30 second review: L’Oreal Hydra Genius Aloe Water

L'Oreal Hydraphase Aloe Water
L’Oreal Hydraphase Aloe Water

Well this really is a little bit genius if you are currently sweltering in the British heatwave, or heading off to sunny climes this summer.

Don’t get me wrong, I *love* heat – humid, tropical climates are my jam, but when it comes to skincare I don’t want cloying, sticky creams and balms. I want cooling, quenchy gels that really hydrate and don’t irritate my skin (I still stand by this review of Astalift that ticks all these boxes and more).

I’ve used Hydraphase range from La Roche Posay in France for the last few summers. It’s fab, really hydrating, light and non-irritating. I particularly like the light daily moisturiser with broad spectrum SPF20 and the intense serum for a serious hit of hydration.

But I’m in the UK at the mo and this was on offer in Boots; plus in the heat-haze I was sucked in by the ‘Aloe Water’ quenchy tagline.

The Aloe sap and Hyaluronic Acid are its top billing ingredients. The ‘liquid care’ texture is a hybrid gel/cream that’s a super light-weight water-based formula. I cleanse as normal then when my skin is still damp I slather a pump or two of this on. It’s sucked in super quick, doesn’t leave the skin tacky and I know it’s a skincare cliche, but it does feel like your skin’s had a drink. It smells really good too – a summery, marine fragrance. I then apply my sunscreen over the top (Ultrasun SPF 30) and I’m good to go. I use more targeted skincare in the evening (wrinkles, pigmentation etc), this isn’t going to do much on that front, but for keeping your skin hydrated and peachy during the day – it’s a winner.

There are versions for dry/normal and normal/combination skin. L’Oreal Hydra Genius Aloe Water, Boots.com – currently £6.66 – normal price £9.99

CF Review: Quinny Zapp travel buggy

I put a little shout out on Instagram last month for this buggy as my first impressions were pretty good. I picked it up on a pre-loved site because while our day-to-day buggy, the Britax B-Motion 3, is completely brilliant, sturdy and a total workhorse (I honestly can’t recommend this buggy enough) – it is a behemoth, super heavy and not great for travelling.

Quinny Zapp
Quinny Zapp

We nipped over the Naples last weekend (read my guide to ‘Naples with kids’ from last year here) and I knew from taking the Britax last year I wanted something that would cope with the cobbled, uneven city streets, be easy to hop on and off public transport and super lightweight. The Quinny didn’t miss a beat.

Okay, in short:

Pros: It’s a simple 3-step umbrella style closure and it closes up REALLY small (27″ x 10″ x 11″) and weighs a featherweight 7.5kg (the Britax weighs a hefty 11kg). Great for small car boots, overhead lockers – or grandparents who don’t want a massive, whielding bit of kit to hump around.

Although the wheels are solid moulded ones, rather than proper air-filled tyres like the Britax, they took the nightmare Naples streets in their stride.

The 3-wheel formation was a breeze to steer.

Cons: We found it tipped back alarmingly easily. If the 2-year old (who only weighs 11kg) threw himself back hard in a strop it flung the buggy backwards. Not ideal. Obviously if your toddler is better behaved than mine (not hard), you can over-look this first point.

It’s quite short. I’m 5’10 and I found myself hunching a bit. I definitely wouldn’t recommend for over 6fters.

The shopping basket is tiny. And the sun visor too short to offer any real protection.

The back doesn’t have the option to lie-flat. So no chance of a quick nap. That said, in the middle of Naples, naps aren’t really likely, and the nosey 2-year old loved his upright vantage point. EDIT: The new generation Zapp Xtra 2 *does* have lie-back options, and you can switch the seat around from forward to rear facing.

Verdict: It’s not the perfect buggy and if I had to use it everyday it wouldn’t be practical (not sturdy enough, not enough storage, not good off-road), but if you’re looking for a super light-weight holiday/travel buggy, it’s a winner.

Quinny Zapp range from £195

Read my review of ‘Top 5 travel kit for kids’ here

CF Gadget: Fitbit Flex

2013-12-20 09.51.02I wanted to wait a month before I posted about my latest gadget, as I really wanted to put it through its paces. In Mid December I was kindly given a Fitbit Flex by my boss, after coveting hers all year. In my role as Creative Director for a new health and wellness brand, a lot of self tracking devices have crossed my desk in the last 12 months and I do think this is the best of the crop.

Okay, so it’s not the most attractive of bangles, but it’s pretty inconspicuous. You wear it day and night (you can even shower in it, but not bathe) and it tracks the steps you take, calories you burn and distance travelled. It also monitors your sleep patterns and tells you how ‘efficiently’ you’ve slept (determined by your restless and awake periods).

Perhaps a bit ‘Big Brother’ for some, but studies have proved that by measuring your activity levels not only gives you finite goals (you can set yourself challenges to walk X number of steps a day, or so many miles) to work towards, but simply by wearing it and being aware of how active you are in itself increases your fitness and interestingly, keeps you motivated.

I can agree with this, I am now fanatical about hitting my ‘10,000 steps a day’, making sure I factor in one 20-30 minute walk each day to ensure I reach my goal. By tapping the display on the Flex 5 flashing dots denote your progress in 20% increments. 5 dots and you’ve reach 100% of your target. You then simply sync the wireless Flex with your laptop or phone to see the facts and figures (for geeks like me there are lots of comparable charts and graphs which is very pleasing). The dashboard also has the facility for you to track your food intake and water consumption, too. However, I already use My FitnessPal app on my phone to track my food as I’ve found it has the most comprehensive database of food brands/items, so makes for accurate calculations.

So, faddy or useful for a health kick? Because it is so effortless to capture the data (you really do forget you’re wearing it) and the quantitative goal-setting really means you have something tangible to work towards, I think it’s a really clever bit of kit that goes beyond the ‘novelty’ factor to actually be a really useful motivation tool. I’m not looking to run a marathon, but simply increase my day-to-day activity levels to become healthier and fitter and the Fitbit Flex is keeping me on track!

fitbit.com, the Fitbit Flex is £79.99



CF Christmas: Wonderwood by Comme des Garcons

Following on from my previous review of Jour Pour Femme by Hugo Boss as a great gifting fragrance this Christmas, here’s one for the boys.

I’ve repurchased this for the OH this year as we were talking about scents last week and he mentioned this as ‘one of his favourite fragrances of all time’. Second only to his beloved, and tragically discontinued, Jo Malone Fresh Lime and Cedar which was INCREDIBLE.

Back to Wonderwood. I have worn Comme des Garcon’s ‘2’ fragrance on and off for years, and I don’t think there is one CDG fragrance I haven’t loved. Wonderwood is unisex, like all their fragrances, but I’d say it was pretty masculine in its profile – with a big hit of pepper, cedar and sandal woods, an immediate shot of bergamot and later a neck-nuzzling mix of vetiver and musky oud. I imagine it is what testosterone smells like, it is ‘I can chop down trees and wrestle grizzly bears’ manly.

It’s not a middle of the road ‘safe buy’ (or cheap either), so you’d have to know the person’s fragrance preferences before splurging on it, but if they like a woody, green, peppery scent – this could be a winner.

I bought a 100ml EDP for £60 instead of £75 at www.escentual.com

CF Style: Tights weather

So, I’ve been resisting it for a while but it is well and truly tight weather in Devon.

Because I am a general klutz and end up ripping anything less than industrial strength denier, I have given in and embraced the more robust end of the hosiery spectrum and invested in these three pairs for this winter:

These soft merino wool ribbed tights from Falke (£28.50) are my annual, without fail, purchase when it comes to tights. They are every shade of brilliant. Cosy, comfy and with a chambray shirt dress and chunky chestnut leather biker boots (I’ve had my eye on these from Michael Kors for a while) – the epitome of autumn.

These 100 Denier beauties are also from Falke (£22.95). The OH’s Nonna has them in every jewel-like shade (yes, she is a very chic Italian octogenarian) and I love how they add a hint of colour to a monochrome outfit. The Barolo burgundy and Deep Sea inky blue, are both beautiful:

For £10, I couldn’t resist these thermal tights from Pretty Polly – at a whopping 200 Denier they are fleecy lined and promise to be super cosy on my 6am starts when I commute to work in Bristol. On an icy January morning I think these are going to be just the thing…

CF Health: Colds, Croup and a cup of Pukka tea

This box of Pukka teas was sent to me by their PR back in August and I thought ‘ooh, I’ll stash those for autumn, when ‘cold season’ hits’. Reader – that time has come.

I might as well daub a cross above our front door and be done with it, we are so germ ridden.

Firstly, last week Country Bebe came down with croup (an infant-specific viral infection of the voicebox and windpipe) – which entailed a cough to rival a 60-a-day smoker, fever, aches, sleepiness and culminated in a brief trip to A&E after some rather laboured breathing and a nasty viral rash. All in all, grim. It is CB’s first illness, so at 2yo we are pretty lucky. Just as he started to perk up (i.e. showed an interest in his Duplo box), I was knocked for six by a killer cold.

I’m still knee-deep in snot, with fevers and headaches a plenty, so sorry things are a bit slow on the post front this week.

However I thought I’d post a quick review of the lemon, ginger and manuka honey tea from Pukka, which I’ve been sipping my way through this week:

Imagine a healthy lemsip that is more soothing and gentle, and you’re close. It’s zesty with lemon but fiery with root ginger (great for sinuses) and has a lingering sweetness that is really calming, thanks to the manuka honey. There is liquorice in there, and turmeric too – so it is deliciously spicy. I am *obsessed* with their three ginger tea, and this is a lighter more delicate cuppa.

Definitely one for the store cupboard over the winter months.

*coughs and crawls back under the duvet*

£2.29 for 20 sachets from www.pukkaherbs.com

CF Family: Country Bebe’s nursery kit

This weekend heralded CB’s 2nd birthday (Duplo, Duplo and a toy hoover – he was in heaven) and with it came the day all parents dread. His first day at nursery.

These first two years have whipped by in a blink of an eye. One minute you’re breastfeeding a tiny, wriggly thing that has no control over its arms/legs/bowel movements – then whoosh – you have a fully formed, opinionated toddler, ready to head out into the world of education. Sniff.

In the last few weeks I’ve been picking up a few bits and bobs that the nursery pointed out might be useful:

First up, outerwear. I love that his little homely nursery school ensures they are outside as much as possible, come rain or shine. But that means they need all the wet weather kit.

We’re hoping we’ve got all weather-conditions covered with these two items.

1/ Baby Joules waterproof and fleece lined jacket (£49.95). It’s super warm, cosy, smart, hooded… the works. Although a bit too belt-and-braces for the current mild Autumn we’re having in Devon.

2/ Hippy Chicks waterproof all in one (£27.50). I am so, so, so, happy I was recommended this brand by another outdoor-loving mum. The all-in-one waterproof is a brilliant idea. We just slip it on over his normal clothes and he is good to go, whatever the weather. It’s water and wind proof, but breathable too. It is going to be invaluable on the back of our bike. I love that the ankles, wrists and waist all have velcro tabs on them so you can adjust them around wellies/gloves etc for a snug fit. The hood has velcro securing straps too, so it won’t blow off in the wind. It’s the perfect winter beach-combing outfit.

CB has been wearing his crocs pretty much solidly from May. There is a reason they are super glued to the feet of most under 5s. They can go in the sea in them, stomp through mud, splatter them in paint… they are indestructable and crucially, there is nothing that a quick blast with the hose won’t fix. I’ll be honest, I was a little stumped as to what footwear to get him come autumn, that would be as hard-wearing and versatile, then I discovered Crocs Wellies (£23). Result. All the benefits of the Crocs, in a winter-friendly alternative.

Obviously I wouldn’t have him walking in these for long periods. He has his everyday Clarks leather shoes that are width fitted, but for stomping around the garden/beach/woods. These are perfect.

His last bit of kit was a birthday present from his godmother. A monkey backpack from Skip Hop (available at Mothercare and JoJo Maman Bebe). It has an additional safety harness too which is useful for keeping them close when out and about, but he will generally be using it to carry his changing stuff, drink, snacks, conkers, toy soldiers etc.

I’ll report back on how he gets on next week!



Object of Desire: Patra silk pyjamas

I have made my mind up. I want to be buried in my Patra silk pyjamas. Actually scrap that, I’m not sure I can wait that long…


This is not a new revelation. My mother-in-law bought me a pair last Christmas – here I am resplendent in mine, forest green with cream piping, on Christmas Day watching the Downton Abbey special with a snoring labrador at my feet:

The Patra website itself is dire, please don’t take any notice. Just order a pair a size up (slouchy is best when it comes to silk pjs, trust me) and prepare to be Very Happy Indeed.

They are lightweight yet cosy, plus smart enough to wear to the breakfast table when staying with friends/family over the festive period (or in my case all day Boxing Day last year, I really was THAT chuffed with them). Husbands, these would be the perfect gift for a nursing mum as the button front is ideal for nursing and it will earn you SIGNIFICANT brownie point.

Enough said.



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