- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
When I sold my house in 2008 my buyer requested that I leave the fridge freezer rather than scrap it. I had already planned to replace it when I moved as it really was on its last legs. My Gran had given it to me in 2001, and she had probably owned it for a good five years before that. Anyway, my completion date was rapidly approaching, so I needed to get a new fridge freezer ordered quickly so that it would be in place in the new house as soon as I moved in. I had a look online, and very quickly chose the fully frost free Hotpoint FF187E in 'Graphite'. I paid £309 on the Comet website, and that price included delivery.
~~ Aesthetics ~~
The main reason I was drawn to this model was its looks. I already had a Hotpoint washing machine in my kitchen in the same 'Graphite' shade, and ideally wanted to match this as well as I could. The slightly textured surface is best described as a dark grey with a matt sheen, and I find the darker grey far more appealing than the light silver colour you find on many appliances. The glittery specks in the even darker grey trim on this model only add to the appeal. This trim, which is around the top of the fridge door and on the handle of the freezer, has a shiny surface which contrasts well with the main surface of the fridge freezer. In comparison with the white version of this model (and white or lighter silver models in general) I would say that this colour, combined with the surface texture on the doors, is perfect for families with young children, as sticky smears and fingerprints will be a thing of the past.
The overall shape of the unit was another of its selling points for me personally. It seemed to have a far more chunky and rounded look to it, far more 'curvy' than any of its competitors. But with sharp edges and clean lines seeming to be the fashionable choice now, perhaps this design is a little dated. I actually prefer the softer look, and always wanted one of those retro Smeg models but couldn't quite stretch to the price tag.
The two doors are of almost equal size, with integrated handles in the bottom and top of the fridge and freezer doors respectively. I prefer this type of handle, although some people find them hard to keep clean, particularly in the freezer door which tends to collect bits of food and grime.
~~ Inside the fridge ~~
The net fridge capacity is 172 litres - a good size for most families, and certainly ample for the two of us. There are four safety glass shelves which have an anti-bacterial coating, and a removable chrome wine rack which holds 5 bottles. Two large pull out drawers for fruit and vegetables sit at the bottom of the fridge, each with a clear front panel so your tomatoes and lettuce etc. have a clear view of the kitchen each time the fridge door is opened. Two of the glass shelves can be repositioned, though only slightly as the additional slots are positioned very close to the original ones. To the rear of the fridge compartment are several air ducts for air circulation, and a small, dim light between two of the shelves. I would imagine that the extremely limited illumination of the fridge compartment is intended to save on energy consumption, but I'd personally prefer it to be just a little bit brighter.
The inside of the door has a flip-top dairy compartment with removable egg tray, and two large shelves. The bottom shelf is deep enough to hold 2-litre bottles of milk, and wide enough to hold 3 of these. The middle shelf is removable, and can be positioned lower down if you choose, which still allows enough room for the milk bottles in the bottom shelf.
The small control panel is only accessible when the fridge door is open, and is positioned on the top rim of the fridge compartment. This includes both fridge and freezer temperature knobs which can be easily turned without the need for a coin or screwdriver. I have never altered either of these, and they are permanently on the 'I Care' setting half way around the dial. This apparently provides the optimal temperature for energy saving levels. There is also a 'Super Cool' button for the fridge, and a 'Super Freeze' button for the freezer; each of these is intended for those times when you raise the temperature considerably in either of the compartments by adding lots of items at once, and so pressing the button will tell the unit to work a little harder for a bit.
~~ Inside the Freezer ~~
The freezer compartment has a net capacity of 84 litres. There are four deep drawers, each one having a clear panel to the front. The bottom 2 drawers each have an 'Ice Care' tray which slots into the front. This is a really nice space saving idea, but in reality they're a bit of a faff to use. The way it works is you fill each of the trays with water up to the line when they are vertical and close the end cap. When you position it horizontally into the front of the drawer, the water then fills each of the 12 small wells on the underside of the tray. I have tried this several times, making sure I didn't go over the line, but found each time I went to get some ice I had a real job getting it out of the end hole, and it felt like a bit of a waste of time and effort, with the already small pieces of ice being tiny by the time I managed to plop them into my drink.
Another problem I have had with the freezer is that the drawers slide all the way out if you're not careful. It seems that the little 'stoppers' on the freezer walls aren't quite long enough, but luckily I've managed to catch them in time on each of the occasions this has happened. I have read some other reviews where this has been a major problem for some people, as they have end up with a smashed drawer where it has fallen to the floor.
Despite the couple of problems I have mentioned, the freezer has always functioned perfectly well and maintained the perfect temperature, and I haven't once seen any sign of frost building up.
~~ The unit as a whole ~~
At 187 cm tall it seemed a little overbearing when it first arrived, but that was probably due to me being used to a much smaller model. Most fitted kitchens will easily accommodate its standard 60 cm width, but with a depth of 65.5 cm it does stick out further than most and is probably better suited to larger kitchens.
The FF187E has an 'A' energy efficiency grading, and its annual energy consumption is 347 kWHrs. This seems fairly average from what I have seen of other similar sized models, although there are a few A+ (and even A++) models out there, and according to ethicalconsumer.org, A+ models 'are at least 25% more efficient than standard A models and some A++ appliances are up to 60 % more'.
With regards to noise, this unit is fairly quite in general, but it does let out some rather strange noises occasionally. It seems to be every few days or so that it makes loud crackling sounds for a couple of minutes. I've heard other people say the same about theirs, so can only assume this is normal. But generally it has the usual low hum which is quieter than others I have witnessed.
Another useful little feature is the bleeping sound it makes if the door is left slightly open. This does get very irritating when you are putting your shopping away, but there have been a couple of occasions when I've been in a rush grabbing a snack or a drink from the fridge during TV ads and haven't quite closed the door properly. The bleeping is quite loud and so can be heard from quite a distance if you live in a larger property.
I have read a number of reviews for this product recently, and have been shocked to discover that most are extremely negative. Many people have complained that they have experienced ice building up in the freezer and puddles of water on the floor. However, I have personally never had any trouble whatsoever with this model, and I am wondering if this perhaps has something to do with the fact that I have never even come close to overstocking either of the compartments. There are only two of us in the house, and our weekly shop fits nicely into the fridge freezer with plenty of room left over. I think common sense allows most of us to assume that it is necessary to leave a reasonable amount of space for air to flow over and around the products we keep in the fridge or freezer if we want to get the best from it, and this is indeed an important recommendation stated in the user manual. It is specifically stated that you must not block the air ducts in the rear wall of either compartment, but I have seen a number of people's fridges/freezers packed tightly with food, especially in larger families, so can imagine that this is sometimes unavoidable.
Overall, based on our moderate usage and our fairly trouble free experience of the FF187E, I would recommend this fridge freezer. However, if my theory is correct about heavier usage within larger households causing major problems, I would be reluctant to recommend it to large families.
I've been using VO5 Fade Defy Shampoo on and off for about 4 years now, since I went from a bleached blonde colour to a dark reddish brown. Occasionally I stray and pick up a different brand of shampoo in my shopping, usually due to a bargain offer or perhaps boredom, but I always return to this one. And here I'll explain why.
Having very short hair, I feel that I have little need for those ridiculously overpriced hair products with famous stylists' names attached. I've tried a few, mainly due to that long lasting salon fragrance (which I love), but none of them have done anything spectacular for my hair in terms of condition. I've also gone to the other extreme and given the 60p 'poos a try. These strip my hair terribly, leaving it dry, fluffy and completely unmanageable, and ultimately work out no cheaper due to the amount of styling product I then need to use in an attempt to tame it.
VO5 Fade Defy is obviously intended for coloured hair. The packaging states that this shampoo "Enhances colour vibrancy and adds shine", "Restores condition and softness", and "Protects hair and nourishes". It contains a "5 vital oil blend": Avocado and Jojoba (rich in nutrients), Apricot and Almond (said to strengthen hair), and Grape seed oil, which enhances shine.
~~ Packaging & Price ~~
The shampoo comes in a 300ml red plastic bottle with a flip top cap. The cleverly designed slanted cap ensures that most customers won't bother trying to get those last few uses out of it by standing it on its lid, and so will buy the next bottle slightly sooner rather than later. In most supermarkets it is priced at around £2.20, but I have often found it in Tesco or Boots as part of a BOGOF offer which includes the matching conditioner.
~~ Verdict ~~
The product itself is of a fairly thick consistency, white in colour with a pearlescent sheen, and a little goes a long way as it lathers up really well. The fragrance is quite strong, and resembles that 'salon scent', rather than being fruity or floral. It lasts a long time too, which is apparently characteristic of cheaper brands, but I don't mind this at all. Perhaps that is the 'science bit' here; it doesn't strip the colour from your hair because it doesn't actually clean it very well, and the strong fragrance covers that fact. Maybe. But actually, thinking about it, my hair never feels dirty or greasy after using this shampoo but it does have the healthier look that is usually present several hour after washing.
Although I haven't exactly carried out a full scientific experiment in order to compare the 'fade factor' of this and other shampoos, I can confidently say that this one does indeed help my hair colour last longer. My natural colour is a dark blonde/mousy brown, so when the dark reddish brown of the dye fades, I am left with a nasty orangey light brown. This happens much quicker with any other shampoo I have used. I do always follow it with the Fade Defy Conditioner to achieve the extra shine, but on occasions when I have run out of conditioner this is the only shampoo I have been happy to use on its own.
Overall, I love both the fragrance and the results of this shampoo, and I will definitely carry on using it whether I continue to colour my hair or not.
I spent 2 nights at Bryce Canyon in August of last year as part of a fly-drive holiday that also included Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Monument Valley, and Zion National Park. Of all the National Parks in the USA, Bryce Canyon has to be the strangest and most intriguing landscape I have come across so far. The vivid reds, oranges, and pinks, so distinctive of much of Arizona and southern Utah, are at their most vibrant here, no matter what time of the day or month of the year you visit. The unique, intricate rock formations make you feel as though you are on another planet, and the high elevation and wide-open spaces allow for some breathtaking views.
~~ What is it? ~~
Bryce Canyon National Park is located in the South West of Utah. Rather than being an actual canyon, it is in fact a series of amphitheatres, in a horseshoe shape, carved by freeze-thaw erosion into the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. It is named after Ebenezer Bryce, a Mormon pioneer who settled there around 1875, and it became a national park in 1928.
The rich green colour of the Ponderosa Pines, set against the contrasting pinks and oranges of the limestone, adds vibrancy to the landscape, while the numerous oddly shaped structures known as 'hoodoos' provide intrigue.
Apart from its stunning landscape, Bryce Canyon is also known for its clear, dark sky at night. Set away from major sources of light pollution, the Bryce sky has a limiting magnitude rating of 7.4, providing one of the best locations for stargazing.
~~ When to go ~~
The park is open all year round, although the visitor centre is closed at Christmas and Thanksgiving. The busiest times are between June and September, and we were there around the middle of August. As it is one of the smaller National Parks, and due to its remote location, it actually receives far fewer visitors than many of the others, and I found this to be immediately apparent. Although I had read that parking spaces fill up quickly at the overlooks within the park, I never had any problems, and actually found that there were plenty of empty spaces (and there aren't really that many provided). We didn't see any crowds or queues anywhere, although at the time of our visit they were resurfacing the road, which led to long waits as they stopped the traffic for 20 minutes at a time.
I personally prefer to travel during the hottest months, wherever I go, but many people say that Bryce Canyon is at its prettiest when covered in snow.
~~ Getting there ~~
The closest international airport is in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the next closest is Salt Lake City, Utah.
Many people visit Bryce canyon as part of a trip around several of the National Parks, as both Zion and the Grand Canyon are relatively close. We drove from Monument Valley, through a town called Page (near Lake Powell) and took the US 89 North West. We then took Scenic Byway 12 towards Bryce Canyon Park. This is a very scenic drive which passes through Red Canyon, and through two tunnels in the rock which are quite famous and feature on many postcards in the area. They're a little too perfectly rounded and man-made looking for my liking though.
Entrance to the park costs $25 per car, and this buys you a 7-day pass. Included in this price is unlimited use of the shuttle buses which operate daily, every 12-15 mins, from the end of May until the beginning of September.
~~ Accommodation ~~
We stayed at the Best Western Ruby's Inn, which is just outside the entrance to the park, and it also has an RV park and campground next to it. Within the park, the only lodging option is Bryce Canyon Lodge, which is open from April until the end of October, and there are 2 large campsites within the park.
Ruby's Inn provides motel-style rooms and has two restaurants and a diner, as well as a general store for self-catering. We chose to eat at the diner one night, and as we had a microwave in our room, we chose self-catering on the second night (simply to cut costs, and save what little money we had left for our return trip to Vegas). The diner was like any other fast food establishment, no better, no worse, and the food in the general store was pretty poor, although there was quite a large selection to choose from. The general store also supplies camping equipment, a limited selection of clothing/footwear, and all the usual souvenirs.
~~ By road ~~
The recommended way of traveling within the park is by shuttle bus. As I have said, these are included in the cost of entry, and are very regular, and this is the environmentally friendly option. The only reason we drove ourselves was because of the unpredictable weather at the time.
There are 14 viewpoints on the 18 mile scenic drive within the park. We chose to drive to the furthest point, Rainbow Point, and work backwards, which actually works nicely because all of the viewpoints are then on your right. Rainbow Point, which is the southernmost point, is at an elevation of 9115 feet, and offers spectacular views back across the whole park and over the Grand Staircase.
Although there were roadworks happening while we were there, we managed to see all of the viewpoints within around 3 hours. My favourite sights along the way were probably Natural Bridge, Sunrise Point and Farview Point.
~~ Hiking ~~
There are 8 maintained hiking trails of varying difficulty within the park, and some are interconnected providing the option of varying your route to suit you.
Overnight hiking can be done on two of the trails; Riggs Spring Loop and the Under-the-Rim trail. A backcountry permit is needed for any overnight hiking, which can be purchased from the visitor centre for around $5 to $15, and backcountry camping is only allowed at the designated sites.
Due to a lack of preparation, unsuitable footwear, and persistent thunderstorms, we didn't hike any of the trails in their entirety. We did, however, take a leisurely stroll out into Bryce Amphitheatre from Sunrise Point, until the clap of thunder forced us to turn back. What struck me the most about being out in the amphitheatre was how peaceful and unspoiled these beautiful surroundings were, but also how much of a huge, open space it really was, thus reinforcing our decision to head for the car at the first rattle of thunder!
Another short trail I can recommend is Mossy Cave Trail. We came across it by accident as we were leaving the park, as it is situated to the North, away from the main park road, off Highway 12. It is the shortest trail, being less than 1 mile round trip, and involves a very pleasant walk along a crystal clear stream up to a small waterfall and a mossy overhang. Being tucked away in a small canyon, this trail doesn't involve the same kind of spectacular views provided by the overlooks along the main scenic drive, but it's very pretty nonetheless.
~~ Other activities ~~
A number of educational, ranger-led activities are available at various times throughout the day, and information about these can be found at the visitor centre just inside the park.
2-hour and 4-hour horse and mule rides are available. I had doubts about doing this, due to the unpredictable weather, but the extortionate prices quoted at Ruby's Inn were what ultimately made me decide against it.
A small, western saloon-style row of gift shops, known as Old Bryce Town, can be found just outside the main entrance opposite Ruby's Inn. These offer all the usual touristy trinkets, but also some more unique items such as wood carvings, pretty rocks and petrified wood segments.
A rodeo, hosted by Ruby's Inn, takes place 4 nights a week (Wednesday - Saturday) to the left of Old Bryce Town. Again, this is something we looked forward to but sadly missed due to the storms.
Skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing are some of the activities that can be enjoyed during winter months.
~~ Health and Safety ~~
If you are going to venture out onto any of the trails, hiking boots or shoes with good tread are a must. The ground is very loose and gritty, as well as being quite steep in places. There are loads of great photo opportunities, and many can involve an awkward short climb or descent if you want someone to take a picture of you in front of a particularly odd looking 'hoodoo'.
Make sure you carry water, as the trails can be long and strenuous. Bear in mind that you are at elevations of 8000-9000 feet, and so will tire more easily. Bottles of drinking water can be purchased within the park, but as far as I can remember, I didn't see any of the free 'top-up' stations that I did in Zion park.
Thunderstorms are very common during summer. They are most likely during July and August, usually in the afternoons. These are spectacular to watch due to the amazing views, but obviously very dangerous too.
I would recommend taking a lightweight, waterproof jacket. Stupidly, I didn't pack anything with long sleeves whatsoever, as I only had the words 'August', 'Vegas' and 'Arizona' in mind at the time of packing, and I ended up having to buy a ridiculously over-priced fleece at the gift shop.
~~ Conclusion ~~
If you love the great outdoors, and enjoy spectacular scenic views, I would say Bryce Canyon should be very close to the top of your list of places to see in the USA. Of all the national parks I have visited so far, I would have to say Bryce was the cleanest and the friendliest. Visitors seem to hold more respect for the natural beauty here than at other parks I have been to, and there is less of a touristy feel to the place. My only regret is that I didn't get up earlier in the mornings to experience more of the park during the first half of the day. I'm glad I got to see Bryce Canyon during such impressive thunderstorms, however, as this made the atmosphere of the place so much more dramatic. I will definitely be returning to Bryce to see as much as possible of those bits I missed.
As I keep my hair short, it tends to be in fairly good condition most of the time. I never use a hair dryer or straighteners, but I do colour it every 6 weeks, so it can occasionally become quite dry. I had never thought of using a hair mask before, as they often claim to work wonders for split ends, which is something I never get. However, for my birthday, I received a big box of Soap & Glory products, and a 50 ml tube of Hair Supply was included in one of the gift sets. I had already read a few negative reviews for this product, so had fairly low expectations, but it was a gift that I was very happy to receive as I do love the Soap & Glory range, and am always willing to try new products.
~~ Packaging & Price ~~
Hair Supply usually comes in a 200 ml tube priced at £6.00, but Boots have regular special offers on the S&G range offering 1/3 off the normal price of many of the products, making Hair Supply £4.00 during these times.
The product comes in a transparent squeezy tube which stands on its pink flip-top lid. The label displays the usual S&G black and white retro image; this time of a woman with unruly and damaged looking locks. The product is described as being a 'Gloss-giving radiance & repair mask for all hair types'.
~~ My experience ~~
Following the directions on the tube, I shampooed my hair, squeezed out the excess water, and applied a 50p sized dollop of Hair Supply (ok, it says a handful, but I don't have that much hair). I massaged it from roots to tips, and chose to leave it on for around 3 minutes. It is recommended that you leave it on for 60 seconds for a daily smooth, or 3-4 minutes for 'a more intensive weekly treatment'. I could tell instantly that it had quite a strong scent, but I really liked it.
After rinsing, my hair felt silky smooth, but as it dried, it did feel a little heavy, and seemed to be coated in a chalky, slightly sticky film. I knew straight away that this product obviously requires far more thorough rinsing than most conditioners, so I made a mental note for next time.
When you've got short hair, it's obviously difficult to know what your hair smells like, but with this product, whenever I turned my head I caught a whiff of the stuff, and this seemed to last all day. It has a gorgeous, sweet fragrance, very much like the S&G 'Righteous Butter' and 'Hand Food' scents, but with something extra.
My hair tends to stick out in all directions, and go quite fluffy if I just leave it to dry without applying any products. I normally then use a wax to tame and style it, but after using Hair Supply, my hair dried much more textured and less fluffy, requiring less styling (more normal-looking than usual!).
The tube is made from quite thick, stiff plastic, which made it difficult to squeeze the product out when there wasn't much left. I ended up snipping the tube open to get one last use out of it, which I suppose proves just how much I like this stuff!
~~ Conclusion ~~
I love it. I'm not sure I'd pay £6.00 for it though; I think I would only buy it when it's on one of those 'save 1/3' offers for £4, as this is still quite a high price for a conditioner (which is effectively how I would be using it). Having said that, it does tend to last longer than regular conditioners when used daily, as the required dollop size is much smaller. As an intensive hair mask, I would say it's not that expensive considering how long it would last.
It adds a bit of weight to my hair, and fine, fluffy hair such as mine does tend to need it. Perhaps this would be a drawback for those with thick or greasy hair types. Of course, those with long, thick hair could apply it only to the ends rather than including the roots.
Overall, what I love most about this product is the smell. It leaves my hair smelling lovely, and it lingers for much longer than any other conditioner I have ever used. I wouldn't say it works wonders for the condition of my hair, but it does beat my usual conditioner in terms of taming frizz and reducing fluffiness.
Recommended...... but rinse well!
Having recently read a review about how wonderful this product is, I decided to give it a try. At £4.07 (Tesco, April 2010), it isn't the cheapest cleansing scrub available, but is certainly far more affordable than my usual Jan Marini facial cleanser, for which I had been forking out £26 every few months! The time had come to have a serious look at my spending habits, to cut costs and save pennies, and here was a definite area with a great deal of room for improvement.
The product comes in a 150 ml squeezy tube, which stands upright on its flip-top lid. It has a gooey, gel-like consistency, light blue in colour, and contains a lot of white gritty bits and larger dark blue beads. I would personally prefer it if they had left out the larger beads, as I find them slightly pointless and rather annoying. They're quite messy as they don't rinse away as readily as the rest of the gel, and I keep finding these little blue beads stuck to the basin, bath, and even inside my ears and nostrils! I find that the grit that the gel contains is more than adequate for gentle exfoliation, and, considering the size of the actual dollop you use each time, the blue beads are too few and far between to have any real impact. I suppose they just help the product look more interesting.
The product has quite a pleasant smell to it, perhaps a little strong whilst in use, but nice and refreshing once it has been rinsed off.
I've had a quick look at other reviews, and a number of them claim that this product is a little too harsh for dry skin, and probably best suited to oily skin. I have an oily skin type, which is probably the main reason I tend to buy this type of product. However, the usual general advice for oily skin is not to over cleanse or scrub your skin too much, as this actually strips the skin of its natural oils, causing it to over-produce, thereby exacerbating the problem. I have unfortunately found this to be the case with this product, and have had to limit my usage to 2-3 times a week. I've found that it does work very well, as long as I don't use it too regularly.
It leaves my skin tingly and cold, a bit like those mint and tea tree shower gels. This is probably due to the menthol included in the ingredients, and it acts to leave your face feeling as though a new layer of skin has been gently revealed and exposed to a cool summer breeze. It claims to cleanse deep into pores, and leave skin fresh and invigorated, and it definitely does live up to those claims. It has not once left my skin red or irritated, and it hasn't left my skin feeling tight or dry.
Overall, I would highly recommend this scrub, not as a daily cleanser, but as a special energising treat for your skin when it is feeling clogged or tired, or in need of extra thorough cleansing.
I was given a bar of Honey I Washed the Kids by a friend who had bought several different Lush soaps for the first time recently. She hadn't been impressed with those she had used, and decided not to even bother trying this one, so it was still wrapped when I received it.
~~~ Price & availability ~~~
Honey I washed the Kids is currently priced at £2.95 per 100g, and can be found in all Lush stores as well as on the Lush website.
~~~ Ingredients ~~~
Honey Water (Aqua), Propylene Glycol, Rapeseed Oil; Coconut Oil (Brassica napus; Cocos nucifera), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Water (Aqua), Sodium Stearate, Sodium Hydroxide, Perfume, Beeswax (Cera alba), Sweet Wild Orange Oil (Citrus sinensis), Bergamot Oil (Citrus Aurantium bergamia), Aloe Vera Extract (Aloe barbadensis), Glycerine, Sodium Chloride, EDTA, Tetrasodium Editronate, Gardenia Extract (Gardenia jasminoides), Titanium Dioxide, *Limonene, *Linalool, Benzyl Benzoate
At the top of the list of ingredients on the website it is stated clearly that this is a vegetarian soap.
~~~ My experience ~~~
At first I wasn't sure I'd like it as I don't really like the smell of honey, but as I unwrapped it I was pleasantly surprised. It smelt more like toffee, with only a subtle hint of honey. It had a smooth, matt appearance and looked a lot like a large piece of fudge, with a thin layer of honeycomb on one end.
When I used it in the shower, I found that it produced a lovely sweet (but not too sickly) aroma that filled the whole bathroom. After my shower, the scent seemed to linger far more in the bathroom than it did on my skin, which wasn't such a bad thing with this one, as I'm not sure I'd really want to walk around smelling strongly of toffee all day! Luckily, the scent it leaves on your skin is far more subtle, with the toffee giving way to the honey slightly, and it seems to take on more of a typical clean 'soapy' fragrance.
The best thing about this soap though, especially when compared with other Lush soaps I have used, is the amount of lather it produces. It quickly produces a creamy layer on your skin, which turns into a good frothy lather when used with a body puff. This does, however, mean that it melts faster than other soaps, so you need to keep it away from water when it's not being used. Because of this, it hasn't lasted me quite as long as other Lush soaps.
Despite the creamy lather, I have noticed my skin becoming drier than usual, so it isn't a soap I can use every day in the bath or shower without a body lotion. I have found it to be fine for frequent use on my hands though.
I would definitely buy this one again, but probably as part of the Sweetie Soap Stack, or the Sunny Hunny Soap Stack. I had looked at these before, and the only thing that put me off buying them was Honey I Washed the Kids, as I had always assumed that I'd hate it. Now I know that I like it, I'll be picking up these stacks instead of buying the soaps individually, as you seem to get more for your money.
It gets 4 Dooyoo stars from me, losing one for being slightly too harsh for every day use.
The third and latest Montagne Jeunesse facial treatment I have tried is the anti-stress Mud Pac, which claims to 'ultra deep pore cleanse', and is designed for normal, oily and T-zone skin.
What the company say: 'We've harvested ultra deep cleansing Dead Sea Mud to draw out impurities and open blocked pores to leave skin feeling cleansed and soft'.
I bought mine from Boots for 99p, but I have also bought Montagne Jeunesse products from Tesco and Asda in the past, and they are often on a 4 for £3 offer. A full list of retailers can be found on the Montagne Jeunesse website.
~~ Packaging ~~
The product comes in a 20g bright pink foil sachet which shows a woman with the mud pac on her face. As with all Montagne Jeunesse masks, the sachet is very brightly coloured, making it stand out amongst similar products, which tend to be more clinical looking. The picture on the sachet shows the product as being a very bright turquoise colour, and spread very thickly over the woman's face.
It is Vegetarian Society Approved, as well as being BUAV approved (meaning that the manufacturers are against animal testing).
~~ Application ~~
The instructions tell you to cleanse your face with warm water only, to leave pores open. You then apply the pac evenly over your face and neck with your fingertips, and leave on for 10-15 minutes or until it is dry.
I found that it was much runnier than I had expected from the picture on the sachet, which had indicated that it had a consistency similar to that of a thick icing. This wasn't a bad thing though, as it wasn't too runny to stay put once applied, and not too thick to spread over my face evenly. The sachet contains enough of the product to achieve a good, even, fairly thick layer over the whole face and some of the neck.
The colour of the product is more of a duck egg blue, rather than the bright blue portrayed on the front of the sachet. The reverse of the sachet shows a more realistic representation, with photos of the mud pac in use.
The fragrance is lovely. It's a very clean, refreshing scent, and is a bit like a mild aftershave, though not overly masculine. It does contain lavender and bergamot oil, but I wouldn't say that these are the fragrances I could identify. It is the kind of fragrance that I would love to find in a bath foam or shower gel.
Whilst I was relaxing as it dried, I felt that it produced a very slight tingling on my skin, and had a cooling effect. This, combined with breathing in the lovely refreshing fragrance, made the experience all the more relaxing, as a pampering session should be.
I did leave this one on longer than the stated time as it did take a little longer to dry fully (around 20-25 mins), and when it had completely hardened and was beginning to crack I rinsed it off with warm water and a flannel.
~~ Results ~~
My face felt extremely clean and refreshed afterwards, without feeling tight or dry. I could still smell the lovely fragrance after I had patted my face dry, and my skin felt very soft.
I will definitely be buying this one again, as it is my favourite from the range so far. Of all the Montagne Jeunesse facial treatments I have tried, this was by far the most pleasant and relaxing experience, and the results are a very close second (I have yet to find one that beats the chocolate mask).
During a trip to Thailand in 2007, a friend and I crossed the border into Cambodia and stayed in the growing riverside market town of Siem Reap for 5 nights.
We flew with Bangkok Airways, and the flight from Bangkok took approximately one hour. Arriving at Siem Reap Angkor International Airport, I was quite surprised by how modern and clean the tiny arrivals section was. It took a while to get through customs, as we all had to pay US$20 for a 1 month Cambodian Visa. It wasn't a particularly friendly welcome at this point, as all the officials seemed very stern looking, but that's usually the case in most countries anyway.
Translated, Siem Reap means 'Siam (Thailand) defeated', and the knowledge of this actually had me a little nervous initially, especially as I was entering the town on a flight from Thailand. Was there still any remaining animosity? Are the Khmer (Cambodian) people as friendly as I had been led to believe?
My initial concerns were soon forgotten once through customs. As we left the building the heat and dust hit us, but we were welcomed by friendly smiles and numerous polite offers of a taxi ride into town, on several modes of transport ranging from rusty old motorcycles to battered cars with missing number plates. We already had a driver arranged though, and he soon came forward through the crowd. He drove a fairly old saloon car (a Honda of some sort), and unfortunately it had no air-con. He told us that most of the cars don't have number plates as there is no need to register cars in Cambodia, and that most of them are stolen from Thailand! Anyway, the drive to our first hotel took no more than 20 minutes, and our driver was very friendly and chatty, telling interesting tales about a few of the sights we passed on the way. We were made to feel very welcome.
~~~ Hotel no.1 ~~~
We had a 3 night stay at the Day Inn (which has since been re-named the Royal Bay Inn). It's a lovely little hotel tucked away from the centre to the north of the town, and was very reasonable at only £23 pp per night (although the room rates seem to have shot up since it has been refurbished). It was nice to see some of the more authentic back streets on our drive to the hotel.
The hotel itself was a very nice mid-range accommodation, with clean rooms, friendly staff, and all the usual luxuries you would expect from more expensive hotels, such as cable TV, air conditioning, mini-bar etc. in all of the rooms. It had a fairly small pool in the centre of a courtyard, surrounded by the four main buildings. The one thing that sticks in my mind about this place though is the number of geckos that also called it home! On most holidays, you often come back to your room in the evening and find the odd one sitting close to your patio light, but here I counted between 14 and 20 around our patio doors each night, as well as a couple on the curtains and one in the shower. I got used to them after the first night though. We had already pre-booked a second hotel for the final two nights of our stay in Siem Reap, but I would have been more than happy to stay here for the duration.
The first couple of days were spent at the temples of Angkor, which are only a short drive away, though too far to walk (6-8 km). There are plenty of drivers willing to take you to the temples, and you can obtain a pass to gain entry to the Angkor complex when you get there. We made sure we carried extra passport photos with us, and this made it quicker to obtain our passes for Angkor park. Otherwise, you will have to wait to have your picture taken at the toll booth. You can get a 1-day pass for US$20, a 3-day pass for $40 or a 7-day pass for $60.
Local guides know the right times to visit each of the ruins, and our driver actually persuaded us to get up very early on the second morning to leave at around 4.30am in order to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat. He promised that we wouldn't be disappointed, and we weren't. It was a truly spectacular sight. We had to abandon the car and walk a fair distance to get to one of the library ruins where we would sit and watch the sun rise, and it was still pitch black. All I had was the small light on my mobile phone, which was just about adequate to prevent any accidents, but far from ideal. I would strongly recommend taking a small torch if you are planning to see the temples at either sunrise or sunset.
~~~ Hotel no.2 ~~~
Our second base was the Victoria Angkor Resort and Spa, which is probably one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in. In French colonial style, it is a trip back in time, and even has its own 3 vintage Citroen cars parked at the front, which are available for hire. This is the prettier end of town, and our room overlooked the Royal Gardens. It is fairly quiet, although there is no real escape from the sound of motorbikes, as they are just everywhere.
We spent half a day at Chong Kneas floating village on lakeTonle Sap. This is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia, and this Western side near Siem Reap is home to a large fishing community, most of which are originally Vietnamese and have emigrated here over the last 100 years. Although this has apparently caused some friction with the locals, it is generally accepted due to the fact that it has become such a huge tourist attraction in the area in recent years. We took a boat trip out onto the lake, and passed floating schools and houses, many fruit sellers and friendly faces, and of course we ended up at the obligatory souvenir shop. It was also an alligator farm though, which made it more appealing (we were sick of souvenirs by this point).
We spent the rest of our time relaxing and exploring the town.
~~~ Getting around ~~~
The town is very walkable, being quite small, although pavements do tend to suddenly disappear and you find yourself in the road. We were based in the north of the town on both occasions and found it a comfortable walk to the Old Market at the southern end of town, which took us around 30 minutes. We opted to get a Tuk-Tuk (or a motorbike with a small trailer attached; they're not the same as the Bangkok version) back to the hotel a couple of times at the end of a trip, mainly due to the dust and heat. This only costs around $2-4 (£1-£3ish) for a trip from one end of town to the other, and though rather noisy and smelly, it's one of those things you have to do at least once, just for the experience. As always, it is a good idea to agree the price with your driver first, and also confirm that it is for the journey rather than per person!
~~~ Shopping ~~~
As far as I can remember, there were two main markets: the Central Market and the Old Market, with the latter being the more traditional and favoured by locals and tourists alike. There is apparently also a new night market that has opened since I was there.
There are a few small supermarkets in Siem Reap, so any essentials can be found easily.
Souvenirs can be found everywhere, with most of the market stalls all selling similar items. More unique pieces can be found in the numerous boutiques and galleries located in the Old Market area, obviously at a higher price. I particularly liked the many paintings on offer, all by local artists, and I bought several from different shops/stalls. As the canvas could simply be rolled up once purchased, it was very light and easy to carry, taking up very little room in my luggage. Temple rubbings are another popular light weight souvenir, available from most shops or stalls, although they are actually reproductions rather than being genuinely taken from the temples.
You will also see a number of roving booksellers in the Old Market area, often land mine amputees.
There are plenty of places offering internet access for around $1 per hour, mostly located around the Old Market, and most banks/ATMs are located here also.
The main currency used in Siem Reap is US dollars, although I think I remember many places also accepting Thai Baht. The local currency is the Riel, but you only really get to see this in very small change, as there are currently approximately 6240 riels to 1GBP (4155 riels = 1US dollar). We were told before we arrived to make sure we took NEW dollar bills to Cambodia, which is something to bear in mind as tatty ones will often get refused.
~~~ Food & Drink ~~~
There are plenty of nice bars and restaurants in Siem Reap, with most located on 'Pub Street' near the Old Market. We dined at the Red Piano a couple of times, and had a few snacks at the Blue Pumpkin. The Red Piano seemed very popular with backpackers, and has actually become famous mainly due to the fact that it was used by Angelina Jolie and the rest of the crew during the filming of Tomb Raider. It is located on the corner of Pub Street, open from 7am - midnight, and offers balcony, indoor, or pavement seating, with an excellent view of all the Pub Street action. You really feel as though you are at the heart of the action here, yet it has a laid back feel to it, along with excellent service and very comfortable cane chairs. Another very popular bar is Angkor What?, which was the first bar to open on Pub street back in 1998. This seemed to be permanently heaving though, so we chose to avoid it.
~~~ Health and Safety ~~~
Do not drink the water! We made sure we only bought sealed bottles of water (available pretty much everywhere you go), and refused ice in any of our drinks. We were advised that it should be OK to brush our teeth using the tap water, but I can only blame this for the dodgy tummy I ended up with on the last couple of days!
As two women traveling alone, we didn't at any time feel threatened or in any danger. Common sense told us not to split up, especially at night, but the town really was full of very friendly locals, and Siem Reap (and Cambodia itself) relies heavily on tourism, so there tends to be quite a strong feeling of mutual respect.
Remember your insect repellent if venturing out of town to the surrounding areas. Although the risk of malaria is apparently very low in Siem Reap itself, we did make sure we took our antimalarial pills before and during our stay.
Land mines have been completely cleared from the Angkor park, so there is no need to worry at all, unless you are planning to venture further afield to more remote areas. The general advice given is to stick to well worn paths.
You will encounter poverty fairly regularly in Siem Reap and the surrounding areas. A couple of incidents upset me somewhat whilst walking through the town, involving children begging for food. You see a lot of children selling souvenirs at the temples, and I did buy a few packets of postcards from these kids, but our local guide told us that it is best not to, as the money very often goes towards supporting their parents' alcohol habits. These children, of all ages, are also very well rehearsed in their stories, telling you they have been to school that morning, or are going later that afternoon, but many don't actually go at all.
~~~ When to go ~~~
December to February are the most popular months, as they are the coolest and driest. We were there from 16th - 20th January, and though it was hot it wasn't at all uncomfortable. I had read that the temples would be heaving with tourists during these months, but we didn't actually find this to be the case. Perhaps our guide just took us to each of the ruins at the quietest times.
April is the hottest month, and July to October is the rainy season. Some say that this is the best time to visit in some ways, as it is less dusty and more green, but the rain can be so heavy that flooding causes transportation problems
~~~ Conclusion ~~~
If you want to see ancient Angkor, Siem Reap is the ideal base, but it also happens to be more than just that. With its French colonial and Chinese-style architecture and tree-lined streets, it is a pleasant town to stay in, with just about enough to see and do during a week- long stay. For me, it was a refreshing break from the bustling streets of Bangkok, yet lively enough to prevent boredom, and ultimately somewhere that I would jump at the chance of visiting again.
I have always paid less than £3 for tweezers in the past, without really considering the fact that tweezers do actually vary in terms of quality. However, I stumbled upon a few reviews on Tweezerman tweezers, all claiming they were wonderful, so decided to treat myself.
I was quite shocked at the price of these, as the full length pair was priced at £16. I opted for the 'Mini' version, as they were £8 at the time, and they are just a shorter version of exactly the same product. I also felt that these would be easier to use, as I thought the longer ones would be a bit more awkward to manoeuvre and operate (unless you have huge hands of course, in which case the mini version may be a bit too fiddly to use).
These tweezers are perfectly aligned and very sharp. In fact I did catch my skin a couple of times when I first used them, and it drew blood, which none of my previous pairs have ever done. Although the sharpness is actually a plus point in terms of precision, I do find that I need to allow the hairs a little more growth now, and only pluck when they are of a decent 'pluckable' length. Before, with my old blunt pair, I was able to dig around and (eventually) grab hold of the tiniest hair without the risk of breaking the skin, but I just can't do that any more. This does mean that plucking my eyebrows now takes up far less of my time, as I have been cured of my compulsion to pluck! I now only pluck them when they *need* plucking, and each hair comes away with ease first time. Even the finest of hairs - once the tweezer has closed on it, that's it! This shows just how perfectly aligned they are, as I have always had to have several attempts before actually grabbing hold of a hair. It was always a bit hit-and-miss with my previous tweezers.
They come with a little plastic end cap, which I gather is there to protect both you and your tweezers. It's worth hanging on to this, especially if you will be carrying them around in your make-up bag. I lost mine, and very often catch my fingers on the sharp end of the tweezers by accident. I suppose it also prevents damage to the tips, particularly if they are rattling around in a bag with other metal items, and prevents them from being bent out of shape.
The Tweezerman Slant tweezers are available in the following colours: Classic Stainless Steel, Midnight Sky, Green Apple, Granite Sky, Orange-A-Peel, Pretty in Pink, Signature Red, Neon Pink, Blooming Lilac, and Khaki Gold. They also come in Animal Print (Zebra, Leopard, or Reptile) and a ridiculous special edition Swarovski Crystal Polka Dot!
The Mini Slant tweezers are available in Flamingo Pink, Green Tea, or Lovely Lavender. You can also get each of those colours with white polka dots. I chose Flamingo Pink.
I bought my Tweezerman Mini Slant tweezers from Boots around a year ago, and they are still going strong. I haven't noticed any change in them whatsoever; they are still as sharp and perfectly aligned as the day I bought them. I think they are now priced at £10 though, rather than the £8 I paid. The full size Slant tweezers are still priced at £16.
Purchasing these tweezers has been a real eye-opener for me, showing me just how much time and effort can be saved through spending that little bit more on better quality goods. Highly recommended.
One of my favourite christmas presents was the new Magic Mouse for my iMac. I had become an Apple convert towards the end of last year, when I purchased the latest iMac, and had been very impressed with the Mighty Mouse that I had received with it. Then the Magic Mouse came along, and made me realise its predecessor's many flaws.
~~ Packaging, price, and availability ~~
It comes in a very smart clear perspex case which is not much bigger than the mouse itself. As you remove the mouse, a piece of white dividing plastic is revealed, and underneath this is a cute little instructions booklet, nine pages of which are in English. These pages tell you all the basics, such as how to update your software so that it fully supports the mouse, how to pair the mouse with your Mac, how to replace the batteries etc., but the full instructions for the various functions of the mouse can be found in System Preferences once it is paired with your Mac. It comes complete with the required 2x AA batteries.
The price of the Magic Mouse is currently £55, and it can be purchased from any of the Apple Stores nationwide, or from other retailers such as Argos and Amazon for the same price.
~~ The Mouse ~~
The Magic Mouse is the world's first multi-touch mouse. With its glossy, seamless top 'shell' surface and smart aluminium underside, it is definitely the most elegant, stylish and advanced looking mouse I have ever come across. The Aluminium underside perfectly matches the latest keyboards, as well as the recent iMac itself, while the sleek top shell, in Apple's characteristic glossy white, means that the Magic Mouse doesn't look at all out of place when used with older Macs.
By using Bluetooth wireless technology, it keeps your desk neat and tidy with no unnecessary cables cluttering it up. It is also very quick and easy to pair it with your Mac. In fact, I don't even remember doing this, so it *must* have been quick!
Its low-profile design makes it much smaller in height than most other mice, and that does take some getting used to. The reason for this, however, soon becomes obvious, as this mouse is not designed to support your hand in the way most others do. Most of us have become accustomed to using a mouse that we can wrap our hand around, with the domed shape fitting nicely underneath the palm. This one is different. I soon learned that optimal use (and comfort) is achieved through gently pinching the sides between my thumb and ring finger/little finger to manoeuvre the mouse across the surface of my desk. This leaves my index finger and middle finger free to perform the various swiping motions across the entire surface of the top shell.
Scrolling involves simply stroking the top shell surface vertically, horizontally, or even diagonally, with one finger. This, in my opinion, is a huge improvement on the trackball of the Mighty Mouse, as mine would often, very annoyingly, get stuck or become dislodged. The seamless surface of the Magic Mouse allows no dirt or dust to interfere with its function, and the scrolling action can be performed anywhere on the shell surface, rather than being limited to the position of a track ball.
Momentum scrolling, which can be switched off in system preferences if you prefer, allows varying speeds of scrolling depending on the speed of your finger movement. So a quick, short flick of the finger will cause the page to whizz up the screen before slowing to a stop, or a slower, more gentle 'stroke' of the mouse will be reflected by the more gradual and gentle movement of the page on the screen. This fluid scrolling movement looks great too, and is one of my favourite features.
By holding down the Control key whilst performing the one-finger scroll movement (upwards) you can zoom in on whatever is on the screen.
Two-finger swiping involves moving two fingers left to right, or right to left on the surface of the mouse, and enables you to go forwards or back a page in the browser history (it acts like the little arrow buttons in the top left-hand corner of the page). This is said to mimic the actual real-life action of flicking through magazine pages! It's another feature that I really like, and it is very responsive and sensitive, with no annoying delay.
The various functions can be customised to your own taste in System Preferences, and you can also check the battery level here too. Speeds can be adjusted for Tracking, Scrolling and Double-Clicking, and you can choose whether you want single-button or two-button clicking. If you are left handed, it is easy to swap the left/right button functions over simply by setting the secondary click to Left rather than Right. Momentum Scrolling can be switched off here, and the zoom function can be played about with too. As you highlight each of the customisable options, a little video plays next to it illustrating the action. This is a lovely little touch, and much more advanced than the diagrams used previously. You do need to be running OS X Leopard 10.5.8 or later to use the Magic Mouse, and if you want momentum scrolling, it is only supported by Snow Leopard.
The laser tracking this mouse uses means that it is far more responsive than older mice which used optical tracking, and it is extremely precise on most surfaces. I have not felt any need for a mouse mat since I have had it.
The Magic Mouse is much heavier than previous versions, and when compared with the Mighty Mouse I had before, it makes the latter seem very cheap and flimsy. The weight of the mouse not only suggests better quality, but also prevents accidental movement of the unit whilst performing gestures on its surface.
I was given the mouse at the end of January as a late Christmas present, and have had to replace the batteries once so far. At the time of writing (11th March), the battery level is now at 63%. So, for me, the batteries last around one month. However, this is based on quite heavy usage of several hours every day. The mouse does 'go to sleep' when it detects periods of inactivity, in order to preserve battery power, but I would personally have preferred some kind of charging dock than having to replace the batteries so often.
Perhaps more moderate usage would see the batteries last a lot longer, so maybe it wouldn't be a problem for everyone.
~~ Conclusion ~~
At £55, it isn't cheap. But the price is justified when you experience the quality of the product. Even before actually using the mouse, if you sit it alongside a Mighty Mouse, you can instantly recognise that it is in a class of its own. For me, its only flaw is the lack of a charging dock. I would never go back though, and if I had not received it as a gift, I would definitely have bought one for myself by now. In my opinion, it is well worth the money!
Having noticed a new bubble bar on the Lush website, I decided I would pick one up next time I was near my local Lush store. It looked fun, being bright blue with a colourful rainbow on top, so today, whilst in town, I wandered in and headed for the Bubble Bar section. After having a good look, the shop assistant approached me and asked if I needed any help. I had forgotten the name of the new bar, so, feeling stupid, I just enquired "do you have the new one with the rainbow on top?". She knew what I meant straight away and replied "Ah yes, 'The Dorothy'", and led me over to the front counter. There were only a few on a little dish on the front of the counter, so I picked one up and placed it in my little yellow bag. The assistant had already told me it smells a lot like their 'Figs and Leaves' soap, and that info had initially made me have some doubts about buying it, as I hadn't been too keen on that one. Obviously I had a quick whiff of it before putting it in the bag, but anyone who has ever been into a Lush store will know that the overwhelming mixture of scents in the air prevent you from getting a true impression of any one product. The assistant then remarked that it was a very pretty looking bubble bar, and I must have given her a very strange look, because to me, it just looked like some 3-year-old child's playdough creation. I don't buy Lush products based on what they look like though, and I responded politely by telling her that I simply like to try all the new ones they bring out.
~~ Price and availability ~~
This 100g Bubble Bar is currently priced at £2.80, which is a fairly average price for this type of product. It can be purchased online at lush.co.uk, by phone, or in store, but I'm not sure whether it is a limited edition one that may only available for a short time.
~~ Ingredients ~~
Sodium Bicarbonate, Cream of Tartar (Tartaric acid), Sodium Laureth Sulphate, Lauryl Betaine, Perfume, Cocamide DEA, Ylang Ylang Oil (Cananga odorata), Orange Flower Absolute (Citrus Aurantium dulcis), Gardenia Extract (Gardenia jasminoides), *Benzyl Benzoate, *Linalool, Colour 42090, Colour 14700, Colour 15510}
~~ My Opinion ~~
As with all new Lush products, I *had* to try it immediately, so decided to have a really early bath. When I took it out of the bag, a tiny piece crumbled away. I rubbed it between my fingers and had a whiff. Yuk! It smelt like a very cheap perfume. However, I had loved the smell of it when it had simply wafted out of the bag, so I assumed that it was just the really close up, concentrated scent that was unpleasant. I started running a bath, and gradually crumbled half of the bar under the running water. The water turned a beautiful deep turquoise colour, and the bathroom filled with a scent that was very similar to another blue bubble bar I had tried called 'Pop in the Bath'. It is quite a difficult fragrance to describe, but I would just say it is a very clean, fresh scent, which isn't particularly feminine. It reminds me of fresh linen, in the same way that many unisex fragrances do. It produced plenty of white, frothy bubbles, and by this stage I was very pleased. It was a very inviting bath.
As I relaxed into a long soak, I noticed that the water was very soft and silky, so I was confident that this bar would leave my skin well moisturised. The fragrance became less noticable, and the bubbles reduced with time, but the gorgeous turquoise colour remained for the duration.
When I stepped out of the bath, and after drying myself, I was disappointed that the scent hadn't lingered on my skin at all. I also found that my skin felt quite dry and in need of a moisturiser, so my initial assumptions had been wrong. It did leave a lovely fragrance in the bathroom though, and after a while, had seemed to have transformed in to a fragrance that smelt predominantly of vanilla.
~~ Conclusion ~~
My favourite aspect of this product has to be the colour it produces in the water. I have used a number of Lush bubble bars now, and have often found that the water becomes a very light, 'diluted' version of the colour of the solid bar. With this one, however, the water almost exactly matched the colour of the bar, which was great because it is such a gorgeous turquoise that reminds me of tropical seas.
The fragrance very much suits my taste, as I tend to prefer unisex fragrances most of the time. This is definitely one of the few Lush products that could be used by both men and women.
The things that let this one down, in my opinion, are the fact that the scent doesn't linger on your skin, and how it didn't leave my skin particularly soft and moisturised.
Despite this, I would probably buy it again. For me, the good points outweigh the bad. It was, after all, a refreshing and soothing bath time experience that reminded me of distant, tropical shores.
I chose this Fudge Sauna mask as part of the Tesco 4 for £3 offer on these Montagne Jeunesse face masks. I was intrigued by the claim that this was a 'self heating' hot vanilla mask, as I had never used self heating products in the past and refused to believe that they really did become hot! This one is supposed to heat itself up and open and deeply cleanse pores.
**Packaging & Price**
Like the peel-off cucumber mask I reviewed earlier, this mask comes in a brightly coloured 15g foil sachet which is an interesting irregular shape, rather than just being rectangular like many other brands. These sachets are attractive and stand out due to the bright colours and the element of fun that the pictures portray. This one shows a laughing woman with the product on her face, and with leaves and pieces of fudge covering her eyes. As I have said before, a pampering session should be enjoyable rather than a chore, which is why I think these sachets are far more appealing than many other clinical-looking alternatives.
As stated above, I bought this mask as part of the Tesco 4 for £3 offer, but they are individually priced at 99p. I think this is a very reasonable price for an occasional treat.
On the reverse of the sachet we are told that this treatment is designed for weekly use on normal, greasy and T-zone skin. It contains rich Mediterranean Clay and 'gently warms open pores drawing out dirt and grime'
My friend and I had one of these sachets each and decided to use them at the same time, so we could experience the strange self heating sensation together.
As soon as I opened the sachet I could smell vanilla fudge. I was really surprised by this, as the cucumber mask I had used previously didn't smell anything like cucumber, and was actually quite unpleasant. This one, however, really did smell good enough to eat.
It was easy enough to smear the whole lot over my face and neck, as it wasn't too sticky or runny, but a nice in-between texture. After a couple of seconds of being on my face it started to become hot. I was amazed by this, and found it hard to fathom how this might happen. I still don't know quite how it works, but it was a lovely sensation, especially in this cold, miserable weather. The heat didn't last; it faded after about 30 seconds, and we were left with a creamy and slightly sticky mess covering our faces. Due to either the heat, or sweat, the mask became a little runnier over time, and I found that it started to drip onto my lips. But rather than being an unpleasant sensation, I actually found it quite hard to resist the temptation to lick my lips! Obviously I didn't do so, and went and wiped them with tissue, but a tiny bit did get onto my tongue (accidentally, of course) and it was extremely sweet. Not unpleasant at all!
After the recommended time (10 - 15 mins) I wiped it all off with a flannel and rinsed my face thoroughly with warm water. I can't really say that it left my face feeling radically different, although it did feel soft and smooth. It didn't feel particularly cleansed though, and I find it difficult to see how a product of this kind would cleanse the face any more than any other cleanser.
The experience, however, was fun. The product became very hot, although it was only for a brief period, and it was a laugh to use it as there were two of us experiencing it together. I don't think it opens the pores any more than warm water, and I think a good peel-off mask used after warm water would remove far more grime than this one. Having said that, it was a fun, girly pampering session that left my skin soft, and smelling gorgeous.
A few weeks ago, I ran out of my usual Jan Marini face wash and had decided to put off buying any more for a while in an attempt to cut my spending. After a week or so of only using facial wipes and water to cleanse my face, my skin started to feel a little clogged and in need of a deep cleanse, so I picked up a few of the Montagne Jeunesse masks during my weekly supermarket shop.
**Packaging & Price**
This product comes in a 10ml foil sachet, which is an interesting irregular shape rather than the usual boring rectangular sachets. The sachet is very colourful and fun, which is part of the reason I chose this brand over others. Many similar products are contained within quite clinical-looking packaging, but this one, in its bright pink sachet, really stands out as being perfect for a girly pampering session. Another reason I chose this was because of the price. At 99p, this one's a very affordable treat, and at the time they were on offer in Tesco and I got 4 sachets for £3.
On the reverse of the sachet we are told that this mask will peel away dead skin, and that it is specially formulated for problem and T-zone skin. It is supposed to 'remove impurities and dead cells whilst cleaning and reviving the skin', and is designed for weekly use.
As soon as I opened the sachet I could smell the strong scent of the mask. It didn't smell at all like cucumbers, and was actually a very strong lime fragrance; so strong that it almost made me sneeze and actually made my eyes water when I applied it to my face.
Application was quite messy, as the product is very gooey and sticky, and seemed as though it would dry very quickly once exposed to the air. The instructions tell you to apply thinly and evenly, but I just spread the whole lot over my face as best I could as it was just too difficult to use it neatly!
I managed to cover my face and some of my neck fairly evenly. I got used to the strong lime smell quickly, and the more the mask dried, the more the smell diminished. The instructions suggest to leave the mask on for 10-20 mins or until completely dry. I found that even after using the whole sachet, it had dried after around 20 mins, but what had on application been a fairly thick layer had now become a very thin shiny film on top of my skin. As I gently began to peel the mask away from my face, I noticed how much easier it was to remove than any other peel-off masks I had used in the past. It almost flaked off, as it was so thin.
My face did feel clean and refreshed after using this mask, and it seemed to be less greasy and more even-looking the following day, but I do prefer peel-off masks to be a little more challenging to remove. This one felt so delicate, and came away with such ease, that I just didn't feel as though it was bringing anything with it. It wasn't an enjoyable pampering session due to the smell and the mess, and the results were nothing special. I doubt that I'll buy it again, as I'll probably try and find one that is a bit thicker when dry.
I received my first Lush product for Christmas (The Comforter Bubble Bar), and absolutely loved it. Prior to that I had never been interested in Lush stuff due to the overpowering mixture of scents that would make me cough each time I walked past one of the shops. I always thought that actually going into one of the shops would bring on a severe headache, so I never tried. But having discovered how good their products actually are, I decided to bite the bullet and enter one to have a look around.
I did find it almost unbearable at first, but my nostrils seemed to adapt fairly quickly, and I found that it really wasn't so bad after all. I headed straight for the soaps, as I had heard amazing claims about a number of the varieties.
When I picked up the Rock Star soap and took a whiff, the first thing that struck me was how sweet it was. I don't usually go for light pink coloured products, because I'm not too keen on artificial strawberry scents, but this one really appealed to me. I bought it and couldn't wait to try it out in the bath that evening.
~~~ Price & availability ~~~
Rock Star is currently priced at £2.90 per 100g, and can be found in all Lush stores as well as on the Lush website. I had simply picked up one of the pre-wrapped bars, which turned out to be 158g and cost me £4.58. I suppose this is quite a lot to pay for a soap, but I reasoned that as it was quite a large chunk, it should last me a while; certainly much longer than a small bottle of shower gel.
~~~ Ingredients ~~~
Water (Aqua), Propylene Glycol, Rapeseed oil; Sunflower oil; Coconut oil (Brassica napus; Helianthus annuus; Cocos nucifera), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Hydroxide, Perfume, Titanium Dioxide, Vanilla Absolute (Vanilla planifolia), Sodium chloride, Colour 18050}
~~~ My experience ~~~
I cut a decent sized piece off the chunk I had bought and took it into the bath with me. I did find that it took quite a lot of effort to work up a lather with this soap. The shop assistant had told me that the more transparent, shiny looking soaps create a better lather. This one has a very matt appearance and looks a lot like a large piece of bubblegum.
Anyway, a nice creamy lather does eventually develop if you persevere, and particularly if you use a shower puff, and the bathroom fills with this lovely sweet scent. It smells just like a raspberry 'flavoured' lip balm I used to use, and also reminds me very much of raspberry ripple ice cream.
After washing with this soap I have found that my skin is left reasonably soft, and not too dry. Some of the other Lush soaps that I have since tried (especially the more transparent, less creamy ones) have left my skin dry and itchy. The smell does linger on the skin for quite a while after using it to wash your hands, or after a quick shower, but I have found that I can't really smell it on my skin after a soak in the bath.
~~~ Conclusion ~~~
I will definitely be buying this one again, although this is mainly because I absolutely love the smell of it. I wouldn't recommend it for any other reason, because apart from the gorgeous scent, it is actually a fairly average soap with quite a high price tag.
Whenever I read reviews about interesting websites I have never heard of, I tend to go straight to the site and check it out. And that was how I came to use lastexittonowhere.com for my brother's Christmas present.
~~~ The company ~~~
Last exit to nowhere is a film T-shirt company, and was launched in 2007 by ex-guitarist Mike Ford. Due to his own love of cinema, and a dissatisfaction in his job at a design agency, he wanted to design and produce T-shirts that were subtle references to great films, rather than the usual obvious memorobilia tat. Film related T-shirts are usually very blatant, featuring either the film title or the main characters, but here we have T-shirts which display a much more subtle appreciation of a film. They are likely to only be understood by those who have seen the movie, perhaps several times. The design usually involves the logo of a business or location that features in the film, for example: The Overlook Hotel (The Shining), Hill Valley High School (Back to the Future), Amity Police (Jaws), U.S.S. Sulaco (Aliens).
Celebs Ed Byrne, Simon Pegg, and Chris Martin have all been spotted wearing their shirts, and the site has received a lot of praise from movie magazines such as Empire and SFX.
~~~ Site layout ~~~
The site is very professional looking and is really easy to navigate. You can either scroll through large pictures of the designs according to genre (ie. Sci-fi, Horror, Comedy) or you can view the entire alphabetical list of films or designs. There is no search option other than this, but there really doesn't need to be, as their catalogue is still relatively small. I think this is a good thing though, as it makes it more exclusive, and gives the impression that a lot of thought and effort has gone into each of the products. Mike Ford said himself that he only makes T-shirts with reference to films he personally likes, which again indicates a high level of personal involvement and pride in his work, and which I personally took as further assurance that this was a genuine, secure site to buy from.
Most of the T-shirts are loose fitting, but a selection of the designs are available in either men's or women's fitted style. Similarly, a small selection of hoodies are also available. All T-shirts on the site are £18 plus postage. There is also a small selection of kids T-shirts, priced at £13 each.
~~~ My experience ~~~
As soon as I spotted the Paper Street Soap Co. T-shirt I knew my brother would love one. He has been raving about the film Fight Club for the past few years, and quotes from the film often appear on his Facebook profile. He recently lent me the DVD, as I had never got round to watching it. If you haven't seen the film, it's unlikely you'll understand the T-shirt; it will just look like any other trendy, logo emblazoned T-shirt. And this is the case with all of the shirts at Last Exit.
By asking my brother to measure a T-shirt that fitted him well, I was able to find the right size by comparing his measurements with the size guide on the site. This is very useful, as it tells you the exact measurements for each of the sizes, and these often do vary depending on the source.
I ordered the T-shirt, selected the option of Recorded (signed for) delivery, paid through Paypal, and waited for the postman. When I still hadn't received the T-shirt a week later, I emailed the company to ask where it had got to and requested the Royal Mail tracking number. I received a very polite, apologetic reply the following day telling me that they had unfortunately posted it using standard delivery, and that they would post another one immediately using the correct postage this time. Should the original one turn up, I was told to keep it.
Well, the following day I returned from a shopping trip to find a package had been put through the letterbox. It was the second T-shirt, which had seemingly again been posted using standard delivery rather than Recorded. I didn't make a fuss this time though; I was happy to have received the goods, and I also had my doubts about Mr Postman. There was a sticky mark on the parcel where a sticker had clearly been, so it's quite possible that our Postie had selected the easiest option upon discovering nobody was home. . .? Who knows. Anyway, I wouldn't let any of this affect my trust in the company, and would definitely use the site again. The T-shirt I bought was neatly wrapped, very good quality, and exactly the right size (I measured it before I wrapped it up for Christmas!).
My brother was very pleased with the T-shirt. He put it on straight away and wore it for the rest of the day. Overall, despite the postage issues, I would highly recommend this site to any film geeks out there. Director, screenwriter and producer Andrew Stanton is quoted as saying it is "a movie geek's oasis", and that really does sum it up!