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The commencement of a new job saw me presented with a brick like XDA device which truth be told was useless. E-mails had to be typed using a stylus which frankly took hours to write and every time the battery died it had to be sent back to IT while they rebuilt it from scratch after it managed to wipe every last trace of my documents and e-mails. After much sighing in front of my boss and several important e-mails going unreturned late at night and at the weekend she finally gave in and with much glee presented me with a BlackBerry 7100v, a model I had previously used, a model which to put bluntly was close to obsolete by the time my sweaty paws had gotten to grips with it again. Frustrated with the inaction of my peers I went out and spent £450 of my own money on the BlackBerry Bold, the new smart phone from RIM designed to rival the Apple i-Phone.
The user interface for the Bold is very similar to the Pearl version with the icons and features being accessed using a trackball located just below the screen, however in terms of size and feel it is on a par in size with the 7100v, due to the large colour screen and the full QWERTY keyboard. With a weight of only 136g and dimensions of 11.4cm x 6.6cm x 1.5cm there is a clear move away from the theory behind the Pearl of making the smart phone as aesthetically similar to a regular mobile phone device as possible. In my opinion, this is a move for the better, making the device practical for use in a business environment. My initial reaction to the enhanced colour display was one of shock and awe, the Half VGA resolution 480 x 320 colour pixel display supports over 65,000 different colours and shades making icons, pictures and messages clear, bright, packed with colour and more than a match for the graphics and visuals of the i-Phone.
Anyone with any experience of the RIM BlackBerry series of smart phones will be aware that the main feature and draw to them from the business class is e-mail on the move, allowing truly instant access to your inbox and the Bold is no different. Once the software is uploaded onto the computer following the easy step by step guide, the BlackBerry becomes synchronised with the inbox selected. By using Outlook I have always found that the installation process much easier, due in part to the fact that as the e-mail content from the inbox and other folders is transferred, contact details and my own personal calendar are automatically synchronised onto the device. An observation after using the device is that e-mails actually appear on the device prior to appearing on my desktop inbox, therefore when I hear the buzzing of an incoming email from the BlackBerry I can wait anything up to a minute for the email to appear in my inbox when at my desk. This has become slightly infuriating, particularly in busy periods when I can receive in excess of 250 e-mails a day.
In terms of accessing, sending and receiving e-mails there are no real problems, if anything they arrive on the device a little too quickly however after 2 weeks of using the synchronisation facility failed, therefore if reading and deleting an e-mail from the device, it would not be deleted from my desktop inbox and visa versa, this meant having to manual delete and file e-mails into sub-folders again utilising the rare time I have during the working day. To combat the problem I had to re-install the software again and go through the synchronisation process, again eating into time I just don't have when working. If I had to score the email function out of ten, the Bold would receive a 6 due to the synchronisation issues, whereas the Pearl version would receive a hearty nine for being close to flawless.
Other standard business features include as mentioned earlier an Outlook calendar, a contacts directory and mobile phone. Both the calendar and contact directory are very useful tools and the ability to increase the size of text makes finding a viewing details incredibly easy. Due to the synchronisation issues explained above however, data input via the device was not always transferred to my desktop and visa versa causing a whole host of problems with diary management. When using previous version of RIM BlackBerry products I would always give the calendar and contact features ten out of ten but again I'm limited in my assessment due to the fact that the device fell down causing me problems, especially when it came to missed meetings that could have gotten me into trouble at work. With this in mind, again out of ten the Bold only scores a six. Whilst the tone of this review may seem negative there are a host of positives to come, the mobile phone for instance scores a resounding ten out of ten due to the fantastic range of tones available from polyphonic, MIDI and MP3. With the ability to customise volume and caller display (which includes the ability to assign photographs to numbers) by far the best thing is call reception. In a poor coverage area with only one bar in terms of signal strength everything received and broadcast is crystal clear. In addition and somewhat different to previous models, SMS and MMS messages are composed and stored under a separate icon, and don't appear in the e-mail inbox. This makes the ability to differentiate between e-mails and text messages very easy, especially when assigning different tones to different types of messages.
Like the Pearl, the Bold has a fantastic built in 2 mega-pixel camera that has an image stabiliser which takes the hassle out of taking the perfect pictures. Every time I have used the camera (usually when under the influence) the pictures have been sharp, crystal clear and high in detail. Video clips can also be captured and the images and sound are second to none, in fact that are on a par with my digital video camera. With the built in 1GB memory the ability to store hundreds of photographs and video clips is welcome, however I have noticed that the more pictures and storage space used, the device becomes marginally slower when reacting to commands when typing e-mails and text messages. With 75 pictures stored to the memory, the text when typing doesn't seem capable to keep up. A firm thumbs up for the camera in terms of quality so another ten out of ten, however until I upgrade the memory (which is easy, but expensive to do) this function receives only a seven from ten.
Video, multi-media and Internet clips are viewed under the media player, that supports nearly every known current format and playback is of a fantastic quality, again earning a rating of ten out ten. Personally I would have liked this feature to have been available on the Pearl but it is a welcome addition to the Bold.
The Bold also supports the BlackBerry Maps feature introduced for the Pearl and some slight tweaks to the software have improved the layout. With the provision of a larger screen means that getting lost in an area with a mobile phone signal now impossible as the system allows for locations and street maps to be viewed using street names, areas and postcodes.
A plethora of other accessories are incorporated such as an alarm clock, calculator, memo pad (that allows the viewing of .pdf files as well as Word), tasks and a fast web browser. These are standard features you'd find on any mobile device. They don't set the world on fire but browsing the web is quick and easy, navigation is simple and the colour screen does justice to some very graphic heavy web pages.
The incredible battery life was something I was very used to as a regular BlackBerry user, and the Bold is no different. On average I find that it takes a good 7 days for the device battery to drain down to the point where the GPS/GPRS switches off to conserve energy and with heavy use at weekends utilising the video player, camera and e-mail very little power is used up. Charging can be done via a plug or a USB connection, both of which come as standard with the hardware package.
Colour Screen: 10/10
Mobile Phone: 10/10
Battery Life: 9/10
As a business tool the Bold has the potential to be a world beater, packed with features galore that could make mobile working a breeze but the one main flaw I have experienced relating to the synchronisation of the e-mail inbox, calendar and contacts means that I cannot hand on heart recommend it to potential consumers. Until synchronisation is guaranteed there will always be a niggling doubt in my mind as to whether I'm missing a meeting, have the most up to date contact details for journalists or have received important e-mails. I loved the BlackBerry Pearl but wanted a QWERTY keyboard to make typing easier, and now I have the QWERTY keyboard and flawed software I want my Pearl back. With hindsight I should have waited until the bugs were resolved, but forearmed is forewarned and sadly I wasn't.
Don't make the same mistake, if you like BlackBerry products wait a few months before looking to buy the Bold as there are issues that need to be resolved to make this a truly exceptional piece of kit. If you offered me an i-Phone, the Bold or the Pearl I would now take the Pearl over the other two.
There is no end to the lotions and potions that suddenly appear in our bathroom for all skin ailments and imperfections. The one product that seems to be more used than most is the St Ives Gentle Apricot Scrub which sits in a white flip top tube with an orange wrap around picture of apricots. Normally I rarely run out of things to use in the shower, but as a replacement of my Thalgo Descomen Deep-Cleansing Scrub did not miraculously appear after I'd used it up I had to take the cheeky stance of stealing the product of choice used by the good lady wife.
Marketed predominantly as a facial scrub, it promises to "cleanse deep into pores and remove dull, dead skin, gently revealing smooth, radiant, healthy looking skin" and as I am keen to turn back the clock to the days when blackheads, dry patches and broken skin were not a problem, now that time is upon me I am determined to keep myself as young looking as I possibly can. Could St Ives Gentle Apricot Scrub match the various products I've used over the years? Personally I have skin like a rhino, and I rarely suffer from any forms of irritation when using facial products, but for all those people who do, they should seriously look at trying this scrub as it has been produced and aimed at people with sensitive skin and after using it for a few days there was nothing to suggest that the ingredients had caused even the slightest hint of irritation.
Whenever I use these products I have been told time and time again that I have to clean my face first and then apply the facial scrub, so having cleaned my face, I flipped open the lid and squeezed the tube slightly and onto the palm of my hand fell a peachy looking blob of cream. With most exfoliating products there tends to be one ingredient which is responsible for the removal of dry, dead skin cells and within this product it is Jojoba beads which are softer on the skin and don't produce that hard, abrasive feel. In the past I've used some products that really are like washing with sandpaper but the Jojoba beads are so soft is hardly imaginable that they could remove the skin off a rice pudding let alone skin from my face.
While the beads may be soft and gentle, and texture of the scrub pleasing the smell was to be very blunt vile. Instant disapproval came from the moment the waft of sickly sweet apricot hit my nostrils. It was both far too strong and was far too feminine for my liking. In the absence of anything else to use, one had to persevere! With a cleaned face to remove any surface dirt on the skin to allow the exfoliating cream to work deeper into my pores I squeezed more of the scrub onto my hand. Working it together between my palms with some warm water from the basin it seemed to form more of a paste like consistency which to its credit allowed for a small amount of the scrub to cover my face and neck. In gentle circular motions I rubbed it into my skin, avoiding the eyes. I could hardly feel the beads, instead it was more of a smooth feeling I would expect from a shower gel and the fragrance got even stronger. Being used to much harsher products I did find myself scrubbing much more vigorously than normal.
After a good few minutes of massaging this cream into ever nook and cranny across my face I rinsed using clean, warm water and without much hassle at all the scrub came off. Unlike other products, it didn't cling to the skin. Considering the water was clear before rinsing it was a pale brown colour after using, which was a surprise given the lack of bead action I had felt while massaging it into my face. It had clearly removed dirt from the pores and taken a layer of dirt that hadn't been removed by conventional washing.
After drying I was pleasantly surprised, although I could still smell the apricots I did notice that my skin looked and felt clean but was definitely much smoother to the touch which I am reliably told is due to the ingredients which make this product. As for being more radiant, well I didn't notice any sort of glow after using but to be perfectly frank, the feel of my skin more than made up for this slight exaggeration in the marketing blurb.
Selling at between £3 and £4 depending upon where you purchase it from I would giving a fair assessment have to say that yes it is a pretty decent facial scrub. Personally I can't stand the apricot fragrance because it is just so girlie but the results were impressive, especially when comparing with more expensive Thalgo or Dead Sea Mineral products. Despite the fragrance which is something that doesn't linger on the skin for too long I do have to recommend this. If you are a fan of apricots, then I highly recommend it because you will love this product.
Decorating exploits and I mean heavy duty DIY does nothing for my hands, in fact they suffer terribly from the strain and abuse placed on them by exposure to heat, paint and various cleaning fluids. After weeks of abuse, my hands were left dry, chapped and sore. With a job that means daily contact with the great and the good from elected officials, the media and the public the last thing I would feel confident about was whether or not my hands look and feel like they have just been through a grater. Normally I would use one of the many Lush products cluttering my bathroom courtesy of the good lady wife, but flowery and feminine was not an option when it came to my hands. I wanted something that was discreet and mildly masculine.
Why exfoliate? Apart from the obvious benefits of how your skin looks, every skin type needs some kind of exfoliation, whether you have oily, dry or patchy skin. Exfoliation prevents dead cells from sticking to the oil which is naturally produced by your body blocking the pores causing infection and spots. Sometimes dry skin becomes sore and irritated and needs to be removed. My hands are no different and were in shocking need of attention.
Products produced by Thalgo are not new to me, I have in the past used several of their other products and trust them implicitly. In search of a product to help and repair my hands, I opted for the Thalgo Delicate Exfoliating Pebble Soap Bar.
Given the name, it is no surprise that the bar is shaped like a pebble and feels soft and smooth to the touch. Shiny in appearance it has a sprinkling of tiny dots throughout it, which are clearly the abrasive matter used to actually exfoliate. My initial reaction was that it didn't look like an exfoliating soap and given the texture and soft nature, could quite possibly be a bit of a let down.
The bar contains Fucus powder(Algae) to act as the exfoliating ingredient and it contains a lot of different elements such as iodine, copper and magnesium along with vitamins C, E, D and K all of which help to keep your skin healthy, glowing and in top condition. Other ingredients include Shea Butter which smells very similar to Cocoa Butter. This feeds and nourishes whilst soothing dry, irritated and chapped skin as well as having natural UV protection qualities. So putting these two ingredients together means that as your skin is being cleansed and exfoliated they work together to soothe and soften your skin as well.
From a personal perspective, I only use this soap on my hands and it isn't a soap I do or would use daily. This product is reserved purely for use as and when required.
The beauty of this soap is that that it lathers up superbly with very little effort and true to the claims of the sales representatives a little does go a long way. The Algae acts nicely as a mild abrasive, doing its job to exfoliate any dead skin as you wash and almost immediately the "eurgh" factor kicks in as the water turns a murky off white cream colour. The smell of the Shea butter is instantly released on contact with water and I have to say the fragrance is incredibly pleasing on the nose, not to strong and I would classify as hints of Shea butter when actually the skin is finally dry.
The final results were amazing, my hands not only felt clean, but also fresh and above all moisturised. After using I dried my hands gently, patting them dry as the enclosed leaflet suggested and they were noticeably smoother and much softer than they had been, even after using only once. Having now used it on regular occasions I have to admit that I am suitably impressed at how good this soap is. I do bite the skin around my knuckles usually when I am anxious or stressed and that often leaves rough pieces of skin but when I use this soap it banishes that in an instant. Even though I don't have perfect hands, there is no longer any sign of rough or dry skin.
I now use this soap on average once a week and I haven't noticed any adverse effects at all, there has been no irritation and the results are always consistently good. Priced at £7.75 for a 125g bar many will say that this is expensive, but it really does last putting it on a par with many of the many Lush products on sale.
Overall I love this product and will not be returning to the major high street brands although I may be tempted by Lush again at some point in the future. I was a fan of the Thalgo range and continue to be impressed by the high quality of their products. If you are looking for a good exfoliating soap bar and price isn't a issue for you, don't look any further than the Thalgo Delicate Exfoliating Pebble Soap Bar. Had it not been for the price I would have rated this as a 5* product.
The fudge range of hair care was recommended to me some time ago after I had initially complained to my stylist that my hair grew too quickly and most gels or waxes wouldn't hold the spikes in style for an entire day without having to re-apply the gel. At the time it was suggested I tried the Fudge Fat Head which £9.50 for a 100g tub was a lot more expensive than the high street brands I am used to paying for. The wife however takes a different view, constantly reminding me that you get what you pay for.
Having become slightly bored of Fudge Fat Head I decided to try something else within the Fudge Range that would do just as good a job at keeping my spikes death defying straight tipped. Opting for Fudge Pump Up at only £8.46 for 200g I was slightly amused that I managed to find a product at the same cost but for double the amount, whether it worked or not it would be 1-0 to the Badger. The product states that it will "provide ultimate hold and add shine and moisture to your hair" which sounded perfect to me. The other thing to note is that most Fudge products have 'a hold factor' guideline from 0-15 which essentially rates the product on how good it is at holding a style in place once the product has been applied to the hair; in this case Fudge Pump has a rating of 8.
Fudge Pump Up is encased in a bright orange coloured can and looks not too dissimilar to a can of hair mousse. This was frankly a terrifying prospect given that most hair mousse products I have ever used are to put it bluntly - crap! Once the lid was removed these fears were allayed after I realised that this is infact a gel foam, nothing like the gel I would usually squeeze out of my Shockwaves tube, it is more shaving gel in that as soon as it hits your hand the gel instantly turns into a foam. Quite a novel idea even if I do say so myself.
When using this foam gel, you only need a small amount on the palm of your hand, after all it is for your hair and not for shaving with, although I suspect it would do just as much of a good job in that department. Taking the foam it needs to be rubbed between the palms of the hands, as you would do with my normal gel products and then rubbed through the hair from scalp to tip. Application couldn't be simpler and as a plus point the residue left on my hands wasn't as gooey or sticky as other gel and mousse products. As soon as the foam has been worked into dry hair it is just a case of styling and waiting for it to set, something which takes only 5 to 10 minutes depending upon the actual length. Once dried my hair felt like set concrete, the spikes just wouldn't move. Result!
During the application process I was amazed by how shiny my hair had become, yes it was wet but the level of shine didn't really decrease as it dried, making the hair look much healthier. Now that I'm a regular user of the product, especially when my hair gets a little longer I don't find myself looking in mirrors and glass windows to check that the style has changed, I have the confidence in the product that once set, it will stay set. On the longevity front again I could not be more pleased, even with my irritating habit of messing with my hair which usually results in white dry flakes of gel appearing and normally the style wearing out, this didn't happen. A style created at home at 8 in the morning is exactly the same at 8 at night. No white flakes on the scalp, in my hair or on my clothes, a huge plus point for the product in question.
When it comes to removing the foam it is simplicity itself. A good massage of the hair under a warm shower and you will see that the foam washes out completely and it doesn't leave behind any residue. As with all products of this type, I often worry that living in the UK the rain could ruin my hairstyle and leave me looking like a drowned rat with floppy hair, certainly not in this case, the foam seems to be rain proof to date and my hair looks just as good as when I first styled it. I'm sure the results would be different in a monsoon but in the English weather it seems very hard wearing and only seems to be removable in warm water.
Although I am usually in tears at the price of some of these products I have to admit they are good and they do work exceptionally well. The product itself has lasted for just over the 6 months mark which means I have probably spent about the same amount of money as I would usually spend on Gel anyway, it is just that this one lasts longer, styles well, is easy to apply, easy to wash out, has staying power in the rain and doesn't leave me with white flaky bits.
Being a firm convert to the BlackBerry smartphone revolution I am lucky enough to receive courtesy of my employer an upgrade each year. The last twelve months have seen me dazzled and impressed with the BlackBerry Pearl, a device I didn't think it was possible to make any better as it was small, compact, jam packed full of useful tools and software and incorporated a digital camera along with lots of other functional tools. It was with heavy heart that I was informed over a month ago of our IT departments intention to replace any Pearl models with the Curve 8310. This was an upgrade I neither needed or wanted but after only a few days of owning the Curve 8310 I was once again as in love as it is possible to be with a piece of hardware.
Incorporating the usual BlackBerry features of wireless email, personal organiser, contacts directory, digital camera, alarm and mobile telephone the Curve 8310 incorporates new and exciting features that were sadly lacking from earlier models, even the Pearl. Included within the basic software package, the Curve 8310 now has BlackBerry maps, the ability to store and play MP3 files and a more responsive speakerphone/voice activation unit. All things considered, the new additions to the model and tweaks made to existing features have made the Curve 8310 a very handy piece of equipment that I just could not be without when working from home or attending external meetings.
The inclusion of more software, an upgraded battery and much more functionality has resulted in the Curve 8310 being larger in than the mobile phone sized Pearl that was in my opinion unsuccessfully aimed at conquering the mobile telephone market. Even though it is larger than the Pearl, its dimensions are still not overly cumbersome and the curved sides make the unit very easy to grip which in turn assists when using the trackball navigation tool to access menus. The actual dimensions are 10.7cm in length, 6cm wide with a depth of only 1.55cm. The total unit weighs only 111g putting it on a par with the Pearl and several leading Nokia mobile phone brands. Originally seeing the increased size I thought I was going back to the days where my pocket would be weighed down but this I discovered was unfounded. Issue number one being the weight and size were therefore alleviated meaning that as long as it performed to the same standard as the Pearl I would be very happy indeed.
Synchronising the software on the Curve 8310 with my PC was really easy and it was simply a case of installing the software from the disk provided, giving my device a name and hooking it up via the USB connector. The PC then detected the device automatically and began to copy across my email inbox, contacts and calendar. The entire process took no more than 30 minutes from removing the device from the box to it being full functional and ready to go. Obviously the battery did require charging fully but as I needed the device immediately a little charge was put on the device via the USB. 30 minutes of charging gave it enough life to last or around 3 hours the first time I used it. The main principle of being equipped with BlackBerry devices is so that we can work away from the office as and when required. In the past with other BlackBerry models I have experienced massive delays in receiving emails on the actual BlackBerry. I can be sat at my desk looking at emails on my PC that have not yet arrived on my BlackBerry. This made life very uneasy as in theory I could be missing emails when away from the office that required an immediate response. Since upgrading to the Curve I have found that emails appear on the device before they even show up on my PC which gives me an added peace of mind. Overall, the email function is spot on and cannot be faulted at all. The text on the screen is bright, colourful and very easy to read. When typing using the QWERTY keyboard (shown in the picture above) the message keeps up so there is no need to wait for the software to catch up. With previous BlackBerry models I had serious issues with the size of the keys and the actual layout. As the Pearl has a mobile phone layout where each key was assigned three letters I found typing to be a very time consuming affair and with the 7100v has keys that were just too small which meant frequent spelling mistakes in messages. Using the Curve 8310 is simply a joy. The keys are a perfect size, are set out brilliantly and due to the shape of the entire unit, enable the use of two hands when typing making it much faster than before to type messages.
Email is the primary function for my BlackBerry but it also serves perfectly as a mobile phone. The call reception and call quality is second to none, every word spoken is picked up by the built in microphone and the adjustable volume means that callers can be adjusted from a whisper to literally ear drum splitting volumes. The loudspeaker is also very handy and much better than any of the loudspeakers I have previously used on mobile phones. There is no feedback or static and ever word is repeated with crystal clear clarity. As with mobile phones, the Curve 8310 also allows the sending of SMS and MMS messages which are typed in the same way as emails. The 2MP digital camera takes pictures of a reasonable quality. I won't be rushing out to put my Kodak EasyShare on eBay but it does pick up the depth of colour in shots and has a decent focus on it. Should you feel the need to take a picture of something on the spot you won't be disappointed but really, they is no need for the device to have a camera other than to appeal to the general mobile phone market. No real upgrades have been made to the web browser, it is still relatively fast and the pages load very quickly when the device has a strong reception signal. All of the pages load in full colour and there is still the ability to store favourites and bookmarks. I find the browser to be a useful little feature when trying to resolve arguments in the pub about who starred in what film, or who died when. It is a handy tool, but ultimately one that I find I use very infrequently. The most use the browser has been in the time I have used the Curve 8310 is to download new screen savers, wallpaper and pictures to personalise the device and I'm very happy with both the download speeds and storage capacity.
One of the newest features is the installation of the BlackBerry Maps software. Essentially this converts the Blackberry into a very basic satellite navigation system. Once you have inserted your starting point and end point, either by using a post code or street name a map will show you the fastest route to your destination using coloured arrows to guide you. As the Curve 8310 has a built in Global Positioning System the maps are accurate to I have found a few feet and as you turn a corner on foot the map refreshes and continues to give precise directions. I use this feature quite a lot when wandering around central London and find it to be much easier than finding and printing off several maps from websites or flicking through an A-Z.
RIM, the makers of BlackBerry have in their infinite wisdom altered the way in which the menus are navigated. Instead of the old style wheel on the right hand side, the Curve uses a trackball located in the middle of the device. At first I found this really fiddly, but only because I was used to the old style. It took a few days to really get the hang of reaching onto the face of the device and wheeling around going up, down left and right when previous models only allowed movement from left to right. The ball is incredibly responsive, so even the slightest of touches sends the cursor flying off across the screen. The sensitivity can be altered and after playing around I found the setting for those of us with heavy hands! Accessing features and functions from the main menu is as you would expect very simple. Each feature has its own icon and is selected by moving the cursor over it and clicking. Each icon is brightly coloured, the icon relevant to the feature and brightly coloured. For even the most simple of users BlackBerry even inserted a large text at the bottom of the screen identifying which icon you currently have selected making it 100% foolproof.
The Curve 8310 uses the standard BlackBerry lithium cell battery which allows according the published specifications up to 17 days of power on standby, and up to 4 hours of talk-time. After charging the battery fully on a Monday morning I find that with continued use of email, SMS and the mobile phone the battery lasts for around 3 days before being totally drained. As it can be charged using either a standard plug adapter or charged via the USB cable I have never got to the point where it totally runs out of life. As a nice touch, it gives off a little warning message to let you know when you have 2 hours of standby power remaining.
With previous BlackBerry models I did on occasion experience some software errors or times when the SIM card would not register which resulted in the need when emerging from the Underground or no signal areas to reboot the device. To date I have experienced none of these issues and despite downloading numerous pictures, screensavers, games and wallpapers, the processing speed has not deteriorated in the slightest. After a few months of heavy use I am very pleased with my upgrade and would highly recommend it to business users both young and old.
Thanks for taking the time to read.
Aftershaves come and go as far as I'm concerned, but firm favourites are constantly replenished should they ever look likely to run out. I regularly try out new ranges but always come back to old reliable aftershaves like Bvlgari Pour Homme and Bvlgari Pour Homme Extreme. It was with delight that as a Christmas present I received a 50ml bottle of Bvlgari Pour Homme Soir, one fragrance I had never even seen in the shops, let alone had the pleasure of smelling. One thing I could be sure of though through experience was that this would be an aftershave of quality and I wasn't to be disappointed as such, but the reasons why this will never replace Bvlgari Pour Homme as my favourite will become clear as you read on.
The bottle is the classic Bvlgari Pour Homme design similar in looks to the female versions of the Bvlgari range. Instead of being rather flat the bottle is quite tall standing 15cm high and the glass has a "pinched" effect at the top where the atomiser and lid meet the bottle. I have attached a few pictures for ease of reference and I'm sure readers will agree that it is incredibly understated. With Bvlgari aftershaves there is no need for unique packaging as once you've tried it or smelt it, you know that it is the quality that will keep you coming back. The only thing that sets the Bvlgari Pour Homme Soir apart in terms of looks from the regular Pour Homme is the word Soir in tiny lettering on the bottle.
The notes to Bvlgari Pour Homme Soir are outlined below and it is marketed as:
"A rich, elegant, woody scent aimed at charismatic men looking for a refined and sensuous evening fragrance. Profoundly vibrant and enveloping, Bvlgari Pour Homme Soir enriches the elegant and comfortable woody musk signature of Bvlgari Pour Homme with precious and rare raw materials, amber and the novel charm of papyrus wood, which add sophistication and sensuality to the note."
Head: Darjeeling tea, bergamot and rosewood.
Heart: Lavender, pepper and musk oils.
Base: Cedar wood, patchouli and papyrus amber.
Being concentrated means that only 3 squirts from the atomiser are needed to cover the face and neck with what is at first a really strong fragrance. As soon as it leaves the bottle it starts to fill the room with its beautiful aroma. While being strong, it isn't overpowering and initial impressions are that it is almost light and airy with the ability to project the head notes without making me gag. The Darjeeling tea is not the note that really hits the nostrils, it is that of the bergamot orange and this gives the immediate lemon and orange citrus zing and thus the impression of being quite a light fragrance. Initially I could tell no real difference between Pour Homme Soir and Pour Homme Extreme. They share identical head notes and I spent a good 20 minutes wondering how Bvlgari had gotten away with simply putting the same product in a different bottle and marketing it as new.
After around 30 minutes the light and citrus fragrance seemed to totally disappear, in fact I could smell nothing of the aftershave on myself, a good sure fire way of knowing that it had blended with my skin perfectly, however those around me began to comment on the new aftershave. A further spray was required onto my hand to allow me to fully appreciate how the fragrance changed and altered over time so once again, after approximately 20 minutes and a good long sniff of where I had sprayed it brought a whole host of new and exciting smells. The citrus had indeed been replaced by a warmer feeling of lavender blended with pepper. The Darjeeling tea also provided noticeable undertones of spice that had blended to make it altogether very subtle fragrance. The warm, safe fragrance remained for well over 5 hours and as it started to change again this was when it fell from grace. The fragrance seems to evolve over time and whilst initially it is far from a masculine fragrance with its light airy head and heart notes as the base filters through it becomes heavy in an understated way. The woods and papyrus amber retain the warm feeling yet it becomes refined yet rugged on the nose and the noses of those around the wearer. Not being a big fan of heavy woody fragrances this is where I came to the conclusion that whilst I liked the aftershave, ultimately it didn't retain enough of the citrus zing or light airy feeling.
As it was a gift I am unsure as to how much was paid for my bottle but having done a little research both on and offline I can advise that a 50ml bottle will cost in the region of £40 on the high street from places such as House of Fraser or Selfridges, while online prices vary from £30 upwards. The cheapest I have seen the same product advertised (except for eBay is £29.99). At £40 I still consider Bvlgari Pour Homme Soir to be a product that gives exceptional value for money as it is more of a concentrated fragrance which means that a little really does go a long way as is the case with most Bvlgari aftershaves so it is likely to last well in excess of 6-9 months, possibly longer given the nature and circumstances under which I will be wearing it.
Personally I believe the fragrance to be multi-functional. It has an ever changing aroma meaning that even though Bvlgari market it as a fragrance for special occasions, it would not be out of place being worn around the office, for a night down at the pub or for a special romantic occasion.
Pour Homme Soir is another quality fragrance from the Bvlgari fashion house and whilst it gives my favourite aftershaves a real run for their money it is slightly let down I feel by the fact that it tries to be far too masculine, the notes blending to give off more of a warm and heavy fragrance rather than a long-lasting fresh citrus aroma that pleases me and those I come into contact with. Regardless of my own personal preferences, Pour Homme Soir is still an aftershave that should be tried and I would wholeheartedly recommend it as a potential gift, or just one of those purchases when you feel like trying something new, after all, almost everyone I come into contact with on a daily basis has passed a positive comment.
Thanks for talking the time to read and rate.
I am an avid book reader and due to space constraints within out flat, my wife suggested that we consider getting rid of some of my used books using Bookmooch.com whilst at the same time saving some cash on titles I wanted to read by mooching back books that I wanted to read. Initially being unsure as to how to use the site I used her account to get a feel for the mooching process before eventually setting up my own account. In a nutshell, Bookmooch.com is an online community where members have the opportunity to give away unwanted books in exchange for points, and when another member lists a book in their own inventory that you wish to obtain, you use your own accumulated points to mooch the book from them.
So how does Bookmooch work? Firstly you need to become a member and this is free, the only cost members is the price of posting one of your own books to another member of the site. The Bookmooch website which can be found at www.bookmooch.com and whilst it isn't the most excitingly designed website with over complicated graphics it is designed in a user-friendly manner and although I was expecting something quite complicated I found that within a few minutes of navigating around the website even I could fully comprehended how it worked. Once you have decided to become a member of Bookmooch.com there are a few registration questions to be completed in a similar manner to signing up to any community based forum or website. They ask you to firstly create a username and password both of which you will need every time you log into Bookmooch and when you do attempt to log in a pop-up will appear as a separate mini link for you to simply enter those details. An email address is needed preferably one which you have access to or check most frequently and your postal address. The reason you need to give this information is so that people know where to send the book too when you mooch one from them. In terms of security the site is designed perfectly, my initial concerns about posting my home address on the Internet where unfounded as addresses are not publicly accessible for members and non-members, instead it is only given to the person you request a book from. The final step of registration involves confirming whether o not you wish to send your books to either moochers in your own country or world-wide. The reason it asks for this information is because if you are not willing to send books worldwide then the books on your inventory are not viewable to people outside the domain you have chosen. An email from Bookmooch will be sent to you immediately to confirm your registration and you can then log in and begin mooching.
The whole Bookmooch points system is designed to stop people taking liberties by simply collecting books from the current members without giving something back, therefore you need to accumulate points before you can start requesting books for yourself and there are various ways to do this. The points system is relatively easy to explain and there are three different ways in which you can achieve your points; firstly by listing the books in your inventory that you have already read and want to offload. For uploading these books to your inventory you are allocated 1/10th of a point and you can gain another 1/10th of a point for clicking to state that you have received a book. The other way of gaining points is by sending books to people who have mooched them from you. This points system is set up on a sliding scale of up to 3 points, 1 point is awarded for sending to your own country and 3 are obtained for sending books abroad. The number of points accumulated can be viewed at any time by clicking on the member home tab on the right hand side of the screen.
If one of the books you have listed is wanted by another member of the site you will receive a mooch request and this comes in the form of an email detailing which book it is being mooched and by whom. As a member you then have the opportunity to accept or reject the request. If you accept it an automated response is sent saying you have accepted the request. Once you have posted the book you click on the pending tab and select the 'posted' button to advise the moocher that you have dispatched the book to them. If for some reason you are unable to post the book immediately you have the option to click on 'delayed' button and advise the member the reason for the delay. If you have opted to reject the book for any reason you just click on reject and the other member will be advised accordingly. When sending the book you are not given any specifics as to when it should be sent, but I am reliably informed that you should post it within a few days of accepting the mooch to ensure you are given good feedback. Using my wife's account I have managed to send out three quite specialised books on terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism to the USA and received a number of titles of interest in return. Using my own account I have to date managed to send out one book and received one back, finding the whole process very easy to follow. Another pointer is that just because a member of this site mooches a book from you, it doesn't mean you have to mooch one of their books as is the case with similar websites of this ilk.
Once you have received your book you are asked to give feedback on the sender by leaving a comment and a point score. If you are not happy with the book or the time it took to get to you this is your opportunity to say so especially if the book was in appalling condition and the owner neglected to mention this and likewise if you are happy then you say so. The feedback system allows other people thinking of mooching a book to look at the feedback and decide for themselves whether it is worth using their points to obtain a book or mooch it from someone else.
When it comes to adding your books to Bookmooch you can do this in three different ways. Bookmooch is teamed up with Amazon to make the process of adding books a simple process and it uses their author details. You can add books singularly and to do this you simply type the name of the book, author or ISBN number into the search engine below and it should appear and then you click add to inventory. The second option is to add them by bulk which is quite time consuming I have found and to do this you need to have listed in front of you all of the books you wish to list and then add them one by one before adding them to your inventory, the third option which is by far the most sensible is to import and to do this you type them all into a word document and upload it as a text file. It does mean you need to sit down and type in all of the details about the books such as the ISBN or title and author for each book on a separate line into a list form to import them but I found it much easier to do than listing them one by one. Unfortunately now I have got the hang of it I have been made to list all of the books we are mooching onto the site myself whereas before I could get my wife to do it claiming stupidity.
Another important part of this website is the wish list. It is here that you will probably spend a fair proportion of your time listing all of the books you have always wanted to read in one easy step and you add them to your wish list using the same options as you do to add books to your inventory. If at anytime there is a book that you want to read but you cannot find it listed anywhere, it is a good idea to search the Internet for it and track it down. Once you have all of the details try using Amazon to locate it because it might be that the ISBN has been changed or the title of the book differs slightly, as this website is American it is notable that some books do have slightly different titles.
When it comes to the different genres of books, most people will be pleased to know that there is more than just the chick lit category in which to browse through. There are around 40 different categories ranging from historical, home and garden, cooking, humour and horror to name but a few and whilst I tend to spend a lot of my time browsing in the historical sections I am sure there is something for all. There is also an option to browse through the books either as a list as a whole or via a category to cut down the time spent searching. However should there be a category you feel is missing but wish it to be added then you simply email the people of Bookmooch to ask them to add it for you by using the contact section.
Once your inventory and wish list have been put together you are now ready to become a fully integrated member. When you look at both lists more closely you will find there are more options to get to grips with. Firstly if a book becomes available that is on your wish list you will be notified by email immediately and if you have got enough points you can mooch it, the number of points needed for any particular book is given when you click on the button titled mooch. You can also see how many copies of a book you want are available; some of the books which are a few years old usually have more than one copy listed, so as a member it is your prerogative to decide who you want to mooch a copy from. If at anytime one of the books you have listed is no longer a book you want to read there is an option to remove it from your list by simply clicking that option and the same goes for a book you are not totally convinced you want to read and want to think about it first, you click later and it isn't erased from the site, just stored in a separate list.
As you become more integrated with the site you will notice that Bookmooch actually analyses the books in your lists and makes recommendations of some books for you to read based. Using this facility I have to say I obtained one of the most fascinating and interesting books I have ever read and to be honest, if the site had not recommended it, I would never have dreamed of picking it up off a bookshelf.
There are times when Bookmooch is very active and you could receive multiple mooches from people requesting books and as a member you have a section called pending and here will be a list all of the books you have agreed to send, along with the persons details of whom you are sending the book to. Also listed you can find information on the books you have mooched from people and their status as to whether it is has been accepted or rejected, being posted or has been posted and both are a very useful tool.
There are some added extras to this website which I believe are quite important to the way in which the site functions. The first one concerns your mooch points. Listed on Bookmooch are some charities, mainly US based but there is so far one UK charity to whom you can donate some or all of your points too. You can also give some of your points to one of your friends if you are feeling generous and this would enable them to mooch a book they really want or you could do what is called a smooch and look through their wish list of books and order one on their behalf and have it sent to them as a nice gesture. If you know people who are also book moochers you can add them as your friends, you can search for members by their email address, their name or if you know of a username they might use you can search by that and request to be added to their friends list.
Finally at anytime should you feel the need to update your information or delete your account you can do so from the member home page.
The idea behind this website is really clever and works brilliantly in my experience even though it is based entirely on trust. With no problems at all to report I am extremely happy with one of my new online hobbies. The website is easy to use and overly user friendly, all of the information is written in plain English so it is easy to understand and the colours and graphics are not overbearing at all. Being colour blind I find the colour schemes of some websites cause great difficultly in actually reading text or locating hyperlinks, again, with Bookmooch.com I have had none of these problems as everything is set out in a very uniformed fashion. The best thing about the site for me has been the fact that I have read quite a few books saving a substantial amount of money, had the opportunity to read books I would never have considered buying myself and finally I have managed to clear a large number of books from our bookshelves making room for new arrivals from Bookmooch.com and for new purchases.
I really cannot recommend Bookmooch.com enough, while I am sure there are a few members of the site out there who may send books in a terrible condition out to other moochers the books I have received over my time as a member have always been of a good or exceptional standard, they have never looked like they have been dropped in the bath or chewed by a dog. The site is ideal for people who don't get the opportunity to get out to the library due to illness or work commitments on a regular basis as the books are delivered to your door or place of work (as they are in my case) making it quite possibly one of the best websites/forums available globally for avid readers.
When it comes to aftershaves I have a large and rather varied collection, some come and go without ever being replaced whilst a few firm favourites are instantly replaced. Never being one to stay with just one brand I am obsessed with trying new fragrances and it was whilst out shopping I tried the tester to Davidoff Game, a tester that had me instantly hooked due to the slap in the face refreshing citrus aroma and relatively bargain price. Being a fan of the Davidoff Cool Water and Cool Water Deep range I had no hesitation in purchasing the full gift pack for £45, which included a 100ml bottle of the aftershave, moisturising lotion and shower gel. £45 may seem excessive but readers should bear in mind that 100ml of this aftershave (taking the other items in the pack out of the equation) will last for well over 6 months when being used on a daily basis and if purchased individually the price comes down to only £35 on the high street in places like Boots and House of Fraser. Alternatively it can be purchased from several reputable online aftershave retailers with prices as low as £25.
The bottle to Davidoff Game is blue in colour, as are most of the aftershaves in the Davidoff range and totally unique in style. Made from thick glass the bottle is fairly heavy at first but the sunken sections of the glass makes it very easy to hold onto even with wet hands removing the risk of injury should you accidentally let it slip from your grasp in the bathroom. The actual amount of thought that has gone into bottle design isn't surprising, it is something of a Davidoff trait with all of their aftershaves having very novel bottle designs, the funkiest that springs to mind is Davidoff Echo, a great bottle but absolutely vile aftershave.
Before going any further I will explain the differences between head, heart and base. The head note ingredients are usually the first ingredients you will smell in an aftershave or perfume. In light a fruity fragrances these tend to be citrus fruits or plant extracts. The heart notes provide the deeper body to the fragrance and usually consist of tobacco, berry extracts and milder spices while the base notes provide the long lasting fragrance when combined with the head and heart notes. The published notes to Davidoff Game are:
Head: Grapefruit, watermelon and bail verbena leaves.
Heart: Green Blackcurrant, gingko and lavender.
Base: Cedar wood, patchouli and musk.
The marketing blurb to the aftershave (which I have to say is incredibly accurate) sells Davidoff Game as an aftershave that has notes that will spark you to life with fruity bursts of citrus that will contrast with underlying notes to produce a refreshing yet warm sensual masculine fragrance. My own personal experience has actually been summed up in a rather brief manner by the Davidoff marketing department, but it doesn't give the full picture of how this aftershave changes over time, something it almost definitely does over the day.
As I have said, I was drawn to the aftershave when out shopping, it was an impulse buy so I bought it based upon the top notes and before actually trying it on myself. The last time I did this I ended up with the lemon that is Davidoff Echo so I was eager to try it. Only 3 gentle squirts of the atomiser release enough of the aftershave to cover the face and neck and my first impressions were that I had fallen into a fruit salad. The grapefruit and watermelon are instantly noticeable and provide a very strong and refreshing assault on the senses. The grapefruit provides the zesty citrus aroma that seems to linger yet as it blends on the skin the most evident fragrance is that of watermelon and this remains for around 30 minutes as it is absorbed into the skin properly and this is when the heart and base notes begin to become the dominant ingredients changing it from a light airy fairy aftershave into something deeper, warmer and far more masculine than I expected when I first tested it. This is not to say it is a bad thing, in fact I was actually surprised by how much I liked the fragrance after it had dried down. It is rare that I personally like aftershaves that become heavier and warmer over time; Davidoff Game is the exception to the rule.
As the watermelon fades so does the citrus vibe to the entire aftershave, the heart note of lavender then becomes most pronounced and as this blends with the cedar wood and patchouli it is as though the nostrils are taking in warm air. The fragrance becomes almost floral with hints of a spicy wooden undertone and this is how it remains for hour after hour. Most aftershaves last around 10 hours, Davidoff Game can still be smelt 20 hours later its staying power is that good. While it does fade eventually I personally can't argue with an aftershave that I really like that is affordable, long lasting and has the ability to remain lovely late into the evening after applying first thing in the morning.
After wearing Davidoff Game on and off now for over a year I have to say it is one of those inoffensive fragrances that will have something for everyone. Those who enjoy their light, refreshing citrus fragrances will love the initial blast of watermelon while those who prefer their rugged masculine fragrances will be impressed with the dry down aroma. I wear Davidoff Game for office wear and when hanging around the house at the weekends and whilst I recommend the product I have to say that it will never replace Bvlgari Extreme, or Bvlgari BLV as my personal favourites, aftershaves that can be worn for any occasion.
Thanks for taking the time to read and rate.
I am always on the lookout for new and exciting cleansing agents and exfoliating potions to use on my forever aging face in an attempt to turn back the clock to the days when blackheads, dry patches and broken skin were just a nightmare waiting to happen. With a vigorous routine pre and post showering to ensure that my face radiates and projects a clean and clear image it didn't make much persuasion to give Kin Renovator from L'Oreal Men Expert a trial run, especially as I had been so impressed with the results of the moisturising facial lotion from the same range.
I bought a 60ml tube of the Skin Renovator along with the Anti-Tightness Foaming Cleansing Gel from Boots for a combined cost of £8.50, the normal recommend retail price being £4.99 for each item. I have seen the product for sale in several other stores with prices ranging from £3.50 to £6 so shopping around will reduce the impact on your wallet.
The product claims within the marketing blurb to remove dead skin cells and impurities, resurface and refine skin texture leaving the surface of the face feeling ultra smooth and renewed. With expressed instructions that the product should only be used twice a week after using it the first time I realised why. The product contains aluminium oxide micro-crystals which act as the abrasive agent on the skin and boy it gets abrasive.
The exfoliator itself is white in colour and before actually touching it I was convinced that it didn't have anything contained within it that would remove dead skin from my face as it appeared to have the same consistency as hand wash gels with a rather bland and non-descript aroma when first extracted from the tube. If pushed into a description of the aroma I would have to say faintly creamy. After splashing my face with warm water I squeezed several dots of the exfoliator around my face and began to massage it into my face in a circular motion as directed. As soon as I started to massage it into my skin I was amazed by three things, the first being the fact that it spread really well so only a tiny dot placed in the middle of my forehead, one on either cheek and a dot on my chin was needed to completely exfoliate my face meaning that a little of this product really does go a long way. The second revelation came from the fragrance as soon as it started to be absorbed into my skin. It became so much stronger with the creamy aroma becoming more pronounced whilst finally and most importantly the actual texture became highly abrasive with the aluminium oxide micro-crystals that I couldn't previously detect obviously removing all of the dead skin and impurities.
As the product is massaged into the face you are basically left with what feels like sand on your fingertips and I for one could only keep rubbing it into my face for around a minute before I rinsed my face. I was horrified by the colour of the water. I had expected a residue in the water but it was positively filthy and to say it was murky would be one hell of a massive understatement. The product had obviously removed a hell of a lot of dead skin from my face and in doing so had fulfilled the first part of the product promise. To get top marks from me, how it would leave my face after rinsing a drying was the real acid test and I have to say that like the Dead Sea Facial Peel I usually use the end results were perfect and highly satisfactory. Mt face looked a lot cleaner, my pores seemed totally unblocked so there were no blackheads or resulting spots over the course of the week and to the touch my skin felt baby soft. Result!
I was very skeptical at using the Skin Renovator and I have to admit the purchase was motivated purely by the fact that it was cheaper than my normal favourite and I fancied a change at the time. What I ended up with was a facial exfoliator that is exceptionally masculine, abrasive as hell and does everything it claims to do. Given that only a tiny amount of the exfoliator is needed twice a week the 60ml tube I have has lasted for months and still hasn't run out making it great value for money and a purchase I would highly recommend.
Combined with the L'Oreal Men Expert Hydra Energetic Moisturising Lotion my face just has never looked or felt as good as it does now.
Thanks for taking the time to read and rate.
I have never been a spotty person, infact my teenage years were spent longing for some acne and blackheads so I could fit in the crowd, but alas it was never to be. In my early twenties however and the introduction of large amounts of alcohol and other toxins into my system lead to sporadic outbreaks of blackheads and this lead me on the path to true facial beauty and the frequent testing of various products. Up until this week I had never had the urge, nor desire to try Clearasil, let alone the Sensitive version, but with my supplies of LOreal Skin Renovator and LOreal Anti-Tightness Cleansing Gel running low I went in search of Clearasil Sensitive Lotion, the daily cleansing agent.
Actually finding a supermarket that stocked the Sensitive version was tricky. Both my local Asda and Tesco stores had the normal Clearasil lotions but didnt stock the Sensitive. In the end, I found a supply at my local Boots store and have since seen it in my local Lloyds chemist. Availability I would therefore say is fairly hit and miss affair, as is the variation in retail price with Boots selling it at £3.98 (the price I paid) and Lloyds selling it a whole one pound more at £4.98.
Normally I use LOreal Men Expert products as an alternative to soaps and shower gels as I find that they rarely leave my skin dry and with the excellent exfoliating properties remove all the grime that leads to the build up of blackheads. I was pleased to see that the bottle of Clearasil stated that it would cleanse my face of grime and bacteria thus reducing the chances of acne and blackheads.
Unlike the other facial products I use to combat unsightly outbreaks of acne and blackheads instead of just using it in the shower with Clearasil I had to apply the lotion to my face, allow it time to absorb and then use 3 or 4 cotton balls (something I hate doing) to wipe any unabsorbed lotion from my face. As it wasnt something I could incorporate into my shower routine I wasnt best pleased that it added precious minutes to my pre-work schedule.
From the mix of heavy ingredients I wasnt surprised when I first opened the bottle to be greeted by a completely synthetic clinical smell, not too dissimilar to the aroma of an Accident and Emergency department. The smell wasnt overpowering but again, I prefer my facial products to have a more fresh and natural fragrance so it was rather off putting. On the plus side, a long sniff of this first thing in the morning will have the effect of slapping you awake in a very short space of time.
The first time I used the product (Tuesday) I hadnt actually used any other facial products for 3-4 days so a few blackheads had started to become noticeable to me on close inspection of my face. Not reading the directions for use or really engaging my brain I poured a liberal amount of the lotion into a cupped hand and splashed it over my face, gently rubbing it in. With hindsight and common sense now firmly engaged I use cotton buds to apply it. With the consistency of water the lotion is easily absorbed and has no tingling or refreshing effect for me personally, something I like when using a cleanser first thing in the morning.
Very skeptical as to whether this lotion would work I was very happy that even after shaving there was no burn when applying, but and this is a large but within an hour of using the lotion my face felt completely dry and rather tight, a feeling that got worse for the first 3 hours after this. Thinking it was my fault for the way I had applied the lotion I continued using the lotion on Wednesday, Thursday and again today, Friday with exactly the same effect. Whilst the clinical smell wasnt evident to me, my wife just turned her nose up when I first emerged from the bathroom after using it. The feeling of tightness would be worth it though if it removed any of the traces of the blackheads that had started to appear but after 4 days of using it I have to report that they have actually increased in size to the point where before I venture out into the world I will have to use another product to remove any trace of them.
After 4 days of using the Clearasil lotion I would have to sum it up as a total waste of time and a product I will not be using again. Whilst a bottle may last a few weeks with daily and sparing use, the actual cost is the equivalent of a tube of LOreal Skin Renovator which as an effective cleansing exfoliator is head and shoulders above Clearasil in terms of effectiveness at combating blackheads, leaves my skin feeling much better, has a nicer fragrance and is much easier to use. Whilst the product may assist with acne prevention (after all none appeared while I used it but none had appeared before I used it) it isnt a product for me.
Personally I will be sticking with the LOreal Men Expert products and Swisa Dead Sea Facial Peel to keep my face free of blackheads.
Thanks for taking the time to read and rate.
When it comes to aftershaves I normally have a few favourites that are instantly replaced should they even remotely look as though they are about to run out on me. With a sensitive nose and obsession never to give off an Old Spice aroma my favourites tend to be light, fruity numbers that have long lasting staying power and the head turning factor that boosts the confidence. Currently my favourites include anything from the range by Bvlgari, Joop and Davidoff Game all of which are rock solid performers in the aftershave stakes. With a collection of aftershaves that now requires draw space in my bedroom one of the aftershaves that I tend to be use infrequently is Cerruti 1881 Pour Homme.
Available from most larger Boots stores and many other high street retailers, a 50ml bottle of the 1881 Pour Homme version of the aftershave will cost anything from £30 to £40 making it quite expensive in comparison to other leading aftershaves on the market, however, shopping online can lead to some serious savings with prices of £26.50 online at sites such as www.fragrancedirect.co.uk or www.expresschemist.co.uk. Given my recommendation in summing up this fragrance at the bottom of the review, I would strongly suggest testing the fragrance on the high street and then if you like it, placing an order online where the prices make it a reasonable purchase.
The bottle to 1881 Pour Homme is actually quite unique in shape and look, with frosted glass and pale looking contents it gives the impression that water has frozen to the sides to form the odd shape. This odd shape actually makes the bottle really easy to grip in comparison to aftershaves that simply have smoother shaped bottles. In a nutshell, it looks rather classy from the moment it is removed from the box, but if I had just forked out £40 for it I would expect everything about it to look and be a class apart.
The notes to 1881 Pour Homme are vague and opt to give pretentious marketing blurb instead of just giving a breakdown between the head, heart and base ingredients to enable an informed opinion to be given on how the fragrance should smell over the time it is worn. From what I can gather from a little bit of research into the fragrance and the exchange of one or two emails with the makers is that 1881 Pour Homme is unique in the fact that it has few head and heart ingredients. Before going any further I will explain the differences between head, heart and base. The head note ingredients are usually the first ingredients you will smell in an aftershave or perfume. In light a fruity fragrances these tend to be citrus fruits or plant extracts. The heart notes provide the deeper body to the fragrance and usually consist of tobacco, berry extracts and milder spices while the base notes provide the long lasting fragrance when combined with the head and heart notes. Cerruti advise me that the ingredient notes are:
Head - Rose blossom, lemon and lavender.
Heart - Blackberry extract, gingko and clove.
Dry down - Sandalwood, musk and saffron.
Taking these notes into account, the aftershave should initially be light and fruity with a fragrance that remains light for a few hours before becoming warmer as the day/night progresses, with the gingko and lavender giving enough body to make it a long lasting and very masculine aroma. As I write this I can from memory smell this aftershave on my father and this is how it does smell on him, and I'm sure how it smells on my father is how Cerruti intended it to be. If I had to rate it based upon how it smells when my father wears it I would without hesitation give it 5 stars and a hearty recommendation but my personal experience of the aftershave it completely different. That is not to say I dislike it, I actually find it neither amazing nor repulsive.
A few liberal squirts of the atomiser release enough of the aftershave to keep the fragrance in your nostrils and the nostrils of those you are close to for well over 8 hours at a time making it incredibly long lasting and good value for money in aftershave terms as a bottle is likely to last for a good few months even when used on a daily basis. First impressions when I spray this are indeed of a very light, almost unnoticeable fragrance, the only ingredients picked up are of the lemon that give it a refreshing citrus zing that lasts for around 30 minutes before it begins to blend with the other notes and alter on my skin. Over time, the rose and lavender notes become more pronounced with the lemon becoming less obvious. None of the heart notes are actually detectable at any time but after around an hour the fragrance stops being light and settles down to be reasonably heavy as the sandalwood and musk base notes give it much more of a masculine aroma. My main bugbear is that when others wear 1881 Pour Homme it remains light and airy with the lemon and citrus fragrance being the overwhelming note however when I use it the musk and sandalwood dominate the fragrance making it much heavier than my personal taste deems acceptable.
Cerruti 1881 Pour Homme is an aftershave I can take or leave, it is one of those aftershaves that has a distinctive fragrance that changes dramatically depending upon the wearer. I haven't bought a bottle in my life, but have two bottles sat at home because it is my fathers favourite aftershave, and when he is stuck for present ideas I can guarantee that he will opt to buy me a bottle either at Christmas or when my birthday comes around. I say that it has a distinctive fragrance because when my father wears this it is instantly recognisable and smells wonderful, on a par with some of my favourite aftershaves, but when I wear it I have to admit it smells very mediocre, and doesn't give that air of individuality that comes with more refined fragrances such as Bvlgari Extreme or Bvlgari BLV Pour Homme.
This is the first time I have been unable to give a firm recommendation when reviewing an aftershave and this is because the fragrance can alter so much depending upon the wearer therefore I have rated it as 3 stars because from my experience it is inoffensive, pretty decent for daywear around the office but lacking that something that makes it just that little bit special. This is an aftershave you really should try before you buy.
TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
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After parting company with our previous computer to enable faster processing speeds for Football Manager 2008 my wife and I decided that it was time to invest in a new keyboard, We opted not to buy a new keyboard at the time of buying the computer as the one we already had was simply superb, comfortable to use. After a friend suggested that the chances of catching MRSA from it had passed from if to when scenario I took a long hard look at the faded keys and with a heavy heart started looking around for a replacement. My initial thoughts were to simply buy the same model as why not go with what you know. A keyboard that had served me over and above the call of duty for 4 years was well worth looking at again, unfortunately a quick telephone call to Microsoft dashed those dreams as it had been discontinued.
The lovely lady I spoke to at the Microsoft helpdesk could tell I was disappointed and after giving her my requirements she suggested a number of keyboards from various price ranges and I went away to do more research to see which one I should buy. The outcome was the introduction to the household of the Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 Keyboard and Mouse for a whopping £150. Why did I decide to spend so much money on a keyboard, well I wanted the most up to date one possible because it would irritate my sarcastic friend with his MRSA comments and it looks stunning.
What did I get for my £150? Well a special keyboard and a mouse and that's pretty much it. The keyboard oozes that typical Microsoft quality with a stylish silver finish and has the feel of solid construction when being moved around. Set out in the standard QWERTY format the keyboard is bent slightly in the middle giving it a bit of a U shape. Being fully rechargeable was one of the huge advantages that drew me to this model and the adjustable backlight is just amazing as it gives the keys an eerie glow when I sit playing around late at night. Unlike my previous keyboard I no-longer have to wait for the keys to become unresponsive or for an onscreen warning to appear to tell me that the battery is close to being totally drained, sitting in the top of the keyboard is a battery indicator which allows me to recharge the batteries on a regular basis before I find that most the documents I have typed are littered with typo's because of the weak signal. Recharging is really easy, and it is the only time that the keyboard and mouse is not totally wireless. Attaching the keyboard and mouse to the charging hub provides instant charge and the indicator lights glow a bright green when full.
The keyboard features 4 USB ports, something I have not yet felt the need to use, a navigation pad that allows control my computer with the use of the mouse lots of other little short cut buttons which come now normally come as standard with every brand of keyboard. There is a 'Windows Live' button to enable access to MSN, a 'gadgets' button that accesses weather information, news updates, traffic maps and slide shows of online photo albums, as well as a 'My Favourites' button that allows me to access the items I use most. With a minimum operating system requirement of Windows XP the keyboard is also compatible with Vista as you would expect being one of the most recent releases from Microsoft. There is a shortcut button that opens up the start menu when using Vista that enables searches of the PC and the Internet.
Considering all of the quirky little features the keyboard has I have to say that for novelty value the fact that the backlight is controlled by a motion sensor and comes on automatically when you approach the keyboard and switches itself off when you move away is just one of those schoolboy fantasies fulfilled. If you think that this would annoy you or possibly drain the batteries, for clarification I can confirm that it also senses the amount of light in the room meaning that if it is bright, it won't keep starting up the backlight unnecessarily. What was and still remains cool is the fact that as it gets darker it switches itself on. I'm easily pleased obviously!
The mouse came with the keyboard at no extra cost. If it had I would have simply opted for just the keyboard purchase as my other mouse was still going strong after many years of abuse. Made from brushed aluminium it is really light to pick up and move about. When considering the best feature it was a toss up between the fact that it allows for pinpoint precision and the four way scrolling option that allows you to scroll four ways (up and down, left and right). The Tilt Wheel Technology makes it easy to manoeuver the mouse around and move the wheel not only backwards and forwards but from side to side as well. I find this incredibly useful when looking at larger Internet pages and reduces strain on my wrist by not having to continually move the screen manually using the cursor. As with the keyboard this mouse is also rechargeable and the battery status indicator flashes when batteries need recharging much in the same way as the keyboard. The only other features that really makes it stand out against every other mouse out there on the market is the magnifying button and the instant viewing option. The magnifying button allows me to point at the screen and click upon a webpage or desktop item or page to enlarge it. A pretty good feature if your eyesight is as poor as mine first thing in the morning or late at night when concentration is not at its best. The instant viewing option is a handy tool if like me you open hundreds of windows and get sick of having to click on the toolbar to find the window you want. The mouse has another button that will minimise all of the open screens and places them on the desktop allowing you to see which pages you have open and which can be closed down. As an example, if you have 6 windows open and you can see them on the lower task bar it will place them in the middle of your screen and then using the mouse you can close them quicker one by one should you no longer require them. I use this feature most of all on my mouse and it definitely makes things much easier.
This keyboard looks and feels amazing to use and not only is it stylish it is easy to use and doesn't differ too greatly from any other keyboard it is just that with this one you have a lot more features to make life that little bit easier. Both the keyboard and mouse give the user much more control from less mouse clicks or button presses than any other similar systems I have used in the past. The Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 is slim in design and much smaller in width and length than your average keyboard which means it takes up less space upon your desk or work station and if you are working from your lap sitting on the sofa it is easier to handle and very sturdy.
Overall I am impressed with this keyboard and highly recommend it to everyone looking for a replacement. Things have moved on leaps and bounds since I last bought a keyboard but the entrance of the Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 meant that the mourning for my previous love was very short lived. Of course nothing could be perfect but the only drawback to the Desktop 8000 is the price.
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When it comes to my cleansing and exfoliating regime my face is not the only part of my body that receives large amounts of attention on a daily basis. To say that I find cleanliness next to godliness is generally a massive understatement. There is no point in paying meticulous attention to the visible areas of the body whilst leaving the areas covered by clothes in a battered and abused state and that is why on a daily basis I use Simple Exfoliating Body Wash, something chosen by my wife as a replacement to the Clearasil exfoliator I had been using for sometime.
A 250ml bottle of the Simple exfoliator sells in most supermarkets and large chemists for only £1.39 and this I believe represents exceptional value for money considering the results, length of time a bottle lasts for and the fact that as it is not perfumed or coloured it can be used by everyone, even those with super sensitive skin. Easy to spot due to the pale colouring (as I said, it doesnt containing and artificial colourings) and clear brand marking the exfoliator can be seen clearly through the transparent bottle. My first impressions when picking it up were that it looked like it contained little white flecks of coconut but a closer inspection of the ingredients shows this to be unfounded.
The exfoliator claims that due to being specially formulated with natural ingredients and essential oils it will leave your skin feeling revitalised, smooth and softened with the natural balance of your skin being restored to improve skin tone and stimulate circulation. I rarely believe anything I read and had I bought this based upon the claims I would have been sorely disappointed, however as it was more of a punt than any scientific purchase the results and quality of the product are on a par with far more expensive exfoliators available.
If you will pardon the pun, the exfoliator is simple to dispense and to completely cover my body a blob of around 2cm in diameter is all that is required. As it is dispensed onto the hands it honestly doesnt feel like an exfoliator as it is quite thick and the bits used to exfoliate cant be felt at all until you start to massage it into the skin. The thick consistency makes the exfoliator very easy to apply and as it is spread over the body becoming thinner it is then that the bits start to become evident. Once the bits within the exfoliator can be felt whilst massaging it into the skin it starts to lather up beautifully, but instead of having the same effect as a soap or normal shower gel, the lather is neither rich or long lasting and as soon as the massaging stops the lather fades very quickly.
Unlike my usual exfoliator Simple is not as abrasive and the bits seem to caress my skin rather than act as a mild form of sandpaper. The first time I used the product I did think that it wouldnt have the same effect as the more expensive brands just because there was a mild scraping sensation when using it. The product is washed off with ease and leaves no residue at all. There is nothing worse than drying off, getting dressed and then finding bits of exfoliator stuck to your skin. Thankfully this is not a problem with Simple Exfoliating Body Wash.
As far as results are concerned for the price paid for this product I was amazed. As soon as the exfoliator is washed off my skin was left with something of a glow and it was incredibly smooth to the touch. After drying off the smooth feeling remained and it did feel much softer for around half an hour before it just felt how it does when using any other shower gel. After around an hour the glow seemed to go, with hindsight the glow had probably more to do with the hot shower rather than the product however it had left me clean, with smooth skin and it was obvious that the dead skin I had noticed on my arms had been removed.
To summarise, I am very pleased with Simple Exfoliating Body Wash, it is cheap, gentle, cleans really well and has some benefits for my skin however it is not as good as more expensive exfoliators I have used. I now prefer to use this product as a daily shower gel due to the affordable price in comparison to shower gels and because it is so gentle, however I still keep a bottle of Clearasil exfoliator at hand for use once a week as the Simple exfoliator does not leave my skin feeling as moisturised and doesnt compete with its more expensive rival. If you are looking for a cheap no nonsense exfoliator I have no problems in recommending this product.
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World Business Research recently invited me to attend the European Homeland Security Conference 2007, a chance to get together with various people from around the world to discuss terrorism, the threats each country faces and how to policies can be developed and adapted to make Europe a safer place. This year the conference was held in Brussels and as the taxpayer would be picking up my hotel and travel bills when it came to finding accommodation the conference hotel was ruled out due to the 5* rating and I was directed to finding something 3* or below. Using Expedia I trawled through literally hundreds of hotels to find somewhere that was 3*, in a central location with rooms that looked both spacious and clean. Eventually I booked 2 nights bed and breakfast at the Hotel Arlequin at a cost of £95 per night.
The cost wasnt really an issue for me as the bill would be paid on my expense account; however I equated the fact that £95 a night must equal a decent quality hotel regardless of the star rating. Considering I paid only £55 per night recently for a 4* hotel in Spain I was looking forward to a stay in a lovely hotel.
Located down a narrow side street only a stones throw from Grand Place at 17/19 Rue De La Fourche, Brussels 1000 the hotel is a 12 Euro taxi ride from Brussels Midi Eurostar station, and 35 Euro from Brussels airport. As far as location was concerned, the cobbled street seemed dirty and the outside looked worn and tatty while it was surrounded by grubby looking fast food restaurants, Shisha bars and down market chocolate shops. Now before I sound like Im doing down the location, I have to say that while the street on which the hotel stands is not somewhere I would have stayed with hindsight, as far as using it as a base to explore Brussels it couldnt be better. Only 50 metres away from the Church of St Nicholas, a 16th Century Catholic establishment with breath taking Baroque statues and intricate carvings a further 50 metres away is Grand Place, a must see for any visitor to Brussels.
With 92 guestrooms set over 6 floors Hotel Arlequin is not a small family run establishment and I was sold on the idea of having breakfast in the 7th floor restaurant and its amazing views of Grand Place and the Brussels skyline, the free in-room Wi-Fi and the fact that I could have a smoking room.
Getting over my shock of the surrounding area I entered through the front doors to be confronted by yet another shop selling chocolate to the right, the entrance to a 5 screen cinema and 20 metre corridor that led to the check in desk. When booking the hotel the description stated that reception was staffed by people who were multi-lingual. Multi-lingual they may have been, but English was not one of their languages and so the process of gesturing, thrusting my booking confirmation under their noses and asking rather loudly what was taking so long ensued for a good 10 minutes before they got the gist that the man with the bags wanted to check-in and off they popped with my passport, returning with just a keycard, no passport to be seen. It was at this point that I asked for someone who spoke English and eventually the barman was brought forward to converse with me. They insisted that they would hold onto my passport until I checked out. This I objected to as unacceptable and after a 10 minute stand off it was eventually returned.
As the keycard was handed over I then had to prompt them to tell me my room number (always handy to know), what time breakfast was served and how I could connect to the Wi-Fi in my room. At this stage they announced that Wi-Fi wasnt free (like it stated in the hotel description) but was in fact charged at 35 Euro per day sod that.
The reception area was very clean and despite having no natural light was really well presented with lots of modern bright furniture, flat screen televisions broadcasting European news and a well stocked bar with comfy looking chairs. Had it not been for the staff and their unhelpfulness and lack of manners I would have rated this part of my stay quite highly but the lack of professionalism really angered me and I couldnt wait to get up to my room.
After being placed in a room on the 6th floor I used one of the 2 small lifts from reception as I couldnt find the stairwells and there was no signage to show where I could attempt to go searching for them. Coming out of the lift there was a curious smell, not of smoke (as I would expect on a smoking floor), but a faint smell of excrement. Moving into the room pronto I missed the huge No Smoking sign on the door and unpacked quickly so I could go out and do a little sightseeing before meeting a colleague for dinner later in the evening. The room was not huge but certainly was sufficient for my needs. The double bed was large and after testing it to see how firm it was I dived on and sank into it bliss. The white quilt was spotlessly clean and soft to the touch. This started to put me at ease and I started to relax.
By the door were two large wardrobes with plenty of hangers in addition to spare pillows and sheets. To either side of the bed were lamps and sets of draw with adequate room for storage. Across from the bed was an 18 Samsung flat screen television with 40 channels including CNN, BBC1 and BBC2. Overall I was delighted with the air conditioning, the cleanliness of the room and the bright white furnishings in contrast to the black fittings.
The en suite bathroom whilst small was also very clean and was well stocked with towels and toiletries. The bath had a shower attached to the mixer tap which was easy to use and very powerful. After settling in I decided to go out and I was really relaxed and had gotten over the whole check-in process. Pleased by the room even though it was non-smoking leaving revealed that unlike most hotels the door did not swing shut automatically and had to be pulled with some force to shut it properly, something I didnt really have a issue with until returning to my room on the second evening to find that my cards had been stolen (and used to the tune of 1000 Euros within 30 minutes) from the bedside table.
After discovering my cards stolen at 1 am on the second evening I cancelled them and went to reception to advise them of the theft and to ask for directions to the local police station. The receptionist tried unsuccessfully to convince me that there was no need to make any report to the police and that it was impossible for them to have been stolen from my room. At this point another member of staff joined the conversation saying that if they had been taken it was my own fault for not placing valuables within the in-room safe. The fact that my room did not have a safe seemed to confuse them both (later in the evening I searched the room high and low for the safe just to confirm that there wasnt one). Again, the staff could not have been more unhelpful and after conceding that I was going to make a report to the police they proceeded to give me the wrong directions to the local police station, instead sending me off in completely the wrong direction. If I hadnt asked for directions when lost I would still have been looking for the police station today which turned out to be no more than 250 metres from the front doors of the hotel.
Trying to the balanced when in all honesty I want to do nothing more than pan this hotel I have to say had I not had my cards stolen and the staff so unhelpful I probably would have enjoyed my stay as I managed to sleep really well in the room with no noise filtering in from either inside or outside the hotel. The breakfasts were served from 7 until 10 am and were really enjoyable with a large selection of breads, cereals, cold meats and cheeses as well as the option to have a full English breakfast of bacon, egg, sausage and mushrooms. The serving staff in the restaurant were nothing but attentive and could nothing better in terms of service, it is just a shame that their levels of customer service didnt stretch to other areas of the hotel.
On checking out the staff angered me even more by refusing to provide a receipt confirming that I had stayed at the hotel and the amount that I had paid (via Expedia) for the room to enable me make a valid expenses claim. They fobbed me off by saying that as I hadn't booked direct they couldn't provide a receipt. Rather than argue I just wanted to get out of the hotel and as far away from Brussels as quickly as possible.
At nearly £100 a night I expected a lot more in terms of service. The fact that Wi-Fi was an additional cost, the staff were at best obstructive and at times offensive whilst at the same time I was the victim of theft strangely not caught on any of the corridor CCTV cameras (that only work in reception) I cannot bring myself to recommend a stay at the Hotel Arlequin. It is in a great location to explore Brussels but the surrounding streets are full of beggars and thieves (someone stole the spoons off our table whilst at a café). The food may have been of a good standard but hey, Im certain that the food would have been good at any of the hotels I looked at. Staying at the Hotel Arlequin was a big mistake.
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I have over time devoted more and more time to a cleansing regime to ensure that the skin on my face despite the constant battering it takes from the London air and my sometimes unhealthy lifestyle remains smooth, soft and generally appealing to my wife, after all, nobody likes to snuggle up next to someone with an invisible layer of grime on their face with dead skin aplenty. I stumbled across Swisa Beauty Dead Sea Facial Peel while making a purchase as a leaving present for a girl from work prior to Christmas. I wasnt looking to buy anything for myself but after the girl on the stall gave me a quick demonstration and showed me how much grime had come off a small surface of my face some 30 minutes after showering I was shamed into parting with £30 for a 30ml pot of the facial peel.
Now, £30 is a lot to pay for any sort of beauty treatment/product so the proof is in the value for money test, how it performs and ultimately if it can be found elsewhere for cheaper. When recently replacing my first tub of the facial peel some 6 months later I paid only £25 from the same stall (the prices never stay the same and haggling is always the order of the day) however when looking online whilst writing the review I feel rather violated by the fact that it can be bought for as little as $22 (yes, that US Dollars not Pounds) from places like Ebay. I will be writing this review based upon the prices I paid for my tubs of the facial peel so it is worth the reader bearing in mind that once you hear my thoughts on the product, you can find it cheaper online should you decide to go ahead with a purchase.
So, we have established that this is something of a luxury item, but once you remove it from the outer box you find a mock glass (clear plastic) tub which looks remarkably stylish with a black screw top lid. Contained within the outer box are no instructions on how to use the product, how often you should use it or indeed what the potential benefits should be. Going off from the sale patter given by the stallholder I was told that this would remove black and white heads, dead skin whilst at the same time retaining moisture to maintain the pH balance of my skin. In layman terms she advised that it was good to clear off the gunk that builds up on the face that just isnt removed by normal exfoliators or day to day washing with soap and water. She stated that it was only to be used once or twice a week and that only a pea sized amount was needed. With this in mind, I couldnt wait to see what came off my face as soon as I got home.
Containing Dead Sea Minerals and various other anti-oxidant ingredients such as Echinacea, Ginseng and Rosemary as soon as the lid is unscrewed the delightful aroma is unleashed. Rather than being overpowering and with a chemical base in terms of fragrance was greeted me was a subtle, fresh smell akin to watermelon, not too strong with hints of Rosemary. If I had to sum up the fragrance I would say a cross between fruity and herbal.
The facial peel has a gel like consistency when in the tub and is easy to remove and apply to the face and neck. I dip my fingers into the tub and the pale green facial peel literally sticks to my fingertips. As recommended I tried only a pea sized amount but found that after smoothing it across my face it only covered one cheeky so 3-4 pea sized amounts were needed to cover my forehead, cheeks, chin and nose. As it is smoothed over the skin it does thin quite a lot making it easy to massage into the face. At this point the minerals that should remove the dead skin and black heads were not noticeable in the slightest however there was a gentle tingling sensation and my face felt very cool.
After massaging the facial peel in for 2-3 minutes most of it was absorbed and the more I massaged it became evident that what can only be described as small clumps of dead skin started to build up from nowhere. The entire massaging process took 5 minutes and once finished I took a cotton pad and started to methodically wipe my face. The results judging from the colour of the dirt and grime that had been removed were exceptional. In the end I used 3 pads as the grime built up on each pad really quickly. A closer inspection of the pads I had used revealed something I had never noticed when looking in the mirror, blackheads, and lots of them stuck to the pad in between the obvious grime. Instead of just removing the head, the entire root was on the pad.
After washing my face down with cold water and patting it dry I took the brave step of touching my own face and found that the skin was so smooth and soft I could help stroking my cheeks in disbelief. The results were simply put, out of this world in terms of cleansing power. After using it the first time the amount of dirt, grime and blackheads removed each week decreased slightly but it is still removing that stubborn stuff that insists on sticking to my face.
My first 30ml tub of the facial peel lasted 6 months with both I and my wife using it on a weekly basis so based upon the initial purchase price and the results I would have no hesitation in recommending this to any potential consumer. Personally I did not suffer any sort of irritation but would provide an air of caution to those with sensitive skin to try a tester before making such an investment. If I had to pay £30 for another tub I would happily part with it because I am delighted with the results but now that I have found a supplier much cheaper I will continue to cleanse using the Swisa Beauty Dead Sea Facial Peel.
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