Health & Grooming | The Reconnoisseur

A constant skincare companion for 25 years

The body lotion that works brilliantly – and smells divine

A constant skincare companion for 25 years

May 12 2010
Maria Shollenbarger

Londoners who shop at Whole Foods are likely to be familiar with the US bath and body line called Alba Botanica – but not with its original body lotion, officially known as Very Emollient Body Lotion, which, despite my considerable efforts, I haven’t been able to find in the UK.

I discovered it in the 1980s, aged 13, in a little health food store in Venice, California, which my mother liked to shop at called Mrs Gooch’s (which would later proliferate and morph into the massive Whole Foods empire of today). And I have been using it regularly ever since, for two reasons. One, it does exactly what it says on the tin, more ably and reliably (and less greasily or stickily) than any other balm, cream, or lotion I’ve found – and in my years as a beauty writer in New York, trust me, I slathered on scores of them. Two: it smells divine. I know this because if I had a pound for every time someone closed their eyes while hugging a freshly-showered, Saturday-casual me and said, “You smell divine/delicious/fantastic/so clean!”, I reckon I’d have a much bigger and swankier bathroom to line with bottles and bottles of VEBL.

The fact is this: as a professional, I have access to many, many skincare products, good and bad, exorbitant and affordable; and yet I have gone to great lengths to have this one as my constant for almost 25 years – making friends bring it over from the US when I was a student in Italy in the early 1990s, and bribing a colleague on the FT London newsdesk to haul a motherlode of it home from a New York business trip just two months ago. That, to me, is as effective a testimonial as anyone – beauty pro or no – could give. Now your task is getting a friend stateside to bring it back from his/her next trip.

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