Years ago, when I worked in a small bookstore, a young woman came in and asked me -- told me, really -- to put into her hands three or four of my favorite books. Startled and a little amused, I handed her four adored titles, and without so much as glancing at the covers, she requested that I ring them up. "My mother always says to ask the people who work with books what they like to read, and you can't go wrong," she explained as she paid for her purchase.
I don't know that I've ever handed such unquestioning faith over to anyone, friend or stranger; or that I've received it from anyone since. But the incident came back to me recently when I made a rare foray in the realm of shopping in person, as opposed to online. For once, I wasn't even shopping for chocolate. I'd spent several days boxing up almost everything I owned in preparation for a sudden, unexpected apartment renovation; my mother-in-law had been kind enough to install my family and I in a hotel around the corner from the lovely shop Sephora, and, feeling as filthy as that kind of packing and sorting always leaves one, I announced that I was going to go and get some really splendid shampoo and conditioner.
When it comes to shopping, I like books and chocolate. I don't have to try them on, I'm sure to enjoy them, and it doesn't matter what I'm wearing when I buy them. You can probably tell from this set of priorities that I'm not exactly beauty-shop material. But this visit was lovely, and I did end up with some chocolate products.
I was befriended at once by an employee who noticed me poking timidly about. I usually feel like an idiot and a fraud in this kind of place, but she made me feel right at home. She was one of those terrific sales people who will tell you what they know, and will admit when they don't know, about a product. When I mentioned my deep interest in chocolate, her eyes gleamed. "You have to see this," she insisted, guiding me to a particular display.
It was devoted to a set of products by a company called Ojon. They make a deep conditioner that has transformed my thick, coarse hair into manageable stuff recognizable as human. Now they've created a line of products called Ojon Rare Harvest.
Sephora had an introductory kit for sale that included 2.5 ounce containers of cleanser, conditioner, and what Ojon calls "rejuvenating cream." The conditioner and rejuvenator contain cocoa butter. The cleanser is vaguer about its chocolate contents. It has "theobroma cacao" listed as an ingredient, as do the other two products; the trouble is, Theobroma cacao is simply the scientific name for the cacao tree. Using it as the name of an ingredient doesn't tell me much.
Now, Ojon products aren't cheap. They're extremely good, and I wish that Ojon would be convinced enough of the quality of their wares to simply sell them with pride. Unfortunately, these days, almost anyone making anything with cacao seems to fall prey to the Chocolate Mystique. Instead of speaking in clear, straightforward language, manufacturers start babbling mystical nonsense about how consuming their product is not merely a physically satisfying, but a spiritual experience.
Ojon has embraced this trend. I may be cynical. You may not mind when someone says "wildcrafted beauty" with a straight face. I do. And I roll my eyes when a manufacturer drones on and on and on about how rare, wild, ancient, and tribal the product is, instead of telling me how much it costs and how I should use it.
Ojon products, I hasten to add, are definitely worth buying. The nice lady in the shop was duty-bound to give me the spiel about how the cacao in the rejuvenating cream had as many antioxidants as however-many pounds of blueberries; but she also gave me the far more useful information that these were really good products, especially for dry hair and sensitive skin.
I have both. I already knew that Ojon made good stuff. I decided to give these a go.
Since I use Ojon's deep conditioner, I was at first inclined to use my three new beauty products only in my hair. They did marvelous work there.
The cleanser is mild but strong. It doesn't have any sulfates, so don't expect a head full of suds. Work it in thoroughly, then leave it for a minute or two. It cleanses gently, without stripping, and has a distinctive musky scent I find appealing.
If your hair is as thick and dry as mine, the Ojon conditioner may seem disappointingly thin. Don't worry. Ojon recommends leaving it in for two to four minutes; I've done this when I'm in a hurry, and put it under a shower cap and relaxed in the bath for half an hour when I'm not. My usually coarse hair became quiet and polite after both treatments.
The rejuvenating cream is basically a leave-in conditioner that doubles as a lotion. I prefer the work it does on my hair to how it feels on my hands (it's much too thick for me to feel comfortable putting it on my face, though the label suggested I might). But the cleanser worked wonderfully on my face's sensitive skin; and though I'm prone to breakouts and clogged pores, I'm very happy with the conditioner as a daily face moisturizer, though I do splash the excess off.
Ojon Rare Harvest products would make an excellent gift for someone who enjoys natural beauty products, or a chocolate lover who's looking for something new and different, or who has (like yours truly) been working too hard and needs a bit of soothing spa-at-home relaxation.