How To Maximise Your Beauty Sleep

How To Maximise Your Beauty Sleep

While there are many airy-fairy concepts when it comes to grooming and self-maintenance, beauty sleep is not one of them. There’s plenty of research which shows how the skin goes into regeneration mode when we sleep. And beauty sleep becomes even more important as we get older.

Lavender For Beauty Sleep
CALM DOWN: Lavender to relax.

There are many things we can do to improve the quality of our beauty sleep. Most of these centre on reducing the hyper-stimulation of modern life. (Note to self: Do not post on Instagram before bedtime. You know you will not be able to help yourself replying to comments. Ditto copious amounts of tea and coffee. Self-lecture over.). If you are looking for a good read on the dire consequences of sleep deprivation, I would recommend The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington (WH Allen).

Lavender and camomile tea are well-known for their calming properties. So I am making a conscious effort to include these in my bed-time routine.

Camomile tea for beauty sleep
CUPPA SLEEP: More camomile, less caffeine.

Recommended beauty sleep products

A good night’s rest will show on your face. But it’s also a good idea to incorporate the right products into your bedtime routine to maximise your beauty sleep. I have been using all of the products below for over a month. And while they are not all strictly bedtime products, they have all worked for me.

Beauty sleep products
TIRED AND TESTED: The beauty sleep quartet.

Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Peel and Reveal Revitalizing Mask (R385 for 50ml)

It’s only recently that I have started using Elizabeth Arden products. This beauty sleep product for all skin types does exactly what it says. Its active ingredients include cabernet seed extract, a botanical complex of alpha and beta hydroxy acids, glycolic acid, salicylic acid and natural sugar extract. I have been applying Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Peel and Reveal Revitalizing Mask once a week at night. I get a major kick from peeling it off after 20 minutes.

Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Peel and Reveal Revitalizing Mask

Gatineau Melatogenine Futur Plus Anti-Wrinkle Radiance Mask (R750 for 75ml)

This superb beauty sleep product from the French pharmacy brand Gatineau comes with wrinkle-busting collagen, the company’s exclusive Melatogenine molecule and hyaluronic acid. If you are in a rush, it can be applied for 10 minutes. Even better, apply a thin layer and leave overnight for a more intensive anti-ageing treatment. It can be used on the face and around the eye area. Beauty sleep bonus!

Gatineau Melatogenine Futur Plus Anti-Wrinkle Radiance Mask

Elizabeth Arden Prevage Anti-Aging Overnight Cream (R1 450 for 50ml)

Prevage is Elizabeth Arden’s premium anti-ageing range, with super-slick packaging to match (yes, these things are important to me). Dehydrated skin? Slack skin? Wrinkles? Sun damaged skin? Prevage Anti-Aging Overnight Cream combats all of these with a tongue-twisting mix of Idebenone Ester (a powerful antioxidant), hydroxypinacolone-retinoate (a vitamin A derivative), lemon peel extract, vitamin A acetate, glycerine, shea and cocoa butter and an advanced moisture complex. It ain’t cheap, but it’s a top beauty sleep investment. Plus you will only need to use a little at a time.

Elizabeth Arden Prevage Anti-Aging Overnight Cream

Dermalogica Age Reversal Eye Complex (R990 for 50ml)

The area around the eye is super-delicate and is often the first to show signs of ageing. Fine lines, wrinkles, puffiness, dark circles and dryness… you know the look. Dermalogica Age Reversal Eye Complex contains a potent mix of ingredients to improve cell turnover, collagen production and firmness. These ingredients include retinol, vitamin B3, hyaluronic acid, algae extract and provitamin B5. Due to its high concentration of retinol, I used this on alternate nights for two weeks and then made it part of my bedtime routine.

Dermalogica Age Reversal Eye Complex

House of Gozdawa: The Art of Nature

House of Gozdawa

It’s not often that you will see “Made in South Africa” on the bottle of a luxury fragrance. But then Cape Town-based Agata Karolina can lay claim to being one of South Africa’s few perfumers. Her niche fragrance company, House of Gozdawa, produces very limited quantities of extraits de parfums. All of these are made with high-quality natural ingredients.

For Agata, working with the cycles of nature is of utmost importance. This philosophy is carried through from the selection of her ingredients to the distillation process.

Agata Karolina of House of Gozdawa
WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY: Agata Karolina of House of Gozdawa.

Although I have not met Agata (yet), her deep and highly personal connection to her art of perfume is unmistakable. When she sent me samples of House of Gozdawa’s Confessions Collection, these came with a hand-written letter. “As with all things in nature, these scents take their time to reveal their full story. I hope you enjoy experiencing that which they have to tell,” she wrote to me.

Delivery from House of Gozdawa.
MR DELIVERY: House of Gozdawa personal touch.

There are six fragrances in the House of Gozdawa Confessions Collection: Marta, Andrea, Albert, Simo, Hel and Aga. What I like most about these scents is their unpretentious character. To my mind and nose, these fragrances could only come from Africa.

TRUE CONFESSIONS WITH AGATA KAROLINA OF HOUSE OF GOZDAWA

I asked Karolina Agata about her preference for natural materials, her artisanal approach and her Confessions Collection. 

House of Gozdawa
IT’S PERSONAL: Agata Karolina’s hand-written letter.

How did you get into perfumery?

Perfumery found me far in advance of me finding it. As a child I was always hypersensitive to spaces, smells and sounds and how they worked together. I enjoyed it as a personal pleasure. But for a very long time never considered it as a career. I was brought into the world of distilling, tinctures and natural oils through my mother and grandmother. These two women taught me everything I know and inspired a life deeply connected to nature.

“As a child I was always hypersensitive to spaces, smells and sounds and how they worked together.”

After working as a curator and project initiator in Europe, Asia and Africa, I finally decided to return to South Africa and pursue my passion for scent. I launched House of Gozdawa in 2015.

Samples from the House of Gozdawa Confessions Collection.
BOXES, LITTLE BOXES: Samples from the House of Gozdawa Confessions Collection.

Are all your perfumes 100% natural? Why are natural perfumes so appealing to you?

All House of Gozdawa scents use only 100% natural ingredients. No matter how many synthetics I have smelt, they have never been able to present me the depth a natural material carries. Essentially these ingredients are alive. They age and shift as they would in nature, continuously morphing into another phase of their existence. In connection with the skin these materials take on an even deeper depth.

House of Gozdawa Hel
HOUSE OF GOZDAWA HEL: With notes of grapefruit, tuberose and cajeput.

How do you ensure that your perfume-making process is also eco responsible?

The farms and suppliers I work with in Southern Africa and across the African continent all follow eco responsible and sustainable practices. All materials are ordered directly and for the batches we create, I personally blend and bottle all of them to ensure no wastage occurs. Respect for your materials is as essential to creating a globally responsible product as much as any certification.

House of Gozdawa Marta
HOUSE OF GOZDAWA MARTA: With notes of geranium, lemon, black pepper, carnation and wood.

As a South Africa-based perfumer, where do you source most of your materials from?

Most of my materials are sourced from the African continent. I do work with many materials from abroad, mostly those that are not yet available locally, or simply do not grow in our environments. Many of the ingredients we use are from wild harvest, which I do myself. These will be even more present in our new collections after the full extraction and ageing process is complete. One has to have a lot of patience when waiting a year or two for one ingredient to be ready.

House of Gozdawa Simo
HOUSE OF GOZDAWA SIMO TRAVEL VIAL: With notes of crushed lemon rind, orange blossom, cedar wood, atlas and vetiver.

For those who are more used to the conventions of mass market fragrances and who at first might not “get” your fragrances, what would you say to them?

I often compare niche or luxury scents to taste kitchens pushing the boundaries of taste or of highest quality wine-makers perfecting the art of flavour from a single grape varietal. If you are an individual of passion in these areas, then why not afford yourself the quality of such an experience in the olfactive?

“These ingredients are alive. They age and shift as they would in nature, continuously morphing into another phase of their existence.”

Agata Karolina of House of Gozdawa transforms raw materials into intimate experiences.
ARTISANAL APPROACH: Agata Karolina transforms raw materials into intimate experiences.

Chefs, winemakers and perfumers are some of our last genuine artisans. We take raw materials and manipulate them into deep and unexpected orchestrations for people to experience intimately.

If this is not conviction enough, I encourage anyone to do a little experiment for themselves. Take a fresh juicy lemon and sprig of lavender. Scratch the surface of the lemon’s skin until the oil starts running out and spread it across the back of your hand. Crush the lavender between your fingers until the sticky oil finds its way onto your skin. Breathe these scents in deeply, smelling the oil on the surface of the lemon’s skin and then on your hand, paying attention to how the heat of your skin makes the scent react. Now take a deep smell of any conventional hand cream, bathroom spray or dish-washing liquid with the same ingredients. Which has more depth and quality?

Are you a natural or synthetic kind of person?
LAVENDER CRUSH: Are you a natural or synthetic kind of person?

My favourite from your Confessions Collection is Aga. Tell us more about that extrait de parfum.

I wanted to create a collection which I felt expressed something real and honest, rather than creating stories that had no context to the wearer. I decided to tell my own confession as the perfumer behind the brand. I chose six people in my life that over the years had influenced the person I had become, together creating the whole.

House of Gozdawa Aga
HOUSE OF GOZDAWA AGA: With notes of jasmine, rosemary, fynbos and dark fruits.

Aga, The Romantic, is the persona of the collection that was created to reference a part of myself at the time. Aga is my nickname. I often exist in the arena of the heart and at the time I was questioning a lot about what I valued, wanted in my life and my connections with others. This scent reflects my choice and definition of that part of myself. It was an unnerving process to open myself so deeply and honestly to strangers. But the reward, as you have experienced yourself, was worth letting go of the fear to be fully open.

“It was an unnerving process to open myself so deeply and honestly to strangers.”

The scent reflects spaces and moments which have moved this part of me the most in life. The ingredients – fynbos, jasmine, passionfruit, ravintsara – all capture the aspects and characteristics which I felt closest to. The fynbos is wild harvested and the tinctures are developed and distilled in house.

For more information and to order any House of Gozdawa fragrances, https://houseofgozdawa.com.

Why Men Should Wear Women’s Fragrances

I have been mulling this post for some time. Why do so many of us buy into the notion that fragrances are specifically “male” and “female”, “him” and “her”, “homme” and “femme”?

For a long time, I was also guilty of such self-limiting behaviour. In my defence (and this is admittedly a rather weak defence), I associated “women’s fragrances” with all things sickly sweet. Blame it on the joys of badly ventilated, open-plan offices where everything is to be shared.

Of course, there’s so much more to female fragrances than candy overload. Just as there’s so much more to male fragrances than aquatic notes. A lot of women already know this fundamental truth. They buy men’s fragrances not only for their fathers, partners and sons. They buy men’s fragrances for themselves, because they realised they were missing out on a good thing.

To a large degree, a lot of “male” and “female” is just marketing, with gender stereotyping galore. Perfumer Mark Buxton summed it up best in a recent Fragroom interview: “If you like a specific smell, wear it. What’s masculine or feminine in the perfume world anyway?”

“If you like a specific smell, wear it. What’s masculine or feminine in the perfume world anyway?” – Mark Buxton 

3 very good reasons why men should wear female fragrances

Your masculinity will not be questioned. Au contraire. It takes a very self-assured man to be brave enough to explore a whole new world of possibilities.

It increases your options. If buying a new fragrance, gets you going, just think about all the choices you will now have at your disposal.

Fact: Floral notes work very well on men, especially roses.

3 tips to get you started

Next time you are out and about buying a fragrance for yourself, make a detour via the female counters or shelves. If you are not quite ready to say you are looking for a female fragrance for yourself, a little lie will be acceptable. “I am looking for a great rose fragrance for my girlfriend” will do.

Allow yourself some initial olfactory confusion, and even revulsion, at first. You are just retraining your brain and sense of smell to respond to new stimuli.

As with any fragrance, experiment until you find what works for you. And always try the fragrance on your skin.

Some recommendations

Ready to explore? Here are some female fragrances I have taken to wearing recently. Perhaps you will like these. If not, keep hunting…

Please note that this teeny-weeny selection doesn’t even include the classics: Chanel No 5, Guerlain Shalimar, Dior Poison…

Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pure EDT

With its marine opening and minimalist character, Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pure EDT is a gentle intro to the world of female fragrances. Then you will be hooked by its jasmine, lily-of-the-valley and orange blossoms. Methinks the water-drop bottle design has a tool-like appearance.

Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey Pure EDT

Elizabeth Arden White Tea EDT

Yes, your mama will probably have several Elizabeth Arden fragrances and she knows best. Like its namesake, Elizabeth Arden White Tea is a relaxing and comfortable scent, with notes of fern, the sea, clary sage, white tea, tonka and musks capturing this mood so well.

Elizabeth Arden White Tea EDT

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb EDP Extreme

You should already know Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb. While Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb EDP Extreme provides some floral fireworks in the form of jasmine, orchid, osmanthus and freesia notes, the major helping of vanilla gives it serious sensuality.

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb EDP Extreme

Alaia EDP Blanche

There are only five listed notes in Alaia EDP Blanche: powder, solar, vanilla, musk and white flowers. It’s very elegantly on the right side of sweet. If simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, Alaia EDP Blanche scores big time.

Alaia EDP Blanche

Elie Saab Nuit Noor EDP

A big fragrance for big boys and girls. Rose takes the leading role in Elie Saab Nuit Noor EDP. Ylang-ylang, wood, incense, patchouli and black pepper add to the sense of drama. Master perfumer Francis Kurkdijan created this one, so top quality assured.

Elie Saab Nuit Noor

Narciso Rodriguez Fleur Musc For Her EDP

Don’t judge a perfume by its lurid pink bottle. I did not like Narciso Rodriguez Fleur Musc For Her EDP at all when I first tried it almost six months ago. What was I thinking! Rose, peonies, pink peppercorns, patchouli, musk and amber make this a superb, stand-out fragrance.

Narciso Rodriguez Fleur Musc For Her

5 Reasons To Check Out This Beauty Entrepreneur’s Thriving Brands

Six Sensational Skincare

South Africa might be known for many things, including Nelson Mandela, its natural beauty, progressive constitution and multi-culturalism. But it’s not regarded as a big player in the global beauty industry. However, ambitious South African beauty entrepreneurs such as Marisa Dimitriadis are slowly changing that reality. Dimitriadis is the brains behind thriving beauty brands. These include The Spa Consultants (a spa development consultancy), Spalicious (a range of manicure, pedicure and body products) and Six Sensational Skincare (a comprehensive skincare range).

Most recently, in 2016, Dimitriadis launched the Six Man skincare range. Currently, she exports to Mauritius, Angola, Mozambique and Namibia. Sri Lanka is next on the expansion agenda.

BEAUTY ENTREPRENEUR: Marisa Dimitriadis, the brains behind The Spa Consultants, Spalicious, Six Sensational Skincare and Six Man.

Dimitriadis has put her extensive experience in the beauty industry to good use over the last decade by launching her own beauty businesses. Each of these brands is guided by her philosophy. “Prevention is better, easier and less costly than cure. I believe in using every single product available to treat my skin and body for the specific needs it has at that specific time,” she says.

‘Prevention is better, easier and less costly than cure.’

MADE IN SOUTH AFRICA: Six Sensational Skincare and Six Man products.
MADE IN (SUNNY) SOUTH AFRICA: Six Sensational Skincare and Six Man products.

Here are my five top reasons for checking out this beauty entrepreneur’s various brands.

1. Product development control

Dimitriadis used to rely on third parties for advice on product development. But like any good entrepreneur, she realised certain things needed to remain under her control.

“Now that I am in control of product development, I am so much more in tune with trends in skincare and ingredients. I watch all brands’ activity, especially the multinational retail brands. I try everything that looks or sounds interesting,” she says.

A selection of Six Sensational Skincare, Six Man and Spalicious products.

2. Variety, Six Sensational Skincare-style  

Launched in 2010, the Six Sensational Skincare range encompasses a wide variety of products. From cleansers and moisturisers to masks, serums and exfoliators, you will find it here.

 Six Sensational Skincare products target a wide variety of conditions, including oily skin, pigmentation, ageing and dehydration. All the products are made with a high percentage of active ingredients.

Fragroom product recommendation: Six Sensational Skincare Glycolic Acid 8% Foaming Face Wash.

A few months ago I gave this product the thumbs up. It delivers on its promise of breaking down skin surface build-up, without stripping my skin.

Six Sensational Skincare Glycolic Acid 8% Foaming Face Wash.

3. Men’s grooming range

Although their pretty packaging might say otherwise, Six Sensational Skincare and Spalicious are perfectly good for men to use. But Dimitriadis spotted the need for a skincare range that targets the specific grooming needs of men. Six Man includes three high-performance, no-nonsense products. These include the Men’s Shaving Face Wash, Men’s Moisturising Cream and Men’s Beard Oil.

Fragroom product recommendation: Six Man Men’s Shaving Face Wash.

This cleanser and shaving preparation in one is made with aloe leaf extract and nettle. All the Six Man products score double-duty points.

DOUBLE DUTY: Six Man Men’s Shaving Face Wash, Six Man Men’s Moisturising Cream and Six Man Men’s Beard Oil.

4. Men’s treatments

Dimitriadis knows that men are suckers for pampering (although they often don’t want to admit it). So she launched four male-specific treatments, including the Six Man on the Move and Six Man Energizing Facial.

Fragroom treatment recommendation: Six Man High Performance AHA Skin Peel.

With lactic and glycolic acids, it combats spots, fine lines and dehydration. The 30-minute treatment left me feeling and looking not-so-47.

LIMITED EDITION (TRULY): Spalicious Gluhwein Butter.

5. Limited editions

I am usually highly sceptical of limited editions. Often they just reek of a marketing cash-in. But Dimitriadis assured this journalist that her limited editions are indeed the real deal. Made in limited quantities, they are available only for three months from launch.

I received the limited-edition Spalicious Gluhwein Gift Pack, containing Gluhwein Butter, Gluhwein Soak and Gluhwein Scrub. The nourishing Gluhwein Butter stood out for me. Although methinks its shimmer is probably best suited to a night out for the girls.

For more information, go to www.thespaconsultants.co.za, spalicious.co.za and sixskincare.com.

Fragrance Review: Yardley English Blazer Royal

Yardley English Blazer Royal EDP

When I first received the slightly garish purple press box for Yardley English Blazer Royal, my initial reaction was snooty to say the least. I had to quickly put my inner snob back in its own box. After all, I should know better. Yardley is a heritage brand and has a number of classics to be proud of. Yardley English Lavender EDT is still a big seller more than a century after it was launched.

You can never have too many blazers…

The Yardley English Blazer range was originally launched in 1991 with English Blazer EDT and its after-shave tones. This was followed by English Blazer Black EDP, English Blazer Sterling EDP, English Blazer Green EDP, English Blazer Gold EDP, English Blazer Premium EDP and English Blazer Red EDP. I have not tried all of these Yardley English Blazer fragrances. However, those that I have tried have impressed me with their English gentleman-on-a-budget vibe.

Yardley English Blazer Royal EDP

So what does Yardley English Blazer Royal smell like?

This woody-fruity-ambery fragrance opens with notes of bergamot, apple and lemon. It’s slightly sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. The heart of Yardley English Blazer Royal is all florals with notes of jasmine, cyclamen and rosewood. I can’t get enough of florals, so mmm and mmm again… The base has a fairly standard sensual structure, with notes of cedarwood, patchouli and musk.

On my skin, Yardley English Blazer Royal fades quite quickly, so this EDP needs regular top-ups when necessary. And at the price, spray away… I have been wearing it during the day to gym and to work (thanks for the compliments, colleagues!). It’s also very capable doing the after-hours thing.

So Yardley English Blazer Royal is a chic cheapie. And like any modern royal, it’s accessible and relevant.

Yardley English Blazer Royal Deodorant

Oh, before I forget, Yardley English Blazer Royal is also available in a 50ml roll-on anti-perspirant deodorant and 125ml spray deodorant. Both of these are worth checking out. I am not usually one for mass-market spray deodorants (oops, there goes my not-so-inner snob again). But Yardley English Blazer Royal Deodorant is not bad at all, as it takes its cue from the EDP.

Yardley English Blazer Royal EDP (R269.95 for 50ml and R329.95 for 100ml), Yardley English Blazer Royal Deodorant (R30.95 for 125ml) and Yardley English Blazer Royal Anti-Perspirant (R21.95 for 50ml) are available at Dis-Chem, Clicks and Edgars stores nationwide.

What about some other worthwhile cheapies? Read more here.

Oily Skin: Meet Your Cleansing Nemesis

Best Products For Oily Skin - BioNike, Eau Thermale Avene, Elizabeth Arden, Kiehl's

For as long as I can remember I have had oily skin and all the perks that come with excess sebum production. Clogged pores, blackheads and a super-shiny forehead are part of the oily skin package. And while I consoled myself with the myth that oily skin ages slower than other skin types, I want a healthy, glowing complexion, not an oil spill of Exxon Valdez proportions.

So what causes oily skin?

Very briefly, oily skin can be caused by a number of factors. These include genetics, hormonal imbalances, diet, stress and excess humidity. Often, it can be exacerbated by the wrong skincare regime and using skin products for oily skin that do more harm than good.

“The correct cleansing routine is the first and most important step towards healthy skin.”

The importance of cleansing to manage oily skin 

While some factors may be beyond your control (for example, genetics), the correct cleansing routine is the first and most important step towards healthy skin.

The ever-helpful Diana van Sittert, Dermalogica’s national training manager, shared these top tops with me:

  1. As a living organ, your skin expels toxins, but is also exposed to external toxins (such as pollution) on a daily basis. These elements we are exposed to can wreak havoc on the skin if not properly removed. Acne and premature ageing are but a few of the signs that you will notice if the skin is not cared for correctly. Cleansing is the first step in this process.
  2. Cleansers are meant to remove dirt and debris without stripping the skin. So opt for a soap-, sodium lauryl sulfate-, colourant- and fragrance-free product. The skin has a natural protective barrier called the acid mantle which has, as the name says, an acidic pH. When you use soaps, this pH is changed to alkaline, which is a great breeding ground for bacteria. This in turn can lead to acne and sensitised skin.
  3. Cleansing should be done every morning (to remove debris released from the skin during the night) and in the evening (to remove dirt build-up from the day).
  4. Cleansing is also important after any physical activity such as running/gym/cycling, as this is where the skin expels sweat, bacteria and oil.

Fragroom’s Top Cleansing Products For Oily Skin

So the message is clear. Put away that soap. Use the right cleanser/wash. Oh, and while you’re at it, don’t over-cleanse either.

These products work well for my oily skin issues:

Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energizing Face Wash

I am a big fan of Kiehl’s products and this is another no-nonsense winner. Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energizing Face Wash lathers up super-quick and its formulation of caffeine, menthol, vitamin E, orange and lemon extracts cleanses and perks up the skin. It also scores double-duty points, as it preps the skin for shaving.

Products For Oily Skin - Kiehl's Facial Fuel Energizing Face Wash

Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Oil-Free Cleanser

Why should women be the only ones to benefit from this superb product? Get your hands on Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Oil-Free Cleanser for a healthy glow. This gentle cleanser (which contains witch hazel, rosemary and sage extracts, and glycerine) tones, conditions and moisturises the skin.

Products For Oily Skin - Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Oil-Free Cleanser

Eau Thermale Avène Cold Cream Ultra Rich Cleansing Gel

After discovering that this product is not a moisturiser for cracked heels (note to self: read the instructions!), I am happy to report that Eau Thermale Avène Cold Cream Ultra Rich Cleansing Gel does a good cleansing job for the face (and the body). Its key ingredient is soothing Avène thermal spring water.

Products For Oily Skin - Eau Thermale Avene Cold Cream Ultra Rich Cleansing Gel

BioNike Defence Rebalancing Cleansing Gel

If you have oily or combination skin, BioNike Defence Rebalancing Cleansing Gel is for you. It contains mattifying and pore-refining resin drops, purifying mint distilled water and essential oils, and anti-bacteria and anti-oxidant Norway spruce compounds. It’s also preservative-, gluten- and fragrance-free. I didn’t know skincare products could be gluten-free, but there you go. Must research that some more.

Want to know more about Eau Thermale Avène? Click here for more.

The Fragrance World of Mark Buxton

 

Givenchy Into The Blue. Jil Sander The Essentials Scent 79 Man. Le Labo Vetiver 46 Perfume Oil. Paco Rabanne Black XS for Her. Salvador Dali Laguna. Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire Cologne Noire. Versace V/S Homme… These are just some of the numerous fragrances that England-born nose Mark Buxton has created over the last 20+ years.

During that time, whether creating fragrances for big names or niche brands, Mark Buxton has become a highly sought-after nose for his idiosyncratic and imaginative style. Even when he’s pushing the boundaries of perfumery, simplicity is the ethos of his creations.

His collaboration with Comme des Garçons placed the avant-garde Japanese fashion company on the fragrance map. Comme des Garçons, Comme des Garçons 2, Comme des Garçons 2 Man and Comme des Garçons Series 3 Incense Ouarzazate are all considered modern classics.

MARK BUXTON CLASSIC: Comme des Garçons Original EDP, the creation that put the Japanese fashion company on the fragrance map.

Ever creative and pioneering, in 2008, Mark Buxton took the brave step of launching his own fragrance company, Mark Buxton Perfumes.

“I DON’T LIKE USING THE WORD ‘UNISEX’ – IT SOUNDS
SO SEXLESS.”

I asked Mark Buxton some questions about his approach to perfumery, his Comme des Garçons collaborations, his own line of fragrances and the future of perfumery. This is what he had to say…

What was the most important thing you learned at perfumery school? How to construct a fragrance and the importance of each ingredient.

You have a long list of top fragrances to your name. How do you ensure that each one is different? They are all for different brands and images, so you have to adapt yourself to their needs and styles.

Is there an equivalent of “perfumer’s block”? Have you ever had to deal with that? No, it doesn’t talk to me.

Looking back at the classic Comme des Garçons EDP, how do you feel about that fragrance now? Well, it’s been on the market for over 20 years, which is a good sign. Furthermore, I think the fragrance hasn’t lost its identity or originality. It’s become one of their big classics.

HOW GREAT THOU ART: My own fan-art tribute to Comme des Garçons Original EDP. Alas, the bottle is empty…

How’s your own fragrance line doing? Is it easier creating fragrances for your own range? I’m a very small company. The way the fragrances are performing is sufficient for me. You can always do more, but then the company has to grow with it. The fragrances are very different to all the other fragrances I have created. They are very personal for me – old memories, situations, people or accords I’ve scribbled down a long time ago in my famous scrapbook.

Your range is unisex. What was your thinking behind that? I don’t like using the word “unisex” – it sounds so sexless. They are fragrances anybody can wear. If you like a specific smell, wear it. What’s masculine or feminine in the perfume world anyway?

WHAT A FEELING: Emotional Drop / Emotional Rescue from Mark Buxton Perfumes.

Do you ever read reviews of the fragrances you have created? Sometimes, if they get sent or mailed to me. I don’t visit sites or seek interviews. I hardly go on Facebook and have no idea how all these blogs work. Perhaps I’m too old-fashioned or lazy.

What fragrances will we find in your home? I wear A Day In My Life and Emotional Drop [both from his own fragrance range]. I find Emotional Drop / Emotional Rescue is the best vetiver-influenced fragrance on the market.

Is niche the future for perfumery? Niche was the future for perfumery but it’s totally overflowed now. Everybody is bringing out a fragrance line and brands are copying each other. I think we are not far from moving on again, but where? That’s the big question. In any case we have to stay unique in concepts and creations, otherwise we lose our credibility.

VERITABLE VETIVER: A Day In My Life from Mark Buxton Perfumes.

What’s next for Mark Buxton? Well, I’m working on a few new concepts – let’s see what comes out of that. One thing is for sure, the MBP collection is complete with the eight fragrances.

Keen to read another interview? Click here for my interview with Bertrand Duchaufour.

Fragrance Review: Dunhill Desire Red Extreme EDT

Dunhill Desire Red Extreme

Fragrance evokes all sorts of memories and associations. I was first introduced well over a decade ago to the Dunhill Desire range by an ex who had quite the fragrance collection. Even then, as a fragrance novice, I could notice its accessible sophistication. And the hip flask-like flacons were eye-catchers among all the other bottles. So what would I make of Dunhill Desire Red Extreme, the fifth and most recent addition to the range since its launch in 2000?

As this newbie is an extreme rendition, its transparent red glass bottle certainly makes a bold statement. And the listed notes (blood orange, bergamot, saffron, clary sage, cypress, leather, patchouli, vetiver and amber) score high on the Fragroom appeal-o-meter.

So what does it smell like?

I have been wearing Dunhill Desire Red Extreme for the last two weeks or so and it’s a good – albeit safe – choice.

There’s an initial sweetness to Dunhill Desire Red Extreme, but it’s the right kind of sweetness – refined and fresh. While I can’t pick up all the listed notes, the leather and patchouli base is sensual, come-closer stuff.  Sometimes a leather note in a fragrance can be quite cold, but this one is warm and inviting.

Thumbs up to nose Michel Almairac, who also created the original Dunhill Desire for a Man. Dunhill Desire Red Extreme retains the sweetness of the original. But, like any good flanker, also adds something different to the mix.

I have been working from home a lot recently, but as I have some important work meetings coming up this week, methinks Dunhill Desire Red Extreme will set the tone perfectly for those occasions. Distinctive, confident and intriguing. Now all I need to do is polish my shoes.

Dunhill Desire Red Extreme (R1 195 for 100ml) is available at Foschini, Truworths, Edgars, Dis-Chem, Red Square, Markham and Clicks stores.

Dunhill Desire Red Extreme

The Benefits of Eau Thermale Avène for Sensitive Skin

Eau Thermale Avène

The French are particularly enthusiastic about the healing powers of spring water. I am not talking about Lourdes here. Although come to think of it, a pilgrimage sounds very appealing right now. In this case, I am referring to the benefits of thermal spring water for your skin and its use in skincare ranges such as Vichy, La Roche-Posay and Eau Thermale Avène.

I was particularly keen to try Eau Thermale Avène when I noticed its new display stand at my local chemist on one of my numerous aisle inspections.

A bit of background for you on the Eau Thermale Avène range… A clever Frenchman by the name of Pierre Fabre launched the brand in 1990.  The range now encompasses 130 products that treat a variety of skin concerns from acne to eczema.

The purity, mineral content and molecular structure of the thermal H20 where Eau Thermale Avène is sourced (in the gorgeous Haut Languedoc Natural Park, the south of France) is regarded as highly beneficial for sensitive and irritated skin. So Monsieur Fabre and his R&D team have utilised it as the key ingredient in all their products.

It would take me a lifetime to try all the relevant Eau Thermale Avène products, so I focused on the ones that addressed my skincare needs most. These are my quick impressions of each:

Eau Thermale Avène Mattifying Fluid (R259,95 for 50ml)

I struggle with oily skin at the best of times, so this product has my name written all over it. I have tried mattifying products in the past, but most of these just made my skin worse. Not this one, though. I have been using this morning and night and am impressed by Eau Thermale Avène Mattifying Fluid’s ability to regulate sebum production while also keeping my skin moisturised with its light formula.

Eau Thermale Avène Mattifying Fluid

Eau Thermale Avène Thermal Spring Water (R149,95 for 150ml)

This can of pure thermal spring water is recommended as a treatment for everything from nappy rash and sunburn to itching and scratched skin. I have been religiously spraying Eau Thermale Avène Thermal Spring Water to combat razor burn and when my face needs a bit of TLC. The next time I am travelling abroad, this will definitely be one of my in-flight essentials.

Eau Thermale Avène Thermal Spring Water

Eau Thermale Avène Very High Protection Emulsion SPF50+ (R229,95)

This broad-spectrum sun protection product is no-nonsense stuff. Although, at first, I found it difficult to spread on my face once I had applied it, it delivers potent, long-lasting protection.

Eau Thermale Avène Very High Protection Emulsion SPF50+

I have also started using Eau Thermale Avène Cold Cream Ultra Rich Cleansing Gel. For some reason, I thought this was a foot treatment. Duh, sometimes I am a silly boy! I have now started using it for its intended purpose (to cleanse the face and body). So I will tell you all about this product in an upcoming post about face washes/cleansers.

Eau Thermale Avène is available at Dis-Chem stores nationwide.

Etat Libre d’Orange’s Etienne de Swardt (Mostly) Unfiltered

Since its launch in 2006, Etat Libre d’Orange has gained notoriety and a large international cult following with its provocative perfumes and tongue-in-cheek humour. With perfumes such as Putain des Palaces, Attaqeur le Soleil Marquis de Sade, Fat Electrician and Encens et Bubblegum, Etat Libre d’Orange has walked a fine line between shock value and scentsory awe.

ROYAL WHORE: Putain des Palaces.

The man behind this Paris-based niche perfumery, Etienne de Swardt, was born and raised in South Africa. The name “Etat Libre d’Orange” is a witty word play on the Orange Free State, the South African province where De Swardt lived during his formative years.

After working for big fragrance names like Givenchy and weary of the conventions and limitations of perfumery, De Swardt launched Oh My Dog! and Oh My Cat!, his fragrance range for pets, which humans could wear too. Cheeky bugger!

My first encounter (“experience” is too tame a word) with Etat Libre d’Orange was with Je Suis un Homme, launched in 2006. Although that bottle was emptied many years ago, I still remember it as a heady collision between citrus, spice, leather and cognac notes. Not the usual, for sure.

I wangled my South African background to get an email interview with De Swardt. For a change, I had to turn off my overly vigilant inner editor to retain the drama and flow of his manifesto-like answers. So mostly I have shortened and explained his answers where necessary for clarity.

BOTTLED MISCHIEF: The Etat Libre d’Orange collection.

After more than 10 years in the industry, has Etat Libre d’Orange achieved what you set out to do? The objective is still too confused to measure a pertinent achievement. Sabotage will be the final destination, with all our narcissism, scented exactions, calculated pathos and endorsements of rogue heroes and heroines blended on one magnificent fire. I would love a purifying fire at 69 Rue des Archives [the address of the Etat Libre d’Orange store in Paris] to consume a decade “à tout faire de travers [doing it our way]”.

You started out as an agent provocateur in the industry. Is that still your motivation? I was born a sophisticated Shakespearean impostor, lost in between South Africa and New Caledonia. I was shaped by womanity, materfamilias, gay but elusive multiple (step) fathers, literature, cloud soaring, instants in the wind and, of course, my own departed. Hence, I am fucking confused and disturbed. But thankfully I have all the codes of vanity, arrogance and narcissism, knowing all that will be gone with the wind, revenged by our finitude and hazardous biology, so I bow to Diogenes’s cynicism.

EXISTENTIAL AESTHETICS: You or Someone Like You.

Using your latest fragrance, You or Someone Like You, as an example, briefly talk us through your conceptualisation and creative process. Just a good name to ignite the process and federate the passions, and a good extra bonus of existentialism with my knowledgeable Chandler Burr [the acclaimed American author, journalist and perfume expert] on board. Chandler is a crusader of aesthetics on the road less travelled. Alive and kicking this is what we are, knowing the end is a Greek tragedy. In the meantime, let’s be dramatic, frivolous and genuine.

With its notes of blood, adrenaline, sperm and saliva, Secretions Magnifiques created a huge sensation when it was launched in 2006 and still upsets or delights people. Looking back now, what do you think of it? My beloved virus, my favourite crime scene, why did you betray me, trapping for so long our land of plenty in a swamp of miasma, saliva, sperm and other encoded fluids of duplication and reproduction. I was born in 1970, the year of the dog, and I sniff around not like a perfumer, but like a hound, hunting high and low body intimacies.

SCENTED FREAK: Fat Electrician.

What’s your favourite Etat Libre d’Orange fragrance? I love all my scented freaks equally. They all speak my very universal disorders. Etat Libre d’Orange is a land of plenty, inclusive of all neurotic but charming darkness. It’s where a Fat Electrician shall dance an eternal farandole with a powdery slut, a leathery Tom of Finland, an abject ylang-ylang Charogne, the synaesthesia of a Nijinsky dancing the faun in 1912 at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, the eternal feminine killer’s kiss blending jasmine at twilight with a seductive cigarette, a naive Justine lost in between vice and virtue, but deliciously perverted by a Luciferian Marquis of Sade. They are all for You or Someone Like You.

Has your definition of success changed since you launched Etat Libre d’Orange? Penitence is my lot in life, stoicism and cynicism my brothers in arms. I hope that all these existentialism-scented manoeuvres since 2006 will help me to buy a Jonker JS-1 Revelation sailplane, designed in Potchefstroom, South Africa, by two talented brothers. Soaring is a place where everything starts and ends, driven by humility.

SOARING IS EVERYTHING: De Swardt’s dream Jonker JS-1 sailplane.

What fragrance are you working on now? Vos Beaux Yeux Vont Pleurer, inspired by the poetry of Ray Bradbury and David Bowie (Martian Chronicles + Serious Moonlight), the curse of beauty of Rock Hudson, Edna “E” Mode [from The Incredibles], Roxy Music’s Love is the Drug and WD-40 Multi-Use products to keep our souls away from rusted parts. Disturbed, isn’t it?

What are your thoughts on the current state of the perfume industry? Mutation and survival of the fittest.

Are your fragrances distributed in South Africa? No, we are too “incompris” [misunderstood].

BODY INTIMACIES: Secretions Magnifiques.

Apart from its name, does South Africa inspire your fragrances at all? Etat Libre d’Orange is the best blend of 21st-century Voortrekker spirit and existentialism à la française. Tell the Ruperts [the wealthy South African family who founded Richemont] that I don’t want to sell my house to LVMH or L’Oréal. But I would be happy one day to dance the carmagnole in the Great Karoo around the camp fire with protective laager people, my family, Walt Whitman or Alan Paton – the same universal, drifting, contemplative saga of pain and beauty on the limitless borders of New Caledonia, Colorado or Kroonstad. I am the true son of a Free State farm boy with vast memories of Bothaville and meat pie…

Want to read another intriguing interview with one of the masters of modern niche perfumery? Check out my interview with Bertrand Duchaufour here.