Product reviews – Skin care – Body

So continuing on in girly vein, here’s a few reviews of my favourite products for skin care – body.  I have a very basic routine and set of products from which I rarely deviate.  I have very sensitive skin [of course I do] that’s inclined to get horridly itchy and dry, due mostly to the large doses of morphine and other delightful prescription medications I have to take.  So even though I occasionally long for all those pretty- pretty bottles full of beautifully scented bath and shower delights [L’Occitane and Origins, I’m looking at you, you bastards, why do you have to use SLSs and parabens and all that gross stuff?] I don’t purchase them because I know too well how unfortunate the results will be, and how long my skin will take to recover.

Ego QV Soap-Free Body Wash  [AUD 25.00 = 1000 ml]

This is a practical chemist line, with basic pharmaceutical-looking no-fuss packaging.  It’s an excellent soap free body wash, so it’s ideal for itchy sensitive skins and one’s“girly bits”.  I get the biggest pump bottle to keep in my shower and it lasts ages.  It’s really quite pleasant, feels very creamy and gentle, lathers up adequately despite the lack of Sodium Laureth Sulfates et al and is quite hydrating.

The Ego QV line of body washes and moisturisers are all pleasant, very basic products.  The facial cleansers and moisturisers are also very good, particularly for those with sensitive or troubled skin.  The line is cheap because there’s no fancypants packaging or [probably] advertising budget, so the price point is great.  Talk about value for money as they are really effective yet gentle products.  All of which makes them ideal for adolescents with hormonal skin, those with skin problems like eczema or psoriasis, and people like me who just want something that does the job.

. . . . . . . . . .

Clarins NEW Delicious Self Tanning Cream  [AUD 40.00 = 125 ml]

I know, I know, I’ve ranted before about self-tanners and bronzers and the discrimination by beauty editors against we Very Pale People, but here I am about to eat my words.  Just this once, mind.

See, I had a wedding to go to and while my outfit was fine and I had very cute shoes, the fluorescent white of my legs, complete with an assortment of my usual impressive bruises and dings, was a tad disturbing.  No way was I wearing pantyhose, so I had to swallow my pride and invest in a self tanner to get some colour and coverage.  Being a self-tanning innocent with little time to experiment I had to get the very best, most idiot-proof self-tanner on the market.  Did you know there are approximately three trillion zillion and five self tanners out there all claiming to be The Ultimate?  What FUN.

My beloved Clarins has a reputation for excellent self-tanners though, and the NEW Delicious Self Tanning Cream sounded just right.  It’s recent release was greeted with squeals of delight from the Adore Beauty Forum and solid unbiased reviews from staff who had compared and contrasted a huge number of self-tanners.  This one seemed the one to go for – a nice body cream that is incidentally a fool-proof self-tanner.  [It was also sold out at two of the Clarins counters I visited, just five days after release, so the beauty jungle drums had been pounding good news.]

Made with creamy cocoa butter it’s formulated to moisturise and treat skin as it colours; the texture is light and buttery, a sort of creamy-gel that makes application a breeze.  It is also tinted a caramel colour so you can see where you’ve applied – and what bits have been missed – so streaks and blotches can be kept to a minimum.

One of the things I was most worried about was how long I’d have to stand around in the nip after application, and how much of the product would end up staining clothes and sheets.  I stayed in undies and singlet top [not white ones obviously] for about four hours after application, and took the precaution of putting down an old towel to lie on so I wouldn’t destroy my lovely 1000-thread count white sheets, but as it turned out I really needn’t have worried. 

The results were excellent, I was so pleased!  The colour took only a couple of hours to start developing, my legs didn’t feel all tacky as with other self-tanners, and very little tint came off on clothing or towel.  You could probably even put this on legs and arms in the morning and watch it develop over the day.  The colour is very subtle and natural, not chocolate orange at all, so it suits those with paler complexions.  It’s so subtle and creamy in fact, you can even use it on face and neck;  I put a little on my shoulders for a nice glow when the legs turned out a success.  It’s easy to build the colour with additional applications over a few days if you want to go darker.

Given how inexperienced I am at this self-tanning lark, not to mention naturally klutzy, and how good the results were, I can say without reservation that Clarins Delicious Self Tanning Cream is an excellent product.  Foolproof, has a lovely texture, with none of that horrible self-tanner smell, and results in a lovely natural looking, subtle fake tan [the best kind].  Yay!

. . . . . . . . . .

When it comes to body cleansers, scrubs and butters, I go straight to The Body Shop.  TBS’ products are yummy, not fussy, do the job and don’t cost a fortune.  While the feel-good factor of TBS has reduced a bit since it was taken over by L’Oreal the basic policies of Fair Trade / Community Aid continue, so sure what harm.

The Body Shop Bath and Shower Gels and Washes  [AUD 13.95 – 20.95 = 250 ml]

When it comes to bath and shower gels, TBS pretty much has something to suit every preference and every body.  There are many different scents, from flowery and girly to woodsy and more manly, and textures from gels to cream washes.  I really like the Cocoa Butter Creamy Body Wash [AUD 13.95 = 250 ml] which has a delicious but very subtle scent, lathers up to a rich and moisturising creamy foam, and best of all it’s soap free so none of that nasty SLS stuff, which is in some of TBS’ other creams and gels so do check ingredients.

My absolute favourite Shower Gel in Vanilla, was discontinued a year or two ago, much to my disgust as it had the loveliest hint of true vanilla scent that lingered pleasantly for hours post-shower.  The Vanilla line was hugely popular with other people too, as I found when I tried to stock up and managed to capture only two bottles as every TBS shop in town had been well raided long before I got there.  Why it was discontinued when it was so popular I have no idea – silly bastards.

Shower gels with a true vanilla scent are hard to find so I was pleased by the recent discovery of Nature’s Spa Crème Brulée Shower Milk [~AUD 8.00 = 300 ml] in the local supermarket.  It’s surprisingly good for a cheapie shower cream, very moisturising with a luxurious lather and that divine Crème Brulée smell of vanilla-cream-burnt sugar.  And speaking of spa treats, nothing beats the olde Radox Bath Salts in a bucket of ice cold water for tired aching feet and swollen ankles.

The Body Shop Shea Butter Body Scrub  [AUD 27.95 = 200 ml]

Like the shower gels and washes, TBS’ body scrubs and coordinating body butters are available in a huge range of “flavours”.  There’s papaya, mango, pink grapefruit, olive, coconut butter et al, plus Limited Editions eg Cranberry and Vanilla Spice [verdict = yuk] at Christmas.

The Shea Butter Scrub is definitely my favourite, hands-down.  It is a very thick scrub, has a subtle buttery smell – I find some of the other scents overpowering – and the results are great.  I usually apply with exfoliating mitts for extra sanding action, and massage handfuls of the scrub in circles from the feet up.  Always scrub and massage in an upwards direction to promote better circulation.

Once the scrub is rinsed off, skin is ultra-smooth and moisturised, with a residual film of the Shea butter locking in moisture so that water actually beads on the skin.  Some people find this off-putting and wash off the residue with a gel cleanser but I really like the extra hydration / barrier effect.

I’ve made my own simple sugar or sea salt body scrubs* in the past; it’s fun but the mess is considerable and the end product isn’t as emulsified as a “shop” scrub.  You also need a collection of essential oils and other things to put in with the sugar or salt and all that can get expensive.  However, TBS has put it’s prices up over the last couple of years, and AUD 28.00 for a wee 200 ml tub is très cher, n’est il-pas?  [pardon my French . . . ]  So I think I’ll get out my granite mortar and pestle and that bag of Australian sea salt I don’t like [I only use Maldon sea salt for cooking] and see what I can create . . . mwahahahahaaa!

* An extremely basic recipe:  about 4 tbs sea salt and / or white sugar, 2 tbs olive oil, combine to make a nice chunky mud, not too runny, add a few drops of sandalwood or lavender essential oil for fragrance.  I’m going to try a dollop of Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Lotion instead of the olive oil, to make the scrub more moisturising, the texture closer to that of TBS products and also so I smell less like a salad.

The Body Shop Shea Butter Body Butter  [AUD 27.95 = 200 ml]

All the body butters are gorgeous, some are heavier and more intensely hydrating than others [Shea Butter being one of them].  I’ve tried a few but I like the Shea Butter best.  The Vitamin E Body Butter is a lovely product, great for dry, sensitive or sore skin as it is very healing and therapeutic, but I can’t bear the smell – it’s so very, very PINK.  I hate pink, and the Vitamin E line is unfortunately packaged, coloured and fragranced in pink.  Ugh.

The Shea Butter Body Butter is very thick and rich, but soaks quite delightfully into dry skin leaving it soft and smooth and yummy enough to eat.  It’s most effective on even the most cracked heels and lizard-y legs, so remains a firm favourite.  I also like TBS’ Cocoa Butter Hand and Body Lotion which is a lot lighter but equally effective.  Do you happen to see a theme of Shea and Cocoa Butter here?  I think it’s the warm nutty buttery smell that does it; I’m not a fan of fruity or floral scents.

. . . . . . . . . .

Would you believe I’ve never had a manicure in a beauty salon?  Not even for my wedding?  I’m definitely a DIY girl in that respect.  Usually whatever gets on my hands when I’m rubbing in body butter or lotion does double duty as hand cream, and I use Carmex Lip Balm [AUD 6.95] on the cuticles when they are particularly dry.  Don’t laugh, it’s not only the best lip balm in the world, it’s great for post-flu sore chapped noses, cracked heels and lizard-y elbows.

My hands and nails are in a horrendous condition at the moment, probably a violation of the Geneva Convention actually – quick call in the UN – what with grooming horses, riding, gardening and cracking open pistachio nuts.  Those things are lethal to nails, mine are split and peeling all the way back.  Yeeeuuuuurk.

Time for drastic measures.  I’d previously tried Neutrogena’s Norwegian Formula Hand Cream and L’Occitane’s Shea Butter Hand Cream; both are supposed to be Capital M Miraculous but I was underwhelmed.  After reading through several beauty blogs and forums for recommendations I decided to just go to The Body Shop, and there I discovered a couple of brilliant products.

The Body Shop Almond Oil Hand Rescue Treatment  [AUD 17.95 = 100 ml]

This is an intense moisturising treatment for the hands and it really does work!  It’s a smooth rich cream, very much like the TBS Shea Body Butter in consistency, with a soft almond fragrance.  It absorbs well into the skin, not leaving greasy residue, and you just apply a dab or two throughout the day.  I keep the tub on my bedside table and slather it on my hands before going to sleep;  you could also put on a pair of cotton surgical gloves afterward for the full spa treatment experience, and boost the moisturising effects.

I noticed an improvement within only a couple of days; my hands are now soft and smooth, and all the scratches and nicks have healed – almond oil is good that way.  It’s definitely the nicest hand cream I’ve used, and I’m only halfway through the tub after a few months of constant use, so it’s good value.  However the cuticles and nails needed extra help so it was time for –

The Body Shop Almond Oil Nail & Cuticle Pen  [AUD 15.95 = 1.8 ml]

I think I heard an audible *oof* there;  sixteen bucks for not even 2 ml of product?  Yes it does sound unreasonably steep, but the almond oil comes in an extremely cute little clicky pen with a brush applicator, and a rubber cuticle pusher [well *I* don’t know what it’s called, do you?] built into the cap.  It’s a very clever design; as you turn the end of the pen the product clicks into the brush which you then paint on and around your nails and cuticles and massage in.

Once again, this stuff really works!  Hurrah for TBS and almond oil.  My nails are in much better condition, and the cuticles have softened and healed right up.  I used it a couple of times a day at first, but now only every few days after the nail strengthener has dried.  Oh yes, nail strengthener; that’s the next step.

OPI Nail Envy – Sensitive & Peeling Nails  [AUD 34.95 = 15 ml]

Despite being a chronic nail-biter all my life [I only really stopped in the last few years but still take a nibble – does that make me a social nail-biter?] I have very strong fast-growing nails . . . until they get beyond a certain length and then they split and peel and are total arseholes to deal with.  I have tried every nail strengthener / hardener / treatment known to mankind.  Sally Hansen everything, Dr LeWinn’s Revitanail which is supposed to be “like magic”, you name it I’ve tried it and they have all, without exception, made matters worse. 

OPI’s nail varnishes are my favourite so since I was desperate I decided to try their nail care line.  The Nail Envy – Sensitive & Peeling Nails formula was obviously the best one for me; there are a few others in OPI’s nail care range as well as base coats, top coats, ridge fillers and so on.  And lo, I was most please-ed. 

Nail Envy is a clear varnish, the instructions state to paint on two coats on the first day and then one coat over the top every second day thereafter; after a week you remove it all and start again.  Personally I thought this a bit extreme so paint on two coats once a week, it’s perfectly adequate and does the job.

Nail Envy does not chip or peel off, and after just a week I noticed a difference in the strength of my nails, and how much stronger they were growing in.   After a couple months regular use my nails are much stronger and less likely to peel back and split.  I keep them ultra-short now as a preventative measure, but they grow so fast I have to file or cut them back every few days.  So I’m sure if I led a more nail-friendly life I’d have a fabulous set of talons, thanks to OPI and the TBS Almond Oil treatment products.  Hurrah!

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  • Marilyn Reid  On Thursday 20 November 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Good day! Just have a very nice read. Self-taning cream is just as good as that. You really laid it well. I enjoyed it. Thanks.

  • Hema Robert  On Friday 28 November 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Great stuff about skin care, As I am nail technician I would like to talk about Gel Nails. To my extend Gel Nails is the new trend in manicure and lots off teens are using gel nails instead of acrylic nails. There are different kindsof gel nails as UV Gel nail, UV Neon Gel nail, UV One Phase Nail Gel, UV Pearly Nail Gel and many.

  • Matt Palinski  On Tuesday 24 February 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Hey there are you interested in a link trade? I have a blog about Sun Tan lotion etc and I am looking for some people to have some legitimate related link trading to help with some google ranking. Let me know!


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