Review: iWhite Instant Whitening Kit

For some reason my gums have become sensitive to whitening toothpastes, in particular abrasive types, so I've been on the lookout for a product I can use instead of an everyday toothpaste to remove stains and keep my teeth looking bright and healthy. Why my teeth stain is a bit of a mystery to me as I no longer smoke, don't drink tea, coffee or red wine, and generally take good care of my mouth, so while I can't seem to prevent the discolouration I was really hoping the iWhite Instant Whitening Kit* would give me the lovely bright smile that I previously enjoyed.
The iWhite kit contains 10 hygienically packaged tooth trays filled with a Film-Crystallised Calcium technology active gel (no hydrogen peroxide here), which aims to instantly whiten teeth by up to 8 shades, and can be used occasionally or on 5 consecutive days to remove stains and strengthen the upper and lower teeth. 

The iWhite trays are really simple to use as they're prefilled and individually packaged, so you just need to take them out of the sachet and pop them in for 20 minutes over gently brushed teeth. As the trays are one size I was a bit worried they'd be big and bulky, as before the first go I had hockey gumshields from school in my mind, but the rubber is thin and flexible so they're actually really comfortable and I can fit both top and bottom in with ease. The instructions warn that biting too hard can cause the active gel to ooze out from the trays, but I didn't experience that problem and actually would have preferred a bit more gel in the tray- I seem to get the most staining by my gum-line, and I found I really had to wiggle the trays to get a good enough coating that far up the tooth. The gel itself has a slightly minty but not strong taste and, while the process isn't unpleasant, 20 minutes is about the maximum I'd want to have it in my mouth before needing a good rinse with water.
As my teeth started off quite stained I decided to use the use the trays on 5 consecutive days rather than once in a while, for what iWhite calls 'even more astonishing' results, and happily didn't experience any tooth sensitivity from the more intensive treatment. iWhite claim that their innovative active gel can whiten teeth up to 8 shades instantly, which is an impressive thought but one that I found a little bit arbitrary without the inclusion of some kind of visual scale to show the amount of difference between each shade. 
I was really pleased with the ease of use of the trays, but a little less so with the results. After the first go there was a small change in colour, and while my teeth were definitely whiter at the end of the 5 day treatment period, I'm not convinced that I could decidedly call them white. They have changed in shade overall, but the staining by my gums hasn't evened out with the rest of my teeth quite as much as I would've liked. You can see my before and after photos below, the lipstick in both is Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate in 16.

I think starting colour will be a big factor in the results gained from this whitening kit, as well as whether the staining is uniform or worse in certain areas, but what might spur me on to buy another box from iWhite rather than another brand is that it contains highly soluble calcium to help strengthen teeth rather than wearing away at them like some other tooth whitening techniques. I think if you have even discolouration that isn't too severe then this kit is well worth trying out, especially since it isn't abrasive so won't damage the teeth, as the results on your smile will probably be a bit brighter and whiter than mine!

The iWhite Instant Whitening Kit is available from Boots for £29.95 or Look Fantastic for £21.


Do or DIY: Vinyl Record Storage Bowls

Record storage bowls are a really interesting and retro looking way to hold your bits and bobs, each design is completely unique and they can be created with high or low sides depending on what you're planning to store. Making these bowls is easy but does take a bit of a time, and you can use 7” EPs or 12” LPs depending on your spare space. This quick guide will show you how to make your own vinyl record storage bowl to store anything from kirby grips to lipsticks.

I've got a lot of records hanging around at home from when we had a record player and decks, but they’re easy to pick up from a charity shop for well under a pound. If you can, try and find one with a label colour that suits your room décor or even some coloured vinyl if you come across it. I'm going to be using this clear one below; I love Bloc Party but this record never played well, maybe it took a knock on the way back from Virgin, but either way I'm trying to downsize my collection as I don't have a player at the moment and am only really keeping classics or limited editions.
As well as your record you'll need a large bowl, a kettle full of boiling water and some tongs or possibly pliers at a push. You'll also want to be close to a sink so you can refill your kettle easily. I've tried a few different methods and I think this is the best- you have the most control over the final design of the bowls (even though they’re all a bit random) and you don't smell your house out with the scent of melting plastic.

Start by filling your bowl with just boiled water then dip your record in and submerge it with the tongs. It will start to bend and become floppy, it will be hot but not boiling once its pulled out the water for a few seconds, so you can begin to use your fingers to quickly start off a scalloped shape. Bend the edges of the record up and pinch together to create some waves.
The record will cool quickly and be less malleable so hold the area you want to bend under the water for about 30 seconds before having another go, the trick is to work as quick as you can and not let the already bent parts dip below the water or they'll go floppy again.

As the water cools a bit you'll be able to use your your tongs to press the record against the side of the bowl to create the shapes of the record sides while its under the water. If the record refuses to move then you'll need to top up with fresh boiled water.
The last bit is the trickiest and you'll need to press quite hard to get a shape but don’t give up because it will happen. If there are any areas you’re not very happy with you can pour boiling water just onto those parts over your bowl and quickly reshape (if you're having trouble getting out a kink you can try using something like a pencil to press against the side of the bowl).

Finally to get the base as flat as you can, pour hot water into your record bowl and then use the ridged edges to press it down against the table, you can also create higher or lower sides by pulling or pushing on them.

There we have our bowl done! Leave it to properly cool and the label to dry out then fill it with your loose bits and pieces. The label on mine really didn't like the water (this is the only one where bits have flaked off and also the most recently made that I've created a bowl out of, they don't make them like they used to eh?), I'm not too bothered as I wont be able to see much of the label when it's got things in but if the same happens to you, you can paint or embellish the label how you like, or even peel it off altogether.
I hope you found this guide interesting and useful, I'd love to see photos if you create your own record bowls!


21 at Twenty One

As my 22nd birthday looms closer (my mum is already asking for a birthday list), I'm feeling older than ever but still a bit like a bewildered toddler just finding my feet. A lot has happened over the last few years as I'm sure has with many other bloggers- family, relationships, health and wealth have all gone up and down, but I've been thinking about the little things that have surprised and confused as well as amused me. This is a little list of many of those things- a light-hearted take on things I didn't think I'd be feeling/experiencing at this age, some of which have an explanation, some don't need an explanation, and some literally have no explanation- but most make me feel more like I'm turning 72 rather than 22 this September:

1. Not being able to cope with temperatures under 20 degrees.
2. Not wanting to go outside because its windy, its raining, or the sun has gone behind a cloud for 5 minutes.
3. Looking at virtually underage schoolgirls and wondering if they're dressed sexier than me.4. Buying massive spanx-type granny pants to go under tiny clubbing dresses.
5. Wondering if tiny clubbing dresses have become a bit too tiny.
6. Not actually wearing the tiny clubbing dresses despite massive spanx-type granny pants.
7. Telling myself I'm still growing to justify that third sausage at dinner (I'm not getting any taller but width-wise I'm not so sure!).
8. Asking the OH if he thinks lightly groomed ladyparts are 'exotic' because I'm getting bored of the upkeep (a definite no, I bought 20 more Gillette.)
9. Varicose Veins- on a recent trip to the Dr I mentioned some prominent, blue and sore veins at the back of my knees, the Dr said nothing can be done to prevent varicose veins or stop them getting worse but I was sent off with the delightful news that “if they get really bad and painful you can have an operation to pull them out”. Pull. Them. Out?? I will be buying compression stockings pronto.
10. Thinking that looking 'mumsy' isn't such a bad style after all (the first one will be called James, thanks for asking).
11. Buying lovely little homeware items for some home I don't actually live in.
12. Sneaking the OH past my dad like a schoolgirl despite never actually bothering to sneak when I was a school girl.
13. Getting up in the middle of the night to deal with frogs throwing themselves at the bathroom wall and the cat crying because no ones awake to accept her generous gift.
14. Cellulite- previously thought of by me as an affliction of only the over 40s, the back top of my thighs would thoroughly disagree. My general hate of exercise prevents me keeping up a good squatting routine so it's likely I'll never be found in a pair of hotpants (although not sure I really want to wear hotpants anyway).
15. Stretchmarks- another misconception of mine as a young girl, I thought stretchmarks were only really common post-pregnancy. However at about 13 I suddenly stretched and widened out, and although my stretchmarks haven't faded that much in nearly 10 years I've come to accept them as an interesting tiger stripe skin accessory à la this lady here.
16. My skin not suddenly becoming even and spot-less as soon as I turned 20.
17. Actually missing being at school- at the time school felt like torture: horrible early mornings, teachers and subjects I didn’t get on with, homework and worrying about exams. I never thought I'd miss it but looking back it was actually pretty easy and such a laugh even with a few exams thrown in (and 25 young girls' hormones clashing in one room). Is it too late to train as a teacher? Maybe I could go back and relive my glory days!
18. Having to think about rent, proper weekly shopping, home insurance etc. I'm back living with my Dad at the moment but when I did have to budget and try to do some maths (terrible brain for numbers) it all felt a bit too grownup and perplexing!
19. Bunions- before you groan, bunions aren't as bad they sound. Generally thought of as an affliction of the elderly, in a mild form it just means the bones in your foot stick out slightly while your toes point inwards a bit. Years of wearing my school shoelaces loose, followed by jamming my feet into the front of heels and wide Primark flats have left me with slightly prominent bones on the outside edge, delightfully named 'Tailors Bunions'.
20. Going Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Low Acid and Low FODMAP- the thought of giving up milk chocolate, cheese, apples, pastry and Haribo would've sent me into a cold sweat a few years ago but, while this 'diet' is hard for the first few months especially, I'm proud of myself for sticking with it and  want to say a big thank you to Mr Sucrose (and his cousin Glucose) for helping me through it.

As you can tell, I'm feeling pretty grannyish at the moment but I know I'm not the only one. If I'm like this now, imagine what I'll be like at 30!


Review: Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

Real Techniques is a brand that seems to be able to do no wrong; their brushes are some of my best-loved and most-used, and I don't think I've read one bad review of any of their products. When I heard they were releasing a blending sponge I was really interested to see if it would live up to the quality and efficacy of their extensive brush collection, and also how they could improve on an established concept already well loved by many.

The main thing to notice about the Miracle Complexion Sponge* (apart from it's bright orange colour) is that while it keeps the usual conical egg shape of many of the currently available sponges, this sponge features a large flat edge that’s meant to be used to assist coverage over the contours of the eyes and nose. It's suggested to use the rounded sides to blend across the larger areas of the face while the precision tip is recommended to be used for blemishes and imperfections, which isn't generally the way that I use my sponges but it's always nice to try out new techniques.
The flat edge is a really welcome design feature for me- I tend to use the rounded bases of sponges with my foundation or BB cream to cover and blend, so to have such a large and level surface to work with has made the process so much easier and faster with less tapping needed to get an even base. I don't feel the need to change sides to blend around my nose, but as this sponge only has a flat edge on one side, it's easy to turn it over and use either of the pointed ends with concealer under my eyes before tapping in with my finger.

The texture created with this product is much the same as with others- there are no annoying lines or patches that can be a problem with using fingers and brushes, and it stipples over imperfections and pores to create a lovely smooth surface on those of us with skin that needs a bit of help in that department.
What really has come as a revelation with this sponge is the amount of increased coverage it gives over my other blending sponges, and even my fingers. Where my BB creams in particular would largely disappear into my sponge, leaving much less to apply to my skin and sheering out the coverage, with this sponge the product is moved efficiently from the back of my hand to my face and pressed into the skin rather than being spread across so it covers much more in just one layer.
The Complexion Sponge has a slightly different texture to some in that instead of jumping straight back into shape when squeezed, an imprint of my fingers is left just for a few seconds which reminds me slightly of memory foam and might be the key to its increased performance over some of the bouncier sponges. One thing to point out is that I do use my blending sponges dry which in itself allows them to sheer the product less and soak less up, but also means I can use them with loose powder in a pore-filling press-and-roll motion as well as with creams/liquids which is really convenient and easy.

As the Miracle Complexion Sponge soaks up less foundation than most, and things like cream blushes and cheek tints only stay on the surface of the product, cleaning is really quick as I don’t have to spend ages rinsing and squeezing until the water runs clear. I've also had no problems with the colour running from this sponge or my nails making dents during cleaning which I have done with a couple of others I've tried but which is really more annoying than anything.

I really haven't been disappointed with Real Techniques' newest offering and was expecting a price tag of around ten pounds, but for £4.99 I think this product is such a bargain and really worth trying out whether you're a regular user of sponges or a sponge virgin, as I'm sure you won't be disappointed. I assume that Samantha Chapman will be posting a video tutorial on how to use this sponge as instructions on the packet are minimal to say the least and I think there could've been some emphasis on using each side of the product and the unique shape. That said though, as long as you work out that you're meant to use it to blend out cream products you can't really go wrong!

The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge retails for £4.99, and is available from Professional Online Makeup for £4.49.


Review: Nspa Hot Cloth Polish

If you read my review of the Nspa Night Repair Cream you'll know I'm a bit of a fiend for affordable boxed products that bring a little taste of luxury to an inexpensive item.
Priced at £7, the Hot Cloth Polish* definitely won't break the bank and as step 2 of the Beauty Rituals 4 step routine, this product aims to cleanse and exfoliate to reveal softer hydrated skin.
One or two pumps of the thick white Vitamin E and B5 packed cream are massaged over the face to remove make up and impurities, then buffed away with the generously sized blue edged muslin cloth. This cream feels very rich and luxurious on the skin, the blend of Cocoa Butter, Avocado and Apricot oils effectively cleanse my face while the Neroli leaves a strong but not unpleasant scent. After use my face definitely feels smoother, flaky patches are almost eradicated and my skin is clean but well hydrated so there’s no tightness.
With my combination skin I can sometimes find it hard to get the right balance of oil elimination and hydration, and the Hot Cloth Polish definitely packs a punch on the hydration side. When I started using this product we were still just coming out of a pretty chilly spring but as the weather has really hotted up I've found the moisturising oils to be a little too rich for my skin and have made a swap to a lighter cleanser. If you have normal or dry skin, or if you don't get very oily from the heat, then this would be a great year round product to banish dullness due to dead skin cells and congestion. I will definitely be coming back to this product when the weather cools down a bit and I'm sure it will be a skin saviour for me in Autumn and Winter when my drier areas are usually thirsty for nourishment and hydration.

The Nspa Beauty Rituals range is available to buy exclusively from Asda with prices ranging from £4.50 to £7 in their 4 step routine to cleanse, exfoliate, treat and moisturise. The Nspa Night Repair Cream is available from Asda in-store and online for £7 (lots of Beauty Rituals products currently on 2 for £8).

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