SAMPLE: Olay Total Effects Day, 50ml £14.99


My mum has only ever worn makeup on her wedding day. But what she did do was apply Oil of Olay (then Oil of Ulay) morning and night. She is in her 70s now and still doesn’t have any wrinkles! (she should actually be an advert for Olay!

I remembered her smoothing it on her skin, the iconic pink lotion (vs the heavier creams that were common back then) that worked well for Oriental skin. I remember it absorbed so well without residue or stickiness. It’s been interesting to see how Olay have developed their brand over the decades since then – building upon their classic reputation, even into cosmetics, without being banished to the more ‘fuddy duddy’ realms of their contemporaries such as Astral and Ponds.

Unsurprisingly, some nostalgic charm presented itself when we had the opportunity to test Oil of Olay’s modern day counterpart – Olay Total Effects Day.  We had the opportunity to test this ourselves as well as pass samples to friends and family.

What does it suceed at? True to its origins, it is a univerally effective product that can be a great addition to your skincare routine whatever your age or skin type. It is on the richer side than the old product, so normal to dry skin types would probably benefit most. It didn’t aggravate oil production in our combination skin type though. It absorbed well – we think it would be great layered with a moisturising lotion/toner…K-beauty style or with a moisturising spray for a refresh during the day.

Overall, we actually preferred the feel of the old product for combination skin, but Olay Total Effects works so much harder for you – brightening, refining pores, evening skin tone with built in SPF, as well as the usual moisturising properties. It’s a hard working product for modern, busy lifestyles.

A great allrounder.  The pump is easy to use, but leaves some product wasted at the end. We would love to try to the full skincare range to see how it works as a regime.

RRP £14.99 for 50ml


REVIEW: Herbal Essences bio:renew Shampoo & Conditioner 400ml, £4.50 each

Letting Life in in North Carolina with Herbal Essences Bio:Renew

“Letting life in – combining the beauty of nature with the power of science, for hair that smells incredible and feels full of life”

Thanks to SuperSavvyMe’s Savvy Circle, we were sent a whole parcel of their new Herbal Essences Bio:Renew Shampoo and Conditioners to test and share. They sent through a pack which had loads of info and 3 sets of shampoos and conditioners:

  • White Grapefruit & Mosa Mint (for volume)
  • Rosemary & Herbs (for moisture)
  • Coconut Milk (for hydration)

We tested these with the help of some of our friends. We were sad to miss out on the other 4 variants (for repair, cleansing, smoothing and shine) as these would probably have suited us more, but we were still eager to see what the new Herbal Essences bio:renew range was all about.

Why were we so excited?
We already highly rated the Nourish Me Butter shampoo and conditioner (followed by the Bee Good line) from the existing Herbal Essences range. It excels for a drugstore product available at a more than reasonable price, especially with frequent promotions.

How is bio:renew different?
The range is silicone, colourant, parabens and gluten free. We were surprised they were not SLS (sodium laurel sulphate) free but welcomed the progressive attitude that the new range embraces. It is pH balances and safe for colour treated hair.

Herbal Essences sent us info on how bio:renews brings us closer to nature. The only way it did that was when we took some of our samples to the US and into the North Carolina woods…at the end of the day, shampoo and conditioner is not a natural thing.

What did we think of it?
Overall – we felt that the new scents were pleasant, the product was pleasant to use but did need to dispense a little more than usual to achieve the same results. With the slightly higher price and increased amount required – this brings it in at a higher price point than the existing range. The results are good, but not any better than the original range. So unless you are looking for a shampoo/conditioner duo that is silicone, colourant or gluten free then we would suggest sticking with the original range purely from a price/performance perspective.

However, this product is better for the environment – so with that in mind or if you suffer with buildup or have coloured hair then it’s worth giving this range a whirl.

Our favourite so far? The rosemary and herb <3
Our least favourite? The white grapefruit and mosa mint smelt somewhat artificial.

REVIEW: Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Gel foundation 30ml, £10.99


We found this foundation when we trialled Chantecaille’s Future Skin gel foundation, but the price made us want to cry. We started looking for other oil-free gel formulas and the one that everyone was raving about was Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum. It’s almost a dupe for the Future Skin.

It was hard to work out which shade we were as there were never the right testers in store, but we’re glad we persisted. This has become our drugstore foundation of choice. It basically does everything you’d want a foundation to do – provides good medium coverage that lasts well. It didn’t produce a ‘luminous’ or ‘dewy’ finish and can’t say we noticed the ‘anti-fatigue’ claims but it did look natural and didn’t separate or go patchy as foundations often can with combination skin.

Best of all, whilst it’s not weightless (but it is fairly lightweight), it feels pretty good and lasts relatively well even in the T-Zone on combination skin (would need a touch up during a full day). Best of all, Bourjois cater relatively well for yellow-toned shades.

This went straight in as our Holy Grail drugstore foundation.

PROS: Inexpensive, breathable, lightweight, well suited to combination skin

CONS: No added radiance

4.5 out of 5

REVIEW: Collection Fast Stroke Eye Liner (black) 3.8g, £2.99


We like the control of a pen, dislike the faff of gel liners with separate brushes. Our favourite liquid liners are definitely the dip style felt tip liquid liners. You get great control with these.

This Collection product was at a pretty good price but was very average. It stung our eyelids a little for the first couple of weeks, but the main issue was that the colour was not really as dense as we would usually like.

Not terrible/average in all. Our favourite so far is Rimmel Exaggerate (or the Clio Kill Black Eyeliner Pen, not available in the UK) which gives a really opaque line.

PROS: A good-quality tip for producing nice shapes/lines, relatively cheap

CONS: Colour bit watery

2 out of 5

REVIEW: Laura Mercier Primer 50ml, £29


Basically the best primer we have yet tried!

It’s weightless, transparent, you can’t feel it on your skin and it helps your makeup perform better and ‘stick’ to your skin. Because it’s weightless, we particularly recommend this for combination skin as it doesn’t aggravate it or ‘sit’ on the skin like some primers can.

It’s our HG primer but because of the price, we keep this one for more special occasions or when we need our makeup to last particularly long.

Remember though, that for a primer to work well, your skincare regime needs to already be sorted.

PROS: Does everything a primer should and does it well

CONS: Pricey, but a little goes a long way

5 out of 5

REVIEW: NARS Kalahari Duo Eyeshadow 4g, £25


This is just one of those products that we didn’t realise we needed until we tried it!

The shades are hard working, flattering and versatile – a pearly mid heather and a buttery, metallic mauve. The shades work really well on oriental skin for a made-up but natural appearance, that also works up really well with a black or grey for a super stylish smokey-eye

Highly-pigmented, these wear well especially when applied wet and basically do everthing you would want an eyeshadow to do.  This has become our go-to eyeshadow in combination with a matte black.

It has gone straight into our hall of fame.

PROS: Looks super stylish, wears well

CONS: A little pricey, packaging picks up finger prints and marks really easily.

4.5 out of 5

Raves: M&S Beauty


M&S have languished for some years, trying to deliver what it is known for – high quality British goods whilst competing in a market at an ever lower pricepoint.

The food hall has long stood head and shoulders above the rest of its offering and now the beauty department is coming into line.

It was Stila that took me to M&S…it’s only otherwise available here in SpaceNK. The brands available were much better than I thought would be there…Ren, Skyn, Nuxe, Glamglow, Rituals etc alongside M&S ‘own’ premium brands – of which some products are great as well as a couple of high street brands like Bourjois (which I personally think are out of place). The ‘Advanced Formula’ Beauty Balm was the star of some products that I was given to review a while back.

Everything has testers and no annoying shop attendants following you round. It’s a really great opportunity to really get pitched in and test the products – a serious rival to the internet shopping experience.

Good work M & S, we look forward to even bigger and better things in time to come.

Thumbs up!

UNBOXING: Birchbox September 2014 – Happy Days…the one with the Benefit Eye Cream


This month’s theme was Happy Days – the booklet inside was missing and the theme tenuous at best. But we hoped for something better that last month’s poor summer-themed offering.

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KORRES: Citrus Showergel, 50ml
Value: £1.60


“This get-up-and-go citrus body wash helps ensure skin stays hydrated all day long.”

BT INITIAL OPINION: Fresh and modern-smelling. This will get used and Korres is a reliably good brand, but the inclusion of this hardly sets the world alight…reasonable at best.

AGAVE: Healing Oil Treatment, 4ml
Value: £1.07


“A lightweight oil to smooth hair, build resiliency and boost shine and colour.”

BT INITIAL OPINION – Look forward to trying this as hair oils really suit oriental hair. We could do with a much, much larger sample though!


BENEFIT: It’s Potent! Eye Cream, 3g
Value: £2.03


“Banish dark circles, smooth fine lines and protect against free radicals with this light peptide-packed formula.”

BT INITIAL OPINION – We get along better with eye gels and serums for our combination skin, but always happy to get to sample Benefit.

SKIN & CO: Truffle Therapy Serum, 5ml
Value: £7.00


“A natural shade-adjusting CC cream with SPF to smooth fine lines and even out skin tones.”

BT INITIAL OPINION – This is interesting! Luxe price, but non-luxe packaging. Will see whether the serum has luxe results or not. Probably the most interesting thing in the box this month..

MODELCO: Lip Lacquer in “Morocco”, volume unknown
Value: estimated £5.00


“A sumptuous lip gloss that provides long-lasting colour and hydration – plus, plenty of shine.”

BT INITIAL OPINION – Nice. We will use. That is all.


URBAN FRUIT: Magnificent Mango 35g
Value: £0.80


“A yummy 100% fruit snack to add to your work lunch and keep you feeling virtuous.”

BT INITIAL OPINION – Love Urban fruit and have yet to try the mango. Great lifestyle extra!

BIRCHBOX: Happy Days Photo Clip
Value: N/A


“Brighten up your desk or bedroom with this colourful photo holder!”

BT INITIAL OPINION – as a second lifestyle extra, receiving something not-too-obviously-Birchbox-branded is not too bad.




All in all, this was a very mediocre box. It suffered hugely from the the samples being weeny, the value of the box on the low side and (surprisingly for Birchbox) they didn’t curate a very exciting or creative box, nor was there a ‘star product’. However, they have still chosen a variety of items combining higher-end luxe brands as well as new brands to discover.  This is just about passable – I know other versions of this month’s box have been better..If we hadn’t got this on the LivingSocial deal, then we would have been pretty miffed.

Box price: £10.00 plus £2.95 shipping (rolling month by month subscription) – although we got this on a discount offer
Total value: £17.50

Note: We paid for this Birchbox with our own hard-earnt pennies

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UNBOXING: You Beauty Discovery September 2014 – Birthday Special


The theme of this box was Birthday Special. We weren’t sure why until we realised that YBD is one year old! As our favourite subscription beauty box, we’re happy that its made it to this anniversary!

For their birthday, YBD offered a cracking selection, but we were actually away so had to choose from the leftovers. But no fear! YBD had included a birthday bonusload of extras, including a full size Toni & Guy Volumising Whip. How generous!




EYEKO: Hydrogel Eyepatch, 3g x 2
Value: £3.75
“For radiant bright eyes. Botanically infused eye patches that instantly brighten and revivie eyes for a wide-awake look. Concentrated anti-stress and anti-fatigue ingredients treat the delicate eye area visibly diminishing dark shadows and puffiness, leaving skin hydrated and firm. Revitalise tired eyes in just 20 minutes.”

OFFER: Thanks to YBD, you can get 20% off all products at using the voucher YOU20 (valid until 31st Oct 2014)

BT INITIAL THOUGHTS: We love to try out fun things like this.  Although this would have been better suited as an extra rather than an option, it’s a good brand, we’re optimistic!


Mavala: Mavadry Manicure Time-Save Fast Drying Nail Polish Finish, 5ml
Value: £5.00

“Mavadry dries nail polish in 60 seconds, prevents flaking, enhances nail colour and leaves a brilliant sheen.”

BT INITIAL OPINION – We only selected this because we missed the boat with ordering items for the box. Nevertheless, we’ve heard great things about this product and it’s a useful thing to have in our arsenal. We don’t imagine that it will get used all that often, but will come into its own when needed. Imagine that we’ll be super grateful to have it when we’re in a rush!



TONI & GUY: Glamour Volume Plumping Whip, 90ml
Value: £6.99

“The ultimate hair treat to give your locks all-day body and bounce from the roots. The non-sticky formulation slifts hair for glamorous, voluptuous volume without any fl y-aways. Just apply a walnut-sized amount at the roots and blow dry to unleash beautiful sleek body throuhout the hair – the perfect prep for creating a volumised up-do.”

BT INITIAL OPINION – We would never have chosen this ourselves, but what a fun product! How can anyone not be happy to receive it? We look forward to trying this!


CRABTREE & EVELYN: Teabags x 2 – Blackberry Tea & Afternoon Tea
Value: £0.28

BT INITIAL OPINION – Who knew Crabtree and Evelyn did tea? We love teas. All teas.


UNBRANDED: Face Sponge
Value: Unknown, estimate £1

“Cute, handy – perfect for a post-summer make-up bag refresh.”

BT INITIAL OPINION – As a freebie, we can’t really complain. Can’t remember the last time we used a sponge like this though! With some incoming air cushions, could be a good backup for that?


HELLO FRESH: £25 discount card
Value: N/A
“Hello Fresh’s unique service delivers great healthy recipes and fresh ingredients to your doorstep each week.”

BT INITIAL OPINION: We always feel a bit conflicted about things like this – it is a generous discount, but at the end of the day is just advertising. It’s pretty relevant though and does further compliment the rest of this month’s offering, so we’ll let it pass 😉


Germaine de Capuccini: Excel Therapy O2 Continuous Defense Cream & Multi-Regenerating Rose Hip Oil
Pixi: Endless Silky Eye Pen
Pixi: Tinted Brilliance Balm
Perricone MD: No Foundation Foundation
Wild About Beauty: Nutrilips Colour Lipstick SPF15
John Frieda: Brilliant Brunette Colour Protecting Moisturising Shampoo & Conditioner
ARK: Body Butter & Shower Gel Duo
Sanctuary Spa: White Lily & Damask Rose Body Lotion



We were a bit gutted to have missed out on the Pixi and Perricone products, but this actually turned out to be a super fun box. It’s nice to try out products that aren’t the standard ones we’d usually go for and YBD had really outdone themselves with their birthday offering of extras. We look forward to YBD going from strength to strength this year!

Box price: £6.95 inc shipping
Total value: £17.02

Note: We paid for this You Beauty Discovery Box with our own hard-earnt pennies

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