Sunday, 14 February 2021

My funny Valentine: spreading the love with mysterious gifts of frankincense, myrrh, and a tinted moisturiser with SPF 30

This is the third post where I have incorporated the phrase: "My funny Valentine" into the title, but the others were in 2012 and 2013 respectively, so I am hoping I might just get away with it. Readers don't show up here looking for a conventional post on rose perfumes or red-themed Valentine's gifts and fripperies. I am not 'agin' such things, indeed I fully intend to scavenge the supermarkets tomorrow for superannuated bouquets and/or heavily discounted pink fizz and chocolates - or at the very least pick up a packet of heart-shaped crumpets (no pun intended). You can hold the squishy teddy bears, mind. I like my bears with better defined bone structure and less overtly flammable fur.

But no, Valentine's Day has been quiet at Bonkers Towers: Truffle came into the bed briefly this morning and purred loudly, though not in a variety of registers as I had been hoping ever since reading Joyce's comments on my previous post about feline vocalisation; for brunch I had a toasted bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese - note to self to avoid the 'lighter' version of this cheese in future, as it looks like the Sandon Road after heavy rain. Okay, heavy rain on snow, to be precise, with the cheese being white of course. And I followed that up with Treat No 2, a toasted scone with blueberry jam and squirty cream. I shan't have any alcohol later as I had a drink last night, and am trying to give my liver more days off than it knows what to do with. So yes, a pretty low key occasion all in all.

I should mention, however, that I received a mystery package on Friday, right before the Valentine's weekend(!). A tube of my go-to tinted moisturiser with SPF 30 from Paula's Choice: "Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 30 with Antioxidants & Resveratrol: Normal - Oily Combination". Or "that blue Resist one" for short. I love it because it is a really light substitute for foundation with a decent amount of SPF in it - well, for winter, say. Anyway, there was no message inside the handwritten Jiffy bag. The writing looked familiar, but I couldn't quite place it initially. Plus it quickly dawned on me that the gift couldn't possibly be from any man I have ever dated, as none of them have a clue about the contents of my sponge bag, which massively narrowed the field of suspects. More of that anon...

Also on Friday I received a request from the friend who had stepped up to do the doorstep squeezing of my current moisturiser tube the other night: "Do you have any vegan perfume recommendations?" My friend had dabbled in the category, trying the odd scent from the likes of Eden and Ffern, but had found it hard to get hold of things to try without committing blind to a full bottle, and has tended to default to her signature staple of Stella McCartney. I like that one too, though back in 2009(!) I could not resist taking a lighthearted pop at the plethora of names of the flankers.

Regular readers know how fired up with missionary zeal I can get when someone in my circle shows an interest in exploring the vast realm of niche scents - most memorably and exhaustively, there was my rose quest for Jessica not so long ago, which ironically ended in her finding something she really liked herself, hehe. So as soon as I got the call to unearth the vegan subset of my collection (mostly in the form of samples), I jumped at the chance. The final bag comprised a mix of natural perfumes and those containing synthetic materials but also with vegan credentials. It really was a random mix of whatever I had been sent by brands or picked up along the way in swaps and gifts from fellow perfumistas, including a couple of Hiram Greens, selections from Dolma, Sage Machado, Haus of Gloi and 100 Bon, plus a few more lone samples from the likes of Pacifica and Le Labo.

Already by the end of Day One - rather fittingly for Valentine's Day! - my friend had fallen for Hiram Green Lustre, a very realistic rose soliflore with a citrus opening. I am indebted to Val the Cookie Queen for introducing me to it, and am a big fan myself. My friend has promised to let me know her thoughts on each sample she tries, and urged me to tell her to get lost if this feedback becomes annoying. As if! The vicarious pleasure to be had from seeing people discover new perfumes is the polar opposite of annoying. 

Notes: Bulgarian rose, citric notes, orris root, frankincense

Today she messaged me to say that she was very taken with 100 Bon Myrrhe & Encens Mystérieux. Note that we are back to mysterious things...She is a funeral celebrant by profession, and reckoned that this one might nicely complement her services. Oh, and a big patchouli fan, and a glance at the notes corroborates why such a simple, but on-point incense scent might hit the spot.

Top notes: bergamot, fresh notes cinnamon

Heart notes: myrrh, patchouli, papyrus

Base notes: tonka bean, frankincense

Ooh, interesting that there is frankincense in both the perfumes that have appealed to my friend so far. ;) I told her to expect to sniff a few frogs along the way, but so far so good. She has already snapped up a bottle of the 100 Bon fragrance as there seem to be limited stocks left online, possibly due to Brexit shenanigans.

And meanwhile I have unmasked the mystery donor of my moisturiser! An old neighbour, who gave me a tube for Christmas, and had heard about the doorstep squeezing antics of my vegan chum, and decided I was in need of more supplies. Too kind of her by far. I ran the handwriting past her son, who asked his mother outright if she was behind the RAOK, and she admitted she was.

So there you have it...a slightly twisty turny saga of two friends linked to one skincare item, and two perfumes with incense linked to one friend. And there is love involved in the story, if not the usual romantic stuff of Valentine's, hehe...

And yes, I really do need to raid the remaindered buckets at Asda for some more flowers: my daffs are dead and my hyacinth comically sparse and disconcertingly floppy.

Oh, and if anyone has an Alexa, do ask her if she will be your Valentine. She thanked me for the invitation, saying it was sweet of me to ask, but she didn't feel we knew each other well enough, before setting me a quiz challenge to verify this point. I correctly guessed her favourite cake (Colin the Caterpillar), but blew it on her favourite animal (octopuses, not lions, although she thinks lions are "roarsome"!), and I also incorrectly guessed that she had made a record with Harry Styles instead of Ed Sheeran. Alexa magnanimously awarded me half a point for Harry Styles though, as she also likes him. But with an overall score of one and a half points, I didn't qualify as her Valentine. Hey-ho - there's always next year! ;)

How was your Valentine's weekend? 

Are there any other brands of vegan perfume - or individual scents - you would recommend?

[Photo of Lustre from, photos of Myrrhe & Encens Mysterieux from fruugo and my friend, heart artwork from Etsy / Pinterest]


Tara said...

Fabulous post V! I read it to mum as she was eager to hear the identity of the mystery gifter. We had a good laugh at the Alexa quiz.

Getting feedback on samples is the best part! You did a great job. It's funny I would have imagined most perfumes were vegan these days.

Good luck grabbing a bargain tomorrow!

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

(Waves to the other mother called Peggy!) This tale of a 'mystery gifter' is quite topical I suppose given the popularity of The Masked Singer. ;)

Oooh, I get such a lot of value out of Alexa, and am grateful to you for the unscheduled gift. Come to think of it, that is just like my neighbour's Paula's Choice present in this instance!

I haven't helped anyone find a perfume for a while, so it is great to be back in the sampling saddle, as it were.

Joyce said...

Love the perfume conversion story! Your friend has great taste, and how wonderful to have you as mentor!

Patchouli is a love/hate for me, but for vegan scents Lush’s Karma is a nice balance between pine and patchouli. Rose Jam would’ve been perfect for Valentines too.

We went out for lunch on Saturday to beat the actual V-Day horde, and I wore Portrait of a Lady for its austere rose. Our adventurous girl cat (Saffy Safarelli) also celebrated by sneaking out for half the night, most likely to visit the tortie across the street ;-)

Anonymous said...

Such a sweet post, full of love in all its forms.

That heart picture is gorgeous - is it a painting?

You have made me hungry and I now yearn for a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel. I have only recently discovered bagels that are already flavoured with cheese, and they are rather tasty. Lighter versions of anything are to be avoided in my experience ......


Vanessa said...

Hi Joyce,

I don't always love patchouli in a composition, and many of the ubiquitous fruitchouli scents on the mainstream market leave me cold. One of my faves is Kenzo Flower Oriental, which is probably discontinued now.

Thanks for those extra Lush recommendations - I am familiar with Rose Jam but not the other one, and had neither!

Glad your cat got some Valentine action in, hehe...

Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

That heart picture is made of acrylic actually. No idea whom by or would have given it a more detailed credit.

You are so right about lighter versions of things, haha. Am not so sure about flavoured bread products, though I do like those German baps with toasted cheese on top. The bagels I am using are 'lighter' now I think of it! But only in terms of thinness - the consistency is the same. Makes it easier to control the ratio of filling to bagel.

Tatiana said...

I wasn't aware there was such a thing as a vegan or even non-vegan perfume, assuming that nowadays all musks are synthetic.
I love when someone compliments my perfume and then asks for help finding one they will enjoy. Dear Husband also loves it, as it reduces the quantity of samples and decants in my possesion, if only by a little bit.
I haven't fractured anything since my gelding tossed me into the dirt about 10 years ago. But I still remember sitting stiffly in a chair and not wanting to move or get up for fear of increasing the pain in my ribs.
I hope your wrist is healing well and becoming less painful by the day.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tatiana,

Nice to hear from you and I do know what you mean about the pleasure of lightening one's perfume collection. It is always only by a little bit, it's true! ;)

Ooh, your riding accident sounds painful all right and definitely worse than my injury. The hand / wrist is much improved in terms of mobility, thank you, however it remains stubbornly smaller in size than the other hand for some reason, and noticeably more bony due to what turns out to be quite a bit of arthritis. Waiting to see if the pain will settle down as this is new to me!

Undina said...

I don’t know how I missed this hilarious post! And while not having to type the response might have been good for your hopefully healing wrist, it would have been definitely my loss had I not come across the notification for it cleaning my inbox.

I had high hopes for that tinted moisturizer a couple of years ago, but back then my eye allergy was completely uncontrollable, and some ingredient in this one kept causing my eyes to swell, which was surprising since their SPF 50 Resist cream works for me fine (I checked: the ingredients are different). I might be better with it now, but since I can’t stop be your porch to get a test squeeze from the thoughtful gift you got, I probably won’t risk buying another tube.

Loved your conversation with Alexa. I have a funny story about it as well, but I’ll tell it to you “in person.”

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Glad you liked it! And that the notification found you in the end.

I am sorry the Paula's Choice tinted moisturiser didn't work for you - I wonder what the offending ingredient was. Don't buy a tube on spec in the hope that your skin is now less sensitive, having recently dropped rather a lot of money on a cream that irritated my face and which wasn't available in a sample size.

I would be curious to hear your own Alexa story - she really is good value.