Category: Reviews

L’Occitane Classic Beauty Advent Calendar

I know that it is perhaps a little late in the year to be posting about my L’Occitane Classic Beauty Advent Calendar, but I am so pleased with it that I am telling anyone who will listen…

I received it in the post on Friday 1st and it was a complete surprise – sent to me by my lovely mother who knows that I am a huge L’Occitane fan.

The advent calendar depicts a Christmassy scene of a town square in Provence, illustrated by Kanako – a well-known artist in France. There are 24 windows to open and each contains a miniature L’Occitane product.

So far, I have received:

Day 1 – 35ml Cherry Blossom Shower Gel

Day 2 – 10ml 20% Shea Butter Dry Skin Hand Cream

Day 3 – 50g Almond Delicious Soap

Day 4 – 30ml Verbena Body Lotion

Day 5 – 10ml Pivoine Flora Hand Cream

Day 6 – 35ml 5 Essential Oils Conditioner

Day 7 – 30ml Ultra Rich Body Lotion

Day 8 – 5ml Light Comforting Cream

Day 9 – 35ml 5 Essential Oils Shampoo

Day 10 – 25g Soap with Verbena Leaves

Day 11 – 30ml Ultra Rich Shower Cream

Day 12 -10ml Almond Delicious Hand Cream

Day 13 – 33g Effervescent Revitalizing Sugar Cube for Bath

Day 14 – 30ml Citrus Verbena Shower Gel

Day 15 – 3ml Ultra Rich Lip Balm

Day 16 – 50g Arlesienne Perfumed Soap

Day 17 – 35ml Relaxing Shower Gel

Day 18 – 20ml Almond Milk Concentrate for body

Day 19 – 25g Extra-Gentle Milk Soap

Day 20 – 35ml Cherry Blossom Shimmering Lotion

Day 21 – 10ml Verveine Cooling Hand Cream Gel

Day 22 – 35ml Almond Shower Oil

Day 23 – 10ml Dry Skin Foot Cream

Day 24 – 7.5ml Arlesienne Eau de Toilette

My family tradition has always been to open gifts of any kind after the evening meal, (yes, I know this is unusual, but I can’t break with tradition!). I will, therefore, be updating this post in due course.

If you are interested in getting one, it is definitely not too late – it is available for purchase here.


Olay Total Effects Day Cream – Savvy Circle project

I was recently very pleased to receive a package from the Savvy Circle containing a starter kit for their ‘Olay Total Effects’ project. I have enjoyed testing this product over the last few weeks.

Olay Total Effects Day Cream

Included in my starter kit:

  • 1 x Olay Total Effects Day Cream 50ml
  • A Savvy Circle insider’s guide full of handy hints and tips
  • 10 x Olay Total Effects Day Cream 7ml samples
  • 10 x Olay money-off vouchers, redeemable at Superdrug.
  • ‘Ask your friends’ product research sheets

The idea behind this project is to: test the Total Effects Day Cream, hand out the samples and coupons, spread the word and gather other people’s opinions on the product.

After using the product for a couple of weeks I have noted that the appearance of my skin has improved – it looks a lot brighter and, whilst my fine lines have not disappeared, it does look smoother. An adequate amount of the cream dispenses from the pump bottle, which looks quite classy with its black and gold colours; it absorbs into my skin very easily.

My friends have reported that they also like the cream. One person commented that at first they thought it might irritate their sensitive skin due to the light fragrance, but quickly noted that it did not upset her skin at all. Another friend stated that her dry skin felt much softer after trying a couple of the samples.

My only disappointment with this project is a rather far-fetched claim that 8% of women have good skin in their DNA and that the remaining 92% can achieve skin “that can look and behave like the other 8%” by using Olay’s products. That is a tall order, and I am not convinced that it can realistically be achieved with a bottle of face cream costing around £15.

Overall, I have enjoyed taking part in the project and would recommend this product to those looking for an efficient face cream that does not hurt the pocket too much.

Interested in becoming a Savvy Circle member? Apply here


Canela – Portuguese restaurant in London

We recently visited Canela, a Portuguese restaurant in London’s Covent Garden area, before catching the matinée of The Death of Stalin at the nearby Curzon Soho Cinema.

We were able to book a table online via ‘OpenTable’ the night before and were greeted by the friendly, but not overzealous, staff on arrival.

The decently sized menu caters for all appetites, with dishes ranging from light bar snacks to hearty traditional Portuguese dishes such as Moelas em molho do Chef (chicken gizzards in sauce). As it was lunchtime and we did not want a heavy meal before our visit to the cinema, we opted for a small selection of sharing dishes, followed by a Bifana (pork loin steak sandwich), finishing off our meal with a Pastel de Nata (custard tart).

‘Alheira’ mini burgers with quail eggs

The first sharing dish to arrive was ‘Alheira’ mini burgers with quail eggs – which were so beautifully presented it seemed a shame to eat them. They consisted of a mildly spiced sausage meat topped with a fried quails egg, had a smoky flavour to them – and were delicious. As soon as we cleared our plates we were presented with Pastéis de Bacalhau (salted cod croquettes) – our only disappointment, as they were lukewarm and a bit on the bland side. The last sharing dish to arrive was the Camarão ao Alho (garlic prawns) which consisted of perfectly cooked fresh prawns engulfed in a rich sauce – absolutely marvellous.

A Bifana is a  traditional Portuguese sandwich, consisting of marinated pork loin steak with mustard wrapped in rustic bread. In this case they were served with salad and crisps (the crisps might seem a little strange but it is a common combination in Portugal and works very well).

Bifana (pork loin steak sandwich)

Although they lacked the authentic ‘slightly burnt’ look, the Pastéis de Nata (custard tarts) were very good, the pastry had a nice, crisp consistency and tasted very fresh. Mine was washed down with a delicious Galão (a type of latte, served in a tall glass).

The interior of the restaurant was simply decorated with subtle nods to Portugal; the marble tables for example, and the carefully chosen Portuguese wines that adorn the walls, rather than the gaudy souvenirs or ’reminders’ of the restaurant’s authenticity often found in places heavily frequented by tourists.

Camarão ao Alho (garlic prawns)

The meals were served in white ceramic dishes with a blue rim – the subtlety here lies in the fact that whilst these are traditional Portuguese plates they did not have ‘Portugal’ written on them and nor were they embellished with scenes of the Motherland.

It is also worth noting that the prices are very reasonable, especially given Canela’s location. The aforementioned dishes and a bottle of wine set us back £90 – there are very few places in this part of London where you can find fresh food at so low a cost. The most expensive dish on the menu is Bacalhau à Brás (salted cod with potatoes and eggs), which is priced at only £13.90.

Currently there are some special offers available, including:

‘Afternoon Offer’: free coffee with any cake

Monday to Friday 3.30pm–5.30pm and

‘Lunch promotion’: Portuguese daily dish for only £6.50

Monday to Friday 12pm–3pm.

Check out the menu here

Overall I would say that Canela is worth visiting and makes a refreshing change from the surrounding ‘gimmicky’ or, heaven forbid, chain restaurants so prevalent in this area.

For those of you who might be interested, we thought that ‘The Death of Stalin’ was a decent enough film. Whilst it was by no means a masterpiece of British comedy, it was nevertheless an enjoyable watch, which was surprising considering the subject. Some of the acting was superb.


Arancina Restaurant – Notting Hill Gate

The warm and inviting seating area

Earlier this week, my partner and I decided to have a meal at Arancina, one of favourite local restaurants. It is one of the places we go when we just fancy a cheap, no frills eat that does not consist of processed food – a rare find in London these days.

Arancina serves this purpose beautifully as they serve up homemade Sicilian Pizza and hearty meals including Lasagna, Aubergine Parmigiana and Chicken Milanese with roast veg. The pizza prices range from £7.95 for a 35cm x 20cm Margherita to £23.50 for a huge 70cm x 28cm Carnivora. The ‘hearty meals’ will set you back a mere £7.50 and they also do some combo deals, such as a pizza slice, Arancina ball and a soft drink for £8.10.

There are two Arancina restaurants in London, we visited the Notting Hill Gate branch – it is quite unusual in that there is no proper table service. Instead, you order and pay downstairs at the deli-style counter and then carry your tray of food to the seating area upstairs. However, if you order a whole Pizza, rather than the slices on display, staff will usually bring it upstairs when it is ready.

We ordered two arancina balls as a starter and a 35cm x 20cm Carnivora – together with drinks the bill was under £30. The food, as always, was delicious. In case you are not familiar with them, the arancina balls are deep fried risotto balls with a filling of either beef ragu with peas or ham and cheese.

arancina balls

The pizza we opted for was the Carnivora (Margherita, Spicy Salami, Ham and Italian Pork Sausage) in ‘Paletta’ size (35×25 cm). It was full of flavour, the base was crispy but not too thin, and the toppings are made from good quality ingredients. (Sorry I completely forgot to take a photo of it!)

The only complaint I had this visit was about the music, for some reason they decided to play an old Beyoncé/Destiny’s Child CD at full volume, which didn’t quite fit in with our ‘relaxing after work’ vibe. To be honest, lyrics such as “I don’t think you ready for this jelly ….cause my body too bootylicious for ya babe” are never going to quite work for me whilst I am stuffing my face with pizza. I asked one of the staff to change it or at least turn it down, she obliged but seemed really taken back that I didn’t share her taste in music. The other clientele consisted of three young, trendy twenty something lads and two Japanese tourists – I am quite sure that they were not enjoying the music either!

Arancina opened in 2006 and is known locally as a success, evidenced by the queues of Italian tourists on a Saturday afternoon, eager to get their fill before hitting Portobello Market. I would wholeheartedly recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a decent slice of pizza in west London. A menu is available here.

Don’t feel like going out? If you live locally you can order it from Deliveroo here.


Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation SPF 10

Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation

As the cooler weather has been approaching, I have noticed that my skin has been breaking out, as it always does at this time of year. In my experience, it is best just to go easy on make-up when this happens. Working from home does make this easier for me, but last Saturday night I was going out for dinner with a group of people, most of whom I hadn’t met and wanted to look my best – It is at times like this that I reach for my trusted Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation.

As it is a thick formula, known for its fuller coverage, I think it is important to get the shade right as otherwise it will look too obvious – the aim is to look like we are not wearing any make-up isn’t it?  Indeed, it has taken me a few attempts at finding the right shade of this foundation, but I am very glad I persevered as it really does cover up a multitude of sins. Luckily the Estée Lauder ladies at my local Boots have been patient and let me have a few trials before committing to a purchase – just ask them for a colour match and they will usually try to find your match instore then issue you with a little vial containing a few days’ worth of the foundation.

Another great thing about this product is that I can achieve full coverage with a very small amount – I usually just dab 2 or 3 drops on a Ecotools classic foundation brush and spread it quickly in semi-circular movements. It immediately covers any minor blemishes and evens out my skin tone, without looking too fake and ‘cakey’. I have also found that it lasts a long time on my skin (roughly 10 hours ) and does not needed to be re-applied, which can happen with some cheaper formulations.

The only complaint I have about this product is the bottle. Too many a time, I have poured out too much of the liquid and wasted it, for this reason I would prefer pump dispenser. It is available here.


L’Occitane Immortelle Precious Cleansing Foam

This month, in collaboration with Woman & Home magazine L’Occitane are offering a free sample of Immortelle Precious Cleansing Foam. So last week, after acquiring my voucher online I printed it out and then picked up a free 50ml trial sized bottle of this at my local branch.

L’Occitane Immortelle Precious Cleansing Foam

After using it for a few days, I have found that the cleansing foam is gentle on my skin, but at the same time manages to leave my skin feeling very clean and removes all traces of make-up, including mascara. I have been using it in the shower in the morning and over the bathroom sink with hot water and a muslin cloth at night, and haven’t needed to use any other products before applying my moisturiser. It has a light, fresh fragrance and the pump dispenses easily. The foam spreads really well and does not leave any residue.

Get your free sample here. The offer is running until the 30th of September while stocks last. EDIT – I believe stocks have run out now – sorry!

Full sized bottles are available to purchase here and if you can also buy 300ml refill pouches.


Elemis – The Gym Kit Collection for him

The Gym Kit Collection for him

Aaaah…. Summertime…. For most of us this means high days and holidays, ice cream, sunshine, etc. In this household it also means, gulp, …..birthdays. So, this means my partner and I spend a lot of time spent scratching our heads trying to work out what to buy each other and shooing away the headache that this inevitably induces. After a lot of deliberation, this year I opted for The Gym Kit Collection by Elemis.

It seemed like a good choice, given the variety of products contained in the gift set and the added bonus of a gym bag. My partner was pleased with his birthday gift and said that it did in fact contain everything he needs for the gym and that it could also be used for other outings, such as going for a weekend away.

The first thing I noticed when the box was opened was a very strong and rather nice herbal scent – which turned out to be the Aching Muscle Super Soak. I must admit that I was so curious about the bath soak that the day after I gave the Gym Kit to my partner, I ran myself a bath with it – am delighted to report that the end result was very smooth skin that smelt vaguely like eucalyptus for a good few hours afterwards and a slightly angry other half.

The Gym Kit Collection for him

The Gym Kit Collection for him by Elemis contains:

My partner says that he especially likes using the facial wash & day cream as they have improved the appearance of his skin, even after just a couple of uses. It is worth noting that the picture on the box does not represent the bag accurately as it is in fact a lot larger than it appears on the photo – it measures approx. 20 x 35 cm

It is available here.


Derma V10 Deep Cleaning Nose Strips

Well, here we have another Sunday where the weather is not quite fit to do anything outdoorsy. To be honest this doesn’t bother us much as it gives us the opportunity to laze around in our pyjamas watching Netflix and catch up on our pampering. One of the many products we  like to use on these occasions is Derma V10 Deep Cleaning Nose Strips.

Derma V10 Deep Cleansing Nose Pore Strips

If you follow the instructions on the back of the packet they are really easy to use. In a nutshell: 1- wet nose, 2 – apply strip to nose, leave for 10-15 minutes, 3 – peel it off nose and then gaze in awe at how much gunk has just been extracted from your pores. I thought about posting before and after photos, but decided I would spare my readers – I do believe there are parts of the internet dedicated to that sort of thing if that’s what floats your boat.

We tend to use these about once a week, after all, living in a city means our noses do need a bit of extra TLC. Our noses always look much better after using these, they don’t irritate the skin at all and as well as removing the gunk, the strips are also very effective at removing blackheads. They are available here.


Glasses Direct

Glasses Direct


I must admit I was a little dubious about this offer, the idea of two pairs of prescription glasses for £19 seemed far too good to be true, but after checking Glasses Direct’s returns policy and noting that I could return the glasses if I was unhappy with them for any reason, I thought what the heck? I’ll give it a whirl.

Am so glad I did, after carefully choosing my glasses (all the measurements are clearly posted and you can even virtually try them on), a few days later I received 2 rather delightful pairs of glasses complete with a hard case and cleaning cloth, all for £19 including postage!

The first pair, the Sapphie have very thin black lenses and the frame is very lightweight but at the same time, feels very sturdy. The design is perfect for those seeking a minimalist look and would suit most face shapes.

The second pair I chose is the Daisy in Matt Navy – described on the website as a cross between the  ubiquitous Wayfarer and Clubmaster styles, they are not only great value for money, but very trendy too! The navy blue colour is accurately portrayed on the Glasses Direct website and like the Sapphie have a lightweight, yet sturdy frame. I have received many compliments on these.

Glasses Direct have a wide range of frames and offer additional services including sunglasses, digital protection shields and light adaptive coatings on your lenses. After choosing the frames there is a click through menu that allows you to choose the lens type, e.g. bifocal or varifocal etc, and then selecting any additional extras, if required. Finally there is a form to enter your prescription details.

Glasses Direct also offer free home trials. Check them out here.


Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion + Body Yogurt

Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion & Body Yogurt

Don’t you just love when you receive free samples in the post? It’s such a great way to discover new products!

This package from Aveeno was especially generous as it contained two 10ml sample sachets. One for their Daily Moisturising Lotion and one for their Daily Moisturising Yogurt. After trying them out on two consecutive days, here are my thoughts:

Daily Moisturising Lotion – This fragrance free lotion has a light, fresh scent to it and absorbed into my skin with ease and provided good all round moisture that lasted all day. My skin also felt a little firmer after use.

Daily Moisturising Body Yogurt – This is richer, creamier formula that promises to keep skin moisturised for up to 48 hours, it really helped to rehydrate the skin on my lower legs which are prone to dryness and lived up to the 48 hour promise as I did not need to apply body lotion the next day.