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~Down on the Farm~
Cowshed is a brand about which I have very mixed feelings. I've had a shower gel by them that smelled so delicious that I was sad when it ran out and body lotion so disgusting that I put it in the bin. Despite this ambivalence, I decided to fork out for the cost of a women's magazine back in April that had a tube of Slender Cow Body Butter as a gift with purchase. I forget which magazine it was so fortunately they won't have to fear they ruined their reputation with me by giving away something horrible. Mind you, I loathe women's magazines so they had little to gain if it had been wonderful.
Cowshed has been around since 1998 when it started out as a spa down in Somerset which housed its therapy rooms in - as the name suggests - the old cow shed of a place called Babington House back in 1998. Since that time the business has boomed, they have spas all over the world and sell their branded products widely. It's not exactly reached the 'household name' status yet which is probably why the company gets its products out to potential users via the medium of magazine gifts with purchase. The products are positioned as very 'natural' and use lots of botanical extracts which are sustainably sourced. With claims like that it's not surprise to find a long list of things they won't let into their product s- preservatives, petrochemicals, artificial foaming agents, most animal-based ingredients, and artificial fragrances or colours. Of course there's no animal testing - except of course the animals who buy the products or get them with their magazines.
Slender Cow is a range of products designed to firm up and tone baggy skin. They say 'sluggish' but we know they mean skin as saggy and baggy as Bagpuss. Since January I've lost nearly 2 stone in weight so it's fair to assume my belly's not the most taut and toned thing you've ever seen - not of course that you've ever seen or are likely to see my belly. It sounded like a range that might be worth giving a go and for the £4 or so that the magazine cost, I was willing to give it a try. The products available in the Slender Cow range are a sculpting serum, the body butter which I got, and some kind of scrub which is photographed but not described on the Cowshed website. A 200 ml tube of the body butter would set you back a substantial £28 but I think most people would say that if it did what it promised, it might be worth a try.
~So what does it promise?~
I'll quote the claim so it's unambiguous. The product "Firms and tones sluggish skin. Improve(s) skin tone and firmness by up to 46% and decrease(s) stretch marks by up to 32% after only 12 weeks use". Sounds impressive, doesn't it? They warn that it's not suitable for anyone who is pregnant or has a nut allergy. I would have thought the market for people who want to tackle stretch marks was probably full of pregnant women so maybe they're restricting themselves to the 'after the baby's out' treatment of stretch marks rather than those people who take a 'prevention is better than cure' approach.
The product claims to give 24 hour 'moisturisation', to strengthen skin and improve its elasticity and to reduce the appearance of stretch-marks. It contains several essential oils - grapefruit, sweet orange, 'mandarin red' (whatever that is) and ylang ylang all of which are supposed to make your skin feel wonderful and there's also carrot seed oil to allegedly break down toxins and a load of seaweed and other marine extracts to 'condition sluggish limbs' and detoxifying Norwegian kelp, rejuvenating pearl moss and skin elasticity improving bladderwrack.
~Did I love it? I did not~
Just try to imagine what that lots going to small like when it's all mixed together. Is it possible that it's going to smell like a bucket of gone-off seaweed and a load of orange peels? Yep, it's not only possible, it's almost inevitable. There are many problems with this product but the big big nasty one is that it smells absolutely disgusting. I have a policy when I'm trying to use up something expensive and unpleasant that's too expensive to throw away - I use it on my feet on the basis that it's the furthest part of my body from my poor nose. By that policy, the only place I could use this stuff would be on someone I don't like who lives a long way away. I'd probably have to find someone I don't like who lives a long way away and has no sense of smell. It is quite simply the most disgusting smelling body product I've ever come across.
It's also unfair to call this a 'body butter' and an insult to any body butter worth its salt. It's not a butter, it's quite a thin cream. It squeezes out of the tube without needing too much encouragement and it spreads well on my skin without me needing too big a blob. Talking of big blobs, my big blobby ex-belly seems to sense that this is nasty stuff and the smell sets my skin expecting to react to the cream. I gave up after only a few applications without getting any nasty reactions to the ingredients but always sensing that they could happen. The information on the tube does warn that users should do a skin test - put a little on a patch of skin - to check for a reaction before slathering it all over themselves so maybe by nervousness is not all in the mind.
I've not gone into details on how the manufacturers say you should use this or how long it should be before you notice a change in your skin quality. The reason for that is that there was absolutely no way I could have continued to use this with the suggested frequency because I disliked it so much. If you do decide to buy some, read the guidelines carefully, put a peg on your nose and go for it. Good luck