* Prices may differ from that shown
Rituals is a firm based in Amsterdam that aims to link the power of Eastern philosophies to their products. They seek to create harmony and a balance between body and soul. I'm not sure that I'm convinced that the toiletries I use have an effect on my soul, but if they are of a good quality I'm ready to give them a go. The Tao Secret gift box by Rituals was my younger son's first attempt at buying me a present of this kind, although I believe his girlfriend at the time had a hand in choosing it. It came in a large cardboard box and contained shower gel, body cream, foot balm, exfoliating body cream and two face masks. The products are not tested on animals. The website gives full list of the ingredients under the individual products, so I am only mentioning the main ones here.
Foaming Shower Gel Sensation
The shower gel is named "T'ai Chi", which means balance. It comes in a tall, narrow, pressurised metal container with a dome-shaped lid. It is a delicate shade of pale green, as are the other products in the gift box with the exception of the facial masks. I'm used to using normal shower gels where a limited amount comes out as you press the nozzle. This one took me by surprise, as the gel keeps coming out as long as you press and the first time I ended up with more than I needed. As you apply it to your skin, it produces quite a thick foam which was nothing like any shower gel I have used before. You don't need a huge amount of gel, and you soon realise that you don't need to press the nozzle for long each time. The shower gel contains white lotus and green tea. I loved the smell, which is sweet but not in a heavy or sickly way; it has a slight tang to it. According to Rituals' website, white lotus is a symbol of purity and spiritual growth, while green tea is calming and has strong antioxidant properties. Overall this feels like a luxurious product which I would love to use again, and it can be bought separately online for Euros 7.90 for 200ml.
The body cream is called "Mei Dao", which means path to beauty, and it contains organic white lotus and yi yi ren. Described as a 'rich, nourishing body cream', it comes in a 70ml tube with a wide, screw-top lid. It is quite a firm cream that keeps its shape when you squeeze it out. I absolutely love the smell of it, and it is a wonderful moisturiser too. Any cream that will keep your elbows soft is worth its salt, and this one certainly does. The fragrance lasts well too. This is a product that I would definitely consider buying if I could afford it. It is available separately in a pot at Euros 14.90 on Rituals' website, but there is no indication of the quantity the pot contains.
Cooling Foot Balm
Named "Lao Tze" after a Taoist philosopher, the cooling foot balm is fragranced with Chinese mint and yi yi ren. Like the body cream, the foot balm comes in a 75ml tube but this time with a flip-top lid. The tube is presented in a pale green cardboard box with a floral decoration. The balm is a softer consistency than the body cream, very similar to a Crabtree and Evelyn body cream that I had previously been using. Chinese mint is said to revitalise tired feet, and the cream is an excellent moisturiser and helps to keep cracked heels at bay. However, I found the minty fragrance overpowering, and unfortunately it clashes with the gorgeous fragrances of the shower gel and body cream. The balm is available separately online for Euros 9.90. I would be unlikely to buy it, however, as there are other good moisturisers whose fragrances I find much more pleasant than this one.
Body Exfoliating Cream
Named "Wai Wang", or royal glow, the body exfoliating cream contains organic white lotus and yi yi ren. It comes in a 200ml tube with a screw-off cap and an outer box that matches the design of the foot balm box. It is a combination of a rich cream base and ultrafine organic bamboo to remove dead skin cells. Rituals claim that the cream also boosts circulation, leaving the skin feeling fresh, smooth and invigorated. Yi yi ren is said to have nourishing properties. White lotus and yi yi ren are also principal ingredients in the body cream, so the exfoliating cream has the same gorgeous floral fragrance. The instructions are to apply the cream on damp skin and then rinse off; I did this whilst in the shower. The cream is the same pale green colour as the tube and is quite a thick consistency. The bamboo particles were not really visible to me as I squeezed the cream out, but I could certainly feel them as soon as I applied the cream. It was easy to rinse off in the shower and left my skin feeling very soft and smooth. The cream can be bought separately on Rituals' website for Euros 13.90. I would be happy to use it again, especially since the fragrance is very similar to that of the shower gel and body cream.
Ten-Minute Face Mask
Two ten-minute face-lift masks are contained in a folder within the gift box. Each mask is in a square sachet containing 10ml. One is a deep purifying mask and the other is an intensive moisturising mask. The purifying one contains China clay and nourishing avocado. The clay is said to cleanse and relax the skin, clearing it of oil, dirt and toxins, while the avocado improves its condition. The second facial mask contains honey to moisturise and calm the skin as well as rice milk to nourish it. In Asia, rice milk is a symbol of happiness and fertility. Rituals recommend using the masks once or twice a week.
I have to admit that this was the first time in my life that I had used a face mask, so I didn't know what to expect. I tried the purifying mask first. It was a thick, creamy, pale green paste, and the scent was definitely one of clay. There had been no attempt to give it a fragrance, but I didn't find the smell off-putting. I smoothed the mask over my face, avoiding the area of my eyes of course. There was plenty to make quite a thick layer, but Rituals claim it will not crack and dry. The mask felt pleasantly cool on my face. I left it on for almost quarter of an hour (the recommended time is ten to fifteen minutes) and only found a couple of small cracks at the top of my nose, between my eyebrows. The instructions are to rinse the mask off with water; I tried to do this with my hands but found it necessary to use a facecloth. If anything my skin felt slightly prickly afterwards, but that didn't last long. My face certainly felt very clean and my skin was smooth.
The second mask claims to hydrate and condition the skin, and it should be used after cleansing. It comes in a pale blue sachet, but the mask itself is a creamy colour. It has quite a sweet smell because of the honey, but it isn't an overpowering fragrance. The consistency is very different from that of the purifying mask, being much softer and resembling a moisturiser. I spread it over my face and again there was plenty for quite a thick layer. I did feel a slightly prickly sensation, even though I have never had sensitive skin. It did also feel quite cooling. I left the mask on for almost fifteen minutes and it didn't harden at all. The sachet again recommended rinsing off with water but the website suggests using a cotton pad, so I did that first. I finished off with water and have to say that there was no tautness at all. My skin felt extremely soft and smooth and I didn't feel the need to apply my usual moisturiser.
Both of these facial masks are available to buy separately in tubes on Rituals' website. They cost Euros 16.50 each, but there is no indication of the quantity contained in each tube. I should stress that I have only used each mask once, so I cannot comment on the long-term effects they may have.
The price for the Tao Secret gift box is Euros 34.90 on website. My son bought the gift box in Bristol, but I'm not sure at which store. He was honest enough to tell me that they had an offer of buy one, get another half price. This was just before Christmas, so it is worth watching out for special offers. There are half a dozen Rituals stores in London, including one at St Pancras and one within House of Fraser at Victoria Station. Walton-on-Thames also has a Rituals store.
I have loved using all the products in the Tao Secret gift box; my only reservation is the strong minty fragrance of the foot balm. I understand that mint has been used because it is supposed to be revitalising, but I would have preferred a product whose fragrance was more subtle or was similar to that of the shower gel and the other creams. Even so, I would recommend this as a lovely gift for Christmas or a birthday. I hope I can afford to use some of these products in the future, especially the foaming shower gel and the body cream.