Adorned Nails: Catrice Khaki Perry

Funny name. No prize for guessing where Catrice got the inspiration from.

Catrice Khaki Perry is another polish from the Modern Muse Collection which was released not long ago. Catrice called it a Limited Edition collection and it appears so in most Kruidvat stores.

However, I was in one store the other day and in this store, the items (including Rusty But Sexy, eyeshadows and mascaras) that are supposed to belong to the 'Limited Edition' Modern Muse Collection were instead displayed in the permanent collection racks, labelled as NEW!. I just checked the Catrice website and my suspicions were confirmed. Sometime in the last few days, Catrice updated its website to include these new items/colours in their permanent collection. Hmmmmm......

Catrice, it's confusing and misleading. Please don't call items Limited Edition if they are not.

You can see the current range of Catrice nail polishes on their website. Note that Rusty But Sexy and this one, Khaki Perry, are cozied up very nicely amongst the permanent colours.

Anyway, back to business. Khaki Perry is not quite a khaki. Silvery with a tiny tinge of green, it has subtle grey/black specks in the formula. In a nutshell, it's a mildly metallic, sooty sage. At a glance, it looks like tarnished silver.

This one needed at least two coats. You're looking at three. The above two photo were taken in the shade.

The following were taken in sunshine.

To see Khaki Perry in an outfit: Khaki Plenty on Witoxichic.

Burt's Bees: Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream Review

This little tin of cuticle cream has received many rave reviews. I'd just like to give my two cents' worth on it as I've been using it fairly regularly for the past eight months. I'm now on to my second tin.

I received my first one, a travel-size tin (0.30oz / 8.5g) in a swap with my dear friend, Danielle, last year when Burt's Bees hadn't made its debut in the Netherlands yet (a limited selection of its products are now available).

According to Burt's Bees
Give your needy nails a helping hand. Nourish and moisturise nails and cuticles with this intensive, natural treatment. A touch of lemon oil makes your nails smell incredibly clean, and healthy, naturally.

Gently massage crème into cuticles after washing hands and as needed.

Sweet almond oil, Beeswax, Lemon peel oil, Cocoa seed butter, Candelilla wax, Beta-carotene, Rosemary leaf extract, Tocopherol, Sunflower seed oil, Soybean oil, Canola oil, vegetable oil.

My Thoughts
First of all, you can't miss the waxes in the ingredients list, so essentially, the Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream is a balm.

It smells strongly of lemon/lemon peel - sweet and citrusy. It's hard to dislike the scent, really.

The balm is on the 'drier' side (less oily) and the consistency is harder (more solid) than say, the softer Burt's Bees Hand Salve (reviewed here).

Instead of rubbing a finger on the surface to get to the balm, I tend to extract the balm with the back/top of my (clean) fingernail. In other words, I scrape the balm backwards with my fingernail. That way, I start off having the balm on one nail, dot each nail/cuticle of one hand with a bit of the balm and then, rub in with the nails/cuticles/minor knuckles of the other hand.

I concentrate only on the nails and cuticles and don't tend to use the balm on the palm-side of the fingers. For each use, I need only about half a pea-size amount.

Give it some 10 minutes. The oils will sink into the skin around the nails but you will still be left with tacky skin and nails. That's from the waxes.

It's great for use after removing polish from the nails as that's when the nails are driest. After using an acetone-free nail polish remover, I would give my hands a quick wash with soap and water, and then proceed to apply this Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream / balm. I would leave it on for several hours and let the oils re-nourish my dry nails and cuticles.

As you know, lemon oil is especially great to keep nails healthy. The balm also works well to soften hardened skin around the nails (speaking from experience). I would call it a rescue balm for troubled cuticles. If used regularly, it would keep nails and cuticles in good condition.

I'll have to agree with the general consensus. Highly recommended!

Note: For my nails and cuticles, I don't use this Cuticle Cream exclusively, as I rotate it with the Burt's Bees Hand Salve and any of the MuLondon organic moisturisers that I happen to have in my stash.

The regular-size tin (0.60oz / 17g) goes for around USD6.00. I've seen various prices here in the Netherlands. The Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream is also available in a Tin Trio, packed with a lipbalm and a hand cream. I've seen this trio going for between around €13 and €15. In the Netherlands, a limited selection of Burt's Bees products are available at, inter alia, Sephora, De Tuinen and one or two Etos stores.

Further reading:
My review of the Burt's Bees Hand Salve
Burt's Bees website

Look: Riot Of Colour

Okay, the title does sound rather hilarious. It's neither the face nor the eye look that is a riot of colour. It's just the outfit, a borrowed title.

Still, the eye look is admittedly slightly more colourful than my usual.

For this look, I used:

L-R: Teeez Silk Fantasy Smooth 11, NARS Demon Lover Duo, GOSH Velvet Touch Eye Liner Purple Stain

Too Faced Shadow Insurance
Teeez Silk Fantasy Eyeshadow Smooth 11 - bright frosty pink
NARS Duo Eyeshadow Demon Lover - blue & indigo
GOSH Velvet Touch Eye Liner Purple Stain
GOSH Velvet Touch Eye Liner Black Ink
Josie Maran GOGO Instant Natural Volume Argan Mascara

For the eyes:
Upper lids
Pink eyeshadow on inner half
Blue eyeshadow on outer half
Indigo eyeshadow above the blue
Purple Stain as eyeliner
Black Ink for tightline

Lower lids
Pink eyeshadow as lining on inner one-third
Indigo eyeshadow on outer two-thirds
Purple Stain lining on the indigo eyeshadow

Curled lashes and applied mascara

Adorned Nails: Catrice Rusty But Sexy

This is one of the polishes that Catrice released recently under the Modern Muse Collection. There are altogether five polishes in the collection but one isn't new, strangely. Catrice plucked it from the permanent collection and it's one that you've seen before - In The Bronx.

Rusty But Sexy is a gorgeous burnt orange. Catrice sees it as rusty, which isn't that inaccurate either.

Honestly, I haven't got anything bad to say about it. Really, I don't. It applied well and one coat can be all right (the photos that I've shown on Witoxichic are with one coat of Rusty But Sexy).

For these close-up photos though, I have two coats on. I've been wearing this polish for six days. There is tip wear for sure and some chipping but nothing major, given the time frame.

Josie Maran: Argan Color Stick Review

You might have noticed that blushers hardly ever get featured here on Witoxicity and I have a good reason for that. One word: Acne.

I err on the side of caution and would rather not flirt with blushers (and foundations and concealers). In fact, for a very long time, I went without blushers and hey, it wasn't the end of the world for me. Then, round about the time I embarked on my journey of beauty awakening, I took a gamble and bought my first blusher in umpteen years, a blush duo called Jane Iredale Twice Blushed Cheek Color Kit in Ginger & Whisper. You've seen it floating around on Witoxicity as I use that sometimes for my Face posts.

I don't mean to sound dramatic but well, this is historical for me. This Josie Maran Argan Color Stick is only the second blusher that I've owned in all my adult life. I was fortunate enough to have won it in a giveaway held by Jeanie of Makeup Merriment round about Christmas time last year.

Given my past, I was naturally very cautious at first, not of the product itself but wary of how my silly skin would react to it. I did patch tests near my jaw line before going ahead with applying it as a full-blown blusher on my cheeks. I'm happy to report that there have been no breakouts.

According to Josie Maran Cosmetics
The Argan-oil infused color stick is a sheer tint that gives lasting, natural- looking color to cheeks and lips. All shades are designed to flatter every skin tone. The paraben and fragrance free formula contains Josie's signature ingredient, organic Argan Oil-the world's richest source of vitamin E and essential fatty acids.

The normal size of .55oz/16g retails for USD22. The one I have is just under half the normal size and came in a four-piece Limited Edition gift set called Love Nest. The set basically contained Josie's favourite beauty must-haves from her own line.

In the Josie Maran Cosmetics videos, Josie tells us that the Argan Color Stick contains 50% argan oil, which is mighty impressive, if you ask me. That fact is strangely left out in the product blurb on the packaging and on the website.

The actual list of ingredients is full of asterisks and double asterisks which I found terribly distracting. I have taken the liberty to remove them to keep the list clean. Basically, all the ingredients on the main list (before the 'May Also Contain') are natural and the Argan Kernel Oil is organic.

Apricot Kernel Oil, Argan Kernel Oil, Beeswax, Cocoa Seed Butter, Carnauba Wax, Candelilla Wax, Shea Butter, Mango Seed Butter, Avocado Butter, Vitamin E Acetate, Wheat Germ Oil, Rosemary Leaf Oil, Lemon Tea Tree Oil, Menthol, Tocopherol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylyl Glycol (and) Phenoxyethanol (and) Hexylene Glycol

May Also Contain: Mica (CI 77019), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Carmine (CI 75470), Blue # 1 Lake (CI 42090), Red 6 (CI 15850), Red 7 (CI 15850), Red 22 Lake (CI 45380), Red 27 (CI 45410), Red 28 Lake (CI 45410), Red 30 (CI 73360), Red 33 Lake (CI 17200), Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140), Yellow 6 Lake (CI 15985), Calcium Aluminum Borosilicate, Calcium Sodium Borosilicate

The Argan Color Stick is available in two shades - Petal Pink and Rosey. The one I have is in Petal Pink which Josie Maran describes as a neutral pink. It looks dusty rose on the stick but when swatched, it's a sheer sweet peachy pink.

I have read that many are put off by the smell, with most calling it too herbally and medicinal. I have a pretty high tolerance for all kinds of smells and I love the scent of the Argan Color Stick. The first few times I smelt it, I thought it was familiar but I couldn't put my finger on what it reminded me of. It struck me one day that it smelt like......ginger. The Argan Color Stick contains no ginger, mind you, but in dissecting the scent, I can definitely detect the argan, rosemary, lemon tea tree and menthol. To my nose, an amalgam of the four produces a gingery scent.

Uses and Application
The Argan Color Stick is essentially a balm. It functions as both a cream blush and a tinted lipbalm (or sheer lip colour, whichever way you want to see it).

I don't care what the experts say, but I like rudimentary methods and for this, I use my clean finger to apply. Just get some colour on a clean finger, dab on cheek and blend out. Ditto for lips. I don't put the stick directly on my cheeks to avoid contaminating the Color Stick with say, the concealer that I have on my face.

• Cheeks
As with most cream blushes, this one gives the cheeks a natural healthy glow. It's difficult to go overboard with Petal Pink because it's such a sweet, subtle shade.

• Lips
I use it as often on my lips as I do on my cheeks. Considering the ingredients that this Argan Color Stick is made of, you can't really find fault with it when used as a tinted lipbalm. For the first 10-15 minutes, there is a faintly cool sensation on the lips which must be from the menthol. Of course, it keeps the lips nicely moisturised. I do find it less waxy compared to other good lipbalms that I've used.

The Petal Pink shade does little to add colour to my lips but hmmm, it manages to make me look a tad more hale and hearty. My lips but better, I suppose. Ah, finally, MLBB!

I apply the Argan Color Stick after my concealer but before my pressed powder foundation. The blusher lasts more than half a day (5-6 hours) on my cheeks (my cheeks are quite dry, I have an oily T-zone). By the end of the day, it's faded but you can still see that it's there.

On the lips, about 3-4 hours, if I don't eat or drink.

You've gotta love a dual-purpose product. It's easy to carry around, if you wish to. I like to keep it in pristine condition, so I prefer to keep it at home. From my research, different people seem to have different experiences with it - not bad, hate the smell, not longlasting. I'd suggest reading multiple reviews on this before deciding to buy. Personally, I love this Argan Color Stick.

About Josie Maran Cosmetics
For those who are not familiar with Josie Maran Cosmetics, it is a beauty and makeup line started by American model/actress Josie Maran in 2007 to fill a gap in the eco-friendly natural beauty market which, according to the creators, lacked luxury and sophistication at that time. The Josie Maran products of today do exude an air of luxury and class but over and above that, it is a brand that embraces the motto: Luxury with a Conscience. The brand loves its eco-chic icons. Below is a selection of those icons flaunted on the packaging. It'll give you an idea of its ethos and practices.

There are actually more of these icons on the Josie Maran website. They love their icons too much but all right, I get the point they're trying to make.

Josie loves argan oil and naturally, all its makeup products are argan oil-infused.

As far as I know, Josie Maran products are not available on this side of the pond. Pity.

My Face posts with the Josie Maran Argan Color Stick:
Batwing With Chatreuse
Teardrops On Georgette

More information:
A pretty face certainly helps to sell a product, so here's a video of Josie Maran introducing the Argan Color Stick
Josie Maran Cosmetics website

Giveaway: Catrice/Essence Papagena, Muse And Ballerina

The giveaway is closed. Thank you.

To view these polishes upclose:
Catrice Welcome To The Jungle
Catrice Rusty But Sexy
Catrice Khaki Perry
Essence Grand-Plié in Black

I was in a Kruidvat store two days ago and decided on a whim to get this extra set of polishes for one lucky reader.

This is what you stand to win:

Catrice Welcome To The Jungle (from the Papagena Collection)
Catrice Rusty But Sexy (from the Modern Muse Collection)
Catrice Khaki Perry (ditto)
Essence Grand-Plié in Black (from the Ballerina Backstage Collection)

If you're interested, here is the giveaway info in short:

1. Open worldwide.

2. Open to all who follow Witoxicity's writings.
Followers on Google Friend Connect or Bloglovin' receive one extra point.

- Google Friend Connect (one extra point)
- Bloglovin' (one extra point)
- RSS feeds
- Regular visitors

3. Fill in the form below (now removed).

4. Optional: Feature this giveaway on your blog (feel free to use the image above) - one extra point.

5. Optional: Follow me on Twitter – one extra point.
Note: I'm not a serial Twitterer. Please take that into consideration before deciding to follow.

6. Optional: Tweet about this giveaway - one extra point.
For your convenience, you might want to copy this:
Win four bottles of nail polishes from Catrice and Essence @Witoxicity

7. Optional: Follow me on my style site, Witoxichic, through either Google Friend Connect or Bloglovin' - one extra point.
Note: Tastes differ, so please follow only if you like what you see.

8. Submit your entry by latest 11.59pm (Central European Time) on Saturday, 10th September 2011.

Full giveaway details here (now removed).

As usual, I will be showing these polishes (my own) here and/or on Witoxichic in coming weeks (please see above for the links to the relevants posts).

Good luck, ladies!

Adorned Nails: Herôme W.I.C. Kingston

It's an apparently innocent, work-friendly champagne-coloured polish today. No biggie.

This came in a Herôme box set which also contained a free lipgloss in a matching shade (well, kind of matching). The nameless Herôme lipgloss is in a chocolate milk shade. I paid €6.95 for this box set, which is what you'd usually pay for the polish alone (7ml).

It was a good thing that the lipgloss was free because the chocolate milk shade looked terribly unflattering on me, hence, only a swatch here. It's basically a petroleum jelly-based lipgloss with fine bits of gold shimmer and it smells of, uh, lady perfume.

There were several box sets with different colours to choose from. A red polish with a red lipgloss would have been a better choice but I chose Kingston because, hey, it's a holo!

Herôme W.I.C. Kingston is an introvert holo polish (remember Catrice Dirty Berry?). I've had this polish for a couple of months but because sunny days here have been few and far between, I've had to keep postponing wearing Kingston. No strong sunshine = no holo effect = pointless.

Well, finally, here are the sunny photos. You're looking at two coats over GOSH Fix Base Coat.

More information:
Herôme W.I.C. website

Esse Organic Skincare: Rich Body Moisturiser Review

Way back in March, I had written a review on a Cream Mask from a South African skincare brand called Esse Organic Skincare. It's unfortunately not a very well-known brand outside of South Africa but I believe it's slowly but surely making inroads into the European market.

To be honest, I think this is a brand that deserves more mention. If all its claims are to be believed, Esse does sound like a great natural, organic skincare brand as it addresses all the right concerns of many health- and ethics-conscious consumers of today. Here are just a few keywords as a reminder: natural, organic, ECOCERT, cruelty-free, vegan, Fair Trade, PhytoTrade, paraben-free and preservative-free, amongst others.

A couple of months ago, Esse Netherlands kindly sent me a few products to try. If you've been following my writings long enough, you would know that natural and organic products are right up my alley, so I was curious to find out how I would get on with some other Esse products.

The first one to be featured is the Esse Rich Body Moisturiser.

Esse offers two types of body moisturisers - Light and Rich - and each is available in two sizes. The Rich Body Moisturiser retails for €20.80 (100ml) and €32.40 (200ml). This moisturiser comes in a recyclable amber glass bottle with a locking pump.

What Esse says about the Rich Body Moisturiser
An ideal treatment for dehydrated skin suffering the ravages of dry weather.

Yangu and Manketti oils are included for their UV barrier function. Rooibos extract enhances vitamin C production and eases bruising. Hydrating Marula Oil is rich in Omega 6.

Additional uses:
Massage into hands after every wash taking extra care to the skin around the nails.

Esse uses many African botanical ingredients in its products, so it's common to see names like Rooibos, Marula and Yangu in the ingredients list of its products.

Water, Jojoba Seed Oil*, Rooibos Extract*, Capric/Caprylic Triglyceride, Glycerin, Marula Seed Oil*, Yangu Seed Oil, Cetearyl Olivate, Manketti Seed Oil, Sorbitan Olivate, Hydrogenated Olive Oil, Xanthan Gum, Tragacanth (Astragalus Gummifer) Gum, Olive Fruit Oil, Olive Fruit Oil Unsaponifiables, Benzyl Alcohol, Geranium Leaf Oil*, Dehydroacetic Acid, Aloe Ferox Leaf Extract, Salicylic Acid, Kigelia Africana Fruit Extract, Tocopherol, Orange Wood Oil*, Grape Seed Extract, Citric Acid, Spearmint Leaf Oil*

* ingredients from organic farming

On the box, it says that
•99.5% of the total ingredients are from natural origin
•86.9% of the total ingredients proceed from organic agriculture

My Thoughts
Lovely scent. The moisturiser smells sweet, earthy and of rooibos. The usually strong scent of spearmint is surprisingly subtle here. You can still catch a whiff of the sweet earthy scent some hours after application.

It's a light caramel colour and of moderately thick consistency.

To put it to the ultimate test, I used this moisturiser mainly on my chest area and upper back as those are the driest and most problematic areas of my body. Of all the body moisturisers I've tried in the past few years, only two have worked on these problem areas: one contains urea, and the other frankincense and myrrh.

This Esse moisturiser may be called "rich" but I consider it a mild one. It could juuust about keep my problem areas from deteriorating to dry, rough skin. So, it worked OK. However, on other parts of my body with normal skin, it worked well.

Last Words
I find the sweet earthy scent very agreeable and as is usual of botanical skincare products, this is a mild body moisturiser. I think it's a bonus that two of the ingredients (Yangu and Manketti oils) act as UV barriers (although no SPF is indicated). I've almost finished my 100ml bottle after two month's regular use mostly on my problem areas. If you used it intensively on your whole body, I think you'd reach the bottom much sooner.

More information:
Review of the Esse Cream Mask
Esse websites
- South Africa
- Netherlands

I've been told that Esse Netherlands does offer shipping to countries outside of the Netherlands.

ELLIS FAAS: Eye Look With Light XII

Most of the eyeshadow shades that I have from ELLIS FAAS lean on the neutral side, so I try to give it a little twist sometimes with the eyelining.

The ELLIS FAAS products used:

Milky Eyes E205 (khaki brown)
Creamy Eyes E104 (matte dark brown)
Light E301 (metallic light beige)
Eyeliner E501 (black)

L-R: Milky Eyes E205, Creamy Eyes E104, Light E301, Eyeliner E501

For mascara, I used Josie Maran GOGO Instant Natural Volume Argan Mascara (which I got from Jeanie of Makeup Merriment).

A quick note for those who are not too familiar with ELLIS FAAS liquid eyeshadows:

• There is no need to apply an eyeshadow primer. The Creamy Eyes and the Milky Eyes eyeshadows are notoriously longlasting on their own.

• I personally prefer using the fingers to apply these liquid eyeshadows as it allows better control and it's easier to smudge out the edges with the finger. I use a brush only for eyelining and when precision is required.

What I did for this look:

1. Applied with finger a thin coat of the khaki brown of E205 on the entire moving lid.

2. Did the same with the dark brown of E104 on the lid fold, ie. over the lower half of the khaki brown.

3. With the remaining E104 on the applicator, used an eyeliner brush to line the outer two-thirds of the lower lash line.

Three coats of eyelining
4. Used an angled eyeliner brush to line the upper lash line with the black Eyeliner E501. Gave it a stubby wing.

5. Used another eyeliner brush to apply a thin coat of Light E301 on the black eyelining.

6. Went over that again with a thin coat of the black Eyeliner E501, so that the eyelining is a mix of black and metallic beige.

7. Lined the inner one third of the lower lash line with Light E301.

8. Curled lashes and applied 2 coats of mascara.

Further reading:
ELLIS FAAS reviews
- Creamy Eyes
- Milky Eyes
- Lights

Adorned Nails: Catrice Welcome To The Jungle

I wore this for a good six days with only a bit of chipping from the fourth day. That's not bad at all (I have two coats on here, no top coat). Another pat on the back, Catrice!

Welcome To The Jungle, a dark brass/khaki green fine shimmer polish. It's from Catrice's urban jungle-/Amazon-themed Limited Edition Papagena collection that has been in the stores here for a couple of months already (and still is). There were four polish shades released in this collection but Welcome To The Jungle was the only one I bought. I think this shade was in general the most popular of the four, judging from what's left on the display rack.

I've been wearing it on my toes too for the past two weeks and that's how much I love this broody jungly polish!

More information:
Catrice website

Spa Treatment: Spa Village At Pangkor Laut Resort

Some fourteen years ago, a good friend of mine told me that her business associate was going to launch a spa magazine and I remember thinking to myself, "A spa magazine? Is there so much about spas to write about?"

Well, the spa industry was on the verge of booming, so of course, the magazine made sense. Ignorant me was young and besides, spas weren't common back then. Sleazy massage parlours, yes. Swanky spa treatment centres, no. So, at that time, the greater question was simply: Where do you go to have a spa treatment?!

The spa industry has changed by leaps and bounds over the years. Spas and wellness centres have been sprouting like mushrooms in the last decade. All over the world, enterprising individuals have opened spa treatment centres in shoplots in city centres and in refurbished bungalow houses in residential areas. Any self-respecting five/four-star hotel wouldn't be complete these days without a spa centre of its own. Countless number of books have been written about spas and hey, spa management too. The book Understanding the Global Spa Industry: Spa Management (published in 2008) stated:

The spa industry is currently the fastest growing segment of the hospitality and leisure industry with revenues exceeding those from amusement parks, box office receipts, vacation ownership gross sales and ski resort ticket sales.

It's a 2008 publication, no doubt, but just take a look around you and you know that its growth is showing no signs of abating. Spa centres have become mainstream these days and while some do have the aura of high-end "can't-touch-this" luxury, many are both luxurious and accessible.

In all my life, I've only ever had two spa massage treatments and both were during holidays abroad. Here, I’m documenting my spa experience at the Spa Village of Pangkor Laut Resort from last year’s holiday. There are several reasons why I delayed writing about this, one of which has to do with what happened to my father after my holiday.

I featured Pangkor Laut Resort over at Witoxichic the other day. In a nutshell, it is a hotel resort located on a privately-owned island off the west coast of Malaysia, along the Straits of Malacca.

Spa Village reception area

To borrow a paragraph from the booklet of Spa Village:

The Spa Village comprises a number of specially built structures designed to facilitate an extensive range of treatments from China, Japan, India, Thailand, Bali and Malaysia. These include eight treatment pavilions, a deluxe Belian Treatment Pavilion, three 'Healing Huts', which include Chinese Herbal, Ayurvedic and Malay Huts, two Bath Houses, three Spa Huts, three Nap Gazebos and a Spa Boutique. 22 beautiful Spa Villas situated over the sea offer direct access to the Spa Village.

The Spa Village was officially opened by the late Luciano Pavarotti in 2002. I would show you a photo of the wall plaque for it but I doubt that would be necessary. The Spa Village at Pangkor Laut Resort has won many regional and international awards over the years, so one does set foot in this sanctuary with high expectations.

Note: This is a long and image-heavy post. I decided against splitting it into two posts to preserve the flow of the story/experience.

I signed up for a basic Malay massage therapy session. Guests are asked to check in at the Spa Reception Desk 45 minutes prior to the appointment so that they get to enjoy the Bath House experience before the actual treatment.

Here's a run-through of the whole experience, peppered with short explanations from the Spa Village booklet (in italics).

Bath House Experience

To me, the Bath House experience was just as enjoyable as the massage session itself. The premise of this experience is that, under the guidance of a staff member, guests get to enjoy the bathing rituals of the region - Chinese, Malay and Japanese.

Foot Pounding

It starts off at this gazebo with a foot bath and some foot pounding. This ritual has its roots in feudal China when the practice of footbinding among young girls was the norm.

Women with bound feet frequently received foot pounding to seek relief from pain. The foot was carefully unwrapped and soaked in a basin of warm soapy water, dried and the soles pounded.

My experience: My feet were washed with soap in a low basin, rinsed and towelled dry. Then, they were stretched, given a short massage and then, the pounding began. The poundings with the wooden foot hammer were no dainty hits, mind you. It hurt (and tickled). This session took no more than ten minutes.

Changing Room
Next, I was shown to the Female Bath House (male guests are strictly prohibited from entering).

In the changing room, I was asked to remove my clothing and was given a sarong pareo to tie around my body. With my locker locked and the key safety-pinned to my pareo, I was then taken to the next section: The Malay Bath.

Malay Bath

In the traditional kampong or village, the Malay family walked to the nearest river to bathe, wrapped in sarongs. Waterfalls were useful for rinsing hair.

Before going into the circulating bath, I was led to the Wishing Well - tossed in a coin and made a wish. To be honest, I don't get this part in relation to the Malay bathhouse but I went along with it. After that, I was left alone to take a dip in the pool. The water was about waist-high and cold! It was invigorating, to say the least, and listening to the sound of the waterfalls pouring from the earthen jars was rather therapeutic. I must have spent about ten minutes there.

View from the other end of the bath

Herbal Inhalation
With the Malay bath done, it was time for some herbal inhalation at the other end of the pool. After exiting the water, I was shown four wooden vents, one at each of the four corners of the landing. Steam was subtly billowing through the vents.

This step basically involved leaning over the vents and inhaling the herbal steam. Each had a different purpose:

• Passion (steam from fennel seeds and cloves)
• Uplifting (steam from patchouli and citrus peel)
• Detoxifying (steam from chrysanthemum blossoms and peppermint)
• Calming (steam from frangipani blossoms and pomelo peel)

After that bit of aromatherapy, it was the Japanese Bath next.

Japanese Bath

Behind the first set of sliding doors (not authentic shōji), there was a waiting area. Guests would sip tea while waiting for earlier guests to finish their bathing in the next room. However, as there were no guests before me, I was whisked straight away, past another set of sliding doors to the Japanese bath section.

The Japanese bath typically starts by scrubbing the body with a Goshi-goshi cloth. Wet the cloth with some bath gel, wash the body and use the dipper to pour water over yourself before stepping into the heated Rotenburu pool.

Goshi-goshi cloth

And that is precisely what one would do. This bath section could accommodate a maximum of six guests at a time (three on each side). You just take a seat on a low-stool, turn on the tap to fill the dipper with water and go about exfoliating your body with the bath gel and Goshi-goshi cloth (still wearing your pareo, of course). When done, you walk out to the Rotenburu (rotenburo?) pool outside, dropping your used Goshi-goshi cloth into the wooden bin on the way out.

Rotenburu Pool
The Rotenburu rock pool was lovely! The water was warm and perfect to soak your freshly-scrubbed body in. This was actually the best of all the steps in the Bath House ritual, if you ask me. Here, I was served a refreshing cup of honeyed ginger-lemongrass tea. I must have spent about 10 minutes in the heated pool before I was beckoned by a staff member to proceed to the final section – for more exfoliation.

Shanghai Scrub
Previously offered exclusively to males in Shanghai. The body is vigorously scrubbed with a body brush and rinsed with sizzling hot water.

The Shanghai Scrub takes place on this long granite bed/table. Basically, you lie face-down on the thin mattress and a spa staff member would first pour lukewarm (it’s really not sizzling as in their description) water over the legs, body and arms. Then, she scrubs mainly the back, arms and legs with soap and a scrub cloth, followed by more water to rinse off the soap.

That marks the end of the Bath House ritual. After towelling dry, I was given a brand new, dry sarong to change into (you get to keep this piece of sarong as a memento of your treatment at Spa Village). I was then escorted back to the Spa Village library-cum-waiting area and served a(nother) cup of honeyed ginger tea while I waited to be called for my massage session.

Spa Village library/waiting area, with the Nap Gazebos in the background

I booked an 80-minute Malay massage therapy session. It took place in one of the air-conditioned treatment pavilions with full bathroom facilities. The pavilion is accessed through a long courtyard.

Once inside, it was peace and tranquillity. I could hear the soft hum of the air-conditioning, and gamelan music was playing in the background. The pavilion, which had a high conical ceiling, had two massage beds (for couple massage sessions, where applicable). The photos just above and below show what a typical treatment pavilion looks like inside.

The Malay massage technique consists of long kneading strokes that focus on the muscles and pressure applied to various points on the body.

My masseuse was a petite lady from Bali but, my oh my, she had strength in her arms! She massaged using a fragrant oil and when I asked what it was, she informed me that it was an oil made with, inter alia, lemongrass, garlic, onion, turmeric and citronella, which she said was great for circulation.

I don’t think I need to say much about the massage session itself. I came out of it with looser muscles, feeling relaxed and reinvigorated, and my skin glowing and very moisturised. Oh, they do serve you one final cup of ginger tea to conclude the treatment.

Note: The above spa photos were taken on a different day when there were no guests in the Bath House. All photos belong to Witoxicity and were taken with permission from a staff member.

This is something I would recommend to anyone who has the chance to visit Pangkor Laut Resort! I enjoyed every minute of the whole experience, especially the Bath House ritual.

I paid the equivalent of about €110 for the 80-minute ala carte Supreme Massage Therapy. If you prefer a shorter massage session, there is also a 50-minute Deluxe version that costs about €25 less.

There are many different kinds of spa treatments and packages to choose from, including specialist healing programmes (choose from Ayurvedic, Chinese and Malay). Every spa session booked comes with a complimentary Bath House experience. This Bath House ritual is not to be missed! It's the perfect way to wind down and prepare the mind and body for the actual spa treatment that follows.

Spa Village is owned and managed by YTL, which also owns Pangkor Laut Resort. According to the website, Spa Village has a network of spas in other parts of Malaysia and one in Bali.

More information:
More photos featuring
- Pangkor Laut Resort and Spa Village
- Emerald Bay (the main beach of Pangkor Laut Resort)
Spa Village website