A couple of weeks ago at the Spirit of Summer Fair I picked up this Brownearth Shea and Coca Butter (£10.95) from one of the stands there. I’ve always liked shea butter and usually use it pure as a lip balm, but was intrigued by this cream, which blends shea and cocoa butter with Vitamin E. They also had a shea and mango blend to try, but while it smelt nice, it was far too sweet for me.
I didn’t get much of a chance to ask questions about the product at the time as the man on the stand was flirting so outrageously with me I just wanted to throw my money at him and run away. I think one of his best lines was (whilst I was smelling the mango one): “I’d love to know how this smells on your skin.” That was before he invited himself round to my house for lunch, asked for my number, and when I did the cringe-worthy “sorry, I have a boyfriend” bit, said “that’s ok, I’m sure we can all get along.” Why I bought anything from him in retrospect actually baffles me, but like I said, I was just trying to get away as quickly as possible!
So…onto the product. I am actually quite disappointed with it to be honest. Smelling it again at home I really didn’t like the smell. The first thing that springs to mind is plasticine or play-dough. There’s just something funny about it. In terms of texture it’s pretty much like any other body butter – quite creamy. When applied it sinks in quite well, leaving my skin a bit tacky but not greasy. However, having tried it on my feet and elbows a few times, I can’t say I’ve seen any miraculous results. I don’t think it’s nearly as powerful as pure shea butter alone.
I’ve also looked this up on the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Database and sadly it doesn’t fair too well. It’s rated 5 out of 10 – so it’s a ‘moderate hazard’ according to their toxicity scale. For a product marketed as natural and with the main selling point being healing shea and cocoa butter you’d expect a better result I’d say. The two key ‘baddies’ according to the EWG report are fragrance/parfum (rated eight) and coumarin (rated seven). Having just done a little research on coumarin I’ve found out that is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in many plants, particularly the tonka bean. It seems it is considered moderately toxic to humans and has caused death in rodents. Apparently it has been banned as a food additive in many countries including by the FDA in the USA and it used to be used in tobacco products, although it’s still used in cosmetics, particularly in perfumes. It has a vanilla-like flavour and scent. Maybe this is the smell I don’t like?!
It’s listed last on the ingredients by Brownearth so presumably it’s only a small amount used in the formulation. Plus a rating of 5 by the EWG isn’t terrible. However, unless you like sickly sweet smelling things I really couldn’t recommend this product anyway.
Having said all that, Brownearth’s Organic Shea & Aloe Vera, with Olive Oil Soap (£5.95) is rated zero (top marks) by the EWG, so this could definitely be worth checking out. That’s the only other product I can find a rating for in the Cosmetics Database, however there are some other really interesting looking products on their website such as the Tea Tree Coconut Oil and Shea Butter Cleansing Soap (£7.50). The Organic Shea Butter and Calendula Oil Lip Balm sounds nice too! Knowing my luck maybe I just bought the worst of a good bunch?!
I think I might go back and purchase the shea, aloe and olive oil soap in fact. So I’ll let you know if I have better luck with that one. At least I’ll be shopping online this time so won’t have any more encounters with creepy inappropriate salesmen!
You can find the full Brownearth range at: http://www.brownearth.co.uk/