Friday, 19 June 2015

Nivea Pearl and Beauty Spray

RRP: from £2.29

--What does the promo say?--
"NIVEA Pearl & Beauty Deodorant – for beautiful, smooth underarms. Together with NIVEA’s 48-hour protection against underarm wetness and odour, its caring formula with precious pearl extracts leaves underarms feeling soft and looking beautiful. It’s the perfect combination of NIVEA‘s mild care and reliable protection."

--Packaging--
Mine is actually in a tiny mini format (so would have cost less than £2.29 too), so it's great to have all these different size options depending on your needs. There's also no lid to worry about losing: instead, you twist the deodorant open and closed to reveal or hide the spray hole respectively. The pink and navy colour scheme is pleasant, moving it just that little bit away from the usual cliché.

--Usage--
Once you are clean and dry after your bath or shower, just spray onto your underarms, holding the aerosol of course at a safe distance from your mouth and nose. I tend to open the bathroom door as well when using sprays, just for better ventilation (though I guess whether you want to do this depends on how sensitive your fire alarm is!).

--Scent--
Powdery and soapy. Not too floral or chemical.

--Appearance--
No white marks on clothes or skin. Yay!!

--Effects on the skin--
It's mid-June and yet skin was kept dry and smell-free all day. Admittedly, it wasn't terribly hot today, and it was a quiet day at work too (a day of invigilation is hardly comparable to tearing around the classroom checking student work or supervising interactive quizzes). Nonetheless, a solid performance.

--Value for money--
Despite my usual general contempt for these (suspiciously?) cheap high street brands, I probably would buy this again for its sheer efficacy. The baby travel sizes are also great ideas for stocking fillers (thanks, Mum!).

perfect partners
Gentle Facial Cleansing Wipes, £4 for 40
Cashmere Moments Shower Cream, £1.89 

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Beauty Byte: Massive £700 beauty giveaway!

In celebration of her birthday, renowned beauty blogger Michelle is giving away beauty products worth £700 on her blog, Thou Shalt Not Covet. You can enter here: http://thoushaltnotcovet.net/2015/06/12/my-big-birthday-giveaway-2015.

Thou Shalt Not CovetI have massive respect (and slight envy!) for people like Michelle who can actually make a living out of blogging, out of sheer passion and talent. Being a beauty journalist was always my dream, but I guess I just didn't have what it takes, or I was just unlucky. While I now gain massive fulfilment from another profession I love, it's great to know that there's still plenty of people out there willing to read and write quality content, especially as journalism (print in particular) continues its steady decline.

So get over to Michelle's blog, not only to have a chance of winning shedloads of amazing stuff, but also to keep the cause of quality journalism going.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Footner Exfoliating Socks

RRP: £19.99

--What does the promo say?--
"Footner Exfoliating Socks is a revolutionary product to give you smooth, softer feet with just one 60 minute application Footner Exfoliating Socks make use of the skin’s natural exfoliation process to rid your feet from years of dead skin build-up. After just one application your feet will shed this dead skin. Feeling young and rejuvenated, your feet will be smoother than ever.
Using this product will result in the peeling of the hardened skin build-up on your feet. Footner Exfoliating Socks makes use of the skin’s natural peeling process to remove callus and dead skin from the feet. 5-10 days after application the layers of dead skin will peel from the soles of the feet. This peeling process will continue for about 2 weeks depending on the thickness of the skin.
After this time you will be left with soft, smooth, rejuvenated, baby-soft feet."

--Packaging--
The pink box is cheerful and the silver pouch containing the 'socks' is modern and sleek. The 'socks' themselves are more like plastic bags, filled with the treatment fluid.

--Application--
Cut open the 'socks' along the indicated line, and ease your clean, dry feet into them. Seal them with the adhesive strip along the side of the 'sock', closing gaps as far as possible. Finally, put normal socks on (perhaps an old pair in case the treatment fluid leaks) so that you can walk around as usual during the treatment. Once the treatment time is up, remove and dispose of the plastic 'socks' and rinse and dry your feet. This is an easy process that is not too messy.

--Appearance--
As mentioned, the 'socks' are made of durable clear plastic. The treatment liquid is also transparent and leaves no visible residue on the feet.

--Texture and consistency--
The treatment fluid is watery and is easy to rinse off post-soaking. Rather than being the kind of exfoliator that comes with bits of beach embedded in it, this is a chemical exfoliant that has an even consistency.

--Scent--
None discernible.

--Effects on the skin--
Skin does not feel irritated by the treatment fluid, and initially little difference is felt. However, over the next week or two, there is visible peeling as the vast majority of dry skin falls away. You will need a powerful vacuum cleaner, a patient partner, and a good gross-out factor threshold. Just when you begin to genuinely believe you were actually a lizard in a past life, you are, as promised, left with baby-soft skin.

--Value for money--
Initial results are impressive, and value for money increases if you look out for special deals (Boots are offering a 25% discount at present, for example). Equally, we could definitely argue that this is excellent value compared to the prices of traditional spa treatments. However, I found that the results weren't as long-lasting as other exfoliating socks that I've tried, so would be keen to shop around to ensure that I was getting the very best outcome for my money. 

perfect partners
Soft Foot Foam, £10.95
Daily Repair Cream, £8.49

Saturday, 6 June 2015

No7 Beautiful Eyebrows Kit

RRP: £12.50

--What does the promo say?--
"No7 Beautiful Eyebrow Kit lets you create perfectly defined brows for face-framing flattery. The combination of wax, powder and highlighter means goodbye to unruly brows. Top Tip- Try mixing the brow colours together to create your most natural shade."

--Packaging--
The ovular black compact is a little bulky, but nonetheless sophisticated in its simplicity. You are also rewarded by a generously-sized mirror, good quantities of product, and two brushes that are convenient for travel.

--Application--
My PR version arrived with no instructions, so I had to work out for myself that clumsily poking the brow brush into the wax would be an error. I resorted to applying the colour with the angled brush before smearing the wax on with my finger and using the brow brush to tidy. The highlighter seemed a little redundant for a few days, but is also easy enough to apply should you have the inclination: again, use a brush or your finger.

--Appearance--
My brows are quite dark (contrarily to my naturally blonde hair), and both colours fill in brows effectively for a bolder, more defined look without seeming artificial. Those with lighter brows might want to stick with the lighter colour only, though (although of course you can mix both colours if you like). The wax is also handy for taming unruly hairs, and the highlighter gives a nice shimmery look that is great for a summer glow without making you look like an 80s reject.

--Scent--
Nothing discernible.

--Texture and consistency--
The brow colours blend nicely without sending powder everywhere and it's easy to pick up the colour on the brush. As mentioned, the wax does its job well without weighing brows down or making them look like you've decided to apply Brylcreem to them. The highlighter also has a delicate texture - again, not feeling weighed down is so important for summer skin.

--Longevity--
Holds well throughout the day, without smudging or fading.

--Value for money--
A little goes a long way with this kit, and it's a practical purchase that travels well too. Would recommend.

perfect partners
Perfect Light Pressed Powder, £11.50
Natural Blush Tint Powder, £8

Friday, 5 June 2015

Facetheory Sensitive Toning Mist

RRP: £7.50

--What does the promo say?--
"A toner that’s tailored for sensitive skin. Specially formulated for fussy skin, Sensitive Toner T2 gives you complete treatment and protection for your skin – without the irritation and redness. And while we’ve created a light formulation, we haven’t compromised on care. With aloe vera and grapefruit oil, it’s an antiseptic, decongestant and impressive anti-ager all in one."

--Packaging--
My sample took the form of a small pot with a screw-top lid, but the green and white spray bottle is appealing for targeted use with no wastage, as well as for the colour scheme's connotations of antiseptic healing. It's also a nicely unisex concept.

--Application--
Spray onto a cotton pad and wipe over cleansed skin. Easy as.

--Appearance--
A clear, watery liquid.

--Scent--
Citric without being bitter. A natural scent overall that combines the orange and grapefruit well.

--Texture and consistency--
A watery liquid with no visible particles or viscosity.

--Effects on the skin--
Removes any excess makeup that your cleanser didn't pick up, and calms and smooths skin too.

--Value for money--
Costs less than many other toners of the same quality (and sometimes even those of lesser quality!) and has positively calming effects on the skin thanks to its natural ingredients. Would purchase the full size product.

perfect partners
Clarifying Cleanser (C2), £9.50
Supergel Moisturiser (M3), £12.50
Ultraglide Makeup Primer (P1), £1.75
100% Organic Cotton Muslin Face Cloth, £1.50

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Spa Technologies Revitalising Sea Cleanser

RRP: £25

--What does the promo say?--
"A deep pore cleanser formulated with a rich paste of organic Laminaria Algae imbued with aromatic essences that revitalize the skin by stimulating micro-circulation to restore a healthy glow. Ideal for oily/congested skin types."

--Packaging--
This appears to come in a pump-action bottle, while my sample came in a tiny pot with a screw-top lid. Based on the other samples I was sent that did come in full-size pump-action bottles, it likely dispenses efficiently and the bottles from this company seem quite robust. The bottle is also not too crowded/busy in terms of writing or images, making for a sophisticated overall appearance.

--Application--
Massage a small amount into damp skin before rinsing off. Easy really.

--Appearance--
The khaki colour is not terribly appealing (even if it clearly connotes the sea), but it leaves no residue on the skin.

--Scent--
The mint comes through most strongly, which is both pleasant and unusual, as well as supporting the general notion of the refreshing cleanse.

--Texture and consistency--
Very smooth, does not lather, and washes off well.

--Effects on the skin--
Seems to visibly calm the skin in the short term, but unfortunately my sample was a bit small to be able to test any effects on my acne long-term. No signs of any irritation.

--Value for money--
Based on the immediate results of my week's sample, I would definitely be interested in investing in the full-size bottle to give it a chance to work more completely. The products I have sent have a pared-down, high-quality set of ingredients that so far seem to be doing the skin good, and I would thus recommend this cleanser to those with acneic skin.

perfect partners
Marine Serum, £35
Vitamin C Mist, from £15
Spot Cure, £14.95

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Refresh Peptide + Intense Eye Recovery Serum


RRP:£48.50

--What does the promo say?--
"• CLINICALLY PROVEN to really work. Studies show after 8 weeks a 42% improvement in skin texture, 35% reduction in dark circles, and a 31% reduction in puffiness around the eyes. As well, tissue samples show a 200% increase in fibroblasts (collagen-producing cells) and significantly improved capillary circulation
• AIRLESS PUMP Precision applicator maximizes eye serum effectiveness – product stays sealed, extending product lifetime, eliminating waste or spills
• REDUCES INFLAMMATION and UV DAMAGE
• SAFE FOR ALL SKIN TYPES Non-irritating, fragrance-free gentle cooling eye treatment contains no artificial colors, parabans, sulfates, alcohol, or preservatives
• THIS EYE SERUM is Vegan, Cruelty-free, 100% natural botanical extracts"

--Packaging--
The syringe-style packaging is very evocative of plastic surgery, which won't appeal to everyone. Even though to a degree it allows for efficient application, with little wastage, I'd still say it dispenses more than needed, so there's definitely room for it to be even more precise (one pump yields enough not just for the eyes but for lines on the forehead and around the lips too).

--Application--
As mentioned above, just one pump of the syringe is all it takes. Dispense the product onto your ring finger and then massage around the eye area.

--Appearance--
A translucent gel that is a slightly dark but still natural green/yellow/brown colour, evocative of the seaweed it contains, which doesn't make it offputting. It also leaves no visible residue.

--Scent--
None at all, despite the seaweed.

--Texture and consistency--
A thin gel that holds its shape and is not too runny, while still not being at all sticky. It is very easy to blend in and leaves no feeling of dryness, stickiness, tautness or tugging once fully absorbed.

--Effects on the skin--
The results promised on the website are for 8 weeks' usage, but after even less than that, I can confidently report increased brightness and a smoother appearance of the skin around the eye area.

--Value for money--
While £48.50 may just make your wallet cry, this product could turn out to be very good value - not just for its efficacy, but also for its precise dispensation system: I've been using mine for weeks and barely made a dent in it yet. This pricing is also on a par with other leading premium brands: Lancôme, Dr Brandt, Origins, YSL and Strivectin all charge similar amounts for their eye serums. So despite a few minor shortcomings, this product does indeed come highly recommended, and I'll definitely be checking out the brand's products for acneic skin, too. 

perfect partners
Reveal Pre-Peel Pore Rose Glow Cleanser, £22.50
Lactic Acid 10% Gel Peel? £29.50
Restore Hyaluronic Moisturising Cream, £24.95

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Radox Creamy Shower Wash


RRP: £2.15

--What does the promo say?--
"Want to transform body and mind? Look no further than the new Radox Creamy range, there to put you in the mood no matter how you want to feel. Bursting with fresh fragrances to transform your mood, try one of the new creamy variants."

--Packaging--
The ergonomic shape, and downward-facing flip-top lid, are all practical for daily shower use, even with slippery hands. The white bottle is also nicely contrasted by the bright, eye-catching colours, which also nicely reflect the fragrance in question.

--Application--
Squeeze a 50p-sized amount into your palm and lather up. Smooth over skin before rinsing. Simple :)

--Appearance--
In all cases, the lotion is white and possibly slightly translucent before foaming into a rich creamy lather. This is easy to rinse off when you want to, and leaves no visible residue.

--Scent--
All of the four available scents are distinct and generally deliver on the promises made. My favourites were the romantic (orchid and blueberry) and pampered (shea and ginger), while another BBB tester spoke highly of the calm fragrance (jojoba and camomile). The rejuvenating fragrance, ironically, was a little more lacklustre, smelling more of peach than anything else. Even though the orange oil was detectable, it could have come through more strongly. Nonetheless, all would help to intensify the emotions on their bottles. I always feel pampered when taking a bath at my parents' place (no bath in my teeny flat!), so I would love for that to be available in bubble bath and body butter versions too. The rejuvenating one would be great for the mornings (although I'm a morning person anyway!), and the calming one for the evenings. I'd be happy to use the romantic one whenever I wanted to catch my husband's eye: it's a lovely rich fragrance that isn't too heavy, and one which would hopefully cast his mind back to when we first met (in Paris - only reputed to be the most romantic city on earth!), echoing the sweetness of the Sauternes wine that we drank on our first night together. Sadly I can't remember what perfume I wore...

--Texture and consistency--
 As mentioned, lovely and creamy, and lathers up well. Stays on the skin for as long as you like, but rinses off easily when needed.

--Effects on the skin--
Genuinely seems to moisturise the skin deeply and in a long-lasting way. Very impressive.

--Value for money--
At £2.15 a bottle, it's definitely affordable, and there should definitely be a scent to suit everyone here. Would recommend.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

YouGlo WOW Mask


RRP: £100 for 5, or £21 for one
available from www.youglo.co.uk

--What does the promo say?--
"Institute Hyalual Switzerland, a scientific research centre dedicated to skin rejuvenation, created the mask as the simplest and most effective way to combine the moisturising effect of Hyaluronic Acid (HA), Argireline (famed for its skin firming properties) and RMCP-complex (a combination of ingredients that include fruit and leaf cell culture and flower extract).  It’s the interaction between HA, Argireline and RMCP-complex which results in such a complete anti-ageing effect. The mask also uses newly developed Transdermal Cosmetics Delivery technology which is activated by skin temperature to allow the ingredients to reach the deeper layers of skin.  This means that WOW mask provides 200% more hydration than other collagen-based moisturising treatments."

--Packaging--
The sleek foil sachet contains a mask that comes in two pieces. Each piece is folded in half, and once unfolded, each piece cuts across the middle of the face, just below the nose. However, this is slimy and difficult to peel apart, meaning that longer and thinner packaging would be better if it meant the mask did not have to come folded. The mask itself is made from white and clear plastic.

--Application--
After cleansing, peel off one side of the mask and place on the face. Then peel off the rest of the plastic so that only the gel mask remains. This is not an easy feat, because the mouth and eye holes are awkwardly placed, meaning you have to fix it to the contours of your face and then push it down so that full contact is made with the skin. Some areas around the eye do not have gel on them, meaning that some areas particularly prone to wrinkles are missed. The same is also true of the upper lip, where ageing can be most visible. You then need to leave the mask on for 20-40 minutes.

--Appearance--
Once you've got the white and clear plastic off, the mask itself is a transparent jelly, which leaves a slimy gel on the face that needs to be rinsed off once the 20-40 minutes is up.

--Scent--
A mild, inoffensive, natural scent.

--Effects on skin--
In the short term, skin feels moisturised and silky. However, no real long-term effects were noted.

--Sensation and texture--
The gel is slimy and solid and this ultimately creates an unpleasant, almost psychosomatic 'itching' feeling arising from just waiting to remove it. Does not cool, warm or tighten like many other face masks. It did dry out a little, but still retained a lot of moisture.

--Value for money--
While at £20.99 for one mask this is an affordable purchase for the evident short-term effects, you need to be seriously loyal to invest £100. It's possible that if the brand sold these in patches to target specific facial areas, or sold a variety of whole-face masks for different face shapes, they could sell more, especially as packaging also needs to be looked at for easier usability. Ultimately has potential, but needs work to make it even more marketable.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Ova-coming ovarian cancer with Barry M

Despite periods being every woman's common problem, it's something we rarely discuss (for what it's worth, I'm a Mooncup girl, so feel free to shout if you have any questions about those!). Perhaps more seriously, we don't discuss part of what causes us to have periods - our ovaries. This is serious because it's estimated that 5%-10% of women suffer with polycystic ovary syndrome (and the real number could actually be even higher due to lack of awareness), which can cause fertility problems as well as many other undesirables, including acne and hirsutism (again, I'm your go-to for questions on this syndrome). Furthermore, ovarian cancer is the seventh most-common cancer and the eighth most common cause of deaths from cancer, with five-year survival rates being just 45% in the US (and worse in developing countries). Again, lack of awareness and a lack of willingness to discuss it are factors in how early diagnoses can be made, enabling the illness to be treated sooner and survival rates to thus increase. 

Every little step taken to do this is therefore a move in the right direction. Ovarian cancer support charity Ovacome is therefore delighted to be partnering with cosmetics brand Barry M on its Teal Tips initiative, in which willing volunteers (male or female!) are invited to paint their nails in the brand's new green-blue shade (entitled Pacific, and shown to the right-hand side of this paragraph). This metallic effect colour is sure to turn heads and provoke discussion during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (in March).

So how can we start the conversation, and most importantly, keep it going? Just remember Ovacome's acronym, BEAT: B is for bloating (that does not come and go), E is for eating less and feeling fuller quicker, A is for abdominal pain, and T is for telling your GP. You could also hold manicure and pedicure parties, with the polish as a centrepiece. And why not ask your local salon to fundraise by promoting nail treatments using this colour?

The Pacific nail polish, from the Aquarium collection, costs just £3.99 - and if you buy it during February or March, Barry M will donate half of the cost of all purchases made via www.barrym.com to Ovacome. However, the outcome could be far more valuable than a mere four quid - so all the more reason to get talking with teal tips.