Last week I decided to finally take the Living Proof No Frizz Shampoo & Conditioner for a test drive. I have been really skeptical, as I made what I now know was the mistake of using only the styling cream without the shampoo and conditioner. Which I had been told, but I tend to think that is hype so I had purchased a tiny bottle of the Wave/Curl Cream for Thick/Coarse hair only to be disappointed. After going through the Brazilian Blow Dry mania I thought I would at least make an effort to smooth and control my mane with products as opposed to a very expensive semi permanent treatment.
Color me SOLD on Living Proof. I have been making a concerted effort to rid my hair and my styling routine of sulfates, which strip and dry out the hair, and of silicones, which coat and weigh down hair. Sulfates have a place in my routine as a bi-weekly clarifying treatment but the fact is 90% of shampoos contain these chemicals. They offer a lovely lather that people seem to need to feel clean, but other than that they are far too harsh for our hair. I have long thick hair that is highlighted so dry ends are a reality for me. Sulfates exacerbate this condition. So in an attempt to calm and smooth my stripped and dry ends, I would apply silicone products to my hair to coat and smooth. Now it’s true that the first few times we use silicone it seems miraculous. We get silky smooth flowing hair….for awhile. Then, the silicone builds up and our expensive favourite conditioners cannot even touch our hair let alone be effective. So the cycle begins…sulfates to strip, then deep condition, then smooth with silicone because even the deep conditioner doesn’t work on your poor hair that has been stripped dry of every ounce of healthy shine and bounce. Living Proof touts a miracle ingredient that coats the hair that is a teeny molecule hardly visible when compared to silicone. I am no scientist but you can learn more about it here.
So I have purged my shower of sulfates except for one clarifying product to be used sparingly. I only use conditioner without silicone, spray on/leave in conditioner without (yes silicone is in almost every conditioner out there) and I use a smoothing and curling product without silicone (yes…it is everywhere). But still, there was the frizz, the pouf , the flyaways. I would have to coat my hair with conditioner after shampooing and leave it in….it was ok but let’s just say there were a lot of steps. My path to low maintenance hair was fraught with obstacles…
Enter Living Proof No-Frizz. All I can say is OH MY GOD. Trust me when I say I have spent thousands of dollars on products and treatments to smooth my hair over the years. And all it took was one shampoo, one conditioner, and one styling product? They do have a scent, so if you like scent free, these are not. But it is a benign soft citrus woody scent that does not smell like plastic fruit or candy, which is my issue with most hair care products. And it doesn’t last long at all so it won’t interfere with your perfume- key for me as my friends will attest. I did one thorough shampoo and then used a wide tooth comb to distribute the conditioner throughout my hair and left it on for a few minutes. Wow. For the first time in memory, after I used the shampoo and conditioner, I did not need a spray on detangler to comb my hair after I took it out of the towel. I combed it out, applied the Living Proof Wave/Curl Cream for my hair type (thick to coarse). Coarse might be applying to the ahem, few greys that are scattered throughout my hair. I gently combed and scrunched the curl cream to distribute it well. I let it air dry while I applied my moisturizers, lotions and potions, and make up. I then lightly diffused and blew dry a few sections on the top to give a slightly styled feel to my curls and stood there amazed. Smooth silky hair. But that is not the best part. The best part is waking up the next day with the same smooth waves. And the next day. I read somewhere that the miracle ingredient in Living Proof somehow repels oil and dirt and I can attest to this. Here is the kicker. Day 6 of my test drive was in Toronto where for some freakish reason the weather was 34 degrees with gusts of 80km/hour winds. And guess what? My hair, after I combed it (that wind!) was perfect. No frizz!
So. If you are frizz challenged, run, don’t walk, to Sephora and get thee some Living Proof. You can also purchase from their website and The Shopping Channel. You can get nifty little trial kits for your hair type, which is what I got. I plan to reuse the little bottles for travel because I have purchased the big bottles. SOLD!
Stay tuned for my review of the Living Proof No Frizz Straight Styling Cream. I’m still dubious that any one product will be able to achieve a straight smooth frizz free finish on my hair, but, after my experience with Living Proof so far, I am willing to try!
There are some great folks writing fun stuff out there and I would love to share my favourite beautiful blogs with you. So, in the tradition of the weekly roundup, the weekly blogroll etc, I will be posting my Beautiful Blog Posts Of the Week for you. Life is busy and not everyone is as obsessive as I am about scouring the interwebs so I am happy to give you some quick links to some great reading!
The wise & beautiful Gaia over at The Non-Blonde revisits Estee Lauder Beautiful, the classic 80s floral perfume. I wore it…did you?
So happy to discover that Abigail of I Smell Therefore I Am wrote about the new release from Diptyque, Eau Duelle, the “vanilla for those who don’t like vanilla”. I have been dying to try this and Abigail’s lovely review makes it sound like something I might need….
The fabulous Michelle over at The Beauty Editor has been updating from New York Fashion Week with looks that are making sexy 70s hair and come hither make-up look like a great alternative to the flat iron and boring daytime make up….
Chanel nail polish hysteria continues and the lovely Christine at Temptalia tempts us (well me anyways, I am a sucker for Chanel nail polish…) with the new for fall Chanel Soho Story Limited Edition polishes Steel and Strong. These dark dramatic colours seem perfect to wear with cozy sweaters and fabulous boots…
The Brazilian Blowout™ has been all the buzz lately among those of us craving low maintenance, silky hair with minimal or zero blow dry time. A good friend of mine from LA who is plugged into the beauty/fashion scene there says that pretty much EVERY star has it done. You know, the ones you see in the tabloids, frolicking on the beach in say, Hawaii, with silky hair? Yes Jennifer Anniston I am looking at you. What the heck? How is this even possible? Watch the first season of The Mentalist and note the lovely Robin Tunney’s hair. Very thick and wavy- I’ve met her and can attest to her hair texture. Yes I am weird that way. Now. Watch the last/current season. Her hair is flowing and shiny- like silk and she has the Brazilian Blowout™ to thank for that.
First there were the scary Japanese Keratin Treatments that were full of formaldehydes. On our heads?? In our hair?? YIKES! I think not. It just didn’t seem worth it.
Then, came the healthier protein based Keratin Treatments. Yes these really did seem to offer a miracle. You will have silky, smooth FRIZZ FREE hair for months. However, the process was intense. Three hours of shampoos, drying, applications, straightening etc in the salon, which renders your hair completely flat and lifeless until you shampoo it. And no shampooing, touching, pinning back, putting behind your ears- basically anything that could bend the hair- for three days. I watched my dear friend Vicki go through it this past summer. Now there is no question the final result was worth it as her hair is lovely and flowy which makes her a very happy camper. But. She would not leave her house for those long 3 days as her hair basically looked like oily spaghetti.
Enter the Brazilian Blowout™ (cue heavenly choirs) which does IT ALL in one afternoon at the salon with no wait time for the final result. If you are wavy or curly your waves/curls will be slightly relaxed or perhaps a better word is calmed. None of the flat dead hair that straightening irons have brought upon us. That look is unnatural and unflattering and we do not want to go there. My salon and stylist here in Ottawa has just started offering The Brazilian Blowout™ as an alternative of what my friend had done. I’ve had several friends ask me about it as I referred to it hereand I have recommended it to a few hair challenged friends as well. Now even I am beginning to be tempted by the prospect of a speedy blow dry and ready-to-go hair. The cost is probably in the $200-$350 range for 10-12 weeks of blow dry ready hair that gets softer and silkier with every treatment. Yeah that’s right. It makes your hair healthier.
Do we want this? I am seriously considering it….are you?
As much as I love makeup and all things beauty & cosmetic related, I am not into a heavy, made up look. At all. As I get older, the “less is more” theory becomes more relevant. If I have a special night out, I can add a little more drama with a slightly darker eye and some color on my lips, but for my daily Daly (lol) look, I keep it pretty simple. Long wearing is also key for my day-to –day cosmetics; I don’t have the time or desire to tote a large make up bag full of everything I need around in my purse. There is enough in there to sink a ship already…. if you read my Top 5 in my Purse post, you know that I stick to the basics. I also have oily skin so, make up, if not long wearing, tends to slip away and disappear before lunch. The descriptions may seem detailed and long winded, but trust me, get the hang of this routine and you’re out the door in minutes. So here we go. Get ready quickly, and look good all day. …
I am not, and have never been, a foundation gal. On the days when I feel a little blotchy or pale, a little TM is all it takes to give my face the dewy look of an 18 year old. LOL, okay, not quite, but you know what I mean. I have two favourites- a high end product and a drugstore product. I love them both and actually alternate depending on my mood. High end- Dermalogica Sheer Tint Moisture spf 15. Incredible, sheer, matte and long lasting, I use the medium tone all year round. Makes me look healthy in the winter, blends with the light tan I inevitably get in the summer. Drugstore- Olay Totally Effects UV Moisturizer + Touch of Foundation . This one is actually fantastic, and it adds a little more moisture to my face in drier weather, ie winter when the central heat sucks every bit of moisture out of everything. I have been an Olay lover for years and this product does not disappoint. The magic Total Effects ingredients have won over users in blind tests involving super high end creams (hello La Mer….) since it was released and the tinted version is fantastic. The anti aging ingredients offer a light exfoliation, which helps keep oil at bay as well as smoothing out wrinkles. Not that I have any…
This is a KEY product for me. Probably the one thing I’d use if (HORRORS) I was asked to choose the one thing I could not be without. You can go from tired and old to perky and young in a minute with the right concealer. And the only one, as far as I am concerned, is Lancome Effacernes Waterproof Protective Concealer . This product was recommended to me years ago by a make up artist at a Lancome counter. I went to buy Lancome waterproof mascara as I was going to a wedding (preparing for tears…) and she showed me Effacernes. WOW. This stuff is truly *Holy Grail material and I could never be without it. It is creamy and moisturizing while also having a matte finish. I use it under my eyes and on my eyelids, as it says it’s for under eye area. But I use a brush and lightly dab “spots” (ok, pimples) and very lightly dab it on the sides of my nose. A light dusting of powder on top and it stays put. As we age, that area gets red/darker and you would be shocked at how your face changes when you lighten the sides of your nose. Worth testing first, as a waterproof product may irritate a supersensitive skin. But I guarantee if this works for you, you will never be without it. A huge selection of color choices makes matching your skin tone exactly easy peasey. No more dark circles, the color will not settle into lines and will last for hours.
Bronzer &/or Blush
A touch of color is essential to a complete & healthy look. I don’t always wear both but sometimes a bit of blush and a light dusting of bronzer give me the pick-me-up that I need. You know those days – tired, run down and pale – without a good look and I am a big believer in “live it- be it” so sometimes I hope to psych myself out with a pretend glow. My number one blush is Benefit Benetint which is a liquid tint originally created, according Benefit’s site, “for an exotic dancer in the 1970s”…interesting. It is sheer, easy to apply and the perfect blushing cheek tone that lasts almost all day. I use few drops on my lips too! It also comes in a handy little package paired with lip gloss that is another perfect purse item (now that’s another Top 5 post!). My number one bronzer is the classic Guerlain Terracotta. My beautiful friend Heidi always looks so lovely & effortlessly bronzed- years ago I asked her what she used & she said Terracotta. Perfection! I had used it eons ago and now would never be without it. I use the lightest formula (01, sometimes called Blonde), which is foolproof. The Guerlain or Sephora rep can help you find your perfect shade. Using a nice big poufy brush giving yourself a light , even dusting all over the face can take you from tired to tan in an instant.
Eyeshadow & Primer
I cannot believe there was a time that I ever did not use Urban Decay Potion Primer which is basically the most incredible thing. Ever. It is a neutral coloured eye lid primer, to be used before you apply your eye make up. Using the Original formula, very lightly applied (a little goes a long way and too much is sticky) UDPP will make your eye make up last until you remove it. This could be overnight if you are a bad girl and don’t wash your make up off (like my daughters). Tsk tsk! They have 3 formulas, but the slightly shimmery Champagne toned Sin is a lovely colour on it’s own for pretty natural look. Then I swipe a little taupe eye shadow on my brow bone for depth. My faves are MAC Quarry and Omega- there are swatches on this page…just scroll down on Tempatalia to view. They are my Holy Grail taupe/natural shadows as they perfectly enhance the eye and give your lids some depth, rather than screaming, “Look at me I’m wearing purple and green eye shadow!”
This is a great little trick to add some depth to your lash line and open your eyes without looking like you are wearing any make up. As a blonde, this is something that really helps but it really works for anyone. Again, my desire to remain relatively low maintenance & my laziness dictates that this be a long wearing look. For this purpose I find the felt tip style is perfect- foolproof and easy to use. My personal favourite is L’Oreal Lineur Intense Felt Tip Liquid Eyeliner . This stuff lasts until you remove it, comes in an array of colours to suit anyone and the product goes a long way as well. That and it is around $10 at the drugstore- also fabulous. So, my trick. After applying concealer and my primer (UDPP) and letting them set, I apply the liner. I take the tip and gently dot all along my upper lash line- not above the lashes but IN the lash line. And by dot, I mean connect the dots. It may seem a little awkward at first but I can do each eye in around 30 seconds now. I start at the outer corner and work my way in and as I approach the other end of my lid, I make the dots a bit smaller until they disappear/taper off. Give it a minute to dry and you have a lash line that looks defined and subtle. Add a brush of mascara and you look bright eyed and wide-awake. My day-to-day fave color is the brown, which works well with my medium-fair colouring and hazel eyes, but they have a great black that I will use for a more dramatic look. I have even wanted to try the grey, so stay tuned….
Everyone has their favourite powder- and it is essential for setting your make up after application. A light dusting of powder on your lashes before mascara will also help it adhere and again improve longevity. I alternate two formulas. MAC Studio Fix, a matte powder foundation, which offers some extra coverage when I want it. A little goes a long way so a light hand is helpful with this. My day to day powder is Guerlain Meteorites Poudre des Perles I will admit a love and obsession with the Guerlain Meteorites line- very finely milled and violet scented…. But frankly, as long as it matches your skin, is finely milled and you apply it with a nice poufy brush (I have many- for powder, blush, bronzer…) then stick with the powder that works for you.
Everyone has their favourite mascara…some are high end and some swear by drugstore deals. My personal preference is for lengthening mascara that does not look thick or clumpy and it has to be in a waterproof formula. Non-waterproof ends up as black circles under my eyes in a few hours. Ah that oily skin. And its nice to know I can rub or scratch my eye without making a mess. At any rate, so far I have yet to find a High End mascara that works as well as L’Oreal Voluminous Waterproof Mascara in black. Waterproof formulas tend to dry out a bit quicker than non waterproof versions so I also feel a bit better replacing a $10 mascara more often than, say, a $30 mascara. But in the end, for me, it is about performance and L’Oreal Voluminous lengthens and holds a curl beautifully. Two coats on my top lashes and I’m out the door…
* Holy Grail:A very desired object or outcome that borders on a sacred quest
The title of this post refers to the common note in Chanel Bois des Iles and Guerlain Samsara. They share a creamy, dreamy and delectable sandalwood note that is front and centre in both– they give me a feeling of calm inner peace, as one might expect from sandalwood incense in a temple. I think the 80s French ad for Samsara says it all. Simply gorgeous.
Chanel Bois des Iles was first released by the designer in 1926 and is now included in their Exclusif Collection of Rue Cambon fragrances. It is only available at Chanel Boutiques, and only in the spectacular 200ml bottle in an eau de toilette concentration or in the parfum version in a 30ml bottle. According to Bois de Jasmin, the perfumer Ernest Beaux was inspired to create Bois des Iles by an opera by Tchaikovsky, The Queen Of Spades, based on a short story by Aleksandr Pushkin- a heartbreaking romantic tragedy of love and obsession. Heavy stuff, no? I love a perfume with a story and this perfume is so beautiful, I can close my eyes and feel my heart break when I wear it. Really. Bois des Iles is centered around one of the most beautiful sandalwood notes I have ever sniffed. Sandalwood is an endangered species so this extract has become rare and incredibly expensive and Bois des Iles manages to take the sandalwood and make it dreamy and transparent, like a dream you keep trying to remember.
Chanel has an incredible feature in some of it’s boutiques- a table where you can sit down and smell each of the raw materials used in their perfumes in it’s raw form. My dear friend Dane took me to this perfume mecca…..OMG this was a religious experience for me and when they gave us the sandalwood to sniff we wanted to grab it and bolt. But I digress. Chanel’s website lists the notes of Bois des Iles as “an accord of Sandalwood and Ylang-Ylang spirals in a base of Tonka Bean and Bourbon Vanilla, with heady, enchanting notes of Sicilian Mandarin and Calabrian Bergamot.” There is also the aldehydic tingle that you find in Chanel No5 which you smell immediately after applying. Fizzy and breezy, it brings out the florals right off the top- but not overly sweet. More like a Champagne fiz- I love it. Chanel No5 is gorgeous but somehow didn’t suit me. Bois des Iles makes me think that someone extracted the sandalwood out of No5 and served it up on aldehydes, ylang ylang with the tonka and vanilla adding that creamy sensation to the sandalwood. Ahhhh, perfection. The sandalwood manages to be dry but not austere, as I find it can be in some masculine scents. That said, a man could easily pull off wearing Bois des Iles as to my mind it is exactly what Coco Chanel embodies- a perfume that is as easy for a man to wear as it is easy for a woman to wear pants. This is no girly fluffy cotton candy perfume, but it manages to mingle with warm skin so perfectly that it does become smolderingly sexy.
This is one of the perfumes I wear when I can’t choose one from my wardrobe. It is always perfect, and wears close to the body so I don’t leave clouds of sillage behind me when I leave a room. It is timeless, even my 14 year old will inhale deeply and ask me which perfume I am wearing because I smell sooo good. If it gets me an extra hug, well that is a bonus.
So now to the bombastic sandalwood, Guerlain Samsara. There are two stories about the origin of this perfume which was released in 1989. The “official” story from Guerlain tells us that Jean-Paul Guerlain sought inspiration in China and Tibet to create Samsara, “Samsara is a Sanskrit word that has its roots in Hinduism. It signifies the cycle of birth and rebirth, the perpetual voyage from one existence to the next, the wheel of life that keeps on turning. Samsara is an invitation to serenity and harmony, with oneself and with the world. It is a voyage between East and West, Orient and Occident, an homage to the woman who is ever in search of serenity.” How fitting that sandalwood would figure in this scent- again images of temples, incense, prayer and meditation come to mind when one gets a whiff of sandalwood. The second less interesting story is that it was 1985, an era of power scents and Samsara was created to get in on this action. Opium, Obsession and Chanel Coco were hot selling heavy orientals in a big 80s way, and Guerlain did a perfect job creating a contender with Samsara. It packs a one-two punch and is denser in feel than Bois des Iles.
Back to bombastic. The notes from Guerlain speak of “a spellbinding predominance of jasmine. Rose, narcissus and ylang-ylang embellish the fragrance, the better to unite it with the radiant and generous warmth of sandalwood. Lastly, iris, Tonka bean and vanilla render this remarkable fragrance sublime”. I totally agree. There is the classic Guerlain base, commonly known as “Guerlinade” that most (not all) of the classic Guerlains have in common. This is a composition of several perfume notes but notably jasmine, iris, tonka and vanilla. I could drink this it is so divine- it makes you want to lean in and devour the wearer. So, take the Guerlinade, amp up the jasmine to almost obscene levels, then add a combination of pure and synthetic sandalwood at top volume and somehow the sandalwood grounds the jasmine and the jasmine lightens the sandalwood. A perfect and magical combination.
As with many perfumes today, there are different vintages of Samsara, the earlier ones containing more pure sandalwood. There is parfum (purest concentration of perfume), eau de parfum (more alchohol and not as concentrated than parfum) and eau de toilette (most common and less concentrated than eau de parfum and parfum) available in the Samsara line. I have the “vintage” (pre 1990) parfum and eau de toilette as I find the eau de parfum to be the 80s killer BIG PERFUME, but your mileage may vary. They are all powerful in that 80s sense but it’s all in the application. I lightly mist the eau de toilette with divine results. A few dabs of the parfum are intoxicating, the jasmine mingling with the sandalwood in a magical dance that teases forth from the skin. I often dab some on at bedtime (I never get into bed without perfume) and in the morning I can still smell it on my wrists. Whereas the Bois des Iles is perfect anytime, anywhere, I tend to reserve Samsara for cooler weather. Bois des Iles has a transparency that allows it to adapt from season to season, whereas Samsara’s density makes it work so well in fall and winter.
I look forward to wearing both this fall- they both smell wonderful wafting up from a pashmina or sweater. What are your favourite fall sweater scents?