"All-purpose skin balm with miraculous results" screamed the press release, which revealed that Egyptian Magic Cream is beloved of celebs, top mags and is just basically the Best Thing Ever and now that it's finally avaiable in Ireland, we should definitely maybe sit up and take notice.
So I did. Helpfully, they'd sent some along for scrutiny too. What you get is a 118ml pot of faintly honey-scented waxy balm that's made from nicely natural ingredients like olive oil, beeswax, honey, bee pollen, royal jelly and propolis extract (a resin from bee hives). So, a very short and buzzy ingredients list. Buzzy - geddit?
There's nothing in here to offend, irritate or annoy - no chemicals, just lots of nice soothing, natural humectant, emollient and healing ingredients - honey's a mild antiseptic by the way. The big selling point as far as I can see (the Egyptian guff is really just marketing) is that unlike a lot of similar balms, it's petroleum-free.
Petroleum is a great ingredient to use as a barrier in beauty products - it helps keep moisture in skin - but it's not sustainable and lots of people don't like using it. Beeswax is a good natural alternative, so if you're trying to avoid by-products of the oil industry then take note.
A quick skin test confirmed this melts when you scoop it out and thanks to the oil in the formula, it transforms back into a spreadable, more liquid form. It feels nice on the skin - if you're a fan of balms (and I am) you'll know how they behave and how to use them, this is no exception - but I can't yet speak of the miraculous claims.
The release breathlessly speaks of its abilities: "it can be used to treat everything from cuts, burns, scars, bruises, stretch marks to treating rashes, eczema, rough or chapped skin/lips and more." Again, so far so usual really - we've heard all this and more from Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream and its ilk over the years.
The packaging's a bit wacky - lots of gas guff about blessings unto you and the recipe being from the pharoh himself. Does he get the profits too, I wondered? Speaking of them, this stuff costs €44.95 quid here, and Avoca stores at Suffolk St, Rathcoole and Kilmacanogue are the sole stockists. Me being me, checked online for price comparisons. On the Egyptian Magic website the same size jar costs $36 or around €25, on LoveLula.com*, it costs €28.57. You'll pay some shipping on both sites.
So, oh dear. Rip-off Ireland is alive and well, it seems. It also seems a bit silly to overcharge by such a massive factor when a two second Google search can find you out. Avoca, I know you have to import the product, but perhaps re-think the pricing a little, pretty please?
UPDATE 19th September 2010: The gods are smiling. The distributor has contacted us to tell us that the price has been reduced to €34.95 at Avoca - and it's all cos they read this post. There you go now.
*indicates a Beaut.ie affiliate