Thursday, 11 September 2014

"Mummy - what's wrong with that lady's face" (a story with a happy ending) - Review of Boots 'Avert Electronic Cold Sore Machine '

This is, by far, the strangest Christmas present I have ever been given.

Boots 'Avert Electronic Cold Sore Machine / Boots / £35.99

I have suffered from cold sores from the age of about 10 - back then they were barely an issue as were only a tiny mark on my upper lip that, with the right amount of Zovirax applied at the right time, lasted little more than a couple of days and caused very little discomfort.

Puberty changed all this.

From around 14 years old I have suffered from the worst cold sores that I, or anyone that I know, has ever seen . . .  during one particularly bad episode, a child I passed in the street look at me in horror and screamed "Mummy, what's wrong with that lady's face?" . . . . the mother then looked at me, visibly winced and, muttering "I don't know darling", proceeded to drag her brat away from me at top speed.

Nothing could be done to prevent the attacks nor did anything seem to work once the blisters had started appearing - I have, over the last 16 years, tried every pharmaceutical remedy, every herbal alternative and employed every old wives' tale I could find - nothing worked!

A cold sore breakout would see me with a blister running across the *whole* of my top lip, around the corners of my nose and (if I was especially unlucky) all the way up both nostrils.  Little could be done to soothe them and NOTHING could be done to cover them - anyone who has ever suffered this problem will know that the only thing that looks worse than a cold sore is a cold sore covered in concealer.

Even worse - rather than last for only a few days as with my cold sores of old - my plutonium-grade blisters stuck around for weeks at a time - my personal record being well over a month.  Even though I was incredibly diligent in not touching them and making sure not to catch them when cleaning my face - every breakout would leave me quite badly scarred with it taking months for the skin to heal.

My parents have always been very sympathetic about my cold sores; my mother because she has never had one, and my father as he has them and, based on recent studies, they are likely genetic.  Conversations were had about throwing money at the situation but there didn't seem to be a solution - there certainly wasn't any surgery that dealt with this type of problem nor did there seem to be any offering from dermatologists.  I felt doomed.

Fast-forward to Christmas 2013 . . . .

I always have one present at Christmas that I am instructed to open last -  this normally being the 'big one' - something that my Mum and Dad are particularly smug about having discovered/sourced for me.  Last Christmas the 'big one' was in fact small and particularly light in weight.  I was intrigued and ploughed through the other presents as fast as possible to get to it . . . . .

It was a Boots 'Avert Electronic Cold Sore Machine'.

Now, needless to say, this was the last thing that I was expecting.  I made my 'excited face' and thanked them both ever so much for being so thoughtful, all the time thinking 'this is a nice idea but there is zero chance that it is going to work'.  My Mum explained that she had been researching and had found this device to have rave reviews; featuring in both national papers and style magazines.  My inner pessimist was thinking "That's all well and good but no-one has cold sores quite like mine'. 

When I got back to Scotland after Christmas I unpacked and put my new machine to the back of a cupboard; not thinking about it again until I woke to see the tell-tale redness of a cold sore starting.  Ringing my Mum to complain about the state of my face I was reminded that I had been given a very thoughtful present and should at least use it once before writing it off.  Suitably told-off, and realising I would get no sympathy until I had at least tried it, I pulled the device of the cupboard and cracked open the box.

The science

The packaging of this device advises that, through the use of 'narrow wavebands of light, the machine 'enhances the local immune response to the cold sore virus'.  Simply put, this speeds up the healing process.


The packaging of this product is fairly clinical with a face marked with a target on their face - it certainly isn't marketed as being a 'sexy'/ 'high-end' device.  However, given the problem it is tasked to handle - 'sexy' probably wouldn't work!

Inside the box

The inside the box, in-keeping with the 'non-sexy' vibe, is fairly sparse with just the machine itself and a battery:

Using the machine

I will admit that using the machine took some getting used to.

When you have a cold sore the last thing you feel like doing is pressing anything against it - but that it pretty much what you have to do.

The machine has two emitters within it.  You have to put these over the affected area and press the 'on' button.  Once the machine has been activated you simply hold over the cold sore (whether just a tingle or a full-blown blister) and wait for it to beep - so telling you it has finished.

The section containing the emitters is quite wide (approximately 1.3 inches x 1 inch) and so allows a big area to be covered in one go . . . . good for people like me who have lost their entire face below the nose to a cold sore!

There was, for me, no pain, no tingling sensation and absolutely no feeling of discomfort - other than the fact I had a plastic (Wii Controller) device stuck to my face I would not have known that I was using it!


Having been so negative and . . . well . . . . ungrateful(!) when presented with this - I can't now imagine being without it - to the extent that I plan to buy a second one to leave in my desk drawer at work.

While it does still occasionally happen that I am not able to get to the device in time to stop an outbreak (hence the plan to buy a second one) - I have found that even if using the machine *after* the blisters have appeared there is an incredible effect - with the development of the blisters being stopped in their tracks and the healing process taking weeks less than usual.  My skin around my upper lips has noticeably improved over the last seven months and I no longer have scarring,

While (and there is no nice way to say this) the machine looks and feels cheap I cannot fault it in anyway - the price (£35.99) is, to me, incredibly cheap for such a dramatic improvement in my skin and, without being overly dramatic, my quality of life. I am willing to forgive it's ugliness!

I don't know if this will work for everyone.  I do know however that this has genuinely changed my life.  If you suffer with cold sores and are looking for a new solution I would recommend this.

For anyone interested - you can see the reviews online and order it here: Boots Avert Electronic Cold Sore Machine

Do you suffer from cold sores?  Have you tried the Boots Avert before or is there something else that works well for you?  Let's not suffer in silence!


Ducky xx

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Boots extravaganza!

I seem to have gone rogue in Boots . . . . one blog post and I think I'm a Rockefeller!

I am going to Spain in a fortnight - as this will be my first beach holiday in *seven years* I more than felt justified in treating myself to a couple of new toiletries.

£20 note in hand I merrily pottered into Boots looking for the travel section.  Unfortunately it seems true that even the best laid plans go to waste, and I found myself staggering out with five bags full of goodies and £100 less in my purse.

As I am always interested to see what other people buy (and partly because I am justifying the splurge to myself with the argument 'I can write about this on my blog') I am sharing my purchases and musings on each here for your delectation (!) . . . .

No 7 'Perfect Pedicure'

No7 'Perfect Pedicure / Boots / £12.49 (RRP £24.99)*

This purchase demonstrates why I should not be allowed in a shop without a minder.

I did not go into Boots looking for a 'Foot Smoothing System' (as described on box) - nor do I need one.  Instead, I took a detour on the way to the tills, saw this on offer at only £12.49 and, credit card in hand, thought 'why not'.  

This set contains:
     *  a battery-powered unit
     *  three attachments (pumice stone, foot file and buffing disc)
     *  batteries

The product also came with both a 2 year guarantee and a 'Boots Promise' that, should I use the product and not like it, I was more than welcome to return it to store for a full refund even if not faulty

I woke up the morning after buying this and waited for the usual buyer's remorse to kick in - it didn't happen!  Regardless or not of whether I *need* this I always find it exciting to have a new toy to play with!

Soap & Glory 'Face Massage Mini Mitt'

Soap & Glory 'Face Massager Mini Mitt' / Boots / £4.00*

This falls nicely into the bracket of 'things I didn't know I needed'.

My daily trawls through various beauty blogs have me really interested in facial cleansing systems such as the Clarisonic Mia and Magnitone Lucid  - I have awful skin and would like to find a solution, the blogger reviews I have read of the electronic options have been so positive, but I don't feel ready to spend £70 - £100 when I have not yet explored other (cheaper) options.

The Soap & Glory 'Face Massage Mini Mitt', rather than being a cleansing style product, is in fact marketed as being a face massager - designed to increase blood-flow to the face and so prevent/remedy the tired and dull looking skin often caused by poor circulation as brought on by smoking and sun-exposure.

The advice on packaging suggests that you smother your 'Mini Mitt' in cleanser and then rub across your face in upwards circular motions to promote blood circulation - instructions that sound simple enough that even I can follow them without too much trauma!

A quick look at the reviews that have been posted on the Boots website (here) show that 20 out of 20 reviewers are extremely happy with their product and have found it to have improved their skin.  For the sake of £4.00 I am more than happy to try this to see if it has a positive effect for me.

Philips 'Bikini Genie'

Philips 'Bikini Genie' / Boots / £24.99*

Although I did not walk into Boots looking to buy a bikini trimmer, this is something that I have been considering for a while and when confronted with a huge stand of them at a reasonable price, I decided to take the plunge and invest.

I am not currently the type of girl who feels comfortable going to a beauty salon to have their lady-bits waxed by a stranger . . . god knows I would like to be that confident but every time I get close to booking it I lose my bottle at the last minute.

So with this in mind (and as I am going to a hot country with the intention of possibly wearing a swimsuit of some sort) I am keen to find an easy and transportable solution to the age-old problem of the bikini-line.

At first look (through the packaging) this seems to be a nice, light and sensibly sized product and (hopefully) will be a better method of doing the necessary than attacking myself with a Bic.

Soap and Glory miniatures/'Peaches and Clean'

Assorted Soap and Glory skincare / Boots / £2.50 to £8.00*
My name is Ducky and I am a Soap & Glory addict.  

I was converted to 'Peaches and Clean' as my cleanser of choice by Miss Budget Beauty (review here) and have never looked back; the smell of it is beyond words, it leaves my skin smoother and cleaner and, as much as anything ever has, it reduces the number of breakouts I suffer.

Peaches and Clean is currently on offer in Boots at £8.00 each or 'buy one get one half price'.

Off the back of my love for P&C I have developed an addiction for the rest of the range and so try to make sure that I have minatures available every time I stay away from home - my thinking being that at least I have some home comforts.  

The picture on the right shows the Soap & Glory shampoo, conditioner,hand sanitiser, moisturiser and shower gel (x2) from the travel range.  Each miniature is £2.50 and are currently '3 for 2' in Boots.

Soap & Glory 'Super Exfoliating Scrub Gloves'

Soap & Glory 'Super Exfoliating Scrub Gloves / Boots / £4.00*

I am a *BIG* fan of exfoliating gloves.  Due to dry-ish skin I can be prone to slightly scaly legs (which have also been attributed to cat allergies/central heating by friends and family!) and like to address this by scrubbing them in the shower with shower gel. 

I wasn't in the market for a new pair of gloves but these caught my attention because of the lovely packaging.  As soon as I felt them I knew I had to have them - they are thick and obviously very heavy-duty (so good for descaling) but don't have the nasty scratch feel of other gloves I have tried that always makes me worry I will cut myself.

At only £4.00 I am confident that this was a sensible purchase - possibly my only one - and something that will last for a long time, 

Carmex Classic Tube

Carmex Classic Tube / Boots / £1.79*

This is a product I can't live without - to the extent that I usually have about five tubes on the go at any one time!

I suffer from visibly chapped lips from the last day of autumn straight through to the first day of summer.  People, upon noticing the state of my face, helpfully offer suggestions for what could cause this - anything from an allergy to my cat that only happens at certain times of the year to my central heating drying my lips.  However, as I have been unable to pin down a definite cause for my disfigurement I decided years ago to instead focus on finding a product that would ease the symptoms - pain and aesthetically.

I feel that lots of lip-balms these days seem to be missing the point - offering additional features I feel are unnecessary; 'glitter effect', 'gloss effect' and tinted' to name but a few.   I am more than happy to consider fancy add-ons when looking for lipstick or lip-gloss but think the main purpose of a lip-balm should be to protect me against the elements and to sooth my poor broken lips.

I thought that I was doomed to be rocking cracked,sore and really unappealing lips for 6 months of every year for life - then I discovered Carmex.

I find the consistency of this lip-balm to be perfect - it is not sticky like the gloss effect products neither is it greasy like some of the more medicinal options, application is easy and there is no discernible smell.  Above all else - after a couple of days of use the look of my lips has improved dramatically and I am able to move my mouth again!

Boots had an offer on selected Carmex products on the day I visited meaning that I only paid £1.79 rather than the usual price of £2.69 but, even at the higher price, I still feel that I am buying an incredibly good product for the fraction of the price it is worth.  Primarks can often be found selling this for only £1.50 but it really depends on the store you visit and their stock levels.

There are several different types of Carmex available (see here for their website) but I have stuck with the original to date.  Who knows - I may branch out in the future and try a new one - I'll keep you posted!

'Witch Blemish Stick'

Witch Blemish Stick / Boots / £2.09*

As already mentioned - I have awful skin and, at the ripe old age of thirty, still suffer quite badly with spots.

While prowling Boots looking for more things to throw in the basket I stumbled across the Witch Blemish Sticks.  I recalled having been bought one of these at about 14 by my mother and it having worked quite well at stopping a spot in it's tracks if caught early enough.

While I am sure that there have been drastic improvements in 'blemish eliminators' in the last 16 years - I know what to expect with this product and can be confident that it will not cause any redness or irritation on my skin.

I therefore decided that it was worth a punt and added it to the growing collection of purchases.


As well as all of the exciting products above I also stocked up on some of the basics - too boring to photograph but worth a brief mention:

          *  pocket packets of tissues x 5             
          *  8 x Gillete Venus razor blades
          *  Cottonwool pads (100s) x 2                                      
          *  Boots eye make-up remover pads
          *  Right Guard Deodorant                

What do you think of my purchases?  
Are there any products that you have used?  
What do you take on holiday?

I would be really grateful for any comments - 
as previously mentioned, I am fairly clueless and can use all the help I can get!


Ducky xx

* all prices correct at time of posting

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Does the world really need another beauty blog?

Back in my late-teens/early twenties I lived the hedonistic dream of being able to spend almost every penny I earnt on clothes, make-up and beauty products.  As I grew older reality took over in the form of rent and household bills and I no longer felt able to justify a £100 high street spending splurge on a whim.

Shortly after my 30th, during the spring clean I'm sure we all have after a big birthday,  I realised my wardrobe was a sad and sparse place . . . . how had it happened that I only owned 'sensible' items in black? Why did none of shoes have heels higher than two inches?  When did the total number of items in my wardrobe fall below thirty?  A re-assessment of my beauty and make-up products/routine left me no happier - I only owned about twenty products and used them all to create the same safe look every single day.

Epiphany complete - I realised that it was time to make a change.  Turning to the internet for help I discovered the amazing world of beauty and fashion blogs, there now being nothing I like more than losing an afternoon to the musings of legends of the (PC) screen such as Khila at Miss Budget Beauty, Zoe at Zoella and Tanya at Tanya Burr

Now, having identified that I am aware that there are incredibly successful and talented bloggers out there - why would I start my own page?  In honesty - I am essentially starting from scratch here as the last (seven?) years of fashion, make-up and beauty have passed me by and I am clueless! I hope that, through this blog, I can learn, meet like-minded people and push myself to change for the better.  

Also, while loathe to stereotype, I wouldn't describe myself as being a likely candidate for a beauty blogger - I have mad untameable hair (often likened to Hagrid), have a strange figure that could (if I lost weight) potentially be an hourglass but I am not sure I will ever know, and am fairly furry, like a Wookie, all over my face and body.  Hopefully my oddities will be of use as they will allow me to try products and services not often reviewed by other bloggers.

I hope that you enjoy my ramblings - I am very new to this and so would appreciate any constructive criticism you have to offer.  Also, should there be any reviews/discussions you would like to see - just let me know.

Here goes nothing . . . . can this duckling be turned into a swan?

Ducky xx