Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Boots No7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Brush

I do not have perfect skin by any stretch of the imagination. It's a lot better than it used to be, but I still get breakouts on a regular basis, and I am still very prone to acne and blackheads if I don't use a good facial scrub at least a couple of times a week. I've often been frustrated by scrubs which weren't... scrubby enough, if you know what I mean:  exfoliating 'grains' that are too sparse or insufficiently abrasive to make the scrub worthwhile. Not that I want to actually sandpaper my face, you understand, but I do want an exfoliator to actually exfoliate my face or what's the point? It's probably no surprise, therefore, that I've been coveting the famous Clarisonic skin brush for quite a while now. However, I just couldn't justify spending ~£150 on something just to clean my face!
About a month ago I was walking through Boots when something caught my eye: the No7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing brush.This little marvel is Boots No7's answer to the famous Clarisonic, but at a much more purse-friendly price of £25 (I got it for £15, as they were offering it at a reduced introductory price at the time, but even full price it's a fraction of what the Clarisonic costs). I wasn't expecting miracles at that price but just had to try it anyway, so it jumped into my basket and came home with me.
For your £25 you get the brush, with one head, and a set of batteries. They also sell replacement heads at £8 for two; pretty good value since I can't see the head needing to be replaced very often anyway. I've been using mine almost daily for a month now and it still looks brand new. (The batteries are still going strong, too).
The brush is a good size and has densely packed bristles; they are stiff enough to give your face a really good scrub, but soft enough that they still feel soft on your skin. Unlike the Clarisonic, which oscillates from side to side in a more obvious scrubbing motion, this brush turns continuously in one direction. I was worried this might feel abrasive on the skin, or else make it less effective at exfoliating, but I needn't have been concerned: as long as you move the brush in little circles while you're cleansing, the end result is just the same. The motor has two speeds: I have used both. I prefer the slower one for daily use (this would be the better speed for sensitive skin, too) and the fast one is great for a really, really thorough clean!
The box suggests that you should use either No7 Melting Gel Cleanser, or No7 Foaming Cleanser, however I have neither of these products and instead decided to test the brush out with a range of other cleansers to see how it fared. Over the last three weeks I have used the brush with Nivea Visage Refreshing 2 in 1 Cleanser and Toner, Nivea Visage Daily Essentials Gently Cleansing Cream Wash, African Black Soap, Garnier Skin Natuals Pure Anti-Blackhead Deep Pore Wash, and Superdrug Vitamin E Hot Cloth Cleanser. All of them have given good results, although I noticed that my skin felt a lot cleaner and more effectively exfoliated with the non creamy facial wash and the black soap than it did with the more creamy cleansers. Having said that, the brush also feels much more abrasive when used with non-creamy, foaming products, so these would be better for sensitive skin. 
 The verdict: after three weeks of using this brush, I am very, very pleased with the results. I have not been transformed into a magical goddess of skin perfection, but then again I wasn't expecting that anyway. But my skin is softer, smoother, and cleaner than it has felt in ages. My make up applies more smoothly, too, and the blemishes on my cheeks seem to be fading, along with the stubborn blackheads on my nose that just. won't. go. One major plus is that I have had a LOT fewer breakouts since using this brush, too - just one spot in the three weeks of testing, whereas normally I get at least one or two per week (the one spot I did get was right at that time of the month when most girls are pretty much guaranteed to get breakouts anyway, so I wasn't really surprised when it appeared. It's a brush, not a miracle).

Friday, 22 February 2013

Frugal Food

You may recall that, a while ago, I was thinking of adding some variety to this blog - subjects other than nail polish and make up. (Le gasp!) You’ve already seen some of these changes here, here, and here, but today is the biggest change yet. Frugal Food is coming to Glitter Mountain! Don’t worry – the nail polish and make up aren’t going away. But this blog was always intended to be my creative outlet to the world, where I talk about all the things I enjoy, and cooking is one of those things. 
Frugal Food is going to be a regular feature from now on, primarily focusing on cheap but tasty, mostly vegan food. Why vegan? Well, I've been vegetarian for most of my life, mainly because I have never liked the taste or texture of meat, even when I was tiny. Then, about a year ago, I discovered that dairy products are actually really bad triggers for my asthma: the more dairy I consume, the more I wheeze. Because of this,I avoid eating dairy products most of the time, limiting it to things like the odd chocolate bar or a slice of non-vegan cake once in a while. Whilst I'm not completely vegan, the majority of my food is. Apart from quorn, which I do use sometimes, but you can replace that with tofu or soya mince or beans or whatever (or meat, if that's your bag).
Why Frugal, then? I have a certain style of cooking when it comes to food:  cheap, filling, easy, and quick. I work all day, and I get home at 6pm, and I'm starving; if it takes ages to cook, it's no good to me. It also has to be made primarily out of ingredients I can buy in the local supermarket. I could be all worthy and go on about how bad processed food is for your health - but I won’t, (even though it’s true), because to be honest, that’s not what drives me. In case anyone’s been living under a rock and failed to notice it yet, the world and his dog are pretty strapped for cash right now and the cost of even basic items just seems to be spiralling. While I'd love to hang around in expensive health food shops and dine on Goji berries and Agave nectar, if I went round buying that sort of thing, my whole month's food budget would be gone after just one meal.
I’ve chosen to see this as a challenge rather than something to get depressed about: just how many good tasting, quick and easy meals can I make, for pennies instead of pounds? Answers to follow, via the medium of Glitter Mountain: Frugal Food. At worst, it means I’ll get to eat something tasty that hasn’t bled my wallet dry. I’m also hoping it might help other people who, like me, are having to make do with a lot less cash than they used to.
Watch this space for more Frugal Food!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Rimmel Lycra Wear 10 : Hypnotise

Spring is here!

Okay, maybe not. But I saw snowdrops on the way home today and even though it's still super chilly, it's been really bright and sunny the last few days. So I'm feeling kinda cheerful and ready to come out of hibernation after the long and depressing winter - time to start blogging again!

The polish I have for you today is Rimmel Lycra Wear 10, in Hypnotise. Please excuse the nubbin-nails, I decided to try one last time to have squoval nails, filed them into shape, and then immediately broke one (cleaning my teeth, of all things. HOW DO YOU BREAK A NAIL CLEANING YOUR TEETH??). Anyway. Once I had finished wailing and gnashing my (newly clean) teeth, I filed my nails down past the break, and this was the result.
Of course I then immediately broke another one. It's time to accept that I can't have squovals and that's that: the corners just keep breaking on me. Back to even shorter nubs (sob) for a while and ovals from now on!

Anyway, back to the polish. It's a really nice dark plum creme. It doesn't have the gorgeous wide brush that I adore so much in newer Rimmel polishes, but the brush it does have is pretty decent anyway. It has all the potential to be a great vampy colour (perfect for nubbins - why is it that when I have short nails, I always have the urge to wear dark colours?)

Sadly, it also suffers from horrible tipwear. I kid you not, I had really obvious wear and some small chips after only a few hours, and that was with three coats plus a base coat of Nail Envy. I will admit that I do tend to get more tipwear when my nails are short, but unless I've been especially rough on my nails with housework or typing, I do at least expect my polish to last a bit better than that. Especially if I've gone to all the effort of three coats. At one point I touched up the tips and then added a fourth coat, to see if I could get a bit more life out of it. As you can see from these pictures, taken one hour after the fourth coat, the tipwear is already coming back. GAH!

What I liked about this polish:
The colour. I got two compliments on it within an hour of getting to work.
Application. I didn't have to do any clean-up. It was also opaque in two coats.

What I didn't like:
The wear. Although the colour is pretty, it's nowhere near special enough for me to get over how easily the tip wear appeared. Probably it'd have lasted better if I'd used top coat, but then I'd have had 5 layers of laquer on my nails, and quite frankly my life is too short to sit around waiting for that much paint to dry.

Overall verdict:
I'm normally the first to say how great Rimmel polishes are, especially their 10 day/lycra/pro type polishes. But this one, while pretty, is just too disappointing for me. I probably won't be wearing it on my fingers again although I may keep it for my toes (why do toes always seem to chip much slower than fingers?)