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jodiestokes

jodiestokes
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Member since: 08.08.2009

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      13.03.2012 23:09
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      Rimmel could have done so much better for Kate.

      <==Kate and her collection==>

      There's no denying that Kate Moss is a monumentally successful model, with her 'girl next door looks' she has a broad appeal that men allure to, women aspire to and is deemed as faintly accessible. The fusion of those powerful ingredients, along with her flirtation with the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, has given her an underground status that can only be described as iconic, an image of cool and the classic image of beauty. Her lengthy career as Rimmel's number one cover girl has clearly been celebrated through Rimmel's endorsement of her very own, arguably inevitable, lipstick collection and lipstick is the one area of cosmetics that I would suggest Rimmel usually excel, with historically exciting pallets, high quality products and excellent value for money. The marketing idea is more than sound and Kate's name is likely to gather a huge amount of interest (including my own), but exploring the reality of the collection I cannot help but wonder if Rimmel have become a fraction complacent, relying too heavily on that glamorous name to push the sale and neglecting to invest enough time and effort into the overall craftsmanship of the product itself. That's not to say that this isn't a competent collection, it just doesn't excite or sport the highest possible quality in the same way previous Rimmel collections have executed so perfectly before in my opinion.

      <==Packaging, cost and availability==>

      The Kate Moss collection's casing is fairly plain, but never the less, easy on the eye. With a matt black case, shiny black central ribbon and the Kate Moss signature etched in bright red, it all makes for an attractive yet simple style choice. Rimmel have stayed true to their budget friendly ethos and the Kate Moss collection will set you back around £5-£6 depending on where you go. You can expect to find the collection in a range of high street cosmetic stores as well as selected online shops.

      <==Overall opinion==>

      There are seven different shades in the range which Rimmel have tipped as "chic" and "fashion-forward", having had an opportunity to inspect the whole range in an 'in shop' examination I would happily concur with the term "chic" but "fashion-forward" is a little over rated in my opinion, the shades are indeed all fashionable and all are likable, but there's nothing new or exciting here to boast as 'forward'. The complete range has a variation of reds, pinks, neutrals and a purple which all sport a good depth of colour, and like Kate herself, score a goal in terms of broad appeal. The shades are numbered from 1 to 7 which again is a lapse in creativity in my opinion, I'm aware that they all belong to 'Kate Moss' and perhaps Rimmel didn't want to infringe by putting their stamp on them but it all feels a little bit lazy, we should have been privy to some cheesy names with the Kate theme attached to them, to simply name them 1 to 7 just seems like an afterthought to me.

      I choose the unimaginatively named 'number 4' which is best described as a Cadbury's chocolate, rich, deep purple and arguably one of the only shades to really stand out in the collection. It's a shade that is a little bit out of my usual comfort zone given that it is fairly dark and I would normally opt for a shade with a certain amount of red to add warmth to my incredibly fair complexion. Stood in the shop, I considered number 4 to be the darkest possible shade that I could have gone to without looking pasty and drawn but in retro-spec it wasn't the best suited (or the finest choice) and ultimately disappointed when it became apparent that it was a lot darker than its in case appearance. A big thumbs down for not staying true to the in case appearance.

      The moisture content of this product is fairly well balanced and so it glides on evenly with very little effort involved, the trouble is, is that it also glides on super thick and the pressure applied seems to make little to no difference at all, its thick, thick, thick. I would speculate that whichever colour you choose, you run the risk of looking a fraction heavily made-up but obviously the tissue to lipstick trick, that is inbuilt into every girl's brain before birth, is likely to heed some more satisfactory results. That aside, it does gives your kissers a good rehydration boost, helps plump them up for a more full lipped effect (which all us ladies tend to love) and sports an ideal shine that sits somewhere between a matt and gloss.

      As I have already mentioned, 'number 4' looks a lot darker when it is applied, in fact, in certain lights it looks flat out murky black and at the age of 33 the Goth look is not altogether that becoming, especially not on me. Another problem I found, is that when I attempted to lessen the consistency by wiping a little bit off and re-blending it, the lipstick wasn't all that helpful to the plight and tended to mottle in areas. In fairness to Rimmel (and of course Kate Moss), the mottling issue is mainly down to the colour that I chose which appears to have been made slightly waxier than the rest of the range and so is not an overall reflection of the entire collection which is considerably more pliable.

      They say adapt or die (adapt or chuck it in the bin in this case) and I've found that by using a lipstick brush 'number 4' applies with a much greater effect, mixing it up with other random shades has also given my old lippys a brand new lease of life but this does render the handbag option out of the question and so it's another thumbs down for sheer awkwardness and failure to meet consumer 'on the go' demands. On the flipside, the handbag option is a thumbs up for most other colours in the range.

      Overall, I'd have to conclude that there's a tremendous amount of hype and not an awful lot of excitement here. Rimmel have a healthy CV of superb lipstick ranges and unfortunately the Kate Moss collection, as a whole, falls slightly under par with the rest.

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        06.03.2012 14:22
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        Eye quite like it.

        <==Introducing Youth Code==>

        L'Oreal's Youth Code is one of the more notably effective anti-aging eye creams that I have tested in recent times. Although some of the claims are almost certainly over rated, I cannot deny an improvement to the overall quality of my skin, albeit not in the area that the claims suggest.

        <==Cost, packaging and all that jazz==>

        L'Oreal's Youth Code comes in a 15ml see-through, screw top pot which is housed in a reasonably posh looking cardboard box that sports all the relevant information such as directions for use and ingredients. You can expect to pay anywhere between £8and £15 depending on where you go and the product can be found in the majority of highstreet cosmetic stores as well as a number of online shops.

        <==What gets right under my skin==>

        When it comes to anti-aging products, there is nothing guaranteed to grip my goat more than vague product detailing when set alongside a parade of boastful claims and made up fancy names for a combination of standard ingredients. L'Oreal's Youth code has not been an exception and gone and plonked us on the kisser with this baffling thing called ' Pro-gen technology', suffice to say that it's either glamorised brand waffle or the mark of pure genius and the future in anti-aging technologies. Assuming that you're a bit of a cynic (like my good self), then you might want to know what exactly this all means, and more to the point what the blinkers is in it?

        <==Claims, ingredients, baffling science, yet more claims and my opinion on it all==>

        Well, they say that Youth Code is 'inspired by the science of genes,' and after some extensive scientific studies and a whole host of strokey beard meetings they've managed to come up with this: "When put under certain stress, skin genes linked to epidermal recovery are activated. This activation is known as gene expression". In mature skin they found that when skin became exposed to external aggression (exfoliation) gene expression took a considerable length of time to activate when compared to the reaction times of younger skin, which indicated to them that mature skin has a slower reaction time and also takes longer to heal. Okay, so the first bit is science but let's face it the verdict is obvious really. They then go on to claim that: "The Youth Code moisturising formula helps improve the skin's ability to behave more youthfully" which seems to imply that the 'pro-gen technology' has the ability to tamper with our skins genetic blueprint and accelerate the 'gene expression' process. It's almighty claim, but the link between the science and 'pro-gen technology' is eyebrow-raisingly vague in my opinion, and thus remains a bit of a mystery. The only ingredient I can speculate that might solve that mystery is called 'Bifida Ferment lysate' which appears to improve sensitive skin and increase its resistance to aggression.

        There are at least four different types of moisturiser in this product as well as an antioxidant called 'Ascorbyl Glucoside' which also acts as a whitening agent, so despite the rambling confusions of the 'pro-gen' there's some pretty good skin goodies to be had, though it's worth bearing in mind that there are also a couple of potential irritants.

        One of the more ambitious claims about Youth Code is that "In 1 hour, wrinkles appear reduced and skin looks rejuvenated". Well, let's put it to the test then........

        <==The overall experience==>

        The consistency of the cream is incredibly thick which is bound to be a bit off putting to those of us with spot prone skin at first, because let's face it, thick creams have that historic reputation of clogging pores. However, the texture is both incredibly smooth and super silky, so it glides on nice and evenly with only the smallest amount required and not a lot of effort involved, in conclusion, it never suffocated my pores, caused a breakout or any kind of skin irritation. In fact, my skin felt suitably soothed and rehydrated with every application, and given that I have incredibly sensitive skin I would suggest that the product is very gentle and pleasant to use.

        At 33 I've the beginnings of a few fine lines and the '1 hour reduction claim' was an attractive persuasion, but alas, it was soon proved over ambitious and although my eyes did look a fraction fresher there was no great change to write home about in this short time period.

        After the first week of using Youth Code I noticed a subtle improvement to the overall texture of my skin which felt smoother and softer. The puffiness around my eyes had also been reduced which was a consistantly pleasant attribute for this product to behold.

        After a couple of weeks I encountered a bit of a mirror shock when I was greeted with what can only be described as 'reverse panda eyes'. The skin around my eyes appeared to be at least two shades lighter than the rest of my face, but although there was a clear difference in skin colour, what was even more evident was that the long standing dark circles that I have a tendency to sport were now near total non-existence. I wasn't too keen on this new two shades lighter business at first, but given the choice between three shades darker or two shades lighter, the lighter seemed to be the fairer exchange (fairer being the optimum word) and much easier to conceal with make-up. There's no mention of skin lightening properties amidst the claims and one can only assume that L'Oreal might put this down to my skin rekindling the ability to behave more youthfully. Overall, the skin around my eyes looked more even toned and I suspect that when used in conjunction with the day cream you might expect to heed some truly significant results, and of course, skin that matches the rest of your face.

        I used the Youth code for a good six weeks and found it to be a more than adequate product. The ability to reduce puffiness and inflammation meant that those fine lines looked far less noticeable, but never the less, remained the same. If it couldn't help iron them out in six weeks then I think '1 hour' is a bit misleading at best, having said that, it's worth noting the careful and clever wording in the claim; 'appear reduced' as opposed to 'are reduced' which is bound to be misconstrude as the product flat out having the ability to reduce them in my opinion, particularly when you attach 'in 1 hour' to the sentance because it stands to reason that if they can 'appear' reduced in one single hour, then long term use would surely give rise to a more impressive lifting of lines? That's not to say that my eyes didn't appear altogether more youthful because surprisingly enough they actually did, so L'Oreal clearly haven't spun us a total yarn and perhaps there's something to this 'pro-gen technology' after all. My eyes looked fresher, a little bit younger and a dashing more lively, all thanks to the mystery that is the Youth Code.

        I would certainly recommend this product, but given the annoying mystery science and that misleading '1 hour' claim is why Youth Code gets a 3.5 out of a possible 5.

        ~~Also written on Ciao under the same user name~~

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          15.02.2012 15:39
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          Brave the cost and reap the benefits

          <==Introduction==>

          A recent trip to my local dental hygienist wound up landing me in a spot of verbal bother. The inclusion of two, heaped spoonfuls of sugar in my tea and coffee had not gone unnoticed by my grumpy hygienist who promptly gave me a good telling off.

          The discovery of some erosion on couple of my teeth was a disappointing and alarming find considering that my nashers are a feature I try to take as much pride in as I can. The hygienist felt that my sugar antics were largely responsible and strongly recommended that I switch to an alternative sugar or sweetener, to prevent any potential cavity formation. This came with a bit of a grumble on my part because as upset as I was with the bad news, I have never the less tried and discarded many alternatives over the years. Alternative sugars and sweeteners tend to share a common ground in synthetic taste or sport a peculiar and generally an unpalatable sickly sweetness about them in my past experience, which is why I have inevitably tended to go full circle and back on the traditional white stuff.

          The discovery of Perfect Sweet has been somewhat of a revelation in itself, although expensive, it's by far the best solution I have found to date and certainly more than worthy of its positive review. " Taste pollution, a net result of the healthier solution" is a view point firmly challenged with this new sugary alternative at hand, even for the most diehard of sugar fans. In fact, I defy anyone to actually be able to tell the difference between Perfect Sweet and ordinary sugar, it really is that convincing.

          <==Product, packaing and availibility==>

          Perfect Sweet comes in a resealable 225g plastic bag and is by no means cheap retailing at around £2.50 depending on where you go, but I cannot deny that other than the high cost the product ticks almost every other box. Perfect Sweet can be found in select Sainbury's outlets as well as Waitrose, Holland and Barrett, GNC and a number of independant health food shops.

          <==Benefits==>

          You may be wondering how my rantings about enamel erosion relate to this particular product; after all, any alternative to ordinary sugar is likely to heed the same positive results, surely? Well, not exactly. Perfect Sweet is a sugar alternative that uses a sweet tasting substance called Xylitol (pronounced ZI-LA-TOL). Xylitol, unlike sugar or ordinary sweeteners has a number of extra added health benefits. It's a substance that is found in many different fruits and is even made in small amounts by the human body itself, which of course means that the body is better able to break the substance down. One of the most significant advantages that Xylitol has over other sweeteners, is what it does for ones teeth. Ordniary sugar dissolves tooth enamel over time and can ultimately completely disingrate your teeth, whilst most sweeteners do not, Xylitol goes a stage further and actively promotes healthy teeth as demonstrated by the information I have taken from the Perfect Sweet website below:

          "Xylitol has been shown to create an alkaline environment when it is broken down, which appears to not only help teeth, but with other problems too. Research has shown that this results in up to a 60% reduction of cavities and can help prevent plaque build up. Studies show that the environment created by xylitol appears to be favorable for the absorption of calcium and some other minerals. This means that your teeth can take up more of the building blocks that they need to stay strong and healthy." Bingo, my problem solved.

          As I investigated further I also found a number of other benefits to this mysterious sugary substance. Perfect Sweet has 45% less calories than ordinary sugar as well as 75% less carbohydrates. I have recently gone on a diet, so to find that my purchase was favourable to that decision, was a positive cherry on the xylitol cake itself, so to speak. Should I wish to ditch my diet at any point, I also discovered that Perfect Sweet can be used in baking and the website has very kindly offered up some recipes which might be worth investigating (see bottom of review for details).

          Having ticked all the right boxes for me, I also noted that the product appears to be good news for Diabetics, sporting a GL of just 7 which is a staggering 10 times lower than sugar and 4 times lower than fructose. It is also claimed that Xylitol is non-carcinogenic.

          <==Overall opinion==>

          Opening up my bag I was fairly delighted to see my alternative sugar looking much the same as the real thing, all white and sparkling. The granules are almost exactly the same in size, and the weight is pretty much the equivalent to a standard sugar. Having tested the product out on both my hot drinks and indeed my breakfast, I found myself more than satisfied to conclude that the Perfect Sweet mimics an ordinary sugar with stupendous accuracy, providing a sweet and delicious taste that mirrors that of the ordinary white stuff. Although the taste is by and large exactly the same, I would perhaps suggest that Perfect sweet is just a fraction sweeter, and so I have been able to reduce my coffee/tea sugar count, down to one and a half spoonfuls as opposed to two which is also excellent news.

          Having made a comparison in terms of price, with Perfect Sweet retailing at £2.50 for 225g compared to an ordinary brand from my local ASDA branch retailing at 94p per kg, it's easy to see why people haven't switched to the healthier alternative yet. Finding the product is also not always an easy feat, and means a venture into town to my local health food shop just to purchase it. Another downside is the bag doesn't tend to last all that long.

          If the manufactures of Perfect Sweet were able to significantly reduce production and overall consumer costs, given the right advertising and a greater number of stockists, I wouldn't be surprised to discover sooner or later, the product becoming an official replacement to our ordinary less healthy sugars in the UK, especially when you consider that the UK sports the largest population of people with obesity throughout the whole of Europe, which will enevitably take its toll on our NHS system. You would think that our government would step in and try to indorse these kinds of products should the situation ever reach crisis point, and I believe that given the exacting taste of the Perfect Sweet to ordniary sugar, then this product might just be viewed as most favourable to do so.

          For me, Perfect Sweet is by far the best alternative I have found so far in my sugar switch hunt, despite the high cost and locating inconvenience, it is one that I would almost certainly purchase again for the sake of my teeth if nothing else.


          DO NOT feed dogs any foods containing Xylitol, as to them the substance is incredibly toxic.


          <==Further information==>

          For more information about the product or Perfect Sweet recipes , you can visit the companies website by following the link below:

          http://www.totalsweet.co.uk/index.php

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          • BSM / Transport / 154 Readings / 148 Ratings
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            08.02.2012 15:39
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            An awkard company lacking in service

            ==Ready, steady, let's do this==

            Rewind, approximately one year (give or take a few months). I am early thirties and looking to drive at last. The delay is due to an ongoing lack of funds, but through the generosity of a close family member I am finally able to take the plunge. I do some tactical internet research to way up my options, I'm looking for competitive rates essentially and when I stumble upon BSM I think I've found a winner. At £20 per lesson (when you book a block of ten or more) it was by far the best offer I had found. I booked ten for starters, with a veiw to booking a further five or more depending on how things went.

            ==A site for sore eyes==

            The BSM website is incredibly professionally laid out and easy to navigate. You are immediately greeted with a victorious background, people jumping up and down in celebration; presumably they have just passed their test thanks to BSM. They're quick to fire in a testimonial with yet another happy chappy clasping at their pass certificate and singing the almighty praises of driving school itself. It looks attractive, and you find yourself instantly engaged. The site is keen to exploit the company's reign as the oldest driving school in the business, over a hundred years to be exact; this cements the impression of a finely tuned business that you would be forgiven for thinking, 'must' be exceptional in order for them to have stood the test of time. In all, it's a very presentable website.

            ==A stable begining==

            Signing up was an effortless affair. When I rang the helpline/head office, the woman that I spoke to was very polite and quickly got the ball rolling. I received my 'lesson plan' (they call it a lesson plan which I think is a little misleading as it nothing more than a schedule) within seven days that stated all the times and dates for the full block of ten lessons. This was actually very helpful as they gave me the opportunity to swap any ahead of the schedule. I found one that needed a change and they and promptly altered the date.

            My first couple of lessons were both positive and information enriched. Although my instructor was late for both corresponding lessons, what he lacked in time keeping he more than made up for in professionalism. I had conquered the basics and was now on the roads learning my 'lefts'.

            Lesson three we spent the duration of the lesson turning 'right', which began the arrival of some small level of frustration on my part. I didn't really get the point in dedicating an entire hour to a simple 'right turn', three times and I had mastered it, but I figured that he had been teaching me well up until this point so perhaps I was just being a little bit 'eager beaver'.

            ==Eager beaver vs Reluctant teacher==

            Lesson four and guess what? My instructor was late and we spent another lesson learning to......yep you've guessed it, turn right. So another week on, you can imagine that I was less than impressed with a lesson plan that my instructor had mapped out as, dedicated to turning both right and left only this time alternately. May be I was jumping the gun, I still wasn't sure, but it was at this point that I began to wonder if my lessons were being a fraction 'drawn out'. During the course of this lesson I noted that my instructor seemed hell bent on talking about anything and everything that didn't have to do with learning to drive which set the stage for the majority of lessons to come, and so I found myself unaware of basic 'musts' like repeatedly checking mirrors etc. In addition to that, I also found that the radio gradually increased in volume as each week passed. I often found my instructor interacting more with the radio, than actually tutoring with me any level of ethusiasm. A good example of this was circling a roundabout for the sixth time before he finally noticed that I was in first gear "you'd get failed for that, you have to be in second when you pull away" (something that I should have been made aware of from the outset).

            With the following lesson in tow my frustration had increased with a switch in the instructors car, a frustration that wasn't helped by a full 15 minutes of him moaning about how difficult this new car was to handle (the car was an upgrade from BSM), add to that an entire lesson devoted to familiarising me with it, no fresh learning transpired. Although the car was very good (something undoubtedly positive about BSM), the clutch was hyper sensitive and so it stalled very easily.

            Around lesson six and seven, I once again found myself having to push for something more challenging. My instructor finally decieded to move us into unfamiliar territory (up until now we had circled one very small area over and over), each time, the radio had increased in volume. I did well to drive the distance that I had and all may have stayed well, had it not been for 'quiz time' on my instructors favourite radio station. I found him so engaged by the radio quiz that he constantly shouted out the answers or asked me if I knew any, at one point he managed to lapse my concentration to such a degree that we nearly went straight into the back of an oncoming queue of traffic, he didn't even notice until the last split second before forcing us to a sudden stop just centimetres from the car in front. You would think that he'd have taken heed and slipped into a more commanding role after such a narrow escape, but no, lesson eight; he pulled out his newspaper and had himself a good old read (I can't help but laugh on reflection).

            ==Invisable lessons==

            The next lesson my instructor didn't even arrive; I waited over an hour before ringing BSM to find out what on earth was going on. The woman that I spoke to told me that she would find out and call me straight back. Five hours later and she still hadn't called, so I phoned again and was told simply that "He forgot" and thus a rearranged lesson was promptly made. Four days later (waiting for my rearranged lesson) I found myself again waiting another hour for my 'no show' Instructor, yet again I rang the expensive helpline number. I was told straight away that "he has cancelled all his lessons due to frosty weather conditions", on this occasion I attempted to assert myself a little, and politely stated my disappointment with not being informed. Contrary to the same womans helpful tone when all was fairly rosey, I now had the snappy toned response "The instructors are all self employed, it's not our responsibility to inform YOU about YOUR lesson it's between you and your instructor, we are just the go between so if you have a problem with your lessons you need to take it up with him." And of course this begins to highlight the complacency of the company as a whole, blame shifting, dismissing responsibility and generally offering no real customer care once money has exchanged hands.

            You'll unlikely be unstaggered to hear that the next arranged appointment came and went with another 'no show', you'll be even less surprised to hear that I found myself once again on the blower to the expensive unhelpful helpline, and I need not even bother to give you the fresh excuse given. This time, although straight to the point and unapologetic they didn't fob me off. I was offered one free lesson or a brand new instructor, not much of a consolation when you take into account that by now I should have been on lesson nine and I was not only far behind through the lack of a credible teacher, but also, now nearly three weeks out of practice. I stupidly took the one free lesson when really I should have been off to a higher authority.

            Lesson nine and my instructor couldn't have acted sorrier, blaming two of the missed lessons on poor communication from head office (aka unhelpful helpline) apparently they hadn't informed him of the lessons, a familiar pattern of blame shifting? I didn't care anymore; I just wanted to get the most out of what had been an incredibly poor experience, and lesson ten, I felt much the same. These lessons actually turned out to be quite useful and fairly professional which was a relif, though I was clearly not at the point that I should have been at by now.

            ==Customer care? Customer what?==

            Now I was due an a 'lesson eleven', that courtesy free one, but three hours before the lesson was due to take place I received a phone call from the woman that I had phoned so frequently before. Her opening line; she had just called to remind me of my lesson (strange because she had never called to remind me before) and then came the BUT "you have been flagged up on our database as not having paid for today's lesson, you need to pay in full in order for the lesson to take place, as it is company policy that you pay upfront", just when you thought things couldn't get any worse, sure enough they do. I reminded her that I had spoken to her the week prior and that 'this' was supposed to be free; she shrugged it off and claimed that my previous lesson (one I had already paid for as part of the block of ten) had been the free one, debate continued.

            The truth is whoever was right it didn't really matter, I hadn't even had the lesson and if this lesson was indeed due payment then they had booked me a chargeable lesson without my consent. I couldn't have paid her in the three hours notice that she had given me anyway because my partner had taken my card to work, when I attemped to explained this to her I encountered quite an unbelievable response "Well you NEED to phone your partner at work and get him to either drop the card home to you, or get him to phone us directly with the details. This HAS to be paid by today", I was so shocked I told her I'd ring her back later. My partner, equally as shocked advised me to ring her back, cancel and just have done with it. Finally, I was seeing sense. You'd think at this point I could just make the call and that would be that but they weren't quite finished yet. I opened up the conversation by telling her how I had felt let down by the service and that she had no right to demand I call my partner at work, "I want to cancel the lesson and have nothing more to do with the company" (a little pat on the back for finally plucking the courage to stand my ground).

            After every hour I had spent waiting around for my 'no show' instructor, she then had the nerve to hit me with another hypocritical, company policy "You can cancel by all means, but you WILL be charged for the lesson in full and will incur an additional charge because it is company policy that your cancelation MUST be made at least 48 hours prior to your lesson", unbelievable! I reminded her of the three no show lessons and the endless expensive phone calls. I reminded her of the blame she shifted toward the instructor for the lack of a phone call to let me know my lessons had been cancelled and I also took the opportunity to remind her of a little something above her company policy called LAW (at last I was on a complaining roll).

            ==An avoidant complainer finally gets complaining==

            The fact is, when you go to a company like BSM and money exchanges hands; you enter into a contract, one that obligates the company to you and vice versa. So it doesn't matter whether they think your instructor is God's gift or totally incompetent, it's their responsibility to deal with him not yours (the contract is with them and not the instructor). I honestly believe that the 'complacency' and 'blame shifting' behaviours of the staff have opened up some serious cracks with the BSM business ethos as a whole. A quick Google search and you'll soon discover an archive of endless negative reviews that all seem to share a pattern of mirrored complaints, complaints that span over several years. I also found it impossible to ever speak to anyone in authority and I was point blank refused this request on two separate occasions.

            When companies are able to just take your money without the people in them feeling as though they have to account for their problematic systems, is it any wonder that they may soon become lazy and nonchalant? Taking this attitude and applying it to a workforce of those that are predominantly self employed can suddenly spell out a customer care disaster, after all, it is surely more in the instructors interest to have a larger quantity of lessons booked, than it is to offer a lesser number of quality lessons, fewer lessons equals lesser pay. Problems will enevitably arise in any business but it's the way in which they are dealt with what really makes the difference between a good company or a bad one. BSM just don't deal with complaints as they sometimes should, which is evident in the way that I was often rudely spoken to or snubbed. With this in mind, I dared her to send me the bill for the interest of a trading standards letter that I might compile at a later date. She barked that she would before slamming the phone down on me. Suffice to say, I never received a bill and if that isn't telling then I really don't know what is.

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              02.02.2012 19:57
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              A beautiful perfume

              ~~A little bit of history.~~

              Alberto Morillas, world renowned perfumer, formulised and unleashed Kenzo Flower at the turn the century to wowing the noses of an insistantly adouring public. Predominantly self taught, Morillas displayed an exceptional gift when it came to the art of 'scent manipulation' early in the beginings of a career that began in the 1970's. Experimental and spontaneous in both style and approach he readily acknowledges that he is often dismissive of the usual set of rules or methodology behind scent composition and prefers to work more freely and without constriction in regards to his materials.

              There is certain something in the Morillas craftsmanship that often indentifies his fragrances from other perfumers, a signature somewhere in his formulae that link each together as his own despite every composition being so very different. Kenzo Flower is no exception, unique un yet a typical example of his own personal style and creative flare it's a scent that appeals to the masses and is a generally revered crowd pleaser, unlike some of his other compositions that I would perhaps term a little more 'niche' and as such, not as favourable. Morillas has crafted many scents throughout the course of his career, some for the art world and some more readily accepted classics like CK1 as well as more modern hits like Marc Jacobs Daisy. Kenzo Flower, however, still remains one of my firm imaginative favourites.

              ~~Packaging and pricing.~~

              The bottle is elegant, a clear glass curvature that mimics a stem in the breeze. It's a simple yet classy design if not a fraction on the fragile side (I wasn't best pleased when my bottle smashed with relative ease) and thus perhaps consequently not a suitable handbag item but more of a miniture scuplture to casually admire in a well placed spot. The side boasts the Kenzo trademark, a splash of colour in the form of a carefully placed poppy that runs the stretch of the bottle and is fitting to the overall feminine design, undoubtably echoing the floral theme of the fragrance beautifully. It's a delicate treasure but never the less, an eye catching piece in my opinion.

              Depending on where you go, Kenzo Flower retails at around £25 for a 30ml bottle, £30 for 50ml and £45 for a 100ml bottle. Expensive, but only a small amount is required for optimum results and the bottled scent lasts.

              ~~The waft. The opinion.~~

              Flower was released back in the year 2000 and still remains one of the top selling fragrances throughout Europe. With top notes of Bulgarian Rose, Wild Hawthorn, Cassie, and Palma Violets, it is an undeniably floral composition and one that the artsy 'hard to please' perfume critiques may have even initially snubbed as outdated or indeed old fashioned when visualised only on paper, never the less, you cannot deny its modernity, it's a quintessential abstract and oriental take on an old fashioned way of doing things. Flower is also unmistakably (though not overlly) powdery, which is another element of the composition potentially open to criticism as powdery perfumes are often deemed as 'last season' and once again have that old fashoined reputation. However, that doesn't detract from the overall uniqueness and style conscious impression of the fragrance in my opinion, and perhaps why Flower is still so very popular, appealing the the broadest possible spectrum of people with its mix of old and new.

              An initial blast, may have had those same critiques again dismiss the composition as one dimensional, may be even out right Soliflore (a perfume that's scent mimics only one single flower), for it does momentarily shout "violets" at you in an intense and unforgiving manner that borders on sensory domination which is surprisingly quite seductive, though thankfully, not accurately depictive of the overall more gratifying and subtle end result. It can at first seem a touch 'overpowering' for want of a better word. Allow to settle, each note becomes fine tuned and well balanced, in sync and all round harmoniously complimentary of one another, uniting in the common denomintor of femininity. Picture a homage to every likable flower you have ever pleasurably sniffed, colliding together and morphing into one spectacular smelly hybrid, it's actually quite difficult to identify any one particular flower when the composition reaches that note perfect balance it's like a thousand flowers and way beyond. To my mind, this is what is so beautiful about this perfume, it's subtly dramatic and full of life. In essence, to bracket this perfume as simply 'floral' just isn't accurate or fair enough; it's more a burst of the finest oriental garden.

              With heart and bass notes of Opopanax, White Musk, Hedione and Cyclosal, the fragrance takes on an all together more seductive quality. There is something quite special about the inclusion of White Musk in this fragrance; it's comforting and depth giving, almost sensual, and at the very heart of the composition. There are hints of vanilla and a sprinkling of pepper that both rekindle and embellish the sense of smell, as if it were a taste bud in the midst of a fine dining extravaganza. All the notes in play, this truley is a work of sensory abstract art with an impressive silage (sillage meaning trail) that is by no means sickly sweet, and beautifully contradictive by nature of the perfumes overall subtly. Flower is a perfume that catches the breeze, gently reminding you of its existence without resting heavily on a tired mind.

              In all, Kenzo Flower is a fine example of a contemporary and vintage fusion success, proving that old scents can be revitalised, renewed and modernised given a thoughtful and inspired approach.

              ~~Also on Ciao under the same user name~~

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                30.01.2012 21:27
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                Lip loving lipstick

                ~~Introduction~~

                Having exhausted all other possibilities in my recent lipstick endeavour (quickly dismissing most brands as lacking in originality and excitement), I once again found myself marvelling at the colour offerings in the Rimmel section. There's no denying that the new 'Colour Show Off 'range is incredibly eye catching and by all accounts, consumer seductive, but like most things in life looks aren't everything so I was pleased to discover that my purchase was of more value than just an initial colour induced magnetism, but also incredibly effective in its purpose. The 'Colour Show Off' range not only sports great depth of colour in my opinion, but also has a quality that could arguably rival even the most luxurious of brands like for example, Christian Dior.

                ~~Packaging and pricing~~

                Rimmel's usual lipstick casing design, whilst well made, is often bland and lacking personality in my opinion. With a bright metallic pink casing and gold central ribbon the "Colour Show Off" has almost certainly been given an upgrade in terms of Rimmel usual plain and simple styling. There's been some real attention to detail here, with the inclusion of ribbed spheres around the lid that are not only visually appealing, but also make removing your lid a much easier task even with hands smeared in slippery foundation.

                The price is fair in my opinion, retailing at around £6 depending on where you go (£2.49 0n Amazon, bargin!); it's not exactly a bank breaker and less than half the cost of those elitist brands that sport about the same quality of product.

                ~~Use and opinion~~

                The range has twelve different shades, with variations of dark and bright reds, pinks, oranges and one that can only be described as borderline purple. The emphasis here is on high end fashion, catering to those young and trendy fashionista's in pursuit of that all important "London look". I spent a good 45 minutes examining the range in a 'spoilt for choice' consumer like daze, and having had the opportunity to test them all, I would argue that most have a retro flavour and all a timeless sensibility that make them a suitable purchase for every age range or style requirement. Contrary to how long I had actually spent bedazzled by the range my ultimate decision was actually quite hasty and prompted more by the sudden paranoia that someone might consider me lurking and as such a potential shop lifter, than it was driven by any ability to pick a definitive favourite. Most of the colours in the range are rich, bold and as equally tempting in my opinion. Rimmel boast claims of "pure colour intensity" and "unsurpassed colour richness in any light" which I think is a fair and correct description. I chose "Kiss Me" in the end; it's a colour choice that has not left me disappointed.

                "Kiss Me" is one of the more orange colours in the range. Sounds a little off putting on paper and would perhaps be better described as a deep, vibrant peach, though even that is not entirely an accurate description. It's fair to say that "Kiss Me" is an unusual and unique colour; it's by no means overly eccentric but never the less, one that is often pointed out in a positive way by those looking to add that little something different to their make-up bag. In terms of skin tone suitability I don't think I'd be out of line suggesting that "Kiss Me" is likely to suit most. I have a very pale complexion and the lipstick never looks out of place sat alongside it, though I would say that the contrast of tan looks particularly striking.

                Application is made simple and hassle free by nature of the products moisture content, which is incredibly well balanced. It's not as greasy as a gloss but by the same token it's not as drying as a long lasting matt effect lipstick, just an ideal combination. I find that it glides evenly and effortlessly across my lips without bleeding into lines or highlighting cracked/chapped lips. My lips feel hydrated, instantly replenished and the product bares just the right amount of moisture to give the deceptive impression of slightly plumper lips, which is always a bonus. It has a smooth finish that fills in creases rather than highlighting them, this makes your lips appear plumped but flat in terms of texture. The colour thankfully stays true its original 'in case' appearance unlike a lot of other lipsticks that I find tend to distort or lack the same richness when applied. Making a mistake is easily remedied with a quick wipe which means no sore lips and no having to scrub the overlapped area. The only downside to this lipstick is its durability. Though it does last a fair few hours, it's also one that needs bit of topping up at times and certainly won't last to the same consistency with which it were applied. It's a sacrifice you make with a moisture giving lipstick in my opinion, and one that I am more than happy to make given the high quality of the product.


                All in all, the range has been a Rimmel triumph in my humble opinion. The colours are all intense, bold, memorable and some even a little unique. The lipstick is easy to apply, rehydrating and flattering to both the shape of your lips as well as the quality of your skin. The price tag is reasonable and affordable, which allows you to experiment a little more in the range. I would happily recommend this product and would certainly purchase it again.

                ~~Also written on ciao under the same user name~~

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                  23.01.2012 20:06
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                  3 out of 5

                  ~~Introduction~~

                  I have found a number of Kenwood appliances in the past, to be historically reliable, deciding that the product was also fairly reasonably priced (retailing at around £20 depending on where you go), and desperate to satisfy my overwhelming toasty craving is why I choose to purchase this item. It's a decision that for the most part, I have no regrets.

                  ~~Product specification~~

                  * Colour: Silver and Black
                  * Guarantee: 1 Year
                  * Material: Plastic
                  * Non Slip Feet
                  * Wattage: 700w
                  * Weight: 2.02kg
                  * Size: 25.0L x 24.5W x 9.0H
                  * Cooking Plate (cm): 23.5 x 13
                  * Power On & Ready Indicators
                  * Interlock Handle
                  * Non Stick Plates
                  * Slices: 2

                  ~~Use and opinion~~

                  The first of very few quibbles I have with this product is in the name "sandwich maker", it's a small and insignificant annoyance I know but it's one that bugs my picky self never the less, as this is in fact, to my mind, a toasty maker and sandwiches are cold not hot. So for arguments sake let's just refer to the Kenwood sandwich maker as Uncle Ken from now on in.

                  Uncle Ken comes housed in his very own cardboard home, he has his picture on the front so we know whose house it is. Open the roof and we are greeted by uncle Ken himself, an instructions leaflet and our one year guarantee. Nice.

                  You should find Uncle Ken's instructions easy to navigate with agreeable terminology that even a simpleton like myself can easily decipher. Should for some reason you find someone has stolen your instructions to add to some kind of bazaar leaflet collection, never fear, the product is very simple to use even without them, and Uncle Ken comes fully constructed so there's no messing about.

                  Giving Uncle Ken the once over (so to speak), we can see he's fairly well thought out and sleek in design comparably to other brands that don't look quite as tidy. For the bulk, he's made up of a predominantly grey plastic outer shell that from a distance mimics an almost metal finish and combines a shape that looks a little futuristic, but also easy on the eye. Looking at his top half, we identify a black plastic centre piece on which sits two lights, one green, one red, and it is these lights that tell us whether or not Uncle Ken is ready to start cooking, but of course they also add an element of cool about him as well. Alas, we also find ourselves with a handy interlock device that sits comfortably between the two half sections of the cooking plates (upper and lower) which is simple to use, you just push up and it opens, this keeps the product secure when not in use but also maximises the products cooking ability by keeping your toasties firm in place and as close to the plates as possible for a much speedier cook. We have the capacity to cook two toasties at once using Ken, and the plates have a ribbed diagonal sandwich divider so that each toasty comes in two practical, easy to eat sections. You will discover the whole thing is fairly light weight and small enough to slot into a draw or cupboard without hogging too much space.

                  To get Uncle Ken working you just need to plug him, and he's off! You'll note the red light comes on straight away which indicates Uncle Ken needs a warm up before he's prepared to start cooking. Once the green light comes on, you've been given the get go and it's time to start building your toasty. This is where you'll find Uncle Ken starts getting a little bit demanding. Firstly, you will need to butter your bread and place each buttered side directly on to the hot plates to prevent your snack from sticking. Uncle Ken absolutely insists that you use butter and not your usual low fat spread option. Should you choose to test his authority and break the rules, you'll find yourself in a whole heap of trouble. Your standard "I can't believe it's not butter" option, might fool the rest of your family but it's not going to fool Uncle Ken and trust me, he'll make you pay for your school boy error. If like me, you consider a toasty without cheese to be like a day without a night, and you have defied Uncle Ken's most stringent of regulations then punishment is without question, I found this out the hard way.

                  And so the drama unfolds........

                  Anything but butter results in your bread becoming welded to the hot plates, your bread will tear and your contents overflow, cheese will become a total Gordon Ramsey, kitchen nightmare as it cascades like a piping hot cheese volcano across your worktop, that's right, cheesing everything in its path. Your handy interlock device now becomes the devil in disguise as the cheese lava welds it beyond pliability. You are now in......... Total toasty lock down! A quick and easy meal has just become a possible trip to A and E as you unplug it in a 'safety first' blind panic, and find yourself jamming knives into the sides desperately trying to free your humble toasty from immanent doom, and of course, attempting to prevent setting your kitchen ablaze. You will eventually free your toasty from the smokey, angry clutches of Uncle Ken, and it is likely to remain toastilicious, but at what cost my friend, at what cheesy cost? After such a disaster you'll find yourself cleaning Uncle Ken for a good 45 minutes, I even discovered cheese on my plug!

                  On a brighter note, Uncle Ken is a real gent provided you, DO AS YOU ARE TOLD! My favourite toasted sandwich build is a cheese, ham and onion jobby (highly recommended using this). I put the first bread slices, butter side down (on the bottom plates) and then add my ingredients taking care to leave a small gap around the edges to prevent an overflow, I would advise you do the same. I then add the top slices of bread to both potential toasties and push down to fix the lock in place. Job done, and relax. I usually leave them to cook away for about 10 to 15 minutes, this time frame allows them to become really crisp, golden and taste extra special. Once cooked, I encourage my toasties out by using a knife so as not to burn my fingers and then plop them on a plate with a nice chunky side salad. Follow the rules and it all goes fairly swimmingly.Yum!

                  The end result is utterly formidable; with your toasty in 2 sections, it is both crispy and tasty on the outside whilst gooey and evenly cooked on the in. Your toasty edges arguably become the best part, adding that extra bit of crunch. An unbelievably tasty toasty which knocks the socks off any kind of sandwich un yet is curiously made up of exactly the same ingredients, it's culinary wizardry and by far the best toasty extravaganza I have ever indulged in. You'll find it's also much more filling than an ordinary sandwich which is also incredibly strange.

                  Cleaning takes the tone down a little. It's not the easiest thing to mop up, but assuming you followed the rules, it's not the toughest either. I read one review that suggested the plates could be removed for the purposes of cleaning and I felt fairly excited by the revelation, though sadly having re-examined Uncle Ken's functions I'm afraid to report, I really don't think that is possible. There are a few nooks and crevices in and around the hot plates which do tend to get crumbs and bits stuck in them (that might require sliding a knife down), but generally it isn't a difficult thing to execute. All in all, I'd say you're looking at around the 10 minute mark for a really good clean up, so dump it on the side and wait until morning, that's what I say.

                  Rating this product has proved somewhat bothersome. On the one hand it's attractive, easy to use and turns an otherwise mediocre snack into a delicious feast. On the other hand it can be irritating to clean and the fact that you NEED to use butter means you wind up smearing the stuff over other foods you would otherwise use a healthier low fat alternative to. It is therefore, with reluctance, that I award the Kenwood sandwich maker an overall score of 3 out of 5.

                  ~~Also on ciao under the same user name~~

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                    19.01.2012 16:49
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                    Highly recommended

                    ~~~Introduction~~~

                    Having frequently used Priori's mineral foundation and blush, I consider them both to be of 'superior quality' and so at first I felt forced to speculate, what then was the importance of a finishing touch powder? After all, if the company had such faith in their foundation why would you need to put anything else on top of it?

                    There was a point to my initial thinking and one, at first, might have even dismissed the finishing touch powder as a gimmick designed to extract yet more cash from a consumer already arguably paying above the odds for other products in their expensive make-up range. However, as I used the product I instantly saw it's benefits, it's reasoning, it is, the finishing touch as it were and whilst I wouldn't deem it an absolute make-up necessity it is never the less high quality, one that I use regularly and a make-up lover's indulgence, that is both effective in its purpose and kind to sensitive skin.

                    ~~~Product, packaging and availabilty~~~

                    To purchase any of priori's make-up range including the Finishing Touch Powder you will find them in many online shops and cosmetic clinics. You should expect to pay approximately £32 for a 14g pot, which in my opinion is very pricey but you do get a lot of use out of it, I've had mine for around 8 months now and still have over half a pot left.

                    Priori's make-up range is all eco friendly and the packaging is no exception, your loose powder comes in a burgundy, screw top, bio-degradable plant plastic pot and looks both stylish and expensive, proving that a good ethos need not conflict with style.

                    Some of the other benefits of this product include:
                    *non-acnegenic and non-comedogenic
                    *SPF 25
                    *No animal derived ingredients, no animal testing
                    *Coffeeberry extract to fight harmful free radicals and lighten blemished skin
                    *Anti-aging
                    *100% natural minerals
                    *Paraben free

                    ~~~Use and overall opinion~~~

                    To apply the Finishing Touch Powder I first begin by priming my face and applying both my foundation and blush. I then use a foundation brush to apply a thin layer of the Finishing Touch as I find that a very thin layer is all that's required to obtain optimum results.

                    The Finishing Touch been formulated to act as a translucent loose powder, so you might initially be a little taken a back when you are greeted with a salmon pink, flesh colour. Never fear, you'll find that your powder has a rather interesting magicians trick up its sleeve. At first you will note seeing it's trace as you begin application , then, quite quickly it fades and does indeed become translucent, this you'll find is actually quite helpful as you get the opportunity to see what has been done and what still needs doing. Plus it means this product becomes suitable for all skin tones even the darkest.

                    The product has been designed to combat a few key problems that a lot of people encounter with their skin. The first is oil reduction, soaking up any excess oil for an excellent matt effect finish and reducing the risk of a breakout to those with spot prone skin. Although I find that Priori's foundation is more than competent at achieving this, on the flip side the Finishing Touch powder addresses the issue with a greater longevity, keeping not only shine at bay throughout the course of a day right through to the evening, but also locking the foundation in place for more long lasting foundation that holds to the same consistency as when it were applied. Essentially it improves the capability of your foundation and I suspect would enhance most foundations in the same way should you not wish to purchase Prioi's.

                    The second key problem the product aims to tackle is wrinkles, open pores and minor scars. The powder itself is exceptionally fine and glides evenly and effortlessly across your face in a way that doesn't rest in dips or creases, so it won't highlight those problem areas and thus makes your wrinkles,pores or indeed scars appear 'flattened out', it is also silky soft and feels pleasant to use. More significantly, the minerals in the powder have been formulated to scatter light in order to further diminish the appearance of those areas, a the claim isn't just lip service in my opinion and does in fact work. Although I don't as of yet have many wrinkles, I do have a number of open pores and whilst this product isn't capable of completely eradicating their existence, I would suggest it lends impressive results in making them appear far less noticeable whilst softening the texture of your skin and helping to smooth the appearance of lines.

                    Above all I love the way that this product adds an almost dewy appearance to the skin, my skin looks softer, smoother, more even toned and the powder sits weightlessly on my skin giving my skin still room to breath. It sports the appearacne of a much fresher face and further blends my foundation and blush together which in turn offers a more seemless finish. The high SPF means my skin is always well protected and I have seen a big improvement to my overall complexion with the coffeeberry extract helping to lighten marks left from breakouts and skin loving ingredients that do not provoke future ones. In my opinion this product a great addition to my make-up routine and certainly one that I would recommend and purchase again.

                    ~~Also on ciao under the same user name~~

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                      11.01.2012 20:40
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                      Highly recommended

                      ~~Introduction~~

                      Fed up with constant breakouts and irritated skin, I found myself pleased to be assertively discarding my old make-up products in favour of Priori's kind to skin non-acnegenic and non-comedogenic make-up range. Whilst disappointed by the concealer as well as astonished at the cost of the range, I have been incredibly impressed with three out of the four products that I purchased, namely the foundation, the finishing touch and of course the coffeeberry sun kissed minerals bronzer/blush, which I now consider to be arguably one of the most effective bronzers currently on the market and in my opinion, worth the hefty price tag.

                      ~~Cost, packaging and availabilty~~

                      Like all Priori's make-up range each 14g pot costs around £32 and can be purchased in a number of online shops or cosmetic clinics. Although the price tag borders on extortionate, you will likely find that your bronzer/brush lasts a considerable length of time - I have been in possession of mine for approximately eight months now, and still have well over half a pot left.

                      Each 14g pot comes in the form of a bio-degradable plant plastic screw top tub, which is both sturdy and well composed. Unscrew the lid and you discover a thick sheet of white plastic with small indentations which I would advise to pierce only one hole through, so as not to find yourself in a cascade of powder.

                      ~~Use and overall opinion~~

                      Even before I began applying my new bronzer/blush I identified a couple of pleasing attributes. Firstly you'll note that the powder has a distinct lack of glitter. I often find, particularly with bronzers an over whelming amount of the stuff or a shiny finish. Personally I dislike it because I find that it often strays from the desired areas and winds up sticking itself to various spots on your face, like for example 'the end of your nose', it also has a very unnatural finish and often highlights flaws. Priori's bronzer/blush has a wonderful matt effect finish which I consider to be of real benefi,t as I find it helps to mask the appearance of flaws subtley and looks suitably more natural.

                      The second thing I was pleased to see was a tanned colouring, minus orange tints. Although I was initially alarmed at the darkness of the colour, I was relieved not to be in possession of an unnatural orange glow like so many other bronzers seem to possess. I would describe the colour as a deep tan to those with fair/medium skin tones, and sporting such fair skin I wondered at first glance how it might fair on my very light complexion but actually I soon found that it blends exceptionally well, looks natural, contours the face, adds definition and brings to life my sometimes otherwise bland skin tone.

                      I generally for the most part use the bronzer/blush as a straight forward blush, and for application I first begin by priming my face with a good moisturiser, I then apply my foundation before moving on to the bronzer/blush itself. I would recommend using an angled blush brush for application, as this heeds the best possible results. I dab a very small amount of the Bronzer evenly across my brush, and then use gentle angled brush strokes across the width of my cheeks working from the inside out. The consistency of the powder is exceptionally fine, much finer than Priori's foundation and is just right in my opinion as this means not only do you need very little to achieve excellent results but it also blends much better than if it were of a thicker consistency.

                      Once on, you might find youself impressed by how much definition this product can add to your face. Cheeks bones appear much highe,r thus creating a more youthful looking image. Dabbing a little on the eyelids brings out the colour of your eyes for a more bold impact. I find that it doesn't rest thickly in pores, wrinkles or scars and helps to smooth your skins overall appearance. I was also surprised to find just how well the bronzer/blush merged with my much lighter foundation. Even when I have accidentally applied an over generous amount and encountered a little difficulty blending, I have found a quick top up of my foundation over the top soon remedies the situation.

                      During the summer months I tend to mix the bronzer/blush with my foundation and add more according to how much of tan I have acquired. Priori's foundation mixes up incredibly well with the bronzer blush and when combined, the foundation still still sports excellent coverage with the glow from the bronzer making skin appear healthier and considerably more radient. I suspect The product would mix well with most other powdered foundations just as well, should you not wish to purchase priori's.

                      Used as either a blush or bronzer this product looks very natural, it doesn't accentuate flaws and sports an oil free matt finish, that brightens even the dullest of complexions. It sits softly and lightly on my skin and barely feels like I'm wearing any make-up at all. Above all, it is very unlikely to upset even those with the most sensitive skin types and I can safely say that I have never incurred a breakout as a result of using this product. Other benefits include 100% natural minerals, coffeeberry extract (a natural anti-aging botanical) and a cruelty free ethos, real plus points in most peoples books. In conclusion this is a highly recommended product and one that I would certainly purchase again.

                      ~~Also on ciao under the same user name~~

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                        04.01.2012 15:15
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                        A disappointing product from an otherwise superior brand.

                        ~~Introduction~~


                        I have acquired a couple of small broken capillaries over the last couple of years and whilst undergoing some laser treatment to resolve the issue, I decided to invest in a decent concealer to disguise the redness as well as effectively cover any spots or blemishes as they arise. Having had such a good experience with priori's coffeeberry minerals foundation, blush and finishing touch is why I choose to purchase theirs. With such a high performing foundation I felt sure the concealer might be just as effective, unfortunately this particular product has been somewhat of a disappointment compared to its revolutionary counter parts. The product claims to conceal broken capillaries, acne, rochea and even birth marks, but in my opinion it lacks the efficacy of some of the other available cheaper, rival products currently on the market. It isn't that this is a bad product, it works moderately well, but I truly believe that cost, should reflect performance and sadly this product did not live up to expectations given the price tag and the high quality of priori's other make-up range.


                        ~~Cost, packaging and availabilty~~~


                        Like all Prioiri's minerals range the powdered concealer comes in a sturdy plant plastic screw top container which is eco friendly, practical and stylish. Unscrew the top and you encounter a thick white sheet of plastic with small indentations which I would advise to pierce only a couple of in order to release your powder.

                        You can purchase any of priori's mineral range from selected online stores and a number of cosmetic clinics have now endorsed the range and sell them at their venues. The concealer will cost you the same as the foundation and retails at around £32 for a 14g pot; although expensive the product will last for a considerable length of time.


                        ~~~Use and overall opinion~~~


                        Before applying the concealer I first begin by priming my face with a good oil balancing moisturiser. As I am prone to breakouts I find oil balancing moisturisers are more suited to my skin. All Priori's mineral range are non-acnegenic and non-comedogenic so highly suited to those of us with promblematic skin types and the concealer is no exception as I have never had any form of skin irritation following the use of this product.

                        I take a small concealer brush and dab a small amount of the concealer on the end. I then work my way around my face gentley touching up any problem areas. Using a small amount around dark circles works wonders and blends well. Other than being in powdered formation the concealer is much like any other, very light in colour and I find a small amount around faded problem areas heeds reasonable results in preparation of Priori's mineral foundation. I then use the for-mentioned foundation to cover the rest of my face to freshen my look as well as attempt to disguise where the concealer has been applied.

                        So what's the issue? Well the concealer is great until you find yourself trying to cover up darker, or more aggressive problem areas. I have a small but very dark broken vein on the side of my nose, which I utterly dislike. I find that I need quite a large amount of this concealer to disguise the area and because this product is powdered it seems the more that you apply the easier it is to rub off. As soon as I apply the foundation over the top, the concealer disintegrates from the desired area, revealing the imperfection underneath but stays intact around the outside thus high lighting the very thing I was attempting to conceal.

                        The fact the this product claims to conceal such difficult skin problems is a real issue in my books, I cannot imagine that the concealer would be able to effectively disguise a more significant problem like for example a 'birth mark' if it cannot effectively conceal a very small broken vein. Given the various techniques that I have deployed in order to get the most out of the product I would go as far as to suggest that the marketing of this product for such cosmetic problems borders on false advertising.

                        The product has to all intense and purposes been devolped to work in conjunction with the mineral foundation and assuming you have some very mild areas of concern then the concealer should be reasonably effective, however, should you have any dark areas then you may find this product both frustrating to use as well as only minimally effective. The darker the area, the more you need to apply and the more that is applied the greater the task of applying your otherwise very simple to use foundation becomes. I have found that the concealer has a tendancey to shine through the foundation when more than a small amount has been applied which gives an un natural look(streaking or caking) and can at times highlight the area further.

                        Overall having had time to experiment with a number of different concealers, I sense the key problem with this product could to some degree be attributed to the fact it is a powdered concoction and not in liquid formation. Whilst I would never change my powdered priori mineral foundation, I do believe that those small problem areas dotted around the face are perhaps best addressed with a liquid concealer that is not only easier to blend than powder, but will also allow a powdered foundation to stick with greater effect so as to completely disguise not only the imperfection but the concealer itself. Although the product has some thoughtful and marketable qualities in its eco friendly, cruelty free, high SPF and kind to skin ethos, its performance just does not lend as well and certainly fast becomes the odd one out in terms of Prioir's other make-up solutions.

                        ~~Also on ciao under the same user name~~

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                          19.11.2011 17:51
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                          A number 1 product

                          ~~Introduction~~

                          I stumbled upon Priori's make-up range purely by chance just over 6 months ago. Having studied the products detailing I really felt that it might just be the foundation revelation I had been looking for! With the promise of a non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic product, I considered that it had the potential to resolve my then fairly frequent breakouts, or at the very least not provoke them, as many other foundations I had used tended to irritate and exacerbate the problem further.

                          ~~Product, packaging, cost and availability~~

                          Priori are a mainly dermatological product based company that have also developed a small, yet very exclusive, make-up range consisting of a powdered foundation, concealer, bronzer/blush and finishing touch.

                          Priori are, as of yet, not well known in the UK. They are not a mainstream high street brand and seem fairly elitist in their product range. Their products can be difficult to get hold of in the shops, but you can purchase Priori in a lot of online stores and many cosmetics clinics have indorsed them and sell them at their clinics which perhaps only gives leverage to them being seen as a superior brand.

                          Priori are very expensive in my opinion, each pot will cost in the region of £32 and when you consider that the foundation is best used in conjunction with the bronzer/blush and finishing touch powder that's almost £100 before you've even bought your brushes! However, you get do 14g in your pot which is more than any other minerals brand and the product really does last, I've had mine for 6 months now and still have half a pot left.

                          The foundation comes in a burgundy plant plastic screw top pot with 'Priori' in gold lettering and the self proclamation "The Anti-Aging Authority' sitting subtly underneath, indeed it all looks very posh. Unscrew the top and you will discover a frosted translucent thick sheet of plastic with a number of small indentations separating you from your loose powder underneath. The bottom of the pot has a small sticker detailing the chosen shade and you are advised to pierce through this to release the powder. I opted to pierce the translucent plastic sheet instead to make sure that my powder would always be contained and I would advise the same for anyone else purchasing this product as I really cannot see how the product could be transported without losing the contents otherwise.

                          ~~Some of the benefits/ingredients~~

                          100% NATURAL MINERALS

                          ANTI-AGING

                          HIGHEST NATURAL FREE-RADICAL PROTECTION WITH COFFEEBERRY EXTRACT (Coffeeberry is noted as nature's most potent anti-aging botanical and Priori are currently the world's only minerals to use it. It is also an effective skin lighting agent which is excellent for those of use trying to get rid of blemishes.)

                          SPF 25 (The highest sun protection I have seen in any minerals foundation, most have around 15.)

                          ECO FRIENDLY PACKAGING MADE FROM BIODEGRADABLE PLANT PLASTICS

                          ECO FRIENDLY

                          NO ANIMAL TESTING OR ANIMAL DERIVED INGREDIENTS (Excellent for all us animal lovers and something that should be fairly standard practice in this day and age but sadly more often than not isn't.)

                          PARABEN FREE (Majority of cosmetics still tend to contain this ingredient even though it is a well known skin irritant.)

                          ~~Use and overall opinion~~

                          The foundation itself comes in 6 different shades, 1 being the lightest of all skin tones to 6 being the darkest of the dark. I chose number 2 because despite having very pale skin I felt that the 1 washed me out a little. The great thing about this product is that you can mix and match colours according to the time of year because the foundations blend together very well.

                          Before application I first begin by priming my face, I have discovered that this is the best way to get the most out of the product as it seals and locks the foundation with much greater effect. Priori do sell a primer but I find that a good oil balancing moisturiser works just as well. Whilst the moisturiser is still slightly damp I use a small brush and use the foundation to cover any redness or dark circles as I find this gives the best possible coverage. I then use a larger foundation brush to apply a thin layer over my face and gradually build layers until I have reached the desired amount. I would recommend working from the jaw line in, to blend well and avoid the appearance of a mask.

                          The consistency of the powder is ideal, not too thick and not too thin, this means that it glides effortlessly and evenly across your face; in fact one of the most impressive pointers to this foundation is the way in which is deals with scars, open pores and wrinkles. Because it spreads so lightly and evenly, it doesn't clog in dips drawing attention to them, nor does it gather around the outside making them appear deeper, it just sits as evenly inside them as it does the rest of your face, drawing attention away from problem areas and providing an almost flawless finish. The texture of the powder is also excellent in my opinion, both silky and smooth, this aids blending and feels fantastic on your face and weightless on your skin. No matter how much foundation you apply the product just never feels heavy, you get the sense that your skin can still effortlessly breathe whilst at the same time sporting an even coverage that won't make you feel smothered.

                          Once on, the foundation looks incredibly natural and evens skin tone beautifully. Blemishes become almost (but not all entirely) invisible and the products longevity is impressive, lasting all day. The first couple of times I wore this foundation I had several people comment about what good skin they thought that I had, even remarking "...and you're not wearing any makeup either are you?" which of course I was. Of all the things I don't mind about myself, my skin is probably bottom of the pile so it just goes to show what a difference this excellent foundation has made.

                          In my opinion this really is currently one of the world's top foundations, it's a product that just keeps on giving. Priori claim that with regular use you should expect to see an improvement to the overall condition of your skin in around twelve weeks, I saw a slight improvement in just under four which I believe is in part down to abandoning my old foundations, but also down to the goodness of the minerals and coffeeberry which have helped to lighten any remaining red marks left from previous outbreaks. Since using this product my breakouts have been considerably reduced, it's amazing what a simple switch in product can do. All in all, this product really is worth investing in and one I would be incredibly reluctant to trade, I would recommend anyone giving it a go but particularly those with problematic skin types like mine.

                          ~~Also on ciao under the same user name~~

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                            31.10.2011 03:25
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                            Highly recommended

                            ~~~Introduction~~~

                            Having extremely sensitive skin, I have purchased many of simple's products over the last ten years and whilst I have found some to be lacking in efficacy and others a little sub-standard, none have ever irritated my skin and more often than not I have considered most of their products to be of predominately superior quality comparably to other brands with an equivalent product range vying for the same consumer loyalty . Having recently purchased their Nourishing body Wash, I again found myself delighted with another one of their products but also one I felt might quite possibly be the jewel in the self proclaimed "experts in sensitive skin care's" crown and certainly my favourite Simple sampling to date.

                            ~~~Cost, Packaging and Availabilty~~~

                            Simple's Nourishing Body Wash comes in a sturdy plastic 250ml translucent bottle with an easy to use flip top lid, the translucent bottle displays the white contents of your body wash inside. You will find this product in most cosmetic stores, selected supermarkets and many online stores including Amazon at a cost of around £1-£2 depending on where you go.

                            The 'skin health, over product glamorisation' tactic is never more evident than in the labelling of this product. You'd be forgiven for thinking it a little mundane or perhaps even a touch unimaginative at first glance, but contrary to first impressions it has been well thought out with a clean lined approach and minimalistic style that mirrors the companies ethos well- they do say "we only use the purest possible ingredients" and the simplistic packaging certainly reflects that in my opinion.

                            ~~~Active Ingredients~~~

                            I have taken the following from Simple's product detailing in a bid to demonstrate some of the body washes benefits:

                            VITAL VITAMINS:
                            PRO-VITAMIN B5 - actively restores, softens and smoothes
                            VITAMIN E - moisturises to improve skin condition (I also know that it can help skins elastisity and prevent excessive scar tissue formation)

                            NUTRIENTS:
                            GLYCERIN - hydrates and nourishes
                            CHAMOMILE - gently softens and soothes

                            NO PERFUME, NO COLOUR - (Perfect if you are suffering from sensitive skin or dry skin conditions)

                            "No unnecessary ingredients so it won't upset your skin" - This is a must for me really. I suffer with eczema that can be very easily irritated by a whole host of products. Having used this product for sometime now I can safely say that this body wash is very unlikely to irritate anyone's skin.

                            ~~~Use and Overall Opinion~~~

                            The body wash has a very thick consistency perhaps more akin to a body lotion than that of a wash, you might even pessimistically doubt its ability to lather well at first, but ruffling up your sponge with a little splash of water you soon find it actually lathers with greater effect than most, whipping up a thick, fluffy snowball of bubbles. With all the texture, feel, and appearance of a creamy pre-baked meringue it really does look good enough to eat, but I wouldn't recommend it because I'm pretty sure it won't taste very nice and your belly won't like it half as much as your skin.

                            Washing becomes an effortless task using this body wash as the product spreads evenly and plentifully across your body like a soft velvety blanket, instantaneously removing all the day's pollution and rehydrating your skin as it goes. I found my usual scrubbing antics unnecessary and adopted a more gentle approach than usual. My moisture hungry skin certainly felt relieved and satisfied as it absorbed the goodness of the mixture with almost immediate effect.

                            I was also surprised to smell such a delightful fresh, clean and relaxing aroma considering the wash doesn't actually contain any perfume. How is this possible, a perfumey scent in a wash that doesn't contain any perfume? Have they sneaked some in and fibbed to us about it or am I lacking in sufficient sniff expertise? Perplexing, but who cares because it doesn't irritate, on the contrary, and really does smell fantastic. I have to say though, that it is perhaps a more feminine scent than a blokey whiff as it does smell a little flowery, but it's also mild and unobtrusive so not likely to put anyone off. Alas, the scent did last for quite some time, long after I had dried off, which I found tremendously pleasing and a cherry on the cake of cleanliness.

                            Reluctantly getting out of my bath and drying myself off I noticed that my skin felt far softer and smoother than usual. Feeling slothful after such a relaxed bath I opted out of my usual post bath body lotion routine but didn't feel guilty or incomplete because I had felt positively pampered by my new wash and my skin by equal measure felt just as soft, supple and smooth as it would if I had used my lotion.

                            Having used my wash for about 3 weeks now, I can honestly say that my skin has never felt so first-class soft and silky. Using the wash in my bath is a thoroughly relaxing affair, an almost heavenly spa like experience. I always feel extremely clean, detoxified and fresh after using it and smell utterly fabulous to match. Even my eczema has significantly reduced with the wash helping to lock in moisture and rid pollutants.

                            Try as I might I really cannot find fault with Simple's latest concoction, the only thing really worth mentioning is that the wash doesn't last all that long (mainly down to my liking and greed of the product) and it would be nice to see a more family sized option of 500ml alongside the 250ml bottle. Other than that, this product really is the jewel in Simple's crown and highly recommended to anyone in pursuit of healthier looking skin.

                            ~~~Also on ciao under the same user name~~~

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                              27.10.2011 00:44
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                              A well above average product

                              ~~~Introduction~~~

                              Trying to find a decent face wash is often a challenge for me. I have very oily skin that at times has a tendency to breakout. I often find that products designed to regulate oil or help reduce acne either tend to strip my skin of all its oil (bad news if you're trying to keep acne at bay as this just knee jerks the body into an over production) or does not remove a sufficient enough amount in order to unclog pores and prevent acne formation. After a recent facial treatment I was forced to part with my usual acne busting, face wash weapon of choice (Clearasil daily scrub), as I was advised not to use products containing micro beads for a period of at least two weeks. Sure enough I soon found myself sporting the all too familiar oily mid sheen of potential breakout doom and thus decided to purchase the Clearasil Rapid Action Gel wash in a bid to remedy the situation. Again, Clearasil have managed to formulate yet another effective oil balancing and blemish reducing facial wash in contrast to past formulations that served only to irritate or strip the oil from my skin. I think they're finally getting the hang of this and getting the balance right!

                              ~~~Product, Packaging and Availability~~~

                              In light of my new found Clearasil affection and with my new found fondness for my Lennox Lewis style acne busting facial scrub, I ignored all knowledge of Superdrug's other offerings in favour of the Clearasil section. With so many Clearasil washes on display I barely knew where to start until the words 'rapid action' caught my eye, in fact I was so entranced by the title that I hadn't even noticed the promise of 'clearer skin in 12 hours'.......Bonus. The blurb certainly fit my criteria.

                              The gel wash comes in a very sturdy 150ml plastic bottle with pump dispenser (one would assume that the dispenser is likely to be more hygienic than a flip lid) and the whole thing's presented in a very medicated looking style which certainly lends well to the idea that 'this' could be a strong weapon in your acne busting arsenal but retailing at around £3.35 it had ort to be really.

                              ~~~Ingredients~~~

                              Again, like most of Clearasil's products the key ingredient here for me is the use of Salicylic acid an ingredient well known for its ability to penetrate the follicle and fight the cause of acne. Salicylic acid is an incredibly effective tool but can be a bit of a double edged sword in as much as it is also a well known skin irritant so this product may not agree with everyone and it is important that you discontinue use if irritation occurs. I have extremely sensitive skin but have not found the presence of any irritation during the course of using this product.

                              ~~~Use and Overall Opinion~~~

                              Firstly I wet my face as advised on the packaging and pumped out my gel wash (I find that 2 good pumps provide an adequate portion). I massage the wash very gently into my face in circular motions for about a minute (as advised), concetrating on problem areas whilst taking care to avoid the delicate eye area before finally rinsing thoroughly and patting dry.

                              My skin felt very clean after using this wash, not as fresher faced feeling as my scrub but still a very close second. Unlike my scrub, my skin didn't feel taut with all the potential of drying out, in fact it felt very soft, smooth and hydrated. I certainly felt as though my pores had been suitably detoxified though perhaps not as deeply cleansed as with the scrub.

                              The first time that I used this product was at night. Pottering around cleaning up the following morning I didn't expect to catch a glimpse of my face looking so much clearer and even toned, as I have mentioned before I didn't notice the 'clearer in 12 hours' claim and found myself headed for the bathroom to examine the packaging. Don't get me wrong, I hadn't woken up to perfectly flawless skin to suggest that I had would be nothing short of misleading or over selling this product but to notice such an improvement in just over 12 hours I thought was really quite staggering. A number of red marks as a result of a previous breakout had significantly reduced within this time frame, a mini miracle (in my mind) considering how long they had actually been there.

                              My main expectation from this product was to help prevent the oily mid day sheen that had begun to regularly reappear and through the course of the following few days my skins oil levels remained balanced and my skin sheen free. Shine control has been one of this products most notable successes in my opinion. I have been using the product for about a month now and despite the odd fling with my favourite scrub I have remained reasonably loyal and notably impressed with the gel washes performance. A little goes a long way and I'm still in possession of half a bottle despite the fact that I have used it twice a day over the course of the month. Despite getting the odd spot here and there, my breakouts have reduced significantly and my overall complexion has improved as a result of using this product, I'd also go as far to suggest that it is well above average in terms of its efficacy.

                              All in all this is perhaps a gentler alernative to the daily scrub and one that is likely to suit a broader scope of people. An Amir Khan meets Florence Nightingale kind of a product, gentle and caring but not to be underestimated; it still packs a punch and will certainly help to reduce breakouts and restore a more even toned look.

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                                25.10.2011 04:12
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                                A good but not excellent product

                                Whenever I think of L'Oreal Elnett Hairspray it always brings back fond memories of my youth. I'm 33 now but I remember this product dominating the shelves from as young as 15, it's one of those products that just seems to have been around forever, perhaps even as early as the dinosaur age, this still needs further investigation. A cringey yet warm feeling emerges as my mind wonders back to that 15 year old me, stood marveling and spraying at my double quiff (which I should perhaps refer to as Mickey Mouse ears) until they were rock hard with the all important Elnett hairspray. I recall often choking my friends (with their less than adequate single quiff) out of our local Saturday club as I happily sprayed near half a bottle on my solid hat like hair do. These days I'm a little less eccentric when it comes to my hair dos, I like a nice natural look but one that stays in place all day long. Rekindling my past affection for the L'Oreal Elnett hairspray is why I chose to purchase this item.


                                ~~Product, Packaging, Cost and Availability~~

                                You can purchase any of the range in either a 75ml can, 200ml can or a 400ml can all of which have a push button spray. There are 10 different sprays in the Elnett range varying mainly in strength, I opted for 'flexible hold extra strength'.

                                Expect to pay around £2 - £6 depending on the size of the can and of course where you choose to purchase it. As this is a very well established product your'e likely to find it retailing in most cosmetic stores, selected supermarkets as well as a number of online shops including Amazon.

                                Appearance wise the spray is reasonably stylish, gold in colour and has retained its classic original labeling, in my opinion it all looks very salon worthy. The push to spray button is a fairly standard procedure button much the same as any other brand of the same nature but I did find my button lost its ability to 'push' 3 quarters of the way into the can rendeering the product usless and leaving me a little frustrated.

                                ~~~Use and overall opinion~~

                                Once you have your arranged your style, fixing your hair with the spray becomes a fairly simple job. I Sprayed from a distance of 10cm to 20 cm away and left to dry for about 30 seconds as advised. I find that it is always best to wait for the spray to dry before decieding if more is needed as the product can get very wet if too much is applied in one go and this in turn often disrupts my styling efforts. Small bursts are better at creating a more even layer in my experience too.

                                The one real issue that I have with this product is the smell; the smell is quite pleasant in itself but incredibly pungent and over powering and does tend to make you cough an awful lot. Opening a window prior to application is certainly worth consideration as I am convinced that this is 'a no good product for your lungs'. Choking was something that I remembered most vividly about using this product but I guess I just figured that was down to the quantity that I used to use. However, I only ever use this product sparingly now and I yet still come a cropper with a cough or 3, a problem I suspect that derives as much from the thickness of the fumes as it does from the highly perfumed scent itself.

                                I am in possession of a rather annoying 'inbetweeny 'fringe at the moment i.e. too long to call a fringe and too short to style like the rest of my hair.....GROW ALREADY! Lately, to conquer my 'in between issue' I have taken to putting my 'semi fringe up in a clip' in order to keep my hair looking presentable. Because my hair is very thick and unruly I tend to need a spray to keep it fixed in place and I find that this spray works great in small areas that don't require a lot of fuss. Putting up all of my hair and keeping it fixed can however render less satisfying results, by the time it is up it's already wrestling its way back to freedom, presenting a real challange for any hairspray including this one.

                                Trying to get my 'inbetweeny' fringe out of the way and fixed with a clip is fairly effortless task when using this spray and not something that I could achieve without it as I usually find my hair slips out at the drop of a hat. It holds all day long and still looks natural, without looking stiff or becoming flaky like a lot of other sprays often do.

                                Putting my thick disobedient hair up in full however, is not always such a successful endevour using this spray, I find that I need to use quite a lot to get the hair to fix and my hair becomes quite sticky as a result, the quantity required also makes it fairly obvious that I have used a spray, so not a tremendously natural looking either. Once on, the spray has only limited strength but will hold for a few hours. Overtime I do find my full head of hair can become a little too heavy for the spray and depending on the style, will begin to unravel with a few bits escaping from a ponytail or grip, still this is a problem that I encounter quite often with many sprays and have to admit that Elnett keeps my hair in place for longer than a lot of others, though perhaps not a top five product in terms of longevity.

                                Curling my hair occasionally, I like to use the spray to hold the curls and scrunch my hair once it's in to add more definition. I find my hair seems to stay nice and wavy throughout the course of an evening and would definitely recommend the product to anyone that is considering purchasing the product with this particular intention. I find a light mist in short bursts followed by scrunching the hair with the wet hair spray works best for this unlike other styles.

                                One thing that I really like about this hairspray in comparison to others is just how easy it is to brush out; it's a fairly effortless task. My hair doesn't tangle like it does with so many other sprays and because my brush glides through my hair I'm not damaging my hair either. My hair never feels dried out after using this product and the spray doesn't flake after brushing.

                                All in all this is a slightly above average product that has some really good qualities admist its minor faults.

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                                  19.10.2011 23:39
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                                  A waste of money

                                  ~~~Introduction~~~

                                  I stumbled upon this product some months ago whilst mooching around Superdrug and have to say that I was intrigued by the 'duo' concept. Here you have a long lasting lipstick that claims to last up to 16 hours and a conditioning balm to moisturise your lips once the lipstick is on and add a touch of gloss. Brilliant I thought, you could even mix things up a bit and just wear the lipstick for a matt effect or use the balm for some natural looking glossed lips. An excellent idea but sadly that's where the excellence begins and ends in regards to this product.

                                  ~~~~Cost and packaging~~~

                                  The packaging itself is fairly quirky and certainly unique, the lipstick and balm come stacked side by side in what I would describe as a 'cutesy miniature storage unit'. The unit has clearly been designed with a purposefully mirrored surface as further selling point, so that your duo lip kit becomes a very suitable 'on the go' handbag item. Unfortunately the gadgety looking lip duo was plastic vacuum packed in the shops making my usual pre-buy closer inspection off limits.

                                  The first thing you'll note once the plastic is off, is just how fiddly and awkward the whole thing is. Trying to remove your lipstick and balm are just far more of an effort than need be, I soon found myself wondering what the point in this storage unit was aside from the reflective surface that you soon finds scuffs and scratches at the drop of a hat anyway.

                                  For a product that has used its packaging as a clear marketing tool, up close and personal with an opportunity to fiddle with it you soon realise that it's actually over complex, cheaply made and in my opinion bordering on tacky. At around £10 a pop you become more than aware that most of your pennies have gone into the over design of a packaging that in practice fails to deliver a consumer friendly ease of use.

                                  ~~~Use and Opinion~~~

                                  Once I had thumbed to death the unit in an attempt to free my brand new lippy and balm from the evil clutches of a clearly overzealous design teams last minute idea, I finally had the opportunity to experiment with my new make-up bag items.

                                  The range has 11 different colours and I choose 'Spice for Days'. Pulling off my cheap looking lipstick lid I was pleased to discover that the colour I had chosen looked much as it had promised on the packaging (there were no shop testers for this product, probably due to the nature of its packaging). I applied the lipstick just as I would any other but immediately encountered yet another problem. Firstly the lipstick does not spread evenly, settling in some areas whilst blotching in others. More notably, my lips became very dry and almost visably cracked as soon as the lipstick was applied. I pursed my lips together in an attempt to spread the lipstick only to discover yet another problem, congealing lumpy lipstick! The lipstick just seemed to smear and clump as opposed to glide and spread as it should. I very quickly found myself huffing and puffing around my bedroom mirror picking off hundreds (slight exaggeration) of tiny lipstick lumps.

                                  After picking bits off of my lip for a good 10 minutes I was pleased to be moving onto the balm and hoped that it might help spread the lipstick a little better, resolve the dryness issue, moisten my lips and sooth my now slightly sore mouth! The balm I suspect is designed to be translucent and add both shine to the lipstick as well as moisturise (or 'condition' as the advertising states) your lips but you notice immediately that it is white in colour and somewhat murky looking. Applying it didn't change that fact and it didn't sit at all well on my lips, nor did it hydrate them or condition them as it had promised in its advertising. My lip colour looked uneven, my lips looked shrivled, dry and scaley with the balm now adding an oil slick like effect on top. I'd had enough and so had my lips. I was reasonably annoyed at this point, figuring that I'd have been better off just setting fire to my tenner than to have wasted so much time and effort on this product but looking on the bright side it wasn't as if I'd accidently dipped my lips in concrete and stuck myself to a wall, was it............Ummmm?

                                  Trying to remove this lipstick from my lips was a far bigger task than removing it from the unit and applying it put together. Concrete, is no exaggeration it just doesn't budge, I must have washed and scrubbed at it 4 or five times before I got the make-up remover out, even then I was left with its annoying patchy reminisce. In fairness to L'Oreal the 'long lasting' pitch with its '16 hour'claim is certainly not false advertising but in my opinion an over investment in the staying power of this lipstick and the novelty packaging, has come at a great cost to the overall quality of the product. I think most of us would rather have to reapply our lipstick throughout the day than have it welded on like stiffly dried cement.

                                  The next day the lipstick had almost completely worn off which was a bit of a relief because I was beginging to think that nothing short of a sand blaster was going to remove this stuff. Over the course of the following few days my lips remained dull and dry, needing a constant application of lip balm (not the smudge stick balm from my kit, I might add) to rehydrate them, a direct result of using this product.

                                  All in all this is a very disappointing product from one of my favourite high street brands and certainly not one that I would purchase again or indeed recommend to anyone.

                                  ~~Also written on ciao under the same user name~~

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