Leslie Blodgett Perfume Diaries: Bare Skin

****There seem to be some technical gremlins at play; March is blaming a mating between Tubereuse Criminelle and Muscs Koublai Khan for wreaking havoc with the image uploading function. So, for a visual of the scent, please surf here.****

For those of you who don´t know who Leslie Blodgett is, she´s the woman behind Bare Escentuals, the mineral makeup line you either love to death, or hate with a passion. I´ll admit to being in the former camp for well over a decade, so much so that I used to drive regularly from my home on Long Island to the King of Prussia mall in suburban Philadelphia PA to buy the products. Now (of course), you can´t toss a makeup brush without it landing on a BE display in your local Sephora, or in a BE boutique in the same shopping mall. That´s not counting the infomercials and the marathon 3-hour long appearances on QVC. Recently, Leslie created two limited edition scents for Sephora, based on her love of fragrance and memories of vacations she´s taken.

I´d like to dispense with the fragrance particulars first since this is a perfume blog, but I hope no one will mind if I inject a little “Random Sunday” into my Friday post; mineral makeup is such a love-it-or-hate-it proposition.

Bare Skin is the first in the series of the Perfume Diaries franchise.  The second, Santa Barbara, was released a couple of weeks ago, but I have yet to smell it. Bare Skin´s notes are black pepper, freesia, anise, iris, vanilla orchid, plumeria, patchouli, sandalwood, labdanum and musk. It was created by perfumer Stephen Nilsen, who authored a favourite of mine from last year, Apothia Pearl.

Upon contemplating the notes, and the number of reviews on Sephora.com, I was prepared for another “meh” entry into the overcrowded department/specialty store fragrance world.  Surprisingly, the Sephora reviews are overwhelmingly positive, and miracle of miracles, I like it too.  I tried Bare Skin at the Sephora store in the Walden Galleria in Buffalo, NY. I spritzed generously from the tester and then proceeded to walk around for a bit, settling in for a humungo double-double coffee and a toasted bagel at Tim Hortons.  By the way, the extra-large cups at US Tim Hortons locations are the same size as the venti cups at Starbucks; hence, “humungo”, instead of my usual Canadian extra-large.  As I sat and ate, I noticed a spicy, warm, slightly tropical waft emanating from my right arm. As Bare Skin warmed up on my skin, I kept sniffing, and getting odd looks from the other Tim´s patrons, no doubt thinking I was practicing my “sleeve sneeze”, the recommended protocol to avoid spreading germs during the much over-hyped H1N1 flu season.  The more I sniffed, the more I liked it. Bare Skin does share similarities with some of my stalwart cold weather spice/incense/woods favourites, but the difference is that slight bit of tropical floral in the background.  The plumeria note peeks through just enough to differentiate Bare Skin, but not so much that it becomes a full-blown tropical floral scent. The labdanum and vanilla add their usual sweetness, but there is no patch-skank; not even in the drydown. This is another seamless composition, like Apothia Pearl, that goes from peppery and bright, to warm/woodsy, and a bit sweet. So, from a technical standpoint, Bare Skin is well done. From a marketing standpoint, it carries on the trend of woods gaining steam in the mainstream. As I am prone to make comparisons, I´ll compare Bare Skin to Estee Lauder´s Sensuous.  They are by no means identical, but they are very much in keeping with the growing popularity of woody fragrances with the edge taken off for the masses.  Bare Escentuals fans tend to worship Leslie Blodgett and love everything she does, and Bare Skin has all the hallmarks of being a smashing success with her minions of swirl-tap-buffers.

Speaking of those minions, I myself am a swirl-tap-buffer, a reference to the technique of applying Bare Escentuals mineral makeup. The thing is, I am finally growing tired of the whole routine; it feels like the old, “lather, rinse, repeat” directive from shampoo bottles of yesteryear. What I´m saying is that I´ve lost patience for the whole mineral makeup application process, which consists of two steps: step one, foundation; step two, mineral veil finishing powder. On some days, I feel like I have a thick coating of cream cheese frosting on my face, rather than the weightless, gossamer perfection the product promises. I´m partly to blame for this, because I can be a bit overzealous with the application, even though I got the hang of it years ago. Now, I feel a strong urge to simplify. Lately, I´ve eschewed the swirl-tap-buff for a quicker, easier application of Clinique´s Superbalanced Powder Makeup. It´s packaged in one of those neat “shaver” containers, so it doesn´t leak, or fly all over the bathroom when you put it on. One application of this with a big, fluffy powder brush does the trick for me; no finishing powder needed. As a matter of fact, I´ve rediscovered a couple of Clinique products that I haven´t used in ages, one being Clarifying Lotion 2. After years of trying every DIY exfoliating peel product, I´ve realized that Clarifying Lotion 2 on a cotton pad is a better exfoliant than all the pads, scrubs and potions I´ve tried. All About Eyes concealer is genius; I no longer wear eye cream during the day, and Dramatically Different Moisturizing GEL is wonderful. Not to worry, though; I am not regressing from a swirl-tap-buffer to a Clinique three-stepper. I won´t be wearing Happy any time soon, although I do miss Simply. Too bad it bit the dust before the woody trend surfaced. I really liked that one.

How about a little TGIF sharing: What is your take on mineral makeup? Like, love, hate, no opinion…whatever. Tell me!

Disclosure: As I mentioned in the body of my essay, I tested Bare Skin at Sephora in Buffalo, NY.  One of the lovely SAs there made me a small sample to take with me. The Clinique and Bare Escentuals products I wrote about are part of my personal skin care/makeup stash.

  • Lena says:

    I loved the idea of Bare Minerals, but I found out quickly that I have a pretty nasty reation to the bismuth oxychloride they put into it (apparently not an uncommon problem at all). I hate the way most liquid make-up smells, so that’s pretty much out for me. I decided to look at other options and started checking out small mineral make-up companies on Etsy, that are bismuth-free.

    Now, I split my money between Orglamix and The All Natural Face. They’re both MUCH cheaper than BM and neither one causes me to have the nasty itchies on my face. I like some of Orglamix’s eyeshadows (very glittery), but use The All Natural Face for my foundation, blush, veil, glow, etc. I have some of her eyeshadows, too, and they have more of a sheen than straight up glitter. Not to mention TANF has about a bajillion shades of foundation and a WONDERFUL sampling program. I finally have a foundation that actually MATCHES my skin, it’s a Christmas miracle! I really can’t recommend them enough.

  • March says:

    If I ever leave the house again I’ll be sure to try this at Sephora :d

    I got the Lancome version of the mineral makeup. I like it very much in the summer. Funny, I can’t remember any more why the BE worked out, but it didn’t (either color or maybe something made me itch?)

  • Sara K says:

    I like BE, but I hardly ever use the 2nd step…. I also like Benefit’s Hello Flawless layered over Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer.

    I have yet to smell Bare Skin, though I have smelled Santa Barbara, and I felt it was meh – OK but not something I would wear. I guess I’ll have to give Bare Skin a shot though; it sounds more like a scent I would like.

  • Koki says:

    I’ve been a big fan of Jane Iredale mineral makeup for almost 10 years. It’s the first and only makeup that actually makes me look better, not just made-up. Pricier than BE and a bit harder to find but definitely worth it.

  • Flora says:

    I wear almost nothing BUT mineral makeup now, including blusher. The secret is not necessarily in the brand, but using a proper primer base for it. It took me a while to figure that part out. Put on dry, it does not last very long and tends to settle into the cracks, if you know what I mean; I am not an ingenue. I always use a primer – I have tried several, currently using Rimmel since my other favorite is discontinued. I don’t use a brush for applying powder base, I use a velour puff instead to control the amount, and a kabuki brush for blush.

    Brands: I have used Bare Minerals, both the base and Mineral Veil, and it’s nice, but I have found cheaper brands that actually work better on my. Currently I am using Physicians Formula mineral powder over primer, NO finishing veil needed. I have also used Jane and Milani Minerals to good effect. I have sampled some higher end ones but as long as it’s not too sparkly and they make it in a shade that’s light enough for me I can use any brand. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what the shade will do on your skin with mineral powder, since it does not look the same in the container as liquid foundations do, so it’s important to try before you buy if possible to avoid getting the wrong one.

  • janh says:

    Why stay on the subject? I use Plushlash by mac and it makes lashes really thick. That’s my 2c.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Mineral makeup makes me look old and dead. Too heavy, too matte. I bought it once and returned it. I mix moisturizer with Stila illuminating foundation and get a nice dewy look – a little translucent powder takes away the excess shininess.

    Bare Skin is antithetical to what I want in a fragrance, LOL. But your review makes me want to try it, anyway.

    • Nava says:

      I never thought I’d wear anything that wasn’t lemony fresh or fruity floral, so you never know! :d

      As far as foundation goes, you go with what works. I used to love Stila tinted moisturizer in the summertime, but I believe the formula was futzed with, ’cause the last tube I bought felt like I was rubbing Crisco on my face.

  • dissed says:

    Hmm. Haven’t found a mineral makeup that doesn’t make my skin look shriveled, and I’m one of those middle-aged oily t-zone people with decent skin.

  • Louise says:

    The only BM product I can use is the Mineral Veil-it is a great finishing powder for me, and sometimes subs for foundation-just a bit over sunscreen and cream blush. The regular foundation never had a good color match for me, and looked shiny and just b-(

    I recently discovered MAC Natural Mineralize and am very pleased-it works as powder and/or foundation with sheer buildable coverage. No shine, but a tiny bit of healthy glow. And not pricy.

    I doubt Bare Skin would work for me-it’ll likely go sweeet and artificial on me-but heck, I’ll give it a try at my next Sephora visit :p

    • Nava says:

      I’ve been wanting to try MAC Mineralize, and lately I’ve been in the mood to experiment. Let me know what you think if you try Bare Skin the next time you go to Sephora. 🙂

  • Claudia says:

    I’ve been using BM powders for a few years now, and am still very happy with them. I prefer the matte formulation, and I have gotten some nice compliments. It hides the redness I have from rosacea. My biggest complaint is trying to travel with all those little jars and brushes. God help you if the lid were to come off snything. Well, anyway, I don’t travel much, but when I do, I use makeup that comes in a tube. It’s just easier.

    • Nava says:

      Funny, I just recommended BE to a cousin of mine who was just diagnosed with rosacea. And I agree, traveling with all that powder is a recipe for disaster. I remember one time I got selected for additional screening and the TSA woman starting opening all my BE jars! :-ss

  • CynthiaW says:

    I tried the Bare Skin when it first came out and it was okay – nice, spicy opening, but it didn’t seem to develop and just stayed that way all day. It probably didn’t help that they other thing I tried that day was Indian Holi and I like it so much better.

    As for the Bare Minerals thing – I’ve tried it and it’s usually too much work, a big old mess in the bathroom, and has a tendency to settle in what few lines I have on my face. I like the idea of it, but it just doesn’t seem to work for me. I use Clinque Even Better liquid foundation and I love it.

    • Nava says:

      Indian Holi is a much more interesting scent. I tried a sample of Clinique Even Better and I like it, but the light shade is not quite right for my skin tone.

  • LindaB says:

    I’m in the “love it” camp for BE. During my first pregnancy 4 years ago, my skin really freaked out and BE was my savior. Haven’t stopped using it since. I agree that on some days (and depending on how heavy handed I was in the morning) I feel like I’m wearing a mask and I have noticed some settling in fine lines around the eyes/mouth. Wasn’t a fan of the matte version and still love the regular mineral veil (now called Illuminating or something) with the bit of sparkle it gives.
    I received a sample of Bare Skin with a Sephora purch and tried it once several weeks ago–I need to apply again for a refresher, but I remember thinking it was a lot different than I expected and nice.

    • Nava says:

      I really like the matte foundation. It’s not sweaty or shiny looking on my face the way the regular one is. I like to wear Illuminating Mineral Veil in the summertime, but the tinted mineral veil is a disaster on me. Too much pigment.

  • lemonprint says:

    I too am a slightly lapsed swirl-tap-buffer. Recently I’ve given up on the BE foundation to go with philosophy’s Supernatural, the powder with the spongy top – one step and I have the light coverage I need. If I’m not in a hurry I still add some BE blush, but I’m also more often than not then skipping the mineral veil and using Smashbox’s hydrating Halo powder to finish, because I just feel that at my age the mineral veil is starting to look dry.

    I can’t let go of BE, though. I just bought the new purse brush and the fresh face collection of colors – and I don’t even wear eyeshadow. Maybe Leslie puts crack in the mineral veil. 🙂

    • Nava says:

      Lately I’ve been switching off between Clinique and using the Rare Minerals night treatment during the day. I find that with Rare Minerals, I can get away without mineral veil. Then again, I’m wondering if Rare Minerals and the new matte foundations are the same thing? 😕

  • Karen G says:

    I am so over mineral make up. I have finally woken up an realised that my skin is no longer oily; it is, in fact, on the dry side of normal, and using any kind of powder foundation is a huge mistake for me. And why are they all so sparkly? Of course I never notice HOW sparkly until I’m outside in bright daylight and catch a horrified glimpse in the car mirror or a store window.

    I’ve gone back to my cheap and cheerful liquid Almay applied with a foundation brush. My skin is so much happier.

    • Nava says:

      The only time in my life that my face was ever dry was when I took Accutane. Those were the greatest 6 months of my life, but I’ve been left with a rather serious lip balm addiction.:o

  • gina says:

    So funny you reviewed Bare Skin – I was in Sephora last night, tried it – liked it. I didn’t expect to, but it did smell like warm skin to me. Then I found myself snickering to myself (yes, I guess I looked insane) because I was thinking of BEAR Skin. Mmmmm that would smell like garbage and roadkill. Ha.
    As far as the Bare Minerals go – I found they can be a bit chalky or ashy. I’ve also known some to be allergic to it. I have seen it look really good on some, but I don’t think I’d use it on camera, but there’s a concealer called Sheer Cover that’s supposed to be brilliant. Not sure if that’s mineral makeup or not.
    Thanks for a great review!

    • Nava says:

      The real irony for me with BE is that I wear the Medium shade, and I’m as pasty as they come. The lighter shades for fairer skin tones are either too pink and yellow for me. Weird…

  • Lee says:

    Those dirty musk + camphor + BIG WHITE FLOWERS gremlins sure are stinking up the place good and proper.

    I know nothing of make up, and thus I will be silent.

  • Mary says:

    I love the BM powders–people actually do compliment me on my glowing skin, not the beautiful makeup job. They’re fast, easy, last a long time and satisfy the urge to dabble with brushes. Just got som for my sister in law, who has steadfastly refused to wear makeup– I got her interested by telling her they contain a very effective sunscreen. Which is true. And, BM is the first makeup to not break out my very sensitive crepey old lady skin!!:d

    • Nava says:

      I’ve never been a fan of liquid foundations and I think I’ll always revert back to BE, even when I get to the “crepey old lady skin” stage of life. :”>

  • Nava says:

    Really – no BE in “Yurp”? Try the Clinique one if you can; it might just change your mind. 🙂

  • veuve amiot says:

    Ah, you just *had* to compare it to Sensuous?! The one designer that defrosted my cold, cold heart. Thankfully, BM and its fragrant spawn is nowhere to be found in Yurp, so that effectively solves the problem.

    Re: mineral makeup, I *used* to buy from a company called The She Space (though not foundation/finishing powder thingies – I don’t use those), but I just found out they’re folding. To speak with Lady Catherine: I’m quite put out. So that’s the end of my mineral makeup adventure, I fear.

  • sharil says:

    My advice is to switch to a compressed mineral makeup with that bismuth, since that’s the ingredent that creates the shine…that creates the need for the mineral veil to matte it out. Enter: La Bella Donna pressed minerals. Their loose minerals are good, but essentially the same as BE, so don’t bother with that. Go straight to the pressed compact version and plop down your $50 for it. I did several years ago and have never looked back. The compact lasts me several months (I don’t need heavy coverage) and I can usually find it on Ebay for less. Pricey, but vastly superior to other brands and I’ve tried ’em all.

    • sharil says:

      “without that bismuth”, I meant to say.

      • Nava says:

        Well, the Clinique powder I’m using now is $42.00 here in Canada and it’s doing the trick for me. And I don’t think it has any bismuth in it, because it’s not shiny at all on me. It’s not totally matte either, and I do like it!:)

  • Mrs.Honey says:

    I used to wear BE, but changed to Jane Iredale. The JI has a better range of color and is not applied with the swirl/tap method, but does require a spritz of a product called D2O, which is a a sort of mineral water spray with some moisturizers/anti-oxidants. I don’t get any shine out of JI (which I did with BE, but only if I did not tap enough.) Also, JI comes in loose powder (Amazing Base) and pressed powder (Pure Pressed Base), which is less messy. Frankly, however, I tend to just use sunscreen and be done with it most days.

    • Nava says:

      There are now TONS of mineral makeups out there, and I’ve always heard good things about JI. I guess I’m getting lazy in my old age because the swirl-tap-buff has become unbearably tedious to me.

  • carlene says:

    I use Aromaleigh minerals, they don’t have that glowy sheen that BE has (at least on me). I hope they never stop making it. They have an awesome sampling program, too.

    And Thank You, I could not for the life of me remember the name of that Clinique fragrance, it came and went so fast. I only sniffed it once, I remember thinking “soy milk”.

    • Nava says:

      I have to admit, I cheated and looked it up! It did have a soy milky quality, didn’t it? I think one of the notes was “toasted soy” or some other ridiculousness. I’ve never been a fan of Aromatics Elixir, and I stay as far from Happy as I can. But, Simply was good. Too bad…

  • Fiordiligi says:

    I have tried using mineral makeup but it just doesn’t seem to work for me at all. I used Laura Mercier and was left with far too much “glow.” My current favourite is Guerlain Parure Gold which gives a beautiful finish.

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t imagine ever using a scent called “Bare Skin” but I’m glad you liked it.

    • Nava says:

      As I said, mineral makeup is a tough one… I’ve never tried any of Guerlain’s cosmetics, except for those colored pearl thingies.

      One of BE’s glimmer/eyeshadow shades is called Bare Skin, and it’s a favorite of mine. Also, Angela at Now Smell This did a review of Bill Blass Nude on Monday, which blew me away because it’s been discontinued for years. Apparently, it’s still in stock at some e-tailers.

  • DiainaWR says:

    I was recently in a Sephora and picked this one up on a whim. I was surprised how much I liked it, too!

  • chasa says:

    My hand to God, I couldn’t smell anything at ALL of Bare Skin, except a wee bit of alcohol. Like it was a freakin’ sterile swab or something. I seem to be anosmic to certain white musk elements, but still, there are enough other things in Bare Skin that I’m baffled as to why I didn’t get anything. I gave away my sample to someone who might appreciate it, so that’s that.

    Mineral makeups — I wear Pur Minerals, which comes as a solid. Easier to deal with than loose powder. I did try Bare Minerals at one point, but had a slight allergic reaction and also looked very shiny/sweaty…was just not good on my skin.

    • Nava says:

      I have that problem too with Egyptian musks; can’t even smell ’em when their right under my nose. Bare Skin is loud and clear, though.

      I’ve heard of people having reactions to Bare Minerals, and their original foundation tends to look a little sweaty on my as well. Hence the use of large amounts of mineral veil. Their new matte formula is much better, IMHO.

  • k-scott says:

    Nice review of Bare Skin. Hadn’t even heard of it yet! I love Sensuous, so it sounds like one I should try.

    I have used Bare Essentials in the past, but have found that Laura Mercier’s mineral powder makeup is the best. But of course I think all of her foundation products are the best- the translucent powder, the tinted moisturizer, the illuminating foundation (or maybe radiance- can’t remember the exact name). I’ve tried them all and they’re all top notch. Also recently got Benefit’s Erase Paste concelear and I’m quite pleased with its performance. I have dark circles that I absolutely abhor and I think it’s the best of what I’ve tried so far- but would love recommendations if anyone uses a concealer that is outstanding for dark circles. I used to use the YSL Touche Eclat, but it wasn’t enough coverage.

    • Nava says:

      Thanks. I believe it’s exclusive to Sephora right, now and it might be a limited edition as well. So, I’d be quick about it if I were you. 🙂

      I’ve been eyeing up (pardon the pun) BeneFit Erase Paste, but there stuff is so ridiculously expensive here in Canada. Maybe on my next trip to Buffalo. YSL Touche Eclat and I didn’t get along, either. It turns a weird shade of orangy pink on my skin. Definitely not a good look on me.

    • Francesca says:

      Wow, really late to the party here, but I love leClerc’s concealer. Not only do I have dark circles, but I have some wrinkling under the eyes, and this concealer never gets gunked up in those. Just stays very smooth and does its job.