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Une Petite Merveille — Le Petit Marseillais Body Washes Are A Small Wonder


My husband is one of those special folks who can’t remember what he ate for breakfast yesterday but who can sing the theme song to every ’80s and ’90s sitcom — not to mention the jingle of every commercial to air during his childhood. Oftentimes, he’ll spontaneously begin humming one of these tunes, which I find absolutely endearing — and yes, hysterical. One of his favorites: the Small Wonder theme song. We both agree that the tune itself is lackluster and, really, not particularly memorable, but he’s fond of the ditty because it just reminds him of the utterly ridiculous premise of the show: a married robotics expert who designs an android that resembles a 10-year-old girl and then passes it off as his adopted daughter. Where is she going with this anecdote? you wonder. Well, here goes: every time I hear the words “petit” or “petite,” both of which mean “small” in French, the Small Wonder theme song pops into my head. Usually, the item being described as “petit” is far from a wonder but, every once in a while, I do stumble across a tiny masterpiece. And that brings me to Le Petit Marseillais, a French bath and body brand that made its way to the US in January 2017, debuting with its line of gentle, deliciously scented body washes (which happen to be the top-selling body cleansers in France).

Each body wash has a charming aroma that’s evocative of the south of France — the Le Petit Marseillais Extra Gentle Shower Creme in Lavender Honey, for instance, will remind you of the stunning purple fields in Provence during the June to August months, while the Le Petit Marseillais Extra Gentle Shower Creme in Cotton Milk and Poppy might make you dream of the vermilion coquelicot blossoms popping up in Bordeaux during the summer months.

I’ve been showering with two delicious body washes: Le Petit Marseillais Extra Gentle Shower Creme in Vanilla Milk ($6.49 for 650 ml bottle; available at mass food and drug retailers) and Le Petit Marseillais Extra Gentle Shower Gel in White Peach & Nectarine ($6.49 for 650 ml bottle; available at mass food and drug retailer).

The Le Petit Marseillais Vanilla Milk Extra Gentle Shower Creme is simply delightful. There’s a comforting quality to the scent reminiscent of the enticing aroma of hand-churned French Vanilla ice cream — not surprising given that the vanilla aroma stems from hand-picked vanilla pods that were sun-dried to release their sweet fragrance. Other less dominant notes include ylang ylang and pistachio accords that help to give the creamy scent more depth and a sunnier, more playful personality. Im terms of the shower cream’s consistency, it strikes the perfect balance, so that it’s neither too fluid or too dense. Moreover, it feels indulgent when massaged onto skin and doesn’t leave behind any sticky residue (or the sensation of a sticky residue, which is just as irksome). It also doesn’t dry out my skin, instead nourishing it via sunflower seed oil.

Now, this isn’t an all-natural product — it does contain artificial fragrances and its coloring is the result of  a mixture of caramel and Yellow 5. If your skin reacts adversely to either of these substances, then, you may want to tread lightly. That said, it doesn’t contain those harsh sulfates that strip your skin of its natural oils — chiefly sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, and instead employs the considerably gentler surfactant ammonium lauryl sulfate. While we’re living in a world where “sulfate” often feels like a naughty word, the truth is not all sulfates are equal, and ammonium lauryl sulfate (which can sometimes be derived from coconut) is largely considered a mild and effective cleanser.

Next, there’s the Le Petit Marseillais White Peach & Nectarine Extra Gentle Shower Gel, which has a slightly more potent fragrance than its Vanilla Milk counterpart but one that’s equally pleasant and joyful. Again here, the scent is extracted from ripe, sun-kissed peaches and nectarines harvested locally, which lends the fragrance a more authentic feel (even if it does also include some additional notes to better round out the aromatic composition). When I was pregnant with my son, I constantly craved peaches, so this shower gel reminds me of that era and the unbridled delight I felt every time I sank my teeth into a juicy peach.

In terms of its ingredients, the White Peach & Nectarine Extra Gentle Shower Gel also contains ammonium lauryl sulfate an glycerin (a common humectant and skin conditioner) and artificial dyes (in this case, Red 4 and Yellow 3), but it doesn’t include sunflower seed oil in its formula. You might assume this would make the product less nourishing and hydrating, but that’s not the case. After all, the shower gel contains peach extract, which is naturally rich in vitamins A, C, and E, as well as flavonoids with extraordinary anti-aging and antioxidant properties, and linoleic and oleic fatty acids that help the skin retain its elasticity and keep skin smooth and supple.

The main differences between these two formulations, then, are their respective scents and their consistencies. The White Peach & Nectarine Extra Gentle Shower Gel has a clearer color and a more lightweight consistency (hence why it’s dubbed a gel and not a cream) whereas the Vanilla Milk Extra Gentle Shower Creme has a slightly more indulgent texture. Both, however, lather nicely and leave skin smelling delightful. Moreover, they both make showering feel like less of a chore and more of an unexpected everyday pleasure.

See? These are what I consider small wonders!


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