Lorde to Collaborate with MAC Cosmetics


MAC Cosmetics is renowned for collaborating with celebrities on limited-edition makeup collections. Past collaborators have included Beth Ditto, Iris Apfel, Dame Edna, and Miss Piggy. This week MAC announced that their latest collection will be a collaboration with Lorde, the seventeen-year-old New Zealand singer who won a Grammy for Best Pop Solo earlier this year for her debut single “Royals.” No word yet on what the makeup collection will consist of, but the collaboration between MAC and Lorde further attests to the popularity of the young singer, whose solo album Pure Heroine reached number three on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart, and charting within the top-ten in eight additional countries. Come to think of it, Pure Heroine would be a marvelous name for Lorde’s MAC collection.

Happy National Fragrance Day

Once again, National Fragrance Day is here. March 21st was designated the day to celebrate fragrance. By whom, or why, I don’t know. But on National Fragrance Day, my scent today is vintage Ma Griffe by Carven.

Ma Griffe, 2013 version

Ma Griffe, 2013 version

Ma Griffe was introduced in 1946 by the fashion house of Carven, led by Marie-Louise Carven-Grog, a.k.a.Carmen de Tommaso. Ma Griffe has top notes of aldehydes, clary sage, galbanum, and bergamot, with middle notes of gardenia, jasmin, ylang-ylang, and rose. It’s rounded off with the spicier bottom notes of cinnamon, tonka bean, and vetiver.

Ma Griffe - a young perfume

Ma Griffe – a young perfume

Ma Griffe was the epitome of French fragrance in the Forties, Fifties, and Sixties. It was the signature fragrance of Judy Garland and Yoko Ono. It was introduced as a “young” fragrance – the kid sister of headier French aldehyde-based fragrances like Chanel No. 5 or Shocking by Schiaparelli. While Chanel and Schiaparelli wanted to seduce you – and the opposite sex – Ma Griffe was fresh and innocent, but no less sophisticated. Sadly, it seems to have fallen out of favor in the past thirty years or so, perhaps overshadowed by celebrity fragrances, or perfumes that smell like vanilla or musk or cotton candy. It has undergone several formulations as ownership of Carven changed hands, and certain ingredients were substituted or eliminated altogether. My vintage bottle was given to me by my aunt, who bought it in the early Sixties. She was an independent single gal working in New York City. I’m sure Ma Griffe appealed to her as an incredibly chic and sophisticated fragrance – the perfect choice for a young woman with a job and her own apartment whose career trajectory could only go up.

A 1972 ad for Ma Griffe appeals to the Liberated Woman, and apologizes for landing her a husband.

A 1972 ad for Ma Griffe appeals to the Liberated Woman, and apologizes for landing her a husband.

Ma Griffe was reintroduced in 2013 following the revival of the House of Carven in 2010 under designer Guillaume Henry. Its notes closely match those of the original formulation so happily, the true Ma Griffe still with us. So is Madame Carven herself, at 104 years old!

Madame Carven, a.k.a. Carmen de Tommaso, in the early Seventies

Madame Carven, a.k.a. Carmen de Tommaso, in the early Seventies

What fragrance are you wearing for National Fragrance Day?

Lucky No. 7


Spring is only four days away, but the temperature outside today was in the low twenties. Add to that a very gusty wind, and my face is feeling weather-beaten. In my constant search for a cleanser that won’t strip my skin, I’ve switched from foaming cleansers to lotions, milks, and creams. As mild as they are, however, most of them still require water to remove them. I was even using cold cream with a warm washcloth in an attempt to keep my skin soft. While it worked, I have started to wonder if I should stop using water on my face altogether.

Contrary to popular belief, water can dry out your skin. It’s surprising, since water has a pH of 7 and is thus neither an acid nor a base, but is neutral. So how can something that’s neutral be potentially harmful? After splashing your face with water, the water evaporates. As it evaporates, it strips your skin of its natural oils. I have heard of people with skin so sensitive that they can’t wash their face with water at all, but those people are extreme cases. For most of us, it’s okay to wash your face with water, between one and three times a day, depending on how your skin reacts. If you wash with water more frequently than that, however, you run the risk of drying out your skin. This winter my skin has been looking dull, and I’ve developed redness in my cheeks that aren’t due to rosacea. I suspect it’s a combination of the cold weather and the drying effects of washing my face.

I recently purchased No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm – Dry/Very Dry Skin ($8.49) by Boots, the renowned British drugstore chain. In the past I’ve tried their Radiance Boosting Hot Cloth Cleanser, but that, too, requires removing it with water. Plus, it was very thick and highly fragranced. When I think of the words “cleansing balm,” I think of a thick, translucent waxy or petroleum-jelly-type substance, but the No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm is like a cold cream in a tube. It is meant to be wiped off rather than rinsed off. That’s why it appealed to me. It’s not as thick as cold cream, but it’s thick enough to spread all over your face and work it in. I find I only need to use a small dollop, and as I work it into my skin it melts and spreads evenly to cover my entire face. Then I wipe it off with a tissue. Unlike cold creams and heavier cream cleansers that need to be removed with a tissue, the No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm doesn’t make the tissue disintegrate while I’m using it. I only need one tissue to completely remove the cleansing balm. Sure, tissues are the cheapest commodity in a skin care regimen, but it’s nice not to have one fall apart into a shredded, goopy mess as I’m using it. The No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm removes most makeup, but I did have to remove my mascara first with a cleansing water as it doesn’t completely remove eye makeup.

Unlike most cold creams, which contain mineral oil, water, and beeswax, the No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm contains glycerin, which in high amounts serves as a humectant to attracts water to the skin. Glycerin is the third ingredient in the list of ingredients for the No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm. The No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm also contains cocoa butter – a natural moisturizer – and ceramides, which protect skin against moisture loss.

After I cleanse my face with the No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm my skin looks fresh and glowing. The cleansing balm has a fragrance, but it’s light and pleasant and doesn’t linger. I really enjoy using it to cleanse my face twice a day. The added bonus of using it is that it only takes about a minute for me to cleanse my face, which has drastically cut down the time I spend on my beauty regimen in the morning. Which gives me more time to enjoy my coffee before I leave for work. Soft, glowing skin and less time spent in the bathroom each morning? Win/win!

Boots No. 7 products can be found at Target and Ulta, or online at www.boots.com.

Mini Mani


O.P.I. is a leader in the high-end drugstore nail polish industry. Now Jaaks Pacific, makers of the popular Winx Club dolls, have introduced a series of playset for girls called Miworld. Each playset represents a brand-name retailer. In addition to O.P.I. you can buy a miniature Dairy Queen, Sprinkles Cupcake Cafe, Claire’s Boutique, and Sweet Factory. The playsets all link together to create a mini-mall of your very own.

The O.P.I. playset is adorable. It’s more in the scale of dollhouse furniture, so Barbie would definitely be too large for it. But action figures, mini Blythe dolls, or other small-scale toys would fit well. It comes with a manicure table, tools, a heat lamp, a pedicure station, and an adorable display of miniature nail polish bottles. You can also buy a pack of real O.P.I. mini nail polishes, so your child (or you!) can do your own nails too.


I’m a sucker for miniatures, and I almost bought this when I saw it at my local WalMart. I also really like the Claire’s Boutique. The Miworld playsets can be purchased online or at major retailers such as Target, WalMart, and Toys R Us.

Soy Joy


One summer day when I was in junior high, I went to Six Flags Great Adventure with a group of my friends. It was a friend’s birthday party, and six of us girls piled into her mother’s car for the two-hour trip from Long Island to New Jersey. I had never been on a roller coaster before, but something possessed me to go on Rolling Thunder, which at the time boasted that it was the tallest roller coaster in the world. What was I thinking? Inevitably, I got physically ill later in the day. I chalked it up to Rolling Thunder, but I was wrong. It turns out that this was the day I came down with chicken pox.

Aveeno is a beauty brand that has been around for over 60 years. The company was initially renowned for their oatmeal products, including the powdered oatmeal bath that my mother gave me to use to help alleviate the itching from the chicken pox. Aveeno has made a name for itself for effective, reasonably priced products based on the concept of Active Naturals – natural ingredients that deliver real skin care benefits. In 2004 they branched out into skin care with their soy-based Positively Radiant line of facial care products, followed by the Clear Complexion line for Acne and the Ultra-Calming line for sensitive skin. I’ve been using Aveeno’s oatmeal-based Moisturizing Bar on and off for years, and recently switched back to it because I wanted to wash my face with something gentle and non-drying that lathered, but not too much. I decided to try an Aveeno moisturizer to go with it.

The Aveeno Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream ($16.99) is a silky cream with a unique consistency. It’s lighter than a typical face cream, but it’s not whipped and it’s not a mousse. I guess the best comparison I could make is that it’s sort of like a custard. It contains Aveeno’s Total Soy complex and vitamin B3. Soy is used as an ingredient in many skin care products because of its multiple benefits for the skin. According to soylife.com, soy helps reduce discoloration by evening out the appearance of pigments within the skin’s surface. It’s also high in vitamin E to promote healing and regeneration, and it’s high in fatty acids to help moisturize collagen below the skin. It also contains lecithin to maintain the elasticity of the skin and help prevent fine lines and premature aging. So basically, soy is good stuff.

In the interest of full disclosure I must admit that the main reason I decided to try Aveeno products again was their Positively Radiant ad campaign with Jennifer Aniston. They knew what they were doing when they chose her to be the new face of their skin care line. She exudes a sense of natural beauty and down-to-earth modesty that is perhaps lacking among many celebrities these days. After seeing a commercial with Jennifer for the Positively Radiant day lotion, I felt compelled to run to my nearest CVS and purchase a Positively Radiant moisturizer. I chose the night cream because it doesn’t have added sunscreen, so I could use it both day and night (I get my sun protection from a BB cream with sunscreen in it). So if I use Positively Radiant products, will I have skin like Jennifer Aniston?


The Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream promises you’ll see results in the appearance of your skin in as little as four weeks. I don’t have a problem with hyperpigmentation, although I do have those pesky freckles that have plagued me since childhood. But I feel as I get older that my skin has been looking a little dull lately. I’ve only been using the Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream for one week, but already I can see results, maybe not so much how my skin looks but how it feels. This night cream makes my face feel softer than any other face cream I’ve tried. Despite its odd consistency, it absorbs quickly into my skin. It moisturizes well, although I do use it after applying a facial oil to my skin because my skin is very dry. But the combination of a facial oil with the Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream works like a charm to soften and moisturize my face. My face looks healthy and glowing. I’m impressed! Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream has a light fragrance that I find pleasant but not overpowering. There have been beauty products that I liked but couldn’t use because they were too heavily fragranced, but for me the fragrance of the Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream is refreshing and reminds me of spring, which I really need during this long, cold winter.

Aveeno’s Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream is available in drugstores nationwide, or at www.aveeno.com.

Soy also

The Three Graces


Living Grace ($15.00-$44.00) is the newest addition to Philosophy’s line of “Grace” perfumes. For years I’ve been wearing Amazing Grace and Pure Grace, though I’m not as fond of Baby Grace or their penultimate “Grace” fragrance, Summer Grace. According to Philosophy,

    living grace spray fragrance was formulated to help center a woman’s mood, is deeply sensuous, multi-sensory and truly a heavenly inspiration. living grace is an ethereal, clean fragrance of fresh neroli to create uplifting feelings of vibrancy, soft, clean lily of the valley brings a sense of gratitude and sensuous, warm musk embraces you to the beauty of living in the present moment each day.

Despite Philosophy’s description of the notes in Living Grace, I don’t get either neroli or lily of the valley when I spray it on (and lily of the valley is very distinctive – think Diorissimo by Dior). To me, Living Grace isn’t very floral at all. It smells very similar to Amazing Grace and Pure Grace, but with more of a “water” element, almost like Davidoff’s Cool Water. Whereas Pure Grace is advertised as being a “soap and water fragrance,” Living Grace is more water than soap. But when it dries down, I can get a hint of the warm musk that the description mentions. Living Grace has that same comforting allure that both Amazing Grace and Pure Grace have for me. To be honest, if I had to choose between Amazing Grace and Living Grace. I would have to choose Amazing Grace because Living Grace is very similar to it. But I do like it and I can happily add it to both Amazing Grace and Pure Grace to form my triumverate of fresh, comforting fragrances from Philosophy.

Boston Red Lips

photo courtesy of BostonMints

I love a good lip gloss. I’m not really comfortable in lipstick unless it’s for a special occasion. But if I don’t have time to put on anything else in the morning, I always find a few seconds to swipe on lip gloss before I run out the door. Failing that, I can throw on some gloss on the bus from the several tubes I keep in a small cosmetics bag in my purse.

Recently I was given samples of a new lip gloss to try. The fact that it’s homegrown in Boston made it that much more intriguing. BostonMints is not candy, despite the name. It is in fact a new line of creamy, minty-flavored lip glosses. They were created as a custom lip cosmetic for use under the punishing lights of photo shoots. Boston-area make-up artist Joanne Ilacqua shared the lip gloss with models she had worked with, and word spread. Joanne sold her BostonMints lip gloss in-person, then in stores and at her spa. Now they are available online.


BostonMints come in 12 shades – some sheers, some shimmers – and each one named after a New England destination, such as “Swan Boat” or “Newberry Street.” They contain vitamins C and E, aloe vera, and essential oils like Spearmint. Each gloss comes in a full size as well as a handy purse size. Joanne, the founder, kindly sent me two shades: a full-sized tube of “Scarlet Letter,” which is a warm shimmer/shine in a zesty orange shade, and a purse-sized tube of “Go Sox,” a warm sheer in a true red shade.

best glosses

Scarlet Letter (top), Go Sox (bottom)

Scarlet Letter (top), Go Sox (bottom)

To be honest, both colors frightened me at first. The reason why I don’t wear lipstick is because the color is too concentrated for my comfort level. When I saw the vivid hues of these glosses, I was afraid they would be too bright. But upon application, the colors are actually very creamy but sheer. In a word, wearable. In particular, I thought “Go Sox” would be too red to be flattering on me. But it goes on a sheer, pretty pinkish red that would be flattering for all skin tones.

best red

“Scarlet Letter” is a true orange, so if you’re not into orange, then it might not be for you. But orange is big this spring (MAC just came out with an all-orange makeup line in collaboration with the orange-haired Hayley Williams, lead singer of Paramore, so there you go). “Scarlet Letter” is the perfect coral to perk up my complexion this spring.

best orange

Both shades are rich and creamy and have staying power. They live up to their name in that they taste minty, but they are also moisturizing. My lips feel soft when I wear them. I am already thinking about which of the remaining 10 colors I want to try next!

BostonMints lip glosses are available online at www.bostonmints.com.

And in light of the recent tragic events in Boston, I am posting a link to the official foundation that has been established to help the victims and their families. If you wish to donate, please visit The One Fund Boston. Thank you.


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