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I once received a little sample of this exfoliator ( I do like to try before I buy at these kind of prices) and decided that I liked it enough to purchase. When I went to my local Clarins counter they had an offer on whereby if you purchase two products (one to be skincare) that you would receive some free travel size products. Within the choice for travel size products was this exfoliator so I decided against buying it, and instead purchased two other products and got some of this for free!
=== The packaging ===
It is of course what is in the packaging that is beneficial as opposed to the packaging itself, but I do believe it can make a huge difference in ease of use. This exfoliator comes in a squeezy tube (full size is 125ml, however mine is 75 ml) with a flip top lid. My travel size is in basically the same packaging, it just looks a little fatter than the full size. The tube is transparent which is fantastic to see how much product is remaining and the exfoliator is a lovely enticing orange colour (makes sense considering that it contains orange extract). The packaging is fairly simplistic and classy - basic info given on the front and the characteristic gold rim on the white lid. The tube is made of a very flexible plastic which makes it incredibly easy to dispense the exfoliator and leads me to believe that it will be very easy to get the last bits out when I get down that far. I have no complaints whatsoever about the packaging and think it looks lovely on my bathroom shelf.
=== The claims ===
Clarins state the following regarding this product on their official website:
'Clarins gentle, spa-fresh cleanser polishes-away make-up, embedded impurities and spent surface cells in one time-saving step--revealing the glowing skin beneath. Orange extract softens, refreshes and revives. Moringa Seed extract purifies and refines while preserving your skin's natural moisture level. Gentle Silica Microbeads tackle clogged pores. Now that's refreshing!'
That to me seems like a lot of claims for just one product, although I did have high expectations as all other Clarins products I have used have always been of high quality.
=== The product ===
I always think of this as an exfoliator but I guess really it is a cleanser and (mild) exfoliator in one. On flipping the lid it is easy to smell the lovely citrus scent. Unsurprisingly this smells of orange, but it is a pleasant subtle scent rather than an overpowering one, and I can't see anybody particularly disliking this. Instructions for use given on the tube are to simply 'lather onto damp face using gentle circular movements' but to avoid the eye contour area. This is a little annoying as it seems to be eye make-up I struggle the most to get off, but it is easily understandable why this area should be avoided. I lather up a small amount of product onto my wet hands before lathering on my face and am always pleasantly surprised at just how much this lathers up. Because of past experience with exfoliators I was expecting a relatively thick paste with large scrubby particles in, but that is not the case with this. I find it hard to describe the consistence of this exfoliator but would describe it as somewhere between a face wash and paste. It is a good consistency - not too runny or too thick and the beads in it are just right for gentle exfoliation. I think it is also worth mentioning that it doesn't take too long to rinse off after use - I have found with some exfoliators in the past that I seem to have to spend far too long on getting them off again!
I tend to use this most days as I feel like it is not too abrasive for everyday use, and Clarins do not state how often this can/should be used. This exfoliator feels absolutely gorgeous on my skin and I don't feel the need to use a face wash which I usually would in conjunction with any other exfoliator. This truly is a 2 in 1 product that smells absolutely gorgeous!
=== Does it work? ===
So it smells nice...it feels nice..but does it actually do anything?
I would agree that it does remove make up to an extent (other than eye make-up of course) but I do still feel the need to use some kind of make-up remover afterwards to ensure all traces have been removed if I use this exfoliator first. Usually I tend to remove my make up before I use this because I feel that this way it is really working on my skin rather than having to get through a barrier of make-up first. My skin feels thoroughly cleansed after use without feeling dried out or tightened. If anything I would say that it feels a little more moisurised after use (but not so much that I feel I could skip using a moisturiser afterwards). My skin feels smooth and refreshed after use. I find that this works beautifully for me but although it is advertised as all skin types, I am not sure how useful it would be for those with oilier skins.
=== Price and Availability ===
This only comes in one size (unless you are lucky and get your hands on the travel size ones) which is 125ml. This typically retails for £19.50 on the highstreets in the usual stores - Debenhams, House of Fraser, larger Boots, John Lewis etc. As with most things it can usually be found a little cheaper online ( I have seen some on ebay for more around the £16 mark)
=== Does it provide good value for money? ===
Although at first glance I think £19.50 is incredibly expensive for an exfoliator, especially when you consider how cheap you can get them sometimes, I do believe it represents good value for money. This is basically a 2 in 1 product which eliminates the need (and cost) of another product and the amount used each time is incredibly minimal, which means it lasts you a great deal of time. I would estimate that my 75ml version will last between 2-3 months with very frequent use, so I would expect a full size to last around 5-6 months which I think is incredibly reasonable.
=== Overall thoughts ===
Overall I really have no complaints about this product, not even about the cost although it may seem pricey to some. I think it looks stylish and more importantly it makes my skin feel amazing and for that I am happy to pay a higher price. I have used exfoliators before such as St Ives and I really feel that they were not a patch on this Clarins one which I think will remain a key part of my skin care regime.
=== Would I recommend/repurchase? ===
I would definitely recommend this product and would not hesitate to purchase once I have used up what I currently have. This exfoliator ticks all of the boxes for me so I give it 5 out of 5.
Thanks for reading.
I have never really been one for using toners and instead prefer to use the Clinique clarifying lotion (which contrary to popular belief is not a toner, but is actually an exfoliator). I would not go out of my way to buy a toner however I received a trial size of this lancome tonique douceur when I purchased 2 products some time ago within a gift with purchase, and considering it was free it would be rude to not use it!
===Price and Availability===
This toner does not come cheap in my opinion at £21 for 200ml or £34 for 400ml. I do however think it is fab that it is available in more than just one size as seems to common among many other brands. This is available from usual lancome stockists - Debenhams, house of fraser and larger boots stores. It is also easily available on the internet, often at lower prices than in high street stores. After a quick search I have found it for as little as £12 for 200ml on ebay so if this is a product that you do like, there is no need to pay the huge RRP. They also seem to have a much more varied range of sizes on ebay although this is probably due to gift with purchase etc.
My mini looks very similar to the full size but not exactly the same so I won't focus on this too much. It basically comes in an attractive blue bottle with the usual lancome rose on the front so that it is not easily confused with another brand. I have minimal info on my bottle - basically just instructions for use and that this product needs to be used up within 12 months of opening.
===The product and the claims===
This is an alcohol free softening and hydrating toner. The official lancome website suggests that this toner is suitable for those with normal to dry skin so for those of you with oily skin - this is probably one to give a miss. Lancome claims (according to its website) that 'this alcohol-free lotion enriched with soothing plant extracts is the perfect finishing touch to makeup removal for dehydrated skin. It gently tones and refines the skin, removing any remaining impurities, without depleting its natural oils. Leaves skin feeling clean, soft and refreshed and ready for your daily treatments.
To use this toner is incredibly simple - just moisten some cotton wool and sweep across face after you have removed make up. After having used this a few times I realised that there was something very familiar about the fragrance of this toner - it smells just like parma violets. I have to say that I never liked the taste of those horrible little sweets but the smell is far from offensive. I use this after cleansing my skin and find it handy that the liquid itself is a pale blue as I feel it allows me to see how much is on my cotton wool that little bit better. As I sweep this over my face it does feel incredibly refreshing and hydrating so I can't deny it has met its claims on that point. However, where I feel this product lets itself down is removing those last traces. Even though I do thoroughly cleanse there are usually some traces of make-up left that need removing which has always been done very well with my usual clarifying lotion. Even after using this toner, I still found the the clarifying lotion would remove some afterwards proving it to not be as effective as I would like. On the plus side I did only have to use a very small amount of this toner, although as I believe it to be relatively ineffective for its purpose I guess this is kind of irrelevant.
Overall while not particularly impressed with this product I cannot complain too much as it cost me nothing. I think it is very expensive for what I would consider to basically be refreshing fragranced water although it does make my skin feel nice after use. For such a price and from such a well known premium brand I had expected more.
Personally I will not be purchasing this product any time soon and will instead continue using my lovely clarifying lotion which makes me feel squeaky clean. I would recommend this toner if you can get it much cheaper than the RRP and are quite happy to use a toner purely for the purpose that it makes your skin feel nicer, rather than it being entirely clean.
Thanks for reading.
My purse has definitely been feeling the pinch lately so I thought rather than splurge on my usual more expensive goodies I would try some cheaper alternatives. My lips have been feeling really sore lately and having run out of lip balm I went to browse the options at my local super drug. I have seen the 'I love...' range before and used a couple of products which impressed me so thought I'd take a chance on this bargain buy.
=== Price and availability ===
This little tub contains 15g of balm which is just 99p in super drug. I have only ever seen the 'I love...' range in super drug although I am sure it must be available elsewhere and is easy to find online. A full list of stockists is available through the official website - http://www.ilovecosmetics.eu/
=== The package ===
As mentioned previously this comes in a tub. The plastic is transparent enabling you to see exactly how much is left, and this really cannot be missed as the balm is a fairly vibrant pink/purple colour. The lid is screw off and application is simply with a finger. Personally I am not really a fan of this as I don't find it very hygienic (even though my fingers are clean!) and find it a little bit messy. I think however that you do get a huge amount of product for your money.
=== The product ===
The official website simply states the following about this lip balm - 'Come on don't be shy, sink in your fingertips and smooth me onto your lips, leaving them feeling soft, moisturised and ultimately kissable.'
I am not wowed by this product although in all fairness for 99p I didn't have the highest of expectations. The balm is fine as long as you don't accidentally apply too much (which is relatively easy to do) as this results in a very unattractive shade on the lips. I find that it takes quite a long time to sink in and doesn't moisturise my lips as well as I would like considering how sore they have been lately. The smell is ok but I was expecting more. I have previously used the I love...mango and papaya bubble bath and that smells amazing (highly recommend)! I was therefore expecting this lip balm to smell lovely and fruity. I can't deny that it does smell reasonably fruity but this lovely scent is accompanied by a slight chemical smell which ruins it for me.
=== Overall thoughts ===
Not really a fan of this one. I'm not keen on the smell or shade of this lip balm. In fact I wonder if they are wrong to suggest this as such and should probably advertise it more as a lip gloss which I feel would be more accurate. An average lip balm which is reasonable if your lips are not in poor condition.
Earlier this year I decided that I wanted to spend some time abroad in the summer to do some voluntary work and after looking around at different countries and places I settled upon Chiang Mai. I spent the whole of the month of June living and volunteering in Chiang Mai so think I have a reasonable amount to say about this lovely city. I have written about the various aspects that I feel are useful to know about when considering going somewhere but have not written about them in too much detail as this is a general review.
===Some basic info===
Chiang Mai is the second largest largest city in Thailand (Bangkok being the largest) and is situated around 700km north of Bangkok. I didn't want to go to Bangkok and thought that Chiang Mai would be easier going, and while I have never been to Bangkok and therefore can't comment, Chiang Mai is certainly a very laid back city. The city is not particularly built up and I saw very few skyscrapers. Personally I liked this as I am not a fan of huge built up large busy cities.
Chiang Mai consists of two parts - the old part surrounded by the moat, and the newer part which is where the majority of restaurants are. Chiang Mai was founded in 1926, and as with the rest of Thailand the majority religion is Buddhism which explains the huge array of temples (otherwise known as wats) around the city. These temples are just amazing. The detail on some of them is so intricate it is breath taking. As soon as you arrive into Chiang Mai you will see mountains across the landscape which is just beautiful. There is also a river that runs through the city known as the river ping, but personally I just think this river looks a bit grubby and nasty! Monks are everywhere! They all wear some kind of orange robes and personally I was amazed to see them go everywhere that 'normal' people go - including phone shops etc.
The traffic here takes a while to get used to - the amount of traffic is ridiculous and you tend to have to just walk out and hope for the best when you want to cross the road. Considering the lack of driving skills I often saw I am impressed that I never saw any road accidents!
Chiang Mai is very patriotic ( I assume it is the same of Thailand in general?) and the king is everywhere! There are posters of him everywhere and if you disrespect him or the royals then you could find yourself in a Thai prison! The currency here is Thai baht with a rough exchange rate of 45-50 baht per pound at time of writing. You will often be required to take your shoes off so you might want to make sure that your feet look nice before you go
Thai people greet each other with what is known as a 'wai' where you press your hands together (almost like you're praying) and bow your head to your hands. The position of the hands also changes varying upon levels of respect needed - e.g. hands in front of chest for an 'equal' and thumbs by forehead for monks.
I arrived at the very beginning of June and as soon as I walked out of the airport I could feel the heat and humidity. It was rarely all that sunny but equally it never rained too much either. Although if it rained - it rained! After torrential rain, crossing the road was like crossing a river. I found the heat itself was fine, it was the humidity that I found hard to deal with. It is not a pleasant feeling to feel as though you need about 5 showers a day! I believe the humidity around the time I was in Chiang Mai was at 80%! Very different to my nice fresh air near the sea.
There are 3 key seasons here which are:
* The cool season (approx November to February)
* The hot season (approx March to June)
* The rainy season (approx July to October)
I think that the names of the seasons make them pretty much self-explanatory.
===How to get there and costs===
I flew from London (heathrow) to go to Chiang Mai but this was not a direct flight and had to change at Bangkok. The flight time from London to Bangkok is around 12 hours (can't say this part was much fun!) and the flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai at just over 1 hour. If you want to make this slightly cheaper you can get a train or a bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. I believe a bus takes around 12 hours. I would assume the train time is similar but as I have only flown I cannot comment too much on other methods of travel. The price of flights of course depends on how far in advance you book and who you fly with. I booked my flights around 5 months in advance and the price for them all was around £620. On my return flight the gentleman next to me paid £1600 for just the return flight as he had booked less than a week prior to departure so I definitely recommend booking as early as you can. I flew with Thai airways who were the cheapest that I could find, and I would definitely recommend flying with them if you can get it at a good price.
===Cost of living===
Although it costs a little to actually get to Chiang Mai, once you are there it is incredibly cheap. If you are willing to eat Thai street food (unfortunately I am not a fan of the food) then you could quite easily eat a good meal for 50p-£1. If I ate at western restaurants then I could have a meal and a drink (soft drink) for around £3. Public transport is cheap (but more on that later) and I frequently passed hostels/guest houses that advertised beds/rooms for sometimes as little as 100baht a night - around £2-£2.50 dependent on exchange rates. If you want to travel/go somewhere cheap then this is definitely a good place to go! Thailand seems a little poorer (not sure if that's politically correct??) than I was expecting and wondered if this was linked to the cost of living. However I have also visited the Gambia which is unmistakably a developing country yet the cost of living there was higher. Either way I am really not complaining and was incredibly happy about how far my money would stretch! I would say that almost no day trip would cost more than £20 and considering some of the ones that I went on, that this got you a lot for your money.
There are a few ways of getting around Chiang Mai - personally I found myself walking a lot as particularly in the older area of town nothing is really very far apart. You can rent a bike if you wish for less than a tenner for the day. The main other transport I used was what I thought of as a local taxi - a songthaew. This is basically like a small truck that has been hollowed out so that there are 2 seats which sit sideways and can cram 10-12 people in at the same time. These are red and will go to anywhere in town for 20 baht (around 50p) although they may try to charge you more if you are travelling just on your own, or if they just think you're a foreigner who doesn't know any better. Nowhere in the immediate city should cost more than 20baht but if you go out of the city then expect to pay a little more.
Another form of transport which I think is very well known when one thinks of Thailand is the tuk tuk. The drivers of these really irritated me asking me if I wanted one every time I went past one, or indeed just beeping their horns as they drive past in the hope that you might want one. I think it is understandable that they want as much money as they can get but the 'tuk tuk?' calls get very annoying after a while. Having said that....riding in a tuk tuk is so much fun! Much more exciting than going in a songthaew but also more expensive. What would cost 20baht in a songthaew will cost 40-50 baht in a tuk tuk. This is still hardly any money but after some time in Thailand does seem expensive compared to the usual local taxis.
There are of course 'normal' taxis as well which are metered and more expensive. Personally I never felt the need to use one of these until I needed to go to the airport and so can't comment too much on prices. A taxi ride from where I was staying to the airport (around a 10 minute drive) was 300 baht (roughly £6), however this was at a very unsociable time in the morning so I am not sure if this is reflective of prices during the day.
Personally I recommend using the songthaews as much as possible as these were the cheapest option and also the way that the Thai people use to get around if they do not drive themselves. You can also rent motorbikes although I never looked into this for pricing etc. personally considering the way that people drive in Chiang Mai, even though they drive on the same side as us, I wouldn't want to drive/ride a motorbike here as it seems very dangerous.
Shopping is a great attraction in Chiang Mai - mainly consisting of various markets and two shopping centres which are slightly out of the city centre. The two shopping centres are called central plaza, and airport plaza. Both are easy to get to by using a songthaew and should cost no more than 20baht. I would say that both have a good range of shops and restaurants but that the airport plaza seems to be much more modern. The shopping centres are good for shopping but in my opinion shopping at the various markets is far more exciting.
There are various markets in Chiang Mai - a Chinese market, Saturday market, Sunday market and the night bazaar. The Chinese market and the night bazaar are available every day. The Chinese market sells pretty much everything - cosmetics, food (including bugs...yum!), clothing (old fashioned), bags, ceramics etc..in addition to there being street food and some people doing nails. The Chinese market is handy for having a wander and a browse throughout the day but in my opinion the Saturday and Sunday markets are far better.
The Sunday market is held in the square in the old town near the moat in front of but also past Thapae gate. There is a HUGE variety of things sold here and vendors are often very friendly. The fantastic thing about markets here is that you can haggle to your heart's content. This is also the case with the Saturday market and the night bazaar although the night bazaar tends to be more touristy and prices inflated. It would be impossible to list all of the things that you can buy at the markets but here is a brief list to give you an idea: clothing; purses; bags; thai style souvenirs, bedding; food and drink; jewellery - especially silver jewellery, stationary; phone accessories; paintings and artwork and sometimes fake designer goods too. Prices for the same thing vary from vendor to vendor and some seem to really enjoy a bit of bartering whereas some seem to almost appear insulted that you dare offer less than what they have said. The markets are definitely worth a look and bartering is always good fun.
One of the main appeals for many tourists coming to Thailand appears to be the cuisine. Personally I am a fussy eater here in England so Thai food was a nightmare for me rather that something to be excited about. Thai food is literally everywhere (why wouldn't it be?) but there is also a wide range of other tastes to suit all. There is street food which I have heard is delicious (especially the pad Thai) and according to the locals you should be safe to eat it as long as the vendor and the establishment look reasonably keen. There are the usual fast food chains for those wanting to avoid the Thai food although having said that there are also Thai options in MacDonald's and KFC. There are various speciality restaurants around - e.g. Vietnamese, Indian and Vegetarian. There are also general international restaurants that sell Thai food but also more westernised food. Personally I would recommend the 'tiger kingdom in town' as an international restaurant. This restaurant is always clean ( I went here quite a few times!), always has some kind of live music, and is very cheap. I often had a grilled beefsteak with chips and a coke which came to around £3! What a bargain! Although this place is fab the service isn't brilliant. I'm not sure if it is just here or a general Thai thing but the food comes out bit by bit so it is rare to expect for your whole party to all be eating at the same time. Another restaurant that I would recommend is 'the river market'. This place was by far the nicest restaurant I went to in Chiang Mai. It looks fairly new and is situated by the river ping. Prices are reasonable and the menu varied - I would suggest that this is more of a Thai restaurant than a western one, but does not serve the traditional Thai dishes. Definitely worth a visit, just for a glass of wine overlooking the river if nothing else. An absolutely beautiful place.
===Things to do===
I managed to occupy myself with various things during my month stay here and I could have quite easily found some more! There is a huge variety of things to do here, with something I believe for everyone.
By far my favourite trip was one that was focussed upon elephants. Myself and a friend went to Ran Tong Elephant Training Camp (not sure of the reasons for the name because it certainly didn't strike me as a training camp) which cost 1800 baht for a shared elephant for the day. This was around an hour and a half drive from the city centre and you were picked up from where you were staying. After arriving at the camp you get to feed, ride, and wash the elephants. The tour guides provide you with clothing so that you do not get yours dirty and take pictures of you all day which they later put on a cd for you to take home. Fantastic value and the elephants seemed to be very well treated here. This is the place that I would really recommend you to visit for elephants but there are a huge number of elephant trips in Chiang Mai, I just suggest researching before you go if you want to ensure that the elephants are well treated.
There are a huge number of trips related to animals in Chiang Mai, and one that seems to cause some controversy is the tiger kingdom. I couldn't seem to decide whether to go or not as there were rumours around whether or not the tigers were sedated which I would be happy with. After researching the place a little bit there seemed to be explanations for why they were not sedated and so I felt ok going to visit. I can't remember quite how many tigers are housed here but it is a fair number. There are 4 sizes of tigers here - smallest, small, medium, and large. You can either just walk around this place or pay to go in the enclosures with the tigers and the prices vary accordingly. To give an example I went in with 3 different sizes which cost around 1300 baht (roughly £26) and 15 minutes was allowed within each enclosure. You can also get a professional photographer to take 50+ pictures of you which is at a small additional fee. When in the enclosures the tigers were very playful and definitely didn't seem sedated! The tigers seemed well treated so I didn't feel as if I was doing something I shouldn't. I'm really glad I went (when else would you get the opportunity to be that close to a tiger?) and would recommend to others. Located in the same area as the tiger kingdom are a monkey farm and a crocodile farm. Personally I'd heard that they torture the animals here (not sure if that is true or not) and so did not visit these.
===Chiang Mai Zoo===
In addition to the various animal parks in the city is Chiang Mai Zoo. This cost slightly more to get to in a songthaew as it is a little out of the city - expect to pay around 40baht each. Entry was incredibly cheap - 100baht and the zoo seemed pretty large for such a small price. You can also pay an extra fee if you wish to go into the aquarium (I can't remember how much this was but it was expensive) or if you wish to see the pandas - another 100 baht. I highly recommend seeing the pandas, especially because they are in a lovely enclosure and there is a baby panda. The zoo is quite hard to get around on foot (don't think it would be too much fun for anyone with walking difficulties/in a wheelchair) but there are buses that can take you around the zoo for a small fee. The enclosures weren't the biggest I've ever seen and I'm not sure how I feel about the seal show but overall I would say that the animals seemed to be treated well and the zoo is definitely worth a visit.
There is a huge number of temples (otherwise known as Wats) throughout Chiang Mai with some more impressive than others. Probably the most well known is Doi Suthep which is up in the mountains just outside of Chiang Mai. You need to climb up around 300 steps (if memory serves me correctly!) or you can take a lift at an extra charge. If you are Thai then there is no entrance fee for Doi Suthep but if you are a foreigner there is a charge of 20baht. This temple is breath taking! The temple itself is magnificent and grand but the views over Chiang Mai are just amazing. I genuinely can't adequately describe in words just how glorious this place is. You are definitely missing out if you don't go to Chiang Mai and visit Doi Suthep. Another Wat which is worthy of a visit is Wat Umong (temple of tunnels). Wat Umong is underground and something very different to the majority of other temples. There is a lot more to see here than your typical wat including a large fish lake where you can feed the fish. The scenery here is lovely. These are the 2 temples that I particularly recommend visiting but to be honest all of the temples I ever saw were just fantastic. When visiting temples it is important to remember that you are well covered (no chest, knees, shoulders on show) and shoes must always be removed. If monks are in the temple then it is respectful to keep your head lower than theirs and females must never touch monks. The same applies with men and nuns.
There are numerous waterfalls in Chiang Mai which are lovely to spend an afternoon at cooling down. They are not the most spectacular things I have seen but they definitely a nice visit for a couple of hours. There is a nature park nearby Chiang Mai called Doi Inthanon national park which is home to various wildlife and also the highest mountain in Thailand. Sadly I didn't manage to find the time to visit here but it is definitely on my list for next time! If you book with an agency expect to pay around 800-1000 baht to get here/entry etc.
Trekking is another appeal of Chiang Mai and I found myself hard pressed to pick one in particular! Many of the treks are very touristy which I am sure appeals to some but not to me personally. These treks tend to include some walking, some elephant riding, some water rafting and also a visit to a hill tribe. I have seen some of the hill tribes and am undecided on how I feel about this. It was incredibly touristy and I couldn't quite decide if it seemed as though they were being exploited or if they needed the money that tourists donate and so were ok with the change in lifestyle. I only saw them once and I wouldn't choose to see them again although it was very interesting to learn about them. For example the long neck tribe - the rings are so heavy that it makes their shoulders go lower giving the impression that they have long necks. These kinds of treks that include a bit of everything tend to be cheaper than a non-touristy one and could be a good option if you want to squeeze a lot in a short time. I went on a one day trek (it is easy to find longer treks up to 3 days or so in length) through the jungle (around an hour and a half drive away) which was more challenging than expected. Make sure you're fit and healthy if you want to do one of these! To give you an idea of pricing, my one day trek cost 800 baht - around £16. And also worth every baht in my opinion! Some of the views you get are incredible.
Massage here is everywhere! From ones on the backstreets to ones that are far more glamorous. I highly recommend a Thai massage - you are basically bent and stretched and clicked. Thai massage on average is a mere 150baht - roughly £3 for a whole hour! Every other type of massage also seems to be offered with varying prices but usually incredibly reasonable. If you really like Thai massage you can also take up a course for a period of time that suits you. Personally I would just want somebody to massage me rather than me learn to massage someone else!
In addition to massage schools there are also various cooking schools situated around chiang mai. Personally I never went to one of these as the food doesn't appeal but from others I have heard they are well worth doing. People staying in the same house as me were picked up from the house, cooked around 7 dishes of their choice and received a recipe book to take away with them which included ingredient substitutions if some could not be found in their home countries. They did this for half a day which cost around 900 baht - £18 or so. There is a huge variety of cooking schools which do both half day and full day courses so if you really like your Thai food then this could be a good way to spend the day.
I spent one evening watching some Thai boxing - very different to normal boxing, seems to rely mainly on feet. This was fairly cheap at 400baht and was surrounded with bars so you could enjoy a few drinks as you watched. I didn't find it particularly violent and I think that this is a good way to spend one evening watching something that is very traditionally thai.
In addition to all of the above that I have mentioned (and I have more than likely forgotten something), there some other towns/cities within close proximity to chiang mai that may be worth a visit if you have time. I especially recommend Chiang Rai where you can see the white temple and the golden triangle, and pai which is well known as a pretty river town.
I didn't go to Chiang Mai with the intention of going out every night although I did go out a few times during my stay. Nightlife seemed reasonable with different kind of bars/clubs. The rooftop bar is fairly nice and enables you to see over the city. Zoe's is a more westernised bar/club area. Generally speaking I would say that the nightlife here is ok but quite tame compared to going out in a city in England.
I could sum this whole review up in just 4 words - I love Chiang Mai. The place is pretty (although not so much at night when the cockroaches and the rats come out to play!) and on the most part seems very safe. I had been expecting to see a lot of drugs, robberies, car crashes and old men with young Thai girls! I saw very few old men with young Thai girls, no car crashes, no drugs and heard of one robbery. The robbery seemed a bit nasty with a bag being cut off a girl (who had it across her body facing away from the road) by 2 men speeding by on a motorbike. This was unfortunate and horrible but for the most part I felt very safe here, even if I was on my own. In general the Thai people are absolutely lovely here (I don't know if it is similar throughout the rest of the country?) and would help you with anything as best they could. Everything here is cheap, there is a huge amount to see and do...I honestly couldn't ask for more and will definitely be returning one day!
Sorry if this review seemed a little long but I had a lot to say!
Thanks for reading
I seem to get through all number of lip balms and I can't seem to get my hands on one that actually works these days. The last time I shopped in boots I got a £5 off voucher for no 7 so I thought I would have a look if they sold a lip balm, hoping that one which was a little more expensive would deliver the results I wanted.
===Price and Availability===
As this is a no 7 product I am fairly sure this is pretty exclusive to boots other than finding it online. It comes in one size of 10ml which I think is a generous size, at the retail price of £9. I paid £4 due to having the voucher, and I would not have purchased it at full price as I think it seems very overpriced. I thought that for £4 if it wasn't a brilliant product then at least I hadn't wasted very much money.
=== The purpose ===
This is part of the 'protect and perfect' range and is described by boots as
'No7 Protect & Perfect Lip Care helps to moisturise and plump up your pout perfectly, the anti ageing formula makes your lips look younger and fuller.'
Personally I think these are rather extravagant claims and I wasn't entirely expecting them to be met.
=== The product ===
I have been referring to this as a lip balm but that is not really accurate. It is not called a lip balm and is in fact nothing like a balm in consistency either. It is more of a cream which has a reasonable consistency and smells very sweet. Perhaps too sweet - I am not entirely sure of the scent but it may be vanilla.
=== The packaging ===
This cream (I'm going to call it a cream from now on) is housed in a tube that looks like a lip-gloss tube. The tube is transparent but looks white due to it being full of the cream - I like this as I can see how much product I have remaining. There is the usual info on the front - branding, 'smoothes and hydrates for 24 hours' and that it is hypo-allergenic. The reverse states that this will last 6 months from opening and that to use you should ' smooth on and around your lips every morning and any time they need a little care'. So far it seemed pretty good.
=== The experience ===
Now for the disappointing part...I feel like I have wasted £4 although admittedly this is much better than wasting £5. I quite like the creamy texture, it turns your lips white briefly before the product is absorbed but this didn't really bother me. The tube is a little too easy to squeeze so I found I sometimes ended up wasting some, but I think that is me being a little too forceful rather than a flaw in the packaging design. I was really excited to use this for the first time and at first I did think it made a difference but after a few days my lips still felt incredibly dry and I honestly think that this lip care product did nothing to improve their condition whatsoever. The smell is also not the most appealing (in my opinion anyway), after some use I found the smell to be too sweet and as such was off putting. I have also found that if you have applied a little too much the formula becomes very sticky. So all in all I have not really got anything positive to say about this product and I would certainly not recommend it. 1 star from me purely because I can't give it any less. Personally I think £4 is massively overpriced so to me £9 is just ridiculous. I think I will stick to my burt's bees in future.
Thanks for reading.
I think it is fair to say that soap and glory are a fairly well-known brand that started out mainly making body products before moving onto skincare and most recently make up. Having once had bad experiences with their skincare I have never bought any ever since, but a lovely friend bought me this facial wash for my birthday and it would be rude to not give it a go!
=== Price, packaging and availability ===
As this is soap and glory it is pretty much exclusive to boots, although I'm sure it wouldn't be too difficult to find some online. This tube of face wash comes in a measure of 150ml retailing for £7 which I think is around average considering the usual price of soap and glory products, and considering how often boots have 3 for 2 offers you could get it a little cheaper. I would say that this kind of price is above the usual basic brands but much lower than premium products like dior, lancome etc.
The face wash comes in a very soft and squeezy plastic tube with a flip lid on the base. The plastic is incredibly flexible so it is very easy to get the product out, but not too easy that you end up using too much and waste some. The actual tube seems to be basically transparent with the wash being a green/blue colour with little pink scrub particles in. I really like the fact that it is transparent so that I can easily see how much product I have remaining.
The packaging is very typical of soap and glory - quirky with lots of words. The main focus of the front of the tube seems to be that this contains 'super fruit plum' with claims and instructions on the back. This face wash should be used within 24 months of opening which I think is a really good shelf life.
=== What does it do? ===
As this is a face wash I think it is fairly self-explanatory that it is supposed to cleanse your skin, but it also claims to smooth and scrub, and I think these are fairly reasonable claims. It also claims to promote fresh and bright skin which I am not so sure about. It also mentions that 'this is a high tech non-drying foaming facial wash' - not too sure on that one either.
=== The smell ===
I don't really know what I was expecting with the smell of this one, but I get quite excited at the prospect of plum. I think plum is quite an unusual fragrance that I haven't really seen used before in skin care products. So what does it smell like? Strangely enough.....it smells like plum. I don't think it is the most appealing of fragrances but it is pleasant enough. I think I would prefer it if it smelt a little sweeter but that is just personal taste. I would say this fragrance suits people who like fruity smells without it being overpowering or overly sweet.
=== My experience ===
When I tipped the bottle upside down I could see straight away that the gel wasn't particularly thick and if anything looked a little too much on the runny side. The instructions given suggest using a grape sized amount but I expected that would be too much so used more like a pea sized amount instead which I found was more than sufficient. I dampened my face and rubbed this on. The smell was pleasant during use although I still have slight reservations about the fragrance, I just think it could be nicer considering the fragrances in some other soap and glory products.
I found that although this claims to be a foaming product it didn't really foam up as well as I had been expecting, however it produced enough of a lather to really feel as though my face was getting a good clean.
The scrub particles (if that is the right word to use?) don't feel harsh when using but at the same time I'm not too sure if they made much of a difference either. I think I would prefer this without those bits as I use a separate scrub anyway which I would guess is more effective than this as an exfoliator. During use the wash felt very refreshing and it didn't take a lot to rinse off which is great as I hate spending ages washing something off that in my opinion should only take seconds.
=== The results ===
My face continued to feel refreshed for a little while after washing and definitely felt lovely and clean. After a while though it starts to feel a little dry /tight and I feel the need to then apply moisturiser, which isn't a problem, but as this claims to be a non-drying formula I don't think it really lives up to that claim. I do however agree that it does leave the skin nice and smooth to the touch.
Even after prolonged and continued use I noticed that although my skin looked in good condition (although to be honest it does most of the time anyway) that I didn't notice a difference in the brightness at all which is a little disappointing.
=== Value for money ===
As I said previously I think that £7 is fairly reasonable because this is around average for soap and glory products. The amount needed is very little so I can see this lasting me quite some time, so it is really quite good value.
=== Overall ===
Although my review may have come across slightly negative, I am actually fairly pleased with this facial wash. Although I don't think realistically that it lives up to all of its claims, it is a pleasant product which makes my skin feel smooth and squeaky clean. The fragrance isn't entirely to my taste and I think that the consistency is a little thin but overall I don't think this detracts from the fact that this is actually quite a decent face wash.
I would recommend this to those who are looking for a basic, but good, face wash who aren't expecting brightening effects and are purely expecting clean and soft skin. I would not recommend this to those with dry skin, as I do feel that it is quite a drying formula.
I don't think that it performs as well as more premium products I have used, but then it does cost around half of what I usually pay so can't complain too much on that one.
Overall a good product which I would happily recommend and use again.
Thanks for reading.
Nandos seem to be springing up everywhere now but it wasn't until last year that I got my first taste of the stuff and now I'm hooked! I think I would describe Nando's as basically a Portuguese themed restaurant (although I think it is more of a fancy slightly more upmarket version of a fast food place) which has a huge focus on chicken and its famous peri-peri sauce.
===Waiter service or pay at the till? Little confused ===
When you arrive into a Nandos you are politely asked to wait to be seated by someone who then promptly asks you if you have eaten in a Nandos before. Having been seated I would have then expected them to take my order and to later pay my bill with them, however this is not the case. After deciding on what you would like you need to go to the till to make your order, which is later brought to you by a waiter again. This confuses me greatly and I personally would prefer waiter/waitress service throughout, especially as the queues can be quite hefty at times at the tills.
=== Do the Nando ===
When I first went to Nandos I felt a little confused as to how the whole system works but now it reminds me somewhat of subway. When you have your menu you simply decide on what you would like (more than likely some form of chicken), you then look to the peri-ometer to decide on the spiciness of the dish (ranges from plain to extra hot). You then decide if you would like to add any extras such as chips or rice and any drinks you would like. Personally I always have the bottomless option which is £2.35 consisting of the usual soft drinks. What I love about this is that the drinks machine is on the floor and not behind any counters so when you want a top up you are not relying on a member of staff to get this for you. You then place your order and wait for your food. You collect cutlery/napkins yourself and a wide range of sauces are available should you wish to have any extra with your meal.
=== The menu ===
The menu, unsurprisingly, revolves around almost all things chicken. This can come in various forms - whole, half and quarter, in burgers, wraps, pittas and also in platters. Salads are also available. There is not a wide variety for vegetarians - mushroom and halloumi burger, veggie burger or a bean burger. There is also one steak dish which is a prego steak roll. Various sides are also available from your bog standard chips to posher dishes like ratatouille. If you want to have a look more closely at what is on the menu then feel free to look... http://www.nandos.co.uk/sites/default/files/documents/ROI-Main-Mar12-0702.pdf
Prices vary with sides around £2.15 - £3.95 which personally I think is pretty standard. Mains tend to cost between £5-£12 but allow extra for additional sides like chips. Desserts are also available although personally I find the range fairly limited unless you want ice cream or frozen yoghurt - desserts tend to cost around £4 which again I think is around average.
I think that the menus themselves are set out very well and self-explanatory should you be unaware of the way that Nandos works. The last time I went the menus had special covers which had been designed by south African artists which I think complements the array of south African art they have around the restaurant.
===Atmosphere, décor and layout ===
Everytime I go to a Nandos it is always fairly busy and I like it this way. Personally if I saw somewhere that was completely empty I doubt I would go in for fear that it was so awful nobody wanted to be there. There is always somewhat of a 'buzz' if that's the correct term to use and the atmosphere is always lively and at times a little noisy. Décor and layout vary a little from place to place but I find they all have the recurring theme of lots of dark wood, south African pieces of art and quirky signs about chickens. There is usually a combination of different types of seating - some tables that are in my opinion too close and lack privacy, some tables that are further apart, and some booths too. I always find the chairs pretty comfy, and tables and the restaurant in general usually look spotless.
Sometimes there is more than one floor and sometimes not, and I think I'd say generally speaking Nandos is accessible to those who have disabilities as the ground floor seems to usually be accessible by a slope rather than steps. Of course this will vary from place to place so not all may be suitable.
=== Standard of service ===
This is something I have very mixed feelings about as the standard seems to vary every time I go. One thing I will say is that members of staff always seem to be appropriately and smartly dressed which I think is a great start. Some staff have been highly attentive (but not overpowering in any way) and clear your table promptly/ask if you would like any dessert. The last time I went to Nandos I was left feeling unimpressed with the level of service but I have to say as I was more than a little hung over I was in no mood to make any complaints. Once we walked in we were told we would need to wait a little while as they found somewhere to seat us which was of course fine. Less than a minute later a different member of staff asked us again how many of us there were and she promptly sat us at a table. Once we decided what to order we promptly moved over to the till to place it. The girl appeared to have had a late night and proceeded to tell my friend how she still needed to have a shower! Slightly unprofessional, if a little amusing. This was the longest I have ever waited for my food - at least half an hour which I couldn't understand as surely it does not take this long?! And as most of the orders will be chicken I wouldn't be surprised if they cook some off as they go along to ensure food goes out a bit quicker. Other times I have had much better service with very polite and professional staff on the tills, and prompt and courteous service. Although I have had good and bad experiences of the service I would say overall it fares slightly better than average.
=== The food ===
Personally I never stray from my trusty chicken burger so I have no idea how the rest of these dishes taste. Once you have decided on what dish you would like, you then need to decide what hotness you would like. Personally I absolutely hate spicy food and am impressed my friend even managed to get me into Nando's let alone eat anything! I decided I would just have my chicken burger plain but was horrified when I read that even that would have been marinated in peri peri sauce for 24 hours so would still be mildly spicy. Reading though the other options which range from mild (lemon and herb or mango and lime) right up to extra hot, I decided that if I went for one of the mild choices then it at least might cover up some of the spiciness so in the end went for lemon and herb. I also opted out of the mayo and salad as I cannot stand these things! I was very happy with my meal when it arrived, it was hot to touch and looked and smelt very appetising. The chips were scrummy - golden and fluffy and just the right amount for a good portion without overstuffing yourself. I found the chicken took me a while to try as I was put off by the orange coloured sauce on it (I seem to have issues with sauce on food) but I just left it in the bun and took a big bite. I was very pleasantly surprised as I was expecting to hate it (I pretty much purely went to Nandos because that's where my friend had wanted to go and I didn't want her to miss out). It was delicious! Full of flavour but without too much of a spicy kick. There is a definite heat to it and to be honest I'm not really sure I can particularly taste the lemon, but this doesn't bother me too much as I thought it was scrummy anyway. This for me is the most spicy I would go and although I have been tempted to try the mango and lime which is the same sort of level, I love the lemon and herb combo too much to stray. I have never heard any complaints from friends about their food which I think reflects the quality of the food. The chicken is apparently always fresh and not frozen and is marinated in peri-peri and when you order it is grilled over an open flame which results in lower cholesterol and fat content which makes me feel less guilty about eating here.
Usually after my main I am pretty full and don't fancy anything else but on one occasion I did have the choc-a-lot cake which I was distinctly unimpressed with. It only comes with clotted cream which I didn't fancy, I think it would have been nice to have more options of accompaniments. I suppose that it was fairly moist and chocolaty but it was just nothing special and not something that I would ever choose to have again, although having said that none of the other desserts appeal to me either. However my friend raves about the cheesecake so that might be a good choice for those of you that like it.
=== Free chicken? Yes please! ===
One thing I LOVE about Nandos (other than the very yummy chicken) is their loyalty card. Everytime you eat at Nandos and spend a minimum of £6 you get a stamp on your card. On your third stamp you get a free quarter chicken worth £4.05, on your sixth stamp you get a free half chicken worth £6.95 and on your tenth visit you get a free whole chicken! This is worth £11.95. I think this is a great system which encourages me to go back for more. I recently had my free quarter chicken and I think it definitely tasted better for the fact that it cost me nothing. On my recent visit I would have technically received a free half chicken but I felt far too hungover to eat extra chicken so asked if I could put my stamp on the space after and to claim my half chicken another time which was no problem at all. I think the amount to gain a stamp is also very reasonable as most things will cost around the £6 mark at least. I always have a chicken burger and a bottomless drink which sets me back just under a tenner.
=== Toilet facilities ===
In my local restaurant the toilets are upstairs but I am unsure if there are any disabled toilets on the ground floor. The toilets are always clean, well stocked and hygienic so no complaints there.
=== To summarise...the good ===
* Very tasty food
* The décor and ambience
* Very clean
* Reasonably priced
* Food tends to be served fairly quickly
* Easy to tailor your meal to your personal preferences
* Drinks machine on the floor so that you can go get them yourself without waiting on a member of staff
=== Could be improved ===
* Inconsistent standards of service
* Needs more choice for vegetarians
* Perhaps have waiter service all the way through as the current system seems a little confused
* Occasionally food takes too long to come out
=== Overall opinion ===
Overall I am generally impressed with my Nandos experience. I find the food to be extremely tasty although I guess some could say it is overpriced for what is essentially just chicken marinated in a now well known sauce. Personally I find the pricing reasonable as long as I am not intending to eat there too often, and I think that the loyalty card makes it worth going back repeatedly. Restaurants I have been to are always clean with staff usually being professional and friendly. Food doesn't normally take more than 10 minutes or so to come out so would be ideal for a lunch break. Overall I would say I am generally very happy with my experiences of Nandos although as with most things there is definitely room for improvement. I would recommend this to pretty much anybody, even those who don't like spicy foods as I don't. 4 out of 5 from me ( I have taken one star off for the inconsistent standards of service).
Thanks for reading
For Christmas I received a set of mini's within the 'sleek and chic' range of Umberto Giannini and was highly unimpressed with the shampoo and conditioner. As such I didn't have very high expectations for this blow dry cream. I can't say I've ever used a blow dry cream before and although I had low expectations I was still looking forward to using it to see if it made any difference.
===Price and Availability===
My set was from boots and looking on their website I can't find my mini size (50ml) on there but the full sized product is 200ml and is currently £4.99 in boots. Boots currently have 2 for £7.50 on selected Umberto Giannini hair care products so it's worth stocking up. I have only ever seen this in boots but I would expect it wouldn't be too hard to find online.
The whole sleek and chic range seems to be characterised by simple blue packaging and this is no exception. This is in a tube with a flip top at the bottom which I find handy as the product is already towards the bottom of the tube and I don't have to spend ages trying to squeeze it out. The front contains the usual branding with the back giving instructions for use. This should be used within 24 months from first opening which I think is a good shelf life.
Personally I think that this cream has quite a strong scent and weirdly enough I think it smells just like Calvin Klein's Euphoria! Which personally I love so that's a good start straight away. This really is quite strong so I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who prefers more neutral smells as this would definitely seem too overpowering. The cream itself is white in colour and fairly thin in consistency but by no means too runny.
=== The claims and results ===
This cream is intended to give a 'long lasting, salon straight, smooth finish'. Instructions for use are simple enough - simply blend through damp hair evenly and blow dry with an extra tip to towel dry hair first to improve effectiveness. This is exactly what I did. After washing my hair I towel dried it before rubbing in around a 5p size blob of the cream. I think it is a little disappointing that there is no mention of how much of the product you should be using and I think this could potentially lead to people using too much, which in turn could lead to greasy locks. I only used a small amount and when running my fingers through my hair I didn't feel any greasiness, my hair felt just as it did without the cream in. when drying my hair I used my brush to aid me. When my hair was completely dry it was by no means salon straight, or particularly straight at all. My hair is fairly wavy so I wasn't expecting a dead straight look but it was definitely slightly straighter than usual. Straightening after using this also seemed to make a difference and my hair felt super soft to the touch. My favourite thing about this product though has got to be the fragrance - even after drying my hair the scent still lingers and it feels like i'm wearing lovely perfume.
Although I don't think that this gives you straight hair when you blow dry, I do think it is straighter once I have used straighteners afterwards - more so than if I had straightened without using this cream. It smells amazing (in my opinion) as I love the smell of euphoria. Overall I am going to remove one star because I'm not sure it entirely does what it says but it does a lot of other good things instead. 4/5 from me.
Thanks for reading.
When I went away to Finland I gave up on drinking my usual spirits in favour of slightly cheaper cider, which admittedly was still rather expensive at Euro5 (which at the time was the same as a fiver) a go. Since being home I have kept my love of ciders (but only the nice sweet ones, not the proper stuff) and Kopparberg has proven to be one of my favourites.
The bottle is typical of a cider - made of glass and green in colour. The label on the front gives all the basic info with branding as a key focus. This is a 'genuine swedish pear cider' although I find it interesting that there is no recycling refund amount on the back as I have found most things to be in Scandinavia (there are bottle machines outside of supermarkets in which you can redeem usually 10cents or so per bottle against your shopping)especially when I'm fairly sure Rekorderlig another Swedish brand do have this on the back. This beauty of a cider has 4.5% alcohol content which I think is a great percentage - not something you're going to get particularly drunk off but very nice for a couple of relaxing drinks.
Kopparberg comes in a variety of flavours - pear, mixed fruit (personally not a fan - I think it tastes like blackcurrant squash and very sickly at that), strawberry and lime, and elderflower with lime are the ones that I have personally come across. I have tried them all and I have to say that pear is definitely my favourite. I get a little bit excited when I know I'm going to have a Kopparberg (Sad I know) but it really reminds me of my travels. Obviously pear Kopparberg smells like pear - but I think that it smells quite authentic and not artificial at all. The taste is just wonderful - this is definitely a cider for those with a sweet tooth like me, I cannot stand dry ciders. I would describe it as being somewhere between still and fizzy, not still like water but definitely nowhere near as fizzy as coke or things like that. I find with some drinks you get a horrible aftertaste (I definitely find this with drinking wine) but there is no aftertaste with this at all. While this tastes pretty good at room temperature it is definitely much nicer chilled and even better if its served over ice. I think the only problem I have with Kopparberg that it is almost a little too easy to drink! I do admit to getting more than a little merry if I have a few of these (bit of a lightweight) but I never suffer awful hangovers with this as I do with spirits (especially vodka which I now refuse to touch).
Prices with this vary and as with all things you can expect to pay more in a pub. In a pub I tend to pay around about £3.50 for a 500 ml. I have seen cans in supermarkets - currently in sainsburys 4x 500 ml cans will set you back £6. Sainsburys are also selling the 500ml bottles with 25% off so they are £1.53 instead of 2.05 - a bargain compared to what I just paid in co-op (I am drinking a rather lovely chilled Kopparberg as I type).
A 500ml Kopparberg contains 240 calories - I guess that explains the sweetness (and my slowly expanding waistline but it is sooo worth it). I think I might go head to sainsburys now...
Thanks for reading.
Although I do not live far from Dartmoor zoo I have never been and it was only when my boyfriend suggested he needed to go due to it being related to some uni work that we went. Usually when I think of Zoo's, this one doesn't tend to pop into my head as it is not that well publicised, although I think this is about to change with the release of 'we bought a zoo'.
===What it is?===
Dartmoor zoo was originally called Dartmoor Wildlife park and if any of you have heard of the film 'we bought a zoo' you may know of the story behind the zoo. Basically the Mee family bought the zoo back in 2006 which I find unusual as I have never come across a zoo that has been owned by a family before. The zoo closed for a while before reopening in 2007 after some major refurbishment work. The zoo is also the winner of the Eden Channel's Top Wildlife Attraction of the Year 2011. The zoo is set in 33 acres of woodland with surrounding views of Dartmoor countryside and has the widest range of big cats in the south west.
===Location and how to get there===
To find out how to get to the zoo I had a look on their website which I have to say I found incredibly helpful, not just for directions and such but for all sorts of other information too. There are two main ways to get to the zoo being bus or car. The zoo is located in Sparkwell which is just 5 miles from Plymouth city centre which is very close to me.
To get here by car you need to take the Plympton turn off from the A38 and follow the brown 'wildlife park' signs until you get to Sparkwell village. Continue another 300 yards or so and you will see the zoo. I did not travel by car and so cannot comment on how well signposted this was and I can't honestly say I was looking out for signage while on the bus. On arrival there is ample parking right next to the entrance with directions to go further up for those requiring disabled parking.
The website was fantastic in that it even gave the timetable for the buses so yesterday my boyfriend and I headed into town to find the right bus stop. This stop was easy to find and was located right at the bottom of town. To get to Dartmoor zoo you need to catch the 59 bus which is easily identifiable as it is a much smaller bus than usual. A return cost us £3.15 each which I found very reasonable, the driver was helpful and the bus stopped literally outside the zoo - brilliant! The bus took around 30 minutes or so which was fine although buses do not run particularly frequently - once every hour or so.
===Prices and opening times===
Dartmoor zoo is open every single day of the year (even Christmas?!?!)
Summer (April to November): 10am - 6pm
Winter (November to April): 10am - 4pm
Prices are as follows:
Adult - £10.95
Concession - £9.95
Child (5-15 years) - £8.95 and under 5's are admitted free of charge
There are also some group discounts available with groups of 15 or more, with each person receiving £1 discount.
I paid a concession rate as I am a student but I think just £1 reduction is pretty poor when you think that this is the same rate that OAP's would also have to pay which I think is a bit much. Overall I thought that the entrance prices were very expensive as I know that Paignton zoo is far bigger, would probably have lots more to do and see and would only cost £2 more than this zoo. Having said this I tried to not let the price but me in a negative mood as the zoo may well be worth every penny and would of course be a totally different experience than other zoos like Paignton or Bristol.
===Finding your way around the zoo and the layout===
After paying our entrance fees Mike and I were excited to see what the zoo had for us to see but we felt rather confused as to exactly where we were supposed to be headed. We started going up as this was the only way to go and saw some wonderful capybaras (look like super cute giant fat hamsters) but after this got confused as there was no signage to help us and we had not been provided or offered a map at the entrance.
I have to say that I think the layout of the zoo and lack of signage at times really frustrated me. It was only when we got further into the zoo that there was some simple signage although once we got to the restaurant we were able to collect a free map which helped a little. There seemed to be no logical way of getting around the zoo and we found ourselves just wandering down different pathways, often wondering if we had already been in that area before or not.
The paths through the zoo are quite often hilly with un-level surfaces which was not a problem for us but I could see this posing a problem for wheelchair users or those with pushchairs.
Once we got into the main part of the zoo the first thing we found was the restaurant which was brilliant as I was starving! There was plenty of seating in the Jaguar restaurant although it certainly didn't look particularly inviting. Everything was very clean in the restaurant and there was also an area for children to play in which unfortunately looked nowhere near as clean as the rest of the restaurant.
Having paid what I thought was over the odds for my entrance fee I was hoping for more reasonable prices for food but I wasn't overly impressed. Bottled drinks were £2 apart from bottled water which was £1.20. I found that the hot drinks were more reasonably prices but that the amount you got was far less. The range of food was pretty poor - sandwiches (£3.95 each) , panini's (£4.95 each) and a limited range of hot meals (6.95 each or 2 for £12). Admittedly these are all reasonable things to expect for a lunch but even the range of fillings for the panini's and sandwiches were limited. In the end Mike and I decided to go for a ham and cheese Panini each, one of just 3 choices of fillings, and paid an extra £1 to have one with chips. The restaurant wasn't busy when we were in there yet it must have taken around half an hour for our food to come out. The Panini was ok but barely touched my hunger and the chips were just lukewarm, not overly impressed at this point.
I also went to the loo in the restaurant and found these to be shabby, dirty and certainly did not smell too pleasant either. These definitely need a bit of refurbishment or perhaps just a more thorough clean.
The gift shop is also in the restaurant and offers the usual things, pens and books up to large cuddly toys that are around £25 or so.
===The animals and enclosures===
The first animals we came across from leaving the restaurant (aside from the very cute meerkats just outside) were brown bears. I have to say that they were very impressive and due to the type of enclosure the view was just amazing. Some of the enclosures at the zoo are not the typical wired fence, more like just a wall with a bit of electric wire over the top which doesn't sound great but they were perfectly safe. This means that you can see the beautiful animals properly without all that annoying wire in your face. Other animals we saw were : velvet monkeys, couti, otters, agouti, various falconry type birds, other birds, foxes, reindeer, racoons, otters, goats (including some very cute baby ones)and a range of big cats ( lions, tigers, lynx, and a jaguar). There is also a cheetah but it must have been shy when we were in that area as unfortunately we did not see it.
I think that on the whole the enclosures looked suitable for the animals, and were generally of good sizes but some looked like they could definitely do with some updating. One enclosure had some metal fences in it lying on the floor which seemed a bit inappropriate unless this is some form of enrichment? Most enclosures were accompanied with informative signs about the animals, but not all which I think is a shame. Generally speaking I would say that the animals looked happy enough although sometimes we did think that they looked incredibly bored - but maybe they just like doing nothing?
The highlight for us was definitely the big cats, particularly the tigers who were just magnificent. It was brilliant to be able to see them so close up for once and allowed us to take some lovely photos. During the day the tigers were fed and this was advertised on the board near the start of the zoo, so we plodded to the tiger area at 2.30 to see this happen. A volunteer led the talk ( they seem to have a lot of volunteers) which was very informative although you could tell that she was a bit nervous. The keepers had strategically placed 3 chunks of horse meat around the enclosure and it was just wonderful to see the tigers bound out of their cage and onto their pieces of meat. I was expecting them to start ripping chunk outs but interestingly they seemed very happy to begin by licking their meat (apparently they have very course tongues and this helps to remove the fur).
There were a few other things going on that day - I think one was otter feeding, a close encounters (something to do with reptiles) and something else that I can't remember, but definitely a few things to make your day that bit more interesting.
===Some other experiences===
As well as your typical day out at the zoo, Dartmoor also offers some experiences such as - keeper for the day, big cat keeper for the day and meeting the tigers. These range in price from £149 to £299 for the big cat keeper for the day. There is no way that I would even consider paying such money for these experiences but some people may feel they are worth the money.
I have very mixed feelings on this zoo with the overriding thought of it being very overpriced considering the condition of it. On walking around the zoo there is clearly a need for more work as many areas quite frankly looked a bit of a state. Having said this I absolutely loved the big cats and the bears and think that they make the zoo stand out a little bit more and made my day. The enclosures were another highlight as I have never been able to get so close to such big animals before and get such lovely pictures. I think that the restaurant was poor and overpriced but having said this there was also a picnic area should you wish to bring your own food. I think that I would have a better opinion of the zoo had the entrance been a little cheaper as I just think that £10 entry is just too much. I am not sure that I would go here again, I think I would prefer to pay an extra £2 and go to Paignton zoo which isn't too far away with the feeling that I would get a lot more for my money. I think that I would mainly recommend this zoo to those who are big fans of big cats as this is definitely the main attraction. I think that I would recommend this zoo for those who don't see the price as unreasonable but for me personally I don't think that I would go again. The zoo gets 3 out of 5 from me.
Thanks for reading.
Recently for no apparent reason the sound on my laptop went a bit dodgy. I couldn't have my music at higher than around 50 % without the sound having a horrible raspy tinge as if I was wearing out the speakers too much. I decided rather than take my laptop somewhere to see if this could be fixed I would buy some speakers instead as this would probably work out cheaper. After some searching I had decided on a set in Argos but when I got there they had sold out. I wanted some speakers that day because I was getting so unbelievably frustrated with the poor sound on my laptop, and when I listen to music I like to listen to it loud. On my way back home I went into a Maplin store which I had never been in before but saw this speaker set on the shelf and decided that they were worth a try.
===Price and availability ===
As I said I bought these from Maplin (or is that Maplins? I'm not sure) for the price of £14.99 which I found reasonable and no more expensive than other similar ones I had seen. I have also seen them for around the same price on Amazon.
===Some brief specifications===
I am unsure if my speakers are a slightly newer version of the ones in this category although the product has the exact name so my specs may vary slightly from those given. When I was looking for speakers I was looking for some with a decent wattage as I believe this relates to the sound quality. There is very little information given on the box but here is what there is:
* 18 watt peak
* 9 watt RMS
* Headphone connection
* Usb powered
=== Whats in the box and set up ===
I have to say I am incredibly unimpressed with the box that this comes in. I have almost no idea with anything regarding technology and the information given on it is minimal to say the very least. It literally gives the specifications as given above, the contents, and system requirements. I would have liked to have had a little more information about the wattage or even how exactly this plugs into the usb port because I had a rather ugly image of speakers having a little usb stick on the end that would sit right next to the laptop (luckily I was wrong).
The box contains just 2 things - the speakers all wired up and a user guide (although my box contains 2 for no apparent reason). I picked up the used guide first thinking it would be a good idea to read through, but were there any words? No. There is simply a diagram displaying how to connect these to your computer/laptop but being a bit rubbish with technology I would have appreciated some written instructions to go along with this. I suppose in a way it is easier to provide a diagram so that it is easy for people to understand regardless of language but I really think I would have benefited from some text.
Having said this it turned out to be pretty easy to connect to my laptop. After I had unwrapped the speakers and unravelled the cable I placed them either side of my laptop which was incredibly easy as the wire between them is a fantastic length and probably could stretch a lot further. I then plugged the wire leading from them into my usb port and the other cable into the slot for headphones. When I did this I realised that I had no sound and actually had to turn them on as well - told you I was rubbish with technology.
=== The look ===
My speakers vary slightly from the picture above although they are exactly the same design. I personally think that they are rather stylish. They are slim line so do not take up much space or have a horrible bulky look to them which I love. They are a glossy black with the actual speaker parts being silver. This fits in rather nicely next to my laptop which is also black and silver. I don't think that these speakers would really look out of place anywhere which is fantastic as I was worrying a little that I would end up with giant speakers that were a bit of an eyesore.
=== Most importantly - the sound! ===
I love these speakers! As soon as I plugged them in I noticed that not only had the sound clarity improved but I suddenly had a new kind of sound. I am not too sure how to describe it, it had gone from an almost tinny sound to one with much more fullness and depth which reminds me a little of surround sound. Using these with my laptop means I can listen to my awful music incredibly loudly although I have to admit I don't think I ever have speakers on full as it is just too loud. I find that sometimes I can still have a bit of a raspy sound going on but this is easy to fix by jiggling between the sound level on the speakers and the sound level on my laptop. I did on occasion try to turn the speakers off while still plugged in but turns out even that will stop the sound while they are plugged in, but I don't think I ever want to unplug them again! Listening to music on my laptop is now far more enjoyable because of these wonderful speakers.
=== Other things to mention ===
* There is a slot for headphones on the speakers although I haven't used it and quite frankly don't see the point of it - why would you plug headphones into speakers??
* Although I think that the user guide is a bit pathetic it does give you the website to refer to, more specifically to the FAQ section. I think this is great as this almost makes up for the lack of information given elsewhere.
* For the bargain price of £14.99 not only do you get fab speakers you also get a 2 year warranty - even better value.
=== Would I recommend? ===
I think I would go as far as to say I am totally ecstatic with my purchase! Nothing annoys me more than quiet raspy music and these speakers have completely solved that problem. I had never heard of the brand 'trust' before so did not really know what to expect but I am very pleased. Not only do these speakers do exactly what I had hoped they have done it while looking stylish and also fitting in rather nicely with the colour scheme of my laptop. I would highly recommend these speakers for anybody wanting a little sound clarity or a little more volume!
Thanks for reading.
It was only recently that I managed to see one of my friends to exchange Christmas presents, a little late I know but she lives quite far away from me. Among the many lovely things she gave me was this digital photo frame. At the time I thought this was a pretty random present and not something I think I have ever mentioned, but it was of course very much appreciated. When I asked her why she bought it for me I was impressed with her reasons. Last year I did quite a lot of travelling and so have a rather large amount of photos and being in a student house I don't have a great deal of space for displaying them (especially if you have a landlord who wouldn't appreciate you hanging or sticking things on the wall). By having a digital photo frame I could display all my lovely photos without angering my landlord or taking up a lot of space that I don't have. Pretty clever idea really whoever invented these things.
===Price and availability===
This is a Tesco brand and so is of course available from Tesco, currently retailing for £18.97 instead of £27 on their website. I briefly looked on Amazon and could not find it on there but Ebay are currently selling one new but unboxed starting at £5. I can't honestly say I have ever looked at buying a digital photo frame before so am a bit clueless regarding prices but as this is an own brand I would assume this is cheaper than others, and I personally think that £18.97 is incredibly reasonable for this wonderful digital photo frame.
===What's in the box?===
The box contains everything you need to set up your photo frame - the frame, the stand, the external power adapter and a user guide. There is no kind of memory storage (such as an SD card) provided which you will of course need for the frame to be of use so bear this in mind when you purchase.
I have never had a digital photo frame before and was very excited to get it into working order. Set up was incredibly simple and easy. I did have a brief read through the manual first just because I tend to be a bit rubbish at technological things and have a tendency to mess things up. To attach the stand you simply slot and twist it into the gap on the frame depending on what sort of angle you want and whether you want the frame to be portrait or landscape. There are also holes on the back if you would rather wall mount, and again due to the positioning of the holes this can be done either as portrait or landscape.
Considering the budget price of this frame I am quite impressed with the variety of options to display your frame, especially being able to have it portrait or landscape as this allows you to match it to the orientation of your pictures.
===Size and look===
I personally really like the look and style of this frame. The frame itself is a glossy black which I think is brilliant as this would probably fit in quite well with most styles of décor. I have my frame on my desk next to my computer as hanging on the wall wouldn't really be appropriate. I think it is better this way anyway as if it was wall mounted you would see the wires from the power dangling down the wall which I would assume is not a great look. Being on my desk I can easily tuck the wire down the back out of view.
The frame is a good size with the screen being 7inches. I personally really like this size as it is probably around the same sort of size as a typical normal frame. The frame is not too bulky with the back protruding out perhaps an inch and a half or so, but of course you don't see this bulk anyway. Although I would say that the frame is fairly light weight I don't feel that it is flimsy at all and is actually surprisingly fairly sturdy.
The back of the frame is nice and simple with very few buttons. There is simply an on/off switch and 5 buttons (play, up, down, left and right) to navigate the controls. Towards the side of the back are 2 slots, one where you can slot in an SD card and the other for a USB device, and lastly the hole where you plug in the adapter. Nice and simple.
===Quality of pictures===
The screen is 16.10 analogue LCD with 432x234 resolution. I have no idea what this means other than the resolution I guess refers to pixels but thought those of you more technically minded than me would appreciate knowing this. I have to say I am incredibly impressed with the photo quality of this frame. Images appear very clear and sharp and when they don't it is down to my lack of photography skills rather than the frame.
All photographs must be in a jpeg format otherwise they will not be displayed but I think it is fairly easy to edit pictures to conform to this. If you try to display photographs in a different format other than jpeg a lovely little red cross is displayed instead, which I have to admit doesn't fit in terribly well with my lovely slideshow.
According to the user guide the frame is compatible with an SD, MMC and MS. A USB 2.0 or a 1.1. drive will also be supported. At first I used a memory stick but I wasn't impressed with the look as it protrudes out of the side and is very clearly visible from the front view. I can't say that I felt my ugly white stick complemented the look of my lovely glossy black frame. Luckily my friend is rather amazing and even gave me an SD card to use with my frame. Once I had some time I loaded up some pictures onto it and inserted this into the frame instead. I would definitely recommend using an SD card instead of a stick. Although the card still does protrude slightly out of the side this is only visible from the back, not the front, and so does not ruin the wonderful look of the frame. The frame displays photos in the order that they are in on the stick/card so if you want them in a specific order you would need to ensure u order them correctly before inserting into the frame.
For such a budget frame I wasn't expecting a lot with regards to functioning. As soon as a device is inserted and the photo frame switched on a slide show automatically plays, but until I actually read the user guide a bit more closely the other day I wasn't even aware of some of the things I could do with my frame. Here I will briefly mention a little about these functions.
When the slideshow begins to play a temporary menu is shown on the screen, which I really think should stay on for a little longer as there is barely any time to act upon anything shown on it. When this screen is up you can see that by pressing the up button you can see a preview of all photos you have in that folder/device and you can use the left and right buttons to select a picture. Once selected you can press the down button a specific amount of times to rotate your photo, depending on what angle you want to rotate it.
One of the most useful functions I have found is the timer for the slideshow. When I first set up the frame the pictures stayed up for a minimal amount of time and it seemed to be going too quickly for my liking. This can be changed with a good range of options - for 3 seconds, 5 seconds, 15 seconds, 1 minutes, 15 minutes, and 1 hour. Personally I have mine on 15 seconds as I feel this gives each photo a good amount of time to be on display.
If rather than having a slideshow you would rather have a specific photo up then this is easily achieved. Simply get the menu back up onto preview, select the picture you want and press the play button to pause. This results in your chosen picture being displayed but the somewhat annoying pause sign remains in the top right hand corner.
The above are the main things I have used but below are some other functions:
* Slide show shuffle - this will display your photographs in a random order
* Transition effect - if you want to make your slideshow look a little more exciting then you can change the transition effect. These effects include: none, bottom to top, top to bottom, left to right and vice versa, close door, open door, horizontal, vertical, random, fading, and expanding. Personally I like having no effect as I think all the fancy effects would annoy me but there is a good range if you prefer to use them
* Brightness, contrast and saturation can also be adjusted to your preferences.
===Cleaning and care===
Cleaning and care for this frame should be carried out when it is unplugged from the mains. The plastic can be cleaned with a barely damp cloth before drying carefully, although I tend to just use a normal duster and this seems to work fine. The screen should be treated more carefully by using a special cloth such as a Calotherm cloth.
On a little side note this frame comes with a 12 month warranty which makes this frame an even better purchase.
I really have nothing negative to say about this frame at all. It is fantastic! I can display a multitude of photos all in one place without having to take up valuable space in my room and I have to say it looks pretty stylish too. I think it not only looks good but is incredibly user friendly, even for somebody like me who seems to have constant problems with anything that uses some kind of technology. An absolute bargain with lots of functions that I highly recommend to anybody and everybody.
Thanks for reading.
Recently I have been getting bored with my hair so decided that I would dye it. This is not unusual; I have been dying my hair since I was about 13 or so and have used many different brands and was recently browsing my local boots store trying to decide on which one to buy. I always go for a permanent one and on this occasion decided that I wanted a reddy brown colour - not too red so that it would fade very quickly, but not just plain brown. I chose this particular hair dye (Garnier Nutrisse crème in shade 3.6) for two main reasons - I liked the look of the colour and the price was right. In addition to this I am fairly sure I have already used this brand before and was not disappointed with its performance.
***Price and Availability***
Like I mentioned earlier one reason I bought this was the price - boots had an offer on of 2 hair dyes for £8 or one for £5.10. I stocked up on an extra one to take advantage of the offer making each dye the bargain price of just £4. There are 16 shades currently available on the boots website ranging from blonde to brown to red to black, although I expect there are more shades than this, especially as my particular shade is not on the website. Garnier nutrisse crème can also be purchased from superdrug for £5.10 each but they do not have any offers on at the moment for this. I expect that you would also be able to get this from other places such as savers and Wilkinsons.
The packaging is typical of most hair dye boxes - the majority of the front taken up by someone with a lot of hair! I like this as it is very easy to see what kind of colour it is. There is also the shade and number and a little about the claims of this hair dye. These claims are - that it is enriched with fruit oil, has 100% grey coverage, nourishes hair as it colours and is a radiant and long lasting colour. Fairly standard claims for a hair dye I think aside from perhaps the fruit oil (which apparently gives it a fresh and fruity fragrance).
On one side of the box there are some very clear pictures of what colour you should expect your hair to be after using e.g. if you were blonde and used this dye you could expect a slightly lighter colour than if your hair was dark prior to use. There is also advice to help you choose your shade which I think could be very helpful for anyone dying their hair the first time. Personally I tend to ignore this advice (such as if you are picking between two shades you should choose the lightest) and just pick whatever I want.
On the other side is some safety advice which is of course very important. This advice includes whether you should or shouldn't dye your hair e.g. you shouldn't if your hair has been coloured with a progressive hair colourant. There are also common sense things such as not dying your eyelashes and eyebrows. Hair colourants can cause severe allergic reactions so you are advised that it is necessary to carry out a skin allergy test 48 hours before intended application. I have to admit that I am a bit naughty and have never done this but I suppose that is a risk that I take. I always assume that as I have used many colourants in the past and had no problems that I will continue to have no problems. Maybe this is something that I need to change.
The back of the box gives yet more information - this mainly expands on what is on the front - that the formula is non-drip, nourishing and completely covers greys. The bottom of the box lists the ingredients. The general look of the box I think is an attractive one. Yes there is a huge amount of information but I think this is to be expected when you are using something with chemicals in that could potentially be harmful to use. The box is attractive and I like the green colour theme that is used.
***What do you get?***
Well for the bargain price of just £4 you get a few things - 1 applicator bottle of developer crème (60ml) 1 tube of nourishing colour crème (40ml) 1 bottle of colour nourishing conditioner (40ml) 1 pair of gloves and 1 instruction leaflet.
I just thought I would briefly mention a little bit about the gloves. These come sealed within the box which is great and they are fairly huge. My dad has managed to fit his hands in these before and he has big hands! This is fantastic in that they will definitely fit but I did find that because they were so big this meant that I was always getting the excess bits of gloves that weren't around my fingers in the way which I found a little annoying.
***Instructions and using***
I won't bore you with every detail of the instructions leaflet but instead will give you a quick summary. There is a large section at the top dedicated to safety precautions with 'follow the instructions for use' in bold, just in case you read them but decided not to follow them. Everything in the pack conveniently has a letter printed on e.g. the developer crème is labelled 'A'. When the instructions are given not just the name is given but also the letter making the process somewhat fool proof.
Step one is to mix the colour - protect shoulders and put gloves on, squeeze contents of colour crème into the developer crème and shake the mixture, then break off the cap of the bottle ready for use immediately. You are then given 2 options - whole head or touching up roots. Both methods appear very simple. To apply for whole head simply begin with roots before applying through to ends and massaging in thoroughly. Leave on for 25 mins (or 35 if you have resistant greys) before rinsing and conditioning. For the other option of roots the method is fairly similar. Apply to roots and leave on for 10 minutes before applying to rest of hair and allowing colour to develop for a further 15 minutes before rinsing and conditioning. I would also like to mention that this particular leaflet has provided me with a 50p off voucher for a garnier deodorant - fab!
Now onto the most important part of usage. As I mentioned I am no stranger to dying my hair and so have my own little ways. I always wear old clothes and an old towel that I tend to use specifically for hair dying so that I don't ruin any nice ones. I also have cling film at the ready but more on that later. I follow the instructions and carefully squeeze the contents of the colour into the developer which wasn't the easiest of things to do. This may be because when I pierced the colour tube I did not do it enough or the tube may have just been a bit stiff where my house had been rather cold. Once I had put this in I shook the bottle as directed and then snapped off the cap. I applied to my roots before using it on the rest of my hair, massaging it in and concentrating especially on areas that can sometimes be missed like next to your ears. When I had this on I have to admit I didn't get any hints of fruitiness, it smelt like ammonia like most hair dyes. It didn't smell particularly awful although admittedly, didn't smell quite as strongly as others I have used in the past but it just wasn't fruity. Once I had completely covered my hair I got my trusty cling film out and cling filmed my hair to my head. This may seem ever so slightly strange but I find this way I am not worrying about my hair brushing against anything and ruining it and just holds my hair where I want it until I wash it out. I also have a plastic bag ready to put my used colouring things in so that I don't make a mess - which can sometimes be very hard to cover up! I left the dye on for a little longer than 25 minutes, I would say around 30, not because I have grey hair but because I really wanted to make sure that I would be able to notice the red.
I tend to go straight into the shower after dying my hair as this is just far more convenient than trying to wash it over a bath or sink. So I got undressed and took the cling film off my head and placed it in the bag. It did take quite some time to rinse out and I also used a little bit of shampoo to make sure that it was rinsed out properly. After this I applied the conditioner as directed and left on for a few minutes which smelt absolutely yummy! I then rinsed this out to find my hair feeling soft.
Once I dried my hair I could see the results properly. The colour had turned out fairly well (in my opinion anyway) and was a nice and even coverage. My hair is currently feeling very soft and looking very shiny - just what you would expect from dying your hair. I am expecting this colour to last me 6 weeks at the most before I feel the need to re-dye as I wash my hair every day and this will of course cause the colour to fade. I also have plenty of the conditioner left to help me keep it this way a little bit longer. I cannot comment on how well this dye addresses the problem of grey hairs as I do not have any but I expect that it would perform fairly well.
***What is good about this hair dye?***
* Good competitive price against other brands
* Large gloves could be a benefit for those with larger hands
* Yummy smelling conditioner
* Easy to use
***What is not so good about this hair dye?***
* As with all hair dyes it does not smell particularly pleasant
* Gloves a little too large for me personally
* Seems to take quite a long time to wash out
***Would I use again/recommend?***
I would happily use this again and am very happy with the shade that I have chosen - crimson promise 3.6 deep reddish brown. This is a very easy to use dye that does what it claims to do. If you have longer hair I would suggest that you buy more than one dye as this one only just about managed to cover all of my hair. Overall a fabulous dye that is well worth the small amount of money that it retails for. 5 stars from me!
I have only really just got around to using some products that I received not this Christmas but the one before that (people must think I smell because I always get so many smellies haha). My parents had bought me a set of Boots extracts products, one of which being this mango body wash. Having used the shea body butter within the same range and being distinctly unimpressed with its performance I had very low expectations for this body wash.
*** Price and availability ***
This is a boots brand and so of course is available from boots. The extracts range includes many products such as: body butter; body wash; bath cream; body lotion; body scrub; and sugar scrub. This body wash is only available in one size individually (other smaller ones may be available when included in sets) and is 200ml, retailing for £4.19. I personally find this quite expensive and price wise this doesn't compare well to a lot of other brands. I can only assume that this is because of the inclusion of fair-trade ingredients which does normally lead to a price increase.
*** The packaging ***
This body wash comes in a fairly bog standard kind of tube with a flip lid at the base of the bottle. The lid is a bright and appealing yellow/orange colour with the rest of the tube being transparent - always helpful to see how much you have got left. The majority of the tube is covered with a label, the front of which displaying a large picture of a mango still on the tree. Quite a lot of space is also given for more information about the fair trade ingredients along with the symbol that goes with this. The back of the label gives even more information - ingredients including those that are fair trade, directions for use, what parts can be recycled and that this will last up to 24 months from opening. I have to admit that even with the large picture on the front it isn't a particularly special or appealing bottle, just average. I do however like how much information is given on the back, nothing seems to be missing.
*** Fairtrade goodness ***
Personally I am not all that bothered about whether something is organic or fair trade and I definitely do not specifically seek out products like this, however I do feel slightly good about myself knowing that I am using something that helps those less fortunate. The fair trade ingredients within this body wash are mango extract (Derived from the mangifera indica fruit whatever that is) and honey. With such a huge message of being fair trade I would have expected more ingredients to be fair trade but according to the label all ingredients that can be fair trade are, so I guess that shuts me up! I am unsure of where the mango comes from but the honey is produced by communities in South America and buying this product helps to support their future prosperity. So far so good but I never see the point in using lovely ingredients if the product doesn't perform.
*** The claims ***
This body wash 'gently cleanses, conditions and moisturises, leaving skin feeling soft and smooth'. Not too bold a claim I don't think, but does the body wash live up to this?
*** The results ***
I have to admit that although I had low expectations overall I was expecting a very fruity and yummy smell, especially as I particularly love mango. I was not disappointed. This stuff smells good enough to eat! (Although you are warned that THIS IS NOT FOOD, just in case you forgot that this was a body wash and not something to munch on). I was slightly put off when I read that this contained honey because I absolutely hate it. The smell, the taste - it is just vile. Until I read this I thought that it smelt wonderful but after I knew it had honey in for some reason I didn't like it so much - but I don't think this is because it doesn't smell nice, it's just me being a little bit strange.
The body wash is a peachy kind of colour and is a gel consistency, not too thick or too watery and spreads very easily over a wet body. The directions for use suggest to ' massage a generous amount of Mango body wash onto damp skin and work into a lather, rinse well after use and gently towel dry'. I did need to use quite a lot of this to get a reasonable lather but then again I think that just because something doesn't foam up a lot does not mean that it is not doing its job properly. My skin definitely felt cleansed and refreshed after using so the lack of foam isn't a major issue for me. I also suspect that this would lather up pretty well on a body puff if this is a problem for you. After rinsing I was very impressed that I could actually feel some moisture on my skin as I really was not expecting this. I guess they suggest you towel dry so that this moisture isn't all rubbed away. After drying my skin felt soft and the smell did linger briefly although it was very subtle - this doesn't really bother me I wear perfume for fragrance not body wash.
I have also tried using this is the bath as to me I pretty much regard body wash and bubble bath as the same thing. My bath smelt amazing! Under the running taps this produced a good level of foam although admittedly it did not last particularly long but I don't tend to stay in the bath for too long so this didn't bother me at all.
*** Would I buy again or recommend? ***
I still think that this is fairly expensive for what it is and there are a lot of competitors who offer the same quality for a better price, although these may not include the fair trade ingredients. I am very pleased with this product and would consider repurchasing but to be honest I love trying different things so it may be a while before that happens. Although the instructions are to use a generous amount, I found that a typical amount was just fine so I can see this lasting me for a good month or so considering how often I use it. I would definitely recommend this and give it 4 stars (I have deducted one because I don't think the value for money is brilliant although it is very ethical).
Thanks for reading.
If you have read some of my previous reviews you may notice that I am a bit of a Clinique superfan and I would usually avoid other premium brands as I see no need to change what I am already using. The main reason I bought this foundation was for one simple reason - at the time Lancôme had their brilliant offer on where if you bought 2 products (any products at all which I think makes a nice change from the ones that always make you include a skincare item, and of course can work out cheaper too) then you would receive a free gift. The gift advertised was pretty impressive - some cleanser, toner, make up remover, mascara, lipstick, some moisturiser and some eye cream too. These were all of course smaller sample sizes but it definitely encouraged me to have a better look at Lancôme. It didn't take very long for the Lancôme lady to notice me having a look and approached me and suggested a quick little make over so that I could get to know the products a little bit more and I of course did not object to this. I know that some people can find make up consultants to be pushy on occasion but I have yet to come across one like this in my local department store. The foundation that she used on me was the teint miracle - I am not sure if this was mainly used because it was the latest one at the time although there is now an even newer foundation - and this is the product I am reviewing today.
=== Price, availability and packaging ===
This liquid foundation comes in a glass bottle holding 30ml of product which retails at £27 which I am not sure I would usually pay as my usual Clinique foundation is more around the £20 mark, but as the gift was on I did feel happy to pay this as I got a lot of nice things for free. I personally wear the lightest shade which is 010 - beige porcelaine - but there are 18 shades in total which show a good range from being very fair like me to shades that are dark enough for women of colour (if that is the right way to say it?).
I think that the packaging is very tasteful and elegant. The glass bottle is a kind of rectangular shape with a clear lid over the pump that clicks down very securely for when not in use which I think is very important. The bottle itself is also clear so you can see exactly how much product you have got left which is great. I hate when you have to try and hold something up to the light only to get a very rough idea of how much is left. On the front of the bottle is the usual Lancôme accompanied by the logo of a rose. The other information we are given is the name of the foundation - teint miracle - and that this is a 'natural light creator - bare skin perfection'. This foundation also contains SPF 15 which is useful for lazy people like me who never really bother about sun protection when maybe I should. There is more useful information given on the back of the bottle - the number of your particular shade, that you need to shake well before use, that it is oil free and dermatologically tested and that the foundation should be used within 12 months of opening. Lots of this information is also given in French as Lancôme is of course a French brand. With regards to the shade being written on the back I have one minor annoyance. The number seems to rub off quickly and if I wanted to repurchase, it is a little more hassle without knowing the exact shade that I want. Of course I love this foundation so much and being the fairest shade it is fairly easy for me to remember, but may be annoying for those who are perhaps less likely to remember.
=== The claims ===
The official Lancôme website suggests that 'Lancôme invents its 1st foundation that helps to recreate the aura of perfect looking skin. Instantly complexion appears flawless and luminous, as if lit-from-within.' I think that this sounds a little odd but I guess what it is saying is that the foundation should be giving you a flawless and radiant complexion.
=== Application ===
The only instruction for use on the bottle is that you should shake well before use. I am unsure whether any other instructions were given on the box as I threw it away straight after I started using this. I would usually apply foundation using a brush as I think it gives the best finish, and using something like a pad wastes too much product. Having said this my brush is looking a little sorry for itself and not performing as it used to and so I have resorted to just using my fingertips. I prepare my face first by moisturising as I find this helps the foundation go on a lot easier than it does without, and also means I don't use quite as much making it last that little bit longer. I am not sure if there are certain parts of your face you are supposed to apply it to first but I tend to start with my nose and work my way out using gentle circular movements until it is blended in nicely. If you would rather apply with a brush I did receive a great tip which was to brush downwards as this way none of those annoying fine little hairs on your face end up looking more noticeable.
=== The results ===
When the Lancôme lady was putting this on me she mentioned that it was about 40% water which I found interesting and made me expect this to be a very lightweight foundation - which it was but with impressive coverage. I tend to use a whole pump of this which I find to be the perfect amount for my whole face but I think there is some leverage with the pump so you could apply more or less as is required. This foundation does have a little bit of a scent to it but it is very subtle and not overbearing at all. The texture is absolutely wonderful. Due to its high water percentage I was expecting a very runny consistency but actually while being lightweight it is also fairly creamy. It is very easy to blend as there is enough time between applying and it drying allowing you to get really good results. I would say that this gives a moderate coverage which is what I personally like - it gives a nice flawless and slightly dewy look without making me look like I've caked it on and also really evens out the skin. This really is remarkably easy to apply and literally takes me seconds without making me look awful. I tend to set this with powder as I feel this kind of sets me up for the day but I don't think you technically need to do this. I still think that this wouldn't budge from your face and powder would not be needed to mattify as teint miracle doesn't leave you with a shiny look. I am not sure to what extent I would agree with this giving you a luminous look although the finish is definitely far from being dull. I find that I can wear this quite easily for 12 hours or so without it budging from my face which I find impressive. This time of course may differ on your skin type e.g. if you have oily skin.
=== Value for money ===
At first glance I think that £27 is fairly expensive for a foundation but it is a premium brand which delivers fantastic results and there are other brands that would charge a lot more. The foundation lasts well throughout the day meaning that top ups are not required, stretching your money that little bit further. I believe I bought my foundation around August/September time and with very regular use I would say that I still have around a quarter left and I would expect for this to last me at least another month. I am not sure that I would pay this much money for an eye shadow or mascara but I find that for something like a foundation I am more happy to pay such a price. I think that foundation is possibly the most important make up item as if you are using one that suits your skin and is the right shade for you, this can set your face up almost like a blank canvas. This way the rest of your make up will look even better.
=== Would I recommend and buy again? ===
Considering I wouldn't have really looked at Lancôme before and only half-heartedly bought this in order to get the gift I am very impressed. I think this is a product that really delivers - it evens out my skin tone and just generally makes it look a bit nicer, which in turn makes me feel a little more confident about the way that I look. I would most certainly recommend this to anybody who enjoys using a lightweight, moderate coverage foundation. I also strongly suggest that you get yourself foundation matched as £27 is a lot of money that you wouldn't want to waste on the wrong colour, and I usually find consultants to be helpful who will even give a sample if asked so you can try before you buy.
*** Overall ***
=== Good points ===
* Contains SPF 15
* A wide range of shades
* Great packaging
* Handy pump which is also hygienic (although I am unsure how well this will work once I am right at the bottom of the bottle)
* Beautiful texture and very lightweight
* Very blendable
* Gives a very even and flawless finish
* Powder not required
* Good value for money
=== Bad points ===
* The only minor thing I can think of for this is the price and I say it is minor as although £27 is a lot of money I think that the value for money is still brilliant and has lasted me very well so far.
Overall I am just a little bit in love with this foundation and give it the full 5 stars.
Thanks for reading.