Saturday, 30 June 2012

Cosmetics and Beauty News (June 2012)

Dove By You
The Dove By You Exhibition has launched exclusively for Facebook fans to showcase what the beauty brand means to them. Viewable on, the iconic bird image is incorporated within creative designs in ways that have emotional resonance for fans. Running throughout July, those taking part in the exhibition will be provided with a design toolkit all incorporating the iconic Dove logo. Have a look and see what you think!
Men's fragrance in the driving seat
Mercedes' first fragrance for men is out now at Harrods. Retailing from £48, the bottle features the classic Mercedes logo. Containing notes of Italian mandarin, violet, cascalone, and galbanum to name just a few, encased in an elegant black and glass canister, it makes a perfect gift for the man in your life.

Women's fragrance news: Yves Rocher, Burberry, Impulse
LovePuzzleThe woman's fragrance market abounds with island-style scents at this time of year. Included in this is Yves Rocher's Monoi Eau des Vahinés Tiaré, which contains coconut, lily, tuberose, and frangipani. Priced at £27 per 100ml, it's available for purchase now. Also coming out this July is the eau de toilette version of Burberry Body. Already known for its unique combination of fruits, flowers, absinthe, incense, tea and cashmeran, it's available in 3 sizes, starting from 35ml. Finally, Impulse is releasing its Love Puzzle, which promises freshness and confidence. A sister fragrance to Loving Words, which was also launched in 2012, it features fruit and floral notes alike, harmonising peony, lilac, pear and plum among others. Retailing at a wallet-busting price of £1.99 it's available for purchase now - and feel free to check out for more.

Making it over
With summer fragrances come summer colours for women's faces in this Olympic and Jubilee summer. FrontCover Cosmetics mimics the big brands with its Givenchy-style Sunlit Metals Palette, and for £12, it's a real bargain: you get 12 colours for your eyes, cheeks and lips, plus a metallic pouch. Their Pencils and Polish pack offers equally excellent value, as for £16 you get four pencils and four nail polishes in tropical colours, as well as an accompanying pencil sharpener. As well as Bobbi Brown-style eyeshadow collections, you can also plump for their Colour of the Season palette: for £16, you get 3 lip glosses, a kohl pencil, a lip liner, a blusher, a nail polish, a cheek brush, and a double-ended eye brush - all in pink. Exclusively sold via, you'll be set for summer in no time.

Like Front Cover, BD is also taking on the big boys' designs with their latest eyeshadows. Being sold only at Tesco, the Satin Swirls eyeshadows (available in 10 metallic shades) closely resemble MAC's Extra Dimension eyeshadows for half the price (£8 vs. MAC's £16.50). Looks-wise at least, see if you can spot the difference:

MAC Havana, £16.50; BD Gold Dust, £8

Equally handy is Urban Decay's waterproof makeup range. Sponsored by Tonia Couch, the UK's #1 platform diver, the brand offers Glide On 24/7 pencils, a waterproof eyeshadow primer potion, and Cannonball ultra waterproof mascara, to name but a few. You can find my review of the 24/7 pencils here.

Also for eyes is Barry M's new range of eye makeup, which is joining Tesco's beauty range online and in store. With new colours of Dazzle Dust out for under £5, you'll be the coolest kid on the seafront. But it's not all about eyes: try their bold new nail paints, lip gloss or lipstick too, which all retail at wallet-friendly prices. 

But we know that not everyone is lucky enough to just sustain themselves with a flick of lip gloss before hitting the beach. Some of us still need concealer or primer, and to me it sounds like Cover FX has the perfect product for summer. Its Conceal FX primer is £23, but as well as priming, it covers and repairs blemishes too. Available in 6 shades from Harvey Nichols and House of Fraser, it's also waterproof - so great for the beach. 

Looking good, taking care
In spite of the news above, summer isn't just about looking good: you also have to take care of your skin, perhaps at this time of year more than ever.  With luck, the sun should be beating down (overseas, at least, if not in the UK - here's hoping for good fortune for all the 'staycationers' out there!), and for that, we need sunscreen. A good starting point is Aethic's organic sunscreen, named Sôvée (pronounced so-vay). Containing Vitamin E, UVA/UVB filters and organic beeswax, it's eco-compatible too: unlike biodegradable products (which may decompose and dilute in the water, triggering normally dormant viruses in marine life forms), this is kind to coral as well as skin. Rochelle Ballard, one of the world's leading surfers, is already using Sôvée and confirms it works as well in extreme surfing conditions as it does for sunbathing. She reports that it "smells good, feels good, and works well". Available in SPFs 15, 25 and 40, Sôvée is the world's first certified Marine Positive sunscreen and is available now from Aethic's website, with prices starting at £40.

You can also take care of your skin by using organic skincare all year round. Mary Kay's new range of skincare, Botanical Effects, was launched in April with two formulations (Normal/Dry and Combination/Oily), with each skin type having four products to choose from - Cleanse, Freshen, Hydrate, and Mask. The Normal/Dry formula contains flaxseed and sea kelp to deliver a rich source of vitamins, while the Combination/Oily products contain kanuka and guava to purify and soothe. The products promise to cleanse without stripping, balance and revitalize skin, and remove impurities, as well as fighting ageing and promoting healthy skin. At around £15 per product, these are affordable treats that make excellent gifts.

A slightly pricier option comes in the form of Chery Lin Skin Therapy, whose organic replenishing facial oil is rich in green tea, argan and marula oils to provide natural antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing protection. Designed to strengthen and support the skin, it contains 19 therapeutic plant extracts to enhance skin and provide curative benefits. It can be used alone or mixed with a moisturiser to treat stressed or demanding skin types, particularly mature or dry skin, and costs £27 for 30ml. Also available is the hydrating skin toner (£16), nourishing cleansing balm (£18.50) and the brand's luxury rose night care (£26).

Also organic
If you're looking to move into the world of organic beauty products and get to know the various ranges better, new website could be an ideal place to start. Selling handmade, natural and organic beauty products online, the one-stop shop, which was launched in May, aims to support independent sellers, and as well as helping you purchase the right organic products for you, also allows knowledge, beauty tips, guides, and organic homemade skincare recipes to be shared. The venture is strongly supported by Jacqueline Gold, Ann Summers' CEO.

Another concept along similar lines, which aims to inform consumers about the highest-quality products, is a service that is currently only available in the US, but is something that I hope will be available to European shoppers soon too. The website personalises and optimises premium beauty products and skin care, offering for sale only those products that have been proven to deliver on their claims via scientific vetting. Featuring brands like Snowberry and SoPhyto, I feel it's a valuable resource for those looking to truly verify the products they use.

From organic to anti-ageing
A concern that comes with sun exposure is the problem of how to reduce the effects of the sun's ageing properties. Regular, year-round use of sunscreen helps for sure, as does moisturisation of your whole body and face (with any moisturiser; it doesn't have to be specifically anti-ageing). And now in the field of multi-tasking products comes another way to fight against the ravages of age: Renouve is not only a hand sanitizing lotion but also contains collagen-stimulating peptides. The world's first product to fulfil both of these requirements, Renouve's non-oil based, alcohol-free and 95% natural formula contains the antibacterial bitter orange peel extract as well as palmitoyl tripeptide-5, which is designed to stimulate and produce collagen while actively firming and moisturising the skin. Available now from, the beautifully-packaged hand sanitizer retails at £22 for 30ml.

Fit Skin For Life

Something that the above correlates with perfectly is Mama Mio's summer campaign, Fit Skin For Life. The body care brand has launch an online Fit Skin Test (available at to help women understand their skin. Each woman who takes the quick test will receive a personalized Fit Skin Report, which features nutrition and exercise advice as well as tips to improve and maintain smooth, firm, fit skin.

This type of personalised beauty approach is really gathering momentum this year, and Giorgio Armani, whose Luminous Silk Foundation was recently awarded the InStyle Best Beauty Buy award for the 10th year in a row, is also jumping on the bandwagon. Their new Foundation World features an easy-to-use diagnostic tool which helps you choose your perfect foundation and shade, allowing you to sort by coverage, look, skin type, complexion and more.

Still not sure what you need to go for?
Even with increasing numbers of diagnostic tools available, choosing the right products for your skin can be overwhelming. That's why Marks and Spencer has just opened a brand new beauty department, featuring exclusive niche beauty brands from Europe and America, including Skyn, Nuxe, Dr Murad and Apivita. It also stocks its new own brand range, entitled Pure. Virtual makeover services are available, with the flagship store being open on Kensington's High Street now, and with the aim being to open over 100 new departments by the summer of 2013, as well as internationally in the Czech Republic and Poland.

You could always shop online...
I'm a big advocate of online shopping to get the best deals and the right products, but you still need to be careful. Julie Burford, the managing director of online cosmetics company Cocktail Cosmetics, gives the following advice:
  • look for sites that offer a no quibble returns policy
  • check that the site you are buying from is accredited by an internet quality mark, such as ISIS or Safe Practice
  • read up online about the site's customer service before you buy
  • look for a delivery commitment, which will tell you how long after your order you can expect your products to be shipped
Support good causes...
In a world where people so often get conned or receive bad customer service, it's often difficult to remember that the world of fashion and beauty does good things for the planet too. For instance, the British Bee Keeping Association, the UK's leading organisation that supports honey bees and bee keepers, is to receive half of the profits from the sale of limited edition bee charm bracelets designed and made by Cinderela B. Money raised from the sale of these bracelets will be used by the charity to fund education and research into honey bee health and promote the craft of bee keeping. Each bracelet (available from costs £19.95 and is presented in a gift pouch. Rachel Jackson, the founder of Cinderela B, explains her support of the BBKA: “The beauty of nature is very important to me and I try to reflect that in the design of my jewellery. Honey bees play such a massive role in helping to keep nature in balance so we wanted to do our bit to help ensure that they continue to thrive.” bee-utiful prizes...
If you want new beauty products but just can't spare the cash, there are usually plenty of competitions offering exclusive beauty goodies. I've got one coming soon - so stay tuned! For now, though, luxury bath and body brand Noble Isle is offering one lucky person the chance to win their sumptuous Heather Honey fragrances, and in addition will adopt a hive in the winner's name on Heather Hills Farm in Perthshire. The heather honey extract used in the perfumes is also harvested in Scotland and mixed with jasmine, magnolia, neroli and grapefruit for a truly unique fragrance. The prize also includes money off at the Heather Hills Farm shop and pots of heather honey. To enter, "like" Noble Isle's official Facebook page and answer the question found in the competition tab. The competition closes on July 31st, with the winner being announced on August 3rd.

...and support fun causes too!
In lighter-hearted news, International Kissing Day takes place on July 6, so it's time to break out the gloss and share the love. Why not invest in a mineral gloss for the occasion? Lily Lolo's, for instance, retails at £7.29. Or, alternatively, you could jazz it up even more with Front Cover Cosmetics' Sugar Rush: edible glitter that'll make others really want a kiss!  

The biggest beauty news of all
For Christmas 2012, Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld is launching a makeup collection in conjunction with Shu Uemura. Karl already uses the eyeshadows to sketch, praising Shu Uemura's sheer range of colours. This new collaboration is sure to take beauty counters by storm this festive season. Keep your eyes peeled, and remember - you heard it here first! 

Monday, 25 June 2012

Lush Coalface Cleanser

RRP: from £4.50/100g

--What does the promo say?--
"Designed for oilier skins, this soap is gentle enough for the face, but don’t stop there, what’s good for the face is great for the body too. Coalface includes liquorice infusion for softening and charcoal which absorbs grease and gently exfoliates the skin. The charcoal in here is made by Jim, in the surrounding woodlands of Dorset, who specially bumps and grinds the charcoal to a very fine grade for us to make it suitable for use on the face."

Lush are very eco-friendly with their packaging as a rule, and Coalface is no exception: it just comes wrapped in a sheet of paper, which of course is fully recyclable. Coalface itself is basically like a soap bar, so it just dissolves down as you use it.

Lather up like a soap in your hands, then rub the lather over your face before rinsing off and proceeding with toner, moisturiser, or whatever else you use (if anything).

The black colour of the soap and grey colour of the lather makes it both unconventional and unisex, but there is also a bit of silver glitter on there to make it fun. Doesn't leave any visible residue on the hands or face after use.

 The charcoal smell is evident without being overpowering, and the other most noticeable scent is liquorice, making for a unique, slightly sweet, yet definitely unisex combination. The other scents, such as sandalwood, are not obvious at all.

--Texture and consistency--
The hard bar turns into a smooth, yet not creamy lather, and there are also a few small exfoliating particles in the bar, which you could rub over your face for a quick scrub. Overall a pleasant sensory experience.

--Effects on the skin--
This definitely reduced oiliness without drying even on hot days; however, I'm not convinced that I saw that much improvement in my skin even after nearly a month of use. Perhaps more time is needed.

--Value for money--
This product is pleasant to use, reduces oiliness, and is affordable (the £4.50 paid for the 100g is bargainous as this size bar lasts an age). You're also not paying over the odds for packaging. Charcoal soap is also no cheaper anywhere else, and I know this product has helped a lot of people, suggesting that Lush are really offering something new and different here.

perfect partners
Love Lettuce, £5.75
Ocean Salt, from £6.75/100g
Enzymion, £13.50
Grease Lightning, £5.65
Breath of Fresh Air, from £3.75/100g

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Another award is mine

Thanks to Priya at One Product Too Many, I've been awarded a Liebster - an award designed for bloggers with under 200 followers. Thanks, Priya!

I had to think hard about who I would choose to receive this award, as many of the blogs I follow already have more than 200 followers, but I nominate the following:

As this blog award seems more like a meme, Priya has given me some questions to answer. My task is then to set questions for my four nominees above to answer if they would like to.

Priya's questions to me:
  1. What's your favourite beauty brand? Possibly Kiehl's or Clinique, given that my skin has really cleared up while using them.
  2. What's your most and least favourite beauty product? Most favourite? Crème de la Mer Refining Facial. Least favourite? 17 nail varnish.
  3. What made you start writing a blog? I was bored, I couldn't get a job, and I was (still am!) obsessed by beauty product. My initial aim was to catalogue every product I owned in the form of a review. Still don't think I've achieved this yet.
  4. How long have you been blogging for? Since 2007.
  5. What blogs are your favourite to read and why? I don't actually tend to read that many beauty blogs, but on the lifestyle side I always enjoy Loralee's Looney Tunes and The Spohrs Are Multiplying for their quirky sense of humour and moving life stories.
  6. What celebrity has the best style? I always think Victoria Beckham looks great - beautiful, well-fitting clothes that go with everything and never date. Her makeup style is very classic too.
  7. What's your favourite quote? Work and struggle and never accept an evil that you can change. (André Gide)
  8. What are you going to do once you've answered these questions? Make the bed up with new sheets for the week, and blog on my other two blogs.
  9. Where do you buy your beauty products from? Mostly from the internet, being careful to watch out for fraudsters of course! I find it's where the best prices are.
  10. What's your favourite place in the world? Possibly Key Largo in Florida, but there are many other places I love equally for different reasons, like Oxford (England).
  11. What's the one beauty product that you couldn't live without? Concealer, without a doubt. Namely Sonia Kashuk's Hidden Agenda Concealer Palette.
And as for the 11 questions I'd like my award-winners to answer:
1. Do blog full-time, or just wish you could?
2. If you don't blog full-time, what other job do you do as well? If you do, how long did it take you to get to that point?
3. What's the best beauty product launch you've ever been to?
4. What would you change about blogging if you could?
5. Has your life, or outlook on life, changed as a result of blogging, and if so, how?
6. What's the best free thing you've been sent to test because of your blog, and did you keep the product afterwards?
7. What's the best new brand or product you've discovered as a result of blogging?
8. Have you ever had to take a day off work because of blogging? If not, what's the most daring thing you've done in the name of blogging? 
9. What's the worst thing about blogging?
10. What's the worst or wackiest beauty product you've discovered through blogging?
11. What would you say to others who are looking to start a blog?

Saturday, 23 June 2012

PitROK Crystal Roll-On Deodorant for Women

RRP: £4/50ml

--What does the promo say?--
"A Sensitive Skin deodorant based on pure natural mineral salts. PitRok For Women provides day-long protection without causing irritation. The PitRok crystal is a natural bacteriostatic agent – so it stops the bacteria that cause underarm odour from growing. Formulated with Aloe Vera, Grapefruit seed extract and our natural crystal it leaves your skin feeling fresh and revitalised. Like all PitRok Deodorants it includes only the ingredients needed to do the job. Nothing more. Dermatologically tested. Free from Aluminium Chlorohydrate or Aluminium Zirconium. Free from Parabens, SLS/SLES, Propylene Glycol, Silicone. Does NOT block pores. Not tested on animals by or on behalf of PitROK. Contains no animal derived ingredients. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans."

The white and gold colour scheme and vintage swirls make this product seem glamorous, new, and different, allowing it to stand out on the shelves among the greens and blues that are so common in the deodorant market. The lid twists off easily when you want to use it and closes securely afterwards. At 50ml it's also suitable for travel, although the flip side of this is that the roller ball is perhaps a bit small.

--Usage instructions--
The PitROK website instructs that "it is essential that PitROK is applied to freshly cleaned skin, therefore always use immediately after your bath or shower.  Apply to underarms or feet.  Dries in about a minute." No quibble here - it's quick-drying and easy to use (although I've only tried it on my underarms, not on my feet).

A clear liquid that leaves no white marks on skin or clothes.

A bit too muskily and heavily perfumed for me; there's a possibility that it could interfere with other perfume you're wearing and I prefer a cleaner, fresher smell in my deodorants in general. Others, however, may feel that this offers an all-in-one possibility, protecting from bad odours while acting as a perfume in its own right, meaning there is no need to add extra perfume.

--Texture and consistency--
Rolls on over skin smoothly, sinks in and dries quickly and easily, and does not irritate in any way.

Unfortunately I didn't find this worked well on me; I preferred the Sure and Dove deodorants that I've also been sent recently in terms of keeping me BO-free. Strangely, I didn't experience much wetness with this product but I did feel that it just wasn't as effective at keeping me odour-free - but then again I do suffer with hyperhydrosis, so others may find they have a different experience.

--Value for money--
 Prices can vary for this one, because at present it's much easier to get hold of online than in physical stores (chains such as Boots, Superdrug, Waitrose and Lloydspharmacy mainly stock the spray - see below for more info). You can therefore expect to pay between £3.42 (One Click Pharmacy) and £4.99 (Goodness Direct) for this product. Either way, do I think it's worth it? While I like the concept and packaging, sadly this just didn't really work for me. I look forward to using the wipes that PitROK's PR also sent me to see if they work out any better.

perfect partners
Natural Deodorant Spray, £4.05/100ml
Deodorant Spray for Men, between £3.44 and £5.91/100ml (depending on where you shop!)
Natural Deodorant Stick, £6.59 for 100g
Organic Cotton Deodorant Wipes, between £3.34 and £4.18 for 20 (depending on where you shop!)

Friday, 15 June 2012

Cosmetics Contemplations: Lifestyles of the pale and interesting

...with apologies to Good Charlotte there.

The approach of summer means that many are beginning to consider their pale and pasty pins and whether or not to splash out on a spray tan for the season, as well as all of the other trappings that summer beauty entails: waxing, manicure, pedicure, hair conditioning...

But the truth is that not everybody enjoys this time of the year. Marian Keyes encapsulates the feeling beautifully in her novel A Woman In The Know:

"Summer may be here, but autumn is just around the corner, and for those of us who like to cover up, it can't come soon enough. As the poet so eloquently put it: "Autumn! Season of new boots and jackets!" (At least, how the poet would have so eloquently put it if the poet had been a woman.) I love autumn. It might be because my birthday is in September - poor criticized Virgo! - and I associate it with presents, cake, and lots of attention, but the shameful truth is that I'm not really a summer person. Yes, I know this won't go down well, and that saying you don't like summer is like saying you don't like dolphins or teddy bears or Crunchies. My issue (I'm not sure I like that word) with summer is that everything's too bright, hot, and exposed. My clothes are all wrong, and summer brings me into a head-on collision with my lumpy upper arms. I'm tormented by them. Should I reveal them looking like sausage-skins stuffed with cauliflower florets, and endure the sniggers of others, or keep them under wraps and swelter? If I elect to swelter, I have to deal with skinny smooth-armed types who've never known a day's lumpiness in their lives, goading me: "Why are you wearing your cardie?" "You look so hot!" "Look at her everyone, she's melting!" "Stupid woman." While I'll have to insist, even though my face is the color of a raw steak and sweat is running down my back, that I'm fine, a little chilly even."

Dressing for summer is another difficulty; exposed legs means it's tricky enough to keep up the battle against unwanted hair, let alone also have the maintenance of a fake tan to contend with. For me, fake tan is out for this reason, and sun beds are out on the grounds of health (even stars of TV show The Only Way Is Essex recently boycotted sunbeds in support of Cancer Research's R UV UGLY? campaign). Cost is also a factor in both. A good compromise that I've found so far is the tan accelerator (I reviewed Piz Buin's recently): no more high-maintenance than normal sunscreen, not that much more expensive, and certainly safer than sunbeds, as they often provide sun protection factors too. Self-tanning moisturisers, such as those made by Jergens, Dove or Johnsons, are another excellent alternative.

Beyond that, if I want a tan, I prefer to go the 'natural' route: exposing myself to sun slowly, with plenty of sunscreen and time in the shade, to build up a gradual colour. It's free, it's the way God made it, it contains vitamin D, and can improve skin complaints. But ultimately no tan is 'good' for you and it will age you prematurely - which means it's good that I'm not that bothered about having a tan overall. I have always been pale, and my parents sometimes wonder if it's a self-fulfilling prophecy given that my first name, Bianca, has proved to be ludicrously accurate over the years. It's as if my paleness is now part of who I am - and in the face of Paris' perma-tanned trophy wives and shows like Jersey Shore, it's almost a distinguishing feature too. I doubt I would feel like 'me' with a tan - I've never had any sort of tan in my life beyond the very light sort that fades quickly. So I guess I'll carry on waiting for winter and embracing my paleness - and hoping others don't feel insecure for doing the same thing.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Lulu's Time Bomb Rescue Mission Miracle Mineral Bath

RRP: £24/500ml
available for purchase on QVC or via

--What does the promo say?--
"Relax, Recharge and! This unique formula combines the stress-relieving powers of essential oils and extracts with the soothing powers of magnesium salts. Containing a polyionic complex with the breakthrough MagnEASE hybrid, you can relax and de-stress as you bathe…helping to soak away the aches and pains of tense muscles and stiff joints. Infused with a blend of essential oils and extracts including arnica, echinacea, St. John's wort, comfrey and calendula, a warm bath will also help soften, smooth and hydrate your skin as you soothe sore, tense muscles."

The chunky see-through bottle and its metal screw-top lid provide a great modern look that's great for bathtime. The green of the liquid contrasts nicely with the pink writing on the bottle, making it really stand out from the whites, blacks and greys of the rest of Lulu's Time Bomb range. My only criticism would be that while pouring out the liquid is fine for bathing, it should come with a detachable pump so that it can also be used for showering.

 Pour generously into bath water and soak in it for as long as needed to relieve aches and pains. Can also be used to lather up quickly under the shower.

The bright green fluid (which doesn't look lurid, by the way - in fact it's refreshing and more reminiscent of spearmint and spas) in the bottle is strangely completely clear and translucent in the hand, lathering up to a delicate white foam. No visible residue is left on the skin after use.

Beautifully refreshing and unisex, with the arnica in particular coming through strongly. Perfect for revival and relaxation.

--Texture and consistency--
Quite runny and liquidy, which means that some can be lost when pouring it into your hand. The foam it lathers up to is light yet creamy and skin is left feeling soft as a result.

--Value for money-- 
This mineral bath provides an invigorating experience and the generously-sized bottle should last a long time. However, I'm still not sure that I was expecting it to cost £24, although this is in line with the prices of the majority of the Time Bomb range and is probably also influenced by Lulu's celebrity status. In addition, the natural ingredients used also make it a positive purchase for many, and it seems to sit appropriately among the brands also selling 500ml shower gels for this price (namely L'Occitane, Elizabeth Arden, Borghese and Kiehl's). I would definitely consider purchasing this as a gift for others, especially alongside the Time Bomb Survival Kit, which also seems to be excellent value - and would perhaps consider it as a treat for me too.

perfect partners
Time Bomb Take-Off Time Cleansing Cream, from £7.75
Time Bomb Take-Off Time Polishing Pads, £5.50
Time Bomb Eye R&R Makeup Remover Pads, £4.00
Time Bomb Blast To The Past Dermabrasion, £25.00
Time Bomb Glory Days Day Cream, from £8.00
Time Bomb Smart Balm Eye Cream, from £21.00
Time Bomb Flashback Night Cream, from £9.50
Time Bomb Youth Juice Secret Oil, £30.75
Time Bomb Youth Explosion Day Serum, from £13.00
Time Bomb Derm Warfare Night Serum, from £15.00
Time Bomb Trouble Shooter Firming Cream, £33.00
Time Bomb Killer Filler Wrinkle Compound, £12.25
Time Bomb Survival Kit, £25.50

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Dove Natural Touch Dead Sea Minerals Anti-Perspirant Deodorant

RRP: £2.19

--What does the promo say?--
"Dove Natural Touch Dead Sea Minerals Roll-On 50ml is a anti-perspirant, anti-transpirant deodorant that gives up to 48 hours protection. Our only formulation with Dead Sea Minerals that helps keep your underarms moisturised, odour free and dry all day. 0% alcohol and with dead sea minerals renowned for natural skin moisturisation."

While the whites and pastels used for this roll-on package are fairly endemic in the deodorant market, the Dead Sea minerals image and silver dove help it to stand out more on the shelf. The package is able to stand alone next to the sink or wherever you want to keep it, with the roller ball pointing down so that gravity helps the deodorant along, keeping the ball constantly lubricated (no constantly running the ball over your skin just to get a tiny amount of deodorant out!). The only criticism with this is that at times excess liquid can gather at the edges of the ball, so just be sure to wipe under your arms with the excess first.

Roll over clean dry skin and allow to dry for a few minutes before getting dressed.

A white translucent gel-cream which dries invisibly on skin. I did experience a couple of white marks on clothes while dressing (boo hiss) but I suspect I was not patient enough.

Clean, fresh - but funnily enough, not too salty.

--Texture and consistency--
Absorbs quickly into skin and is creamy yet light. The liquid keeps cool well and so is refreshing too. No irritation was experienced during use of this product.

I experienced a little more wetness with this deodorant than I did with Sure's newest deodorant (tested in March).  However, this was not too serious or visible (just slightly uncomfortable!) and it still seemed to prevent body odour effectively in spite of this, which is more important for me. So the claim that this deodorant "keeps you dry all day" perhaps doesn't stand up fully - but then again I have suffered from hyperhydrosis all my life, so I'm always going to be a tougher nut to crack and I'm sure most people won't have this issue. Underarms did feel moisturised though and as mentioned body odour is definitely prevented.

--Value for money--
This is over 50% less money than the Sure deodorant tested, so I am perhaps a little more predisposed towards it in this regard. One roller ball seems to last a long time, and the deodorant is mostly effective, so I would definitely consider purchasing from the brand again - even if as a hyperhydrosis sufferer I went for one of their heavier-duty lines, such as their Maximum Protection range (including their new and equally appealing Go Fresh scents).

perfect partner
Dove Anti-Perspirant Natural Touch Spray, from £2.49 

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Piz Buin Tan and Protect Tan Intensifying Sun Lotion

RRP: currently £8.49 at Tesco
available in 3 SPFs: 6, 15, and 30; also available in the form of an oil spray

--What does the promo say?--
"The non greasy and non sticky formula of the NEW PIZ BUIN® Tan & Protect™ Tan Intensifying Sun Lotion intensely moisturises your skin, which helps prevent peeling and contributes to a longer lasting tan. PIZ BUIN® Tan & Protect™ Tan Intensifying Sun Lotions are sweat and water resistant. Combines UVA/UVB HELIOPLEX™ sun filters with Melitan, which helps enhance your skin's own natural tan. So now you can build a gorgeous, natural tan without compromising on your level of protection."

The gorgeous dark brown and gold colour scheme really evokes ideas of the sun and summer, and stands out on the shelf compared to the bright primary-coloured packaging that's often available from other brand. The plastic squeeze-bottle and tapered nozzle also makes it easy to decant the lotion into smaller bottles for travel as well as making it simple to apply directly onto skin.

Simply rub into clean dry skin before sun exposure, and reapply after activities such as swimming. The lotion absorbs quickly and is non-greasy, making it pleasant to use.

A white cream that leaves no visible residue on the skin (so no white streaks as can be seen after using some sunscreens). Almost more like a body moisturiser than a sunscreen!

Nothing out of the ordinary here; just like an ordinary sunscreen, but not heavily scented.

--Texture and consistency--
As mentioned, this absorbs well, with there being none of the stiffness, stickiness or difficulty blending that can occur with other sunscreens. Intensely moisturising. In short, a delight.

--Effects on the skin--
I was pleasantly surprised to see (after perhaps not really believing it would work) that I got a good, natural tan on my legs while using this for only a couple of hours. No looking like you've been tangoed with this! Tested during one of Cardiff's rare moments of sun, it also protected skin well from the sun (no burning) and kept skin moisturised too (no peeling, dryness or tightness).

--Value for money--
The oil is slightly cheaper at £7.99 from Tesco at the time of writing (although Boots has it on for £17.99, so don't know what's going on there), but either way I think both products represent great bang for your buck. Sunscreen is expensive anyway: with one or two exceptions (Boots Essentials and some Soltan products), you are basically looking at £6.49 just as a starting point. Piz Buin is also on BOGOF currently at Boots, so is even better value. Their price point seems perfect, especially given that Simple sunscreens are more expensive than this (£10.99, Simple? Come on). Given that it feels more like a moisturiser than a traditional sunscreen, and not only protects your skin from the sun but also makes your tan look even better, it seems to me to be a fantastic summer purchase. The fact that it's available in multiple formats (the PR at Piz Buin tells me that it simply comes down to what you prefer to use; it's not that the oil is more effective than the lotion or vice versa) and in multiple SPFs serves as yet more selling points. This is all despite my initial reservations about how the product works (see below). My only criticism would be the lotion's lack of availability in major outlets as yet (the oil spray is much easier to get hold of), but I am sure this will change soon. In short, would purchase again.

--Other comments--
I was a little baffled/worried by how the product works initially, but having done some research I am now feeling a little more relaxed. To be honest I think Piz Buin should include a little leaflet with each of their tan accelerating sunscreens to explain this to consumers. The Piz Buin products, and other similar products, are designed to produce synthetic melanin in the skin (as do oral products like Oenobiol Solaire). Melanin is secreted by the skin to protect your skin from the sun. This makes your skin darker. Melanin production is stimulated by the melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH). Companies therefore want to make products that either contain this hormone or at least replicate its action. Synthetic melanin is not known to increase cases of skin cancer and works also by helping to limit the breakdown of melanin, resulting in skin darkening and the tan lasting longer. This only significantly affects the surface layer of the skin and is very temporary.

perfect partners
Tan Intensifying Sun Spray, £17.99
Tan Accelerating Oil Spray, £17.99

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Onça Company Beauty and Energy Supplement

RRP: £156 for a 30 day supply (60 sachets)
purchase from in Euros, US $, HK $, £ sterling, Swiss francs, or Japanese yen

--What does the promo say?--
"Onça is a natural supplement, a powder of superior quality designed for beauty, energy and anti-ageing. Its essence is to give a real sense of well being. It is a very exclusive product, but not simply for the sake of elitism. Due to the very limited availability of the fruits, combined with the unique production process necessary to retain the nutrients, output is on a very limited scale. We can produce sufficient amounts to supply 3,000 people worldwide. Onça provides a complete formula with tropical botanicals, lipids (omega), amino acids, hydrolyzed collagen, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, carotenoids and flavonoids as present in the fruits of the Amazon rainforest. The fruits are harvested deep in the Amazon, from the most fertile soil on Earth. None of Onça's ingredients are plantation fruits. As two drinks per day Onça gives your body what it needs. By day, it is energising, cleansing, detoxifying, creating harmony and a sense of well being. By night, Onça is supporting the bodies recovery, rebuilding health, beauty and body cells. One Onça box contains 30 activator sachets (10 grams)  to mix in your morning drink and 30 regenerator sachets (10 grams) to mix in your evening drink. For the Onça community, the feeling of well being is multi-dimensional. It is not solely about the huge benefits of Onça as a natural source of beauty and energy, it is also about a spiritual connection to the rainforest. The physical manifestation of this is our partnership with Atini, a non-profit organisation formed by Indian leaders to defend the rights of the indigenous children of the Amazon. Onça donates a percentage of all revenue to support their work and specific projects."

Onça keeps things simple with white sachets, gold writing on the front (with emphasis on the brand name and on whether it's a morning or an evening sachet), and black writing on the back (only in Portuguese though!) outlining the ingredients. Brief, precise and classy-looking. 

--Usage instructions--
Dissolve one sachet in the morning and one sachet in the evening into a drink of your choice (250ml liquid). Onça recommends a milk-based or soya based drink, but as I'm not a massive fan of milk, and it's hardly hot chocolate season (probably the only way you can actually get me to drink milk), this was out. You can dissolve it into *any* drink, though, so this doesn't matter (more on this subject later). I'd recommend putting in the powder first (not last) and stirring throughout the addition of the liquid, and also throughout consumption. Hot drinks in general are also better (again, more on this later).

The morning supplement did not look good at all: it was the colour of chocolate, but lacked the thickness to really convince yourself it was actually hot chocolate. Plus, no matter how well I mixed it, or into what drink, there always seemed to be more lumps/sediment than in the evening. The evening drink looked more like tomato soup due to its deep orange-red colour and proved much easier to mix for some reason (thus resulting in fewer lumps). Some of the lumps are actually camu-camu fruit, which you can eat and which are delicious. To be fair to Onça, they do mention that you can prepare the drink in a liquidiser if you don't "do" lumps, but I didn't try this.

--Scent and taste--
The morning drink was like a poor man's version of a Terry's Chocolate Orange: there was a chocolatey flavour and scent, and an orangey flavour and scent, but for some reason the flavours didn't seem to blend well together. There was also a third, yeastier flavour which may account for some of the unpleasantness I felt when drinking it. Blended with water, it was not nice. I found I was best off blending it with fruit juice or a smoothie as this seemed to make the flavours work better together.
The evening drink proved a far pleasanter experience. The unusual fruit scents of mana cubio and passionfruit fused together for an intensely citrusy, but not sour hit, of flavour, and for some reason this drink had a creamier scent and taste too. Overall it was much nicer to drink, and again it can work well in fruit juice or smoothies, but this blend was much nicer just mixed with water too.

--Texture and consistency--
As mentioned, I found the morning drink unpleasant not only because of its weird taste but also because of its gritty texture: no matter what I did I just couldn't get the lumpiness to go away and there was always a layer of sediment left at the bottom of the cup that I had to force down. The evening drink went down much more easily, with there being far fewer lumps each time. To reduce lumps, I'd recommend adding the powder to the cup first, then the liquid; stirring constantly throughout the mixing and consumption of the drink; and making the drink with hot liquid (it's possible that the heat makes the powder dissolve better). You could also try Onça's recommendation of preparing the drink in a liquidiser.

--Effects on the skin--
One of the product's main advertised benefits is smoother, plumper skin due to the increased collagen provided by the product (it's hydrolysed and is the main ingredient in the evening supplement). Firstly, you are never going to see a difference in five days' supply alone (this is the amount sent to me by Onça's press team), so on that score I can't say whether it really works or not. Secondly, the fact of touting collagen as the principal benefit suggests to me that this product is not really aimed at people my age (26) - so even if I did see benefits they would possibly not be optimal or as visible as in someone older. Many of the ingredients in the supplement are packed with vitamins (including A and B) which are supposed to improve skin health and condition generally, but again, in five days I did not notice any change in my acne, even though Onça contains lycopene, zinc and selenium - all famous acne-busting ingredients. Another thing which suggests this may not be aimed at my age range is that hydration is cited as a major skin benefit from this product  - which I am not convinced is something my oily skin requires.

--Other effects--
From the morning drink, I was supposed to notice the following effects: 
- an improvement in hearing and memory
- strengthened skin, hair, teeth and nails
- healthier and more youthful appearance
- the feeling of being happier and more relaxed
- the feeling of being energised
- ease in controlling weight
- greater hydration
- a boosted immune system

The only aspect of this that I can truly say I noticed was in terms of energy: although my medical-student sister believed this effect to be a mere placebo, I definitely felt more energised in the mornings and felt I had a greater spring in my step. The major fallout has to be in terms of the immune system part: this not only failed to prevent me from catching my sister's cold but also did not lessen its effects or duration. However, a lot of the effects listed above are also not really measurable, especially over only a 5-day course (when it is supposed to be taken for a minimum of 30 days).

The evening drink promised the following:
- strengthened skin, hair, teeth and nails
- healthier and more youthful appearance
- the feeling of being energised
- improved sleep 
- the feeling of being happier and more relaxed
- healthier eyes
- improved digestion
- pain relief
- decreased bloating

Of these, I would say that I primarily experienced pain relief (of recurring toothache due to wisdom teeth coming in - but this could also have been due to the paracetamol I was taking for my cold), and the feeling of being happier, more energised, and more relaxed. To say you instantly feel more tranquil and instantly physically better after (and even during) consumption of the evening drink is no exaggeration - but it's a temporary high, on a par to the instant stress relief you feel when eating chocolate (although unlike eating chocolate, there's no deadly sugar crash with Onça's evening remedy). I noticed no difference to my sleep, skin, hair, teeth or nails and I don't suffer with bloating or digestive problems. Other benefits would take longer than 5 days to see.

--Value for money--
At £156 for a month's supply this definitely needs serious consideration for most of us. If it's that or the gym membership, I'd say you'd get more from the gym membership. However, when you break down the cost, it comes out at around £5 a day - which is probably what many people spend on unhealthy snacks and chain-store coffee a day, as well as possibly other habits like cigarette-smoking, magazines, or lottery tickets. In this case, I would choose the Onça as it will do far more for you than these other everyday 'luxuries'. In my ideal world, though, I'd like to see Onça offer an option where you could choose the morning OR the evening supplements (or both, of course!) as different people will react differently to each of the drinks, and while others may find they benefit hugely from both, I personally was happiest with just the evening drink: it instantly destresses and makes you feel physically better in yourself. If Onça were to offer the evening drink separately (say, at £75-£80 a month - which is what some people spend on their mobile phone bill each month), I would definitely take them up on it.