Thursday, November 9, 2017

Dr Botanicals Japanese Orange Revive & Firm Facial Serum Review

Hi guys! It's been awhile since my last review- I've been busy with my move back to Manchester and sorting a couple of muck-ups with housing. It's a long story, but basically I wasn't sure for a week or two how the place I planned to move into was actually legal or allowed. Why do irresponsible people exist.



So... yeah. Big mess.
It's all sorted now and by December renewing the housing agreement should be a lot smoother. Fingers crossed! Life update over, let's head right into this review.


I signed up for the Dr Botanicals review program and received an invitation to review the Japanese Orange Revive & Firm Facial Serum. I just had to pay delivery, which you can redeem the value of in a voucher for your next order.

To be honest- I was a little skeptical of its claims. A lot of companies are promoting vegan/ cruelty-free skincare ranges now because consumers are now more conscious of the products they buy.

Don't get me wrong- I think it's a great example of consumers actively influencing company decisions for the better and i think it's an excellent step forward for the beauty industry.

However, in many brands it's simply used as a sort of marketing tactic given not all of their products adhere to this. But rest assured- all of Dr Botanicals' products are strictly vegan.

And you know how people talk about their "holy grail product"?
This is it for me.

I'm not sure if this was the main purpose of the serum, but it cleared my skin up almost overnight. I was amazed. I've never had anything clear my skin up so quickly.


I was already really impressed with the Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin cream, which saved my skin from drying out on TWO long-ass flights (total travel time over 24 hours, you heard me- this is the long-distance life).

My skin was clearing up with the cream after a really bad case of hormonal acne, but with this serum, it worked beautifully underneath the cream and I actually had glowy skin.

The serum smells lovely and citrusy and is a tad bit sticky, which I don't really notice since I go to bed immediately after that. I drip a few drops on my face directly (handy dropper tool keeps it hygienic!) and gently pat it in with my fingers.


You may not like it if you dislike strong scents. It seems a little strong for me upon first application, but fades after awhile. I have sensitive skin which flares up with some strong scented products but this doesn't affect it at all which is great :)

I don't even know how to describe how happy I am with this- I just paid for delivery on this one, but definitely going to repurchase when it runs out. Not sure if I'll get the whole line, but I'll look into it and possibly indulge myself for Christmas.

I've already caved and got myself the Ultra-Repair Overnight Regenerating Treatment (a night cream) during their sale, after reading lots of rave reviews about it.

I've been conscious about my eye bags recently and I'm worried I'll develop fine lines early, so I'll see if this works for me like the serum did! I'll probably review it another time.

You can try signing up for the review program too- I got my friend to try it out, but I'm not sure how they do selections- she never got an invite, but you can try your luck! I don't think you need a good social media following or a blog :)

Here's the link to the review program.

I have now moved to a custom site- check my snazzy new blog here!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Pho Manchester review

I was craving Vietnamese food this week and Pho was brought up after my housemate mistakenly assumed I was heading there (instead of I am Pho in Chinatown, on George St).
I looked at the menu online and saw they do a lunch deal from 12-5pm on weekdays, so I thought it was worth a try.

Unfortunately, I faffed about getting ready and made it to Pho just five minutes late :(

Missed the lunch deal (£9.95 for a main and starter- menu here) but oh well, I'm sure I'll be back for food next time.

I decided to get the Phở chín- tender beef brisket slow cooked in broth (£8.75). According to the description on the site: Phở, (pronounced fuh) is the Vietnamese national dish; an aromatic & delicious rice noodle soup served with a side plate of fresh herbs to add as you please.



Extra toppings like tofu, brisket, mushrooms etc. can be added on for £1/1.75.
I was quite glad to see that the beansprouts were served raw, as is traditional- too many places boil them before and it loses the taste and crunch.

It came with the usual other herbs: mint, coriander(?), chilli- I would have loved to have more coriander and mint, personally, but I think that's an issue that you could settle by asking the servers for more.

The broth was quite flavourful but just a tad saltier than I would have preferred- still excellent and nearly just like the phở I had in Vietnam years ago!

I think when a dish is taken out of its country of origin, it can be replicated well, but somehow there is a little essence of something that is lost.

There are so many factors: water, ingredients, etc., but I think Pho Manchester does a pretty good job replicating this Vietnamese dish.

Pho's website says: our broths are made in each restaurant by slowly simmering bones for a good 12 hours & it’s this authentic preparation that is key to phở retaining all its goodness & developing its own distinctive tastes & aromas.

Is there any wonder that this dish is Gordon Ramsay's choice of a last meal? It is warm, savoury, intense, and filling (I could gush adjectives all day)- one of my favourite comfort foods.

I got Cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese iced coffee, £2.80) to accompany my main, and when it first came, the coffee was really watery, weak, and barely had any condensed milk in.



I didn't want to seem like I was being fussy but I didn't want to waste it- I spoke to the server about it and she sorted it out for me right away without any fuss.

The second try was perfect, good strong brew and sweet without being too cloying. Kudos for the fast and excellent service!

I will probably update this review when I come back for a second visit with thoughts about starters and desserts (eyeing the Gỏi cuốn [spring rolls] and Chuối chiên [banana fritters])

Granted, I'm a bit disappointed there isn't much variety in desserts aside from ice cream, since a lot of their sweet desserts e.g. Chè Bà Ba, Chè Chuối, are flavourful and easy to replicate: sweet potato, banana, coconut milk make up the base for many of these and would really allow patrons to experience some local desserts that are popular at night markets and street stalls.

I was initially quite wary about visiting this restaurant since many restaurant chains claiming to do "authentic" food end up doing lots of ~fusion~ dishes catered to local tastes (not that there's anything wrong with that, since that is the majority of their customer base, but it's sometimes a little disappointing).

Pho has lots of good veggie or vegan options too (e.g. Phở chay: tofu & button mushrooms in a veggie broth), which is quite good for the diet-conscious who struggle to find variety while eating out.



They gave me a cute postcard with the bill and now I feel like I need to visit Pho in every city just to collect them LOL. Sneaky marketing hahaha


***

Food: Very Good.
There is a lot of variety but would love to see more dessert options. Food is pretty authentic.

Service: Very Good.
The staff were very friendly and helpful when I requested a replacement.
Sometimes it can be difficult to get their attention even though there are a lot of staff standing around just chatting to each other.

Wait time: Around 5-15 minutes.

Food was served very quickly and drinks immediately, so I did not feel like I was waiting around with nothing to eat. When I went the restaurant was nearly empty so no waiting around.

Affordability: Very Good

The prices are reasonable but if you are on a student budget i.e. in debt and scrimping to make ends meet, go for their lunch deal (£9.95, 12-5pm on weekdays).

Full menu here.

Lunch menu here.

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday: 12pm - 11pm
Saturday: 11:30am - 11pm
Sunday: 11:30am - 10pm

Tel: +44 0161 464 9779

Directions:



Edit:

I went back for a second visit for the lunch deal and was not disappointed by the spring rolls- I highly recommend getting the peanut sauce with it- it reminds me a lot of peanut satay sauce I usually get in Singapore hawker centres (oh, how I miss cheap hawker fare) and it was sweet and salty- very flavourful and was a perfect addition to the herby, tangy flavours in the spring roll.

My taste buds were in overdrive and I kept making all these ridiculous sounds, it tasted that good. There were so many flavours going on and I love how there was a perfect balance of greens, noodles, and they didn't scrimp on the prawns like most places usually do.

I would probably go in for the spring rolls alone since it costs £4.95 and for 4 servings, I wouldn't mind paying that. The size may be a tad smaller compared to I am Pho (in Chinatown) but given the proximity to the Arndale/Market Street it's quite easy to pop in for a quick pick-me-up after shopping.

The Pho broth was not as good this time around and I was mildly disappointed given how much I sang its praises on my first visit. Also, real talk- why do they use ramen spoons for Pho?? The spoon was absurdly big, awkward to use, and entirely from the wrong cuisine. 
You use one of these:



Not this???


Hoping they change it soon because I couldn't properly drink the soup off the latter (since you don't actually drink the ramen broth, that makes sense) and the noodles were too slippery and went everywhere.

Pho- sort something out please. Replacing the spoons will only cost you a couple hundred quid, please get rid of the ramen spoons and donate them to Shoryu or Wagamamas or something.

#rantover

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Rimmel Fix & Perfect Pro Makeup Primer

critiquesofacriticrimmelprimer
Rimmel Fix & Perfect Pro Makeup Primer in 002
Usually I can't use any primers with my Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation as it is a VERY fussy and nitpicky foundation- just smears and slides and looks awful!



I'm so so happy with this 🙌🏼 definitely recommend!

Think I got it on Amazon UK for £5+ so it's VERY affordable. I've tried Smashbox primers over the same Estee Lauder foundation and it didn't work out either 😞 and this is literally 1/4 the price and works so much better! It goes on so smoothly and does not leave any chalky residue like the W7 Magic Face Primer did.

I got the W7 primer on Amazon UK for £3 and it does leave your face feeling deliciously smooth and covers all your pores really well, as if it has been airbrushed, but any application of liquids makes it flake right off.

Which is reaaally not ideal.

I use it only if I can't be ars*d having foundation on, but still want my skin to look smooth. The W7 primer is very similar to the TONYMOLY Egg Pore silky smooth balm and The Body Shop all-in-one instablur, which I did a review of previously here.



It helps manage my oily skin too, which is a huge plus point. In fact, I had to go over with the Mario Badescu facial spray and skip a setting powder because it started looking a bit dry and I didn't want it to end up cakey

selfie with rimmel primer

PRODUCTS LIST

Primer: Rimmel Fix&Perfect makeup primer 002
Foundation: Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation in 2W0 Warm Vanilla + Maybelline FIT Me! Liquid Foundation in 120 Classic Ivory
Blusher: Albeit Cheek Stick in Nectar
Contour: Sleek Contouring and Blush palette
Mascara: Clio Salon de Cara Mascara (Volume x Curling) + Maybelline the Rocket Volum'Express
Lips: Sugar tinted lip balm in Rose under Kat von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Lolita II
Brows: The Body Shop Brow & Liner Kit (03)
Eyeshadow: TBS brow powder + Charlotte Tilbury The Retoucher Concealer (03)
Spray: Mario Badescu facial spray with aloe, herbs and rosewater
Tools used: Real Techniques sponge + Real Techniques brushes core collection
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