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Ideally I'd spend hours every morning and night, gently cleansing, toning and moisturising - and I do, do this quite frequently. But there are always those days when you don't seem to have the time and inclination to do so; either rolling out of bed way too late or when you crawl in after a night out. And face wipes are just made for those moments, and for years I've tried nearly every brand on the market - usually whichever one was on offer. And whilst I'm still tempted by the occasional offer I do tend to stick to 'Johnson's 3 in 1 facial cleansing wipes.'
Johnson's are a well established and trusted brand and in my mind they stand for both quality and value for money. These 3 in 1 facial cleansing wipes claim not only to cleanse, but also to tone, and remove make-up, even waterproof mascara. They come in a few different ways to suit different skin types: there's one for those with normal skin (pink packet), dry and sensitive skin (blue packet) and combination skin (in a green packet). They also make some called 3 in 1 Dreamy Skin, which are lightly scented with moonflower, designed to help you relax and drift off into a relaxed and calm sleep after removing your make-up before bed.
The wipes come in a plastic rectangular packet with a resealable lid to ensure the wipes stay fresh. The packaging is pretty and feminine without being too over the top; just a simple pale colour background with a picture of a woman's relaxed face on the front. Each packet contains approximately 25 wipes and each wipe is 190 x 185mm (according to the packaging).
I find that the wipes are definitely big enough and contain enough moisture and ingredients that only one needs to be used at a time. Being a poor student I often tear mine in two, and pop the other half back in the packet, and I find that it is still plenty to remove my everyday make-up!
I mainly use them for removing make-up and have never struggled; admittedly I don't wear that many layers of it though. However, I do wear waterproof mascara and I can verify that they remove it perfectly. In the past I have been involved in school and theatre group productions where they love to cake on tonnes of that stubborn stage make-up, and Johnson's wipes are perfect for removing it - though admittedly for this you will need about two wipes, as opposed to my usual half a wipe.
They are most definitely not harsh on skin, but instead soft and very gentle. The texture of each wipe is completely smooth, which I personally prefer over the brands that make their wipes all textured and bumpy. They are very gentle on the eyes, whilst still being effective at removing mascara and black eye-liner; they do not tear out eyelashes or sting in any way.
After using them my skin looks and feels fresh which would indicate they cleanse and tone well too. I also love that whilst they contain moisture and are soft, they aren't too wet and only leave my skin damp for about 5 seconds.
Price varies depending where you shop but they usually cost around £2.99. They are available at Boots and most other pharmacies and most supermarkets. And good news they nearly always seem to be on some offer somewhere, usually buy one get one free.
I am an avid fan of Lush brand and in my opinion once they get a product spot on nothing else compares, however I have recently realised that a lot of their products lack that special little spark and are just distinctly average. However, I am very happy to say that this environmentally friendly facemask, 'Sacred Truth' is definitely a Lush winner!!
Sacred Truth is a face mask about facing up to the truth about aging and looking after tired skin. It comes in a small black pot and is available exclusively at Lush for £6.95. This initially might seem expensive for a face mask, especially when you can buy 99p sachets from your local supermarket but trust that this mask is great value for money. Each little pot that I buy of any Lush face mask lasts me for about a month if I use in 2 times a week, which is about 8 applications, which would cost around £8 when buying those mini sachets. Plus when you compare its list of indulgent fresh ingredients and its amazing results, £6.95 feels like a bargain!
~~ Buying a Lush Mask ~~
Whilst the face masks, including this one, can be bought online from Lush, I would strongly recommend going into your local branch as its much more fun! If I go in ready to buy a new mask (even if I know which one I want) I'll always dither around their display looking unsure and confused, and when I do a typically enthusiastic Lush assistant will appear and ask if I'd like a try a few on first!
I then smile and enjoy as the assistant spoons two generous lumps of face masks onto the back of my hands, which I'll then leave on for 10 mins as I browse the rest of the store. Then she (or he) will gently wash it off with warm water, making you feel very special. This will help you realise if your skin is irritated by the product and give you a feel of how the product will work for you .... but more importantly its such fun!
The majority of assistants are also trained to tell you what your skin type is and which product will work best for you.
~~ The product and How to use it? ~~
Sacred Truth contains clays and linseed that work instantly to soften and revive and wheatgrass, green tea and ginseng that work long term to protect the skin.
It is a greenish colour in appearance, and thick but smooth in texture; a bit like a green clay. It is much smoother than their other masks and I feel by being that tad smoother, it lasts an extra application for a same sized pot. It has a pleasant and subtle earthy aroma that I feel has a quite relaxing and soporific effect, making it perfect for a relaxing evening in.
This mask (like all of Lush's masks) must be kept in the fridge as they do not contain any preservatives; if not then they are likely to gather mould and no one wants mould on their face. This also has then added benefit of feeling lovely and cold on application, making your skin instantly wake up. Always aim to apply on cleansed skin, then leave for 5-10 mins (I usually leave it for 10), when removing use luke warm water and for best results massage the product, with the help of the water, into the skin ensuring you get all the benefits, then tone and moisturise.
The mask doesn't dry too much on the skin and you can still move enough to sip a cup of tea or hot chocolate while you let it work its magic. While it's on the skin there's a slight tightening tingling sensation that I find quite reassuring that it's doing something.
~~ The results ~~
Personally the main reason I use face masks is to feel pampered and to have a bit of girly fun. Thus I have tended to go for the girly pretty masks that don't necessarily have the most noticeable results, as opposed to those zombie-like lumpy masks that seem to work wonders. But the truth about this mask is that it is both fun and girly and works well too!
I usually don't notice an instant result with face masks but with this one as soon as I take it off my skin looks noticeably more fresh and healthy and is far softer to touch. It also seems to even out my complexion and help balance my skin perfectly; as if it was designed especially for my skin type! And I defiantly notice a difference in my skin when I don't use the product for a while.
However, being only 20, I can't quite comment on its ability to smooth out the beginnings of wrinkles. But fingers crossed if I keep using the product while I'm young, and generally look after my skin, I'll be protected for the future!
In the past I have liked to experiment with face masks, and have tried most of what Lush, Superdrug and Boots etc. Have to offer. However, I now think I shall stick to Sacred Truth, because nothing else compares!
I do believe that home cooked fresh meals are best and I enjoy cooking and experimenting in the kitchen...but like most I do have the sneaky ready meal in my freezer. Well being a student and sometimes I just want a yummy quick meal that requires zero thought and on days like these WeightWatchers Chicken and Lemon Risotto is pure perfection.
I'm not an obsessive dieter (not at the moment anyway) but I do try to eat healthy and care about what I put in my body (discounting the copious amounts of chocolate I consume) so I opted for the WeightWatchers variety when I started experimenting with the occasional ready meal. Ready meals can be notoriously unhealthy, with either crazy high salt levels or far too many calories to count but at only 329 calories and less than 3% fat there's no need to panic with this meal.
However, WeightWatchers meals are not just for dieters, some of them are delicious heaven, yummy, fragrant, easy and quick to prepare so don't be put off if you aren't weight watching. My grandma, a proud octogenarian, has recently been buying these in; she is a fantastic cook but living by herself she says she has lost some of the inclination to cook and she finds these perfect for her small appetite. I also can't count the number of students I know who are addicted to these meals. Unfortunately not all WeightWatchers meals are that tasty and to be honest for my palate some verge of being disastrous but this risotto is heavenly and by far the best in their range - which is very lucky as my own attempts at risotto haven't always been that great.
'Marinated chicken slices in a delicate lemon zest sauce, with a splash of white wine, mixed with white rice and a vegetable medley,' is how they describe it and I have to say this is very accurate and once cooked looks exactly like the picture on the packaging which is very refreshing, as many leave you slightly disappointed with results.
To cook it couldn't be simpler, either pop it in the oven or microwave and wait... easy peasy. For best results they recommend cooking in the oven at 200/Gas Mark 6 for 40-45 mins, but if this seems too long go for the microwave and you'll only have to wait 6-7 mins. I always opt for the microwave and have never been disappointed with the results. Even by frozen meal standards this one seems easy there's no 1 min at this temperature another and that and so on, just piece the film lid, stick it in and wait. One quick stir is needed before eating though; a risotto with only one stir needed who's complaining.
The zesty lemon aroma of this meal hits you instantly, so fragrant and strong it truly does smell delicious. It is always the perfect risotto consistency, not too runny and soupy but not too thick either. Usually the meat in ready meals are not quite right but the lumps of chicken in this are so tender and flavoursome and surprisingly there's plenty of them too. The chicken is not too thinly sliced, unlike in other chicken based ready meals, which helps to make you feel like your getting your money's worth.
The risotto is 29% rice and the rice is the perfect consistency too, as it doesn't clump together but separates beautifully. Accompanying the rice and chicken is the healthy mix of vegetables and peas seem to be the most prominent along with the small chunks of red pepper. All covered in a rich but light creamy sauce, which is by far the best bit. Whilst the lemon is the most powerful fragrance (and believe me it will overpower your entire kitchen) it is not as overwhelming when tasting, just enough to leave a fresh zingy to tickle your taste buds.
For those with big appetites this will probably not satisfy you for long but it is designed for dieters. The meal is 330g and would cover just over half of an average sized plate, but it is still surprisingly filling. If I'm having a very hungry day I do occasionally add extra vegetables or even stir in a handful of prawns, which go brilliantly with the creamy lemon sauce. Making it either the perfect lunch or filling dinner.
This meal is usually about £2 (though I have seen it at £1.50) and can be found at most supermarkets. Like most WeightWatchers meals there is usually some offer available on them wherever you choose to shop.
~~~Nutrition Info: per pack~~~
Calories - 329
Protein - 45g
Carbohydrate - 42.7g (6.5 sugars)
Fat - 9g (3.9 Saturates)
Fibre - 1.5g
Sodium - 0.8g
Salt - 2.1g
All of which make only 5 and a half points for those who understand weightwatchers points. Making it the perfect meal to help slimming or weight control, provided you count those other sneaky little calories you consume throughout the rest of the day.
MaxFactor False Lash Effect Mascara was America's biggest mascara launch last year according to the TV advert - well after that I just had to give it a try. I'm blessed with naturally thick and long eyelashes but I love to exaggerate them for a more dramatic look. So I went armed to Boots with an advantage card full of points for a 'free' treat, which I believed would make my lashes look dramatic and bold, but still natural. This mascara costs £10.99 at Boots but is undoubtedly cheaper at supermarkets, Superdrug or online, and is available in black, brown black and waterproof.
The mascara comes in a black thick and rounded tube that is highly voluptuous and stylish in design, obviously reflecting its volumising promise. This 13.1ml tube of mascara certainly has a lot of hype and promises attached to it; not only will create extra length but intensely volumise too, making you instantly glamorous and oozing plenty of sex appeal. Well with promises like that I couldn't wait to get home and unleash its magic on my eyelashes.
The wand on this mascara is very thick and chunky and from chatting to friends I get the impression that this is a love it or hate it design. Some of my friends find it difficult to apply without getting smudges on their eyelids but personally I find it very easy to apply because of it. With 50% more bristles its very difficult for any eyelashes to escape this wand, which can create a very dramatic effect.
The mascara covers lashes quickly and smoothly and I find that only one coat is needed. The wand creates very little clumps but is by no way the most clump free one on the market and therefore defiantly needs appling with that zig-zag wiggle to avoid clumps completely.
So promising packaging, easy to apply with even coverage but does it live up to its promise? My eyes certainly look dramatic, very black and noticeable but personally I don't see any added volume. If anything my eyes look almost less voluptuous, so defiantly no volume. It is a good mascara, no doubt about that, very dramatic but by no means anything special. I was expecting my lashes to be full, long and totally eye catching but I have used mascaras that have created much length and ones that work far better at volumising. However, in fairness, different lashes work with different mascaras and on one of my friends this mascara does work wonders.
On a more positive note it lasts fantastically! Once applied it lasts the full day and little more too, I have never needed to re-apply it. I did not opt for the waterproof version but it has never smudged, even in the rain or with light crying. I have even showered at the gym wearing this and still emerged with perfect looking eyes, a definite sign of quality. However, it is also surprisingly easy to remove with either a make-up remover or a face wipe.
Overall, this is a very good mascara but personally I will not be buying this again, unless it is on a very good offer. It is probably best suited to those with shorter or sparser lashes, so if this sound like you then defiantly give this mascara a try. However, it does not seem to be suited to naturally long lashes, in my opinion.
I've been dying my hair for years now and used to love experimenting with new looks. In my teens I was: black, various shades of red, purple and even bright pink (though not all at once). But now in my 20s I wanted a more natural sophisticated look that was closer to my natural shade. Obviously the easiest and cheapest way to achieve a natural look is not to dye hair at all but recently I've been getting the odd grey hair, just a few random ones that my partner assures me no one else can even see, but its been driving me insane and I just had to get rid of them. I opted for L'Oreal Casting Creme Gloss because in the past I have had a wholly positive experience with them and this time was no different. I can barely drag myself from the mirror to write this review, I'm so pleased with the results.
Casting Crème Gloss is a no ammonia hair colourant that promises to create a natural looking colour, with a glossy shine, whilst blending away grey, and costs around £5.50, depending on where you shop. As well as marketing itself as a hair colourant it also states that it is an intense conditioning treatment that will leave hair, 'satin soft' and 'voluptuous.' These results, according to L'Oreal arise from the presence of Royal Jelly and a patented conditioning complex that protects the hair fibre. It is a semi-permanent dye that promises to last up to 28 washes and is available in the following shades:
- 656 Terracotta
- 535 Chocolate
- 734 Rich Honey
- 623 Cafe Latte
- 645 Amber
- 432 Rich Espresso
- 643 Chestnut
- 300 Darkest Brown
- 323 Dak Chocolate
- 415 Iced Chocolate
- 713 Iced Latte
- 630 Caramel
- 730 Golden Honey
- 724 Vanilla Caramel
- 500 Medium Brown
- 810 Pearl Blonde
- 530 Praline
- 316 Plum
- 8304 Glossy Sweet Honey
- 600 Light Brown
- 900 Radiant Blonde
- 834 Butterscotch
- 200 Ebony Black
- 634 Chestnut Honey
- 800 Light Blonde
- 400 Dark Brown
- 360 Black Cherry
- and finally ..... 550 Mahogany (sorry for the long list, more colours than I first thought)
***Packaging and Contents***
The dye, like most, comes in a small cardboard box with a picture of a model with extremely glossy hair on the front. On one side there is a picture depicting expected results for your natural hair colour and I would highly recommend checking this before purchase as some dyes wont work on certain hair colours, for example if you want to lighten your hair.
Inside the box is: a tube of creme colourant, developer creme, precision tip applicator, conditioner, gloves and the instruction leaflet.
The gloves I am extremely pleased with as they are truly quality gloves. I have found that the gloves with other hair dyes are often extremely odd in shape, with very long, flat and wide fingers, many also don't seem to last the application and break very quickly, however the L'Oreal gloves fit snugly and are comfortable and strong. They also come in a handy small oval plastic container, perfect for storing stuff in afterwards.
The basic instructions for this hair dye are very similar to others on the market; to start with they recommend a skin allergy test 48 hours before use (but if you've used other hair dyes and haven't had a black henna tattoo I can't see this product irritating the skin). The leaflet contains a detailed step by step application method for both coloured and non-coloured hair, that is simple to follow.
Hair dye can be tricky to apply evenly, especially if you're not used to doing it, so I would recommend getting someone to help if possible, I usually get my partner to help.
In preparation the colourant needs to be added into the developer creme tube and vigorously shaken. This process is very quick and easy. The developer creme is in an especially designed tube that is easy to grip and allows the dye to easily be squeezed out; being thicker nearer the tip at the top. However, this bottle will not stand freely on its own but luckily the box it comes in has a pop out section that will hold the dye upright when you need to.
The dye is then applied onto wet, towel dried hair. My boyfriend reports that the dye is very easy to apply evenly as its not too thick or too runny in consistency. I have shoulder length hair and found that there was far more than enough to cover my hair, so I can't imagine many needing more then the one box (I found found that some dyes don't cover all my medium length hair).
They recommend leaving the dye on for 20 mins; an extra 5 minutes for extra coverage of grey hair and only 15 minutes if doing the roots. The product doesn't have an overwhelming chemical smell and I cannot feel the product on my hair. Some more stronger dyes have a slight tingerly and odd sensation once on but I did not feel a thing with Casting Creme Gloss. I also found that the dye does not badly stain the skin at all and wipes off extremely quickly, however, if you are particularly worried about staining I would recommend putting a little moisturiser around the hairline as it helps prevent staining.
When rinsing of the dye, I am always surprised by how soft my hair feels, even before applying the conditioner, as many dyes will make the hair initially feel coarse. Their recommended tip for maximum shine is to, after applying the conditioner, rinse the hair with cold water.
The colour is most noticable once the hair is dry. I have tried Praline, Medium Brown and today Chocolate and every time I have been very happy with the results. The dye compliments natural tints in the hair, creating a shimmering look as opposed to a matte block of colour. The colour is very natural and I believe that most would not know that I have a dye on. In my opinion, they also live up to their promise of 'satin silk' hair; my hair feels soft and so silky, like I've just walked out of a salon and not my own bathroom. My hair has also kept its body and does not feel flat or unhealthy, thus also living up to the 'voluptuous' promise too.
From past experience I feel that the dye is very well lasting, easily up to the stated 28 shampoos, and stays a strong and noticeably shiny colour for the duration, with very little fading. However, this will undoubtedly vary depending on the condition of the hair.
I love this dye and it is by far the best that I have used, however, this dye will not be suitable for everyone. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who wants extensive grey coverage or a dramatic and eye catching look. But it lives up to every single one of its promises; I now have a shimmering glossy natural look and for that reason I feel it deserves nothing less than the full 5 stars.
A while ago there was a lot of fuss made about powder based foundations and there were two main reasons I decided join the craze. The first being the promise that it is more gentle on skin, as it allows the skin to breath more freely and prevents pores from becoming clogged, thus making it more suited to oily skin, though if your skin is very oily I will warn that it can become attached to the oil, making the skin appear thicker. My skin type is normal to dry but I still get the occasional spot and thus was enticed by this promise. The second reason I decided to experiment with powder foundation was its longer shelf life of 24 months, which is double the average liquid based foundation.
Once I decided to give it a go for me there was no question of which brand to choose, it had to be MaxFactor. With most make-up products I usually use a diverse range of brands but for years I have always chosen MaxFactor foundation as their Creamy Ivory shade matches perfectly with my pale skin tone and I have always found their foundations to be spot on perfection. More recently, however, I am begin to slowly loose my faith in the brand, since using both this foundation and their 'Seamless' foundation (£6.31 at Boots). These foundations are in no way disastrous but they have definitely not lived up to my high expectations.
MaxFactor Natural Minerals Foundation is £12.71 at Boots (varying prices elsewhere) and comes in a rounded plastic container. The tube is split into two sections: the bottom containing the powder and the top the brush to apply it with. It is available in 5 shade: Creamy Ivory, Warm Almond, Natural, Golden and Bronze. I chose the lightest shade, Ivory, and I'm once again entirely satisfied with how it matches my skin tone and it looks completely natural on me.
The biggest fault with the product is that its not the easiest to apply. To use, the idea is that you first shake the Natural Minerals Foundation into the sifter (top section), then lightly dip the brush in and sweep across the face in a gentle stroking motion. Sounds simple enough, and it is very quick to use but unfortunately it is also very, very messy. I am yet to use this product without getting covered in flecks of the powder, so I would highly recommend applying before you get dressed. With practice, however, it does get better but still remains quite messy foundation.
MaxFactor promises that this foundation 'goes beyond the call of duty by combining build-easy coverage' and that due to its 'unique concave dispenser and 100% natural brush you can achieve your most natural results.'
Whilst I'm not a fan of my pale skin I am lucky that my skin tone is very even and it doesn't take much help for my skin to look fresh and healthy. In my opinion the foundation is very effective in creating 'natural results' as its light and the shading is very natural, my skin looks fresh, young and with a little colour to it. However, the results are quite shimmery and illuminating and whilst I'm a fan of this I know that many feel the matte look is more natural. I still feel it is a foundation more suited to summer as the coverage is quite light and fresh looking.
With this product it is also easy to build up the desired coverage and to place more emphasis on certain areas, so in many respects it does live up to the MaxFactor promise. However, the results don't last very long and by the end of the day I feel I look the same as I would with no foundation and for the price tag I would quite like a longer lasting look.
I have since played around with the product and find that I achieve the best results when using it to even skin tone on top of a liquid based foundation. Whilst I am happy to use the remainder this way and I'm pleased with the results, I don't think I shall be buying this product again, as at £12.71 I'd quite like to just need one foundation.
For years I never bothered with a TV guide, except at Christmas when buying the Radio Times was as much of an established tradition as decorating the tree. Instead I'd just use the Sky TV Guide to flick through and see what was on, that was until I moved in with my boyfriend who every week buys a TV guide as regular as clockwork. Now I fail to see how I lived without one, and during term time at uni I've adopted his habit of buying one every week. TV Choice magazine is one we both often opt for given its cheap price tag of only 40p.
The magazine, published by Bauer Publishing, is A4 in size and hits the shelves every Tuesday. On average the magazine is about 60-70 pages, though this includes those pages devoted entirely to advertising, and runs from Saturday to Friday. I buy the South and South West regional version but the magazine covers all regions due to slight programming differences.
The cover of the magazine is bold, both in its choice of colour and text, usually with a large picture of some soap character, accompanied by an eye-catching slogan about that weeks soap highlight. Along both the top and bottom of the magazine cover are small pictures and slogans of the weeks other tv highlights. They are also obviously very proud of their price for it is entirely impossible to miss it; in the top left corner it states in large black print that it is 'ONLY 40p' on a bold orange background and then price then appears even larger just off centre of the cover, again on a stand-out orange background.
The first few pages of the magazine are always devoted to small features on the weeks chows. The majority of the features are based on those shows shown on terrestrial but there is usually one page dedicated to that weeks 'Digital TV Choice.' These articles are usually on what one would class 'popular' tv as opposed to the weeks obscure and unique show, for example they usually comment on shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and The Bill.
This section of the magazine has no interest whatsoever for my partner, as he purely buys it jusy to check what's on tv, but for me the features section of any tv listings is my favourite section. In my opinion the features in TV Choice aren't quite up to the standard of their competitors as they are usually brief and poorly written. They usually include the main information about the programme such as what will happen and maybe the odd quote from one of the main actors but in my opinion it would hugely benefit from more critical analysis. The reviews, when they include opinion, are entirely complimentary, a stark contrast to the more in depth and critical approach of the Radio Times. However, I have come to expect this in the cheaper listings so TV Choice are not alone in their brief and complimentary approach.
On a more positive note the layout of the features section makes it easy when flicking through to focus on one particular article. Each is featured in its own pastel coloured box with a slightly darker border, making it stand out on the usually crowded page; ideal if you want to focus on just that section.
Following the features on the weeks dramas and documentaries is the soap section, another personal favourite, that is usually 3 pages in length. The soaps featured include: Eastenders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks, Home and Away, Neighbours and Doctors. I'm not an avid soap fanatic but I do dip in and out of Eastenders and Corrie and I'm one of those people who loves to read spoilers and know what will happen before it does. I haven't watched Neighbours properly since it moved to Channel 5 but thanks to tv mags I still feel like I know exactly what's going on. In TV Choice there is usually a large detailed spoiler on Eastenders, Corrie and Emmerdale which reveals the weeks main events, whilst the others are usually given about a small paragraph of text. These articles are usually quite informative and contain quite a bit of soap gossip but for just an extra 7p their closest competitor, What's On TV, also offers a full 'Soap Diary' of what happens each day per soap, on top of the in depth soap features. Another regular feature of this section is the soap updates which allow you to catch up on your favourite shows if you've missed them, due to holiday for example.
Just before the tv listings is the regular 'Film Choice' section that is usually about 4 pages in length. It offers a brief paragraph on the films to be shown per day and gives all a rating out of 5 stars. The information here is good but again, like the features section, the focus is largely on terrestrial tv.
Now we've reached the main section of the mag; the tv listings. Each day has six pages of listings with the first double page spread concentrating on BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Five, which to its credit is very well done. Each channel appears in a separate column that everyday is on the same coloured background, this is a very effective method as it's simple and quick to read at a glance. Along the left is that days Choice, which selects about two highlights. Each day's listings runs from 6am to 6pm, with the title of each programme in bold lettering and the majority of programmes are followed by a brief explanation.
The films are very easy to pick out as they are presented in a box with a bold 'FILM' printed before its title, and similarly new series are presented with a small bold 'NEW.' It also provides all other additional info, making it clearly visible what episode of a series is being shown and whether the programme is subtitled, for example. I cannot fault these pages and in my opinion they are clear and provide just the right amount of information on each show.
The following pages are dedicated to the most frequently watched digital channels, which are split into colour coded sections reflecting their genre. The first double spread page dedicated to satellite, listing 22 entertainment channels, which are coloured in pink and 9 factual and lifestyle channels, coloured in orange. These are much less detailed than the terrestrial pages and largely just list what will be shown with little programme information. The layout of this section is the same each week so TV Choice regulars can easy find the channel they are looking for. The second two satellite pages follow a similar layout and feature 6 children's tv channels (red), 6 sport channels (green) and 14 Movie channels in blue.
The colour coding of these pages is definitely a bonus and I believe they have chosen the right channels to list but I am in the opinion that What's On TV have again done this better than TV Choice. This is because since leaving home I have lost the luxury of Sky+ and instead watch the cheaper Freeview and whilst TV Choice clearly state which channels are on Freeview, with a bold logo clearly visible, they have spread the channels out over the 4 digital pages, where as What's On TV have opted to group all Freeview channels together, making it easily the best magazine for Freeview viewers.
Following the tv listings are a few pages dedicated to competitions and puzzles. Including a regular £1000 prize crossword, a £25 'Name that show' puzzle, a sudoku puzzle 'just for fun' and a big feature competition, which this week is a chance to win a shopping trip to New York. I have never entered these but one can do so by phone, text or fax, at a price of 25p, or by post.
The final page of the magazine provides an idea of what next weeks features will be, weekly horoscopes and readers letters. The readers letters are usually a fun read and I often smile as I read the strong opinions written and each week the star letter will receive £10.
In conclusion TV Choice is an average television based magazine, which for its cheap 40p price tag provides a fun little read. It may not be as in depth as the tradition Radio Times but even with its in-depth features I cannot justify spending £1.10 on a tv listings. For mainly terrestrial tv watchers who purely only care about what is on then this is defiantly for you. However, in my opinion, at just 7p more expensive 'What's On TV' is the one to buy ifor those most interested in soaps and for Freeview viewers.
Thank you for reading
Mmmmm....seven inches of heaven! I love Crunchies and they will always have a very special place in my heart as they've helped me through some very dark days. During my teens I suffered with severe depression with psychotic interludes but somehow whenever I had a Crunchie I experience that momentary 'friday feeling' of joy. However, you don't need to have some soppy psychological attachment to them to enjoy these delicious honeycomb chocolate bars.
Crunchie is a well established Cadbury's classic and has been a national favourite since it was first launched by J. S. Fry & Sons in 1929. In the 1935 novel National Velvet it is mentioned as the Brown sisters' favourite candy and now in 2009 it certainly one of my favourites too. Crunchie is packaged in a golden foil wrapper decorated with small silver bubbles, which reflects the hidden joy within. On each Crunchie bar the large Crunchie logo is printed in bold red letters on the front, with just a hint of the familiar Cadbury's purple accompanying the Cadbury's logo.
Upon peeling back the foil wrapper the first thing that hits me is its seductive sweet smell, which instantly gets my mouth watering as I fall under its brief enchanting spell. The honeycomb is coated in smooth Cadbury's dairy milk chocolate with its familiar sweet milky taste and inside its chocolate coating lays the irresistibly sweet honeycomb. Ok, I'll admit the honeycomb isn't the nicest available on the market but its still sweet and very yummy. Inside the chocolate the honeycomb is visibly split into two sections; the inner honeycomb is more golden in colour with many bubbles, whilst separating this from the smooth chocolate is the outer layer of honeycomb that is lighter in colour and far finer and crunchier in texture.
I'm one of those funny people that (when in private) can't resist being silly and playing with how I eat my chocolate bars and I'm pleased to report that Crunchie bars provide endless fun ways to devour it. Sometimes I'll begin by nibbling or sucking the outer chocolate away, slowly leaving the honeycomb centre totally exposed, or when really in a silly mood I'll bite into the bar and then slowly begin licking and sucking the inner honeycomb letting it dissolve till it leaves me with the lasting taste of chocolate. Obviously when in public though I'm a good sensible girl and just eat it in the normal sophisticated way.....despite it being far less fun!
The texture of Cadbury's Crunchie honeycomb is, unsurprisingly, crunchie as opposed to a chewy, whilst the chocolate is irresistibly smooth. I find that the inner honeycomb will dissolve and melt in the mouth more quickly than the finer outer honeycomb. On the downside, however, I am yet to eat a crunchie bar without getting small bits stuck between my teeth, but given it's sweet irresistible taste I'm willing to put up with this.
Crunchie is a light hearted chocolate bar that can be enjoyed by all, and shouldn't be taken too seriously. Personally, however, whenever I have a Crunchie I'll always be reminded of how far I've come and I'm sure that it will continue to accompany me on all of life's adventures for years to come ..... except when I'm on a diet unfortunately. As Crunchie bars certainly aren't a dieters friend due to their high sugar and calorie content, and I have to constantly remind myself that whilst they provide a moment of heavenly pleasure on my lips, they'll also spend a lifetime on my hips.
Crunchie is available in a smaller treat size version and a larger king size version, as well as the normal sized bar. Price for the normal bar is usually about 35p but can be found both cheaper and more expensive depending on where you shop. It is also available in most supermarkets in multipacks of 5, whilst at my local co-op it is a regular in their 4 for £1 bargain bin.
Nutrition Info (Per 40g bar):
Calories - 185
Sugars - 24.7g
Fat - 7.6g
Saturates - 4.9g
Salt - 0.28g
Whilst I love chocolate I wouldn't class myself as a chocoholic but still there I times that I crave it. I crave chocolate when I'm sad, when I want to celebrate something, whenever I'm on a train, if I have to wait ages in a queue for a lottery ticket....actually thinking about it I do crave chocolate a lot, maybe I border on chocoholic. Cadbury's for me is the chocolate that suits all craving occasions.
It may not be the most sophisticated bar of chocolate on the market and many chocolate connoisseurs probably turn their noses up at it but it's the chocolate that I grew up on and I love it. For me, whilst I like nearly all varieties of Cadbury's chocolate, Dairy Milk remains a firm favourite due to its simplicity and I'm pleased to discover that it is now Fair Trade certified.
Most of you who have TVs, read magazines, been in supermarkets and corner shops, driven past posters and been out in crowded areas will probably already know what a bar of Cadbury's looks like but just in case you don't, I can inform you that it is instantly recognisable by its purple foil packaging.
Every ½ pound of Cadbury Dairy Milk contains 'a glass and a half full' of fresh milk and I believe it's a national favourite because of its universal yet unique taste, being not too sweet and not too bitter. It's great tasting for kids and adults alike and can best be described by my non expert chocolate palate as "very yummy". If ever there was an everyday chocolate then this little bar would have to be it, though calorie and fat wise perhaps we shouldn't have it every single day.
Dairy Milk is also the perfect chocolate to melt and I frequently use it to make rice krispy cakes, or to dip strawberries and other fruit in. I find it melts quickly and easily whether using a recommend bain-marie or if cheating in the microwave too, provided it's stirred regularly (about every 10secs).
TV adverts for Cadbury's are becoming almost as famous as the bar itself with a lot of money and thought going in to each production. For example recent adverts include: the amazing Gorilla playing the drums, the kids with the freaky eyebrows and the one with the trucks, which I personally didn't quite get. It is clear that Cadbury's is aiming to market this chocolate as a bit of fun that shouldn't be taken too seriously and I agree it may not be flashy and expensive but it's certainly a yummy fun chocolate to be enjoyed by adults and children.
A 49g bar of Dairy Milk is usually around the 50p mark, though often cheaper and I have seen it once at 60p. However, if it's a small chocolate fix you after the Cadbury's Freddo, aimed at kids, are only 10p and have the exact same taste but with far fewer calories.
Nutrition Info (per 49g)
Calories - 255
Sugars - 27.8g
Fat - 14.6g
Saturates - 9.1g
Salt - 0.04g
Listerine is one of those brands that I trust to get the job done, but the taste certainly isn't for everyone. We all know that looking after teeth is vitally important; removing dental plaque and tartar it vital to avoid and prevent gum diseases, gingivitis and it helps to keep teeth strong, but if I'm honest, at 20, the main reason I use mouthwash, along with brushing, isn't because I'm scared of gingivitis but because I want minty fresh breath and pretty white teeth.
Listerine is an American product that was originally formulated by Dr. Joseph Lawrence and Jordan Wheat Lambert as a surgical antiseptic in 1879 and named after Dr Lister, who was a pioneer of antiseptic surgery. It was first sold over the counter as an oral hygiene product in 1914, and nowadays can be bought in a variety of different forms that all promise slightly different results and come in different flavours. For example: cool mint, fresh burst, vanilla mint, citrus, and 'total care.' It is now a product of Johnson and Johnson Limited and on the back of each bottle it states that it is made in the EU.
All varieties of their mouth wash come in a similar clear rectangular bottle with a black child lock screw top. I cannot comment on whether they have the same effect on dental health but certain flavours and colours can be a deciding factor when purchasing them, for example I sometimes buy the Total Care purely because it's a pinky purple.
Whatever variety you choose you use it the same way you would any other mouthwash; that being pouring some into the cup, swishing it fully around your teeth, gums and mouth for approximately 30 seconds, and then spitting it in to your sink...simples.
On the back of the bottle it states that the product is not suitable for those under the age of 12, I assume this is because of the high alcohol content. However, I believe, that very few children under that age would even want to use it, due to the burningly strong taste and sensation that they are famous for. I won't lie to you it's a taste that defiantly needs some getting used to and at first it nearly put me off using it again. However, I have grown to love the sensation as psychological it makes me have more faith that the product is working. The burning sensation will calm down though after about 5 - 10 seconds and then the taste transforms into a minty freshness that is surprisingly pleasant, and your teeth feel so wonderfully clean that it's impossible to resist running your tongue over them.
What variety I usually use depends on whether my partner or I did the shopping; he usually opts for 'Stay White Arctic Mint' where as I usually buy 'Total Care.' I happily use the Stay White variety, which is a pale blue colour, as I love the promise that my teeth will stay whiter, however I can't notice my teeth being any whiter when I use that variety compared to the Total Care, but perhaps longer term they would. However, I can confidently say that the Stay White has a far stronger taste than Total Care, which is much milder, though still with a potent kick. Total Care won Product of the Year 2008, in the mouthwash category.
Listerine mouthwash varies in price, both in which flavour you choose and where you choose to shop. In Sainsburys a 250ml bottle of Stay White is £1.93, whilst Total Care will set you back £2.39.
Listerine is probably the marmite of the mouthwash world; some will love the strong sensation it leaves in your mouth whilst others prefer a more gentle flavour and feel. I have come to love it and will continue to trust Listerine over any other brand.
Many people are suspicious of stores loyalty schemes and believe that they only encourage you to spend more money rather than save anything. However, in my opinion no one should think twice about taking out the Boots Advantage card, as it is one of the most generous and easy to use loyalty cards available.
I've lost track of how many years I've had my Boots Card but it has defiantly saved me a small fortune. I'm a beauty addict who loves to try out new cosmetics, hair products, cleansers, moisturisers and all those girly goodies. Since becoming a student, however, I've had to drastically cut my beauty budget and as Boots is one of the more expensive shops for such products I've had to switch to alternatives such as Superdrug and supermarkets, that have the same branded products much cheaper. However, I still regularly check Boots as they frequently have amazing offers, especially for Advantage Card holder, that have saved me far more money in the long run. I also have the most amazing mum who after a few months swaps her card with mine so I can spend her much higher points balance while she has my much meagre points.
I find the point system on many loyalty cards difficult to understand, the maths is often so tricky that I never know fully how much money I've saved, but even with my total math retardation I always know where I am with my Boots Card. When using your card you receive four points per pound spent, and each point is worth 1p, so 100 points equals £1, which is effectively a discount of 4% on Boots shopping. To build up points it could not be easier, you just hand your card over with your purchases and the cashier will scan the card updating your points account instantly. The points balance is clearly visible on the bottom of every receipt.
In most Boots stores there is an Advantage Card Kiosk that looks a bit like a cash machine, and if you want to maximise your points then do not ignore this. At these machines when you slot in your Advantage Card, then screen lights up with your details and converts your points balance into available credit, and displays a wide variety of offers available in store that day. Offers can include discount on items in store or increased points on particular purchases, for example double points on a certain hair dye or 500 points when you spend over £15 on Boots own cosmetics. If you want to take advantage of a particular offer all you need to do is tap the 'print' button on the screen and hand the print out over with your items at the till. It is important to use this machine wisely as these offers are designed to make you spend more money but if there's an item that you genuinely want then you can save £s, I check the kiosk as soon as I enter the store.
Points can also be collected when shopping online via the Boots website, but to do this you first need to register the card online via the 'my account' link on their website. Registering should only take a few mins at most, but unfortunately whilst you can collect points online you can only spend them in store.
Spending points in store is as easy as collecting them, to do so I always mention to the cashier that I wish to pay with points before they scan the items, they will then take the card and all you need to do is wait for the receipt. However, when spending in points you will need the full amount, as they do not allow you to pay part in points and part in cash, so defiantly make sure you've added up the purchases correctly before taking them to the till. Also points cannot be collected on or used to pay for prescriptions, stamps, gift vouchers, infant's milks (up to 6 months), mobile phone top-up cards and insurance products.
If I've convinced you that the Boots Advantage card is for you, then I urge to join the scheme as it's completely hassle free. There are a variety of ways to join: either online on their website, by phoning 0845 124 4545, or by picking up an application in store. Personally I feel that the easiest way to join is via the application form which contains a free card that you can use instantly. After the first use to keep gaining points you need to fill in the simple form and return it to any Boots store or send if freepost to the address on the back.
As well as building up points being an advantage card holder has many additional benefits too. For example their Health and Beauty magazine, which is usually priced at £1, is free, and you can join their free Parenting Club or Health Club (for those over 60), where you get advice, information and many more exclusive offers on related products. It is also possible when you sign up for the card, to join the NHS Organ Donor Register, which I would strongly recommend doing.
If you lose your card or if it is stolen you'll need to phone 0845 124 4545 and a replacement card will be sent in 2-3 weeks with your points balance transferred.
Before staring university my mum and I decided we wanted to do something special just the two of us, and we were over the moon when we heard that Champneys offered a special mother and daughter break, as neither of us have ever been to a spa before. Champneys have four resorts in the UK and all of them offer residential packages and day experiences, but I would recommend checking the promotional section on their website as they regularly offer both type at discounted prices.
The 2 night mother and daughter break is a regular promotion that is offered each year around mother's day at all resorts, with one guest paying full price while the other receives 50% off. The package includes 3 treatments per person, breakfast, lunch and dinner, 2 nights accommodation, full use of the facilities and daily fitness and relaxation classes. Prices start from £299.85 per room but vary depending on the resort and the choice of room, prices are inclusive of VAT.
We choice to stay at Henlow Grange as it was the closest to my mum, located in Bedfordshire just of J13 of the M1. Henlow Grange is a gorgeous Georgian mansion, situated in 150 acres of peaceful and tranquil countryside. Driving up to the entrance we were both in awe of the beautiful building and I cannot fault it or the impressive grounds, but unfortunately the inside isn't quite as impressive. Everywhere is clean and the rooms are beautiful with opulent upholstered furniture and hand painted walls but the corridors and communal areas seem to lack a certain charm that would complement the impressive building.
All around the grounds were the friendliest ducks ever that frequently came right up to our room's patio door and looked right in at us, obviously used to being fed by guests. In the centre of the ground floor is a small closed of courtyard where a mummy duck had 10/11 tiny cute little ducklings. In with the ducks, amongst trees and shrubs, were bowls of food and a small little fountain and watching them wash has to be one of the most adorable things I've ever seen!
Both checking in and out was swift and efficient and I found the staff there to be helpful and always polite. On arrival we received a pack that contained a free pen and note paper, leaflets on the evening talks, promotional information, timetable and info on classes, an identity card and a personal timetable of our treatments. Unfortunately Champneys arrange when each treatment takes place and in some cases they may clash with classes you wish to take part in or be soon after arrival or close to departure. Luckily our timetable was evenly spread out over the 3 days and worked perfectly for us both.
Champneys Henlow Grange offers a choice of rooms: Standard, Superior, Premier or Suite. All are fitted with an en suite, colour TV, DVD player, hairdryer, a telephone and toiletries. The Superior rooms are located on the ground floor with a patio, or in the original Georgian mansion house on the second floor, they also come with complimentary Champneys robes. The Premier rooms are more spacious with a fruit basket on arrival whilst the suites are more luxurious, spacious and individually styled.
We opted for a twin superior room and stayed in Room 43, situated on the ground floor. The beds were lovely and comfortable so the only thing that kept us awake was our nonstop chatting. The room opened out onto a small private patio area with table and chairs, and the view out was amazing. Opposite was a beautiful trickling waterfall with ducks swimming and not another building or any road in sight; totally tranquil and picturesque.
~~~What to wear~~~
Most guest during the day wear towelling robes, either their own or those provided by Champneys, and slippers. What you wear under your robe is up to you, but most people opt for swimwear. Many people I know have commented that this feels strange to start with but we instantly clicked into it, as both my mum and I would live in dressing gowns if it was sociably acceptable! Robes are acceptable anywhere in the building and breakfast and lunch but guests are required to get dressed for the evening meal, in 'smart casual' clothes.
Swimwear is also needed for the pool areas and comfortable clothes, that you can easily move in are required if you want to take part in any of the free classes. For treatments you will either be provided with an unflattering paper thong, or can roll down your swimming costume if preferred.
Include a beautiful 25m indoor pool and Jacuzzi; the pool area is Grecian themed and very clean when we stayed. I had been slightly worried as before I had read reviews that the pool was poorly kept but I can honestly say the neither my mum nor I noticed any problems in terms of cleanliness. The pool itself is a perfect even depth; deep enough to swim in whilst being shallow enough to stand during aqua fitness classes, and never over crowded. Lockers are provided in the changing rooms, which are spacious and also clean, equipped with a Laconium heat room, herbal steam chamber and sauna.
There is also a small gym available, with bikes, cross trainers, treadmills and a stepper and two fitness studios where the fitness and relaxation classes take place.
The weather was beautiful when we went and many people chose to spend the majority of the day sunbathing on the loungers along by the river that runs through the grounds or swimming in the pool. However, each day Henlow offer a full timetable of free activities that are relaxed, fun and informal. They offer intense fitness classes such as spinning and cardio blast, as well as outdoor running and cycling. They also offer tennis, aqua aerobics and circuit training, as well as the more calm yoga and pilates. We tried as many as possible, my mum' personal favourite was a salsa dance class, suitable for all abilities, whilst I loved aqua fit and the 'better backs' workshop where I picked up lots of tips and exercises to help my slight lower back pain.
The evenings are relaxing and very quiet, personally I would recommend taking a book or magazine to keep you occupied, but DVDs are available for hire from reception. There are also evening talks available, which are usually on such subjects as palmistry, and general wellbeing. We opted not to attend these though, preferring to chat and giggle with a bottle of wine that we sneaked in or to read our books.
Now for the best bit of the whole spa experience... The majority of day and residential packages have inclusive treatments; the more expensive packages usually have a choice of more exotic treatments whilst the cheaper packages usually include a basic 25min Champneys massage and facial. The mother and daughter package included a 25 mins facial, massage and a Thalassothearaphy pool session.
It is possible to book additional treatments either online or in writing on top of your package, if there is a particular treatment that you want then I would recommend booking in advance. However, if like us you're not too fussy and love a bargain then it is possible to book treatments whilst at the spa, as in the spa reception there is a board full of that day's special offers and it is possible to get fantastic bargains. Of course, booking while there you do run the risk of nothing being available, but we went mid week and where able to book 2 additional treatments each.
A wide variety of treatments are available at Henlow Grange; everything I could ever think of. I have since spent hours on their website dreaming about which treatments I'll have when I can afford to go back again! They offer relaxing treatments for the body, such as wraps, massages, and flotations; treatments designed to tone and shape the body, some of which promise loss in centimetres and a wide variety of facials to suit all skin types and ages. They also offer treatments aimed at lifestyle and mind, such as aromatherapy, physic healing, colour analysis and Iridology (a reading of your Iris!). On top of these treatments they also offer many 'finishing touches' treatments, for example manicures, pedicures, waxing and make-up application.
Massage and Facial - I was a bit worried that our included massage and facial would feel rushed as each lasted only 25mins each and previously my other massages had been an hour long. But I was totally wrong; I lost all concept of time and entered pure heaven!
Thalassotheraphy - I was very excited about this treatment as I had no idea what to expect and the website stated it was an excellent treatment for cellulite! They also claim that it is effective in treating arthritis and general muscular and joint aches and pains too. However, it is one of those treatments where you need a few sessions for any effect but it was certainly great fun, and I must have burnt lots of calories from laughter alone. It's a shared treatment, my mum and I were with another mother and daughter team and three friends, together we all entered a mineral rich warm pool with hydrotherapy jets that stimulate and tone tired aching muscles. The pool is fitted with a series of different stations each aimed at targeting a different area: at one we had to walk round in circles against a strong resistance aimed at boosting metabolism, and along one wall is a series of different jets at different heights, but the most hilarious station was a jet shower. The shower jet was POWERFUL, and you could not only feel it above water but under too, nearly every time someone first got under it they ended up spaying water on everyone opposite. Certainly not a treatment to take too seriously, our group was almost hysterically laughing by the end of it.
Rasul - was the first additional treatment we booked and we had £10 off reducing the price to £20 each. The treatment, which lasts 45mins, is another shared treatment and is exclusive to Henlow Grange and Forest Mere. It is best described as, "Mud, glorious mud!" The treatment takes place in a specially designed chamber that seats up to 4 people (you can book the chamber privately but at a much higher cost; ideal of couples as when shared the treatment is single sex.) We all got naked and put on the sexy paper thongs provided, not a great look but surprisingly comfy. Inside we were instructed to cover our faces, necks and breasts in white mud and to smother the rest of us in the brown mud, which was smooth but with exfoliating grit. Once covered in mud and sitting down, the lights switched off and the domed ceiling lighted up with dim tiny stars, then scented steam filling the chamber (not too hot) and relaxing music played. At the end of the session "tropical rain" fell from the ceiling and we washed the mud off. This treatment is definitely fun but there is also an instantly noticeable effect, as the combined benefits of mud and steam left my skin feeling utterly fantastic. I cannot recommend this treatment enough, defiantly a 'must have'.
Unwind and Soothe Wrap - lasts 25mins and cost £32. The therapist begins by body brushing your skin, and then rubs aromatherapy oils all over the body, and then wraps you in cling film. To start with a felt a bit like a turkey but I soon relaxed as whilst being wrapped up, the therapist gave me a heavenly scalp massage. You get to keep your body brush after the treatment.
I found that the therapists at Henlow to be friendly and welcoming, without being too chatty, which allows you to enjoy the treatments and relax without having to think too hard about making small talk. Some treatments aren't suitable for all, for example the rasul isn't recommend for those with diabetes or those pregnant. I would advise checking online first before booking additional treatments; any inclusive treatments that aren't suitable can be switched for something else.
Many people are worried that the food at health spas are bland and equivalent to rabbit food but I can assure you that this isn't the case, the food was divine! Personally I felt that the food was a true highlight of the whole experience; whilst everything served was nutritious it was delicious too. Breakfast is buffet style with a wide variety of choice; I had melon, other fresh fruit and toast, with a cup of tea and fresh fruit juice. Lunch is a hot and cold buffet but the choice of food is amazing; different fishes, chicken, curries, breads, a wide variety of salads, rice, new potatoes and plenty of other options too; I completely ignored the signs indicating calories and the correct mix of fibre, protein and carb, and went up both days for a second helping.
Dinner is the true highlight and is a three course balanced meal; for each course there is about five or six options. The food was all beautifully presented and I cannot fault it, and I'm quite a fussy eater. To give you an idea of what's on offer: the first night I had caesar salad, lamb on garlic mash with veg and mint jue, followed by mango yogurt ice cream with watermelon; the desert was heavenly and very refreshing. The second night I had: a small serving of organic duck on rocket with passion fruit sauce, then chicken with roasted parsnip, butter nut squash and other veg with a red wine jue, and for desert mango ice cream again...yum yum. The portions are relatively small but I found them to be very filling.
Wine is served with the evening meal at an additional cost but they state that 'alcohol consumption should be kept to a minimum', which is to be expected at any health resort. Additional snacks are sold at the shop but I would recommend sneaking stuff in as it's far cheaper. At each meal there was plenty of choice for vegetarians but if kosher food is required 21 days notice is needed and a supplement will be charged.
Overall I cannot recommend Henlow Grange highly enough, we had a fantastic time. I feel that whilst it is an expensive treat we certainly got our money's worth, never have I felt more relaxed and pampered, I didn't want it to end. I can't wait to go back to Champneys and it's a treat that I hope to have again in the future, but I think that next time I shall try one of the other resorts just as a point of comparison.
The Heavanilli massage bar (£4.95) is part of Lush's Vanilla range, by far the best scented range Lush has ever invented. I love Lush, and can easily spend hours in their addictive store smelling products, getting recommendations for my skin type and picking up tips and for just over a year now I have been slowly working my way through everything they ever dreamt up. As a result, I have now come to realise which products don't live up to the hype and which are truly indulgent. When Lush gets a product spot on perfect it is guarnteed to work wonders for your skin, smell good enough to eat and be fun and interesting to use and this massage bar is all of those things, making it my ultimate favourite Lush product!
This massage bar was realised for Valentines Day 2009, and it is certainly a romantic sweetie. The scent is sweet, young and feminine; not a sickly vanilla but a sweet fresh vanilla that oozes girly sex appeal. I also can pick up on undertones of creamy coconut, but vanilla is by far the most noticeable scent. Vanilla is a soothing and relaxing smell often used in aromatherapy and as such I always feel calm and soothed after using this heavenly little bar. The smell is intense and powerful without being overwhelming, and is surprisingly long lasting. Due to the scents longevity I often don't feel I need to wear perfume if I've smothered myself in this. The romantic scent is enhanced by its girly appearance; it is shaped into a large creamy heart with a pink sash across the middle, making it aesthetically very pleasing.
The massage bars are Lush's sensual answer to massage oils and they recommend snapping some of the bar off and melting it in your hands and slowly rubbing it all over your partner for luxurious rub. If you don't have someone willing to spend ages massaging you don't need to worry as this product is still for you; most people I know use the massage bars as moisturisers rather than for massages. Though this bar makes for the most soothing massage when compared to the others in the range. I usually apply mine after a bath or shower on dry skin and have found it very easy to apply. The bar melts very quickly and easily in your hands so be careful as it can easily slip out of your grasp, but it slides over the skin so easily making it very quick to apply. However, this massage bar, like the rest in the range, absorbs very slowly into the skin, so if you need to get dressed quickly after your shower, then I probably would not recommend using this but when the mood is right the slow absorption just adds to its luxurious feel. The massage bar gets slightly smaller each use and when it gets too small to apply and begins to snap my tip would be to pop the last little bits in a bath, as it makes the waters so so smooth and soft!
This sweet little bar leaves the skin feeling brilliantly nourished and I believe it leaves my skin feeling far softer than traditional moisturisers. It is also very soft on my slightly sensitive skin, and has never once aggravated my skin. It has, also, worked wonders on the patches of dry skin that I used to have before I used this; this is largely due to the presence of coconut oil which is known to be brilliant natural cure for eczema. The Heavanilli Bar is also said to be fantastic on tattoos as it conditions the skin and as a result helps keeps colours vibrant for longer.
The product easily invites comparison to the Vanilla Dee-Lite moisturiser as the scent of both products is very similar. In my opinion this massage bar wins on nearly all accounts; to start with the scent is much more intense in the massage bar and as a result much more longer lasting. Both products claim to moisturise the skin, and both do so brilliantly, but again the massage bar is far more indulgent and leaves my skin noticeably softer. The Vanilla Dee-Lite is quicker to apply as its a traditional liquid moisturiser and also absorbs faster into the skin, making it perfect when your in a rush, such as at the gym or early mornings, but if you have the time to indulge and pamper yourself then this Heavenilli massage bar is certainly the one to buy. Oh and its nearly half the price of Dee-Lite which retails at £10.50.
The product is best kept in a tin, which Lush sell at £2.91, but this isn't a necessity. It is important, however, to keep the massage bar somewhere cool and out of direct sunlight as they have a tendency to melt very quickly and then reform into odd shapes when it cools back down.
Its luxurious ingredients include: Cocoa Butter, Fair Trade Shea Butter, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Vanilla Absolute, Tonka Absolute, and Jasmine Absolute.
I love Lush, I love talking about them, sharing friends' goodies and could easily spend hours in their store...I've defiantly caught the Lush Bug which is almost as contagious as Swine Flu (maybe not life threatening but certainly dangerous for your bank balance). After loosing my Lush virginity, for months everything I bought from their addictive store I believed to be the best thing since hair straightners and for over a year now I have been gradually working my way through everything they ever dreamt up. My opinion on Lush products has recently become more balanced and I now realise that some of their products don't live up to the hype but when Lush gets a product perfect nothing compares to it! And their greatest invention has to be their massage bars, which I now can't live without.
The Soft Coeur massage bar is by far the most romantic in the range, shaped into a small cream heart with a visible sweet chocolate coloured gooey centre. This massage bar is also referred to as Honeymooners, due the presence of honey and because of its romantic aroma. Its smell is utterly divine; a soft sweet mix of honey, chocolate and vanilla. The scent is very similar to the Honey I washed the kids soap but with vanilla undertones. A totally heavenly scent, very soft, young, feminine and full of sex appeal and once applied to the skin the scent is surprisingly long lasting and can easily work as a perfume too.
It has a luxurious list of ingredients that include Cocoa butter, Shea butter, Almond Oil, Sweet Orange Oil, Cocoa Powder, Bergamot Oil and Honey. These ingredients really result in a luxurious treatment for the skin, leaving it feeling soft and smooth but they also have a wonderful relaxing effect on the mind. For example, the bergamot oil helps to sweetly scent the product but is also known for its natural relaxing qualities and is often used in the treatment of mild depression, anxiety and SAD disorder. And honey has been used by powerful sexy women for 1000s of years; Cleopatra famously bathed in honey and asses' milk and du Barry, an infamous mistress of Louis XV of France, used honey as a face mask whilst Poppea, the second wife of Nero, used a mixture of milk and honey to perfect her complexion.
The massage bars are Lush's sensual answer to massage oils and they recommend snapping some of the bar off and melting it in your hands and slowly rubbing it all over your partner for luxurious rub. Whilst they are certainly great for a massage I use mine more often as a moisturiser and skin conditioner and rub into the skin myself after a bath or shower, so don't be put of buying this if you don't have someone willing to pamper you with a massage. I also quickly rub a bit over my neck before a date or sexy night in, as my partner finds the scent utterly irresistible.
This is Lush's smallest massage bar and this is reflected in the price, £3.96, making it one of their cheapest (the average price is about £5). However, due to its small size it doesn't last as long as the others. The Soft Coeur massage bar is also the trickiest to use as the soft gooey chocolate centre disintegrates very quickly and after the first few uses crumbles, leaving lumps on the skin and floor. As a result if you are using it for a massage I would recommend putting a towel under you to protect the sheets. The chocolate centre also leaves brown marks on the skin, but these brush off after the skin absorbs the oil so don't worry too much. Despite these problems I will still continue to buy it due to the heavenly scent which is perfect for special occasions.
The massage bar, like the rest in the range, absorbs very slowly into the skin, so if you need to get dressed quickly after your shower, then I probably would not recommend using this. I love nothing more than to rub this all over and put my fluffy dressing gown and relax on the sofa and let it slowly absorb - my dressing gown now smells of Lush! As it absorbs many have complained that the skin feels 'greasy' for ages but once absorbed the skin feels so fresh, young and very, very soft. I personally feel it is far more nourishing to the skin than their traditional moisturisers, but not as quick to apply.
I was very tempted to give this product the full five stars but I've had to knock one off, because whilst its scent is pure romantic heaven the difficulties in applying mean that it is not as good as their Heavani massage bar (£4.95), which also has a sweet romantic scent but doesn't leave any brown marks or crumble as quickly.
For those of you that haven't heard of Lush - where have you been? I suppose I'm still a bit of a newbie having ignored them for years despite all my friends raving madly about them, so I'll forgive you guys and girls who are still yet to lose their Lush virginity. I think there are two reasons I ignored Lush for so long: the first being the overpowering smell of the shop which used to make me turn in the other direction every time I approached it and then their 'hippy' reputation. Lush's 'hippy' store reputation seems to have arisen from their ethical outlook, and whilst I've always been for fair-trade and being environmentally friendly, I foolishly assumed that this would be their only unique selling point and that in reality their products would be weak in comparison to other more established beauty brands. Lush endorse fair trade and organic ingredients, but ethics aside their use of fresh fruit and vegetables alongside the most indulgent essential oils, result in the majority of the products being luxurious to use and highly beneficial for the skin.
Since buying my first few goodies I, like many others, caught the Lush bug, which is almost as contagious as Swine flu. For months everything I bought from their addictive store I believed to be the best thing since hair straightners! For over a year now I have been gradually working my way through everything they ever dreamt up and my opinions on Lush products have became more balanced. I have come to appreciate which of their products are truly indulgent, like the vanilla scented range and their massage bars, and which are very middle of the road and in need of a little more work. In my opinion this 'Rub Rub Rub' shower gel falls into the latter category, despite being marketed as their stand shower product.
Rub Rub Rub is described by Lush as 'a startlingly refreshing shower scrub' and stands out from the rest due to its exfoliating qualities that arise from the rich presence of sea salt. It is packaged in the same way as the rest of their shower gels; in a relatively simple and plain plastic bottle. Whilst this approach isn't as initially appealing as their competitors it arises from belief that the money we pay should go towards quality of ingredients rather than to fund for elaborate packaging. In my opinion, this product doesn't suffer from this as it's still a very pleasing little bottle to look at, due to the striking sea blue liquid inside.
As well as being initially impressed by its beautiful blue colour I was also impressed by its luxurious list of ingredients, the main of which is sea salt. Most beauty addicts out there will know that sea salt is one of the most effective exfoliators that Mother Nature provided us with. These fine crystals are naturally stimulating and invigorating for the skin and are an effective way to remove dead skin, whilst also cleansing and softening the skin. Fine sea salt is also a great ingredient to have in soap due to it being a natural antiseptic and astringent. Already being a fan of sea salt based scrubs I was very excited about this product, fully expecting that it would leave me feeling awake, alive, refreshed and with soft skin too.
This salty scrub is scented with jasmine flower infusion, tropical mimosa blossom and fresh lemon juice but I feel that the most overwhelming smell is the citrus lemon and my nose fails to pick up on any floral undertones. First I felt that the smell is very much unisex and perfect for those who love nothing more than a zingy scent to wake them up in the morning. Whilst I personally prefer a more sweetly scented floral product, such as their Yummy Yummy Yummy shower wash, I didn't let its smell deter my excitement as I love to try new things.
Unfortunately, however, my excitement soon fizzled away as it turned out to be nothing special to use. My first problem arose from simply trying to get the scrub out of the bottle and on to my shower puff; the idea is you give it a little shake and simply squeeze it out of the nozzle. In practice however I stood there for ages shaking and squeezing before finally giving in and opting instead to unscrew the top; hardly a stress free start to a 'refreshing shower.' The scrubby little bits of salt are very fine but still somehow they still manage to clog the nozzle, a problem that only worsens with time. Despite those fine particles of salt, the gel itself is actually very runny and watery, even after a shake, and as a result it doesn't feel particularly luxurious to use.
I also found that to get the product to lather effectively a lot needs to be used and to lather at all needs the definite assistance of a good rough shower puff. The fact that a lot needs to be used each shower is particularly distressing given the price too; I don't mind splashing out on good products but if I'm going to pay £9.80 for a shower product I'd like to be left feeling pampered.
One of the things I consistently love about Lush is the strong long lasting smell of their products but far from scenting my skin I found that its citrusy smell evaporated the instant it left the bottle. Even when covered in it I failed to smell a thing. I suppose this is advantageous in that any perfume can be worn with it, but still for me disappointing.
And the results .... well I felt no more exfoliated and fresh than I would using my ordinary moisturising shower wash. I feel clean every time I use this and it doesn't aggravate my slightly sensitive skin, so it is in no way a disastrous product but certainly nothing to rave about. Being a fan of salt based exfoliators I was deeply disappointed and underwhelmed, the tiny flecks of salt whilst being noticeable weren't very scrubby, and with no particular smell during use I won't be buying this again. To me it seems unsure of its identity and is trying to be both a gel and a scrub at the same time but unfortunately in doing so it misses both markets entirely.
Like all Lush shower gels the product can be bought in three different sizes:
100g - £2.91
250g - £5.86
500g - £9.80
***Suitable for Vegans ***