Batiste

ImageI am a latecomer to dry shampoo. I don’t know, I just never liked the idea of it. It’s why I won’t buy a kindle – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Paper books work fine, and so does traditional shampoo.

The problem I have – and I don’t know if any of you will relate to this – I feel a need to wash my hair every day. If I don’t then my scalp feels dirty and I cannot relax. This is fine, it takes two minutes to wash my hair, but since developing ME its become more cumbersome. 

Recently I have taken to straightening my hair too because it looks much better but obviously the effects only last until my next wash. And given that straightening severely damages my hair I want to do this as little as possible. So that is when I decided to give in and try dry shampoo – with reports from my friends, I was expecting miracles.

I remember as a kid reading in a magazine that talc in your hair was supposed to take the grease out. I also remember taking it and not thinking about the fact that talc is white and my hair is brunette! I had to field embarrassing questions all day about why I had talc powder in my hair!

I was told to buy the top brand dry shampoo, and this is Batiste. I was assured it works well but is the only brand that does. So I headed down to Superdrug where I was pleased to see they had the product on offer. 

Not really knowing what I was looking at, I picked up a bottle – “Floral & Flirty Blush” – paid and went home. I hung my hair upside down and began to spray at the recommended distance of 30cm. The first thing I noticed was how refreshed my head felt! It really was like having a hair wash! But when I swung my head back up in the right direction I was taken right back to my ‘talc’ day at school – My roots were white! When I mentioned this to a friend she said you can get cans for brunettes so the next time I headed back and picked up one of those!

I used the “a hint of colour – Dark & Deep Brown” the next time I did not want to wash my hair and it was much better. It still felt cool and it also didnt change my hair colour! Result!

As the day wore on though I began to feel that dirty feeling so it did not really do what I was hoping for. And although it did brighten up my hair initially, it did look greasy by lunch time. I suppose it would have been a good idea to take the bottle out with me and apply as and when I needed to.

I think this product is good for a quick pick-me-up but I wouldnt use it in place of a good shampoo. I havent really used it since – my son gets some use out of it though – but I wouldnt rule it out, and its certainly good to have some in the cupboard for emergencies.

3/5

Advertisements

Watch Me Disappear by Jill Dawson

ImageWatch Me Disappear by Jill Dawson is a fiction story that was recommended to me by a friend. It isn’t a story that I would have picked off the shelf myself and that only made the experience of reading it richer as the story unfolded and I became more and more hooked.

It is the story of a young girl who goes missing from her village, never to be found… Amazon.co.uk explains:

Thirty years on, she comes sharply back to life in the mind’s eye of her childhood friend, Tina Humber, who has done her best to put the past behind her. But now, as Tina returns home for a family wedding, she replays her memories in search of what happened, fearing that deep down she has always known who killed Mandy Baker.

 

In this subtle, moodily atmospheric novel, Jill Dawson explores the line between innocent and perverted desire, and that volatile stage when young girls become aware of their attractions, but do not grasp the dangers.

This isn’t a book for a light and fluffy afternoon read, its a very real, and raw, account of paedophilia, from the perspective of the child (as an adult looking back). It is uncomfortable in places and takes a brave plunge into a topic that it would be easier to avoid in this day and age. It is contextualised around the disappearance of the Soham girls, although this is never stated explicitly, and it is a very poignant story at the moment with the April Jones story in the news.

When I started to read Watch Me Disappear I wasn’t convinced I would enjoy it; not due to the subject matter but because the writing was very descriptive – more descriptive than I like in a novel. I can better imagine a story when a novelist concentrates more on the characters than the surroundings but what this book did was within a few pages, I was working on my own novel. That in itself told me this book was worth persevering with.

Having never lived nor visited the area of England that this book was set in, and not having had a daughter, I found it quite hard to relate to the story. For about the first third of the book, it felt quite slow and a few times I nearly gave up. However, I am on a quest to read 101 books and I want to finish all the books I start this year, so I continued.

I found that once I hit the second section of the book (there are no chapters, only three sections), the story became less descriptive in places, and because I’d gotten to know a bit about the characters involved I engaged with the author more. It was just over half way through when I suddenly decided that I could not put this book down.

Despite the slow start, it is clear that Dawson is a very skilled writer. As the story unfolds it becomes clear where it is going but retains mystery because you do not know how the characters will react to unfolding events. I felt I learnt some key writing skills throughout this novel, and I also understood people better as a result. It showed me that no matter what people go through, they have an innate capacity for coping with any situation; the survival instinct is in every one, no matter how little or much they are affected by an event.

If you were born in the 1970’s in England you will especially like this novel. The story is told from memory and the finer details of material things from that era really opened up my own memory resources and took me back to a more simple, innocent time with reminders of Girl’s World, flowery wallpaper and certain television programmes (among many other things).

If you have a daughter, or you know a young girl – or if you were a young girl once then this is a novel worth reading. It is my opinion that my brain and my understanding of humanity is richer for completing this book. It is intelligent, skillful, raw, entertaining, informative, educational and inspiring.

4/5

 

Coconut Creme

Image

You may be forgiven for thinking I have a coconut obsession! The recent posts on this foodstuff is purely coincidental, I can assure you!

Coconut Creme from The Little Bubble Co. is a bubble bath that I came across when browsing the bath section of my local Boots: The Chemist.

The first time I bought it there were two reasons: firstly it was on offer for 99p and secondly it smelt very strongly of coconut.

Bath products are a funny thing with their smells, don’t you find? Whatever fruit they are claiming to be, its always much more intense than the actual fruit could ever hope to be. In fact, if you smelt them together – say, coconut bath cream and the juice of a coconut – they smell nothing alike. The same for strawberries, lemons, apples, and everything else. Yet, we could smell a bubble bath and instantly know what smell it was supposed to be mimicking.

This product is no different, the smell is strong, and sweet, and really lovely. Both when you open the lid and have a sniff, and when you use it in the bath. I was not disappointed when I used it, I came out of the bath feeling like a right fruity nut!! (Do you like what I did there?!)

When you pour Coconut Creme from The Little Bubble Co. under running water it develops a lovely smelly foam in the bath. The foam isnt too volumised but there are definitely adequate bubbles. Somehow I don’t feel clean unless a product has bubbles. I feel squeeky clean after a Coconut Creme bath. It is very soft to the skin, too.

The bubble bath comes in a fairly big container, which holds 500mls. It lasted for ages so at its normal price of £2.99 you are getting really good value for money. It isnt tested on animals, is suitable for vegetarians and is allergen free.

Once I used this product it was instantly a firm favourite. I do sometimes try other products for my bath but this is one of my firm go-to products if I cannot make a decision. I currently have a bottle of it by my bath and I cannot imagine when I will not.

The Little Bubble Co. also do a range of other flavours such as Strawberry Sundae, Vanilla Biscuit and Mango Delight. I have tried them all. They are all nice and luxurious but only really loved the Coconut Creme one.

Have you tried it? What did you think?

I definitely think it is worth a go!

4/5

Book Review: The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue

The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue is an engaging story about an adulterous wife in the 1850’s who went through a scandalous divorce after she was found out by her husband.

‘Stylist Helen Codrington is unhappily married. Emily ‘Fido’ Faithfull hasn’t seen her once-dear friend for years. Suddenly, after bumping into Helen on the streets of Victorian London, Fido finds herself reluctantly helping Helen to have an affair with a young army officer. The women’s friendship quickly unravels amid courtroom accusations of adultery, counter-accusations of cruelty and attempted rape, and the appearance of a mysterious ‘sealed letter’ that could destroy more than one life . . .’ – The Times

This was at a time when divorce was almost unheard of, and women never won custody of their children. The Sealed Letter is a story that is based on a true account, and is one I havent been able to put down from start to finish.

I have always been interested in Victorian society (my all time favourite book is Pride and Prejudice) and this is why I initially picked up the book. I noted that it was written by the same author who wrote Room. From the moment I started reading, I could not put the book down. I can be quite a fussy reader and its very rare for me to experience this. The writing style is easily accessible – in fact the

simplicity of Donoghue’s writing is striking against the backdrop of an historic story. Despite the shocking nature of the issues written about at the time it happened, the story is every bit as relevant today as it was in 1890.

Donoghue has an amazing capacity for storytelling, and for marrying the gap between the historical and the contemporary. One can tell from the attention she gives to detail in the descriptions of the story that the author has done her research – a lot of it. She is clearly a specialist in the Victorian era and I really felt that from reading this novel I was educating myself, too.  There are a number of subtexts going on including friendship, morality, femininity, sexuality and women in the workplace.

The characterisations were believable but more than that they really came to life. I understood why each character behaved in the way they did, I felt their emotions as raw as if they were in the room with me. Despite the story happening 150 years ago, I could find myself relating to specific parts of each characters personality. Donoghue is one of the most skillful writers of our time.

When I had concluded reading this story, I was left wanting more. I didn’t want the story to end there; I wanted to know more! This book (more so than Room) is the book that placed its author in my all time top three. I instantly went out about bought more of her books (I also highly recommend Slammerkin, the story of a 13 year old Victorian prostitute) and she inspired me to read up further on Victorian culture.

If you are looking for an entertaining and intriguing read that will educate you and leave you wanting more, then The Sealed Letter is definitely the next book on your reading list.

St Ives Apricot Face Scrub

I have always had dodgy skin. As a teenager I was riddled with acne, and actually it probably lasted until I hit about thirty.  I tried every cream and potion you could find, used anti-biotics, even had a period as an outpatient for a course of Ro-accutaine. In hindsight though, there were two things I didn’t do that would have made more difference than all of the above put together. The first and biggest thing would have been to cut out all junk food from my diet, the second thing would be to use a daily face scrub.

While diet works from the inside-out and there is no substitute for that, a good face scrub will get rid of any surface grime, unblock pores and keep bacteria at bay. I have tried a number of different scrubs over the years but in my opinion nothing matches the St Ives Apricot scrub.

Whether I have a few spots or not (its quite rare these days, thankfully) St Ives Apricot scrub is my go-to face product whenever I have a bath (daily). It isnt the cheapest product on the face scrub shelf but its not extortionate for what it gives you either – in fact, I would suggest it is worth every single penny.

I have tried a few of them. The one for Sensitive Skin is nice and creamy in texture but is not grainy enough for me. I like to be able to feel the grains on my face when I rub them in. I can sometimes spend too long just rubbing my face, feeling more and more relaxed from the sensation it gives me (perhaps why this brand is my favourite). This is why its only the Fresh Skin version this scrub that I will buy these days.

When I have finished scrubbing my face, my skin is always very noticably clearer. It always surprises me how it can go from dull and lifeless to springing back into action with the help of a few little grains. The skin does feel a little dry when it dries but you are going to get that after using any scrub. I always rub in my face moisturiser afterwards and that solves that problem.

The best thing about this scrub is that its eliminated the need for a face mask to be used, which I used to do about once a week – now its once every few months.

If you are looking for a new face scrub to use, I cannot recommend St Ives Apricot Scrub for Fresh Skin enough. Try it and see!

5/5

Eyeliner

I love the current trend of wearing black eyeliner. It looks sexy, glamorous and opens the eyes big and wide. I have always found applying it to me a big kerfuffle though. No matter which one I try, it never stays put and I end up looking like a panda bear. Recently I have been trying out a number of them with varying results so I thought I would offer a review.

Soap & Glory


I am a huge fan of S&G products. The Supercat was the first eyeliner I ever tried, a good few years ago. I havent used it recently so I do not know if they have improved upon the ingredients but these are my thoughts:

I love the physical shape of this type of eyeliner – a pen. It holds well and glides on with ease. It offers a great shape on the eye, very 1950’s, and really widens my somewhat small eyes. I used this pen for a long time but in the end became annoyed that it did not stay on. Not only that but it seemed to rub off onto the upper lid just below the eyebrow.

At £6 (a lot cheaper than other S&G products) you get what you pay for.

3/5

L’oreal



Next I tried the L’oreal eyeliner Lineur Intense. This was my first experience with a brush applicator and I did not like it. For anyone who does not have completely steady hands this can be a nightmare. I watched some Youtube video’s and saw that you did not need to apply in one sweeping move but instead doing it bit by bit works out better.

I liked this one more because it dried quickly and did not smudge. It did need to be reapplied a few times over the day but that didnt matter to me as long as there was no double line on my upper lid.

I don’t know if they changed the ingredients but the last couple of times I bought it, it was not staying put for longer than an hour so I decided to move on to something different.

At £7 per applictor this is a good price for what it offers but its not enough for me.

3/5

No7 (Boots)


I have never purchased a No7 product that I have been disappointed with and their Amazing Eyes Liner is no different. It comes in a small tube, which is see-through so you can see how much you have left. The applicator brush is small, a little bit too long for my liking, but it works well and goes on with ease.

The liquid dries quickly, looks bold, does not smudge or wear off. The problem I have with this product (which may be me more than the ingredients) is that it makes my eyes water, and when they water the liner goes everywhere. I turned up at work for a meeting, looking like I’d been crying and did not realise until the lunch break!

If I were not allergic to the product I would have stuck with this one. Also around the £7 mark, its very good value for money.

4/5

Barry M


I have been a number of times but have always steered clear. I assumed because its at the cheaper end of the market their products would be no good. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I picked up a waterproof (I was taking no chances) gel eyeliner in champagne colour (sparkly grey) because I couldn’t see the black on the shelf. As soon as I got home I tried it out, just putting it over my black No7 eyeliner. I was instantly amazed with how much further it opened my eyes than the other products, I really liked the look. It went on very easily and stayed put. I’m very bad at taking my make up off and it was still there in the morning – that is the sign of a good product!

The next day I went back and found the black version. I liked that too. It doesnt offer as dramatic a look as the liquid liners but it does the job well regardless. It also gives me a different, softer look. There is no smudging, no wearing off and yet the face can be wiped clean very easily with eye make up remover.

At £5.50 this was slightly cheaper than the other products but twice as good. I know who will be getting my money in future – Barry M!

5/5

Do you wear eyeliner? What one do you use? Have you had any problems? What would you recommend?