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Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche is a Journey

By Sam, Fragrance Contributor

Sam is am 18-year-old freshman at New York University, who is double majoring in Russian Literature/Language and Psychology with a minor in Vocal Performance. Were you to seek him out outside of class, you might find him brushing up on his fencing techniques (épée) at the local academy preparing to try out for NYU’s Division I after a two-year hiatus from a national team. He may be on set at a photoshoot, pursuing his career as high fashion model (you just might spot him walking the runways of NYFW soon!). Or he could be restaurant hopping, hitting up Balthazar for their terrine de lapin, Momofuku for a quick pork bun, and Café Boloud’s lounge side for a cocktail and hideously overpriced dessert. And maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch him belting out “Later” (from “A Little Night Music”) or “Purpose” (courtesy of “Avenue Q”) in the streets or dorm halls. But you can always catch him breaking his diet and sorting though a bag of almond M&M’s, snagging only the blue and green ones. Yellow if he’s desperate!


Must-Have Colognes For a Man Who Likes to Smell Different

I’ve always believed that the best colognes are those that create an experience, not just emit a cloud of scent. I don’t just want to smell the tar and heat; I should be able to see the pier, with its slatted wooden footing worn smooth from years of fishermen’s shuffling, the slightly rotten posts at the end spotted with tar and what appear to be mollusks in a nearly deliberate pattern as if it is stricken with some sort of Rorschach-ian disease, the viscous smoke emanating from the small boat that refuses to start. (For those of you curious, Dior Fahrenheit inspired this description.)

Unfortunately, I had had to be content with imagining and fleshing out these scenes to suit what I was used to colognes giving me: at best, murky, amorphous images that only came together with a rather startling amount of effort from myself, and at worst, just an aura of various smells to walk around in for a few hours. The English and Classics majors of those reading this may wonder at my use of pluperfect tense—“had had”—and rightly so. I recently stumbled upon a cologne so powerful and evocative that it is able to create with scent what words and illustrations often fail to.

What Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche ($125.00) sets in motion upon the first spray is a journey. You begin perched beside the driver of a rather large wagon, perhaps the largest in this caravan. The man holding the now-coiled whip beside you doesn’t stir as the fierce winds snatch at the ends of the rough cloth, colored so as to fade into the surrounding sands, that encircles his entire face, save for his eyes. Having finished accosting the man, the winds force their way into the covered wagon and rattle the bottles within, filled with thick syrups from the north, tinctures so alcoholic that they evaporate within seconds of being uncorked, and resins from the greater forests to the west that somehow do not solidify. You’ve been surrounded by these powerful scents for days now, so that you’re sure your clothing, and even your hair, is sure to evoke their memory for days after you reach the city.

You reach the city within the week. Having snuck off from the caravan the previous night, you wend your way through the snaking streets—unpaved dirt and sand-packed hard by the thousands who crowd the city’s poor district—towards the inner ring. Sunlight glints off the domes of the palace. You absently think of how the gold leaf from even the smallest of them could keep you in luxury for months.

Having presented your writ of passage to the guard at the main gate, you now follow the escort—whose wickedly curved sword looks fresh from the whetstone—to what appears to be the center of the estate. The silken slippers you were made to exchange for your soft boots before you entered cause you to pitch forward ever so slightly with each step. You are unsure of how the turquoise and ivory tiling of the floor is meant to provide sufficient footing for anyone. The escort stops rather sharply and reaches for the bone handle of a door that is otherwise indistinguishable from any of the numerous others you’ve passed. He pushes inward with no apparent force and bows, making it obvious that you are meant to enter alone.

Your eyes tingle from thick, dry smoke wafting from the candles standing in mirrored stands along the wall, noting that they must be laced with something to produce such a miasma. A thick carpet patterned in intricate scroll work and worked heavily in gold thread steadies your stance. Having adjusted to the heady incense, you notice the countless fringed pillows strewn about the floor, seemingly meant to take the place of formal chairs. The privacy screens, painted with exotic birds and flowering trees, nestled in the corners of the room seem to be in mocking contrast to the twelve or so men and women in diaphanous pants or robes standing languorously against the walls. Your cheeks burn as you notice that they are bare save for those nearly transparent trappings.

All but two hold trays, some laden with silver pitchers filled with steaming, syrupy coffee, others with small cakes infused with vanilla and smoky black tea. The last two, standing at the back of the room, are attending small braziers supporting a shallow bowl filled with a thick, resinous liquid. You realize quickly that it’s amber, its melting producing a cloying, opulent haze that seems to fill your head with wool. You find your way to one of the larger pillows towards the back of the room, taking care not to ogle the hand-servants as you pass by. As you settle yourself, you see the door open, the light from outside flooding into the dim room. A voice used to being obeyed barks out from the glare, and you smile, signaling one of the men to bring over two of the cups of the rich coffee. It’s time for a chat.

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The Products That Changed the Life of my Hair

By Leili, Hair Care Contributor

Leili is a 19-year old New Yorker who is obsessed with beauty, chocolate, and celebrity of the trashiest kind. Her drawers look like the stockroom of a hair salon! She’s currently enrolled in her second year of college but still trying to decide on her major. When she’s not worrying about that, she’s either at home with a good book, baking scrumptious goodies for her family, or exploring new restaurants with her friends. Check out her blog, Materialistic Musings!


The Products That Changed the Life of my Hair

I’m not someone who takes the term “life-changer” lightly, which is why my post references so few things. There are certainly products I love (with a particular emphasis on hair oils and deep conditioning treatments) but for me to claim that something has changed my life, it has to be truly spectacular like what you’ll see here. But don’t take my word for it—try them out for yourself!

Just to recap, my hair is long, extremely oily at the roots, dry at the ends, and reasonably thick and wavy though I don’t have much of it!

Check out four life-changing hair products for long, thick hair! 

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Life-Changing Beauty Products from France

By Lulle, France, Local Contributor

Lulle was born in France, and she says she came to life so hungry that she was trying to swallow her entire first–and the fondness for food never went away! She wasn’t obsessed with makeup as a teenager or young adult. At 25, she moved to Instanbul, Turkey, where she lived for five years, and this is where the beauty addiction started. When she wandered through duty-free shops while traveling, she discovered a whole new, glamorous world.

Lulle is easy-going, loving, and spontaneous; she loves to enjoy every moment of life. Check out her blog, Beau Miroir!


Life-Changing Beauty Products from France

A few products that changed my life, and the best tip I ever got from my Grandma!

Cicabiafine Crème Hydratante Corporelle Anti-irritations (about €15) doesn’t have sexy packaging or an appealing scent, but believe me, it’s worth a thousand tequila-marshmallow-flavored moisturizers. If your skin is desperately dry in the winter, to the point where it becomes itchy and uncomfortable, this body cream will save your life like it saved mine. It works like magic to relieve extreme dryness and irritation without being too heavy or greasy.  It is unscented, paraben- and coloring-free. Without this Holy Grail, I would have lost my sanity last winter, when the skin on my legs felt like the Siberian desert.

One of the very first pieces of advice I was given at my beauty salon was “Sop using a scrub on your face–it is too harsh–use a gentle granule-free exfoliator instead!”  I wasn’t really convinced, but I bought a tube of Institut Esthederm Osmoclean Crème Douce Désincrustante (around €30) to try it out. I’m glad I trusted my beautician! This gentle purifying cream absorbs impurities and all you have to do is massage it on your face until it thickens and then rinse it. It leaves my skin feeling soft, perfectly clean and refreshed. Since I started using this exfoliator instead of mechanical scrubs, I have noticed that my face looks healthier, clearer, and less oily on the T-zone.  Obviously, aggressive treatments were just harming my skin, which led it to produce more sebum as an attempt to protect itself. This exfoliating cream has been the biggest revelation in my skincare routine since I discovered soap-free cleansers!

Caron is not only one of the greatest Parisian parfumeurs–the brand is also a master in the art of face powder. Their loose powder La Poudre Libre Caron (€44) was formulated in the 1930s, yet it is still the best face powder on the market! The metal box looks luxurious and can easily be manipulated and transported (no mess in your weekend suitcase) thanks to the screw top hidden inside. The powder itself is lightweight, very finely milled, and has a rose scent. What makes it so amazing for me is that it delivers excellent coverage but still looks very natural on my skin. I love the slightly powdery finish that keeps my face looking matte and polished all day long! I wore this powder on my wedding day, and I had a lot of compliments about my flawless, radiant skin. I don’t think I will ever be able to use another loose powder without being disappointed!

When I was a teenager, my grandmother gave me a tip–very simple but extremely efficient and gentle–to exfoliate lips. You want to get rid of dead dry skin and have perfectly soft and smooth lips before you apply your favorite lipstick. All you need is a cotton pad and warm water! Soak your cotton pad in the water for a moment, press it between your fingers to remove excess water, place it between your lips and “bite” for about a minute. The warm wet cotton will soften the dry skin. Then, rub it gently on your lips to remove the dead skin and immediately apply a moisturizing balm. Voila!

Win It! Blast From the Past Pack o’ MAC #4 ($100+ value)

Win It! Blast From the Past Pack o’ MAC #4 ($100+ value)

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