“ Brand: Christy / Balm / Type: Body Balm / What it does: regenerates, „
~Throwing in the Towel~
If they know the brand 'Christy' at all, most people will associate it with cotton-goods - towels and bedding in particular. Few will be aware that they also sell a small range of toiletries and candles and air-freshener 'things'. Like most people I was equally ignorant of this strangely fitting product line until just over two years ago when my very lovely but not always clear thinking husband bought me a set of Christy bedding for Christmas. The duvet cover, pillow cases and bedspread were all very lovely but totally the wrong colour. Our bedroom is blue and beige whilst the bedding was pink and red. I took it back to the shop in Ellesmere Port's Cheshire Oaks Outlet centre and they agreed to change it for something more suitable. I was lucky that the price he paid before Christmas was a lot higher than the prices in the January sales. My items duly got switched for things in more appropriate colours plus an extra duvet cover and I was left with about £15 to spare. Looking around the shop for something to use up the remaining credit, I found the Christy toiletries range and bought a bottle of Peony Body Balm and a boxed set of hand cream and hand wash. Little was I to know that this was the beginning of my peony obsession.
The products come in three scents - Peony, Fig and Cotton. Now Cotton is just a plain daft name for a fragrance since cotton doesn't smell of anything other than detergent and fabric conditioner. I rather liked the smell of the fig but it took only a little squirt to sell me on the peony.
We have peonies in our garden and I adore them. They are one of the first proper 'big' flowers to come through after all those slightly self-effacing bulbs have done their time. Peonies are the big, blowsy, frilly, pink show-offs of the garden. If I was a flower, I have a horrible feeling I'd be a peony - right up to the point where they get battered by the inevitable late spring rain. Despite my adoration for peonies, I'd never actually realised that they smelt of anything in particular. Our peonies are in the middle of a wide flower bed and take some climbing over wood bark to get to. I had never sunk my nose into a big frilly bloom and given it a good sniff. It took Christy Peony Body Balm to make me realise what had been under my nose all those years.
The purchase of the wrong coloured bedding and the subsequent love of Christy Peony products were oddly linked by ill-health. The bedding was a panic buy by a husband who'd just learned I had cancer (don't worry - not a particularly nasty one but it was scary at the time and the bedding was a desperation purchase). The box of peony hand wash and hand cream were products I used as a little luxury whilst I was in isolation in the spare bedroom at home after being given a dose of radioactive iodine. I suppose it could have gone either way; I could have learned to hate the sweet, happy, pink smell of Christy Peony, come to associate it with bad times and have never wanted it near me again. But that wasn't the case. I rather enjoyed my isolation and time off work, and I came to love the scent.
~Smooth, rich and classy - like the perfect man (sorry)~
I started using the body balm not long after, finding that I luxuriated in its rich thick creamy texture. As I started to get towards the bottom half of the bottle I got into a bit of a panic. What would I do if they sold out of my newly-acquired feel-good cream? I went back to the store and bought a dozen bottles, a mix of the shower gel, the body balm, and the hand products. I was not going to get caught short . I even bought the scented candles and I loathe scented candles - that's how bad my addiction had become. I needn't have worried as they still sell it now and if I tempt you enough, you can pick up a bottle on the Christy website - www.christy-towels.com - at a knock down price of just £3 against an RRP of £10. Would I pay £10 for this? I love it so much that I might actually be that crazy, but I'd rather pay £3, thank you very much.
So what will £3 get you? The body balm comes in a 250 ml bottle with a pump dispenser attachment and a very plain, understated label. £3 also gets you the most glorious burst of scent and creaminess. The fragrance is built up of peony and roses (to be precise 'red roses' but I really wouldn't know how you'd tell the colour by the smell) with a chaser of cassis and mimosa. It's sweet, clean and ever so smooth. This is a scent with no rough edges, no discordant whiffs jutting out and irritating the nose. It's just sublime, rounded, polished and creamy.
The texture is rather thick for a lotion and it rubs on more like a body butter than a body lotion. It tends to linger on the skin surface and isn't the most quickly absorbed of products so I tend to use it after a bath when I can lie around in my dressing gown whilst I soaks up, rather than first thing in the morning when I'm putting clothes straight on top. My whole room smells delicately of this after I've used it. The one part of me that I am likely to dose with a good dollop in the morning is my arms. I have quite dry forearms and I like to give them some cream before going to work. I can then pick up a gentle waft of peony throughout the day. This is not a brash "Step aside, I'm going to enter the room several seconds before the person wearing me" sort of smell. It lingers on my skin, waiting to waft a little whiff of peonies at me when I most need them.
~Four star rather than five~
The only downside to this product which gets a star knocked off an otherwise five star product, is that it's really a bit too thick to be living in a pump dispenser. It tends to dispense pretty well for the first two thirds of the bottle and then what's left can get very hard to get out of the bottle. My room regularly had bottles of Peony Body Balm balanced precariously or wedged between things whilst I encourage gravity to give it a helping hand. I defy anyone to get the last 80 or so millimetres out of the bottle without a lot of shaking and swearing.
~If you love this, then try.......~
This product spawned my love of a rather more classically classy product - the Pivoine body lotion from L'Occitane. If you know that product or the perfume by the same name, it's a much sharper, juicier and edgier evocation of the peony flower. I love both products and have bulk bought a stock of Pivoine after the L'Occitane store at Cheshire Oaks had it on offer for £3.50 a bottle. I first bought a duty free bottle for more than 4 times that price and then discovered it's almost impossible to get the stuff out of the bottle. Clearly that's why you can buy it so cheaply - nobody else can get it out either. Clearly peony body lotions make you work for their pleasure. For me it's well worth the effort.