Vernal: Scent Semantics #6

Hey Crew. Scent Semantics?

We get a word, we get a date, we have to choose a single fragrance that fits the word and then have to explain how it fits together, in our way. As much or little as we feel the word/fragrance connection needs. We are going to probe a little into how each of us bloggers see the world, fragrance, ourselves. We get to see how one word can inspire different directions in connection. or not.

Vernal: Scent Semantics #6

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Skincare Mini Reviews

I have been feeling like the blogging muse has left me. When I mentioned this to my friend Undina, she encouraged me to try a post about skincare, especially as she enjoys reading them. As you will see from this post, Undina is unlikely to be reading frivolous blog posts at the moment, but I wanted to write this for her. Even if she doesn’t read it right now, the thought is there.

As it happens, I have had the chance to try a range of high-end products over the last few months thanks to a Caroline Hirons Hall of Fame kit and the SpaceNK Beauty Advent Calendar. Below are my thoughts on some of them.

Votary Rose Geranium & Apricot Cleansing Oil

This is a top quality product and smelled pleasantly of earthy geranium. However, I’ve decided cleansing oils just aren’t for me. It was nice to use during winter mornings because it felt nourishing but I didn’t particularly enjoy the feeling of it on my skin and I prefer something that feels more cleansing in the evening.

Japanfusion Pure Transforming Cleanser, Beauty Pie

I’d heard a lot of hype about this cleanser so when subscription service Beauty Pie did a month’s free trial it was top of my list. I must say it has a lovely creamy texture and feels very soft on the skin. It is the furthest thing from a harsh, stripping cleanser. It’s nice but I didn’t feel the love I expected. The scent is a bit too subtle for my taste. OSKIA Renaissance Cleansing Gel is still my favourite.

NMF Lactic Toner, Pestle & Mortar

Last summer when I was taking a break from tretinoin, I would use this exfoliating acid toner after cleansing. I love the dispenser which means you just have to press down your cotton wood pad on the top to saturate it. It left my skin increasingly glowy with regular use and did not irritate. Lactic acid is more hydrating than glycolic or salicylic acid. I’ll continue with this or the MediK8 Press and Glow Daily Exfoliating PHA Tonic each summer or whenever I have a stubborn dry patch of skin.

Hydrating Accelerator, Josh Rosebrook

Caroline Hirons calls this ‘Jesus Juice’ and it’s far and away the best mist I’ve tried. Nobody needs a facial spritz in their routine but I like them and tret dries out my skin. I use one every morning after cleansing but I particularly like using them after an acid (like the one above) as a kind of neutraliser. This has an aloe vera juice base infused with a range of vitamins and nutrients. It is hard to find a facial mist which isn’t like a fire hose but Hydrating Accelerator dispenses the finest mist I’ve come across. It also has a lovely vanillic natural fragrance. It’s expensive (£35) but I will repurchase when I run out and can get a discount.

Hyaluronic Serum, Dr Barbara Sturm

Talking of Caroline, if there is a brand that is likely to make her blood boil it’s the one by celebrity dermatologist Dr Barbara Sturm. I can see why. Charging £235 for a 35ml bottle of hyaluronic acid is eyebrow raising to say the least as HA is not a super expensive ingredient. I always apply a hyaluronic acid after my spritz to rehydrate the skin after cleansing. This one worked well and a little went a long way, but I would not dream of spending that much on a hydrating step. I’ll stick with Hada Labo.

CEO Glow Vitamin C and Tumeric Facial Oil, Sunday Riley

Once my hyaluronic acid has sunk in, I use a vitamin C serum. My holy grail is the CEO 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum by Sunday Riley but I got the oil version in the calendar. I think it’s a good option for sensitive, dull skin but I’ve come to the conclusion I’m just not a fan of facial oils generally.

The Rich Cream, Augustinus Bader

Another super spendy brand, the 15ml mini I got of this moisturiser was worth £69. I hate to say it, but it’s good. It’s not the overly heavy cream I expected it to be. It has a substantial texture but didn’t feel heavy on the skin and sank in pretty much straight away. I wouldn’t blame anyone who had the money for buying this, but it’s still ‘just’ a really nice moisturiser. I prefer to put most of my money into my actives. My current moisturiser of choice is Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Cream.

The Blue Cocoon, May Lindstrom

Now this is my kind of luxury skincare product. Completely organic and made by hand, its quality and ethical production is unquestionable. What I love about it though is the sensorial experience. I adore the glorious blue colour, the chocolatey smell and the way it melts into a oil as I massage it into my skin. I use it on weekends when I take two nights off from tret and it’s a real treat. I’ve heard it can be a game-changer for all sorts of skin conditions but luckily I don’t currently have any those concerns. It gives me a nice glow in the morning but I can get that from an acid. If money were no object, I’d never be without a jar for the pure joy of it.

Have you tried any of these or found something new to add to your skincare routine? Please let us know in the comment.

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NOSTALGIA Scent Semantics #5

Hey Crew. Scent Semantics?

We get a word, we get a date, we have to choose a single fragrance that fits the word and then have to explain how it fits together, in our way. As much or little as we feel the word/fragrance connection needs. We are going to probe a little into how each of us bloggers see the world, fragrance, ourselves. We get to see how one word can inspire different directions in connection. or not.

NOSTALGIA Scent Semantics #5

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TASTE Scent Semantics #4

Hey Crew. Scent Semantics?

We get a word, we get a date, we have to choose a single fragrance that fits the word and then have to explain how it fits together, in our way. As much or little as we feel the word/fragrance connection needs. We are going to probe a little into how each of us bloggers see the world, fragrance, ourselves. We get to see how one word can inspire different directions in connection. or not.

TASTE Scent Semantics #4

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LUSCIOUS Scent Semantics #3

Hey Crew. Scent Semantics?

We get a word, we get a date, we have to choose a single fragrance that fits the word and then have to explain how it fits together, in our way. As much or little as we feel the word/fragrance connection needs. We are going to probe a little into how each of us bloggers see the world, fragrance, ourselves. We get to see how one word can inspire different directions in connection. or not.

LUSCIOUS Scent Semantics #3

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ANGELIC Scent Semantics #2

Hey Crew. Scent semantics?

We get a word, we get a date, we have to choose a single fragrance that fits the word and then have to explain how it fits together, in our way. As much or little as we feel the word/fragrance connection needs. We are going to probe a little into how each of us bloggers see the world, fragrance, ourselves. We get to see how one word can inspire different directions in connection. or not.

ANGELIC Scent Semantics #2

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Boujee Bougies – Mini Reviews

Nick and Pia of Olfiction launched their luxury scented candle brand Boujee Bougies this time last year. Lockdown turned out to be the perfect time as sales of scented candles went through the roof. I’m not surprised because after only buying a single candle in my life, I purchased four – one being a Boujee Bougie.

They were kind enough to send me all five mini candles recently so I got a chance to sample the whole line.

Queen Jam

Tart berries, purple roses, flashes of green

Named after a Finnish conserve, Queen Jam was exactly what I was expecting: a rich rose jam scent. I normally swerve gourmand fragrances but I found this hugely comforting and can quite imagine many finding it addictive. Juicy berries and rose petals are swirling in syrupy jam. The overall effect is that of a jammy, fruity rose edged with leaves and this greenery contrasts beautifully with the sweetness. Queen Jam is full of character and a great sense of fun. It also has a tremendous amount of throw, I could smell it at a distance even when unlit.

I burn it when I feel life is a little too austere and I’m craving a bit of guilt-free indulgence.

Cuir Culture

Old books, worn jackets, pup masks

Genius name alert! I love leather but wondered if this would be a little too much on the skanky side for my prim tastes. This was purely going on the description which talked of it being raw and raunchy. Up close it does smell like a tough, spicy leather. However when lit, I actually find it to be rather low-key with a subtly sensual quality. It’s quietly reassuring and perfect for a chilly winter’s evening.

Imagine being curled up in a worn leather chair in a dusty old library with a good – somewhat racy – book. That’s Cuir Culture.

Succulent

Houseplants, jungles, joy

The name says it all – the scent of cacti bursting with moisture. This is a bright green scent with a distinctive tomato leaf note. I don’t know how Pia managed to make this fragrance so dripping with sap. Underneath the the tangle of greens there is a fuzzy white musk which amps up its radiance. This is not a deep, dark green aroma (my usual preference) but one of plant stems full of vitality, straining towards the light.

Sales of houseplants also went up through the pandemic (again guilty – I’m so predictable) because they impart such a feeling of wellbeing. Succulent brings a riot of jungle palms and desert cacti into your own humble abode.

Gilt

Whispered confessions, incense smoke, gold leaf

Another inspired name. This incense is warm and woody rather than cool and mineralic. The enticing golden glow that veils the incense comes from amber and labdanum. The really clever thing about this scent though, is the surprising inclusion of aldehydes. I kept wondering what I was picking up on and that’s it. These cool, soapy notes give Gilt a nice amount of uplift and the feeling of calm you get from stepping inside the hallowed stone walls of a church. Brilliant.

This one always hits the mark for me.

Hellflower

Sulphur, burning flowers, brimstone

I was attracted to the idea of a smoky magnolia more than any of the other candles but was unsure about the presence of a sulphurous grapefruit note. Again, I needn’t have clutched my pearls. Hellflower is a sparkling, green grapefruit laced with lush white florals. There is a suggestion of brimstone smoldering in the background but if anything, it just serves to highlight the brightness of the citrus floral bouquet.

Hellflower is a luminous, stimulating scented candle that I like to burn on my desk while working.

I was impressed if not surprised by the quality and ingenuity of each and every candle, all having an inspired, playful twist on a familiar theme.

If you fancy treating yourself or someone else to a Boujee Bougie, there is currently 20% off everything on the website until November 28th with code Boujee20. Which one would you go for?

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Reading Diary

Apologies for absence. It was a rough summer because of family health issues and I didn’t feel like writing or reading much. However autumn is my favourite time of year for curling up with (mostly moody) historical fiction and this reignited my love of getting lost in a good book.

The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakroborty

I felt like escaping into some epic fantasy during the summer. After reading the wonderful The Golem and The Jinni I wanted to know more about djinn mythology and this very popular trilogy seemed just the ticket. Nahri is a street con-artist in 18th Century Cairo with a mysterious healing ability. One day she accidently summons a djinn and is transported to the mystical city of Daevabad. Here she finds out her true identity and is quickly caught up in local politics. She meets Ali, the prince who is trying to make life better for the downtrodden Shafit, who are part-human, part-djinn.

It was good to read a non-white, non-male fantasy author but sadly I didn’t think the djinn mythology was explained terribly well and it was waaaaay too long, with the final book unnecessarily nudging 800 pages. I only got through all three books because I wanted something un-taxing and I’d already paid for the set. It was fine but no more than that. 3/5

The Mercies by Kiran Millwoord Hargrave

“But now she knows she was foolish to believe that evil existed only out there. It was here, among them, walking on two legs, passing judgement with a human tongue.”

This bleak historical fiction is set on an isolated island on the edge of the Arctic Circle and is grounded in real life events. On Christmas Eve, 1617, practically the entire male population of Vardo was killed in a freak storm while fishing. In this fictionalised account, we focus on Maren, whose brother and father as well as her betrothed are all lost at sea. Beset by grief, the women of the village try to carry on with life on this barren island where not even a single tree grows. Reports that the women have started to become threateningly independent and are fishing for themselves causes a noted Scottish witch hunter, Absalom Cornet, to be sent to the island to investigate. He takes a young wife, Ursa, from Norway who has no idea what kind of man he truly is. Ursa is ill-equipped to run a home, let alone one in such a harsh environment, so she employs Maren to help her. As Absalom’s investigations into the local women’s adherence to the Church esclates, the pair become dangerously close.

It’s hard to convey just how much I hated Absalom which shows just how well crafted this book was. After feeling lacklustre about reading, I sped through this in a week. It is both captivating and heart-wrenching. If you’ve read Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, this has a very similar feel. 4.5/5

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

“Words define us, they explain us, and, on occasion, they serve to control or isolate us.”

While I normally change genres with each book, I dove straight into another historical fiction, albeit one with a more gentle tone. Like The Mercies, this story is too based on fact.

Esme spends most of her childhood underneath the sorting table where her father works at The Scriptorium, which is essentially a garden shed in Oxford. This was a real place where the first Oxford English Dictionary was pieced together in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Esme is as intrigued by words as her widowed lexicographer father and one day finds a slip with the word ‘bondmaid’ written on under the table and decides to keep it for herself. As she gets older she realises that there are many words used by women, particularly lower class women, that will never make it into the Dictionary.

This is a perfect book for anyone who loves words for their own sake, like Esme. It’s beautifully written and nicely evokes the Oxford of the time with its all too apparent class divisions. Esme and her Da are enormously likeable characters as is her godmother Ditte who is treading her own academic path through life. A wonderful feminist take on the origins of the OED. 4.75/5

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

“I was still all in a state of innocence, but that innocence once lost, is lost forever.”

This gothic tale from 1983 has been a stage play in the West End for many years (my Dad fell asleep in it).

The novella was rather spoilt for me by a review on Goodreads, not because the writer divulged any twists but because they said it was a horror novel that caused them to sleep with the light on. I read it constantly expecting to be terrified – wimp that I am – but this never happened. The Woman in Black is NOT a horror but a classic ghost story.

Young solicitor Arthur Kipps is sent to sort through the estate of a deceased recluse, Alice Drablow. During the funeral he sees a woman in black with ‘a wasted face’ and again at the Drablow house where he has several disturbing experiences. Whenever he mentions this woman or the Drablow house to the local villagers, they clam up.

This was an extremely readable and atmospheric creepy story and I think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d approached it as such. I did guess the mystery before the reveal as well as the ending, but it was good read for Halloween weekend. 3.75/5

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

“And, though there should be a world of difference between the smile of a man and the bared fangs of a wolf, with Joss Merlyn they were one and the same.

I felt a little nervous about this one because it sounded so dark. Set in the early 19th century, a young woman, Mary Yellan, goes to live with her Aunt Patience at Jamaica Inn after her mother dies. Her Aunt’s husband turns out to be a vile, abusive bully and no one but his cronies visit the Inn. Mary is isolated with her Aunt who is living in such fear of her husband’s moods, she is no company at all. Mary soon suspects her Uncle is involved with smuggling and probably dealings far more nefarious than that.

I really liked Mary as our heroine. She is strong and speaks her mind, even when confronted with her Uncle telling her he will break every bone in her body if she questions him. Oh man, Joss Merlyn is a truly awful and brilliantly written character.

Du Maurier creates a fantastic brooding air with an ideal setting on the treacherous moors during the autumn/winter. She really ramps up the suspense when Mary is put at risk and events unravel. However, I did not like the romance in the slightest and I wished it hadn’t ended the way it did. Enthralling but not as stunning as Rebecca. 4.25/5

How have you been? Which Daphne du Maurier novel should I read next?

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Scent Semantics #1 BRAVE

Hey Everyone, This month we are trying something new. New idea, new crew, NEW NEW NEW! We’ve gathered together a fabulously far flung gang. In my mind this idea was to let our creativity flourish with the least amount of parameters possible. We get a word, we get a date, we have to choose a single fragrance that fits the word and then have to explain how it fits together, in our way. As much or little as we feel the word/fragrance connection needs. We are going to probe a little into how each of us bloggers see the world, fragrance, ourselves. Also, if this idea works, we get to see how one word can inspire different directions in connection. or not. Everyone has signed up for 12 first Mondays of the month.

BRAVE Scent Semantics #1

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Mood Scent 4: Into The Woods and Away

OOOOHHHHH! Our very last Mood Scent 4 week! All good things come to an end eventually and Mood Scent 4 has fallen victim to perfume ennui. We gave it our all and now there’s nothing left to give. I’m super bummed though because it’s been a wonderful time working in tandem with these three perfumed peeps. Thanks Esperanza, Megan and Sam for letting me be part of this cool kids collective. It was really nice to be part of a crew. I particularly loved how different our collections and perfumed directions were on the same topic, also those rare times when we snapped on a perfume. I loved the reckless running through my collection trying to find the exact five or six matches for a mood, note, moment. The sense of fulfilled completion after winnowing a huge list down and getting the post finalised, often with three or four overhauls after remembering a forgotten fave that fit the brief better or more interestingly. The fun of jumping over to the other members pages and seeing their choices, sometimes beating myself up for not going with what they chose too. It was a monthly labour of love and I will miss it, a lot.   Ironically our Into The Woods and Away theme seems to have coincided perfectly with our wave goodbye. So it is with melancholy heart I’ve chosen my woodsiest fragrances to share with you all today.

Can’t wait to read about your fave Into The Woods Perfumes in the comments too.

Sad but excited to be blogging with these three superstars one last time: Esperanza L’Esperessence, Megan Megan In Sainte Maxime and Samantha I Scent You A Day. Check theirs out too.

Mood Scent 4: Into The Woods and Away

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