I am a little surprised to see we've never reviewed one of L'Occitane's shea butter hand creams, but hey, most of you are probably familiar with the product — according to L'Occitane, they sell one every three seconds. It's a thick hand cream in a metal tube, sometimes with colorful decorations, sometimes without. The formula is 20% shea butter,1 but it sinks in nicely and doesn't leave hands greasy. And it works, or at least, I find that it works quickly when my hands are parched in the winter.2 The metal tubes seem to hold up pretty well, which is more than I can say for some metal tube hand creams, which split along the sides before you've finished the product.3
Happily for perfumistas, L'Occitane regularly introduces new limited edition fragrances — actually, I'm not sure I've ever tried the "regular", non-scented version, but I often have one of the 30 ml travel tubes, in one scent or another, tucked in my purse. Last year's Mango Flower scent was nice if you like bright, sweetish fruity florals, and sometimes they have scents to match their personal fragrances: right now, you could try Honey, Rose 4 Reines, Spring Cherry, Cherry Princess, Fleur Chérie, Lavender or Pivoine Flora.
Today's review is about three recent limited editions: Passionate Jasmine, Subtle Violet and Fleur d'Or & Acacia. I also tried the new Rose Petals briefly in store (nice enough), but I missed the Date Bouquet — if you tried that one, do comment, and for that matter, do tell us if you have a favorite fragranced hand cream we should know about.
This is a pretty jasmine, light and clean. White-floral-phobes need not be overly concerned about the "passionate" part, it's not indolic in the least, and it's not even that heavily floral. If I was naming it — and it's surprising, isn't it, that L'Occitane has not hired me to name their consumer products? — I'd probably call it Whisper of Jasmine, or maybe Ephemeral Jasmine. And that's my biggest complaint: the scent does not linger on my skin for more than say, 5 or 10 minutes? I do not generally like my hand creams to be too strongly scented — I don't want my hand cream to overpower my perfume, for instance — and I don't necessarily want the scent to last for hours, but this one was a little too light and short-lived for my taste. Enjoyable enough, but I probably won't repurchase.
So you would think that the "subtle" part would be worrisome since I didn't find the "passionate" jasmine strong enough, but no, actually this one has a little more presence, albeit no more than a little. The lasting power of the fragrance is likewise a bit better, but it still leaves much to be desired. All the same, it's a pretty boudoir-ish violet, very lady-like and old-fashioned, and it turned out to be my favorite of the three. I don't know how long these will be on the market, but I'll probably pick up another tube of Subtle Violet next time I'm in the mall.
Fleur d'Or & Acacia
So Kevin reviewed the Fleur d'Or fragrance yesterday, and yes, he's right, I liked it in the store, on a blotter, but I never tried it on skin and he's quite possibly right that I wouldn't like it if I did. (I still think the Vanille & Narcisse is the nicest of the Grasse collection so far.) In a hand cream, though, the honeyed mimosa fragrance, over a soft woody base, is not so overpowering, even though it has far and away the most presence and lasting power of the three scents I'm trying today. It's just warm enough to be enjoyable in the winter cold, and just bright enough to be cheering. Very much worth a try for mimosa fans.
L'Occitane Passionate Jasmine, Subtle Violet and Fleur d'Or & Acacia shea hand creams are $12 each for 30 ml.
1. Plus a bunch of other ingredients, including some I could live without, like silicone (admittedly, it's what makes the cream feel good on the hands) and methylparaben.
2. Really bad winter hands, however, the kind with cracking and splitting skin, require Zim's Crack Creme. If you use the L'Occitane regularly, hopefully yours won't get that bad and you won't have to deal with the smell of the Zim's (someone on Amazon helpfully described it as "like cloves mashed with leftover moose parts").
3. Yes, I'm looking at you, Weleda Skin Food, and your buddy, Weleda Sea Buckthorn. You have slimed the bottom of my purse for the last time. I do admit that I have not bought a tube in so long that I'm not even sure they're still using metal — if they've switched to plastic, I'd love another tube of the cheerful, creamsicle-scented Sea Buckthorn.