Review: Feniqia Savon des Vertus and parfum solide Escape

This Lebanese cosmetics brand is a delightful find.

savon alunFeniqia is a brand that hails from the Lebanon and I rate it as a real discovery. They make a wide range of hand-made soaps and other bath products, using olive oil, natural essences and herbs.

I tried a new product in the firm’s Savon des Vertus (Soap of the Virtues) range – Savon Pierre Alun Curcuma, which contains alum for its deodorising properties and turmeric to soothe irritated skin, along with glycerine, honey, olive oil, apricot oil, and essential oils of lemon, parsley and basil. It costs 9.64 euros for 100g.

I have to say without a doubt that this is the loveliest soap I’ve ever used. It comes in a ball, with a delightful hand-made feel (you can imagine it being hand rolled between the palms of some woman in the Lebanon) and it has the softest, silkiest lather imaginable. The soft little scrubby bits it contains enable you to use it as a body scrub directly on the skin, and it rinses away to leave your skin soft, smooth and beautifully perfumed. I find it even gentle enough to use on my face, which is very unusual.

It’s a rare moment when I really fall in love with a brand, but this is one of them, and I shall certainly be buying more of their stuff in the future – the jet-black Savon Precieuse Bader sounds particularly delightful, with its ingredients of coconut oil, honey and vanilla.

Escape perfumeThe other new product of Feniqia’s that I tried was a solid perfume, called Escape (20.90 euros for 40g), which was released in May. Solid perfumes aren’t much used in the West, but they were among the first types of perfume ever produced, using oil and soft wax as a medium, rather than alcohol. The perfume comes in two small blocks like mini bars of soap, which you can chop up and leave in a dish to perfume a room, or rub against your skin to use as a body perfume – the heat from your body melts just enough wax to give you a dose.

Escape has a head note of black pepper, a heart note of rose and a base note of spicy vanilla, and contains citronelle, geranium oil, coumarin, cinnamon, farnesol (the scent of the acacia tree) and lemon.

I must admit at this point that when I passed this perfume around my writers’ group, it met with universal horror. People said it smelled like cheap soap, like toilet cleaner and a host of other insults. But I beg to differ – I think it smells amazing, as did the two testers I tried it on later.

Wearing it is an odd sensation because it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing perfume so much as that your skin ‘is perfumed’, as if you’ve spent the day in a field full of flowers and your skin has picked up the scent.

I now keep a block of this perfume in my knicker drawer, and each night rub a little of it on my wrists and sniff myself to sleep – it is beautiful. It also contains no parabens, colouring, preservative, alcohol or paraffin. Other fragrances in the range include jasmine, musk and red fruits.

Feniqia products are available from La Grande Epicerie de Paris, Beauty Monop, Bio Generation, Nouveaux Robinsons and Feniqia’s website, www.feniqia.com.

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