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cazkins

cazkins
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Member since: 09.09.2008

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    • Naked Smooth Silky Shampoo / Hair Care / 3 Readings / 3 Ratings
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      28.06.2015 11:50
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "A more natural product"

      Disadvantages

      • "Not keen on scent"
      • "Squeaky feel to hair when washing"
      • "Hair feels yuck after use"
      • "Odd consistency"

      Not one I will be buying again any time soon sadly

      This comes in a 250ml plastic bottle in a beige/cement kind of colour with push down lid on top. It’s translucent so you can at least see how much product you still have left in the bottle. At the front, the design is very basic with a small outline of a flower and text in predominantly white and red lettering. We are told this shampoo is designed for ‘straight/longer hair’. My hair is relatively straight and quite long, falling just below my shoulder blades, and often find my hair to be fairly dry on the lengths and ends so I was keen to give it a go.

      The bottle is ‘fully recyclable’, which I like. It’s ‘vegeterian friendly’ but not suitable for vegans. It’s also not tested on ‘Bambi, Lassie or Skippy’, which is good to know.
      The product claims to have ‘highly moisturising and soothing aloe vera and marshmallow plant extracts to add weight and gloss to the hair shaft, helping prevent kinks and annoying flyaways’. The shampoo is also designed to be gentle and the brand prides itself on being as natural as possible: ‘made with lots of naturally derived ingredients without sulphates, parabens, petrochemicals or silicone; this is goodness in a bottle’.
      You use this much in the same way as any other shampoo. Apply to wet hair for a ‘feather soft lather’, then rinse well. Apply a second time if necessary, and we’re advised we should get a ‘better foam second time around’.

      The shampoo is almost clear in colour but with a slightly unusual consistency. It’s more like gel than shampoo. In a similar way to the conditioner I’ve reviewed, I can’t quite get a handle on the smell. It’s a little sweet, a little tart, and not something I’m too keen on. I wasn’t so keen on actually using it, with it feeling greasy going through my hair and almost squeaky; rather than liking the notion of ‘squeaky clean hair’, it felt a bit yuck. It wasn’t easy to glide over my hair and didn’t lather particularly well, even when doing a second application. I tried to thoroughly wash it out and this took longer than usual due to the odd consistency.

      After use, whether blow drying my hair or leaving to dry naturally, I haven’t been too wowed by the results. Admittedly, my hair appears to be a tad less frizzy and it looked more tamed.

      I wouldn’t say it felt fresh and clean, because I feel like I want to wash it again not long after using the shampoo. It feels a bit heavy, with my hair almost feeling like there’s still too much product in it, despite the endless thorough washing out of the shampoo. Does it feel silkier? Possibly, yes. But it also looks flatter and this gives the impression it’s a tad greasy when it’s not.

      All in all, it’s definitely not one I’d buy again due to the consistency, scent and feel of my hair afterwards.

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    • Glacéau Vitamin Water / Soft Drink / 2 Readings / 2 Ratings
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      28.06.2015 11:23
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Not as expensive as anticipated"
      • "Good bottle size and design"
      • "Crisp and Refreshing"

      Disadvantages

      • "Jury is out as to whether it's smart with electrolytes and such"

      A decent purchase for refreshing water

      This is for the Glacaeu Smartwater. I didn’t buy this because of the ‘smart’ properties of this water. In fact, the first time I had this I didn’t buy it at all, my parents picked it up for me whilst I was in hospital. Thankfully, it was lovely and crisp, and very refreshing.

      I was surprised to learn, although I perhaps shouldn’t have been, that this is a product line by Coca-Cola. I remember, vaguely, of an article about their upcoming ‘smart water’ and recall thinking how stupid it was. It’s gimmicky and takes advantage of those wanting to improve their health quickly and easily. I am rather sceptical about these sorts of things! Anyway, I wasn’t too bothered about the ‘smart’ properties so I can’t really comment on these, and don’t see how anyone really can judge whether they feel something from the ‘added electrolytes’.

      This comes in a clear 600ml plastic bottle with translucent screw on top. The outer sticker is clear, with text predominantly in blue and white. I like this look; it gives it a modern but fresh and simple feel to it, and one of good quality too. I do like that the label isn’t paper as it lasts better on the bottle too without the problem of getting damp, dirty or ripped. On the front, we’re told this is ‘vapour distilled water with added electrolytes’. The nutritional snippet underneath tells us the water contains 0 calories, as expected. On the back is further information on the product and brand. It gives a little story of how the water came about in a light-hearted way: ‘inspired by clouds… sometimes the answer is right under your nose, and other times it’s floating above your head… in our case, it was the humble cloud that got us thinking. Inspired by the water cycle, we vapour distil our spring water and then add electrolytes to deliver a distinctive, clean, crisp taste, smart because it’s made that way’.

      The main thing, for me, is the taste. They promise a ‘clean, crisp taste’, so does the water live up to that? I would say so, yes. It was certainly very refreshing, especially when recently out of the fridge so it’s nice and cold. It didn’t taste of plastic, or earth tones, or anything other than clean, pure spring water. I felt hydrated and that I could easily drink the whole bottle. I’ve bought it since the first time I had it in hospital and have thought the same thing since. It’s definitely a nice water, in my opinion.

      On the back we’re also told this is made in GB and that the bottle is recyclable. It’s also a ‘plant bottle’, with up to 30% of it being made from plants. I find the bottle to be quite robust, easy to carry & drink from, & of a good size at 600ml Compared to brands like Evian or Highland Spring, it's actually not ridiculously priced as you may expect.

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    • More +
      21.06.2015 10:19
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Very tasty"
      • Refreshing
      • "Real fruit juice"

      Disadvantages

      • "Bit pricey in some places"

      Good golly, a lovely juice ice lolly!

      I’ve been a fan of these for a while now and don’t just buy them in the summer months. Unfortunately, there seem to be no more offers in the cold winter months on these, so looking for the odd discount, or cheaper place to buy them, means I tend to stock up on a couple each time.

      Del Monte is a popular, well-known brand that’s synonymous with fruity goods. They date back to 1882, and since then the range has expanded to include a variety of tinned fruits, drinks and lollies. Their Juice lollies are available in Orange and Pineapple flavours; I love the Pineapple ones but they seem almost impossible to get hold of these days, which is a shame.
      The Orange Juice Lollies are sold in boxes of 3. The box stands out with its white and green design, and large image of a mouth-watering lolly on the front to show us what to expect from the product. Each lolly is individually wrapped and the use-by dates are usually far enough in to the future that you can safely stock up on them in the freezer without much concern. The packaging is adequate and I’d say reasonably good quality.

      These are designed to be simple and natural. On the Del Monte website, these are described as ‘The first ice lolly brand to count as one of your portions of fruit. This healthy and delicious refreshment ice made with 100% pure fruit juice is virtually fat free…’ They are marketed as 100% fruit juice, which is great in times when almost everything you see if made up of artificial sweeteners and 95% ingredients you’ve never heard of before.

      Each lolly contains 69 calories and 0.1g fat. Due to them being ‘real fruit juice’, they are higher in sugar, at 14.6g. At least it’s more natural sugar. It’s made with concentrated orange, but also, interestingly enough, that’s not all. It’s actually 82.5% orange, 9.5% grape and 8% apple juice. I’m not complaining though as those concentrated juices are the only ingredients. The lollies are 75ml each and I’d say large enough to be satisfying and last you longer than a minute to eat, unlike some cheaper versions that may be watered down and shrunken in size. Each also counts as one portion of fruit and they are suitable for vegetarians.

      I find these lollies to be delicious and very refreshing. They taste natural, and they have a great orange flavour to them. Whilst they are iced lollies, and you don’t get anything else in them, you know just to expect the juice taste in ice and nothing too extraordinary. However, the flavour is strong enough, and sweet but not too tart. The vast majority I’ve had have been good quality with no problems in terms of ice lolly deformity, wonky sticks or opened packets. The sticks are strong enough to last without snapping in half or splintering whilst you eat the lolly, which is always a good sign.

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    • More +
      19.06.2015 10:16
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Leaves hands soft"
      • "Absorbs easily"
      • "Fresh floral scent"

      Disadvantages

      • Pricey

      Pricey but a lovely hand cream as a gift or infrequent purchase

      L’Occitane have a range of hand creams in different sizes and fragrances, the Pivoine Flora being one of them. I had no idea what ‘Pivoine’ was at first, but the blurb on the website fills in a few gaps : ‘Just like a caress of a peony petal, this hand cream enriched with shea butter helps to soften and nourish the skin while enveloping the hands with a green floral scent inspired by a blooming peony.’ The peony extract is apparently from Drôme, France. It sounds quite fancy, but simple when you break it down. I like that there are no complex chemical names and wonder ingredients marketed here. It’s simple, but special.

      The tube is silver plastic (for the tester), though I believe the full sized is more metallic. It’s quite sturdy and reminds me a bit of a small toothpaste tube. The design is pretty, yet simple, with a pink colour scheme for the front label that features a pink flower. It looks feminine and whilst the tube seems modern, it has a hint of being traditional or ‘homely’. The tube opens with a black screw top, that’s easy enough to get in to and fastens securely so you can pop it in your bag without any worries of it leaking or accidentally opening.

      The first thing I noticed was that the white hand cream inside is quite thick. You can catch a bit of the scent from the tube, that being floral and sweet, but actually I find it more appealing and a tad more noticeable when you’ve actually got it massaged in to your hands.
      This absorbs really well; it feels like it’s instantly sinking in, so give it a minute and you’re good to go without any greasiness. My skin feels refreshed, comforted and moisturised, without going overboard.

      Only a small blob is needed per application so it’s lasting me quite a while. The cream is quite thick, however I still use it quite sparingly. It is smooth and soft to massage in to hands, so I like the consistency.

      The scent is floral and sweet, with an ever so slightly musky undertone that prevents it from being sickeningly sweet or overpowering. The fragrance lasts for long enough but not too long. It’s feminine and fresh.

      As for the price, this is where I get a bit deflated. I do think they’re overpriced, but then again, I tend to go for cheap but branded hand creams, where you get more ‘bang for your buck’. None the less, this cream lasts reasonably well, definitely feels lovely on my hands and leaves a pretty scent, and I must admit it feels a bit special to use.

      The scent is lovely so I’d be interested to check out the other products in the Pivoine Flora range, of which there are a few, from a lip balm to shower gel and EDT.

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    • More +
      13.06.2015 11:07
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Low fat & cal"

      Disadvantages

      • "Very small and overpriced"
      • "Bland and unappealing"
      • "Brittle texture"

      A very Non Special Cereal Bar

      The product description, on the Kellogg’s website, tells us this is a ‘Rice, wheat and barley cereal bar with milk chocolate pieces dipped in a smooth milk chocolate layer’. They are designed primarily for those wanting a low far and low calorie snack, treat, or meal addition.

      Each 20g bar contains 79 calories and 1.8g of fat, so if you’re looking for something low calorie and low fat then it’s a good option going by those numbers. Compared to other cereal bars, or cakes / biscuits etc, that’s fairly good, depending on how you look at it. The Cadbury Brunch Bar contains 140 calories and 5.4g of fat, so a reasonable amount more than the Special K one here. However, it also contains more chocolate, oats, a ‘drizzle of honey’, and weighs in at 32g (though it looks like quite a small bar). It is far more satisfying, larger and tastier than the Special K bar, however.

      You will notice just how light they are and that the cereal looks almost shiny. On the underside of the bar is the layer of milk chocolate, and there are a few chocolate pieces / chocolate chips throughout. These obviously contain gluten as the cereal is formed from rice, wheat and barley. The product is, however, suitable for vegetarians, for those this applies to.

      The texture of these things is quite hard; biting in to it, they seem fairly brittle. They’re not soft or chewy, nor are they dense enough to give your jaw a good workout. They’re light and quite ‘airy’ in that sense, but brittle because of the very noticeable cereal. It simply seems to be cereal pieces, hard and looking somewhat shiny as if they’d been coated in PVA glue, followed by a thin layer of chocolate on the underside of the bar and with a couple of sparsely planted choc chips throughout.

      I wasn’t keen on this brittle texture. It may have been better if it felt there was more to it, but it just seems bland and yet nowhere near satisfying like you may anticipate from a crunchy product. The chocolate was fairly minimal, which I don’t mind to keep the bars low calorie/fat, but unfortunately it didn’t go far enough as to make the product tasty or appealing. The taste itself was of cereal, as you’d expect, but there was nothing tempting about it. I’d say it was somewhat sweet but not sweet enough if you want this as a treat, and the lack of anything else such as oats just made it taste bland and boring. I don’t usually mind bland food, but the fact I hated the texture just meant these weren’t going to be emptied from my product quickly unless they go straight in the bin.

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    • More +
      03.06.2015 11:39
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Easy and pleasant to use"
      • "Leaves skin feeling cleansed and smooth"

      Disadvantages

      • "Not a miracle worker "
      • "Very pricey"

      Pricey and not a miracle worker, but an indulgent treat for cleansed skin

      This is for the Foaming facial soap, also called the Sonic wash because it’s designed to be used with the brush though it can be used without also. Clinique is a higher end high street brand and one that I don’t tend to have in my bathroom. I had this as a tester but it’s usually sold in a green plastic 150ml squeeze tube with flip top lid that it ‘stands’ on. The product description on the Clinique website tells us that the product ‘gently yet thoroughly removes dirt, excess oil and impurities to reveal smoother, clearer skin’, whilst living skin ‘feeling soft and comfortable’. The foaming soap goes in conjunction with the brush because it ‘helps bristles glide across face’.

      It’s quite a good consistency, being quite thick but light, like it’s whipped. It is not what you would expect when you think of ‘soap’ at all. I also haven’t really noticed any scent from the product, even sniffing the tube I can’t catch a whiff of anything chemical or perfumed. This is good, given that the Clinique range is designed to be 100% fragrance free.
      This is designed to be used daily. You can pop a blob on the brush, or use without by using a small blob on your fingertips and massaging gently across your face in small circular movements. I have applied this on my face when it’s been damp and have found that it glides over my skin smoothly and feels soft and creamy as it foams. And it foams well, turning what was only a small blob of the stuff in to a foaming frenzy and giving good coverage. I found it easy and pleasant to use.

      The product is oil free and allergy tested. I can sometimes get some sensitive skin but haven’t found this product to have any adverse effects. It hasn’t irritated my skin nor left it red/blotchy after use, so I’ve been happy with that, and it’s easy enough to wash off without too much mess. After use, my definitely feels cleaner, and somehow a bit softer too. However, in terms of improvement to my skin, in terms of spots, blemishes or blackheads, I’ve not noticed any. It’s not a miracle cure for problematic skin, nor has it really improved the appearance of my skin in any noticeable way, which is a shame.

      As you need only use a small blob per application, the tube should last you quite a while, and longer if you don’t use daily. It is pricey, in my opinion, at around 16 pounds, but I think it is sometimes, though perhaps rarely, on offer.

      Whilst it hasn’t worked noticeable miracles, it gets a thumbs up for being pleasant to use, simple and gentle, and for leaving my face feeling thoroughly cleansed and soft.

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    • More +
      26.05.2015 13:12
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Leaves skin feeling cleansed and refreshed"
      • "Easy and pleasant to use"

      Disadvantages

      • "Not a miracle worker"

      Which Witch? This Witch?

      Witch is a popular brand with a reasonably large range of products, primarily aimed at problematic skin and those wanting to keep skin clean and clear.

      This comes in a soft plastic 150ml tube with clear flip top lid that it stands on. It’s quite recognisable as being from the Witch brand with its blue and green design. It’s modern and the plastic is soft, but good quality and squeezable. The flip lid opens/clicks down well.

      The product aims to cleanse and clean skin deeply. It contains ‘natural micro-granules’ and willow bark extract to cleanse pores, challenging the dirt / oil while ‘gently clarifying your skin’. It claims to be good for all skin types, particularly those with oily or combination skin.

      To use, wet your face first with water, then squeeze a small blob of this face wash on to your fingertips. Massage it gently over your face in small circles; I tend to focus more on ‘problem areas’ such as the T-Zone and chin. Then rinse it off well with water and pat dry. I often find face washes a bit messy so prefer using them in the shower, but I haven’t found this one so bad.

      You’ll notice that the face wash, when you open the tube, is pretty much clear. You can see what look like small crystals or grains, and these act as the scrubbing beads that you’d find in other exfoliators. The scent is one I can’t quite put my finger on but it’s very much what you’d expect from Witch, the smell of cleansers and shower gels and the like. I like the consistency of the wash because it’s part way between a cleanser and a gel; it’s not too runny but it’s not too thick, making it easy to glide over skin and massage in, and also to rub off afterwards.

      I sometimes have some areas of sensitive skin but haven’t noticed this cause any irritation. This wash does dry my skin a tad, though I find many cleansers do, so I usually apply a small smidge of moisturiser.

      Unfortunately, I rarely seem to see much improvement from products in terms of spots, blemishes and blackheads. However, I do think my skin looks a bit healthier when I’m using this; it looks cleaner, a bit brighter, less shiny.

      In terms of value for money, I’d say it’s reasonably priced. It can often be found on offer too, so that’s the best time to give it a try. Because you only need use a small amount per application, and needn’t be using it every day, it should last a while so it’s been a decent investment in my skin care routine.

      All in all, whilst it hasn’t been a miracle worker for me, it is certainly pleasant enough to use and it does leave my skin feeling clean and refreshed.

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    • More +
      07.05.2015 10:51
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Interesting characters and premise"
      • "Engaging and mesmerising"
      • "Beautifully written"

      Disadvantages

      • "A little odd for some perhaps"

      Odd yet captivating and mesmerising to read.

      Despite having heard of Murakami, I hadn’t read any of his work until 1Q84 this year. It’s one I would definitely recommend if you want something unique, well-written and captivating to read.

      We are introduced to a few key characters, namely Aomame, Tengo, Komatsu and Fuka-Eri, with numerous others making appearances throughout. It’s Tokyo 1984; Aomame is on the expressway and somehow, at some point, the balance of reality seems to have shifted slightly. She doesn’t know how and can not explain it, but suddenly she sees 2 moons in the sky. Meanwhile, a young girl, Fuka-Eri, gets help from Tengo to write a novel of little people and air chrysalis, a tale of a strange world that seems once published, sets the literary world on fire. But something strange is underfoot. The characters are linked somehow, and events are linked also, somehow, but we do not see what is really happening. The transformation of reality in to something else, a new world nicknamed ‘1Q84’, is something we learn about in a piecemeal fashion throughout books 1 and 2.

      The premise isn’t one I can really describe easily. It doesn’t really make much sense and there’s nothing tangible I can write without it sending crazy or giving too much away. This really is one you would need to read to understand and grasp what it’s actually about.

      The style is also interesting. The chapters take the bird’s eye view of different tangents, one for the character Aomame and the other for Tengo. Through seeing the events unfolding around these characters, we’re almost seeing two sides of the same coin and getting a little more information each time.

      There is a sense of the novel being mesmerising, gripping, absorbing, like transporting you to another world. It’s magical and wonderful and strange; you want to keep reading to learn more. Yet, at the same time, it still feels reasonably grounded. It made me curious and transported me away from the mundane, yet kept me believing it was real. I don’t usually like unfinished endings but this was done with purpose as I felt I needed Book 3 ASAP!

      The characters themselves are quite well depicted, being sculpted in a way that made them easier to imagine. I enjoyed learning about them and felt like I cared what happened to them. Small details are captured, nuances are noted and original terminology is applied, all to make reading the novel even more captivating.

      Granted, the premise is rather odd. I found the pace reasonably so-so. Some may find it a little on the slow side, however I quite enjoyed some of the slower moments. It gave me time to appreciate the scenery, if you like. I didn’t find myself getting bored at any point, so I found the tempo suitable. I couldn’t guess the outcome of the novel, in book 1 or book 2. It was so original that it could have only been borne from the author’s imagination.

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    • More +
      30.04.2015 11:18
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Good energy rating"
      • "Range of wash options that are easy to use"
      • "Looks swish yet is sturdy"

      Disadvantages

      • "None per se for me"

      Thus far it’s been a reliable, attractive and effective washing machine.

      Panasonic as a brand is one I have a decent amount of trust in so I bought this from the Currys website and paid £20 extra for installation. It comes with a 2 year guarantee. This is for NA-127VB5WGB



      ... Technical Aspects ...



      This model has a 7KG capacity, which is pretty good for a ‘neat’ looking washing machine, and ample for a load of washing for a family. It has a spin speed of 1200rpm, a quick wash time of 15 minutes, an A+++ energy rating. It has a variable temperature with 12 programs to choose from. It’s front loading machine and weighs in at approx. 73kg. It measures. : 84.5 H x 59.7W x 52.7 D (cm).



      Additionally, it’s worth noting that this has a water circulation pump, a foam sensor, cycle end buzzer, auto load sensor, ‘hydroactive technology’, leakage protection via a water level sensor, and a heat protective two layer door screen.



      ... Looking Swish ...



      It certainly looks very swish. It has a modern, clean and advanced feel to it, helped in part I think by the shiny white exterior and electronic display. The ‘porthole’ at the front, although transparent glass, looks almost black on first impression.



      ... Programs ...



      I wanted some variation in terms of washes to choose from, and this machine gives you 12 programs, including Bedding / Colours / 15°C / Quick / Rapid 15 / Shirts / Wool / Sportswear / Easy-care / Cotton Eco, plus wash functions of Easy Ironing, Pre-Wash and Extra Rinse.

      The 60° wash time is 170 minutes, 40° is 160 minutes and the quick was is just 15. I like having the options available for different products and needs, even if I don’t use all of them.



      ... In Use ...



      I have found this fairly easy and straight forward to use. The manual is helpful but I tend to try to do things myself first, and the machine is quite intuitive. It’s loud in the sense that all washing machines will generate noise, however it’s not as ear-drum aggravating as my last machine! Nor does it rattle all the adjacent kitchen units…

      I have thus far found the machine to wash very well with no problems and it beeps when finished. I've not had any issues with maintaining the machine and have come across no problems or worries with it.

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    • More +
      28.04.2015 11:55
      Very helpful
      (Rating)
      1 Comment

      Advantages

      • "Not much needed each time"
      • "Easy to apply"

      Disadvantages

      • "Almost flakes and peels"
      • "Not mattifying"
      • "Too thin consistency"

      All in all, this has been very disappointing. Not a successful purchase.

      SkinClear is a Boots own brand product. I found the range a little tricky to find in store amongst the other skin care brands, and it doesn’t really jump out at your either in terms of the packaging. It can also been found on their website. I picked up the products when the range was on offer. The Oil-Free Mattifying Lotion is sold in a 75ml plastic squeeze tube, with a white flip top lid that the tube stands on. There’s a sticker on the front and back, with the front sticker being a blue and white design. It’s reasonably easy to read, keeps things simple and to the point, and doesn’t make too many wild promises. It looks quite basic and understated, but I don’t mind as I like to think we’re saving a few pennies on fancy packaging.

      We are told this is for ‘clearer confident skin’ and that the product is designed primarily to do three things: Reduce shine, leave an instant matte complexion and remove excess oil. The product was ‘formulated by Boots Skincare Experts to absorb excess oil’ with its ‘non-greasy formula’, leaving an ‘instant perfect matte finish to your face’.

      The product is, unsurprisingly, nice and simple to use like most moisturisers. You just squeeze out a small blob and apply to your skin, avoiding contact with the eyes.

      The first thing I noticed was that the lotion seemed quite thin. It didn’t take much of a squeeze of the tube for a load of the lotion to come out, with the consistency being far more liquefied than I had expected. There is a scent but it’s not too overwhelming, though there is something there that reminds me a tad of sun tan lotion, which isn’t so great. It’s smooth to apply to your face and neck and I like that it glides on & you don’t need much, but it’s too watered down for my liking.

      The other annoyance is what happens once the lotion is actually on. I tend to apply a bit of concealer if I’m going out and usually do this straight after moisturising. A bit of the moisture from this seems to really help the concealer go on my face without caking or flaking. That’s not the case with this moisturiser. The lotion seems to flake off, not just the concealer. Even after giving it a little bit to absorb and not using too much on the application, the lotion still seems damp, and it practically starts to rub off. Very odd, and not something I can recall coming across with any other moisturiser. As for the anti-shine and mattifying promises - I’ve certainly not noticed my face look any more matte, possibly the opposite, and there’s been no improvement to the condition or appearance of my skin.

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      • More +
        18.04.2015 10:58
        Very helpful
        (Rating)

        Advantages

        • "Easy to read"
        • "Quirky and original"

        Disadvantages

        • "I was not so keen on the ending"
        • "A little too odd for some perhaps"

        Original & mystifying, but you need to be willing to suspend some rational thought for

        After Dark is fictional Japanese novel, translated in to English, that I would say loosely falls within the genres of drama and mystery, with a little something extra thrown in to the mix.

        It’s approaching midnight and there’s an almost empty Denny’s diner. A young girl called Mari sits reading. A musician, due to practice all night with his band, interrupts Mari’s solitude to say hello. Mari has missed the last train home and intends on staying out all night, in the city, on her own. But once the sun disappears and night falls the city is different, with mysterious undertones. The musician leaves and Mari soon gets approached from a girl from the Alphaville Hotel, a Chinese love hotel, to help with a situation.

        On the flip side, the same time but a different location, we see Mari’s sister. She is sleeping in a deep sleep and has been for 2 months. Almost like a coma, but not. We see the TV flicker, but it’s not plugged in. Could the midnight hour be causing something to stir this night, or is it just imagination?

        The book basically takes us across these two tangents. The former is told in present tense, giving us a sense of us watching the interactions between characters and events as they unfold. The latter is told in a rather different way, with the author talking to us as if we are watching the sister from a different perspective, like giving a commentary when watching a bird of prey through a camera.

        The layout is very interesting and quite original. The story is told in the present tense and follows a ‘real time’ timeline; chapters are not split by number but by the time, as the minutes and hours tick down from just before midnight to just before 7am, so we get a more concise view of events. I felt mesmerised almost to keep reading, and this was helped by the book being broken down in to chapters of varying length, none of which I felt was too long.

        The novel ‘flows’ well and feels fairly natural, making it easier to read. I would say there was a reasonable depth of characters, but this isn’t to a great extent. I don’t think I found myself particularly identifying, or feeling empathic towards, any of the characters, but I did feel some sense of understanding or familiarity with them by the end of the novel. The lack of depth is something that adds to its mysterious and ‘quirky’ nature, strengthening the growing feeling you get that you never really quite know what’s going on.

        I wasn’t so hot on the ending because it’s very loose and doesn’t tie anything up nor provide an explanation for all of our unanswered questions. However, the author intended it this way and so in its own way it adds to the mystery.

        On the back is further praise, including: ‘The novel delivers gloriously… Inventive and alluring’ – Guardian, ‘Hypnotic, spell-binding’ – The Times.

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      • More +
        14.04.2015 11:22
        Very helpful
        (Rating)

        Advantages

        • "Does not aggravate my skin"
        • "Quick and easy to use"

        Disadvantages

        • "No improvement to complexion"

        A so so kind of product.

        I came across this on a blog a while ago and checked it out on the Boots website. The reviews seemed quite positive so I was keen to give it a go. Whilst it hasn’t been a miracle cure by any means, and I can’t really say I’ve noticed a big difference in my complexion as far as blemishes go, it’s been reasonable enough and leaves my skin feeling fresh.

        SkinClear is a Boots own brand product. I found the range a little tricky to find in store amongst the other skin care brands, and it doesn’t really jump out at your either in terms of the packaging. It’s a rather non-descript and uninspiring clear 200ml plastic bottle; there’s a white flip up top lid, and a sticker on the front and back, with the front sticker being a blue and white design. It’s reasonably easy to read, keeps things simple and to the point, and doesn’t make too many wild promises whilst spouting names of chemicals and products that sound magical.

        The product is designed to ‘penetrate pores to visibly clear and reduce blackheads’. It claims to be gentle enough for regular everyday use and is dermatalogically tested.
        To use, simply apply some cleanser on to a cotton pad and wipe gently over the face and neck area, paying particular attention to the blackhead-prone or greasy areas, such as the T-Zone nose, forehead and chin.

        I use it first thing in the morning and it’s a very quick process, without any mess. You needn’t rinse your face afterwards. I usually apply a small bit of moisturiser after cleansing because most washes can dry my skin out

        This does have a slight chemical smell, but it’s not too overpowering. It leaves my skin feeling clean and fresh; I don’t get any tingling but nor have I had any bad responses to it. I’ve been dealing with mild adult acne / spots for a little while now and this hasn’t improved them or any blackheads, though I’ve never found a cleanser that ever has. I believe some of the issues with my skin are related to a few health and hormone issues I have going on at the moment, so I wasn’t expecting miracles from this anyway.

        All in all, it’s quick and simple to use, and leaves my face refreshed and feeling clean. It doesn’t get rid of spots or blackheads, from my experience, but it probably helps to clean pores and reduce grease and shine that can build up.

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      • More +
        21.03.2015 12:05
        Very helpful
        (Rating)

        Advantages

        • "Reasonable price"
        • "Pretty and sweet scent"

        Disadvantages

        • "A bit too sweet for some perhaps if overused"
        • "Lasting power not fantastic"

        Kiss Me Quick

        This comes in a white box, easily recognisable by the trademark pink lipstick kiss design. I bought mine in a 30ml size. On the back of the box is the slogan ‘Fragrance with Attitude’, along with the ingredients lists and a few words of caution.

        The bottle itself, I think, is quite cute. The brand is intended to appeal to a younger market, so it’s doesn’t aim for sophisticated, but it does look neat and reasonably understated in its simplicity. The bottle is angled so that it goes in towards the bottom, and the lid is a rounded plastic affair in pink, in keeping with the pink design. Granted, it’s nothing special but it’s a lower budget purchase and I don’t think it feels too ‘tacky’ or too young. The bottle itself is made of clear glass.

        The lid simply pulls off and pushes back on again, and feels quite secure. It’s easy enough to do and not fiddly, unlike a couple of perfumes out there with their overly complex and fancy designs. The first time I opened this I remembered how pleasantly surprised I was to be able to smell the EDP so well at just removing the lid for the first time.

        This brings me on to the most important part: how does it smell? Despite this seemingly being thought of as just a young / teen brand, I really like it. I’ve always liked the Kiss Me body spray so it didn’t take much to convince me to give this a try when it was on offer. I really seem to struggle with describing scents and perfumes, but the product describes the mixture of scents to include blackcurrant, pineapple and citron, with layers of vanilla, wood and musk. I couldn’t have told you that without looking it up. It does smell sweet, but it’s nicely grounded by the musk. I would say it smells more expensive than it is. It is an almost powdery fruit scent, sweet yet not overpowering or sickly sweet either. I’ve always had compliments when wearing the body spray and equally get positive comments about the EDT; it is definitely noticeable with a quick spritz on the wrists and neck without being overwhelming, which is what I like.

        I am yet to find an EDP or EDT that lasts as long as I’d like it to or expect it to, in the case of pricier products. Given as that this is a cheaper EDP, I’m happy that it lasts just as long as some of the more expensive, more ‘adult’ perfumes I’ve had. I only need use a small amount each time, a small bit on my wrist and my neck, and it’s noticeable without being overpowering. I think if you use more than this it will probably be too sickly sweet. It lingers for a couple of hours. For 30ml, it’s lasting me quite well, helped by the fact I don’t need to use much.

        30ml retails for around six pounds.

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      • More +
        18.03.2015 11:24
        Very helpful
        (Rating)

        Advantages

        • "Superb Acting"
        • Engaging
        • "Sincere and emotive"

        Disadvantages

        • "None per se for me"

        They Don't Have Forever, Just Each Other

        The Fault In Our Stars is based on a book by John Greene. Having not read this myself I can’t comment on how well it transfers to the big screen, but I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews in this regard. This review is therefore for the DVD.

        We’re introduced to Hazel, who is forever accompanied by an oxygen tank, and Augustus, who makes light of his prosthetic leg. Meeting at a support group, the two share their journey and a friendship gradually develops between the pair. The film centres on this relationship, one which starts out as two ‘survivors’ swapping stories, to two teenagers who share both a common bond through cancer and a love for one another. It’s a simple, straightforward premise in that sense, and that’s what the film is all about. We’re taken on a discovery of their ups and downs, through health scares and struggles, through jokes and sarcasm; we see how friends and family support and struggle with accepting the reality of cancer, and how such a life-changing illness can impact lives.

        This film manages to balance harsh reality with inspiration, leaving a trail of hope and sadness in its wake. As the story continues, we wonder what will happen with the two characters, knowing that the end result is not going to be a particularly happy one, but hoping none the less that some happiness can be salvaged. Indeed, I was gripped to watch until the end and I felt a good deal of empathy for the central characters. Cancer is something we all know about and it’s not something that can be escaped; this film doesn’t let us escape it, but it shines a new light on it, and through Hazel and Augustus we’re given a glimpse at how differently people handle the cards they’ve been dealt.

        I felt that the premise was moving in its simplicity. It was easy to follow and, despite the subject matter, was easy to watch. It felt genuine, without being sickly sweet or bitterly morbid. The characters injected some humour and light-hearted wit here and there to lighten the load, whilst never taking away from the underlying seriousness or gravity of the situation.

        The cast includes Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, and Willem Dafoe amongst others. It was good to see a few familiar faces, and also the not-so-big faces of the two protagonists. Each actor/actress played their respective role incredibly well & made the film believable and gripping.

        The downsides? There were a few moments/scenes that I felt were a little forced, where perhaps where the script didn't quite sit right. However, these were not monumental scenes, nor did they distract from my overall 'enjoyment'. Some may find the flick a little on the slow side, but I thought the pace was pretty well-balanced and kept me feeling engaged throughout.

        It is sincere in its simplicity, genuine in its portrayal and left its mark in my mind long after watching.

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      • Samsung C3590 / Smartphone / 8 Readings / 8 Ratings
        More +
        13.03.2015 09:09
        Very helpful
        (Rating)

        Advantages

        • Reliable
        • "Lovely outer colour"
        • "Easy to use"

        Disadvantages

        • "Tacky silver colour as per review"
        • "Basic as expected"

        A very swish looking basic budget mobile worth considering

        I came across this for my father as a gift a few months ago and thus far he has been very happy with it, ticking the boxes of being good to look at, reliable, and easy peasy to use.

        The C3590 is a flip phone with a polished metallic surface; this wine red covers the outside, and also the keypad. When closed, it’s very eye catching and quite stunning for a basic budget phone. But around the outsides of the keypad and screen is a silver element (not actually silver, just shiny silver in colour). Unfortunately, this is the one downside to me. Rather than looking sophisticated, I think it looks plastic-y and thus a bit tacky. It does, however, feel fairly robust.
        It measures approx. 11.1cm length, 1.7cm depth when closed, and 5.1cm width, weighing in at 99.5. It’s not the slimmest flip, but nor is it the chunkiest I’ve ever seen. I quite like that this opens to quite a rectangular-shaped phone, with reasonable sized screen and keypad, and it’s easy to hold/use.
        This comes with a battery, user guide, mains charger, but no USB for connecting the phone to your computer. It takes a standard SIM.

        Thankfully, this phone has proved easy enough for my dad to use. It was all very straightforward to set up out the box and the menu, layout, options etc all seem reasonably ergonomical and common sense to use.

        The screen is reasonably clear for a 2.4” TFT. It’s small but larger than some of the older, basic clamshells I’ve seen in the past, so it’s a touch larger than my dad’s old Samsung. He doesn’t struggle to see the screen or text, and colour appear vivid enough for the tasks and purposes he uses it for.
        I quite like the texturised keypad. The keys themselves are well-spaced and to press them they have a nice feel and seem easy enough to accurately use even for those with larger paws. I found them a little clunky to press down, by my dad doesn’t, so it probably depends a little on what you’re used to.
        As a basic mobile, there are no fancy frills here. There’s 2G (no 3G/WiFi) but it has 1MB internal storage expandable up to 32MB with microSD, a poor 2MP camera that’s still better than nothing, built in MP3/radio, and quadband. Personalisation is limited to the basics.
        Battery standby is 460 hours and talk time 12 hours. The perk of it being basic in nature is a better battery life. We have indeed found this to be the case; with minimal use it requires charging perhaps twice a week.

        My dad has had this phone for a few months now and has no encountered any problems with it
        This is a great little budget phone if you want something for the basics whilst also being reliable, easy to use and looking good. I’m knocking a star off for a couple of aforementioned little things,ie the ‘tacky’ looking silver.

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