I've been rubbing, spreading and smothering my way through an array of samples again, so it's about time I gave you another run down of mini sample summaries to see what's gone straight on the wish list (or straight in the bin).
Full size: £34.50
The Kerastase Elixir Ultime is hailed as the mother of all hair oils, so I was expecting nothing short of miracles for my hair. After the first application, I have to admit that I do see where the hype is coming from. Despite being an oil, this doesn't really feel oily - it's more sticky in texture and my hair literally drank it up like there was no tomorrow. It did everything I look for in a good hair oil: It gave my hair a little extra kick of moisture, smoothed away flyaways, added a bit of shine, but without making the hair seem greasy and limp. It wasn't quite mindblowing enough for me to rush out and spend £30 on a full sized bottle, but if you're in the market for a hair oil and don't mind spending a bit extra, then you really can't go wrong with this.
Full size: £20
I remember getting my Mum one of these as a present, as it was highly recommended to me by the shop assistant for somebody who uses their hands a lot. It's hailed to be a fast-acting hand cream that takes no time at all to sink into the skin, but at the same time repair some serious damage both from ageing and harsh environments. As far as sinking in goes, this is right up there with my favourites and one of the few hand creams I could apply during the day. As far as damage control goes, it did leave my hands nice and soft, but it didn't work quite as well as my beloved Yes! Nurse hand cream (which is also a lot cheaper). I don't think it's quite heavy duty enough for what my poor hands have to withstand in the winter.
Full size: £18.50
I'm a bit lost here with the 7 day claim on this scrub. What is it supposed to mean? Are you meant to use it every day for 7 days? Does it take 7 days to see results? Does an application last for 7 days? I don't know!! What I do know is that this performed like a pretty average facial exfoliator. The grains were a good size, the texture firm enough not to end up down the sink, but soft enough to not tug skin when you spread it. A decent product, but at that price point I would expect something to really wow me to justify spending that extra bit of money. As it stands, you can find pretty good drugstore alternatives at no more than half the price.
Full size: £8.95
Oh my.... is it possible for a shampoo to leave your hair even dirtier than it was before the wash? This is an all natural product free from SLS and other foaming agents, so I wasn't expecting a rich lather anyway, but this just left my hair heavy, tangled and slightly on the oily side. Such a shame, as it has a zesty scent that is simply to die for under the shower.
Full size: £42
Eugh, how I miss this little pot. This was pretty much the perfect moisturiser for me. It was rich, yet lightweight and an absolute pleasure to apply. Even from this little sample size I could tell the difference it was making to my skin, which seemed clearer and just a little bit more alive. Good enough, in fact, to run errands and go shopping completely make-up free. The only downside is the price. At £42 a pop, it really ain't cheap, but I'm still hovering over the buy button, as this might just be worth a little extra splurge.
Full size: £11.20
I can't say I've ever heard of a brand called Louis Widmer, but judging from the writing on the sample it seems to be a Dutch brand. The Skin Appeal series in particular is targeted at young, breakout-prone skin and while that's not exactly me (my skin is more on the combination side and my teenage years are well and truly a thing of the past), I really enjoyed using this product. It's definitely one of the harsher products I've ever had the pleasure of using, so not one for those with sensitive skin. But on the plus side, it left my skin feeling really squeaky clean, as if it literally got into every single pore to get rid of all of the rubbish that has accumulated there over time.
Full size: £24.42
Another name that leaves me a bit baffled. I've heard of many different skin concerns, but does anyone really want their skin to be... denser...? Opening this sample I didn't think I'd get on with it at all, as it's just the type of heavy, thick cream that usually leaves me looking like I've been in an oil wrestling match, but I thought I'd give it a go anyway. Turns out it wasn't quite as bad. As it's so thick a little goes a long way on my skin type and you can definitely feel that there's something on your skin, but it's been working pretty well in the cold winter months at creating a barrier on my skin that has kept the occasional redness or dry patches completely at bay. As far as samples go it's huge and even though I've been using it for 3 months I've only just started getting to the bottom of it. I feel that while it's good on my skin, it would perform absolutely exceptional on dry to very dry skin types.
Full size: £35
This stuff is flippin amazing! I'd never tried anything from Rodial before and I'd highly questioned their approach to beauty with names such as "Size Zero" cream and rather dodgy looking meal replacement sticks. But, I've got to give it to them, as far as face masks go, this might just be the best that I've ever tried. It applies as a smooth cream, then dries and hardens, just like a mud mask would. You're then meant to rub off the hardened product, but I found that only about half of it came off by rubbing and I had to rinse the remainder off with water. (It also made a right mess of my bathroom sink, let me tell you that!) What I was left with was skin that was (sorry, there is no other word for it) radiant and just... just, wow. Absolutely worth the £35 - although I found it £10 cheaper on Allbeauty (see link above) and will be purchasing a full sized tube soon!