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To set the scene, I've had long fingernails since I was a child and they rarely break. I manicure them myself weekly (I am a qualified nail therapist) and I like them quite long.
About 18 months ago, I whacked one with a hammer and damaged the nail bed, and that nail hasn't grown properly since. I looked it up on the internet, and it said take biotin tablets to help to heal the nail bed, so I did that, and the nail started to improve, but then started to split (and subsequently break) again. Around the same time, I broke the nails on the forefingers of both hands. Not a happy bunny!
A few years ago, someone told me about Nu-Nale cream so I bought some. The first thing that I noticed was that it contains some sort of [what I will call, because it may not be correct] plasticiser. What I mean is, it seems to leave a coating on the nail, so if I'm wearing polish, it makes it shiny, and if I'm not, and I have a split (as in my damaged nail) it seems to seal it. I haven't read this in any of the blurb, but that's what I have found.
The other thing I found is that it is really good for the skin around the nails - I find this skin gets dry and hard (very attractive!), and I made it worse by cutting it, and I'm trying to stop doing that - it softens it and helps me to leave it alone.
You are supposed to use this three times a day for the first month, then drop to twice a day for the next month, then once a day. To be honest, I have only managed three times a day a couple of times, I just forget or can't do it when I remember, but after about a month, I think I can see an improvement. (As it takes between three and six months for finger nails to grow, I can't be sure yet, and will report back at the end of the year, but my damaged nail certainly hasn't broken or flaked anymore.)
I've been putting the cream on in the morning, as part of my morning make-up routine, and I try to remember to do it before going to bed (forget some of the time).
The only thing I don't like is that when it's getting towards the end, I find I need to stand it on the lid all the time to get out enough.
It's on sale in some of the bigger branches of Boots and, I think, Superdrug, and also online, so even though it's not expensive (I think I saw it for £3.55 the other day, but can't find the receipt now, so shop around).
I've already reviewed Lancôme's Hypnose, but I bought this mascara before I'd used that one. (No, I'm not sure that it's a good idea to have so many different mascaras, etc, hanging around, but they are unused and unopened until I actually start using them, and then, I discard them after three months. Anyway, I'm a bit obsessive about always having things "in stock" so there we are.)
The first thing to say is that I start with Hay fever quite early in the year - usually around March, although it was late this year - and the only time my eyes don't really water is during the winter months. They don't stream if I use something for the Hay fever, but they do water. I do rub my eyes quite a lot and I wear contact lenses. Thus, I'm quite fussy about my eye make-up, it generally has to be water-proof or it just doesn't stay on. (Some of the ones labelled as water-proof don't stay on!)
So, it was quite something for me to use non-waterproof mascara, but I try to rotate my stash, and this is the oldest one, so thought I had better use it before it dried up. And I am very impressed. I use black mascara because I'm quite fair, so it makes my eyes stand out more, and this one makes them look long and quite full. It stays on really well - I even wore it to my dance class (which is held in a non-air-conditioned room and is stifling in this hot weather) and it stayed on my lashes, rather than being on my cheeks - and believe me, I was sweating! My shirt was soaked! It doesn't smudge down my cheeks either, which is an absolute must for me.
The brush is curved but not too big or thick (I don't like the really big brushes, like the one in Benefit's Bad Gal. That's a personal thing, I know, but I prefer something thinner. I always use about three coats of mascara - I use a primer, but can never really see the first coat. So, I do the upper and lower lashes of one eye, then change over, and repeat straight away until I'm satisfied. I'm not sure whether it's the curling that makes my lashes look so long, but I do like it. Maybe it's the curling bit that makes them look longer... I don't know. (I don't use my eyelash curler every day for work, I just don't have the time, and didn't miss it at all with this.)
It retails at £17.00 for 8ml (compared with Lancôme's £22.00 for 10ml) - that 2.125 per ml for Clinique and 22p per ml for Lancôme, so not much difference in price.
Which do I prefer? Well, I haven't tried the Clinique in the shower (which happened with the Lancôme) and this comes off more easily than the Lancôme. This is difficult to prove unless I try them both on different eyes at the same time, or get someone else to check for me, but I think my lashes look better with the Clinique one.
I have quite a few sample sizes to try, so I will report back.
I have two mobile 'phones, one for my part-time business, which is the Blackberry. I had the Blackberry Curve 9300 for two years, and loved it. When I was due an upgrade, I didn't want to pay a great deal more than I was already paying every month, and I couldn't afford to pay for a really good new handset, so I decided I'd only go up a notch to the 9320. I should say at this point that I am absolutely anal about backing up my data, so I had already registered with Blackberry, as you can't save anything to the SIM card once it's in a Blackberry.
I received the 9320 just under a week ago and have fallen in love with it, just as much as I loved the 9300. My other 'phone is a Galaxy SII, so I don't have any issue with touch screens, but the two are quite different and useful in different ways.
First off, when I moved my SIM into the new handset, it automatically started transferring my data across - contacts, etc. That was such a relief, because my whole address book is saved to my Blackberry and I didn't relish the thought of having to manually re-enter it. (I really like the way the contact list lets you scroll down to see the person's address data on the BB. This alone would probably keep me with them.) So, apart from my photographs, which I'd already transferred elsewhere, everything went across.
The settings and the way it works are pretty much the same as the 9300 but this one is much more updated. It allows for more apps to be downloaded, although I don't need that many on this handset. The battery life is good too - I always drain the battery completely four times when I get a new handset, and am still going through that process. I found it was pretty good on my last BB too. If you are not a BB lover, nothing I say will persuade you, but I like the fact that I can see all the e-mails in my inboxes for the last month (I find that I can only see them properly when I have a signal on my Samsung). The 9320 is much better for internet searches too (that was a complaint I had with my old one, before the software upgrades).
The 9320 is a bit thinner and not quite as deep as the 9300, and is a bit lighter too. Whenever you download anything, it wants to link into BBM, but you can decline this. I've downloaded Dropbox and Evernote (two of my bit favourite apps). I can write to Evernote on this one (couldn't on the 9300) but not Dropbox (but then I can't write to existing files on my Samsung either). The games already pre-installed are different - none of them suited me but it was easy to download others. (The pre-loaded games are Brick Breaker, Word Mole, Tetris and Uno Trial.) I downloaded Flow and the solitaire games - just be careful which ones you go for, I found the first one intensely irritating because of the way it worked, but as it was free, I just uninstalled it when I found what I wanted.
My old one was a lovely red, and I was reluctant to let that go, but the 9320 is made in a number of colours - black, white, hot pink, vivid violet, classic blue. I chose the pink, which is lovely.
If I only had one handset, I wouldn't choose this, I'd stick with my Samsung, but
This is my absolute favourite facial scrub! I use a scrub every day, and have done for the past 30 years, I find that my make-up goes on better and lasts better. (A bit like rubbing down the woodwork before painting I suppose!) I've got dry, sensitive skin so I do need to be careful about what I use though.
I first tried this as a free sample, and I liked it so much that I bought the product. It comes in a plastic jar (I suppose that's how you would describe it) with a screw lid. Remove the lid and there are several holes through which to dispense the product. The instructions say, "Dispense about a half-teaspoon into very wet hands and create a creamy paste by rubbing hands together." It's quite a fine powder and the holes are quite big, so you do need to be careful - it's easy to tip out too much, and as your hands are wet, not easy to put it back in. I'll be honest, I use guess-work to tip the right amount into my hand, but it seems to work ok, and I create the paste with the fingers of the other hand, rather than rubbing my hands together. I don't know why I do it like this, it just seemed easier the first time, and I've carried on ever since. As I usually use it when I'm in the shower, it's pretty easy to do and I find making the paste quite easy. Then I spread it over my face, minus eyes and give it a good old scrub. (Dermalogica says "massage gently.")
I find that it leaves my skin really smooth and clean feeling. The best thing about it, for me, is this: I bought another brand of horrendously expensive exfoliant, too expensive to throw out (don't ask me why I do these things, but the chap who sold it to me was very charismatic) but it leaves me with bits of skin flaking. The only way I can improve it is by using this. It doesn't smell great, but that's not really an issue for me. It is quite expensive if you buy it from Dermalogica (£40.30 for 75g/2.6 oz), so I don't, I buy it from an online shop.
These are my favourite lipsticks at the moment. There are two types - I've tried both, the "original" and the intense. The original ones are a bit "sheerer" in the colour, good for day wear. The intense have a deeper colour and stain, and are good for evenings and special occasions.
When you start to use them, they are shaped just lick crayons, but you twist them to get more colour up. Although I usually use a lip brush, these are easy to apply straight from the stick. A lip brush is useful, although not essential, when the top flattens out though.
I bought a couple of these when they first came out and loved the way that the colour stayed on well, but wasn't overpowering. When Clinique brought out the intense colours, I had to try them too, and they are every bit as good. The colour is really deep, well, intense, and they look lovely. I don't buy lipstick online unless I know the colour I'm looking for - the online colour charts aren't very accurate, for all companies, not just Clinique - but anyway, I always think you need to try lipsticks, because the colour in the tube isn't always the way it looks. (Try the colour on the pad of the finger, at the top behind the nail, it seems to look closer to the way it will look on your lips.)
I find the colour stays on well with both of them, and, as the title suggests, they are very moisturising, which I love. They just feel so comfortable, and because they stay on well. I only really get problems with my lips when I've been wearing something drying, but wearing these for a couple of days after makes a huge difference. I've got six of the colours, two intense and four original, but they do about ten in each. They are £16 RRP.
I don't really get on with traditional eyelash curlers and I don't really think they make much difference, but thought I'd give this a try. I'm really quite impressed. I'd say it takes about 30 seconds to get the required heat - there is a little orange button that turns yellow when it's at the right temperature. Instead of clamping your eyelashes, you just hold this underneath your lashes and push them up so that they curl. You are only supposed to hold it against the lashes for 5 seconds at a time, but I think I probably hold it for a little longer than that. You start with the middle lashes and then do the ones at the centre and then the outside ones, before putting on mascara. I'm not really sure how long the curl lasts, but I put my lash primer on as soon as I've finished curling them, and it does seem to make a difference.
It's battery operated, which makes it convenient, and you just wipe it clean. It comes in a metal tube, like other Blinc products, and it is in the brushed silver metal container, so it looks quite stylish.
I first discovered this about ten years ago when I had a rash on the back of my hand - a friend had already bought this oil and gave me some to try. Even though it's not what it's intended for, it really soothed the rash so I bought some for myself.
The bottle has a pump dispenser, which is good because you can get all the oil out of it and when the bottle is nearly empty you can just stand it upside down, then remove the top to get the last drops out. I usually find I get another week's worth like this.
I squirt a pump of oil onto the fingers of one hand and then rub my fingers together to warm the oil before dotting over my face and rubbing in. It sinks in easily and doesn't leave a greasy film. Although it's called a night treatment, I use it during the day as well (I have very dry skin) and it solves my dryness problem. I do still use a moisturiser on top but, considering that I have, at times, had to use three different moisturisers at the same time, I think that's ok.
I always buy it from AD directly - the last time I bought it, I ordered it in the morning and it arrived the following day! The RRP is £38 for 50ml, but that lasts me about six months, so I think it's good value for money.
This is my favourite toy! I absolutely love it. It's a great little tablet, good for accessing the internet as well as reading books and playing games.
The screen is really clear. There is a facility to change the size of the text in the books, and change the colour of the "paper." You can highlight items in the books as well, and place a bookmark, although it remembers where you stopped reading too. (I think all e-readers do this, but this is my first one, so I can only speak about this one.)
The screen rotates when you turn it - I found this a bit irritating so I've turned it off, it's quite simple there is an on-screen button at the top left.
When I got it, I went through the process of setting up my e-mail accounts on the Kindle, but I'm not really sure why they suggest you do this: I just access them through the internet.
When you open it, there is a facility called "Carousel" so you can just flick through to which app or book you want to go to, but you can also access them through the book or app page. I've got the 32GB model, and have loads of books and apps, but I've still only used about 3GB of storage. There is also a cloud facility too.
There are lots of free books on Amazon, so you can download to your heart's content, and they do special offers every week. Amazon also has a free app every day - some of them are just games, but there are also some really useful ones too, eg password protector, etc. You can also download some of the usual ones that you'd download to a laptop, PC or 'phone, eg Evernote. Some apps aren't compatible with this (eg Dropbox) but you can still access them through the internet.
The charger is the same size as the one for the Samsung SII, which is handy for holidays, but the plug that came with it also doubles as a USB cable.
The only problem I've had with it is that I haven't been able to watch TV on it - you have to download an app and I can't work out which one is for the Kindle. That's more to do with me than the device and I'm sure I'll sort it out in due course.
Like all computers, it does work better if you switch it off at least once a week. It's only "frozen" once, but the Amazon website tells you how to sort it out - basically switching it off, but check for exactly what to do as the instructions are slightly different depending on whether it's being charged or not. The battery life is not great if you use it for the internet or games, but that's my only real criticism.
I had my make-up done by one of New CID's make-up artists, and was very impressed with the way it looked, so was eager to emulate it. Consequently, I bought quite a few of the products, including the foundation buffing brush.
New CID does a handbag sized brush as well, but I bought the full size one - the handle is about five inches long, and the actual brush about an inch long. It's a lovely looking brush, very soft to the touch, so I thought I'd give it a go.
I started by using the New CID foundation primer (which is lovely). I use a liquid foundation - I actually bought the New CID foundation for use with this brush. I dot (splodge might be a more accurate description!) the foundation over my face and then blend with the brush. When the make-up artist did it, she did lots of brushing backwards and forwards but obviously, I couldn't see how much or how little foundation she actually used.
When I used the brush I ended up using about three times as much foundation with this one as my usual taklon brush. (I usually use a flat foundation brush, the regular that you see advertised as foundation brushes, although I have used fatter ones before, and quite liked them.) I appreciate that I'm not a professional make-up artist and my technique might be a bit off, but I'm not bad at applying my make-up, but the brush just seemed to suck up the foundation. I've tried it several times and it's the same each time, and I always end up switching to one of my usual brushes to put my foundation on properly. I don't know what I was doing wrong, but I also found the foundation streaked when I put it on with this brush. When I use the foundation with my usual brush, it's ok.
I also found it quite hard to clean it - I use baby shampoo and warm water but it takes a lot to get all the foundation out. I'm now using it as a blusher brush and it's absolutely fine for that.
To set the scene, I have fair, fine, thin hair, and my eyelashes are no exception, so I have been searching for a long time for something to give them some "oomph" and which will also stay on all day without smudging. I rub my eyes quite a lot and I wear contact lenses, so need something that won't irritate me.
I hadn't used Lancôme mascara for a long time, and bought this one purely by chance, when the assistant recommended it to me as I wanted another product in order to get the free gift they were offering at the time. She told me that I would need to use three coats to get the look I wanted, and she was right. (I also use a lash primer underneath my mascara.) My eyelashes do look a lot longer and a bit thicker. The brush is quite thin, and is tapered, which makes it easier to catch those fine lashes in the corners of my eyes.
For staying power, it's hard to beat - no black smudges, and the first time I wore it, I had a bad attack of hay fever, so my eyes were streaming, but Hypnose withstood that.
I usually use baby oil to remove my mascara. The first time I applied it on a cotton wool pad and wiped as usual. I thought I'd got it all off, but realised the next morning, when I'd taken my shower, that there was still some left on. (This was a plus, even though I didn't want it there then.) I don't know how it would fare in a swimming pool though, but then, I've never found a mascara that stood up to that. The second time I tried to remove it, I rested the cotton pad soaked with baby oil on each eye for a little bit longer, and it all came off
All in all, I think it's a good mascara, that's easy to layer without my lashes look clumped together. The RRP is £22 so expensive but it's worth it.