Skin Products

Fragrance Trends at the Elements Showcase

This week I attended the second edition of the Elements Showcase--a fragrance tradeshow in NYC. I was excited to see the expansion from the first show (back in November); from its single floor space, to now spanning two levels. There were lots of new and fantastic vendors ranging from fragrance to skincare. Visiting the booths and speaking to the exhibitors, I started to pick up on some distinct trends.

Wood and Natural Materials: The first trend that I see carries over from last season. The use of wood in packaging has an even stronger presence than we've seen in the past months. Everything from the lids on boxes of candles, soap and perfume to entire wooden bottles (TAY) were on display.











Profumi Del Forte took the natural materials trend to another level, creating marble lids for their fragrances


"Box of Chocolates" Packaging There was a definite thread of inspiration derived from the classic beauty and simplicity of chocolate box packaging.




Fine Art Meets Fragrance Another trend that emerged was the inclusion of fine art in the packaging on fragrance bottles and other products in this category.





Among the artist/fragrance duo's, jewelry collaborations were another strong trend popping up. Both Joya (known for its porcelain bottles) and Sage released solid perfume in beautiful amulet's. Joya teamed up with jewelry design company Vane to launch their "Shades of Dusk" collection.

In general, it seems that the fragrance and skincare industries continue to be concerned with 'natural' elements--whether or not their products are chemical-free or are made with sustainable materials. The key is to come across as being concerned about the process of the product, in the form of an eco-friendly looking package or by including an artisanal touch.

Shea Love

With the warmer spring weather comes the beginning of weekend market season! This weekend I was wandering through the Upper West Side and happened upon the street market taking over most of Broadway from 98th to 111th. Among the spices, scarves and food vendors I was excited to meet an African man selling raw shea butter. We had a lovely (and informative) conversation about the origin and benefits of this moisturizer ingredient. Shea butter comes from a nut that looks similar to chestnut, from the African shea tree. African people use it for everything from cooking to cosmetics. It melts at body temperature, is easily absorbed and has a faint scent reminiscent of cocoa. It is said that shea butter can relieve skin irritation such as eczema and acne, and can fade scars and stretch marks. It also has some degree of sun protection and can reduce the effects of UV damage on the skin (so long, pigmentation!).

My current fave body lotion,Shea Moisture , has a high percentage of organic raw shea butter. I absolutely love the combination of shea butter with powerful organic ingredients frankincense (known for its toning and anti-aging properties) and myrrh. The fragrance is intoxicating - almost transporting you to a far eastern bazaar. My skin has never been softer.

I first discovered this great moisturizer at my local Duane Reade but have since seen a very similar product (ingredient / scent wise) by the brand Nubian Heritage at Whole Foods - in a slightly smaller bottle, for a few dollars more.

Either way, it's a magical product!

Secrets from a Beauty Diva

Today marks the birthday of my stepmother Christine, who passed away almost two years ago. She would have been turning 58 this year. Given that she was a bathroom diva (she enjoyed long relaxing baths and luxury cosmetics), I thought it appropriate to celebrate and honour her special day by featuring some of her all time favourite products.

This unisex scent, Aqua Di Parma became a staple in Christine's early 50's. This is the epitome of luxury in scent, cited on the website as "the art of haute parfumerie". The combination of fresh citrus top notes, sweet floral heart notes and spicy, woody base notes makes it the perfect fall fragrance to cozy up with.

Diorissimo by Christian Dior. Her signature fragrance for the better part of the 1990's, and possibly before. While very light and springy, the Lilly of the Valley notes make it the ultimate feminine perfume.

Dermalogica--everything! One of her most preferred cosmetic brands, she cleansed, toned and moisturized with a range of these products. Special mentions: the clarifying Daily Mircorfoliant (which I still use). Rice-based powder mixes with water to release Papain (an enzyme from papaya), Salicylic Acid (a chemical exfoliator) and rice enzymes that micro-exfoliate dead cells (or so they say). In simpler terms, little granules slowly dissolve to create a very soft scrub that does not damage or tear your skin--as some of the more grainy, vigorous scrubs do. Christine also swore by the Age Smart range, including the super rich repair cream and multivitamin power firm eye gel.

Dr. Hasuka--The Lip Care Stick. Multiple tubes lived on Ms. Mooney's bedside table, in her purse and tucked away in the kitchen. Composed of natural plant, bee's and jojoba waxes with the addition of shea butter, it's smooth, natural and scented with just a hint of essential oils. I carry one in my purse at all times.

Lush--bath bars. Every night our house would be filled with the spicy florals of Blue Skies and Fluffy White Clouds. This bath bar (similar concept to a bath bomb) instantly transports you to a place far beyond your bathtub. With notes of patchouli (not overpoweringly hippie) and frankincense, time travel to the Far East is instantaneous. Makes for a nice relaxing soak.

Rockin' Rodin

On Friday afternoon, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Linda Rodin at her apartment--a real live jewel box on the edge of Chelsea; each room painted a powdery hue and filled with various vintage gems--countless sea shells, floral trinkets and flea market kitsch. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by her charming and unique aesthetic. Linda's reputation for great style is renowned. A fashion icon in this city, she started her career modeling in Italy in the 1960's, pioneered the first clothing boutique in SoHo, trail blazed as an editor at Bazaar and most recently, has been beautifying the beautiful as one of the city's most respected fashion stylists (annual Victoria Secret ad campaigns as just one example among many). [caption id="attachment_126" align="alignnone" width="460" caption="Linda\'s exquisite living room"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_126" align="alignnone" width="460" caption="Vintage finds"]a pretty little side table[/caption]

Fashion and design aside, the real reason I went to visit Linda was to talk to her about her hugely successful skin care line, Rodin. What an impressive story it was. Her first product--the now famous Olio Lusso--was developed in her apartment after a trip to Paris to visit her best friend, model Laetitia Casta. The two had been playing around with essential oils in France and, when Linda returned, decided to start experimenting with more oil combinations. Working on set as a stylist, (alongside the industry's top makeup artists), she tried all of the latest skin care must-haves, though was never completely satisfied with what was out there. As she started to combine the various oils--chosen for their beneficial properties--a great concoction was created.

The end result, Olio Lusso for face, contains just 11 ingredients. Happy with her mixture, Linda started handing out this magic potion to friends--mostly those who worked on set with her or in the industry. The friends quickly became addicts of the stuff and started to spread the word. Many had connections to celebrities and magazine types--who helped spread the word even further.

After the face oil came one for body--composed with just 8 ingredients. The body oil joined the face oil as a huge hit and was in such high demand, the operation had to move out of her apartment, to a local manufacturer. As Olio Lusso became more established, Linda decided to create a hair oil. She thought about developing it on her own, like she had for the other two products, but decided that instead, she'd collaborate with long time friend (and esteemed hair dresser) Bob Recine. Enter Rodin by Recine luxury hair oil. From what I gather, this is similar to Moroccan hair oil--producing healthy, lustrous and glossy locks. Naturally, of course.

[caption id="attachment_124" align="alignnone" width="460" caption="Linda (and Winky) hard at work..."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_122" align="alignnone" width="460" caption="This is where the magic nyc closet turned office. Genius!"][/caption]

Linda gave me some samples to take home and try. I have to admit, I was a little hesitant to put the oil all over my face--given my history of breakout prone skin. Linda had told me that all skin types benefit from the oil. One fan had recently written to her and shared how it had completely cured her acne, when nothing else could. So, I did my evening cleansing routine and slathered on a few drops. The oil went on smoothly and literally absorbed in minutes--no greasy residue. It felt amazing, but the real magic was the intoxicating scent (from the jasmine oil). I'm also usually wary of scented products for my skin, but this serum felt natural and pure, and so did the fragrance. Instant happiness.

When I asked Linda about the benefits of the oil, she told me the bottom line was to "make your skin the best it can be, naturally", a tag line she has stuck to since the beginning. As she does not have any formal training in dermatology or skin care, she said she isn't promising miraculous results, just to give your skin a nourishing, moisturizing treatment using oils historically (and scientifically) known for their beneficial properties. I've been using the face oil for three days now and am really excited to use it every morning and night. I haven't noticed any signs of breakouts and my skin has been soft and just the slightest bit dewy underneath my makeup--that perfect glow.

With articles in the who's who of publications--from French (Paris) Vogue to InStyle to Bazaar, Olio Lusso seems to be on the fast track to the beauty hall of fame. The next product to hit the market (just released) is the softly tinted pink lip balm--the same delightful scent in a base of beeswax and shea butter.

The entire collection is available at various stores in and around the New York area. West Coasters, Canadians and other International pals will have to order online. Give it a try--you won't be sorry!

Bloomingdales Beauty 101

I just want to preface this post with a note regarding the title. I had no idea that Bloomingdale's was calling it's recent beauty seminar Beauty 101 when I wrote my Perfumey 101 story. It would seem that this is an unofficial beauty school week for me. I will not be adding "101" to the end of every post... Last night I had the pleasure of attending Bloomingdale's Beauty 101 seminar at the Soho store (thanks to Chloe for the special invite). What a delight it was! Greeted with mini cupcakes (with pink icing) and apple scented champagne, we sat front row, enthralled by all the products on offer. Various representatives and managers from brands like Bobbi Brown, Clinique and SpaceNK introduced new products and holiday gift sets, and promoted their existing collections. It was a fun, interactive way to get to know brands we already use, as well as hearing about some new ones. One thing I learned--Benefit started out as strictly a 'brow' focused company. I can't believe I didn't know that! I'm definitely going to consider taking a trip to one of their brow bars if I decide to stray from threading...

Although everyone had a great array of products, the two presentations that really had my attention were MAC (already a fan) and Nars (a recent follower--thanks to Cath and her Laguna bronzer). I have to tell you all right now that MAC has the most amazing holiday beauty collection coming up!!!! Seriously. The A Tartan Tale story is not only on trend, but totally gorgeous. Beautiful velvety plaid packaging on everything from the blush tri-pack (in awesome colors), to the lip glosses and pigments. Even the eye shadows have a plaid pattern etched into the color.

But, the real show stoppers are their brush kits. Wow. Reasonably priced at around $50. Not only do you get a set of 5 brushes, but the bag they come in is to die for. Best of all, it contains a strap hidden inside that you can attach and wear as a purse. Genius. Chaundra, the MAC sales manager at the Soho store, told me they are likely to sell out. So, head to your nearest MAC and pre-order! You want at least one of the pieces from this collection. Trust me!

After the event, we were free to stay late and browse the cosmetic department. I stopped off at the Nars counter and talked (beauty) shop with April and Samantha. I discovered a product that seems too good to be true--as April put it "like a unicorn for you skin". It's called the skin smoother (about $30). Does anyone use this already? I don't know how it's slipped past all of our beauty bags. It literally smooths out pores, fills in fine lines and mattifies your complexion--so your foundation can glide on flawlessly. Miraculous. This product is going to be my next purchase (well, maybe after my pre-order of the MAC collection).


  [caption id="attachment_28" align="alignnone" width="460" caption="Isn' t this a cute charmschool picture?"][/caption]

I found this picture while doing a broad search on "charmschool".   Apparently Ricki Lake did a trashy TV show a couple of years ago called Charm School - of which bad photos inundated my search.  It's not till I added the word "vintage" that I came up with this gem! 

Hello charm school!