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~~~~~~ Harvest Cheweee white choc chip ~~~~~~
I love white chocolate more than it's sensible for anyone to love white chocolate. So on occasion I buy these bars, to save myself eating a family size bar of white choccie by myself. Incidentally, the milk choc chip and the toffee chip ones are delicious too. I often buy these when they are on offer; this box I bought for just £1 from Morrisons, but they can often be found on BOGOF.
They are very chewy (or cheweee) bars made from rolled oats and wheat with white choc chips throughout, all bound together by something sweet.
~~~~~~ First impressions ~~~~~~
You get 9 of these individually wrapped bars of yum in an eye catching cardboard box, proudly displaying scrumptious looking chunks of white chocolate. You can see the brief nutritional breakdown for one bar on the bottom left on the box, which I like as it's nice to see at a glance just how bad/good one is. The box also has a prominent green stamp proclaiming "Made in a nut free factory". This is great news for allergy sufferers, as too often products may not contain nuts but are made in an environment which does handle them and often this is enough to provoke a reaction due to minute traces.
---- The back of the box
Here we are given some of the important info regarding these delightful bars. We are told they area good source of wholegrain and fibre, contain no artificial colours, are vitamin and iron fortified, and again, from a nut free factory. Something else I really like, is that there is a table of guideline daily amounts (GDA) for children aged 5-10 (10+ is classed as adult values). This is brilliant for parents, as mostly food items display GDA for adults, only sometimes including those for children as well. Since these bars are pushed as a wholesome, everyday lunchbox snack, it is really good that you can easily compare the values to see if this is indeed something you are happy to feed your child.
You also get a little fun fact, my box informs me that there are less than 6000 tigers in the wild. Which does make me a bit sad, but it's good to know.
~~~~~~ Eating them ~~~~~~
As soon as I unwrap one of these bars, I can smell the chocolate! This is, of course, a very pleasant experience. I can also smell the syrupy sweetness from the binding used to hold the bars together.
The first bite always makes my mouth water with the sweetness, though I would like to say I don't think it's too much - they are not sickly at all, the sweetness is just right along with the cereal taste of the oats and wheat. Thankfully, the white choc chips can clearly be tasted with each bite, even though at first glance you would think they were a bit stingy with the choccie! In fact, I would say they've done really well to get the proportions right while maintaining the sensibility such items should have when they are aimed at children.
The bars are indeed extremely chewy and do take some teeth-work to get through. Often I dislike overly chewy things as I feel they tend to go dry and it feels like it takes forever to get them to go down. But not these bars!
~~~~~~ Important bits ~~~~~~
GDA given are for children, aged 5-10.
---- Nutrition (per 22g bar)
Calories 91 (5% GDA); protein 1.2g; carbs 14.7g; sugars 6.2g (7% GDA); fat 3.1g (4% GDA); saturates 1.5g (8% GDA); fibre 0.7g; salt 0.1g (3% GDA)
---- Vitamins & minerals (per 22g bar)
Vitamin B1 0.24mg (22% GDA); Vitamin B2 0.27mg (19% GDA); Niacin 3.0mg (19% GDA); Iron 2.5mg [17% GDA]
---- Main ingredients & allergens
40% cereals (whole rolled oats, whole rolled wheat, rice flour), glucose syrup, 10% white choc chips (sugar, whole & skimmed milk powder, cocoa butter, soya lecithin).
Contains gluten, soya and milk. Suitable for vegetarians.
~~~~~~ Overall ~~~~~~
I think these are good little bars. They are very very tasty, and I think as part of a good balanced diet they are perfectly fine. They are relatively low in all the bad stuff and if I had children I would happily let them have one of these daily with their lunch. They don't seem to contain that much fibre though, but then I am not a nutritionist and I have absolutely no idea how much fibre you need for everything to function as it should. Suffice to say it's not something I have to worry about!
However, since I do not have children these are just for me (and the other half, if I have to share). And I say bring them on, just 91 calories - fabulous!
~~~~~~ The Fine Art of Self Destruction ~~~~~~
On Wednesday 23 November, I was in Heaven. This is because I spent a couple of hours in the company of Jesse Malin & The St Marks Social (TSMS) and witnessed the live performance of this album in its entirety, as a celebration of almost a decade since its release. Having come back down to Earth with a rather dissatisfying bump the morning after (and a completely useless left ear!), I figured it's only right I should start to put together a review of it. Grab back some of the magic and prolong my state of squealing fangirl.
Jesse Malin is a singer/songwriter from New York City and has been performing on the scene since he was just 13; he is now in his early 40s so is a seasoned performer. I think it shows, he is just utterly captivating in the flesh (oops, there goes fangirl again), with his infectious energy and enthusiasm. He really gives it his all and makes no secrets of what his songs are about.
The Fine Art of Self Destruction (TFAOSD) was Jesse's first solo studio release, in 2002 (on One Little Indian Records) and was recorded in just 5 days. Ryan Adams is counted among his friends and as well as collaborating with him on occasion, it is he who produced this album.
~~~ Cover & inlay design ~~~
This as a whole is pretty simple. We see Jesse looking a bit moody (and exceptionally gorgeous!) on a subway platform. The liner notes contain lyrics to all the songs (I love this, I like to read lyrics when I don't know songs). There are a few photos dotted through the booklet, and it is all in shades of grey. Very Jesse. Simple but effective.
~~~ The players~~~
This album of course pre-dates his current band TSMS (though if I may say, they play it beautifully!) and those musicians who contributed to this album are as follows:
* Johnny Pisano - bass, upright bass, background vocals
* Paul Garisto - drums
* Joe McGinty - piano, Hammond organ, wurlitzer
* Toby Dammit - percussion
* Ryan Adams - electric guitars, background vocals, keyboards
* Melissa Auf der Maur - background vocals
* Richard Fortus - lead guitar on "Queen of the Undrworld"
* Esko - lead guitar on "TKO"
~~~~~~ Price & availability ~~~~~~
I bought this from eBay some time ago, after seeing Jesse live for the first time (having not known him before then) for just £5 delivered. You can also buy it from all the usual places - iTunes (£7.99), hmv.com (£4 free P&P), Play.com (£5.99 free P&P), Amazon (from £2.69).
His YouTube channel can be found here - www.youtube.com/stmarkssocial
(You can see my video of "Brooklyn" from the Glasgow show here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUcKBR5NL​cA if you wish)
~~~~~~ Tracks ~~~~~~
There is not a single song on this album that I don't like, and one thing that really does strike me about this album is the change of mood from one song to the next. It keeps it, in my opinion, rather fresh and interesting. Jesse's work is, to me at least, very interesting anyway as I love his lyrical turn of phrase. Few of the songs stretch much over 4 minutes, but they are all jam packed with the thing I love to hear most in a song - a story.
-- 1. Queen of the Underworld (3:43)
Opening the album is this ever so slightly melancholy tune. "All the things you have are broken...you know I'm singing just for you" Love, or rather lost love, seems to be a common theme for Jesse. He has openly admitted to writing songs to get the attention of a certain someone, and this is one of those songs where I think it is apparent. I really like the overall tempo of this song, it's not too fast, but neither is it a slow 'sad' sounding song. A very satisfying start I think.
-- 2. TKO (3:26)
This has a brilliant opening riff, it's very calm and when the vocals come in it's almost like you can hear the strain at keeping control. I think you can hear so much emotion in this one. Some of my favourite lyrics here which I think highlight the need to get used to Jesse's turn of phrase, "Poetry or destiny on bar napkins, writing faded flowers paying for my sins". Throughout, this song retains its controlled and highly strung feel and I can't stay still when it's on. It sucks you right in, chews you up a little then spits you out.
-- 3. Downliner (4:10)
"That's the way you know the story goes, between euphoria and the afterglow", fantastic opening line. This song is so clearly an ode to someone. It tells a story of two people who, to paraphrase, life changed and rearranged even after all they'd been through. This is a beautiful sounding song, with a slower tempo and some really nice, almost crashing riffs. The vocals certainly sound sad, almost pleading, while Jesse sings his own little message out "You and me you know we don't talk much, it's hard to handle something you can't touch....".
-- 4. Wendy (3:27)
To use Jesse's own words, this song is about a "beached relationship". On Wednesday, he told us he wrote this song while with someone, and changed the name as it's about someone else! This is a punkier, very fast and just overall a brilliant tune. Starting with a very sexily-strummed guitar before the drums come thundering in, his vocals are perfect when they follow seconds later. This song is rather urgent, as if he's looking for answers; a chorus of "I don't know, I don't know, I don't why...dreams dying slowly....we don't want to be alone"
-- 5. Brooklyn (4:34)
Brooklyn is a somewhat stripped back song - largely vocal and guitar only. I personally just can't get enough of this song. I love Jesse's voice. It's so clear and every word is heartfelt. He sings a slow story of how things used to be and what things have become "...wondering how we become what we despise...you couldn't live with me so you moved to Brooklyn" I think it's a story of life and growing up (getting "blood money in the bank"), things changing. It's a mellow song; not overly sad though you can hear sadness in the lyrics.
-- 6. The Fine Art of Self Destruction (3:54)
The title track, this is a groaning, moaning kind of song. The music and the vocals project a real feeling of displeasure. I really like it, it's moody and it grabs you, until you feel like you're on the edge of your seat hoping it turns out okay. The lyrics are very poetic and worth a read for sure. There's a promise in there to make it up to someone, if he would only get the chance.
-- 7. Riding on the Subway (4:13)
As you may guess, this is about riding on the subway! This song was inspired by an unknown girl, spied on the subway clutching her vinyls (Jesse's a sucker for old school) and just as he was gathering the nerve to say hello to her, the doors opened and off she went. This track opens with an almost sinister sounding percussion and a striking bass line. His vocals again are moody and the overall tone of his voice is quite low and husky throughout the verses. The music here is really interesting, it's probably the most 'different' song on the whole album. He sings of general things seen on the subway which makes for interesting daydreams and some really strong imagery, before he gets round to his mystery girl. "One day I saw you in your seat...if I only had the guts to speak...I still hope someday we might meet". I would recommend watching the video for this song, I really like it.
-- 8. High Lonesome (4:05)
There was a time when Jesse considered hanging up his songwriting hat. This song speaks of his desire to maybe "drop out of circulation...change my occupation". Luckily though, he did not. "What they call honest living kills me..chills me" is an admission that he can't think how else to make a living, so he should stick at what he's good at. This is a song about his own feelings, and how he feels about the effects the industry can have on a life; there are references to a certain person he "can't forget". The song has a brilliant foot tapping beat and it's another I find myself singing along to, at the top of my voice. Very catchy and although the lyrics are somewhat sad the song isn't depressing.
-- 9. Solitaire (4:19)
Here's a chilled out song. Starting with just a gentle guitar riff and a 'na na nana na na', it is just lovely. The lyrics convey such loneliness though, how there are "no real regrets, I don't need anyone". He dreams of a lonely future. The entire song is quite slow with just that guitar and the vocals almost quiet, save for a little shout at the chorus. It's quite emotional, and I think Jesse's distinctive voice lends itself well to songs such as this.
-- 10. Almost Grown (3:04)
This song is all about Jesse's parents and his childhood. It's a jumpy, cheery sounding song musically despite opening with the line "My parents split up in the fourth grade, my father never did come back". He tells a story of a struggling mother with a son and daughter who are all alone and only "almost grown". I love the lyrics of this song and the way that Jesse sings them, the rhythm is very good . His vocals sound a little tortured, as if he still feels the sadness. The song starts to end with as ode to his late mother and how he just wants to see her again.
-- 11. Xmas (3:27)
Xmas is very clearly about a lost love, how he accepts the blame and how the holiday brings it all back; how he still thinks of her, hopes she's alright with whoever she may be with. This is another one that is quite subdued in mood, with unhappy sounding vocals dripping with emotion and mellow music. There is a nice touch of Christmas bells in there, but funnily enough it does nothing to lift the mood. This is a beautiful, but I think deeply sad, song.
-- Bonus track: Brooklyn (band) (4:40)
This is the same song as track 5, but with more input from the band - there is a longer, heavier jamming ending to the song, and far more instruments involved throughout. It is utterly fabulous, and it's nice to have both versions of Brooklyn as it's one of my favourite songs. The overall feel of this bonus track is louder and heavier, though the same emotions still come through loud and clear.
~~~~~~ Overall ~~~~~~
Jesse admits to singing for attention, and last week he told us he wrote this entire album in an attempt to catch someone's eye. I think it's very apparent as the theme of love and lost love comes through in so many songs. You don't read gossip about Jesse Malin, he manages (or chooses) to stay just far enough under the radar that the world doesn't know his business. Not everyone knows who he writes his songs for, who he misses so much. In this way, I think his singing for attention is brilliant - he puts his all into his songs and never hides what they are about, or what he feels. It is sometimes wrapped in his rather unique turn of phrase, but it's all in there waiting to be deciphered. And it is this truth, I feel, that makes his songs so compelling.
Every song on this album is a joy to listen to, and despite a lot of them being stories with unhappy endings, this will not plunge you into the depths of despair. TFAOSD is a flawless album in my opinion, there is nothing I dislike about it, no song to skip, no lyrics I think are daft, nothing that makes me cringe or turn the volume down. I would strongly urge you to give it a listen (you get 90 seconds worth of preview on iTunes these days, so that's almost half the song!) I think Jesse Malin will appeal to fans of alternative/rock music and probably old school punk too, but I do think he's versatile enough to appeal to a decent chunk of the masses. Easy thing for me to say though, I do appreciate.
~~~~~~ The last word ~~~~~~
From the man himself "...I'd sing it, I'd just be warming up, I'd be like 'just a run through' and he'd be like, that's it, you're done. I'm like, f*ck you -- I want to sing, and I thought it was rubbish. A couple days later, I realised that he'd captured something, that there was a real vibe there, a real snapshot of what was going on." - Jesse, on recording TFAOSD.
~~~~~~ Febreze Thai Orchid ~~~~~~
I like to always have an air freshener in the cupboard, just for a little freshen up each day. I generally always buy odour eliminating sprays as up until Friday past we had a dog in the house who loved the beach! And of course we both smoke so I like to spray around the living room, catching the curtains and sofa as well, as part of my daily housework. Since I first tried this one, it has remained one of my firm favourites. I rarely buy it though as generally the price is too high at the best part of £3, sometimes a little over. I picked it up most recently in Morrisons where it was on special offer at £2. Usually I only pay about £1 for an air freshener/odour eliminator, but I do love this and was feeling like treating myself (plus, the other half was paying).
~~~~~~ Thoughts & musings ~~~~~~
I am not a complete sucker for fancy packaging, but I do really like the Febreze cans. This one is an eye catching bright pink 300ml can and the spray nozzle is nicely shaped for easy and comfortable holding. The trigger is soft in that you don't need to squeeze it hard so overall it is very easy to use. The blurb on the can states "Inspired by the delicate fragrance of fresh Thai orchids for a moment of pure relaxation and zen....Zen is peace and enlightenment, so leave behind the chaos of odours and attain the space of true freshness." I actually find this comically fruity. I mean, it's an air freshener!
The scent of this one is utterly gorgeous, and is the reason it has worked its way into my Absolute Favourites list. It is sweetly floral but is not overpowering or cloying since it has a 'watery plant-like' scent beneath the sweetness of the orchid. I wouldn't describe the scent as relaxing as such, as I think it's quite refreshing so I would say revitalising rather than relaxing.
When using this it is dispensed in a fine damp mist that you can see dispersing through the air. I find a lot of it simply falls down toward the floor (or whatever piece of furniture is underneath where you spray it), even if you spray it right up into the air. I actually like this better than dry sprays that roll through the air though, as I like it to land on my soft furnishings. You can't refresh the air in a room if the soft furnishings have cooking, pet or smoking odours sticking to them. I get even more paranoid about it as we removed the door between our kitchen and living room, since I didn't like the way it opened!
Even though I have my windows open almost 24/7 (the other half has a tendency to close them at night now it's below freezing outside....pfft) I still notice how well this works and the gorgeous fragrance it leaves behind. I don't use a lot of it, just a spray over the sofa, in the vicinity of the curtains and a blast in the middle of the living room and the hall at the front door and that's it. The scent remains noticeable for a fair while after using it, though I only notice it if I go upstairs then come back down a short while later. I stop smelling it if I stay downstairs and I often burn fragrance oils throughout the day so that is what I notice the most. However, after using this for a quick refresh a wee while before expected visitors, I always receive comments abut how nice the place smells.
Having said that, I do not experience a state of zen after using this. I would recommend anyone who expects to may want to remember...it's an air freshener.
~~~~~~ Recommend? ~~~~~~
I certainly would. This smells gorgeous, lasts well for me (both scent-wise and volume in the can-wise) so is good value. I personally don't buy it at full price as that is just a bit much for me, but I would say it is worth it. The can lasted me a couple of weeks, but I did use it in less than half my house and I didn't use it more than once a day, but some days I didn't use it at all. You don't need a lot of this to neutralise odours (and leave a noticeable trace of fragrance on fabrics which lasts until you wash them or something stronger overpowers it) but you could use it several times daily if you want to always smell the fragrance. Obviously in this case it probably wouldn't even last a week.
I have had other sprays which perform just as well at a lower price, but the fragrance of this one really is stunning. And Febreze do know what they're doing when it comes to odour eliminating so I reckon I know they're going to work before I even try them!
~~~~~~ Simple Vitamin E Serum Pads ~~~~~~
I spied these on one of my frequent forays into Poundland and after a quick look, stuck 2 packs in my basket. Looking at the prices on Amazon, I am glad I did! I paid obviously just £1 per pack which compares favourably to online prices. I am a sucker for skincare bargains and I do like Simple products, so I was excited at this find.
~~~~~~ First impressions ~~~~~~
The packaging is quintessentially Simple, in white, green and grey. The pads themselves come in a small pack similar to baby/facial wipes, with a resealable tab, and this is in an outer cardboard box. The box and pack inside displays the same info so you can get rid of the box without discarding any of the info. This is great if, like me, your lotions and potions cupboard is so chock full it resembles a lego city, full of precarious castles and somewhat wobbly towers.
These are part of the Simple Regeneration range, which is aimed at fighting premature ageing. They have 4 ingredients of interest and these are vitamin E (antioxidant properties to fight signs of ageing), avocado oil (regenerates and softens), glycerin (hydrates and nourishes) and allantoin (protects and further softens). As it's Simple, there are no unnecessary or harsh chemicals like perfumes, and no ingredients derived from animals.
Each pack contains 16 white, rounded-off square shaped pads which are pleasingly moist, soft and rather thick. As expected, there is no fragrance at all.
~~~~~~ Using & results ~~~~~~
Firstly, getting a pad out of the pack isn't the easiest, since they are flat with no fold to grab like conventional wipes. However, I just sort of pinched the pad till it rucked up and was able to pull just one out without any drama. You are directed to smooth over face and neck after cleansing, in upward circular movements. Then follow with your usual moisturiser if required.
These are really lovely to use. As I mentioned, they are very thick and soft and I found them to glide over my skin easily with no dragging. They don't leave my skin feeling overly damp either, and they do actively moisturise - they are not enough for me alone, I need to use my usual moisturiser on my cheeks, but they do remove any tightness in my skin and leave me feeling soft, smooth and soothed. They are moisturising enough for my T-zone though.
I particularly like to use these on my eye areas. I smooth them over my closed eyelid up to the brow, then using a finger I run them gently under each eye out to my hairline. I have found this to be a nice, light and non greasy alternative to using an eye cream/eye gel in the morning (though I do like to use my cream before bed).
One pad is enough to do my entire face, though I don't use them on my neck. I don't use these every day either as I tend to save them for occasions where I have maybe used a facial wash/mask that I really like, but that leaves my skin feeling quite tight. One pad is designed to be enough for one use, as they are designed to contain the "purest possible application in the perfect daily dose", though I can't say whether this is true or not! All I know is that they are a very nice product to use, and they do leave my skin feeling nice.
~~~~~~ Recommend? ~~~~~~
As you can probably guess, it's a hearty yes! The way I use these, they last me a fair while. Even if I used one daily the pack would last over 2 weeks. Not bad for £1. My Local Poundland still has a bunch of them so I plan to buy a few more packs on Saturday. I have to say though, I wouldn't pay the prices quoted on here for Amazon, as I feel it's a bit much for what they are and how many you get, considering they're designed for daily use. But I do have a mental block against paying full price for most things!
These are a nice thing to have though; they leave my skin feeling lovely, soft, smooth and soothed and they are really good for my eye areas. As to how good they are at fighting the signs of ageing, well, I can't really say as I'm lucky not to have any real noticeable lines yet, but I imagine they certainly help the fight around the eyes with their gentle and light moisturising.
One to look for at a bargain price in my opinion!
~~~~~~ Nivea 48h Invisible antiperspirant ~~~~~~
When I need to buy deodorant I simply look for the biggest can for the best price - it's one of those things I refuse to pay full price for! The last time I had to buy this is what I picked up - Nivea Invisible antiperspirant deodorant for black and white. I paid £1 for 250ml from Morrisons. I wasn't particularly attracted to this one (price aside), although once I picked it up and saw that it claims to eliminate white marks on black clothing and yellow stains on white clothing, I was extra chuffed at the bargain price. I have a few older tops that have these little stiff deodorant marks right in the underarm, and nothing I have ever tried has shifted it. Very annoying when the top is otherwise still in perfect condition!
~~~~~~ First impressions ~~~~~~
My first impressions were very good - as mentioned I liked the claim this was making, and the can itself is very attractive. Black and white (of course) with pink accents. Nothing spectacular but it is actually quite eye catching and feminine. All the usual information is displayed clearly on the back of the can, as well as further information about the performance of this spray.
The main things to note about this deodorant is that it will not leave white/yellow marks on clothing or skin, will work for 48 hours and is alcohol free. I do not need a deodorant to work for 48 hours (does anyone, really?) as I shower daily, but nice to know it should last.
The fragrance is described as "uplifting...with elegant floral notes". No matter how hard I try I can not describe it as uplifting, although it's not offensive. It does smell a little floral but to me it smells like a 'generic deodorant' powdery kind of thing! It has a hint of Nivea smell to it, which I've found to be true of every Nivea product I have ever smelled. It's not overly strong though, and is quite neutral in that it didn't interfere with any other scent I used. I wouldn't rush out to get this deodorant again for the scent, but it's fine enough.
~~~~~~ Using & results ~~~~~~
Unfortunately, I found using this deodorant to be a rather unpleasant experience. It is dispensed in a relatively thick spray, but it is quite wet when it hits my skin - I could actually see a little of it running down my skin, and I swear I didn't spray too much! I know I didn't spray too much as when I first used it I was dismayed to see a big white sheen to my skin, as soon as it landed there. It's very hard to describe, as my logic brain can't make sense of how this can be wet and leave a white, somewhat powdery, mark at the same time. The white mark is not that really dry powder you can often get with cheap sprays, it is thicker and stickier, but very much present. Major disappointment.
Due to the dampness it left on my skin, I would have to wait until it dried before getting dressed. The first time I used it I discovered how wet it was when I put my bra on and it got wet; I thought I'd missed a bit of water from the shower on my side! Now this isn't a big deal for me, being a voluntary worker at the moment (only until Friday....sob) I don't need to get out the house quickly in the mornings, but I certainly would mind if I was trying to get ready for work.
So all that aside, how did it perform? As you probably guessed from the pitiful 1 star rating, it practically didn't! The scent is barely noticeable a little after using it, but this doesn't bother me so long as the antiperspirant properties kick in. Well, after a couple of days using this it became apparent that it was not working at all, even just on a regular day when I'm not exerting myself enough to actually feel myself sweating. At the end of the day, I would have a sniff and I could smell stale sweat on my skin. It was slight, and not enough that anybody around me would smell it, but had I been working all day, running around a busy office or just generally to-ing and fro-ing from 8am until teatime (then getting home and doing the hoovering etc etc), then I can only imagine the smell would have been very noticeable. it does not inspire confidence.
I ended up using a roll on then having a spray of this just to save wasting it, but I could not use this alone, not even for a day in the house where all I might do is housework and animal care, as it performs so poorly that you may as well not use any - the results would be the same.
On the plus side, throughout using the whole can I never found white or yellow marks on my clothing!
~~~~~~ Recommend? ~~~~~~
No, I just can't. Not even for the slobs among us who literally do next to nothing in a day! All the usual things I take into account are completely invalid here, as it simply does not work as an antiperspirant deodorant. So in reality price, how long it lasted and all that is just irrelevant. Don't bother with this one, would be the take home message here!
Interpet freeze dried Tubifex worms are a fantastically versatile food that can be used as a treat or part of the main diet, depending on what you are feeding. They are palatable, high in protein and can be fed to all tropical and marine fish, goldfish and (what I use them for) turtles, frogs and even land crabs! There are many great things about this food, one of which is that it's freeze dried - therefore there is no risk of passing on disease, as there often is with feeding live creatures. It also keeps well and the pack displays no use by date - my pack has been going for a seriously long time and what I have left is still perfectly fine.
They come in a cardboard box with the product info on it, and the worms themselves are in a resealable plastic inner bag; the best thing, I think, about this food is that they are in cube form! This makes it completely mess free and aids in regulating the amount you are feeding. Each box contains 5g of product, and that equates to a lot of cubes (which are approx 1cm x 1cm x 1cm). I can't say for sure how many were in my box as I've had it for ages and used a few of them but I still have 6 left so I'd guess maybe 10 or 12 cubes? Each cube is grey in colour, dry and almost powdery to the touch (though it doesn't fall apart and is not dusty) and dissolves into a LOT of little worms!
I find the best way to feed this, if you only need small amounts, is to use your fingernail to break a small piece off, and rub it between your fingers in the water, using a fingernail to scratch at it too. This lets the worms separate and float about to be snapped up by eager mouths. Of course if you are feeding a larger community tank you can simply drop a cube in - the water will dissolve it over time and I'm sure fishy mouths will nip at it to help it along. The cubes don't have any discernible smell, so nothing to offend there (unlike a lot of 'strange' foods!) They don't make a mess of your tank by clouding the water or anything like that.
As I said, I use it mostly to feed aquatic frogs, land crabs and turtles and I have used it to feed fish as well. They all devour it eagerly, my little frog darts to the surface every time and I can almost see his smile when he realises it's a worm day! For the turtles it's given no more than once a week since it's high in protein, but the other creatures can get it more often. Since the cubes really expand you seriously don't need a lot so this is an excellent value food for a multitude of beasties. I paid £3.69 for it over a year ago if I remember correctly and since I still have about half of it left, I'd say that's good going.
I would definitely recommend this. It's clean, keeps well just at room temperature, last ages, and is a good food in terms of protein. Unfortunately the only thing missing in my opinion is full nutritional information. I like to know details about what I feed my pets so for this it loses a star, as I think that's a reasonably big deal. Apart from that though, it's all good!
~~~~~~ Naked Shine Glossing Treatment ~~~~~~
Having always had very long hair since I was a child (save for the disastrous after effects of the few times I have entrusted my barnet to a hairdresser), I am very protective of it and treat it well. This does mean that I am a complete sucker for 'intensive' conditioners, masks and treatments for dry/damaged hair. I picked up the Naked Shine glossing hair treatment in Poundand for, of course, just £1.
~~~~~~ First impressions ~~~~~~
The treatment comes in a squat round tub, containing a whopping 400ml of product. The lid is screw on and there is a label running around the tub displaying all the important info. The label has quirky things on it, such as "We don't believe in testing our ingredients on Bambi, Lassie or Skippy". Accompanying this a cute little doodle of a bunny! There's also a cheeky picture of a bare bottom, alongside a blurb headed "Naked truth" which details that the product is made from loads of naturally derived ingredients.
In fact, this product contains 97% natural ingredients, which is great news for those who are very particular about not using certain things. I myself am not hugely particular about natural ingredients so this wasn't the selling point for me. I just liked the huge tub of intensive conditioner for £1! This one contains coconut oil and shea nut butter, both of which apparently have "rehydrating and glossing properties" for the hair. It claims to give your hair a "diamond like shine". Sounds lovely so far.
The conditioner itself is very thick and white in colour - it actually looks like a heavier moisturising cream, such as traditional Nivea or Astral perhaps. It smells very pleasant, the coconut is noticeable mingled with what is, to me, a sort of generic fresh and clean conditioner smell.
~~~~~~ Using ~~~~~~
The tub is as I mentioned, quite squat and chunky - the diameter is a whole four inches and it's almost the same height! I state this purely because due to the size of it, it is not the easiest to use in the shower. I have an over-bath shower and when I used this I would go to the other end of the bath out of the shower's reach and apply it to my hair from the tub as it rested on the side of the bath. If I had a shower cubicle I would find applying this really annoying, as the tub is too large to hold in one hand and potentially to fit on many in-shower shelves/racks.
That aside, applying this is lovely - it is extremely thick, so does not run or drip from your hands or hair. I take a generous scoop and rub it between my hands before spreading it through my hair. It feels so soft and velvety on your hands and it spread through my hair very well. I actually didn't need that much of this to coat my hair, but I did like to be generous with it as it feels so luxurious! All throughout using it the smell is very apparent, which I found to be both refreshing and relaxing.
You are directed to leave it on your hair for 3-5 minutes before simply rinsing. A slight downside of this product is that it takes an awful lot of rinsing away. It takes me a full 5 minutes or so of continual rinsing and agitating my hair with my hands before the water starts to run clear. 5 minutes doesn't sound like a lot but it is noticeably longer than most other conditioners/treatments I use. This isn't a huge grumble, but you should be careful to rinse your hair well as product residue can make your hair look lank or dull. I know it's obvious with my hair if I haven't rinsed properly!
~~~~~~ Results ~~~~~~
So did I have a diamond shine, enough gloss on my hair to blind? Nope. Unfortunately, I did not. To be honest, this treatment worked for me as, at best, a run of the mill conditioner. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice product and using it is lovely, but there was absolutely no difference in my hair at all after using it. My hair wasn't softer, shinier or glossier than usual.
I have naturally curly/wavy hair that's prone to a touch of frizz at the ends, even when freshly trimmed - this treatment did not lessen this as much as others have. At the same time, my hair did look and feel a little greasy the day after using this - I usually wash my hair every second or third day, so this was a bit annoying. I applied this from around the top of my ears down to the tips, missing out my crown, and it was some shorter layers at the front which appeared lank much quicker than usual. I did use it again, ensuring I only applied it from the top of my neck down, and this did eliminate that problem. I don't usually apply conditioner to my crown but had this been good at glossing my hair, then I may have wanted to use it on my whole head (as intensives/masks are recommended to be applied) so it was glossy from root to tip, and I wouldn't have been happy at greasy roots the day after.
~~~~~~ Recommend? ~~~~~~
Yes and no. I would recommend it if you see it for a fab price as if nothing else, it's 400ml of nice conditioner. I would not recommend it if you are looking for a dramatic difference in shine and glossiness, as I did not experience this at all. I am awarding 3 dooyoo stars, as this did not deliver on its promises for me, but it is lovely to use and performs as a middle of road decent conditioner, so long as you only apply from midlengths down! I ended up using it this way by applying it every time I washed my hair. It lasted me around 3 weeks which is just fabulous for £1. Even after using it all that time though, there was still no diamond shine or increased gloss sadly.
See www.nakedbodycare.co.uk for more info on their ethics and natural ingredients.
I have bought these earthworms from Livefood UK a few times now, and have never been disappointed. I bought them for my salamanders, frog, turtles and even as a treat for land crabs. I buy them mainly through eBay, where Livefood UK have an official eBay store, as it lets me use funds in PayPal (which isn't like spending real money!) Their eBay shop also often has multibuy deals, so worth checking out.
The worms arrive packaged in small round plastic tubs in moist coir substrate. The last time I ordered, I actually counted the worms as I transferred them to a larger tub to join some others, in the hope that they would breed - I done this more out of curiosity really. I had ordered two tubs and in one tub was 29 worms, the other had 33. The site stated 25-30 per tub so I was very pleased with that, both tubs being comfortably around this number. They did breed in the end, although not as much as I had hoped so I will be buying again.
They are healthy on arrival, fiesty when picked out of the tub and ogled by yours truly, and in my experience they last for as long as you need them basically; I simply keep mine at room temperature in moist coir and feed them fish flakes, marrow, and kitchen scraps of other vegetables. They devour fish flakes though and these are in fact a nutritional food to feed them; this is great as your reptiles/amphibians are what they eat! Earthworms as a general rule are high in calcium, enough so that no extra calcium supplementation is needed. Dusting with a vitamin supplement is recommended though, and I simply do this by placing the worms in a small tub, adding a pinch of vitamin powder and shaking gently - this coats the worms.
All my creatures go mad for these, and they are guzzled up very quickly (poor worms). One of my turtles in particular practically levitates out the water when she sees the red forceps coming at her! The price per tub (£1.99 when I last bought) is very reasonable too considering how many you get and how long they last so long as you keep them well enough (not that they need much attention).
Overall, I think these earthworms are fantastic value, very nutritional, well packaged and healthy, making them a great food for numerous animals, and I would (and do) always recommend buying from Livefood UK.
~~~~~~ Gliss Liquid Silk ~~~~~~
When it comes to shampoos and conditioners, I am not totally loyal to any brand, and I actually really like to try new things. When picking up shampoo etc at the supermarket, I generally buy the fruity Alberto Balsam, but I often pick some up in Poundland which is where I got the Schwarzkopf Gliss Liquid Silk hair repair conditioner.
~~~~~~ First impressions ~~~~~~
The packaging of this is really nice I think. The 200ml bottle is pale pink plastic, and the label is metallic, showing pinks, purples, yellows and even greens. I think this ties in really well with the 'liquid silk' name, as it does look glossy. This conditioner is aimed at brittle, dull hair which to be honest, mine is not. It is dry and very prone to damage though so I do like to use supposed intensive moisturising/repairing conditioners where possible. And liquid silk sounds fab, right?
So what does this conditioner promise to do? Well, it says it will give you "perfect combability" and leave your hair feeling silky and supple with a "breathtaking shine". It claims to target damaged areas on the hair surface and, using the "elements of liquid silk" and added gloss enhancer, repair them.
The conditioner itself is white and creamy and smells really pleasant and clean, though I can't put my finger on what is within the fragrance. It is sweet but not sickly, clean and fresh without being clinical or chemical. It is dispensed by simply squeezing the bottle; the opening is small which makes controlling how much you use simple. It is a very nice, good to use consistency, staying put on my hands well instead of running off over the sides and even when I spread it through my hair it goes where I want it. I love this, there's nothing more annoying than a runny conditioner that you struggle to get on your hair!
~~~~~~ Using & results ~~~~~~
The first thing I notice when I open the bottle is the lovely smell. Followed by the fact it spreads through my hair nicely and I didn't need to use more than usual (I do have a lot of hair so usually need a lot of any conditioner). The scent did stick around on my hair for the whole day, and I could still smell it the next day but it is worth noting that I generally do not use any products on my hair unless I am going out and will be styling it. Most hair-washing days I just let it dry and that's that.
It rinses out my hair easily, and once it was all gone my hair did not feel too squeaky - rather it felt smooth and moisturised. I was able to comb it pretty effortlessly too, though I get this effect with all but the cheapest of the cheap conditioners I have used.
So when my hair had dried, was it smoother, more supple, did it have that breathtaking shine? Well no, not really. It didn't look any shinier or feel smoother or more supple than when using any other conditioner. I did not notice any real difference after using the whole bottle either. Don't get me wrong, this is a really nice conditioner but it has not made a marked difference to my own barnet. Perhaps it would work better on dull and brittle hair, but I figured my hair gave it less work and I was mainly looking for improved gloss and shine which I did not get.
I only apply conditioner from about ear-level down, so any conditioner is not likely to add greasiness to my hair and this one was no exception. I do not wash my hair daily and this did not make me feel the need to change this routine. I only brush my hair out before washing (it's curly naturally) and I must say that even on the third day after using this, when I brushed my hair before washing it it was still quite tangle free but I did not notice any reduction in breakage and my brush still had the usual amount of hairs caught in it.
~~~~~ Recommend? ~~~~~~
I would recommend this purely as it's a nice regular conditioner. I did not see all of the promised benefits but it did leave my hair looking, smelling and feeling nice, though not particularly better than any other conditioner that doesn't claim to give me breathtaking shine and supple gloss! So for that reason, I am awarding a middle of the road 3 stars. I would not buy this for any more than £1 as I can get equally good conditioners for this price, or less when there's an offer on (which I do usually take advantage of!)
~~~~~~ Neutrogena Deep Moisture Body Lotion ~~~~~~
Being a big fan of the Neutrogena anti aging hand cream (for its barrier properties rather than the anti aging, though I do appreciate it!) I was excited to spot this body lotion in Poundland. A 300ml bottle for £1, yes I'll have a bit of that! Due to the pump bottle I actually keep this is the kitchen by the sink and use it primarily for my hands.
~~~~~~ First impressions ~~~~~~
Being as this was from Poundland, all the info on the bottle is foreign, save for a sticker on the front with the English translations. The bottle is white plastic with a pump cap (which was painless to open!) and the rest of the packaging is plain but typical of Neutrogena Norwegian Formula products. This lotion promises "immediate relief" from dry skin, which continues for 24 hours after application. It claims to leave skin visibly softer and smoother and reduce roughness from the very first application.
It contains caprylic/capric triglyceride which is derived from coconut oil and glycerin, and is present in the second highest quantity, after water. This is primarily used in skin care to prevent moisture loss by leaving a barrier on the skin. It also contains shea butter which as we know has excellent moisturising properties.
The lotion itself is white in colour and very light, soft and smooth in texture. It is not overly thick in consistency, neither is it thin enough to run or drip from your skin. To me, it is textbook lotion consistency (think suntan lotion) as opposed to textbook cream consistency (think original Nivea). It does have a smell, but all I can liken it to is other Neutrogena moisturisers! It's almost a 'medicinal' scent as opposed to a sweet, floral or fruity fragrance, but it's not overpowering at all or even that strong. I think it's really pleasant and just smells like hand cream really.
~~~~~~ Using & results ~~~~~~
As mentioned, I do use this mostly on my hands. However, when I'm sitting watching a DVD of an evening I do apply it to other places too such as my knees, calves, elbows, arms and shoulders. I like taking the bottle into the living room with me and just applying as much as I like while watching something, since the pump bottle keeps application clean and fuss free.
This lotion is just wonderful - it is a pleasure to use, the consistency making it spread far on your skin and absorb pretty fast; you don't need to use loads at one time so it lasts well. It is completely non greasy and if you were to use it all over your body in the morning you wouldn't need to wait long before getting dressed. When applied, it really does feel protective. When I use it on my hands they feel very cared for and I can physically see my skin looking softer and smoother, as well as feeling it. And the effects do last a long time too, I can still feel the benefits before I get in the shower the next morning.
I don't have overly dry skin, but if you do then I think this will be a lovely lotion for you to use, and it can be used as often as you need since it absorbs fast and isn't greasy - when I use it on my hands, I can get back to whatever I am doing quickly without worrying about my hands being slippery, which is a huge bonus!
~~~~~~ Recommend? ~~~~~~
I love Neutrogena moisturisers and this one is no exception. They seem to be the one product that really saves my hands. I have iffy skin on my hands, not overly dry but I do get random outbreaks where my skin cracks between my fingers and gets unbearably itchy; using a good hand cream regularly helps stop this, and of all those I have tried I have the most success with Neutrogena products. They seem to create the best barrier on my hands to stop cleaning chemicals or even just water and washing up liquid getting to my skin and drying it out, resulting in my outbreaks. And I spend a lot of time with my hands in water on a daily basis, so this is a high recommendation!
Not only that but all, bar one, of the Neutrogena creams I have tried have been a pleasure to use. My 300ml bottle from Poundland is lasting me ages, so I have had excellent value. I must say though, that I regularly buy the Neutrogena Anti Aging hand cream (in a blue tube) at the RRP of almost £4, as it really is such an effective barrier cream (it was recommended to me by my GP when I first visited him with manky hands!). So I would pay the 'regular' shop prices for this one too, if I could spare it that is, it seems to retail for around a fiver.
~~~~~~ Soft & Gentle Extra Fresh Antiperspirant - lotus & watermelon ~~~~~~
I actually received this from my mum, who often nips to Bodycare in her lunch break and picks up bits and pieces she needs. When she goes she always buys a deodorant or facial wipes for me, bless her. She only paid £1 for this which I think is fantastic, since it's so utterly divine!
~~~~~~ First impressions ~~~~~~
This comes in a 250ml standard aerosol can, in relaxing shades of blue and white. The design of the can is very simple but I think really effective too. I get the impression of peaceful freshness from the "lotus and watermelon" fragrance combination and I think this is reflected by the choice of the colour blue. The can is feminine without being over the top, so I think it would appeal to almost any type of female.
The can is shaped to allow for comfortable handling and the nozzle is angled for easy spraying. Not that it's a worry since you don't need to be holding this for a long time!
All the usual information is displayed, and this spray claims to give you long lasting extra freshness and keep you dry. Having a squint at the ingredients, there's nothing too startling in there. It contains soy bean oil, which I am seeing more and more in antiperspirants for its claimed skin softening and smoothing action. It also contains olive tree leaf extract which has a huge list of potential benefits including, but not limited to, anti bacterial, anti fungal, and anti inflammatory. It would appear the fragrance is completely artificial though.
~~~~~~ Using & results ~~~~~~
The antiperspirant comes out in a powerful, thick dry spray which I always find gives me excellent and even coverage. This means I don't have to use loads at one time (though I am heavy handed!). What I like the most about this one though, is that when it hits my skin there is absolutely no sign whatsoever of any whiteness; no powder, not a trace, nada. It dries instantly and I can get dressed straight after applying this with no fear of white marks or yellow stains on my clothing.
I also never experienced any stinging or discomfort when applying it, even straight after shaving.
The fragrance is just to die for. I utterly adore it. When first sprayed I smell the fruity freshness of the watermelon the most, but this is tempered by a heavier sweet floral that stops the scent being too 'watery' and insipid. I don't know offhand what lotus smells like so I can't say if this is accurate, but the overall effect is beautiful! The watermelon scent is very good, it really does smell just like melon. I find this fragrance really helps me to feel fresh and it's a joy to apply this after a revitalising shower.
I don't currently undertake anything too strenuous on a day to day basis and I have found this spray to deal with everyday life perfectly well. I still smell it on my skin at night, though by this time it is mostly the heady floral I can detect, the fruity melon has all but gone.
There was one day the sun was belting down and I had to go out into town (to pay in a dooyoo cheque, actually!)- my usual bus route was closed due to roadworks and I couldn't see any temporary stops, so I ended up walking the whole way. I find walking to be more effort than it should be due to skeletal problems, and it's not helped when you have the sun blistering in your face. Anyway, by the time I got home that day there was little trace of this left, it hadn't held up very well. I felt I had to shower again and put my clothes straight in the wash!
~~~~~~ Recommend? ~~~~~~
I would, but I think my conclusion would be that this spray may be best avoided if you are going for a session at the gym or if you spend all day exerting yourself. The smell is incredibly delicious though so it's well worth trying for 'regular' days when I would say it'll be perfectly up to the job. Naming it "extra fresh" is a bit of a push really.
The can lasted me a bit over a week (sometimes using twice daily) which I was happy with so I would say it's good value if you can get it at a decent price. I wouldn't pay as much as £2.50 for it though, but I generally try not to pay that much for just one can anyway!
I am giving it 4 stars anyway, as it performs brilliantly for my day to day life and the scent is worth a million stars.
~~~~~~ Mess Head 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner ~~~~~~
I bought this in Poundland, and even though I generally avoid 2 in 1 products, I figured this would at least clean my hair and if I needed an extra conditioner than fine. I did only pay £1 for 900ml of this, so the price was definitely right for almost a litre of shampoo! I am not always that picky about shampoo, as I tend to make sure I use a decent conditioner anyway, so I really just look for a shampoo to clean my hair without over drying or irritating my scalp.
~~~~~~ First impressions ~~~~~~
This comes in a chunky red bottle with a pump cap. This is good, the size the bottle is it really needs a pump to avoid dropping it on your toes in the shower! I found opening the pump to be easy enough; there are arrows on the top of it to show you which direction to turn and it didn't stick or have me twisting it endlessly (and fruitlessly) like some pumps have in the past.
The shampoo itself is an opaque white colour, and quite a runny consistency. Due to the pump though, this isn't a huge problem as there is less chance of it running right off your hand. It smells really pleasant, nothing I can put my finger on but overall a really clean and fresh light scent. It smells a bit 'generic' shampoo, I'm sure a lot of people may know what I mean! It's what I remember shampoo smelling like in my childhood, before there was all the choice (available to me anyway) there is today.
There are no ingredients that are particularly note-worthy, the list of this shampoo is simply full of chemicals including parabens. It does contain glycerin and panthenol though. It also contains SLS (sodium laureth sulfate) second in quantity to water, which is a known irritant to sensitive souls.
~~~~~~ Using & results ~~~~~~
I find I need a fair bit of this 2 in 1 to get a decent lather as it doesn't seem to go very far on my hair. The lather created is not thick though, nor does it feel particularly conditioning. It does however clean my hair and when I am finished lathering it rinses out extremely easily and quickly, probably because it doesn't lather up very well. I have found this to be true of many cheaper shampoos, and though the quick rinsing is good for speed the lack of lather does let it down somewhat, as it feels like I am expending a lot of effort to wash my hair. I need to keep adding more to my head in order to get my whole scalp covered in shampoo - it just doesn't spread much. I do use just a little a time, since it is quite runny; if I try to put too much on my head at one time, it falls off and straight down the plug!
After rinsing, my hair feels very clean but it also feels a bit rough and too squeaky; not very cared for and I definitely need to use a separate conditioner as well. I did use this a few times without a separate conditioner, and though my hair was shiny, soft (for the most part) and clean, it was pretty frizzy and felt a bit frazzled at the ends - the conditioner element of this 2 in 1 definitely does nothing for my hair at all. It does leave a nice fresh scent on my hair, but this becomes unnoticeable after a short time.
~~~~~~ Recommend? ~~~~~~
This cleans my hair, and that's about it. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as when I use my usual conditioners and other products then this is absolutely fine. It is not one I will rush to buy again, but if things are tight one week then I will gladly buy this one; even though I use a fair bit of it each time, the large volume in the bottle means it does last a while. My other half uses it too and the bottle will last us several weeks. He uses it daily, I wash my hair every 2nd or 3rd day, depending on what I'm doing or if I'm going anywhere. We have used it as a shower gel as well when we ran out and when used on a body puff or similar it works really well for this too. It doesn't leave my skin feeling dry or irritated in any way.
I am undecided on whether I recommend this, as even though I would buy it again it doesn't really do what it claims, and it does not function as a 2 in 1 for me. I think 3 stars is good for this, since I can make it work and it's an excellent price. But ultimately, it isn't what it claims.
~~~~~~ Gum Hot Stuff ~~~~~~
I actually bought this thermal protector spray quite a few years ago now. I bought it at the same time I got a protective spray by Schwarzkopf which I adore, so never used this one much. I have used it now a grand total of twice and can only rate it as very poor. The last time I used it was quite recently, as I had run out of my normal one and I thought maybe it was my fault somehow it didn't perform the first time, so I gave it another go.
~~~~~~ First impressions ~~~~~~
This spray comes in a rather attractive 300ml black bottle, which is chock full of information, including some salon tips. It is designed to be used with heat styling tools to protect hair by preventing moisture loss and it also promises "smoother, shinier, longer lasting results" and claims to be "salon developed, salon tested, salon approved and salon preferred". I'll eat my hat if that's true! It is supposed to improve the performance of your straightening irons by taming your hair, making for effortless straightening so you can have a beautiful head of sleek shiny hair.
~~~~~~ Using it ~~~~~~
To use, it's simply a matter of spraying onto towel dried hair then combing through before blow drying and straightening. It is very easy to apply using the spray nozzle, and it does have the added bonus that it smells quite nice - a bit fruity, sweet and not really very 'harsh' chemical. When sprayed, the product is dispensed in quite a fine spray which does allow for nice even coverage without over using.
I found this one did leave a scent on my hair for quite a long time, although it only became noticeable if I pulled my hair under my nose! In any case, the smell isn't offensive at all in my opinion.
~~~~~~ Results ~~~~~~
Firstly, I found that this left my hair feeling a bit sticky. After use and throughout the day, if I combed through my hair with my fingers my hands felt they needed a wash! So it was off to a really bad start. Since my hair is really long, when I wear it down it does get touched a lot. I often have to flick it back over my shoulders and of course, if it's windy I will quickly smooth it down and finger comb it when I get in anywhere from outside. The coated feeling doesn't disappear over time either, it's pretty much there until I next wash my hair.
During use, I didn't find it at all easier to straighten my hair, I actualy found it harder! It didn't make my hair sleek and it was more like a battle trying to tame my hair, when it's usually so easy with my normal product. I do eventually get my hair straight, but it neither looks nor feels as smooth as usual and when I touch it lightly on the surface it just doesn't feel right; it's a bit fluffy feeling and looks puffier than the usual sleek barnet I get.
Shortly after using it (like, within an hour!) my hair has sprang into thick, frizzy looking waves and it really does not feel good at all to the touch. When it gets like that I can't fix it, my straighteners seem to be powerless against this assailant. The ends of my hair look almost matted instead of lying straight alongside each other if you know what I mean.
Put simply, there's nothing I can do but plait my hair or wash it to be rid of this foul beast!
~~~~~~ Recommend? ~~~~~~
I think I paid around £2 for this from Semi Chem, as I remember it was slightly cheaper than the other one I bought (which was £2.50 ish). Which is about £3 more than it's worth to me! It doesn't fulfill a single one of it's promises on my hair; my hair looks a dull, frizzy mess when I use this and I refuse to believe that it protects my hair effectively as my hair does not feel remotely conditioned - it feels dry and rough and looks it too, not the shiny, sleek and smooth head I was anticipating, so I cannot recommend this in any way, shape or form.
My hair is naturally quite dry and prone to a touch of the frizzies, but it is always soft and when styled (straight or curly) to wear hanging loose it is smooth and shiny. So perhaps this product is simply not compatible with my hair, but there are many, many products that do give me everything this one promises, so I know it's not just that my hair that can't be smooth, sleek and shiny.
When I originally posted this review on Ciao I offered my practically full 300ml bottle to anyone who was happy to let me have their address. I do still have it so if anyone wants to try it for free just let me know. It may work for someone else!
~~~~~~ John Frieda Frizz Ease Crème Serum ~~~~~~
I have wanted to try this for ages, and I finally got a good opportunity recently. While browsing the shelves of Boots, survey vouchers in one hand and an ever heavier growing basket in the other, I was doing sums to see how much I could possibly buy without going too far over my voucher total when I spotted the John Frieda display and the notice proclaiming 'Any 2 for £7.50'. I am a big fan of the Frizz Ease range and have had a lot of success with many of the products, usually buying them when they are on 3 for 2 which luckily is pretty often. But 2 for £7.50? Well, this night serum is priced at £7.39 a bottle so it was practically BOGOF. And I love a freebie.
So 2 bottles went in my basket and after double checking they were indeed included in the offer (almost too good to be true, right?), I went on my merry way.
~~~~~~ First impressions ~~~~~~
The bottles come in cardboard packaging, typical of the range and the bottles themselves are a fetching shade of midnight blue, with slight sparkles throughout - really pushing the night theme here! Unfortunately though, the bottle is not remotely transparent so you can't see how much you have left.
The blurb is as follows: "Infused with Damage-Mending Technology [whatever that is! *scoff*] and calming chamomile extract , this luxurious formula envelops each hair strand to stimulate deep transformational mending while you sleep. This midnight-mender visibly repairs breakage and split ends and deeply nourishes to add back much needed moisture. In the morning hair texture is dramatically improved and feels silky soft". I personally think this just sounds like silly pseudo-science and would like to know specifically what ingredients are used for these effects. But maybe that's just me!
The product is dispensed by a pump which I love. It's very handy and I found it easy to start - 4 or 5 pumps of it and the product came through. A word of warning though, the first bit came out in a splurt, so make sure your hand is ready to avoid wasting it! The crème itself is white and actually a bit runny. I expected it to be thicker, perhaps more like the normal serums in the range. Though I do appreciate the thinner consistency when applying, as I think a thick serum would be difficult to work through my hair when dry.
It smells quite light and sweet; it's very nice and I really like it. I can't put my finger on what the scent is though. Maybe a bit floral, but in a fresh way rather than a heavy cloying sweetness. I do smell it on my hair after application, but as I think it smells really lovely this is no hardship.
~~~~~~ Using it ~~~~~~
-- On dry hair, as instructed
You are directed to "Apply to dry hair before bedtime. Dispense a 10p size coin amount of crème, distribute evenly concentrating on dry, damaged ends and leave on overnight. Use more or less depending on hair type....recommended follow up: Frizz Ease shampoo the following morning" (of course).
My hair is very thick and falls just shy of my waist, so I needed considerably more than a 10p coin size blob! However, I did find it spread through my hair pretty easily. My hair is naturally quite dry, coarse and prone to the frizzies and it does seem to really drink this up. I don't apply this to the crown of my head, only from about my ears down, and I use about 4 or 5 pumps of the crème; this is enough to get it through my hair, paying most attention the bottom few inches.
After application, I am aware of it on my hair if I touch it, but it does not feel heavy or sticky.
-- On wet hair, oooh you rebel!
I also gave this a go on my freshly washed hair, much the same as the regular serum is applied. I really just done this to see if it could be used in this way, and if so whether it was better/worse/the same as the other serums.
I only needed one pump of the crème to apply to my wet hair; it spread through so easily and I then combed it through. I didn't want to go overboard since this is not how it's really meant to be used!
~~~~~~ Results ~~~~~~
When using it the night before washing my hair, I find that my hair feels really smooth in the morning, and still not sticky or heavy! There is also absolutely zero residue left on the pillow, though if I put my nose right up to it I can detect the scent, very faintly.
After shampooing, conditioning (not necessarily with John Freida products) and allowing to dry naturally I do see a difference - it looks less frizzy (when none of my usual products are used) with more defined curls and feels so very soft. How much it 'repairs' through the night I'm not sure - I mean, if you have a split end it needs cut in my opinion, simple as. I do use only moisturising/nourishing shampoos and conditioners on my hair but I do think this works well to smooth and nourish, therefore giving your hair a generally better feel and look. The regular serums work well to define my curls and keep the frizzies at bay, and I imagine this works in a similar way.
When I use it on my freshly washed hair and let it dry naturally, I see a difference again. My hair is softer than ever although my curls aren't quite as defined as when I use the regular serum, or indeed this one the night before. It does fight the frizz though and my hair just feels lovely and bouncy. So no harm using it this way, but you really do get better results using this on dry hair and the regular serum on damp hair. So happily, it's not just a marketing ploy!
It is recommended you use this 2 or 3 times per month, but I have actually been using it weekly as like I said, my hair is naturally quite coarse so I do need to take measures to keep it soft and smooth when curly, and sleek and smooth when I straighten! I am enjoying the results of using this crème serum weekly though, and I would say perhaps more frequent use would be beneficial to anyone else who has naturally dry hair prone to frizz.
~~~~~~ Recommend? ~~~~~~
Definitely! I would happily pay £7.39 for one bottle of this in the future (providing I can spare it of course) but to be honest I am unlikely to buy any of the more premium hair care brands unless they are on some sort of offer, even those I adore like Frizz Ease - even though they are great, effective products they are a tad pricey, so I do wait for at least a 3 for 2 these days. You really don't need a lot of this even if, like me, you need to use more than directed so I do think it offers decent value. I have used mine around 8 times and as far as I can tell by weight, I still have a decent amount left. I haven't even started the second bottle yet so I'm getting excellent value, considering I basically got BOGOF!
~~~~~~ Boots fragrance free eye make up remover pads ~~~~~~
I bought these eye make up remover pads many, many moons ago. In fact, I bought them before I even moved back home from Oxford and that was about 2.5 years ago! I used to go out a lot in Oxford see, so I needed something to remove makeup. I used them a couple of times again recently after two rare social outings which required more effort from me than simply being clean!
~~~ Packaging, ingredients & directions ~~~
These pads come in a small circular tub (containing 40), in keeping with the Boots fragrance free range. This is a budget range and the packaging does reflect this; however it manages to do so without looking cheap and tacky. The tub is simple, in shades of blue. The lid easily screws on and off, even when my hands are a bit wet or slippery from the pads themselves.
The directions state to wipe the pads over closed eyes to remove eye shadow and eye liner, and downwards over lashes to remove mascara. Now, I understand the logic of rubbing down the lashes but really, how long would I be sitting there for, deconstructing my power-lashes, doing it that way? A very long time I can tell you. I follow the directions as stated and once the pad has removed all the make up from my eyelids, I flip it over, wrap it around my finger and use it to rub side to side on the underside of my lashes. I have always done this same action when removing mascara (whether it's with these pads or wipes), as the mascara is not only on the upper surface of my lashes, is it?
The pads have a nice short ingredients list, simply consisting of liquid paraffin, vitamin A and vitamin E. You should discard them 24 months after opening, but I haven't and they're still absolutely fine. They stay nice and moist so long as you keep the lid closed properly; it is very effective at keeping the moisture in. My pot isn't opened much though, as my need for these is somewhat rare. But if in doubt, chuck it out!
~~~ Using them & results ~~~
Well first off, these remove my make up really well when I use them as I described above. I find I really do need to do the undersides of my lashes as well though, otherwise all my mascara is not removed. This of course means that following the directions does not remove all your mascara (I do pile it on though I must admit). Doing it my way does mean that I am using these on open eyes and although I obviously don't stick them right in there, I experience no adverse effect by doing this. They don't cause my eyes to sting, water, itch or be red and the skin on my delicate eye area doesn't suffer in any way for using these.
I generally get one eye out of one pad (using both sides), as they are pleasingly moist. I don't wear a lot of eyeshadow or eyeliner though, the only thing I pile on is mascara, They are however really oily and greasy and smell a little chemical-y. This greasiness is not pleasant during use, but I do feel that it means I don't need to scrub at my eyes, so the whole process is easier. Once I am finished though, I can't wait to get a facial wipe and clean the oil off my face! I also go over my eyelids and lashes with the wipe, to remove all traces of the oil before doing my usual skin care routine.
The pads are quite small at just under 5cm diameter, but they're obviously big enough for me, and due to their moistness they do not feel rough or uncomfortable when rubbed against my skin - they glide over it with ease. After using these pads, I have never woken up the next morning with the last traces of make up smudged below my eyes, so I am delighted with how well they work at removing it all.
~~~ Recommend? ~~~
I certainly would. Yes, they are oily and greasy but they do make relatively light work of removing my eye make up. I think they are 'meant' to be oily though, as the tub also directs you to remove excess oil with a tissue after use. Like I said, I believe this aids with easy removal so although it's not particularly pleasant during use it's better than having to scour your make up off!
They are a perfectly satisfactory quality, in terms of lasting as well - mine are still completely usable and I must have bought them in the region of 3 years ago. Of course, someone who wears makeup daily will get through 40 of these much quicker but I do think this is testament to the quality of this budget buy. At just £1.52 in Boots currently (and there's a 3 for 2 mix n match thing, and don't forget your 4 Advantage card points), I frankly can't imagine spending more for something that does the same job! I would recommend you use a facial wipe to remove excess oil though rather than a tissue, as it feels 'cleaner'.