It’s been a rough ride lately for all of us, hasn’t it? And that’s why I have been missing from this space for a while. When the lockdowns hit, I was convinced that this blog would be my salvation. That I would pour every molecule of energy into serving up content and making my social media channels rock!
But then came illness (it’s hard to blog when your parents have been hit with the dreaded virus and then even harder when you go down as well!), flash floods, snow storms and shortages of everything possible. For me, it was difficult to embrace the concept of selling luxury beauty products and experiences when people around the world were short of even essential food supplies.
But then all of you started writing in that you wanted more. You wanted to feel better. We all wanted to feel better. To have content that makes us happy. Maybe get that one lipstick or mascara that lights up the day. To burn a candle that brings home the Italian coast when the furthest you have managed to go in the last month is your local CVS. To pull up a soft, luxe, weighted blanket when you want to feel a hug and go back to sleep in a lonely apartment. To just feel again. To just be happy again. To feel hope.
The world is still out there. The pandemic is still out there. It’s the worst form of privilege to deny those truths. But we can allow ourselves to be happy without getting tone deaf, right? To have hope. To help others and ourselves. Because mental health counts.
So, here I am. With my list of hope. And a blog with some (hopefully) cool new features that you will get to know as you go through it in the coming days.
List of hope? In other words, my beauty bucket list. The things I want to do/buy/experience in the world of beauty. What better way to start than by manifesting them on my birthday?
So, here you go. My Ultimate Beauty Bucket list.
And, yes… happy birthday to me, even if it’s the second one in lockdown!
The rose, jasmine and lavender harvest at Grasse
Grasse, as we well know, is the perfume capital of the world. It’s also the only place where certain varieties of jasmine, rose and lavender are grown – the ones that are used in the most coveted perfume and skincare formulations. Case in point: The 100-petalled Rose de Mai, which is one of the rarest flowers in the world and needs the unique combination of the Mediterranean climate and the rich soil of the French Riviera to bloom.
Now, imagine, what would it be like to become part of the harvest of these flowers. Surrounded by the most stunning blossoms, the air thick with sweet perfume, splashes of color against a vista of greens and pinks and whites and purples. Feeling the gauzy petals. Becoming one with nature. Becoming one with the journey that begins with these surreal fields and ends up in glass and crystal bottles that appear to hold magic.
However, the real fields (there are now several farmers growing more generic varieties due to scale and costs) like that of Maison Mul are tightly guarded and closed to almost anyone outside the perfume world. But I am going to continue trying. Want to join me?
A bespoke perfume by Roja Dove or Guerlain
This has been a lifelong dream: a signature scent made specially for me, to my specification, with my favorite notes. Especially if it’s by Roja Dove or Guerlain. Let’s see what it would include… hefty doses of sandalwood, jasmine and lavender, a little bit of blood orange and lemon verbena, some vetiver, a touch of leather… well, this is clearly a work in progress. Though with prices starting at €30,000 for a couple of bottles, a bespoke fragrance seems destined to remain a dream for the rest of my life. Even husbands can’t be guilt tripped to that extent!
Visiting the Hot Springs of Pamukkale
Imagine soaking through the blue-est waters that cascade over tiered terraces on a cotton candy mountain… that’s my dream. And it can come true at Pamukkale in southwestern Turkey, whose white limestone terraces of have been famed since the 2nd century for their unique “champagne waters” (because of all the bubbles) that are naturally heated by geothermal activity.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site has 17 tiered pools and I have been told that they look as surreal in real life as they do in photos. In fact, Pamukkale translates to “cotton castle” in Turkish and one look at the sight will tell you why. Truly, a spa with a difference. So, who wants to go float in a brilliantly white-and-turquoise cotton castle with me?
Extended stay in Baden-Baden
And then there is Baden-Baden. Scarcely has there been a town that blends together culture, glamour and wellness in such equal servings. Once the playing ground of Sisi – my favorite Empress – Germany’s Baden-Baden was the summer capital of Europe during the belle époque. Soon, it also became the world’s most renown spa town, attracting the rich and the beautiful (including Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Tchaikovsky and Queen Victoria).
I want to go there for the “taking the waters” – hot springs that well up from a depth of 2,000 metres, supplying the town’s 12 thermal spas – though walking in Sisi’s footsteps through the legendary castles, chapels, casinos and surrounding vistas of the Black Forest are tantalising enough in their own right. I have made day trips in the past but staying there for at least a fortnight and truly indulging in all its splendours still remains a dream.
Lessons at the Santa Maria Novella Farmacia
The Santa Maria Novella Farmacia is the oldest still-operating pharmacy in the world, though today its offerings are more of the perfumes, floral waters and mimosa creams kind. It dates from 1221, when Dominican monks started making balms, salves and medicines for their infirmary. Now the Florentine pharmacy still calls upon traditional preparation methods and recipes for its wares – including the legendary Acqua della Regina water that was exclusively designed for Catherine de Medici. It’s even housed in the extraordinary original building, which is replete with vaulted ceilings, ornate gilding, frescoes, walnut cabinetry, glass-stoppered decanters full of colorful potions, stained glass windows, bronze statues, and antique apothecary scales and mortars.
But what interests me even more is the adjacent building and it’s old medicinal herb garden, where the actual pharmacy products are made. Local ingredients are used whenever possible and each batch is hand made according to age old recipes and artisanal methods. This is where I want to spend a few days, studying and working along side these beauty artisans. I want. I want. I want. I want!
“Studying” at the Leg School in Capri
As a lover of short dresses and skinny pants, I am constantly looking for ways to keep my legs in good nick. And there is no better place for leg boot camp than the Capri Palace Hotel & Spa, which incidentally is the place most Hollywood celebrities head to before any major event. The legendary hotel’s equally legendary Leg School immerses you in an intensive week of non-invasive treatments, including icy mud packs, toning and detoxing massages, one-on-one workouts, icy bandages and walking through chilled then hot water.
And then there is the pièce de résistance – the Velasmooth – a machine that uses radio frequency, infrared light, suction and massage to break down cellulite, melt fat and reduce water retention. The result? Legs that are more toned, taut and tight – perfect for showing off in those jewelled Capri sandals.
The US$30,000 bottle of Chanel No. 5
For some strange reason, I was dead set against buying the red limited edition bottle of Chanel No. 5 when it came out in 2018. I have no idea why. In my head, I was being a purist. Now, I really, really want one. Actually, correction: What I really want is the 30.4 ounce Chanel No. 5 Limited Edition Grand Extrait in red, which is handcrafted from Baccarat crystal and costs US$30,000. Only 55 bottles were ever made. Think I could track one down?
A jade pillow
There are crystals and then there are CRYSTALS. Of the royal, super-energised, super-healing kind. Like the solid slab of pure jade that I slept on a few years back at Singapore’s Fullerton Hotel. These ‘jade pillows’ date back 2000 years to the Han dynasty, when they were hand-carved for the royals to rest their heads upon for a deep, healing slumber that restores mind, body and spirit. The best ones are sculpted according to your unique head and neck anatomy and carry all the properties of this healing crystal.
You would think that sleeping on a block of stone would be uncomfortable… but trust me, it feels like someone gave you a beautiful massage all night long. The price starts upwards of US$2,000 but that’s not even the main issue. The main issue is getting hold of a genuine, hand sculpted one that uses authentic jade. There are too many fakes available and the “economical” options – like the ones that have a jade beaded slipcover over a normal pillow – are useless. What I am looking for is one that’s made from a solid slab of real jade. Any suggestions?
Visiting the vortexes of Sedona
I have always been a deep believer in the healing powers of energy fields. And as this past time has made us slow down and seek inwards, this is one thing I have been focussing upon quite a lot (and this is one new area you will see opening up on this blog soon). One of the places I am feeling immensely pulled towards is Sedona in the Arizona desert, which is famous for its vortex force.
Vortexes are swirling centres of energy that heal, calm and allow you to look inwards. Some people describe having intense emotional experiences, as the energies allow you to let go of past trauma and allow fresh powers into your being. Others feel a tingling in their body as they enter the fields. The vortexes are usually attributed to strong geophysical or electro-magnetic activity in the area.
In fact, you can literally see manifestations of this energy in a physical form – in the juniper trees that have twisted around themselves from the swirling force over the years. And this makes for a unique landscape that’s a bucket list item in its own beauty. Do YOU believe in energy healing?
Creating a bespoke lipstick
This may well be the easiest thing on my beauty bucket list. Brands like Bite Beauty and Code Eight allow you to mix your own pigments, under the guidance of a lipstick formulator, at one of their several boutiques nowadays. Or you can do it online… though, for me, the fun is in actually playing with the pigments and hues and textures… getting my hands on the mixtures and seeing it all come to life right in front of me.
What would I make? I have never found the perfect nude (Burberry’s Lip Cover in Antique Rose came close but has been discontinued). One that has the perfect amount of pink blended into the nude, with a creamy finish and high opacity. The lipstick that can take me from morning to evening and replace the 64278643278 not-just-right nudes that I cycle through currently.
Design my own skincare product
This one is a long game because in today’s overcrowded market, I don’t want to put just another beauty product out there. When I design something (and I really want to because part of studying the market so carefully means being able to see the gaps), it shall be something unique. In fact, I have been working on a small range of skincare products for a year now but they are nowhere complete.
So, all I can tell you right now is to expect turmeric (the actual real extracts of turmeric that are a potent skin ally – not just the superficial sprinkling that makes something look yellow and woo-woo), sandalwood, jasmine and saffron. It would have a gorgeous, silky texture that sinks into the skin and would come with an optional massage tool. And I dream of refillable, cut-glass jars that look almost sculptural. Because to me, skincare equals self care. If it doesn’t make you look and feel good, there’s still work to be done.
What about you? What’s on your beauty bucket list? Time to send out a message to the universe about all the scrumptious, gorgeous beauty stuff you want in your life