I have to admit to being a bit of a lotion lady.
I’ve long been on the hunt for a good body lotion to combat the ills of the Canadian winter (extreme dryness) and old age (extreme dryness plus wrinkles).
Too many of the lotions that I like at first blush turn out to be below par environmentally. Or else absurdly expensive. Or too greasy. Or overly worthy and thus unstable physically (nothing worse than having a great bath and then slathering on rancid lotion).
First a short rant: I am horrified by the number of personal care items (soap, lotion and the like) that come from China these days. Even seemingly high-end brands are manufacturing there: very many of the attractive and expensive-looing gift sets you find around Christmas originate in China.
Shipping heavy, water-filled items makes no sense ecologically. Then there is the question of what exactly it is you are slapping on your skin. It amazes me how little many people seem to care about that, despite the compelling logic of absorption through a porous surface (ever wondered how nicotine patches work?).
ShiKai is a California company that has been around for over 40 years. It makes a whole range of great body lotions in scents ranging from yuzu to pomegranate: I am fond of the cucumber/melon which has a fresh and not-at-all overpowering smell.
The lotions have a lot going for them: they are unctuous without being greasy, come in nice large tubes (8floz or 237ml) at a reasonable price ($6.91 on iHerb or $8.99 on ShiKai’s own site: I’ll never understand that) and generally feel quite luxurious.
The company emphasizes the pureness of its products – ‘All Natural’ is written right across the middle of the tube – though the the body lotion still scores 3 on the Skindeep database. Back to that later.
My new favourite lotion is made by another US company, Nourish. Nourish makes four ‘flavours’ of lotion, plus unscented. These come in the same sized tubes as the ShiKai product but cost slightly more at US$9.99 each (or you can buy all four for $32: they make great presents as the packaging is high-end and attractive, if a little heavy).
Nourish was apparently the first skincare company in the US to get USDA certification for its entire range. This means that the products are at least 95% organic. For more on this certification – which some other brands now share – and Nourish’s other ‘seals’ (gluten free, Oregon Tilth, etc.) see here.
My favourite Nourish flavour is lavender mint. It’s light and fresh and I’m not sure you can ever go wrong with lavender. I was initially intrigued by the fig flavour: though I like it, it has stronger hints of apricot than fig.
Nourish lotions have a different consistency than ShiKai ones. They are absorbed almost instantly and leave no apparent film on your skin (both good and bad, depending upon your mood and degree of dryness, I would say). But they feel good and nourishing (appropriately), nonetheless.
Nourish sells through its website and Whole Foods stores, in the US only. Canadian folk can order on-line, though this is not well advertised. The great news is that we Canadians also benefit from reasonable shipping rates. US rates are $5 flat or free when your order is over $50. Canadian orders ship for $5 when the order is over $50.
Nourish also makes deodorant, shea butters and various body washes and polishes, so it’s easy to stock up. If my order is anything to go by, your package will come quickly with paper packaging and a hand-written thank you note.
Like ShiKai, Nourish manufactures in the US. One gripe is that, though pretty, Nourish tubes seem to be made from unnecessarily thick plastic. It makes them stiff and heavy and just seems a waste (though they do claim to be recyclable, we know that depends upon where you live).
But what of ingredients? Nourish products are not rated on the Skindeep database. I asked the CEO about this and he told me that though he supports the idea of the database, he finds the ratings a bit off at times. Alcohol, for example, scores very poorly, regardless of its source. For this reason, Nourish has opted against seeking a rating.
I have actually noticed this problem myself: some quite natural-sounding ingredients, such as essential oils, are given a bad rap by the database for potential allergic reactions which are really not a huge concern for me.
To be complete I have done my own comparison of the ingredients of ShiKai and Noursh lotions. Both use aloe vera, shea (see shea nuts in the picture: hard to imagine they help your skin but they do) and a range of plant extracts. Overall, though, Nourish does seem to do better. Plant ingredients are all organic and the only potential ‘nasty’ is ‘Organic SDA 38B (Alcohol Denat): apparently an organically derived denatured (altered to be non-drinkable) alcohol.
So take your pick: lotions are a pretty personal decision, after all.