Product Reviews

Product Review – L’Oreal Brow Artist Genius Kit

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Eyebrows are a thing now. I mean, they always were a thing, but now they’re more of a thing than ever. Every woman now has to include brow husbandry into her daily routine. There has always been an accepted ‘best way’ of doing one’s brows. There’s the ‘proper’ places to start and finish, the ‘ideal’ height of arch, and the ‘accepted’ thickness etc. The internet is awash with examples of brows gone horribly, hilariously wrong and those of us of a certain age can look back in horror at brow fashions of the past. Who remembers Angela Rippon and those surprised arches we all dreamed of copying?

Today, the accepted look is a fuller, bushier brow and I, for one, am grateful. I can distinctly remember Brooke Shields being torn apart by the media for her bushy brows but she remained resolute and I bet she’s laughing now.  While the rest of us have to fill in and paint over the bare patches caused by our over eager plucking, hers are naturally healthy and bushy and just need a bit of a tidy up.

I learned how to do mine well for the first time in my life, by following a Youtube video and I’ve been happy with this routine for the past year or so since I learned it. Then I splashed out on semi permanent eyebrow tattoos, which was a mistake I would not recommend anyone repeating. For three days I had beautiful natural looking brushstroke eyebrows that quickly became brown smudges that I still had to fill in just as I did before. Waste of time and money. Learn from me and don’t do it.

Now we have a new kit from our old friend, L’Oreal in the form of the Brow Artist Genius Kit. I purchased this from Boots for £9.99, which is not too much to risk for nice brows.

Inside the metal tin are two square palettes of colour, a teeny pair of tweezers, and a teeny brush. The kit comes in two choices, fair to medium and medium to dark. I got the medium to dark as although I’m 53, I’m still a natural brunette.

The palette on the left is a wax, which goes on first. Brush it on just as you would your normal powder or pencil. This does not colour the brows, it’s just wax.

Next, the palette on the right. This is the actual powder colour which you brush on over the wax. Again, just do it like you would with your normal powder or pencil. The powder sticks to the wax and holds in place better than powder alone.

The other end of the brush is a spooly, which you then use to gently brush through and you’re done. It’s easy to do and lasts all day, which powder alone doesn’t. One thing worth noting is that I find the medium to dark has a distinct red tone to the rich brown. If asked before I purchased, I would not have welcomed this as I’m used to years of black brows, but I’m so glad now I’ve used it. The rich brown is so much more natural than black, which women of my age must unfortunately be more aware of than you pretty young things.

I love this product, and will most definitely be making it a permanent part of my cosmetic bag.

5 stars.

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Semi Permanent Make Up – my experience

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Today I did something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time – I got my eyebrows tattooed.  This sounds far more freaky than it looks, and as you can see from the photo above, they look very lifelike.  Nowadays, the tattoo artists are able to produce the most amazing results.  I’m overjoyed, I have good eyebrows for the first time in my life.  No more pencilling, no more powdering, no more dyeing.  Just lick the finger and go..!

After filling in the usual medical forms Sarah, from Lawless Tattoo in Eastleigh,  Hampshire, applied anaesthetic cream.  She then spent quite while drawing the brows with a brow pen, to get the right look and size, and to make sure I was happy with the look.  At all times my own opinions and views were paramount.  After marking the  brows in several places, she wiped off the brow pen and I lay down.  The tattoo procedure itself was not that painful, and she applied anaesthetic cream regularly to keep me comfortable.  Everyone is different and will react to pain differently.  I found the only real discomfort was when she was working on the inner portion of the brows.  Other’s will find that area the least trouble.   Some find it totally without any discomfort.   It was way less painful than when I’ve had normal tattoos done, so if you have had a tattoo, it’s  nowhere near like that.

At all times, she listened to me and what I said I wanted, gave excellent advice and at no time did I ever feel coerced.  I went for a more natural curved outline, rather than the obvious straight edged ones that are so popular now.  I’m 52 and not a glamour model, so a natural look was what I wanted.  There is a follow up appointment in 4 weeks time, when Sarah will fill in anything that needs it, add colour etc and any other  tweaks that are necessary.  They do fade up to 50% after the first part of the procedure, so the follow up is when you can fill in to get the depth of colour you want.

At the moment, she has a June offer running.  £99 for eyebrows, with £45 for the follow up appointment.  She also offers semi permanent eyeliner, eyelash enhancement, lip liner and full lip, laser tattoo removal, body piercing, and all the usual tattoos.  Other people offering these brushstroke eyebrow tattoos charge up to £400 and more.  Why pay those prices?

If you live near Eastleigh, contact Sarah at Lawless Tattoo.  Her facebook page is here.

The Inversion Method for hair and skincare

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I happened across a tagline a while ago that caught my eye – grow 1 inch of hair in 7 days.  Naturally, my first thought was something along the lines of “pffffffft, yeah right.”  Once I got that out of the way, I watched some of the youtube videos about it, and decided to give it a go.  It would cost me nothing except a few minutes time, so why not.

The inversion method is simple; you put your head upside down for five minutes, every day for seven days.  It’s as simple as that.  Some folks say to use oil in your hair and there is some debate about which oils to use etc, but my hair is really fine and any added oil just turns me into an oil slick.  I decided not to use any oil, and just to invert my head and do a bit of scalp massage while I’m down there.

What I did was to stand up, bend down to touch my toes, and remain down there for five minutes.  Now, this next bit is VERY important so take note.  Getting up must be done slowly and carefully or you will feel dizzy.  I have severe postural hypotension, so I have learned over the years to take care when getting up, even from lying down.  I’ve got into the habit of being careful, but anyone who isn’t used to taking care, TAKE CARE WHEN STANDING UP..!  You do this for seven days, once a month.  They say you should not be tempted to do this every day, as the body gets used to the extra blood flow, which will cease to have such a dramatic effect.  I don’t know if this bit is true, but I guess it could be.

Most of the folks in the videos and blogs I looked at, took pains to measure their hair before and after, but I didn’t bother.  Extra length was not really what I was after.  The science behind the inversion method is that the extra blood flow to your head during those five minutes, shocks the system, which then uses the extra blood flow that it does not normally receive.  It’s like your hair and skin suddenly says to itself, “hey guys, what’s with all this extra food?  Let’s party.”  Most people seem to get around one inch growth in the seven days.  What I thought was that all that extra blood flow would contribute to my hair’s health in all sorts of ways, so it might contribute to extra thickness huh?  At the very least, the extra blood flow would give the follicles a blow through, which can only be good right?

Okay, so what happened to me?   Well, today is the seventh day of my trial, and I have been able to tie my hair back for the first time in over a year.  A week ago it was too short to tie back,  now I have a baby ponytail that gets my hair off my neck in this horrifyingly hot weather.  I will  have to wait to find out if the thickness has been affected or not, but if not, I’m delighted to have seen some growth.

The unexpected benefit of the inversion method that I’ve found, is the effect on my facial skin.  During this seven days, the skin on my face has been extremely soft, much more so than usual, with no change in my skincare regime.  It makes sense when you think about it; all that extra blood flow to your head is going to have benefits everywhere on your head isn’t it?

I shall definitely be doing it again next month.  It’s worth a few minutes a day surely?

I’ve decided to add a new regular section here, which I am going to title, Shit Pile Award.  This is an award that I will give to something that is so dreadfully, terribly, mind numbingly bad, that it really shouldn’t be allowed to exist.  This might be anything from a movie, a song, a book, an internet service, a brand, or a person, literally anything at all.  If it exists, then it’s worthy of consideration for the Shit Pile Award. feces-154137_640

Todays Shit Pile award goes to (drum roll please) – Feed 140 internet Twitter Drip Feed App

The idea behind this shit pile is brilliant.  You get together a shed load of tweets into a playlist, which you store on the Feed 140 site.  With a few clicks, it then supposedly drip feeds your playlist, tweet by tweet, to your twitter account.  You don’t have to type in individual time slots for each tweet like with Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, you simply tell it how many tweets you want it to send, per day.  You then go away and forget it.

Wonderful, except it doesn’t work – not ever.

I’ve tried changing my browser, deleting cookies, deleting playlists and re-uploading, changing settings, you name it I’ve tried it and nothing, repeat nothing, can get this thing to work.  So many people have reported the same problems with it, it’s not just me.

And, get this hunny bunnies, there is a pro version they want you to pay for..!  What?  Yeah really.  Rolling on floor laughing my ass off.

When will those morons who run the site work out that in order for us to want to give them our money, we have to have a product that actually works?  The answer unfortunately seems to be, never.

Believe me folks, stick with Hootsuite or Tweetdeck.  They are laborious to use, the tweets have to be scheduled individually and you can’t set it up to keep churning out your playlist over and over again, but they actually work.  Your tweets will actually reach your twitter account, and that is what is most important.

Stay away from Feed 140.  Not only does it never work, but you needn’t bother putting in a support ticket either, they never get answered.  They are a bunch of frauds, pretending to have a product that revolutionises your twitter, but they push you to sign up for the pro version, which doesn’t work either.

Feed 140, you bunch of twats.  I give you the Shit Pile Award.  May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your syphillitic crotches, and may your arms be too short to scratch, assholes.

Product Review – Boots no7 Restore & Renew – Boots no7 Essential Moisture face creams

 

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I’ve decided to review these two creams together, mostly because I’ve used both one after the other and also to save time and space.

Both of these creams are thick and luxurious and without too much of a smell.  They both come in a generously sized tub.  They both make my skin beautifully soft and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them both.

The only problems are that the Essential Moisture Day Cream has no SPF at all, which in today’s world of awareness about the damaging effects of the sun, amazes me.  Also, the Restore and Renew, which has an SPF of 15, is WAY more expensive.

Out of the two, I much prefer Restore and Renew.  I’m 51 and need a richer cream nowadays.  I’ve passed the stage of having to worry about blackheads, so the thicker cream suits me and will help avoid wrinkles a little longer.  It’s over £25 though, which for me is a tad too much.  The Essential Moisture is only around £13, which is much more affordable but at the cost of sun damage.

I’m trying to find a high SPF rich cream which is as good as Restore and Renew but at a lower cost.  I’m halfway through my tub of Essential Moisture at the moment, but when it’s finished I shall not be buying it again, simply because of the lack of SPF.

If money is no object and you want sun protection, then Restore and Renew is for you.  If money is tight and you don’t care about sun damage, then Essential Moisture is basically the same product without the SPF and at a much lower cost.  They are both fab moisturisers.

Final Verdict – No 7 Fanomenal Lash Serum

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It’s almost 8 weeks since I wrote this review on No 7’s new Fanomenal Lash Serum and now I’ve come back to give my final verdict.

This product claims to give you longer, thicker and darker lashes in 8 weeks of daily use, which consists of applying it to your lash roots daily.

Pros – It has made my lashes longer.

Cons – It’s expensive at around £25 for a very small tube.  It stings like fuck when it gets into your eyes, which is inevitable when having to apply it to the very roots of your lashes.  The tube leaks unless you keep it upright all the time and be careful how you dip the brush in.  It didn’t make my lashes fuller.  It didn’t make them darker either.

To sum up, this product worked fantastically well as far as extra length is concerned.  Trouble is, my lashes are already very long and I wasn’t after extra length.  What I wanted was extra fullness and a darker colour, neither of which I got.  It took seconds to apply so application was pretty trouble free, despite the fact that the tube oozes when dipping the brush so you have to be gentle or you lose some product and at this price, you don’t want to lose a drop.

Will I continue with it?  Nah.  Too expensive and it didn’t do what I wanted.  If you’re after extra length only, then I can’t recommend it highly enough but if it’s fullness or a darker colour you’re after, don’t bother.

Product Review – No 7 Fanomenal Lash Serum

I’ll admit right away that this was an impulse purchase; I’m prone to them, being as I’m devoid of self esteem, but having got the product home and googled it, I was delighted to find the reviews to be fantastic.

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Now this costs quite a bit, over £20 for a very small tube so this is a risk for me as a destitute author but, like most women, I dream of longer and thicker lashes.  The product instructions say to put a thin line of the product along the very roots of the lash, both top and bottom, twice a day.  You can also use it on your brows.  You are supposed to use it for 8 weeks, after which time, use 3 or 4 times per week to maintain the look.  It is supposed to make the lashes, longer, fuller and darker.

Another thing I’ll admit to (fairly proudly actually) is that I’m blessed with very long lashes anyway, but they’re lacking in fullness.  I won’t mind if this product doesn’t make them longer as they’re very long anyway but more fullness and a darker appearance would be most welcome.

I’ve only just bought this today, so I can’t yet give a final review (I’ll do a follow up in 8 weeks).

Putting the stuff on is very easy, just draw a line along the lash lines and over the brows.  It feels just like water when it goes on and didn’t sting my eyes at all.  I also used it on my brows as they are a little sparse on the outer half of each so more fullness there would be welcome too, even though it might mean more plucking.  Some of the reviews mention the tube leaks if you don’t keep it upright, so I’ve pre empted any potential problem here by keeping it upright from the start..

I’ll be back in 8 weeks to give my final thoughts.  Fingers crossed this works.

Final Review of Wish Upon a Jar

wish-upon-a-jar2It’s now been quite a few weeks since I purchased this product for the first time and I thought it about time I gave my final verdict.  The packaging is lovely and I will admit that this was the first thing that drew my attention.  The instructions say to use the product for 21 days, after which you go back to your usual cream for three months, when you can then use it for another 21 days.

I still love the smell of this cream but I won’t be buying it again, for 2 main reasons.  Firstly, there is no noticeable difference in my wrinkles.  Secondly, it’s very thick and doesn’t spread easily when cold.  Let me explain.  I’m a destitute writer and cannot afford to put the heating on in my flat.  I’ve managed the whole winter so far without heating; through wind, rain and snow and because of this, my bathroom is colder than a penguin’s arsehole.  I find this cream very difficult to spread at these temperatures, due to its thickness, which forces me to use more of it.  This then makes my skin feel overloaded and uses the product up quicker.  Thirdly, it’s very expensive; over 15 quid a pot and I cannot justify such an expense when it doesn’t help my wrinkles.

Okay that’s three reasons, well I’m a writer not a mathematician!

For those who want a very thick cream that smells wonderful, who are financially comfortable and able to afford botox or laser resurfacing and who live in a warm climate, this product would be perfect for you.  Me?  I’ll stick to Lidl’s own brand at £2.50 a pot.

 

 

New Laptop – hp Pavilion g6

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I recently had 3 lucky breaks that netted me 500 quid to splash.  Firstly, I won £80 on the lotto the day before my birthday.  Then Mother gave me £100 for my birthday and then I got offered £300 to format, design the cover and publish a book for a pc illiterate new author.

So today, £500 grasped in my sweaty palm, I headed off to my local PC World to buy my very first laptop.  Having been a desktop user for the past several thousand years, the world of laptops, netbooks, ultrabooks and the like is somewhere I’ve never had the good fortune to venture into.  I am, however, pc literate and know what I want the machine to do and can ask most of the right questions.

What I wanted was my desktop, in a laptop.  I want to do everything I’ve been doing in a newer, faster, smaller and portable machine.  I also want to be able to sit on the sofa while I’m doing it, or lie in Sunday mornings and watch a dvd (I’ve no tv in the bedroom alas) and it would be fabulous if, at last, I had a machine powerful enough to finally be able to play the Riddick pc game Mother bought me a couple of years ago.

A friend recommended a couple to me so I strolled up and down the laptop section for a few minutes and eventually found the tiny machine lurking amongst big slick looking laptops.  Eventually, (this store always keeps you waiting ages for service) a cute looking guy with a sexy accent and an engaging smile called Richard strolled over and we talked laptops.  After hearing what I wanted from a laptop and how much cash I had to spend, he showed me my options.  It came down to one – the hp Pavilion g6.  It has all the right ‘stuff’ inside, enough of all the things you want a lot of, a big enough screen and it will allow me to watch dvd’s in bed and play my Riddick game (so he said anyway, I haven’t tried yet).

This Richard guy gave me a helpline number and said when I got home and unpacked everything, to ring the number and they would talk me through setting it all up.  Great says I and handed over my wedge and grinned all the way home.  After a quick pee, I ripped open the box and rang the number, only for the guy to say I’d been given wrong information and that they don’t do set ups over the phone.  I was really angry as I hadn’t a clue how to get the thing to ‘see’ and recognise my router so in desperation I rang my isp – EE and spoke to a guy called Sandeep who guided me through opening a remote help thing so he could see my screen and got me connected and running within 5 minutes.  Lovely.

3 hours later I’d finally got Norton anti virus and Office loaded and sat back and started using the machine.  My first battle was with the Windows 8 startup screen, which seems like a nightmare to a dedicated xp lover of many years, but once I’d figured out how to rearrange my tiles and pin my chosen apps to my startup screen, I was smiling.  Another 5 hours later and I’d downloaded my favourite photo manipulation software, and used the new Word to design a press release for my books.

So far I love it.  I’m sitting comfortably on the sofa so I will no longer have to stub my toe on that annoying leg that sticks out of my desktop trolley, nor try to balance my ashtray on the corner of the sofa so as not to get ash and muck in my keyboard.

The only downside is that it’s red.  I’d prefer black or even silver but all they had was red.  The only other downside is the pad thing instead of a mouse (that takes some serious getting used to, believe me) and it took me a couple of hours and several pleas for help on facebook and twitter to learn how to right click and click and drag without a mouse, and as for scrolling down a page, well don’t even ask.  Basic stuff but I’ve never used a pad before.  Now I’ve learned those basic things I can start to feel at home on it.  I still have to find out how to attach my printer and my external hard drive I used with the desktop and if both of those are easy, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that I could get rid of the desktop altogether.

So, in the week following my 51st birthday, I’ve taken another step forward into the technological age.

How to recognise a new kind of sock puppet

There has been a lot of talk in recent months about sock puppets and for those who’ve only just returned to Earth, sock puppetry is buying reviews for your book or making a fake account from a site such as Amazon and giving yourself a glowing review.  That’s the basic version anyway.  Google it for more information.

I’ve discovered a new kind of sock puppet and this one wears a disguise to try to hide the fact that it’s just a sock puppet.  Over on facebook I get invited to many ‘pages’ and ‘events’ run by authors all wanting to market their book or raise its public profile and many of them resort to good old bribery to do it.

They offer you prizes such as Amazon gift cards, kindles, paypal money etc but in return for being allowed to enter this competition (which is nothing more than pulling a name out of a hat) you have to buy their book, download their book, vote for their book and/or leave a review.  Then and only then will you be entered into the draw, which you probably won’t win anyway.

Now, we’d all love a brand new Kindle Fire or £100 paypal money and many people go in for these so called ‘competitions’ without realising what they are actually doing.  They are taking the promise of material reward in return for leaving a glowing review of a book they’ve probably never read anyway, which gives potential readers a totally false view of the product they intend to pay honest money for.

Let’s say for instance that this gal wrote a romance novel and offers such a thinly veiled bribe and people leave glowing reviews of it on Amazon or Goodreads saying how wonderful it is, how perfectly written and how they can’t wait to read more from this wonderful wordsmith etc, you know the sort of drivel.  So a real buyer comes along and likes the look of the hot guy on the cover and thinks about buying it but decides to read the reviews first.  Everyone seems to be awestruck by this wonderful piece of literature so they buy it and eagerly await the postman.  When the knock at the door comes they almost bite off his arm to get at the package and rip it open.  With a fresh coffee to hand and the cat on their lap, they sit down to read.

Then they discover the spelling errors, the bad (or none at all) punctuation, the continuity errors, the horrendously stilted dialogue, incorrect or total lack of research, contradictions galore and generally bad grammar.  They might not know the mistakes are there on a conscious level but they will quickly realise the book is difficult to read, it doesn’t seem to flow and they cannot tell who is talking and who isn’t.  They will get irritated by the overuse of identical dialogue attribution (if it’s used at all) and will find themselves thinking,

“What the fuck is this all about?”

They will feel disappointed and angry at the wasted money and time and will then assume that all  indie/self published books are of a similar standard and will be far less likely to buy another.  For those of us who take a lot of care over the quality of our product, that is a slap in the ta ta’s we don’t deserve.  We must act to raise the bar for the whole indie/self publishing world and a huge part of doing that is to stop trying to con our customers.  You may think it’s okay to help another author out, even if you’re only doing it in the hope they’ll do the same for you (they won’t, believe me) but take a moment to think of the customer who reads your review.  Will they be happy that you told the truth?  If not then remember that same customer might not be too happy to buy your book when it comes out, after being conned with the last one.