Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Champagne, Recovery and a Sabon Review

Hello, hello, hello everyone! Before I say anything else, please let me thank you from the bottom of my heart for your beautiful, encouraging messages these past few weeks! They really filled me with warmth and lifted my spirits. I have now recovered almost completely. I can now go during the day without the nose cast (still have to wear it at night) and my ribs are hurting less and less. The most important was the head trauma of course, but it seems that no damage was done. I was really worried at first cause the pupil of my right eye was enlarged for some hours after the trauma but soon things returned to normal. My memory, reflexes and everything else were all great, and the doctors found absolutely no cause for worry at all. I managed to start studying for my last exam two days after the incident itself (out of sheer will-power probably)! I mainly stayed in bed to combat my burnout but studied hard and passed my last exam with excellent results: I got a 9.5! Moreover, I got a 9 for my thesis, which is absolutely unbelievable, since thesis results rarely surpass an 8 at our old fashioned university where the motto of most professors is “10 is for God, 9 for the professor, 8 for the student, if, that is the end-result is amazing” ugh! I am happy, can you tell?! Break open the champagne I say, I got my degree! I am hoping I’ll be accepted into the research program next year, fingers crossed. I’ve sent my application and I’m waiting for the reply with baited breath. I haven’t even applied to any other universities, my heart is so set on this one. The Social Psy program here is amazing… Anyway! I could go on about how amazing the people that work there are and how much I want to learn from them but I am sure with the good news out of the way, there’s something you and I both have missed much more than personal news huh? Yes, I am talking about a review!

So, the first review after my absence is probably a little unexpected (I mean, Sabon?), but yes, I’ve been playing with the brand for a while now and I want to get the thoughts I have in my head on ‘paper’ so to speak and out of the way, to make room for some other reviews/projects I’ve lined up. For those of you that are not familiar with the brand, Sabon is an Israel-based company whose boutiques are popping up all over the place, with obvious locations in Israel and the US, but also in Japan, Romania, Canada, Poland, Italy and of course the Netherlands, where the boutiques are currently mushrooming exponentially, with even student-city Leiden getting its own branch. I first got acquainted with the brand about three years ago, but never managed to give the brand proper consideration due to the overbearing attentiveness of the staff. I am sure you are all familiar with the type of customer service I am referring to, whether you’ve ever set foot in a Sabon shop or not. Basically, the moment you’d step in you’d be accosted by an overenthusiastic associate who bent over backwards to give you a hand-treatment. Oh dear. And then of course the all too familiar ‘shadowing the customer’ technique, even after you’ve made perfectly clear that you would like to look. And the yet even more familiar ‘voice an octave higher’ explanation of every product that incidentally caught your eye. No, that kind of customer service just won’t do. I ran away. Several times. Yes, I am persistent. I guess the fact that I am persistent also explains that three years later I had the opportunity to discover that they’ve managed to tone down their tactics considerably. They still watch and are ready to pounce if given the opportunity, but hand-treatments are no longer instantly offered and they seem to have grasped the meaning of “I’d like to look around please”.

So far so good. But what about the content? Considering that the company reports that its roots lie with soap-making and even goes so far as describing the first bars as mouthwatering, you’d expect that their soap bars at the very least smell good, but they don’t. I am not even going to bother saying much about them, they just smell bad, muddy, iffy and altogether unpleasant. Moving on to the second point of criticism: Sabon (at least here in the Netherlands, but most likely also internationally if their website promo is anything to go by) makes a big song and dance about how natural their products are. While the company does produce a range of products with a high concentration of organic ingredients, the vast majority of their products are made the good old fashioned way, with all that entails. Take a look at their body lotions for example and note in particular the ingredients triethanolamine and methylparaben. While I am most certainly NOT someone who requires that everything I put on my body is organic or natural (I buy what I like regardless and when it comes to facial skin-care especially I am all for the latest technology and lab results), I do mind it when I feel that a company tries to present itself as something it is not. The US website for example speaks of “time-honored remedies based on the finest natural ingredients” while the Dutch website describes the products as “Puur natuur kwaliteitsproducten”. All it takes to realize the lack of truthfulness in these claims is to look at the ingredients of the body lotions. At best what might be natural in there are certain palm oils and perhaps some essentials oils in the fragrance?

Oh man, this is turning into a rant. That was not my plan. I’d better get to the good part. The good part, dear readers is that they have a couple of really nice scents. You realize, we are not talking about masterful perfume compositions here of course. We are talking about bath and body products that smell really (really) addictive and are fun and delightful to use simply because they smell like something you crave. Disregard their tropical, marine and green products (shrieking), their musk (murky) and their violet (plain) and head straight for the gourmands. A possible exception is the Ginger Orange line which is very uplifting and natural smelling and is very energizing, especially in the scrub products. Nice to use as ancillary products when planning to perfume yourself with an orange blossom scent afterwards, and perfect for the summer. My personal suggestions are the Fig Coco line (very yummy and unique, not to mention undeniably perfect for summer), the Vanilla Coconut line (also perfect for summer and more importantly one of the very few times I’ve encountered this ubiquitous combo done with such balance, meaning that the coconut does not overtake the vanilla after five minutes) and finally the Patchouli Lavender Vanilla (aka PLV) line on which I’d like to throw a brief spotlight and of which I’ve ended up purchasing several products.

I’ll admit it, I am currently going through a slight addiction phase with the PLV range of products. They got me one day about a month and a half ago when I tried the hand cream just for fun. I couldn’t stop smelling my hands and yet I immediately disregarded any thoughts of buying it since one, I didn’t need it and two, wasn’t the smell rather childish? Well forget it, I splurged for the hand cream, the lotion, the shower gel and body dew a week later. Have been wearing them since. I guess a crave is a crave after all, childish scent or not. But why did the scent seem childish? I’ll get to that in a second. First let me tell you that this note combination is absolutely delicious. I guess loving this scent does take a love for lavender as it definitely has a large presence but it is an absolutely necessary presence as well. It makes the scent if you will, by tempering the sweetness of the vanilla and the deep sensuality of the patchouli. The vanilla too is very pleasant, avoiding the usual candy-floss/cupcake connotations despite not smelling natural. The patch is subdued and soft, meaning these are gourmand products you can enjoy in the summer as well (I know I am) especially since the lavender adds its fresh resonance throughout. All the products in the range I’ve tried so far produce the same linear scent, so if you like it you can build your own little collection of things to layer and enjoy. I have to say that I most enjoy the shower gel and the body dew. The former because it makes shower time such fun with its delightful scent which I love and the latter because it is my first non-alcohol based spray perfume and I am enjoying the delights of misting my hair without fear of drying. As for the reason why the scent smelled childish to me - I finally figured it out some days ago after being puzzled for so long. Bizarrely, as you certainly wouldn’t expect it from this scent, when the notes of PLV merge together and are perceived as a whole they somehow manage to produce the scent of pistachio ice cream - my favorite flavor when I was a child. Or maybe I’m just imagining things - I haven’t had ice cream in four years and pistachio ice cream in at least a decade!!

Finally, would I repurchase? Well, to be honest, I think it’s just a phase I’m going through. Well, maybe not when it comes to the shower gel, I currently can’t contemplate showering with anything else. Okay, no, that’s a lie, I would exchange it for a tube of Ormonde Jayne’s Tolu shower gel in a heartbeat. But I AM seriously attached to this shower gel. In all honesty though I am very disappointed in the ingredients of the body lotion - triethanolamine and methylparaben are not ingredients I want to be putting on my skin on a regular basis. So no, I would not repurchase this ever again unless the company changed the formula. And you know how it goes, when one product goes the chain breaks. Once the lotion is gone the shower/lotion ritual loses a big chunk of its allure. Without the lotion the body dew too loses out as alone it lasts, oh, about five minutes. A disappointment, n'est-ce pas? But it’s summer, and summer is all about summer flings you know. So forgive me this little one a while longer!

Images: Flickr by (A3R) angelrravelor (A3R), www.sxc.hu,

Friday, June 11, 2010

When things are better....

How can I not respond when I get your messages wondering where I am.
It all started with me trying my best to graduate this month. I thought, okay, no biggie, I will be back by the first week of June. I couldn't post, I was studying until 5.30 in the morning each day.. Finished my thesis, passed my exams... Then I failed one. Unknown feeling. I freaked out. That was some days ago. The next morning I got up and made my way to the kitchen.. fainted and woke up in a pool of blood asking my bf for help. He helped me up at which point I fainted again and fell on the floor. I'd fractured my nose and hit my head in the falls. Covered in bruises and little cuts. Ended up at the hospital. Did I mention I also got an ear infection? I guess I overworked myself. I really miss you and you can COUNT on me returning honeys. Really, I promise. I just have to get better again, okay? I have one more exam to go and I can only study a little bit per day cause I got to be resting most of the time. I won't be studying till 5.30 in the morning and going with 3 hours of sleep per day any more. I learned my lesson. To be honest... I got really scared. I'm still scared, which I shouldn't be. I should just relax.