Author Archives: thebandazian

Cupcake Face Mask by Alex

About the Item

Cupcake Face Mask

1 Pot (4-8 uses) for 10.95

 

The official Lush website has this product listed in the Biofresh section, which means that it is too fresh to be mailed and must be purchased at a Lush retail location and refrigerated. The website says the product contains “mint, Rhassoul Mud and absorbent cocoa powder to treat spots, black heads, open pores and oil happy skin in a delicious chocolate mask.”

 

Ingredients: Rhassoul Mud, Linseed Infusion, glycerin, talc, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, fresh mint, sandalwood oil, vanilla absolute, spearmint oil, peppermint oil (mentha piperita), Limonene Perfume.


My Review:


I’ve got to say, this one was a first. I’ve always liked the idea of using mud to clean pores and using something that smells and feels just like cupcake frosting is practically Through the Looking Glass (or if you’d prefer, Bizarro World) in terms of skin care. How deliciously ironic.

 

A few logistical things before I get into the review itself. First of all, this product cannot be purchased online because of its fresh ingredients and it must be kept refrigerated. It also has a decreased shelf life of about 14 days for this reason. And before you ask, freezing the mask to increase the shelf life is out of the question. It would kill the helpful enzymes found in the fresh ingredients. I spoke to the Lush employees about this product at the store in Harvard Square, Cambridge and they suggested starting out with a face scrub (I used Herbalism), then applying the mask and leaving it on for about 10-15 minutes. Then rinse with warm water and finish with one of their moisturizers, Enzymion, Imperialis or Gorgeous. Lush face masks are also good for spot treatments and break-outs, but should be used 2-3 times a week maximum.

 

I must admit, I hadn’t done a whole lot of research on this product before I used it, which I think ultimately gave me a better perspective on the results, as you shall see. So, having washed with Herbalism, I applied the brown, thoroughly cupcake-scented mask, popped in a frozen pizza and sat in on about 10 minutes of Angel with my boy Langer and his lady friend Amanda. I got a few laughs from the pair, mostly because I looked like a caveman with my mud-caked face and crusty beard, or Gene Wilder from that blackface scene in Silver Streak. It was tough not to smile, but I endured the ridicule with a stony face and tried desperately not to smile for fear I’d mess up the mask’s mojo. Anyway, after washing it off, I immediately noticed a difference. My skin felt tight and stretchy, which at first I thought might have just been because it had felt so coarse and brittle from the mask (felt a little like I imagine botox would), but after I put on some moisturizer I could definitely tell something had changed. My skin felt smooth and clean and… bouncy. It’s hard to describe, really. You know how your skin hurts a little sometimes when you stretch it out for a big bight of a sandwich or a huge toothy smile? After using the mask I felt like I could fit a whole horse in my mouth without much trouble. My skin was incredibly elasticy and flexible. I was surprised to find, upon doing some research, that this was more or less the intended effect. Rhassoul Mud, which makes up the base for this mask, comes from Morocco and apart from being anti-microbial, deep cleansing and full of healthy minerals like Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium (properties belonging to most types of volcanic mud) it is known to reduce aging lines and wrinkles by making the skin more elastic and pliable. So I guess there was a little truth to my original claim. The mask also has peppermint and spearmint oils, which help sooth the skin and cleanse pores.

 

Another huge benefit is that the mask left my face smelling like rich, chocolaty cupcakes. It’s remarkable to me that the people at Lush can make mud seem so appetizing.

 

I can’t really think of a lot of cons for this product apart from its limited shelf life and perhaps that its not something I would consider a necessity. I am lucky to have been blessed with a relatively acne-free face, nor do I often wish my skin was more flexible, so it’s less of a staple and more of a luxury for me (which is not necessarily a con). Cost wise, It’s about what I would expect to pay for a mask like this. It gets extra bang-for-your-buck points because the ingredients aren’t the kind of things you can easily acquire. I always have a hard time paying for something I could put together my self for the same cost, but I’m not going to go out of my way to import Rhassoul mud from Morocco when Lush can do it for [probably] cheaper. Not to mention, masks like this usually cost $30 or more for one treatment at a spa and although Lush says that you can get about 4 uses out of a pot, I think the average user could easily get 6-8. I’ve also heard that this stuff is good for softening up your whiskers before a shave. Haven’t given it a shot yet, but as a fellow who appreciates just about any product that makes the daily scrape a little more bearable, you can bet I’ll be trying it out as soon as I work up enough scruff to truly put it to the test.

 

Bang for Your Buck: $$$

 

Over-all Rating: 4

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Wiccy Magic Muscles Massage Bar by Alex

About the Item:

Wiccy Magic Muscles Massage Bar

2.4Oz. (1 bar) for $8.75

The Official Lush Website says Wiccy is a “spicy, tingly muscle-soothing bar with aduki beans for a deeper rub. . . The first time you use one of these it feels very strange, as if a very small radiator has been turned on inside the part of your body you just massaged.”

This item contains: Fair Trade Cocoa Butter (Theobroma cacao), Aduki Beans (Phaseolus), Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii),Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis),Cinnamon Leaf Oil (Cinnamomum cassia), Peppermint Oil (Mentha piperita), Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), *Cinnamyl Alcohol, *Cinnamal, Coumarin, *Eugenol, *Isoeugenol, *Benzyl Benzoate, *Limonene, *Linalool, Perfume.

My Review:

Since this is technically the first massage bar we’ve reviewed on A Lush Life, I’m going to get a bit general on you before I can really get into specifics. First of all, I think the massage bar is one of the most innovative products that Lush has ever come up with. Having often entertained the possibility of a career in massage therapy and being one who enjoys both giving and receiving a good rubdown, I’ve sampled quite a variety of commercial massage condiments and on the whole, found them largely unsatisfactory. Lotion is expensive, goes on cold and usually dries too quickly and oil is pretty much out of the question for the casual masseur whose prominent work space is, let’s be honest, the bed (unless you’ve got a set-up like this). Until I tried Lush’s bars, the best things I could get my hands on were special soy-wax candles that melt from a solid into an oily kind of goop that can be poured on to the subject. They work okay and are actually pretty neat in theory, but the ramp up time, lack of portability and annoying issues with soot and occasional wax burns make them kind of a hassle.

Lush, in their infinite genius, recognized the plight of the casual masseur, and created the massage bar to address these issues. Essentially a massage bar is a solid chunk of vegetable fat and essential oils with a melting point somewhere around body temperature. That means it stays in its solid, highly portable form until you actually need it to be a liquid – pretty much the second it touches skin.  This, dear readers, is probably the most convenient thing to happen to massage since they started building tables with face-holes. There’s virtually no mess and the bars provide a good amount of lubrication, some pleasant aromatherapy and moisturizers to nourish the skin. One recommendation: go for the tin. It will make traveling and storing these things exponentially easier, especially in hot climates

In case you haven’t guessed yet, I am fully on the massage bar band wagon. But what about Wiccy? Does this spicy, bean-laden bar pass muster? In a word, yes, but I’m sure you’ll want to know why.

The biggest distinguishing element that Wiccy has to offer is the layer of red, Aduki beans adorning one side. They have a nice, smooth texture (as well as a pleasantly vibrant color) and the theory is that you rub the non-bean side on your subject to get the bar nice and melty, then you use the bean side to provide that extra firmness you need to work on knots (basically in place of a massage tool). Personally, I find that the beans are better for a light surface massage — the smooth, bumpy texture exciting the skin and getting the muscles nice and warmed up. As for getting out knots, you’re better off with your thumbs; tactile response is important for distinguishing between knots, muscles, bones and tendons and you really can’t apply enough force accurately with something the size of a bar of soap.

One of Wiccy’s most desirable attributes as a massage bar is that it contains large amounts of peppermint and cinnamon essences, as well as high levels of coumarin (the spicy compound found in cinnamon that gives it its kick). The smell is sweet and slightly caustic, much like a Hot Tamale candy, but the topical affects are pleasantly reminiscent of Tiger Balm. If thinking about muscle-rub bringing back painful, traumatic memories of locker-room pranks (the old Icy-Hot-in-the-Jockstrap, for instance), don’t worry; the effects are incredibly mild. In fact if I had to think of a problem with Wiccy it would be that the tingle-factor isn’t quite as potent as perhaps I would like. On the other hand, since Wiccy uses coumarin to add a little heat, as opposed to capsicum (hot chili peppers, mace etc.) or menthol (Newports) which can be found in other, more painful balms, it’s not as likely to irritate your eyes, skin or various tender bits.

Of course, like the rest of Lush’s massage bars, Wiccy packs a lot of moisturizers along with it’s spicy goodness. Fair trade coco butter, shea butter, coconut oil and jobajoba oil are pretty much the cream of the decadent fats. They’re silky smooth and luxuriously hydrating. Lush actually says you can use their bars as moisturizers and when my hands get really dry, I do just that. Be warned though, the peppermint/cinnamon smell will stick around for a very, very long time and you’ll have to work the buttery oils in to your skin pretty throughly. This is actually one of the minor problems I have with massage bars in general. The oils tend to stay on top of the skin a little bit longer than I would like. Sure, they’re great when you’re giving the massage, but when your thumbs start cramping and the lubricant is still going strong, you’ll wish you had budgeted in some extra time to work it all in.

Although Wiccy doesn’t quite deliver as the knot-busting, stress-demolishing hammer of justice I expected, it still somehow manages to be one of my favorite Lush massage bars. The tingly sensation really is pretty cool and the spicy aroma is mysterious and exotic (also a touch Christmasy, but whatever). Lush massage bars are also pretty reasonably priced considering what else is out there, and they do tend to last a pretty long time. Wiccy – and the obligatory massages that come along with it – also happens to be a pretty great gift for the dreaded commercial holiday coming up this weekend (O, the war drums sounding in the deep, the trees falling in the distance beneath the wheels of a pink and white Juggernaut). Light some candles, warm up your thumbs and get ready to reap the rewards.

Bang for your Buck Rating: $$$

Overall Rating: 3.5

Noubar Soap by Alex

About the Item:

Noubar Soap

3.5 Oz for $5.95

Available in any size 3.5 oz and up

The Official Lush Website says that Noubar is “as delectable as it looks,” containing ”smoky vetivert oil and Turkish rose absolute to keep you sweet every time you wash…You’d be nuts to miss out on Noubar.”

This item contains: Water (Aqua), Glycerine, Rapeseed Oil, Sunflower Oil, Coconut Oil (Brassica napus; Helianthus annuus; Cocos nucifera), Chopped Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea), Chopped Almonds (Prunus dulcis), Chopped Walnuts (Juglans regia), Sodium Hydroxide, Perfume, Titanium Dioxide, Pistachio Nuts (Pistacia vera), Gardenia Extract (Gardenia jasminoides), Vetivert Oil (Vetiveria zizanoides), Rose Absolute (Rosa damascena), Cedarwood Oil (Cupressus funebris), Sodium Chloride, Geraniol, *Citronellol, FD&C Blue No. 1.

My Review:

Peanuts, walnuts, almonds and pistachios? Did someone drop an industrial-sized tin of mixed nuts into one of the soap vats? And what’s with the name? I mean, props for referencing Diran Noubar, but is an obscure French documentary filmmaker really that relevant (kidding of course. Nougat + Bar = Noubar)? Of all the Lush products I have tried thus far, I think I was most resistant to this one. The smell simply did not enliven my pallet and I found the handful of tasty morsels peppering the soap more baffling than enticing. Nonetheless, I was intrigued by Noubar’s alien texture, verdant hue and latent air of mystery/edibility. And since it was technically free along with my $17 dollar chunk of Karma under the auspices of the Clean Slate Sale, I thought I might as well suffer what slings and arrows might lie ahead in the interest of providing you, fine readers, with a comprehensive review.

Looking at the list of ingredients, Noubar seems pretty light on the soap and heavy on the fixins’. This may explain why some people have a hard time getting this soap to lather. Personally I haven’t had an issue, so I can’t really complain. It’s got the standard palm-oil free soap base, of course (good news for endangered species everywhere), along with a healthy dose of earthy, woody and floral scents. Gardenia and rose mix with cedar and vetivert to produce the subtle but unmistakable aroma of a healthy garden or a well manicured lawn. As I mentioned before, I was not initially turned on by this green-funk, but when I got the soap home and used it for a few days, I found its clean, botanical aroma had started to grow on me. It’s certainly an acquired taste however, and I actually prefer it as a hand soap to one I lather up with in the shower. I don’t really need or want my pits to smell any more like fresh cut grass than they already do. On the other hand, catching subtle hints of Noubar lingering on my palms is a nice feeling throughout the day.

Alright, but seriously, what’s up with the nuts? Granted, many of the most decadent, luxurious and moisturizing fats in the world are derived from nuts (cocoa butter, almond and coconut oils, etc.), but these are usually highly concentrated (not to mention added to the soap during the saponification process) and not confined to the cellulose prison of an indehiscent seed. As Lush suggests in their description, the nuts do indeed serve other purposes: namely olfactory and tactile appeal. As I mentioned before, this soap definitely has a natural smell and the nuts certainly lend a kind of barky, mossy richness to the whole concoction. Also, anyone who has read my other soap reviews will know that I’m a sucker for anything that exfoliates the skin; usually the rougher the better. The nice thing about using nuts to accomplish this goal is that they are rough in texture, but unlike dense seeds or coarse minerals, they have a natural flexibility that makes them relatively forgiving, and less harsh on the skin. I find that the nutty protrusions that develop over time from soap erosion can be used like the scouring side of a sponge, softening my callused, battle-worn, time-gnarled and work-hardened hands, while at the same time moisturizing them to the pliancy of a broken and well-oiled catcher’s mitt.

Lastly of course, there is the matter of the soaps peculiar appearance, which I’m actually rather smitten with. Let me paint it for you: half a dozen shades of green — from creamy, St. Patrick’s Day beer-foam and pistachio gelato, to translucent TMNT Ooze — all speckled and swirled together, with splashes and constellations of brown, chunky nuts, like rocky islands lost in an alien sea. The photo truly does not do it justice. In an odd way, I’m inclined to say this soap is actually one of the loveliest I’ve seen at Lush (which would put it high in the rankings for loveliest worldwide); a triumphant synergy of Lush’s unique aesthetic and conscientious world view. In short, a soap to unite the muddled and over-commercialized “green” movement, to inspire and lead the apathetic masses into a fertile and sustainable future with like… wheat grass just growing all over the place and… kids running around with Super Soakers full of sunshine and… huge bees everywhere and all that. Yeah….It’s going to be awesome.

Weird-hippie-tangent aside, this soap really is easy on the eyes. And, as it turns out, the wallet as well (at least by Lush standards). At $5.95 per 3.5 oz. you really can’t go wrong. Hurray for defying expectations!

Bang-For-Your-Buck Rating: $$$

Overall Rating: 4 as a hand soap. 3 as a body soap. -20000 if you’re allergic to nuts.

Shave the Planet Shaving Cream by Alex

About the Item:

Shave the Planet Shaving Cream

$14.95 for 3.5 oz or $22.95 for 8.8 z

The Official Lush Website say that this nutrient-laden goop “has super stubble-stopping strength yet leaves skin silky-soft. Soothing bamboo infusion and anti-oxidant açai juice fight aging while vitamin-rich pumpkin seed and rosehip oils calm skin.”

This item contains: Bamboo Leaf infusion (Bambusa arundinacea), Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii), Goji Berry Decoction (Lycium barbarum), Glycerine, Stearic Acid, Organic Acai Juice, Triethanolamine, Fresh Sugar Cane Juice, Lavender Oil (Lavandula augustifolia), Fennel Oil (Foeniculum vulgare), Rose Absolute (Rosa damascena), Cold Pressed Rosehip Oil (Rosa canina), Organic Wheatgerm Oil (Triticum vulgare), Pumpkin Seed Oil (Cucurbita pepo), Organic Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis), Cupuacu Butter (Theobroma Grandiflorum), Candelilla Wax (Euphorbia cerifera), Cetearyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Isoeugenol, Limonene, Linalool, Perfume, Methylparaben, Propylparaben.

My Review:

Several years ago, my loving and ridiculously supportive grandparents, Anahid and Vazken (check the former out on annbandazian.com) imbued me with the privileges of Carte Blanche with regards to the many antiques, curio and objet d’ar in their beautiful revolutionary-period brick home. Of course I always ask politely before exercising this power, and in turn they have always indulged my requests for little trinkets found around the attic or in the barn. So of course, on a routine Thanksgiving visit several months ago, when I spotted a long-retired, vintage Gillette “Fatboy” double-sided safety razor in the wash room, they were happy, once again, to oblige my curiosity.

I’ve been struggling ever since, through trial and error, razor burn and uneven stubble, to learn the art of the traditional wet shave. I bring this up only because, as anyone who has ever shaved in this manner knows, the line between a painful, bloodied, irritated face and a smooth, clean, healthy one is often drawn by quality of one’s tools. Mine, therefore, is a more discerning crucible than most when it comes to the trial of a shaver’s most important piece of software: the cream.

So far I’ve been somewhat under-whelmed by Lush‘s shaving products. I went through a full tub of Prince (see my earlier review), which was fine, but didn’t really blow me away. And then… well I guess that’s it, but there are only three of them (Prince, S.T.P. and Razorantium) and as far as I can tell they’re all virtually the same thing with slight variations on tertiary ingredients and viscosities. I’m disappointed that they have never made an actual shaving soap or lathering cream. Believe me, I’m drafting a letter proposing a solution to this concern, which will hopefully be named after yours-truly when and if it hits the shelves. Until then, cream/moisturizer based shaves will have to suffice.

Enough exposition. Let’s get down to business shall we? The first thing I noticed upon unscrewing the tub was the distinct color, texture and aroma of Shea butter. I was not surprised to find that this was a major ingredient, second only to Bamboo leaf infusion (what’s up with that?). Its thick, rich consistency, high fat content and great moisturizing properties make Shea butter an ideal base for high-end shaving creams. Also the nutty, chocolatey aroma mixes very well with the rose and lavender undertones in S.T.P. which I actually prefer to the smell of both Razorantium and Prince (both very similar. Citrusy with a hint of sex pollen)

I applied a large dollop to my face after showering and cleansing with hot water to get my skin nice and supple. S.T.P.’s viscosity is somewhere between Prince, on the runny side, and Razorantium, on the cold-butter side. It spreads nicely and melts slightly with body heat due to its high fat content. Trust me, this is a good thing when it comes to shaving. Purified plant fats are excellent moisturizers and they provide a smooth lubricant for your razor. In addition to Shea butter, S.T.P. contains a potent arsenal of moisturizers and emollients including glycerin, lavender oil, fennel oil, rosehip oil, wheatgerm oil, pumpkin seed oil, Jojoba oil, cupuacu butter and candelilla wax.

The moment of truth: I put a brand new razor into my Gillette Fatboy, adjusted the settings and set about shearing off the patches of stubble in quick, short strokes, switching sides and rinsing the head with each new pass. I did my first round with the grain, which usually doesn’t cause any major problems. So far so good. The second round however, which always goes against the grain, is a constant source of irritation for me, especially on the left and right sides of my neck where the skin dips down before meeting in a point along the ridge of my vocal cord. I lubed back up with another thick dollop of S.T.P. and prepared myself for the harsh, scraping sound and that tell-tale tugging feeling that precedes the raw sting of razor-burn. To my surprise, the razor glided almost effortlessly through the stubble left over from my first round. Flawless. I did the rest of my neck, including the woeful valleys and peaks and was absolutely blown away. Up until now, I’ve always had to either avoid those tough spots and end up with a rough, patchy area left over, or accept the pain of razor-burn as the price for a close shave. For probably the first time ever, I had the best of both worlds.

The only thing I can think of to explain this phenomenon is that the hair follicles were somehow softened, made easier to cut by some magical secret ingredient. That’s not to say I felt no resistance, but it was significantly less, so much so that I noticed an immediate difference. In my experience, I have never come across a substance that would have this effect apart from maybe a strong acid. All I know is that a good shaving cream needs to have lots of fat and a few extra ingredients to soothe the skin (which this stuff does have, by the way; lavender and rose hips primarily). Now there are a number of ingredients in S.T.P. that do not fall neatly into either category, but may have some medicinal properties, unknown to me, that would accomplish this “softening” phenomenon. Goji berry and Acai, famed anti-oxidants, are two such mystery ingredients.

Now, I don’t really buy the whole “anti-oxidant” thing. I get that anti-oxidants are good for you and that they help to prevent cancer, but there are a lot of misconceptions out there and a hand full of straight up mysteries. It’s safe to say that at this time, we don’t really understand the full effects that anti-oxidants have on humans, which means that marketing stooges get to make up whatever they want about them. To my knowledge, there is no evidence to suggest that anti-oxidants help you loose weight, give you more energy or magically soften your stubble. They do repair and prevent the oxidative damage cause by normal cellular functions. Perhaps one could build a case for how this “fights aging,” but my guess is that something you apply to your face and then scrape off with a razor four or five times a week is not going to make a significant difference in the fight against Father Time and his infernal, elephant-eared progeny, Baby New Year.

Oh well. Chalk this one up to mystery I guess. I think I can live with that for the time being if it makes my grooming more pleasant. I’ve shaved three or four more times with S.T.P. and can say that I am quite pleased with the product. One major pro that often goes unnoticed with cream shaves is that they don’t dry out your face like most shaving soaps do and a little bit will go a looong way. There are so many moisturizers and emollients packed in there, you don’t have to do that much in the way of aftercare. Just rinse off (cold water only), throw on a balm or aftershave and you’re good.

My advice, buy this stuff if you value your face.

Bang for Your Buck Rating: $$

Overall Rating: 5

AAB

Once Again, Triumphantly, Dear Readers.

Lo, my faithful readers. A year has come and gone and too long have we left you, in Timbalands immortal words, “without a dope beat to step to.” Apologies are in order and a swift, timely redress shall be made (more on that later).

First and foremost, an update: Alex graduated with all the grace of a man with his jacket on fire, and promptly went to work in a field wholly unrelated to to his major until economics, etc. forced him back into a life of boredom and stagnation. Now he spends his days looking for work, sending manuscripts for publication, doing freelance (check me out on Loudbus.com!) and battling with the loan companies. Sally, on the other hand, is finishing up her last semester whilst supporting herself, and her rather voracious learning habit, as a waitress. In short, we’ve both been rather too busy/complacent/destitute to keep up with our Lush avocation, and therefore have not been able to keep up with our reviews.

But the new year has brought with it the wonderful post-holiday Clean Slate sale, revivifying our collections and renewing our vigor for Lush products and reviews thereof. We’re going to try for at least 1 new review every week. Also, in the interest of offering a more steady stream of content to you folks, we’re going to implement some different formats. More on that in future entries.

Our first review of the new year will be online by the end of the day and many more shall follow. Also we’ll probably post some pics of our recent Haul from the Clean Slate Sale.

So rejoice! Once again, triumphantly, we return, dear readers.

The Big Tease Styling Gel by Alex

The Big Tease

About the Item:

The Big Tease Styling Gel

$16.35 for 3.5 oz.

The Official Lush Website describes The Big Tease as “a firm-hold styling gel you can use before or after blow drying.” “With the orange flower, mandarin and lemon scent of our Olive Branch shower gel, the ability to make your hair stand up for hours, and cocoa and cupuacu butters to soften even the coarsest hair, The Big Tease delivers on all its promises.”

This Item Contains: Bay Leaf Infusion (Pimenta Acris), Peppermint Infusion (Mentha piperita), Linseed Infusion (Linum usitatissimum), Acrylates / Lauryl Acrylate / Stearyl Acrylate / Ethylamine Oxide Methacrylate Copolymer, Fair Trade Cocoa Butter (Theobroma cacao), Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis), Perfume, Propylene Glycol, Glycerine, Cupuacu Butter (Theobroma Grandiflorum), Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Beheneth-25 Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Orange Flower Absolute (Citrus Dulcis), Bergamot Oil (Citrus bergamia), Mandarin Oil (Citrus nobilis), Lemon Oil (Citrus limonum), Coumarin, Benzyl Benzoate, Hydroxycitronellol, *Citral, *Geraniol, *Limonene, *Linalool, Methylparaben.

My Review

I really don’t know what compelled me to try out The Big Tease… $16.35 for only 3.5 oz. is more than I’ve ever spent on a hair product by a factor of 10 and I have to admit, I have been less than impressed with Lush’s other styling products – in particular Goth Juice which smells a little like Pinesol and Ika sushi and tends to give me more crunch than hold. None the less, I bought it on a whim and I am beyond pleased that I did. This may be one of my favorite Lush products, but it does come with some caveats…

Firstly, I love the way this smells, and even more I love that other people love the way this smells. I’ve gotten complements. Seriously. It’s slightly citrusy with a light, floral accent, but there’s something else as well… a little lagniappe, if you will, that ties it all together. Not at all overpowering – the kind of thing you forget you have on and then occasionally catch a whiff of – but the smell lasts all day, which I find simply remarkable. Typically my scalp-funk is enough to overpower even the most thickly perfumed coiffing.

I quite like the consistency of this product and the distinct type of hold that it provides. Most gels tend to give a crunchiness that I am none too appreciative of, which is why I’ve always tended towards waxes, which — though greasy and slick– allow me to run my hands through my flaxen mane without piercing the delicate epidermis. The Big Tease, however, seems to offer something of a middle ground between these extremes. It is a very light hold, and it disperses well, rather than clumping in one area, which means it keeps your hair somewhat in place, but doesn’t cement it to your head. Nor does it weigh your hair down with with emulsified lard. It’s light, airy; as though your hairs were simply meant to fall in such a way.

Possible issues with this:

1.People with curly hair: I don’t understand you, but I get the feeling you’ve got it hard in the hair department, especially where “frizz” is concerned. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for…

2.People with Anime-hair or similarly pointy coiffures: This is not Dr. Pennyworth’s Anti-Gravity Salve. Believe me when I say this stuff is LIGHT. I mean, if you slather it on I’m sure it’ll get the job done, but it’s really meant for those who want a natural, messy, ruffled or relaxed doo.

From a strictly visceral standpoint this gel is pretty legitimate, but how about conceptually? Lush boasts that The Big Tease is “actually good for your hair” (presumably others are not so). The list of ingredients is pretty daunting, but this is what I’ve managed to parse out:

-Bay Leaf Infusion, Peppermint Infusion, Linseed Infusion, Orange Flower Absolute, Bergamot Oil, Mandarin Oil and Lemon Oil are fragrances and natural herbal ingredients that have restorative or detoxifying properties. Sounds good to me.

-Fair Trade Cocoa Butter, Jojoba Oil, Glycerine and Cupuacu Butter are all natural moisturizers. Also generally good for a healthy scalp and strong, silky hair.

-Acrylates, Lauryl Acrylate, Stearyl Acrylate, Ethylamine Oxide Methacrylate Copolymer: Say what? Basically this is your bread-and-butter hair gel base. Pretty standard. I’d say it’s about neutral to hair health.

-Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Beheneth-25 Methacrylate Crosspolymer and Coumarin: An emulsion stabilizer and an anti-coagulant. The former is used in other flexible gels and gives it that signature non-crunchy hold. Both are considered benign for use with the human body.

So there you go. Fairly standard gel base with a ton of nutrients and natural moisturizers and one or two designer additives to give it that light, flexible hold.

But is it worth the price tag? That’s going to depend a lot on what you are personally looking for in a styling gel. Since I tend to walk the line between Appolonian and Dionysian ideals, and because I have short hair, I don’t need to use much of this at a time to get the right unkempt look (less than a dime’s worth is usually plenty). I think I’ll probably make this tub last a good long time, thusly justifying the price tag.

On the other hand, if you are the type that has to be in control of every fiber, you’ll probably end up using so much of it at once that it will no longer be worth it.

In summation, remember that styling products are a bit like cars: sometimes they’re a good fit for your needs and sometimes they’re not. If you want an understated luxury model that keeps it casual, go and pick up a tub. If you need an all-wheel-drive, rough and ready, off-road tank of a hair gel, this stuff really will be a “big tease.”

In any case, do yourself a favor and take it for a test drive before you drive it home.

A’thankyou

Bang-for-your-buck Rating: $$ (a sting you can live with)

Over-all Rating: 5

-AB

Gold, Frankincense and Beer Shower Jelly by Alex

goldfrankbeer

[Edit February 28th. Frequent typos and hamfistish mishmash of metaphor and tin-eared lyricism)

About the Item:

Gold, Frankincense and Beer Shower Jelly

3.5 oz. for 7.95 (Season/discontinued)

This item contains: Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Glycerin, Stout (Beer), Mandarin & Star Anise Infusion (Citrus Nobilis & Illicium Verum), Propylene Glycol, Mandarin Juice (Citrus Nobilis), Carrageenan Extract (Chondrus crispus), Perfume, Orange Oil (Citrus dulcis), Clove Bud Oil (Eugenia caryophyllus), Black Pepper Oil (Piper nigrum), Cinnamon Leaf Oil (Cinnamomum cassia), Fine Sea Salt (Sodium Chloride), *Citral, *Eugenol, *Limonene, *Linalool, Methylparaben, Golden Sparkles (Polyethylene Terephthalate).

My Review:

Soap + Biblical allusions + beer = awesome? Yeah. It actually kind of does. Who would have thought?

Now, I’m not really the shower-jelly type (for reasons I shall elucidate later on), nor am I especially into beer. Gold, however, I am all about. Actually, let me back up. I’m not that into drinking beer. The occasional cold-one aside, I mostly use beer to steam my hotdogs (try it. Your mouth will love you for the rest of your life) or fix a broken chili, so I’m pretty well aware of beer’s alternative uses. That being said, I had never really considered it for cosmetic purposes until now. I believe I’ve heard of people shampooing with beer, but I’ve never quite understood why. And if it’s so great, why is pouring a beer on someone’s head in a bar such an insult?

Sally actually gave this item to me for Christmas (bless her soul) and contented, though I was, to have something other than a bag full of coal, I found myself a bit apprehensive at first. Looking at it through its little plastic tub I imagined it reeking of Guinness and incense like an Irish monastery. After peeling off the top and giving it a good whiff, I was actually quite pleased. It smelled a lot like root-beer, actually, with a warm note of Cinnamon and spice. Not overpowering, not too mild.

Compositionally most of the ingredients make sense. Citrus oils to cleanse, pepper to exfoliate and stimulate, salt to balance PH, clove to sooth– all excellent aggregates for soap. But what about the beer!? After some research I discovered that a lot of people actually do the beer-shampoo thing and even beer-baths (sound expensive and sticky) because beer contains vitamin B2, which stimulates growth and repair in hair, skin and nails. Sounds pretty awesome. Maybe that’s why Wolverine’s always knockin’ em’ back in the comics. Also it could explain his totally bitchin’ chops and hair.

“So wait, if I use GF&B I’ll look like Wolverine and be able to heal mortal wounds instantly?!” Whoa whoa whoa. Slow down, dear reader. I thought the same thing at first and although my tests proved negative for signs of Wolverinization, it was impressive on many other levels. As I said before, I’m not much of a jelly person, by which I mean I’ve always felt a little strange about using a wad of jello to wash with. I’m getting used to it, but it is a little odd. Lush recommends you pinch off a chunk and lather it into a loofah. This seems to be the most effective, but it’s also possible to just grab the whole chunk and rub it on yourself. This works well for me because I have a lot of chest hair that works to build up the lather (was that too much? I never know), but for most people (girly men and girly ladies) the pinch-and-lather technique is probably your best bet.

Lathering was a chief concern, having used Lush shower gels before and run into complications. I need a good lather and because they don’t use any synthetic foaming agents, sometimes you can’t really get good, fluffy suds. I was very impressed by GF&B, however. It lathers quite well on my natural man-fur or in a loofah.

I’m also fairly impressed by how long this stuff lasts. I assumed that the jelly texture would make it break down more easily, but depending on how sparingly you pinch off chunks, you can make it go as long as a normal bar of soap.

I haven’t noticed any major differences in my skin since I started using this stuff, but then again I wouldn’t expect to. I abuse my skin on a pretty regular basis between sculpting and playing rugby and I’m fairly oblivious to stuff like that anyway. It does make me feel very clean after using it, however, and the smell stays with me for a long time.

Bottomline, if you like root-beer and want to smell like it, this is the stuff for you. Oh, and the gold is a nice touch as well 🙂

Bang-for-your-Buck Rating: $$

Over-all Rating: 4