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    • More +
      25.08.2010 14:02
      Very helpful



      An expensive range that didn't live up to the hype for me

      Nails Inc Nail Varnish in General

      I only came across Nails Inc within the last year whilst browsing in House of Fraser at the Metro Centre. I was visiting the Mac makeup counter which was a little busy and saw someone getting a manicure at this other counter which happened to be a Nails Inc one. I didn't realise you could get manicures from the makeup counters so decided to have a nosey. The lady was chatty even though with a customer and the varnish looked nice in an array of colours but not that cheap at about £10 a bottle. It was only when the lady said if you bought 3 you could get a good discount as it was 3 for £20 that I decided to try and eventually buy.

      *Who are Nails Inc*

      Nails Inc is London based and was established in 1999 by Thea Green. It aimed to allow for an affordable luxury with manicures that were quick for the busy customers. And so around the country in department stores nails Inc manicure bars started to pop up. They are in the main department stores like House of Fraser, Debenhams, Fenwick and John Lewis. So as well as giving mini manicures they have a massive selection of nail varnish on offer and sell all the others bits and pieces you could think of to look after your hands and feet and nails! You can buy from their online site too at http://www.nailsinc.com which tells you about all the offers too as well as giving tips and advice and much more.

      *The range -nail varnish*

      Nails Inc sell lots of nail varnishes in different collection types to allow for different finishes that come in that many colours I would be here forever trying to list them. I love burgundy/red colours and so these are what caught my eye. I settled on 'Henrietta street' which is a deep pink red colour and 'St James' which is described as a pillar red box colour and 'Shoreditch' which is a bold hot pink colour.

      The cost for the Nail Varnishes are generally about £10.50 for a 10ml size pot but like I said the offers are if you buy 3 you pay £20 or 4 you pay £25 or you can get boxed sets which have added accessories at discounted prices. So to save money here you are best multi purchasing or splitting with a friend!

      *My opinion*

      I use nail varnish on my feet nails all the time as I like to wear sandals in the summer or for nights out and find it makes them look prettier. I also wear nail varnish even if covered up in socks or tights because I find the plain nails look boring and ugly. I often wear nail varnish on my hand nails because I don't wear acrylics and find my nails are short and weak and find wearing nail varnish helps strengthen them back up.

      I am drawn to reddish colours like I said and in terms of brands try to go for more mid to high priced nail varnishes as in the past I have found the cheaper ones to chip, crack and not look good. I found Nails Inc by chance and was impressed by the range on offer and the fact that they did manicures at the nail stand. When the lady said about the offer of 3 for £20 it made me want to buy. The nail varnish comes in a clear glass bottle with a shiny silver screw on lid and looks pretty snazzy. It simply says Nails Inc London in silver on the front and is 10ml in size with the colour written on the bottom of the bottle. The top screws of easily even over time and hasn't gone sticky and the consistency of the nail varnish has also stayed the same.

      In putting on the nail varnish on it is one of the better ones I have tried as it goes on smoothly and easily without me having to go round the nails with a cotton bud to pick up any excess. However with other nail varnishes I like to put two coats on but with these Nails Inc ones I find two coats causes me more problems than one coat. If I put two coats on it allowing plenty of drying time in between the two coat applications it still goes bobbly and smudge like so that it then comes off. I also end up with it not looking as smooth and it chips easily. If I just put the one coat on it doesn't seem to chip as much but it is very think in layer and looks as if it needs a second coat. I have also found that it after a couple of days I need to reapply or top up or start again. This is something that I haven't had to do with my other nail varnish makes of Mac, YSL, Channel, and Revlon.

      *Rounding up*

      In rounding up my opinion I would say the colour range on offer is fantastic and the different finish styles good. The bottles look great and are easy to open and use. However over time the silver top has chipped now though the consistency is still fine. In application it is easy to use and smooth. In wear and tear of being on the nails it has not been so good and has chipped, smudged and not lasted long compared to my other nail varnishes.

      Therefore considering that this is meant to be a higher end nail varnish and isn't that cheap I feel let down by it and would need some encouragement from a sales advisor to repurchase from them, though I might be tempted to try one of their manicures. This of course is just my opinion and experience. I have rated it 3 stars which I think is generous.


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    • MAC Mineralize Skinfinish / Make Up / 51 Readings / 51 Ratings
      More +
      23.08.2010 13:35
      Very helpful
      1 Comment



      A nice little powder to top up your look

      Mac Mineralize Skin finish Natural

      I haven't been reviewing in a while due to moving house and work life been hectic and came back on to see the mile system has changed which will take me a while to work out! Anyway I thought I would review this little Mac item seeing as I am a Mac fan. Whilst on a weekend away for my birthday to Edinburgh I decided to treat myself to some new Mac items as you can't get them in my town. I went into Harvey Nichols for a browse (not a shop as too expensive) and spotted in the corner the Mac counter. There were plenty of ladies working in the Mac counter and to be honest they could put you off your purchases as they either pounce on you or ignore you if really busy and their makeup technique on themselves is a little frightening. So much so that they look like supporting acts for Lady Ga Ga. (So please don't let that put you off!).

      *A bit about the powder and where to buy it*

      The lady that served me who did look like a clown with her over the top eye shadow that had in fact smudged and the customer in front had to tell her! She explained the benefits on this powder that it was a low coverage powder to give a matte finish which could be used on top of the foundation or by itself. The Mac blurb sounds like a recipe ''luxurious face powder with minerals, slowly baked to provide a dimensional yet natural matte finish'' and low coverage to use to set foundation or touch up in the day

      She showed me the mineralize powder colour range for it which came in 8 colours : light, light medium, medium, medium plus, medium dark, medium deep, deep dark and dark. It comes in a black box and then a black circular case with a clear lid to see the powder and is 10g costing £18. It doesn't come with a brush or powder puff. Mineralize is a range for Mac where you can buy this powder and also foundation, loose powders, blushers and eye shadows.

      You can buy in the bigger department stores like Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser in the bigger towns or online from http://www.maccosmetics.co.uk/. I didn't realise you could buy online so it must be something newish and it says if you buy online and spend £50 you get free postage/packaging. This is going to be fab for me personally with the nearest Mac store being in Newcastle which is not that near! If you buy in the department stores you can get offers though they aren't cheap. In Harvey Nichols you had to spend £90 to get the free gift and I stupidly even considered it though luckily thought better of it and just settled on this product and a make up brush which cost more than the powder!

      *My thoughts*

      As it was coming into spring time and I was a little pale I decided I wanted to bronze up my face a little on top of using my foundation. I had just updated my foundation to a Mineralize Mac one so thought I would get it some kind of bronzer from them. After the advice from Ga Ga the clown and looking at the colours I picked the medium plus which is mid range and probably much darker than I would normally go for considering I normally where ivory foundations. However it has been a good choice for me.

      In putting on my make up I put my YSL touch éclat on then my Mac foundation and then this powder on top. I use the Mac makeup brush which cost a small fortune to apply the powder (though you could you a powder puff) and I find the coverage goes on well so that you don't know I have too much make up on but my skin looks and feels a little more 'glowy'. I can't fault the coverage aspect or the look as it is excellent and what I was looking for. I just like the extra smoothness it gives to my foundation to give me a more completed look. I do add on my Mac pink crème base to my cheeks on top too.

      The only blip I have had with this powder is firstly I temporarily lost my brush and tried one of my cheaper ones and found the coverage was not working as well. This was luckily found two weeks later in my car of all places! I then had a disaster with the case and dropped it and the lid cracked off so it is now taped over to keep it in place.

      Considering I use it everyday since I purchased it in March it has yet to run out. I think this is due to using the brush which makes sure you don't overuse the powder and gives you a finer coverage.

      Once it runs out I will re-buy probably online when my foundation runs out too as I know I like the product. If buying for the first time though you are better going into the department store to look at the colour range as it isn't cheap at £18 and with there being 8 colours you need to know what look you are wanting and you can try it on.

      I would have given this 5 stars as it is excellent but I had to buy an expensive Mac brush to apply it seeing as it came with no 'tools' and then I broke my case! But I will replace it when it runs out.


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      • More +
        08.01.2010 23:02
        Very helpful



        Nice smooth tasting hot chocolate, just ignore the bubble claim and packaging

        Nestle Aero Instant Chocolate Drink

        It is officially winter as I am now drinking hot chocolate, eating/drinking soup, drinking tea, coffee in fact any hot liquids I can find. Up north here we have had snow and ice repeated over and over since before Christmas. In fact it has hit over minus 18 the last few nights. We have icicles and inches of snow that hasn't gone away yet. This just makes me want to curl up and hibernate or reach out or something warm.

        I have tried a few brands of hot chocolate my main being the chocolate break by Cadburys and their original drinking chocolate. I had never really fancied trying other makes as I adore Cadburys and I am quite loyal. However it depends what has been purchased from the supermarket on what offer sometimes. So in the last month I have worked my way through a jar of Galaxy hot chocolate and tonight just finished a jar of Aero hot chocolate.

        **Instant Bubbly Hot Chocolate Drink**

        **The Magic Air of Bubbles**

        Simple advertising to front of packet that this is an instant bubbly drinking chocolate. The word bubbly gives the clue that this is aero. You can buy this in mint and orange flavours though I have not tested these ones yet. Big bubble on the packet to highlight its chocolate, its creamy tasting and its smooth. Bubbles seems to be a key word mentioned here which links it back to the chocolate and there is a bit of an expectation bubbling over for the drinker here.

        **The Cheap Jar**

        This review is for the same as the sachets except instead of me getting 8 individual sachets I have a 288g plastic tub of the stuff!. So I have a plastic cheap looking jar that doesn't set off your imagination really in terms of packaging and wrapping. The wrapping of the plastic seal is a bit ripped and it looks cheap. The colouring too looks faded and outdated and is not good in comparison to chocolate break. The lid is a bit kitsch as it reminds me of old style nestles as the raised bird logo design is on the top of the jar. The good thing about the jar though is that you recognise those aero bubbles!


        Well inside this hot chocolate you get a hot chocolate instant mixed drink which is wait for it.......fat reduced drinking hot chocolate. That is something I did not realise as despite drinking my way through an entire tub in less than a week I did not even look at what it said on the tub except for how many spoons to add! In winter calories mean nothing to me as I figure all those layers can hide them!

        So there is 43% fat reduced drinking chocolate, sugar and fat reduced cocoa powder, skimmed milk powder, sugar, some hydrated vegetable oil, dried glucose syrup, lactose, whay permeate, lactose, thickeners, salt, milk proteins, flavourings and stabalisers. You get given the calorie information per 100g or per 24g serving against 200ml water. Though I sense my humongous mug sizes are probably bigger than this! Basic calories per 24g are 99 kcal, with 14.3g sugar (quite how sounding to me) 2.7g fat, 2.5g saturates and 0.4g salt.

        **Instructions** - yes really they have them on how to make a hot drink!

        There are 3 steps to making the best cuppa of chocca wocca! Step 1 is to get a mug (preferably a large one though adjust the servings accordingly) and add the 4 required heaped teaspoons. Though in my case these turn into tablespoons considering the mugs I use. Step 2 make sure you have put water into the kettle to boil then voilla add it to your drink although they suggest not boiling but hot so the bubbles can be released properly. I adapt step two and add milk to the mixture first and a spoonful of sugar before adding the water to make it taste more creamy and silky and sweet. But its all to do with personal preference, just something I do as I switch between the water and milk hot chocolate drinks. Step 3 wait in anticipation for the bubbles to grow then most importantly get the drink down your thirst quenching neck and enjoy the taste.


        Well I have had Cadburys and thought that scrummy, I then tried Galaxy and was pleasantly surprised by the smoothness and silky design and the delicious taste. So when I saw the Aero packaging I thought ewww this wont beat Galaxy. However I have to say it did. I did not realise it was only 99kcal a 24g portion and that it has fat reduced ingredients as this was not written very largely or promoted on the packet. But it does get brownie points for that.

        In terms of the look I think the packaging is poor but the chocolate powder mix looks like any other. You need the same amount in the cup too. In terms of taste as I do put milk and sugar in my drinks whether they be Cadburys, Galaxy or this I found this to be one of the nicer tasting of the three. It tasted scrummy and smooth and silky. It was soft and floaty and addictive. It was a chocolate fix for me and craved my hunger for chocolate. In terms of the bubbles- where were they as I saw no more than appeared in my galaxy hot chocolate. This is a cracking tasting hot chocolate that is moresih and addictive but if you are looking for bubbles in it then forget it! However I wonder if I maybe used boiling water or the milk and sugar affected the scientific aspect of the bubbles appearing-who knows or cares!


        You are looking at over the £2 mark (£2.35 TESCO) for a tub of the stuff and it is cheaper slightly that Cadburys. In terms of the sachets it would cost you not much less for 8 and if 288g gives you a serving of 24g then the jar should give you about 12 servings making it cheaper in the long run. I suppose the sachets are good to take to work or for those not addicted to the stuff and like to have it once in a while.


        I would have given this 5 star had it just been on taste, but I feel the packaging is pretty cheap for Nestle and the lack of bubbles lets it down but in hindsight that may be my fault for adding milk and not following all the magic 3 step instructions correctly! I therefore rate it a 3-4 star which I cant give. So I shall stick to a 4 star as it is nicer than two other leading brands I have tried.


        I have zero hot chocolate left now and am reduced to drinking tea now from my big mug. I will be re-buying this as soon as I can hit the shops tomorrow!


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        • More +
          08.01.2010 18:01
          Very helpful



          A heat protective straightening spray to use with your straightners

          Schwarzkopf Pro Styling Straightening Spray

          I have very long thick hair which is quite naturally straight though in these modern days I do use hair Straightners too for that extra sleek straightened look. Also I like to was I sometimes wash my hair the night before it can get kinky and need straightened in the morning to re-rule though un straightened tresses.

          I don't really use a hair dryer as I do let my hair dry naturally as to dry with dryer takes me super long with the thick hair. My Straightners are a decent make used in salons and the heat can get quite hot at 220. I think this use of Straightners and colouring my hair has helped damage it and make it drier and sometimes feel tatty. I use conditioner and leave in conditioner etc but have found lately my hair still seems to feel quite damaged. I don't use hair sprays either as they just seem to make my hair tatty and d don't seem to have that much effect on the look for me either.

          Hence the move for me to look for some kind of super spray to use when using my straightening irons. I looked in Tesco while shopping one day and was surprised at how expensive such sprays were varying generally from £4 up to £12 for quite small bottles.

          **The Schwarzkpoft brand**

          Schwarzkopf have been around for 111 years when a chemist known as Hans ran a small drugs store in Berlin. Today they are part of Henkel and are involved in hair colour, care and styling. They sell products in the stores for the masses as well as products that are sold in salons only.

          **Pro Styling Heat Protection Straightening Spray**

          The title of the product is a bit of a lengthy gob-full to say but in essence it is a spray to straighten your hair! I settled on the schwarzkopf spray in all honesty because it was one of the cheapest whilst still being a decent brand and the size of the bottle was a good size.

          On the front is a picture of a lady with styled short straight hair and the make being for styling and advertising that it is heat protection straightening spray and strong hold.

          It comes in a plastic clear bottle at size 200ml and is quite tall and thick. It has a lovely pink top and nozzle shoot spray that reminds me of a garden water spray for some reason. You have to flick a switch to turn on the nozzle.

          The straightening spray is part of the pro styling range which are meant to be products that allow a 'professional creativity' at your finger tips. The product also claims you should get the perfect hold in all conditions.

          In particular the straightening spray is designed to be used with straightening irons to allow safe, smooth and straight styling. It is meant to protect hair up to 200 fro m heat damage too.

          **How to use it**

          They recommend that you spray directly onto individual sections of clean and blow dried hair. Though I don't always blow dry my hair before use s till find the results the same. You should then use the irons to finish. It also suggests you can apply to damp hair before you blow dry and then straighten.

          **My opinion**

          I am pleased with my purchase as it was relatively cheap at £2.49 in Tesco though other places seem to be selling it at £2.99 so I wonder if has maybe gone up in price there now too.

          I find the trigger easy to use to spray onto the hair and I do it in sections starting with the under back parts of my hair first. Once sprayed inn it makes my hair so much easier to brush through and then straighten. The straightened look also looks a little more sleeker than before and I do find it holds for the day where as before my hair wouldn't. it has a faint smell to it of alcohol but otherwise unscented. If you spray it and it sprays slightly onto your skin it is not sticky but feels quite watery. In fact when you look at the bottle and the contents it is so clear that you could be fooled into thinking this was just water in a spray! I'm not keen on thick hair sprays so I like this as it is unscented and not sticky. Therefore my hair still feels smooth and silky and not sticky when applied. I get the effect I want of less tatty/dried hair as it is now protected before using the irons and it stays straight for the working day for me.

          **Helpful information**

          On the bottle it says you can email or call the Schwarzkopf advisory service and there is a schwarzkopf website too which is worth a look at their range and what styles are in at the moment which is always useful to women wanting ideas or help on hair styling. www.schwarzkopf.com


          I would rate this 5 stars as it as fairly cheap and it works really well for me. it protects my hair well whilst using my Straightners and has helped my dry hair from getting knotted. I don't like the feel of heavy sprays etc and this is nice and light and un-sticky. A good essential buy in a world where we could not live without our irons!


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          • More +
            04.01.2010 02:54
            Very helpful



            A fab brain training game that is fun and stimulating

            More Brain Training (DS)

            I have had a Nintendo wii for a while but wanted a DS to use on holidays and to try out brain training games to help keep y mind active. So I got the DS a few months ago and More Brain Training for Christmas. I have not tried the first version of this yet but I am liking this one so have ordered myself it.

            The idea of More Brain Training is to help stimulate different parts of your brain to keep it active. Considering the DS is meant to be for the kids that this game and its original have been such big hits.

            The brains behind More Brain Training is Dr Kawashima a doctor of medicine from Japan and ''leading figure'' in ''Brain Imaging'' there. He wrote a book called 'train your brain in 60 days' and these principles were translated to the first game.

            **Using it**

            You turn the DS into a book shape upright and first have to register your name and take the brain age exercise. You are then given a brain age by the Dr and of course mine was quite ancient as the first attempt at this is not great as it takes time to build up to being good at the exercises set.

            Once you have a brain age there are different options to choose from which are quick play which allows you to do a brain age check, quick training and quick sudoko without needing to register. These included a paper, scissors and stone game in the age check or quicker versions of the games in daily play. I haven't downloaded anything yet where you are able to battle against up to 15 people.

            **Daily Play**

            You can pick the options of brain age check, training, graph and other options.

            The brain age check allows you to retest your brain age and consists of three test modes which form part of the daily play tasks but randomly chosen.

            The graph allows you to see your progress on each of the various components over it. Whether you have gone up or down in points or time. In the other options you can change your signature or stamp design or colour settings. You can also get tips from the famous Dr which can be fun and useful.


            What I have played mainly is the daily play training and each time you go you get a stamp for each day. If you attempt more than one game you get a bigger stamp. The Dr talks to you and greets you each time on knowing the time of day and occasions. It wished me happy new year and tells me off for going on late at night when I go on before going to sleep. In fact I have been on everyday since Christmas except yesterday and it know and says it is sorry to miss you! It also warns you when your battery is running low which I think is rather clever. it also wished me Happy New Year and knew it was cold outside!

            You start off with a couple of games and once you have done them it will open up new ones and to get more games you have to play more days. I haven't opened up all the games yet but have enjoyed the ones I have so far. They all have rules next to them to help explain them for each of the games you are measured by points or time and given speeds e.g. walking speed, cycling, car, train or plane. I am better at some than others which is odd. Each game will give penalties for mistakes which can mean adding of time etc and then you get a lower score or giving a lower speed. Each game has the top 3 scores and ill note any personal bests even if it doesn't put you in the top 3 as the Ds has 4 different slots for players to use so you can compete as a family for the spots.

            The first one is missing symbols which requires you to work out the missing symbols x+-/for the sums on the screen in the shortest time possible. You have to write on the right of screen with the scroll the answer to the sum on the left part of the DS. I do get slightly frustrated with this one as my drawing of the / symbol seems to be mistaken for a - sometimes and then gives me the wrong answer. The game is pretty addictive and you want the best score so it can mark you easily if you want to get a good score. Only one score gets counted per day you see so if you mess up that's the score taken. Though I worked out you can backup out press the start button and it doesn't record anything. (cheating slightly I know) For this one surprisingly I am only walking which is not so good but I think that is more to do with me drawing the symbols as I don't make mistakes. If you make a mistake you get a penalty of time added which can give you a worse score.

            The second game on it is masterpiece recital which first time I got plane speed which is good. Must have a knack for being a super composer anyway it plays the piece of music each day and you have to hit the right notes to play the tune. I quite like this as soothing though you need to make sure the volume is turned up on the DS to hear the tunes.

            The next one I have on my DS is word scramble which is words muddled up on left side in anagrams to decipher and they spin round in a circle. Sometimes they spring out at you and you instantly know them. They get harder as the game goes on and if you miss one you get a penalty. I vary on this game between car and train.

            The next game I have is correct change and I like this one as nice and easy. You have the amount spent on left with amount given to buy and you work out the change. You rag the coins into the box to add up the change. It normally starts with fivers then will suddenly drop to trick you. Again you have to be quicker to get a higher result but I normally do well on this one.

            The next one I have is word blend which is harder than you think. You have to listen to the DS for this one so need quiet space and volume up. It starts off with one word then moves up to two and three spoken at the same time and you need to decipher the word. Sometimes you get letter clues in the word and can repeat the sayings a few times. Though it ill only let you listen so long before saying up. I can get train and plane speed on this so I like it!

            The next one I have is memory addition and I don't like this as it is hard. It starts off with a two numbers that need adding up . e.g. 4+12 but it then scribbles over one of the numbers so you give your answer then you have to remember the scribbled out number for the next sum whilst putting in that answer. You do ok for so long until it bleeps when you hit a certain line of correct answers which puts me off then I forget! You can put try again to re-see the numbers. I have done alright at this and am improving but only on train speed!

            The next one I have is days and dates and I find this a tad hard for some reason. It goes off today's dates and you have to work out days or dates within the past or future week. It will say what is it two days from 4 days ago etc to confuse you. Thus I am at car speed!

            I am not clever enough to have opened up anymore games yet of the three spaces I have left though I have only had the game under a fortnight!

            I did sneak to the bottom box to see if it would open and I got the germ buster. You are only allowed to open this after opening at least one game and have to do a brain training game each day before it will let you in! This is not a brain training game but a relaxing game. I actually do find this highly addictive and calming though. It plays the nursery rhyme type song associated with the flu not sure which but myself and niece ended up quite calmed by it. The idea is to kill the germs with the different coloured pills that fall down. It is basically like tetris and staged in levels. I only like the easy game as the normal and advanced start dropping more than one pill in one go making it too hard. On easy you go at a gentle speed. The more you move up the levels the more germs are there making it harder to clear the and I get to about level 20 before dying. However it is addictive and fun.

            Overall I am a fan of this and like to go on daily before bed even through Dr tells me off! I like the fact that you can open up new games once you have conquered some. I like seeing the graph and getting the time down and points up. There is sudoko on there but it doesn't fuss me too much. I have now ordered myself the orignal game too to play and I am hoping for some more types of activities to do.

            It also occasionally will ask you to do random other things like connect the dots to draw what you see e.g. dolphins etc though I never quite see the same as the Dr.

            **Age **

            It is a game that says for 3+ though my little nephew aged 9 tried to play the other day and struggled with it so I think it's a tad hard for the younger child. I think it is great for adults though or teens. For the adults it is good to help your memory and keep your brain active. If you love puzzles and sudoko you will love this. In fact there are 10 million users of this according to Nintendo so my suggestion is to buy this as it is fun and also beneficial to the aging brain!

            **Where to buy**

            You can buy DS games in lots of outlets from music shops to supermarkets etc and online. The cheapest place I have seen I s Amazon for under £13 though you could pay up to £22 for the game in land based shops. You can go online to www.nintendo.co.uk and get onto the page for more brain training to find out more information about it and how to sue the add in features.

            I Would give this a 4 star as it is highly addictive though I wish there were more games/activities on it. The price is pretty cheap too. In fact I am so addicted I took my DS to relatives and friends nad was being rude playing it whilst there like you do with your mobile! I have had to ween myself off the thing hence not going on yesterday and the Dr said he missed me! I hope this has been of some help to you as I have tried to explain it in the best way I could.


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            • More +
              22.12.2009 02:04
              Very helpful



              A must have travel sized hand gel to kill all kinds of bacteria

              Tesco Antibacterial Hand Gel

              I got into using hand gel long before the 'swine flu' campaign partly due to the nature of my job! And what exiting job is it that puts me into contact with germs you may ask - an off the wall crazy titled job...no of course just a teacher!

              I have previously worked in catering where using hand gels to sanitize hands was second nature although a lot more alcohol based than these little ones you get in the shops! I have visited relatives in hospitals where since MRSA have the sanitizers at the door for going in and going out. I honestly think though given the MRSA you are better using the stuff to protect yourself as hospitals don't seem to be as clean as they used to!

              Since doing my pgce over 4 years ago I have found myself run down with many a sickness bug, flu, cold you name it, it has been my way. I forgot of course that working in school with over 1000 lovely children can lead to germs on all the door handles and surfaces that you touch and that others don't necessarily operate as clean a hygiene as they can! Hence the need for the slinky little sanitzer on top of the regular hand washing. In fact the school now has sanitizer dispensers in the cloakrooms on top of regular soap dispensers in the toilets in the aid to stop the spread of germs in the readiness for a pandemic. I think my little sanitizer in my bag and desk drawer have helped me a bit in combating my contact with germs to reduce the number of bugs I pick up.

              **Anyway the gel by Tesco! **

              I have a few tubs of this stuff not all Tesco branded though but enough to keep in my bag, drawer, car etc just in case. These are handbag sized and handy when on a trip out the house where you can't get near a sink of water and soap! In fact I think it has made me a little ocd in cleanliness as I am always wanting to apply the stuff lately! I don't recall the price but have a feeling I paid less than a £1 for it and I get the feeling as it is travel sized the price could be steeper in other brands because of the captive audience in wanting it pocket sized for travel.

              My bottle is clear and 50ml in size and the stuff advertises that it cleans and refreshed hands without the need for soap and water. I find that statement a little naughty as yes this does work wonders but you cant replace the need to rigorously clean your hands with soap and water altogether even if the bottle says it kills 99;9%. You still need to get to the under parts of your nails etc which needs the traditional method of hot water, soap and a nail brush!

              You flip the lid to reveal a top with small whole to squirt out the liquid hand gel. It comes out quite fast so be careful but having said that it easily blends in. Be careful not to shake up the bottle as you end up with excess gel on opening the lid.

              **So what it says it does.... **

              1-Cleans without soap and water -Yes -obviously that's the point!
              2-Kills germs -Well Yes 99.9& ok
              3-Quick and easy to use - Yes very easy to use and apply
              4-Fast drying and non sticky -Yes - although a bit too fast and drying as it tightens the hand but then again it doesn't go sticky which could be worse!
              5-With added moisturise - to a point as hand does then feel soft but too much of the stuff and it feels a little tight
              6-Ideal for travel - definitely - as good size to pop in handbag if on daily errands, going to work, on your hols etc)

              Also I notice with this it doesn't smell too strong like my blue M&S version I have which is a bit too strong and smells quite medical. Although this does smell a bit alcoholic compared to my other branded cucumber version one, infact you could mistake it for a weak vodka when you smell it from the bottle. This smell wears off when applied and although not a scented version it does in a way remind me of the cucumber version I have.


              Definitely buy an anti bacterial version and this is one of the better ones I have tried. It is a fab size for on the move and travel. It is handy for those times when you feel an establishment is not quite as clean as it could be too! I can't claim that it has been a factor in reducing my bouts of illnesses but it has helped. In fact I am quite possible hand gel obsesses lately and the advert with the blue germs moving on surfaces hasn't helped me curb my cleanliness obsession!

              **Buy it**

              This is a Tesco hand gel available in all Tesco stores and cheap at around a £1 although look out for offers or larger sized versions for the home too!

              **Side note mini rant** (apologies.....well not really!)

              What has not helped are those lovely children and adults who come into school/work sick (some actually have thrown up but still come in) and cough and splutter without covering their mouths or don't wash their hands after going to the toilet. I think basic hygiene would also help us all from catching bugs/bacteria etc! So let's all do our bit to catch it, bin it kill it ..............


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            • More +
              21.12.2009 20:42
              Very helpful
              1 Comment



              A nice drink for a treat

              Shloer - Sparkling Red Grape

              Shloer is one of those drinks I have drunk since a child at birthdays, Christmas's and celebrations. It is a non alcoholic drink for a treat! It comes in many flavours now but I still adore the traditional white grape and red grape varieties. In fact the power of Shloer has moved into pubs and clubs now for those wanting a non alcoholic drink other than coke. This is a good move as for those out as designated drivers or who don't drink there is never enough choice when out. I do like to drink as well but find this a tasty treat too.

              It is on offer at the moment in Asda at £1 a bottle which is good value as normally it is nearer double that. You find at different seasons it is on offer on 3for 2 bogof or cheaply priced and this tends to be the same in the major supermarkets.

              **The Bottle**

              You get a glass bottle (still) in a 750ml size and it has a gold top. It is clear glass but the redness of the drink makes the bottle bright and alluring to the eye. Shloer is written in white bubble writing going upwards and red grape is highlighted in red. It simply says it is a sparkling juice drink and has the odd red grape on the front too.

              **What is in it**

              I love appletizer too who have branched into grapetizer too and to be honest I thought Shloer was 100% sparkling fruit like the appletizer brand but I was wrong. That is a bit of a let down really when you see this is in fact a ''juice'' drink as it makes me feel a little more guilty drinking it knowing there is more naught sugar in it.

              Ingredients include carbonated water, 29% red grape juice from concentrate, glucose-fructose, syrup, citric acid, natural flavourings and malic acid. Per 100ml you get 49kcal (not too bad I guess compared to a coke!), 11.5g carbohydrates, a trace of protein and a big fat zero of fat! It is free from preservatives though and therefore is recommended to be consumed within 3 days of opening. However in our house it only lasts about 1 minute before everyone gets their share and it is gone. Even those that drink will empty their glass to get their fair share!

              **What is it like**

              It is best drunk on any occasion whether that be a party, gathering or meal. It tastes nice from a wine glass or normal glass to be honest. The red grape tastes nicer than the white grape as the flavour is more intense and overt. I have tried the other varieties that are festive but dislike them. It looks better at the table to drink this rather than a coke as it gives off a sense of being elegant!

              The taste of the red grape Shloer is not as sickly sweet as red grape fruit juice. It has a nice fizzyness to it and doesn't taste overly sweet but makes you quench more. It is very similar to the grapetizer red drink and to be honest the grapetizer wins it for me as I know with that I get 100% fruit juice where as with this I am only getting 29%. I like counting in my 5 a day you see! It does not tingle on the tongue and reminds me a little of cranberry and red grape in its flavour.


              If you have never tried it buy it for a treat or if you want a nice non alcoholic alternative to wine give it a whirl. Overall if you can get appletizer/grapetizer I would buy that first over this as there is something nicer about the taste of that over this. However this is a nice treat especially to stock up on when on offer. Currently in Asda at a bargain price of a £1 a bottle in lots of interesting flavours.

              It only gets 4/5 because of the fruit % issue!


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              • More +
                21.12.2009 13:10
                Very helpful



                3 in 1 to relieve pain, unblock and get rid of chesty coughs

                Beechams All In One

                Working in a school means I am more likely to come into contact with colds/flu/bugs you name it! We have sanitizers like in Hospitals now and I always carry a hand gel around with me. But that doesn't seem to stop me catching flu/colds so far as I have had my fair share. I have had the plain cold, sinusitis, flu and a dose of swine flu this term alone. Hopefully the Christmas holidays will run with no illness!

                I have never liked taking tablets since I was a child and always feel like being sick at the thought of swallowing them. So I have always used dissolvable ones or crunched them up in a hot drink! But alas flu liquid remedies exist to solve my problem! I have tried a few brands of liquid congestants and settled on the non drowsy ones for when I just have a slight cold so that I can carry on my normal activities.


                This is advertised as an all in one to help headaches, blocked nose, sore throat and chesty coughs. There are 8 doses inside and a reminder that it contains paracetamol. You may think that pushing £5 is expensive for paracetamol is expensive but I would disagree as there is something about this stuff that seems to make it work quite quickly to help mend your aches and pains.

                **The packaging**

                It comes in a blue box with Beechams all in one written in orange. On the box it tells you what it is for and the ingredients as well as how to take the medicine. Inside you get a leaflet too. You get a brown bottle with the blue labelling again and a child proof screw lid and plastic measuring cap. The bottle also has ingredients and how to take it too.

                **What is it for?**

                It is syrup like mixture and contains paracetamol and is a decongestant and expectorant. That means that the paracetamol relieves the pain, the decongestant gets rid of the catarrh and helps unblock the sinuses and the expectorant relieves the chesty coughs.

                The flavouring is menthol and I notice when I take this there is a kick to it when taking the dose. An adult or over 12 takes a 20ml dose and can repeat every four hours (not taking more than 4 doses in 24 hours). You are not allowed to give to children under 12 unless medically told to. There is a big warning about not exceeding dose with it containing paracetamol and obviously not taking it with other paracetamol products. It is made by gsk - GlaxoSmithKline group.

                **Using it**

                Like I said I have used this when I have had sinusitis, colds, swine flu and flu because the Dr always tells me to take paracetamol no matter what I seem to have! So whether I have been knocked off my feet or just a whiff of a cold I use paracetamol.

                The dose of 20 ml is easy to measure out in the plastic cup. When taken it does have a kick to it and a strong menthol smell. You can feel it tingle going down the throat and pipe a little too! The cup needs washing out to rinse of the thick orange liquid.

                I found with this it certainly helped ease my aches and pains and the heaviest headaches which a standard paracetamol would do. However it was also good at making my nose unblocked and stuffy though I do feel the decongestant part of it is a little too powerful and produces the catarrh! I mean you may not have really had it but after this you do!

                It doesn't make me feel drowsy at all and when I have had a cold where I still go to work etc I find this does give me the energy needed to get through the day. Although it does wear off after a few hours needing a re-dose.


                I would recommend this to those who like me cant or dislike taking tablets. It is an all in one and saves messing about with tablets, cough syrups and decongestants. It is non drowsy too so means you can carry on with your daily activities. It works well in helping speed up recovery and I found the taste of it not off putting too.

                Like I said earlier it is about £5 for a bottle of 8 doses and that may seem expensive compared to a pack of 24 paracetamol but this is a decongestant and expectorant too so saves the hassle of getting the other two parts of the package. It is useful to me due to finding it difficult to swallowing tablets and the liquid form makes it go down easy. I have found the bottle lasts me through the 'illness' bout and helps me get over it sooner. But that is just my humble opinion but hopefully some use to you!


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                • Mars Celebrations / Chocolate / 48 Readings / 48 Ratings
                  More +
                  20.12.2009 18:15
                  Very helpful



                  A Box of 8 tiny types of sweets waiting to be devoured

                  Mars Celebrations

                  I am a Cadbury lover normally but when it comes to sweets for Christmas I can vary between roses, celebrations, heroes and Quality Street depending on the offer at the time. At the time I got these they were £5 a tub in Tesco and I bought two, one for a present and the other to munch on over the festive period. The good thing about celebrations is that you can share them (errmmm) and sneak out your favourites and leave the dodgy ones you dislike for others!

                  **The Red Tub Packaging**

                  I have the big tub size box of celebrations which is 855g and in a new tougher red plastic tub rather than a metal tin and actively promotes ''re-use me'' to make sure that Mars does their but to help the environment. It is a nice sized tub and feels very durable and as part of the re-use me campaign they suggest you can microwave the tub, freeze it and wash it which is all good! I like the little box advert for this which comes to life with poppy out eyes like a frog! The tub is sealed with cellophane and once off the lid fastens down tightly.

                  Celebrations is written quite like a scrap newspaper of letters to make up a vibrant fun slogan. All the different types of sweets in the tub are on the front for you to get enticed and mouth watering for them! On the bottom of the tub are the 8 sweets on offer and a brief description of each along with calories and ingredients.

                  **The Big 8! **

                  Bounty/Mars/Snicker/Malteaser/Galaxy/Galaxy Caramel/Galaxy Truffle and the Milky Way

                  In it you get the Bounty which is coconut and chocolate, Malteaser -Teaser which is a malteaser but slightly different, the Original Mars Bar to make your day. You also get a Galaxy chocolate bar and a Galaxy Caramel which is the same but with caramel in the middle. You also get the Snickers Bar which is chocolate and peanuts, the Milky Way which is nice and fluffy and the galaxy truffle which is meant to give this assortment a bit of class!


                  The basic ingredients tell you that the milk chocolate contains vegetable fats and cocoa butter although there is not an ingredient list for each sweet in particular. I don't recall seeing a leaflet inside the pack either (though that is last on my mind when devouring these!) I would suggest visiting the mars site for more information on each sweet but as these are firm favourites most should know them. It gives you information per 100g only which is an 8th of a tub roughly rather than giving it per sweet. Per 100g you would eat 506 kcal, 5.7g protein, 60g carbohydrates, (55.5g of which sugars), 27.1g fat, (16.7g of which saturates), 1.3g fibre and 0.14g sodium.

                  The best before on the tub is May 2010 which is a good date should you get them as a present or give them as one as you can save them up (although I doubt that would happen!)

                  **Each Sweet and its taste**

                  Each sweet is individually wrapped to look like their normal size one but obviously in miniature version. Considering Mars give us a tub to be re-useable I find the wrapping a bit extravagant per miniature sweet. Here they are in my countdown order of my favourite to least favourite!

                  1-Teaser -I appear to have none left!
                  As I have opened these and nabbed my favourites that means there are no malteasers left! However the red packaging wrapper is alluring to the eye and poof its open. The teaser tastes better than a malteaser as it has chocolate and honeycomb in the chocolate ball too. I find these scrumptious and not sickly and wish you could get a whole pack of these in the shops!

                  2-Milkyways- appear to have gone.
                  These are just like the big ones and same blue wrapping with blue foil. They are whippy and light in texture and are easy to munch away without feeling too full.

                  3-Galaxy Caramel -nicer than the plain ones.
                  This has a bit of a bronze colour going on in the foil and wrapping. The caramel version is relatively new anyway and the chocolate bar is like a mini galaxy and looks smooth and enticing to eat. One bite gets you straight into the smooth chocolate and the caramel is equally divine and sups the Cadburys caramel version!

                  4-Mars - the best a sweet can get!
                  This is the firm old favourite sweet that is easy to munch and looks like its big brother. Nice mix of nougat and caramel and goes into the mouth whole or in a bite!

                  5-Galaxy - smooth chocolate.
                  This is nice and silky to eat and the wrapper is copper again in colour and looks enticing to eat. Unwrap to get a miniature slab of chocolate that tastes silky smooth and melts in your mouth. It smells nice too and crumbles up in your mouth like a ripple. Yummy

                  6- The Snicker-Not my favourite of them all but about 3rd or 4th in line!
                  Unwrap the twisty foil and pull the tab of the middle of the brown package with snickers written in blue to reveal a rectangular sweet no bigger than 4cm long. This is just the right size to eat as whole or bite in half. You can smell the toasted peanuts before you bite it and the chocolate looks and feels smooth. It is like its big brother and has that blend of nuts, nougart and caramel all wrapped up. Infect it tastes better than the bigger version because it is so little that it isn't too sickly sweet!

                  7- The Truffle-I am not sure why this is in here and I would rank it 7th out of 8.

                  I tend to eat this towards the end when I have snuck away all my favourites and still got a chocolate craving. Well the wrapping is nice and gold on the twisty bits and it looks appealing to open. Inside you get an oval shell type sweet that reminds me of a chocolate from a traditional boxed set. It has fancy lines on it too and looks pretty smooth. Best eaten in a bite and a half you then get the nice smooth galaxy outer layer with thick cocoa truffle on the inner. It is the truffle texture I don't like about these as feels bit too heavy and a crunchy taste of sugar can be sensed.

                  8- The Bounty- I rank this 8th as I prefer these out of the freezer to set the coconut as otherwise it tends to stick to your teeth!
                  This comes in the traditional blue/white wrapper and silver foils twists this time. It looks like a baby bounty and quite ovally in shape. Biting half is best and frozen or chilled. It is quite coconutty in taste and the bits of coconut stay together better than the big version but I would still happily give these ones away!


                  Celebrations are a good range of sweets and can suit a family overall or one individual. I do like the Cadbury's version of Hero equal to these. In the big world Cadburys rules for me but in the miniature world both rank the same because these don't make you feel sickly because of their size. I love the fact that you can pick and choose your favourites first and work your way through in that order. Or if sharing ensure you hide your favourite first. Once the sweets have gone I know that the tub will come in handy too.

                  I would rate these miniatures 4 star as with all assortment sweets there are a couple of sweets I would ditch from these. Price wise I thought they were a bargain but that only comes on offer seasonally so if buying this size at other points in the year it will go up. You can get these in miniature sized boxes for as little as 99p to medium sixed tubs before the family sized tub I have here. This tub is being shared out around everyone but somehow I ate all the milky ways and teasers before sharing them out!!!!


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                  • Asda Mini Jelly Babies / Sweets / 29 Readings / 27 Ratings
                    More +
                    20.12.2009 16:54
                    Very helpful



                    A cheaper version of the original that is so so!

                    Asda Mini Jelly Babies

                    I normally buy jelly babies for my niece and tend to buy them whether they are the original or supermarket own brand as I often find my niece doesn't notice the different in the taste is too much However I must admit I prefer the original but will dip into any that have been bought.

                    **The Price/Packet**

                    These mini jelly babies are by Asda and are in the promotion any 3 for £1 or about 37p each. There are many other types of sweets that can be mixed and matched in the range too. This is a 100g size bag. Asda offer a gaurantee that if you are not a 100% happy you can the product refunded and replaced by phoning up or going on their website to make sure that you lvoe their products!

                    The packet of mini jelly babies is orange in colour with red across the bottom to allow the price to be clear and visible in bright yellow promoting the 3 for £1 offer. The writing of mini helly babies is in crayola style and has bright colours with a jelly baby making up the letter I. They are visually appealing but as they are mixed up with all of asdaa sweets in this range they blend in.


                    These are free from artificial colours and flavours though when you do look at the ingredients they could put you off a bit! They are not suitable for vegitarians as contain beef gelatine. They are fruit flavour jelly sweets and also contain sugar,glucose, citric acid, flavourings, colours and spinach extract. Per 100g (size of packet too) there are 339 kcal (15kcal per sweet), 6.0g protein, 78.8g carbohydrates, nil fat and a trace of sodium.

                    *The Litlte Babies**

                    They do not look that much smaller considering they are called mini jelly babies ! When you open the packet you get that jelly baby smell like with all pakcets of jelly babies. These ones are not too floury like some are which are caked in some sort of icing sugar. They are not to rubbery neither but in the middle however I would give them a touch more icing sugar for my preference. The smell is quite sweet and orangey seems to overpower the packet. One baby does not smell much different to another depsite the colour/vareity difference. In my packet I have yellow, red, black, green and orange and about 20 sweets overall.

                    The shape of the jelly baby is a not tht clear to see to be honest and for a min jelly baby they have big tums! It is a case of one bite and they are gone and easy to chew away. When you bite the exterior which is floury you get a more wet jelly like texture on the inside which is a darker shade of jelly. I do prefer the pink and black ones in honesty and will devour them before the green and yellow ones. I find them a pleasant enough sweet that isnt too sickly and the size of the packet is a nice size for one or two to share without making you feel sick off the sugar. I find if you eat them quickly these taste nice enough but one thought to leave is not to eat them too slowly as you get a bit of an unplesant after taste to them which I cant quite explain. I think I have been put off by reading the ingredients to be honest and noticing the beef gelatine and spinach extract!


                    I would say buy them for the kids that arent too fussy in their brands as they look the same if you take them out the packet and pour into a bowl! If you like the original then these cant compete and I find the aldi version much nicer than these. So for me a bit of a let down and a 3 star product as they are cheap enough but not special.


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                  • Snickers Bar / Chocolate / 98 Readings / 92 Ratings
                    More +
                    01.11.2009 21:42
                    Very helpful



                    A average chocolate bar if you fancy a change


                    Snickers are not my favourite chocolate bar but occasionally I do like a nibble. Tesco have been doing an offer on Mars fun size packs and buy 2 for £3 so we have acquired some Milky Way bars, mars bars and snicker bars. Snickers do come in fun size, snack size, standard size and an extra large size called duo which is two bars in one. To buy a snickers standard bar will knock you back up to 60p but in a multipack of 5 you can pay around £2 or less if on offer. You can buy it in corner shops and supermarkets all over the UK and globally.

                    **Running on Nuts**

                    Surprisingly the Snicker bar is seen to be one of the best selling global chocolate bars. It is surprising to me as I am a Cadbury girl at heart like most of the UK but I guess globally Cadbury haven't stamped their mark as much as Mars have. Mr T seems to have had a comeback lately and is currently helping advertising the bar with ''get some nuts' which seems to end up in some quite whacky TV advertising for the snicker bar. Not quite sure what is going on here with the marketing but I don't find it amusing. I think it seems to be targeting a male audience in it' humour.

                    It is made by master foods who part of mars and introduced over 80 years ago as snickers though in the UK and Ireland we affectionately know it as Marathon. In 1990 the name changed to Snickers to be inline with its global name though I sense this is also to save money as these days they put many languages so that it can be wrapped and sold in many countries.

                    **The Bar**

                    The bar is a brown colour and snickers is written in blue writing on white with a red box line around it. There is a picture of nuts on it and the calorie contents in an oval shape on the mini size bar. In the fun size pack you are told that this little chocolate snacky contains just 91 kcals. (Though two bites and it's gone and that's a bit of a workout to do in return).

                    A Snickers bar contains peanut butter and nougat topped with roasted peanuts and caramel. It is then covered in milk chocolate. Obviously this is then not recommended for people with nut allergies! I won't go into exact details of the ingredients but it has 14% milk chocolate with soft nougat, 27% caramel centre and 24% roasted peanuts.

                    On the back of the multipack it has the GDA information in 100g sis and the bar size which is 18g. This is only an 18g bar and has 91 calories, 1.7g protein, 10g carbohydrates and 4.9g fat. Interestingly to compare the mini snicker bars to twix, malteasers, milkyways etc there is not much difference. As they varies between 70kcl in a milky way to 98kcal in a pack of malteasers though the gram size varies slightly.

                    **The taste**

                    The bar is coated in mars milk chocolate which is pretty similar to the mars bar and milk way bar. When you bite into the bar you immediately get a mixture of all the ingredients in the bite. The combination is nice and tasty and the caramel gives the peanuts a nice taste. The caramel helps smooth out the peanuts and make it easy to swallow. Although I do have to swing my tongue round my mouth after eating it to ensure no stray peanut bits have been left out and got stuck in my teeth! I don't find the chocolate as nice as Cadburys as it isn't as silky or tasty.

                    Iit is a surprisingly moresih bar although it does fill you up quickly. With the fun size bars one is definitely not enough and you can end up eating two or three at least. I have eaten these from room temperature where they taste better and softer as they are a little too hard in the fridge and can crack your teeth if you freeze them!


                    I would not put this at the top of my chocolate charts as there are many other brands and bars I prefer over the snickers bar. However it is a filling chocolate snack and I think the treat size bars are good if you mix them with the other Mars fun size packs. Put it this way I wouldn't fight back if a Squirrel squeaked and nabbed this off me. I would buy it were it on a multipack offer though.


                    Overall I give it 3 stars as it is a tasty enough average size bar though I wish it were still called a marathon bar.


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                    • Witch Stick / Skin Care / 76 Readings / 74 Ratings
                      More +
                      31.10.2009 19:22
                      Very helpful



                      A natural way to target offending blemishes or spots

                      *Witch Stick*

                      For some strange reason after going through my entire teenage years without barely a dit or dot to call a zitty spot my skin has decided to produce them! Argghh I thought seeing as my skin is not really oily but actually quite dry. Of all places on my face it had to be near my nose. I have foundation but little in the means of concealer and find that once that wears off the infected area can actually look worse than if untouched.

                      **Where do you turn**

                      Well seeing as putting on foundation and concealer only exasperate the problem I decided I needed something to actually help unclear my unhealthy pores and help zap away the problem. I remembered buying witch sticks when I was a teenager for these emergency situations as I recall it used to do the job well and dry up my skin which back then was slightly oilier though generally blemish free.

                      **Stick up the Witch the natural way**

                      The actual witch stick bottle is pretty much the same to back when I was a teenager in the shape of bottle and size. Witch stick is written on the front in white and it has a little green leaf sticking out of the word witch. It is a blue bottle which is an update to the brand in 2008 as back in the 90s it was white in colour. It has been going since the 60s and has since branched out in the products it sells. It highlights the fact that it is natural beauty. I got a blue box with this in though I have thrown it away now. It is a 10g bottle and recommended to use within 12 months. You are told what witchy sticky can do to help your blemishes. In a sentence it breakdowns excess oils and bacteria which causes blemishes and spots.

                      **Magic away the blemishes**

                      To use you unscrew the top and find a fat stick which is a bit of a weird texture. It looks a little like gel and soap and is quite dry. It has an anti bacterial smell to it though not too strong. They recommend that you dab on as often as you want and preferably as soon as the naughty blemishes start to appear. It is recommended for all skin types though especially oily and combination skin. A big warning is to use carefully on sensitive skin.

                      That warning is a good one for me as my skin is sensitive and I have to be careful what I buy. I haven't worked out why I have had a blemish outburst as my skin is quite dry rather than oily. The only thing is I did recently change foundation to Tesco from Clinique but that was aimed for oily skin too. Maybe it is the time of year and me being run down!

                      Anyway the sensitive statement part on the stick is good advice to take as with my skin being sensitive I only need a little witch stick dabbed on the offending blemish as other wise boy does it sting like a bee! It has a bit of a tingle kick to it when applied which does wear off after a few seconds but don't over dab.

                      **A Natural Witch**

                      It is not tested on animals and no ingredients are listed on the bottle, perhaps they were on the box I have discarded of. There is a website link - www.witchskincare.com for more detail on all products. According to the company witch hazel is known as Hammelis virginiana and grows on the east coast.

                      **Did the Witch do the Trick**

                      Well yes it did but it was not an instant success. Yes it dried and soothed the area to take away excess oil and reduced the blemish but it has a taken a few days for my skin to calm down. I shall keep this in my makeup bag though in readiness for any future blemishes to attack them before they begin as witch stick recommends.

                      I have also bought the witch stick concealer stick too though as like I say I didn't really have concealers and the plus side s this is shaded as a concealer and contains the witch stick ingredients of natural tea tree and witch hazel. This way I feel I am targeting the blemishes more naturally as well as helping to cover my skin. So I would recommend that too as it is not as stingy on the skin as the stick so maybe better for sensitive skin.


                      Yes I would and with a hint to be careful with use on sensitive skin. I would also recommend the concealer stick I bought myself too. The Witch stick costs between £2.50-£3.00 and I got mine at Tescos though you can get it online and in most pharmacies and supermarkets. The concealer stick was nearer to £5 though which is more but it does two jobs!

                      **Rate it**

                      I would rate it 4 stars as it does work and soothe and is natural, although not to immediate effect. (Though not sure if any products work immediately anyway)


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                      • More +
                        30.10.2009 07:08
                        Very helpful



                        An oil free foundation by tesco that does a smooth job for a realistic price

                        Barbara Daly for Tesco Oil Free Foundation

                        I have used Clinque make up for years as it is good for sensitive skin and varying skin types but as the purse strings tighten up this year and it was setting me back £17 at least I ventured into unsteady waters!

                        I dipped a toe into the world of Barbara Daly's makeup due to a recommendation by my sister who buys the foundation as it is a cheaper alternative to Clinique and has sensitive and oil based skin. She has used this for a number of years and rated the product well so at under £7 a bottle I though I would give it a go. I have ended up comparing the foundation to my Clinique one as that is what it seems to closely mirror.

                        **The Brand**

                        I ventured into Tesco looking for the foundation that was oil free looking for Tesco own makeup counter and could not see it. I then stumbled on a quite classy looking makeup display unit which was simply called 'bd' or what turned out to be Barbara Daly who it turns out created this range exclusively for Tesco. I had never heard of her and just wanted to find the bottle to take home and apply seeing as emergency had set in and my Clinique bottle was empty.

                        However I have since looked up the website for this range - www.barbaradalymake-up.co.uk and actually found it quite a useful little site which has some tips on beauty as well as her top ten make up products. Turns out she has worked as a make up artist for the bbc and has been an artist to some top celebs and models like Twiggy and Cindy Crawford as well as make up for Lady Diana on her wedding day. She also founded with Anita Roddick the colourings range in the Body Shop before setting up this range in 1998 in Tesco.

                        **The Foundation**

                        I have sensitive skin and was desperately looking for something that resembled my Clinque super balanced make up. The foundation I plummeted for was an oil free foundation. The foundation is a similar size as is 29ml compared to the Cliniqe's 30ml bottle. It is also in a glass square bottle which is almost identical to the Clinique one. It came in a nice black box with bd as the logo and a little description about the foundation. Although I have thrown the box away as it was quite flimsy and not needed. The glass foundation bottle has a black screw lid and bd written in black on the front quite simply and on the back it tells you that this bottle is ivory and demagogically tested. There are a few shades to choose from maybe half a dozen which is not as many as Clinique so you won't get as exact a match to skin tone.

                        **Applying it**

                        The foundation is easy to apply and when you twist open the bottle it has a little palette inside the lid to scoop up some makeup to apply which I think is quite clever. The liquid is not as thick as the Clinique one and actually quite runny so you have to be careful how much you scoop on the palette to apply. I have found I need more cream on my face as with this being oil free it seems to dry my face up a bit too much and I had to apply cream to rebalance my skin. I sense that I maybe did not need the oil free and for my next purchase will have to pick a different variety.

                        I have used a little bit on the cheeks and then use my fingers to merge and mix in. The ivory colour is slightly light for me but it does blend well and match my skin tone actually better than my Clinique one did. Although it is a little too runny in consistency for my liking. You could use a sponge if you wish to apply it too and I have put it over a cream base or on its own. It does have a bit of a scent to it too though this is not over powering.

                        **Down sides**

                        For £7 at almost a third cheaper than Clinique it is good value as it will last me the same length of time as my Clinique of approx 3 months. However an annoying thing is that despite me thinking the lid is on securely the liquid has seeped out of the bottle onto the neck of the lid and then turned my lovely clean makeup bag a gooey mess and sandy colour. This also spilt onto my other items in my bag which were then gooey to touch. I have examined the bottle and lid and realised that the problem is f you take too much of the foundation onto the palette that it builds up around the lid and as the consistency is runny it doesn't set but leaks under the lid.


                        There are different types to choose from though I have just looked at the oil free foundation in ivory. There are maybe half a dozen shades to pick in total so you will not get a perfect match like Clinique but a close bet. The foundation is demagogically tested and seems not to irritate my sensitive skin though does make me need extra face cream to stop my face drying due to the formula to make this oil free.

                        **Cost and Rating**

                        The cost of this foundation costs £7 and will last the same length as my Clinique of about 3 months. It is available in larger Tesco's and there is the Barbara Daly website which has some tips and interesting facts too.

                        I would rate this a 3 star as it does live up quite well to Clinique and is a third of the price but had I found this before Clinique I would have probably rated it a 4 star. The downside is the verities of shades and the leaking issue with my bottle meaning I have to be super careful in tightening the lid and wiping away excess foundation from the bottle lid. I would re-buy as I try to save money from luxury purchases this year in order to save the pennies. Though it is still second best to that brand.


                        I have since bought radiant touch from this brand which was again about £7 and this is my credit crunch YSL touch éclat downsize makeup item. That is in my opinion is better quality than this foundation as it hasn't leaked and it does do a good job of mirroring the aims of touch éclat. I will review this eventually as it is a good product for a good price. I just need a link and image to suggest it as a product which I haven't found yet!


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                        • The X Factor / TV Programme / 62 Readings / 59 Ratings
                          More +
                          28.10.2009 02:01
                          Very helpful



                          A branded entertainment show supposedly looking for talent

                          **The X Factor**

                          In a nutshell the X-Factor should be a simple singing contest which is broadcast on the TV looking for talented people. In reality what we see is media frenzy money spinning branded show which seems to showcase little talent.

                          Making that statement you might think I am an X hater but no I still tune in each week though I do sky plus the show to skip the adverts, the deliberate pausing and dragging out to get to the actual decent singers on there!

                          **A bit of history**

                          X was not the first pop singing contest by a long shot as simpler versions existed back before I was born! Perhaps the first one I grew up with as an 80/90s child was stars in their eyes where the person would mimic their favourite star to sing their song. This was not about record contracts but getting yourself on the TV, having a stab at singing and looking like your favourite pop star. I used to think they looked quite realistic and sound like them. I remember my friend writing in to be Kylie and she could sing but sadly did not get through!

                          Things started to change in the late nineties/ early noughites when Pop Stars hit our screens. This was more engaging and reality driven as hopefuls battled their way to become a man made group to be as big as Boyzone or the Spice Girls. I remember Nasty Nig and the woman who does a BBC programme now! They brought us Hear Say and Liberty X and was leagues ahead of poor old stars in the eyes. It didn't stop there as we were brought Pop Idol which got franchised all over the world and made Simon Fuller a richer man than before! It also brought us the new Mr Nasty of Simon Cowell. But after successfully bringing us Will Young sadly the second winner did not light up all our fires and proved that the voters made a mistake and did not vote on talent.

                          ** The foundations and building begins**

                          ....and so the X began where Cowell snubbed Fuller and made his own new show that was very similar to Idol but not! We met Louis Walsh and Sharon Osborne and some new categories like over 25s, groups and of course the young. Kate bagged herself the role as the host and the lovely Ben Shepherd got himself a whole back up show called the Xtra Factor. But Kate was booted in favour of Dermot and Ben swiftly left allowing the awful Fearn to take place. But then jolly Holly took over to make the show more fun.

                          The formula of hopefuls wanting a record contract and singing on stage to public voting worked and so Cowell continued this. Over the years this simple formula has stayed the same though the judges have changed to drop Sharon and include Danni Minogue and Cheryl Cole. There was an extra category to fit the 4 making a young girls and young boys groups. This year the anti has been upped to mirror American Idol whereby it is on two nights to milk the attention and money from voters. The use of guest stars has also radically increased to include 2 stars that coincidently have a single or album due out that same week. The show has also got charitable to make sure we look at the good they can do each time bagging a number 1 and supporting a worthy cause.

                          **The Formula**

                          The show always has the early heats where the judges tour the country hoping to find talent only to hurt their ears with the truly awful voices of people who clearly need their mouths' zipped up. The heats then move to boot camp to zap them down to 100 then 50. Then we get the judges houses in exotic locations except normally for poor Louis where they whittle them down to 3 final choices. Then we get another lot of weeks in the run up to Christmas to knock one out each week until we have a winner in time to release their single on Simons label for a Christmas guaranteed number 1.

                          Personally I used to love the heats and early rounds as I used to like some of the over cocky people who ITV would deliberately build up knowing they were setting them up for an almighty fall. I still can not see how they think they can sing when they are so awful. However in recent years I feel that this card has been over played and a whole show can have maybe 2 decent ones and the rest rubbish when in reality there are lots of good singers that the show has cut out and decided not to show us. I was not so keen this year when they changed it to have a live audience and demo track as the audience can be cruel and the backing music makes hides some of the weaker voices.

                          **The live shows**

                          In the live shows each judge has 3 acts (used to be 4 acts when 3 judges) and currently this year Louis has the groups again as Simon dare not give them to the girls. Simon bagged himself the over 25s who I must say are the strongest this year. Cheryl has the boys and Danni the girls. Each Saturday there is a theme which tends to be Rock, Big Band, Divas, some big star promoting something that year etc. This can make it go awry as some of the hopefuls can only sing one style and struggle with the category given.

                          There is a lady who dresses them and Brian who helps to chorographer them. Something doesn't work out here as often I find some of them looked great in boot camp and earlier shows then once on here they look pretty awfully styled and the sets can be particularly bad too that you wonder if they have professionals working for them at all! Also the song choices given to the hopefuls can be drastically awful and can soon make a favourite crash to bottom place.

                          Once they have been dressed up and prepped the hopefuls sing and we are reminded by the lovely Dermot throughout the show to vote. This is dragged out until Sunday until we are told who are in the bottom 2. Then the judges vote and of course they stick to their own leaving the other 2 to decide or deadlock it and force a public vote.

                          **The Spin**

                          I do like to watch the X Factor to hear the hopefuls sing as some have amazing voices but I do not like the format that milks as much revenue as it can from advertising, competitions and voting. These young people end up under enormous pressure and once on the show are committed to an x factor tour as well as the charity single. The winner if lucky does get a record contract but then that has to sell well to eventually reap the benefits. Leona has probably been the biggest and most successful winner to date. But what happened to Leon, Steve and even Shane? Alexandra is about as she is on the show this week as coincidently she has an album due out.

                          Robbie Williams and Whitney Houston used the show to help revive/kick start their careers again. Although the dress and nerves seemed to fall apart for Whitney. It was West Life's turn last week who Simon and Louis happen to have something in common with £££ (wink, wink £££). They sang their song last week and I kept thinking I recognise this then worked out it kept playing over and over in the audition/early stages. Good plug Simon by the way!!!

                          The media frenzy is a bit of a problem though as the contestants face stories written about them in the press that can be positive or negative. The power of blogs, twitter, social networking sites as well as the press mean that a contestant can go from the favourite to loser in a day. This happened to poor Danyl who is one of the best singers on there but the public turned against over these stories and ended up fighting to stay. The girl group of Louis's got booted in the end who were starting to become a pretty good sugarbabe type group. In reality if it were down to talent then the terrible twins should have gone!

                          **My Opinion**

                          This is an entertainment show that is a pretty established brand now. After 5 years on the go the formula still works but changes slightly each year to keep it in keeping and fresh. There have been changes in Judges and hosts over the years which some have been for the better and others for the worst. To me it is a reality contest which needs to cut itself back down to the original premise and stop focussing on the judges and start caring about the people (yes they are people which the judges forget). There needs to be some sense in making sure untalented singers don't get through and yes I mean john and Edward or we will have another Michelle Pop Idol moment on our hands! So X please cut back on the competitions, voting and long drawn out poop mimicking American Idol and get back to your roots!

                          **Watch it**

                          It is on ITV on Saturday nights for listening to the songs this week and seeing the famous person who coaches them! Sunday nights to catch the results and normally the 'coach' for that week singing to promote their album as well as another singer with some record out. If you just want to see the results you only need tune in for the last 10 minutes!

                          Xtra Factor is worth a watch sometimes too with Holly Willoughby especially when a controversial week s she will speak to the judges and she also has famous people on to talk about the show, as well as talking to the contestants.


                          Hope I haven't been too opinionated or ranted on as despite my moans I still watch the show as it is surprisingly addictive though I do sky plus it to skip to the bits I like. It is worth a watch and will draw you in to see if the judges really like each other, see what awful costumes and sets the contestants get given and also see who can actually sing.

                          To be honest this year's hopefuls aren't as good as last year. Ones to watch at the moment are Danyl, Lucy, Jamie (needs a good song) and the good looking over 25 guy but can't remember his name!

                          **X Rating**

                          I would give it a 3 star as I am getting fed up of the money marketing and mimicking the US show and want to see it show some real raw talent. Apologies for the long review!!:)


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                          • MAC Eye Pencil / Make Up / 61 Readings / 56 Ratings
                            More +
                            26.10.2009 23:54
                            Very helpful



                            A fab sparkly and vivid eye catching pencil

                            MAC Eye Pencil

                            I have been steadily building up my own personal MAC Empire over the years with an addictive need to purchase a MAC item whenever I am near the store. As I have said in previous reviews the nearest one to me is the Metro Centre and so I am not there often and buy a few items at a time or if holidaying in the US I stock up as much as I can as the $ to the £ is still a good deal and with MAC been a US brand you get it cheaper there than back in the UK.

                            **The Range of Eye Pencils**

                            The eye pencil I am reviewing is a limited edition Soft Sparkle Eye Pencil which is a glittery lilac eye liner. It is advertised as a creamy pencil style liner infused with micro fine glitter as limited editions and is available in night sky or lilac accents and priced $14.50 but is only available in the US. You can purchase it through MAC US online (although probably have to be in the states to purchase it) or like me go physically to the US to a MAC shop (which for me is only really an option when I am on holiday there!).

                            The US MAC stores sell the limited editions and a wider variety of ranges than the UK does as MAC is an American brand. On MAC online - UK version or in UK department stores there are plain eye pencils or powerpoint eye pencils on offer. The plain eye pencil is in 3 traditional colours of blue, brown and black and cost £10.00 whilst the MAC powerpoint liner in over 10 fabulous bold colours that cost around £12.00. The MAC power point liner is probably the closest to the Soft Sparkle one I have and is long lasting, waterproof and metallic.

                            **My eyeliner - Soft Sparkle Eye Pencil**

                            The Soft Sparkle Eye Pencil is a creamy pencil which has glitter in it to make it sparkly. The colour of my eyeliner is lilac accents and I paid $14.50 in a MAC shop in the US. It is 1.68g in weight and around 9cm in length. The pencil is shiny and sparkly on the packaging with a plastic lid. It is black in colour with MAC written on in white writing. It comes in a black MAC box also which I have not kept. As I have said this is a limited edition which MAC often do but is still currently available from the US.

                            **Using it**

                            As an eyeliner crayon it is easy to apply and the point is neither too soft nor too hard as it has a creamy texture. With the right pressure it is easy to apply to the eyes with a steady hand and creates a straight line well. The colour comes out quite a vivid purple with just enough sparkle and glitter to give you a good look. It does bring attention to the eyes and works well with thick black mascara and suits a plain eye shadow or glittery one. It doesn't smudge off once on and is water resilient too. MAC recommended not to use in the inner eye rim but can be used for the top and bottom eye. I have sensitive skin and have not found it an irritant to my eyes even when on for a while or when I get tired and tend to smudge or rub my eyes.

                            I have used it mainly on nights out rather than the daytime as it is quite bold and dominant. I use it only with high impact mascara and not an eye shadow as I find it is powerful enough to draw attention to the eyes alone without the need for an eye shadow. I don't find it over glittery or sparkly and not too young in look. I do feel l it is a bit too dressy for a daytime eye pencil. It is like other MAC products I own in that it does make a statement and help you stand out and you can adjust the amount you build up to increase the effect.

                            **The cost and re purchasing it**

                            It cost me $14.50 which was around £8 at the time and a few quid off what you would pay in the UK and similarly priced to Clinique. It has lasted me a while as I do not use it that much. The downside is that to re purchase this particular one is that I would have to hunt around on the web for specialised shops through ebay etc with it been a US range and a limited edition, which would cost me more than what I paid for it unless I made it back to the States.

                            Even though I only use it for nights out I do not feel it has a been a waste as it is a quality make up eye pencil and has lasted me a while. I do like to wear different colours and looks and so have not used it that often. I would like to purchase some of the other eyeliners from MAC in the powerpoint range as I can't escape to the US in the near future and they seem to be similar to this one I own.

                            I love MAC eye makeup and find it has a variety of bold and vivid colours to suit lots of people. The looks you can create are dazzling and pretty eye catching for both daywear and nights out. This eye pencil compliments the other products I have from MAC but also works well with other brands too and is one I would recommend to others. I would rate it a 4 star due to it been more of a night out eye pencil.

                            MAC make up is available in department stores like House of Fraser, online for those tempted to give it a go. www.maccosmetics.co.uk


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