dry skin

Review: Neat Feat Foot & Heel Balm

Favorite. Foot. Cream. EVER.

While in most ways I am the girliest of girls, I have to admit that my Achilles heel is — well, my heels. Actually, the whole bottom of my foot is kind of a disaster. Year-round, but especially in the winter, I have calluses and buildups of dead skin on my heels and on the ball of my foot that would shame a sasquatch. I have ruined more pairs of tights and hosiery than I can count because they get runs up the back from the tiny prickly stalagmites sticking out of my heels. (Yes, I know, eeeeew. Sorry.)

My arsenal of tools for dealing with this problem includes a callus shaver, a wide range of abrasive devices (pumices, emery boards, microplane graters, and even — I’m not kidding — a battery-operated rotary tool with a gritty quartz head, like a Dremel rotary carver), and every foot cream known to man. Or, woman, because honestly I haven’t met too many men who care if the bottoms of their feet are scratchier than 30 grit sandpaper.

A few years ago, I bought a little pair of toeless socks that had been treated with a thick moisturizing gel in the heel. They were essentially heel patches, with enough sock around them to hold them in place on the heel. They came with a tiny sample of foot balm, and the deal was that you would put the foot balm on your heel, put on the heel sock, and go to bed. The moisturizing gel and the heel balm together would theoretically do a number on your heels overnight and presto! you would wake up in the morning with fabulous heels.

And presto! it worked. And it continued to work while I went through that sample of foot balm. And then I ran out, and I figured I would just use some other foot cream instead — and then it stopped working, and there was much sadness (and many ruined stockings) in the House of Voxy. While the gel socks were a good idea, it turns out that the magic was in the foot balm — which was not available at Target, or Walmart, or any drugstore, or anywhere on this continent. While other products from this New Zealand company were being sold in the US, this particular one was not, and so at the time there was no way to get it.

Since then, the interwebz have improved a lot, and prompted by a recent inquiry elsewhere in cyberspace, I looked it up, and just about fell over with excitement when I saw that I could now buy this product online and have it shipped to me from New Zealand! (It’s still not sold in American stores, as far as I know; if you find out otherwise, let me know in the comments!)

This magical mystery product is, of course, Neat Feat Foot & Heel Balm, and it is the single best unsightly-feet-fixer I have ever used.

When looking at something to penetrate and soften dead and callused skin, urea (lab-synthesized) is the magic ingredient, but there are plenty of foot creams that have urea that don’t do squat. Unlike most other drugstore foot-care products I’ve tried, Neat Feat Foot & Heel Balm is a thick, oil-based balm, which means that it stays where it’s put and takes a long time to absorb into skin. This gives the urea a long time to penetrate and really softens the skin. The balm does not smell like roses or cookies or anything else delicious, but it certainly works. This is a product that caused me to see a real difference in just one night.

Use in conjunction with other dry-skin removal practices: cleansing, exfoliating via an emery foot board or other appropriate abrasive, and overall foot moisturizing. The wear-socks-to-bed trick is still a good one, and this balm works just fine for that.

Right now Neat Feat is having a 2-for-1 sale, so you can get two tubes for the price of one. Each tube is only 75 g/2.6 fl. oz., but since it is so thick and you don’t use a lot at a time, it will last a reasonably long time, especially if you only have dry-skin troubles in the winter. The value of the 2-for-1 deal effectively cancels out the high cost of shipping from NZ to the US, but even if it ended up not quite evening out, it would have been worth it to be able to get this product again. I ordered on January 5; it was not shipped until January 18 for some reason, but it arrived at my door on or about the 25th. So, a week from shipping date to arrival date, give or take.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Neat Feat Foot & Heel Balm: $9.95 US for 2 tubes, plus $8.50 shipping from NZ to US

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (drugstore: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. The product price itself is good, but having to pay overseas shipping is a drag. If you find it in stores in the US, let me know.

Purchase again? Yes, ma’am!

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a shout-out in the comments!)

Review: Decleor Aromessence Angelique Night Balm

decleor angeliqueTo me, Decléor is a brand that has always communicated luxury and mystique. This is mostly because I think their packaging is incredibly alluring (take a look at this, and this) — who knows what miraculous elixirs and potions might be housed within those seductive and mysterious bottles, bottles that whisper to be held and caressed and gently opened to reveal the exotic unguents within? Unfortunately, they’ve been launching more and more products in boring, ordinary squeeze tubes rather than little glass ampules, and as hard as I try I just can’t seem to get up the urge to caress a plastic squeeze bottle.

Also, a disturbing number of their products seem to be yellow. Case in point: Decleor Aromessence Angelique Night Balm.

Decléor was one of the first major lines to incorporate aromatherapy and essential oils in their skincare products (35 years ago, believe it or not; how time flies). The Angelique products have essential oil of angelica in them; this line is designed for dry skin. Most of the Aromessence products also come in a Ylang-Ylang version for oily skin and a Neroli (yum) version for normal skin.

One thing I like about this product is the simple list of ingredients, which reads merely:

Essential Oils (Rosemary, Geranium, Chamomile, Angelica), Plant Oils (Borage, Avocado, Red Palm), Essential Waxes (Narcissus, Rose, Cassia).

I bought this one winter when I was having a lot of dry, flaky undereye skin and I wanted something really emollient. The saleswoman at Sephora gave me samples of several products, and this was the best of what I tried at that time, even though it’s not specifically a product for the eyes. It is, indeed, extremely emollient. In fact, it is so emollient (it is, after all, oils and waxes) that it might be too much for some people. I haven’t tried the oily- or normal-skin versions; it might seem paradoxical to put a balm of waxes and essential oils on oily skin, but I have recently come around to thinking that that might actually work in some cases.

In the manner of saleswomen, this one told me that this product would “help my dry skin learn to heal itself.” Uh… maybe my skin didn’t study enough, or needed tutoring or something. I didn’t notice any lasting change in my skin from continual use. I still use it as an undereye balm in winter (sometimes at night), and during the driest and coldest days of winter I use it as a face balm also.

To use this as an undereye balm, apply a small (tiny, minuscule, almost-invisible) amount with your ring finger. To use it as a balm for the whole face, take an only-slightly-less-tiny amount and rub it between your hands to warm it. Pat gently and lightly (but thoroughly) over the face. I’m not a fan of rubbing or pressing this product in; the patting works just fine for me. The warmth of your skin helps distribute the product evenly over your face.

If you want to really enjoy your Decléor products, I highly recommend that you do not look at the price tag, because this is one expensive line. On the other hand, the products last forever, so you’ll probably only ever need to buy one.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): fair

Purchase again? No (it’s a nice product, but I can’t imagine ever running out or needing to purchase another one)

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)