar shade on my eyes. I used Benefit's cream shadow in "no pressure!" ( don't we just love the names! ), blending it with my fingers. Then I applied two coats of Lancome's Hypnose mascara to get full, long lashes.

I combed my brows and filled the little gaps using Rimmel's eyebrow pencil in 004 Brown black.

To help set my foundation, I applied a light dusting of powder: Bourjois's loose powder in 02 Rosy. Applying powder on top is necessary for combination and oily skin types. If you have normal or dry skin and you don't have any spots and things to conceal, then you won't need powder with long lasting foundations.

On to my cheeks: I am not a blusher type of girl ( although I do own quite a lot of blushers ) but, with medium coverage foundations I feel it's a must. So I lightly applied Clarins Blush Prodige in 03 Miami Pink. It's a nice powder blusher that lasts throughout the day without fading or getting patchy.

Finally, for my lips, I chose a moisturizing lipstick. This one is the limited edition shade 79 Saga from Chanel ( Rouge Coco Shine, the Chanel Avant Premiere collection ). It is a nice pink shade, that goes well with the blusher and doesn't stand out.
The Rouge Coco Shine lipsticks are quite sheer ( although there are more pigmented shades in the range as well ) and very easy to apply and moisturizing. Of course, they are not long lasting, hence you need to touch up during the day.

I love long lasting makeup! Do you?



Fragrance love: A stolen kiss - Cartier Baiser Vole

Dear Roses and Lilies,

And especially Lilies...

This post I dedicate to you, as did Mathilde Laurent when composing Baiser Volé Essence de Parfum for Cartier.

The fragrance was launched in September last year and it is a new and improved version of their 2011 release.

This one is supposed to smell of lily in full bloom, highlighted by Bourbon vanilla. That's it: two notes, one intended to bring out the other. But, in its simplicity, the fragrance is a homage paid to lilies. Obviously, the bottle has a golden lily engraved on the bottom. How elegant is that!

I am not much of a lily fragrances fan ( sorry, the smell of lilies gives me headaches ), but I thought I would give it a try before judging.

Combined with my skin chemistry, I smell a lot of vanilla and very little lily. And this only brings ice cream to mind, when it's supposed to be all about elegance and white light. And this fragrance does last long ( over 12 hours ).

If you are a lily smell addict, do try this fragrance - but not on the card - on your own skin. If the lily does bloom on you, then this is your perfect frag.


All about brows: Raise a healthy caterpillar

Dear Roses and Lilies,

As of late, eyebrows have become something to fuss about in the fashion industry. There was a huge trend last year - exaggerated brows - the bigger and bushier, the better. Looks like, at least for this spring, everything will be toned down a smidgen. Now, it's going to be about natural looking brows, still bushy, but, overall, very well groomed.

So, taking care of your eyebrows should be a key part of your beauty routine. Sometimes, a well groomed brow and a moisturized skin is all you need in terms of makeup.

What you need:

- tweezers - to remove strays
- small scissors ( optional - remember: natural and bushy is what you are aiming for )
- eyebrow brush - comb through them so they don't look messy
- eyebrow pencil/powder/wax/gel/pen - whichever you most prefer and only if you need to fill in gaps

I pluck my little strays every 4 weeks and trim the really long hairs. I use a pencil ( when I am in a hurry ) or brow powder to fill in an define my brows. I am quite heavy handed with the pencil, so I use an angled eyeshadow brush to blend everything out and, that way, I don't end up with harsh lines.

The Rimmel eyebrow pencils are amazing as far as quality and price point are concerned. They are fade resistant and the shades are perfect. I have 004, which is the darkest one: it's not brown, it's not black, just the perfect inbetween shade.

I've also tried the eyebrow pencil from Miss Sporty. It's cheaper than the Rimmel one and it does lack in quality. The pencil is simply too soft and it smudges like an eyeliner ( and you can get eyeliners that are a lot cheaper anyway ).

As far as powder goes, I have the one from TheBodyShop. The price is pretty hefty, but I couldn't find a good, cheap alternative... yet.

How do you groom your eyebrows? What products do you like?



Fragrance love: Guerlain Pamplelune Aqua Allegoria

Dear Roses and Lilies,

I woke up yesterday with a stuffy nose and the day went on with a series of headaches. I caught a cold... or a cold caught me.

So Friday couldn't have come sooner!

But the weather outside is depressing, so out with the mood boosters:

Although this is a more Spring/Summer fragrance, I find ( and many will agree ) that nothing can boost your mood more than cheerful citruses. And this works in Winter as well. ( Of course,what I should be doing is having sugar free lemonades... maybe later. )

Guerlain's Aqua Allegoria in Pamplelune - I love the name - and it is French for grapefruit - was created in 1999 ( nose behind it being Jean Paul Guerlain ).

Top notes are grapefruit and bergamot, middle notes are petitgrain, neroli and cassia, base notes are patchouli and vanilla.

The opening smells of delicious grapefruit and remains so for the most of the day. When it gets more "close to the skin", the vanilla peaks through. I can't say I smell the neroli or the patchouli, but, then again, the fragrance is supposed to be about grapefruit.

Armed with this and sniffing it on and off for the rest of  the day will, hopefully, help me reach the weekend easier.

And I'm gonna "ninja" the cold off!



Colorful accidents

Dear Roses and Lilies,

Yesterday afternoon, a black cat crossed my path. And now I realize some superstitions are fun!

Following my boyfriend's ritual when he sees a black cat, we turned around and made three steps backwards. Isn't it funny when you see people walking backwards?

Coincidentally, yesterday was my "change your hair color" day. I was planning on going from auburn to light brown, so I got a nice professional dye.

The box says "light brown" and the sample in the catalogue was a nice color - not too dark, not too light.

I don't know if it was faith ( darn little kitty ) or just my being an amateur colorist, but, what I obtained is actually my natural hair color! Next time, bleaching is in order.

Till then, I am back to the origins... and how many memories this color brings!

Hope you enjoyed this post!



Beauty essentials - eye liner

Dear Roses and Lilies,

Another beauty essential is eye liner, and there are so many textures and colors out there that you won't have difficulties in finding your perfect one.

Eye liner is maybe the most used beauty product in the world. It was used way before mascara was invented so, in my heart, it will always be the number 1.

The most difficult to apply, for me, is liquid liner. So, what I do, when I can, is use a pencil to map out my shape (and the flick), then go over it with liquid liner. The thing about pencils is, you can either blend the line out or erase it if you don't like the result. With liquid liner, you always need to patch it up if you make a mistake... and it will never look perfect if patched up.

A good alternative to liquid liner is gel. You can either get it in small pots and apply it with a brush, or a pencil (gel texture eye pencil is new even for me, but I promised myself I would get one eventually). The trouble with gel liners is that you need to work quickly because, once they are dry - and they dry fast - they won't move. I guess this is a plus as well because you don't want smudged lines right after you apply your mascara.

The easiest way to line your eyes is with powders. You can use virtually any eyeshadow. Just take an angled brush, dampen it, then apply your eyeshadow like you would your liner. Again, if you don't like it, you can blend it and start over.

If you only own a classic back eyeliner and want to create a softer look, just apply some eyeshadow over the line ( you don't need a damp brush for this one ). I do this when I want to draw silver or golden lines, because I don't feel like investing in liquid silvers and golds ( and I have more than enough silvery and golden eyeshadows ).

So what's your favorite eyeliner texture and color?



V as in Vintage: YSL Opium

Dear Roses and Lilies,

I don't have many vintage pieces, because I don't usually shop for anything vintage. The ones I have were accidental finds, which, in my humble opinion, are the best.

A vintage owl watch here, a little pearl necklace there... and my most recent and treasured find - a vintage YSL Opium Edt bottle.

If you had the chance to try out both an old version of this fragrance and the new, post 2009 version, you'll notice they are different.

Why I treasure my old version? If you look at the composition, there's an impressive list of ingredients, that makes this fragrance so complex and addictive. Opium was launched in 1977. Top notes are coriander, plum, citruses, mandarin orange, pepper, jasmine, cloves, west Indian bay and bergamot; middle notes are carnation, sandalwood, patchouli, cinnamon, orris root, peach, lily-of-the-valley and rose; base notes are labdanum, tolu balsam, sandalwood, opoponax, musk, coconut, vanilla, benzoin, vetiver, incense, cedar, myrrh, castoreum and amber.

Depending on what shower gel or soap you use, you'll detect different notes from the composition, which means that this fragrance is not linear. The drydown, however, remains the same and yes, that too depends on your body chemistry.

For the new version, they cut off most of the ingredients used to formulate the old version. I guess they wanted to make it more modern and alluring for the new generation of buyers ( out with the old, in with the new, right? ). Top notes are bergamot, mandarin orange, lilly-of-the-valley; middle notes are carnation, jasmine and myrrh; base notes are patchouli, opoponax, amber and vanilla.

The old version smells mostly of opium incense sticks, clove, cinnamon and bergamot on me. The new version has something in it that nauseates me at first ( there's something synthetic about it, like detergent ? ), then turns into gingerbread cookies after 2 hours of wear and stays the same.

Still oriental this new version, I suppose... so, if you aren't allergic to it, it's worth a try. But if you had the old version and loved it and now feel nostalgic about the scent, know that it is hard to find and it may not come cheap.

Hope you liked this little review.



Fragrance love: Elegance in a bottle - Van Cleef & Arpels Bois D'Iris

Dear Roses and Lilies,

For those of you who don't know, Van Cleef and Arpels is a French jewelery, watches and perfume company founded in 1896. They have exceptional jewelery pieces a girl would only dream about and are best known for their special gem setting procedure called "Mystery Setting".

I was first introduced to VC&A about a month ago, when I discovered a fragrance from their Collection Extraordinaire line: Bois D'Iris.

When I fist saw it, I thought it would be another iris scented fragrance, which I wouldn't be much of a fan of.

But this one is different, because it is more about wood and sugar and less about fields of iris.

The bottle comes in a rather large white box, perfect for a gift, and accompanied by a leaflet; very professional, very clean, no flowers and faeries and butterflies. And I must say, I just love the bottle. It feels heavy, the cap is sturdy and the straw attached to the sprayer is just so thin you almost cannot detect it.

And, to make the line a more "exclusive" one, there is no marketing whatsoever behind it.

The juice in it is potent and last well for 12 hours, but it is not overpowering or overly sweet, like so many modern fragrances. The woody notes are the most noticeable at first. Then you get a hint of sweetness from amber and sugar. The iris barely peeks out at some point, then gives way to more wood.

The fragrance is supposed to smell like driftwood on the ocean shore. On me, it smells more like amber and some incense.

When I showed it to my mother, she fell in love with it almost instantaneously. She says there is something in it like a dream: you cannot quite grasp it's essence; when you think you know what it is, you lose it again.

It also reminds her or her granny's old oakwood furniture, which is always a very pleasant memory. So, naturally, this bottle was the perfect Christmas present.

If you are into elegant fragrances, then you will surely find the perfect one for you in the Collection Extraordinaire line from Van Cleef & Arpels. Also available in this line: Gardenia Petale, Muguet Blanc, Orchidee Vanille, Cologne Noire ( for men ), Lys Carmin and Precious Oud.

What I am going to try next ( if I can get my hands on it ), is Precious Oud, a white floral, smoky and animalic fragrance that is closer to my taste.

Do you own any VC&A fragrance?