Monday, 31 October 2016

Wild Olive Luxury Bath Melts

RRP: £14.95 for a box of six

--What does the promo say?--
"Deliciously delectable and sumptuously indulgent, these beautiful Bath Melts make a fantastic gift for anyone; or a luxurious treat for yourself after a long, hard day’s work. Decorated to look like yummy cupcakes and arriving in the sweetest pink egg box, this is a tub of treats nobody will be able to resist - and better still, no calories!
The gorgeous gift box contains 3 tranquil bath souffles and 3 soothing sundaes, all enriched with creamy cocoa butter creating super soft skin and a gorgeously indulgent bath.
Create a unique atmosphere with each Luxury Bath Melt, whether it’s natural and fresh or romantic and sensual; each bath melt is fragranced with a different essential oil to suit every mood."
--Packaging--
The pink egg box is original, pretty and eco-friendly, as well as protecting the melts securely, and while the papers are tricky to peel off the bath melts initially, they come off quickly once the melt has been immersed in your bath water for a couple of seconds. This wrapping, too, is recyclable, so the company's philosophy and innovation in packaging design is certainly to be applauded. The only minor gripe would be the proofreading errors on the packaging itself, which detracts slightly from the brand's professionalism.
--Usage--
Drop the melt into the bath and let it melt away. The paper case can be easily slipped off and discarded after a couple of seconds. Very easy.
--Appearance--
Beautifully decorated and designed to resemble cupcakes and fairy cakes, these bath melts catch the eye, and their natural origins are augmented by the decorations of dried flowers, which float in the bath once the melt has dissolved for an extra luxurious touch. Some bubbles of cocoa butter will float on the water's surface as well. Depending on which bath melt you drop in, the bath water can appear opaque, milky, glittery or translucent. No visible residue is left on the skin.
--Scent--
The melt perfumes the entire bathroom stunningly well, not just thanks to the essential oils used but also due to the dried flowers used to decorate. The scent is natural, too, rather than being overridden by artificial soap smells.
--Texture and consistency, and effects on the skin --
The bath water feels smooth and moisturising, and thanks to the melts' high concentration of cocoa butter and essential oils leaves your skin feeling wonderfully soft.
--Value for money--
The highly appropriate size of these bath melts (especially compared to Lush's, which some may consider oversized), along with the luxurious experience evoked by the scents, pretty styling, and the moisturising effect on the skin, make these of excellent value, and a wonderful gift at any time of year. I was sent mine for free by Prezzybox, but will definitely be buying as a present for relatives this Christmas.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Laura Mercier Mineral Pressed Powder

RRP: £31
# of shades available: 8

--What does the promo say?--
"Composed of a custom blend of Pearl Powders rich in amino acids, Laura Mercier Mineral Pressed Powder offers a natural, buildable foundation for sheer to full coverage. With its creamy texture, the oil free, water-resistant formula adheres to skin for a colour-true finish all day."

--Packaging--
The square plastic compact looks elegant and sleek thanks to its minimalist black and silver design. The package in general, and specifically the click mechanism, seem robust, and the compact contains a goodly-sized mirror also. Unfortunately the applicator is a sponge (albeit generously-sized) rather than a brush (my own preference).

--Application--
The brand recommends that you use the sponge to continue layering the powder until the desired coverage is achieved. Easy enough, even if I do prefer a brush (see below as to why).

--Appearance--
I purchased the lightest shade - Tender Rose. Eight shades represents reasonable availability, although other high-end brands provide many more. Tender Rose works well for me, matching skin tone flawlessly and providing the requisite level of coverage. However, throughout the day it does appear to cake more on the skin, clumping together in patches, which means that it looks a little more uneven as the day goes on. This could, however, perhaps be remedied by applying with a brush instead of the supplied sponge.

--Scent--
Smells slightly nutty, which is a little surprising as none of the ingredients appear to indicate the presence of nuts. But it's not in the least unpleasant.

--Texture and consistency--
Very light on the skin on first application, and doesn't feel like it weighs the skin down throughout the day. 

--Value for money--
Coverage is good until it starts to clump, and skin tone matching is equally promising. The ingredients promise to do the skin good, and one compact lasts a long time. All of these elements justify the price tag. My only complaint - as you can probably tell - is the sponge applicator. Use a brush instead - they are easier to clean and the powder will likely stay even throughout the day as a result.

perfect partners
Blending Brush, £32
Long Lash Mascara, £19.50
Hydrating Foundation Primer, £29
Second Skin Cheek Colour, £21.50
Kohl Eye Pencil, £19
Silk Creme Moisturising Photo Edition Foundation, £35

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

LQ Liquid Health Skin Hair and Nails

RRP: £29.99 for 10 x 50ml

--What does the promo say?--
"LQ Skin, Hair & Nails is a scientifically formulated daily liquid supplement and is part of the LQ Liquid Health Supplement range. Each daily bottle contains multiple key active ingredients and includes marine collagen (7000mg), hyaluronic acid, resveratrol, silicon, glucosamine, selenium and vitamins. Collagen is the most abundant, naturally occurring protein in the body and each bottle contains 7000mg of high bioavailability Peptan™ marine collagen. High grade resveratrol is extracted from red grapes.

In addition to the multiple key active ingredients LQ Skin, Hair & Nails contains:

- Vitamin C which contributes to normal collagen formation for the normal function of the skin. It also contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress
- Selenium which contributes to the maintenance of normal skin and hair
- Biotin (vitamin B7) which contributes to the maintenance of normal skin and hair
- Vitamin E which contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress."

--Packaging--
The magenta labels are bright and vibrant and the plastic bottles themselves are practical for travel thanks to their small size and secure screw caps. They are also recyclable, so a win-win situation all round.

--Usage instructions--
Drink one 50ml bottle per day. This can be mixed with water (fizzy or still) if you choose.

--Appearance--
An opaque orange colour reminiscent of the passion fruit it contains. When diluted it turns slightly yellower. No visible residue is left on teeth, lips, tongue or drinking glasses.

--Taste--
A very sweet, rich taste. Luckily, despite this, it's only 31 calories a bottle, so even those on calorie-controlled diets can easily take advantage. This does, however, need to be clearly labelled on the packaging so that dieters are not deterred.

--Texture and consistency--
Slightly cough-syrupy, but mixing this with fizzy water makes it a more palatable supplement to consume. It's also very smooth, not at all bitty, so in this sense it's no struggle to drink either.

--Effects on the body--
As this is supposed to maintain normal skin, hair and nails, the product embodies the same irony as with anti-ageing products: if it works, then nothing should happen! However, nails appear to be strengthened and skin seems clearer. Longer-term use is possibly necessary for effects on the hair to be perceived.

--Value for money--
At £29.99 for 10 shots, and with a minimum of one month's use apparently required for results to be visible, you're talking about a cost of nearly £90 for one month's supply, which is a luxury for most people. Even if you take advantage of deals such as Boots' current offer of 3-for-2 on the product, that is still a monthly cost of £60, which for many is difficult to justify. People would need to see real tangible results after a month to continue investment in the product. If LQ can find a way to bring the price down, more people would potentially be persuaded to buy. This could potentially be done by reducing packaging costs (e.g. sachets containing dissolvable powders, instead of ready-mixed bottles, which also are heavier and cost more to ship than sachets). In short, the product has potential, but still requires improvement in order to boost sales.

perfect partners
Joint Care, £24.99
Advanced Skin Care, £29.99
Heart Care, £24.99

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Wash Wizard

RRP: £7.99 for 5

--What does the promo say?--
"Wash Wizard is the number one solution to getting shower fresh without the shower!
  • Ideal for festivals, camping, sports, work, travelling, kids, only a dash of water required to activate
  • Impregnated with a body wash solution suitable for body and hair. No additional liquid, gels or creams required and no need to rinse
  • Hypoallergenic and unscented it contains organic Aloe Vera to moisturise and soften the skin
  • A perfect alternative to wipes, it leaves no sticky residue and it's light, small and easily transportable. Fully recyclable and reusable."

--Packaging--
The 5 sponges come in a cardboard box, which is very eco-friendly even if a little plain. The sponges themselves are individually wrapped in recyclable plastic. This is significantly less plastic and packaging than many other body cleansing options, and the blue Wash Wizard logo is cheerful too.

--Appearance--
The yellow sponges look like any other conventional sponges, with the exception that when water is added, a white foam oozes from them thanks to the added aloe vera. No visible residue is left on the skin once the foam has been rinsed away (that is, if you choose to rinse - the blurb says you don't need to). 

--Scent--
No detectable scent.

--Texture and consistency--
The foam is not too foamy, but comes in larger quantities than perhaps expected. This is not a bad thing!

--Effects on the skin--
While the sponge may feel different to use, as most of us probably use flannels or just our hands in the shower to wash our bodies, there's no reason why your skin should feel irritated by this product - especially as it's hypoallergenic and unscented. The body feels clean after use.

--Value for money--
£7.99 for a box of five represents excellent value for money given that a) they are reusable (unlike wipes, which are single-use), b) they have worthy credentials (organic and designed by teens who are donating a percentage of the product's profits to homelessness charities) and c) they are perfect for on the move, whether you're a festival-goer, commuter, or busy mum, making them convenient as well as eco-friendly. They go the distance and get you clean wherever you are. A hand-baggage must! Would recommend.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Mashooq Deep Penetrating Oil

RRP: from £2.99 (travel size) to £13.99 (250ml)

--What does the promo say?--
"Do you want to say goodbye to bad hair days and have great looking hair every day? Mashooq's Deep Penetrating Oil is truly versatile and can be used for deep conditioning hair, protecting against heat and chemicals and to treat dry scalps. With regular use it will leave your hair baby soft, easier to manage and style with improved shine. Our Magic Oil is a unique blend of six natural oils - coconut, sweet almond, olive, sunflower, palm and wheat germ - packed full of vitamins and other nutrients to feed and protect your hair. It is suited to all hair types. Mashooq moisturises porous hair and is especially good for Afro-Caribbean hair that needs extra hydration. It also repairs and strengthens brittle hair that breaks easily or hair that has been damaged by heat from dryers, straighteners and curlers. Unlike other oils that coat the hair, Mashooq penetrates into the hair creating a protective screen allowing colours, perms and bleaches to work efficiently without risk of damage to the hair and scalp. For many years it was a secret among professional hairdressers and colourists as it enhances the colouring process while protecting the hair."

--Packaging--
The yellow label on the bottle is bright and unusual, reflecting the sunflower oil that the product contains. However, I'd prefer a pump action bottle, as the screw top means you can't as easily control the amount of oil dispensed. 

--Application--
Apply to the hair, concentrating on the tips. Then wrap in a towel and ideally leave the oil in overnight. In the morning, wash out with shampoo as normal (although perhaps shampoo and rinse twice to ensure that all oil is out). You can then dry and style your hair as you usually would. It's also noted by Mashooq that you can also use the oil to hair after it has been washed to make it easier to style - although I personally wouldn't do this as it's so easy to use too much, whereas at least with an overnight treatment you can ensure that it has all been washed out. 

--Appearance--
A clear oil which leaves no visible residue in the hair after washing it out.

--Scent--
Nothing particularly detectable (perhaps disappointing given the sweet almond oil and coconut oil that this contains). The sunflower oil probably works to create a neutral olfactory effect.

--Texture and consistency--
Just like the sorts of oils you would use for cooking: slick and lissome. However, as mentioned above, shampooing and rinsing twice is enough to get it out of your hair after an overnight treatment.

--Effects on the hair--
Hair feels smooth, volumised and restored. You can also go a little longer before needing to shampoo again, as the hair feels nourished enough by the oil in the product to not overcompensate by beginning to produce its own oil again.

--Value for money--
While you could of course make your own mixture for less, using oils from supermarkets and health food stores, this is naturally more convenient and is actually not terribly expensive given both this convenience factor and the revitalising results for your hair. Equally, not much is needed each time, meaning that even a travel size bottle will give you enough oil for at least 5 treatments. I was sent mine for free by Mashooq's PR, but would definitely buy again with my own money. It beats many commercial conditioners both in terms of the purity of the ingredients it contains and the effects on your hair. Thanks, Mashooq! 

perfect partners
Hair Serum, £12.99 for 100ml
Calm, Relax, Revive Massage Oils Set, £12.50

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Crabtree and Evelyn Pomegranate, Argan and Grapeseed Body Scrub


--What does the promo say?--
"Instantly reveal smoother skin with the gentle exfoliation of our Pomegranate, Argan & Grapeseed Body Scrub with sunflower wax beads. A nourishing blend of pomegranate, sunflower, jojoba, pumkpin and sesame seed oils replenish and soften the skin while antioxidant-rich grapeseed extract helps to protect the skin.  
  • A nourishing blend of pomegranate, sunflower, jojoba, pumpkin, and sesame seed oils replenish and soften
  • Antioxidant-rich 
  • Conditioning and smoothing 
Fragrance: The tart sweetness of pomegranate coupled with a burst of citrus and fresh fig leaf.
Discover more from our restorative Pomegranate, Argan & Grapeseed collection."

--Packaging--
A chunky tube with a plastic flip top lid which is well thought-out ergonomically speaking, as well as aesthetically: the white and red colour scheme is unusual, dynamic, and beautifully composed.

--Appearance--
A creamy pink lotion in which particles are visible. No visible residue is left on the skin.

--Scent--
Fruity without being heavy; the citrus lifts it. 

--Texture and consistency--
Creamy yet effective in its exfoliation; grapeseed is wonderful for sloughing away dry particles without irritating skin.

--Effects on skin--
Skin feels really clean, and thanks to the seed oils, moisturised rather than stripped.

--Value for money--
At £17, it may seem expensive, but the ingredients are of good quality, the tube is of a generous size, the effects on the skin cannot be argued with, and it's on offer at the moment on the Crabtree and Evelyn website (3 for 2 on selected products from the range). So shop around - you can't go wrong. 

perfect partners
Shower Gel, £15**
Body Lotion, £16**
Body Mist, £15
Body Cream, £22
Hand Wash, £15***
Hand Therapy, £21*
Soap, £18 for 3
Shampoo, £25 for 500ml or 2 for £30
Conditioner, £25 for 500ml or 2 for £30

* also available in travel size
** also available in both travel and maxi sizes
*** also available in maxi size

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Rapid White Instant Whitening Toothpaste

RRP: £7.99

--What does the promo say?--
"A patented blend of PVP and Pentasodium Triphosphate synergistically working to remove stains and preventing tartar and plaque build up. A whitening silica maximises whitening and cleansing yet its gentle abrasive action will not harm tooth enamel. Fluoride to help strengthen and remineralise tooth enamel to protect against tooth decay. Intense mint flavour for long lasting freshness.Instantly transforms your smile by whitening teeth up to 1 1/2 shades whiter after only one brushing! This proprietary formulation safely and efficiently whitens and brightens teeth, removes stains, removes plaque and polishes the surface of the teeth. Get that "WOW" sensation now!"

--Packaging--
The white, silver and blue tube is energetic and vibrant (an effect also created in part by starburst-style graphics) even if lacking originality. The screwtop works in the usual way.

--Usage--
Foams up quite a bit in the mouth, so do use sparingly. Apart from that, proceed normally.

--Appearance--
A white paste which leaves no residue in or around the mouth after rinsing.

--Scent--
Quite a strong mint flavour.

--Texture and consistency--
As mentioned, foams up quite a bit more than normal toothpaste, but not really unpleasant.

--Effects on the teeth--
I am aware that I speak as someone who's had fluorosis ever since their adult teeth came in - knowing, therefore, that I'm a bit of a special case. I wouldn't say that I experienced instant whitening - mitigated for, of course, by the packaging promise that I would see my teeth being "up to" 1.5 shades lighter after just one brush. However, I did notice that in the long term, any mottling on the teeth was definitely reduced and they were on the way to looking whiter as well. So you may need some patience - but this is still a good product.

--Value for money--
Around the £8 mark is standard for specialist whitening toothpaste: big brands reputed for this area of expertise, such as Blanx, The Breath Co, and Arm and Hammer all charge this sort of money. So it isn't out of step. However, compared to 'normal' toothpastes, it is a little steep - although if, as mentioned, you find you need to use less of it than a normal toothpaste, meaning that the tube lasts longer, and you get the specific result that you're hoping for, you're likely to pay it.

perfect partners
Instant Whitening System, £35
2 Week Whitening System, £20
1 Week Whitening System, £10
Pro Clean and Polish System, £65
Pro Clean and Polish Paste, £10
Pro Clean and Polish Heads, £10
Daily Whitening Toothpaste, £8.50
Blue Light Tooth Whitening System, £30
Express Sensitive 5 Minute Dissolving Tooth Whitening Strips, £23
Express Max Effect 5 Minute Dissolving Tooth Whitening Strips, £23

Saturday, 3 September 2016

New Nordic Melissa Dream Tablets


RRP: £14.99 for 40 or £29.99 for 100

--What does the promo say?--
"New Nordic's Melissa Dream tablets are recommended to people who want help to maintain a healthy calm sleep and relaxation. The B vitamins in New Nordic Melissa Dream Tablets can help maintain the normal functioning of your nervous system.

The unique bioactive micronutrients and herbal extract combination contained in each tablet is manufactured in Sweden and contains a lemon balm extract, L-theanine amino acid, chamomile extract, B vitamin complex and magnesium. The content of B vitamins contributes to normal psychological and nervous system function. Helps support restful sleep and focus your mind. Helps maintain the normal functioning of your nervous system."

--Packaging--
The bright yellow box gives a feeling of optimism and echoes the rising sun - suggesting that you will be woken up naturally after a night of deep, restful sleep. Equally, the colour scheme replicates the yellow centre of one of the key ingredients, camomile (which looks like a giant daisy).

--Usage--
Take 2 tablets an hour before going to bed. The tablets are a little larger than average size, but shouldn't pose considerably difficulty for most people in terms of taking them comfortably.

--Appearance--
Disappointingly the tablets are an almost grey/muddy colour - but I suppose most people would prefer this to an artificial colour being added. 

--Scent--
Nothing detectable.

--Effects--
I wasn't actually expecting these to work terribly well. I am a long-term insomniac who falls asleep easily but frequently wakes in the night and finds it very difficult to fall asleep again. So the placebo effect cannot be blamed, in my view, for the fact that I actually started sleeping very well from the moment of beginning to take these tablets. Not only did I continue to fall asleep easily but I was able to sleep peacefully throughout the whole night. Hoorah!

--Value for money--
As far as supplements go, these are very reasonable value (particularly if you buy the larger pack and/or are able to capitalise on Holland and Barrett's buy one, get one half price deal). I was sent mine for free, but would happily continue to pay to take them as for me at least they seem to ensure a decent night's sleep the natural way. 

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Sensodyne Repair and Protect Daily Repair Fluoride Toothpaste

RRP: £4.50 for 75ml

--Packaging--
The white and blue colour scheme lacks originality but is vibrant nonetheless and accompanied by Sensodyne's standard 'rings' design to distinguish it from its competitors. The screw-top lid is easy to use and clicks shut securely.

--Usage--
Brush teeth twice a day as usual.

--Appearance--
A white paste that leaves no visible residue in the mouth.

--Scent--
A spearmint-style mint flavour; not too strong, and with none of the slightly strange taste that some toothpastes for sensitive teeth have. 

--Texture and consistency--
Slightly sticky on its way out of the tube, so squeeze sparingly. However, it foams up easily in the mouth and there is no difficulty rinsing.

--Effects on the teeth--
My dentist recently told me that my teeth seemed more 'porous' than they should be, as if I'd been drinking a lot of fizzy drinks (I don't). However, since using this toothpaste, my teeth have felt stronger - definitely repaired and protected.

--Value for money--
In line with the other market leaders: Oral B and Colgate both retail in this price bracket. It does what it says it will do, and I would definitely recommend it to others.

perfect partners
Precision Toothbrush Soft, £3.60
Pronamel Daily Mouthwash, £4.49 for 450ml

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Shu Uemura Pure:Nu Gentle Cleansing Oil-in-Gel

RRP: £24

--What does the promo say?--
"Inspired by our iconic cleansing oils, this revolutionary facial cleanser purifies skin without stripping valuable moisture. Cleansing oil-in-gel gently removes makeup and impurities leaving skin refreshed, clarified and soft. The new fluid gel texture can be used with dry or wet hands. The eco-conception formula is gentle to skin and the environment."

--Packaging--
The bright green packaging is really vibrant and unusual, and emphasises the inclusion of bamboo, as well as the green tea scent. The flip-top lid is sturdy and practical, and the tube doesn't overwhelm you with information, giving you all that's necessary in a minimalist manner.

--Application--
As mentioned, you can use this in dry or wet hands, rubbing it over your face before wiping off (with a flannel, tissue, or whatever your preferred apparatus is).

--Appearance--
A translucent white gel which leaves no visible residue on the skin.

--Scent--
Some reviewers criticise the green tea scent for being too strong, but at this end it just seems fresh and neutral - not overly masculine or feminine, or enough to interfere with any perfume you're wearing.

--Texture and consistency--
Doesn't foam up at all, which comes as a surprise to anyone used to a foaming cleanser. However, it's a good surprise, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing your cleanser doesn't contain SLS is satisfying too. Glides over the skin and rinses off easily.

--Effects on the skin--
Not sure how it does it, as the medicinal effects of bamboo are hotly disputed, and the green tea is present only as a scent rather than as a raw ingredient, but somehow skin seemed balanced, clarified, less red, and less stressed. Fab.

--Value for money--
£24 is not cheap, I grant you. And don't expect to get a discount either: Shu Uemura controls its distribution very tightly and I don't think reductions are part of their business strategy. But it's so effective, and you need to use so little each time to get a good result, that I would probably pay for it again. If only they made a toner and moisturiser to go with it too!