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I looooove it when I buy something at a store and they throw in some free samples of other products. I’m a big fan of being able to try something before I buy it, especially if the product or store in question is on the pricey side.

L’Occitane en Provence is one of my favorite personal care product stores, but let’s face it, their products aren’t what I would call inexpensive. They are certainly high quality though. The products are all manufactured in France, and L’Occitane has a serious commitment to environmentally friendly practices. They use natural, herbal ingredients, many of them organic, and they use natural oils instead of oils derived from petrochemicals when they can. Oddly, their product packaging does not contain any of the usual “no animal testing” or “cruelty-free” logos. However, their website states that they do not engage in any animal testing for products, active ingredients, or raw materials (except the testing conducted by the Chinese and required before any cosmetics can be sold in China).

With the background out of the way, let’s get to the reviews!

Aromachologie Repairing Conditioner

L'Occitane conditioner copyLeaving aside the fact that Aromachologie is not actually a word, I loved the Aromachologie Repairing Conditioner. It’s made with five essential oils – ylang-ylang, sweet orange, lavender, geranium, and angelica – and it smells fantastic. It’s like a fragrant summer garden in your shower. It also contains amino acids, Vitamin B5, and sweet almond oil. The consistency is nice and thick, and it left my hair literally feeling like silk. It’s available in various sizes and price points, ranging from a 2.5-ounce travel size for $7.50 to a 16.9-ounce bottle for $33. One nice thing is that they sell a 16.9-ounce refill package for $30. That saves you a few bucks and cuts down on waste. The next time I decide to splurge on nice hair care, I will be buying this product.

Almond Milk Concentrate Body Lotion

Almond Milk lotion copyIt’s winter. It’s dry. I have to moisturize practically every square inch of my skin to keep it from feeling tight and itchy. If I could afford to slather the Almond Milk Concentrate Body Lotion all over myself all winter, I most definitely would. But at $49 for a 7-ounce jar, that would be prohibitively expensive. The lotion contains almond milk (obviously) and almond oil, from almond trees grown in the South of France. Even if you can’t take a vacation to Provence, your skin can! It has a light, perfume-y fragrance and a rich consistency. It does actually smell a bit like almonds (but then again, as I learned from Homeland, so does C-4). It absorbs easily without leaving a greasy residue, and I thought it kept my skin well-moisturized for 24 hours. If I could bring myself to spend $49 on body lotion, which I can’t, I would totally buy this one.

Immortelle Precious Eye Balm

Immortelle eye balm copyEye cream is a must, especially once you turn 30. The skin around your eyes is the most delicate skin on your body, and it must be pampered. L’Occitane’s Immortelle Precious Eye Balm definitely provides the pampering. It is designed to moisturize, while also reducing wrinkles, puffiness, and dark circles. I’m not sure how it can do ALL of those things, but with a price tag of $38 for half an ounce, it certainly should try. It smells vaguely citrusy, but also clean, almost like fresh linens. It can be used for both day and night because it’s not greasy, and a little goes a long way because it is fairly thick. It’s a great product if you can spend the money.

Immortelle Brightening Essence

brightening essence copyThe Immortelle Brightening Essence purports to reduce wrinkles, even out skin tone, and brighten and illuminate the skin. There was only enough product in my sample for me to use it once, so I can’t properly speak to whether it would accomplish any of those goals. I actually didn’t much care for the product. It felt very thin, especially compared to the facial serum I’m currently using (Lanoliné, which I paid $15 for at Marshalls). And $70 for one ounce is way too rich for my blood. (Yet, I would pay $70 for a bottle of Champagne without giving it much thought at all, and that wouldn’t last nearly as long. Even I don’t understand my priorities sometimes!)

The Brightening Essence smells wonderful, as all L’Occitane products do. It contains extracts of Wintergreen leaf and Garden Nasturtium, which probably account for its pleasant smell. Customer reviews on L’Occitane’s website claim that it does, in fact, reduce the appearance of sun spots. Me, I’ve just stayed out of the sun pretty much my whole life, so I don’t think sun spots are going to be a problem. But if you have discolored skin, it might be worth a try.

Verbena Eau de Toilette

Verbena copyVerbena (or Verveine) is a genus of roughly 250 annual and perennial herbaceous and semi-woody flowering plants, so it’s not like I can say, “This smells like verbena!” It does smell like citrus, because the base is geranium and lemon tree. I’ve used other L’Occitane Verbena products, and I love this scent. Unfortunately, the sample of the eau de toilette was practically useless. The actual perfume comes in a spray bottle. Trying to package that into a tear-open pouch is pretty non-sensical. They would be better served by using those tiny spray cylinders that most other companies use to give away fragrance samples. That said, the fragrance is light, but potent. It’s perfect for summer, but I suppose you could wear it year-round just to remind yourself that summer exists. (In case you can’t tell, I still hate these DC winters and very much miss Southern California.) At $55 for a 3.4-ounce bottle, it’s reasonably comparable to other fragrance lines for eau de toilette. If you really want to try it though, I recommend using the spray tester at the store, rather than asking for a sample.

Bottom line: L’Occitane en Provence products smell amazing and are high quality and effective. However, you definitely pay for that quality. Taking advantage of their samples is a great way to find out whether you like a product enough to splurge. They’re currently having a Valentine’s Day sale, and you can choose which samples you’d like to receive with your order. It looks like most of the samples reviewed in this post are available. Alas, you only get to choose two.

One last thing – if you happen to find yourself in the South of France (lucky you!), they offer free tours of their factory. The best part is that the products in their factory shop are all 10 percent less than retail. They’re located in Manosque, which is about 30 miles north of Aix-en-Provence.

If you have a favorite L’Occitane en Provence product, share it in the comments.