Thursday, 30 June 2011

Andrea Garland: Lovely Lip Balm Review


This packaging has got to be the chic-est I've ever had for a lipbalm. It's not your usual plastic twist-up stick and it's not in a mini jar. This one's in a vintage Princess Pat rouge compact. Quaint, ain't it?

Warning: Verbose article ahead. The compact somehow gets a lot more attention here than the lipbalm does.

The Andrea Garland brand certainly has a very unique selling proposition. In this age of Reduce, Re-use and Recycle, Ms Garland, an aromatherapist (according to its website), puts old, used tins, compacts and pill boxes to very good use. What we used to call bah, rubbish! is now lovingly christened antique or vintage. All it takes is just a change in mindset, no?

Other than the vintage range (balms for the lips and for the body housed in vintage containers), Ms Garland also makes skincare products housed in conventional packaging - amber glass bottles and jars. She does proudly state on the website that her products are all handmade in Hackney, London and that......

.....all ingredients are natural, sourced from ethical suppliers and as many as possible are organic to ensure a more considerate, holistic and gentle approach to skincare. Absolutely none of the ingredients, or indeed, the products have been tested on animals.

Ms. Garland deserves a pat on the back, don't you think?


I bought my Lovely Lip Balm last year when I visited the then newly-opened eco-beauty store, C. Cosmetics & Care, in Amsterdam (image above). You can read my write-up on the store here. I waited a few months before I started using this lipbalm (as I had other lipbalms in the queue - I have an insuppressible obsession for natural lipbalms) and then, I procrastinated writing about it (because there were other lipbalms in the queue!).


Very Charming
Lipbalm
My version has a slightly different list of ingredients from what is now on the website, so Andrea Garland has obviously made some changes to the formula. Rather than give you my list of ingredients, I will give the current version instead:

Sweet Almond oil, Beeswax*, Shea butter*, Red raspberry seed oil*, Vitamin E oil, Benzoin, Grapefruit, Lime*, Lavender* and Carotene
* Organic

My version is cocoa butter-based and the new version, shea butter, and there was no red raspberry seed oil previously. In any case, I'm pretty sure the current version is just as good, or even better, than before.

Mine had a subtle citrusy scent. Well, I did finish the lipbalm and I have to say that it is top-grade stuff. One good application keeps the lips nicely moisturised for several hours.

Vintage Compacts
We are after all talking about old stuff here. Andrea Garland assures us that all tins are washed, sterilised and lined (where appropriate) before they are filled.

Andrea Garland uses a big assortment of vintage containers: anything from Avon eyeshadow compacts from the 70s to ornate pill boxes and animal brooches. You have the sweet and elegant and then, you have the cute and kitsch. However, because these containers are vintage, some are one-offs and what you see on the website one day may not be available anymore some time later.


My lipbalm came in a goldtone Princess Pat rouge compact. It's small, only about 1.5 inches in diameter, and quite shallow. From what I can see, this compact with this design is not available on the site at the moment. Back then, this was how Andrea Garland described it:

Beautiful 1930's rouge Princess Pat goldtone compact with art deco design complete with a red, floral centre piece. Has a mirror inside and is full of lovely lip balm, a unique and novel way to store this vital beauty necessity.

I was quite disappointed that my Princess Pat compact did not have a mirror inside as stated on the website, so I wrote Andrea Garland Customer Service an email just to ask why that was. I was plainly curious. Ms Garland herself was quick in replying (thumbs up!) and in her email, she explained:

All the products are vintage and do vary individually, some do come with mirrors and some don't. The particular one on my website does have a mirror, the one that was sent to Amsterdam didn't. Mirrors unfortunately are not a standard feature as some mirrors are cracked when I get them and I have then have to remove them. Other mirrors don't make it through the cleaning process.

On wholesale orders to shops, I deliberately don't specify if they have mirrors or not as each item, because of the vintage nature, does vary slightly.


That was fair enough. The fact that my compact missed a mirror was unfortunate (there's some value shaved off) but I dwelled no further on that matter. My compact did come with the original rouge puff though!



The Reality
Okay, the Andrea Garland brand oozes charm. Heck, even the website looks homey and inviting. However, I should point out some not-so-charming aspects:

Price
This ain't cheap. You are essentially paying a premium because of the vintage container, so really, only a small portion of the price you're paying is for the lipbalm itself. My Lovely Lip Balm cost around [gulp] €27. It contained 5ml of lipbalm. I believe it was £22 on the website at that time.

Er, yes, what in the world was I thinking?!?! €27 for a lipbalm?! I plead temporary insanity.


So, then, I rationalised. You see, once the lipbalm is finished, you can actually send your empty vintage container back to Andrea Garland for a refill (waste not). The price of refills varies from product to product and from container to container. In my case, the ticket on the packaging says that a refill costs £5 (plus a couple of £'s for postage). So, the more times you use up the lipbalm and send in for refills, the lower would be the average cost of 'each' Andrea Garland Lovely Lip Balm. Correct?

Practicality
My compact closes with a light snap. However, it isn't the easiest to open, not because it shuts tightly but because the two parts to be pried open are so shallow that they are a bit hard to grip. This isn't a big issue but it is irritating at times. Of course, what I experienced with my compact may not necessarily apply to other compacts in the Andrea Garland collection.

Goop
The lipbalm is fairly solid, so it needs quite a bit of rubbing with the finger to melt it. I tend to go round and round in the pan to get the lipbalm on my finger but as a result, some melted lipbalm gets pushed outwards and ends up on the side of the compact. It needs to be wiped off quickly. I once left it as it was and due to contact with the metal of the compact, the odd bits of lipbalm turned into a greenish goop. Umm, it was not a pretty sight.


Because of the way the lipbalm is rubbed (round and round), it dents in the middle first, eventually forming a 'doughnut' shape. The greenish goop business does get worse over time. Having a gap between the metal pan and the compact doesn't help matters either.


Final Words Finally
I love the concept, I love that the brand is so eco- and vintage-chic and I love the lipbalm but perhaps the big question is: Will I send the compact back for a refill? (image right: cleaned empty compact)

The answer would be No. Frankly, I have mixed feelings about my purchase and in some ways I do regret buying it. On one hand, I now own a cool piece of vintage compact from the 1930s (I do collect antique and vintage stuff) but on the other hand, I didn't like how the compact held the lipbalm. I would rather keep the compact either for display or for storage of say, small items of jewellery.
By the way, vintage Princess Pat rouge compacts can be purchased online - just Google it up.


Further information:
The prices of the Andrea Garland Lovely Lip Balms range from £16 to £26. The Andrea Garland Rosy Facial Beauty Balms and Sore Muscle Balms are priced £30 and above (these are in much larger vintage containers).

If you are interested, you can buy them from:

Online
Andrea Garland website
Cult Beauty website (only a small selection left)

Store (Netherlands)
C. Cosmetics and Care (in Amsterdam)

13 comments:

rock-or-not said...

I"m like you, I don't like lipbalms you have to apply with the hand ^^'
I prefer in sticks!

London's-beauty said...

That's pretty amazing! I wouldn't mind trying it if I have the money :P btw I'm back! ^^ xx

thenailaholic said...

That's gorgeous, but the way it oxidizes (makes green goop) on the container makes me pretty iffy. Containers that allow for reactions like that to take place shouldn't be used.

Stormayhlegj said...

What a beautiful container! It's so shame that the price in the beginning is so high, I can't afford it :/ But it's nice that the refill is so cheap, it's like buying a brand new chopstick but you can have it in a beautiful container :)

Witoxicity said...

@rock-or-not
Yeah, twist-up lipbalms are the most convenient to use - no finger-dipping in the jar. :)

@London's-beauty
The whole philosophy behind the brand is great, I agree. Hey, I'm glad that you're back! I hope all is well with you. :)

@thenailaholic
I hear you. I guess this is what you'd get with some old containers. The idea of reusing and recycling is great but we do have to consider other health and stability issues in relation to the contents and the eg: old coat of paint on the container.

@Stormayhlegj
Haha, that's such a cute analogy! :D

Anonymous said...

I love the vintage container, pity you got one without the mirror though.

Love the idea too, however it's way too expensive for a lipbalm even for a good one (how good can it be right?). No I am sure, I wouldn't think of buying it. Luckily it was only temporary insanity. ;-)

Enjoy your weekend, Nicole x

Michelle said...

I loooove the packaging!!

wifluvelle said...

thats a beautiful case!

xoxo elle

Katherine said...

Thank you for introducing me to this brand! I am really interested now. The compact is so beautiful. I might look up vintage compacts to but now!

Witoxicity said...

@Nicole
Well, there's nothing I can do about the missing mirror. Sigh! Anyway, this brand does tick all the right boxes in addressing the contemporary concerns but yeah, vintage is luxury these days and I for one have regained my sanity.

I hope your weekend went well. Have a great week ahead, Nicole! :)

@Michelle
I'm glad you like it. :)

@wifluvelle
That's great, Elle. :)

@Katherine
You're most welcome, Katherine! I hope you'll have fun searching for some beautiful vintage compacts. :)

kavitha said...

loving the compact case!! :)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful packaging, a bit expensive though.

If you include postage it is also quite a lot of money for a refill. I would rather buy a good twist-up lipbalm. Hopefully the container will not get lost in transit when sending it back either. :(

"KTee"xx

Witoxicity said...

@kavitha
I'm pleased you like it, Kavitha! :)

@KTee
You've made a very good point about the extra cost due to postage (it does add up!) and the possibility of losing it in transit. Yes, that can happen and hmmmm, if a customer loses it, we can be sure that she'd be crying over the compact and not the balm. :P