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A lot of people think that men are hard to buy for but I find it much more difficult to buy for women, simply because there is just far to much to choose from! I have a total of 12 adult women to buy for this year and they all have very different likes and dislikes.
I find that toiletries can be a lot like marmite. Women either love them or hate them and I think they are often used as an easy gift option for women. I don't mean to sound ungrateful when I say this but I'm not overly keen on receiving these kinds of gifts, unless they are of the Soap and Glory variety.
Personally, I think Soap and Glory products (sold at Boots) are of excellent quality and all of their products that I have tried so far have smelt amazing. They all leave my skin feeling super soft and I have found with these products that a little goes a long way. They do a huge variety of different gift sets at this time of year or you can buy each product individually all year round. They also have a make up range too! They aren't the cheapest of products to buy individually, but they aren't the most expensive either. A moisturiser on its own will cost around £6.50, which is more than I personally like to spend so getting these for christmas is fab for me!
All of my friends and my Mum love Soap and Glory, it is probably the only toiletry type item that I would consider getting for any of them. As an added bonus Soap and Glory products are not tested on animals!
Most of my friend have iphones and some also have ipads or other tablet computers and kindles so this year I have bought some lovely cases for these for some of them. Accessorize have some really lovely cases for the iphone, ipad and kindle and they start at only £10 each. Ebay is always a great place to find gifts like these too!
A lot of my friends wear a lot of costume jewellery from places like newlook or topshop so its usually quite easy to find something in there that they like. Alternatively some of them have love links, pandora, links of london and nomination charm bracelets so an perhaps a charm to add to their bracelet would be a good idea (just make sure they don't have it already). My Mum, however, doesn't wear costume jewellery or charm bracelets. She has a bracelet and necklace that my Dad bought her years ago that she wears constantly, along with her wedding and engagement rings and that is all. So this year I have bought her a watch!
Perfume is an excellent gift for a lot of women providing it is a scent that they like. You can get some great deals and fragrance gift sets at this time of year.
***Cosmetics and other related items***
Personally I dont like to receive make up as a gift unless it is something I have particularly asked for. However, this obviously does not apply to all women and some of my friends (who are more adventurous with make up than me) love getting cosmetics as a gift.
Alternatively you could always buy someone a make up bag, there are some really lovely ones around and Ted Baker have some gorgeous ones, although they are quite pricey at around £25 for a large cosmetic bag but Boots also have a slightly cheaper range of Ted Baker cosmetic bag available all year round.
Cosmetic brushes are also another option.
I tend to steer clear of buying clothes for anyone other than my Mum, simply because of the difference in sizes and tastes. However, I am not against buying the odd pair of funky, cosey socks or slippers. River Island and Dorothy Perkins have some really fab ones at the minute! Accessories such as handbags and purses can also down a treat too.
***Sweets and Chocolates***
This is another one of those 'easy option' type of gifts. However, most of my friends and family have enough chocolate and sweets in their homes around christmas to feed the 5000! So I tend to avoid adding to that.
A lot of my friends are really loving Yankee Candles at the moment and although quite expensive for a candle, some of them give off amazing aromas and they last for ages!
I hope this has helped to give you some gift ideas for the ladies in your life!
Every year around the end of October or beginning of November I ask the men in my life what they want for Christmas and without fail, every year, I am met with a chorus of "I don't Know" or "There's nothing I need" or "I'll have a think about it" and then they never get back to me. Thankfully, I am usually quite well prepared with ideas of what to buy if I haven't bought things already.
I will admit that the men in my life aren't really that difficult to buy for, they are mostly all Xbox geeks and so a simple trip to Game can usually solve any gift dilemmas that I might have. However, this being said, I dont like to just buy them games and tend to turn to them as a last resort.
The best advice I can give for buying gifts for anyone (not just men) is think ahead and pick up tips and hints throughout the year. For example, my Dad and I bought my Mum a Blackberry Playbook for her birthday in September for the bargain price of £129 reduced from £529 from Curry`s. My Dad then couldn't stop saying how impressed he was with it.... so I went and bought him one too!
While on holiday in America this year we went to an Outlet shopping centre where there was a Fossil shop selling watches with a offer of buy one get one half price. The fact this was an outlet shop and the currency exchange rate favours the pound meant that the watches were already much cheaper than you would get them for in the UK and the buy one get one half price offer was an added bonus! I ended up buying four watches for about £200 when I got home I looked on the fossil website and it should have cost me just over £420 for the exact same watches! I wasn't expecting to buy Christmas presents while on holiday but it just goes to show that you can find great bargains and pick up fantastic gifts for people anywhere and when you least expect to!
My other half spends the majority of the year complaining about how he wants new t-shirts, gym clothes, trainers etc, so there's a whole load of ideas right there! I bought loads of things in the Next summer sale to put away for Christmas, including a couple of t-shirts and a pair of trainers (all designer) for half the price they would normally cost! Another great place to buy designer clothes for a lot less than the RRP is the Sports Direct website. I would never have thought to look on there for things like Firetrap clothing (which my partner loves) but stumbled across them while looking for gym clothes and they currently have t-shirts that are still on the firetrap website priced at £25 for only £7.99! What a bargain!
I love Boots and they have some great gift ideas this year too. My brother-in-law loves Guinness, he likes cooking and he loves steak and Boots are selling Guinness steak kits which include a griddle pan, tea towel, tongs, recipe card and black peppercorns and chilli flakes for only £20. Perfect! And the best part is that it's included in their 3 for 2 Christmas gift offer so I was able to pick up a Ted Baker toiletry set for my friend's husband and a Phillips precision hair trimmer for my Granddad and got it all for only £40!
I also bought my Granddad a lovely leather wallet and some Hankies from Next this year. The wallet is really soft leather and looks much more expensive than the £16 that I paid for it.
Books are always appreciated amongst the men in my family too as they all love to read. By shopping around you can usually get some great deals. For example, a few weeks ago I bought my Dad the new Terry Pratchett book (admittedly it was for his birthday, not Christmas) for £10 from Tesco when I had previously seen it for around £18 in WHSmiths.
If the guys in your life have a hobby then you might find it a little easier to buy things related to whatever their hobby is. For example, my other half's Granddad is a keen golfer and this time of year there are lots of golfing related or themed gifts around and the same applies to my Dad who is a keen gardener.
I love to buy little stocking filler gifts for everyone too. Ebay, Play.com, Red5, BHS and HMV I find are great places to do this! I have bought phone cases, an in car phone charger, a headonizm head massager, mugs and DVDs all for under £10 each and I have started to make a habit of buying my other half either an itunes or app store gift card too so he can buy himself the latest apps/music/tv episodes that he likes to put on his phone.
Overall, the best advice I can give for buying gifts for guys is pick up hints throughout the year and make a list and then shop around for the best prices. If you come across some great deals early in the year or while away and can afford to, then make the most of it!
1. What is the wallpaper on your computer screen? Why did you choose it?
It's a big purplely/pink coloured flower. I don't know what type of flower it is, but it's very pretty!
2. Mexican food, Chinese food, Italian food, French food or American food?
Hmmm, out of this selection I would have to say italian. But my real favourite is Indian.
3. Do you have any tattoos and piercings?
No tattoos - I'm far too indecisive to be able to choose something that would be on my body for the rest of my life. But I do have my ears pierced twice and also my belly button.
4. Do you have any siblings?
Nope. Just me.
5. Have you ever broken a bone?
Nope. I'm quite lucky really.
6. Do you believe in superstitious things such as breaking mirrors?
I like to think I don't but I always, without fail, find myself following the rules of whatever superstition I come across....just in case.
7. Do you like those 'end of the world' movies?
Some are ok.
8. Do you eat more fruits or vegetables? What's your favourite fruit and veggie?
Probably vegetables. My favourite fruits are strawberries and my fave veg is baby corn.
9. Who were you most likely to play during school nativities?
Umm, haven't been in a school nativity since I was about five and I think I was mary.
10. What's your opinion of the dentist?
The sound of the drill makes me shudder.
11. Have you ever had a speech impediment?
12. If you had to choose, what is the worst movie you've ever seen?
13. Do you like meeting new people?
Yeah, most of the time.
14. If you could, which celebrity would you date?
Ian Somerhalder (Damon from The Vampire Diaries)
15. Who would you take with you on a deserted island?
Probably my boyfriend. I couldn't live without him (awww, cheesey).
16. Do you know how wide your hips are in exact inches?
Haven't got a clue!
17. What would you say is the worst part of high school?
18. How old will you be on your Mother's 68th birthday? Is that 'old' to you?
28, so not very old at all really.
19. Ever thought you were dying of something you were not even close to having?
Don't think so.
20. Have you ever wanted to be a doctor?
21. If you were dying who would you say goodbye to first?
Probably my parents.
22. Do you like to babysit children?
I don't mind doing it.
23. Do you often forget where you put things?
Only if I put them in a 'safe' place that is so safe it can't be found (or I forget) lol
24. Do you go on a lot of holidays?
Twice a year. I love holidays :)
25. Have you ever met someone with the same 'biggest fear' as you?
Not sure, but I'm sure there are plenty of people out there that have.
26. Would you rather write with a pen or pencil? Why?
Definitely a pen.
25. What is your favourite number and why?
8, I don't know why, it just is.
26. Are you afraid of being kidnapped when you go outside at night time?
Not really. Mugged maybe but not kidnapped and even then it depends where I am.
27. Where was the best school trip you ever went on?
Park Asterix is Paris.
28. Are you a controversial person?
I can be when I want to be.
29. What would you say your average word per minute count is on a keyboard?
I have absolutely no idea.
30. What was your favourite and least favourite subject in school?
My favourite was English Literature and least favourite was German
31. Do you bite your finger nails?
I used to but stopped a while ago.
32. When is the next time you'll go to the library?
When my books are due back in a few weeks.
33. Do you like fiction or non-fiction books more?
34. Do you treat other's as you'd like to be treated?
I try to, but it's not always that easy.
35. What type of child were you?
I was a chatterbox at home but quiet and shy at school
36. Are you someone who likes to get into arguments and fights a lot?
Not really, I'm not a big fan of confrontation, but if I'm really annoyed you will know about it.
37. Do you swear a lot?
More than I would like to, but not loads.
38. If you had to get a tattoo, what would it be of and where would you have it?
Possibly of a lily or lotus flower but I have no idea where I would have it.
39. What's your favourite TV show?
At the minute....The Vampire Diaries but it changes all the time.
40. Does personality weigh out the sense of 'good looks'?
Personality is without a doubt more important. You could look like Brad Pitt but if you're a horrible person I'm still not going to like you.
41. What is your favourite thing in your bedroom?
My bed :)
42. If you could change 1 thing about you, what would it be?
I'd be more motivated.
43. Do you have any regrets? If so, what are they?
None that I can really think of. Everything I have done in the past has brought me to where I am today.
44. What colour hair do you have?
A blonde/brown colour.
45. What colour eyes do you have?
46. Favourite Sound?
My txt message tone.
47. Favourite Quote?
'A diamond with a flaw is worth more than a stone without imperfections'
I first caught a whiff of this perfume while in my local Superdrug store when they had it on a tester table and I instantly fell in love with the scent and subsequently it went to the top of my birthday wish list.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and I was thrilled to unwrap a 50ml bottle of CK One shock on my birthday.
CK One shock comes in a white bottle with the classic CK one name written in black and then the word shock written in bright pink in a style that makes it look like it has just been painted on the bottle. One thing I found odd about the bottle however, is that it doesn't come with a standard spray mechanism attached like most perfumes; instead it comes with a screw top lid and the spray mechanism separate within the box. It's nice that they give you the choice of whether or not to spray the perfume; however it also means that once you have screwed the spray mechanism in place, there is no lid to put on top of it. I opted to use the spray mechanism anyway but overall the bottle itself is nothing special.
One push of the spray pump releases an adequate amount of the perfume that initially smells very strong and floral but once you let the fragrance settle it becomes soft and musky and reveals a hint of my favourite scent....vanilla. The fragrance that remains is a soft, sweet, cosy smell that is perfect for day time wear at any time of the year.
Some slight research reveals that the CK One shock was created using Jasmine, dark cocoa, blackberry, narcissus, patchouli, amber, musk and vanilla.
As I mentioned previously, I think this perfume is perfect to wear during the day and is suitable for any season of the year. The scent has amazing staying power and lasts for hours and hours which in my opinion makes it very reasonably priced at £21.99 from Superdrug for 50mls although it is even cheaper at www.fragrancedirect.co.uk at only £19.99.
I really love this perfume and have used it every day since I got it. The soft, sweet, feminine fragrance makes it the perfect scent for any girlie girl and I cannot recommend it enough!
I never used to be a fan of reptiles and always shared the same stereotypical views as many other people, that reptiles were generally slimey, cold and horrible. That was until I gave in to my boyfriends desires and bought him his first lizard; a Blue Tongued Skink that we called Mushu. Fast forward several years and reptiles are now every much a big part of our lives and our reptile family has grown to include two Leopard Geckos (Panzer and Zeus), a Black and White Argentinian Tegu (Seth) and a Royal Python (Pliskin a.k.a. Skinny - although I must admit that I don't like the snake much).
One day a few months ago my boyfriend returned home with a new addition to our family and my first thought was 'oh my god, not another lizard!'. I love all the ones we have but thought another one would just be more hassel as their vivariums take up so much space and we always struggle to get people to look after them when we go on holiday - it turns out people aren't as happy to volunteer to pet sit Lizards as they are cats and dogs.
Never the less, the new addition was here....Echo the Crested Gecko.....and I instantly fell in love with him. He was the size of my thumb, and a burnt orange/brown colour with little crests running down his back and on top of his eyes, making him look like he has eyelashes ( I think thats how they got the name Crested Gecko) but he is in no way spikey. To touch, Echo's skin is as soft as velvet and he was and still is as light as a feather. From the moment he arrived, Echo has always been extremely tame and has never shown any signs of trying bite us while we have been handling him. In my opinion, Echo also looks like he is always smiling, I'm certain that it is just the way his jaw is set but I do like to think of him as a happy lizard.
It turns out that crested geckos are also really easy to care for. Echo doesn't need a heat mat or lamp, he is happy at room temperature in his glass vivarium, although we do have a spare heat mat on stand by for the winter months as I am told that the temperture in Echo's vivarium shouldn't drop below 13 degrees cellcius. Obviously you need a decent, lizard friendly thermometer to keep an eye on this.
Inside Echo's viv is some bark substrate, a couple of wooden branches and some plastic plants with big leaves as he does seem to like to sit in amongst the leaves. He also has a little water bowl and is given fresh water daily. His viv is also sprayed once a day with water as Echo also likes to lick water droplets from the plastic plants.
A crested geckos diet can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be; you can buy crested gecko diet which is a powder you mix with water to create a feed that is supposed to provide a crested gecko with all he needs nutritionally. However, they can also eat fruit flavoured baby foods, soft fruits (but not citrus fruits), crickets and then as a treat they can also have wax and meal worms. When we first got Echo, we mostly fed him baby food and he seemed more than happy to sit there are lick it from my finger, which was really cute. Now he has a bit more of a varied diet which includes soft fruits like banana and peaches which we mash up for him and crickets.
My boyfriend does most of the looking after of the reptiles, I usually just get them out of their vivs to handle them and feed them if he isn't around. My boyfriend fully cleans Echo's vivarium about once a month and inbetween that does spot cleaning when needed.
Echo is now about 4 to 5 inches long and still seems more than happy to be handled, he even sometimes climbs onto my hand quite happily when I put my hands into his vivarium to get him out. In the wild, crested geckos get around by jumping from branch to branch and Echo really does know how to jump; for this reason I usually sit on the floor while handling him as I'm always scared he'll hurt himself by jumping off me when I'm stood up, although most of the time he just sits on my hand with his tail curled around one of my fingers, which I think is really cute even though I know that he only does it to keep himself safe incase he were to fall. One thing to remember about crested geckos is that you should never grab or pick them up by their tails and they will shed it as a survival response and it wont grow back.
Crested geckos apparently live for around 10 years and so are great if you want a small pet thats a bit different and has a longer life expectancy than a hamster. I think that these little guys would be fantastic as a first reptile as they are so cute, friendly and easy to care for that you really couldn't go wrong.
Echo is now a well established member of our little reptile family and we wouldn't be without him. It turns out that he is actually no hassel at all, he makes no noise at all, unless the room is so quiet that you can hear him jump from one branch to another in his vivarium and the fact that he is so small and cute and eats 'normal' food like fruit means that our friends are less reluctant to look after him while we're on holiday.
I love Echo to bits, he is easily the cutest and friendliest reptile I have ever come across and would happily recommend crested geckos as a pet for the experienced or inexperienced reptile keeper.
As some of you may have read in my Max Factor foundation review, when buying said foundation I was lucky enough to get a free gift and in amongst the products in this free gift was a sample size of the Max Factor Masterpiece Max Mascara. Last week, I noticed that my regular mascara was running out and also become clumping and horrible so, I thought it a good opportunity to make use of my free gift!
The mini Masterpiece max mascara comes in very much the same kind of packaging as the original size except that it is of course smaller, containing 5.3mls and it doesn't have the dramatic, angular, gold tip to the lid. The standard size mascara contains 7.2mls and has quite an elegant look to it thanks the the gold tip on the lid. The rest of the packaging on both is predominantly black with all writing printed in gold.
Having a browse of the Max Factor website in preparation for writing this review, I am informed that this mascara provides thick, sleek lashes with up to 400% volume but that it defines and smoothes at the same time and creates a catwalk finish in seconds thanks to its IFX brush (I'm not going to pretend to know what an IFX brush is because I have no idea). They do have a tiny bit more information about this product but I don't want to bore you with promotional product talk, but you can read more at: http://www.maxfactor.co.uk/uk/products/Eyes/Mascara/MasterpieceMax/detail.aspx
Although I love cosmetics, I'll be the first to admit that I don't know all that much about them and to me, the brush on this foundation looks pretty standard although it is thinner at the tip which gradually becomes thicker to the base.
The first time I used this mascara my eyelashes were obviously mascara free. I removed the brush from its bottle and applies several strokes to my eyelashes with the brush. I did this with both eyes and was amazed with the results!
My eyelashes, without mascara really aren't that interesting. They aren't particularly long and they aren't strikingly dark in colour and they aren't what you would call thick, luscious lashes. But this mascara really does transform them into everything they're not. My eyelashes become beautifully dark, long and volumised with minimal effort. I used to combine two mascaras, one lengthening and one volumising and still didn't manage to achieve the results I have with this Masterpiece Max mascara. I love it!
I probably wouldn't say that they were 400% volumised, but the results are still pretty amazing, maybe 200-300% and everything else that Max Factor claimed about this mascara is true. While my lashes look beautiful, full of volume and such a defining black colour and wonderfully long, there are no unsightly clumps of mascara amongst my lashes, it really does give a sleek, smooth finish and gives my lashes a beautiful curl that lasts for hours. An added bonus is that it requires very little effort and mascara to obtain these results, like I said, I probably only used a few strokes with the brush and don't need to re-dip the brush in its pot at any time during application. I love it so much, I have already been out and bought the standard size mascara, ready for when my lovely little freebie runs out.
I was also lucky enough to pick this mascara up for only £7.99 from Superdrug (usual price £9.99) as they currently had a money off offer. You can also get it from Boots for £9.99. I would recommend this mascara to anyone in the blink of a sexy, mascara'ed eye, I cannot praise it enough. Max Factor Masterpiece Max Mascara is my new favourite!
I've never really paid much attention to the appearance of my feet, as long as my nails are painted that is usually good enough for me. Then a few weeks ago I noticed that the skin on my heels had become extremely hard, rough and unattractive. So I went into town to search for a magic solution and came home with Scholl Cracked Heel Repair Cream.
***Who are Scholl?***
Scholl are a brand that specialises in products relating to foot care. It was founded in 1904 by Podiatrist Dr William Mathias Scholl. Since then the company has gone from strength to strength and is even the sponsor of many UK Athletes. Scholl offers a wide range of products from lotions and potions to cure cracked heels, athletes foot and other fungal conditions to blister plasters, shoe insoles and even shoes.
***The magic cream***
Scholl Cracked Heel Repair Cream is packaged in a rectangular yellow and blue box with an illustration on the front showing the before and after condition of some poor person's heels. On the illustration, the picture shows horrendously dry, cracked and very sore looking heels (much much worse than what mine are like) and then next to this is the after picture which shows heels that look well moisturised, soft and smooth. The cream promises that you will see visible results after just three days of use and that the cream will have worked it's magic in just 7 days.
It clearly states on the box that for best results you should use the cream twice a day. So I applied mine in the morning after my shower and then again at night before bed. BEWARE; this cream has quite a greasy feel to it and if you have laminated or tiled flooring it may be an idea to walk on tiptoes for a while or put on some socks or slippers otherwise it is likely you will be slipping and sliding all over the place.
You also only need a fairly small amount of the cream as its greasy consistency enables it to spread well over the heel. The cream is white in colour and in my opinion it is odourless, or at the very least has the same smell of E45 cream which to me is just the smell of unfragranced cream and therefore...odourless.
Now I don't know what possessed me to do it, but I had a read of the list of ingredients a couple of days after I started using the cream and to my utter horror and disbelief I discovered that it contained Urea. I was shocked, isn't urea a waste product the we excrete from our bodies when we wee?!?! Thankfully, good old Google put my mind at rest. It's ok everyone, I haven't just been rubbing my feet in urine, apparently urea is something that occurs in every healthy cell in the body and plays its part by helping to restore and repair damaged skin.
***Did it work?***
I'm always a bit sceptical when products promise to show results within a certain tiime frame as I am nearly always left disappointed when the product fails to deliver. However, I am pleased to say that with this cream I really did see results after just three days; my heels were visibly improved and they felt much softer and after seven days my heels were in near perfect condition. Amazing! My heels felt lovely, all soft and smooth. No more horrible hard, dry and rough skin for me.
Predictably, I stopped using the cream after the seven day mark and I am sorry to say that within a week the skin on my heels had started to become hard again, although it was no way near as bad as before. So now I just apply the cream every other day, when I remember to do so and this seems to keep the dreaded ugly heels at bay.
***Price and availability***
I bought this cream from my local Superdrug store for around £5.99, but as always prices will vary depending on where you shop. According to their website, Boots have it on sale for the shockingly extortionate price of £10.49 so it definitely pays to shop around.
***My overall verdict***
I think this truely is a miracle cream, the urea obviously works a treat. I was really impressed with the results, especially since they were spot on with what was stated on the box. I was a little disappointed though, that the results weren't very long lasting and that I need to continue to apply the cream every now and then to maintain the condition of my heels, but I suppose in the grand scheme of things it is a small price to pay for healthy looking feet. I would definitely recommend this product and would be interested to see how effective it is on people who have really bad, dry, cracked heels as I have seen a few during the past summer months that are in much worse condition than mine ever were.
I give this cream 4 out of 5 stars because it's brilliant stuff, but it loses a star simply for the fact that the results don't last long enough without continuing with the cream.
It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago and I was lucky enough to receive some lovely smelling perfumes (expect more perfume reviews to follow), one of which was Lacoste Touch of Pink.
I think this perfume has been around for a while now and I remember previously smelling it on friends and complimenting them on it, however I never got round to getting some for myself, until my birthday.
The perfume is presented in simple glass bottle that is long but trianglular in shape, although the edges of the shape are curved, I think this must be to enable easy holding while spraying the perfume. The bottle is a dark pink at the bottom and the colour gradually fades as it travels up the bottle. There is then a silver/grey top, on which sits a pink spray button, which is covered by a thick, clear, plastic lid when not it use. The Lacoste brand name and famous crocodile logo are printed on the front of the bottle in white along with the name of the perfume.
Only a very small spritz of the perfume is needed to release its beautiful fragrance. When first sprayed, the first scent I detect is quite sweet and fruity, although once settled on the skin it develops more floral hints and becomes a very flowery, girly smell. After doing some slight research I was surprised to discover that this scent was created by using blood orange, coriander leaf, peach, cardamom, carrot, spicy coriander and jasmine with base notes of sandlewood, vanilla and musk. I honestly expected that there would be more floral ingredients in this perfume, as to me personally it smells very floral. However, regardless of the ingredients, it is still a very lovely smelling perfume.
I think this is perfect for daytime use, especially during the summer months as it is a happy, summery smell that reminds me of warms days when the sun is shining. The scent lasts really well on my skin, a good 6-8 hours, depending on what I am doing with my day. It isn't too expensive either, a 30ml bottle will cost you £25.00 from Boots but prices vary depending on where you shop and of course the size of bottle you buy. I buy most of my perfumes from www.fragrancedirect.co.uk as most perfumes can be found on here for less than the highstreet price and Touch of Pink is currently available on there for 21.99.
Overall I would recommend this perfume. In my opinion it is good value for money as it isn't too expensive and it lasts really well, only requiring a small amount to create and strong but not overpowering scent that lasts for hours.
In April of this year I spent a long time looking for a bag to use to carry my work uniform and lunch in and I was quite fussy as I wanted something that was stylish but big enough to carry everything I needed and something that would be durable and long lasting as I would be using it nearly every day.
I eventually settled on this Ted Baker Bow Tote bag which cost me £35 from the Ted Baker website not including postage and packaging. It arrived about three days later in a much bigger than necessary box but I instanly loved it.
The bag itself is made from 100% polyvinly chloride which although it enables the bag to be wipe clean, it also means that the bag is very stiff and doesn't stretch or expand when you put items in it. However, design wise the bag is gorgeous. It is patent black with 'Ted Baker' written in beautiful curly writing along the bottom of the bag while at the top on one side is a cream bow, also made of polyvinly chloride and patent in appearance (identical to the picture above). On the inside there is a smaller zip pocket and above this are the words 'You've really got a hold on me' which I think is really cute.
For a couple of months I used this bag and really liked it. It did everything I wanted it to do and looked good doing it and I used it on more or less a daily basis although the stiffness of the bag didn't ease and if you happen to catch your arm on the edge of the bag it can really scratch. However, I soon noticed that that at the seam where the handle attaches to the bag it had started to come detached and before I knew it, it had seperated completely to reveal a white cloth like material, that was really obvious to see against the black design of the bag. I carried on using the bag for a few more weeks and the seams at the other handles started to do the same thing. I couldn't understand why though, as I had never really over filled the bag and it was never particularly heavy.
I was gutted. I really liked the bag as a whole and given that Ted Baker is a well known, respected and expensive brand I expected much better things and I certainly didn't expect it to break after just two months. I thought at the time that £35 was very reasonable for a Ted Baker bag but surely a cheaper than usual price tag shouldn't mean poorer quality products.
I have since debated whether or not to buy another one, wondering if I just happened to get one from a dodgy batch or something but I don't really want to take the risk of wasting another £35. This has really knocked my confidence in the Ted Baker brand.
Overall, despite it's stiffness I did really like the bag but unfortunately wouldn't recommend it to a friend, who would want a bag that only lasts two months?? I'd give this bag one star, but only because I loved the design and I can't give a lower rating.
Earlier this year me and my girlie friends decided it would be a good idea to take a holiday together. However, being typical indecisive young women we couldn't decide on a destination. All we knew was that we wanted somewhere hot, with a beach and we wanted our holiday to be all inclusive without costing a fortune (unfortunately since the week we had chosen to go was not only a bank holiday but also during the schools summer holidays, this proved to be quite difficult). After a long and agonising discussion with our very patient Thomas Cook travel agent we agreed that Djerba sounded like the perfect place for us.
If you lovely readers are anything like my friends, family and work colleagues, I'm sure you will all be currently asking yourselves one question.....Where on earth is Djerba?? Well, let me explain:
Djerba is a small island just off the coast of mainland Tunisia on north-eastern coast of Africa, near the Libyan border and is in fact the largest island of the Gulf of Gabes. Djerba currently has around 60,000 inhabitants and shares the same currency as Tunisia (the Tunisian Dinar which is a closed currency). The Island is home to a relatively small population, most of whom are Tunisian in nationality and are devote Muslims. The island is connected to the south of mainland Tunisia; however it also has its own airport, which is how we arrived on the island.
Being on the northeast coast of Africa, you can safely assume that during the summer months Djerba can get pretty warm. During our stay temperatures ranged from 33-42 degrees centigrade during the day and there wasn't a single drop of rain.
So...our plane touched down at Zarzis Internation Airport in Djerba at around 6:45pm and as me and my friends looked out of the plane windows I must admit we were a little sceptical since all we could see was what appeared to be a very dry, baron wasteland. On exiting the plane we were instantly engulfed by the hot evening temperature but thankful for a light breeze. Once in the airport you have to put your baggage through another scanner before proceeding to get your passport stamped (yippee, I love it when my passport gets stamped - I'm easily pleased). The men who work in the airport aren't exactly what you would call friendly, the guy who stamped our passports actually snapped his fingers at my friend as she didn't pick her bags up quickly enough to move up in the queue and he did this while smoking a cigarette (obviously no indoor public smoking ban in Tunisia). However, following this we did receive our suitcases quickly and proceeded to the coach to take us to our hotel. Now, I understand that in a lot of countries (occasionally ours included) it is customary to give a tip, however I must admit that I did not appreciate the 'gentleman' who put my luggage on the coach thrusting his hand in my face and saying "you tip me" in broken English. How am I supposed to tip you when I have no money?? This is your country, surely you know that your currency is closed and that I can only get money changed at my hotel?!?! Needless to say, I did not give him a tip and thankfully he didn't throw my luggage off the coach.
A short bus ride later (maybe 30 minutes) we arrived at our hotel the El Mouradi Menzel that our holiday guide stated was a 4 star hotel and we were greeted by two beautifully groomed horses and a camel (yippee - I love camels). Once I had overcome my excitement at being greeted by a camel (and of course taken a photo) I then entered the extrememly large main enterance of the hotel that was wonderfully air conditioned. On checking in at reception, we were each given an all inclusive wristband and timetable for when meals are served and at which restaurants/bars and it was explained to us that to the right of the reception desk is a small room through which you can exchange money and provide deposits for beach towels, it is also through this room where you can safely leave you luggage once you have checked out if you have a late flight.
The El Mouradi Menzel Hotel is set in just over 80 Acres of land and is set right on the beach (we had a beautiful sea view from our balcony). The hotel appears huge although I do not know for certain how many rooms it houses, our room number was 378 so that should give you some idea and the rooms are spread over three floors in the main hotel building and also in the Menzels. Our rooms were a good size and contained one extremely large (possibly kingsize) bed and a single bed (there were six of us on our trip and we had two rooms between us). The rooms were air conditioned at no extra cost, which is something I have had to pay extra for at some hotels in other destinations and each had a balcony, full bathroom with toilet, bidet, sink, bath and shower, a direct dial telephone - just dial 9 for reception, satellite TV, hair dryer, fridge and safe (also available at no extra cost). The decor in the rooms were simple yet modern and in very good condition and extremely clean and there was plenty of storage space for the three of us to unpack our belongings (predictably we don't travel light).
***Food, Restaurants and Bars***
I apologise, but I can't remember the exact times at which meals are served, although I know that the full breakfast serving finishes at around 9:30am and continues until 10:30/11:00 as a continental breakfast, perfect for those who love a lie in. Amazingly though, me and my friends managed to get out of bed for the full breakfast every day where they served a variety of tasty dishes. They had cereal, pancakes, omletes and bread on offer for breakfast everyday but also had a selection of other foods that changed on a daily basis. Bizarrely, the Tunisians seem to really like their potatoes, which were present at each meal time prepared in one way or another.
At lunch and tea time there was always a selection of fresh salad and bread on offer to accompany your meal, however I am pleased to say that the other items served varied everyday and out of the 8 days that we were there, I only saw chips on offer once. Desserts on offer usually consisted of a variety of ice cream, cakes and mousse. The food seemed fresh and was really tastey, I have absolutely no complaints about this at all.
All of these meals are served in the main dining restaurant (the Olivier Restaurant) which is situated on the first floor of the hotel. There is both indoor and outdoor seating available but since it was so hot outside we always opted for the comfort of the air conditioned indoor seating. It is a very big dining area, however most tables are suited for parties of four or less and there are fewer larger tables, so it initially proved quite difficult for the six of us to get seated together, especially at tea time when it was very busy. Luckily for us, one of the waiters to a shine to one of my friends and from our second day onwards at the hotel he saved us a large table at both lunch and tea time and even decorated it with fresh flowers.
As you would expect from an all inclusive holiday, this particular restaurant is self service, although at lunch and tea time there are waiters on hand to provide alcoholic and soft drinks. All of the waiters that we met during our stay here were very friendly and polite and were extremely attentive, if they saw an empty glass, they topped it up and even managed to remember what drink you had before and if your plate was empty it was quickly whisked away.
The Olivier restaurant however, is not the only place you can enjoy a meal at this hotel. There is also the Calypso Bar/Barbecue where you can order a meal from a menu and enjoy it in this pool side restaurant. It is also free to eat here although you can only do it once during your stay at the hotel and they only serve meals at lunch time. I had a delicious three course meal here, although I must admit that they had a rather strange selection of starters including but not limited to lasagne, spaghetti Bolognese and some cheese and mushroom penne pasta. My main course consisted of a chicken skewer kebab with rice and vegetables which was lush and this was followed by some ice cream for dessert. In the late afternoon, this bar also serves mini pizzas and crepes which are also free of charge and completely delicious. There is also a bar here from which you can get both alcoholic and soft drinks during the day, however it closes once the pool is closed at 7pm. From this point on if you want to continue drinking you must move to the Sultan Bar at the other side of the pool in the main hotel building.
The Sultan Bar is the main bar used at night as it is the closest to the stage and therefore the evening entertainment (although there is the Pacha lobby bar if you want to have a quiet drink somewhere more peaceful). As with most all inclusive holidays, only local alcohol is free, if you want something branded, you will be asked to pay a fairly extortionate price for it. This bar serves until midnight and if you wish to continue drinking into the early hours then once again you must relocate yourself to either the beach bar (a bar with a dance floor and great up to date music that is literally on the beach) or the onsite night club (unfortunately I cannot comment on the night club as we never went).
There is also a bar where you can site and smoke shisha pipes with a variety of flavoured tobacco. I don't smoke usually but you know the saying "when in Rome..." I tried it, but it wasn't for me. However, if this is your kind of thing, it costs 5 Dinar (£2.50) for a Shisha pipe but you have to pay for drinks in this bar.
It is fairly safe to say that you could never be bored while staying at this hotel and that is mostly thanks to the excellent work of the animation team which is headed by Amir a.k.a Brian. Brian is an extremely friendly and hilariously funny man who trawls the beach and pool side in the day and the outdoor seating area at night looking for people to chat to and ensure that their holiday is going well and that they have no concerns. This may seem annoying to some people who just want to chill out on their holiday and don't want to be disturbed but I have to say Brian had us in stitches whenever he spoke to us. Brian also takes part in the evening's entertainment. Other members of the animation team stalk the pool area looking for and attempting to encourage people to take part in various activities which range from Archery to aqua aerobics and Salsa dancing to volleyball. Me and my friends were often far too hot to partake in any of the activities but we were still asked if we would like to join in every day. I must stress however, that when I say we were asked everyday, we were in no was harassed by the team, they simply just asked and when we said no they would make a jovial comment about us missing out on some fun, wish us a nice day and continue on their mission to find willing participants - of which there were plenty.
I will admit though, that on our last day me and one of my friends decided to join in the aqua aerobics which somehow transfrormed into a game of two teams where you had to travel from one side of the pool to the other on a surf board, which was completely unexpected but incredibly fun and we wished we had joined in everyday.
There is also a mini crazy golf course which is free to use during the day.
The evening's entertainment mostly consisted of variety shows and one night they hosted their own talent show. Out of the seven nights we were there, only once was there an authentic Tunisian show put on, however this didn't bother us at all and as we quite enjoyed the cheesy entertainment. One thing that lets the evening entertainment down however, especially during things such as the talent show is the clashing of languages. Djerba is mostly visited by French and German tourists who have been visiting the island for many years whereas it is still a fairly new destination for English tourists. For this reason, most of what it said during these shows has to be repeated three times; once in French, once in German and once in English. It's probably also worth mentioning at this point that when most of the hotel staff speak to you, they will first speak to you in French - a language in which they are very fluent, despite their first language being Arabic. This is not necessarily a problem however, as long as you tell them you are English, but just bear in mind that their English is not quite as good, although we didn't experience any problems communicating.
Aaahhh, the pool. Perfect for cooling down after a good baking in the sun. The pool is huge and is what I can only describe and a wiggly circular shape that has a couple of small islands in the middle that are home to various neatly pruned plants and displays. The majority of the pool is quite deep and in the area of the pool we seemed to favour for a cool down I could only just touch the floor with my tiptoes and so spent a lot of time treading water. There is of course a shallow area which is near the main steps that enter the pool and it is here that all the pool activities take place (probably the reason we stayed clear of it). There is a fairly large sized children's pool that has a cute little rainbow slide and behind the Calypso bar is another pool that overlooks the sea. Before you go diving into this pool however, I must warn you, it is a salt water pool and so the water tastes awful and can sting your eyes if they're not closed tightly enough. I'm not sure if it's intentionally salty or if it is because it is so close to the sea but it is very salty. Other than this though, its lovely!
Around the pool are a good number of sun loungers, but if you want one you need to get up mega early. We took it in turns to get up at 7am and go and claim our six sun loungers and even at this time there were very few remaining.
I think the hotel owns the part of the beach it is situated on and seems to be very protective of it. If you walk the length of the beach you will after about a 10 minute walk come to a stop thanks to some tall, wire fencing separating you from the rest of the beach which appears to belong to the resort next door. However, this is not an eye sore and you can't even see it unless you purposefully walk towards it as the resort owns a lot of land and is very clever at planting and positioning palms trees which hide it beautifully. The beach itself is lovely soft sand and the sea is mostly beautifully clear and blue. I say mostly because the beach does have a bit of a down side in the form of seaweed. The sea is full of it, although there are areas that are lovely and clear and seaweed free but there are also big piles of seaweed along the beach, although the closer you are on the beach to the hotel, the better the seaweed situation is. Our rep told us about the seaweed during our welcome meeting and told us that it is illegal for the hotel to remove the seaweed, which is why there is so much of it.
Personally, I didn't see this as a problem. It didn't hinder my ability to sunbathe on the beach or paddle and cool off in the sea, just stick to the lovely clear blue areas and you will be fine.
The hotel also has its own onsite photographers that are on hand to take lovely photo shoots. I have been to hotels previously that offer this and have to say have found them very annoying, always badgering you to have your photo taken. Thankfully this was not the case at the El Mouradi and they will only take your photo and inform you of photo shoot opportunities if you approach them. We had some pictures taken by the pool and on the beach and they were lovely. You can purchase the photos individually or have them all on a disc. My friends and I bought a few individual ones and prices vary depending on the size you want. We chose to have 7"X 5" print which cost 5 Dinar each (around £2.50) which I thought was a bargain, especially as they do not charge you for taking the photos in the first place.
As a by the by the hotel also has its own spa that offers a great deal of beauty and spa treatments at very reasonable prices, gym, souvenir shop, small tuck shop, jewellers, kids club and their own on site doctors surgery although I can't comment on any of these as we did not use them. There are also people on site that offer water sports and horse/camel riding but again I cannot comment on these.
I thoroughly enjoyed my week at the El Mouradi Menzel and would definitely visit again. There are unfortunately just a couple of niggles I have. The first is that although the male reception staff are friendly and helpful, the female staff that seem to man the desk during the day are not. They are extremely rude and unpleasant and seem to think nothing of ignoring you mid sentence to answer the phone. So if you have a problem that you need to take up with reception staff thatisn't urgent, I would definitely recommend waiting until the men come on duty as they are so much more polite and willing to help.
The other thing is that check out is at 10am and a lot of flights don't leave until early evening. The hotel are aware of this and kindly offer to hire out rooms for 1 hour for 10 Dinar (£5)so that you can have a shower after spending your last few hours by the pool/at the beach. However, what they don't tell you is that they cannot provide towels for you to use during this hour. Luckily me and the two friends I was sharing a room with got towels, unfortunately my other three friends did not and they ended up having to share one towel between them that one of them managed to get from a passing housekeeper. The annoying this is that my friend spoke to reception staff twice about having no towels and was told that someone would bring some to the room but these towels never materialised and so my friends wasted some of their hour waiting for towels that were never going to arrive. It was only after we had showered that we were told you are supposed to keep the towels from your previous room. Needless to say it was the moody female staff manning reception at this point.
Other than this we had a wonderfully holiday and would quite happily recommend this hotel to anyone and everyone. It is suitable for all the family and the staff at this hotel are extremely welcoming and friendly (bar the female reception staff). This hotel easily meets and occasionally surpasses its 4 star brochure rating.
***One more thing***
I just want to add that because it is a closed currency, it is a good idea to just change small amounts of money as and when you need it (if you're like us then you shouldn't need much at all) as it can only be changed back at the airport and they will only refund to the nearest pound note. For example if you want to change back 12 Dinars you will only get £5 back instead of £6 and they will only do this providing you have the receipt from when you changed the money in the first place.
For more information about this hotel, you can check out their website www.elmouradi.com
Apologies for such a long review, but it was a big hotel and I had a lot to say.
I truely believe that smiling is contagious, if you give someone a big cheesey grin, 9 time out of 10 they will smile back at you; it may only be out of politeness but I bet it made them feel good, especially if they were having a bad day, Smilig and laughter are natural pick me ups!
With this in mind, heres a brief insight into the things that make me happy...
*Cheesey pop music (especially stuff from the '90s), not because it's inspiring, thought provoking or even good quality music but because it just makes me want to dance around my house like an idiot and a lot of it is so catchy and upbeat that even in my darkest of moods I can't resist dancing and singing along. A lot of it also unearths great memories that I had long forgotten!
*My lizards. Well, technically they aren't my lizards, they belong to my other half, but since I love them just as much, if not more than he does I class them as mine too. I was never that keen on reptiles until I bought my boyfriend his first Lizard about 4 years ago, it was what he wanted for his birthday and I just can't resist getting him what he wants. Since then our little Lizard family has grown and we now have Seth (an Argentinian Black and White Tegu) Panzer and Zeus (Leopard Geckos) and Echo (a Crested Gecko). Seth is my favourite and when he was a baby we used to play 'chase the grape' where I would throw a grape and he would chase it, catch it and eat it, he was a speedy little guy as a baby and I have 'fond' memories of him chasing me around my bedroom trying to bite my toes. Thankfully, he has out growth the toe biting, as I imagine that with him now being a big 3ft monster that it would be quite painful if he were to catch me. We play 'chase the egg' now instead, as grapes are too small for him :). The leopard gecko have great little characters too, one is really active and quick, the other so lazy he can't even be bothered to shed properly. The newest edition to our family is Echo, who is tiny and very adorable. She eats baby food and will just sit there for ages licking it off your finger. They all have such funny little characteristics that I can't help but chuckle when I see them.
*Shopping. I love shopping (what girl doesn't) and fully believe in the benefits of retail therapy. If I'm feeling down, you can guarantee a trip to the shops will cheer me up!
*Holidays. There is nothing like a good holiday to help you relax and de-stress. Personally, I love to explore when I go on holiday and try and make the most of my time in another country and experience the local culture, but I have to admit I do also love a good beach holiday! I like to try and get away twice a year if I can. So far this year I have been to Djerba in Tunisia with my girlie friends and have some great memories that never fail to make me smile, especially when I hear some of the cheesy pop we were dancing to while we were there!
*My friends and family. Without them I would be mardy every day, especially my other half he is such a comedian and makes me laugh all the time!
*Summer time. I LOVE summer time. There is always so much more to see and do, the days are longer and I love not having to pile on hundreds of layers of clothing to stay warm. Although the summer in the UK this year hasn't been great, I still tried to make the most of it and spent much more time out of the house. The days always seem happier and more positive when the sun is shining and I nearly always wake up in a good mood if the sun is shining through my window. Summer days just make the world seem like a better, happier place than when it's raining, everything looks so much brighter and more beautiful. I love it.
*Christmas. I have always loved Christmas and I am lucky enough to celebrate it twice in one day thanks to my family eating christmas dinner early in the day at around 12pm and my boyfriend's eating in the evening at around 8pm. I think this helps to make the day last longer. I have to admit that I probably like the run up Christmas just as much as the day itself, it's such a magical time of year and I can't help but watch lovely, heart warming christmasy films such as Miracle on 34th street, one of my favourites!! Plus it's also the perfect excuse to go shopping!
I could go on forever talking about the things that make me happy but at the risk of becoming boring I think I will leave it at the few listed above.
Have a good day my dooyoo friends! xxx
I have just got in from a hard night at work and found a small package at my door, on opening the package (I order a lot of things online and so genuinely didn't know which of my many orders it could be) I found the perfume that I had purchased for my Mum for her birthday from Fragrancedirect.co.uk and I just HAD to come online and write a quick review.
Why are you so eager? I hear you ask, well my Dooyoo friends...I only ordered the perfume yesterday afternoon!
I had never used fragrancedirect.co.uk before and in all honesty didn't even know that it existed until yesterday when I stumbled across it while searching the web for the best price for my Mums perfume (stingey or wise, you decide). I'll admit that I'm not one for using the little known websites, unless it is well known and has a good following of customers such as Boots or Amazon I usually tend to steer clear, however I have lots to pay for this month and as they say, every little helps.
It turns out that fragrancedirect was initially established by a husband and wife in 1999 and in 2008 launched their 4th generation website, enabling them to sell a wider range of products and improve their overall service. The company now sell branded perfumes, aftershaves, cosmetics, hair care, skin care and beauty products at discounted prices and claim that they are able to do this by keeping their overheads low and cutting out the middle man.
My Mum really loves the Sun, Moon and Stars perfume by Karl Lagerfeld, a fragrance that she has worn for many, many years and is not easily purchased in our town. After spending some time trawling the net, I discovered it on fragrancedirect for only £9.99 with an additional cost of £1.99 postage and packaging, taking the total price to £11.98 - still cheaper than many other websites including Amazon whom I usually rely on for bargain prices. So I bit the bullet and added the perfume to my basket before entering in my card details and just hoped I wasn't about to be ripped off.
The website states that you should allow 5 working days from dispatch for delivery, so imagine my utter delight at finding the perfume at my door on my return from work, safely packaged and in perfect condition. Not only was I not ripped off but my mum's gift was delivered in record time!
I am (obviously) extremely happy with the service received from this company and will definitely be using them in the future and recommending them to everyone I know and as an added bonus I discovered you can also use this website with topcashback.co.uk for even more sayings!!
Firstly, I think I should admit that I don't spend much time considering deodorants and usually buy whatever is on offer providing I like the smell.
I found this Nivea deodorant in Superdrug for the bargain price of £1 a few weeks ago. I hadn't used this one before and was a recent convert to roll on deodorants, having previously been a fan of the aerosol variety before receiving an Avon gift basket containing a roll on deodorant that swayed my preference in the direction of the smaller, more environmentally friendly deodorant option.
This anti-perspirant deodorant is presented in a clear glass bottle that is slightly indented at the back to enable easy handling while applying. On the front of the bottle is a sticker, at the top of which is the famous white and navy Nivea name; below this the label is black on one side and white on the other with a smidge of baby pink.
***What it claims***
There is minimal information printed on the bottle, but what is written promises that this deodorant provides anti-perspirant and deodorising effect for 48 hours and that whether you decide to dress yourself in black or white, there will be no tell tale signs of your deodorant e.g. no unsightly yellow stains on white clothing and no white marks on black.
***Using the deodorant***
Like most roll on deodorants there is a screw top lid, that when removed reveals the usual roller ball. It has quite a strong fragrance that is noticeable almost straight away, however, it is not over powering. The scent is fresh and floral and reminds me slightly of the smell of some fabric softeners, but not in a bad way. The roller ball glides easily over my under arms, leaving behind a wet layer of deodorant that dries surprisingly quickly. Regardless of whether I put my clothes on when the deodorant is still wet or dry, there are no marks or stains of any kind left behind and my under arms smell as fresh as a daisy.
I actually really like this deodorant. I spend a lot of time running around at work and at the end of my shift, my under arms still hold a hint of floral freshness and as an anti-perspirant I think it is very effective. I can't really comment on its effectiveness up to the 48 hour mark as I have usually showered and re-applied way before that point. As I previously mentioned, I bought this deodorant a few weeks ago and in that time have not noticed any of the usual marks left behind when using a deodorant.
I like the fact that it is in a clear glass bottle as this enable you to see how much of the deodorant is left so you know when you need to go shopping for more. This deodorant has lasted me a long time and is very effective despite only being applied once a day.
***Price and Availability***
The price of this product varies depending on where you shop. As I said I bought this when it was on offer at Superdrug for £1 but I think its usual price is around £1.99 at both Superdrug and Boots, however both stores have regular offers on Nivea products so if you keep your eyes peeled I'm sure you could find it cheaper.
I think this is a great anti-perspirant deodorant that it great value for money, especially when bought when it is on offer. I would definitely purchase it again and recommend it to a friend.
I have to admit that I'm not usually a fan of celebrity perfumes as I often think that it is just another gimmick from which they can make yet more money without putting in any real effort. I think that they majority of celebrity perfumes smell like someone has hastily mixed a selection of fragrances without putting any thought into it at all and for this reason I would rather clean my toilet with most of them with the exception of two. The first being Kylie Minogue's Darling and the second being Christina Aguilera.
I received this perfume as a gift from my mum earlier this month and I admit that I was sceptical at first but then pleasantly surprised.
The perfume is presented in a tall bottle, the shape of which is supposed to represent that of the curvaceous, female body. The bottle is made from clear glass and printed on the front of the bottle is a black lace design and the name of the perfume, which is simply Christina Aguilera. Around the neck of the bottle is a small black ribbon tied into a bow and above this is the lid. It's quite a pretty bottle which I would say is on par with other celebrity perfumes.
A light press on the nozzle releases a fragrant spray of the perfume which initially smells over powering with hints of Jasmine and what I can only describe as an alcohol type smell that you find with some anti-bacterial alcohol hand gels. However once the fragrance has settled on my skin I can then smell so much more. Gone is the hint of alcohol, replaced by a soft fruity, yet floral scent that is mildly musky and has a gorgeous touch of vanilla (my favourite) which is in no way over powering but beautifully subtle.
Some light research revealed that this perfume actually contains Blueberry, Peach and Mandarin, Lily of the Valley, Jasmine, Peony and Plum as well as Musk, Amber, Sandal Wood and Vanilla, however in my opinion not all of these are obvious scents.
I think that this is quite a sensual, sexy perfume most suitable to be worn in the evenings for nights out on the town; however it is the type of scent that can be worn all year round and doesn't seem to be suited to one particular season.
Unfortunately this is not a long lasting fragrance and as lovely as the scent is, I have found that it fades quickly and after only a couple of hours it is almost gone completely, so needs to be re-applied frequently to maintain the fragrance.
***Price and Availability***
Like most celebrity perfumes, Christina Aguilera is at the lower end of the price range and this fragrance is currently available at Superdrug £19.99 for 30ml or at Boots where it is on off for £19 for 50ml. However, prices do vary and it can be found for much more or less when searching the internet for it.
I'm surprised to say it but I do actually really love the smell of this perfume, however its inability to last for longer than just a couple of hours really lets it down. I probably would still recommend it to a friend and would also purchase it again as it is cheap enough that I don't mind putting it in my handbag on a night out.
A couple of weeks ago I was horrified to discover that I had ran out of my usual Maybelline foundation and even more horrified when I got to Boots only to find that they didn't have the shade of Maybelline foundation that matches my skin tone. After debating whether or not to get a shade lighter or darker than my usual colour and hope for the best, I decided that maybe this would be a good opportunity to try something new and so spent the next half an hour trawling the shelves of Boots looking for a suitable replacement.
One thing I always look for in a foundation when reading the smal print on the back of the bottle/tub/tube is whether or not the foundation is oil free. If those two little words don't appear on the bottle then that particular foundation doesn't even get a second thought, no matter how amazing it claims to be. My skin is quite sensitive and prone to spot breakouts which is just made worse when using oil based make up.
Boots happened to have an offer on their Max Factor make up on the particular day I went in, where if you spent more than £15 you got a free gift, I won't lie and say that this didn't play a small part in sparking my interest in the Max Factor range.
I ended up buying two different foundations from the Max Factor range as I couldn't decide which colour would be best for my skin tone. I had never used any Max Factor products before and so had no idea what shade I would need, especially as I had a bit of a tan at the time.
***Max Factor Xperience Weightless Foundation***
This foundation comes in a black tube with the famous Max Factor X in a dull, lime green colour. The brand name is printed in gold at the top of the tube with the range name (Xperience) underneith. Towards the bottom of the tube, just before the lid are the words 'weightless foundation' followed by the shade which in my case is Brown Hessian 75 and below this is the SPF which is 10, followed by a small rectangular patch that displays the colour of the foundation.
The information on the back of the tube is brief and limited, although it does appear in four different languages. The tube simply states "Luxurious flawless coverage with a weightless feel. Suitable for sensitive skin. Won't clog pores. Oil free." Other than a contact address for the company and the amount of foundation contained in the tube along with recycling symbols there is no other information on the tube at all.
After a quick visit to the Max Factor website I found that this foundation contains Jojoba extract which some light research revealed is a natural botanical extract that is not chemically or genetically altered in any way. Apparently it suppresses glare and greasy appearances and because skin's natural sebum mixes perfectly with this extract, the results of this foundation appear natural and leave skin feeling soft and smooth while simultaneously reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
***Using the foundation***
I tried out my new foundation the following morning, using my usual technique of squirting a small amount on the back of my hand and the dotting it around my face before using a foundation brush to spread it out and blend. The first thing I noticed about the foundation as I dotted it around my face was that it appeared to have an extremely thick consistency, something that I wasn't impressed by as I like my foundations to be very light in consistency so that it feels as if I'm not wearing make up at all. Once I had finished applying the foundation I felt that the result was a very 'caked' on look and it was obvious I was wearing it in the way it both looked and felt. So I washed it off and started again, using a smaller amount of foundation and I still had a very similar effect. I was extremely disappointed as Max Factor had always had a good reputation amongst my friends who used it so I couldn't understand why I was having such poor results.
I mentioned my disappointment to a friend of mine who used to be a makeup artist and she told me that she uses the same foundation but that she hadn't experienced these problems. When I asked her what she uses to apply the foundation, I admit I wasn't expecting the answer "my fingers". I have always used either a makeup sponge or foundation brush to apply my foundation and would never have thought outside the box enough to consider using my fingers. My friend explained to me that she still dots in around her face but then instead of using a brush or sponge she just rubs it in as if she were applying moisturiser.
Needless to say, I gave it a go. I couldn't believe the difference, by using my fingers to apply and blend the foundation I was left with an almost flawless, natural looking complexion and it no longer felt like I was wearing foundation at all, like it had when I used a brush to apply it.
***My overall verdict***
I have to admit, I really love this foundation now that I have my new application technique. It really does leave me with a lovely natural complexion, my skin feels really soft and I can't even tell I'm wearing it! It hides spots and blemishes quite well and doesn't appear to encourage spot break outs, so the tube was obviously telling the truth when it said it didn't clog pores. I can't really comment on whether or not this foundation reduces the appearance of fine lines or wrinkles as I am currently lucky enough not to have any. Only a pea sized amount is needed to cover my face and the effects of this foundation seem to last me a good 9-10 hours before I need to think about reapplying, so a little bit really does go a long way. As I mentioned previously, I have quite sensitive skin and have had no adverse effects from this foundation. I would definitely recommend this product to a friend, although I would of course tell them about the difference in results when using your fingers to apply.
***Price and Availability***
I bought this foundation from Boots for £9.99 for a 30ml tube, it is also available at Superdrug for the same price. I think this is really great value for money as it is a really great foundation that is in the cheaper end of the cosmetic market.