Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food

Garnier recently debuted a new product to their Ultimate Blends hair range – the Hair Food 3-in-1 Hair Mask, and they definitely proved to be popular. I’m not the biggest fan of hair masks from ‘drugstore’ brands, but on offer for £3.50 each I couldn’t resist purchasing some to see what all the hype was about.

The range consists of four different masks:

  • Moisturising Aloe Vera & Coconut (for normal hair)
  • Repairing Papaya & Alma (for damaged hair)
  • Smoothing Coconut & Macadamia (for frizzy and unruly hair)
  • Nourishing Banana & Shea (for dry hair)

As someone whose hair is more on the dry and damaged side, I opted for the nourishing Banana and Shea mask, as well as the repairing Papaya & Alma mask.

Initial Impressions

I felt the packaging of the product was a change to the standard garnier packaging, really giving emphasis on the ‘natural’ feel. Unlike other products, the ingredients are actually explained down the side of the packaging which is really useful if you want a better understanding of the products you’re using! The products also displays a few claims on the side of the packaging which include:

  • 98% natural origin
  • 100% vegan
  • 98% biodegradable formula
  • No silicones for a natural feel
  • Many ingredients being from botanical origin

The Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food boasts many benefits to hair, but one of the main reasons I decided to buy this product was the smell. They honestly smelt good enough to eat. The conditioner itself has a thick, silky consistency which in my opinion is perfect for a hair mask.

Two Week Update 

Leave in conditioner – I used it on both wet and dry hair, but found it didn’t not really make my hair any softer and it felt quite heavy.

Conditioner – I used it like a standard conditioner leaving it on for a few minutes and then rinsing. I found this was more effective than using it as a leave in conditioner and it did leave my hair quite soft.

Hair mask – I found this use to be the most effective at making my hair silky soft. After washing my hair with shampoo, I’d leave the mask on for around 2 hours, and then rinsed. Not only was my hair super soft but the fruity smell was a lot more aromatic- which I loved!

Is this product cruelty free? 

The packaging clearly says it’s a ‘vegan formula’ but this product can’t be classed as 100% cruelty free as Garnier is owned by the L’Oréal brand. Garnier themselves do not test any of their products on animals, and their products are not sold in China. However, some products made by their parent company L’Oréal are in fact tested on animals in China as it’s a legal requirement there, so most people will still see Garnier as a company that tests on animals.

What’s good to hear though is that L’Oréal are actually currently working with the Chinese government to introduce their new innovation ‘Episkin’, whereby human skin is lab engineered to be used for product testing instead of animals. Hopefully this will be something that’s implemented in the future to finally stop all testing on animals.

Final Thoughts 

Will I be repurchasing this product? YES! I can’t resist the amazing fruit fragrance of these hair masks and how soft they leave my hair. I will be permanently adding these hair masks to my hair routine and will hopefully be able to try the rest of the Garnier ultimate blends hair food

Have you tried any of the other 3-in-1 masks in this range?

Laura 

Mario Badescu Oil Free Moisturiser Review

Big news – after years of searching for the perfect product for my spot prone oily skin I think I have FINALLY found it! Since a teenager I’ve suffered with hormonal acne breakouts and blackheads, trying nearly every product you can think of to combat them. Whilst some products did seem to work for the spots, I couldn’t find anything that actually managed to get rid of my stubborn blackheads until I discovered the Mario Badescu oil free moisturiser.

The Low Down

The bottle isn’t that large at 59ml, however a little bit goes a long way. The moisturiser is SPF 30, meaning it does have a thick suncream consistency and smell, but it soon dries off once you’ve applied it. I was worried about my skin feeling oily after application but after leaving it a few minutes to absorb fully my skin was left feeling fresh and awake! Some of the main ingredients are:

Glycerin – hydrates your skin and acts as barrier, working well for oily skin types.

St John’s wort – soothes and repairs delicate skin.

Green tea extract – a powerful antioxidant giving protection against environmental pollutants, UV radiation and premature ageing of the skin.

Aloe Vera – hydrates and softens the skin.

The product itself is dispensed through a ‘flip out’ style nozzle applicator, which can actually be a bit of a disadvantage at times, because product gets stuck in the applicator and dries out, meaning that when you squeeze some product out upon next application you get some of the left over hard residue come out.

The Results

Suffering from very oily skin I’ve always been scared of wearing moisturiser daily, as I’ve never really found one that agreed with my skin. However I thought I’d give this one a shot, and for the FIRST time ever used a moisturiser every morning and night for a month. I wasn’t expecting much but the results shocked me. The blackheads which I’ve had for over 15 years and haven’t been able to get rid off had completely disappeared! My skin was glowing and I felt confident for the first time to leave my house makeup free. Not only did it leave my skin spot and blackhead free, but I was also left is super soft glowing skin. The only downside I found to the moisturiser was that if I wore it under makeup then my foundation didn’t last as long. This was a slight inconvenience but it was nothing some blotting paper and a bit of powder couldn’t fix, it was definitely worth it for the results I was getting!

During the month I had university’s exams I became so stressed that I let my skincare regime slip and forgot to apply for moisturiser for a few weeks. Low and behold the dreaded blackheads returned, so you have to be consistent with the moisturiser to make sure they don’t reappear. Overall I can finally say that I’ve found my holy grail product! Although a little pricey at £18 a bottle it’s worth every penny in my opinion.

What’s your holy grail product?

Laura 

Bodega Cantina – Birmingham Review

I find there’s nothing better during the colder months than warming up eating my favourite cuisine – Mexican, and where else better to go than Bodega Cantina in Birmingham! Located on Bennett’s Hill, Bodega has spiced up Birmingham’s local cuisine since it opened in 2010. With its quirky vibrant decor, the restaurant offers homemade South American and Mexican inspired dishes, and with over 18 dishes on the menu there’s something to choose for everyone!

Recently their menu has had a refresh, with the addition of new dishes and improvement of some of the existing ones…the perfect excuse for me and my partner in crime to visit again! As usual upon entering Bodega I was greeted by their warm friendly welcome, and we were soon onto ordering our cocktails whilst we browsed the food menu! We opted for the ‘Bodega’s Burger a la Parilla’ and Peruvian Seco de Pollo, along with a side of Mexican Cola Wings, Colombian Papas Chorreadas, and of course…nachos! No visit to Bodega is complete without their famous homemade nachos.

In no time our fresh homemade food was delivered to the table, and boy were we in for a treat! The array of enticing aromas wafted past me, not only did this food smell amazing but it looked amazing too. I started with the Mexican cola wings, and I was instantly in love. They have to be some of the tastiest chicken wings I have EVER tried. The lightly spiced sticky sauce was delicious, I couldn’t get enough of it. Since the visit I’ve tried making cola wings myself at home but unfortunately can’t master them to the Bodega standard, so I’ll certainly be returning to get my next fix of them soon. The nachos at Bodega are different to any nachos I’ve ever tasted, their crunchy homemade taste really sets them apart. Covered in a mountain of melted cheese, guacamole, sour cream, salsa fresco, jalapeños and chicken mole they are definitely a winner. The other side we ordered, Colombian papas chorreadas, was equally as good. The dish consisted of crispy diced potatoes covered with a creamy cheddar cheese sauce, topped with salsa fresco. If you’re a cheese lover like myself then this dish will win you over, it reminded me of a cheesy patas bravas! I had to stop myself from eating it all and save some for my friend.

The sides proved the perfect accompaniment to our delicious mains. My friend opted for Bodega’s burger a la parilla, and to my surprise it was like no burger I had ever seen before. It was a unique take on a traditional burger, and instead of a bun the burger was wrapped in a tortilla. It sounds strange but it surprisingly goes really well and it is actually easier to eat than a normal burger! But my favourite was the main I had chosen – Peruvian seco de pollo. This rich chicken stew was just what I needed to warm me up! Different to any other stew I’d tasted before, the fresh coriander and red chilli within the dish really brought it alive and enhanced the warm hearty flavour of the dish. It’s not a dish I’d usually associate with South America which made it a nice unusual change to the stereotypical street food I always tend to order at Mexican/South American restaurants. If you’re looking for a dish that fills you up and warms your soul Peruvian seco de pollo is the dish for you.

As they say there’s always room for desserts no matter how full you are, so we opted for my favourite – churros, as well as banana & salted caramel cheesecake. The churros were warm, crispy and delicious, with just enough cinnamon sugar to make them not too sickly. But my favourite out of the two was the cheesecake. Served with dulce de leche and a dusting of sugar, I couldn’t get enough of rich creamy flavour of banana. The taste reminded me a bit of banoffee pie, a dessert I adore, which is most likely why I loved this cheesecake so much. For me it has to be one of the cheesecakes with the best flavour combinations I’ve ever tried.

A few cocktails later and we were ready head home. As usual we had an amazing time at Bodega Cantina, with an array of delicious food and fantastic service. I’m already planning my next visit to try out some of the other new items they have introduced to the menu. Whether you’re strolling through town and fancy a quick bite, or want somewhere refreshing for a date night Bodega is the place to go.

You can find out more about Bodega Cantina and what they have to offer on their website.

What’s your favourite South American dish?

Laura 

Exploring Amsterdam

Earlier this year I finally got to visit one of the cities on my bucket list – Amsterdam. With its unique brick architecture, countless bridges and maze of canals, Amsterdam has long been a tourist hot spot in Europe with many attracted to what this cultural city has to offer. With something in store for everyone, here’s my top things to see and do whilst visiting:

 

The Heineken Brewery

One of Amsterdam’s most popular attractions, the Heineken experience, is located in the original Heineken brewery which has been transformed into an interactive tour. I’ve visited many brewery’s around the world but the Heineken brewery has so far been the best for me! The brewery itself is no longer in use but this tour combines the history of Heineken and brewing, with a look at Heineken and their advertising in the modern world. But most importantly…free beer!

 

Canals

With over 60 miles of canals and nearly 1500 bridges, Amsterdam really is the Venice of the north! The ring of canals in Amsterdam has recently been added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites and is the perfect place to get your stereotypical Amsterdam Instagram photo. If taking pictures on land isn’t your thing then there’s an array of boat trips to choose from for as little as €15. Head to the Jordaan, if your looking for the more picturesque canals and you can stop at one of the many indie shops and boutiques located there whilst your at it!

 

Food, food, food.

If your anything like me then your favourite thing about exploring a new country is trying the local food! You may have heard of stroopwaffles from the great British bake off, but in Amsterdam you can find these heavenly gooey treats being sold freshly baked, and they definitely make the perfect snack to nibble on whilst you’re taking in the sights. If stroopwaffles don’t do it for you, then ‘proffertjes’ definitely will! You’ll find proffertjes, which are fluffy mini pancakes, being sold at many street food stalls and they’re often accompanied by sugar, cream, butter, syrup or strawberries; it’s hard to resist this bite sized treat! If you’re feeling adventurous, then you could try the Dutch delicacy of ‘Hollandse Nieuwe’, which is raw herring served with raw onions and gherkins, which doesn’t sound the most appealing dish but is proven to be popular with tourists willing to try new things. But if you’re a fussy eater it’s probably best to play it safe and stick to the Amsterdam favourite – chips and mayonnaise!

 

Museum time

Amsterdam has some of the best museums in the world, and with over 40 museums you’ll definitely find a museum for you. The biggest and most well known museum in Amsterdam is the Rijksmuseum; the dutch national museum. Here you can a mix of both history and art, hosting some of the worlds most famous artists. But if you’re a lover of the famous Dutch artist Van Gogh you wont find your fix here…head over to the Van Gogh museum which hosts the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings and drawings in the world. If you’re not interested in art, history or museums in general then there might museum there which will change your opinion…the sex museum located in the red light district. This place is definitely not one for the shy or prude, and perfect if your up for a laugh! If none of these museums take your fancy then maybe the house of one of history’s most well known figures will – Anne Frank’s house. The house is located along the Prinsengracht canal and is house in which Anne and her family hid from nazi persecution during World War II. Here you can learn more about Anne and experience her life story with audio guiding. Even if you’re not into history it is most definitely worth a visit!

 

‘Tulips from Amsterdam’

When exploring a new city I can’t resist the opportunity for the perfect ‘instagrammable’ photo, and in Amsterdam you are spoilt for choice with the beautiful scenery. The Netherlands are famous for their tulips and in Amsterdam you can’t go 500 meters without seeing them being sold somewhere, but the most beautiful display of their national flower can be seen in the Keukenhoff gardens located a 40 minute drive outside the city centre. The floral displays are out of this world, and the best time to visit is mid-April to early May when the flowers are in full bloom. Unfortunately when I visited the flowers outside hadn’t bloomed due to a cold winter, so I was only able to get photos of the indoor displays. However if you search the gardens on google images you can see how amazing they are in full bloom.

If you don’t fancy the travel to Keukenhof gardens, then the floating flower market in Amsterdam is your next best option! Located along the Singel canal the market is made up of floating house boats, which have been turned into stalls. The market is amass with fresh cut flowers, specifically tulips, as well as the odd souvenir shop. A good stall to visit is the first market along the floating market which is exceptionally picturesque as it has hundreds of bunches of dried flowers hanging from the ceiling creating a colourful and innovative display. Apart from the beautiful scenery you can buy every colour and variety tulip bulb to take back home and brighten up your garden!

 

Amsterdam is such a vibrant city, and there’s so many things to see and do whilst there. My guide has only briefly listed some of my favourite things from when I visited but needless to say you’ll never run out of new things to do there. Amsterdam deserves so much more than the outdated reputation many hold of it due to the red light district and ‘coffee shops’, so why don’t you give it a go and get your own opinion on this quirky and picturesque city!

Have you got any tips for must see places whilst visiting Amsterdam?

Laura 

Élan Cafe – My Experience

In April I decided to visit my friend in London for the weekend, and I couldn’t resist the chance to visit the famous Élan Cafe. The cafe has two branches, both as beautiful as each other and their pink decor and floral walls makes this cafe a blogger and instagrammer hot spot! So on a sunny Saturday me and my friend eagerly headed to Élan Cafe on park lane, with our excitement being driven by the beautiful photographs we had seen of the cafe on Instagram.

Arriving at Élan Cafe

Upon arriving at the cafe we were greeted by a large que outside of people waiting to be seated. Due to it being such a lovely day me and my friend did not mind waiting around 20-30 minutes to get a table, so we joined the back of the que. However after 30 minutes the que had hardly moved but we did not want to leave as we had already waited so long. Finally after a whole 60 minutes we managed to be seated! Walking into the cafe we were greeted by the cute chic interior which was any bloggers dream! The cafe itself was quite small which explained why the wait was so long but now seated me and my friend were served immediately by a friendly and helpful waitress.

 

The Food & Drink

I could hardly decide what to eat, because the array of cakes in the window all looked amazing and I wish I could have tried every single one of them! Upon looking at the menu what first noticed about the menu was that the prices were quite expensive, but this was proportionate considering we were in the Mayfair area of London, and Èlan wasn’t exactly your standard costa style cafe! The menu hosted a vast array of hot and cold drinks, with good selection of plant based milk substitutes available for vegans (soy, almond, rice, oat and cashew milk. There were also many cakes to choose from and some brunch options. I opted for a flat white, a smoked salmon and pomegranate molasses open flatbread sandwich, followed by a chocolate mousse cake which in total set me back £17.30 (not including the service charge). All of the food and drink arrived promptly, and I only have one word for it – AMAZING! The presentation was beautiful and I have to say everything tasted so good that I’d eat there everyday if I could.

Would I Return to Élan?

Although I had a lovely time at Élan Cafe, I would be reluctant to visit there again due to the wait time. Also after waiting 60 minutes to get in we saw on the menu you could only stay in the cafe for a maximum of 45 minutes which meant we were standing outside the cafe waiting longer than we were seated inside. I can’t fault the food and drink there, and would love to go again if only the waiting time was less. But overall, me and my friend enjoyed ourself and got some fab pictures for the ‘gram to go with it!

What’s your favourite ‘instagrammer’ location in London?

Laura