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Everyone and their mother seems to be buying these, and loving them. I bought Celestial, which is a very pretty natural looking pink.
First thoughts: the packaging is quite classic Rimmel. The plastic is tough, and I think would survive being thumped about in your handbag very well. The applicator is a little doe-foot, which I find to be a good size for easily controlled application.
Application is smooth, with a good colour pay off. On me, Celestial is a solid pink, but with the 'wet' look of a lipgloss. I was concerned it would feel sticky, or slide off, but I didn't find this to be the case at all. The lacquer stays put very well, with minimal smudging.
The wear time is odd. If I just put it on, it seems to just sit tight and go nowhere. As soon as I eat or drink anything it disappears completely and needs reapplying. Depending on what you're doing, it either lasts ages, or not at all.
All in all, I like this product, but think it's more of a lip gloss than a lipstick style product, and is a nuisance if you're eating or drinking at all.
I've long been a fan of the Barry M polishes, as I find they're great quality for a low price. I was excited to try the Gelly range, and chose the Watermelon shade.
The colours in the range are really pretty and on trend, with fresh, bright Spring colours. Watermelon is a vivid pink on the nails and was opaque in one coat. I added a second coat to tidy up any streaks, but I could have got away without it.
The brush inside is the same as the regular Barry M polishes, and is a nice size for easy to control application.
The polish has a reasonable dry time, and was dry to the touch quite quickly. Once dry, it did look very shiny and glossy, but the difference from other hi-shine polishes was minimal.The polish looked thicker on the nail, but only a tiny bit more glossy than Barry M's regular range.
With a base and top coat, I found the polish started to chip very slightly after about two days. I do have longer lasting polishes, but as I work at a computer, the ends of my nails do take a battering, so I wasn't too concerned by the early chipping. I also may have added to it myself with the extra coat.
The price point of these is very good; more expensive than the usual Barry M polishes, but still cheaper than other brands for similar products.
All in all, I like the range, and will be purchasing more colours, as it's a nice selection of on-trend, good value polishes. I would liked longer wear, and more of a 'gel' effect, but for the price, these are pretty good.
Hendricks Gin is a Scottish distilled gin, with cucumbers added to the distillation process, to give it a distinctive, fresh flavour.
Packaging: Hendricks comes in a deep brown glass bottle, with a pretty label with 'old-fashioned' looking text. It reminds me of old-fashioned medicine bottles, and looks like something you'd expect to see on the shelf of an apothecary. The smart bottle means this gin looks classy in your alcohol cabinet, and looks good if you're getting it out to serve guests. The glass is really thick, giving the bottle a nice heft to it, which makes me think you'd have to try quite hard to smash it. The lid is a press-in cork, which looks nice, but can be a bit fiddly to put back on tightly once opened.
Taste: Hendricks is a really 'fresh' tasting gin. You can definitely taste the cucumber in it, but the flavour is subtle, giving the gin a light, refreshing twist. They recommend you serve this gin with a slice of cucumber. I often do, and find it really does bring out the cucumber flavours. I never thought cucumber in gin would be enjoyable, and while it's unusual, it's delicious and very drinkable.
Hendricks has fast become my favourite gin, as it's so different and refreshing. It's a perfect summer evening drink.
I received this as a Christmas gift, and so far, I've been really enjoying it.
Packaging - Like all Body Shop shower gels, this comes in a simple clear plastic container with a flip-top lid. The lid style can mean you accidentally tip loads of product into your hand if you're not paying proper attention, but in general, the container is tough and hard-wearing. Mine is crack-free, despite being routinely dropped in the shower.
Application - I use this with exfoliating gloves, and find I need an amount of product about the size of a ten pence piece to get a good lather going, and it's enough to wash all over. Hopefully, because of that, the product will last me a good while. It does a good job, and leaves me skin feeling clean and soft.
Smell - This is the best part about this. The sweet smell of pink grapefruit is strong without being over-powering and sickly. My whole bathroom smells amazing when I use this, and the smell lingers in the shower and on my skin for hours after I've washed with it.
I've been using Batiste dry shampoo for years; usually buying the original version. As I have dark hair and don't love the white residue that the original Batiste can leave behind, I decided to buy the version for dark hair.
Packaging: The packaging is sturdy, with a metal tin and click-on plastic lid. The lid stays put very well, I've yet to have it pop off in my bag or anything like that. The swirled design is quite pretty, and means the spray looks nice on my bathroom counter. It comes with a standard aerosol type applicator, which is easy to use. The press down mechanism is tough enough that you don't accidentally spray loads over yourself, but not so hard to press down you have to struggle with it.
Smell - This smells very similar to the original Batiste; just a clean talcum powder type smell. It's nothing exciting, but pretty non-offensive.
Application - I find a little of this goes quite a way, which means a can lasts me ages. I spray a bit through my hair and give it a good rub in, before brushing it through. Any appearance of greasiness is instantly reduced, and I find lasts a good few hours, making this great if you're freshening up quickly, say before heading out after work. The dark colour does mean I don't have to rub it in quite so much before any appearance of the powder had gone. However, I also found the brown spray made my hands look absolutely filthy. Not a problem, as I can just wash them off, but I have found that the colour does transfer a little, leaving grubby looking marks on my face and hands if I'm touching my hair after application.
All in all, this does work very well, but I prefer the white version, as there's no colour transfer.
I bought the Spotlight version of ELF's Shimmering Facial Whip after reading online that it's a good dupe for Benefit's HighBeam highlighter.
The packaging isn't very exciting; but I suppose the lack of fancy packet helps keep the costs down. To get the product out, you have to squeeze it out of the tube, which can make the amount you get out a little tricky to control.
Once you've got a suitable amount out though, the application is dead easy. I smooth this on, just a tiny bit, as a little really does go a long way, and then blend with my fingers. I find it blends in really easily, and quickly, giving me a subtle highlight without any glitteriness.
The colour is light and pretty, and would suit a good range of skin-tones. It's proving to be long-lasting so far, staying out throughout my day at work.
Is it a dupe for High Beam? Not really, but for the price, it's close enough.
Don't read this and expect Harry Potter.
The Casual Vacancy is JK Rowling's first book for adults, and could not be further from the world of Potter. The story revolves around a small town and the in-fighting between families over an available seat on the Parish Council.
The story takes you into the homes of several families, revealing all the hidden fears and shames of the characters. The novel is not especially pacey, focusing more on the internal struggles of the characters than any real 'action'. The story does gather momentum at the end, making the twist ending even more shocking, after the slow pace of the build-up.
The characters are interesting, but not exactly likeable. Few people in the story are 'nice', but I enjoyed reading about them and their personalities. I particularly enjoyed reading about Krystal Weedon. She turned out to have a lot more going on beneath the surface than her first appearances in the story would suggest.
I tried to go into this story with an open mind, not knowing what to expect from Rowling's first adult novel. It's not for those looking for another Potter; this is definitely an adult story with bad language, sex scenes and some uncomfortable subject matter. This does not mean it isn't very good though.
Some parts were slow-going, but this book is something of a slow burner. In the final chapters, all that slow-pacing comes to a head with a shocking, but excellent finish.
I kept reading about BB creams and decided to give them a try. After dabbling with a couple of brands, the price of this one attracted me; at less than a tenner, it's a bit of a bargain.
I've always liked Rimmel products and this does not disappoint. I'm very pale, so use the light version, but have been told the medium would make a good concealer.
The colour match is very good on me and the coverage is nice, light and but enough to hide any imperfections. It doesn't look like you're wearing much make-up. It smooths on nicely and blends really easily; no cakey look here! It doesn't take long to run in at all.
The coverage is light and gives me a healthy, dewy look, which I really like.
The bottle isn't very big; I'm undecided on the size. It'd be nice to get a bit more product, but a little of this does go a long way, and it's quite handbag sized so you can sling it in your bag for on the go touch-ups.
I like that it's an SPF, I'm terrible at remembering to put on a suncream, but this cuts out that extra step in my morning routine. It's quite moisturising, my skin feels very soft after putting it on. I'm not sure how much long-term moisture there is, but it does the job when I'm out and about.
I mostly use this on days where I don't want a full face of make-up, but want to brighten up a bit, say for running errands or something like that.
All in all, a nice product and good value.
I've been using the Lumia 800 for a few months now, and I am in love with it.
Like most Nokias, this phone is really sturdy. The plastic casing is very solid and mine has already withstood being dropped several times and still doesn't have a mark on it. I think you'd have to go to some real effort to break this. The screen is tough as well; it's smooth and nice to use with the touch screen, but feels chunky somehow. The phone is quite weighty, which some people might not like, but personally I quite like. I always know if it's in my pocket.
The new model of the Lumia is bigger, but I find this is about the right size. Nice screen size, but still fits comfortably in the hand.
The usability is nice; the tiles took a little getting used to, but now I love how simple they are to use. All the apps load so fast, and there's a good range, if slightly less than with the iPhone. I especially love how easy the main menu is to customise. I can pick exactly what I want and where I want it, and it's dead simple to shuffle things around until I find a layout that suits me.
It's a shame that the phone doesn't come with the ability to use your own music tracks as ringtones, but I did find an app to get round that. Otherwise, I've found the memory size to be good; I've got plenty of music on here with no troubles.
The battery life is about average for a smart phone, I can get about two days out of mine with fairly heavy use, although music playback does chomp the battery.
The camera is nice quality, I find I get really good pictures from this, even after blowing them up to bigger sizes on my computer.
I have found the phone crashes occasionally, but a hard reset sorts it out with no after troubles. I'm not sure what causes the crashes and freezing, but it is only an occasional issue.
All in all, this is a really nice phone, and I would be hard-pressed to find anything wrong it much.
I've been using Simple products for ages, and love them all! After a mystery allergic reaction to something (I still don't know what) which made me break out in horrible, painful hives, I swapped out all my skincare for products with as few nasties as possible. A bit of investigation led to me to Simple.
I wasn't using a toner before this, so can't compare it to other products, but I'm quite pleased with this.
Like most Simple products, the toner has no noticeable smell when you use it, which I personally like; perfumes are often what's irritating in skin-care products.
The packaging is nice and sturdy; no fiddly clasps or lids threatening to fly off and spill all over the bathroom cabinet. The see-through plastic the packaging is made of is useful too, as you know exactly how much product you have left.
One bottles lasts ages, you only need to use a small amount of this each time, as a little goes a long way.
When I use it, I get a sort of light tingling sensation, which suggests this product is actually doing something. It tingles without stinging and really shifts any stubborn bits of make-up left, and removes any left behind cleanser. My skin feels soft after use, and it definitely looks brighter with regular use.
For sensitive skin types, this is a great toner. I haven't had a single reaction since I started using it.
I don't think this does anything amazing that other toners don't, but it's nice to get a good product without having to rub nasty chemical stuff all over your face!