For Summer 2012, L’Occitane Brings You Fresh Verbena from Corsica… with a Citrus Twist!

My love for L’Occitane has not been a secret. For someone who is into natural scents and ingredients in skincare products, this is a brand you can’t miss out on. What with lavender, almond, and roses however, their Verbena line has consistently stayed off my radar.

Not anymore! Each summer L’Occitane adds some limited edition products to the Verbena line. This year they come with a citrus twist! Inspired by traditional sorbet recipes of Provence, the Sorbet Verbena products contain lemon and mint essential oils on top of verbena extract from Corsica.

(The verbena sorbet I tasted. I’m normally not a fan of sorbet, but it was perfectly summery!)

In this post I will review the original Verbena Shower Gel, the Cooling Hand Cream Gel, and the Sorbet Verbena Cooling Gloss. Only the Cooling Gloss is limited edition, but all of these are perfect for summer as they are very refreshing!

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What’s the Intoxicating Smell? L’Occitane Almond Travel Set Review & Mostly Sunny Featured on Temptalia + Makeupandbeautyblog!!!

Every time when I walk past a L’Occitane store, I feel the impulse to stroll in. Not that I always need or even want something of course. A lot of the times I come out empty-handed, but still, even when I know nothing new is going on, I love to enter and just sniff at everything I see. I might not have a very keen sense of smell (years of allergies made sure of that), but I can tell natural smells from artificial ones from miles away. Some stores make me sneeze, but L’Occitane is always so soothing.

Then of course, sometimes when I see a set of travel-sized products, I feel the need to seize the opportunity. I had not previously purchased anything from their almond line, but I have had many Almond Milk Concentrate samples from my other purchases, and I can’t get enough of the beautiful smell. On top of that, I love travel-sized products. They are the mini versions of the real things, and I can always fool myself that they’re cheaper (though unless you happen to find a set like this, most of the time travel-sized bottles aren’t cheaper than the full-sized ones).

The set contains the Almond Shower Oil, Almond Milk Concentrate, Delicious Almond Soap, and Almond Sooth Hands. Let’s take a quick look at them separately shall we?

The Almond Shower Oil has an interesting texture between an oil and a gel. I have to admit I was a little skeptical in the beginning, but it really is a very pleasant addition to the shower routine. It mousses up a little, not a lot but just enough, and it feels very luxurious and soothing on my skin. Once rinsed off, it leaves no greasy residue at all, just soft and satiny skin. Needless to say, it doesn’t dry my skin out either. The smell is gorgeously sweet and beautiful. It is something I am more than willing to purchase full-size (once I go through the 1357 bottles of shower gel I have in stock at the moment)!

The Almond Milk Concentrate smells equally gorgeous. The texture is very airy and light, leaves no greasy residue, but moisturizes the skin pretty well. I wouldn’t say it’s moisturizing enough for very dry skin, and I might need something more in winter, but particularly during the warmer months I’d really enjoy the feathery light texture! This is also something I would love to purchase in a full-size jar.

The Delicious Almond Soap is the only flop in the set for me. I never use soap on myself, and a soap that has crushed almond shell to exfoliate is probably a particularly bad idea. Just to prove my point however, I went ahead and took a shower with it. I ended up with pretty dry skin that screamed for lotion! The crushed almond shell is actually fine enough. It is not painfully rough or anything, but I think the exfoliating factor combined with soap is a little too much for my skin. People who have oilier skin might appreciate this, but if your skin is normal to dry or sensitive, I would advise you steer clear. The 50-gram bar I got from the set is already the full-size product.

Last but not least, there is Almond Sooth Hands. It is the only one out of the four that smells like almond tree flowers. It’s beautiful and delicate! It has a gel texture, and is very easily absorbed with no greasy residue. It hydrates well, but if your hands are pretty dry, you might have to reapply more often. I like to carry this tube in my bag for some quick hydration, but before I go to sleep I prefer something heavier. The tube only comes in one oz/30ml.

All in all I’m pretty happy I purchased this set. I love the smell and how 3 out of 4 products work, and I plan to purchase the full-size bottles of Almond Shower Oil and Almond Milk Concentrate later!

Do you like L’Occitane? What have you tried and liked? Have you tried anything from the almond line?

Sunny, your beauty culture translator xx

PS: Yesterday was a GREAT day for Mostly Sunny, because it was featured on Makeupandbeautyblog and Temptalia! Karen included my Dior Croisette post in her Weekly Roundup, and Christine from Temptalia featured my challenge entry in her spring flowers-inspired looks. I’m including another picture of the same look here:

I definitely did some happy dance around the house! Feel free to check the links out 🙂 And oh, the giveaways will go live tomorrow, so STAY TUNED!!!

Review: Give Your (Natural-Bristle) Brushes Some Lovin’ with L’Occitane Women’s Day Soap

Hey everyone!

I know that International Women’s Day is already behind us, but since I found this little gem that is still available, I’ve got to share it with you guys!

I have to admit this: I almost NEVER use soap bars. I use liquid hand soap and shower gel, and I can’t remember the last time I saw a bar of soap in my house. When I saw this however, I had the idea of cleaning my brushes with it, and it rose to the challenge!

I used to use either mild shampoo or the Aesop animal cleanser I got a couple of years ago to clean my brushes (I can’t seem to find any information about this animal cleanser anymore. I’m not sure if it has been discontinued), and then I use either a conditioner or a conditioner for animals to condition my brushes. This works pretty well, but it’s somewhat difficult to clean the foundation brush, and I’ve always had to remove gel liner from the liner brush with my eye makeup remover before soaping it up.

With L’Occitane Women’s Day Soap however, brush-cleaning has become a one-step job. I put the soap on a soap dish, wet my brushes, and then go over the soap a couple of times. I then swirl them around a bit in my palm and rinse them, and that’s it! The brushes are cleaned very efficiently, it doesn’t take as long to rinse the suds out, and the brushes are already conditioned with the 52% of shea butter in the soap (that means I can skip conditioning). Dried foundation? No problem. Concealer? No problem. Dried gel liner? No problem. I’ve honestly never thought anything could achieve this!

The soap smells like their hand cream, which is rich and nutty, but I can’t describe it better than that.

The only drawback of this soap is the fact that synthetic brushes don’t seem to get along with it too well. I don’t own a lot of synthetic brushes, but each time I try to clean them with this soap, they end up being very stiff when they are dry. I am not too sure if it’s because they can’t handle the 52% of shea butter too well, but

L’Occitane Women’s Day Soap is limited edition, but for the moment it is not yet sold out. When it is however, there are many different soaps available at L’Occitane, and I’m sure you will be able to find one that does the same kind of wonders (to natural brushes)!

What do you use to clean your brush? Do you also use a conditioner from time to time? Have you tried to use a soap?

Sunny, your beauty culture translator xx

Disclosure: The product mentioned in this review is sent by the PR for my consideration. All opinions are honest and my own. I am in no way compensated for this review. I have always been, and will always be committed ONLY to my readers.

PS: If you have been following this blog for a while, you can probably see that I have been making some progress in photography. I’m trying to lay my hands on a better camera, and I’m finally beginning to realize the concept of composition and so on. However, there are still photos in my backlog that I processed into blog posts yet, and sometimes it is impossible to retake these photos because I have already thrown the box away/used the product and so on. Please bear with me while I work these out of the system. I promise the photos will only be getting better!

Event: The Big You & Sunny wearing MAC Viva Glam Nicki

Hey everyone!

I had the great pleasure of being invited to a mega fun event at the headquarters of UPR Belgium in Antwerp. Before I can talk about anything else however, I would like to thank Phil from Mirror Reality for keeping me company all the way. You guys should check his blog out if you are interested in skincare at all. He writes skincare reviews in a way that puts me to shame!

Let’s see what the brands have to offer shall we?

DKNY is launching three new Sweet Delicious fragrances this season, and they will be available exclusively at ICI PARIS XL on April 16th if you live in Belgium. The green one is Tart Key Lime, the pink one Pink Macaron, and the yellow Creamy Meringue. Like the cupcakes by which they are inspired, they smell creamy and smooth. By the way, the cupcakes were eventually raided by the hungry bloggers and staff!

It’s embarrassing, but I flipped a little when I saw this rack. I had NO idea Lavand is represented by UPR in Belgium! You might remember my Lavand dress from my Valentine’s Day FOTD, and if you don’t, I can tell you at least 80% of the dresses you have seen on me come from this brand (including the one you are going to see in this post). I am obsessed. So obsessed in fact, that I dragged Phil into the biggest store I know that stores Lavand in Belgium (Basta Great Spanish Fashion. Twaalf Maandenstraat 11, 2000 Antwerpen) before making it to the event. We were running out of time, but lucky for us I only saw one dress that I must have. Tried it on, took a look at myself in the mirror, paid for it and left. The whole process took about 5 minutes, and I’m so proud of myself! You will be seeing it when the weather gets warmer 🙂

I’ve been wearing Swatch watches myself since I could remember. Look at the funky colors! The company representative told us that it is the machine that picks the components (which also have different colors), so the chance of you ever seeing someone who has the same watch is slim!

That’s Phil and me in front of the L’Occitane display. It’s one brand that we both adore (we actually had a stroll in the store right before arriving too), and I have featured some of their products on the blog.

This is the new makeup collection from Rituals. I know I have enough coral blushes as it is, but I was still all over that one! The pigmentation was generous!

Rituals is also launching their perfume collection. I had a great time exploring different scents!

A little nail polish, anyone? It’s my first ever nail art attempt with PRONAILS, a salon nail polish brand. Since I’m really pretty clumsy, I chose to try a mint green accent nail and leopard print sticker. To my utter surprise, mint green doesn’t look too bad on me!

That’s me being sneaky with a HUGE illy cup and the coffee can that I just designed (it says good morning world!). I can’t wait to finish my current coffee supply and try this out with my mocha pot!

Let me introduce you to sOxi. This is the second brand Veritas (for those of you who don’t live here, Veritas is a chain store where you can get accessories, socks, and also handicraft supply) has launched, and the range will be available from March 23rd at Veritas. The lady was pretty happy to see me, because I was already wearing mustard yellow tights and she was sure I will become a a sOxi customer! They also have funky socks and regular stockings. The prices are very reasonable, with 2.50 for a pair of socks and 5 for two pairs of black stockings!!!

This is the supply of the MAC artists for our technique class and my work station. The technique class was about smokey eyes, but I was a newbie who went with my makeup done. Since removing everything and starting from scratch would take too much time, I asked to try bold lip colors instead. I first tried See Sheer topped with Smile and loved it. Since I had a bit more time, Elke suggested I try Viva Glam Nicki. I would normally say no to such a crazy idea, but since I had time I thought I might as well. And *drum roll* it didn’t look bad on me at all!

Here is a lip swatch. It clung to the dry bits of my lips, but I was smittened with the color (also, for your information, since it was a demonstration product I applied with a lip brush. I’m sure the color would be more intense shall you wish you apply straight from the tube).

I walked around happily with my flashy pink lips for the rest of the afternoon 🙂

Kiss&Kill 3D sunglasses. I watched the trailer of Despicable Me (love that movie by the way) with them on, and was utterly entertained! It’s SO thrilling to feel I’m going down with the roller coaster or see the drill right in front of my nose. Killer time! Kiss&Kill is exclusively available at Pearle in Belgium.

Kipling, or what I personally nickname the little monkey bag (fine, I know it’s an ape), is one of the many prides of Belgium. The company just celebrated its 25th birthday, and it’s great to see them coming out with great new designs.

We played Bingo to see who could win some of the limited edition camera bags, but unfortunately I didn’t win. I REALLY love the design though. I’m toying with the idea of purchasing first the bag and then a better camera to fit in it lol

We did a little arts & crafts with Swarovski, making two crystal mobile phone straps. The first thing that caught my eye in the new collection is the ladybug design (the wings move too, believe it or not)!

All in all it was an exciting action-packed afternoon. I can’t believe I forgot to take a picture at the Sacha corner. We each had the opportunity to try on a pair of the new spring collection before we sat down on a prop for a photo shoot. They will Photoshop the photos and put us on a super cool jungle background. I will for sure show you the picture when I get it, but for the moment you can drool over the pair of shoes I tried on. It was a miracle that I managed to walk (about 10 steps) to the prop, climb up, sat down, and walked back to take them off without falling on my face, but Jesus the color, the gold trim and strap, and the leopard accent are to-die-for!!!

Thanks for UPR for hosting such a fun event and all the nice bloggers I met!

Sunny, your beauty culture translator xx

Skincare Review: L’Occitane Shea Butter One Minute Hand Scrub (and a Cheap Kitchen Alternative)

Hey everybody, happy weekend! How’s it going so far? We had guests over for dinner. The couple’s 9-month baby boy has eyes that take up half of his face and eyelashes that are longer and curlier than what I would have with false eyelashes. Oh well, life isn’t (always) fair!

Since you might have some time to spare for skincare on weekends, I’m going to share the L’Occitane Shea Butter One Minute Hand Scrub review with you today. In case you can’t lay your hands on it anytime soon however, I’m also sharing a recipe for a cheap kitchen alternative at the end!

Quite a while ago, I walked into a L’Occitane store and saw the lady working on her own hands by the sink. Being the curious creature I am, I walked over to see what she was doing. She might have been a little embarrassed, so she offered to do the same to my hands. That’s how I got to know L’Occitane Shea Butter One Minute Hand Scrub. Since my hands are always rough and dry I grabbed a pot and took it home.

L’occitane Shea Butter One Minute Hand Scrub is a bi-phase hand scrub. According to the L’Occitane US webiste, it contains “an exfoliating organic sugar to gently scrub and eliminate dead skin cells. – oils (shea, sweet almond and grapeseed oils) to help soften and nourish hands.” It also comes with a spatula with which you mix the two together before each use. It smells exactly like the Shea Butter Hand Cream, which I am pretty neutral about. You are supposed to use it when your hands are dry (because otherwise the sugar melts too fast). Again, you only need a tiny little each time. I basically stir the mixture with the spatula and put whatever is on the spatula on my hands. I have enough for a scrubbing session that way! That’s why even after weekly-use for quite a while (sorry but I don’t remember when I got it. I would say about a year and a half ago though), I still have half a jar left!

The grains are pretty rough (I had problems believing sugar grains are so big, but they are), so if you get overenthusiastic like I did the first couple of times I used it, you might end up with scratches on your hands. That was ouch, so I learnt to be gentle and take my time. I concentrate on the rougher parts of my hands, namely the hardened skin around my nails. Afterwards, I rinse it off with warm water. It does leave an oily film behind, but it is not greasy and since I have dry hands, once I pat them dry this doesn’t bother me anymore.

All in all this is a pretty decent hand scrub. I like how L’Occitane shea butter is a fair trade product, how there is no harmful chemical in what they make, and of course animal testing is out-of-bounds. It is a company with principles that I respect, and one of my all-time favorites!

With that said however, I have found a way to make a knock-off version of this scrub in the kitchen, and it is amazingly easy to do.

It’s just one tablespoon of sugar and around two teaspoons of olive oil, can you believe that?

Basically, if you mix these two together, you get a scrub. There is more oil in the L’Occitane version, and the homemade one is drier, but this almost free homemade concoction works just as well. You can add more olive oil if you want to, but if you add too much the mixture could leave your hands very greasy afterwards. I would say that olive oil leaves a slightly greasier film behind, but with the dry skin I have in winter, once I pat my hands dry I am not too bothered. If you are, you can always use a bit of soap after you scrub. If you just use a little bit, your hands wouldn’t be so greasy but there will still be some kind of protective film on your hands.

Here is a side-by-side photo so you can see how the L’Occitane hand scrub looks too:

I have enough for my hands, feet, and a bit extra for my calves with this amount. If you have some time this weekend, why not whip up some of this scrub and treat yourself to a home spa session? If you have essential oil, you can even add a few drops to the scrub to make it smell nice! Like all homemade treatments, it could be a little messy to prepare. It you are always pressed for time, you might prefer something that comes in a jar.

How about you? Do you scrub your hands or feet? Do you think you’ll give your paws some winter scrubbing love with this recipe?

Sunny xx