What better way to banish the winter blues than to have a group facial and spa evening?
I had the girls over for a spa and facial evening last night, partly just as a get-together and partly to try out a new range of skincare products called Fruit Forever.
We tried out makeup remover, cleanser, two day moisturisers, a night cream, serum and an eye cream. Between the cleansing and moisturising stages, we also made up some fruit masks, using the leftover fruit to make a fruit salad, and also ate a great many chocolates and biscuits.
The girls came over in dressing gowns and slippers, and I set up the living room as a bit of a spa, with Zen music on the player (quickly drowned out by the cacophony of screeching), white sheets on all the furniture, and scented candles everywhere. There were 12 testers, with ages ranging from 12 to 69, though most of us are in our 40s and 50s.
Fruit Forever is a range created by ID-Beauty, a French company that also produces the O2D-Biotic range of skincare, based on yoghurt ferments, and acts as a distributor for many leading brands such as Coty.
The main premise behind the new range is a process the firm has invented called 'dispersion', whereby the ingredients are amalgamated at high speed in order to eliminate the need for emulsifiers and preservatives. That way, the idea is that the ingredients remain purer and therefore more effective, and also users have fewer adverse reactions - there are no parabens, for instance and all of the products have been dermatologically tested. However, although based on fruit, they are not organic and ID-Beauty hasn't sought Eco-cert certification or its like.
Fruit Forever, in France, is available exclusively in the perfumerie chain Nocibé and prices range from 21 euros for a cleanser to 45 euros for a night cream. The products are packaged in clean, simple, white, low-sheen cardboard, with an image of the relevant superfruit (cranberries, blueberries etc) on the pack (this kind of packaging is what the trade terms 'self selecting' because you can see easily what you're looking for).
Ranged on a shelf, as one tester remarked, they look very pretty, and she thought they would appeal to the teenage market. However, their price point is definitely that of a selective brand - another tester correctly guessed that prices would be about the same as Aderma.
Inside the outer pack, where the test group was expecting glass bottles, they were slightly disappointed to find white, pharmaceutical-looking plastic bottles, with various types of dispenser - pump, self-seal, etc, according to product. These don't carry the image of the fruit, so you have to look at them a little more closely to work out which one you're using - I, for one, would keep these bottles in their outer packaging on my bathroom shelf, as this looks not only looks far prettier, it also means I won't make a mistake when I've got my specs off!
The first product we tried was the Tonique Démaquillant (Makeup Remover and Toner) (150ml, 21 euros), which can be used on both face and eyes. This contains goji berries, blackberries and cranberries and is a pleasant-smelling liquid (not a white lotion as I was expecting). Everyone liked the smell of this product, and it was certainly effective at removing makeup, including mascara, with no stinging, but it left a residue on the skin that several of us were keen to wash off. Over time, this is said to tighten the pores, so we will have to see what the longer-term test results conclude - I don't personally leave toners on my skin, as I suffer from rosacea.
Having removed our makeup, we then trooped into the kitchen to try out the Gel Perlé Nettoyant Moussant (Foaming and Cleansing Pearlescent Gel) (100ml, 21 euros). This is based on Jaboncillo berry, a natural soap-producing plant, as well as goji, cranberry and raspberry. This product met with universal approval - everyone was delighted with the raspberry smell and it left everyone's skin feeling extremely soft afterwards, with no trace of tightness, though one tester used quite a lot and found it difficult to rinse off.
Home-made face masks
We then took a break from product testing to try out some masks, using ingredients that are readily to hand in most kitchens. Most of us chose a nourishing mask:
1 egg yolk, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp honey, thoroughly blended.
Some chose a cooling, purifying mask:
2ins of cucumber, 1 lightly beaten egg white, white clay (actually cat litter, crushed in a mortar), blended until thick enough to apply.
And two chose a tightening mask:
Half a banana, mashed, and 1 firmly whipped egg white.
All the masks were applied for around 15 minutes, then rinsed off with warm water, and all of them left our skin feeling fantastically clean, soft and fresh.
At this point, we split out test group according to our skin needs, with different people trying different products. The first group tried the Soin Hydratant Multi Vitaminé (Multivitamin Hydrating Lotion) (50ml, 35 euros), based on strawberries and other red fruits. This was declared to have a nice smell and a light, non-greasy texture. An older tester got a slight reaction from it, though this passed, and another used it on her hands and thought it would be a good hand cream and possibly body cream for those who prefer a heavier facial cream. Our youngest tester, who was 12, thought it was fantastic, and took the bottle home with her.
The second group tried the Soin Lumière Anti-Rides Jour (Radiance Anti-Wrinkle Day Cream) (50ml, 39 euros), based on citrus, green tea and sugar cane, along with acerola berries and orange pectin. This was pronounced to be 'really lovely' by one tester, who said it made her skin very smooth indeed. It also soaked in nicely and she said she felt she could probably wear makeup on top of it straight away.
The third group tried the Sérum Lumière Anti-Fatigue (Radiance Anti-Wrinkle Serum) (30ml, 39 euros), which is based on a citrus complex to brighten the skin, and Japanese satsuma to minimise age spots. Our next-to-oldest tester (age 68) didn't care for this product and felt that it dragged her skin, though I found it sank in very nicely and could, in fact, have been used alone as a moisturiser without a night cream.
Several women also tried the Contour des Yeux (Anti Fatigue Eye Contour) (15ml, 29 euros), based on cocoa butter and grapeseed extract, along with lemon zest. One tester disliked the smell, but said it felt good on the skin; another, who was worried about her eczema, found it was fine; while two others were delighted with it, enjoying the cooling effect as it sank in and the smooth feel of their skin afterwards.
The final group tried the Soin Anti-Rides Nuit (Radiance Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream) (50ml, 45 euros), containing noni, cranberry enzymes and orange pectin. Again, some testers found the smell of this product slightly offputting and medicinal (one described it as smelling like zinc and caster oil cream), but all the testers liked the non-greasy feel and the way it sank straight into the skin.
One person with very dry, eczema-prone skin found it very soothing, while I myself found it stung a little at first, but that this passed. I would generally expect a little stinging with a nightcream because of the fruit acid content, and in the morning, I definitely noticed that my skin looked much smoother and brighter.
We finished up our evening with a good spritz of perfume, courtesy of Serge Lutens, with some enamoured of the leather and musk of Boxeuses, everyone hating my favourite 'toast' scent, Jeux de Peau, most eschewing another favourite of mine, the highly floral Bas de Soie, and most plumping for the extremely spa-like L'Eau Serge Lutens.