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veronica115012

veronica115012
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Member since: 29.09.2009

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    • Lightload Beach Towels / Camping / 41 Readings / 40 Ratings
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      04.10.2011 14:14
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      Great towel for backpackers

      ----- Lightload Beach Towel - what is this? -----

      When I lost my soft fibre towel on a recent trip abroad, I had to look for a replacement. I searched for a lightweight travel towel on Amazon website and found the Lightload Beach Towel - "the only beach towel that fits in your pocket". Unbelievably, this is true when you first see the product, although unfolded it measures 90cmx150cm. The towel is supposed to be designed mainly for backpackers with very limited amount of space and who want an ultra light towel (it weighs only 114 grams!) The manufacturer, an Australian company called Dyna-E International, markets this as the only beach towel that fits in your pocket and also a survival tool as it serves many other purposes: sarong, first aid supplement, fire starter, insulator, etc.

      This all sounded too good to be true, but after reading the reviews and ratings (on Amazon it has 4.4 out of 5 stars) I decided to buy it (currently at £7.95). I also, just in case, ordered a soft fibre towel.
      The towel arrived packed in a disc of 9.5cm diameter with not much packaging - just a little foil around it and a round label on top and bottom with information. The package was inside a transparent foil for additional protection against dirt and moisture. It is apparently waterproof packaging, so should stay dry and clean until you decide to use the product. The towels come in various colours, but unfortunately, you cannot choose the colour yourself and they are randomly allocated. My towel is orange and in the middle of it there's a design of several yellow, green and orange squares with the Lightload Towels company logo in the centre of the square design.


      ----- My experience -----

      When the towel arrives, it is extremely squashed and stiff, shaped into a tiny round packet. The manufacturer advises to add water to the towel in order to unwrap it. Alternatively, you can just start wiping water off yourself, which will make the towel moist and softer. Then you can unfold it completely and dry yourself as normal. I tried doing the latter but the towel comes very compressed and it is extremely difficult to unfold it with just the moisture from the body. I think it took me about 5 minutes to completely unfold it and I had to use some force (although not too much as I was worried I would tear the towel). For that reason, if this is bought to be used in backpacking, I would recommend you use this at home first (or at least wet and unfold), as surely, you wouldn't want to spend your holiday time trying to unfold the towel. You could also dip it in water, let it soak a bit, then wring out and you're good to go.

      After the initial little struggle with the product, I was positively surprised, as the towel it a proper beach towel size, has good thickness to it and is not at all transparent (I was afraid it would be), given the size and weight of it. The texture is slightly paper-like and porous. The design might not be the best in the world and also the towel is not exactly an even rectangle, but I don't think it is bad either.
      I used it to dry my body and hair and must say that it is much more absorbent that a microfiber or a soft fibre towel. Apparently, it can soak up 10x as much moisture as a cotton towel. It is quite pleasant to use once slightly damp.
      It dries very fast and once dry, it becomes stiff, a little bit like paper table cloth. Needless to say, after expanding the towel, you can never get it back to the original size, but it is still pretty small. Dry folded towel takes slightly less space than a soft fibre towel I own, but it beats the soft towel on weight. The towel feels strong and is re-usable.

      The product is made of 100% viscose derived from plants. It is recommended to wash it by hand, but you can use a washing machine in delicates cycle too. I decided to wash mine in a washing machine at 30C, because I thought it would be more hygienic than hand washing. I wasn't sure how the towel would react to this treatment, but it seemed fine when I took it out of the machine. Unfortunately, the second time I washed it, I made a mistake of putting it into a tumble dryer at high heat with my other washing. After an hour, the towel came out fluffy and uneven, and I knew it wouldn't be the same again. It was my fault for drying it in a tumble dryer, although I knew it would dry at a room temperature within half an hour. I have ruined it!
      I haven't thrown the towel away, because it is still usable, but the space it takes now is about the same as a large soft fibre towel. With the advantage that soft towel has now over my Lightload towel is that's got an antibacterial barrier and still holds its shape. Lightload towel after a tumble dryer treatment looks unsightly and I would be embarrassed to carry it with me in this state.


      ----- Other uses -----

      Although I have only used this product as a towel, there are many other uses for it. Depending on the size of your towel, you could use it as: washcloth, fire starter, diaper, water/coffee filter, first aid supplement, face mask (to help with breathing rather than a beauty mask ), scarf or bandanna. The coloured square design on the towel can be used as a game board for chess. You can probably find several other uses for this product - these are just examples mentioned by the manufacturer. You can always cut a bigger towel into several pieces or buy various sizes.

      The product I am reviewing here is a beach towel, but these are available in smaller sizes too - 30x30 cm or 30x60 cm and these smaller towels are sold as multipacks.


      ----- Recommended? -----

      In spite of what happened to my towel, I would recommend this product to my friends. It has the benefit of being the size of a beach towel, but taking less space and weighing less. If you're backpacking or have limited space/weight allowance for any other reason, this is a great solution. Just make sure to wash it in low temperatures and never put it in a tumble dryer. It dries fast enough in open air and will have a longer lifetime. The towel is big enough to be used as a sarong and has many other uses, especially handy if you're going backpacking for a long time and need to limit the amount of stuff taken with you. The disadvantage of this towel is that it is not exceptionally pretty and is not antibacterial (unfortunately, you cannot wash it in high temperatures to kill bacteria). This product is great for campers, hikers, bikers and backpackers.

      You can buy them here: http://www.ultralighttowels.com/ or on www.amazon.co.uk

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      • More +
        03.09.2011 13:27
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        A book that is different

        ----- When God Was a Rabbit -----

        I picked this book as part of a supermarket deal 2 for £7 or £4.99 each. My other choice was a chic lit and I like to have a good balance between holiday/relaxing read and more intelligent read. There wasn't much clue about was the book was about in the blurb at the back, instead you learn it is about brother and sister, their childhood and growing up. The book was written by Sarah Winman and this is her debut novel.


        ----- The Plot -----

        The main character and narrator is Elly. We are told about her life since the moment she was born in 1968, through her growing up, making friends with a somewhat strange character Jenny Penny, bonding with her brother, a glimpse of her parents, the family suddenly becoming rich.

        I found the book very honest and true to life, because it mentions events that can happen in a real life, e.g. grandparents tragically dying, child abuse, parents separating, cancer, kidnapping, homosexuality and heartbreak. Although, to be honest I thought that some of it, for example Elly's abuse by a neighbour, was unnecessary. It might be upsetting for more sensitive readers and it doesn't seem significant enough to bring anything to the story. Of course, I don't think child abuse is insignificant, but the way it was mentioned in the book, it didn't seem to have any effect on the main character and seemed to have only been mentioned in a passing. I would also like to point out that even the most tragic events described in this book are described in a very subtle and light-hearted way, so shouldn't bother most readers.


        ----- My Opinion -----

        I enjoyed reading about the bond that formed between Elly and her big brother Joe and this part of the plot seems to be what is holding the whole book together. They would support each other throughout their lives and form a strong friendship. There are several supporting characters here that were well developed: Elly's parents (I liked their characterisation), Elly's aunt Nancy, best friend Jenny Penny with her promiscuous mum, Joe's boyfriend Charlie. Some of the other characters were not memorable enough and I won't be mentioning them by name.

        I really liked the fact that the author tried to keep things real, not polished and perfect for the sake of fiction. Also, the author includes real life events in the story, for example deaths of Martin Luther King and J F Kennedy, through to events that happened in the last year in the book, 2002. It makes the story more believable.

        On the other hand, we also have a few 'supernatural' events like Elly's rabbit God talking, slightly psychic best friend. In the bonus material at the end of the book, the author explains that this represents the vivid imagination of children at a very your age as Elly's, but when I was reading the book it didn't quite fit to have so believable story with magical events happening at the same time.
        Another thing that I didn't like very much was the style of narration from Elly in the first part of the book, when she is very little. The style of narration was very grown up and I felt it didn't fit a 4-8 year old character. I thought the author could have made more effort in trying to make Elly speak and think like a child - it would make the story more believable. Unfortunately, this has spoiled the book for me a little and prevented me from getting into the story completely.

        The book is divided into two parts, the first part relates to Elly's childhood and the second is her adulthood (early thirties). We don't get to learn the in between, but maybe because this time is boring and not worth mentioning. As Elly says in the book, these two parts of her life are more like bookends that hold together the years she doesn't bother to remember, years when her best friend was not present. The second part of the book brings another let down for me. Because the reader is so abruptly transferred from Elly's childhood to her adulthood it is very difficult to adjust, especially that the style of narrating hasn't changed at all. I found it hard to stop thinking about Elly as a child and spent several pages trying to adjust and realise in my mind that this was an adult woman talking.

        Fortunately, in this part we aren't introduced to new characters. I am glad the author chose to keep only the characters from the first part of the book and let the reader learn what happened to them. In this part we are re-introduced to Jenny Penny, Elly's lost childhood friend. Their friendship seems strong still and we learn about an unexpected life events that affected Jenny Penny.

        I would have preferred to read about Elly's life as a continuous one story, rather than split in two halves. It would probably make the book a little longer, but wouldn't disrupt the flow of the story so much. I found it uncomfortable being dropped into the second part of the book, not really knowing what happened in between. The author doesn't really reveal much of this in the second part and the reader is left with a gap in the story. I think the second part of the book, left the story down somewhat.

        The story is narrated in a rather light-hearted way, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but never too serious. The chapters are not numbered, but are good length. The book is divided in two parts. This isn't a gripping book with lots of twists and turns, but rather a book that will take slower to read, because you will stop from time to time to think. The action can be a bit slow at times.


        ----- Bonus Material ----

        There is some bonus material included at the end of the book, which some might find useful: authors note, inspiration for writing the book, Sarah Winman's life as a writer and questions for the reading group. I found the first two items - author's note and inspiration, where interesting and helped me better understand what Sarah Winman was trying to say through this story and why she chose to write it this way.


        ----- Recommendation -----

        I think various readers might have different opinions about this book. When I started reading, I had several people commenting that this is a great book and it was also a bestseller, so obviously is popular with some readers.

        To me, it was just ok, because of many things I mentioned earlier that spoilt the book. If you want to read a book that is different, I would definitely recommend reading When God Was a Rabbit and making your own mind about it. I personally wouldn't read this book again (I don't re-read most books), but I don't regret I read it. Just a little word of caution, if you are very sensitive to any events mentioned above or if you experienced tragic accidents or illnesses in the family, this might bring up sad memories. There is also quite a bit of swearing in the second part of the book and a graphic sex description.


        -----------------------------------
        Author: Sarah Winman
        Paperback, 324 pages
        Price: from £3.99 (on Amazon)
        Published by Headline Publishing Group
        ISBN 978-0-7553-7930-9

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        • More +
          23.08.2011 22:51
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          Good romantic read

          I bought this book about 3 months ago in Sainsbury's as I needed an easy to read book to relax with and found many novels on offer 2 for £7 or £4.99 each.


          ----- Plot -----

          'It happened in Paris' was written by Molly Hopkins, an author I've never heard about, and is about Evie, a mid-twenties girl who likes expensive lifestyle, drinks too much and is constantly concerned about the size of her waist. Evie has just been made redundant from work. Unfortunately, even her job at an advertising agency didn't afford her the lifestyle she lives and Evie ends up with a debt of £9,000. Trying to find money to live, she thinks about changing her career and becomes a tour guide in Paris. Not that she has any qualifications to do it - she doesn't even know a thing about Paris, but she just skilfully enhances her CV and has got enough luck that no one questions her experience...

          Evie's first tour doesn't start well as she's so excited that she forgets her handbag with all the essentials, including passport. Her luck changes though when she finally meets her handsome coach driver Rob. How is Evie's live going to develop with this sexy driver at her side and wine in abundance?


          ----- My opinion -----

          I really enjoyed this book for its light-heartedness. It was very entertaining reading about Evie and her adventures. She was creative and believable that she could lie herself out of almost any situation. I found this book very funny (I burst out laughing out loud a few times) and this is mainly because the main character was written very well. From time to time, Evie's housemate comes into the picture and it brightens up the story. Lulu is a caricature of a nurse, who also likes alcohol a bit too much and falls out of love as quickly as she falls in love, depending on the wealth of the guy she meets. There are also a few other supporting characters and they complement the story well.

          As much as I loved reading about Evie and Lulu, I found Rob's character very bland. He was presented as this perfect boyfriend and 'sex machine' at the same time - all very boring and would never happen in real life. Rob was in my opinion a disappointing character (or no character at all!), which spoiled the book a little bit.

          The pace of this book was very appropriate - made me want to keep reading to find out what happened, but it wasn't so gripping that I couldn't put the book down. The chapters (56 in total) were all numbered and varied in length, but they weren't too long. The style of writing was light-hearted and made the book very suitable for times when you just want to relax, rather than analyse complex storyline.

          There is a sequel to this book called 'It happened in Venice', but I don't think I'll bother reading it. I think it wouldn't bring anything new to the whole story, as for me that would be too much forced.


          ----- Recommended? -----

          I would definitely recommend this book for holidays or other times when you just want to read a chic lit. There is quite a lot of reference to sex and drinking, so if this is not what you want to read about, then better choose something else.

          --------------------------------

          Author: Molly Hopkins
          Paperback, 458 pages
          Price: from £4.33 (on Amazon)
          Published by Sphere 2011
          ISBN 978-0-7515-4459-6

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          19.08.2011 21:46
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          Best camera I've ever had

          ----- Background info -----

          It always takes me a while to decide on any electronic device, because I don't consider myself an expert in this field, and for 50 positive reviews about something you always get 50 negative ones, which makes the decision even more difficult. I had been toying with the idea of buying a digital camera for months, so when my sister treated herself to a new laptop for Christmas, I decided enough is enough and spent the whole day researching a choosing a camera for myself.

          I settled for this Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 model in Violet, which is a nice colour, but not a bright very girly violet - it's more toned down and stylish Aubergine colour in my opinion. I had initially placed an order on Amazon, where at £146 I paid about £30 more for the violet colour. The other colours were (starting from cheapest): black, silver and blue. To my disappointment, after 6 weeks of waiting I was told Amazon were out of stock of this colour and model, so I turned to John Lewis and paid £169.5 for exact same product.

          The camera comes with a 1-year Panasonic warranty, which I think is not a long time for an electronic device, but I guess most manufacturers nowadays give quite short warranties on their products. John Lewis offered extended warranties for up to 3 years at additional cost, but I didn't opt for these.


          ----- What comes in a box? -----

          * Camera (obviously), no camera case (this can be purchased separately)
          * CD-ROM (PhOTOfunSTUDIO 5.0 and QuickTime software included)
          * Basic operating instructions
          * Accessories: battery, battery charger (battery case and AC lead), USB connector, AV cable (so you can connect the camera directly to TV set), hand strap
          * Warranty certificate


          ----- My experience -----

          I am absolutely delighted with this camera. The pictures come out sharp, clear and in great colours. I don't remember any time that I had to delete a picture because it was blurred, dark or with weird colours. I usually take pictures during sporting events and at parties, so mostly it is fast moving objects and dark lighting. This camera takes great quality photos no matter what lighting you have, whether the object is close or far or whether it moves or not.

          I have been recently taking a lot of photos of fast moving people as I am a fan and practitioner of capoeira (Afro-Brazilian martial art, for those of you that are curious). All the pictures turn out clear with no smudged or blurry legs or arms.
          The same is for the videos - they are what HD movies should be like. They all come out clean with no pauses in pictures. Fast movements are also clear, not blurred, and the sound is pretty good. The only downside with the videos is that you cannot change the zoom setting while you are filming - it is ok to zoom in or out before clicking the record button, but not while the video is being recorded. It is not a major drawback, but worth mentioning. I have found the same minus in all the cameras I used before, so it is not a surprise or a big issue to me.

          With other cameras I noticed that pictures and videos can look good when you look at them in the camera, but as soon as this is enlarged and the picture or video gets transferred to the laptop, you find that the quality is not so good. It is different with this camera - pictures and videos are great quality on a small and large scale. This is what I have always been looking for.

          I usually use this camera with iA (intelligent auto) mode on as it makes the idea of point and shoot just that. It detects hand shake, object movement, face shape and scene conditions to adjust its settings for a perfect shot. You can, of course, choose some settings on your own. For example, there are 20 scene modes to choose from, you can also change white balance, autofocus mode and ISO sensitivity. I find that iA mode is the easiest way to use this camera and the pictures always turn out great.

          Apart of the fantastic quality photos and videos, I am impressed with the longevity of the battery. All my previous cameras had this negative that the battery wouldn't last long. My previous Pentax Optio 50 camera used 2xAA batteries and they would be gone in a few hours. Also, very often the battery would get eaten while the pictures where being transferred from camera to laptop or deleted. So imagine my surprise and delight when I found this battery to last about a week with heavy use for pictures and videos (Panasonic give approximate number of 300 pictures or 150 minutes of recording time for this camera). Downloading the contents to the laptop and deleting pictures doesn't use much battery either. With my normal use, i.e. taking pictures randomly when there is occasion, this will last months. How good is that?!

          Transferring photos from the camera to laptop is dead easy - just use the USB connector and link the camera with laptop, then choose PC mode on the camera screen and the pictures appear on your computer screen so you can choose which ones you want to download. You can create various folders for the photos at the same time, delete them, etc. There is no software that you need to install, no CD to use - just simple downloading straight from the camera. Or you can use software included with the camera if you want to be able to edit photos, make slide-shows etc. The images don't take long to download.

          The camera doesn't come with much memory (40 MB), so you need to buy a memory card. There are various formats supported: SD, SDHC and SDXC and you could get one that stores up to 64 GB (only for SDXC cards).
          I've had this camera now for about 6 months and I haven't had any problems with it yet (touch wood!), even though I dropped it on the ground twice... I did scratch slightly, because it fell onto pavement, but there were no issues with the functionality at all.


          ----- Recommended? -----
          As you can see from my review, I am very happy with this purchase and would recommend Lumix FS30 to my friends. It looks stylish, it is small enough to carry with me and delivers great photos without any effort on my part. If my camera ever gets lost or damaged, I will almost certainly try to buy the same model again.


          ----- Main features -----

          * 14.1 Megapixel
          * 8x optical zoom, 4x digital zoom
          * iA (Intelligent Auto) mode that makes all pictures turn out great without any manual setting
          * Mega OIS. Lens-shift stabilizations
          * HD video recording
          * Digital red-eye correction, face detection
          * ISO sensitivity up to 6400
          * 28mm wide-angle Leica DC Vario lens
          * Dimensions: 100.0 x 56.5 x 27.8 mm (3.9 x 2.3 x 1.1 in)
          * Weight: 138g (without battery)

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          • More +
            06.08.2011 14:31
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            Shame but it is not a good face wash

            I was so impressed with the exfoliating scrub that I bought previously from Green People, that as soon as my face wash got low, I decided to try one from Green People.

            I ordered this Foaming Face Wash from Feelunique website for £8.99 for a 100ml bottle. This is a foaming wash that is designed to prevent spots. When I bought this, I didn't know it had antibacterial properties and it was neither something I was looking for personally as I don't have problems with spots. When the product arrived, I was a bit worried as normally blemish preventing products are quite strong and dry out the skin, but this one is supposed to be gentle and is based on natural ingredients, so eventually I decided not to return it.


            ----- Basic information -----

            The wash is a thin liquid in a bottle with a pump. In order to use it, you need to shake the liquid and then press the pump to release the foam, then apply the foam to moistened skin, massage gently and rinse off. In my experience, I need two pushes of the pump in order to cover my face with the product.

            The bottle doesn't really have anything special about it. It is a non-transparent, quite plain-looking white bottle. Although it is not transparent, you can still check how much of the liquid is left in the bottle by looking at it against a window or light bulb.
            The wash is suitable for all types of skin and is designed for daily use. This is a soap-free anti-blemish cleanser for daily use and all skin types. It is supposed to deeply clean the skin from pollutants and impurities, prevent spots, remove make up and tone the skin.


            ----- Smell & main ingredients -----

            I was complaining a lot after buying the exfoliating scrub from Green People that the smell is unpleasant. Before buying the face wash I read the ingredients list to check for any 'offending' smells, but found nothing worrying. The main ingredients were green tea, witch hazel & rose geranium.

            How surprised I was after using the face wash for the first time - the smell was strong and frankly speaking disgusting. I really found no pleasure in using this product. I could also clearly distinguish sage. I have no problem with sage in my food, but don't want to smell it in my cosmetics.
            Other notable ingredients: aloe, chamomile, larch tree extract & bergamot oil. All ingredients are fairly traded and 96.49% organic. The product is vegan friendly, not tested on animals and contains no allergens like parabens, lanolin, alcohol, PEG's, phthalates or other harsh additives.


            ----- Does it work? -----

            The face wash is very delicate and the foam feels pleasantly soft on the skin. Unfortunately, I noticed it doesn't clear my skin from excess sebum and doesn't work well at removing make up from the skin. In terms of sensitivity factor - I haven't noticed any stinging in my eyes or excessively dry skin after using this product. I don't feel that my skin is particularly well cleaned and I often have to wash it again, just to be able to remove dirt at the end of the day.

            However, I noticed that my skin is a bit itchy and surprisingly... from time to time I notice a spot on my skin. This did not happen when I was using my old product.


            ----- Longevity -----

            Unfortunately, this is another negative point of this product - it doesn't last very long. I think a lot of the liquid is required to form the foam and the 100ml bottle only lasted for 3 months, and I haven't been using it every day. For some of you, this will be ok, but for me is not enough as my previous face wash (150ml) lasted more than 6 months with everyday use.


            ----- Any good points? -----

            I have started with the negatives, but this face wash also has some good points.
            As mentioned before, all ingredients are natural and fairly traded, mostly organic. The packaging is recyclable and non air-freighted. The product or its ingredients have not been tested on animals so the face wash is suitable for vegans and vegetarians. There are also no nasty ingredients involved - no alcohol, parabens, artificial perfumes, phthalates or other nasty stuff that some cosmetic companies add to their products.


            ----- Recommendation? -----

            Although the product is organic, natural and not tested on animals, this is not enough to make me like it. The most important is whether a product works or not, and for me this has been almost a disaster. I don't like the smell, I don't think the product is effective, it doesn't last long and is expensive for what you get. I suspect my skin doesn't like some of the ingredients used, which is why it itches.

            I won't buy this face wash again and wouldn't recommend it to a friend either.

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            16.07.2011 12:13
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            Not a triller as the blurb on the back suggests, but a thought provoking story about immigration

            ----- Background -----

            'Hearts and Minds' by Amanda Craig is one of three books that I randomly bought from Amazon (£4.19), without even checking what it was about first. The cover on my copy is different from the one in Dooyoo catalogue, with black background and the title written with different coloured letters.

            The story begins with a description of a female body being dumped in a pond and I was glad that I bought a thriller as it is not normally my first choice when buying books.

            'Hearts and Minds' initially seems like a collection of five different storylines, although the reader has a feeling that somehow they might be connected and that the earlier description of a woman's dead body might have something to do with all of them.


            ----- Main characters -----

            We are introduced to the main characters in the book Polly, Katie, Ian, Ana and Job.

            * Polly is a divorced mother of two. Her ex-husband moved out to United States and her new partner spends most of the time in Hollywood. Polly needs help with raising her two children, especially now that she has gone back to work as a lawyer, defending immigrants from deportation in court. Polly's au pair, Irina, who herself was an illegal immigrant from Russia, had recently disappeared without a word and Polly is finding it hard to tackle work and looking after her children.

            * Katie has just come out of a long relationship. After finding out that her fiancé cheated on her with her best friend, she decided to literally leave the past behind. She decided to move from New York to London and start her life afresh.

            * Ana is an illegal immigrant 15-year old girl from Ukraine. She fled her country in attempt to find work as a waitress in London and provide for her family back in Ukraine; however after arriving into UK found that she had been sold to work as a prostitute. I would like to point out here that there are several descriptions of rape and violence in this plot, so this will not be for you if you're easily offended.

            * Ian came to UK from South Africa in order to start a new life. In South Africa he lived and worked with his mother and stepfather, but now he wants to become more independent and make something of himself. He also wants to meet his native father who lives in London and whom Ian has never seen before.

            * Job fled Zimbabwe in order to escape torture and persecution from the government. He is working very hard to provide for his wife and sister back home, eventually hoping they will have enough money to escape as well. His main job is driving a cab, but he also works part time at a car wash. He feels very lonely without his family, with little money to survive on and no friends. He often experiences racism while living in London.


            ----- My opinion -----

            The story takes place in London, which I think was a great choice of location for the book. London is such a big and cosmopolitan city and for all foreigners who think about starting a new life seems like an ideal place, where everything is possible. I am sure that for many British people London is a place to be as well.
            In the book London is almost a separate character that has good and bad sides. It is such a welcoming and multicultural city, yet it can also be cold, unpleasant and harsh. Each of the main characters decided to live in London because of the potential career opportunities, money making, multiculturalism and freedom. However, each of them finds out that every place has its good and bad features. In spite of living next to 12 million people, you can still be lonely, have no friends and just be an unnoticed statistic.

            The least interesting storyline for me was that of Katie and Rambler magazine. I found the supporting characters, dialogues and descriptions really boring and found those chapters difficult to get through. Ana's plot was interesting, but also difficult, especially at the beginning with descriptions of rape and violence.
            Apart from introducing an interesting story, the book touches on the social subjects that have recently become popular discussion topics - issues of immigration (both legal and illegal), cultural differences, racism and divides between various 'classes' of people. It focuses on portraying immigrants as just human beings who have problems, worries and sometimes stray as well. The author challenges the view by many people that immigrants are just here to sponge off the benefits and that the law treats them better than local people. The reality is that most just try to live a better life than in their native country and are prepared to work hard to achieve something, if only they are allowed to.

            At the beginning I thought that the author tries to present immigrants in a good light, compared to the natives. Amanda Craig cleverly introduced stereotypes about Poles, Russians, Pakistanis, Nigerians and other nations. I initially thought that the author was trying to say most British people think of immigrants as lazy, thieves, benefit spongers, uneducated and not speaking English. However, while I was reading it made me think whether were are not all a little bit prejudiced? The prejudices in the book are not only of British people towards immigrants. Some immigrants themselves are hostile to one another - claiming one nation or religion is better than another. There are immigrants in Britain that are against immigration themselves, but they drawing the line at their own feet only because they were lucky to get here first. By the time I finished the book, I thought that the author did not try to preach, but presented a balanced view in which there is no difference - there are decent people as well as not so decent in any nation.

            In terms of ease of reading, the book starts quite slow with Polly's storyline. After that the chapters change between the main character's stories. There are no two chapters next to each other about the same character. On one hand, this slows down the whole story and is somewhat distracting. On the other hand, it allowed me to get to know each of the characters in more depth and therefore see their point of view and empathize with them. Although each of those plots seemed unrelated at the beginning, when I got further into the book I started noticing some connections in terms of facts and characters appearing in the plot.

            I liked the fact that all characters, major and supporting, were there for a reason, that seemingly unimportant facts described in the book served a purpose later on. The more I got into reading, the more I could link the facts, characters and appreciate the way the author cleverly used them to link the lives of people from various ways of life. When I think of it, this is like the real life - from time to time we all realise that this is a small world we live in now that so many people travel.

            The pace within each chapter itself was just right and made me want to read on and find out what was happening next. Personally, I get frustrated when reading a book with a long chapter, sometimes I get my eyes get really tired and I have to stop in the middle of the chapter, then come back to the book and have to go back a few pages to remind myself where I was in the story. The length of 'Heart and Mind' chapters was just a few pages, so I could pace my reading easily.

            The chapters have just the right length. Not too long, so you cannot take a break from reading without getting lost when you eventually pick up the book again. They are also not too short so there's enough of the story in the chapter to keep the pace up and keep the reader interested. The chapters are numbered and titled, which makes it easier for the reader to keep track of what is happening in the book.


            ----- Final thoughts -----

            Before I bought the book, I didn't know what it was about other than how it began - with a discovery of a young woman's body. I thought this was a thriller but in fact this book was not really about the murder but about the socio-cultural aspect of modern life. It made me think about the reality of today's multicultural world. We all travel, go to other countries, learn about other cultures, live in multicultural cities or countries, but there is still a lot of prejudice around and some people still don't accept it if someone is different.

            The issue of immigration and being different is close to my heart as I am an immigrant myself. I could easily relate to various characters in the book, the situations they were in and their feelings as I have experienced some of them myself.

            I would highly recommend this book as it is not only moving but it also makes the reader think about their own life, their attitudes and gives an interesting view on our modern society and cultural differences.

            Author: Amanda Craig
            Paperback, 422 pages
            Price: £4.19 (on Amazon)
            Published by Abacus 2010
            ISBN 978-0349115870

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            • Sony Ericsson Vivaz / Mobile Phone / 23 Readings / 23 Ratings
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              05.07.2011 13:41
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              Great if you want a small and stylish smartphone

              ----- Background -----

              I got this phone over a year ago after a lot of searching for my first ever smart phone. What attracted me to Sony Ericsson Vivaz (also known as U5i or Kurara) were its stylish slim line look and a promise that it can record videos in high definition. I had never before had a Sony Ericsson phone or accessed the internet on a mobile, so it was all very exciting for me.

              This phone costs up to £340 for the handset only, but luckily my dad's contract with Vodafone was nearing the end and he got it for me for free. I use my mobiles on pay as you go basis, so forking out over 300 pounds would prevent me from getting this phone on my own.


              ----- Design -----

              My Vivaz is in Venus Ruby colour, which is not really red, but more like fuchsia. Other available colours are Moon Silver, Galaxy Blue, and Cosmic Black.

              The looks of this phone really attracted me to it, especially the stylish design, small size and a big touch screen that covers almost the whole surface of this phone. I find the touch screen responsive and easy to use; the size is great too. The back, top and bottom of Vivaz are slightly curved, which makes it fit perfectly into the palm of my hand. The phone is so thin, that sometimes it gets lost in my small handbag.

              Because this is a touch phone, there aren't many buttons on the handset. On the top of the phone there is an on/off button, which also can be used to lock the handset. I am not sure whether the position of this button has been well thought out. When I first got the phone, I used to switch it off by mistake because the button is positioned where my index finger normally sits while I hold my Vivaz. There are only three buttons on the front panel of this phone - call, end and menu button. The side has only zoom/volume, video and camera buttons. Even though I feel the front panel is relatively sturdy, the side is rather flimsy and it takes a bit of force to take a picture or video for example.


              ----- What's in the box? -----

              Of course the phone is the main thing you find in the box. Also included are:

              * USB to micro USB cable so you can connect the phone to your PC
              * Separate plug that can be connected to the USB cable when you want to charge the phone
              * Micro SD card with capacity of 8GB
              * Memory card adaptor for transferring data from your mini SD card to your PC
              * Headphones with built-in microphone
              * Stylus in a matching Venus Ruby colour
              * Very short manual and some leaflets with warnings

              I personally never use the stylus or headphones as I don't have any need to them. The headphones are simple plastic ones with no sponge ear buds and the stylus is just far less comfortable to use than fingers.


              ----- Messaging -----

              The phone gives you an option to view messages in a standard layout or you can view the messages in a conversations layout (something that is new to me in a mobile phone). There is a choice of setting up and sending/receiving email messages. I rarely use this option on my personal mobile - Vivaz downloads all the messages from my email, including spam and I still haven't figured out how to change this.

              Writing a message is easy and you can switch between various input modes: handwriting, mini QWERTY, full QWERTY and alphanumeric keyboard. I tried all of these options but find that standard alphanumeric keyboard is what I feel most comfortable with. The handwriting option works but is very difficult to write properly with an index finger on a mobile phone screen and I can't be bothered to carry the stylus with me all the time (using stylus is not comfortable for me either). The QWERTY keyboards take me longer to write a message, maybe because I am not used to them in a mobile phone.

              The alphanumeric option with predictive text is the easiest way of writing a text but the predictive text is not very good. I found that there are several basic (in my opinion) words or symbols that are not included, eg. a smiley face. However, it is easy to add words on to the library of the phone.


              ----- Internet -----

              I don't have much to say about it as I only occasionally connect to the Internet from my personal mobile. I find it much easier to connect using my company's Blackberry. However, on the rare occasions that I go online with Vivaz I found the speed of connection satisfactory. However, before I even get connected I have to confirm whether I want to connect using Contract WAP or other connection point. This can be quite frustrating as you get these messages every time you want to update your email, connect to the web or for any other reason you would need the online connection.


              ----- Battery life -----

              On an average day it lasts about two days, but beware when using the music player as it gets through the battery with an impressive speed. An hour or two of playing music will finish the battery off. Charging takes about 2.5 hours. You can apparently charge it also by plugging the USB cable to your PC; however, in my experience this doesn't give enough power to charge the phone's battery at all.

              Another issue is physically accessing the battery. Not that you need to access the batter a lot, but it is quite tricky to remove the cover if you need to access the SD card or battery. The whole back cover of the phone has to be removed by inserting a fingernail into a little whole between front and back covers and pulling the cover away. There really is no button to eject the cover and you have to use force. I only did this a few times when I got the phone, but each time hoped that the plastic cover wouldn't brake as it does feel a bit flimsy. I think Sony Ericsson could have found a better solution to this.


              ----- Camera/video -----

              The camera in this phone was what mainly attracted me to this phone. Vivaz camera has 8.1 megapixels and offers options and quality that very closely resemble those of a digital camera. I wanted a phone that is slim but powerful and that can replace a need for a digital camera, because I don't like carrying too many gadgets with me and always find a digital camera too bulky.

              I am very happy with the photos that this camera takes, especially during daytime. The colours are bright and images sharp, so I really cannot complain here. There are also some scene and focus options to choose from: macro, landscape or portrait (among others), which I find very useful. The camera also features smile detection and panorama shoot modes. The settings are quite easy to operate. Also you can add various effects to your photo: sepia/black &white colours, photo frames and various other effects which are nice to have.

              The camera was certainly one of the most important features that I wanted from my new phone. To my disappointment, I found that Vivaz is rubbish at taking photos in low light conditions. They always come out grainy and dark. The camera doesn't have the flash option. It features "light" but I am not sure why it is there as it certainly doesn't help achieving better photos. The light feature can only be switched on in Auto and Portrait scene modes and gives a photo a bluish tinge but doesn't make them less pixelated.

              The video option has a separate quick access button and is shot in 720p high definition. I used this feature several times and think it is of decent quality, although when filming very fast moving objects, some of the images get slightly blurred. For example I tried filming two of my capoeira teachers play, and some of their fast kicks are not sharp at all. The camera shots with 24fps and in most circumstances it would be perfect - the images are sharp and clear.


              ----- Media ------

              I like the MP3 player in this phone. The sound quality is good for a mobile phone and the 8GB on the memory card allows you to store a decent amount of songs on the phone. The volume is very good and when I am at home, in terms of volume, this phone can replace a standalone music player. In the car, with the road noise, it isn't as loud, though but you could still listen to some music if you like. One thing that I don't like about this player is that there are several ways of accessing it, but not all of them show you the same files. I still haven't managed to figure it out, but some of the songs I downloaded using the phone are in a different place, the songs that I recorded with the phone are in a different place and those I downloaded from my PC are somewhere else altogether.

              There is an application to play FM radio, but that can only be accessed with the headphones as they also serve the purpose of antenna. You don't actually need to listen to the radio through the headphones but they need to be connected to the mobile in order for the radio to work. The radio is a nice feature but I rarely use it.


              ----- My user experience in general -----

              One of the very annoying things about this phone is how long it takes to switch off and on. Sometimes, I am wondering whether I have actually pressed the on/off button because it takes so long.
              Another thing related to that is sometimes when locking the phone it is difficult to say whether you actually pressed the button, because it is almost the same level as the top of the screen. So you click it again harder and the phone switches off. It doesn't happen to me so often now, but at the beginning, with less practice this happened quite often and was very frustrating.

              Yet another slightly annoying thing is auto-rotation feature of the screen, but mainly its speed. It can take a second or two for the screen to switch from horizontal to vertical positions (and other way round), which is especially frustrating when you tilt the phone accidentally. Basically what happens is that the screen becomes blank (or shows a background picture) for 1-2 seconds which is annoying if you are trying to read a text message or write one. Although the touch screen is responsive, the phone is quite slow in responding to instructions and switching between various menu options is not impressively fast.

              Talking about menu options, I think the main menu is straightforward and easy to use, but the sub menus have a lot of options and sometimes navigating the menus and finding what you are actually looking for can be tricky and confusing. I remember I had some problems at the beginning and even had to contact Sony Ericsson once because I couldn't find out how to delete an error message from my phone about the SIM card being full. It also took me a while to figure out how to set up a Yahoo mailbox on this phone as it already had 4 mailboxes preset; none of them of any use to me. I might not be a technical geek but I normally can find my way with electronic devices without having to read manuals. This time, however, I searched the manuals, phone menus, Sony Ericsson website and still didn't know how to resolve my issue. I also had problems finding out how to assign a picture and ringtone to a specific contact or to find the logic in functioning of the light feature of the camera.

              I am not the only person that had problems with this phone. My mum has the same phone and she doesn't use half of the phone's features, because she doesn't even know they are there (they are not readily visible). Also, my colleague from work got the same phone a few days after I got mine and she managed to keep it for a week, then returned the phone and got a Blackberry instead. Although I am now used to some of the inconveniences of Vivaz, I still think this phone is not the most intuitive to use - and not only for me.


              ----- Some of the main features -----

              * 8.1 megapixel camera with 4x digital zoom, auto focus, face & smile detection, image stabiliser, touch capture
              * HD video with continuous auto focus
              * Media: music player, FM radio, Track ID, sound recorder
              * Video calling, flight mode
              * Symbian operating system
              * Preloaded apps: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Maps
              * 75MB internal memory, 8GB mini SD card included
              * Standby time: 440 hours, calling time 320 min (up to)
              * 3.2 inches touch screen
              * Size: 107 x 52 x 12.5 mm
              * Weight: 97 grams

              Of course these are not all; please check online for full list of features and to find out more.


              ----- Recommendation -----

              In spite of several annoying things about this phone, I got used to it and I will stick with it probably until it breaks. I really like the fact that it is a smart phone with all the features I can think of using, yet it is much smaller than a Blackberry, iPhone or HTC. It is also much more stylish and the camera (apart from the low light situations) is great - so is the video quality.

              I think if you previously owned a Sony Ericsson phone, you will find it easier to get used to the weird location of options. Also, if you need the above described features in a small device that looks good, this phone is for you. I would advise the less technically minded users and those who are looking for a simple phone to skip this one though and choose something else.

              My final rating is 3 out of 5.

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              • Green People Fruit Scrub / Skin Care / 20 Readings / 20 Ratings
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                23.06.2011 21:43
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                Ethical and does the job - recommended

                Green People Fruit Scrub Exfoliating Stimulating Facial Cream is the latest face scrub that I have been using. I bought it from Feelunique website for £8.55 (50ml) almost a year ago (and still have some left!). You can also buy it from Green People website for about £10.

                I think dooyoo might have used a photo of a different product here or an old version because this scrub is currently packed in a stiff vacuum pump bottle, which makes it easy to dispense the product in just the right quantity. The vacuum packaging means that when you apply the scrub, it is as fresh as it can be. The problem is that it is not possible to use up all of the contents of the packaging as a pump can never reach all of the last bits of the product. It is not possible to squeeze out any amount of the scrub either or cut through the bottle as it is very tough.

                One or two presses of the pump are enough for the whole face. The consistency of the cream is of a face moisturiser; the colour is beige/cream and you can clearly see the apricot seed particles inside.

                The packaging advises that you use the scrub on dry skin, massage for a few seconds and then rinse. I normally use it on wet skin as I find it easier to apply and rinse it off during a shower. It also feels gentler when applied to wet skin. I have also used it on dry skin and the difference is that the effect is slightly harsher - you can really feel the particles scrubbing your face. Although, I feel that even when used on dry skin, this is delicate enough for normal skin, but I would recommend using on wet face if your skin is more sensitive. The recommended usage is once or twice a week.

                This cream is designed to deeply cleanse and revitalise the skin. It removes dead skin cells, softens the skin and is packed with vitamins and various plant oils to improve the condition of your skin. I have to agree as I noticed this effect on my face. My pores don't look so clogged up any more and the skin feels cleaner and softer. The appearance of spots seems to be reduced too. I really do think that this product delivers on its promises.

                In addition to this, all ingredients used to make it are natural, fairly traded and over 90% are organic. The packaging too is as ethical as it can be - it is recyclable and non air-freighted. The scrub is suitable for vegans and vegetarians as it doesn't contain animal-derived ingredients and is not tested on animals (neither are the ingredients). Finally, it is a good thing for allergy sufferers (like me) - there are no parabens, lanolin, artificial perfumes, ethyl alcohol, petrochemicals or phthalates in this or any products made by Green People.

                There are so many ingredients in this scrub and it is refreshing when you read the list on the bottle and don't seem to find any nasties. The scrub contains: spring water, palm oil, sunflower seed oil, apricot seed powder, olive oil, hemp oil, jojoba oil, mandarin oil, bergamot oil, lemon oil, lavender oil, aloe vera, witch hazel, rosemary and marshmallow extract. There are also a few binding ingredients in the product in addition to those mentioned above.

                There is unfortunately one aspect of this scrub that I don't like - the smell. As you can see from the list of ingredients, there are so many distinctive fragrances here that the mixture for me doesn't quite work. I can clearly detect rosemary smell, but to me it doesn't suit a cosmetic/skin care product. I do like rosemary but in food, not necessarily in a face scrub and here it really puts me off.

                I remember when I first tried this product, I had to hold my breath through the application as I really didn't enjoy the fragrance. Now, I got used to the smell, but still wouldn't say it is pleasant.

                I wasn't sure initially whether I would buy this product again and that was purely based on the smell. Now that I am close to finishing my bottle I will definitely buy again knowing that it works and that it is an ethical product.

                If you don't mind rosemary smell in your cosmetics, then I would definitely recommend it. The properties are great, it does what it promises to do and is one of those ethical products that you don't find very often nowadays. I have to knock off half of a star for the smell - 4.5/5.

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              • More +
                03.05.2011 14:57
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                OK body scrub but you'll need moisturiser as well

                ----- About the product -----

                This product is available in a 175g see-through tube which at the time cost me £5.99 (about a year ago). The tube stands on an orange flip-top lid, which is easy to open but at the same time has a very good closure. I often leave the tube in the shower and until now have never found water inside of the lid when I came back to open it. The packaging is recyclable.
                The main idea for this scrub is that it is supposed to combine exfoliation, moisturisation and nourishment, so that you don't have to apply body moisturiser after the shower and as a result save time and money.

                The main active ingredients of this product are butters from 4 types of nuts:
                * Shea - great moisturising ingredient and emollient
                * Cocoa - provides nourishment
                * Mowrah - restores skin flexibility and reduces degeneration of skin cells
                * Kokum - prevents drying of skin

                I hadn't heard about mowrah and kokum nuts before, but I am told by The Sanctuary advertisements that these contain fatty acids, including Omega 9 & 10. Not that it tells me much more, but I know that Omega acid taken internally (e.g. from oily fish) are good for your health and looks, so I assume if I apply them externally they will be good for my skin, too.

                I continue looking at the active ingredients of this product and I find the following:
                * Sweet almond oil - locks in moisture and makes skin soft and supple
                * Vitamin E - as everyone surely knows is an antioxidant
                * Glycerin - captures moisture

                The exfoliating particles in this scrub are fine natural sugar and olive pit granules. Looking at the tube in the shop, I could see the very high concentration of granules inside the tick butter consistency. To be honest, this was my main reason for choosing this product. I prefer my exfoliators thick with plenty of granules, so I can feel they are actually sloughing away dead skin cells. Despite the scrub being of thick consistency, it is easy to squeeze out of the tube.


                ----- Ingredients -----

                If you're not interested, please skip to the next part. Unfortunately The Sanctuary website doesn't list the ingredients so I cannot just attach a link.
                For the people that, like me, want to know what products contain, please see below the ingredients list.

                Glycerin, Paraffinum liquidum, Sucrose, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Butyrospermum parkii, Cetearyl alcohol, Silica, Polysorbate 20, Olea europaea seed powder, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glyceryl stearate, PEG-100 stearate, Cyclohexasiloxane, Parfum, Prunus amygdalus dulcis oil, Tocopheryl acetate, Shorea steoptera butter, Theobroma cacao seed butter, Garcinia indica seed butter, Citric acid, Linalool, Limonene, Benzyl salicylate, Benzyl benzoate, Hexyl cinnamal.


                ----- Directions for use -----

                The scrub is to be applied daily in circular motion either on damp or dry skin, then rinsed off in the shower. If you have sensitive skin, I think it's better not to use it on dry skin. The exfoliator feels much harsher then because it has no moisture to glide on and dry skin creates more friction for the sugar and olive pit granules. I personally prefer to apply it on clean damp skin after I've used shower gel. On contact with water, the waxy butter turns into a milky liquid. I step away from the shower stream a bit, so that the water doesn't rinse off the product, massage in circular motion and then rinse off straight away.


                ----- What about properties from personal experience? -----

                I found that this is a good body scrub, which you can apply according to your skin condition and preference. Either use on dry or damp skin depending on how harsh of an exfoliation you prefer. The product certainly feels more delicate on the skin than I had expected. Looking at the concentration of exfoliating particles, I thought that my skin might be too sensitive for this product, but it is not the case. A lot of the sugar content dissolves in water when applied to damp skin and there is much more of the sugar particles than of the olive pit granules. I have on a few occasions noticed that my skin was a little bit irritated afterwards, but this was only because I was massaging the product into my skin with too much eagerness.
                The scent of this product isn't at all nutty. It is a strong musky smell while in a tube, that is much more delicate when applied to the skin and doesn't linger on my body at all after use.

                Regarding the moisturising properties, I am not so sure. Yes, the scrub certainly feels that it contains butter, but instead of moisturising my skin, I often feel that it creates a thin waxy layer on my body which on occasion I can tolerate, but I wouldn't say that this is something I find extremely pleasurable. I'm pretty sure this is due to its glycerin and paraffinum content, ingredients that I usually try to avoid as I don't like the feeling, but I have to admit, I didn't really look at the ingredients list before buying the product. The good thing is that the waxy layer doesn't transfer to the bathtub so there is no risk of slipping because of this product.

                I tried a few times not to apply moisturiser afterwards and indeed, my skin didn't look dry, but it only lasted about 24 hours or until the next shower. If I go on using this body scrub for two or more days without applying moisturiser, my skin feels tight and uncomfortable.

                I haven't been using this scrub every day because I don't have so much time in the morning for exfoliating plus moisturising. With frequency of usage of about once a week, it would last about a year, but I suspect with daily use all over the body, you will probably finish the tube within a month. The shelf life of this scrub is a standard 12 months so there is hardly any risk of it expiring before it is used up. I still have about 1/4 of this left but only because I stopped using it for a while and now only use it sporadically.

                Finally, The Sanctuary claim that neither their ingredients nor finished products are tested on animals, but they are not on PETA's list of companies that don't. It is not clear whether this product is vegan friendly either.


                ----- Recommendation ------

                I personally will not be purchasing this product again, because of the previously mentioned glycerin content and because I don't think it does a good job at moisturising. I would rather buy a non-moisturising version of this from The Sanctuary and have confidence that it does what it says on the tin.

                If you don't mind the lack of moisturising or like products with glycerin, I am pretty sure you would like this scrub. As a scrub it does a decent job at getting rid of the dead skin cells even if not used on a daily basis. You can buy this in every Boots shop, from Sanctuary Spa or from The Sanctuary website: http://www.thesanctuary.co.uk/

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              • More +
                11.04.2011 13:33
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                Garnier mineral - there are lots of better products out there...

                ---- General information -----

                Garnier Mineral is the new anti-perspirant offering from one the popular high street brands that I trust.

                There are two formats of this product: spray and roll-on and in my review I will be concentrating on the roll-on format. The packaging informs me that this product contains no alcohol or parabens, allows the skin to breathe and provides ultimate protection against sweat and odour for 48 hours. It is enriched with Mineralite, which is a naturally absorbent mineral of volcanic origin that captures moisture and prevents you from sweating. I was even more hooked on this product when I saw Boots offered it half price for £0.89 (current price in Boots is £1).

                There are six different types of this mineral deodorant: Ultra, Invisible, Fresh, Silky, Extracare ad Sensitive. I chose the Ultra version for optimal protection, which seemed like the most powerful of the range. I am currently very active with sport classes during the week and need an antiperspirant that will keep me relatively dry during the class.


                ----- Packaging and appearance -----
                The appearance of the product is quite strange to be honest, but this was also intriguing as no other antiperspirant I've seen on the high street looks like this. It has an hour-glass shape which in the top part is very thin and in the bottom part is round and wide in order to hold the rolling ball. I have to admit that the shape of this antiperspirant makes it easy to grab and apply, however it feels bulky and I prefer not to take it with me when I am travelling.

                The product stands on the lid, which is very easy to open. However, it doesn't work exactly like another screw cap antiperspirant - it has a click lock closing. There are two bits sticking out of the roll-on just where the rolling ball is connected to the rest of the product. When you put the lid on and twist it will get hooked on the sticking bits. It sounds a bit complicated and even Garnier attached a picture on the back of how to close this product, but once you get used to it, it's very easy.

                The inside of the lid is green as is the inside of all of the other variants, and the outside part of the lid is purple (other variants of this antiperspirant have different colours of the outside part of the lid).

                The capacity of this product is 50ml and it can be used for 12 months after opening.


                ----- The smell -----

                What I like most about this antiperspirant is it's its lovely fragrance. It isn't overpowering and is quite distinct and long-lasting but at the same time delicate, flowery and fresh. I can smell it for the whole day after applying to the underarms and sometimes don't even use perfume as I prefer the light smell of this product. If you do use perfume then these might clash a little, so you'll need to consider this before buying.


                ----- My experience (properties and other disappointing facts) -----

                I was glad to read that this product didn't contain alcohol nor parabens. I try to avoid nasty chemicals in the products I use. I also noticed recently that my usual antiperspirant dries out the skin under my arms. This product is very delicate, not drying and not irritating the skin. It dries quickly after application.

                Unfortunately as far as the properties go, it doesn't fare very well. I find that my underarms are sweaty after a few hours and that it leaves white marks on the skin. Another thing that bothers me is the fact that, during application, the plastic bits near the rolling ball that allow the lid to close, scratch my skin which is unpleasant and certainly defeats the purpose for a product that it not supposed to irritate the skin.

                Finally, I keep finding that the rolling ball gets stuck as the liquid on the ball dries up, and I have to use my fingers to get it rolling again. I currently use the antiperspirant once a day after the morning shower and every single time I go back to use it the next day I find the rolling ball dry and stuck again.

                There is a label on the back of the roll-on that provides information about the capacity of this product and says in various languages that it will provide 48h protection. This label is stuck onto another label and after peeling the outside label off, I started reading the ingredients list. What was my surprise, when clearly it stated that various alcohols where used in the manufacture of this product. I feel shocked and deceived.

                Here goes the list:

                Aqua (water), aluminium chlorohydrate, PPG-15 stearyl ether, cetearyl alcohol, ceteareth-33, parfum (fragrance), perlite (mineralite), phenoxyethanol, dimethicone, benzyl alcohol, methylisothiazolinone, hexyl cinnamal.


                ----- Summary -----

                Advantages:
                * No parabens
                * Doesn't dry out the skin
                * Nice fragrance

                Disadvantages:
                * Claims to be alcohol free but there is clearly alcohol in the list of ingredients!
                * Doesn't protect against sweating
                * Scratches the skin during application
                * The ball gets stuck due to antiperspirant drying out
                * Packaging feels big and bulky


                ----- Conclusion -----

                This antiperspirant is absolutely rubbish. I never expected it to work for 48 hours. I take a shower much more often than this. However, I hoped that it would keep my underarms dry at least for the day at work. Unfortunately, it doesn't even do that. Yes, it was cheap on offer but at the regular price I could find a much better deodorant. The packaging is weird and bulky, the bits that stick out of it scratch my skin and the rolling ball keeps getting stuck. In addition, the claims about being alcohol free are clearly not correct. The only good thing about this product is that it is paraben free, delicate and has a nice fragrance. I am afraid this is not enough. Not recommended.

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                • More +
                  13.01.2011 02:27
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                  Brings back Caribbean holiday memories to my home

                  This is a creamy shower product with coconut, yoghurt, crushed almonds & myrrh. It smells delicious and makes you want to eat it. The packaging even says 'Don't drink me'! The smoothie gives a luxurious feeling when in contact with the skin and leaves a subtle coconut fragrance that stays on the skin for a few hours.

                  This product is a real treat for the body and soul. Not everyone has time (or facilities) for a relaxing bath and for me Radox has solved this problem. The shower smoothie lets me forget about the stress of the day and sends me to a beautiful white-sand beach where I sip a piña colada and enjoy the life... Just as advertised!

                  I really like this product for being made of natural ingredients - you can even see coconut bits and fragments of almond skin when you look inside the tub. When I put it in my basket at the shop, I thought I could use it as a shower cream & body scrub in one, but after the first use I realized that the smoothie doesn't have any exfoliating properties and you don't even feel the bits inside when you apply it in the shower.

                  The smoothie doesn't lather at all, something that might not appeal to everyone, but it easily spreads all over the body and provides a sense of cleanliness. It makes the skin feel softer, smoother and pampered.

                  Finally, just a bit about packaging. This Shower Smoothie comes in a 200ml transparent tube with a flip top lid. The tube stands on the lid, so it is very stable and it is flexible enough so that you control how much product you squeeze out each time. The only problem I found with the lid is that the closing isn't very tight. Fortunately, the smoothie doesn't leak out of the tube but it catches water during shower and the next time I open the lid, it is full of cold water.
                  Tropical Tranquility variant has an image of coconut pieces, almonds and myrrh , and it looks delicious. All the usual information, i.e. more about the product, ingredients, warnings and address are on the back.

                  It is not clear whether or not Radox test their products or ingredients on animals.
                  Radox Shower Smoothies are often on half price offer in Boots and in supermarkets. The standard price for this is £2.49 in Boots.

                  If you are not that fond of coconut fragrance, there are other fragrance variants (including berries, honey or even green tea) in the range: Spirit Booster, Soul Soother, Energy Therapy, and Natural Balance.

                  I will definitely buy another tube, maybe a different variant just to try something else, but not at the full price. I would rather wait for an offer and then stock up.

                  Overall, I recommend Radox Shower Smoothies, so go ahead and try those luxurious body washes.

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                  • Revlon 3D Extreme Mascara / Make Up / 23 Readings / 22 Ratings
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                    08.01.2011 03:47
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                    One to miss

                    I have naturally curvy, mid-length lashes and therefore I've never been fussy about a type of mascara or brand - Loreal, Rimmel, Max Factor all worked for me as long as they were black and waterproof. I don't remember ever having a bad experience with mascara, no matter how cheap or expensive it was.

                    This time I was going to try Revlon's 3D Extreme Waterproof Mascara in Blackest Black at £8.99 from Boots (this was a year ago and Boots don't store these anymore, but it can be purchased from online shops for less than £6). The other colours available are Black and Black Brown and you can also buy it in non-waterproof version. I was slightly concerned with the word 'extreme' on the packaging. I didn't want my lashes to look false, just wanted some added length and volume, not a lot to ask. However, I was in a bit of rush and had no time to look through all of the other mascaras in the store. The tube is shiny silver in colour, looked very attractive and nicely fit in my hand, so I popped it into my basket.


                    ----- Packaging -----

                    The mascara is protected with a transparent foil, which you have to peel before the first use, so you are sure no one before used it. There is no outer packaging, something I'm glad to report, as I would consider it unnecessary waste. There isn't a lot of information on the packaging - only the name of the product Revlon 3D Extreme Waterproof Mascara in black lettering, no mention about main benefits or any other information.

                    Only after careful examination at home, I noticed that you have to peel the barcode sticker layer to read a little more about the product - what it does, how to use and ingredients. It's a shame this information is not more visible, because unless you buy the product, you cannot really find out what it is supposed to do or if it is what you are looking for. Also, many people won't even notice that this information is hidden behind the barcode label.
                    Revlon 3D Extreme mascara is very small comparing to a standard size - it contains only 6.2ml and is 10cm (4 inches) long. The length of the wand is only 6 cm but the handle is good size and nicely fits in my hands. Although I suspect someone with bigger hands might find it too small and uncomfortable to use.
                    The wand is short, thick and inflexible. I personally prefer a shorter and thicker wand as it gives me more control and makes it easier to apply mascara accurately - you can precisely apply it to the lashes.

                    The handle of the mascara is texturized, so it is much easier to open it.


                    ----- What does it claim to do? -----

                    After I've peeled the barcode label I found the intended properties of this mascara. Revlon 3D Extreme promises 17x fuller lashes, 50% visibly longer 70% more curvy, also separated lashes. I must say I was very surprised to read this claim - it is so ambitious that even before I applied the first coat I knew no mascara could ever achieve this.

                    Instructions to use are brush through from base to tip of the eyelashes and repeat to achieve greater impact.


                    ----- My first experience with 3D -----

                    I decided to try it out immediately after returning home from Boots. I always do this with new mascara, in case I apply it and look ridiculously fake - not the look I want to portray at work really and this mascara was supposed to be extreme!

                    I peeled the protective foil, opened the mascara and checked the brush. It looked really strange, as if someone had shaven all the bristles on two opposite sides of the brush... They were completely bald! I thought it was a bit weird, but nowadays manufacturers try to invent a wheel and create all sorts of brush shapes. I thought that maybe this was the latest innovation to give extremely long and thick lashes?
                    I brushed my eyelashes once with the non-bald side, but didn't even feel like any bristles were touching the lashes and haven't seen any difference in how they looked. The first coat dried very quickly so I brushed again, this time pressing harder against the lashes, which was a little bit unpleasant, but at least I could feel the brush was touching the lashes. I looked in the mirror and... nothing. I touched the brush with my finger - was there really any mascara on it, maybe it is a faulty one? No, my finger was stained black from the mascara. OK, I thought "third time lucky", and applied another coat to the same lashes once again but this hasn't changed much.

                    My lashes looked almost as if no make-up was applied. There was no added length, slightly ticker lashes but hardly noticeable, and slightly darker coloured. They weren't any more curvy than my natural shape of lashes. Yes, they looked very natural and there were no clumps at all but what is the point? I don't require a lot of length and volume but I expect to see a change without having to check with my face 5 cm from the mirror, especially if the name of the mascara is 3D Extreme!
                    I left the mascara on for the rest of the day to see if there would be any allergic reaction, which occurs sometimes when I use mascara. There wasn't any.
                    I have used this mascara several times since then and the effects are always the same.


                    ----- Other important points -----

                    *Smudges
                    This mascara doesn't smudge even after an intensive workout. I haven't tested it in a swimming pool but I did wash my eyes with the other day when I forgot I had it on and not much happened, just a few dots of mascara around my eyes, but I was rubbing a little. Although 3D Extreme doesn't smudge, I find that it crumbles slightly. It makes no difference whether I touch the lashes during the day, rub my eyes or not, it still crumbles after a few hours and leaves tiny dots on my face. Not that they are much visible, but it still should not happen with good mascara.
                    I forgot a few times to wash it off before going to bed, but not once had the panda eyes in the morning - only a few tiny dots of mascara under my eyes - no different to what I experience after a four hours during the day.

                    *Feel of lashes
                    A good thing about this mascara is that lashes are soft and flexible after application of it, even after 2 or 3 coats of mascara

                    * How long will it last?
                    I am not a heavy user of mascara, so mine was thrown out before I got the chance to use it up. I suspect for someone who applies mascara every day this wouldn't last very long, especially if you are a heavy user of such products, as it contains only 6.2ml of the liquid (most standard mascaras contain 8-12ml). I say, I suspect because, I have never used the whole tube of any mascara before the use by date, so cannot make a comparison. This mascara actually doesn't have thick liquid consistency, but rather that of a very thick cream, so you use more with each application than with different mascara.

                    As with any similar product, it should be used within 6 months of opening.

                    * Application
                    There is nothing inside the mascara to limit the amount of product on the brush when you pull it out of the tube (the tube opening is also quite big), so the brush is all covered in the mascara and you can hardly see individual bristles. In fact, there are visible clumps on the bristles but in my case, they don't transfer onto my lashes. I have read, though, that many people have problems with clumps on eyelashes when using this product. Finally, the tip of the brush is quite chunky and makes it difficult to apply the product to tiny lashes in the eye corners, trying to avoid poking your eye out at the same time or leaving a big black dot of mascara on the skin.

                    * Ease of removing
                    I should better say - difficulty in removing. The mascara doesn't come off easily and you need to have a really good waterproof make up remover to get rid of it. Some rubbing might be needed anyway.


                    ----- Summary -----

                    *Pros
                    Lashes look very natural
                    Doesn't clump (in my case)
                    Dries quickly
                    Easy to handle - good thickness of the handle, good length of the wand
                    Doesn't seem to irritate my eyes

                    *Cons
                    Looks TOO natural - cannot see much difference between no mascara
                    Feels unpleasant during application
                    Shape of applicator brush - cannot reach all lashes
                    Although doesn't smudge, it does crumble a little after a few hours. After a few hours I notice tiny bits of it on my nose and cheeks.
                    Difficult to remove, even with waterproof eye make-up remover
                    Expensive if you take into account brand, size and quality


                    ----- Recommended? Hmm... let me think... no -----

                    In all honesty, this is the worst mascara that I have ever come across. I didn't even know there could be such a difference in the effects and quality, as it have always been more or less happy with any mascara I used. The only good thing about this product is that it doesn't clump and looks natural, but there are many more odd and bad things about it. I keeped using this mascara for almost a year as I hate waste, but eventually bought a new one (of course not another 3D Extreme) and threw this one away.

                    Would I recommend? If you're reading this review I assume you are after an extreme look. This mascara WILL NOT give you that look, so search elsewhere - not recommended.

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                    • More +
                      28.11.2010 00:22
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                      • Reliability

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                      No going back to a manufal toothbrush

                      I have been using electric toothbrushes for some time now but before buying Oral-B Professional Care 1000, I used the cheapest possible replaceable battery-powered versions. I like electric toothbrushes because they clean teeth much better than standard manual brushes and they are easier to use (not that cleaning your teeth is any difficult) - no need to do the rotary movement with the brush as an electric one does it for you.


                      ----- Reason for purchase, cost and availability -----

                      Anyway, I decided to treat myself with a proper rechargeable electric toothbrush that would have some useful features, but wouldn't cost a lot (some models cost more than £150!). Well, I found this Oral-B Professional Care 1000 toothbrush and it ticked all the boxes for me.

                      I bought my toothbrush less than a year ago in Boots, where it was sold on offer at a very attractive price of £29.99. The usual price for it is £59.99 but I noticed Amazon sells this model at £22.99 now. This toothbrush is widely available in electrical shops, supermarket and drug stores.

                      I was glad to grab a bargain, especially that Oral-B is apparently the electric toothbrush brand that is most recommended by UK dentists. The toothbrush is also powered by Braun a German company that I have had previous experience with and know they provide good quality electric products. I couldn't go wrong with this purchase.


                      ----- Packaging and box contents -----

                      The product is packed in a dark blue cardboard box, with a see-through window, which specifies all its features.
                      * Toothbrush (in a plastic case)
                      The toothbrush has a simple design - is mainly white and has a blue rubber panel on the front. The handle is easy to grip thanks to the rubber and several horizontal lines across the front and back of the handle, so it will not slip through wet hands. There is just one button on the handle (power on/off), two lights at the front (charging indicator and low battery indicator) and one at the back (pressure sensor). The toothbrush handle is tick and stable enough that it stands on its own and therefore takes less space in the bathroom.

                      The toothbrush is packed separately in a plastic case, which I use as a travel case. The whole unit is not very heavy and the brush head can be easily attached and removed from the handle. The handle is waterproof so if you happen to dribble a lot during teeth brushing, nothing wrong will happen to the unit. I try to avoid wetting the bottom of the handle, though, as this is the part that connects with the charger.

                      * Spare brush head
                      A Precision Clean brush head is already attached to the handle and there is also a replacement head in the box. You can use any Oral-B brush heads (except for sonic model) with this handle, though, e.g for sensitive teeth, polishing, cleaning inter dental spaces, etc. A replacement Precision Clean brush head 4 pack costs £8.99 in Boots.

                      * Charging unit
                      To my disappointment, the charging unit uses a 2 pin plug. I have a plug adaptor so this wasn't a problem, but not everyone has it at home and the box doesn't clearly specify (except for the picture on the box) that the plug is not UK type. If you have a shaving socket in your bathroom, you can plug the charging unit there but it might not always be possible as the cord is only 102 cm (40 inches) long.

                      The size of the charging stand is small enough that you can carry it easily with you; it doesn't take much space on the shelf as it is only slightly bigger than the handle of the brush, yet it gives the brush all the stability that it needs. You don't need to put the brush back onto its stand all the time as the handle is tick enough to stand on its own (although if you do, don't worry as unit is designed not to overcharge). I usually keep it in my drawer and take out only to charge the brush.

                      * Booklet with instructions in 11 languages
                      This booklet is very thorough and comes complete with handy pictures of the brush unit, brush head, charger and all the features. There is a 30-day money back guarantee there as well.

                      * Option for free additional year warranty (upon registering of the product)
                      As standard, this product comes with a 2-year warranty, but you can extend it to 3 years if you register your toothbrush online. This warranty is not transferrable to other users.

                      * Some negatives
                      For me actually this is a neutral point but some people might find it a negative. If you plan to use more that 1 brush head at the same time, e.g. a daily clean and a polishing head or use 1 handle for multiple people (just changing the heads for each person), there is no storage space that comes with this model. You'll either have to store these in a bathroom cup or just buy a separate handle for each person. There is also no mounting unit, for example if you want to store the toothbrush on a wall. There is no option (as far as I know) to buy it separately either.


                      ----- Features -----

                      So you think an electric toothbrush is just a power version of your standard brush? Well, I thought so, but there are so many features and types that it took me a few weeks to decide which one to go for as I had to find out what these features actually did and how useful they would be for me.

                      * Brush shape
                      This model features a small (1/2 inch diameter) round brush head. The outside layer of bristles is slightly longer than the inside, so when you use the brush it actually cups the tooth from each side giving a more thorough clean. I personally prefer the round single head brush as it rotates giving a better clean and also it is small enough to get to hard to reach areas.

                      * Number of rotations/pulsations per minute
                      This toothbrush combines rotary movements to clean the surface of the teeth and a pulsating/vibrating movement to clean between the teeth. I wanted to find a toothbrush with relatively high speed for both to clean my teeth well, but not so high to damage my teeth enamel. I don't actually know if any of the speeds of toothbrushes available on the market are able to cause damage but I prefer to be cautious - in the end these speeds are really high anyway.

                      For this Professional Care 1000 model they are:
                      Rotations - 8,800 per minute
                      Pulsations - 40,000 per minute

                      This is much more than my previous battery powered electric toothbrush and also more than the cheaper Oral B models (e.g. Professional Care 500 rotates 7,600 and pulsates 20,000 per minute). I could feel the difference from the first use of my new brush.

                      * Brush bristles and brush change indicator
                      Oral B Professional Care 1000 comes with two Precision Clean brush heads. The bristles in them are very thin, but not the softest and my gums and teeth were very sensitive for the first few days, but then went back to normal.

                      The Precision Clean brush head is made of bristles in three colours: longer blue bristles on the outside, short white bristles on the outside and short green bristles on the inside. To be fair, I don't know what the difference is with the green and white bristles, but the blue ones are quite useful. When the brush is new, they are relatively dark blue colour but with time and use they start to fade. When they fade half way, you know it is time to change the brush. I have to change mine approx. every 3 months.

                      * Cleaning modes
                      Professional Care 1000 only offers one mode of cleaning which is Daily Clean. My teeth are not normally sensitive so I opted for this basic cleaning mode only and I think it is sufficient.

                      * Timer/Interval timer
                      I certainly never know when I should stop brushing when I use the manual toothbrush and watching a clock for 2-3 minutes must be the most boring thing ever, so I don't do it. Professional Care 1000 indicates not only when the 2 minutes of brushing have passed but also gives you a signal every 30 seconds so you know you should concentrate on each quadrant of your mouth for the same period of time. What I like about this model is that it remembers how much time has elapsed since you start brushing your teeth, so if you accidentally switch off the handle and switch back on again, it will know how much time you still have left.

                      * Other featues
                      This model has a pressure indicator and red light will light up when you press on your teeth too hard. The light never goes on when I brush my teeth, but I tested it and you do have to put a lot of pressure for this feature to work. Maybe this is useful to some people. In addition to the pressure indicator, the brush has an intermittent green light, which switches on when the handle is being charged. Finally, there is a low battery charge indicator, which will flash in red a few times after brushing when the battery charge is low.From my experience I have only 2-3 brushing sessions left after the red light appears for the first time and I can feel that the pulsations and rotations are much slower.


                      ----- My opinion -----

                      This brush is so easy to use - it does all the work for you. I also noticed immediately that my teeth were better cleaned that when I use a manual toothbrush or the battery powered one. They are just smooth and the spaces between teeth are cleaned better also. My teeth are slightly whiter, just as the manufacturer promises.

                      There is quite a bit of noise that this toothbrush emits during use, so if you don't want to wake up your partner, better not use it very late.

                      The manufacturer claims that the full charge will enable approximately 1 week of regular 2 min brushing and this is exactly what it does. My brush lasts about a week with brushing twice a day. I usually don't charge again until the batter is fully discharged. This will help keep it working well for a long time.

                      I am happy with the battery life time but the charging time is my main problem. 17 hours to charge in full is far too long and I still have to brush my teeth during this time, so I have to use a manual brush when this one is charging. I would have been more satisfied with 12 hours charging - you could do this in the evening and then the brush would be ready for the morning brushing. Of course you don't need to charge it completely every time as it will still work when not fully charged, but I prefer to charge fully every time as, again, it keeps the batter working and holding charge for much longer.

                      As with all the electric toothbrushes, cleaning is very important. Otherwise, the remains of the toothpaste, saliva and plaque will settle in all the tiny spaces on the handle and brush head. I have to say from my experience you really need to clean the head and handle thoroughly after each use, otherwise you can see the dried out toothpaste on the handle and it is not a nice sight but also after a few weeks of this, might cause a problem with attaching the brush head or be difficult to clean again.


                      ----- Summary -----

                      Overall, I am very happy with this toothbrush and would recommend it. It has enough useful features for the everyday use but it is still easy to operate. If it wasn't for the charging time, I would probably give it the full marks. 4/5

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                      • More +
                        26.11.2010 17:15
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                        Good moisturiser but doesn't last long

                        I received a 50ml container of this Shea Body Butter as a sample attached to a magazine. I wasn't expecting much as I'm not a great fun of The Body Shop products, but I was happy to try it out because it was in a perfect travel sized packaging (I was going on holidays the day after) and contained shea butter known for its moisturizing properties.


                        ----- Packaging & price -----

                        This body butter is packed in a round container with a screw top lid. It's nothing fancy but does its job. The container is beige colour (other fragrances have different colours) and has a round label on top with an image of Shea nuts and basic information about the product.
                        Available sizes are 50ml - £5 and 200ml - £12.50


                        ----- Properties -----

                        This product is designed to moisturize very dry skin. I was pretty wary before I tried it - body butters tend to be greasy and I personally don't find them moisturizing but just leaving a waxy layer on my skin.
                        Well, I was wrong. This body butter looks pretty stiff and solid in the container but is not at all difficult to scoop out of the container with your finger tips. Once I started using it, I noticed that the consistency of the remaining body butter in the container looked as if it was slightly curdled, which put me off a bit but I still used it as it hasn't lost it's properties when applied to my skin. Maybe the curdled look is a good thing - this butter might contain less solidifiers, emulsifiers and other chemical stuff that companies put in their products just to make them look good!

                        Anyway, back to the properties of this product. What surprised me was that when applied, this body butter soaked instantly into the skin and didn't need much rubbing. It didn't feel sticky, greasy nor did it leave any waxy feeling on my skin. I could put my clothes on straight away and they never got stained.
                        Regarding the moisturizing properties, I think they are not quite exceptional but are good enough to keep the skin hydrated for the whole day. I also believe this product would be good for people with less dry skin and for normal skin as well.

                        I never had an allergic reaction to this product, which is a great thing. My skin often reacts to cosmetics badly and I often suffer from eczema outbreaks. This body butter never caused any uncomfortable feeling, so should be suitable for other people with sensitive skin.


                        ----- Fragrance -----

                        Now this might be a feature that puts some people off... First of all, let me say that I found this tolerable, especially that the smell didn't linger on the skin for a long time. It was a 'neutral' smell and I'm sure that both men and women would find it ok to use. However, I found it a bit weird and the smell reminded me of cosmetics, mixed with tobacco and nuts. Maybe that's how shea butter smells like naturally and I'm just used to artificially manufactured fragrances? As I said before, it was tolerable and within about an hour I couldn't smell it at all.


                        ----- Ok, so what's actually in this butter? -----

                        It is supposed to be full of natural ingredients including shea butter and cocoa butter from Ghana, babassu oil from Brazil and beeswax from Zambia. Body Shop claims that is buys the ingredients from fair trade co-operatives in Ghana who ensure a good price for the farmers and supports local projects (more details on The Body Shop website).

                        Ingredients: Water, Shea Butter, Cyclomethicone, Cocoa Butter, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Beeswax, Babassu Oil, Lanolin Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Xanthan Gum, Benzyl Alcohol, Disodium EDTA, Linalool, Coumarin, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Limonene, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Sodium Hydroxide, Citronellol, Citral, Geraniol, Eugenol, Caramel, CI 19140.


                        ----- Final comments -----

                        I haven't used this product everyday as I have plenty of other body moisturizers to chose from at the moment. Unfortunately, it was gone in about 2 weeks. This is not a long lasting moisturizer and I recon with everyday use will last only 1 - 2 weeks for an average user.
                        I don't really want to engage in a debate about the ethical side of The Body Shop. Let me just mention that although the brand claims not to test or use ingredients tested on animals, they are now part of L'Oreal who are not a cruelty free company. The profits from both companies eventually end up in the same basket.

                        My final rating is 3.5 / 5

                        If shea butter version doesn't sound good enough, there are plenty of other fragrances in this body butter range for dry to very dry skin: Coconut, Mango, Hemp, Cocoa Butter and Aloe. There are also plenty of fragrances for normal and normal to dry skin to chose from.

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                        • More +
                          17.11.2010 19:49
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                          Too much alcohol

                          The other day, I was so pleased to see 1L (500g) tubs of Carte d'Or ice cream on offer Buy 1 get 1 free for £2.99 in Sainsbury's. I like Carte d'Or ice cream so couldn't resist the temptation and popped two of them into my basket.

                          ----- Packaging -----

                          Carte d'Or range of ice cream are packed in 1L oval plastic tubs which are transparent, so you can clearly see what the ice cream looks like inside. On this particular one here is a picture of ice cream and raisin on the lid and at the bottom of the box information about ingredients and nutritional value. The ice cream is also protected by a transparent protective foil for freshness and to prevent any ice cream spills from the box in case you leave it outside for too long and the ice cream melts.


                          ----- First impressions -----

                          On opening the tub at home, I was surprised at how light in colour the ice cream was and I couldn't see many raisins inside. I'm used to rum and raisin ice cream being quite dark beige colour and this one was a pale yellow shade, but this time I decided to ignore the colour and test the taste. I knew that Carte d'Or was a high quality brand, having had tasted a few other flavours before, so I couldn't go wrong with this one, could I?


                          ----- Taste test -----

                          I put 2 big scoops of the ice cream in a bowl and noticed there were more raisins inside than I initially thought there were. Next came the taste test. The ice cream itself had just a hint of rum, and tasted rather weak for my liking, but the flavour was somewhat artificial. Then I bit on a raisin - it was plump and soft but far too boozy for what I was expecting. The raisins were heavily soaked in spirit which didn't taste much of rum but more of vodka...
                          Looking at the ingredients list later, I wasn't very surprised - the rum they used to soak the raisins was 50% vol of pure alcohol. I don't mind strong alcohol as a drink and rum is one of the alcohols I usually enjoy, but the contrast between the raisin and ice cream alcohol content was too much. It really bothered me and every time I bit on a raisin I would cringe because of the strong alcohol taste.


                          ----- What's in it? -----

                          The ingredients list clearly states that real rum from West Indies was used, but in my opinion it must have been a bad quality alcohol, because it just didn't taste the way it should.
                          The ingredients for this product are as below:
                          Reconstituted skimmed milk, cream, water, sugar, raisins (8%), 50% vol rum (5.5%), glucose-fructose syrup, whey solids, emulsifier (mono and diglycerides of fatty acids), stabilizers (locust bean gum, guar gum, carrageenan, xanthan gum), flavouring, colour (mixed carotenes).

                          Warning: This ice cream contains 1.5% alcohol by volume.
                          There is no allergy warning on the packaging but if I were a nut allergy sufferer I would be wary because some of Carte d'Or ice cream contain nuts and this type of products is often manufactured on the same production line. This will obviously not be suitable for dairy allergy sufferers as it contains milk and cream.

                          Nutrition information - this is specified on the packaging per 100g, per 100ml and per portion (100ml=50g), however I am only listing the values as per 100g:
                          Energy - 820 kJ/ 200 kcal
                          Protein - 2.5g
                          Carbohydrates - 24g
                          Fat - 8g
                          Unfortunately, there is no further information regarding carbohydrates and fat (e.g. saturated and unsaturated) - if they were listed it would probably scare those on a diet... I have no doubt this ice cream (as most of the other ones on the market) is high in saturated fats and sugars.

                          Other information - the plastic packaging is recyclable.


                          ----- My thoughts -----

                          I must admit that I ate the whole 1L tub in just 5 days, all on my own, and with each bite the taste of this ice cream bothered me less. But I assume it is also due to my taste buds being gradually 'frozen' so I couldn't taste the flavour that strongly with each bite.

                          It is a great shame that this ice cream didn't pass the taste test as the consistency was just right - creamy and soft with just enough juicy raisins. It was very easy to scoop out straight from the freezer and had the most satisfying texture.
                          I was very disappointed with this ice cream, especially because I know Carte d'Or deliver good quality products and I am always expecting the best when I buy this brand.


                          ----- Recommendation? -----
                          No, wouldn't recommend as the standard price for 1L is £2.99 and I don't think this particular flavour is worth its price.

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