Marhaba Amla Hair Oil
While there’s a ‘No.1 quality’ stamp on the packaging, it’s not enough to convince us that this green, oily tonic is going to elevate our tresses to Hollywood status. If anything, the menial price tag (it’s less than a 2-pack of bog roll at Spinneys) is a concern, and there’s fear that we’ll look like an extra on The Muppet Show. That said, we did leave it on a couple of strands of hair for the requisite five minutes and after some serious washing, it did look remarkably glossy. But the sickly – and slightly tarty – smell is enough to put us off ‘pampering’ the rest of our hair.
Dr James Lady Success
It smells like Birdseye custard, looks like a posh serum from Harvey Nics, costs Dhs15 and promises ‘to boost women hormone back to normal levels’. Needless to say, Dr James is a man of many promises (in this case, it’s helping women bag a man) and it’s interesting to note he has been operating ‘since 1969’ – in London, no less. Blatant lies aside, we were just too terrified to give this any real test. The smell alone is enough to make the male masses do a swift U-turn, and the fact that it contains ‘male testosterone and other herbs’ is all quite worrying. It seems Dr James may need to go back to the drawing board on this one.
Relax Mentho Balm
For anyone who has ever had a sniffle, the smell of Vics (a menthol and eucalyptus ointment) will be familiar. Relax Mentho Balm is just a cheaper version of this, but with a dodgy old man on the packaging. A quick sniff clears any nasal passages admirably, although we’re not convinced our stress levels were any better. That said, who’s going to complain for Dhs5?
Marhaba Complete Hair Food Formula
The problem with Marhaba’s products – see previous review on the hair oil – is the garish colours it uses. With the oil it was a Shrek-green and now it’s a fluorescent yellow. We’re sure the product is all well and good, but putting anything coloured on your hair rings some alarm bells, plus it smells like a tart’s boudoir. Our advice? Run a mile.
Fasco Herbal Cream
Despite the grinning ’80s girl on the packaging, Fasco Herbal Cream is actually not that bad. It smells inoffensive, slicks on like its more expensive rivals and keeps even the driest skin moisturised. While it’s better for night (or in their words: ‘Apply a little quantity before sleeping for one week’), it works well as a base for foundation and doesn’t leave a greasy residue. All in all, it’s a pleasant surprise.
Pretty Woman Black Pepper Hot Soap
‘Super concentrate’, ‘Product of USA’, ‘5 day super slim’ are just some of the promises thrown on the packaging of this Black Pepper Hot Soap. Once you’ve worked past the bombastic box, the cream soap that emerges is somewhat disappointing. It smells like a peppered steak, looks like a slab of butter and needs a little more than five days to work its magic. We’re on day 35 and still resemble our – slightly portly – self.
It’s ceramic, scrubs skin off feet and looks like a regular pumice stone. If we had to quibble over anything, it would be the lack of rope to hang it up anywhere, but other than that, it’s a winner. But then, you can’t really go wrong with a pumice, can you?
Hashmi Kajal Kohl
It all started out as a bit of a joke (Dr James’ Lady Success serum being a case in point), but then Time Out stumbled across Hashmi Kajal Kohl. It’s the most popular eyeliner in Pakistan (according to numerous Pakistani beauty blogs), slicks on – and stays put – for the entire day and is blacker than any regular liners out there. It’s one of those products that you thank your lucky stars for. Two words: go get.
Home Almond Oil
Ditch the Marhaba Amla Hair Oil and stick with almond oil, we say. While the former is sticky and green, the latter is smooth and clear, and leaves hair suitably shiny and hands thoroughly nourished. If we had to nit pick, the best before date has elapsed (by just one month) on the bottle, but we didn’t come out in hives, so it’s no huge concern.
* All products available at Nasser Ali Nassir Baker Trading (04 226 4359) in the Dubai Spice Souk