Considering the wave of celebrity perfumes that has submerged us over the past decade, it's interesting that so few famous names have appeared on the labels of fragranced body products. The only examples that come to my mind are Jo Wood Organics, a high-priced niche line created by the ex-wife of a Rolling Stone, and Lisa Hoffman Beauty, a body/fragrance spa brand founded by Dustin Hoffman's wife, but neither of these women is exactly a household name.
Now, however, we have Nuance, a full collection of cosmetics, skincare, haircare, and body products launched by actress Salma Hayek. Hayek herself is probably no stranger to fancy fragrances and indulgent self-care products, since she's married to François-Henri Pinault, the CEO of a multinational luxury goods business. Yet her new Nuance brand is sold at CVS drugstores; as Hayek says in one of her promotional videos for the line, "I wanted to make sure that every woman could afford it." (She also mentions the inspiration of her grandmother, who concocted homemade beauty products in her kitchen, and the long history of natural ingredients in traditional Mexican remedies.)
I picked up two Nuance body products at CVS on a whim; I was there to buy something else, probably razor blades or a nail file, but the Nuance display caught my eye. I liked the line's sophisticated packaging, which is a range of containers in subdued, earthy tones, decorated with elegant botanical designs. Moreover, I was all out of lotion and scrub, and there was some kind of "buy one, get one at half-price" special going on. I was even more pleasantly surprised when I used both products, because their quality is quite high for drugstore offerings.
Nuance Walnut Body Scrub is packaged in a flip-top tube, which really is the neatest and most convenient way to use a scrub in the shower. Its exfoliating properties come from a mix of fine grains (walnut-shell powder and synthetic particles) in a creamy base that leaves no greasy after-feel on the body or on the floor of the tub. Its formula is paraben-free and contains a few interesting ingredients such as rice
brain bran oil, coffee extract, acai, and babassu oil. And it happens to have a grown-up gourmand fragrance: a refined cocoa-vanilla blend with a woodsy-smoky edge that keeps the sweeter notes from turning too cupcake-like.
Nuance Rosehip Moisturizing Body Lotion is also sold in a flip-top bottle (one that can even be stood on its "head" when it's running low, so that you can get every last bit of product). It has a lightweight texture that absorbs quickly yet noticeably softens the skin. Its fragrance is a light scent of freshly-cut roses with green leaves, which just happens to work as an easy "layer" under most of the perfumes in my collection. It's harder than you might expect to find a rose-scented lotion that doesn't smell harshly perfumed, sour, or vaguely soapy, but this one really pleases me. The lotion's ingredients include shea butter and various plant-based extracts and oils in addition to its namesake rosehip oil. There are also a few less "natural" ingredients, but no obviously cheap fillers like mineral oil, and it's another paraben-free product.
I've always liked Salma Hayek, partially for her film work but even more for her appearance in Allure magazine in 1999, when she posed for an editorial photo shoot with her extensive team of makeup artists, hairstylists, facialists, physical trainers, business managers, et al. At the time, it was a refreshing change from the usual, "Oh, I'm just the girl next door" and "Me? I just eat well and go for runs on the beach" spiels that many starlets were giving in interviews. Hayek was cheerfully reminding us that a star is often a business with a large support staff, and that she doesn't just roll out of bed in the morning looking quite so sleek and sultry. (On the other hand, she also regularly admits to knowing that she is beautiful, and she has never insulted our intelligence with the "Oh, I was such an ugly duckling growing up!" story. It just doesn't work that way, does it?)
I'll be curious to see how well Nuance succeeds; I'm hoping for it to prosper, since I happen to like these two body products I've used and would gladly try more. (I'm also using the Blue Agave Curl Cream, which is not fragranced, but gives a nice texture to my wavy-curly hair.) They smell great, they work well, they're reasonably priced, and their packaging is practical and attractive. If there were an Oscar for drugstore body products, I'd consider them for nomination.
Nuance Salma Hayek Walnut Body Scrub and Rosehip Moisturizing Body Lotion are sold for about $8 each in CVS stores and through the CVS website.