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*WHAT IS THIS AND WHY DO I CARE?* This is Banish Fat Boost Metabolism, one of the many Jillian Michaels fitness DVDs available in the UK. It's a 45 minute cardio circuit training workout designed to burn calories but without the weight training aspect of some of her other DVDs. You don't have to care, but this (and her other DVDs) generally provide a fairly tough workout that is still accessible to most people, ie you don't have to be a fitness fanatic to get through one of these, but you will feel pretty rough by the end. Ignore the 'lose up to 5 pounds a week' thing on the cover, unless you have a huge amount of weight to lose that is simply not possible. So if you're looking to get in shape and have 45 mins to spare in the day, or if you just want a cardio blast, you could do worse than this DVD. *WHO IS JILLIAN MICHAELS? SHOULD I HATE HER?* Jillian Michaels is an american trainer most famous for her stint on 'The Biggest Loser' where she bullied people into shape rather effectively. She has a huge range of workout DVDs, the most famous being the '30 Day Shred' which combines resistance work with cardio and ab circuits. This DVD is not like the 30 Day Shred, I will warn you now. The circuits are still here but the length and format of the circuits are COMPLETELY different. Some people do hate her. She's rather pushy and has no time for breaks or 'phoning it in' and she will tell you that, repeatedly, throughout this video. However, she can be muted if you can't stand her anymore. She does at least of the routine along with you, although she does wander off to 'instruct' now and then. Personally, I quite like her yelling at me. It's very motivating and I tend to yell back. She also brought along a couple of friends to do the workout with her, Kristin and Salima. Now these girls I do hate a bit. They are impossibly ripped and way too happy to be doing this (particularly Kristin who grins like a maniac while shadow boxing) and Salima spends half the DVD kicking herself in the head, QUITE LITERALLY. *WHAT'S THE FORMAT?* The whole workout consists of a 5 minute warm up, which is 2 circuits repeated that consist mainly of 'dynamic stretching' i.e controlled flinging of arms (in my opinion), then there are 7 circuits of approximately 6 minutes each, and a cooldown stretch. All in all, it comes in at about 50 minutes for the whole thing. HOWEVER!! You do not have to do the whole thing. That is because they very kindly added a menu option to select each circuit individually. SO if you don't have time or like me, you just really hate burpees and want to skip circuit 2, you can. What is annoying, however, is that the circuits are not named in the menu. I've done this enough times to roughly remember which one is which, but it would be far more helpful to have some kind of keyword guide instead of just 'Circuit 1'. *DEATH BY CARDIO - THE WORKOUT* Seeing as the DVD won't tell you what's in the circuits, I WILL! Warm Up- Arm circles, toe touches, arm swings, jogging in place for 1 minute, and REPEAT! Easy enough warm up, especially the jog in place. As I said before, it seems to be a lot of swinging my arms around. Circuit 1 - KICKBOXING Squatting side kicks (each side), alternating punches, jab/cross/hook/elbow combo, front kicks. REPEAT Lots of kicks in this one. None of these moves are that 'difficult' in my opinion, although the squatting side kicks do start to hurt after 4 sets of them. This one is slightly boring. Circuit 2 - PLYOMETRICS Burpees, plie hops, jab/cross/jab/cross/hop combination, 180 jumps, single leg hops. REPEAT Plyometrics is a dirty word. It basically means jumping, and every move here involves a jump which means you will get seriously out of breath on this one, it is HARD and I often skip it because I'm lazy like that. Burpees are horrible and I would rather eat my own face than do them. Circuit 3 - CALISTHENICS Butt kicks, high knees, jumping jacks, standing oblique crunches. REPEAT I like this one. It's exactly the right level of difficult for me. Seems fairly easy on the first go through, and the oblique crunches are a nice moment to catch your breath a bit, but it is surprisingly tough going on the second circuit as the jumping jacks come back. Circuit 4 - CORE Mountain climbers, Supermans, pipe crunches, oblique twists, walking push-ups. REPEAT Drop down to the floor for this one. It says core but get ready for your arms to hurt too from the amount of plank based moves here. Mountain climbers are evil, supermans are super fun, oblique twists are quite nice and generally this circuit doesn't get you too huffy puffy. Circuit 5 - KICKBOXING Swing kicks, uppercuts, back kicks, jab/cross combination, knee crunches. REPEAT Again, not too difficult, although uppercuts make me feel like my arm is about to pop out for some reason and they really make the flabby backs of the arms flop around. Noice. Make the most of this fairly easy circuit because you have no idea what is about to hit you... Circuit 6 - PLYO CIRCUIT OF DEATH Jump squats, cross-country skiing, scissor jumps, skaters, standing mountain climbers. REPEAT KILLLL MEEEEEE. My word this is hard, even Jillian says so. Jump squats are fun at first but start to hurt rapidly, and standing mountain climbers (high knees with uppercuts, basically) are horrendous. I do, however, love skaters, also known as lateral hops. Circuit 7 - STANDING CORE Moguls, standing pikes, knee crunches (both sides), jump rope. REPEAT Pluses and minuses to this one. If you thought the finish would be gentle you were wrong, this is probably the third hardest circuit after 2 and 6. Knee crunches make my hips hurt. However, you do get a nice easy bit of jump rope where you are allowed to chill out a bit. COOLDOWN Cobra pose, quad stretches, hamstring/calves/inner thigh stretches, shoulder/back/tricep stretches. What it says on the tin, loadsa stretching. Fairly dull but necessary. *SOUNDS AWFUL* It is. Took me 10 tries to make it all the way through without stopping to die and eat a McDonalds halfway through. *PROS?* Works you very hard, all very simple and easy to follow moves, well cued up and demonstrated. Every circuit is different so you don't have time to get bored. You don't need any equipment (a mat is optional for the one floor circuit). Jillian is a good motivator, but you can turn her off and just have music if you like. If you don't like weights, this doesn't have any. *CONS?* The aforementioned menu annoyance, the fact that Salima keeps making me feel bad about only being able to kick up to about my chest, the fact that Kristen won't stop smiling when I'm in pain. It's longer than most of the other workouts so you need to devote more time to it (although you can split it into circuits to make it shorter). If you like weights, this doesn't have any. Only one level, so no real progression other than that sweet feeling when you finally make it all the way through. In terms of the moves, there is a LOT of jumping. If you have bad knees this might not work, likewise if you live in a block of flats your neighbours may hate you! *GOOD RESULTS?* Jillian recommends you work out with her 5-6 times a week and make sure you eat well. I personally combined this with 'No More Trouble Zones' which is the same format of DVD but with strength moves instead of cardio. It definitely works. This type of intense cardio burns serious calories and does work some muscles at the same time due to the amount of time you spend flinging your own body weight around. By the time those knee crunches roll around I am dripping with sweat, gasping for water and well and truly knackered. *WHAT DO I NEED TO DO THIS?* Nothing really, although I would recommend an exercise mat for circuit 3. You will be, in Jillian's words 'Shaking what your momma gave you'. *SHOULD I BUY IT?* If you want to get some serious cardio in at home then I definitely recommend you do! *HOW MUCH DOES IT COST AND WHERE CAN I GET IT?* Go to Amazon, where you can get the standalone DVD for £5.68 or get it as part of a boxset (the one I bought had four of her DVDs for £18, which is a fairly good bargain I reckon). THANKYOU FOR READING!
*RIMMEL SALON PRO KATE MOSS NAIL POLISH WITH LYCRA* New on the scene at Rimmel is the latest member of their Kate Moss collaborations, the others being a range of normal and matte texture lipsticks all emblazoned with the model's lovely scrawl. Apparently Kate Moss created the shades, even if I find that difficult to believe (perhaps picked them out of a lineup), this range contains 32 'catwalk' shades of supposedly professional quality, highly chip resistant nail polish with a gel finish. Now my memory isn't what it once was, but I am highly suspicious of their branding of this as a 'NEW!!' product, seeing as Rimmel previously had a normal, non Kate Moss longwear lycra polish range that has now mysteriously disappeared from most shelves, making this seem almost like a clever marketing strategy to rebrand an existing product with the name of a supermodel and sell it as new? Where you can find the 'old' range, it is simply Rimmel Lycra Pro, in a slightly different bottle, some different shades, but with the same promise of 10 days wear, for the same price, in different packaging. Sneaky... *THE RANGE* Sold in the usual Rimmel haunts, ie everywhere. Boots, Superdrug, supermarkets, local chemists, generally everywhere that sells makeup sells Rimmel. I have never seen such a widely stocked makeup brand. As I said, there are 32 shades: White Orchid - nude Oyster Pink - pinky nude Grape Sorbet - shimmering pinky purple Urban Purple - light fuschia purple Cocktail Passion - dark coral pink Celebrity Bash - grown up red Ultra violet - dark lilac Summer orange - reddy blood orange Peppermint - light blue turquoise/mint Sea Green - dark bluey green Navy Seal - mid toned blue Barmy blue - cobalt blue Desire - plummy Isn't She Precious - girly baby pink Get a Nail Tan - tan beige Posh Trash - shimmering beige Beige Babe - murky mid brown Simply Sizzling - fuschia Purple Rain - light violet New Romantic - shell pink Soul Session - nude Hip Hop - orange toned red Disco Fever - violet Rock and Roll - red Reggae splash - light citrus orange Punk Rock - dark slate grey Rhythm and Blues - navy Britpop - bright sky blue Jazz Funk - hot pink Cuppa Earl Grey - iron grey Acid House - shimmery dark green Apologies for my terrible descriptions of colours, I tried my best! The point is, it pretty much has every shade you could want, with I suppose more of a focus on trendy, youthful colours and lots of brights. The colours are lovely and from my experience, very true to the bottle, unlike some brands where they don't quite come out as expected once dry. I purchased 'Reggae Splash', 'Peppermint' and 'Cocktail Passion' for £4.49 in Boots. I got them in the 3 for 2 offer which makes them rather bargainous I must say! *PACKAGING* Rimmel have recently been overhauling all of their packaging, and instead of the usual small, skinny lid Rimmel polish we have a rather fat, chunky bottle with a big ol' lid. It's rather LARGE for a polish bottle and feels a bit clunky, not to mention taking up way too much space in a makeup bag. Much prefer their old dinky packaging. The plastic black top is I think supposed to give it a modern, streamlined and expensive look, and I suppose the matte texture does look quite nice. But does it really matter what it looks like eh? Onto my nails you go... *THE BRUSH* The brush is huge. A 'maxi' brush as described by Rimmel, this thing can cover almost my whole nail in one swipe. Perfect if you're in a rush, annoying if you are a) Butterfingers and prone to shakey hands which send said massive brush flying everywhere and gobbing polish all over your fingers or b) Someone who subscribes to the traditional 3 strokes method of one in the centre and two down the sides. This is how I learnt to apply nail polish and as a creature of habit, I feel annoyed at being forced into new methods. Alas, I must admit it is rather speedy once you get the hang of it. One other annoyance was that a couple of the hairs/bristles/whatever you call them started to come loose, leading to all kinds of mess. Grrr. *THE APPLICATION* I've mostly covered this with my brush issues, but I will say that the application is smooth and fairly opaque with one coat, although I apply two coats as a rule with all polish. It dried quite quickly although I did get some smudging issues the first time (I'm very impatient) The colours were lovely and the effect was indeed gel like, extremely shiny and smooth. Very nice. 'Reggae Splash' in particular is worth a mention. I have plenty of unusual bright colours but this one is unique in my collection. I have various oranges and corals, yellows, and peaches, but this unusual hybrid of them all is very pleasing and totally original as far as I know. It isn't yellow and it isn't orange, but it's fruity and summery and reminds me of sunshine. Ahhhhh. *THE WEAR* Ok, so Rimmel say that this should last for about 10 days and without chipping. I work with my hands all day and so this is never going to happen. For me personally, the ultimate test of a polish is whether it survives a single day without needing a touch up, a test which this passed with flying colours. In fact, I noticed no chips for three days, bar a teeny bit of wearing down at the edges which was hardly noticeable. HOWEVER... I'm not sure what the hell was going on with this, perhaps it's the lycra part of the formula, but I find that this polish WRINKLES and SHRINKS on the nails rather than chipping? I would go into a particularly hot shower and come out with wrinkled nails, possibly from the heat, I have a theory about the 'stretch' in the polish allowing it to do this. Eventually, I didn't actually have to remove this at all, It started to shrink and wrinkle up on my nails, and I could pull the entire thing off in one piece like one of those peel off face masks. On the one hand, ew, on the other, incredible convenient method of removal that doesn't involve buying nail varnish remover. I choose to see the glass as half full. It does mean however, that I can't give you a fully informed opinion on how well this removes with conventional remover, although given how evenly the polish was 'wearing' at the edges of the nails, I would imagine it would be extremely easy. *WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?* It's a nice range but I wouldn't say it was anything spectacular. The price is really reasonable, you get a lot of polish, the brush is good if you're into that sort of thing. Overall the quality is good and there is no reason I WOULDN'T recommend it, but there isn't anything about it that makes me say YOU MUST BUY THIS NOW. If that makes any sense. Rambling...The colours are lovely and quite different from other ranges, the texture is nice and even the superfluous addition of Kate Moss' signature doesn't bother me. It's certainly true that it doesn't chip, but it does do that weird wrinkly thing. Hmmm. Overall mark: 6.75/10 (I'm feeling unusually specific today)
Ask me my three main priorities when it comes to my morning makeup routine; foundation, foundation, foundation. Naturally, I've been through a fair few (story of my life, I feel like I add that disclaimer to the beginning of every makeup review). Mostly I stick with 'drugstore', aka your high street brands found in Boots and Superdrug. Maybelline serve me well, as do Rimmel. I'm always on the lookout for THE ONE, and occasionally I venture into the scary high end makeup counters, try my best to avoid the ever annoying sales ladies and splash the cash on something a little more upmarket. A few review ago I told the story of how my purse got burnt with the regrettable purchase of Mac Studio Sculpt, but this is a very different tale. NARS SHEER GLOW: WHAT IS IT? Lets see some of the things Nars has to say (not too many though, that's cheating): 'A glowing, satin-finish foundation with sheer and buildable coverage that immaculately evens skin tone. Replete with skincare benefits and the NARS Complexion Brightening Formula, it leaves skin hydrated, more luminous, softer and smoother. Used daily, Sheer Glow Foundation improves the skin's brightness and texture.' Supposedly hydrating for normal to dry skin types, with antioxidants (BUZZWORD ALERT!!), this aims to make the skin radiant, bright and soft. Sounds good! I have mostly dry skin and words like 'glowing', 'luminous' and 'radiant' are generally the ones with the right texture for me. Nars also make a 'sheer matte' foundation which is the opposite - to mattify oily skin types. WHERE CAN I BUY IT? Being a bit 'high end', this can only be found in some department stores like John Lewis, House of Fraser, boutique style places like Space NK, online on their website and also the ASOS website. Personally I went to Space NK, a terrifying shop which is full of expensive beauty products I can't afford and snooty sales assistants who know it. Unfortunately the stores tend to be very small and very empty which makes avoiding them difficult. Before I knew it I was being colour matched against my will, incorrectly I might add, the shade which the woman said was 'perfect' was in fact frighteningly orange. This comes in over 20 shades (subject to individual availability I imagine, unless you go through their site) so getting the right shade shouldn't be a problem unless you have an Oompa Loompa fetishist smearing warpaint all over you. Had to be assertive, had to put my foot down, shade 'Mont Blanc' selected and taken to the till. Here's where it gets crazy... THE PRICE £30.50. I do not kid. HUH?? For 30mls of facepaint I had to fork out £30???????? Excessive question marks highlight the disbelief of a poor student who of course handed over the money nonetheless. No wonder I'm always broke. LET'S GET THIS BABY ON MY FACE Well to start, I should discuss the bottle. It looks very nice, all sleek seductive glass and velvety black plastic lid, it definitely looks, and feels, upmarket. However, WHAT IS THE BEEF WITH PUTTING A PUMP ON THE BOTTLE? I swear, no expensive foundations do this. Or if they do, they charge more. My £7 Maybelline foundations can afford to put a pump on the bottle, so can you. Hmmph. Of course I suspect sneaky tactics at work here, because the obvious problem with this type of bottle is that you have to pour it out, and inevitably pour out way too much, and even though you TRY to pour it back it, the wastage is done. Runs out faster, have to buy more, Nars win. APPLICATION Quite a thin consistency, as 'glowing' foundations tend to be, this spreads and blends easily with fingers, which is what I use. Can't tell you much about a brush because I never tried it. Also, because it's thin and easily spread, you don't need all that much to cover your face. The initial look isn't quite 'sheer' but I wouldn't call it medium coverage. For that, I tend to apply a second layer, and this foundation builds up beautifully to get the required coverage. MIRROR TIME! Well don't I look lovely. The colour was perfect, the texture I would call 'satin', and the overall effect was rather lovely and porcelain, but with dimension and without completely masking the texture of my skin. It definitely fulfilled its promise to smooth out the skin, and while I would say sheer is pushing it, the effect is definitely glowing, although more of a candlelit, soft glow than a dewy summer skin glow. I'm very impressed. Honestly, I don't think I've ever liked the look of a foundation on my skin so much. WE'VE GOT A LONG WAY TO GO... So how does this wear throughout the day and crucially, does it survive the acid test of the night out? In daytime, I would say it lasts well, without needing my usual 5pm touch up. It doesn't settle into pores, doesn't start to slick off at oilier parts of the face, and survives a bit of day to day face-touching and rubbing. It's not a 24 hour foundation, but most of the ones that say they are are lying anyway. THE NIGHT OUT Usually products with this sort of satin finish don't survive a night out without heavy powder touch ups, thankfully that is not the case with this. Not only does it survive, it looks just as good at the end of the night as it did at the beginning (usually the only part of my makeup that does...) and no excessive powdering is necessary, bar maybe down the sides of the nose where I get most shiny. HOW IS IT FOR EXTENDED USE? The claim is 'non comodegenic' which I think means doesn't clog pores, and certainly I didn't experience any breakouts when using this. If you like SPF in your foundation, it doesn't have it. I have no idea what it would look like layered over a sunscreen. They also claim that it will improve the look of your skin through evening out your skin tone. Well it doesn't do that either, but honestly I think the idea that a foundation can improve your skin is utter baloney. You are covering your skin with a choking layer of chemicals, I don't think any amount of fancy antioxidants are going to prevent that (especially as adding antioxidants to your skin is just a massive marketing ploy anyway, they don't do ANYTHING). FINAL THOUGHTS ON: Price - ouch. Was it worth it? Maybe, if you can afford it. I truly believe it far outperforms cheaper foundations in look and in wear. Unfortunately when my budget got tightened luxuries like this had to go. It was a sad day. Look - I CAN BE PRETTY! Wear - performs well with minimal effort. Packaging - god damn that bloody pumpless bottle. Repurchasing - I used to, but no more due to aforementioned poverty. My mark: 9/10
My name is Dooyaa and I'm a shadowholic. I have a problem, I have a serious problem. My problem is that no matter how many neutral coloured eyeshadows I accumulate, I cannot physically stop myself purchasing new ones every time I enter a Boots or Superdrug. I'm actually running out of shades to buy, that's how bad it has become. I shudder to think about what my collection is currently worth. So I think it's fair to say I'm in a good position to judge any newcomers on the scene, what with having 5423 others to compare it to. My story with Scandaleyes began the way they always do, with those cute chubby little pencils flirting with me in Boots, saying buy me Dooyaa, we're only £4.49, and oh is that a 3 for 2 offer? So you can have two of us AND your new mascara. You've never used an eyeshadow stick before, we promise a creamy blendable texture, and look at our beautiful shades, 'Bulletproof Beige' and 'Bad Bronze', we are so YOU. Those saucy temptresses. Who was I to resist? These were somewhat of a novelty for me, in that they look pretty much like a jumbo eyeliner pencil, and I was little concerned. Would it be like trying to draw over your eyelids with an eyeliner? I like to blend different shades together, would they allow me to do that? *THE PRODUCT* Aforementioned chubby pencil that comes in 5 shades: Bulletproof Beige - light golden shimmery beige Bad Bronze - medium shimmery brown Tempting Turquoise - beautiful turquoise that looks more blue than green Paranoid Purple - deep purple Blackmail - pure matte black I only purchased the first two, which are shimmery, but from what I could see the others didn't look as shimmery. When I say shimmer, I mean that nice metallic glaze rather than a glittery mess. *THE FORMULA* Cream eyeshadow, but dispensed by a crayon tip rather than having to stick your fingers/brush into a germy pot. Swiping on the hand, I was surprised by how creamy they were - my fears subsided as the pencil glided over my hand with ease and left behind a nice pigmented swatch. So far so good. One problem I have found with 'soft' however, is that it tends to be synonymous with 'breaks easily' and 'wears down in 5 seconds'. Having used these for a couple of weeks now I am surprised that the tip hasn't broken off once (as is the case with my scandaleyes eyeliner) and the sticks don't seem overly worn down. This is a huge plus as I don't have a sharpener that would fit these beastly crayons (common problem with jumbo eye products). *THE APPLICATION* I apply straight from the stick, essentially drawing the colour onto my lid where I want it to go and then blending it in. I use the lighter colour on my inner eyelid and the bronze on the outside. One problem is that with such a large tip it is difficult to control with exact precision where you want to colour to go, which has ended in some emergency rethinks. Blending wise, the colours blend and move extremely well with just a regular eyeshadow brush, although here again you have to be careful with application if you're picky about where your colour goes - what you draw on with the stick will blend out MUCH further. Overall I was pleased with the application. No dragging of the eyelids, no feeling like I was POKING MYSELF IN THE EYE WITH A PENCIL, all good. *THE COLOUR* This is where I was a little disappointed. For some reason, once blended out these colours just don't look anywhere near as nice as they do just drawn on. The lighter shade is too light and barely shows up on my skin, whereas that gorgeous rich bronze looks quite dull, flat and mid-brown by the time I finish. It's a real shame as the initial colour payoff is good, so maybe if you weren't concerned with blending in this would still be good. *WEARING* All the boxes checked - particularly that they didn't irritate my eyes as some eye products tend to do. Another real plus point is how long they last. Normally I go for powder eyeshadows over cream because cream formulas tend to slip off, crease or dry out. These remained smooth and creamy on my eyelids for a whole night out, however the colour was super easy to remove even with just water and a cotton pad, no makeup remover required! *WOULD I RECOMMEND?* I think these are a great formulation, a great price and surprisingly long lasting, so yes, I would recommend them as a good product. I was a little disappointed that the colours weren't as rich and vibrant as they first appeared, but they are definitely a worthwile addition to my collection, if only to mix it up occasionally and for the nice change in texture. Thanks for reading!!
I get the feeling I'm going to start writing Jillian Michaels reviews the same way I used to do Buffy and Britney ones...IN BULK! Seriously though, I think it's a testament to my total body transformation that not only did I buy seven of her DVDs, continue to use them consistently for the last four months (without getting bored), I now feel moved to rave about them on the internet. Sorry if I end up sounding like a commercial, I promise that is not the case. WHAT IS THIS DVD? After much success with the 30 day shred I was looking for some variety, and also some longer workouts that I could do on the weekend when I had more time. I really liked the combination of cardio and strength training in Shred, so I decided to purchase this is combination with her other DVD, 'Banish Fat Boost Metabolism'. The reason for the double purchase is that unlike Shred, which mixes both cardio and resistance/strength moves in the 3-2-1 system, this DVD focuses pretty much only on strength moves, and is a perfect partner to the cardio focused Banish Fat. WHAT DO I NEED? A pair of dumbells are crucial. Use whatever weight you are comfortable with, being aware that a single weight might not be appropriate for every exercise. My 1kg dumbells kill me in the first shoulder circuit but barely do anything in the bicep circuit. A mat is useful if you want one but not essential. There are a few circuits on the floor and it may be more comfortable for you. WHAT IS THE FORMAT? Instead of 3 levels, this is a single 45 minute workout comprised of a 5 minute warm up, 7 ~6 minute circuits, each of which focus on different body parts using compound moves, and a cool down. The circuits themselves consist of 5 moves, done for 30 seconds, and then repeated. Mercifully, there are no 1 minute moves in this once, which is what destroyed me in Shred. Even the hardest moves are over quickly. Do not however, think that this makes it easier, as anyone who has done chair squats tricep kickbacks can attest to! The DVD allows you to play either the full workout or choose a circuit. The circuits are helpfully named by body part in the menu so you can remember which one is which if you're looking to focus on a certain area. They mostly work two main muscle groups at a time, usually one in the upper body and one in the lower body. According to Jillian, combining muscle groups in this way helps increase calorie burn. The circuits are as follows: Circuit 1 - Shoulders and Legs - Squat and shoulder press - Chair squats with anterior raise - Back lunges with shoulder raise - left leg - Back lunges with shoulder raise - left leg - Press outs Circuit 2 - Chest and Core - Chest press with crunch - Chest fly with leg raise - Bicycle crunches - Squirms - Push ups Circuit 3 - Biceps and Butt - Deadlift with hammer curl - Static squat with concentration curl - Alternate lunge with wide grip bicep curl - left leg - Alternate lunge with wide grip bicep curl - right leg - Side lunge with bicep curl Circuit 4 - Thighs and Triceps - Chair squat with tricep kickback - Sumo squat with French press - Surrenders - Crescent with tricep lifts Circuit 5 - Core - Double crunches - Twisting plank - Plank with toe tap - left - Plank with toe tap - right - Windshield wipers Circuit 6 - Upper Body and Core - Plank rows - Supermans - Scissors - Hip raises left - Hip raises right Circuit 7 - Lower Body and Core - Side plank - Side raise - Inner thigh lift - Repeat other side - Donkey kicks - left and right - Round kicks left and right ^^I didn't know what half of these were before this DVD. All you need to know is that the majority are evil. WHAT ABOUT CARDIO? You don't miss it. trust me, in this you don't need it! Although the calorie burn is slightly lower than a cardio focused workout, you will be working PLENTY hard enough and sweating buckets in the meantime. I wouldn't say you get out of breath with this, but your muscles start to hurt (especially for me, in the tricep circuit!) and you feel fatigued. HOW DIFFICULT IS IT? First point to emphasise is that there are modifications for every move. Well almost every move, Jillian can occasionally be something of a she-devil. I can't lie, it's hard, but for workouts like this where the focus is strength, difficulty will come mainly from the weight you choose. Personally, I can get through this no problem, find myself knackered and sweaty at the ends but crucially feeling good and strong. However, if you've not exercised in a while I wouldn't recommend jumping straight in with this one, partly because of the length of it compared to her other DVDs. Moves wise, most of them are very straightforward variations of moves you will already know like lunges, squats, crunches. They don't require much balance or coordination, and the speed is just right so that you don't feel left behind, unlike in other of her DVDs I may care to review at some point...*cough 6 week 6 pack*. LENGTHWISE? The whole 45 minute workout is fine for me but as I said, I do this on the weekends when I have loads of time. For weekdays, I really like that you can pick and choose circuits to make it fit into your schedule and personal goals. Or if you're like me, specifically pick the circuits you find the easiest. I'm so dedicated... WHAT'S JILLIAN LIKE? AND THE GIRLS? Jillian is Jillian. She will shout at you and tell you repeatedly that *insert muscle here* should be burning, screaming etc. She will insist you don't stop. She will remind you that success comes at a price. She will not let you rest. Most people hate her. I think she's awesome. I got so used to perky cheerleaders patronising me through my workouts. When the woman on my dance DVD told me I looked 'graceful and beautiful' I wanted to reply lying cow, I look like a drunk hippo. So when Jillian tells me I should be ON FIRE I at least appreciate her honesty. In the background you have Salima and Kristen, who are both impossibly flexible and strong, with all kinds of muscle tone. They are far less annoying in this one than Banish Fat, where it seemed to be 45 minutes of Salima showing how high she can kick her leg and Kristen grinning from ear to ear while shadow boxing. Here they are much more bearable. WHAT KIND OF RESULTS CAN I EXPECT? RIPPED RESULTS. No but seriously, this DVD has done more for my muscle tone than any of the others. Her other DVDS are great for losing overall weight but this really tones up the muscles and gets you looking more badass. In particular, the two ab focused circuits leave me with an almost visible six pack when the workout is over, they are that tough. Combined with Banish Fat for calorie burn, this is a bloody fantastic system to get you in shape. SO DO I RECOMMEND? Of course I do. It works, it hurts, and you look great afterwards. I personally feel so much stronger for doing this. It's only about £6 on amazon, so totally worth it. My ONLY criticism is that there is only one workout, meaning if you used this DVD consistently (I rotate between several) you'd probably get very bored. This is my favourite Jillian DVD, which says something, as I am the latest convert to the Church of Jillian Michaels. THANKS FOR READING!
WHAT'S THE STORY? Let me start by saying I love me some Girls Aloud. I followed their formation on Popstars the Rivals, cheered as they trounced One True Voice, bought their albums and watched Cheryl on X Factor. For the last ten years they have been Britain's premier pop act, bringing back fun and unique pop songs at a time when the charts were cluttered with depressing singer songwriters (who thankfully faded after their first albums, unlike the girls). Ten years have passed - but wait. For the last three, they have actually been on an extended 'break' which was supposed to last just one year, but Cheryl becoming astronomically famous seems to have gotten in the way, leading everyone to believe they had split up. They denied this, but then proceeded to make their big 'comeback' with this, a second greatest hits despite only having had 6 singles since the last one. This was combined with a greatest hits tour and then finally, they admitted what everyone had known all along - Girls Aloud are no more. So this is their final sendoff, a collection of all the songs since their last hits CD, along with the highlights of the last one (a deluxe version also included a bonus CD of fan favourites, voted for online, but I will only be reviewing the standard version here). TRACKLISTING 1) Something New 2) The Promise 3) The Loving Kind 4) Untouchable 5) Sexy! No No No! 6) Call The Shots 7) Can't Speak French 8) Something Kinda Ooh 9) Biology 10) The Show 11) Love Machine 12) I'll Stand By You 13) Jump 14) No Good Advice 15) Sound of The Underground 16) On The Metro 17) Beautiful Cause You Love Me 18) Every Now and Then Tracks 2-7 were not on the previous collection, and the CD also includes four new songs, 'On the Metro', 'Beautiful Cause You Love Me', 'Every Now and Then' and the single released to promote the album, 'Something New'. TRACK BY TRACK 1) Something New The new single after three years, it's almost as if this had been sitting in a folder marked 'Girls Aloud' for the entire break. Perfect for a Greatest Hits, this is almost a checklist of all the things that made their songs unique, with the unfortunate side effect of making this sound a bit stale. Bombastic intro that sounds nothing like the rest of the song? Check. Bits and pieces of songs cut and stuck together? Check. The Girls trading lines in an utterly confusing blur as to who is who? Check. Nadine being diva, Sarah being screechy, Nicola being moody? Check, check, CHECK. A little dancier than their previous stuff, and without their trademark guitars, this is nonetheless Girls Aloud by numbers, and I rather like it, if only for the incessant chanting of 'WE'RE THE LEADERS OF THE PACK!' 8/10 2) The Promise Their biggest hit of recent memory (thanks largely to Cheryl's X Factor stint) this retro, horn filled number still sounds fresh and big. 8/10 3) The Loving Kind Co written by the Pet Shop Boys, this is a wistful, dreamy electronic midtempo. It's nice enough but it lacks a punch, the chorus is forgettable (with some clunky lyrics, rhyming kind with 'disinclined'? Really?) and the whole thing feels like an attempt to recreate Call the Shots, but with less success. 7/10 4) Untouchable In the same vein as The Loving Kind, another electronic midtempo, but less dreamy and more epic. Mercifully cut to the radio edit (the album version is nearly 7 minutes long, sorry girls, you can't pull that off) this has heaps of added vocoder on the vocals, adding to the robotic effect. Nadine's outro is a highlight of their discography. One of their best 9/10. 5) Sexy! No No No! In a word: Mental. Cheryl's detached, robotic intro gives way to a manic guitar based mess of a song that shouldn't work, but really does. Shouty, brash and utterly unique, this has the standard structureless blueprint of so many of their songs. 9/10 6) Call The Shots Their first real attempt at a more mature midtempo, and still their best example. Nicola's heavenly vocals on the middle 8 are something special. 9/10 7) Can't Speak French Hmmm. Something of an earworm, even seeing the title is getting the chorus stuck in my head. This one fades into the background compared to some of their more recognisable songs, and the lyric 'Can't speak french so I let the funky music do the talking' is still appalling. 6/10 8) Something Kinda Ooh I think I'm alone in finding this one severely overrated, as it was a massive hit for them and contributed hugely to their first hits CD being such a massive seller. Again, lets run through the checklist - Cheryl has an intro that is then completely unrelated to the rest of the song. Cheryl and Nadine trade the first verse until you can't tell who is who. The lyrics are meaningless and appalling (something kinda ooh, jumping on my tutu???) and each girl has a separate piece of song that were obviously all unfinished parts of other songs. Not a big fan, but as relentless and full of energy as their other uptempos. 6/10 9) Biology Girls Aloud's stone cold classic. The best example of the cut and paste approach to creating their songs, this one doesn't even attempt to tie the parts in together, with what is essentially four different songs coming in one after the other, with only the bouncy, jaunty backing track holding it together. Nuts. 10/10 10) The Show Cool, icy electropop uptempo. Detached, almost bored vocals add to the effect. Somewhat forgettable but one of the the 'cooler' moments of early Girls Aloud. 7/10 11) Love Machine Who doesn't know this song? That irritating guitar riff and relentless drums make this a hen party extraordinaire. Overplayed to the max, I'm utterly bored of this one, and it doesn't help that they wheel it out in every performance over the far superior BIOLOGY. 7/10 12) I'll Stand By You Shame to have a cover on the disc instead of one of their originals (Wake Me Up only made the bonus disc for example) but this was a huge selling no.1 for them. I do however suspect that the charity angle had something to do with that, as this is a rather bland, sappy, sanitised ballad and the complete antithesis of Girls Aloud. Gets bonus points for obviously being a great, timeless song, but it feels unnecessary. 6/10 13) Jump Two covers in a row? At least this one is a little more GIRLS ALOUD. Obviously 80's, full of fun, not a bad cover at all. 7/10. 14) No Good Advice Now, whereas the Love Machine intro does my nut in, the 'My Sharona' knockoff electric guitar here still sounds exciting. This is brash and bold, with the most attitude of any of their songs (even if it is very faux teen angst attitude). This one tends to get forgotten, unfairly I say, it's still a great song even if a bit dated now. 8/10 15) Sound of The Underground Their first single, and still an exciting statement. Noone expected a reality show group to come out with THIS, a perfect pop single. 8/10 16) On The Metro The first of the 'new' tracks, this is again Girls Aloud on autopilot. The new tracks aren't bringing anything unique to the table, simply a rehash of their various successful formulae. Here you have the jaunty uptempo, a bit Love Machine, a bit the Promise, fun and lively but nothing exciting by this point. 6/10 17) Beautiful Cause You Love Me Here is an attempt at least to do something different. Shame it's this dull as dishwater ballad saved only by Nicola's powerhouse chorus (who knew?). Boring, slow, sappy and cliched, too much Kimberley (who lets face it, is the worst singer in the band) too little Nadine (reducing your best singer to a few background coos?) and an awful message clearly aimed at silly pre teen girls. Ugh. 4/10 18) Every Now and Then If 'On the Metro' is the new Love Machine then this is Call the Shots v.4, with that same dreamy, atmospheric, electronic midtempo vibe. YAWN! For a group that so consistently pushed boundaries with their singles, to see them turn out rehashes of their glory moments, essentially becoming a parody of themselves, is a real shame. This song is nice I suppose... 7/10 LYRICS Nonsensical for the most part. I'm not sure any of these songs are actually about anything, and half the time it seems like they were written by a random word generator. But hey, that's part of the charm. MUSIC Generally exciting and genuinely original, the Girls were unashamedly brash pure pop at a time when it was utterly uncool, but still incorporating real instruments when most pop became increasingly computer generated. The result is usually a bit bonkers, but exhilarating. VOCALS Nadine heavy for the most part, although what is surprising is to go back and see how heavily Cheryl was always featured even in her pre X Factor days. Sarah tends to get the 'big' moments, Nicola the quiet and restrained, 'pretty' bits, and Kimberley, well she is mostly left out... WOULD I RECOMMEND? Well, if you own their last greatest hits then perhaps not, unless you are a big fan. The last package had far more of their early singles on it, whereas this is just 'highlights'. However, some of the songs that weren't on the last CD are among their best, and including four new songs ensures that this remains good value for money. All of the songs are quality (bar perhaps one...) even if I've been a bit harsh on them in places, it is only because of the exceptionally high standard they had set for themselves. This is pure pop in its highest form, and is completely proud of it. Awesome.
*Barry M - The Brand* Barry M are a fun, youthful brand found on the high street, where the focus is on decent quality, colourful bright ranges at very affordable prices. Their range is at the lower end of the scale for makeup products, and they can be relied upon for more interesting and unusual colours not found in other brands, for those more daring then me when it comes to makeup! After purchasing many, many products from this brand I can say that overall, if you can look past the crazy red glittery eyeshadow then there are some real bargain beauty products to be found here, that can rival higher end products in quality. Barry M stock all of the usual makeup products, with a focus more on colour than bases etc, and overall seems to be aimed towards teens, although as I mentioned, if you are willing to look there are products that everyone can love! Just maybe not the fluorescent orange nail varnish... *Lip Paints* The Lip Paints are Barry M's lipstick range, and as is always the case with Barry M, they focus on highly pigmented colours which range from the way-out-there to the wearable. They are simply lip colours, they have no claim to be 'moisturising' or 'long lasting' or 'plumping' or anything else you might get from a different range (or at least so they say...) they are simply to give colour to the lips, nothing else. If you are a fan of a particular type of lipstick for one of these reasons, you can still enjoy the Barry M lip paints, you just have to be more careful when picking them. A wide range of colours are available, the usual shades of pink, red, brown and coral can be found, as well as blue, green, black, and glittery as well! For the purpose of this review, I will be telling you about the ones I have purchased and worn, as follows: 100 : pale candy pink 101: beige nude 129: lilac (!) 146: bright barbie pink 147: peach pink *Purchasing* These can be bought online at the Barry M website, on Asos.com, or at the majority of Boots and Superdrug stores. Barry M nearly always have a stand dedicated to them. They cost a very reasonable £4.50, less than you would pay for a lipstick from nearly any other makeup brand, bar perhaps Collection 2000 or Miss Sporty, but definitely less than Rimmel or any other brand in its general price bracket. They have a range of testers available, but first thing I will say is BE CAREFUL with the testers. Having been handled by many people, they tend to be a little melted and softer in consistency that you will get with the real thing. This isn't true in every case, but its something to be aware of. *Packaging* Sleek plain black little plastic tubes. They look nice enough, clearly designed to rip off more expensive brands such as NARS which use streamlined black packaging, but the plastic is pretty cheap and not especially durable, as a result my beloved hot pink has a big old craacckkk down one side (the lipstick bullet is also completely smooshed into the lid, but thats my own stupidity at forgetting to wind it down before i rammed the lid on!) however, they are nice and compact, storable and transportable, and I definitely prefer them to my obnoxious rimmel lipsticks in their massive metallic purple cases. Plus, they don't look like any others, so i can always quickly reach for my Barry M's. *Application* Now, this is where they start to get a bit funny. Remember what I said about the testers? Well it isn't always a problem. Some of these truly are soft and creamy and smooth and apply like a dream. The lilac 129 and hot pink 146 are good examples of this. However, the 100, 101 and 147 fall into what I call 'bad Barry M'. They are much thicker and dryer, and apply much more chalky and with no gloss to them whatsoever, almost like a crayon in consistency. In all cases, the colours are strong and true to what you see in the tube, but if you have dry, cracked lips or generally like moisturising creamy lipsticks, there is a chance you will hate some of these. The colour you get, however, is simply amazing. Truly a 'paint' in that it doesn't seem at all affected by your natural lip colour, as lipsticks usually are. What you see is what you will get. Whether it suits you is another thing...and that's personal preference. *My thoughts* Consistency issues aside, these are some of my favourite lipsticks purely for the colour payoff. They have great pigmentation and are great to make a statement. They last for ages, particularly the dryer ones, annoying as they may be to apply, and their colour stays great for hours and is really resistant to wearing off even when eating and drinking. The colours are great, and even though some are a bit 'out there' they can all be made gorgeous and less scary if you play around a bit. If you layer on the 101 nude super thick, you get concealer lips, however if you dab it on under a peach gloss, you get gorgeous nude lips. The 100 baby pink might look a bit...tarty...to some, but if you again, dab it on, and add a bit of 146 hot pink, you get a beautiful feminine milky pink. And 129 lilac will always be lilac no matter what you do with it, so it's just whether or not you dare... *Would I recommend?* If you're a makeup enthusiast who loves colour, if you don't mind a lipstick being a bit drying, if you want long lasting colour, and if you don't mind messing around with makeup to make it look great, then you could LOVE these. I adore them, for all their faults they are my favourite lipsticks and I will continue to look at this range for more colours. If however, you simply want to slick on an easy pink and go (as we all do sometimes...) then these may not be for you.
THE PRODUCT Mac Studio Sculpt foundation, described by Mac thus: 'A creamy, luxurious, gel-based foundation that provides medium buildable to high coverage with a natural satin finish. Hydrating, instantly revitalizes the skin while keeping it looking smooth, soft and plush. Long-wearing, water-resistant'. This is a liquid foundation with built in SPF15 designed to be long wearing and high coverage. Now this tends to be code in the foundation world for HEAVY and OBVIOUS, which I don't really need. My skin is uneven and tends to be pink with a blemish here and there, but generally nothing too awful. I had heard such rave reviews of this product, plus its minimalist tube looked so nice in the shop. I'm always switching foundations trying to find the holy grail 'light but full coverage/glowing yet matte/candlelit/long lasting' formulation, which I strongly suspect does not actually exist. I was in the market for a more expensive foundation (was just in one of those moods...) and decided to forgo the fabulous Nars Sheer Glow to give this a whirl. Error of judgement... THE PRICE £24 for a tube, OUCH, although that is for 40mls while most foundations tend to come as 30mls, so it isn't completely outrageous for an upmarket brand and didn't make me weep at the till. I figured you get what you pay for. Hmmm. THE PACKAGING You certainly aren't paying for the tube, that's for sure. It's a clear soft plastic tube with a matte black lid. It's simplicity was initially quite appealing, but it hid some design flaws. You squeeze the foundation out like toothpaste, which makes it incredibly difficult to control and it is so easy to squeeze out too much. I mean WAY too much. I feel like I've wiped half of this stuff off my hand with a cotton pad rather than applying it to my face. With a pump it is much easier to dispense the correct amount so i'ts a shame that they couldn't include one considering the price of the product. THE SMELL An odd thing to be concerned with, but the smell really put me off this stuff. It doesn't smell like cosmetics, rather more like wallpaper paste or something, and it's quite obvious that I continue smelling it on my face while I'm wearing it. It adds to the 'paste' feeling of the entire experience. THE COLOUR MAC do a great colour range, and the girls in store will match you to your perfect shade. They have both warm and cool shades which most other brands don't take into account, meaning the shade will be a far better match for your skin tone and won't leave any orange glow or look strange against your neck. I'm super pale and got NW15, which is probably the most perfect match for my skin that I've ever found and the major plus point for this foundation. THE CONSISTENCY This gel based product comes out looking quite thick compared to many other liquid foundations, it isn't runny at all which I suppose makes it less messy, but does lead to problems... THE APPLICATION It can't be blended. I've tried with a foundation brush, and it is so thick that it leaves streaky telltale lines in the makeup. Using my fingers works better, but you can't simply warm it between your fingers and rub it in, no no. You have to painstakingly apply it to small areas bit by bit as it is impossible to blend out nicely. Once you have applied it, you can feel it sitting on the surface of your skin, suffocating and heavy, surprising as you don't actually need that much to achieve full coverage as it is so thick. THE RESULTS Awful. I have combination skin, with a dry forehead, chin and cheeks, and oily nose and down the sides of my nose. On my cheeks it looks okay, if rather heavy, but I can see it caking and chalky on my forehead, and it settles in the pores and makes them look worse. The coverage was almost TOO full for me, which is strange as I like full coverage, but it was so obvious I was wearing foundation. The effect was too fake, it didn't look at all natural, I looked like a completely masked porcelain doll. My skin had no dimension to it, just a blank, uniform surface. NOT good. THE WEAR It was pretty long lasting, I must say. I tend to save this (not wanting to waste it) for nights out, when heavy makeup is more acceptable and the chalky finish would be less noticeable under dim lights. It serves this purpose quite well, as it certainly doesn't budge. I did, however, continue to feel it sitting on my skin, becoming progressively dryer and my skin getting tight and uncomfortable, as well as the aforementioned SMELL! WOULD I RECOMMEND In a nutshell: I was seriously unimpressed with this product. I would go so far to say this is one of the worst foundations I have ever used, beaten only by the £1.50 Collection 2000 horror shows I used to buy as a teen. For £24, I'd expect something seriously better, especially when I can buy a £7 Rimmel foundation that looks much nicer. I hated almost everything about it, but decided on two stars for several reasons: the coverage WAS excellent, if that is your thing, the longevity was great, and the colour range is fabulous. I don't know whether it is my particular skin type that doesn't suit this foundation, or I've just gotten used to something lighter and dewier, but I did not get along with this at all. The constant rave reviews are a mystery to me and almost make me wonder whether I got a dud bottle, but I won't repurchase to find out.
I should probably start with what motivated me to buy this particular DVD in the first place. I've always been more of a fitness DVD person than a gym bunny - I don't have the money to go to the gym nor the motivation to run on a treadmill for hours. I was, as Jillian would say, 'phoning it in'. I got some previous good results with a 10 minute solution dance DVD but I was a) Bored of it and b) Looking to kick it up a notch and become, in my own words, a bit less of a jelly baby. My clothes weren't fitting like they used to and something had to change. I heard about this workout and checked out some before and after pictures online. They looked unreal. I went on YouTube and looked at some of the clips. They looked easy enough. Some lunges here, some bicep curls there. On to Amazon I go, fiver spent, this is gonna be easy! Now comes Jillian's voice in my head again - 'THINK AGAIN BUDDY'. THE DVD AND THE PROGRAM This system is split up into 3 levels, each of which consists of 3 circuits of the 3-2-1 system, meaning 3 minutes of strength moves, 2 minutes of cardio, and 1 minute on the floor doing abs. You will need a pair of dumbells and possibly a mat. To break it down further, in the strength section you will do one move that focuses on a single area for 30 seconds, then a 'compound movement' where you simultaneously work your upper and lower body for 1 minute, then repeat. The cardio is two moves for 30 seconds each, then repeat. Abs can either be two 30 second moves or 1 killer minute. Recommendation is to work out 5 times a week. THE WORKOUTS These workouts are classic circuits, which combine use of dumbells for resistance along with cardio to elevate the heart rate. They start with a brief warm up of 'dynamic stretches' which seems to consist mainly of swinging your arms around (not a fan). Move wise, expect to see plenty of variations of lunges and squats, push ups, crunches, shoulder presses, and many others. For cardio, you will make friends with a jumping jack along with other calisthenics like butt kicks, jump rope and many other heart pounders. Jillian mixes up HIIT (high intensity interval training, where you work your ass off for a short amount of time then switch) and in level 3, serious plyometrics, which means jumping about everywhere basically. There are two impossibly toned ladies for you to hate, I mean follow. Anita does the beginner modifications for those who are just starting, not as strong or just to give you some relief when you feel you might die. Thankfully, at only 20 minutes for the workout, this is unlikely (excludes cooldown stretches). MY EXPERIENCE I bought a pair of 1kg dumbells (I have spaghetti arms and seriously considered cans of beans...) and got to it! Level 1: Seems easy enough to me now but back then I couldn't even do a single wuss push up. Tons of jumping jacks and a general sense of what have I let myself in for. But PUSH IT. You CAN do it. After about 3-4 days I felt it getting easier. Jillian is a goddess. Some people find her immensely annoying but I like that she's a bit brash and isn't there to babysit you. She tells you to WORK, not to DARE STOP, and yes you might occasionally shout back at her or beg for mercy (NO JILLIAN NO SIDE PLANK PLEEEEASE) but I can't deny she gets the job done. By the end of the week level 1 was EASY (I did cheat and work out every day). I went from no push ups to about 15 in the 30 seconds. I even graduated to proper push ups, of which I can now do about 4...jumping jacks on day 1 get you puffed and sweaty, by day 7 you can feel your cardiovascular system adapting. Problem: I've done the same 20 minute workout for the last week and I'm bored. I know the routine off by heart and I'm READY TO MOVE ON! Level 2: LET ME GO BACK TO LEVEL 1 PLEASE. Seriously, this is quite a step up. Understatement of the year actually - I may have shed a few tears the first time I did this level. There seemed to be a lot of shoulder and arm work in this one, which is my weakness, and not that much squat work compared to the other levels. Ughhh. Didn't seem as easy by the end of the week as level 1 did but I put that down to muscle fatigue from my ignoring instructions to take rest days. Double jump rope is a byotch. Slightly dreading level 3. Level 3: Strengthwise this was FAR more my style than level 2. If anything I personally found the strength moves a little easier, and I would say this isn't quite as big a step up as 1-2 was. The CARDIO however, MY WORD. Plyometrics (jump training) deserves to be illegal. Jump squats followed by rock star jumps? KILLLLL MEEEEEE. I was complaining that there wasn't enough thigh work in the last one wasn't I? Hello jump squats, goodbye walking upstairs for 2 days. Didn't like the proper sit ups (can't get my feet to stay still) so I substituted one of the other crunch types from levels 1 and 2 (this is one thing about this workout - I never knew there were so many different ways for your abs to feel pain). RESULTS I saw results in two areas - endurance and overall body weight. At the end, for a treat I went back and did level 1 again. It was easy. I mean EASY. My fitness and endurance had increased by a ridiculous amount in just 30 days, through just 20 minutes of exercise a day. The scale also speaks for itself. I was watching my food intake while doing this and lost 10lbs over the 30 days, dropping a dress size and revealing abs and biceps previously lost. WOULD I RECOMMEND IT? I can't recommend it enough. For me, this was a great entry level into the world of fitness, particularly resistance strength training which I had never bothered with before. It makes you work, and sweat, and sometimes cry and scream, but it is so worth it. For just £5 and giving just 20 minutes of my day I got such incredible results. I still use this DVD in rotation with all of the OTHER Jillian Michaels work outs I went out and bought after this one. To end on a cautionary note, however, even though Jillian does emphasise good form in these workouts, they are tough and you could be putting yourself at risk of an injury if you push it too hard. There are a lot of jumping moves and lunge/squats that I imagine could cause or aggravate an injury. I had no problems, but be warned, this is high impact and not for everyone.
This review will cover the original 'Born to Die' album by Lana Del Rey, released last year amid a storm of blog hype and Saturday Night Live controversy that unfortunately overshadowed Lana the artist. With dozens of supposedly professional reviews unable to get past her perhaps surgically enhanced lips and wealthy background, the album itself was lost. I'm here writing a review because it was probably my favourite of the year, and here's why... BACKGROUND Lana Del Rey was indeed born Elizabeth Grant, but I'm not sure why a name change attracted so many taunts of 'inauthentic phony' when I'm sure Freddie Mercury, Ziggy Stardust and Lady Gaga didn't get the same treatment (heck, even Katy Perry is really Katherine Hudson...). 'Born to Die' is her debut album and my word is it accomplished. A single concept and consistent sound runs through the entire record making it a cohesive whole that will appeal to anyone who heard the first single, 'Video Games'. That song was a rare thing - a haunting indie ballad with majestic vocals that fitted perfectly with the description of Lana as a 'gangster Nancy Sinatra' (even if Nancy was probably more gangster herself...). What about the rest? 1. Born to Die The album begins with sweeping cinematic strings that descend into a slow percussion, with distorted background vocals creating an eerie mood. This mood continues through the entire song that sets up the theme of the album nicely - love, essentially, but the more destructive kind, with a little of the American dream thrown in for good measure. The vocals on the verses are familiar and Nancy-esque, but it's the chorus where she shines in a breathy angelic tone. 10/10 for this one, a perfect opener although possibly a little melodramatic for some people's tastes. 2. Off to the Races A personal highlight of the album for me, a bit more uptempo and with some of the 'hip-hop' influence that Lana cites in her interviews. On first listen it's a tad bonkers and all over the place, with high pitched rap-singing, trip hop beats and a breakneck speed chorus with Lolita vocals (and lyrics that suggest an unhealthy Lolita style relationship), but it is continually rewarding over repeated listens and the string outro is one of the most beautiful moments on the whole album. Avoid if you don't like squeaky little girl voices. 9/10. 3. Blue Jeans Not a favourite of mine but seemingly a fan favourite, and a moderately successful single, the Americana sound is strong here, with twanging Wild West style guitars and the recurring motif I like to call 'man shouting in the background' makes an appearance again. 6/10. 4. Video Games Well you will probably know this one, and my word this song is a little bit special. From the beautiful opening strings (is it a harp? I never could identify instruments well...) to the incredibly simple but beautifully sung melody, everything about this song is STUNNING. I have however, also seen it described as a dreary load of nothing, which just goes to show how divisive Lana can be. 10/10 from me though, for one of the best mainstream songs of the last few years. 5. Diet Mountain Dew More uptempo again and 'hip-hop/trip-hop', this one is somewhat forgettable in the context of the album, it lacks that sweeping, cinematic feel the other tracks have and can feel somewhat repetitive by the end, but as a standalone it's a fine song. 6/10. 6. National Anthem Here we come to the best song on the album. Yes, better than Video Games! It opens with 4th of July fireworks and then becomes an almost sleazy sounding, part rapped/part sung ode to money and success. The darker vibe really works and the flow of the verses is superb, with some of my favourite lyrics on the album, such as... 'I'm your national anthem, boy put your hands up, give me a standing ovation. Boy you have landed baby in the land of sweetness and danger, Queen of Saigon'. 10/10 7. Dark Paradise Sonically one of the more 'dreary' songs on the album, but it fits well within the overall concept and as such feels important to the album. The lyrics are rather heartbreaking on inspection, with Lana worrying that her (presumably dead) former lover will not be 'waiting on the other side'. 7/10 8. Radio A little more uplifiting after the hard-going Dark Paradise, this has a sweet and airy chorus and fits within the style of the album so far. This is the one main criticism of this album, that themes, sounds and even lyrical motifs are repeated throughout, making it rather repetitive for some. I personally appreciated the attempt at making an album with a clear concept and sound, and certainly over 12 tracks I don't think it gets too grating. 8/10 9. Carmen Lyrically there is some variety here, with the story of 'Carmen' who appears to be a tragic heroine of sorts. Again, the track is ambitious sonically, and has a cinematic feel. This was one of my least favourites at first but has proved to be a real grower. 8/10 10. Million Dollar Man This one almost sounds like a Lana attempt at a Bond Theme. If I were to cut any song from the album this would be it. It isn't unpleasant but it borders on the 'drearier' side of the album, and it offers nothing that other tracks don't do better. 5/10. 11. Summertime Sadness Another highlight, with the Wild West guitars of Blue Jeans reappearing in a very introspective and damaged sounding trip hop ballad. 9/10. 12. This is What Makes Us Girls Bit of a change up to close the album, this song seems to be talking about Lana's time growing up and her female friends (and their possibly dysfunctional relationships) with a less 'heavy' feel than the rest of the album, making it a pleasant but unspectacular album closer. 7/10 LYRICS While I like the lyrics, I know some people are annoyed by her recurring 'motifs' and fairly limited subject matter, and certainly, most of the songs on here are about the same damn thing. There is however enough variety for it to not get tedious, at least for me. The lyrics are mostly simple yet effective, with lots of imagery. MUSIC Mostly ballads on offer here, so if you like your music peppy and uptempo this will NOT be your cup of tea. Lots of focus on strings and heavy percussion in particular, the overall mood is again, cinematic, and very american. WOULD I RECOMMEND IT? Yes, certainly. I think this is a hugely accomplished and polished debut, with a clear vision, good songwriting and beautiful vocals from Lana, who is a hugely versatile singer. OVERALL SCORE 9/10
*WHAT IS THIS?* Well I haven't been around for a while but I couldn't not review a Britney album, could I? BRITNEY SPEARS - well what to say about her that hasn't already been said a million times? Singer, dancer, entertainer, sometime writer and now mother, Britney is back with her seventh full studio album, and it seemed a looong wait for fans who were ecstatic at the success of Circus, her last album and one of the most spectacular comebacks of all time following her well documented breakdown. Without the comeback hype, without the crazy that fuelled the most exciting moments of Blackout, and now pushing 30, can Britney do it again? *BACKGROUND* To help craft the album, team Britney has drafted in current superproducer and hitmaker extraordinaire Dr Luke to produce, alongside longtime Britney collaborator Max Martin, writer of most of her biggest hits. They promised a fresh, unique, dance sound, did they pull it off? *TRACKLISTING* 1. Till the world ends 2. Hold it against me 3. Inside out 4. I wanna go 5. How I roll 6. (Drop dead) Beautiful 7. Seal it with a kiss 8. Big fat bass 9. Trouble for me 10. Trip to your heart 11. Gasoline 12. Criminal BONUS EDITION 13. Up'n'Down 14. He about to lose me 15. Selfish 16. Don't keep me waiting *TRACK BY TRACK GUIDE* Till the world ends Written by Kesha of 'Tik Tok' fame, this follows her general pattern of stuttery dance pop songs with a sexy breathy Britney twist. The trademark Britney voice sounds amazing here, the melody is fantastic, the vibe is that of a euphoric party song and the chanty chorus sounds almost like a football anthem. A great choice for second single. 10/10 'See the sunlight, we aint stoppin, keep on dancin til the world ends' Hold it against me The first single and record breaking US number 1 hit. What should have been a fairly standard Dr Luke pop song is given a twist by newcomer Billboard, who adds a grimey UK influence dubstep breakdown leading into hard house style beats on the last chorus. Silly double entendre hook is of course standard. 10/10 'If I said I want your body now, would you hold it against me?' Inside out Slowed down a bit for a dubstep/garage influenced midtempo that in my opinion ranks amongst Britney's best. The song describes a somewhat saucy breakup and the entire atmosphere of the song is sublime. 9/10 'Won't you give me something to remember, baby shut your mouth and turn me inside out' I Wanna Go The first of the Max Martin songs, and rounding off what I consider to be the best four song run on any pop album, ever. These four songs are simply incredible. This is another stuttery dance song not dislike tracks 1 and 2, but with a summery Bob Sinclair whistling and generally happy, smiley vibe. Again, the beats are slick, the vocals full of character (and autotune) and hooks fly around everywhere. 9/10 'I I I wanna go o o all the way ay ay taking out my freak tonight' How I Roll Bloodshy and Avant turn up, another Britney dream team from the past responsible for Toxic, Piece of Me and Radar, amongst others. This song differs from those before in being less of a party/club song and more of a summery driving tune, almost nursery rhyme like in structure and melody but the lyrics have serious attitude. Lots of fun, quirky, but maybe not to everyones taste. 8/10 'I wanna rock downtown where my posse's at, because I got nine lives like a kitty cat, you wanna roll, thats how i roll' (Drop Dead) Beautiful Filler material for me, but it says a lot for the quality of this album that even this is listenable with great hooks. It's let down by being slightly more formulaic pop, too many vocal effects used on Britney so she just sounds overly nasal, and then the utterly pointless and lame rap from nobody Sabi, who deserves to stay in obscurity for the line 'steaming like a pot full of vegetables.' 6/10 'Look at you, be my sweetie be my honey tonight, cause you're beautiful, drop dead.' Seal it with a kiss This one is very odd. The song lyrics and melody are very old skool Britney, sweet, melodic, bubblegum pop. It's a strong melody and catchy as hell but it jars slightly with its heavily dubstep driven backing track, which includes a hold it against me style breakdown. 7/10 'Wanna taste forbidden fruit, and seal it with a kiss, a ooh oooh ooh' Big fat bass Will.I.Am from the Black Eyed Peas turns up for production and a guest rap on this, which yes, sounds like the B.E.P. It's sort of an early 90s style dance track mixed with Boom Boom Pow, with lame repetetive lyrics and a sort of non event chorus, but something about it is infectious, probably the seriously heavy bass and drum machines which make up the beat. 7/10 'I can be the treble baby you can be the bass' Trouble for me My first though hearing this was that it sounds a bit like Wiley's 'Wearing my Rolex' in some places. But more pop of course. Other than the cool grime influences this track is fairly forgettable. 6/10 'The party aint the same without you, thats why you're so good for everybody else but you're trouble for me' Trip to your heart GORGEOUS is the only way I can describe this dreamy electro midtempo from B&A. Lovely lyrics, gorgeous breathy vocals, almost like a cousin to Unusual You from the Circus album or Heaven on Earth from Blackout. 9/10 'Spread my wings out into the dark, i'll fly away on a trip to your heart' Gasoline Funky Toxic style Britney pop, but not quite as good, obviously. Full of pop hooks but lacking that certain something. 7/10 'Spark and its like gasoline, my heart only runs on supreme' Criminal Quite a surprise after the rest of the album being so dancey, the intro to this is played by a flute (yes, a flute, its very medieval sounding) which gives way to the most 'classic' Britney sounding song in years. Ultra poppy, full of melody and strong vocals, this could almost have been a late 90's Backstreet Boys song. And it's gorgeous. 10/10 Up'n'down Super dancey and clubby, not unlike I wanna go but based around an 80s sample which escapes me! Shame to have it relegated to the deluxe edition tracks as it fits really well with the standard album and is easily stronger than a few tracks on there. 8/10 'I know you want me like kids want candy, so keep watching me go down and up and down.' He about to lose me A simple pop song but with far deeper and apparently unautotuned vocals from Britney, who sounds fantastic. The song is a little moodier and downbeat from whats gone before. Loses points for bad grammar. 8/10 'Banging with my ladies in the club and he don't know that he about to lose me' Selfish Very formulaic dance pop song but fun all the same, doesn't grab you like some of the other songs and could really have been done by anyone. 7/10 'Boom boom baby pick you up in my mercedes imma be a little selfish' Don't keep me waiting Er, rock Britney? Heavy drums courtesy of Travis Barker, but overall the song is a little more Kelly Clarkson and a little less Blink 182. Britney sounds like she's having a blast which makes it fun, but being honest, this is poor and easily my least favourite off the album. 6/10. *SO NOW LET'S BREAK IT DOWN* *Lyrics* You won't be impressed if you come for quality or depth of lyrics. They are serviceable for a pop record but lack variety of subject matter (all men and dancing...) sometimes reek of laziness and repetition. The strength of the songs is in their hooks, their production, their melodies and their sometimes very original song structures. *Production* Britney albums are often a place for producers to shine and here is a brilliant example. The dubstep influence may not sound so fresh to those in the uk but in the US this was a genuinely innovative step forward in pop music, making this record cutting edge. The beats are sharp and danceable, and the songs serve their purpose of entertainment very well. Only complaint is the overuse of autotune when it is unneccessary. Britney isn't that poor a singer and there are many examples to back that up, so why layer it on so thick? Sometimes however, such as in I wanna go, the vocal effects really work to enhance the song. * Vocals* Quite different to what we've heard from Britney in the last few years. Less breathy sex kitten moments (although they are there) and a generally lighter, higher and poppier vocal reminiscent of her earlier albums. It suits the upbeat, fun dance nature of the record and the attitude, charisma and true uniqueness are all still there in droves. *SO WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?' Definitely, in terms of being a Britney fan its amongst her best, but what truly makes this one of her career highlights is that, like only Blackout before it, it has the potential to appeal to a much wider audience. Even if you're sure you hate Britney I am positive you can find something to love on here. It's incredibly current, singalong, danceable and has enough hooks to draw anybody in. And the dubstep can lend some cred if you're worried. GREAT JOB BRIT.
URBAN DECAY EYESHADOW PRODUCT DESCRIPTION This review will be on the Urban Decay powder eyeshadow 1.5g individual compacts. These best selling Urban Decay products come in a range of over 50 shades of everything from wacky brights to more subtle neutrals, but all with a hint of shimmer or a pop of colour to make them that little bit unusual! Urban Decay made their name as an edgy, fearless brand. Even the name, the proces by which a city falls into dicrepitude (as stated by Wikipedia) is hardly the first thing you would think of when naming a new makeup brand. It hardly summons up images of beauty does it? But it goes perfectly with the image of the brand. They are all about hard edges, dramatic, unusual colours, metallics, rock chick products and a bad girl image. Think a dishevelled Kate Moss or Angelina Jolie back when she was a little bit crazy and wore blood vials (and she is indeed a fan of this range) you may hate them, you may not get them, you may wish they'd brush their hair (Kate Moss) but you can't deny their edge and sex appeal. Same for Urban Decay. They aren't selling glossy perfection, they are selling a party lifestyle and the look to match. And yet somehow, urban Decay have also managed to make a name for themselves as a makeup brand loved by makeup artists and not just party girls. The packaging and ethos are purely superficial - at the core of this brand are well made makeup products that do the business. The Range As I said, this comes in a range of over 50 colours, all of which can be found on the Urban Decay website and a selection of which are stocked in larger Boots stores. They come in a range of finishes, such as shimmer, satin, glitter and metallic. These colours are not for the faint hearted as they definitely stand out (especially in my local Boots where they are found next to the boring Bobbi Brown neutrals!) and some of the names given are, interesting, to say the least. They include some of the following: Acid Rain: Green with yellow gold flecks Asphyxia: Lavender with blue Eldorado: Bright Gold with sparkle Flipside: Electric teal with blue sheen Gash: Deep brick red Gunmetal: Grey with silver glitter Lounge: Reddish brown with green sheen I have described here some of the more unusual and outrageous colours in the range, but if you prefer a more subtle look, then there are plenty for you too. Personally, I like to own a range of neutrals along with darker more vibrant colours that, used sparingly, give a hint of colour and depth. And I LOVE shimmery shadows so this range s perfect due to its extensive use of shimmer and glitter. Some more, shall we say, restrained shades are as follows: Midnight cowboy: The best seller, pink champagne with silver glitter Baked: rich bronze Hotpants: medium pink Roach: Deep brown with reddish sheen Sellout: my personal favourite, this is Midnight Cowboy but without the silver glitter! Toasted: Rich copper X: Gold with peach tint I have described here just some of the colours available. The sheer range on sale is one of the strengths of this product. Here you will find colours that are completely original and unlike anything else you can find. They aren't afraid to push some boundaries but still the end results are nearly always completely wearable even for colour phobes, even the more crazy colours can be made subtle or dramatic based on your mood. I love that the range crosses all colours from pinks and browns to greens and blues, and the way they mix colours together to creat multi-dimensional tones, for example reddish brown with green hints. These particular colours are great due to their ability to look different depending on lighting and even what colour hair or clothes you may have, and can have really subtle effects, such as the hint of barely noticeable green can really make green eyes stand out and 'POP!' from your face. Personally, I own only a few of these colours, due to their price (which I will come onto later) being slightly too high out of my budget range. Therefore, I tend to stick with the safer side of this range rather than risk splashing out on a more outrageous colour only to find I hate it, which would be a real waste of money with this brand. I would say to anyone that is new to the brand, definitely start with a colour that you are pretty sure suits you and you will like, just so that you can get the feel for these before you experiment. So for the basis of this review, I personally own: Sellout Roach Twice Baked - brownie brown with gold glitter YDK - bronzed mocha with golden microglitter Chopper - golden fawn with silver microglitter But it took hours and hours to pick every single one of these colours as I spent forever swatching colours onto my hands, blending them together to test them with each other, trying to convince myself that yes, I do need a bright iridescent purple or midnight blue shadow with electric blue glitter, before sighing and purchasing myself a much safer, much simpler neutral with a twist that I know I will get far more use out of. Because unfortunately, with a range like this, that does have to be taken into account. And that is because of... The Price Yes, the price. 'Spensive!! Be prepared to pay around £9 in the shops for one of these, although there are many good deals to be found on Ebay if you look hard enough, not all of the full range of shades are always available but you should be able to pick something up for maybe around £4.50, which is what I paid for my very first, Sellout. Now, if you were to ask if I think they are worth buying at this price I would say no, but that is purely because they can be found cheaper if you do a little research and so, why pay more for the same thing? However, do I think that they are truly WORTH this price? Yes. They are very high quality shadows (more details to follow) and I feel the price tag is slightly justified. Yes it is a very high price to pay but these shadows really have no real cheap alternative, as drugstore brands offer nowhere near the range of colours, the originality or the sheer quality that these can. It does however, mean being restrained, something I find very difficult! Like I said before, I am reluctant to splash out on one of these in a colour that I'm not already pretty convinced I will like. The price makes me less keen to experiment which, at the end of the day, is what this range should be about, discovering new and exciting looks, and so I think this is a shame. But when it comes to bright purples and and zingy greens I am far more comfortable paying £2 for a cheapie that I know I can throw in the bin should it make me look like Boy George. It does, on the plus side, make these a great luxury item that it feels amazing to buy as a treat for yourself or as a present for a friend. If you know anyone who is into makeup then they will definitely appreciate these, everyone loves a bit of Urban Decay and these are just a little bit special, a great gift. The packaging One of the things I love most about these is the cute little pot they come in!! Shallow I know! Basically you get a plastic cube casing and inside is a silver compact, described by their website as a subway token. Well, I don't really know what that is so I'm going to stop writing for a second and google it... Ok I'm back, and I found out what subway tokens are. Kind of obviously, they were coin type things used to pay the fare on the NYC subway. So that's what the compact looks like. It all fits in again with the edgy, city feel of Urban Decay (i'm starting to think I should sell this brand for a living...) and these are an attractive addition to my makeup collection. Open them up, and inside is a pan containing your shadow!! It does not come with an applicator, but I tend to find that applicators that come with shadows are useless anyways. If you're going to be using a good quality product its only right that you get some good quality brushes to go with it, trust me, they make all the difference. The shadow The shadows themselves are pressed, highly pigmented shadows which apparently contains very few binders that hold them together, which is supposed to make them easier to apply and blend to get that perfect look. Often bright eyeshadows are a letdown upon application as you find that they are nowhere near as pigmented as they appear to be in the packaging and you have to pile on tons of powdery mess in order to get anywhere near the colour you wanted. That is not the case with these. While it is true that a light application can give a subtle result, it takes very little buildup of product in order to achieve exactly the colour it appears in the tin. There is very little wastage from the tin, often when you swoosh brushes around in eyeshadow you find that tons of loose powder comes away which only leads to wastage, but that is not the case with these and therefore this prolongs the longevity of the product. Application is simple too. These are so soft, they glide on so smoothly without any fallout onto my freshly applied foundation (something I find incredibly annoying) and no tugging at the eyelid to get the colour to go on. Just a gentle brushing on and you get a beautiful colour. They are very soft and blendable meaning no harsh edges of colour, and If using more than one to create, say, a smoky effect, then they blend together seamlessly to creat a graduating effect, for example light to dark. Basically this eyeshadow will go on wherever you want it to go. And the result? Is beautiful. Pigmented colours, a strong look, and a unique edge. I do love shimmery and glittery eyeshadows but I am aware that there are many others who do not. Never fear, firstly their satin finishes have little to no shimmer or glitter and are basically matte, soft shadows, and secondly, the shimmer or glitter is not too strong. They use microglitter in most of the shadows meaning you can barely feel it in the shadow, but it still gives that sparkly, twinkly effect. Often glitter can feel gritty but not in these. The finer details - longevity and removal Of course it is no good if your eyeshadows looks amazing at 9am to find it has creased or just worn off by 11. Likewise, I often wear these for a night out (definitely more suitable for the stronger colours which might be a bit scary for the office!!) and I don't want my sparkly showstopping eyes to have slipped off after my first dance. But this is not the case. When I apply this, I can go to work for 8 hours and this has not budged, in fact it doesn't look any different. And this is through rubbing my eyes, rushing around, everything, it survives and still looks perfect even when the rest of my makeup has come off! However it is very easy to remove. They are not waterproof and will come off in water, although not instantly, ususally it takes a quick wipe over with a cloth or something to get it all off, and unless you use a cleanser you may still notice a hint of glitter or shimmer. But if you were to go swimming, you would notice that, especially with the darker colours, once they get wet they start to get chalkier and cake a bit, and then crumble off. The Urban Decay website states that all of these eyshadows can be used wet or dry, but in my experience this is not true. They do not last half as long if applied wet, and if you get a single drop of water into the shadow it solidifies and then that part of the pan is useless, product will no longer come off it. THE VERDICT So have you guessed what I'm going to say? I feel like I've been rambling on forever about these but that is how strongly I feel about their quality. They have really impressed me and I will definitely be looking into getting some more from this range. The price puts me off slightly but I will continue to hunt them out for a bargain price. All in all these are just amazing shadows for creating stunning looks and I would definitely recommend them! THE END AT LAST.
Rimmel 60 seconds nail polish Ok, so I have a bit of a nail polish addiction that I have yet to kick. You may notice over the course of this review that I takenail polish way, way too seriously and should possibly get a life. But here I am, reviewing one of my favourite things and a brand that I tend to go back to again and again to satisfy my latest craving! The product promise Well, its in the name, for a start. This product promises super fast application, just 60 seconds from applying is all it should take for this product to dry, and you're ready to go. That and plus the new PROcision brush which is larger and angled specifically to require fewer strokes to cover the entire nail, meaning getting the stuff on in the first place should be much less of a hassle. Add onto this a vinyl shine formula to make your nails gleam. All in all this promises to be the perfect product for those who want glossy nails in a hurry, for those who haven't got the time nor the patience to sit around watching (nail) paint dry. The colour range Is fabulous. There really is a colour for everyone in this range, they go from outrageously bright to super subtle. They would suit all occasions, whether it is a bright coralfor a holiday, a glam purple for a night out, a subtle pink for work or a vampy red for date. The ones I have in my collection,and therefore the ones that this review will be based on, are as follows: Portobello Pink : A bright Barbie pink Coralicious: A bright coral tinted red Rose Libertine: An AMAZING peach toned pink, my favourite! Frisky clover: A pinky toned brown, not my personal favourite Euphoria: A very shimmery peachy brown Pompous: A glittery purple The application Well I've got my fancy colours, and they truly are BEAUTIFUL, especially rose libertine which is just so pretty, so wearable, so subtle and still just that little bit unique, its peachiness gives it a bit of an unusual look compared to other pinks, for example Portobello Pink, which is much more of a typical pink. Pompous is also absolutely gorgeous, so glamourous and vampy, perfect for a night out (although the glitter makes it annoying to get off!!) Now though, I want to put them on my nails! Well I can't say I noticed much of a difference between their brush and most other nail polishes, it just seemed like the bog standard type to me and I certainly didn't notice any difference in application, it didn't seem faster or slower than any other nail polish I've tried. The application was, however, where I encountered the only problem I've really had with this range. Basically, when it says it dries in 60 seconds, it means 60 seconds. This is good on the one hand, as you're not waiting around for 20 minutes afraid to touch anything. However, it starts to dry literally THE SECOND you put it on your nails and if you are ever so slightly slow (or in any way precise!!) then it starts to lose its nice thin consistency and turn a bit gloopy and thick, which in turn can leave a streaky texture on your nails, It can also make applying a second coast quickly a bit of a pain, although I do find with most of these that one coat is actually sufficient to get the full colour payoff, which is good. But after a bit of work, and a bit of practice, I mastered it and now I'm not really having any major trouble anymore. The results This gives surprisingly strong colour for a low cost brand, especially on the first coat. I usually find that cheaper polishes need 2 or even 3 coast before they look even close to what they look like in the bottle (the exception of course is Barry M) but these turn out very strong and pretty colours, with a nice finish (providing you didn't apply too slowly of course...) and the nicest thing about these is that nearly all of them contain a little bit of shimmer, just to make them look that little bit special, although in most it isn't too obvious and you have to look closely to see it. As I said, pompous does contain proper glitter but it isn't too drying, as some glittery nail colours can be, it still feels smooth and not bumpy or gritty. Overall, very pleased with the results. The longevity The ultimate test - can the polish survive a day opening cardboard boxes, messing around with marker pens and sellotape, without getting absolutely destroyed? For the most part yes, and this is quite impressive, much more than I was expecting for a cheaper polish. The super smooth finish means marker pen wipes off easily, sellotape doesn't pry it off my nails, although I did notice after a day or two that the very tips of my nails were starting to chip every so slightly. It was barely noticeable, but it was there. On my toenails, they stay there for weeks, easily. Also, they are pretty easy to get off with nail polish remover, although pompous is a little more difficult due to the glitter, but this is tru of all glitter polishes and this is actually one of the easiest to remove that i have tried! The price I paid £3.49 for this from my local chemist, and it is also stocked in all superdrug and boots stores as well as a lot of Asda and Tesco stores. I think this is an excellent price to pay and it is well worth it. It's a bargain for a decent quality polish in pretty colours, which is really all that I am after. I am not a nail artist, I do not work in an environment where the highest standards of grooming must be maintained, manicures and all, and so just a splash of nice non-chipped pink works fine for me, and for £3.49, I am happy. The conclusion! I shall continue to buy these polishes because I have a problem and this is a cheap way to satisfy the urge without denting the bank balancet oo much! I have my eye on green with envy, ethereal, and sunrise...oh and shocker...and magnetise...how about all of them?
I have already reviewed the liquid version of this foundation, and for anyone who read that review, you know that my opinion was not very high and I found it to be a completely useless product that swiftly went in the bin after only a couple of weeks. The reason for buying this particular liquid version was simply that I had missed liquid foundation after months of using this product I am reviewing now, Maybelline Pure Foundation Mineral Powder. I had used this for a long time prior to my being unfaithful (it just happened I swear!) and have since gone back to it. For now, this is the foundation I am sticking with, whilst constantly being on the lookout for something else that is going to work as well. So as you can probably tell, my feelings toward this product are mixed. Why? The product Maybelline pure foundation mineral powder can be purchased from any Boots or Superdrug, and anywhere else where Maybelline products are usually stocked. My original pot cost £6.99 in an introductory offer but unfortunately this has now gone up to £9.99 which I slightly begrudge as I wouldn't usually spend this much on a foundation and it is a bit of a step up from the £5.99 I was previously paying for Rimmel foundation. It is a loose powder foundation that comes in a plastic pot. The powder is held in an underneath compartment and a plastic filter slide with small holes allows powder to pass through onto a plate where it can be collected. There are 8g of powder in the tub. It comes in various shades, although not half as many as a professional makeup brand such as M.A.C can offer, and I purchased 02 rose ivory, which seems to be the palest one I can find so far. What is different about this product compared to other foundations is its use of micro minerals. It contains no preservatives, perfumes, talc or oil and all of this is supposed to be beneficial to your skin, not clogging pores, allowing skin to breathe and providing the supposed benefits of minerals. Now, I always take these claims with a pinch of salt because no matter how many minerals they pack into these things, this is still only a powder which sits on the top layer of your skin and so the effect it has will be purely superficial. Any real improvements to skin always come from within such as following a proper diet and even the most advanced creams cannot fully penetrate the skin, so don't expect this product to produce skin miracles, it simply can't. It can however, prevent the skin problems that are directly CAUSED by horrible clogging foundations and thus can help to prevent spots. The application One thing unusual about this product is that it comes with its very own brush. It is a small kabuki brush, which has long bristles like a normal powder brush but with an odd little stubby handle. These brushes supposedly have denser bristles allowing finer and more thorough application and the small handle allows precision, making sure you can direct the product exactly where you want it to go. Personally, I like these little brushes and have kept them for applying all kinds of other makeup. They are small enough to be very compact and portable but big enough so it doesn't take forever to apply any makeup!! I find the bristles on them can be a bit hit and miss though - sometime you get a pot and the brush that comes with it is really soft and nice on your skin (but with the downside of being harder to control) or sometimes they are quite solid and provide real concentrated coverage but feel really rough on skin. They do harden slightly with use as powder gets into the bristles. So to apply, you shake up the pot of product to deposit powder onto the slide, open the tub, and swoosh your kabuki brush around in the powder. Then tap the brush on the side to rid yourself of any excess (unless you like to look chalky) then BUFF the powder into your skin. This is important. Use circular motions in the hand rather than simply dusting it over your face like you might do with a normal face powder. Et VOILA!! The pros * Coverage is good if you apply quite a lot of product. Very good in fact, this does get one up on liquid foundation in that the very directed application gives you block coverage leading to practically flawless skin, with a nice soft velvety finish. Very nice. * It does have a good effect on your skin with continued use. I find that my skin feels smoother and evened out in tone, plus it prevents breakouts that for me used to be so regular. Now they are limited to one or two mild spots a month that are easily covered using my mineral secret weapon!! * It last for quite a long time, being powder. Liquid foundation has the tendency to slide off skin, particularly if you have oily skin. Powder however has a lot more staying power with the added bonus of mattifying if you have oily skin (which I don't by the way, so this is going to also be in the cons if you keep reading). I would say I get almost a full days wear out of this and it definitely withstands a night out in all its sticky glory. The cons * The cons all boil down to one thing and one thing only. I MISS LIQUID!! I miss the ease of being able to squirt out a load of foundation onto my hands and rub it in in like 2 seconds, this take forever to apply properly even if I would say the coverage is slightly better than liquid and definitely takes less product to achieve. I miss the smooth and dewy finish that you get from liquid, instead of feeling like I have rubbed my face with chalk (and it does sit on your skin feeling very chalky indeed). I feel like everyone can see it, everyone KNOWS! For dry skin like mine, it can cake and look dry on bad skin days, and when it happens I throw myself on the bed, bury my head in a pillow and swear I am not leaving the house, much to my flatmates' amusement. But I am stuck for now, because I just cannot find that elusive liquid foundation that will give me this awesome coverage (and it is awesome) that I simply MUST have as well as not making me break out in spots every five seconds. Sigh, the search continues...and I feel it is going to end up costing me a lot of money... * Also, I forgot, the price of this is slightly steep for sponging students like me. Not outrageous, and probably worth it, ish, but just a couple of pounds more than I like to pay for foundation. * You don't get that much in a pot. If you use a lot, like I do (flawless skin is an obsession of mine) then it doesn't last very long, making the price even more annoying. My verdict I do like this product. It isn't perfect, but I have yet to find one that meets my impossibly high standards and so far this is one of the best I have tried. I will repurchase and I would recommend it, with a warning about its powderness. I know that that's obvious, because duh, its a powder foundation but I warn you you never know just how much you will miss liquid until its gone :( or maybe that's just me...
THE ARTIST Its Britney bitch!! What else can I say? Over the last ten years, Britney has become one of the biggest selling artists of all time, a tabloid legend, and a true superstar whose name will undoubtedly live on far longer than any of her peers. Mediocre talent and personal troubles could not stop Ms Spears from selling over 83 million records and gaining adoration and ridicule in equal measure, the world over. This last year (or four) have been tough for Britney. In that time she managed to go spectacularly off the rails, destroying the 'not so innocent but still a good girl' persona that helped her build her multi platinum career, with multiple marriages and divorces, two kids in two years, and ultimately a heartbreaking meltdown that reminded everyone of the sometimes devastating effects of fame, like this generation's Michael Jackson. It is an understatement to say that there is a lot riding on this album, Circus, Britney's sixth studio album. Last years Blackout was without a doubt the best album of Britney's career, and one of the best pop albums ever, in my opinion. However, its sheer brilliance was overshadowed by the more sinister aspects of her personal life and sales were weak. Now, with her troubles seemingly under control, Britney today seems calmer, happier, and poised to return to the dizzy heights of success that she once scaled. But is this album good enough to do that? THE ALBUM Once again, Britney (or more likely her managers/puppet masters) have made the very smart decision to spend a lot of money on getting the best writers and producers that money can buy, in order to craft a collection of sure fire pop hits. However, unlike Blackout, the big difference here is the presence of Britney herself, rather than the robot version of her. She seems engaged, making a positive contribution to her own record again, which can only be a sign of better things to come. The sound sees Britney return to a lighter, more pop oriented sound, with catchy hooks, the odd sugary ballad, but still with that credible dance sound running through that made Blackout so mind blowing. Overall, this is just much happier and more fun sounding than that album, which definately had a darker tone. TRACK BY TRACK 1. Womanizer Either incredibly amazing or incredibly annoying depending on how many times you can bear the repetition of the word womaniser. There will be no grammy awards for best lyrics on this song, as the entire chorus consists of repetition of this one word, but my god it is catchy, a great choice for the lead single off the album because it will get stuck in your head whether you like it or not. I personally love it, its synthy backing track and jaunty vocals are exactly what Britney does best, its fun, upbeat, and a great song for a comeback, as can be shown by its record breaking leap from number 86 to number 1 on the billboard 100, becoming Britney's first US number one since her debut Baby One More Time. 2. Circus The second single off the album, this one is produced by Dr Luke, a major hitmakerswho does a lot of stuff for artists like Pink and the Sugababes. This is very radio friendly, with a 'lets go!' breakdown part of the way through that was just made for an amazing Britney dance sequence. The lyrics set the theme for this whole album, referring to Britney's crazy life 'All eyes on me in the centre of the ring just like a circus' as well as being almost like a mission statement for where she wants to go 'I'm like the ringleader, I call the shots'. This is very pop and again super catchy. 3. Out from Under What was missing from Blackout were the Britney ballads that everyone knows and loves. From 'Everytime' to 'I'm not a Girl' everyone sings along to those slow Britney classics, and this could very well become one of them. While I don't think it is in quite the same league as Everytime, its chorus is a perfect anthem for young girls, I can imagine teen girls singing it and 'relating'. It's maybe a little too syrupy and Britney doesn't have quite enough power in her voice to give it that extra oomph, but its very pretty and her voice, while weak in parts, shows some real emotion and is very pleasant indeed. 4. Kill the Lights This one sounds very much like it could have been on Blackout. Its intro is one of the best EVER made, with a radi announcement from the producer Danja that the 'queen of pop has a special announcement'. Lyrically, it continues the theme of 'Piece of Me' in attacking the paparazzi who stalk Britney's every move. Some of the lyrics are practically spat out and it contains some classic put downs such as 'is that money in your pocket or are you happy to see me?'. It has a dance RnB sound a little like Rihanna's 'Disturbia' which is no bad thing!! Definately could and should be a single. 5. Shattered Glass I can't make my mind up about this one. I think the song itself is ok, although it needed time to grow on me, but it's all just a bit...BLAH. One again, it is poppy, RnB ish dancey type thingy, and while the previous four all had something different about them, this seems to have run out of ideas and is a simple repetition of 'Circus' really, soundwise. The lyrics are about a cheating man, and sound very empowering, i wonder if they're about her ex K-Fed? Also, it's really short and feels like it never gets going, there are a couple of verses, a bit of a chorus thing, but then its over, and you wonder where the point of the song was. Worth it only for the pure attitude when she sings the chorus. 6. If U Seek Amy Well, very cheeky title indeed (say it faster) especially when the line goes 'Love me, hate me, say what you want about me, but all of the boys and all of the girls are begging to if you seek Amy'. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this song though, it is very pop and bouncy, right down to the 'lalalalala' 'hahahee hee' and a very vintage Britney 'Oh babay babay'. Of course, this is because this was written by the master himself, Max Martin, the man who is probably single handedly responsible for all of Britney's success, the guy who wrote 'Baby One More Time' 'Oops I did it again' and any other amazing early Britney song you might care to mention. The man is clearly an amazing talent, and its great to Britney work with him again. 7. Unusual You This is a great song, a very classy, midtempo dance number produced by Bloodshy and Avant, the other producers who Britney owes an awful lot to. It was them who did Toxic, Piece of Me, and most other amazing Britney songs of the last few years. This isn't quite on that level, but its a very dreamy, beautiful yet catchy and dancey song. It's lyrics are fairly heart warming without making you ill, basically its about Britney's surprise that the man in her life isn't a complete bastard like everyone else she's known. Musically, one of the better songs on the album, but probably not single material, as it isn't commercial enough. 8. Blur The lyrics to this are fairly disturbing 'Where the hell am I? Who are you, what we do, last night?' and 'Everything is still a blur' unfortunately, you know that Britney can probably relate very well to such a situation, and her deep vocals sound almost regretful. This is less upbeat than a lot of other songs on here, and much more RnB. I think its good, but not amazing. It's lyrics are noteworthy, but its sound is unremarkable. 9. Mmmm Papi Ridiculous. That is the only word for a song that includes the line 'I'm mommy, and that makes you papi, and that makes us lovey' this is vile and vomit inducing. Some people have suggested this is about her own father, who is now conservator of her estate, but I really hope it isn't, else I will be very disturbed. Her singing is oddly childish, this whole thing is cheesy and poppy, and its just...WRONG!! 10. Mannequin MUCH BETTER. Layered vocal parts make it sound like Britney is forming her own sonic tag team against her man, this is very strange and dark sounding, with plenty of odd futuristic sounds, overproduced vocals and a super catchy dance chorus. In other words, exactly like Blackout. Awesome. Also, at around 37 seconds in it sounds like Britney is 'speaking whale' like in Finding Nemo. More people should speak whale in songs because it really works!! 11. Lace and Leather Whoah, who brought in the slap bass?? It's weird, don't do it again. My opinion on this is that it is purely filler, its ok, catchy, pop, whatever, completely disposable, I'm falling asleep, heard it all before...apart from the guitars in the middle, now THAT'S new!! Too bad though, that I think they may have been going for a vaguely 80s Prince type sound but the whole thing sounds a bit cringey. What are the lyrics about...who knows?? Something about something dull. 12. My Baby Oh God, why?? After such a great start to the album, she did ruin it slightly. If it weren't for Mannequin I would suggest just switching off after track 8 to be honest. This is the most sickly sweet song I have ever heard, a ballad tribute to her children. It's co written by Guy Sigsworth who co wrote Everytime, but this is no Everytime, this is awful. 13. Radar Huh, interesting, could have sworn there was a song called Radar on her last album too. Oh wait, there was...AND THIS IS THE EXACT SAME SONG!!! What is going on? To be fair, Radar was one of the best songs on Blackout, which in context means it's absolutely amazing. I suppose I can't blame them for putting it on, the poor sales of Blackout means that not enough people will have gotten to hear this amazing track, another Bloodshy and Avant ditty, in the same vein as Toxic rather than Unusual You. It can get a bit annoying and chipmunky, but if you like Womanizer then you will love this because it's very similar. But it just seems off, like it doesn't fit with the rest of the album. 14. Amnesia There are various bonus tracks for this CD depending on what country you live in, but for the UK it is Amnesia, and I am very, very happy about that, because I absolutely love this song. It's very Gwen Stefani (right down to the vocals) and is a nice blend between old school Britney and new Britney. It's so happy, sunny and yet with a cool edge, a super catchy chorus that actually has lyrics rather than just relying on repetition of a single word or phrase, and I just love it. THE VERDICT This is a great album. It is just as good as Blackout, but fr very different reasons. That album was quite simply a pop masterpiece, but was disturbing in so many ways. This may not have its edge, its credibility or its mind blowing weirdness but what is does have is what Blackout missed, and that is a LOAD MORE FUN!!! Taking a step back and doing what she does best, Britney has put together a collection of simple, upbeat, catchy pop songs that you can sing along to, you can dance to, and that will entertain you. Also, I feel that her subject matter and lyrics are something that she really relates to this time around. Britney has been through a lot, no doubt about that, but her confidence in singing these songs shows and I really think her heart went into this. Vocals wise, Britney is still an average singer at best but she seems to be relying less on production tricks and letting her own vocal personality shine through again. Britney certainly has a distinctive voice and can give just the right amount of attitude to her songs. I genuinely believe she is talented, maybe not so much in singing but in PERFORMING and ENTERTAINING. In that she simply cannot be beaten. So welcome back Britney, not that she ever really went away.