Review: L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream + L’Occitane Belgian Facebook Page Giveaway!

When I was living in Taiwan, a hand cream was something I only needed from time to time, mostly in winter. Now that I’m living in Belgium, a hand cream is something I need at least a couple of times a day, just so that my hands can stay soft instead of dry and scaly!

My affair with L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream has spanned at least 6 years. I remember really liking the vibe of L’Occitane stores in Taipei and hearing people rave about the brand, but everything looked a bit too expensive so I never splurged out. The first time I came to continental Europe in the beginning of 2006 however, I decided to give L’Occitane hand cream a try. 6 years and many more hand cream trials afterwards, this remains my go-to product.

Full-size (150 ml/5.2 oz) L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream comes in aluminum tubes, and the minis (usually 30 ml/1 oz) come in plastic ones. I’m not the biggest fan of aluminum tubes, but with a little patience you can squeeze everything out methodologically and effectively. I can’t put my fingers on the smell. It’s a bit “nutty” and a bit flowery perhaps. It doesn’t smell artificial, and unless I keep sniffing my hands I don’t really notice it that much. It contains 20% of shea butter, and the texture is very thick. When I squeeze it out of the tube, the cream actually retains its shape. Once it is warmed up by my hands however, it becomes silky soft. A little goes a long way, and it is absorbed very quickly especially considering how thick it is. I wouldn’t type right after using this cream, but give it 3-5 minutes and it’s fine. It does leave a residue, but it is not greasy or slimy. My hands feel well-moisturized, protected, and soft with this cream. The effect is very long-lasting as well, so I don’t have to reapply every time I wash my hands. A couple of friends who suffer from extremely dry and red hands in winter have bought this after my recommendation, and they were very impressed with the result. I think I have converted them to be members of the L’Occitane Shea Hand Cream cult!

At the end of every year, L’Occitane launches some limited edition scents of the shea butter line. In 2011, it was 3 small hand creams with Cocoa Flower, Hibiscus Flower, and Desert Rose. I am not ALWAYS a big fan of limited edition scents, but I think L’Occitane nailed it in 2011. All three of them smell lovely and protect my hands just as well as the original does. They are still available as far as I can tell, so stock up on a couple of yummy-smelling tubes to get yourselves through this winter!

Good news for my Belgian readers: If you “like” L’Occitane and fill in your information on their Facebook page, you will receive a coupon for a 10-milliliter tube of hand cream. If the page reaches 5000 fans, you will get a 30-milliliter tube instead! The page says the coupons will be sent before February 7th but not when the promotion ends, so I guess you have two weeks to do this.

How about you? What is your go-to hand cream? Have you tried anything L’Occitane?

Sunny xx

Review: Skincare HG! L’Occitane Foaming Rice Cleanser, Purifying Rice Toner, Ultra-Matte Face Fluid, Exfoliating Rice Powder

Hey there, how is everybody doing on Monday? Still hanging in there?

Today I’m here to talk about my holy grail skincare products. I have combination skin, which means my forehead and nose are oily and prone to shininess. Moving to a colder/drier climate didn’t completely solve this problem, but at the same time the rest of my face becomes a bit drier and more sensitive. I’ve always been a huge fan of L’Occitane products, and since I now live next door to where they are produced, I was more than willing to give their red rice line a try. As you can see, except for the mask I own everything! When I first came to Belgium I experimented with some pharmaceutical skincare products, but none of them was satisfactory. Ever since this line came into my life though, I have never looked elsewhere. I have repurchased all the products at least once, and I will continue to do so as long as they are still on the market/my skin is still combination/oily!

The Foaming Rice Cleanser claims to contain both zinc and red rice. Zinc supplements are recommended for those with acne problems, and zinc in skincare products is only effective if it has a certain concentration. Since the concentration is not stated on the packaging, the resident chemist of Mostly Sunny (Dr. D!) cannot evaluate whether it might be effective. From a consumer point-of-view though, the rice cleanser is amazing! I love how little I need each time (think one peanut and a half), how easily I can make luxurious foam, and how my skin is perfectly clean yet not tight or dry afterwards. The packaging is pretty nicely-designed. I have used about 2 bottles all the way to the end, and there is VERY little you can’t get out with the pump. Also, it is plastic, but it is not cheap plastic. It has accidentally fallen to the floor of my shower from the rack a million times, but it never broke (as opposed to the pump of my bottle of Aveeno facial wash, which broke into several little pieces the second time it fell)!

The Purifying Rice Toner is a bi-phase toner that slightly mattifies skin. It reduces shine and leaves my skin feeling fresh, but the rice powder in the product doesn’t feel heavy or pore-clogging at all. I have specifically asked Dr. D to go through the ingredient list and see if he can spot alcohol, and I am happy to report there is none. From my experience I can tell you it doesn’t dry the drier part of my face out. I apply it with a cotton pad every morning (in the evening I prefer something a bit more moisturizing).

The Ultra-Matte Face Fluid is another wonder. I tried several NUXE lotions which claim to work for combination skin, but each time I was left disappointed. The texture of those lotions are heavy, and they did nothing to help reduce/delay shine on my nose and forehead. This one, on the other hand, has a lovely light texture. It keeps the drier part of my skin moisturized, and it delays the shine on my forehead/nose. I wouldn’t exaggerate and tell you my face doesn’t get shiny at all with this lotion, but it does help. It is again an extremely concentrated product that you only need a teeny bit each time.

I can’t find the Exfoliating Rice Powder on the website anymore. The US website says it’s not in stock, but the French one simply doesn’t list it anymore. I hope they didn’t discontinue this powder… or even if they did they would come up with a better one. The Exfoliating Rice Powder is a facial scrub. Unlike most scrubs, it is not a paste. Instead, it is just a can of tiny rice flakes. It is used when the face is clean and wet. The rice flakes are very fine, so it does not feel abrasive at all on my face. It also foams up a tiny little. I was told to take my time with it, making gentle circular motions with my fingertips. I have tried plenty of facial scrubs in the past, but this one is my favorite! It leaves skin feeling fresh and clean, while the process stays gentle. Special attention does have to paid to storing this scrub though, as if you live in a humid climate or leave this lying around in your bathroom, the powder might absorb humidity and become chunks.

Like all L’Occitane products, these aren’t cheap (20 dollars a pop for both the cleanser and toner, and 26 for the face fluid). However, as I have mentioned, they are so concentrated that you only need a teeny tiny bit each time, which is likely to make them last longer than drugstore products. Also, they are formulated with some organic ingredients if that speaks to you 🙂 The fragrance is light, pleasant, and not overwhelmingly chemical-smelling.

Put your hand in the air if you have combination skin/have tried these products/are interested in trying them! Let me know what you think about these and whether you might want to give them a try in the comments. I will come back with another post soon 🙂