Available from: Green People Organic
Initial Reaction: This special gift set is beautifully presented and I was looking forward to trying it out. Green People products use fairly traded, organic ingredients, so ethically they’re right up my street. Green People are joint third in the Ethical Consumer shopping guide for skincare products with 14.5/20 – compared to 6/20 for ‘natural’-styled brands like Aveda and Origins, and 0/20 for Olay and Boots. I was hoping that the products would be as good as the ethical credentials. The Twinkle Twinkle gift set contains three products: Brightening Exfoliator, Rejuvenating Facial Oil and Reviving Day and Night Cream.
At first I was a bit sceptical: they want me to put oil on my face?! I have combination skin and short cropped hair that’s often covered in oil-based hair wax, so I can easily end up with spots and was wary of putting more oil on my skin. With this in mind, I started out just using the moisturiser. At first I thought it was great, as it’s rich but not too heavy. After a few days, however (especially given the wintery weather) my skin began to feel dry and tight. The moisturiser on its own wasn’t enough; it needs to be used with the oil for the best results.
Since I started using the oil my preconceptions have really been proved wrong. It’s totally different from having oily, greasy skin – I apply just one squirt of oil after washing my face and I find it really soothing. It leaves my skin relaxed and primed for the moisturiser – not at all greasy, which is what I was expecting. I was also a bit sceptical about the concept of a ‘day and night’ cream. Usually I use a lighter moisturiser in the daytime and a heavier cream at night and I wasn’t sure that one cream would do both jobs well. But because the moisturiser is rich and nourishing, I feel it does a heavy-duty job on my skin overnight – but it isn’t too heavy for the daytime. I’ve been using the oil and cream combination for two or three weeks now and I’m really impressed – my skin is smooth, doesn’t feel dry in the wind and cold, and I’ve even had fewer spots.
Pros: I loved the packaging. I’m eco-conscious in my shopping and hate to see things over-packaged, especially when small things like beauty products are put in a needlessly huge box to make them seem more ‘substantial’. These were packed in a sensible-sized container, made from cardboard so it can be easily recycled. I think Green People have done a great job of making packaging with a luxury look and feel, without compromising their eco credentials.
The exfoliator is lovely. It’s recommended on the packaging that you use it twice a week, although the website describes it as a ‘daily exfoliator’. I’ve been using it around once a week (as I love it and I want to make it last!) and it leaves my skin feeling bright and fresh. It’s more gentle than I expected; the exfoliating particles are very small so I think you could use it every day if you wanted. I don’t think it really smelled of cranberry but I did like the smell. I’ve found that a lot of the organic products I’ve tested have a ‘spiky’, fresh kind of smell – more interesting and ‘herby’ than conventional high-street products, which can be quite synthetic and bland. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but I really like it.
Cons: The oil plus moisturiser routine is too time-consuming for me. I’m so busy in the morning that I keep my make-up by the front door so that I can put it on while I keep an eye on the kids (note to self: next time photograph the product before you drop it out of the front door onto the patio; that way the lid will stay intact). The oil needs a little time to sink in, so I find myself doing oil, baby’s socks and shoes on, cream, find the library books, foundation on. I love the effect of the oil and cream, but if there was a single product that did both things just as well, I’d prefer that.
Value for money? A little bit of these products really does go a long way, perhaps because the ingredients are such high quality. I literally only use a few drops of oil in each application, so the bottle could will last for months and months. For me, £40 is more than I could spend myself on skincare – but then, I probably would spend £15 on a good moisturiser and you’re getting three products here… Plus with the gift set, you’re actually saving nearly 25% off the full price of the products… Put it this way: when my kids aren’t babies and I have a bit more spare cash, then I’ll be happy to invest in products like this.
Overall Reaction: Big win. A luxury product that can easily compete with the big, designer-y brands in terms of results, but that has the eco credentials too. I’m seriously impressed.
Portable 5 Hour Charger from Duracell
Available from: Amazon
Initial Reaction: What a good idea I often run out of battery power on my phone when I am on a day out.
- 5 Hours of charge
- Comes with mini usb
- Not very heavy at all
- Fits into your bag
- Ideal for having in the car
- Charges two devices at a time
- Charge it but just plugging it in before you go out
- Power check button
- Not really a con but make sure it’s fully charged before you leave the house to get the full 5 hours charge.
Value for money? Yes
Overall Reaction: I really like this product, you can get an extra 5 hours charge for your phone and other electrical equipment on the move without needing mains plug. You must make sure you charge the charger fully before you go out. It’s ideal when you are out all day and can’t get to a plug socket or great for having in the car for emergencies.
Great gift for that person in your life who’s phone is always dead!
Cedar Garden Planter
Price: from £34
Available from: J C Gardens
Initial Reaction: A nice looking (and smelling!) planter which would be at home in any house or garden
- wooden garden planters made from English Cedar
- Available in three lengths 45cm, 75cm or 1m. All measure 25cm in width and 20cm in height and will be delivered flat pack.
- The unfinished timber may not suit everyone
- There are cheaper similar products available
Overall Reaction: A good solid planter that looks like it would last for years both in and outside. I also like the fact that it is made in theUKfrom wood grown in theUKand is supplied as bare wood so that you can choose to use it in the natural finish or paint, stain etc yourself. This along with the fact they are flat packed means that if you want to put them away over the winter then you simply pop it into the 5 pieces and tuck it away in the shed! Overall a great product but I would say that it is a little expensive for what it is but would still make a great gift.
Sheercover Introductory Kit
Available from: Sheercover
Initial Reaction: I love the way this set is presented. It’s nicely packaged in a pretty pink organza bag.
- 100% Natural
- Contains no talc, so not drying on the skin.
- Minimises the look of fine lines and leaves a flawless finish.
- Can be used on arms, legs etc to hide scars and imperfections
Value for money? Good for the amount of products.
Overall Reaction: I absolutely loved all of the products in this set. The powder is not drying on the skin and definitely makes skin look flawless. The brushes included are lovely to use. The concealer brush is very good and the concealers can be mixed together to make the perfect shade. The face palette has lovely eye colours, very natural and easy to apply. Would make a lovely present.
By SarahAromatherapy Associates overnight repair mask
Price: from £45
Available from: Landscapes365
Initial Reaction: The photo is really lovely, I gave it to my other half for our anniversary and he really loved it.
You can buy it framed, as a canvas wrap and acrylic print. All pictures feature the Isle of Skye in the background.
· Being printed on the Foamex means it’s not so fragile
· Loves fantastic
· Ready frames
· Not framed
Value for money? It is a little expensive
Overall Reaction: I do really like this print, its looks fantastic and would suite most walls.
A great present idea.
Available from: Aromatherapy Associates
Suitable from: Adult
Initial Reaction: I have used Aromatherapy Associates products before so I was looking forward to trying more. The brand is sheer luxury and this product lived up to my expectations in every way.
Pros: The smell is divine, it will make you feel beautiful, and as though you are going to bed in a spa.
A real treat.
A little goes a long way – I have been using it a lot over several weeks now and there is still loads left in the tube.
Cons: It's very expensive.
Value for money? It's not something you'd find on the shelves at Asda but you could add it to your Christmas list.
Overall Reaction: If you'd like a high end treat for yourself or to give as a gift to someone else, this is an excellent choice. I don't think it really solved my emerging wrinkle problem but it did send me to sleep in a blissful haze of Frankincense, rose and strawberry. I may not be more beautiful but I certainly feel more beautiful.
Price: £49.98 RRP
Available from: www.zumbafitness.co.uk
Initial Reaction: A fun and enjoyable way to exercise and lose my post-baby tum
- Includes 5 workouts – 20 min Express, Sculpt and Tone, Cardio Party, Zumba Live and Flat Abs
- Includes a basics DVD to help you master the basic steps
- Includes 2 toning sticks
- Includes total body transformation guide.
- I didn't come across any cons.
Overall Reaction: I didn't waste any time getting my Zumba DVD on and the toning sticks out. Firstly I looked at the basics section of the DVD. The basic section runs for 60 minutes and gives you a step by step breakdown to all the main Zumba steps that you will come across during the routines. This is great as it means you aren't trying to learn the steps and the rhythms as you do the routines. I know that I can get put off by not picking up the steps quickly enough during a workout session. This allows you to take your time learning the steps in a very user friendly way.
For me I needed an exercise regime which could be easily adapted to suit my needs and the amount of spare time I had that day. Having a 7 month old son means I don't always have a lot of time to spare. This Zumba selection allows me to pick between a cardio workout, a Sculpt and Tone workout, Flat Abs and an express 20 minutes workout. The cardio party runs for 50 minutes and is aimed at burning maximum calories. I loved this workout as it really got my blood pumping. It was fun but did what it needed to do. This workout also includes a rhythm refresher feature, which allows you to review each Zumba rhythm.
culpt and tone runs for 45 minutes. This is the workout that requires the toning sticks and is designed to be a fun workout to help target different areas to sculpt and tone. This was the workout I was most looking forward to as I really wanted to get rid of the bingo wings and baby belly and tone up. The toning sticks are light to hold and also rattle lightly when you shake them. The workout was fun and I didn't feel like I had really worked my body, that was until I got up the next morning and could feel my arms where I had worked them out.
he 20 minutes express is exactly that. It's a quick workout that you can squeeze in to even the busiest of days. For me it means that when my son has his first nap of the morning which generally lasts 30-40 minutes I can do the express 20 minutes workout and squeeze in a quick shower and get dressed. I can then carry on with the rest of my day knowing I have done some exercise that day. All the workouts are fun to do as well as being a great work out. I do the Zumba workouts as often as I can and really look forward to it, I don't see it as a chore like I do other workouts. It gets my blood pumping and the time flies by. I would certainly buy this as a gift for someone and will personally continue to use it in my quest to tone and sculpt my body into the body of my dreams.