Sunday 29 May 2016

Speed Review: John Frieda Sheer Blonde Highlight Activating Moisturising Shampoo and Conditioner (for lighter blondes)

John Frieda Sheer Blonde review

I was recently sent John Frieda Sheer Blonde Highlight Activating Moisturising Shampoo and Conditioner (for lighter blondes) but being brunette, passed them on to my friend Ellie to try. Ellie has blonde highlighted mid-length hair. It's quite oily and as it's wavy, tangles easily. 

Ellie said that she's very familiar with the brand and has previously tried several of their products. The Beach Blonde Sea Waves Salt Spray and Luxurious Volume Blow Dry Lotion currently feature within her hair care collection.

On first impressions, she really liked the packaging and said that she would definitely be drawn to it if she saw the products on a shop shelf. The light colour immediately suggests use on lighter hair and the design is modern & looks quite luxurious. The tube presentation is functional for use and means that the entire product can be used, without wastage. 

But what did she think about the products themselves? 

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Highlight Activating Moisturising Shampoo is designed to brighten & reveal the full spectrum of blonde tones & highlights. The company states that the moisturising formula, which contains jojoba oil, sunflower and white tea, smoothes hair as it gently removes darkening & dulling build-up. 

Ellie said that the directions for use were very clear & easy to follow. The Shampoo has a smooth consistency. Whilst it lathers quickly, Ellie felt that she needed to use a lot of the product to produce a  generous lather and this would put her off repurchasing. It rinsed out easily with no product build up. The shampoo smelt fresh with a citrus fragrance but she wasn't able to detect the scent once she had dried & styled her hair.

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Highlight Activating Moisturising Conditioner is designed to replenish rich moisture & restore lush blonde tones whilst repairing & improving hair texture for glistening blonde perfection. The company states that the Conditioner helps repair damage by filling in dry, porous strands for supple, silky, shimmering blonde, without residue. It contains brightening extracts of natural lemon peel, chamomile and sunflower seed.

Ellie said that both the scent and texture of the conditioner were very similar to the shampoo. She said that it was easy to work into her hair & that it felt very smooth when she rinsed it out. 

Following use, Ellie said that her hair felt very clean and fresh. She felt that the products helped to eliminate build up, creating a feeling of weightlessness. She didn't notice any colour enhancing benefits. Nor did she notice any dramatic hydrating results but equally, her hair didn't feel drier.

Ellie said that if she were to repurchase either of the products, it would be the Conditioner as she particularly liked the smoothness & shine that it gave.

She feels that the products are reasonably priced at £5.89 each for 250ml.


Wednesday 18 May 2016

Speed Review: Crabtree & Evelyn Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage collection

It's been quite some time since I last featured Crabtree & Evelyn here on Skin Deep.
I rather like Crabtree & Evelyn. They may not be able to generate the same buzz of excitement as some beauty brands and they lack the cult status that drives desire and ultimately, sales but I appreciate the brand because it's consistently dependable, with many hidden gems amongst their product line (the La Source handcare is a range that I love and come back to time & time again) and you simply know what you're getting when it comes to C&E.

Today's review is of Crabtree & Evelyn's Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage collection, which is inspired by the energising botanicals of Sicily. As the name suggests, the products contain antioxidant-rich Tarocco Orange, invigorating Eucalyptus & soothing Sage to revitalise & deodorise skin. It also blends notes of bergamot, neroli & cedarwood.

Crabtree & Evelyn Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage

Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage Skin Invigorating Bath & Shower Gel
It seems logical to start my review by discussing the Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage Skin Invigorating Bath & Shower Gel, despite it actually being the third product from the range which I tried.
On first impressions, I liked the appearance of the packaging which is a plastic bottle featuring the orange design that's consistent with the other products in the line. I appreciated being able to tell how much of the shower gel was remaining. The bottle has a flip top lid and in terms of usage, I'd have preferred the functionality of a pump dispenser to allow greater control. Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage Skin Invigorating Bath & Shower Gel has a thick gel texture and I found it difficult to squeeze out the desired amount, resulting in some wastage. The shower gel produces a generous lather despite being SLS free.
I enjoyed the uplifting fragrance which is quite high end. It's a fairly unisex scent which would make this a good choice for men & women alike. That said, I couldn't detect the scent on my skin following use.
At £15 for 250ml, I feel that Crabtree & Evelyn Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage Skin Invigorating Bath & Shower Gel is slightly overpriced but is a pleasant way to add a hint of indulgence to the everyday routine of showering.

Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage Deep Cleansing Body Scrub
Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage Deep Cleansing Body Scrub was the second product I tried from the range. Regular readers will be unsurprised to know that I liked the tube presentation with a flip top lid & clear directions. Whilst the presentation in a cream box with orange illustration makes it seem more of a gift item, I'm not convinced that this is necessary because the matte finish of the tube adds a high end effect in itself. Despite preferring the functionality of a tube, I felt that it wasn't well executed. The opening wasn't sufficiently wide so squeezing out the body scrub, which has a thick gel texture, took quite a bit of effort.
The gel texture has a relatively high concentration of smooth, exfoliating particles of sunflower wax. This isn't my favourite texture and as such, I'd be unlikely to repurchase. Even though the Body Scrub contains SLS, it doesn't lather & I didn't find it to be drying on my skin. It simply emulsified into a creamy texture but equally, I didn't notice any skin nourishing benefits.
The wax granules mean that its gently abrasive. I'd like to try the body scrub on dry skin before showering in order to intensify the abrasiveness but I feel that the gel texture requires some water to provide "slip".
I preferred the scent in this format to the hand cream (see below). It still has a slightly masculine element but it's also fresh& left me feeling clean. The scent doesn't linger on skin following use.
My skin was left feeling soft & smooth with no product residue so I needed to moisturise afterwards. Given the freshness and gentle scrub this provides, it would be a good choice for summer use.
Crabtree & Evelyn Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage Deep Cleansing Body Scrub costs £17 for 175g.

Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage Skin Silkening Body Souffle
Tarooco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage Skin Silkening Body Souffle is also presented in an outer cardboard box, which adds a gift item feel to the product. The design on the tub inside reflects the design of the outer packaging so it's aesthetically pleasing but regular readers will know that I dislike the functionality of tub presentations.
I was excited to try Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage Skin Silkening Body Souffle as I like lightweight body moisturisers with a whipped texture, which I assumed this would have based on the name. It's actually a smooth cream texture so I feel that the Souffle name is a tad mis-leading. Nonetheless, I found it was easily absorbed and also noted that a little goes a long way meaning that the tub will last for a long time. There was a greasy residue after initial application but this dried down fairly quickly.
I enjoyed the refreshing scent during use and feel that it would be a good choice for summertime but as it lingered on my skin, the woodsy, citrus scent wasn't to my personal liking.
Following use, my skin was left looking healthy & conditioned and feeling wonderfully soft & hydrated.
At £22 for 250g, Crabtree & Evelyn Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage Skin Silkening Body Souffle is undeniably expensive but if you're looking for an indulgent yet effective body moisturiser to get skin into tip top condition ahead of summer, this may be worth a look.

Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage Ultra- Moisturising Hand Therapy
As aforementioned, I've long been a fan of Crabtree & Evelyn hand care, with the La Source products being amongst my favourites of all time so I was excited to try Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage Ultra-Moisturising Hand Therapy.
The presentation in a cardboard box, with the line's orange illustration, means it would make a good gift, either alone as a token gift or alongside other items. The hand cream itself is presented in a generously sized 100ml peach coloured, metallic tube. It's almost a little overwhelming as it would take a very long time to finish. It has a screw cap lid & the functional tube means it's easy to control how much is dispensed.
I loved the texture. It's silky but didn't feel silicone-laden (it does contain silicone but this is listed fairly far down the ingredients list, after nourishing ingredients such as macadamia seed oil & shea butter). The hand cream was impressively easily absorbed, with absolutely no greasy residue whatsoever, meaning I could apply & then quickly carry on with tasks. Admittedly, it's not the most nourishing formula and I needed to reapply throughout the day (so perhaps this goes some way to explaining the large tube!) but my hands were left feeling soft & smooth.
I love anything with an orange scent so I expected to enjoy the scent of Crabtree & Evelyn Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage Ultra-Moisturising Hand Therapy (the hand cream was the first product I tried from the range). The inclusion of eucalyptus & sage notes give a masculine element to the scent and it reminded me a little of Jo Malone Lime, Basil & Mandarin (as did the Body Souffle), which I personally dislike. As such, it unfortunately wasn't to my personal liking and this would ultimately put me off repurchasing despite enjoying the texture. That said, it's completely down to personal scent preference & I can appreciate that it's not a synthetic or cheap fragrance.
I feel that Crabtree & Evelyn Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage Ultra-Moisturising Hand Therapy offers good value for money at £15 for the generously sized 100ml tube.

Friday 13 May 2016

New launch & review: Benefit Brow Collection

Ever since I attended the launch of Benefit's new Brow collection last month, I've been dying to talk about it but as a result of a strict embargo, haven't been able to... until today. Everything about the launch has me excited- from the well executed event, the brand's long association with brows to, of course, the products themselves which live up to my high expectations. 

As aforementioned, Benefit has a long history of solving brow dilemmas. Since the first boutique opened in San Francisco in 1976, Benefit has over 1800 BrowBar beauty lounges in 49 countries. Rightly so, Benefit see themselves as authorities in the brow arena and as a result, the collection has been created to target & solve each & every brow dilemma whether it be sparse brows, patchy brows or unruly brows. In the same way that women now treat, colour & style their hair at home & have reduced their reliance on traditional salons, Benefit hope that the new collection will empower women of every generation to become their own "brow experts". This is reiterated through an easy-to-use online brow product advisor on the company website along with the inclusion of a Magic Tips & Tricks leaflet with products. 

The Brow collection has been three years in the making and features thirteen products, in high-performing formulas, mistake-proof & believable shades and with custom-designed applicators for ease of use. Of course, as you'd expect from Benefit, the packaging is fun whilst also being functional and the product names are quirky & memorable. 

Benefit brows

I've long been a firm believer in the power of brows. I grew up in the 1990s when the aesthetic was "the thinner the better" & this extended from Heroine Chic seen on the catwalk models to women's faces, evident by a simple glance at their brows. Brows have the power to frame & lift the face, making it appear more youthful. A straight brow can give an androgynous appearance whilst a high arch can help to balance a rounded face. As we've moved on from simply tweezing at home, brow products have become as essential a part of our regime as mascara. 

First up, the UK's best-selling brow product, Brow Zings has been given a makeover.  Still costing £24.50, the colour range has been expanded from three to six shades. The adorable mini tweezers which were contained in the original Brow Zings are still included but the two mini brushes, which I think most people found fiddly to work with, have been replaced by an extendable double ended brush. It's better because the longer handle allows for greater control but I have to confess that I find the extendable brush rather flimsy. Comprising a mirror, tools, wax & powder (with the promise of up to 12 hours wear), this handy compact contains all you need to tame & shape brows.

The UK's second best-selling brow product is Gimme Brow. Frankly, I'm surprised that it's not the best-selling product and I assume that this is owing to it being a newer launch. I'm yet to come across someone (particularly those with skimpy brows) who's tried Gimme Brow & not loved it so it's easy to see why it's "inspired" countless imitations. As such, despite the product receiving a makeover, it remains just the same, fantastic product with the simple addition of a further shade so there's now three to choose from. The mini wand (it looks like a mascara wand for cats!) is undeniably cute & allows for a controlled, precision application of the water-resistant, tinted brow gel, which contains volumising micro fibres to create natural looking fullness & definition. I love Gimme Brow because it delivers on the claims, is long-wearing and doesn't feel or look crispy or uncomfortable to wear. The new design contains the same amount of product as the original and there's been no price change (I'm relieved there's no increase as I've always thought that it should be a few pounds cheaper) on the original £18.50.

Benefit Gimme Brow new packaging

The new collection also features some new brow tools and whilst it's difficult to get excited about such things, they've been created with such attention to detail that I can't deny that I'm impressed. 
Slanted tip tweezers which feature diamond-dust coated tips for superior grip have a bristle brush at one end to groom brows into place, without getting in the way when the tweezers are being used. The built-in brush is such a simple idea but one which is so handy that I can't believe I haven't come across tweezers with it before! I feel that it justifies the £15.50 price tag.

There's also a double-ended angled brow brush & spoolie for shaping & defining brows. It's not ground-breaking & as a result, I'd probably struggle to justify the £15.50 price tag on this one but nonetheless, it's the type of tool which I view as an essential within any collection. 

There's also an all-purpose sharpener (which I don't have) costing just £4, which can fit three sizes of pencil from standard to jumbo & it comes with a built in blade-cleaning tool. 

Now onto the new products... 

Benefit Browvo Conditioning Primer

Eyeshadow, face and even lip primers are now considered essentials within our makeup regimes but what about a primer for the brows? Browvo! Conditioning Primer is designed to work well as a base under brow makeup products, helping to enhance both colour & extend wear whilst the nutrient-rich formula (which contains keratin & soy proteins, known to help brows look thicker, healthier & fuller) boasts conditioning benefits so that it boosts the natural appearance of brows over time. Browvo! Conditioning Primer is presented in a twist up pen with rubberised tip for ease of application and is a clear gel which can be worn under makeup without interfering with its integrity or alone (even overnight!). At £21.50, it's not an essential within the collection as far as I'm concerned but admittedly, I haven't been using it for sufficient time to comment on the long-term benefits so it may be worth a look if sparse brows are a concern.

Personally, I find brow pencils the easiest way to fill in my brows. I was surprised to note that there's not just one but two brow pencils to choose from in the new collection (I feel that this is unusual) so there really is something for everyone. I find it particularly helpful when brow pencils are double-ended so as to incorporate a spoolie (in fact, it's a bugbear of mine when they don't!) so I was pleased to note that both brow pencils in the collection boast this feature. The brow pencils are available in six shades & claim up to 12 hours of waterproof wear. Each of the brow pencils costs £18.50 but it's worth noting that there's more than 3x the amount of product included in the Goof Proof Brow Pencil than Precisely, My Brow Pencil.

As the name suggests, the Goof Proof Brow Pencil is designed to be particularly quick & easy to use, making it the ideal choice for beginners. It features a retractable (no sharpening required) slanted tip pencil. The wide tip is handy for filling in uneven patchy brows (which I suffer from & therefore, love this format), whilst the pointed tip is useful to creating definition. 

Goof Proof Brow Pencil

As above, the other brow pencil in the collection is called Precisely, My Brow Pencil. As the name suggests, this one is designed to give a precision application and is particularly targeted at those with shapeless & undefined brows. I don't own Anastasia's bestselling Brow Wiz but the fine tip, specially designed to create hair-like strokes, makes me think of it. The packaging design is as well thought out as the product itself, with a retractable, no-sharpen functionality and a textured grip area. 

Precisely, My Brow Pencil

For those who favour a pomade style product, it's worth checking out Ka Brow! This cream gel (available in six shades) can be used to fill, sculpt & define brows and provides rich colour that promises up to 24 hours' waterproof wear. It's a good choice for those who like to be creative with makeup as it allows users to build up their brows from a natural to dramatic look. Built into the lid is a brush which can be removed, flipped & inserted back into the lid (doing this gives greater control during application). It costs £18.50 for 3g of product but as a little goes a long way, the product will last a long time & therefore, provides good value for money. 

Another product which recognises that many are now rather advanced when it comes to home brow care & as a result, are happy to be creative, is 3D Browtones which is a brow highlighting gel. This unusual product can be used on lighter brows to enhance their appearance, darker brows to soften the look or added as highlights to give more depth to natural brows. The brush features spiral bristles for even, mess-proof application and a mini-comb tip to fill the narrowest part of the brow. The single shade product is water-resistant for up to 12 hours wear and can be used alone or with other products from the collection (many are designed to be used in this way). It's by no means an essential, particularly when you consider the £18.50 price tag- in fact, I feel that of all the products in the new collection, this is the "added extra" which is designed to take brows to the next level.

When it comes to setting brows in place, clear brow gels are plentiful on the market and therefore, there's many affordable versions. As such, it's hard to justify the £18.50 price tag of Benefit's Ready, Set, Brow. That said, I appreciated the long-lasting control it provided, without crispiness or flakes. The rubber bristled wand features short bristles on one side to sculpt & shape hairs into place, the precision tip is designed to provide definition to the tail of the brow and long bristles evenly coat each hair, from root to tip, making it quick & easy to apply.

As a finishing touch, the collection includes two highlighting pencils. High Brow (a matte, linen pink for a natural looking finish) and High Brow Glow (subtly shimmering Champagne) are designed to be applied under the brow arches to give a brightened, lifted and more youthful appearance. The pencil format means that they're also ideally suited for creating a precision highlight on areas such as the tear duct or Cupid's bow. I love the colours and finishes but I wish that the pencils didn't require sharpening. Equally, I'd have loved to see a sponge incorporated at one end for on-the-go blending of the creamy formula (although I appreciate that some people find this unhygienic), which I feel would have made the £17.50 price tag a little more acceptable.

As a point of reference, shade 4 in the new Benefit brow collection works well on my brows, for which I usually use MAC's Lingering pencil, Maybelline Medium Brown or Tom Ford Taupe.

On the whole, I can't recommend Benefit's new Brow collection highly enough. I really do feel that it delivers on the claims and that there's something for everyone. It launches on 24th June.


Tuesday 10 May 2016

Speed Review: Lavera Macadamia Passion Cream Oil Body Wash

Lavera Body Wash review

I've previously reviewed Lavera's Macadamia Passion Body Butter (click here to read) and today's post follows on from that with a look at Lavera Macadamia Passion Cream Oil Body Wash.

Lavera has strong eco credentials which appeal to me & I feel that these are reflected in the packaging. It's admittedly not the most exciting design but I appreciated the functionality of the tube packaging.

Lavera Macadamia Passion Cream Oil Body Wash has a gel cream texture. I struggled to work it into a lather but a bath puff would likely help with this.

Based on the name, I expected Lavera Macadamia Passion Cream Oil Body Wash to have either a floral or comforting nutty scent but I was unable to detect either of those notes. Instead, it has a tart milky scent which reminded me of yoghurt. It's delicate and not unpleasant but those who don't like it can be reassured by the fact that the scent doesn't linger on skin following use.

At £7.45 for 150ml, I feel that Lavera Macadamia Passion Cream Oil Body Wash is a couple of Pounds overpriced but otherwise, it's a pleasant body wash which is well suited to fans of natural products.


Saturday 7 May 2016

Speed Review: John Frieda Sheer Blonde Crystal Hold Hairspray

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Hairspray review

Today's review is of John Frieda Sheer Blonde Crystal Hold Hairspray which I asked my friend, Ellie to test as I'm a brunette. Ellie has blonde highlighted hair which is mid-length & wavy.

The company describes Sheer Blonde Crystal Hold Hairspray as having an ultra-light, non-sticky formula for easy shaping with lasting flexible hold. It says that humidity resistors guard against puffiness and wilted styles & non-yellowing ingredients which dry clear for blonde hair that shimmers & shines. Sunscreen helps to protect from UV damage. They claim that it won't weigh down hair or dull & darken blonde. So, what did Ellie think?

On first impressions, I liked the packaging and would definitely be drawn to it if I saw it on the shop shelf. The light colour clearly communicates that it's intended for use on blonde hair. I think that the design looks modern and quite high end. In fact, I'm familiar with the brand and have previously used several of their products.

I found the hairspray quite wet when first applied but it does dry fairly quickly. The scent isn't strong and I didn't notice that it lingered following application.

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Crystal Hold Hairspray gives a very firm hold so I didn't find it particularly useful when I wanted flexibility in my hair. I think that it went some way to enhancing shine but didn't like that it left my hair feeling sticky and for that reason, I'd be unlikely to repurchase.

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Crystal Hold Hairspray costs £6 for 250ml.


Sunday 1 May 2016

Speed Review: Neal's Yard Remedies Bee Lovely Hand Cream

Ever since I read "A World Without Bees" by Alison Benjamin & Brian McCallum, anything which aims to protect our dwindling bee population captures my attention. With this in mind, it's unsurprising that Neal's Yard Remedies Bee Lovely Hand Cream appealed to me and not merely because the bright yellow packaging is uplifting & eye-catching.

Neal's Yard Remedies Bee Lovely Hand Cream

Neal's Yard Remedies' Bee Lovely collection comprises seven products which have been formulated with nourishing beeswax and moisturising organic honey, along with natural essential oils. Through sales of the range, the company is donating £10,000 per year to projects that help Save the Bees and has already raised over £70,000 since 2011 in aid of bee-friendly causes such as Buglife, Landlife and Pesticide Action Network UK.

The Bee Lovely Hand Cream, which contains energising orange essential oil, was originally introduced as a limited edition but has been added to the brand's permanent collection by popular demand. I actually first tried this product a year or two ago, when I received a free sample with a magazine and remember liking it so when I received a PR sample, I was excited to revisit the hand cream.

On first impressions, I really liked the aesthetic of the functional tube packaging, which clearly communicates the "Save the Bees" message.

Neal's Yard Remedies Bee Lovely Hand Cream has a classic lotion texture which is easily absorbed into skin. A little goes a long way so avoid applying too much because if you do, it leaves a greasy residue. With this in mind, the travel friendly 50ml tube will last a long time.

I loved the sweet orange scent which I found to be uplifting without being overpowering. I'd love to try products such as a lip balm or shower gel (which have actually been added to the range) along the same vein. The scent lingers delicately.

Following use, my hands were left feeling soft, velvety smooth (without the inclusion of silicones within the formula) and wonderfully nourished.

At £10 for 50ml, it's not the cheapest hand cream but it's one which is very enjoyable to use whilst also supporting a truly worthy cause. I'd highly recommend checking it out.
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