Lipstick: Lashed By The Mascara

I remember mentioning in my inaugural post that I went from owning zero mascaras about a year ago to having six mascaras this year. That was back in June and I didn't take into account my clear mascara. Well, I’ve gleefully added one more to my precious collection this week.

GOSH Cosmetics is currently having a promotion here in the Netherlands that’s gotten the Dutch beauty blogging community buzzing with excitement. You see, for these two weeks, GOSH has teamed up with a major Dutch drugstore chain called Kruidvat (pronounced krowd-vaat) to offer one free GOSH mascara of your choice (full-size, I might add) in exchange for your old mascara! Isn’t that a fantastic deal? Tuesday was the first day of the promotion and I didn’t waste any time because I knew such promotions always receive overwhelming response.

So, there I was in the store with my half-used and long-abandoned Collection2000 clear mascara that I bought in the UK way back in 2005 (eeek!!). Clear mascaras.....who needs them? Thank goodness I hadn’t thrown it away! It was quite a task deciding which mascara to get because GOSH has numerous types! The evening before, I had tried looking up on the internet for reviews on GOSH mascaras but there were so few of them! Anyway, I ended up choosing the one pictured in the promo brochure, with its sassy red and black tube. In Kruidvat's press release, it was mentioned that this mascara exchange promotion was to promote GOSH's new mascara, which is the Intense Lashes - Lengthening Mascara, the one I chose. At the counter, I passed my Collection2000 mascara to the young sales assistant. She had obviously never seen a clear mascara product before and I couldn’t blame her! She looked at the tube and said, “But this is a lipgloss.” I promptly replied and pointed at the wordings on the tube, “No, it’s not. It’s a ‘No Colour Mascara’. See?” “Oh!” she said.

And that was how I came to own my seventh mascara.

Since the whole range of GOSH cosmetics was on sale, I decided to buy me some other makeup items as well. My first GOSH purchase, I confess. I’m so excited!

I thought I should also mention that in April this year, the same drugstore had another mascara-related promotion. This time, it was with Rimmel mascaras. All you had to do was buy two of the listed promo products to get a free full-size Rimmel mascara of your choice! It was quite funny because the listed promo products were totally unrelated to makeup, for example, dishing-washing tablets, stain removing washing liquid and fabric softeners. That was all right. I got my first Rimmel Sexy Curves mascara and that was all that mattered.

It is indeed interesting to note that for this year alone, there have been two promotions offering free mascaras. Why mascaras? Why not lipsticks or eyeliners? I was suddenly reminded of a news article that I had read many months ago about the correlation between mascaras and economic health.

In December 2008, there was an item in the Wall Street Journal about sales of mascaras bucking the trend in the economic downturn. Perhaps you had read it too in your local papers. According to the article, in a research conducted in the US by NPD Group, mascara sales rose 4% in the month of October that year despite a general decline in sales of makeup. The study found that mascara is the most used makeup item among American women with about half of them using it at least once a day. The contrast in the proportion of women who use mascara and those who use lipsticks was also noteworthy. 83% of the women questioned use mascara as opposed to 64% who use lipsticks.

So whatever happened to the Lipstick Index once proposed by Leonard Lauder of Estée Lauder in 2001?

Note: Gail of oogle makeup wrote an excellent intellectual piece not too long ago about makeup shopping behaviour. In it, she also made a mention of the Lipstick Index, critically questioning its existence. Have a read!

According to the Lipstick Index theory, there is an inverse correlation between sales of lipsticks and the economic climate. Women would stay clear of luxury items but were willing to spend money buying lipsticks in times of recession, like in the Great Depression, the 1990s and after 9/11 (the autumn of that year saw an increase of 11% in the sales of lipsticks in the US). Lipsticks were seen as an affordable luxury to stay attractive. Maximum impact with minimum spending. However, this theory has lost credibility over the years as other research studies have found inconsistencies in it and even no correlation between the two variables. Is mascara then the new lipstick?

There was an article in a Dutch daily, De Pers, in April this year that supports the popularity of mascara. The article stated that according to a research conducted in the Netherlands by Nielsen, sales of mascara rose 12% (and foundations a credible 10%) in the first three months of this year compared to the same period in 2008, back when 'credit crunch' wasn't a catch-phrase yet. Sales of lipsticks, on the other hand, fell 7%. It was, it seems, the only makeup item whose sales dipped.

In an article in another newspaper, De Telegraaf, earlier this month, a spokesperson for the Dutch Cosmetics Association (NCV) said that the popularity of lipsticks has been declining over the years. It is the mascara that creates the buzz these days with innovations in the brushes – materials used, the shape, oscillating – and in the mascara itself – collagen-infused, volume-boosting, curling, lifting, lengthening, you name it. These days, mascaras are the driving force in the makeup market in general. When a new mascara is launched, you gotta have it!

So, I suspect this was the motivation behind the earlier-mentioned free mascara promotions. Women. Cannot. Resist. Mascaras. Update: Checking the Dutch blogs and forums, it seems that many Kruidvat stores have already run out of GOSH mascaras! Those ladies who haven't got their hands on a GOSH mascara have resorted to writing in forums desperately asking if anyone knows which Kruidvat store still has stock! GOSH Cosmetics must be enjoying monitoring all this.

Anyway, I do wonder about the so-called decline in the popularity of lipsticks and its fate. Firstly, it isn't really that women are totally ditching lip beauty. There are after all many other lip products as alternatives - lip balms, lip stains, lip pencils and especially lip glosses. Glossy, juicy lips have been in in recent years, so surely the rise in the popularity of lip glosses has helped compensate for the fall in the demand for lipsticks (Lipgloss Index perhaps, Mr Lauder?). Secondly, the studies mentioned above were carried out this past year. This period does especially coincide with the nude lips trend where emphasis has been on the eyes and less on the lips. Well, aren’t we now seeing colour back on the lips on the runways?

I hope we will herald the return of lipsticks with pomp. It deserves better. While I find the mascara an absolutely fascinating tool, I still love the old-fashioned unabashed poise of the lipstick, whatever the colour. What about you?

Rituals: Hammam Body Care Review

This review covers Rituals’ five body care products under the Hammam line which falls under the category Refreshing Rituals. The sequence of the products here follows the five-step ritual outlined in my previous Hammam post.

1. Hammam Olive Secret

Description: Ultra moisturizing shower paste (with fresh eucalyptus & pure olive)

Volume and Price: 150ml for €8.50

Function: To start off the ritual, the skin needs to be primed for a good scrubbing. The olive oil helps to nourish the skin and the eucalyptus gives off a refreshing scent.

Info on packaging: Discover the 2 secrets of our ultra moisturizing shower paste:
Secret 1: moisturizing shower gel, for daily use: Pure olive nourishes and lends an exceptional softness to your skin. Eucalyptus refreshes and cleanses your skin.
Secret 2: traditional hammam scrub, use 2/3 times a week: Take a hot shower, prepare your body for peeling & cover it with Olive Secret. Rinse off, scrub with hammam scrub glove for ultimate smooth effect.

Contents: Thick, slightly yellow-green gel

Scent: The top note is the refreshing eucalyptus scent. This is quickly followed by a very raw and earthy lingering scent.

Performance: It is basically, as Rituals says, a shower gel. About a marble-sized amount is enough. It doesn’t work up a lot of lather and after rinsing, it leaves behind a very thin film of oil on the skin. The skin does feel soft, fresh and clean, and smelling rather earthy.

Further thoughts: I’m not a big fan of the lingering raw earthy scent. So, to be fair, it’s not the product. It’s just me. I love the top note with the eucalyptus scent though. That first whiff plays a big part in creating the illusion that I’ve entered a spa. The shower gel works great under a very hot shower. The steam from the hot shower helps to recreate the harara (hot room) effect in my own bathroom. The steam helps to open up my pores in preparation for the next step, the Hammam Hot Scrub, or just a scrub with the scrub glove. I would repurchase just so that I can follow this ritual to a tee. 8.0/10 rating.

2. Hammam Hot Scrub

Description: Sea salt body scrub (with warming ginger & fresh eucalyptus)

Weight and Price: 250g for €14.90

Function: Scrubbing is one of the essential elements of body cleansing in the Hammam ritual. The nourishing oils and pure sea salt ensures a thorough cleansing of the skin. The warming effects of eucalyptus and ginger give the skin a warm and refreshing feel.

Info on packaging: A unique combination of nourishing natural oils & pure exfoliating sea salt. Contains the natural ingredients ginger and eucalyptus to provide your skin with a dazzling hot after feel. Instantly relieves fatigue and lifts your mood.

Contents: A high density mix of coarse crystal grains in a thick green oily substance.

Scent: A dominant eucalyptus fragrance mixed in with a lemony scent. An undertone with a slightly spicy scent of ginger can be detected.

Performance: The sea salt grains are large and rough enough for a good exfoliation. The body gets simultaneously covered in a layer of nourishing oils. The more scrubbing, the warmer the skin becomes which in turn melts away the grains of sea salt. The scent of eucalyptus is dominant, keeping alive the illusion of being in a spa.

Further thoughts: The grains of sea salt allows for a good exfoliation, but if a vigorous scrub is what one’s after (because in traditional hammams, they scrub to literally shed skin!), then I think the scrub glove that came in the Your Mini Hammam giftbox works better. I’m very impressed with the natural oils that just sits on the skin. I can almost hear my skin sighing with joy from the nourishment! I would repurchase. 9.0/10 rating.

3. Hammam Delight

Description: Foaming shower gel sensation (with fresh eucalyptus & rosemary)

Volume and Price: 200ml for €7.25

Function: This shower gel is meant for washing away all the dirt (and worries), giving the body a very liberating feeling. Experience the real Hammam sensation through the rosemary and the refreshing eucalyptus. This could be the gentlest shower you’ve ever had, says Rituals.

Info on packaging: Foaming shower gel sensation

Contents: Clear colourless gel

Scent: Strong scent of eucalyptus with a sweetish undertone.

Performance: According to Rituals, the gel turns into foam upon contact with water. From my experience, the gel instantly becomes foam because as soon as the gel leaves the pressurised container, it interacts with moisture in the air. It was therefore impossible for me to take a photo of the contents in gel form. A little goes a long way, again only a marble-sized amount of gel was enough to work up a rich foam. The scent of eucalyptus with a slightly sweet background is very present. It’s refreshing.

Further thoughts: When rinsing off, I didn’t rub my skin too much as I didn’t want to lose whatever oils that remained on my skin from the Hammam Hot Scrub. I can’t say that this step was such a unique experience but the fragrance is its plus point. It would have been just a regular shower gel if not for its very refreshing scent. I wouldn’t mind repurchasing for this ritual. 7.5/10 rating.

4. Hammam Body Mud

Description: Nourishing shower mud (with purifying China clay & fresh eucalyptus)

Volume and Price: 200ml for €14.90

Function: This is for the relaxation stage of the ritual. Wrap the body with Hammam luxury. Relax and let the skin absorb the ultra nourishing mask.

Info on packaging: Renew your body and use this unique shower mud to nourish and lightly scrub your skin. Pure China clay removes dead skin cells and skin impurities. Soothing oils have a relaxing and softening effect on your skin. The ritual: massage a thin layer on wet skin, leave on for 2 minutes, rinse off in shower or soak off slowly while taking a bath.

Contents: Grey paste with very fine granules

Scent: Again the unmissable scent of eucalyptus with a touch of mint and an earthy scent. I’m still in the spa!

Performance: The paste spreads easily. I was conscious of the granules but they weren’t harsh on the skin at all. I wasn’t sure how “thin” the layer should be, so I felt on the amount of granules on my skin to have an indication of how much paste was needed. I believe about three marble-sized amounts were enough. The earthy scent didn’t have a raw edge to it like in the Hammam Olive Secret, so it was fine.

Further thoughts: For someone who’s never been into body muds before, I find this product very interesting and soothing. I hope the novelty will never wear off. True to its purpose, it is indeed very relaxing. Skin feels very soft and despite the dominant eucalyptus scent in all the four products, the body is left smelling rather earthy with only a slight hint of eucalyptus. 9.0/10 rating.

5. Touch of Hammam

Description: Whipped body cream, ultra rich (with fresh fig & rice milk)

Volume and Price: 200ml for €14.50

Function: Touch and gentle care concludes this Hammam ritual. The rich body cream based on rice milk nourishes the skin and the exclusive scent of fresh figs is a lasting reminder of the Hammam experience.

Info on packaging: Rich creamy texture nourishes and firms your skin. Our unique whipped cream technology guarantees a smooth application. The natural ingredient rice milk provides you with an exceptional soft skin and fresh fig delicately perfumes your body. Unique formula contains anti-oxidants, vitamin E and the firming agent Centella Asiatica.

Contents: Very thick white cream

Scent: A heavy, full-bodied and sweet Oriental scent. I think some people may find it overwhelming initially, but it mellows to become a rather musky woody scent.

Performance: The body cream is indeed thick but spreadable. Its moisturising properties are above average. On the ingredients list, I read also sunflower seed oil, sweet almond oil and peanut oil.

Further thoughts: After the ever-present eucalyptus scent of the four prior steps in this ritual, it can be a minor shock to the olfactories with this sudden sweet scent of figs. However, I always find myself looking forward to Step 5 when I’m done with the body mud. It’s the scent, oh the scent! I love it! Yes, I would repurchase. 9.0/10 rating.

Final thoughts overall: There’s something therapeutic about the scent of eucalyptus, isn’t it? The scent not only clears the respiratory airways but it also clears the mind, I feel.

I find this ritual quite an indulgence, something that I’m not accustomed to. Before discovering the Hammam ritual, showering was just showering without the frills. Indulgence. That is essentially the philosophy of Rituals. It’s all about self-pampering and making time for yourself. Speaking of time, it took me about 20 minutes to get from Step 1 to Step 4. It would take longer if you wish to soak off the body mud in a leisurely bath.

The Hammam line is a hit with the Dutch, if the feedback that I've read is anything to go by. I've checked out Dutch forums and about 90 - 95% of the users give 5-star ratings. It’s quite an experience, this Hammam ritual. I highly recommend that you try it out too!

Rituals: Overview of the Hammam Line

The word hammam means ‘spreader of warmth’ in Arabic. Hammams are traditional bathhouses found commonly in Turkey, Morocco and other countries in North Africa and in the Middle East. Though evolved in size and form over the centuries, they are essentially descendants of the Roman baths. Hammams were extremely popular in the Ottoman Empire during which they formed an integral part of everyday life. A hammam was not just a place where one could perform ritual ablution – to cleanse both body and mind – but it was also a place for social gatherings. Although hammams’ glory days have passed, the hammams of today do still attract loyal patronage.....and the odd tourist.

Traditional hammams are single-sex domains, so hammam complexes have either separate quarters for men and women or separate opening hours for each gender. The women who visit hammams usually make such outings a full-day affair. They bring along their children. They bring food and entertainment and take the opportunity to gossip and socialise with other women there.

A hammam experience may vary from one bathhouse to another. Generally, they involve seasoning the body with heat in a harara – ‘hot room’ – followed by a massage and a vigorous scrub (to the point of peeling off old skin to reveal the new layer!), then washing off the dirt and dead skin cells with soap and water, and finally relaxing with a cup of tea. The hammam experience for women may also begin with, for example, a henna clay mud treatment that is left on and then rinsed off. This is followed by a good scrub with a mitt in a steamroom and another rinsing. The next step is bathing with an olive oil soap and finally a massage. So, there seems to be no hard and fast rules for this but the basic elements of a hammam experience include bathing, steaming, scrubbing, massaging, possibly a mud treatment and then rinsing off. Not all are compulsory though as one can even opt for just a bath!

What I now know about hammams is gleaned from my own little research. I wish I was speaking from my own authentic Turkish Hammam experience (by that, I mean the real deal, not a hammam experience in some swanky hotel spa). Alas, the names Turkey and Morocco are still waiting to be crossed out on my ‘Countries to Visit Before I Die’ list. So, it's a good thing that Rituals was inspired to develop the Hammam line. Most of us may never have the chance to experience the real Hammam ritual, so why not bring the hammam experience into the home? It’s a compromise that I can live with. For now.

For this line, Rituals offers a total of seven Hammam products: two for hair care and five for body care. The two hair care products are a shampoo and a conditioner. The Hammam body care products are:

Hammam Olive Secret
Hammam Hot Scrub
Hammam Delight
Hammam Body Mud
Touch of Hammam

Each of these five products represents a step in the Hammam ritual as recommended by Rituals. The five steps to follow in order to enjoy the Hammam experience at home are:

Step 1: Cleanse the body with Hammam Olive Secret which contains eucalyptus and pure olive. The olive cream helps prepare the skin for a good scrubbing. Rinse off.

Step 2: Scrub the body with Hammam Hot Scrub. The nourishing oils and pure sea salt that it contains helps to exfoliate the skin, leaving the skin feeling super soft.

Step 3: Shower with Hammam Delight to wash away the dirt and symbolically, also all your worries. Experience the fresh sensation of eucalyptus and rosemary.

Step 4: Wrap the body with Hammam Body Mud. It is a nourishing mask containing pure Chinese clay and eucalyptus. Leave on for at least two minutes and then rinse off under the shower or soak off in a relaxing bath.

Step 5: Apply Touch of Hammam. This ultra-rich body cream made with rice milk provides nourishment for the skin while the scent of fresh figs leaves the body smelling lovely for many hours. This, says Rituals, is the finishing touch.

You might remember a post I did on Rituals a few weeks ago in which I mentioned purchasing a giftbox called Your Mini Hammam. I was quite confused at first as to how Your Mini Hammam fits into the aforementioned grand five-step Hammam ritual. After a closer study, I am now able to put this into proper context.

Your Mini Hammam is composed of three of the five Hammam products in mini sizes (70ml) plus a scrub glove. The three products are Hammam Olive Secret (the body cleanser of Step 1), Hammam Body Mud (the body mask of Step 4) and Touch of Hammam (the body cream of Step 5).

At first glance, it seems that Steps 2 and 3 are left out. However, the box does come with a scrub glove and so, the recommended steps are:

Step 1: Cleanse the body with Hammam Olive Secret and rinse off.

Step 2: Use the scrub glove to scrub the body (in a sense, replacing the Hammam Hot Scrub).

Step 3: Wrap the body with Hammam Body Mud. Leave on for at least two minutes, then rinse off under the shower or soak off in a relaxing bath.

Step 4: Apply Touch of Hammam.

Essentially, only Step 3 (showering with Hammam Delight) is excluded without adversely affecting the whole ritual. The body is after all cleansed in Step 1.

I did think it odd at first that they didn’t just replicate the full five-step Hammam ritual for this giftbox. Personally, I would have preferred that Rituals put together a Hammam giftbox containing ALL five of the Hammam body care products in mini sizes. It would have been so much easier to understand, but all right, Your Mini Hammam is meant to be a shortened version of the whole shebang, hence the word ‘mini’, eh? It would make a great gift, I'd have to say, and it’s great for those interested to have a taste of the Hammam ritual before going full-size.

My review of the five Hammam body care products will be following shortly (after which I'll take a short break from writing about Rituals, as I do have other things to write about!). Because this Hammam ritual seems complicated to the uninitiated (I’m obviously speaking from experience), I just thought it better to write this post first to explain the ‘intricacies’ of Rituals' Hammam ritual.

For readers in the UK who might be interested in the Hammam line, Rituals is coincindentally having a Hammam promotion this month. Check it out here. I believe its webshop is having a slightly different Hammam promotion though. Anyway, I took advantage of a similar promotion here in the Netherlands. I bought a few of the full-sized Hammam products last week and got a free bottle of Hammam shampoo too.

You must think I’ve gone Hammam-mad!

Rituals: Body Care Review

This is a review on two Rituals body care products: Mandarin Shake and Massage from Heaven.

If you are unfamiliar with this Dutch brand, you might want to first read my post introducing Rituals and its concept.

Please also check my extensive review of the Rituals Hammam range of products.

I popped into a Rituals store yesterday and found out to my chagrin that they’ve revamped these two products. It affects my review in a small way, as you will soon see.

Mandarin Shake

Description: Energising shower gel (with sweet mandarin and fresh mint)

Volume: 200ml

The ritual according to Rituals: Energising Ritual

Rituals’ inspiration: The body’s energy needs vary all the time, depending on the time of day, season or our circumstances such as after an illness. At times, energy has to be harnessed to re-awaken the body while at other times, it is the opposite in order to tune down and relax. Every culture has its own way to stay in tune with this rhythm and to energise the body. This product combines the harmonising powers of the energising mandarin scent and the fresh cooling effect of mint.

Info on packaging: Pamper yourself with this revitalising shower gel. Start each day feeling fresh, clean and charged up. Ingredients Mandarin and Mint makes your skin feel revitalised and fresh.

Contents: Thick, clear, very pale yellow gel

An absolutely refreshing and sweet tangy fragrance. I’m slightly reminded of the scent of the Fanta Orange drink! My olfactories fail to detect the mint though. The citrus fragrance lingers subtly on the skin for about an hour after showering.

Performance: It doesn’t lather up a great deal but it does its job. My skin sure feels fresh and clean afterwards, as promised on the packaging. It’s invigorating!

Product revamp:
This tube of shower gel has been changed into a shower gel in a sleek pressurised container. Rituals says it’s a new shower foam technology. The gel quickly turns into a rich foam when it comes in contact with water. This revamped product is now called Fujiyama, named after the tallest mountain in Japan and is inspired by the purifying bathing ritual taken part by the Japanese before climbing the revered mountain. Fujiyama is also with a volume of 200ml and is with mandarin and mint. A Rituals staff informed me yesterday that the fragrance is the same as before. Retail price: €7.25.

Final thoughts: I love the refreshing citrus scent. It’s especially great for summer, a perfect pick-me-up in the morning. I wouldn't mind repurchasing (the Fujiyama). 7.5/10 rating.

Massage From Heaven

Description: Hydrating & nourishing bodymilk for dry skin (with ginkgo biloba & frangipani)

Volume: 200ml

The ritual according to Rituals: Relaxing Ritual

Rituals’ inspiration: There is constant flow in our lives between opposites, yin and yang, day and night, work and relaxation. Cultures from the world over have developed various ways to facilitate this continuous flow, such as through massage, bathing, exercising and also aromatherapy. In China and Japan, self-massage, stretching and breathing exercises have been practised for many centuries. It is believed that doing these exercises promote blood and energy circulation, thus improving physical and mental strength. Rituals has developed this hydrating lotion that combines the stimulating fragrance of frangipani blossoms from Mexico and the revitalising properties of ginkgo biloba. It is a lotion that one massages into the skin.

Info on packaging: Instantly nourishes your dry skin. Your skin immediately becomes firmer and softer. The innovative non-greasy formula is quickly absorbed by the skin.

Contents: White, light and non-greasy lotion

Scent: A pleasant frangipani fragrance that is quite long-lasting on the body and at the end of a long day, a subtle warm musky scent remains. The clothes I’m wearing that day smell divine too.

Performance: A great lotion with double duty – hydration and massage, especially on the arms and legs. Massaging the lotion into my skin leaves it feeling silky smooth and light.

Product revamp:
Only the product packaging has been changed. It is still known as Massage From Heaven but the lotion is now housed in a pump bottle with a volume of 250ml. Retail price: €10.50.

Final thoughts: It works great for me as a body moisturiser and it’s a great excuse for me to massage my tired limbs. The heavenly frangipani scent is a big bonus as it’s such a lovely feminine scent! I would repurchase. 8.5/10 rating.

Two of these images used are from Rituals.