Saturday, 9 August 2014

Boots Tea Tree and Witch Hazel Charcoal Facial Wash

 RRP: £4.25

--What does the promo say?--
"This Daily Detox Facial Wash contains antibacterial Tea Tree Oil and skin-calming Witch Hazel in conjunction with activated Charcoal to keep your skin clear and healthy by gently cleansing and attracting dirt like a magnet, drawing out deep down impurities & excess oil without over-drying. Leaves skin feeling deeply-cleansed, smoothed & radiant."

--Packaging--
The dark grey and pale green colour scheme is definitely new and different in a positive way; it's unisex, grown-up, and accurately reflects the product's ingredients, while also being distinguishable from other similar products. The flip-top lid also closes securely, meaning no worries about this exploding all over the inside of your suitcase when travelling.

--Application--
Wet your face and lather up a pea-sized amount of the product between wet hands. Rub all over the face, then rinse off, either under the shower or by using a face cloth.

--Appearance--
Dark grey - although happily this leaves no visible residue on the skin afterwards!

--Scent--
Slightly charcoaly, but not in an overwhelming way.

--Texture and consistency--
A slightly-sticky, slightly clay-like lotion lathers into a smooth grey foam. This washes off easily and doesn't leave any apparent traces.

--Effects on the skin--
When you use the product, there's immediately a lovely cooling effect - I'd guess from the tea tree and witch hazel, which are both known to have this property. Once rinsed off, skin also seems calmer and mattified straight away. Unfortunately, this doesn't last; while the product doesn't dry out the skin (which is appreciated!), it's not pleasant to feel like you've turned into an oil slick by the end of the day either. Consequently, and perhaps unsurprisingly, I didn't notice any massive improvement in my skin condition during my 4 weeks or so of using this product (in conjunction with the mask and scrub that are also in the range).

--Value for money--
This costs less than a fiver, so won't break the bank (and I was even sent mine for free by Boots' PR, so at least I didn't waste any cash on it), and so for that reason alone it's perhaps worth a try if you suffer with spots. However, my long-term acne problem is well-documented on this blog (17 years and counting, people!), so it's maybe unsurprising that what could be considered a relatively 'budget' product didn't make much of a dent. Sorry, Boots :(

perfect partners
Tea Tree and Witch Hazel Charcoal Facial Scrub, £4.59
Tea Tree and Witch Hazel Charcoal Face Mask, £3.59  

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Avène TriAcnéal Treatment Cream

RRP: £23 for 30ml

--What does the promo say?--
"TriAcnéal is a non-greasy emulsion which helps eliminate severe imperfections. After 2 months of use, the number of spots is reduced and scars are visibly smoother. Efectiose® enables targeted action on the mediators responsible for the irritation observed in the problems of skin subject to severe imperfections. Retinaldehyde helps regulate keratinisation disorders, hence preventing thickening of the skin and formation of blackheads. Glycolic acid, a powerful exfoliant, has a peeling effect upon the surface of the skin. Paraben free."

--Packaging--
Avène's characteristic white and coral colour scheme continues to please, being simultaneously summery, cheerful, unusual, adult, and unisex. The squeezy tube is also elegant, but the incredibly tapered nozzle seems ultimately pointless: since most sufferers of severe acne will be applying this all over the skin, it's frustrating to only be able to squeeze the lotion out in minuscule amounts. Nonetheless, this is only a small issue.

--Application--
Avène recommends applying this only in the evening, but I find it works equally well in the morning, especially if you mix it with your normal moisturiser.

--Appearance--
A golden cream with an almost nacreous look to it, making it feel like a real luxury to use, rather than just an ordinary clinical acne-fighting product. Fades invisibly into skin.

--Scent--
Nothing specific is detectable; but it definitely doesn't smell alcoholic or chemical, which is good, and which can often be a problem with products for problem skin.

--Texture and consistency--
A rather stiff cream that mollifies slightly when rubbed between the hands. Does not feel dry, tight or sticky on the skin once applied, but doesn't quite have the baby-soft smoothness of a traditional moisturiser either, so you don't want to neglect using your usual moisturiser in addition (or even better, the Cleanance option offered by Avène).

--Effects on the skin--
Did seem to diminish acne, but my skin still felt like an oil slick by the end of the day. However, I chalk this up to another line I've been testing concurrently; I have every confidence that if I were using the full complement of Avène's Cleanance range alongside, this wouldn't be a problem.

--Value for money--
Admittedly, at £23 this is more expensive than I expected it to be. However, the results are good, and one tube seems to go a very long way (even if you're being a bit renegade and using it twice a day instead of only once, ahem).  However, I'd definitely repurchase this as part of a full-on Cleanance plan of attack once my free tube from Avène's PR runs out. To be recommended for its luxurious appearance and texture, as well as its encouraging results.

perfect partners
Cleanance Soapless Gel Cleanser, £11
Cleanance Cleansing Water, £16
Cleanance Toner, £11
Cleanance Emulsion, £12
Cleanance K, £11
Cleanance Mask, £15

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Spa Review: Nirvana Spa, Berkshire

East Berkshire locals tend to hear of the Nirvana Spa before they see it: word of mouth travels fast, and this one is hot to trot: it's one of the biggest spas in the area, offering some of the best deals and nicest facilities. So after hearing about it for a long time before actually getting to visit, expectations naturally run high. Happily, you shouldn't be disappointed.

The spa is a sprawling complex with rooms coming off several different corridors, as well as outdoor pools, and probably also well-concealed treatment rooms that you only get to see if you're booked in for a massage, facial, flotation, or any of the other numerous delights that the spa offers (at an extra cost to the package or membership price; these start from as little as £17, by the way). If these don't float your boat (and why wouldn't they?), you can always book in for a shopping event or makeup demonstration, which are often included.

But even if there isn't a special event on, or you haven't booked in for a treatment, you can happily while away the hours here thanks to Nirvana's hydrotherapy pools, monsoon showers, tepidaria, aromatherapeutic sauna and steam rooms, plunge pools, fitness rooms, outdoor jacuzzis, and pools for lane swimming. All equipment is state-of-the-art, with not a tired, dated, or untidy-looking corner anywhere. 

Further to this, plenty else is included - not just the use of towels and robes, but also all soft drinks (from tea and coffee to Diet Coke and J2Os) and unlimited use of the salad bar (which is perhaps the biggest you'll ever see, including a substantial variety of vegetarian and gluten free options). Other treats are available at additional cost, such as afternoon tea, alcoholic drinks, and hot dishes in the restaurant, but many will find that the complimentary refreshments are enough to keep you going throughout your daytime or evening visit there.

These daytime or evening visits come in a variety of combinations: some include beauty treatments, which naturally bump up the price, and some are only available on certain days (which can keep your cost down). In short, however, you can spend as little or as much as you like: you can access the spa for as little as £35 for 3 hours. For a whole evening, the price is still a very affordable £55 for 5 or 6 hours. For locals, memberships can afford you a discount: the annual Spa Club 12 membership (which, as the name hints, gives you 12 visits a year) works out at £34 per visit.

During your visit, attaining relaxation should not be difficult, whether you prefer to chill in the sauna, be massaged by hydrotherapy jets, or exercise in the sports pools. On your way out, you can purchase a variety of high-quality skincare (such as Decléor and ESPA) in the spa shop, in a calm, dimly-lit environment, with ever-friendly and professional staff on hand to assist if needed. All in all, a reinvigorating experience that leaves you more in touch with your inner zen; definitely worth a return visit.

http://nirvanaspa.co.uk/
Nirvana Spa, Mole Road, Wokingham, Berkshire RG41 5DJ

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Braun Satin Hair 7 Iontec Brush

RRP: £28.99

--What does the promo say?--
"Part of Braun's Satin-Hair 7 range, the BR710 brush uses unique IONTEC technology to restore shine and health to your hair. At a push of a button its active ion jet releases millions of ions to envelop every single hair and quickly restore your hair's healthy shine. The Braun Satin Hair 7 Brush is easy to use, 100% portable, fights frizz and removes static. The brush comes with a removable cushion pad for easy cleaning."

--Packaging-- 
The battery-powered brush comes with batteries already installed, so you're good to go from the moment it comes out of the box (whose black and green styling would really make this stand out on the shelf). There's also a release switch allowing you to remove the bristle pad for easy cleaning; why don't all brushes have this?!

--Usage--
Just push the brush button into the upward position; the green light will come on when you have done this correctly. Once you've done this, just brush your hair as normal. You will hear the low-volume hissing noise of the ions being released during use, but this is totally normal. Once you're done, remember to switch off the brush.

--Effects on the hair--
I can't say I noticed any particular difference in terms of shine, but I definitely noticed a reduction in the frizz - something I am always aiming for. Yay :)  The brush also seems to detangle hair more effectively than normal brushes, for some reason. It also works well on both wet hair and dry, as well as on hair that hasn't been freshly washed.

--Value for money--
I'd have estimated the price of this product to be at between £30 and £50, so for it to fall under £30 was a pleasant surprise. You can also even find it for less than £25 if you shop around. The cost of batteries to keep it juiced can be minimal depending on where you shop - although perhaps I'd be prepared to pay between £30 and £50 for a rechargeable version (even though I was sent mine for free this time - thanks, Braun PR!). Overall, this is a handy product to have on your side if you suffer from frizzy hair, and is a great one to ask for if you have a summer/autumn birthday (or, if you're like me and look ahead freakishly, in your Christmas stocking).

perfect partners
Satin Hair 7 Iontec Hair Straightener, £59.99
Satin Hair 7 Iontec Hair Dryer, £49.99 

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Trilogy Blemish Control Gel

RRP: £12.50 for 20ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Salicylic acid effectively targets and decongests pimples. Antibacterial lemongrass and mandarin help control breakouts, ginger reduces inflammation and rosehip aids repair."

--Packaging--
This slim squeezy tube is distinguished by its dark pink stripe and silvery lid, offering a contrast to the discreet whiteness of the rest. The whole ensemble therefore looks sophisticated and adult, unlike anti-blemish brands aimed at teens, which can look garish. Acne sufferers in their 20s and 30s can therefore tackle their spots without being afraid to display the products in their bathrooms.

--Application--
Trilogy says you can apply this directly onto specific blemished three times a day if you like, and even with mixing it with moisturiser and applying it to the whole face twice a day does not seem to irritate or dry the skin, so I'd say feel free to go with either of these methods.

--Appearance--
A pale yellow gel with an almost golden appearance, which fades invisibly into skin.

--Scent--
Nothing discernible, despite what you'd expect to be a highly pungent ingredients list (which includes ginger, mandarin, lemongrass, and others).

--Texture and consistency--
Unlike some anti-blemish gels, which can be sticky, this sinks in smoothly, whether used alone or mixed into moisturiser.

--Effects on the skin--
I saw a positive improvement without drying out the skin, with the number of whiteheads definitely decreasing. However, I saw little effect on the number of blackheads, so I'd definitely consider resorting to Trilogy's exfoliant for this skin type to combat this problem.

--Value for money--
Although my tube began to run out more quickly than I'd have liked, this was perhaps to be expected when you're using the product over your whole face and not just individual blemishes. Plus, as I was sent mine for free by Trilogy's lovely PR, it was an excellent experiment that resulted in me feeling that I would a) recommend this product to others and b) purchase it for myself in future. Doesn't always happen, that :)

perfect partners
Balancing Gel Cleanser, £22.50
Gentle Facial Exfoliant, £21.50
Mineral Radiance Mask, £19.50
Balancing Face Lotion, £26.50

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Dr Organic Aloe Vera Wet Wipes

 RRP: £2.89 for 20 wipes

--What does the promo say?--
"A convenient way to remove make up, freshen up and maintain healthy skin. This 2 in 1 cleansing wipe combines the soothing properties of aloe vera in a refreshing wipe."

--Packaging--
The green and white colour scheme is bold and refreshing if unoriginal; it nonetheless also accurately reflects the ingredients used in the product. The sticky-back plastic window, which you peel back from the top of the pack to access the wipes, opens and closes easily and keeps the wipes fresh. In addition, the small pack size (20 wipes) means that this little bundle slips easily into handbags or hand baggage without being at all cumbersome.

--Application--
Wipe over the whole face, either to remove makeup, or to simply cleanse the face. Easy as.

--Appearance--
The white wipes are saturated with invisible cleansing lotion that leaves no visible residue on the skin.

--Scent--
Natural aloe vera smell as promised; nothing chemical, clinical or harsh about this.

--Texture--
The wipes are rough enough to cleanse well and smooth enough to remain gentle; however, I'd say that as holes appear in the wipes while you are using them, they are perhaps of slightly less high quality than others on the market (in this respect I preferred the Australian Bodycare wipes that I tested recently).

--Effects on the skin--
Skin feels cleansed, smoothed, soothed, and refreshed. Perfect for travel, summer, or just those nights when you CBA to wash your face properly.

--Longevity--
While one wipe will remove your makeup without trace and cleanse your face too, the pack still seems to run out rather quickly. Still, with 20 wipes in a pack, it'll happily do you for a long weekend or even a full week's break.

--Value for money--
These are inexpensive, cleanse and remove makeup well, and give you peace of mind thanks to the organic ingredients. Don't expect durability or for a pack to cover your whole summer holiday, though! Nevertheless, once my free pack runs out (thanks, Dr Organic PR!), I would consider repurchasing.

perfect partners
Aloe Vera Deodorant, £5.49
Aloe Vera Gel, £5.39
Aloe Vera Body Wash, £5.39
Aloe Vera Hand Wash, £5.19
Aloe Vera Lip Balm, £3.49
Aloe Vera Soap, £2.99
Aloe Vera Skin Lotion, £6.59
Aloe Vera Body Butter, £9.29
Aloe Vera Shampoo, £5.49
Aloe Vera Conditioner, £5.49
Aloe Vera Eye Gel, £9.29
Aloe Vera Travel Pack, £15

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Laura Mercier Oil Free Primer

RRP: £29

--What does the promo say?--
"Prep your skin for a flawless makeup application and keep oil at bay by using this multi-talented primer. Specially created for oily, sensitive and acne-prone skin types, this lightweight formula primes skin perfectly to help you spread makeup on evenly and effortlessly."

--Packaging--
The sleek, shiny, skin-coloured tube is sophisticated and the screw-top lid is practical too.

--Application--
Apply to clean, moisturised skin prior to other face makeup (concealer, powder, foundation). 

--Appearance--
Looks like a moisturiser thanks to its white, lotion-like look which fades invisibly into skin.

--Scent--
Clean and slightly soap-like without being industrial or overbearing.

--Texture and consistency--
The moisturiser comparison continues into this category thanks to its smoothness. It's non-sticky and absorbs quickly without being claggy or bitty.

--Effects on the skin--
As well as mattifying the skin (meaning your face won't feel like an oil slick this summer...WIN) and helping makeup to stay put, it also seems to moderate blemishes a bit and minimise dry bits too. One of the best primers I've used.

--Value for money--
Even though this is a high-quality, effective product, one tube runs out a little too quickly for my liking. I'd recommend buying this in America or online, just to make sure you get the best possible deal.

perfect partners
Oil Free Supreme Foundation, £34
High Coverage Concealer, £23
Smooth Focus Pressed Setting Powder Shine Control, £26
Flawless Skin Regimen, £85
Foundation Primer Oil-Free Travel Size, £19

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Rimmel Match Perfection Concealer

 RRP: £5.99
# of available shades: 3

--What does the promo say?--
"Skin tone adapting concealer. Conceal signs of fatigue. Highlight and illuminate eye area. Soft precision brush for the delicate under-eye area."

--Packaging--
A slender tube that really pops out on the shelf thanks to its summery blue and beige (sea and sand!) colour scheme. The application brush is also a helpful addition that mirrors higher-end brands, such as Yves St Laurent.

--Application--
Gently squeeze the tube until the product appears at the end of the application brush. Brush the product onto the skin, and then blend in with the tips of your fingers.

--Appearance--
Simultaneously matte, radiant, and providing excellent coverage. The ivory shade was also perfect for my skin tone (even though I think it's pathetic to only supply three shades). WIN.

--Texture and consistency--
Smooth and blendable. 

--Longevity--
Lasts well even without face powder to finish off.

--Value for money--
The retail price is already extremely reasonable and if you shop around the discount stores it can even be found cheaper. While an availability of three shades is arguably insufficient, if you can find one to suit you it is a great deal, thanks to the product's longevity, blendability, coverage and radiance. Proves that cheap can definitely be cheerful! Would doubtlessly repurchase.

perfect partners
Match Perfection Foundation, £6.99
Match Perfection Bronzer, £5.99
Match Perfection Compact Powder, £7.49
Stay Blushed!, £4.49
Stay Matte Primer, £5.99

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Glo Minerals Bronze

 RRP: £31.50
# of shades available: 2 
available from:  www.glo-minerals.com

--What does the promo say?--
"glo-minerals Bronze provides a golden colour for an even and buildable sun-kissed look.  Dust on lightly to add colour or to contour the face and body. Developed utilizing natural, high-pigment minerals to deliver a range of flattering, fashionable colors that looks good on all skin types. Also formulated with an exclusive blend antioxidants including Vitamins A, C, E and Green Tea Extract to provide nutrients that are vital to maintaining skin’s healthy radiance."

--Packaging--
Sleek, practical, and generously-sized, this provides nearly everything a girl could want this summer. Some might prefer a portable sponge or brush in a compartment below, but this is purely incidental.

--Application--
Sweep over face and neck in place of face powder, or use just on cheeks to replace blusher. Easy to build up gradually according to your skin tone and the look that you want.

--Appearance--
The monotone version of the bronzer (named Sunlight), which I was sent by Glo Minerals' PR, does just what it says on the tin: provides a natural, sunkissed-looking glow to even the palest of girls.

--Texture and consistency--
Light, powdery, and apparently non-comedogenic. As mentioned before, easily buildable.

--Effects on the skin--
Over time, the antioxidant effects would have anti-ageing results. Vitamin A has benefits for blemish-prone skin, and vitamin E's moisturising qualities are well-documented.

--Value for money--
While I perhaps wasn't expecting this to cost £31.50, there's no denying that this is a flattering product that will deliver on radiance and quality. Would recommend.

perfect partners
Pressed Base, £31.50
Blush, £14
Dust 24K, £30.50
Protective Liquid Foundation Matte II, £30.50  

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Australian Bodycare Tea Tree Oil Wet Wipes

RRP: £3.25 for 24 wipes

--What does the promo say?--
"The New Handy Pack Wipes by the Australian Bodycare Spa Range contain 24 wet wipes suitable for use anywhere. Formulated with 1% Tea Tree Oil, which works as a natural antiseptic, these wipes cleanse the skin and removes bacteria from surfaces. Effective and convenient, they're suitable for all the family."

--Packaging--
The white, blue and green colour scheme clearly identifies this product as being part of the Australian Bodycare range, and is also nicely unisex, allowing the product to appeal to a wide range of potential users. The peel-back opening and closing window is convenient, hygienic and practical, and the pack of 24 wipes is not too cumbersome to take in your suitcase, keep in the glove box, or carry in your handbag.

 --Application--
The use of this product is both easy and versatile. Simply sweep across skin to remove makeup, cleanse, or disinfect. Could also be used to clean surfaces or as part of a baby's nappy-changing routine. Their generous surface area means that one wipe should also be enough for one complete use, with room to spare.

--Appearance--
The wipes are white and are pre-soaked with an invisible lotion that leaves no residue. They are also generously sized.

--Scent--
A unisex, natural, clean smell of pine, aloe and tea tree makes this suitable for the vast majority of people and situations.

--Texture and consistency--
The wipes have enough texture to make you feel like you are cleaning effectively, without being irritating or rough. Furthermore, the lotion in which the wipes are soaked is smooth without being too thick or overbearing.

--Effects on the skin--
These cleanse and remove makeup effectively, and their tea tree oil content means that over time conditions such as acne could potentially improve with long-term use.

--Value for money--
£3.25 for 24 wipes comes to about 13p per wipe. While perhaps a little on the expensive side, their overall reasonable price, anti-bacterial qualities and wide range of possible uses make them worth it, in my view.

perfect partners
Australian Bodycare Spa Range Facial Cleansing Gel (250ml) , £10.90
Happy Hands Antibacterial Instant Waterless Hand Gel (50ml), £5.00
Australian Bodycare Spa Range Gentle Toner (250ml), £7.92