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Even though I usually have my legs or bikini area waxed professionally, I regularly have to do it myself, for financial but also practical reasons (when abroad for example). I therefore have tried most of the brands available from boots that is 3, 4 or 5 if your lucky. The market of waxing kits is a surprisingly small one which occupies, under the shaving foams, a tiny area of even the largest boots. And yet I don't know any woman who has never shaved or waxed herself!
Price and Packaging:
All this rambling to say that when you need a homemade wax job, you either buy Nair, Boots' own or Veet... Their prices are roughly similar (from 5 to 8 pounds) , Boot's own slightly cheaper of course, and come in a range of products corresponding to different use, parts of the body or strength (bikini, face, legs, sensitive skin wax, wax for tough short hair, etc). Which brings the first advantage of this waxing kit: it includes large wax strips for your legs, and smaller ones for the bikini (or other smaller areas). This was a big plus, as it meant I could do an overall holiday prep of my body with the one pack. There is in total 32 wax strips, so plenty enough to do your bikini area and your lower legs (and maybe thighs, depends on everyone's size and hair density).
This kit contained not only the usual finishing soothing wipes but also preparation cooling wipes, which was a very welcome supplement (which is not always supplied in other brands). This meant I could clean the area that was to be waxed (indispensible to avoid infections) and numb a teeny bit my skin (although we're not talking miracle here, it just makes waxing a bit more comfortable, espacially on your bikini). The finishing wipe was good enough and removed all traces of wax away quite well.
I was neither impressed nor unimpressed by the wax. It worked fairly well overall on my legs, but left some hair here and there I had to get with twizzers. My hair is quite fine, so maybe that's why it didn't grip all of them. It did not leave much wax at all on my legs, which can happen quite often with wax strips.
On my bikini, the smaller waxing strips enabled me to be quite precise and not harm any part of skin that did not need waxing. It was also good to get to those angles a large wax band would simply not be able to get a hold of properly. However, the wax only worked when applied very precisely directly in the direction of the hair growth (and therefore pulled in the opposite direction), if not, it just hurt like hell, and leaves all the wax and your hair on your skin. Knowing that the hair in the bikini area grows in every direction possible, a fair amount a technique was required as well as a good knowledge of my own hair growth directionality! It was also quite time consuming, as I could do only very small areas at a time, and created some awkward waxing positions... But I managed to do quite a decent job eventually. Experience required though!
Overall, a good wax, although not exceptional, which is much easier to use on legs than on the bikini area. Would recommend it for those who are used to doing their bikini wax themselves.
Also quite good value for money as I managed to do both my legs and bikini using the one pack (which was in promotion, under 5 pounds).
Not the best clinique product, and certainly not the best make up remover.
First of all, this is a dual make up remover, that is to say that it is half oil half whatever else and you need to shake it before use. I do not really like oily make up removers as they leave you with a very uncomfortable residue, but had to buy this product as I was stranded in an airport, with a lot of make up on, for three days, without my suitcase... Costly mistake (the duty free prices are still much higher than boots' ones, for the same products). This make up remover left me feeling like my skin was dirty and not particularly soft (which is the main claim of oil based make up removers).
Not exceptional. Certainly not better than other non oil based make up removers I have tried in the past, like the Simples one. It was not inefficient, but for the same result and comfort I could have bought a clear lotion, which would have left no residue, required as many cotton pads, and amount of rubbing. However, it might be a good alternative for those with a sensitive skin or dry skin, as the oil in the lotion was quite moisturising and gentle.
Price and packaging:
Very pricey product, not great value for money in my opinion. Plus, I needed to use quite a lot at a time, so it did not last very long. The packaging however, was quite clever: it had a type of child safe lock which meant it wouldn't open in my suitcase (we have all had that moment when you open your toiletry bag and notice that some lotion has leaked all over your toiletries or clothes...). So quite good for travelling.
So overall, not the best value for money make up remover on the market, and certainly not for those who dislike oil based cosmetics. But quite gentle on the skin, which is left soft.
This book is the first one in the best-selling Millenium Trilogy and the one that got us all hooked on Stieg Larsson's oh-so-swedish thrilling atmosphere. Now one of the most famous book in Europe, and with two (very good) film adaptations out, The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo has been widely reviewed and discussed. So I will try to be concise in my presentation of the characters and storyline while outlying the reasons why everyone should read what could be called the mother of all Nordic Thrillers.
The main action line takes place in modern day Sweden, whith flashbacks to the country' murky pre-WW2 political atmosphere. However, no need to be an expert in Swedish Culture and Modern History to understand the murky waters of the politico-industrial milieu, the extreme right tendencies and mysogyny of some parts of society: these are common to many Western Countries, even in Sweden (however perfect, blonde and tall they seem to us).
This political and moral perspective is led by the first main character to be introduced: a journalist called Mikael Blomkvist who owns a newspaper, Millenium. This character is specialising in politico-industrial scandals (just as Stieg Larsson was in real life) and has just been successfully sued for libel after a trap was set against him by a powerful industrial. His journal hit by the condemnation of his owner, with no money, and his professional credit in bad shape, he receives a very strange proposition from a dying Northern Industrial Baron...
...And he accepts! He therefore ends up in the middle of nowhere (and in the swedish north it can literally mean that) investigating the disappearance of a young girl within one of those neurotic wealthy industrial families (that Poirot accostumed us to!) and uncovering more than he bargained for!
Here enters the second main character of the Millenium Trilogy: Lisbeth Salander, an androgynous girl (after which the English version of the book is named) living on the margins of society, but also the key asset of a security company. Because this girl is a computer genius and can hack into anything she wants (and she does, on too regular a basis for her boss's taste). Her character is the true achievement of Stieg Larsson, a completely new type of heroine, seriously disturbed psychologically (not without cause as is discovered throughout the series) but intent on helping Mikael in his task. That is because what Mikael is uncovering in his enquiry is mysogyny so deep it has turned into savage madness and Lisbeth hates men who hate women (the swedish title of this book is indeed Men who Hate Women).
And that's all I can say about the plot without spoiling any of it! But what I can safely say about this book is that it is a master piece of Nordic Thriller, with a dark and cold atmosphere but also a lot of human tolerance and warmth. This book calls the victimisation of women what it should be called : mad mysogyny and for once gives us a heroine capable and willing to fight back and to fight dirty. The hero does not disapoint mankind either, even though he is no one-dimensional knight in shiny armour. However, the relationship between men and women is not the main subject of the series; the personal fight for survival of the two main characters is, as well as their fight for others, whom no one else helps.
The only negative point is the English translation.... does not translate the journalistic style I could read through in the French translation (Stieg Larsson was a journalist), and has quite a few grammar errors as well...
All in all, a must read, for anyone, about the fight for survival of those living on the edge of society but also about what happens behind closed doors in the elite of society. You will fall in love with the characters and I will guarantee you will buy the second volume before you haven't even finish this one!
I have never been convinced by Lush body care products, but decided to buy this hand cream because the two main ingredients were almond oil and chamomile, the closest France has got to baby oil. My mum always used on me and my sister and swears by it. So if its good for baby skin, should be good for me isn't it? However, I have a mixed opinion on this one.
This is the main problem of this cream: as it is oil based, it gets absorbed very very slowly... Which is a big problem for a hand cream: you has 20min to spare not using their hands at all?!
Apart from that the texture is smooth and easy to apply, just be careful to only use a very very small quantity at a time, it will spread easily to your whole hands.
Comfort and Sensitivity:
The cream, once absorbed feels comfortable and does feel kind to skin (to borrow a competitor's slogan...).However, reading the ingredients list, I noticed that it contained two different types of parabens! Parabens (some of them are now illegal to use, others still legal, but under suspicion of not being so good for you), are strong chemicals used in skin care creams to improve the texture but they are widely criticised for their cancerigen properties. People with breast cancer are usually forbidden by their doctors to use cosmetics with any parabens in. For this reason, many big brands have completely or in certain ranges given up on parabens, such as The Body Shop, Clinique, Origins, etc. Lush sells itself on its homemade and natural ingredients image so I would have expected a bit more concerned for harsh chemicals.
I found after the first use that my skin felt very very soft, an effect consistent whatever the state of my hands are in. That is the main positive point to this cream. However, the effect was short lived, and you need to apply the cream daily (like most of other hand creams to be honest).
Price and Packaging:
The price is quite high for a hand cream, probably because it uses a lot of essential oils. However, the large packaging takes a very long time to be finished (8months for me, who used it every day). The label says that if you bring back 5 containers you'll get a mask free, but it would take me years! So a bit of an empty promise here.
The container is also fairly fragile and it opened twice in my suitcase, emptying its oily contents all over. Wrap it up separately if you travel!
Now a classic of Clinique skin care range, All About Eyes is one of the most efficent eye cream on the market, albeit with some minor flaws.
A creamy solution that takes a long time to penetrate, which is what you want for an eye cream (the fragile area around the eye needs slow release moisture and takes time to soak up anything). However, that means you will have to wait a while before putting any make up on or put on your glasses.... This is the main reason why I only use it at night, as it is not the perfect texture for a busy morning, trying to get ready in a rush!
This cream feels very light and smooth on the skin, nearly like silk, but as described above, it takes a long time to be absorbed so not for those who don't like to feel any residue on their skin.
It is also good for sensitive eyes like mine: it never stings when accidentally put too close to the eye, and contains no perfume!
This is the only cream on the market which acts, albeit fairly subtly, on my serious and chronic dark circles. I have actually done a test to verify the impression I had that it had improve them: it consisted in putting on the cream only on one eye for two weeks, twice a day, and I could see a difference (although let's not exagerate, the difference was not so flagrant that I looked like I had a black eye... but any improvement, however little, is always welcome when it comes to my No1 skin problem!).
The cream also moisturises intensely, and my skin never feels tight around my eyes. My mother claims it does make her skin less crinkly (her words) but has no visible effect on deep lines.
Value for money:
The cream is indeed quite pricey (16 to 20£, or even more in some online shops or outside the UK), and the small pot does not last very long. But as it is the only cream I found that worked for my dark circles, I keep on buying it. Clinique is a reliable brand and this eye cream does fulfill its promises, even though the texture can annoy some people. So overall, I would recommend trying it for those with fatigue problems, or for those who can just afford to buy a comfortable and very moisturising eye cream. Not for those looking for an anti-aging or wrinkle reducing cream though!
I bought this product as part of a 3-for-2 offer and chose it in black, which usually is a risky colour for fast finish nail varnish... However, I was quite impressed with the result.
The texture is a bit patchy (but this is not surprising for a dark colour like black) but after two coats, you practically can't see it. The overall finish is rather good and lasts for a fairly long time.
As to the claim that it dries fast, I found that it does indeed dries quite fast, but superficially. That is to say that you will be able to touch your nails risk-free after 1 minute but it will take much longer (aprox 1 hour) to be truly hardened. So no dish-washing, handling of heavy/sharp object or clothes changing for that length of time.
The main advantage of this nail varnish is its price and its easy use! The container is small enough to change colour often if your fed up with the one you have, or bulk buy several colours at a time.
I bought this nail varnish in MINT CHOC CHIP (ie pale blue), FAIRY CAKE (pale pink) and ORANGE SODA because of a 3-for-2 offer and I didn't regret it!
The colours looked very cute and in trend (the ones seen all the over the magazines for this summer) and they looked just as good on my nails.
The texture was very good: fluid enough to be easily applied and covering enough to only need two coats.
The name of this product claims a lasting finish, chip resistance, but I was a bit disappointed that I had to either touch up or reapply after two days only. Although I suppose that when it chipped, it was fairly localised, and did not spread to the whole nail so could just touch up discreetly.
One of the main advantages of this nail varnish is its price (very cheap), the fact that colours change every season and its small containers which means you can change colours every season and restock guiltfree! I have already bought the new nude colours for the autumn...
I chronically suffer from very dark circles under my eyes and am always on the lookout for the perfect concealer. I usually change each time I finish a tube, but I have to say that I would probably buy this one again.
The first advantage of this clinique product is the texture: it is neither too liquid (and therefore not covering enough) nor too solid (for a cakey effect), so you end up with a fairly good balance between coverage and aspect. The whole effect feels quite moisturising as well.
Secondly, the coverage itself is fairly good and lasts all day, so you don't look more tired at the end of the day than when you started it. Nevertheless, as it does not completely cover my dark circle, I use it in combination with a bit of my foundation on top as well as a stick concealer as a base coat.
The price is indeed quite lofty, but the product does last very very long because you only need a small amount at a time: I use it every day and it has last me more than 4 months!
So overall, a good investment for those with medium dark circles who are looking for a comfortable and long lasting concealer!
This is my current daytime foundation and I do like it a lot!
First major bonus point: no cakey effect! I like to have a natural look (even with three tons of make up on...) and this foundation gives you exactly that. You can play with the way you apply it for more or less coverage: for instance I use a foundation pencil for more coverage when my skin is patchy or has blemishes, and with my fingers when i need less coverage. Whichever way I wore it, it didn't give me that horrible jaw line foundation line, which is my make up nemesis, so major brownie point for that.
Even though I have an oily skin, this foundation is non greasy so does not make me shine but it won't matify my skin either (isn't made to do) so I regularly apply transparent powder and it works perfect. I also sometimes mix it with my matifying moisturiser when i just want to even my tone a bit. The combination of powder (reapplied at lunchtime) and this foundation lasts all day. On the other hand, the foundation on its own does not last as long. However, it does fade away evenly and gradually so you actually won't even realise it's gone until you take your make up off before bedtime! From experience, it resists persipration pretty well as well (you can miss your tube, run for a bus, and arrive at work late, but still looking pretty!).
Lastly, the soft texture feels like a moisturiser as much as a foundation so it is very comfortable all day long. You won't even feel like you have make up on and it won't stain your white shirt collar.
All in all a very good daytime foundation which discreetly make your skin look softer and dewy.
I already used the Stay Perfect Foundation in No7's range for day use as it is very discreet and I don't need much coverage during daytime (I prefer a more natural look). But I wanted a foundation for night time, with a bit more coverage and a matte finish so went for this one, on the shop assistant's advice and I was not disappointed!
The texture is quite thick but not too hard to apply (you just have to be careful not to put too much on, if you want to avoid a cakey effect) and the coverage was even. I would advise to use a sponge rather than a pencil, which does not cope very well with mousse textures.
It really did have a long lasting matte effect, which is always hard to achieve for oily skins like mine. Someone even told me my skin looked like Cheryl Cole's! A definite keeper then...
The only negative points were that I would not recommend it for daytime use (as the shop assistant advised) but rather for nightime if like me, you don't like your foundation to show. Secondly, the "intelligence" of the foundation has its limits, and in winter, with my skin a few shades lighter, I did turn a teeny bit yellow...
But overall a good foundation I would recommend for oily skins in need of a bit of glam before a night out!
This is the first lip liner I ever bought, to go with a red lip laquer from No 7 as well, as advised by the sale assistant: not a tremendous match.
The combination unfortunately did not work at all: the lip liner had a lighter texture (and was not semi permanent like the lip laquer) which meant that it lasted less than the lipstick. When i put the lip laquer after the pencil, it removed it wherever it touched it! I thought it was because the formula of the lip laquer was particularly strong, but the same happened with other regular lipsticks... This lack of hold worsens as the day goes by and you end up with no lip liner at all left by lunchtime! Even after leaving to dry out for a while, the slightest touch of anything dissolves it completely. So not for those who want a resistant lipliner.
For the positives, the soft colours it comes in means that they will adapt to your lip colours and skintone easily and also to different shades of lipstick quite subtly (no tarty effect of having a lip liner three shades darker than the lipstick!). Secondly, the texture is agreeable, soft and souple, which also helps putting it on evenly.
I am not too sure about the moisturising claims (how can you measure the level of moistures of your lip borders when you never had dry lips?!) but it certainly did not dry them out. The soft texture meant it was easy to apply precisely, and only on your lip contours (I needed an idiot-proof one, as it was my first time using that type of product, and this one is).
Overall not too bad an introduction to lipliners for me. I will finish the stick as I am fairly satisfied of it, but maybe try something else next time, just to compare. However, I'll definitely will have to buy another for those strong hold lipsticks!
Eye shadow mousses have become a staple for the party girl, but unfortunately this Rimmel version was less than impressive!
While it does last all night, you better not rub or it comes up in scales a bit like plaster comes off old walls: not the best look!
The texture is ok, but it is hard to apply evenly and takes a bit of practice to get a smooth and even finish. But I have to say that the finish looks a bit tacky and reminds me of 90s glittery eyeshadows more than a smooth metallic or wet look.
The major problem is the horrible sensation of tightening of the fragile eye skin when it dries off. After removal, it makes my skin feel dry and very sensitive as if I had rubbed it all night with sandpaper, even though it actually comes off easily, with no need to rub, with an ordinary make up remover lotion.
There are much better party eye shadows on the market!
As a fan of the Sacrpetta series, I was a bit disapointed by this installement.
For those not familiar with the series, and because the jacket of the book claims that this is the perfect way to get re-introduced to the coroner sleuth, I shall summarise what the series are all about. Scarpetta is a medico-legal expert, head of her department in Virginia, except in this installement, where she works in New York. Together with her trio sidekicks (her now husband and former FBI agent Benton, her uber-gifted niece FBI agent Lucy and her rogue police partner Marino) she solves some of the worse crimes whose victims end up on her coroner table.
In this volume of the series, Scarpetta and her entourage are all personally targetted in different ways but appear somehow linked together and as a result the narative's focus alternates from one character to the other until the final chapter brings all the characters and all the naratives together.
The book was actually not focused on Scarpetta as much as on previous volumes, but on her usual sidekicks as well, all of which appear as quite unpleasant people really. I used to like the characters, but they are portrayed in such negative light (all of them dissimulative, going behind each others' back, selfish, etc) in this book that I did not want them to "win". Ambiguous heroes can be interesting, but here their negative portrayal just hindered the course of the action as they attempt to hide information from one another. Scarpetta, on the other hand, seems like an old woman, always behind the action and not quite able to cope with the events of which she is meant to be at the centre.
Another disapointment was the near absence of medico-legal evidence in a book meant to be centred on a medico-legal expert using her skills to solve crimes!
Finally, the book was not boring in itself, but the build up to the climax led to an anti-climax more than anything. The end was quick, explanations of everything given in one page, and the final action short and uneventful. The Uber villain portrayed as a moriarty-type oponent dies without talking of even putting a fight, just like his henchmen (which were actually the most interesting characters).
All in all, a goodish summer read, but below the level Cornwell got us used to!
No7 is a very inconsistent brand indeed, some of its products are absolutely amazing while others are decidedly not worth the price tag! And this Lip Laquer is verging on the latter.
I bought it looking for a red lipstick that would not move and keep a vibrant colour all day long! While the shade was perfect for me, the strong base coat and moisturising gloss left a lot to be desired. The texture of the mat long lasting coat was too fluid and needed two applications at least to give an even finish : the problem was that you had to wait ages for each coat to dry before you put on the next one, otherwise you wiped off the first coat completely, leaving you with very unflaterring patchy lips and you had to start all over again. So not a quick fix.
Secondly, the gloss was so sticky I could feel my lips pop apart each time i opened my mouth and the glue would give way! I bet that was sexy to watch... On the plus side, the gloss did last a fairly long time.
The third problem was that to reapply it during the day (after lunch) was long and tedious. Moreover, even with make up remover, it never came off completely at night and made my lips very dry in the morning!
Finally, one last advice: do not eat in public with this lip laquer on! I went to a restaurant restrooms to retouch my make at the end of a meal with friends and my lips looked like they had been lashed and were bloody! The lip laquer had worn off except in the creases of my lips!
For the positives, it was useful on nights out or after work drinks, as little imperfections can not be seen in dim lights, and it did give the impression of fuller, healthier lips and it did shine!
I normally try to stay clear off designer cosmetics as the heafty pricetag is often only matched by the amount of perfume (and therefore potential skin irritation) they put in their creams! However, this Lancome classic is worth trying for those who like to pamper their skin.
I usually tailor my day and night creams to my skin type (oily) but this cream is an exception.It blends quite easily and does not leave a residue. So even though it obviously doesn't reduce shinyness (my main concern with day cream) I love using this one! This light texture makes it usable by any skin type, from dry to oily (my mum has a very dry skin but swears by it!).
It also does make my skin souple and soft and really makes it feel more "relaxed". It is no cure for a stressful lifestyle or uneven skintone (the most common consequence of stress on skin) but it makes the beauty routine a real moment of pleasure.
However, because this cream does not matify my skin (indispensable in the morning for me) I use it at night. I know there is the night cream version but I actually prefer using the day cream because it has a lighter texture. There is nothing better after a long day at the office to just clean my face and put on that cream to feel beautiful again!
The only downsize with this cream is the pricetag.... Which is why I only buy it as a treat once in a while, when there is a boots point promotion or something. On the plus side, it does last for a while as you do not need a big amount for each use.
Overall a cream that is all about the pleasure of putting something that feels and smells good on your skin after a stressful day (or to start the day well). A bit of indulgence in a luxury pot!