Saturday 21 January 2023

On the lash: UKLash Eyelash Serum - a six and nine month update

My by now rather battered tube and box!

Back in July I wrote a "before" and "after" post about my results with UKlash Eyelash Serum, one of the many brands of such products on the market in this ever growing sector about which I was completely ignorant till I started dabbling in it myself at the beginning of May. Here's a reminder of my stubby apologies at the outset:

May 1st, 2022

The last photograph in that post dates from July 3rd, and shows some definite growth, which did surprise me, I'll be honest, as my default assumption tends to be that all beauty product claims are either hyped up or downright false.

July 3rd, 2022

The second photo above was taken about 91/2 weeks in - there is nothing otherwise significant about that precise interval, I hasten to add ;). I carried on using the product regularly till mid-October, and there is still a bit left in the tube, but my trapped nerves kicked in then and lengthening my lashes was the last thing on my mind.

Now I said in July that I wouldn't come back and revisit this topic at the twelve week mark, as I didn't expect anything more to happen, plus I didn't want to scare the horses unduly by posting too many photos of my bizarrely-shaped selfie-snapped phizog. But I decided to do an update after all, as the serum did in fact keep on working...!

So here I am, without make up still, last October - please excuse the very unflattering angle, which makes my nose look like a laboratory flask crossed with Concorde. The difference since July is subtle, but I do think the lashes have grown a bit more:

October 14th, 2022

And here are a couple of shots of me around that time, but with a light application of mascara:

October 7th, 2022

I am at least looking straight ahead in the next one, rather than sporting the demented "Look up!" expression not usually found beyond the optician's chair. I still look a little "scary stary", mind. And veering towards silvery badger in the fringe department, though that is being sorted next week.

October 10th, 2022

So where am I now? I learnt from the comments on my earlier post that the serum merely interrupts the natural shedding cycle, so that the lashes continue to grow. I haven't applied it more than half a dozen times since October due to my neck issue, when you are meant to use it daily to maintain the length or coax the lashes to become even longer. Frankly, by October they were at the height of what I'd call an acceptable length, and starting to grow out in strange directions and develop bent tips like mosquito legs with a kink in them. It was also very easy to create ridiculous doll-like looks with even one "normal" coat of mascara, so even if I hadn't fallen ill, I would doubtless have laid off the serum to stop this relentless sprouting in its tracks. Also, I could almost hear my eyelashes rustling when I blnked, which was a little disconcerting. I'd say my lashes are now back to where they were in early June, say, so really nothing remarkable, but not quite the little stumps of yore.

21st January, 2023

So would I recommend this product?

Absolutely, if longer lashes are a particular quest of yours. To be fair, I do think that even when mine were at their most stunted, they came up remarkably long thanks to the telescopic miracle worker that is modern mascara. But if you don't want to wear make up every day - and I rarely do now - having naturally longer lashes does give you more confidence to go out without shopkeepers asking if you can see properly out of those tiny eyes.

Tuesday 10 January 2023

Perfumes in purdah: Les Néréides Impérial Opoponax (the sequel), Prada Candy, and Guerlain Shalimar Millésime Tonka

Sniffing Truffle's head

I'm back! A belated Happy New Year to everyone.

Nearly two months to the day since my last post - possibly the longest hiatus in the 13 year history of Bonkers about Perfume (or one of them) - and I am now attempting to type a full draft in the normal way for the first time, and see how that feels. The conservative approach I was recommended to take by the osteopath of cancelling all social plans and leading such a quiet life that it could qualify as a "retreat" appears to have paid off, and I am much better now. I have at last re-mastered the arts of driving, housework, shopping, knitting, and pretty much every other manoeuvre in everyday life except manhandling the loft ladder and opening tins. I wouldn't want to drive many miles yet, or knit a whole scarf in a day, but I am well up to dipping my toe back into these abandoned activities.

Yes, "retreat" is a good word...or "purdah" might be another to describe this strange time I have spent away from society. I hasten to add that I mean "purdah" in the generic sense of "seclusion", and not the practice in certain Muslim and Hindu societies of screening women from men or strangers, especially by means of a curtain, in case I lay myself open to charges of cultural appropriation. That said, I did acquire a front door curtain in December.

Les Néréides Impérial Opoponax (the sequel)

Notes: citrus notes, opoponax, benzoin, vanilla, amber, sandalwood

In my last post I mentioned how much I had enjoyed wearing Les Néréides Opoponax most days until my decant ran out. I would like to give Rachael Potts (whose decant it was), a shout out for kindly donating the rest of her bottle when the Royal Mail stirred into life in the New Year. The bottle is called "Impérial Opoponax", while I referred to this scent as plain "Opoponax" in the previous post. I have since learnt that the name was simplified over time, and Rachael's bottle has the original one on it. I am glad I didn't erroneously strip the perfume of its lofty rank - that would be like referring to the Duke of Sussex as Harry Windsor, though it is tempting.

Prada Candy

Notes: musk, benzoin, caramel (I daresay there are more than these!)

When I first found myself without Impérial Opoponax - and notwithstanding the fact that I have some 60 bottles to my name and countless other decants and samples - I felt bereft, and as though I didn't know what to wear now(!), for I was really craving something in that purring vanillic vein. Then at the end of November I spied a bottle of Prada Candy in a discount chemist in town - 30ml for £34.99. Ever since its launch, and despite loving the scent with its cosseting toffee haze, I had not felt I could justify the cost of a 50ml bottle, and had never come across the smaller format, never mind at the magic price of (more or less) £1 for 1ml, which used to be the norm back in the day, even for niche scents.

Despite this great deal, I continued to wrestle with my conscience and fought the urge to buy it, for based on current stock levels I will never need to acquire any more perfume in my life again. Though I realise that it depends very much on what you mean by "need". Plus I was in pain and deserved a treat. So I decided to let the decision be made by Victoria of Boisdejasmin, whose taste in fragrance has proved down the years to be spookily congruent with my own. I said to myself that if she had awarded Prada Candy four stars in her review (I didn't doubt that there would be one) I would take that as a sign that I should proceed with my purchase. And of course she had, haha...;)

Oh,and look what Colbourne, a reviewer on Basenotes, had to say about the opoponax note  - he mentions "toffee", which is of course in Candy. And props to him too for giving "effulgent" a rare outing in any context: 

"an exudate from the Commiphora eyrthraea tree, this resin has sensuous warmth, a sweetness of toffee contrasted with bitter, leafy herbal undertones, powdery, efflulgent, yet rich, mythic."

Guerlain Shalimar Millésime Tonka

Notes: bergamot, almond, rum, iris, jasmine, rose, tonka bean, vanilla and opopanine.

I am very out of touch with perfume releases - never more so than in recent months - yet my purdah was penetrated by news of this new Shalimar release from sources both sides of the pond, and as a born again lover of Shalimar in most of its incarnations, I immediately dropped £9 on a tiny sample from Etsy. I should point out that I was feeling a bit delicate on the day I tested it, but while the notes sounded promising, and as though Millésime Tonka might serve as yet another comfort scent in this reclusive period, the reality on my skin was a disappointment and triggered an instant headache. The composition was hijacked by an off-kilter accord I can best describe as furry lighter fuel. A bit like my experience with Tauer's Lonestar Memories, which also has jasmine, tonka bean and myrrh, but is way more fizzy. 

I think a retrial is definitely in order, so here goes...

Okay, no headache and no unpleasant notes, but Millésime Tonka is darker and murkier than the original, and a little more bitter.almondy maybe? I think it is probably absolutely fine though, like a "Shalimar Noir" if there was such a thing, and it may only be a question of time. I will wear and enjoy this sample and get my money's worth. For nine quid for 1ml is a bit steep to shell out even on a prize lemming. I think feeling as I did when I first tried it, frankly any perfume might have triggered the headache, and this version is rather rich to be fair.

And now see what another Basenotes reviewer, Shahbaz_2009, says of Impérial Opoponax, comparing it to Shalimar!

"Upon spraying we are hit with the familiar bergamot-lemon-cream opening,which is very sweet and almost reminiscent of Vintage Shalimar and Oscar"

Eyeballing the notes, there appears to be an opopanax-esque component. I have been unable to google the word to clarify the point, however, as my search keeps defaulting to "dopamine".

So it is clear that while ill I was drawn to fragrances with quite a lot of compositional crossover without realising it...vanilla-forward, toffee-ish purrfumes, we could perhaps call them.

Source: Fragrantica

In closing, I would like to thank all my friends and neighbours (not that they are likely to be reading this) for acting as a spare pair of arms in so many useful ways over the past few months - it was a huge help. And Truffle, for sitting on me so comprehensively in what seemed at least like an empathic way. I am sorry to report that her head that I am sniffing in the photo smelt unmistakably of wee - clearly not her own as that would entail a feat of gymnastics beyond the capability of even her athletic frame.

Lastly it occurred to me that I must be feeling better to embrace the right royal faff of adding accents to two of the three perfumes featured, especially the Impérial Opoponax, which has three on its own!