Saturday, February 09, 2008

Five Faves from Burts Bees

I remember reading a study for some (totally forgettable) class in college that found immigrants to the U.S were steadfastly loyal to brand names from their home countries even if those products were more expensive. Being in a foreign culture myself, I can totally understand this. As a practical matter, in China all the labels are (obviously) in Chinese. So when I see an American brand I get real excited because I can read the darn thing. In this aforementioned article they had some long winded explanation about the psychology of consumption blah blah blah. But I think its much simpler. When there is a language barrier, certain brands remind you of home, and you'll pay extra to ward off homesickness.

There are lots of imported things here. Heinz ketchup abounds, as does Starbucks coffee and Skippy Peanut butter. There are loads of McDonalds and KFC's to ward off the occasional burst of homesickness. (I don't eat there much in the States, but anyone whose lived abroad for an extended period of time will tell you that sometimes you just need a Big Mac. There is no use trying to resist.) All this to say that as an American abroad, most of my food bases are covered (save for Splenda. They just don't have it, even at the imported grocery stores that cater to ex-pats.)

What I miss from home is Burt's Bees. I've been a fan since junior high school when my mom and I would make a special trip across town to visit a tiny co-op grocery store in a strip mall. The place was run by dread locked college kids in hemp aprons.(Ah, those pre-Whole Foods days, now seem but a distant and foggy dream...) Back then, Burt's was hard to find, now, its available in every Walgreen's and Target store (and also here in the unlikely event that there isn't one near you). Their incredible success story is exactly the kind of thing Eric and I hope to replicate, though our beginnings may not be as humble. When Burt Shavits and Roxane Quimby first met, she was living with her three children in a tent. Burt still lives in the converted chicken coop he lived in when the company started out, though he now has around 3 million dollars to his name. Quimby recently sold Burt's Bees to Clorox for around $130 million.But I still can't find Burt's in China yet. So here's what I'll be stocking up on this trip back to the States.

1) Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Creme; This stuff is fantastic. The smell reminds me of the Russian Tea Cakes my grandma makes that fill the whole house with the sweet scent of roasting almonds. Its a little greasy, so I put it on before bed, but it really does keep your hands looking nice even when you are living with a space heater viciously sucking every drop of moisture from your body in exchange for a pathetic amount of warmth. (Like making a deal with the devil, for sure.)

2)Apricot Body Oil: One of the things I've always loved about Burt's is how the fragrances smell subtle and natural, not cloying and overpowering. This body oil has just a hint of apricots. I like to put a little in a hot bath or smooth it on after a shower.

3)Lip Shimmers: I'd always been a fan of the regular Burt's Bees lip balm which has a nice minty smack to it, but now I wear this instead. Its nice and light with just a hint of color and its more grown up than chap stick but not quite as grown up as lipstick. I'm just not there yet I guess. I like the rhubarb color, but there are four or five shades to choose from.

4)Coconut Foot Creme: This one has the consistency of Vaseline, so I always pull on some cotton socks on after I put it on, but my feet always feel much happier afterwards.

5)Cucumber Chamomile Complexion Mist: I love this product. I always bring a little when we're going on a road trip or long haul flight to spritz. Its really refreshing and the fragrance is just right. I've tried all the fragrances and they are all lovely, but the cucumber is still my favorite.

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