Sunday, January 29, 2012

My European Beauty Obsession

It's no secret that I'm a closet European.

Or, shall I say, "fascinated" with anything English, French, Italian, Greek and Spanish.

It all got started on one of my many trips to Mexico to visit my family. Being that Mexico was ruled by the French and many Europeans vacation in Mexico, I was exposed to Spanish pop music, French food, Spanish fragrances and Italian shoes before I was ten years old.

I didn't assume European-anything was better than what I was able to get back home in California, but I somehow liked it more.

Add to that my near addiction to the vintage Vogue magazines my aunt had in her Guadalajara home, and summer was my little piece of heaven on earth.

Unfortunately, I can no longer visit Mexico for the entire summer. But my mom brought back all the vintage fragrance bottles, brushes and other beauty novelties my family imported from Europe in the late 1800's and early 1900's.

The beautiful bottles, rouge and other beautiful relics remain in my mother's home.  Until I can inherit those family "beauty" heirlooms, I buy my own European beauty finds- albeit reproductions of the classics.

These are a few of my favorite:

Large Denman Brush with Nylon Pins
Denman Brushes
My mother still has my great grandmothers boars hair version of this classic brush. The beautiful round wood head with a slim handle sits lovingly on her vanity.

Inspired by the classic black, I've purchased two of my own, most recently last week. Even though my 2012 version of this classic doesn't have boars hair, it feels heavenly as it glides through my hair.

There's a reason I don't have wrinkles - not a one.  Yes, my skin is enviable, and I know it.  Even when I am sick and miserable - like now-, nurses don't ignore the fact that my "DOB" is 2.2.71."  As in I am almost 41 years old...and still, no wrinkles.

Besides the fact that I stay away from the sun -outside of my yearly tropical vacations-I am forever slathering sunscreen. All. Over. My. Body.

But, as we all know, sunscreen close to your eyes is no bueno.  So prevention is key.  And this, my friends, is my trusted miracle worker.  A small investment to keep you years away from the scalpel.

I won't deny it: The first time I purchased this fragrance was purely because of an advertisement from one my aunts vintage Vogue issues.

It was one of my first big investments while in college and a scent that most women my age (I was then in my 20's) didn't recognize.  The more fashionable "ladies that lunch" sect did - and for that, I continued to buy it and receive it as gift from anyone that could find it. (It's not readily available at your run-of-the-mill retailers)

Wearing it makes me feel classic and unique at the same time.  The smell is purely magical and, until now, one of my best kept secrets.  (I don't even display it on my bathroom counter)

The classic soaps in the same
tissue wrapping that I remember as a child

Until now, mostly found in Mexico and in its birthplace Spain, Maja is the soap the ladies in my family bathed in for special occasions.

The black tissue-like paper wrapping and sticker with the unmistakable Spanish Flamenco dancer is an image of elegance ingrained in my memory.  There wasn't a single household in my Mexican family that didn't have several of these dainty soaps in their vanity ready to be unwrapped for a very special occasion.

The scent is unmistakably floral and takes me back to a very special place.  I am happy that the soap is now available most everywhere.  Although finding it at convenience stores almost takes the unique aspect and special meaning away.  That's why, to this day, I rather have it sent from Mexico or purchased online.  I refuse to buy it when it displayed next to the $1.99 run of the mill soap.

Yonka Skincare
My first experience with this skincare line was in the early 90's in a little spa in the San Fernando Valley.  I had never heard of this line, and frankly, since it was my first facial and I was only in my 20's, I never thought about buying the beautifully fragranced lotions for myself.

It wasn't until recently that I re-discovered Yonka on my quest to rehydrate my skin during this past very dry, and very hot summer.  A few days after using this incredible lotion, together with an updated skin regime, I am happy to report that my skin feels, and looks better than it did before my wedding.

Beauty, I have found, isn't skin deep.  It takes time, care, and a few beautiful finds to keep you lovely.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my European beauty favorites, and look forward to reading about yours.





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