Is Dossier Perfume legit? I tried it to find out.

If you use social media, chances are you’ve seen ads for Dossier Perfume. The brand makes fragrance affordable by creating dupes of expensive designer scents in vegan, cruelty free formulas without the costly mark-up. The brand has some seriously lofty claims (I mean, a Le Labo dupe for $29?!) but does it live up to the hype? I tested it out to we could know for sure.

THE SCIENCE OF SMELL

I love fragrance. In my opinion, there are few compliments greater than being told you smell good. I’m not alone in this. In fact, wanting to smell good or enjoying nice smelling things is more than just vanity — it’s actually neuroscience.

If you (like me!) are curious about how scent works, wonder no more: Your ability to smell comes from specialized sensory cells, called olfactory sensory neurons, which are found in a small patch of tissue high inside the nose. Olfactory neurons in your nose have evolved some 400 odor receptors and these cells connect directly to the brain. Microscopic molecules released by substances around us—whether it’s coffee brewing or pine trees in a forest—stimulate these receptors. Once the neurons detect the molecules, they send messages to your brain, which identifies the smell. There are more smells in the environment than there are receptors, and any given molecule may stimulate a combination of receptors, creating a unique representation in the brain. These representations are registered by the brain as a particular smell. To organize all this information, your olfactory neurons wire into an “olfactory map” on your brain’s olfactory bulb. Olfactory neurons are one of the few types of neurons that are born throughout your life, and each of the roughly 10,000 such neurons born each day in your nose subsequently wires into the olfactory map in your brain.

How much does the nose know? Well, physical attraction itself may literally be based on smell.

CHOOSING A FRAGRANCE

Fragrance is deeply personal, both because smell and memory seem to be closely linked because of the brain’s anatomy—and because fragrance will smell different on each person due to a variety of reasons, ranging from the pH balance of the skin to hormones and even differences in diet.

For that reason, finding a scent that works for you can be difficult. Buying something without trying it makes it even more so. One thing I love about Dossier is that they have risk-free system that allows customers to try perfumes before committing to it. Every bottle comes with a small sample that you can can try and wear, before unsealing the 50ml bottle. If you do decide to return the scent, they offer a standard 30 day return period, in which customers can return any unsealed 50ml Dossier perfume and get a FULL refund, no questions asked. How cool is that?

I’ve been experimenting with fragrance for nearly a decade at this point, and feel like I have a pretty distinct idea of what I like and what I don’t. If you’re just starting to dip your toes into the pool that is perfumery, here are some basic things you should know:

There are four main olfactive families (or basic scent categories) that exist in all fragrances: fresh, floral, spice and woody.

Fresh
Characterized by citrus notes, like lemon and grapefruit, fresh fragrances have refreshing, zesty and vibrant smells. this category can also have aromatic notes, like rosemary, basil or lavender (referred to as aromatic fougère fragrances). Think: your grandma’s clean laundry hanging on a line in the backyard.

Floral
Floral fragrances are one of the most popular and iconic families, and one of the broadest. Any fragrance that has a sweet and flowery scent will belong under this family, using notes such as roses, jasmine, lilies and peonies—think anything romantic and feminine. Floral fragrances can range from being light and delicate, to more complex and intense (like violet and berries).

Oriential

This is one of my favorite categories of fragrance. This scent family is associated with incense, smoke, warm spices and leather. It is very luxurious, rich and sensual often made with interesting notes of cardamom and cinnamon alongside the likes of jasmine, orchid and orange blossom. In addition, fragrances classified as “oriental” can have notes of vanilla, but not the vanilla you’re used to at say, Bath and Body works (aka sugary sweet)—a true vanilla is really earthy, like tobacco.

Woody

Woody fragrances are another warm family (and my other favorite!). With a mysterious and captivating scent that is often considered as more “masculine,” these notes are chock-full of smells associated with nature, like cedar wood, sandalwood, vetiver and amber. Another sexy scent family, it’s a great choice for wearing in the evening. Woody fragrances are split into mossy woods which has an earthy, sweet undertone, and dry woods which often have a smoky, leathery smell to them (think either hot guy or leather bound books).

Give It A College Try
I would recommend testing out 2-3 perfumes at a time. Wear one for a full day, let it marinate on your skin and see what you think. With perfume, you can only really know if you like something by actually wearing it (spraying it on those little strips or sniffing it just won’t do any justice to what the scent will smell like on you). In my opinion, Dossier is great for test driving scents because of their great return policy and because they offer bulk deals on their website— up to 25% discount and free shipping for 3+ bottles.

ABOUT DOSSIER

Like I previously mentioned, I know what I like. With that in mind, I got two perfumes from Dossier, Woody Sandalwood (inspired by Le Labo Santal 33) and Floriental Almond (inspired by Carolina Hererra’s Good Girl). Both smell absolutely amazing and, at a fraction of the cost of regular retail, I feel like you can’t go wrong. The most expensive bottle of Dossier perfume is $49 (the most expensive bottle of perfume I have ever purchased is nearly 3x that).

TL;DR

I have been loving my Dossier perfumes. I put them on every single morning even though I just sit around at home all day. After all, fragrance is deeply personal and I like to smell nice for myself, anyway. 🙂 Would you ever purchase something from Dossier, or have you? Let me know!

DIY Eyebrow Tinting

Happy National Eyebrow Day! It’s funny that such a small amount of hair can command so much time and money in a person’s life—yet here we are!

I have talked pretty in-depth about my eyebrows on my blog, including my experience with microblading, my tips & favorite products for filling in your eyebrows and what I use to wax my eyebrows myself at home. Today, I’m going to show you how to tint your eyebrows at home using Just For Men beard dye.

Disclaimer: This product is not intended to be used on eyebrows or eyelashes and can cause permanent damage, including blindness, if it gets into your eye. Please proceed with caution and do so at your own risk.

LET’S GET STARTED

The first thing you’re going to want to do is choose a product to tint your brows at home. I’ve tried many products, from henna to demi-permanent hair dye from Sally’s and always end up coming back to ol’ faithful: Just for Men.

I always buy this product from Target (it’s $8.99) and I always get the shade Dark Brown. You can get whatever shade your heart desires, but I would always recommend going with whatever is closest to your natural hair color.

This kit comes with a tray to mix it in, and I would suggest also purchasing a cheap double sided brush—the kind with a spooly on one end and a pointed brush on the other. This one from elf is a great option and only $4.

Put equal parts color base and developer into the tray and mix it together with the bristle end of your brush. Once it’s fully mixed, we’re ready to move onto the next step.

APPLYING THE DYE

Let’s not put the cart in front of the horse. Before we apply the dye, we have to make sure that our brows are ready, which means they are clean and oil free. If you’re a newbie and afraid you’re going to royally mess this up, I suggest putting Vaseline on the areas outside your brows where you don’t want the dye to end up.

You’ll apply the dye just like you would any other brow product. I suggest starting in the middle and doing the front of your brow last when there is less product on the brush. It gives a more natural apperance and makes it less likely that you’ll mess up.

Like I suggest in my Brow 101 post, I suggest doing swiping, hair like motions in the direction of the hair growth for the end and tail of your brow and short, upward strokes in the front.

When the dye is first mixed, it will be pretty light in color, however it will get darker the longer it develops. Once you have all the product you want on, set a timer for 10-20 minutes and go about your business.

WASHING IT OFF

Rinsing this off is arguably the easiest part of the whole (already extremely simple) process.

I put soap on my finger tips and wet them with warm water. Then I rub my eyebrows back and forth, creating a gray, sudsy mess and making sure to get any and all product off. Then I take a warm, damp wash cloth and wash it all off.

The key here is to not use too much water because you don’t want any of this getting into your eyes. I’ve been doing this for at least three years, way before it was a Tik Tok trend and back when the box didn’t have a warning label on it. I was much more willy nilly with how I washed it off, because I didn’t know it could potentially have averse consequences. Now that I know, I routinely worry that maybe a tiny Just For Men molecule may have snuck into my eye while I was washing it out, and I panic that I can feel my eyes burning, and subsequently, my vision blurring. I am extremely dramatic, so that’s probably a personal problem, but—in all seriousness—please be careful.

THE FINISHED PRODUCT

After you wash the dye off, you’re left with beautifully defined brows. I find that this lasts between 1-2 weeks, depending on how often you wash your face, sweat, etc. I like doing this at home because, honestly, I think its fun. It’s also extremely cost effective. I’ve only ever had to repurchase JFM because I lost tubes, never because I used the product up. For an up front investment of less than $15, you’ve got tinted eyebrows for 6 months to a year.

TL;DR

Tinting your brows at home is quick & easy, even if you only do it a pinch! Have you ever tinted your brows at home? If you do, let me know what products you use!

Bonus tip: if you’re in Lansing and not looking to do-it-yourself, or you’re looking to have someone wax + shape your brows, I highly recommend seeing Riley Vanness.

Buy or Bye: Gucci Bronzer

This bronzer came out a few months ago and I knew, based on the packaging alone, I needed it. Is the product worth the $62 price tag? Let’s discuss.

DOING THE MOST

I bought the Gucci Poudre De Beaute Eclat Soliel Bronzing Powder bronzer directly from Gucci and it arrived within 2 days (the perks of luxury retailers!). The bronzer arrived in a box, inside of a Gucci bag, inside of a Gucci dust bag, inside of a velvet pouch. It was like a Russian doll of Gucci-branded packaging. I wasn’t mad about it though, it made me feel rich LOL.

PRODUCT DEETS

As part of their expanding beauty line, Gucci launched their Gucci Poudre De Beaute Eclat Soliel Bronzing Powder earlier this year. It retails for $62 and is available in 5 different shades.

The packaging is gorgeous and—as I mentioned earlier—the first thing that drew my attention to the product. The compact is a beautiful mirrored component with a turquoise and gold design. This is the kind of product that you can leave out on your vanity as decor—it’s that pretty. Each bronzer also comes with a flat blush that is housed in a compartment on the bottom of the compact. Gucci or not, the brushes that come with products always suck. I kept the brush, but won’t use it.

The shade range is a little weird to me. I ended up buying shade 03 because, at least online, it appeared to be lighter than shade 02. Thankfully, it works well for my skin tone and I have no complaints.

I’m kind of picky when it comes to bronzer bronzer. What does that mean? It means that I don’t want something cool-toned that is going to work as a contour. I also don’t want something that’s too red-toned that’s either going to make me look sunburnt (we like natural but not too natural, you feel me?) or muddy. What I look for in bronzers is a medium-toned bronze color that is going to make me look sun kissed and naturally flushed, like I spent a long weekend at the beach (which won’t happen without SPF and sun protection because I spend too much on skincare to throw it all away).

This bronzer does a good job of achieving that look. It’s silky and smooth on the skin and is buildable, depending on how sun-kissed you want to look.

COMPARISONS

This is a good bronzer. It goes on nicely; it’s finely milled and never muddy—but how does this stack up in comparison to other bronzers?

I like trying new products for the sake of trying new products. I also do it as a service for my readers (you’re welcome!). Do you need this? No. Are there other bronzers that work just as well and cost less. Yes. Let’s do a break down of some of my favorite bronzers and a few cost saving alternatives.

Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer

I think this might be one of the closest dupes and it’s a fraction of the cost.

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Matte Bronzer

These two bronzers are quite similar in formula, application and feel. The CT bronzer is still expensive, but would save you a couple bucks off the retail price of the Gucci bronzer.

Benefit Hoola Bronzer

From shade range to formulation, the Gucci bronzer gives me some Hoola vibes. I would say that colors are similar but the Gucci bronzer is slightly more finely milled. However, you could buy entire Benefit palette for the cost of one Gucci bronzer, so do with that what you will.

TL;DR

The new Gucci bronzer is a great bronzer if you’re willing to spend nearly $70 on a bronzer. If not, there are other great options out there, too! What’s the most you’re willing to spend on luxury makeup? Let me know!

Luxe for Less: Chanel vs. Milk Makeup

I have La Mer taste and a Colourpop budget. A splurge here or there won’t break the bank (and you know I’m a huge proponent of a healthy #TreatYoSelf day) but spending money on expensive products regularly adds up. Luckily for all of us, there are many affordable alternatives for luxury products that won’t cost you half your monthly rent payment. In my new series, Luxe for Less, I’m sharing affordable dupes for high-end products so you can look like a million bucks without spending a million bucks.

THE SPLURGE

Chanel’s Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base has a cult following—and for good reason. It looks a little intimidating in the pan—it’s pretty dark—but weightless gel cream formula diffuses easily, leaving behind a sheer wash of color that blends seamlessly into your skin.

I had heard about the product for years, and finally decided to bite the bullet and purchase it from Nordstrom last summer. I was a little skeptical at first. I am pretty fair—about an NC25—and my first reaction when swatching it was that it was orange. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it doesn’t look orange on your face and I quickly came to understand the products cult following.

The first thing that I noticed about this product was that it’s pretty sheer. You can really play with the intensity depending on the look that you’re going for. Thankfully, despite looking orange in the pan, it never looks orange on your face. It gives you the perfect bronzed glow without making you look like you were an extra on the Jersey Shore— and it’s never muddy or streaky. It also dries down to a satin matte, so there’s no transfer throughout the day but it is an emollient product so if you’re oily— like me— you may want to said it was a powder bronzer just to make sure it stays in place. My favorite way to apply it is with the Morphe M406 brush, but I’ve also dipped a beauty sponge directly into the pan and applied to my cheeks and temples that way.

THE SAVE

I can’t overstate how much I love the Chanel bronzer. However, I also know that not everyone can fork over $50 for 1 ounce of bronzer and you shouldn’t have to give up a gorgeous, healthy glow—or *gasp* step foot in the actual sun—because you can’t afford it. Luckily, I found a dupe that’s almost half the price, just as good and even travel-friendly.

Enter Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer in the shade Baked. Don’t get me wrong, there are differences. My goal was not to find a product that was the exact same color as the Chanel bronzer or had the same exact style of packaging, but rather to find a cream bronzer that had similar qualities at a better price point. To me, the Milk Makeup bronzer checks all those boxes. It’s creamy, it’s pigmented and it blends seamlessly into the face giving a beautiful glow.

BATTLE OF THE BRONZERS

The Chanel bronzer is definitely much warmer, while the Milk bronzer, although still warm, has a cooler, more neutral undertone. The biggest difference is the packaging. The Milk bronzer is in stick form, which, to me, is a plus. It’s easy to throw in a makeup bag and travel with. You could also cut out the middle man (i.e., the brush) and apply the bronzer directly to your face and blend out with your fingers, if you’re in a rush or if you’re just more of a no-nonsense makeup person.

In addition to the undertone and the packaging, the biggest difference between the bronzers is the pigmentation. If you’re a cream bronzer rookie and are concerned about being too heavy-handed or overzealous, you might prefer the Chanel bronzer which can be built up to have as much or little pigmentation as you want. The Milk bronzer tends to feel more pigmented right off the bat, especially if you swipe the stick directly on your face, but can be sheered out depending on how you apply it. I like to apply both the bronzers with the same Morphy brush which ends up giving in almost identical appearance. In fact, I’ve won both bronzers on the same day to see if there was a noticeable difference in color, wear time, and transfer.

Another plus for Milk? The Milk bronzer comes in two shades, Baked and Blaze, meaning it will work for a wider range of skin tones. The Chanel bronzer only comes in one shade. On this blog, we have to give inclusivity the edge.

THE VERDICT

I love both bronzers and don’t think that you can go wrong with either. Both products are extremely creamy, blendable and pigmented. If you feel like splurging, you can’t go wrong with Chanel. If you can’t afford the Chanel product, the Milk bronzer is almost an exact dupe in terms of formula. We all know that I love a bougie product— and I do enjoy leaving the Chanel bronzer on my vanity as a decoration—but when it comes down to it, think I have to give Milk the edge.

TL;DR

I tried two different bronzers, one luxury and one middle-of-the-road (let’s be honest $28 is still a lot of money for a bronzer) and put them to the test to see which one was better. At the end of the day, I have to give the slight edge to the less expensive product for being equally as good (if not better) and almost half the price. Have you tried either product? Let me know what you think and if you agree with my decision.