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Vermilion

Vermilion
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Member since: 12.03.2013

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      06.03.2014 23:16
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      Balls that create hours of fun, mental and physical stimulation for my canine companion

      These bright yellow Air Kong dog toys look a lot like regular tennis balls. However, they are not as rigid and they can be squeezed. Doing so emits a high pitch sound, and our beautiful German Shepherd is fascinated by it. Unfortunately the squeak does not usually last much longer than a week because she always manages to break it! Our canine companion still enjoys playing with these squeakair balls long after this part has broken though.

      The balls themselves are very durable, as they can withstand a lot of doggie chewing action. They do eventually get punctured and split open. We become aware of the imminent demise of the balls when the yellow material covering them begins to come away. Once the part underneath is exposed it becomes vulnerable to a big set of dog teeth busting the balls open. For this reason we do need to keep an eye on what condition the toys are in because they can become dangerous for our dog to continue playing with. But this is the same with all dog toys really. I do think they last quite a long time, especially when I take into consideration that our precious pooch plays with them every single day. She does play with other balls, but these Air Kong ones are definitely her favourite! She won't even go out for a walk without her squeakair. As soon as she sees the lead, she rushes off to get it.

      One of the negative aspects of these particular balls is that when the weather has been a bit bad they pick up a lot of mud! They are not very easy to clean because the mud stubbornly clings to the material, so our dog has balls specifically for outdoor use, when she is playing in the garden or we are off on our adventures to run around in the fields. Then she also has a couple of indoor Kong balls that have nothing but her dribble and drool all over them :)

      She loves to chase after the balls outside when we throw them for her and fetch them back for another go. But these balls bounce well too, so she enjoys that element of it, as she jumps like a spring lamb to catch them. Indoor play is not quite so vigorous so as not to send the contents of the house crashing to the floor. We roll the ball across the floor for her and she dives on it, or we bounce it gently. Other times we play games such as hiding it, and she gets so pleased with herself when she finds it. Sometimes, she's simply happy to lay there licking and chewing it! Of course you have to be careful that you don't trip over the flaming things when they are left in random places around the house though.

      Air Kong squeakair balls are available in packs of 2 or 3 on Amazon, and I have also seen them sold separately in Pets At Home. They come in a variety of sizes from XS to XL and Amazon list the sizes of each ball which is quite handy. The Medium size is probably the closest to tennis ball size. Our German Shepherd prefers the Large. We get this size in packs of 2 for £3 on Amazon, and they are worth every penny for the amount of enjoyment our fur baby gets out of them.

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      29.01.2014 21:20
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      Barista style coffee.. in an instant!

      When I roll out of bed in the morning bleary eyed and yawning, one of the first tasks of the day is to shuffle to the kitchen in my zombie-like state and stick the kettle on to make a nice cup of coffee. I usually drink instant coffee because it is a cheaper option, and it is also quick and easy to make. Besides, I could not stand listening to coffee beans grinding in a machine argh!! The downfall is that soluble coffee does not have the superior taste of those made from ground roast coffee beans, so I occasionally treated myself to a (rather expensive) posh coffee from Starbucks.

      ...But then I found Nescafe Azera! There it was, sitting on the shelf in Tesco. The light seemed to bounce off the super shiny silver sleek looking tins, dazzling my eyes. I had to take a closer look. The information on the packaging told me that Azera is a blend of instant coffee and finely ground roast coffee beans. There was also a special offer on at the time, but the usual price for a 60g tub is around the £3 mark.

      The sunny orange coloured lid is a flexible plastic material and very easy to grip hold of and remove from the tin. Once the seal underneath the lid is broken, the most amazing aroma escapes from the tin. One serving is one heaped teaspoon of the finely ground coffee, and this little 60g tub contains approximately 33 servings of absolute deliciousness. Although I haven't kept count of exactly how many cups I get out of a tin, I think that estimate seems about right. This coffee is also available in 100g tins.

      I am very impressed with the taste of this barista style coffee. It has a full bodied flavour which is smooth and luxuriously creamy. The warm rich dark brown liquid with tiny little bubbles on top is very enticing. The intense flavour of this coffee is lovely. I add a little splash of milk and one sweetener to mine, but that is my personal preference. I have now given my usual instant coffee the elbow, and it has been replaced with Nescafe Azera barista style coffee, because quite frankly, my usual tastes quite rubbish in comparison. Now I can enjoy barista style coffee in the comfort of my own home... Who needs posh coffee shops eh?!

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      • Ariel 3in1 Pods / Household Cleaning / 68 Readings / 67 Ratings
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        13.11.2013 23:17
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        Squishy little laundry pods that cleans, softens and fragrances laundry

        After trying these Ariel 3in1 pods I must say I am very impressed with their performance. These pretty little pods are very squishy to touch, and have a mixture of green, blue and white liquids inside them. On first appearance I would not have imagined that such a small amount of liquid could could clean my clothes so well, leaving them feeling nice and soft and smelling fantastic.

        These compact liquitabs have made the boring task of doing the laundry much more bearable. They are so quick and easy to use. There is no need to measure out the product as I have previously had to do when using washing powder or laundry liquid. Because there is no measuring, there is also no need to worry about spillage. One solitary pod is simply placed into the drum of the washing machine with your dirty laundry, and once the machine is turned on you can leave it to work it's magic.

        Most of my washing was not heavily soiled, however some of my garments ended up terribly soiled when my baby nephew came to visit. I ended up with stinky baby food and vomit on them which was rather unfortunate! But a spin in the machine with an Ariel pod got rid of the unsightly stains and made my clothes look clean and bright again. I also went for a jog in the park on one particular day when the heavens suddenly opened and turned everything into a muddy soggy mess. My trousers in particular were filthy, with mud flicked all up the back of them. The Ariel pods removed all traces of dirt.

        Another thing that I really love about these pods is the fragrance it leaves on my laundry. There is a lovely clean fresh fragrance that escapes from the machine once the washing is removed but this scent lingers for longer than any laundry washing product I have previously used. When I hang my freshly cleaned clothes in my wardrobe, I can pull these garments out a few days later and they still smell lovely. When I washed my bed covers it made my whole room smell gorgeous. The fragrance is not too feminine as some laundry products sometimes seem to be either.

        These particular pods contain biological laundry liquid so this is possibly why they are very effective at removing stains, and at low temperatures too. I sometimes find that my skin is quite sensitive to some biological laundry products and I end up with itchy/dry skin, but I had absolutely no problems with my skin after using this product.

        Of course, all of these good qualities come at a price. And the Ariel pods are a slightly higher price than I usually pay. However, when I noticed that they were on special offer I stocked up on them. The packaging is quite well thought out as the pods come in a robust plastic box with a lid that clicks shut. The box stores easily and protects the pods from getting damaged, pierced or wet. I think these pods are definitely worth paying that bit extra for, and I have been recommending them to friends and family.

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          23.08.2013 20:46
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          A delicious thick and creamy yoghurt containing real fruit pieces

          Recently I have become quite addicted to these delicious Danio yoghurts by Danone. They come in six fantastic flavours; Raspberry, Strawberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Passionfruit, and Peach. (Yes, I have greedily devoured all varieties over the past few weeks!) Each flavour depicts the fruit contained inside each pot on top of the removable foil lid, therefore making it quick and easy to distinguish the different flavours available. This raspberry yoghurt is a low fat, high protein yogurt and there are 150 calories in one 160g pot. It contains no preservatives, no artificial flavours and is suitable for vegetarians.

          The lid is very easy to tear off and no splatters of the product burst out. Once the lid is removed it reveals a thick, white yoghurt. Danone's strained yoghurt recipe uses more milk than a standard yoghurt and the result is a product that is so thick that a spoon will literally stand up in it! I kid you not. I have witnessed it with my very own eyes! It tastes quite creamy and has a lovely silky smooth texture. As the spoon travels further down into the pot you discover a raspberry fruit layer at the bottom that contains real fruit pieces in a syrup type sauce. It tastes delicious. The raspberry is not too tart or bitter, yet not too subtle in comparison to other flavours in the range. I found that the strawberry one was quite bland but I think I may have spoiled myself with home grown fresh picked strawberries from my garden which are far more flavoursome. But back to the raspberry variety - I do end up with tiny little seeds that get stuck in my teeth that can be a bit annoying, but this is inevitably going to happen when using real raspberries so I can't complain!

          Danio makes a tasty snack during the day. When the entire contents of the pot are mixed up together the flavours and textures complement each other nicely. The creamy yoghurt turns a pretty pink colour and the chunks of fruit and the syrupy sauce slightly changes the consistency of the yoghurt. The yoghurt alone does not taste sweet at all, but the fruit layer adds a bit of sweetness. I find that the ratio of fruit to yoghurt is just right for me.

          However, my preferred method of consuming this tasty treat is to tip the contents out on to a plate. That's right; rip the lid off the pot, whack a plate on top, flip the whole lot over and lift the pot away as if you were a contestant on Master Chef! The yoghurt is so thick that it retains its shape and all the fruity saucy stuff flows artistically down the sides leaving it looking like a posh little cheesecake (only without the biscuit base) I enjoy eating it like this for dessert. Though unlike a lot of desserts, this is not at all sickly sweet and is quite a nice refreshing palette cleanser, as well as being low in fat... Bonus!

          It is also great to eat for breakfast. It is more filling than most other yoghurts, and my tummy feels quite satisfied immediately after consuming one of these in the morning. However, by lunch time my stomach is growling for more food! To prevent this embarrassing noise emitting from my mid-region, I found that by adding some granola into the mix it keeps me fuller for longer.

          Danio yoghurts are usually 85p per pot, however there are sometimes special offers such as buy one, get one free. The expiration dates usually allow me to store them in the fridge for up to almost 2 weeks before consumption. Though they don't hang around for long in our fridge!

          I think Danio are delicious but would like to see more flavours introduced such as mandarin, and other such fruits that do not contain tiny small gritty seeds!!

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            23.05.2013 20:24
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            I have mixed feelings about this product

            As a BzzAgent I am fortunate to be given the opportunity to try some pretty cool stuff for free. When I was invited to the Veet EasyWax campaign I must say that I was very excited to try it, but a bit apprehensive too. I have never ever waxed before and instead use razors to shave away unwanted hair. I use this method of hair removal mostly because it is quick and convenient. Waxing had always seemed too much bother to me and looked like it could potentially be quite messy, expensive and extremely painful! It seems a bit silly that I would be nervous about the pain when I have two tattoos as well as a couple of facial piercings, but still the thought of waxing made me cringe.

            As soon as I signed up for the Veet trial I stopped shaving my legs so that when the product arrived the hair would be long enough to use it on. I waited in anticipation for the postman to deliver the electrical roll-on kit as I was eager to use it. I had started to resemble a yeti and it felt a bit horrid. The product arrived in a bright pink box and contained the self heating device and its cap, a base to hold the device, an electrical cable, a wax refill designed for use on arms and legs, 12 non-woven strips and 4 post depilatory wipes, plus an instruction leaflet.

            As I have never tried waxing before I was sure to read through all the instructions, tips and precautions first. It was all clearly written with little diagrams next to each stage of the instructions. I then proceeded to insert the wax cartridge into the device ensuring it was pushed right down, and plugged in the device. A little red light lit up on the front. I waited for the recommended 20 minutes before use to allow the wax to reach a good consistency to work with. However, I found that this was not quite long enough because the roller head did not rotate smoothly when I first tried it. I left it for a further 10 minutes. The wax rolled on very easily this time. I rolled the wax down my leg in the direction of the hair growth. The sticky pink gooey liquid did roll on to my skin very evenly. The instructions warned me that the wax could not be removed with water or the wipes supplied, so I had committed myself now and there was no turning back *gulp*

            I immediately placed a strip over the wax and rubbed it down a few times. I then took a deep breath and counted to three and ... nothing. Oh heck! I needed to pluck up the courage to pull the flippin' strip off! I composed myself and gripped the bottom of the strip again. I was poised and ready to whip the strip off in the opposite direction to the hair growth as instructed. OUCH! It was not excruciatingly painful but it did hurt quite a bit. However I was pleased to see that the hairs had been removed.

            I tried to roll more wax on my leg but I found that the wax cooled quite quickly and therefore the roller head stiffened up again which made it difficult to apply the wax. So I plugged the device back in and left it connected until I had completely finished using it. The device stays at a constant temperature so I was not worried about it overheating.

            As I soldiered on waxing through gritted teeth I noticed that some strips successfully brought up all the hairs, yet other times it would leave them behind. I think it was possibly due to my inexperience and not quite getting the technique correct. It was most successful when I pulled the strips as fast as lightning and I found the angle at which I pulled the strip was very important too. It removed hairs better when I pulled the strip back on itself staying close and parallel to my leg. Of course this is more difficult to do on certain areas. I found that I had to contort my body into a weird and uncomfortable position to wax the back of my legs and attempt to see exactly what I was doing. I also got into a bit of a sticky mess at one point due to the wax strips. There are not very many supplied (when you consider that each wax cartridge could last up to 4 wax sessions) but each strip can be used a few times throughout your waxing session. I accidentally stuck my clumsy fingers on a waxy bit which hindered my progress somewhat. Luckily I was almost finished.

            Once I had finished I felt quite worn out! My legs felt quite sticky so I definitely felt the need to use one of the wipes. It was a very thin but strong little wipe that had a strange greasy kind of feel to it. But it did a good job of removing the sticky residue.

            My skin looked a little red and blotchy immediately after waxing which I was expecting as my skin is not used to the hairs being ripped out of them! The product is specially formulated with natural beeswax so it is kinder for sensitive skin too. My legs do feel soft and smooth, but I discovered that there were quite a number of rogue hairs that had remained.

            My first experience at waxing was not as bad as I imagined it would be. It was a bit painful and I feel the need to practice a bit more to get the correct technique and hopefully achieve better results in future. This method of hair removal is more time consuming than using razors, but it does not have to be done as frequently. There are pros and cons to both methods so I am still undecided as to which I prefer. I shall definitely try the product again. Maybe practice will make perfect? But I am not yet prepared to ditch the razors. I am now wondering if I should try epilating?!

            This Veet EasyWax kit is around £30 but it is currently available on Amazon at a reduced price. I also received a bikini and underarms wax cartridge which has a narrower roller head than the one for use on arms and legs. I am not yet confident enough to try the product anywhere near such areas as this though!! Both types of refill cartridges can be purchased for £10 each.

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              16.05.2013 22:08
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              An antibacterial hand wash that smells delicious enough to eat.

              When I was a child we always had bars of soap to wash our hands with. I hated using them as they have the potential to become a disgustingly slimy soggy mess. I actually can't bring myself to use them anymore. I much prefer to wash my hands with liquid soap as it eliminates this problem, and it is more hygienic too.

              Carex by Cussons is not a brand I frequently purchase, but they had a family favourite's range which consisted of a Chocolate Orange fragrance and a Strawberry Laces fragrance. The later sounded fantastic to me and as an added bonus the product was half price in Tesco for 90 pence instead of the usual £1.80.

              The antibacterial hand wash comes in a robust transparent bottle which curves in slightly at the sides which is a nice design and enables you to view the 250ml of bright pink liquid inside. The bottle is recyclable once you have finished using it. The pump dispenser works very well. The product flows out nicely and no dripping occurs afterwards even if the pump has not been pressed down fully. As soon as the product is dispensed into my hand I can instantly smell the nostalgic scent of strawberry laces. They have somehow managed to get the fragrance spot on! It immediately evoked old memories of my childhood when my sisters and I enjoyed stuffing ourselves silly with those delicious strawberry sweet treats.

              The hand wash has a nice consistency that is not too runny. I use two pumps of the bottle as recommended and this produces quite a generous amount of product. I then use warm water to rub it into my hands and create a bit of lather before rinsing it off completely. The fragrance is more evident while actually washing my hands, but I can still smell it on my skin for a short while afterwards. The label tells me that this hand wash contains added moisturisers, however I still feel the need to apply hand lotion after use sometimes, otherwise my skin feels a little too dry.

              The hand wash is very popular with my three year old niece who loved it straight away. When she came to visit I was slightly concerned that she needed to visit the toilet every five minutes, but then I discovered she just wanted an excuse to keep on washing her hands to smell the "sweeties." It is certainly a good way to get children into the habit of good hand hygiene practices. My niece does not need to be reminded to wash her hands after visiting the loo anymore because she remembers the sweeties smell straight away and is actually quite eager to clean her little hands.

              Alas, my six year old nephew was horrified the first time that he discovered the new hand wash. He came running out of the toilet dramatically exclaiming that he couldn't possibly use it because "pink is for girls!" Once we had explained that isn't always the case and it was fine for him to use it, he reluctantly returned to wash his hands with sulky chops. He did cheer up a bit once he had smelled the strawberry laces. Though he would prefer it to be red as he logically explained that is the colour of strawberries after all.

              Overall I think it is a good product and it certainly encourages the children to regularly wash their hands. The pinkness was a bit of a problem with the boys to begin with but the fragrance is amazing and has won them over. It is indeed a family favourite, as us big kids love it just as much as the little kids! However it does leave my hands feeling a little dry after use.

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              • JML Bobble Off / Gadget / 75 Readings / 72 Ratings
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                13.05.2013 01:11
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                A tool that removes bobbles, but will possibly give you a headache!

                I had noticed that some of my clothes were collecting beastly bobbles, including my absolute favourite hoody. After all the washing and wearing, bobbles had accumulated particularly in the areas that experience more friction such as under the arms and down the side of my long sleeve tops and my beloved hoody. This pesky pilling looked rather unsightly. I had seen adverts on the TV for Bobble Off and decided to give it a go in the hope that it would give my garments a new lease of life. I purchased my Bobble Off from Amazon and it was around £6. However they are also available to buy in various supermarkets as well as places such as Argos and Wilkinsons.

                When I received the package I eagerly removed the Bobble Off from the box but my first impressions of the product were a little disappointing. If I am brutally honest I think that the chunky plastic hand held device looks a bit 'cheap' and low quality. But on the plus side, the handle was comfortable to hold and it felt lightweight too.

                The device requires 2 AA batteries to work and these of course, are not included. The battery compartment is quite annoying as it takes a bit of effort to remove and replace the cover. It is a bit awkward and fiddly. At this point I did not have any faith that the pile of plastic would work very well at all and I cursed myself for being sucked into purchasing anything from the JML brand again. (Our first JML purchase was a drain hair removal tool that disastrously left us with a bigger blockage than we started with!)

                Once the batteries were finally inserted with no fear of them flying out I turned on the Bobble Off using the switch located at the top of the device. Once turned on the machine emits a sound rather like a moped, though thankfully not quite as loud! They failed to mention the horrendous sound on the ad! The continuous noise does become irritating after some time.

                The product is very simple to use. It is best to lay the item to be worked on a flat surface. Then I gently glide the device over the surface of the material. There is no need to apply a lot of pressure down onto the device really. But I have found it works more efficiently when it is moved along the material in the slower smooth continuous motion. If it is moved too swiftly the bobbles tend to escape the blades and remain firmly on the fabric. As the rotating safety blades remove the clusters of bobbles from the material you can see the fluffy fibers accumulating in the transparent compartment. It holds a fair amount of fluff! When you want to dispose of the lint, this compartment is very easy to remove. It simply slides off.

                The tool has an adjustable head which allows you to move the blades ever so slightly closer/further away from the material you are working on and enables you to use it on different types of material. I have used the Bobble Off on cotton T-shirts, wooly jumpers and scarves, and even on cushions and bed linen. It has successfully removed bobbles from all of these items without damaging any of them. However, by the time I finished removing bobbles from our double bed sheet the boredom and the noise that the machine created had driven me balmy and put me in quite an unpleasant mood! The product is supposed to be suitable for use on carpets and sofas too. We do not have bobbly carpet or sofa and thank goodness for that! I could only imagine what a long and boring process it would be to undertake the task of de-bobbling such large areas with this device.

                The product does actually eliminate bobbles from garments and soft furnishings which vastly improves their appearance. But there are so many little problems that I have found with this product that makes it rather frustrating to use. I think it is fantastic for use on small areas, but if you wish to remove bobbles from larger areas it takes an awfully long time. The device also greedily gobbles up batteries quite quickly.

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                  05.05.2013 21:45
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                  A fabulous clay infused fabric face mask

                  After spending a day in London my face felt pretty grubby and I was in desperate need of a deep cleansing facial! So I hot footed it in to Boots to purchase a face mask. In previous years I frequently indulged in pampering my pores with fresh face masks from Lush, but as lovely as they are they can be quite expensive. I discovered that single sachets of Montagne Jeunesse are available for as little as 99p each so these are more affordable for a regular treat. On this occasion the Glacial Clay Spa mask caught my eye. It appealed to me because it is a clay infused fabric face mask and I had never tried one of these before. This seemed like it would take minimal effort to apply, be quick, convenient and mess free. It also promised to cleanse my pores to the core which sounded pretty good to me! All for the small sum of £1.49 This product also has the Vegetarian society approved logo and the BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection) approved logo on the packaging.

                  I followed the directions on the back of the sachet which depicted a jolly looking lady first cleansing her skin in preparation for the application of the mask. Once this task was completed and the muck had been removed from the surface of my skin I opened the packet. Thankfully it was very easy to tear open and I did not need to wrestle with a stubborn sachet seal.

                  The natural bamboo fabric mask was neatly folded up inside the pack already infused with ingredients including specially sourced clays, anti-oxidant red grape and Arctic Cloudberry juices. As I pulled it out to unfold it, a pleasant aroma subtly wafted up my nostrils. It was a nice natural clean fresh fragrance.

                  I am aware that everyone has different face shapes/sizes so I was not expecting the mask to be a perfect fit. And it wasn't. It had quite a generous amount of material particularly in the forehead area. I predict that even if you have a Frankenstein size forehead the mask should still cover it nicely. I had to fold the top of the mask over to prevent it from covering my hair.

                  The holes for the eyes and mouth were also a little on the large side, but I was able to adjust the position of the fabric for a better fit. Manipulating the material did cause a bit of creasing but I was able to pat the mask gently so that it was still making contact with my skin.

                  The nose area was different to what it looked like in the picture on the front of the sachet too. It was actually a flap of material that covered the top of my nose but left the sides exposed a little which I was a bit disappointed about. Regardless, applying the mask was quite a quick process and was definitely less time consuming than applying other types of clay face masks.

                  Now all I had to do was lay back and relax for 10 to 15 minutes while the mask worked its magic. It had an instant cooling effect on my skin. I felt a slight tightness on my chin, forehead and just underneath my eyes but it was not uncomfortable. In fact I was so relaxed that I completely forgot about keeping an eye on the time and when I did look, 20 minutes had passed.

                  The removal of the face mask is usually the part that I am not keen on as it can be messy, but all I had to do was simply whip off the mask and disposed of it in the bin. I looked in the mirror to see my skin was a strange colour with thin white lines in places where the product had dried around the edges of the mask. The white lines around my eyes and my mouth made me look a bit like a clown. I massaged in the excess liquid as the smiling woman on the packet had. Then I rinsed my face with a few splashes of cool water to close the pores again. The white lines had disappeared and my face had returned to a healthy colour. It felt deeply cleansed and hydrated and soft to the touch.

                  I would definitely purchase this product again because it really did make a difference to my skin and I think it is good value for money. The only slight problem with this product was the fact that the mask did not fit my face very well and needed a bit of adjusting but that would not stop me from purchasing again in the future.

                  Montagne Jeunesse have a wide variety of products available and they are not just for us ladies either. They have created a range of fabulous face masks specifically for men too!

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                    28.04.2013 22:02
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                    What a mess

                    My niece and nephew each have their own sketch pads that they enjoy filling up with beautiful pictures for me when they come to visit. My niece had her own crayons and was quite happy with those to begin with but soon became jealous of her older brothers felt pens and repeatedly attempted to steal them. I came across these Crayola Mini Kids First Markers that are suitable for children age 1+ and thought they would be perfect for her. Her mum thought I was mad for purchasing pens for a one year old. She warned me about the mess it would cause. But did I listen?

                    ~ Chunky barrel ~
                    The barrels of the markers are adorned with the brand name and cute little pictures of items such as teddy bears and flowers. My niece found the chunky barrels very easy to hold in her little hands.

                    ~ Ventilated cap ~
                    Children's safety is paramount and the ventilated caps are very large making it difficult for a child to swallow. In the unlikely event that the lid does get lodged in a child's windpipe the vents still allow air to flow. Young children do tend to put everything in their mouth and we did have to constantly tell my niece to stop doing this with the lids. After being ignored the lid was confiscated whenever a marker was in use. She found that the caps were not too difficult to remove with a bit of a yank. She needed assistance to place the caps back on the pens at first though. One reason being that her hand-eye coordination skills had yet to develop, but when the cap did make it on top of the marker it would fall off again when she put the pen down. But she soon learned to listen for the 'click' that tells her it is on properly.

                    ~ Secure nib ~
                    Another safety feature is the very short rounded nib. Tiny inquisitive fingers are unable to break or remove them. As the nib is shorter she does have to hold the felt in a vertical position. This is how she naturally holds it anyway. The markers still work if they are held at a slight angle, but when held 'properly' the nib does not always make contact with the paper. On the plus side she likes to cover pages in dots, and they are perfect for bashing the pen down on to the paper. If she were using other markers the nib would definitely have disappeared inside the barrel very quickly!

                    ~ This could get messy!! ~
                    The nibs produce lovely broad lines, but the ink flow is rather fast and causes the ink to lay wet on the paper for some time. This wet ink gets smudged and soon her hands and arms are covered. The ink is washable and does come off her skin easily enough with a wet wipe. However it can be a bit of a pain when the felt gets onto clothes, tables, chairs, walls.... When the Crayola pens made an appearance we discovered that a little preparation beforehand was necessary to prevent the need for too much cleaning up afterwards. We bought her a little artist apron to wear that protects her clothes and we also put newspaper down on the table underneath her drawing paper as she tends to get a little overenthusiastic with big swirls that wonder off the edge of the paper. But still, that little ink covered hand grasping the marker manages to get pen where it should not be.

                    ~ Colours ~
                    There are 8 markers in this box. The bold and bright colours are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown and black. This is plenty of colour choice for young children. My six year old nephew is more advanced in his drawing skills and wants a wider variety of colours and different shades. For example when he draws a pirate ship on the sea, he wants one shade of blue for the sea and another for the sky. However, my niece is still at the stage where her 'drawings' are actually a series of squiggles, swirls and dots and this is plenty of colour choice for her. When she uses the markers we regularly ask her "what colour is that?" She used to reply "Lellow" every time. But she is gradually learning the different colours.

                    ~ It seemed a good idea at the time! ~
                    My niece does love using markers, and these do produce lovely brightly coloured lines but they are terribly messy in the hands of a toddler and the ink is easily smudged everywhere. I couldn't help feeling I had made a bit of a mistake allowing her to use them. She is much better with pens now she has just recently turned three but I think that it is simply easier for one/two year old children to stick to crayons/chunky pencils!

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                      22.04.2013 16:59
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                      This is the best sun protection product I have ever used and I highly recommend it.

                      The sun has finally made an appearance again and the warmer weather has resulted in the necessity to flash some flesh! I have very fair skin. To give you an idea of just how pale I am, a friend once pointed at my bare legs and teasingly enquired if I had taken on the Daz doorstep challenge, then proceeded to ask if I was aware that I'm supposed to wash my laundry with it, not bathe in it myself! Very cheeky indeed! I was not at all offended as I am not particularly bothered about having a tan anyway, but I do have to be careful as I burn very easily in the sun. As everyone is aware, exposure to sunlight can also cause damage that is not always visible to the naked eye so it is important to use good sun protection. Over the years I have tried a vast array of different sun creams and had not found a product I was completely satisfied with. That was until I tried Riemann P20 and I was so impressed that I wouldn't even consider any other product for sun protection now.

                      P20 is available in 100ml and 200ml bottles. The bottles have a chunky screw top lid that is easy to twist open/close. The lid is very secure as I have often thrown a bottle in my bag to take on weekends away and have never had a problem with the product leaking out. The bottle is not transparent and therefore you are unable to view how much product is remaining, but a quick shake of the bottle allows me to estimate roughly how much remains.

                      The consistency of the product is a little strange. It is a liquid, thicker than water, more like oil I suppose. Yet it does not feel greasy or sticky. There is a slight fragrance when I first use the product which is difficult to describe. I'm not entirely sure if I like it, but it does not really matter as the fragrance does not seem to linger. The product is quite yellow in colour when tipped from the bottle, but it does appear clear once applied. I apply it generously and evenly on to clean dry skin and it makes my skin appear shimmery to begin with which is helpful in allowing me to make sure I have not missed any areas. It is quick drying and once it is absorbed it does not make my skin feel horrid like other sun care products I have used in the past. My skin simply feels quite moisturised. Once the P20 has dried I can even wear eye makeup on top of it and it still works effectively without my makeup sliding off my face!

                      The label informs me that the product is active 15 minutes after applying, and that the UVA and UVB sunfilter provides up to 10 hours of sun protection that has been proven on human volunteers. Because it is very water resistant you can even have a swim in the sea and they claim that the sun protection is still 90% effective afterwards. I was a bit skeptical about this. It sounded too good to be true. But after using the product on many a sunny day I have proof that it actually does work.

                      One of the first occasions I used P20 was when we went to a VW show for the day. It was a little breezy and my hair was flapping in my face so I tied it back. We walked around for hours in the scorching sunshine. I did duck in and out of the shade wherever possible. Later that evening I was impressed to discover that my arms, legs and face had not suffered at all from sunburn. I had even caught a hint of a tan and looked quite healthy. Unfortunately I had forgotten to apply the P20 to my ears. Consequently, I was sporting incredibly red ears that were very sore indeed. I was so pleased I had smothered lotion over the rest of my exposed skin, and I never forget to apply it to my ears anymore!!

                      I have also splashed about in the water while wearing this sun protection and have not suffered from sunburn after so I truly believe it is still effective after swimming too. Though I usually allow my skin to dry naturally, or else I gently pat my skin dry with a towel. I would guess that rubbing your skin dry too harshly could possibly result in the product being rubbed off. Of course if in doubt it is always best to reapply.

                      Because it offers up to 10 hours of sun protection I tend to apply it in the morning and allow a few minutes for the product to absorb into the skin before getting dressed. This means when I go out I don't have to carry the bottle around with me as I don't have to worry about constantly reapplying it throughout the day. I have never had a problem with the product staining my clothes when used in this way. Though my partner once accidentally dripped some straight from the bottle directly on to his white T-shirt and it did cause a yellow mark to appear.

                      I usually use P20 SPF 20 Medium sun protection. But other SPF's are also available. You can purchase Riemann P20 from various places including Amazon, Boots and Tesco. The price of 100ml bottle is about £12 or a 200ml bottle is around £20. It is more expensive than some other sun protection products but I believe it is worth paying extra for one that works as well as this does. I easily empty a bottle before the year is over, but there is a period after opening symbol on the label that identifies the useful timeline of this product as 12 months after opening.

                      EDIT: Yesterday I purchased a new bottle. They no longer have a screw top lid! Though I think I prefer the new design. The new flip top means that the product can be dispensed a little easier, and on top of the flip top is a lid that is simply pushed on/pulled off. If anyone is interested Superdrug are currently selling 100ml bottles for £10.25

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                        17.04.2013 22:02
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                        A handy tool that can safely and easily remove weeds from hard to reach places

                        Sitting on our little patio one weekend I observed my surroundings and felt quite dissatisfied. We have a relatively small garden which should not be too difficult to maintain but we had neglected it somewhat and instead of being a tranquil environment to relax in, it had become a bit of a ghastly garden. I needed to take steps to improve it. At the top of my To-Do list was removing the pesky weeds. A great portion of our garden is paved and weeds had menacingly slivered their way up through the cracks. There was an awful lot of moss that had grown in between the paving bricks too. Originally I had found the natural look visually appealing but it had got a bit out of control and simply appeared unkempt. The dreaded dandelions definitely needed to go.

                        I first attempted to remove the weeds between the paving bricks with an old knife but this proved to be quite unsuccessful. It looked a mess and somehow I stupidly managed to scrape my knuckles on the paving bricks. The task was abandoned and the battered cutting implement discarded. I sulked and nursed my injured hand while thinking that if I had the correct tool it would not have been such a disaster.

                        As I was flicking through the Betterware catalogue I came across this weeding tool. I had never ordered anything from the catalogue before as it seems to be crammed with all manner of gadgets and gismos that I would never really use. Though I thought this particular item could be the solution to not only our patio problems, but our driveway too.

                        When I finally got my hands on the weeding tool I couldn't wait to put it to use. It is lightweight and has a hardened steel L-shaped blade and a brightly coloured non slip handle. The handle is a simple design but still feels quite comfortable to hold. Armed with the new hand tool I began to tackle the moss and the weeds. The tool is very easy to use and the narrow blade fits into tight spaces such as the gaps between the paving bricks very well. I was able to extract the moss without any trouble and relatively quickly by simply inserting the blade into the gaps and pulling it towards me. The weeds were not too difficult to remove either. The L-shaped blade could be pushed down underneath the weeds and pulled up the entire root to prevent them from growing back. Occasionally I found that the entire root did not come up. I had severed the weed instead. But this could just possibly be down to my technique. I did attack it with gusto. Some might say like a bull in a china shop!

                        I also found that while I was kneeling down engrossed in the task at hand I did not really feel too much discomfort. However, when I stopped for a moment and straightened up I suddenly had a very stiff back! For people who suffer with back problems a long handled weeding tool would definitely be more suitable. I certainly wished I had gone for the long handled version! I also noticed that my knees were a little sore after kneeling on the hard paving. I could probably have benefited from the use of a garden kneeling pad. When larger areas need working on it is probably best to work on small sections at a time as prolonged periods of time bent over on your knees can cause some discomfort. This method of removing weeds is more time consuming than using chemicals to kill them, but I personally prefer to avoid chemicals.

                        I am pleased to say that both our driveway and our garden are much more presentable now. Over time the moss returns, and some weeds appear but with the use of this handy little tool we have been able to keep on top of it and successfully maintain a tidy garden and driveway. With the price tag of £4.99 I think it is good value for money. I have not sustained any injuries from using it either as it is much safer to use than a knife!

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                          14.04.2013 20:40
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                          These candles are pretty cool

                          I first discovered these weeping rose candles a few years ago when I was browsing the internet for scary items to embellish our home with for a social gathering at Halloween. My partner and I had enthusiastically agreed to host a ghoulish gothic get together with some friends and wanted to treat our guests to a super spooky All Hallows' Eve. I saw these candles on Ebay and thought they would make a great centerpiece for the table displayed upon a gothic style candle holder I already owned. A few clicks later I had completed my online order.

                          When the candles arrived they were packaged in a simple clear box with a sticker on the front that says 'Weeping Rose Candles' and a sticker on the rear with the usual warnings you get on any candle packaging. The box contains four tapered candles that are each approximately 25cm in height and the base has a diameter of about 2cm.

                          They look like fairly ordinary slim tapered candles and are jet black in colour. However, when the candles are lit and the wax begins to melt it reveals that the center is a deep red. As the candles continue to burn wax drips down the sides. Gradually multiple layers of melted wax accumulates. Each candle ends up looking quite unique. I would just like to point out now that I believe the picture of this product above does not really do it justice. I had read online that the candle would create a 'dripping blood' effect which sounds a little ominous but I concluded it would fit in well with the Halloween theme. Thankfully I have to admit that it did not resemble dripping blood at all really. To begin with when the wax melted the two different colours simply combined together and the end result was black drips that have a subtle red tint. But when the candle burns down a little more, there is the occasional blood red drip of wax. They were perfect for our Halloween themed night. They created quite a dramatic effect in our spooky atmosphere.

                          Of course you do not have to wait for an occasion such as Halloween to burn the weeping rose candles. Since then I have purchased more of the tapered candles as I really like them. I do tend to burn Yankee candles more frequently though. One of the reasons being that these weeping candles burn quite rapidly, so do not last quite as long. Also I do like a good scented candle and the weeping rose candles are fragrance free. I use them basically because I find that they are aesthetically pleasing and a little unusual.

                          These candles are also available in other sizes. Unfortunately it can be difficult to obtain any of them at times... almost as rare as finding an ice-cube in the Sahara! They can be found on various websites but personally I do not like purchasing from sites I am too unfamiliar with. Call me paranoid but I have previously been the victim of identity theft so I am extra cautious about where I type in my details. Though as long as you check the websites security and see the padlock safety sign on the payment page there should not be a problem... Hopefully.

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                            09.04.2013 16:13
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                            Compact and economical greenhouse for growing various plants

                            Last year I decided that I would attempt to grow some tomatoes from seed. The only experience of gardening I had ever had prior to this was when I was at junior school and managed to grow a sunflower. I also grew a tub of cress which I was able to take home and instantly regretted because my mum kept trying to stuff it in my sandwiches and I didn't really appreciate the taste back then. So you could say I am somewhat of a novice and I was not even entirely sure that anything would actually grow! However, to my surprise the little tomato seeds I had sown started to germinate. I was delighted!

                            I was aware that my tomatoes would soon need to be placed outside and completely exposed to the elements. I did not want them all destroyed so I thought that getting a tomato grow house would be a perfect solution. While I was looking for something to accommodate my tomatoes I came across this greenhouse. It has four shelves and I suddenly thought how great it would be to have the space to grow a wider variety of plants. I have a modest sized garden and a good portion of it is paved so not exactly ideal for growing things. I suddenly had visions of flowers and herbs in lovely little pots all sitting in the greenhouse. It was on sale for £10 so I decided I had to purchase it. I was quite pleased with this price, especially as a week later I saw the exact same product in a garden center I visited for £25!

                            The greenhouse came in a relatively small flat box that was easy enough for me to carry to the car by myself. It is very lightweight and all the individual pieces that you need to construct the greenhouse were packed quite snug inside the box with no extra unnecessary packaging of any sort. I emptied the contents of the box and found some instructions with a diagram showing you what poles to push into what holes to construct the tubular steel frame. I made sure to push the poles quite firmly into the plastic parts to ensure that the structure would be as sturdy as possible. It was extremely easy to assemble and only took a matter of minutes. No tools were needed and even someone with no DIY skills whatsoever should not find it too difficult to erect.

                            The removable mesh shelves went in next. They are not the best quality shelves in all honesty. They are a bit flimsy and the curved edges that sit over the tubular frame either side try to pop up a bit, but they seem ok once some weight is placed on top of them. The clear plastic cover is easily placed over the top of the frame. Once it is all put together it is actually about the same height as me! (I am a titchy 5ft1")

                            I then found a sunny position to place the greenhouse that was also sheltered from the wind as much as possible. It felt sturdy enough to take the weight of a good number of pots and seed trays full of soil but I was unsure how it would cope with all the wind we were having. My answer came the next morning. The greenhouse was on its side! I was pleased that I had not yet loaded it with all my precious plants! After this incident I did try to keep the weight within the greenhouse evenly distributed on each shelf and had lighter plastic pots on the top shelves with bigger heavier terracotta pots full of soil on the bottom shelf to prevent it from being blown over again.

                            The four shelves are a good size and provide ample space for me to germinate many seeds and grow on various plants. The spacing between the shelves is also quite generous and accommodates plant growth. As the tomatoes grew in height I was able to harden them off and prepare them for their final positions in hanging baskets. I also packed an abundance of salad leaves into the greenhouse, a variety of tasty herbs and some flowers to attract the bees as well as starting off a selection of vegetables. However I had to position the greenhouse against a wall and did find that the plants at the back of the shelves often did not get as much sunlight as the ones at the front so I tried to rotate them often. It was also a little harder to water the pots placed at the back of the shelves and I needed to juggling them about a bit. But this greenhouse protects the plants well and keeps them a little warmer through the colder periods. You can access the plants through the panel at the front that has a zip either side of it. During the warmer weather I can roll this panel up and use the tie up top so that it remains open and allows some air to circulate.

                            I have had my greenhouse for a year now and it is starting to look a little weathered. A small tear has appeared at the bottom of the cover by one of the zips. But considering all the terrible weather it has been exposed to including snow, rain and strong winds I think it has done remarkably well. The frame itself is still perfectly fine.

                            I have found this greenhouse extremely useful. It has helped me to successfully grow lots of fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers. I think this is a great greenhouse for an amateur gardener who has limited space to grow plants. It is not the highest quality greenhouse in the world, but it also is not the most expensive and if you position your plants well within the greenhouse and weigh it down it works brilliantly. I think I got an absolute bargain for £10 anyway! I also discovered a fantastic new hobby.

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                              04.04.2013 21:10
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                              A solid bubble bar that produces lots of lovely bubbles... Oh, and it turns the bath water pink too :)

                              After a long and particularly horrid day there is nothing better than relaxing in a nice warm bath surrounded by fluffy bubbles while the most delightful fragrance fills the room. The Comforter bubble bar is perfect for these times and as I sink under the blanket of bubbles I really do feel all my worries and stress of the day just disappear.

                              I think that the concept of the bubble bar is great. Usually bubble bath comes in liquid form and needs preservatives to prevent the quality of the product from deteriorating too quickly, but this bubble bar is in solid form and is preservative free. Another advantage is that minimal packaging is used. The solid bar does not need a plastic container. It simply comes 'naked' You are able to pick whatever products you wish that are beautifully displayed in the Lush shop, and pop them in a paper bag in order to transport them home. The paper bag can then be recycled after use.

                              There are plenty of bubble bars to choose from all molded into different shapes and with a variety of different fragrances. However, The Comforter is definitely my favourite of all the bubble bars that are made by those lovely people at Lush. It is bigger than most of the other bars and is easily identified by its pink and white swirl design and its fruity blackcurrant fragrance that smells absolutely gorgeous.

                              To use this product you simply break a bit off and crumble it under the running water. Easy peasy! I like to give the bath water a little swish as well to create a few extra bubbles! Lush say that this bubble bar produces enough bubbly goodness for two baths, but I find there is an ample amount of bubbles produced to last four or five baths. In fact if I did use half of the bar for a single bath as they suggest I fear I may become lost under a huge mountain of bubbles! This bar produces a LOT of bubbles. They are good quality bubbles too, that actually last for the duration of my bath. If I rub the bubbles between my fingers I can feel the creamy silky texture. It creates a relaxing and luxurious bathing experience that is so lovely that I often find myself topping up the hot water because I stay in the bath so long it starts to go cold! Once I have finished bathing my skin feels lovely and soft and moisturised.

                              The beautiful blackcurrant scent is very uplifting and lasts for a long time after the bubbles have been rinsed away. It was this fragrance that actually enticed my partner into the wonderful world of Lush bathing products. After using this bubble bar one evening he said I smelled like delicious boiled sweets. I told him it was The Comforter bar and that next time he wanted a bath he should use some. Because it was in solid form he had no idea what to do with it. "Do I just chuck it in the bath then?" he asked me. So I ran the bath for him. On entering the bathroom I remember him exclaiming "Oh My God ... it's turned the bath water pink!!" Oops I had forgotten to mention that bit. It does turn the water a really beautiful shade of pink! Despite the colour of the water he had to admit he really did enjoy his bath. This was a few years ago now and many Lush products later he has discovered that his favourite bubble bar is 'Blue skies and fluffy white clouds.' It looks the same as The Comforter but it has blue and white swirls and earthy scents of patchouli and frankincense. He still wouldn't decline this very blackberry bubbly bath though, even if it does turn the water pink.

                              The Comforter currently retails at £4.25 each but the fact that this lasts four or five baths means it actually works out to be more economical than the bath bombs that are generally around £3-ish each for one single use. Of course I could always purchase bottles of bubble bath that are cheaper but the quality and fragrance of this Lush product is far superior. I think this bubble bar is well worth the money and I hope they never stop making it because it is one I like to treat myself to most often.

                              The Comforter really is a lovely product and makes my skin feel great after using it. The bubble bars are hand made using fresh ingredients and if you visit the Lush website you can actually view a short video about how it is made which is interesting. The ingredients are mixed in two separate batches, one white in colour and one pink. They are then weighed out and brought together, rolled up like a long Swiss Roll which makes the swirly pattern, and finally cut into the individual pieces that you can purchase. Their website lists the ingredients for all of their products and if you happen to be in store and wish to know ingredients used before purchasing, they are all available to read in the 'Lush Times' Another thing that I love about Lush is that none of their products are tested on animals. Good on them I say.

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                                01.04.2013 22:45
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                                Handy wipes that are gentle on delicate skin

                                Although I have no children of my own, there have been many occasions in which I have babysat my sisters children and could not avoid the dreaded nappy change!! Johnson's baby wipes are fantastic for wiping babies bottoms when they have caused a horrendous stinky mess in their nappy. They are good sized wipes and they are pretty strong too. This is extremely important as you do not want wipes tearing when you are undertaking such a task as this! The pop up wipes are very easy to remove from the pack, even with the use of only one hand, as the other hand is usually busy preventing baby legs from wiggling about too much. Unfortunately this leaves no hands available to hold your nose so you just have to try not to inhale too much. Every now and then two wipes do get pulled out together, but if you have the use of both hands at the time this is easily preventable.

                                Of course another important factor is that these wipes are kind to delicate skin. They are nice and soft to the touch, and not at all scratchy when wiped against the skin.They are also soap and alcohol free, and contain Johnson's 'no more tears' moisturising baby lotion with 97% pure water. This means that they are mild and gentle enough for use on delicate baby skin and even around the eyes.

                                I now have another nephew on the way soon and will be dodging nappy changing duty if at all possible! But my sisters other children are 3 and 5 years old now, and we still use Johnson's baby wipes on them regularly. Whenever they visit and we take them to the park/on a picnic/to the seaside (on the rare occasions that the sun comes out!) I always make sure I pop a pack of wipes in my bag as they are great for quickly wiping grubby little hands or sticky little fingers after the children have indulged in sweeties. They also get rid of chocolate milkshake 'moustaches' and ice cream 'beards'

                                Johnson's baby wipes are good for the grown ups too though! When we go camping it is pretty much compulsory to look like a scruffbag. Everyone walks around in clothes so crumpled they look like they have never been introduced to the iron. Appearances really don't matter, but hygiene is still of the utmost importance! When you are unable to have a proper wash due to the fact that the queue for the showers is a mile long, or the showers are just simply far too terrible to enter, Johnson's baby wipes are fantastic for freshening up. They gently cleanse and there is a good amount of moisture held in the wipes. Providing that you remember to reseal the pack after each use they will not dry out. The transparent resealable tab seems to remain stickable no matter how many times you open and close the pack. I usually buy the 'gentle cleansing' ones and there are 56 wipes in each pack so they last quite a while too. They have a very subtle fragrance that just smells clean and fresh.

                                I have also used them for removing make up as I prefer to use products that I know do not contain a huge list of harsh ingredients that may cause my skin to dry, particularly on the delicate skin around my eyes. The wipes are mild and cause no irritation to my skin. Sometimes mascara and eye liner are a little more stubborn to shift. However, if I persevere and carry on gently wiping it soon comes off. I think the wipes perform remarkably well in the removal of make up even though this is not their original intended use.

                                I am always sure to dispose of any wipes in the correct manner wherever I may be. It is not acceptable to leave rubbish behind on campsites, beaches etc It does annoy me to see the amount of litter left behind by people sometimes and we are sure to teach the children not to do this. These wipes are also not to be thrown down the toilet as they do not disintegrate once flushed like toilet tissue does. They could possibly cause a blockage, and that would be quite terrible!

                                When I checked out the reverse of the pack to see if it was recyclable there was some information about how you can collect and send the empty packs away to be 'upcycled' and transformed into eco-responsible products. I found this quite intriguing and looked on the terracycle website which is definitely worth a google.

                                I have noticed that the price of these wipes fluctuate a great deal. I have seen packs available from as little as 89p up to £2.69. Multipacks are available and sometimes work out cheaper. I tend to purchase these, or else buy a single pack when there is a promotional offer on, which their quite often is.

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