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nickwock

nickwock
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Member since: 01.05.2008

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      22.06.2013 23:13
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      Mascara

      I was desperate for a new mascara so was extremely pleased when I received a full sized Jelly Pong Pong Fairy Lashes mascara in my May Glossybox. As well as saving me a bit of cash I also love being introduced to different brands, the Jelly Pong Pong style looks funky, colourful and slightly Benefit stylee, so I was really looking forward to trying (and showing off) my new product. The blurb on my Glossybox newsletter describes this mascara as: 'This is not for the faint-hearted. Our first ever mascara is formulated to make eye lashes flutter & flap. Water-resistant, Fairy Lashes makes eyelashes thicker & curvier while allowing them to be spectacularly soft & light. A truly fabulous effect for the woman who wants to emphasize one deep, intense, seductive look. Apply liberally & sweep the heavy wand upwards for thick, luscious lashes.' The shade I received is called Flutter, described as an intense black. My first impressions were slightly dampened when I removed the product from the box as the tube is made of fairly cheap looking purple plastic, complete with cheap heat sealing seam across the bottom of the tube. However, this was a 'free' product (I pay a monthly subscription which includes five samples in my Glossybox' ) so although it looks identical in the photos, I am unsure if the packaging is different if you were to pay full price for the product in store. The lid does screw on tightly, so I would be happy to tote it around in my handbag without worrying about leaks, but when I withdrew the wand I was surprised to see it looks, well, rather 'normal'! I'm so used to every new release of mascara these days having revolutionary wands with all manner of style of bristles that to see something that looks like the ones I bought in the early nineties was a bit of a shock! I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing however, as many of the new fandangled style ones I have tried are either uncomfortable or never live up to their claims anyway. Application is the usual old style way, just brush onto lashes from root to tip. The wand is light, being made of plastic, the head in a slight 'rugby ball' shape and the product adheres to the lashes quickly. Being such a shape, the very outer and inner lashes are untouched on first application and you need to use the tip of the wand to try and brush these areas. Also I found the bristles are too widely spaced and I have tried to move the wand from side to side to separate the lashes more, but it doesn't really work. I try working the lashes in small movements from the outer to inner eye but by the end of the first application my lashes are grouped together somewhat, instead of looking thick, they look a bit clumped. However, the liquid is smooth and not at all bitty, there are no lumps, it is just that the mascara sticks three or four of my lashes together. I've tried adding a second coat, but the product is waterproof and dries quite quickly. The brush can't separate the stuck together lashes, it just enhances the effect, making them look a little plastic. I usually try too hard to 'brush' them I end up with black marks all over my eyelids which is very difficult to remove. To be honest, I'm not really sure what a fairies lashes are supposed to look like, but clumped together and plastic surely isn't it? On a good note, the colour is great, I like a jet black colour and this delivers on that, apparently using a 'blue lake' pigment as well as the black to create an intense colour. It is also available in Maiden, which is a Violet shade. Also it is definitely waterproof, mine is now kept deliberately for Wednesdays, which is when we take the kids swimming. Unfortunately, considering the £15 price tag I can not recommend this mascara. I'm not really a fan of waterproof mascara anyway, but the claims Jelly Pong Pong make are ridiculous. Thick & curvy, soft & light? Try clumped and plastic looking - definitely not what I consider seductive!

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        07.06.2013 14:57
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        Wooden train track featureing Thomas

        This set was Logans first and favourite toy out of his extensive Thomas the Tank Engine collection. He has recently turned four, but received it as a Christmas gift when he was nineteen months old. The set is made by Learning Curve and is part of the 'Wooden Railway' collection and yes, you've guessed it, all items in this set are made of wood! North American hard maple wood to be exact. The recommended age is two plus on the Learning Curve website although they don't actually sell it there and other retail websites state three plus. I imagine this must be because of the magnetic pieces on the trains which can be very harmful if swallowed, but ours are still securely stuck on all this time later. There are twenty track pieces, which connect together like a jigsaw to make a figure of eight shape. Although this is the advertised design it is possible to place the track however you please. Each piece is finished nicely, clean and smooth edges with a track pattern printed on both sides, except from the larger straight and the crossroad pieces which have a road pattern on their reverse for some reason. The groove for the train wheels is about twice the width of the wheel, making it easy for younger children to place the trains. Measuring 75cm x 40cm when made up it's not too big, Thomas himself only measures 8cm long, so it is a nice miniature size and perfect for little hands without looking bulky. Unfortunately, I do have a small problem with this track. There are two short, straight pieces and when these are used they make the track an uneven figure eight. This is fine, but I do find that they are a bit difficult to fit and as a result, distort the track slightly. The adjoining edges don't sit flush, causing a little gap. This doesn't affect gameplay much, but we find it easier to make and play with when we leave those pieces out, I wonder why they were included at all. Thomas and both of his carriages, Annie and Clarabell and Toby and his carriage Henrietta are included in the pack. Each piece has rounded magnets front and back so they can connect and run in a long line. The main body is wood and the wheels are plastic. Three wooden flat wooden figures are also included, Sir Topham Hat, a young girl and a young boy. Simply but nicely painted, these fall over when used on the carpet so are usually ignored. The box is cardboard and the peices are held in a cardboard insert. This is fairly thick, corugated card, which in any other family than ours should be strong enough to keep the toy stored away. There is a nice little story book included featuring Thomas and Toby, but it is printed on normal, glossy paper and easily torn so unsuitable for very young children. What I like most about this set is the durability - all parts still look great despite the high level of daily abuse. As the box was destroyed after just a few days (flattened and torn after being squashed by a Little Tykes Police Rocker in a high speed chase) the parts are used to being thrown into a large toy box with loads of other stuff. As we fix the track up on the floor, it does get booted about a bit. Logan has loved this set from the day he had it and it has had to endure the odd paddy, as this is the toy he was usually playing with, this is what was usually sent flying across the room in a terrible two's tantrum. Still, two and a half years later, we have no broken parts, in fact, there is very little sign of wear on the track although the little trains and carriages do have a few tiny dents and chips. For such a simple toy it really gets their little minds working. As Logan was so young initially we had to put it together, but it was only a few weeks before he attempted it himself. Of course, he couldn't do the figure eight, but he still understood how to connect each piece and enjoyed making any shape. By the age of two, he insisted on it being put together properly, as a figure eight and could get most of it right by himself. He also loved connecting the trains by the magnets, but most interestingly, found it highly amusing to 'chase' the trains by turning one the wrong way, using the polarisation of the magnets to move another without them touching. I love how much this toy nurtured his motor skills, precision and imagination, it also encouraged my kids to play together, at first his elder brother would help him put it together and make bridges and tunnels from mega bloks and now his two year old sister Ruby enjoys helping him act out some of the stories he has been read. I think there is so much life left in this toy, it has been played with nearly every day since it was bought, although as we bought him more track over the years it is impossible to distinguish this original 'figure eight' set from the rest and he prefers to makes much larger and more intricate designs now he is older. It is such good quality it should still be going long after he grows out of the character and Ruby too I imagine. As well as Thomas being a firm favourite for Logans age range, there is also a large range of wooden tracks, trains and accessories to use alongside or in addition. We soon bought an expansion pack to make the track larger and Cranky the Crane, as Logan really enjoyed an episode in which he appeared and most importantly, Tidmouth Sheds, so the trains can get some hard earned rest after a days play. Prices can be expensive, extra trains can cost £10 - £20, but always be on the look out for offers. This set did come from Toys R Us, for a competitive £19.99, much more reasonable than the £39.99 RRP but generally I find them the most expensive retailer. It's also worth noting, that other wooden train sets fit, Big Jigs and Brio for example and we have picked a few things such as turntables and signals from made by these companies on offer in supermarkets.

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        • Chamilia Solid Bangle / Jewellery / 90 Readings / 90 Ratings
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          30.05.2013 22:03
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          Charm bangle

          Charm bracelets and the type you add your own beads to, such as Pandora and Lovelinks have been extremely popular for quite a few years now and as a result there are many copycats out there at a variety of prices and usually of a quality to match. Chamilia are probably known as one of the newer companies although they were founded in America in 2002. Price and quality wise they seem on par with Pandora, but with the added bonus that their wares are more widely available. I haven't seen a Chamilia store, but Ernest Jones and H Samuels stock the products as do many online jewellers. Because of this, Chamilia can often be found discounted or on special offer. My collection had a lovely huge growth spurt in the January sales courtesy of H Samuels. I will confess that Pandora is my first love (when it comes to charm bracelets of course). I was very lucky to receive a bracelet with one bead as a gift a few years ago and since then I have been able to add a few more beads to it. I even bought myself a clip, to stop the beads from sliding around the bracelet, but the weight of the beads means that it always hangs under my wrist and only the plain bracelet can be seen, the only remedy is to fill it completely. When you have spent a lot of money on beads you really want to show them off and my collection is growing far too slowly for my liking! On a night out I noticed my fellow Pandora obsessed friend was showing off some very nice beads on a bangle and no matter how much she moved about, the beads stayed put, smack in the centre of the bangle. Problem solved! It took a fair bit of hinting/ begging, but my darling husband eventually bought me one for my birthday last year. As you may have guessed, the bangle is made by Chamilia. There are two types available, both in the torque style, meaning that it doesn't fasten or join. The ends of the Flex bangle overlap each other and the Solid bangle (which I am reviewing) has a small gap between the ends. They are made of sterling silver which is very flexible and easy to get onto the wrist, although both designs do have a choice of three sizes which should accommodate most people. As my husband chose mine I didn't have any choice in the style or size, but he did very well and I am more than happy with the way it fits. There are rounded caps on each end of the bangle, which need to be pushed in and twisted to remove. This can be a little fiddly to begin with as they are only the size of a pea, I recommend changing beads over a towel placed on a flat surface to stop them rolling away and getting lost. They are flat either side and stamped with a circle and a C in the middle and the hallmarks can be found on the outside edge. There are also two small, round, polished beads which fit really snug and need a bit of force to push on or off the bangle. They are designed to sit either side of the additional beads you add and they stop the beads from sliding around and keep them in the centre. Instead of being perfectly circular, the bangle is oval in shape, which is why it doesn't twist around the wrist and end up with the weight of the beads pulling it down underneath where they can't be seen. Of course there is a vast range of Chamilia beads to choose from, but my Pandora beads also fit this bangle. There are no screw pieces on it, as there are on the bracelets, so I imagine most brands would thread without problem. Aside from the fact that the beads or the bangle do not slip under the wrist, I also like that you only have to add a few beads to make it look really good. You can add as many as you wish, even fill it if you want, but in my opinion it looks best with three or five beads. The RRP price for the bangle is £65 and beads can cost anything from £15 for a plain spacer up to about £200 (ish) for a 14 carat gold one - there is a HUGE range to choose from. I wear this bangle so much more than my Pandora bracelet because it looks complete with just a few beads and although my Pandora collection really needs to grow, I can't resist spoiling myself with Chamilia beads whenever possible, because I can then easily change the look and colour with only a few beads and they are so often on offer. There are also starter packages available as with the bracelets, so you can buy the bangle with a bead or three for a slightly reduced price (than if all items were bought seperate) but I really recommend searching on the internet for bargains. I personally have bought online from H Samuels, Ernest Jones, John Greed and Market Cross jewellers with no problems, usually free delivery and some great offers.

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            04.05.2013 00:25
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            Lovely face cream

            I received a tiny sample of this Vichy Idelia Illuminating cream a few months ago in my monthly Glossybox. I was pleasantly surprised by both the results on my skin and how long the little tester actually lasted, so despite the high price tag, decided to purchase a full size pot. As it retails for around £22 (Boots) for 50ml, it is much more than I would usually pay, so I went in search of a bargain and finally picked it up for £17 including post from ebay. Although, bargains are few and far between, I had to pay the full price for my latest one. So, what is so special about Idelia? First of all I think it important to point out that it is aimed for those of us with a slightly more mature skin! The blurb states that it is for those with 'concerns' about aging, wrinkles, dullness and uneven skin texture. It is enriched with Kombucha, which Vichy claim will smooth wrinkles and even the skintone which sounds a whole lot more appetising than the wikipedia results (bacteria, yeast, fungus etc). I'm a reluctant 37 (+49wks) and although my skin is relatively unblemished, I do have wrinkles around my eyes and my skin suddenly does not seem as firm as it was five minutes ago. In other words, any help is greatly appreciated. It also contains thermal spa water, is paraben free and hypoallergenic. Ok, so I receive my first full size pot through the post. Inside the pale pink cardboard box (which holds all the ingredient info, aswell as the customer care phone number and address and the description of the product, is a very heavy pale pink pot (which I assume is glass) with a thick white lid. It looks very professional, chic and upmarket. But you can also tell that the sides of the pot are at least half an inch thick and there isn't going to be as much actual product inside as you would hope. Opening the lid, the cream is quite a 'normal' looking, very pale pink. The fragrance is very subtle, slightly floral but more of a soft baby smell, without being powdery. It is worth remembering that a little does go a long way, so a small blob on the fingertip is good to get started. I usually use two of those small blobs and that is enough to cover my whole face. The cream does come in two versions, one for dry skin and the other for normal/combination which is what I use. I get the odd, small flare up of dry skin around my nose, forehead and chin, usually in the height of summer or winter and the normal variation has been great for my skin. What I like is the non greasy feel to the cream. It is easy to spread and sinks in so fast and feels so light, it is lovely. It dries on the skin quickly too, no greasy feel, no stickiness, I'm ready to apply my make up in a few seconds. But also, you do feel like you have added something to your skin, mine feels soft and hydrated, honestly, it is lovely! Result! I've been using it daily now for about three months and I love it. I can't lie and say I look twenty. My eyes still have wrinkles, but I think they do look at least a little better. The rest of my face feels lovely and soft and I can definitely see the illuminating aspect of the product. A 50ml pot will last me about 5-6 weeks if used sparingly and I think that at my age, if I want to look after my skin I have to be prepared to spend a little more. I'm the kind of person who is always looking out for the 'next best thing' so will not claim undying loyalty just yet, but at the moment, this is definitely my favourite face cream.

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            • www.glossybox.co.uk / Online Shop / 91 Readings / 87 Ratings
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              17.11.2012 01:08
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              A little present every month

              I've been a Glossybox member since February, so I think by now I should be more than qualified to write a review about this company! Glossybox are a company that you need to subscribe to, at least on a monthly basis. The site claims that in return it will send you five luxury cosmetic samples for a cost of £10. In reality, this is £12.95 which includes the delivery charge. The website will give you any information you need - www.glossybox.co.uk - personally I think the website is extremely easy to navigate and very simplistic in its design, but it doesn't give much away with regards to the boxes and the products, which is where I come in! I receive my box usually around the 15th of the month, give or take a day or two, after the payment has been taken out of my account on the 10th. I always receive an email beforehand, so I can make sure there is money in the account, change my payment method or even cancel the subscription if I want. It is always delivered by my personal courier from Hermes ( which also happens to be the lady who delivers any Next, Wallis, Dorothy Perkins or Debenhams parcels. (In other words - the whole parcel delivery system is contracted out so it depends on your delivery person.) The parcel contains a thick cardboard box covered in the Glossybox logo which when opened reveals another box! A baby pink one, of which the lid can be lifted off, inside is a pale pink ribbon tied over a sheaf of black paper, stuck together with a little Glossybox sticker. When opened it reveals some shredded black paper, upon which are nestled (at least) five sweet samples! Very glamorous! This month (Nov 12) I received: A 13g sample tube of Dermologica Daily Microfoliant, a 50ml pump tube of Alison Claire Remarkable Mango Body Butter, a 4.5ml decorative bottle of Burbberry Body fragrance, a 4ml sample of WEI Royal Ming firming and hydrating cream and a 4 ml Nails Inc bottle of nail varnish. This isn't to say that you will receive the exact same products as me, when you join Glossybox you are expected to fill out a survey, which will let them know about your skin type/colour and your preferences. I will admit that I have received a few samples, thinking - yuk, not my colour! But as they go on the information given as well as the products provided by the manufacturer, I suppose there has to be a fine line for error. Also, when you receive your box, inside will be a card, listing the items you have been given with their full size prices and also any discount codes for money off full size products or vouchers for bonus products which is an extra bonus. So, how to pay: I pay through Paypal, I didn't know any other Glossybox subscribers at the time, so this seemed like the safest option, but you can also pay by entering your card details direct onto the website. Money saving options are available, you can pay for a 3 month sub,at £27 upfront which saves you £3, or 6 months at £50, which saves £10 or 12 months at £100 which saves £20. Another way to save some money is by completing the monthly surveys. These are about the products you receive in each box and take just a few seconds for each product. For adequately completing the required surveys, you will earn 50 points (Glossydots) per product. When you have earnt 1000 points you can redeem them against the next months box, so in effect you actually get it free! (I do love a bargain!) This can all be done easily enough from the website. Also, you can purchase extra boxes for family/ friends if you have particularly enjoyed a box or thought there might be products in there that are of interest to a loved one. So is it worth it? Well, my personal opinion is a definite YES!. I have tested expensive brands I didn't have a bat in hells chance before my subscription, Dermologica, Burberry, Rodial etc. Also, I have stumbled across some complete gems, for example the BM Beauty bronzer, H D Brows and the Vichy Idealia day cream. Also some of the boxes have held some lovely extras like the Glossybox compact mirror, lipstick and brusher brush not to mention the money off vouchers included. Some of the 'samples' have turned out to be full sized (Broadway Nails, HD Brows, Burts Bees Hand Cream, Yves Rocher, Sally Hansen Nails, Lipcoat) and to be honest some have completely warned me off the product - a spanish eyeshadow palette. I can't remember the brand but it was so awful I had to bin it! But what I like most is the little bit of joy I get, knowing that for only £12.95 I get a cute box with at least five samples sent to me in the post. I LOVE trying new products, or even current cosmetics that I may not have seen before. I like the money off vouchers and I really enjoy writing reviews on the products I have received. I even enjoy recycling the empty boxes for gift boxes as they are so nice! I can't cover my subscription without covering any problems I have experienced. There was a bit of a 'blip' a couple of months a go, when some peoples (including mine) were delivered rather late, in fact I received my September box on the 2nd of October. There were so many people complaining on Facebook, I was slightly worried that I might not get my box at all, but when it did arrive, I was just as pleased as ever with the contents. I understand that other subscribers were not pleased with the selection, but I must say, that I thought that in my opinion, Glossybox had been let down by their delivery service and in defence of Glossybox, they didn't lay blame anywhere, infact a few days later I received an email to apologise and to assure me that they would be taking on extra staff to deal with enquiries and hopefully ensure the problem would not arise again. I still think that they provide a great service and value for money. I love (as a part time working mum of three) that the products are delivered to my door. If you are interested in joining/ finding out more, let me know & I'll send you a link x

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                13.11.2012 17:22
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                A story about violent crime and the after affects

                Emma is travelling on the bus on her way home from work when she unwillingly becomes a witness to a violent attack on an unarmed youth. Afraid to get involved, her conscience gnaws at her, especially when she realises the event led to the murder of a young man. Riddled with insecurity and a severe lack of self confidence, Emma knows she has to do the right thing even though she just wants to run and hide. Life for single mum Louise seems to be on the up. A good man in her life, her daughter auditioning for stage school and her son Luke finally losing his troublesome streak and trying to turn his life around. Then Luke is badly beaten and life hangs in the balance for all of them. Doting Dad Andrew and his wife are helpless when an ordinary evening suddenly turns into every parents worst nightmare - the fatal stabbing of their only son, Jason, in their own front garden. On hand but unable to prevent the crime, Andrew finds very little solace in the fact that his son was actually a hero. I know it seems like I've completely given the plot away in just three short paragraphs, but these events are covered in the first chapter of the book. The story is more about how such events can completely turn peoples lives around and how thin the life we take for granted can be. Each chapter is split so we can follow the three main characters Emma, Andrew and Louise and how the tragedy affects them personally. Obviously as Louise and Andrew are parents to the victims, their accounts are quite heart breaking at times, but for all three people, their individual personalities are well described. Louise has a hard exterior and is a very strong woman, she has previously dealt with personally tragedy, been let down, struggled financially and raised two children on her own. It seemed to me that she doesn't trust many people, although she is very sensible and streetwise. Andrew struggles to come to terms with the loss of his only son and the dreams and ambitions they shared. He comes across as very good natured, maybe a little too soft at times and completely devoted to his wife. While the anger threatens to change him and his perspective on life, it takes him a while to notice that his wife, who always seems so strong, is struggling too. Emma first seemed like quite a weak link to me. Obviously there needed to be a witness, but I wondered why she was one of the main characters. However, the more I read of her, the more she added to the book. Weak willed, undermined, self deprecating due to a lack of confidence, it was no wonder she didn't want to get involved when she witnessed the altercation. And you can't help but ask yourself the question - what would I do? I'm embarrassed to say that without the support from other passengers on the bus I'm not sure I would intervene either. Although not a completely happy one, the story of Emma, her life and the ways she decides to change it are also a nice bit of respite from the main story. The book covers the after shock from the attack from the families perspective, how the paths of the three main characters cross. It shows how they are each affected by the media attention and in turn how the media affect the public perception of the case. It also covers the court case and verdict, not too indepth but in my opinion, quite realistically. I hope I'm not giving the impression of a dull and depressing book! I REALLY enjoyed it, it did make me cry, it did make me question myself and it did make me see things from a different perspective at times. I think I liked it so much because of the fluid writing style and the honest feel throughout. It may be a fictional story but it sadly replicates so much of what is going on around us today. Not all the endings are tied up with a happy little bow, instead it is kept simply realistic. I liked all the characters, even Emma although it took a little longer to warm to her. In fact, I think this would make a great t.v. drama.

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                • BM Beauty Bronzer / Make Up / 64 Readings / 62 Ratings
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                  12.11.2012 13:57
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                  Loose mineral powder bronzer

                  I first received this bronzer as a sample pot from Glossybox and I loved it so much I went on to purchase a full size pot and although I don't usually wear much make up, I now use this every day. BM Beauty are a relatively new brand, created by Kimberley Wyatt (best known for being a member of the Pussycat Dolls and more recently a judge on Got to Dance) & Laura Comiskie (Love The Planet beauty products) who wanted to produce cruelty free make up. The BM stands for Beautiful Movements. The brand is approved by the BUAV & PETA and are free from bismuth oxychloride, parabens, nano particles and synthetic dyes and fragrances. The product itself is 9 ml in size and held in a clear, plastic container with a sifter top to dispense the powder and a screw on lid. They only make it in one shade, which is called Summer Warmth. I ordered it online from the website www.bmbeauty.com and it cost me £8. The bronzer can be clearly seen through the pot so you always know how much you have left, but it also looks a little grubby after a few uses as the powder is very fine and collects in the screw marks. To dispense I always find it easiest (and cleanest) to give it a little shake with the top screwed on tightly and then I take off the lid and swirl my brush on the inside of the lid rather than from the sifter (a lot more product collects there). The mineral powder is very fine and highly pigmented and the colour can be built up if you desire. I find that the colour in the pot is quite natural looking, more brown than orange or red, but at first I thought it was a little dark for my pale skin tone. However, one good swirl on my skin gives a more golden tint that suits me perfectly, but as I said it can be built up and if I add another layer it starts to look browner. What I really like most though is the shimmer it gives. I've used products that promise a 'natural shimmer' before and have just looked like I'm covered in tiny particles of glitter. This one gives a lovely and light, almost pearlescent sheen, which I'm happy to say gives a dewy effect, not a greasy looking one. The overall effect is a healthy glow which helps me look much more alive! It lasts really well, I've had my full size pot for three weeks and I've used about a quarter so far. Although as I have said, I only apply once. It is also a little messy to use as the powder is so fine, although I'm extra careful I can usually find a light dusting of the powder around my sink. Also the lid can sometimes be a bit awkward to unscrew, I've only dropped it once but the powder does manage to get everywhere! I don't have particularly sensitive skin and I haven't had any problems with spots or dryness since using this bronzer, but all B M Beauty products do contain Zinc oxide, which is a naturally occurring mineral that has anti inflammatory properties.

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                  • Mega Bloks Wagon / Construction Toy / 79 Readings / 77 Ratings
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                    10.10.2012 23:57
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                    Nice little wagon

                    My youngest son was three in May and this Mega Bloks Wagon was one of the gifts he received from a family friend. My eldest son had quite a few bits and pieces from Mega Bloks and most of it had been handed down to Logan, so as a result he was quite pleased when he had removed this from the wrapping. It contained 24 blocks of various sizes, but there was still room for him to add about 10 -15 from his own stash, although they were all heaped on top of each other! The wagon, or trolley as Logan likes to call it, is in lovely bright primary colours and very unisex, my daughter also loves it but she either has to wait until Logan decides he wants to transport something (or someone) different to blocks or sneak a play when he is at playgroup. Everything is made of the same or very similar plastic as the usual blocks and all edges are clean but not sharp. The wheels run well, but definitely better on carpet than laminate and tile. The handle is quite chunky, but light, none of my children have any problems gripping it, but there is no texture to it so would be slippy if damp. The handle also folds into the bucket which saves space for storage. Of course, Logan loves tipping the basket up and dumping the blocks (or any other toys) all over the floor. I will admit, that my children sit in the basket and try to pull each other along too. The basket does seem quite an adequate size for a toddler, but looking on the site, it is not recommended! The weight of my little ones seems to keep the basket quite steady though and it doesn't tip up. With the toy being fairly low to the floor I don't suppose much harm can come to them as neither of them can pull it along at any speed, but obviously it's not an activity I encourage. When they aren't being quite so destructive, the wagon is also used as a supermarket trolley and transports the playfood from the shop (my sofa) to their play kitchen. The blocks which come with the wagon match the others we already have, but a nice addition are two figures and a wheel base. We didn't have those before, just the standard blocks. Logan loves these different additions and loves making cars to carry the people and I think these parts probably get more play than the wagon itself. This wagon definitely gets a recommendation from me. It is of the quality I have come to expect from Mega Bloks and apart from the intended use, it has encouraged my childrens imagination, turning into a car and a supermarket trolley. It is easy to keep clean with a damp cloth and is light enough to be moved around easily. It also acts as small storage, it's amazing how many bits and pieces you can fit into it if you try! The recommended age range is 1+ and I would say that is correct. At age 3 my son has been able to play with the blocks for a long time now and he can sometimes get a little over excited with the wagon, using it for the use they actually warn you not to! However, it is very hard wearing and suitable for a number of uses and Logan still loves it. The rrp is around the £30 mark, which seems expensive to me. I've recently bought a pink one for my neice for £17.99 which is more realistic, I think offers can be often found for these type of toys.

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                    09.10.2012 17:34
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                    Construct your own Flying Dutchman

                    My eldest son is Lego mad, he's also a bit of a Star Wars nut, so most of the Lego he owns are sets and ships from the films. But the first film he really took an interest in was Pirates of The Caribbean and he really loved the ships, namely the Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman. His interest came after the first two films but before the third and fourth, as a result, toys from the films were either hard to get hold of or usually reduced. On a visit to Toys R Us we found this Flying Dutchman construction set from Mega Bloks and we paid about £25 for it which was a great bargain, I'm sure the rrp was closer to £50. The Flying Dutchman was introduced in the second film, Dead Man's Chest, it is captained by Davy Jones and his fellow grisly crew of ghost pirates. At the time I hadn't realised that Mega Bloks made sets like this, being more familiar with the chunky, bright blocks that Oakley had as a small toddler. This set is aimed at children aged 6+ and the pieces are the same size as the Lego made for the same age range. Most pieces will fit onto Lego, but it does look different, made of different plastic and most of the pieces in this set are moulded to replica the Dutchman so will look odd when used with the smooth Lego lines. My son was only four when he received this, so way under the recommended age, but he has always been very good with constructing fiddly sets like this and following picture instructions, although age four he still needed a fair amount of help from his dad and I. The instructions included are in picture format, the book (A4 size) following the Pirates theme and generally looking much busier and jazzy than Lego ones. Personally, I don't think the instructions are quite as clear as Lego, probably to do with the amount of detail on the ship, and left us all scrutinising them and scratching our heads a few times. Apparently, there are approximately 200 pieces in the box, I'm afraid I've never counted them and due to the teeny size of some parts I can guarantee I never will! It took us at least an hour to build it first time around, I'm not sure that three of us doing it together was a help or a hindrance, but I do know that at the end my hubby and I were wishing we had added a bit of glue to the structure. The shape of the ship makes it very difficult to handle without some part or another falling off although it is usually quite easy to fix. The masts are quite annoying too as they are quite tall and fall off so frequently. The detail is really very good for a childs toy and made up it's big and quite impressive. There are three canons which fire missiles, they spring out well but aren't strong enough to cause any pain or damage. The deck can be opened so you can play inside and there are four figures included: Will Turner, Bootstrap Bill, Davy Jones and of course, Captain Jack Sparrow. The attention to detail continues with the figures, Oakley especially liked Davy Jones with the tentacle beard. There are also little chests and gold and silver coins to add to play, but my favourite pieces are the torchlights decorated around the ship which add colour to the mottled grey hue and if anything make it look even more sinister! Nearly five years on and I'm afraid this set doesn't get much use these days but it certainly was enjoyed for at least a couple of years. All plastic pieces are still in great condition and still fit together well, they haven't loosened or split. The only parts which don't look so great are the fabric sails, which are made of fairly flimsy material and made to look worn and ripped anyway. I'd like to put them in the wash but I'm worried they may fray too much. I expect some of the very small parts such as the coins may have been hoovered up, but it will not affect play and I'm hoping that my younger children will have as much enjoyment from it as Oakley did. The good news is this is still available to buy new from Amazon. The bad news? It's selling for £816.75 plus £83.06 postage. (not to be confused with the Flying Dutchman 3, revised for the third film which is a steal at £315). Now I think it's good, but not that good! My advice is to wait until the new film comes out in 2014.

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                      07.10.2012 18:04
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                      Wooden toy by John Crane

                      I found this Tidlo High Tea Cupcake Stand on offer on the Next website for £10 and with my daughters second birthday coming up I couldn't resist it. Having two older sons, we do tend to over do the pink girly theme when it comes to Ruby which is probably why I was so attracted to this set. It is certainly eye catching, but I also liked that it is wooden so a nice addition to the wooden kitchen and other food sets that she already has. It is manufactured by John Crane, a british company who I have heard of before, as the playgroup that my eldest son went to had a fair amount of toys (farm sets, train track and an ark if I remember correctly!) by this brand that were very popular with the children. The advised age range is 3+, I assume that is due to some very small parts on the cakes. The stand needs a bit of assembly before play can begin. The two 'plates' are different sizes and have holes drilled through the centres. The first rod has screw holes pre-drilled at either end. It is fixed to the bottom larger plate by pushing a bolt through the plates centre and then screwing the rod down. The hole is shaped so that the bolt head sits flush with the bottom of the plate. The second rod is shorter and thiner and has a round ball already stuck to the top an a screw coming out of the other end. This is then pushed through the smaller plate and screwed into the first rod. I'm pleased to say I managed this all by myself! The plates have scalloped edges and measure 20cm and 25cm diameter and 1cm thick, the whole structure is nice and strong when made up and stands 27cm tall. The stand is coated perfectly in pink paint which is quite a nice mid pink shade. In the centre of the plates is a printed white doily which is a pretty detail and around the edges a variety of shapes have been cut out providing a home for each cake. These holes each have a coloured number printed in the center, 1-5 at the top and 6-15 on the bottom. The fifteen cakes are all different, shaped either circular, circular with a fluted edge, heart shaped, square, triangular or oval. The colours they are painted in are lovely and bright and each one is individually decorated, mostly with little wooden beads, flowers or tubes to look like the kind of fancy little cake you would have for afternoon tea in a posh restaurant (I've watched Masterchef - the closest I will probably ever get!) Each one has a number on the base to match their relevant hole in the plates. It looks like Ruby loves this toy as much as I do and so does her brother. They love dishing the cakes onto little plates and having picnics with me and some dolls. I was a little worried about the small bits on the cakes, some are the size of peas, but at age 2 and 3 my two little ones are under constant supervision and after much pretend eating, all cakes are still intact. They also seem to enjoy putting the cakes back on to the stand. Ruby isn't really into her numbers but finds it easy enough to get the different shaped cakes into the correct shaped holes. This is fairly easy as the hole on the plate is bigger than the cake, not so much as that any shape fits any hole, but enough not to make it too difficult for little hands and cause frustration. My son is nearly three and a half and at pre-school and this set is a great way of aiding his learning and getting him to count, repeat and recognise numbers and encouraging him with his shapes and colours. Although we call the fluted cake a flower shape, maybe a rectangle or semi circle may have been a bit more useful? The only downsides I can see are: 1) the weight of the toy. The rounded top makes it quite easy to pick up but as it's a wooden toy it is heavy if dropped onto little toes, 2) being painted it will chip if knocked about. We have a number of wooden toys in our house, most of which seem to be favourites. We take care of them by not putting them in toy boxes and teaching the fine art of 'gentleness' (not easy with my lot) but still, when they are much loved toys they do get chipped and scratched and can end up looking quite tatty. This isn't really an issue at the bargain price of £10 but it's usual retail price is between £20 - £30. Ouch. (£20.79 on Amazon, £28 on Great Little Trading Co).

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                        04.10.2012 13:00
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                        Lovely fragrance by Calvin Klein

                        Part of my wedding preparations, way back in 2001, was to find a new perfume. I had to be perfect for our big day, dress,hair, make-up & even my smell! I hadn't realised that choosing a fragrance for the most important day of my life would be so difficult, I had loads of bottles of perfume that I liked, but most (such as Lou Lou, Amarige and the ever faithful Soft Musk by the Body Shop) were the same as what my friends all wore and although nice, just not special enough. I will admit that I'm not really great with fragrances, I don't have a strong nose and can hardly ever pick out the individual notes of a perfume. I just hoped I would find something that stood out from the crowd and that I would love. I did and that perfume is Eternity by Calvin Klein. It wasn't a new scent, it was created in 1988, although it does smell quite contemporary in my opinion. I found it a nice change from the other perfumes I had been testing and quite unique. And hopefully the romantic name was a good sign for my upcoming nuptials! 'Eternity, inspired by the ideal of lasting love and intimacy, is a romantic, floral, fragrance' I can't say it was the bottle that attracted me. Available in 30ml, 50ml and 100ml, It's almost a little masculine, very straight edged in a tall, rectangular bottle. It is made of clear glass and you can see the pale yellow liquid inside. The top is silver coloured plastic, in a 'T' shape which covers the silver coloured spray nozzle. In larger sizes the 'T' shape top is incorporated into the nozzle so the whole piece needs to be depressed but in the 30ml it has to be removed. The name Eternity is stamped onto the front of the bottle near the top in caps. To some it may look boring, but as a fan I find it clean and classic, which is a perfect representation for the perfume itself. 'Romantic, timeless, luxurious. Eternity is an endless bouquet of white flowers, created to reflect romance and timeless quality' Top notes: Freesia, Mandarin & Sage. The first spray of perfume is quite potent and heady. Fairly sharp, but also powdery I find. It smells clean and fresh, but also strong. Now I know what the three notes are, I easily recognise them all. The freesia is floral, but brings the powdery taint, while the mandarin keeps it fresh with subtle citrus hit. The sage brings it all back to earth and provides the freshness but in more of an earthy, autumnal tone. Heart notes: Muguet, White Lily, marigold, narcissus. I find it hard to associate any of these notes with the fragrance on my skin. Although it does mellow, I do not feel the fragrance deviates much from the first spray until the base notes come through. I'm really not a fan of white lily or narcissus and do not detect those at all, although the perfume is certainly detectable throughout the day. Base notes: Sandalwood, Patchouli & Amber. It seems I am attracted to amber fragrances, but also love the unusual scent of patchouli, so it is no surprise to me that they are included. These three notes seem such a big contrast to the others that you would think it smelt like a completely different fragrance at the end to the beginning - but at the end of the day and the residue left on clothes the next day, it still has the distinct aroma of Eternity, just warmer and mellower. The citrus hue has definitely disappeared and it certainly can't be called fresh anymore, but the powdery, heady freesia scent is still evident and mixes well with the base notes. 'As long as intimacy goes on, so will eternity' - Calvin Klein To my knowledge, it is only available as eau de parfum which is probably why this scent lasts so well on the skin and the aroma clings subtly to any clothes it comes into contact with. I find it quite a versatile perfume and use it for both daytime and evenings, although I only use one spray for day wear as two can make it quite strong. I love that it is both fresh and warm and even though there are a lot of floral notes, it isn't a strong 'flowery' smell, to me it is more of an exotic floral rather than cottage garden. Eleven years on and this is still my favourite fragrance and one I can't do without. I haven't found anything similar and definitely nothing to beat it. I've been wearing it so long I feel I can certainly call it my signature scent - I once left my scarf in my friends car, she gave it me back a couple of weeks later. She said she knew it was mine as it had my lovely smell! Obviously prices can vary from shop to shop but are usually around £25 for the 30ml and up to £45 for the 100ml.

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                          30.09.2012 23:45
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                          Luxurious cleanser

                          I bought a No.7 gift set for Christmas, well, to be honest, I got it free as part of the 3 for 2 promotion they run every year. I didn't actually need it but as the assistant pointed out, I might aswell choose something and after a quick search I decided this would be a great set to keep in-case I had forgotten someone or for a birthday. What actually happened is that I left my usual cleansing wash on the side of the bath and my middle son squirted it all into his bath water the next day. So, a little desperate I opened the gift set for the Radiance Boosting Hot Cloth Cleanser and spoilt myself! The cleanser in the set was a little 50ml sampler but I have since bought it from Boots in it's usual 200ml. It's rrp is £9.95 which is on the pricey side for me, but No.7 products are so often on offer, either 3 for 2, or with a skincare voucher that the prices are brought down to a more reasonable range. The muslin cloth was included with both sizes. The bottle is an opaque white and cylindrical. The dispenser is a pump action, you just depress the whole of the pearly white top piece and once dose (about the size of a five pence piece) is enough to cover the whole face. There is a clear cap to protect the dispenser, but it doesn't stop the product slightly solidifying in the small dispenser opening if not used for a couple of days. The base can be seen moving up the tube as it is used so you know when to run to Boots and buy more. The brand and product name are printed on the front in the usual clear and plain type and the directions for use and customer care addresses are on the back in very small type. The cream itself is thick and white, it looks more like a moisturiser, not as runny or gel like as most cleansers. It spreads well over the skin using clean fingertips and sould be massaged into dry skin in circular motions. It also feels like a moisturiser and sinks into your skin quite quickly. It does feel a little heavy and greasy, the fragrance is a bit heavy for me too, quite floral which isn't my favourite but only a trace is left when removed. The muslin cloth is very thin, the instructions are to run it under comfortably hot water and then place it over your face. I presume the heat is to draw out any impurities and soften the skin. The cloth isn't quite big enough to comfortably cover the whole area, I like to press it into the contours of my nose too as that is where I get both blackheads and dry skin so I usually rinse the cloth back out and apply again, two or three times. Afterwards the cloth is used to polish off the product from the skin, again in a circular motion. You are then advised to splash your face with cold water to close the pores. I've been really happy with the results from this product. It is very relaxing using the hot cloth and my skin is left very clean from the polish from the ever so slightly rough muslin cloth. My skin feels very soft to the touch although maybe slightly greasy still, so I just use a little less moisturiser. I do think my skin looks brighter too. The splash with cold water is something I have adopted after using any facial wash now and as a result I definitely get less blackheads around my nose. I do have a couple of little gripes, one being the size of the muslin cloth, I wish it were a little bigger. Using this product takes a bit of time to apply, heat and relax under the hot cloth and then polish, it would be quicker if I didn't feel the need to apply the hot cloth more than once and also the heat only lasts a second, a thicker cloth might hold it longer. The good news about the cloth is that it can be rinsed out with soapy water very easily to keep it clean and hygenic. I also do not like the fragrance, I can put up with it, but I would find it more relaxing if I actually liked it. If you are used to buying Clinique or more expensive brands you will probably find this cheap, but for me it is quite expensive, even with a £5 voucher! I combat this by only using it once or twice a week, usually if I can find time for a nice relaxing bath before bed. To be honest, I think it's a little rich to be used daily anyway.

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                            28.09.2012 22:25
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                            Singing purse

                            My daughter received this for Christmas when she was 16 months old. Having two older brothers most of her gifts were very pink and girly which was a nice change! The main item in the set is the handbag. The main body is made of quite thick, pale pink material which is soft to the touch and has a happy embroidered face on the front. It is surface washable. There is also a little loop of strong material which is to attach the keyring to and a large plastic zipper across the lower part which is yellow with blue zip and clicks when moved. The handle of the bag is made of hard purple plastic, it has numbers 1-10 around the grip and an oval in the middle with the Fisher Price logo on, the magnetic clasp is hidden on the inside which keeps the bag closed quite securely. On the top right of this handle is a pink switch with the off switch and three play modes: Learning time Music time Let's play I was going to list what happens for each mode, but generally, there are some phrases such as 'open', 'close', 'zip', 'hello', 'let's get ready' and some songs which I believe have been specifically made for this item. One of the songs is about colours and one quickly runs through the numbers, but I doubt any baby or toddler could pick up anything useful unfortunately. The only song in music mode is about using some of the items in the purse i.e. 'Ready to go out I'll bring my purse along, get my keys and bracelet, sing a little song, look into the mirror, put some lipstick on, wave and say bye bye, I won't be gone too long'. It starts when the bag is opened and stops when shut, then carries on again when re-opened. The songs are cute, but I was disappointed with the educational claims though. I think it would have been better if the purse were to ask for items i.e. 'mirror' so she could learn the names (obviously with our help) or maybe even - 'the lipstick is pink' which would help with colours. What I did like was the female voice was in English - American accents on British toys really annoy me - and it is very clear. The base of the bag is rectangular and made of hard plastic. It houses the battery compartment (3 AAA which are included) and also has a two level volume control switch. It also provides a base for the bag to stand on so it doesn't have to be held, although it is a little top heavy with the large handle. Obviously no handbag is complete unless it's full of useful bits & pieces! This one comes included with a purple mirror, a chunky little lipstick, not sure of the brand but it's in a blue tube and in a bright pink shade, a set of keys (one for the house and the other for the car I assume), a pretty pink bangle which is definitely my daughters favourite item and lastly, a fabric note (as in money) which makes a crinkly noise when handled. The five items fit nicely into the bag, even though on the inside there is a large plastic back to the zip and the plastic base also takes up a fair bit of room which means there is little space for anything extra. Also the handle, being plastic and quite small is only big enough to clutch, not get an arm or hand through no matter how small. We've had the purse for nine months now and at the age of two I think my daughter has outgrown it. The phrases it says are not educational or varied enough to keep up her interest. But it's the lack of space in it that makes it redundant. She likes to copy me and needs a bag big enough for her keys, lipstick (maybe three), purse, mirror, bracelet, books, mobile phone, food, cuddly toy ..... The manufacturers age spec is 6 - 36 months and I can only find it on Amazon at present, for around the £20 - £22 mark. I think that is seriously overpriced, I wouldn't want to pay more than £10 for it's limited use. Although there does seem to be a newer and improved model out with a fabric strap and a credit card and mobile phone which replace the lipstick and pound note and it is also cheaper.

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                              27.09.2012 15:11
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                              Quality skin polisher that doesn't cost a fortune

                              I first started using Olay Regenerist Thermal Polisher a couple of years ago, while searching in Boots for something to spend my £5 skincare voucher on. Although in my thirties I still get the odd spot and I get little 'bumps' under the skin on my cheeks, so I like to use an exfoliator at least every couple of days. My usual No 7 choice was out of stock and it was the sales representative who suggested this product as an alternative. I was immediately drawn to the thermal promise, having used self heating masks in the past and finding them really relaxing. I also liked the packaging, being a black tube with bright coloured pattern on and a contrasting white space in the middle with the description & brand name, the whole regenerist collection stood out on the shelf amongst all the other white and pastel coloured products. The tube is 125ml and usually costs £7.99 from Boots, although I don't think I've ever paid full price for it, always purchasing when on promotion of with a voucher. (At the momen,t sept 2012, it's reduced to £5.99) However, I definitely think it is worth the rrp. It is designed that the tube can be stored on the lid, making the thick cream easier to dispense. The cap is fairly bulky and provides a stable base. The lid is easy to open and the tube is made of plastic and easy to squeeze the product out of - until you get to the very end! The diameter of the cap makes it difficult to get everything from around the sides and you have to try some fancy origami to fold the tube over. I usually just cut it open with scissors, although I can't reseal the tube, there is only really two or three more doses left and I just keep it in cabinet so nothing gets in to contaminate it. The cream itself is quite thick and a surprising mauve colour, with little red 'micro crystals' strewn through. My main thought is that it definitely doesn't look at all natural! The smell is nice too, a bit clinical maybe but pleasant enough and not very strong. I wet my face with lukewarm water and gently rub a hazelnut sized blob around my face with my fingertips, trying to avoid my eyes and lips. The product instantly starts to warm which is a nice sensation, but it doesn't last very long. The crystals feel grainy but not at all scratchy. I then just rinse off with warm water and pat dry with a towel. I love that there is no tightness at all after using this, my skin already feels moisturised. It looks better too, much brighter & soft with no redness or aggravation from the warmth or crystals. The blurb on the packaging says it gives the effects of a mini peel. I've never had one of those so can't really comment, but the name is good, I definitely feel like my skin has had a good polish rather than a scrub! My skin immediately feels better to the touch too and after continued use I notice that the tiny little spots I can feel under the skin on my cheeks have gone, they may not have been noticeable to others, but I feel much better about my skin now. I think it's gentle enough to use daily, but for me not really necessary as the results last so I use every other day, making the tube last longer - meaning even better value!

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                            • Clairol Colourseal Gloss / Hair Care / 58 Readings / 56 Ratings
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                              25.09.2012 17:46
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                              great conditioner

                              Sadly, I've been colouring my hair for quite a while now. I'm not completely grey, just have that extremely unflattering splatter of silver threads which seem to collect mainly around my side parting and more recently a few around my temples. My hair is very dark brown and grey hairs are very noticeable, so I usually dye it every 4- 5 weeks. I find Clairol Nice 'n easy have a great range of very natural looking colours, but more importantly they always leave my hair feeling in great condition instead of dry & brittle and I've always believed this is due to the ColourSeal Gloss included in the box. Aswell as helping to seal new colour in, it also makes my hair super soft & really shiny. The only downside is that the tube contains six applications, it's meant to be used once a week so should last until your next colour is due, but for me, the results are so much better than any other conditioner I have used that once a week just isn't enough! Thankfully, Clairol have cottoned on to this and it is now also available to purchase on it's own. There are three types, Radiant Red, Beautiful Brunette and Brilliant Blond and the 30ml tubes look exactly like the 57ml one in the Colourant box, which is my only confusing point, as both are supposed to contain six applications. Each type is a different colour (i.e. red for Radiant Red) so it's easy to determine which one is for you and when stocked together it also makes the display quite noticeable on the shelf. The tube is designed to be placed on the white cap, so that the thick white cream is easier to dispense, but the rest of the tube is plastic and easy to squeeze so there is minimum waste. The tube is fairly plain looking, but it's also small, so too many pictures and type would make it look confusing and messy. The screwcap is easy to remove, my only problem Is that I almost always drop it in the shower and with it being white it's impossible to find amongst the soap suds and steam! The gloss feels silky on your fingers, it's probably not as thick as some intensive conditioners I've used and doesn't look anything spectacular, not pearlised, or glittering, just plain white. I leave on for at least two minutes, after shampooing and after I've squeezed out as much water as possible. I apply firstly to the lengths and ends, then back to use the excess around my skull. It is tempting to use a lot, but not necessary, it glides through the hair easily. The tubes have a handy guide on the back and as long as you squeeze the tube from the top (not the middle!) you can follow it and ensure you get the six doses. Using too much has never made my hair feel greasy as it rinses out well, but just wastes the gloss. The fragrance is lovely too, I'm not sure what it is, it smells clean but creamy, maybe of almond oil and is still noticeable when my hair is dry. It definitely helps to get rid of the chemical smell of the hair dye. Straight after rinsing, my hair feels silky soft and almost tangle free. I always towel dry my hair as much as I can before blow drying which can cause tangles, but they are much easier to remove after using this product. Blow drying doesn't take as long either and my hair is left still feeling very soft and looking a lot shinier than usual. My split ends are also greatly improved. I never have a problem with the colour fading either, but then I do colour regularly anyway. Ok, so I must be using far too much, it is a weekly conditioner after all, but using a standard conditioner just doesn't give the same results. My only concern is that I can't find the ingerdients anywhere, they aren't on the tube and although there is a link on the website they aren't listed. My concern was that it contained sillicone, which coats the hairshaft, dulling it after continued use and cannot be removed by shampoo. The page only states that it contains 'essential moisturising ingredients' and that the 'conditioning film lies across the cuticles to smooth and flatten them'. However, I have been using this product regularly for about three months now and I'm still very happy with the results. Now for the best bit, the 30ml tube at most costs just £1! I wash my hair every other day, so my tube usually lasts about a week. So at the most I spend £3-£4 a month on a great conditioner that gives fantastic results, which I think is great value.

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