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Graygirl

Graygirl
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Member since: 16.03.2011

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      29.05.2014 10:20
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      Bic Soleil Lady Gel Soft and Smoothing, with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E

      FINALLY! The review is now complete - I'd forgotten that we can no longer use pound signs.

      I first came across this shaving gel for women after reading a very positive review. I liked the Bic Soleil refillable razor, so I thought the gel was definitely worth a try. It's available in two varieties. The first, and the one I chose, was 'Soft and Smoothing', which contains aloe vera and vitamin E to give it beautifully moisturising properties.The second is 'Revitalising and Protective', which contains shea butter and green tea, which help protect and nourish your skin. These gels come in two sizes: 150ml, and 75ml, and the smaller size is perfect for travelling. I like to keep my legs soft and smooth on holiday, and I will definitely be taking the small size with me.

      When I am preparing my legs for shaving, I either rinse them under the shower or apply water with a wet flannel. Then I use the gel - simply remove the lid of the can and depress the nozzle beneath. You only need to apply a fairly light pressure, as the gel is released in a fairly generous amount. As soon as this gel comes into contact with your wet skin, it transforms into a rich, creamy foam. Rub this foam so that it spreads evenly across your skin - you wouldn't want it to be too thick or you would lose sight of your razor!

      I have found that my razor glides smoothly across my skin, and much more easily than if I was shaving with either just wet skin, or with lather from soap. Using this brilliant gel means that I hardly ever get any little nicks or cuts. Because the gel foams so much, you do need to rinse your legs thoroughly. You will then be left with very soft, smooth and hairfree legs (or underarms, of course).


      I am very happy to have found this product, and give it five stars. In fact I stocked up on a few little cans the last time I was shopping for it. It's worth taking a look at online outlets if you can't find it at Boots or Superdrug on the high street. I have seen websites such as GoTiny sell this product, along with other travel-sized toiletries.

      Dooyoo won't let me use pound signs, but Superdrug sell the 150ml version for 2.55, while Boots sell the 75ml can at 1.99 - where it is part of a 3 for 2 offer (current as of 29th May).

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        12.05.2014 11:46
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        • "Great for short hair"
        • "Adds volume"

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        • "None for me"

        John Frieda Luxurious Volume Blow Dry Lotion Root Booster

        Last year I was lucky enough to be sent a box of John Frieda's updated range of Luxurious Volume products, and one of my favourites is his Blow Dry Lotion Root Booster. It is designed to be used in conjunction with the Fine to Full Blow Out Spray, but I have found that my short hair cut only really needs the Root Booster.

        Packaged as the rest of this range, in a pretty turquoise blue bottle, the description on the front says that this is 'For Fine Hair'. I don't have fine hair - each individual strand is thick, but there are less strands than there used to be. I don't know whether this is because of ill health, medications, or simply the ageing process, but I hate the fact that my one wonderfully full crowning glory now needs expert help.

        With this product, I feel I have found that help. You should apply the spray to both the underside and the top of the hair, concentrating - as the name suggests - at the roots. The style also acts as a heat protectant. There is a useful little video on the John Frieda website that shows you how to use this product, and this video shows you how to use the two products together. I think anyone with short hair will find that this Root Booster will suffice. I always take the trouble to blow dry my hair, to give it as much volume as possible - I wouldn't want to use this product and then leave my hair to its own devices

        I am delighted with this Blow Dry Lotion, and apart from my beloved Toni & Guy Boost It Mousse - which seems to have been discontinued - it is by far and away the best product I have found for keeping my hair looks and feeling its best. The product has a fairly pleasant fragrance, and does not leave my hair feeling sticky.

        I have taken a quick glance at some online reviews, and a few people have commented that it doesn't work particularly well on their long or curly hair. As I explained, I have my hair in a short cut, and all I can say is that it works brilliantly for me.

        The Blow Dry Lotion Root Booster is currently on sale at Boots for 5.99 (sorry, Dooyoo don't seem to want pound signs), with an offer of Buy Two for 8.00 on selected John Frieda hair care Superdrug also sell it for 5.99. If you take a look online, you may be able to find it cheaper at other retailers. There is also a mini travel-size spray available (25ml as opposed to the full size of 125ml) - and Superdrug have this for 2.00.

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          08.05.2014 14:30
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          • " flat hair"
          • "Adds volume to fine"

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          • "Makes my hair feel soft and fly-away"

          John Frieda Luxurious Volume Fine To Full Blow-Out Spray

          Last year I was lucky enough to win a box of John Frieda's Luxurious Volume products, which included this Blow-Out Spray. This particular spray was new to me, although I had previous used a different styling spray.


          I was interested to see how it would help my hair. Although each individual strand of hair is thick, there is less of it than there used to be - perhaps a combination of age, ill-health and medication. No matter what the cause, I am always on the hunt for the perfect product - one that will provide me with lasting volume.

          This doesn't quite do a good enough job for me. It's easy to use - simply spray through your wet hair and then blow dry as usual. Once I have dried my hair, I am pleased with the thickness and volume of my hair, but I am quite picky. I want my style to last more than a few hours. Every time I have used this spray I find that my hair feels very fly-away the next day, and all the style is lost. I wouldn't mind one without the other, but the two negatives mean that I won't be buying this once I have finished the bottle.

          It may be that this product would work really well for those who wash and style their hair daily, and if that were the case for me I might have awarded an extra star. So I am awarding three stars purely on my own experience.

          Costs about 6.45 - sorry, Dooyoo won't allow pound signs - from high street and online retailers.

          I can't get the Advantages and Disadvantages to stick, so here they are:
          Advantages: helps add volume to fine, flat hair
          Disadvantages: makes my hair feel too soft and fly-away




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            07.05.2014 19:28
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            • "Easy to apply"

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            • "Easy to apply too much!"

            Nails Inc Vitamin E Cuticle Oil Pen - a moisturising cuticle oil with a brush

            I won a Nails Inc Vitamin E Oil Pen in a beauty competition some time ago, and I've been using it for about a year now. It's an elegant addition to my manicure kit, as it comes packaged in a sleek silver tube with a pretty white pattern at the top. Pulling the patterned lid away from the tube reveals the brush beneath.

            To gain access to the product, you need to twist the product up from the base, and gradually the softly-coloured lilac/purple oil will be absorbed by the brush. Once the brush is damp, you should use this to apply the Vitamin E oil along the cuticle, and also to the sides of your finger nails. Once I've done all ten nails, I let the product sit for a while, to make sure that this oil is well absorbed. Then I gently rub the oil into my cuticles, and into the rest of my nail.

            On the Nails Inc product page, they state that users have a tendency to overuse this product, and this certainly happened to me the first couple of times. I applied too much oil, and this left my cuticles so moisturised that they stood proud from the base of my finger. I quickly left them alone to absorb the excess product, and after a while they returned to normal. Nails Inc also recommend using this cuticle oil twice a day, but I have found that three or four times a week (or less) is more than enough to keep my cuticles and nails in excellent condition.

            I love this oil - especially once I got to grips with how much to use. Although I won this cuticle oil in a competition, I will definitely buy it for myself once my current pen has run out. I recommend it highly, and would give it five stars if it were not too easy to apply too much product.



            It has taken me some time this evening to load the whole review, but I made it - finally, and with the help of some friends.

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              17.12.2013 23:10
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              A pretty pink retractable lip brush, good value at £7

              A few months ago I began my hunt for the perfect retractable lip brush, and I was glad to find this lovely pink brush from The Vintage Cosmetic Company.

              I love Real Techniques brushes, and I have two of their 'Detailer' brush - I use one as a lip brush, and the other to apply concealer. I really wish they did a retractable version, but they don't (not yet, at least!). There are two things I really like about this brush, and that is both the shape of and the firmness of the bristles. However, the brush isn't suitable for carrying around in my handbag (wrapping it in a piece of cling-film or a freezer bag to keep it clean and hygienic simply does not appeal), and so I did my usual intensive online search in the hope of finding one that had very similar qualities.

              In fact I came up with two possible contenders. One was the Mac 318 Retractable Lip Brush - which costs £18, and which I couldn't afford at the time (although I did buy it later, and it is the subject of a separate review) - and the other was this excellent offering from The Vintage Cosmetic Company. I bought it from Amazon for £7 with free UK delivery. That price, with free delivery, is still available (as of 17th December). You can also buy directly from The Vintage Cosmetic Company's website for the same price, and they also offer free UK delivery. They accept PayPal, which I like as it means I can buy myself cosmetic treats without having to use my credit card. Although I bought my brush from Amazon, as I had a voucher to spend, the PayPal option means that I would be happy to buy direct from The Vintage Cosmetic Company. A few of their items are also for sale on eBay, both as auctions and Buy It Now, although there is no lip brush available there at present (again, as of 17th December.)

              If you take a look at The Vintage Cosmetic Company's website, there is a slightly twee description of how the company was founded on their 'About Us' page. Most of their products have a pretty, old-fashioned design, and they provide a range of cosmetic accessories - brushes, bags, tweezers, emery boards, false eyelashes, pedicure set, etc. Their brush roll has won a 'Highly Commended' award in the 2013 Beauty Awards. This costs £17.50 and has room for twelve brushes. They also offer a number of gift sets. The website also has a 'Beauty Academy', with videos that show you how to get a certain beauty look.

              Their Retractable Lip Brush has exactly the shape of the brush head that I wanted, and the firmness of the bristles is excellent - they keep their shape, and I haven't noticed any shedding. The brush is presented in an elongated sleek silver-coloured 'bullet', with 'The Vintage Cosmetic Company' written in pretty green lettering on one side, and 'Lips' on the other side. When you first open it, you will see that the bristles have been protected in transit by a little round plastic tube. I discarded this before I began using the brush. Although I haven't noticed any shedding during my use of this brush, there is one bristle that sticks out slightly to the side. I'm reluctant to trim it in case I damage any more, but to be honest I'm not even aware of it any more.

              Unlike most retractable lip brushes, when you open this brush out you are presented with a long handle - which is a pretty pale pink - and this gives you a full-size brush which makes it easy to apply both lipstick and lip gloss. I really like retractable lip brushes that retain their neat little size in use, but I also appreciate this one for its full-length application. I've owned quite a few retractable lip brushes over the years, and most of them came included with 'a gift with purchase' from Lancome. They have all had fairly soft bristles, and it was only when I started using the Real Techniques Detailer Brush that I considered the benefit of the firmer bristles.

              Like the Real Techniques and Mac lip brushes, this one from The Vintage Cosmetic Company not only helps you outline your lips more precisely, but it also helps when you are dealing with the final bit of a favourite lipstick - you can take up the product easily with these bristles.

              So now I am quite spoilt, as I have three brilliant lip brushes - the Detailer Brush from Real Techniques (which is usually only available as part of their Core Set, although you can sometimes find them singly on eBay); the MAC 318 Retractable Lip Brush; and The Vintage Cosmetic Company Retractable Lip Brush. They are all brilliant brushes, but for cost and ease of purchase, I think The Vintage Cosmetic Company brush has the edge. It costs £7 with free delivery from either Amazon or directly from the company's own website. The Mac 318 costs £18, and the Real Techniques Core Collection costs from about £17 online (£20.99 at Superdrug, £21.99 at Boots). There are currently two Real Techniques Detailer brushes on eBay, one a Buy It Now and one an auction tomorrow evening (18th December).

              I highly recommend this lovely pink, retractable but still full length, lip brush, and am happy to give it 5 stars.


              (This review is also on Ciao, under the same user name.)

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                29.10.2013 12:54
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                A pricey lip brush from MAC - it's expensive, but I consider it an investment piece

                For some time now, I have been buying fabulous make-up brushes from Real Techniques, having been alerted to this excellent range by Machair1 - she described one of their foundation brushes during a foundation review, and I've been hooked ever since. One of my favourites is their Detailer Brush, which is part of the 'Core Collection' set, and you can usually find a few singly on eBay too. The Detailer brush has a dual-purpose - it's great for applying concealer, and is also a superb lip brush. My only problem with it is that it doesn't come in a retractable version. Although the brush and its handle are very slender, I still don't want a lip brush lying around loose in my handbag. And wrapping it in a little freezer bag just doesn't seem very chic.

                I have been using Lancome retractable lip brushes for many years now, which I obtained in a couple of their 'Gift With Purchase' treats. Having tried the Real Techniques Detailer brush, I was so impressed by the shape, size and texture of the bristles, that I found going back to my old, softer retractable blushes a bit 'meh'. And so I began my quest for a retractable lip brush that would be as close as I could get in terms of quality and feel to the Real Techniques Detailer brush. I even asked Pixiwoo on their Facebook page if they could recommend one for me. They were very kind, and came up with a few ideas. Most of these ideas were really quite pricey, and the one I yearned for was the MAC 318 Retractable Lip Brush. At the time I just couldn't bring myself to spend £18, so I had a look on eBay. However, I then read a warning that many allegedly Mac brushes on eBay were fakes, and I didn't want to take the risk.

                When I received a nice amount of cash one day, which hadn't already been earmarked for a sensible purchase, I decided during a moment of madness to throw caution to the winds and treat myself.

                I made my purchase at Debenhams, via TopCashBack, and the brush arrived promptly. I was a bit surprised when I first opened the brush to see that the retractable mechanism was quite different to those I'd been used to.

                The small and slender container is only 9cm long, unopened. It is black, has a little groove in the centre of the holder, and has the MAC logo with the number 318 at the top end. Unlike many other retractable lip brushes, this top end is actually open, although the small size of the brush means that this opening is very narrow. To expose the brush, you simply pull on each end of the container, and the mechanism separates to expose the head of the brush. I've read a review where the consumer compares this to like opening a telescope, and I think that's a really good description.

                Like the Real Techniques Detailer brush, the MAC 318 brush has an almost rectangular head that tapers to a point at its tip. The fibres of the brush are very firm, unlike the softer brushes I'd been used to, and are densely packed together - this is again something I had been looking to replicate after loving the Real Techniques Detailer Brush. Once you've applied your lipstick, wipe the brush with a tissue. Then simply push the two halves together again, and the brush head retracts into the mechanism.

                I was quite surprised on first use to find that the brush was quite hard, and my heart sank, but I found after just one or two applications that it softened to just the right texture. I've been using this brush for quite a while now, and I haven't noticed it shed a single fibre.

                When I'm making a cosmetics purchase I usually like to check out the review website MakeupAlley first, and the MAC 318 lip brush gets an excellent 4.4 out of 5. 82% of 47 reviewers said they would buy it again.

                I've read some reviews of this product where people are not comfortable that the brush head is not fully closed and protected after use, and they're worried about dust getting in to spoil or dirty the brush. I haven't found this to be a problem - although it's the first time I've come across a retractable lip brush that doesn't close completely. However, I honestly don't think this is a concern. I always wipe the brush clean after use, and the opening is so little and neat that I have not found that the brush head itself gets dirty or dusty in any way. If you're unsure, then regular cleaning would solve this potential problem. One of the reviewers on MakeupAlley makes the point that not having a lid to close over the tip of the brush means that there is no risk of the brush's fibres getting trapped and ultimately distorting your brush.

                I love the shape of this lip brush. It is angled in such a way that it helps create a precise line around the edges of my lips, whether I'm using lipstick or my favourite lip glosses, and then the body of the brush - which is so neat - helps fill in the colour on the rest of my lips. Because the bristles are firm, the brush picks up just the right amount of colour - I used to find with my softer brushes that I would need to keep reapplying my lip product. The shape and size of the brush makes it brilliant for those lipsticks that have worn right down to the base. There is always a decent amount left hidden down there, and because this brush is so slender and neat, with its tapered tip, you can use it to get to the very last little bit of product.

                The compact size of this brush makes it perfect for keeping in your handbag - although I did have a bit of a panic one day when I thought I'd lost mine. It had fallen out of the little pocket I usually keep it in and was lying in the bottom of my bag, hidden amongst everything else. This proved to me just what an extravagance this purchase was. The thought of losing a lip brush that I'd spent £18 on wasn't my finest moment, and I'm perfectly sure that this would not have been the case with one of my other - free gift with purchase - brushes. It now sits in a more secure pocket!
                .
                To be sure of getting the right product, I stayed away from eBay on this occasion. The options available to me were either the MAC website, where the brush costs £18. Delivery is free with purchases over £30, and standard UK delivery is £2.95. There is a facility on MAC's website for you to find your local stockist. The two closest to me were some considerable distance away (that's what you get for living in a small market town in the middle of Lincolnshire). Debenhams usually charge £3.99 for home delivery, or you can collect your purchase at your nearest store. You can also buy this brush at House of Fraser, if your local shop stocks it, or via their online store.

                This lovely lip brush is expensive, there's no doubt about it. However, for me it is one of those investment pieces that I know is going to last me a very long time. Yes, it was a pricey treat, but I am more than happy with my purchase. I used to deduct a star from my product ratings if something was really expensive, but I don't think I'm going to do that any more. You will know going in how much this lip brush costs, so I'm putting that aspect to one side, and rating purely on the quality of the product itself. In this case, the MAC 318 lip brush gets five stars from me.

                This is my Holy Grail of retractable lip brushes. Is it very expensive? Yes. Am I glad I treated myself? Oh yes.




                (This review is also on Ciao, under the same user name.)

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                  19.09.2013 12:57
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                  Estee Lauder comes up trumps again with this lovely eye treatment

                  Estee Lauder has a series of products under the 'Advanced Night Repair' banner, which are all designed to help your skin overnight - refreshing and renewing, acting to protect your skin and to repair it at the same time. For some time now I have been using Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair Eye Synchronized Complex - a very wordy way of describing a lovely eye cream - and I am absolutely delighted with the results. This eye treatment is designed to help battle the signs of ageing, 'reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles', and also reducing 'the look of dark circles, puffiness and crepiness' - quotes are from the leaflet contained within the box. Estee Lauder's own product page describes the main benefit of this eye cream: 'Reduces the look of past damage around the eyes'.

                  Because the skin around your eyes is four times thinner than anywhere else on your face, I do think it's necessary to use creams and treatments especially designed for that area.

                  This eye cream comes packaged in Estee Lauder's traditional aqua-blue box, and the front of this box features the gold Estee Lauder, the name of the product, and the information that it is suitable for all skin types. The rest of the box gives a description of the eye cream in a number of languages - including English, of course. You are told that this product has been formulated with Estee Lauder's 'exclusive Chronolux Technology and our highest concentration of soothing anti-irritants for a dramatic reduction in the look of every visible key sign of ageing around the fragile eye area - fine lines, wrinkles, puffiness, dark circles, dryness and uneven skin tone'. I've included this lengthy description, as I want to address these claims, having now been using this eye treatment for a few months.

                  Although I've been describing this as an eye cream, the texture is in fact more of a cross between a gel and a serum. On application it feels lovely, cooling and soothing (in fact when I go on holiday I store this product in the fridge, which makes it even more wonderfully cooling and refreshing!). I pat it in gently, using my ring finger, as I have read various beauty reports that suggest using this finger for eye treatments as it gives the least pressure and so is suitable for the delicate skin. I take up a small amount of the product, using the little domed scoop applicator, transfer the cream to the pad of my ring finger, and then start at the inner corner of my eye, patting gently out and along the area just above the socket bone, as well as patting it even more gently onto the dark circles under my eyes. I finish by adding the last of the product to the beginning of my upper eyelid, just beneath my eyebrow. My very dry skin absorbs this cream/serum/gel really quickly - and a little really does go a long way.

                  I was able to see a difference to the skin around my eyes fairly quickly - in fact, the morning after my first application. My skin looked softer, the fine lines were slightly less noticeable, and I was amazed by this speedy effectiveness! The skin around my eyes isn't too bad - I've been taking care of my skin since I was a teenager - although I do have dark circles beneath my eyes, and of course when I smile there are some pronounced lines - but who cares about that when you're smiling? In the photograph that I've used as my profile photo, which was taken when we were in Greece last summer, I can see some pronounced 'smile lines', but I think/I'm hoping that they just add character. And since I started use this eye cream, those lines are definitely less pronounced (I've just been smiling at myself in the mirror to check this). The dark circles under my eyes seem lighter and brighter. I don't get puffy eyes very often, so I can't really judge the effectiveness of that particular claim.

                  Boots' website gives the following description: 'Inspired by groundbreaking DNA research, Estee Lauder revolutionises eye repair. Use this formula and help repair the appearance of past damage caused by every major environmental assault'. As I'm not a beautician or a scientist, I can't vouch for these claims, but as a 57 year old consumer (rapidly approaching 58, which is nearly 60, and how on earth did that happen?!), I can only say that it works for me.

                  As I discovered after looking at Estee Lauder's product page, the skin around your eyes is four times thinner than anywhere else on your face - and is therefore more vulnerable to environmental damage. Quoting from the Estee Lauder website: 'It is also where you'll see the signs of ageing to be exaggerated. Our exclusive Chronolux Technology helps skin optimise its natural renewal processes to reduce the look of the fine lines and wrinkles that can appear first around your eyes'. They class environmental damage as the effects of daily UV light, smoke, pollution and even emotional stress. This product also contains Hyloraunic acid, which 'helps skin lock in moisture and strengthen its protective moisture barrier'.

                  Although I don't apply this product religiously every night - there are some nights when I am too poorly or too exhausted to bother and I just fall straight into bed - I have seen a real improvement. The skin around my eyes definitely looks lighter and brighter. This product is described as Night Repair, but the information leaflet enclosed with the jar suggests that you apply it both morning and evening. I've only ever used it in the evening.

                  You are supplied with a tiny little domed applicator, which helps you get just the right amount out of the jar. I've also tried taking up a small amount using my finger, and find it difficult to judge the correct amount of product that way- the little applicator is definitely the preferred method, and is also more hygienic. However, when the jar is almost empty, I imagine I'm going to have to put my little finger in and scoop out what remains hidden in the corners.

                  Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair Eye Synchronized Complex is an award-winning product: Winner of Debenhams' Beauty Club Awards 2013; CEW Awards 2011, Best New Skincare Treatment Product Prestige Category; and Stylist Skincare Awards 2011 Winner.

                  This product is Dermatologist-tested, Opthalmologist-tested, Non-acnegenic and fragrance free (although I do think there is a slight fragrance - pleasant and very subtle).

                  When purchasing new skincare or make-up items, I always like to take a look and see what the website MakeupAlley has to say. They have given this product a rating out 4 out of 5, and 75% of 212 reviewers say they would buy this product again.

                  I now have quite a few products from Estee Lauder on my dressing table and in my make-up bag, and with this eye care product I think they have come up trumps again. I've used a number of eye creams in the past, ranging from Lancome to Boots No7 and Time Delay ranges - among others. Although this Estee Lauder product is expensive, my jar has lasted a long time, and so I will be saving my pennies to repurchase once the jar is empty.

                  Be warned, this is an expensive eye treatment. I have checked online this morning, and the high street department stores are all selling the 15ml jar for £38.00. Boots sell it for the same price, although they currently (as of 19th September) have an offer where you will receive 500 Advantage Card points when you buy two or more selected Estee Lauder products. They also seem to have another offer - online only - of 500 points when you spend £50 or more on selected premium beauty products. I don't know if you can use both offers at the same time, but they are both appearing on the product page, so fingers crossed. Amazon sell the same size for £37.99 plus £2.90 delivery. You can buy differing sizes directly from Estee Lauder - £44 for 30ml, and £65 for 50ml. Estee Lauder's website shows an offer - an online exclusive - where you can receive a free make-up bag and a trio of products (worth over £29) with any order of £35+. The products are: Revitalizing Supreme Crème 7ml; Revitalizing Supreme Eye Balm 5ml; Sumptuous Extreme Mascara 2.8ml. The offer code for this is SUPREME 13, and the offer ends 23rd September 2013. You can usually also expect a couple of free samples - a nice way of trying something new - and free delivery when you buy online for Estee Lauder. If I was looking to buy another jar now I would snap up this offer!

                  Before everyone faints at these prices, don't forget that you are paying for a premium product, and one that in my opinion lives up to its claims. Because you are provided with a small domed applicator, you only need take up a tiny amount of the product at a time, and I have found that my little 15ml jar has lasted me for ages. If, like me, you like to try a sample size before making an expensive purchase, then you could either ask for a trial size at a department store beauty counter, or take a look - as I always do - on eBay, where you can find little 5ml sample jars for sale. There are some auctions at the moment, beginning at £0.99, as well as Buy It Now from £8.95 with free p&p. I think there is certainly enough in these little jars for you to decide whether this eye cream is right for you.

                  I'm currently trialling an eye-care product for another cosmetics company, so have put my Estee Lauder eye cream aside for the moment. However, when it eventually runs out, I will purchase again. In the past, I've deducted a star from high-end beauty products because they are so expensive, but this time I'm not going to. If you're looking to buy cosmetics or skincare from premium beauty ranges, then I think you're going to expect to pay more - and I think the stars I award should simply be for the product itself. And in this case, I am happy to award Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair Eye Synchronized Complex five stars. I love this product, and will buy it again.

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                  • Max Factor Glossfinity / Make Up / 130 Readings / 129 Ratings
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                    15.09.2013 20:22
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                    A high-quality nail polish from Max Factor - high-gloss, long-lasting, and highly recommended

                    Towards the end of last year, I found myself tempted by Max Factor's new Glossfinity Nail Polish, which I eventually bought in Noisette. I'm delighted to say that this nail polish has definitely stood the test of time, and it has become one of my favourites - so it's probably about time I tried some other colours!

                    One of Max Factor's claims for this polish is, quite obviously, the 'Glossfinity' effect - ie a glossy finish that lasts. I was keen to test this out, as I love to wear nail varnish, and I also I like my manicure to last a decent time. The product page on Max Factor's website gives the following description: 'High gloss means high glamour - pure, elegant, glossy nails that last for up to 7 days in our specially formulated range.'

                    I really liked the promised look of Noisette - a lovely taupe with a purple/violet shimmer - and I have found that this colour has suited all seasons. It's lovely in autumn and winter, but also looks beautifully subtle during the warmer months.

                    Glossfinity comes in a small, rectangular bottle which has a long black handle. The brush initially seems quite narrow, but it spreads to a good, full shape, and I am able to use my preferred three-stroke application - one stroke in the centre of the nail, and one each to either side. After giving the bottle a good shake, I have been pleased to see that there is no excess at the neck of the bottle once it's opened, and this has stayed the same during my nine or ten months of use. Once applied, I have also been pleased by the fact that this polish dries quickly.

                    After applying a base coat and two coats of varnish (although it looked quite good with just one coat), I deliberately left off my usual top coat the first time I tried this polish, so that I could test its staying power. I was delighted with the results. The shine was excellent - and I like a really high-shine finish - and it lasted really well. After seven days there were no signs of any chipping, although there was a slight erosion of the polish at the tips of a couple of nails. However, on the seventh day I noticed that the lovely glossy finish had faded somewhat. So I then applied a top coat, in the hope of renewing the shine and ensuring that the polish would last even longer. I found to my surprise that with the top coat, the lovely purple shimmer underlying Noisette's colour had disappeared. I was left with a still elegant deep taupe colour, but I did miss the purple! I kept the polish on, to see when it would start to chip, and this finally happened about ten days after the initial application (and a few days after I had eventually applied a top coat).

                    I prefer nail polishes that have a high-shine finish, and Glossfinity certainly delivers that. It's available in 26 shades, with 25 of these currently available on Boots' website, although their high-street branches don't usually have the full range. It costs £5.99 at Boots, Superdrug and Asda, and £6 at Tesco. There are quite a few shades available on Amazon, where they cost £4.99 with Free Super Saver Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. I've also found a few shades on eBay this evening (15th September) from about £2.

                    Earlier this year I found myself with some time on my hands (no pun intended), and so I painted each of my nails a different colour while I decided which one I wanted to wear that week. These polishes included purples from Jessica, Barry M, Max Factor, Leighton Denny and Opi. To my surprise, I realized that the Max Factor Glossfinity's Noisette was almost a duplicate - both in terms of bottle shape and nail polish colour - for Barry M's Dusky Mauve. At first I was puzzled by the fact that I had two nail polishes that were so similar, and then I came to my senses and realized that my love for and collection of nail varnishes is on the huge side - so perhaps it wasn't quite so surprising after all. Both Noisette and Dusky Mauve are a lovely, soft taupe with a purple shimmer. This shimmer looks stronger in the Barry M bottle, but it actually shows much better on the nails with the Max Factor version.

                    This is a product that really lives up to its promises - it has a high-gloss finish, it lasts really well, and I think it's excellent value for money. The high gloss gives a really professional look, and I love the Noisette shade which I think is both chic and interesting. I have seen some mixed reviews of this nail polish on Boots' website, but my own experience has been very positive, and I am more than happy to give this product five stars.

                    (This review is also on Ciao, under the same user name.)

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                      27.08.2013 13:58
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                      A superb serum from Estee Lauder that delivers on its promises and is a real pleasure to use

                      Estee Lauder Perfectionist (CP+R) Wrinkle Lifting/Firming Serum


                      A little while ago I was lucky enough to be sent a 7ml trial size bottle of Estee Lauder's Perfectionist (CP+R) Wrinkle Lifting/Firming Serum. I've been using this for a few weeks now (although not religiously every single day), and feel so delighted with this beauty product that I wanted to write about it. However, this beauty tale has a sting in its tail - which is the price, and I'll come to that later.

                      The serum promises to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and also to help banish age spots. My skin is in pretty good condition for a woman of 57, and I have tried to take good care of it since I was a teenager. However, there are some parts that I don't care for overmuch - the deep-ish lines above my upper lip, the tram lines that run from my nose to my mouth, a few dark brown age spots on my face (that I can no longer explain away as larger-than-usual freckles), and finally the scar I have on the side of my nose caused by skin cancer - a morphoeic basal cell carcinoma - which had to be removed and the area covered by a small skin graft taken from the side of my face. I'm lucky enough not to have deep frown lines on my forehead, even though I think I've probably done my fair share of frowning over the years.

                      I love Estee Lauder, and she generally loves me back. However, I had problems a little while ago with her Resilience Lift Face and Neck Cream. My skin felt gorgeous, and was beautifully moisturised, but I began to develop little red spots along my jaw line. I think this meant that the skin was too rich for my skin, and I passed the jar over to my mum, who absolutely loves it. So I was a little hesitant about trying this new serum in case I developed a similar problem. Having been using this serum for a few weeks now, I am just beginning to feel - although not see - some tiny little bumps just below my jaw line. However, unlike with the Resilience Cream, the bumps really are very very small, do not itch, and are certainly not visible to the naked eye.

                      Back to the start of my trial. This serum from Estee Lauder promises to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and it does the same thing for age spots. This is not a permanent improvement, of course, and if you stop using the serum, I'm sure that all those lovely benefits will gradually fade away. I've been using my 7ml bottle for a while now, and I'm absolutely delighted with how well it is working. It's a pleasure to use, my skin feels satin soft to the touch, and I have seen a noticeable reduction in the lines, wrinkles and age spots on my face and neck. Even the scar on my nose doesn't seem quite as noticeable (although I should point out that probably only myself and my closest loved ones would notice the scar in the first place!).

                      The packaging is pretty - a pale purple bottle (the colour will darken as you work your way through the creamy-white serum) with a gold lid. My 7ml bottle (and the 15ml bottles) come with a dinky little white plastic applicator, which has a round tip that brings out just the right amount of serum so there is no wasted product. After taking a look at the product page on Estee Lauder's website, it appears that the 30ml, 50ml and 70ml bottles have dispensing nozzles. A word of caution here - I saw that one reviewer had complained that as she came to the end of her bottle she had to resort to unscrewing the lid so that she could access what was remaining. This certainly isn't a product you would want to waste!

                      The serum is slightly thick - definitely more of a cream than a lotion. It's easy to apply, and I have found that it sinks straight into my skin, although I always massage it in gently to be sure that every part of my face and neck is covered. I pay extra attention to my problem areas. You should apply the serum to cleansed skin, and then follow it (if you wish) with your moisturiser. In spite of the dryness of my skin, I often felt that the serum worked so well that I did not need to follow it with my daily moisturising cream. The serum has an attractive fragrance, although I could not hazard a guess as to what it smells like - it just smells nice. After the first few applications, I kept badgering my husband - 'Look, can you see those lines going down?'; 'Feel my skin, isn't it lovely and soft?' etc etc etc. He was very patient with me, and agreed that yes, my skin did indeed feel lovely and soft.

                      After a few weeks of use, my skin feels beautifully soft, there has been a noticeable reduction in the appearance of my (admittedly not very bad) wrinkles, and two particularly dark brown age spots on my face have all but disappeared.

                      Because I was so impressed by this magical little bottle, I decided to take a look at Estee Lauder's website to try to find out why the serum was working so bloomin' well. In their Product Details, they state that 'This powerful wrinkle lifting/firming serum dramatically reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles with exceptional speed.' I could certainly see for myself how quickly the serum worked on reducing the 'tram lines' from my nose to the mouth, and it has also helped lessen the deepness of the vertical lines above my upper lip.

                      I was still no wiser about the science behind the 'Breakthrough CPR-75 Technology' - all I know is that it is working for me. Estee Lauder say that you will notice a difference after just one week - 'a new level of skin perfection and clarity emerge.' After four weeks, skin 'reclaims a youthful firmness and suppleness.' They describe the Pefectionist (CP+R) Wrinkle Lifting/Firming Serum as their most effective wrinkle-fighting serum ever.

                      I found a website called paulaschoice.com, which helped me understand this whole CP+R business a bit better. The CP+R stands for Correct, Prevent and Repair. Paula tells us that the serum 'contains numerous skin-repairing ingredients and plenty of antioxidants that help improve the way skin looks and feels'.

                      In their Product Information, Estee Lauder tells you that this serum is Dermatologist-tested, Opthalmologist-tested and is Non-acnegenic. The UK website states that '78% of [I don't know how many] women said it immediately smoothed the look of their lines and wrinkles'. Well, I'm holding my hand up here and agreeing with the 78%. My lines and wrinkles have been smoothed - although I am perfectly aware that this lovely effect will eventually wear off if I stop using this fabulous product.

                      While I was looking at Estee Lauder's website, I took a quick peek at the reviews that accompany the product page, because I wanted to see how well this serum had worked on different skin types and different age ranges. The serum gets a resounding thumbs-up (or in this case, five gold stars) from the reviewers. Although it may not suit oily or sensitive skin, there was one young lady, in the 25-34 age range, who has oily skin but was very happy with her results. The other age ranges were 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, and 65-74. There was a variety of skin types, ranging from Oily, Normal/Combination and Dry. Like me, many women noticed an almost instant effect, with brilliant results after just two weeks' use.

                      When buying skincare and cosmetics, I often like to check out the MakeupAlley review site. This gave the serum 3.5 out of 5, with 50% (of 46 users) saying they would buy it again. I was a bit surprised that their reviewers weren't more enthusiastic. On taking a closer look, I could see that the less enthusiastic reviews often came from women with oily, combination, acne-prone or sensitive skin. Although the serum is described as being suitable for all skin types, I'm inclined to think that it would suit dry skin better.

                      This product isn't cheap - it's definitely up in the realms of premium brand skin care. At places like Boots, Debenhams and House of Fraser, it comes in three sizes: £53 for 30ml, £72 for 50ml, and £87 for 75ml. Before you pass out at these huge prices, I should say that my 7ml bottle has been used regularly for about three or four weeks now, and there is still about a quarter of the contents left. You do only need to use a tiny amount, and so any bottle should last you for absolute ages.

                      If you buy directly from Estee Lauder's UK website, you should receive two free samples and free delivery with your purchase. They occasionally run special offers where extra free samples of your own choice can be added to your basket.

                      This product has now become my absolute Holy Grail of serums (and I have tried quite a few), but I would not normally be able to afford it at full price. So I took a look (as I always do) at what was on offer on eBay, and was lucky enough to find two 15ml bottles which cost me about £27 - a distinct improvement on the high street price of £53. My husband and I decided that this splurge on skin care could be my birthday present. Unless we become very much wealthier than we currently are (ie not wealthy at all), this is probably something I would only ever request as a gift. I've had a look on eBay this morning (27th August), and there are a variety of options available that bring the price below the RRP. There are some sample sachets, with - for example - 10x1.5ml sachets for £9.99 and free delivery. You could also buy 3x1.5ml sachets for £3.50 and free delivery. There are also a selection of 7ml bottles as well as larger sizes. There are some auctions, and some Buy It Now options available.

                      So, would I recommend this gorgeous serum? The answer is an unreserved 'Yes!' - but only if you have deep pockets. For those of us with less money to spend on fripperies like face care products, I would definitely recommend getting one of the smaller sample sizes and giving it a try before you commit to one of the larger bottles.

                      My purchasing of cosmetics and skincare tends to vary, price-wise - I have a lovely selection of MUA's £1 eyeshadows, and I love Rimmel's lip glosses - but I also have a few Holy Grail products that are from the more expensive ranges. However, I consider these to be investment purchases - they last for ages and have suited me really well over a number of years. Under these circumstances I don't mind spending more than usual - especially if a loved one will buy it as a birthday or Christmas gift for me. Estee Lauder's Perfectionist (CP+R) Wrinkle Lifting/Firming Serum is going to be added into my group of Holy Grail products, and I hope I can continue to afford (one way or another) this heavenly serum.

                      My experience of this product would normally sway me into giving it five stars, but I am deducting one simply because it is very expensive.


                      (This review is also on Ciao, under the same user name.)

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                        22.07.2013 15:50
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                        An excellent (and pricey) new mascara from Chanel, that delivers a really intense and dramatic look

                        I was recently lucky enough to win a sample size (3g) of Chanel's new Le Volume mascara, which came packaged in an elegant mirrored cardboard box. I really like my lashes to look full and long, and rely on a good mascara to achieve this look - my own lashes are less than impressive in their natural state - and so I was eager to try this product. I have owned a few pieces of Chanel make-up in the past, although it's a long time since I've treated myself to anything from this premium cosmetics brand, and I have always been impressed by their high quality.

                        Whenever I receive a lovely treat like this, I always Google the product to find out more about it, and to check the price. I was quite astonished to discover that a full-size mascara (6g) costs a whopping £24, and I thought that Le Volume Mascara must be staggeringly good to warrant such a high price.

                        The card that came enclosed with my sample made the following statements: 'Discover new Le Volume De Chanel Mascara with this luxurious sample compliments of Chanel. The Shock of Volume; The Shock of Colour; The Shock of Style. Available now from your nearest Chanel counter.'

                        Before trying the mascara, I first applied a light coat of pressed face powder to my eyelids and lashes. I always do this before applying eye make-up as it provides a good base for eyeshadow, eyeliner and mascara. Then I opened the potentially magic little tube. I was pleased to see that no excess mascara came out with the wand, although if this does happen, simply wipe the excess away on the neck of the tube as you remove the wand. I always apply my mascara using a technique I came across when reading one of pixiwoo's blogs. Holding the mascara wand at the base of my lashes, I wiggle the wand up - three strokes towards the inner corner of my eye, and three strokes to the outer corner. Then I sometimes go over each lash with the tip of the wand to give greater definition.

                        The mascara initially felt quite thick and wet, but it was easy to apply, was not at all messy and dried quickly. After applying the first coat of Le Volume, I was slightly disappointed to find that although my lashes were definitely longer and mored curled, they also had a slightly 'spidery' look, which is something I normally associate with the Maybelline mascaras I have tried in the past. It's not a look I care for, as I prefer my lashes to look full and thick rather than long and spidery. However, a second coat soon made my lashes look as full and thick as I could want, while still retaining a good definition.

                        Having taken a look at Chanel's website so that I could see the full-sized product, I was able to see the simple and elegant packaging of this mascara - a long black tube with the word 'Chanel' on the front. I am assuming that the back of the tube (or the outer carton) will give information about how long this product lasts after opening, but I'm afraid my sample size does not show this. It simply gives the name of the product and the colour - in my case it was '10 Noir'. I checked some online images for the full-size product, and could see that it comes packaged in a black cardboard box with a gold-coloured edge at the base.

                        As well as black, this mascara is also available in '20 Bleu' and '30 Prune' - blue and purple. I took a quick look at a couple of blogs so that I could see the blue and purple versions. 'Bleu' has been described as a 'bright cobalt blue', while 'Prune' is a deep red-plum shade. I only ever wear black mascara, and wouldn't want to try the other shades, but those with a more adventurous attitude might find them appealing.

                        I was interested to read Chanel's own description of the brush, as I had found it quite unusual - although very effective. The brush is flexible, and its fibres vary in length - some short, some long - in a sort of angled helter-skelter pattern. This helps ensure that each lash is thoroughly coated. The tip of the wand is slightly pointed, so you can use that to define each lash if you wish. According to Chanel: 'The brush creates volume thanks to its smart design of snowflake shaped disks that are stacked and oriented for an ideal finish.'

                        I found that the mascara makes my lashes look really dark, and the specially-designed brush certainly gives a very dramatic look. My own lashes are not blessed with great volume or curl, so I am delighted with the effect produced by this mascara. It lasts all day without my needing to reapply, and on one occasion it lasted all night too - I had felt really poorly and simply didn't have the energy to remove my make-up before falling asleep. The next morning the mascara was still in place, although there were a few little flakes under my eyes.

                        The product page on Boots' website describes the product: 'Instant volume and intense curves from the first stroke with longer, plumper and thicker lashes. Lashes are coated in deep colour, giving eyes a wide-open effect.' I usually take a look at the MakeupAlley review website before purchasing cosmetics, and also after receiving treats like my Chanel sample. They give the mascara an average rating of 4.2 out of 5, and 76% of 64 reviewers said they would buy again.

                        As I said earlier, Le Volume De Chanel Mascara (6g) costs £24, and it is available from Boots and department stores, as well as online outlets. When I first tried my sample I was quite blown away by its effectiveness, and thought I might treat myself to the full size, in spite of the cost. However, common sense prevailed. I already have quite a few excellent mascaras in my make-up drawer, and I eventually decided that although I really like this product, I don't love it quite enough to splash out my hard-earned pennies. There are a few premium products that have become my Holy Grails, and I am happy to purchase these again and again. Among these are Lancome's Bifacil Lotion (for removing eye make-up and especially good at removing waterproof mascara), Elizabeth Arden's 8 Hour Lip Protectant Stick, and Estee Lauder's Automatic Eye Pencil Duo. I have reviewed all these products, and consider them 'investment' products, which I am happy to pay that bit extra for.

                        So, instead of spending £24 on a full-size mascara, I decided to take a look on eBay. I have since purchased another of the 3g travel size samples, as well as an even smaller size (1ml), which comes packaged in a little sachet. The body of the 1ml mascara itself comes in a little tube, like you would find with a trial size of moisturiser, although it still contains a good-sized brush. There are quite a few of these items - in both of the small sizes - available for auction, and I think this would be an excellent way of trying the mascara for yourself before you decide to splurge £24 on this new product. Having said that, some buyers are asking ridiculous prices for the 3mg size - one (as of 22nd July) has a Buy It Now price of £19.79 plus £3.49 postage and packing. I really don't understand how they can ask that! I bought my extra 3mg mascara at auction on Saturday, where I paid £2.45 plus £2.70 p&p.

                        I now have three mini-magic-mascaras, and I'm sure that together they will last me for quite a while. The tiny one will be really good for stashing away in my handbag, or for taking away on holiday (if I hadn't already been away this year, sigh...). I'm very glad that I was lucky enough to be able to try this lovely mascara, and I have added it to my 'favourites' collection - although not quite my Holy Grail collection.

                        I'm deducting one star because of the cost, but otherwise I think this is an excellent product - I am very pleased indeed with my dark, curled and voluminous lashes!


                        (This review is also on Ciao, under the same user name)

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                          13.07.2013 11:29
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                          An environmentally friendly eye make-up removal wipe from Kleenex

                          A little while ago, I decided to buy a packet of Kleenex Facial Cleansing Wipes after reading some positive reviews. While I was in Superdrug, I saw that Kleenex also made removal wipes especially designed for the eyes - and that these wipes claimed to remove waterproof mascara. As I was about to go on holiday, and thought that these wipes would be handy to pop into my suitcase, I had a rush of blood to the head and bought both types of wipes, at full price - they cost £2.99 each. I have since learnt (thanks to other reviews on Dooyoo) that they can be bought much more cheaply in shops like Home Bargains and the Pound Shop.

                          When I'm wearing waterproof mascara, I always remove it using Lancome's Bifacil Lotion (which is the subject of one of my earliest reviews). I've been using this product now for nearly thirty years, and it's the best eye make-up remover I've ever found. Although it's expensive I don't use it all that often and so one bottle lasts me for absolutely ages. When I'm wearing 'normal' mascara, I tend to use Boots No7 Beautiful Skin Quick Thinking Wipes, which are very effective at removing both facial make-up and also my eye make-up. However, these wipes cost a whopping £7.00, and so I only ever buy them if I have one of No7's £5 vouchers to reduce the cost. This is why I was keen to investigate other wipes, and these investigations led me to this purchase.

                          As well as the claim to remove waterproof mascara, I was also attracted by the fact that these wipes from Kleenex are made from 'ecoform natural fibres', which is described on the packet as being gentle while at the same time having 'a lower environmental impact than a standard wipe material'. I was intrigued by this, and when I got home I took a look at the Kleenex website to learn more and found that Ecoform Natural Fibres are being used in Kleenex's new facial cleansing range. Quoting from their website: 'Ecoform contains natural fibres from certified sources, has a lower carbon footprint, requires less energy and water to make, and the whole process to produce them creates less waste'. I think Kleenex are to be applauded for this, but what of the wipes themselves?

                          The packaging is quite attractive - an off-white background that features a pink ribboned masquerade mask. The pack doesn't give any instructions, but contains a list of ingredients, as well as the information that the pack contains 24 wipes, that they should not be flushed down the loo, and that the product is good for 3 months after opening. The pack is neat, small and rectangular, about half the width of a pack of normal wipe pack.

                          I peeled back the seal and pulled out the first wipe, which I found to be reasonably moist. The wipes come out folded, and once unfolded they measure about 20cm by 8.5cm. They feel fairly thick, the fabric has little circular indentations, and there is a very slight stretch to the wipe. I have to say that I did not like the texture of these wipes, although they were certainly gentle enough on my eyes. It's hard to describe my dislike - they just don't 'feel' right. I don't have sensitive skin, but the name of the wipes implies that they would be suitable for this.

                          I found the wipes to be soft enough for the delicate eye area, and they are effective, although I found I needed to use some fairly firm pressure and I had to use one wipe per eye (when I wear eye make-up I tend to wear a lot of it). With only 24 wipes in a pack, this isn't very economical. It takes a while to get rid of all my eye make-up, and it certainly takes longer than when using my usual No7 wipes. Sadly, I found that this product does not live up to its claim of being able to remove waterproof mascara, and even non-waterproof mascara took some effort to wipe away. I use Lancome's L'Extreme Waterproof Mascara, and this stayed firmly in place in spite of my best efforts. One good point about these wipes from Kleenex is that they do not leave any oily residue.

                          When I looked on Amazon to check their price for these wipes, I found that the product description there makes the point that there is 25% more surface area than eye make-up removal pads, by which I assume they mean cotton wool pads. However, I found that I really needed to use one whole wipe for each eye, whereas a cotton wool pad soaked in my beloved Bifacil Lotion does the job much more quickly, and much more effectively too - especially when it comes to removing waterproof mascara.

                          Like some other members on here, I often check with the beauty review website MakeUpAlley before buying cosmetics and toiletries. In this case I had bought these wipes on impulse, and only checked the reviews afterwards. There is actually only one review on MakeUpAlley (as of 13th July) - the reviewer marked it 2 out of 5 and said she would not repurchase. Neither will I.

                          Kleenex's Eye Make-Up Removal Wipes are effective enough, but I do not find them to be economical. I have decided that when using a removal wipe I prefer one that feels nicer and that is capable of removing both facial and eye make-up at the same time. When I'm wearing waterproof mascara, I am going to stick to my tried-and-tested Lancome's Bifacil Lotion. As well as disliking the texture of these wipes, and needing to use one for each eye, I have also found that the closing strip does not stick down very well, and this can lead to the wipes drying out prematurely.

                          I paid £2.99 in Superdrug for these wipes, but if you are interested you should shop around, as I have read from other reviewers that they can be found more cheaply elsewhere. Amazon currently sells them for £1.70 plus £2.00 delivery. You can also buy a six pack for £17.94. There are two reviews of this product on Amazon - one positive, one negative. There are also two excellent reviews here on Dooyoo, from members whose experience with these wipes was more positive than mine.

                          My main reason for buying these wipes was to be able to remove waterproof mascara, which they did not do. However, they are kind enough to the skin, and reasonably effective - although I do not like the texture. Therefore I feel that I can only give this product three stars.

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                            18.05.2013 13:39
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                            A top quality, high shine top coat that helps keep your manicure looking lovely

                            I was first introduced to the Leighton Denny range of nail polishes after reading an excellent review on here by ladybracknell. I have since bought a few polishes from this range, and have been very pleased with them. I discovered Leighton Denny's Crystal Finish Top Coat when I was looking through the Tesco Clubcard's rewards catalogue. I had some spare vouchers to use, and after having a happy browse, I came across the Beauty Expert website. Using a £5 Clubcard voucher gave me a £10 token (via an emailed code) to spend on this beauty website. I exchanged a couple of vouchers, and one of my purchases was Leighton Denny's Crystal Finish Top Coat. It was a choice between this and Seche Vite, and although I found a number of good reviews of Seche Vite, I decided on this occasion to buy Leighton Denny's top coat, and I have been using it for some time now.

                            The squat, rectangular bottle - the same modern shape as the Leighton Denny nail polishes, with the same stylish perspex lid - comes packaged in a clear carton. The silver cardboard insert at the back of the carton gives information about the ingredients of this product, as well as a caution that the product is flammable and should be kept away from heat and flame. It should also be kept out of the reach of children. At the top of this card is a quote from Leighton Denny (four-times winner of Nail Technician of the Year), which says: 'All nail colours can be protected and kept true to their shade with my super wet look topcoat. Crystal Finish really does dry fast and helps keep colour looking good for longer.'

                            The instructions say that you should apply a thin coat of Crystal Finish over polish. There is also a description of the benefits of using this top coat: 'Crystal Finish gives a superior finish with added lustre and incredible shine. It also provides a protective shield over any nail colour to help extend wear time. A quick coat of Crystal Finish can revive any polish in between manicures too.' I have certainly found this to be the case.

                            The brush is what I consider fairly standard - ie not too narrow, not too broad - and I use three strokes to cover my nail, one in the centre of the nail, and one to each side. The top coat glides on easily, and the high shine finish is immediately apparent. It is touch dry fairly quickly, and I have found that it dries more quickly than my old favourite, Sally Hansen's Double Duty Base and Top Coat (the subject of an earlier review). The glossy finish lasts for days, and if I am still happy to wear the same colour nail polish, I find that a top-up of Leighton Denny's Crystal Finish Top Coat will make my manicure last even longer than usual. It is so effective that I have found it lasts long enough for my nails to grow and need filing down again with an emery board (I prefer to keep my nails very short) - and it also survives this process.

                            The Leighton Denny Expert Nails website gives the following description: 'Crystal Finish has a superior gloss and is crystal clear so the true colour of your nail polish is magnified for the most glamorous results. With a high gloss, wet look finish and UV absorbers, it keeps nail colour looking fresh and vibrant day after day.'

                            I love wearing nail varnish, and I love it when I find a beautiful new product to add to my ever-growing collection of colourful polishes. I also love finding new nail care products that will help my manicure last really well. Because of poor health I don't do a huge amount of housework, and so my manicure is not subjected to a lot of stress. Nonetheless, I am still glad to have my nail varnish stay looking good, and this top coat really enhances the longevity of my nail polish. I'm delighted to have discovered this excellent top coat - and I'm also delighted with this use of a spare Tesco Clubcard voucher!

                            I have been pleased to discover that this top coat does not become thick once it has been used for a while, and - especially considering the high cost of this product - that's a definite advantage.

                            The RRP of Leighton Denny's Crystal Finish Top Coat is £11.00, and it can be found at that price at a number of outlets, both online and in store. You can buy it from John Lewis and Marks and Spencer, but other online outlets (such as feelunique.com and lookfantastic.com) offer free standard delivery. Amazon sell this product via a number of sellers, and their current best price (as of 18th May) is £8.45 plus £1.99 delivery. I checked on eBay this morning, and found quite a few auctions as well as Buy It Now options, with prices below the RRP. The best price I found was £8.59. Alternatively, you can do what I did, and exchange Tesco Clubcard vouchers for a Beauty Expert token. A £5 voucher will give you a £10 token, £10 = £20, and £15 = £30. If you use a £10 token to buy this product for £11.00, Beauty Expert give you the option of paying the extra via another payment method - including PayPal.

                            Although this top coat is quite expensive, it's an excellent product, and my bottle is lasting really well. I highly recommend Leighton Denny's Crystal Finish Top Coat, and am happy to give it five stars.

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                              11.03.2013 13:29
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                              A brilliant cosmetic/skincare combination from Lancome

                              Lancome have used their Visionnaire serum to create a foundation and concealer combo that is designed not only to provide a flawless finish, but which also acts to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be sent this new product to trial, over an eight-week period, during which I had to apply the foundation every day. This isn't something I would normally do, as I usually only wear full make-up when I'm going out, and ill health has kept me at home more than I would like. Nonetheless, I adhered to my testing regime, and I have been absolutely delighted with the results. I was sent shade 01, Beige Albatre, which is slightly darker than I would have chosen for myself, but which still worked really well on my fair skin and pink cheeks. This month's Good Housekeeping magazine (April edition) features this new product in its beauty pages, under a section called 'The Trend: Dermo-cosmetics', which they translate to 'Make-up that behaves like skincare'. This is a perfect, concise description of Lancome's Teint Visionnaire.

                              This product is described by Lancome as a Skin Perfecting Makeup Duo, and it combines 30ml of foundation in a pump-action bottle, together with a concealer neatly hidden in the lid (which has a decent mirror inside the top of the lid). The foundation, which has SPF20, contains 2% of Lancome's Visionnaire Serum, which makes it beautifully easy to apply, and which has pronounced skincare effects when used regularly. The top of the container lifts up to reveal the concealer compact. When the two products are stored together the container is quite heavy, and it certainly isn't something I would want to carry around in my handbag. You can detach the concealer compact from the main body of the bottle, so you could carry that with you if you wished. However, I have found that the two products last really well, looking as good at the end of the day as when I first applied them in the morning.

                              My favourite foundation so far has been Max Factor's Ageless Elixir Foundation, which incorporates a serum within the foundation. This makes the foundation easy to apply, and it gives my skin a 'flawless' finish - the description of 'flawless' came from my mum, who was sitting next to me on the sofa one day, and who admired the look of my skin so much that she promptly bought the product for herself. Lancome's Teint Visionnaire Foundation does the same thing, using their best-selling Visionnaire serum, which is designed to help activate the skin's defences. Visionnaire itself is described by Lancome as a 'skincare so powerful that more than half of women considering a cosmetic procedure said they would delay it [tested on 113 women considering lasers, fillers and peels].' The serum contains the ingredient LR 2412. I haven't been able to find an exact description of LR 2412, as this is obviously one of Lancome's trade secrets, but they describe it as 'The first molecule of our Research Laboratory designed to "self-propel" throughout all of skin's layers; reprograms the skin to "auto-correction" mode.' Although I don't know what this magic ingredient is, I do know that it works - after eight weeks' regular use of the Teint Visionnaire foundation, the appearance of the pronounced wrinkles above my upper lip was markedly reduced. Although I think my skin is still really good for my age (I've used moisturiser since my teens, and drink lots of water), I would love to be able to afford to try the Visionnaire serum as part of my daily skincare routine. However, at £59 for 30ml, that isn't going to happen unless I win the lottery.

                              Even though I can't afford to try the serum for myself, I have been able to see its effects in the foundation of this makeup duo, and I have been delighted with this product. You pull off the top/lid to reveal the pump-application bottle of Flawless Perfecting Foundation. This product is designed to even out your complexion, and it does this beautifully. After applying my usual moisturiser and giving this time to settle in, I shake the bottle of foundation, as advised by Lancome on the back of the bottle. I then use a brush to apply the foundation (I'm currently using Real Techniques Expert Face Brush), after first pumping a very small amount onto the back of my hand. Lancome recommend that you should only need one pump of the foundation, and they also recommend that you apply using a brush. I take up a tiny amount each time, and apply first to the centre of my face, gradually working out, and making sure that it is blended well at the jaw line. The foundation dries quite quickly, but because it's so easy to apply, this hasn't been a problem for me. The colour Lancome sent me is a fairly good match for my skin tone if I apply it carefully, although I would have preferred a paler colour. If I use a light hand I don't have any problems, but if I apply too much it definitely looks just that bit too dark for my liking. You really do need only a tiny amount to give your face a good coverage, so although this foundation/concealer combo is expensive at £36, I can already see that it is going to last me for absolutely ages. Even after eight weeks' use, I have barely made a dent in the contents of the bottle. After application, it's not obvious that I'm wearing foundation, but my skin looks radiant, with a dewy finish and what I feel is a medium coverage. The foundation feels quite light on my skin, but not as light as my Max Factor Ageless Elixir Foundation. I don't feel the need to apply a face powder on top, but my skin is very dry - those with oily skin might want to take that final step.

                              The 'lid' of this product contains the High Coverage Corrector. According to Lancome, the corrector is 'enriched with Vitamin CG' (ascorbic glucoside, a slow-release form of Vitamin C). The concealer has a dense, creamy texture, and it is designed to reduce 'the appearance of dark spots, dark circles and imperfections'. Although my pores aren't very noticeable, and I don't often suffer from spots, I do have a couple of dark sunspots on my face, as well as dark circles under my eyes. I also have a scar on the side of my nose after multiple surgeries (three in one day) to remove a morpheic basal cell carcinoma, which was followed by a skin graft taken from just beside my ear. Although the scar has healed well I am still conscious of it, and Lancome's concealer does an excellent job of hiding this defect - although again I would have preferred to have been sent a paler colour to try.

                              Lancome suggest that you apply the concealer to the back of your hand, blend it in a circular motion (I presume this is to warm the product slightly to make it easier to apply), and then work it onto your skin. When doing this I use my ring finger, as I once read that this finger gives the right amount of pressure. However, I have actually found it easier - and kinder to the delicate skin around my eyes - to use a foundation brush for this. As well as my Real Techniques brush I also have a tapered foundation brush from Ruby & Millie, and that is perfect for this use. I dab a tiny amount of the product on very gently, and then blend it. This way I can build up the coverage as needed. After use, the lid of the compact closes with a satisfying click.

                              Lancome claim that with regular and continued use, the foundation will visibly improve the appearance of wrinkles and pores. During the eight-week period of the trial, I was asked to complete questionnaires as I went along. After four weeks, I wasn't sure that I could see much difference, but when I sent the final questionnaire I commented that - to my amazement - the product really had lessened the appearance of the pronounced lines above my upper lip.

                              This product is aimed at the more mature skin, and its hydrating effects mean that it is ideal for those with dry skin. I have very dry skin, and at the age of 57 I think it's fair to say that my skin is ageing. The foundation suits my skin type perfectly. I'm not sure how well it would suit oily skin, and I would definitely recommend that you visit the Lancome counter at department stores or larger Boots stores to try a sample for yourself. I also think that foundation - especially one at this price (RRP £36) - really is one of those products that you should try on your skin before buying, to make sure that you get the right colour. There are eighteen shades available for this product. I was sent shade 01, Beige Albatre, and there are some shades lighter than that, such as 010, Beige Porcelaine, and 005, Beige Ivoire.

                              Although this product seems quite expensive at £36, I actually think it's good value for money - especially if you wear foundation regularly, because it is then that I believe you will really see the skincare benefits that this product offers. If, like me, you only wear it occasionally, then I don't think that this will have such a marked effect. Nonetheless, it is still a lovely foundation, with the added benefit of an excellent concealer too.

                              The foundation and concealer are good for twelve months after opening, and the bottle is recyclable. I have checked prices today (11th March), and Teint Visionnaire Skin Perfecting Makeup Duo costs £36 at high street stores and online outlets - the best price I could find was £32.40 with free delivery from John Lewis. A few shades are now on eBay (for about £29.99, with free postage, from top-rated sellers), and there are also a few auctions available.

                              I absolutely love this product, and am delighted to have been giving the opportunity of trying it. I am more than happy to give it five stars.


                              (This review is also on Ciao, under the same user name.)

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                                06.03.2013 09:57
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                                A moisturiser from Olay's Regenerist range, one that I've happily used for a few years

                                I've been using Olay moisturisers since I was a teenager, back in the olden days when it was still Oil of Ulay. When I first began experimenting with make-up, both my mother and my grandmother suggested that if I was going to wear cosmetics then it was also time to start taking proper care of my skin. It was excellent advice, and I've always been grateful for it. I have used Olay more or less ever since, with occasional forays into Estee Lauder, Lancome and Elizabeth Arden when funds allow - or when I am sent or given a lovely freebie or gift.

                                At the RRP of £21.95 (I found it for £12.92 online), this is by no means a budget moisturiser. Nor is it as expensive as premium range skincare such as Estee Lauder and Lancome. At both price points, I think it falls within the same price range as Boots No7's skincare. .

                                Over the years, Olay has always suited my age and skin type, and I've tried a number of their ranges. I love the Regenerist range, and the Replenishing Cream has been a real pleasure to use.

                                It comes packaged in a black and red box (slightly different to the older packaging shown above), reflecting the colours of the Regenerist brand. There's a little plastic window on the front so that you can see the tub of moisturiser within. At the base of the box you are offered 'dramatically firmer younger looking skin'. I'm afraid I foolishly discarded the box after beginning my last tub, so I can't pass on the normal info you would get there. However, a list of ingredients can be found on the Olay web site.

                                On opening the package, you are presented with a reasonably smart creamy-pink tub with a see-through black lid. You are able to see how much product there is inside the tub, and can see the level change as you progress - especially if you hold it up to the light. On pulling up and removing the lid, you can then see the curved top, which has a small hole at the centre. You will first need to remove the tiny gold label that protects this opening. Pressing down on the dispenser produces a little 'worm' of product. I think some people will like this type of pot, as there is no need to dig out any product with your fingers, and thus the cream stays nicely hygienic. I have always found this dispenser easy to use, even though my hands and wrists are on the weak and feeble side. When the tub is finally empty, you will no longer be able to push the dispenser down.

                                I like to rub the cream gently into the palm of my hand before applying it. I read in one of my beloved glossy magazines that this warms the product, and makes it even easier to smooth onto your skin. Then, using your fingertips, apply the moisturiser onto your face and neck. I find that one full depression provides enough product to cover my face and neck. You should be careful to avoid contact with the eyes, and if this occurs, rinse with water. The cream has a delicate and pleasant fragrance, and it is easily absorbed into the skin. You can use a serum first, if you prefer, and there are two serums available in the Regenerist range.

                                According to Olay's website, this cream has an 'advanced new formula that contains the peptide Carnosine', which apparently gives additional anti-oxidant power, and it also contains pentapeptide KTTKS - another anti-ageing ingredient. These amino-peptides are designed to regenerate the cells in the outer layer of your skin.

                                I really like the effect this moisturiser has on my skin - both instantly as well as long-term. My skin feels soft and plump, and well cared for. Although I recently used the lovely Estee Lauder Resilience Lift cream, I sadly found that it was too rich for my skin, and so I reverted to my tried-and-tested Regenerist Replenishing Cream.

                                Olay say that this moisturiser contains light diffusers, which are designed to soften the look of fine lines and wrinkles. I was surprised on my very first application of this product to find that this actually was the case. When I look in the mirror after applying the cream, my skin looks as if it is wearing a slight 'veil', disguising the worst of my wrinkles (although I have to confess that I don't have too many - mostly above my upper lip).

                                Regenerist Replenishing Cream is quite rich, but is not at all greasy. It's designed to provide high levels of hydration, which with regular use should help make your skin feel firmer and more elastic. One of its promises is that it will help keep your skin looking younger - and I'm all for that! I'm 57, and I intend to keep the years at bay as best I can.

                                This cream can be used both morning and night, but I have always preferred something richer for overnight. You can also use this product together with the Daily Regenerating Serum. I use serums, and like the extra benefits they offer, but I also like a moisturiser that will deliver everything I need in one product. I have found recently that the Replenishing Cream is not quite enough for my very dry skin when used on its own. I suspect that this might be because of too many cold winter days - so a serum has definitely helped. Generally, though, this cream leaves my skin feeling beautifully soft and well-moisturised, and it has served me well for a few years.

                                Olay's Regenerist line consists of a wide range of anti-ageing moisturising treatments. As well as this Replenishing Cream, there are also: 3-Point Treatment Cream (also available in a Fragrance-Free version); Flawless Skin Cream SPF30 (this would suit me, as I have had skin cancer twice); 3-Point Super Serum; Daily Regenerating Serum Fragrance-Free; Eye Lifting Serum; Night Recovery Cream; Night Renewal Elixir, and Wrinkle Relaxing Complex.

                                Olay is made by Proctor and Gamble. The product is good for twelve months after opening, and both the outer carton and the tub are recyclable.

                                Prices for the Regenerist Replenishing Cream seem to vary widely. The RRP is £21.95, and the best price I found today (6th March) was £12.92 (with free delivery) at Amazon. You can purchase this product at a wide variety of high street stores and online outlets. Do shop around, especially online. Boots currently have it for £21.95, and are offering '3 for 2 mix & match across selected skincare, body care, No7, indulgent bathing, self-tan and vitamins - cheapest free'. It costs £16.99 at Superdrug (their website is offering free standard UK delivery until 10th March). Feelunique have it for £18.30. I remember snapping up an excellent offer at cheapsmells.com some time ago, when I bought two tubs, and I also remember how delighted I was with my bargain.

                                From my own experience, I think that Olay's Regenerist Replenishing Cream is ideally suited to a woman in her 40s or 50s who has dry skin. I've used it - and loved it - for years. However, I am starting to find these days that my ageing and very dry skin needs a bit of an extra boost. I actually got in touch with Olay, explained my concerns, and asked for their suggestions. In the meantime, I had a look through their various ranges, and decided on a particular cream. Olay responded quickly and thoughtfully, suggesting the same cream. So, once I've used up my current pot of this Replenishing Cream, it will be time to wave - a possibly temporary - farewell to this lovely old friend, and start getting chummy with her big sister. Olay Regenerist 3-Point Treatment Cream, here I come!

                                Given my experience with this moisturiser, I am happy to give Olay's Regenerist Replenishing Cream five stars.

                                (This review is also on Ciao, under the same user name.)

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                                  22.02.2013 17:09
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                                  A rich skin cream for women, designed to help firm crepey and sagging skin on the body

                                  Towards the end of last year, I was lucky enough to win a small (50ml) tube of StriVectin-TL Tightening Body Cream, and I was very interested to try this product, and to see whether its performance matched its claims. It's not a product I knew much about, and isn't something I would have initially thought of buying for myself. The RRP for a 200ml tube is about £49, which seems expensive for a body moisturiser, but if the cream did what it advertised, then perhaps I would have second thoughts about the price.

                                  As well as being a rich, anti-ageing body moisturiser for women, this cream has also been designed to firm the skin. On receipt of my prize, I decided to take a look at Strivectin's website, to see what this new treat was going to offer me. Strivectin also make a number of other products, such as Neck Cream, Face Serum, Retexturising Scrub, Hand Treatment, Stretch Mark & Wrinkle Cream for Sensitive Skin, Replenishing Cleanser, and others. On the product page for the Tightening Body Cream, I found the information that this cream contains 'NIA-114 + protein tighteners' which are designed to 'enhance skin density, and restore skin barrier to help retain vital moisture'. NIA-114 technology was discovered during research into the prevention of skin cancer. It is a form of niacin, and it apparently helps repair damage to the skin and to rebuild skin layers. The ingredients of this cream also include Soybean oil, Shea Butter, Grape Seed oil and Jojoba Seed Oil, so at the very least I was expecting it to act as an effective moisturiser. The cream is especially designed to target areas of loose, sagging, crepey and thin skin, and is suitable for all skin types.

                                  You should massage this product into the skin, especially focusing on the areas of concern, twice a day - morning and night. The immediate effect should be one of tightening the surface of the skin and smoothing the texture. After four weeks of regular and continued use, you should start to see an improvement in the elasticity of your skin, and you should also see an effect on your body contours. This last claim was one I found hard to believe. After eight weeks, there should be a marked improvement in the skin's density, with visible firming of the skin.

                                  The product page offers a link to some before and after photos, and I was very interested to take a look at these. There are just two photos, which show the arms of a woman of mature years. The crepiness and sagging of her skin is marked, and in the first photograph she appears to have a bruise/red mark on her forearm, similar to those I suffer from. The claim is that the two photos are unretouched, and although the second picture does not show a miraculous transformation, there has been some firming. The skin on the forearm, just below the elbow, is less crepey, and the upper arms show an improvement too. Strivectin claim that their results have been measured and graded by medical researchers.

                                  Having read the description, and seen the photographs, I was keen to try this out for myself. I used it specifically to target the skin on my arms. The skin on my forearms is very thin, and the dermatologist I saw recently about a skin cancer told me that this is probably due to the fact that I have to take steroids because of a long-standing lung disease. I get regular chest infections because of the lung disease Bronchiectasis, and when I start to get really breathless (not helped by the fact that I also have asthma), I am prescribed a week's course of steroid tablets. The skin on my lower arms bruises very easily, and can form nasty blood-red bruises if my arms are scratched or even rubbed firmly. The skin on my upper arms is not as firm as I would like - there is some sagging, and also some crepiness. This is particularly bad under my upper arm, near the armpit.

                                  So, I began my trial, eager to see whether its performance did indeed live up to its claims. The tube of cream is presented in a white carton, which contains quite a lot of printed information, as well as a yellow band featuring the product name - Tightening Body Cream. This information describes what you can expect to see during the eight weeks of use. There are a few cautions outlined on the back of the tube: the cream is for external use only, keep out of the reach of children, avoid contact with the eyes, and discontinue use if signs of irritation or rash appear. The packaging looks a bit clinical, as opposed to something you might expect to buy from a premium skincare range. The cream is thick, although it is absorbed quite easily. It has a mild, pleasant fragrance which reminded me of citrus fruit. It certainly doesn't smell at all medicinal. The contents of the tube will be good for 24 months after opening, and the tube is recyclable.

                                  After a few day's use, I could not see that anything had changed. However, with continued use, I began to see an improvement in the state of my skin. My forearms did not bruise so easily, and although the excess skin on my upper arms had not miraculously disappeared, there was a remarkable improvement in the crepiness under my arm - this really looked very much smoother. I continued using the cream for some weeks, and was delighted by the improvement. I then realized that I had used more than half of my small, 50ml tube, and because I was so pleased with the results I decided to save the rest to use as a pre-holiday treatment later this year. I plan on using it on my arms again, and I wish I had enough to also target my thighs. I have a few unsightly areas there, caused by slightly sagging skin. So I am hoping to buy a full-size, 200ml tube, which costs about £49, as this will mean that I can treat both areas of concern during my pre-holiday beautifying regime. Because I never wear bikinis any more, other areas affected by lack of firmness will be thoroughly concealed by my swimming costume. So, arms and upper legs will receive this special treatment.

                                  On the final day of my experiment, I applied a different moisturiser to my arms without having showered first. I then noticed a slight irritation to the skin on my oh-so-sensitive forearms, possibly caused by the two different creams reacting together, so if you have sensitive skin, you may wish to bear this in mind. The irritation - a few tiny red bumps - cleared very quickly.

                                  You can buy a 200ml tube of Strivectin Tightening Body Cream from a few websites, although I haven't been able to find it widely available from high street stores. It costs £49 from lookfantastic.com, with free worldwide delivery. The same price and free UK delivery is found at mankind.co.uk (an official retailer for Strivectin products), where there is a free gift available with this product - a 7ml Brightening Serum. SalonSkincare.co.uk (another official retailer) sells it for £41.75 with free economy delivery. These prices are available as of 22nd February.

                                  My 50ml tube has been just enough to target my main area of concern for eight weeks' application. I'm delighted to have had the chance to try this product. If funds allow, I will purchase a larger tube so that I can prepare my arms and thighs to look their best when I go on holiday. I'm giving StriVectin-TL Tightening Body Cream four stars, and deducting one partly because of the cost, and partly because of the mild skin irritation to my very sensitive forearms - even though I don't think this would have happened if I hadn't applied the second cream over the first. I love the idea of a cream that can help build up skin layers, and that it has been developed in the research of the prevention of skin cancer - something I have suffered from twice. My arms definitely benefited from this treatment, and it's a product I hope to use again.

                                  (This review is also on Ciao, under the same user name.)

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