Sunday, 31 January 2016

Biocare Psyllium Intensive Probiotic Food Supplement


RRP: £11.50 for 100g

--What does the promo say?--
"Psyllium Intensive is a potent powder combining BioCare's proprietary LAB4 bacteria with psyllium husk fibre and fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Also includes Prune, Burdock and Rhubarb. Mixes easily with water to make a pleasant tasting drink. Contributes to intestinal transit, function and wellbeing, and helps to maintain a healthy bowel."

--Packaging--
A white plastic tub whose lid closes securely. Also comes with a blue plastic scoop to accurately measure the required amount.

--Usage--
Mix two teaspoons of the powder (around 10g) into 200ml water and drink this mixture once a day, with food.

--Appearance--
The grey-pink powder turns into an unappetisingly beige colour when mixed with water. Most unattractive.

--Smell--
Actually has no particular scent, which is a little disappointing, as given the presence of the rhubarb, burdock and prune, I'd thought it would be sweeter and fruitier.

--Taste--
This is actually reflected in the taste. It tastes of nothing at all really, which is rather off-putting given the texture (see below), as the lack of apparent flavour would be more bearable otherwise. 

--Texture--
The powder turns into a rather thick, almost gel-like, consistency upon contact with water, not entirely unlike a smoothie or milkshake. This means you almost have to chew it to get it down, leading to me adding the same amount of water again for a thinner, more drinkable liquid. Even then, it was still rather bitty and unpleasant to drink.

--Effects on the body--
Left me feeling a little bloated for 2-3 hours after consumption (meaning that at least it might be good for weight loss in the longer term, as you don't feel inclined to eat), and then later, both gassy and constipated. Brilliant :-/

--Value for money--
As far as I can tell this has little going for it. My digestive tract did not feel eased by consuming it, it tastes of nothing, and the texture is unpleasant. I might go as far as sprinkling some on my porridge or bircher muesli in the morning in the hope of seeing some of the alleged health benefits, but I don't feel optimistic and am more inclined to stick to Biocare's line of vitamin tablets instead.

perfect partners
BioAcidophilus Forte, £31.40 for 30 tablets
HepaGuard Forte, £18.30 for 60 tablets

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Biotrue Rewetting Drops

RRP: £9.99 for 10ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Biotrue Rewetting Drops 10ml bottle are perfect for keeping eyes that are prone to dryness moist and protected throughout the day. Brought to you by Bausch & Lomb, who also produce Biotrue OneDay and Biotrue multipurpose solution, Biotrue Rewetting solution will help maintain moisture on your eyes. Throughout the day exposure to air-conditioning, digital screens and warm environments can increase evaporation from your contact lens. This leaves the eyes uncomfortable and irritated. Biotrue wetting eye drops help re-moisturise your contact lenses and also soothe irritated eyes. Biotrue Rewetting Drops are preservative free. This makes them the ideal eye drops for sensitive eyes. Plus, you can use these drops whilst your hard or soft contact lenses are in your eyes – without risking your vision or the quality of your contact lens. This helpful 10ml bottle can be used as often as needed throughout the day. Biotrue Rewetting drops contain 0.2% hydraulic acid - a natural tear lubricant. This keeps your eye hydrated in a way similar to tears. The product feels natural and gentle – even for those with the most sensitive eyes."

--Packaging--
It takes a while to work out that the blue handle-like appendage on the side of the bottle is actually used to dispense the drops into your eyes; additionally, this tends to jam occasionally. However, the appearance, size and non-leak properties of the bottle all get the general thumbs up.

--Application--
Tilt your head back and push down the dispensing handle to release 1-2 drops per eye. Easy as.

--Appearance--
The liquid is clear and no visible residue is left around the eye area.

--Scent--
Odourless - so should bother nobody who is picky about smells of products.

--Texture and consistency--
While quite liquidy, the solution stays in the eye, unlike some drops, which can run down into your throat later.

--Effects on the eyes--
Successful hydration of the eyes is achieved, and the solution can be comfortably used during the day whenever your eyes feel dry.

--Value for money--
This seems a lot of money on the face of it, but ultimately this is a high-quality product that would last a long time and is great for travel and home use to combat dry eyes.

perfect partners
One-Day Lenses, £16.98 for a box of 30
Multi-Purpose Contact Lens Solution, £12.29/300ml
Flight Pack, £6.49 for 2 x 60ml bottles
Rewetting Drops, £6.50 for 30 x 0.5ml vials
Eyelid Wipes, £7.00 for 20

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Time Bomb Smart Balm Eye Cream

 RRP: £29 for 15ml
 
--What does the promo say?--
"Actively targets dark circles, fine lines and crepe-y texture around eyes. Moisturizes, plumps and smoothes the look of delicate eye area tissue. Has an instant, temporary tightening effect to decrease the look of fine lines and wrinkles."

--Packaging--
The white slender tube is nothing special, but the pink and green lettering really pops and asserts itself as part of the brand identity (where pink and green play a big part in the colour scheme across the board).

--Application--
Use your ring finger (the weakest finger, don't you know!) to gently dab this around the eye area once you've washed your face. Pat gently into the skin around the eye until fully absorbed - don't pull or drag the skin.

--Appearance--
Bright white, but sinks in invisibly.

--Scent--
The borage and calendula in the cream come through a little, but there's nothing overbearing in this at all.

--Texture and consistency--
Not at all sticky or drying - sinks in beautifully and leaves skin feeling soft.

--Effects on the skin--
As well as moisturising effectively, it genuinely brightens the eye area and wrinkles appear reduced. Nice one.

--Value for money--
I wasn't necessarily expecting it to be as expensive as £29 a go (I was sent mine for free, for what it's worth), particularly as this puts it in the same price bracket as many major brands (such as Clinique, Benefit and Elemis) - which can be a little disconcerting when a brand is so new to the market by comparison. However, as it works and is a joy to use, I feel I'm in no position to knock it. On the whole, my experience so far as is such that Time Bomb products not only are effective and lovely to use, but as such would make lovely gifts as well (the Time Bomb website has a great selection) - particularly as they have the sparkle of the celebrity factor, too, without being cheesy. Great work, Lulu!

perfect partners
Neck, Jaw and Chest Cream, from £13.50
Collagen Bomb Essential Skin Fuel, £65
Youth Juice Secret Oil, from £16 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Philip Kingsley Re-Moisturising Shampoo

RRP: £17

--What does the promo say?--
"This shampoo for medium textured wavy hair, gently cleanses and balances the different needs of your roots and ends (i.e. less at roots, more at dry, damaged ends). Containing wheat protein it helps to deliver the correct balance of moisture to your hair leaving it more manageable and lustrous. Its unique formula contains a natural antistatic conditioning barrier which helps smooth your hair's cuticle to improve combing and condition, and also anti-oxidants for added protection."

--Packaging--
The nozzle is quite different to the usual flip-top lid shapes that you see, but is still easy to use and secure to close. The brand name is emblazoned across the bottle, but with no other illustrations or colours it manages to stay quite minimalist and unisex. The colour of the lettering also changes according to the type of product you're using, so each product is still part of the brand family while staying distinct in itself.

--Application--
As usual really. Lather up onto the scalp and smooth through the hair before rinsing (and repeating, if desired).

--Appearance--
A translucent beige gel which becomes a white lather when mixed with water. Leaves no visible residue on hair or skin.

--Scent--
Wheaty and clean; like cotton or freshly laundered sheets. Pleasant and unisex.

--Texture and consistency--
Smooth, luxurious, lathers well, and rinses easily. No stickiness or wateriness.

--Effects on the hair--
On the day of washing, and possibly also on the day after, I do notice an increase in lustre and manageability, as promised. There is also increased smoothness and a lack of static flyaway, with ends moisturised and roots degreased. However, after day 2 my hair begins to feel heavier and greasier, and I can't go as long between washes with this as I would with other shampoos.

--Value for money--
£17 a bottle isn't cheap, but it does last several months, even with regular use. I am always happy with the results in the first day or two of washing, but do wish I could go longer between washes as I prefer to avoid heat treatments (I have to blow-dry my hair every time I wash it, otherwise due to the length it takes too long to dry on its own). However, Philip Kingsley does have several different types of shampoo and conditioner for hair like mine, so I would definitely be interested to see if these are different in this regard. Nonetheless, a high-quality product that generally suits the needs of my hair.

perfect partners
Moisture Balancing Conditioner, £20
Moisture Extreme Jet Set, £24
Soft & Shiny Try Me Kit, £6

Thursday, 15 October 2015

No7 Moisture Drench Lipstick

RRP: £9.95
# of shades available: 35

--What does the promo say?--
"Nourish your lips with No7 Moisture Drench Lipstick, this moisturising formulation keeps your lips smooth and soft. Hypo-allergenic. Fragrance free. SPF 15. Intense lip colour. Satin finish."

--Packaging--
An ergonomic tapered design whose lid closes securely. The No7 embossed logo, as well as the black casing, is equally elegant, and the lipstick itself is cut to a curve that sits well on the lips during application.

--Application--
Use the stick itself, or a lip brush to apply colour directly to the lips, taking extra care around the Cupid's bow to ensure neatness.

--Scent--
Fragrance free, as mentioned in the promotional materials. Not overly chemical or waxy either.

--Appearance--
As promised, the finish is satin-like: mostly matte with a slight shine. New shades have also been added for autumn: Honey Bloom, Caramel Silk, and Tawny Rose, which I was sent to test by No7's PR. These new shades are dusky and flattering in appearance; even those that on first glance might appear too dark or bright look far more naturally flushed on the skin.

--Texture and consistency--
As promised, these lipsticks moisturise impressively, making them perfect for autumn and winter, when the colder weather begins to dry out skin.

--Longevity--
Lasts impressively, especially given the product's moisturisation qualities (which can make lipstick fade more quickly). You can eat and drink with this on and still not need to reapply for a while.

--Value for money--
This delivers function and form - i.e., luxury and utility. It's also inexpensive, with value increased further thanks to Boots' frequent special offers on No7 products. Would recommend!

perfect partners
Match Made Concealer, £7.50
Natural Blush Tint Powder, £8.00

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Irresistible Me Clip-In Silky Touch Hair Extensions

RRP: from $79
# of shades available: 11

--What does the promo say?--
"Silky Touch is our best-selling line. These 100% Remy human hair extensions are fantastic quality for a friendly price and can be very easily washed, heat styled, cut and colored to blend in your hair perfectly. The thickness of the hair decreases slightly towards the ends just like normal hair does which will provide a completely natural look while wearing them. The Silky Touch extensions are perfect for anybody who loves adding a bit of volume and/or length to their hair occasionally or for special events and offer the best quality/price ratio on the market. If you’re just starting with hair extensions and you want something great, the Silky Touch clip-in hair extensions are the way to go. Each set is composed of 10, 8 or 7 pieces of different widths depending on the weight you choose, purposely adapted to cover your head all around."

--Packaging--
The hair extensions arrive in a clear plastic envelope with a Zip-lock style closing mechanism, as well as hygiene stickers over the opening to seal it, which reassures you that the hair extensions have not been opened prior to you using them. The clear envelope also means you can check the colour and quality of the extensions before opening the package. The envelope also has two parts to it, with the smaller part containing the smaller extensions (1-2 clips) and not protected by a hygiene seal. This means you can open the smaller part of the envelope and handle and look at (and even use!) the extensions more closely to decide if you are satisfied with the product. If not, the larger part of the envelope (with the hygiene seal still on) can be easily returned for a refund. The envelope, as well as the black hairnets that the extensions arrive in, also makes sure that the extensions are convenient for travel and storage.

Normal length hair
--Usage--
There are luckily plenty of videos on the Irresistible Me website showing you how to put in the extensions - great for people like me who have never used extensions before! But the upshot of the procedure is this: you pin up most of your hair so that it is out of the way, leaving only a small part trailing at the nape of your neck. Affix one of the three-clip wefts to the parting created, then let down a little more hair, creating a new parting at around the bottom of your ears. Add another three-part weft and then repeat the process, adding the four-part weft at the top of your ears and the final three-part weft level with your temples (but still at the back of the head), ensuring that you leave enough hair at the top to cover the wefts. Let this back down and then brush the top of your hair to create your usual parting (centre, side...). Repeat the process on either side of your parting using the two- and one-clip wefts. This whole process took me about 45 minutes the first time, but would definitely speed up as time went on and you used them more often.

with long hair!
--Appearance--
Once I was done putting in the extensions, I was extremely happy with the appearance of my hair. It had not just greater length but greater volume as well, meaning I had the long luxurious Disney princess hair that I had always wanted. Equally, the colour was a perfect match, and people at work commented on all of these aspects the first day I wore them. The extensions in no way look fake or plastic, so you can be sure that you are getting quality. In short, I couldn't have been happier. (Be careful: when first putting them in you may find that some wefts/clips are still visible if you haven't left quite enough hair at the top of your head to cover them. Just check after each weft inserted, and change it then if you need to, as it is more difficult to go back later and reinsert it to make it invisible.)

--Texture and consistency--
As these are made of real human hair (which some might question the ethics of, depending on how the extensions are sourced - something the Irresistible Me website doesn't tell us), they unsurprisingly feel exactly the same, and can be brushed and styled in the same way. The name 'Silky Touch' is definitely not a misnomer! Weight-wise, you can choose from 140g or 200g, with Irresistible Me's PR sending me the latter (due to the length of the extensions I chose - i.e., 20 inches). This extra weight takes a little getting used to and you do feel the clips in your hair as well, although it's not unpleasant or painful (just different).

--Removal--
While the brand website doesn't give exact guidance about this, I would definitely recommend removing these at the end of each day, as opposed to sleeping in them, as I think the clips would probably get matted or tangled while you slept or showered and would become more difficult to remove (the extensions can be hand-washed separately in your bathroom basin). The clips stay secure in your hair all day, meaning there are no worries about them falling out, but are easy to remove when you want to.

--Value for money--
These definitely do not come cheap. Prices start at $79 for the Silky Touch extensions, but this can go up depending on colour, length and weight. My 20-inch, 200g hair extensions in Silky Golden Blonde (#14) cost $189. So definitely a purchase for special occasions, but not exactly out of reach, either (particularly with free worldwide shipping; discount vouchers are regularly offered as well). Despite the initial outlay and possible ethical considerations in terms of the hair's provenance, I would class them as good value: I was extremely pleased with the results visually as well as the hair extensions' overall usability, and clearly they can be used more than once, making them far better value than a trip to the hair salon. I have already recommended these to friends and family, and look forward to wearing them again on many special occasions in future. Thank you, Irresistible Me!

perfect partners
Diamond Hair Styler, $149
Sapphire 8 in 1 Curler, $199
Liquid Gold Shampoo and Conditioner, $24 each

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Spa Technologies Flower Acid Peel

RRP: £25

--What does the promo say?--
"An anti-inflammatory concentrate of hibiscus flower and green tea acids fortified with salicylic acid for problem skin. Flower (Pyruvic) Acid peel comes in a soothing seaweed -based gel. Gradual exfoliation without irritation associated with alpha-hydroxy peels. Helps to decongest pores consistent with acne. Essential in treatment of rosacea. Allows basal cells to fully mature, strengthening the connective tissue matrix."

--Packaging--
The weight of the glass makes you feel like you're holding a higher-quality product in your hands, and the metallic banding is a thread that runs throughout the brand identity. The pump-action dispenser is convenient, and it's always nice to be able to see how much product you've got left at any given moment.

--Application--
It's recommended that you apply this at night, after cleansing, so that it has a few hours to work. You then wash your face in the morning as normal.

--Appearance--
A golden brown serum that leaves no visible residue on the face.

--Scent--
A really pleasant, naturally sweet, 'treacly' smell.

--Texture and consistency--
Neither too runny nor too sticky; however, I would definitely stick with the advice of only applying this at night, solely for the reason that when it dries it can feel a little taut on the face, as if you've applied a mask. In short, don't expect it to leave a completely smooth and absorbed finish like a moisturiser.

--Effects on the skin--
Skin does appear calmer, smoother and more radiant after use, and doesn't have the irritating qualities of many commercial peels in the short or long term.

--Value for money--
While £25 for a 30ml bottle can seem expensive, it's nothing compared to the cost of the equal number of spa treatments - one bottle does last a long time and yields good results. Great for giving yourself spa-level results at home. Would recommend.

perfect partner
Vital Energy Capsules, £25

Saturday, 5 September 2015

No7 Gel-Look Shine Nail Colour

RRP: £7
# of shades available: 21

--What does the promo say?--
"Our patented technology makes the polish tough and flexible to help prevent chipping and improve ease of application to help achieve a streak-free finish. Complete coverage in just one stroke, with outstanding and durable gel look shine. Helps to smooth and plump nails so natural ridges can't be seen, for best results use in combination with the top coat. Rich colour pay off in one coat. Plumps and volumises in 2 coats."

--Packaging--
Sophisticated and minimalist with a pleasing and ergonomic curve on the lid for easy handling. The No7 logo is centre stage on the bottle, clearly demarcating it as one of Boots' own. The lack of unnecessarily massive stickers is equally pleasing, allowing you to always see how much you have left. The brush is a bit big for my liking, though, although I suppose this does mean you have a greater chance of covering the nail in one stroke.

--Application--
Apply a base coat and allow this to dry thoroughly before painting one stroke down the centre of your nail. Add a further stroke down each side if necessary, so that the entire nail is covered in colour. Leave this coat to dry before attempting to apply a second coat. Finally, finish with a top coat once the colour is dry.

--Appearance--
The shade I was sent by Boots' PR (thanks guys!) was the rose gold shade, which I really love - perfect for both summer and Christmas, it adds a bit of shimmer to any outfit and goes with basically everything, whether you're wearing silver jewellery or gold. I tend to go for metallic nail colours for this reason and this is a great one to have in the kit alongside the classic silver, gold, copper and bronze.

--Texture and consistency--
Perhaps a little thick for my liking, but this is easily sorted by putting a couple of drops of nail varnish remover into the bottle and giving it a good shake.

--Longevity--
To be honest, I didn't find this polish to be any more robust than others I've tried. A shame, as this whole 'gel-nail-a-like' concept really appeals to me (I find that real gel nails are often too damaging).

--Value for money--
At £7 this is about standard for nail polish. Truthfully, without the longevity claims stacking up, I wouldn't want to pay any more for it, regardless of how much I love the colour. However, you can buy nail polish from other brands that specialise in nails for the same or less money, such as Sally Hansen or Mavala, so I can understand why you'd go for this option instead. It would be great if Boots could maybe go back to the drawing board on this one so I could feel that I could get the longevity they promise without having to spend more on their gel-a-like line of base coats and top coats.

perfect partners
Stay Perfect Base Coat, £6
Stay Perfect Top Coat, £6
Nourishing Nail and Cuticle Care, £6
Strength and Growth Treatment, £8

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Spa Technologies Marine Serum

RRP: £35

--What does the promo say?--
"A favorite of ours. This light Gel Serum blends Aromatherapy with a complex of Marine Algae active ingredients. Marine Serum nourishes and remineralises ageing and environmentally damaged skin. Continuous use strengthens the connective tissue matrix for firmer, healthier skin. Essential Oils provide Antioxidant protection and help to control blemishes."

--Packaging--
The metallic bands against the clear glass bottle are new and different and this concept across all products in the range clearly helps to unite the brand and create a clear identity. The pump action dispenser clearly controls the amount of product used, which helps to minimise wastage.

--Application--
Use underneath - or even in place of - moisturiser after cleansing and toning.

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

--Scent--
Slightly salty, which I suppose comes from the seaweed. Subtle, though, so shouldn't overwhelm any other products that you want to stand out for their scent.

--Texture and consistency--
Really light and generally absorbs quickly, although perhaps not as completely as a moisturiser (leaving a slightly taut feeling when dry).

--Effects on the skin--
As with other products in the range, this increases radiance and calms problem skin.

--Value for money--
At £35 this is no small outlay, but it's nonetheless an affordable luxury that works well. Another great result for Spa Technologies.

perfect partners
Oxygenated Correcting Pigmentation Skin Brightening Booster, £59
Essential Kit, £59
Spot Cure Kit, £79
Restore Kit, £80
Repair Kit, £101

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Neutrogena Visibly Clear meets Danielle Romeril meets visibly clearer skin

I've got to be honest: I've had mixed experiences with Neutrogena, and as a person who's suffered from acne for nearly 20 years now (err...woo?), it's difficult to find products that can genuinely boost radiance and improve skin condition. However, from 2010 I've had the chance to test several products from Neutrogena's Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit range, whose zesty zing not only helps to wake you up in the mornings, but also kickstarts skin into clearing up. The original face wash has now been given a design-based pick-me-up by up-and-coming Irish designer Danielle Romeril, who coincidentally also in 2010 graduated from the MA Womenswear course at the Royal College of Art. In 2012 she set up her own label and this year, as well as presenting new designs at London Fashion Week and winning the NEWGEN award, has revamped one of Neutrogena's most successful face washes with a retro 80s design that's perfectly in keeping with catwalk trends. Specifically, it's designed by Memphis, an Italian architectural movement known for its avant-garde style and in-your-face colours.

Luckily for all fans of this product, it remains exactly the same on the inside - just in a jazzy collectible bottle - so for all those needing a top-up, now's a pretty good time to splash the cash (yep, all £4.94 of it). Happily, I'm just as pleased with the results as when I initially tested it in 2010 - and maybe even more so (and not just because of our Dani's pretty bottle).

perfect partners
Pink Grapefruit Oil-Free Moisturiser (50ml) – RRP: £4.99 
Pink Grapefruit Daily Scrub (150ml) – RRP: £4.95
Pink Grapefruit Cream Wash (150ml) – RRP: £4.99