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Does It Work? Beauty products put to the test

4 beauty products put to the test

I’ve written a lot of long, rambling reviews of beauty products here over the years, but it occurred to me a few weeks ago that when I read product reviews myself, there’s really only one thing I want to know: does it work? 

(OK, and also how much it costs. And whether the packaging will look nice on Instagram. But mostly ‘does it work’?)

Well, folks, that’s the question I’m going to be answering for you today, in respect to the four suspects – sorry, I mean, products – below. They are (drum roll)…


The Product: Boots No. 7 Fanomenal Lash Serum

The Claim: Applied twice daily to the lash line, it will make your eyelashes grow long and lush, and you will look just like Kim Kardashian, only your lashes will be real. Can also be used on eyebrows, in which case you’ll look more like Cara Delivigne: awesome!

Does it work? In a word: no. I still have bald patches in my eyebrows, and my eyelashes look exactly the same as before. I mean, I guess there’s a chance that if you measured them you might be able to tell me they’re a fraction of a millimetre longer, but if you know how to measure eyelashes, you know more than me. Tell me your eyelash-measuring secrets! (Actually, on second thoughts, don’t: ain’t nobody got time for that…)

To be fair, there was a point around 2 weeks into my use of this where I thought my eyelashes were looking pretty fly, and I wondered if it was starting to have an effect. Because I hadn’t bothered to take a ‘before’ photo or anything like that, though (I took a really scientific approach to this one, obviously), I also had to wonder if I was just imagining it. Which is ALSO a possibility.

Ultimately, I think that for me to declare this a success, it would have to make the kind of difference there could be absolutely no doubt about: like, if my eyelashes were suddenly so long I could knock things over in the breeze caused by batting them, and people were constantly coming up to me saying, “Wow, look at your lashes! Tell me your secrets, O Lash Guru Amber!” for instance. When it’s just the kind of difference that makes you think, “Well, maybe they’re a bit longer? Possibly?” then it’s not really worth it for me. This gets awesome reviews on the Boots website, though, so who knows, maybe I just have particularly stubborn lashes? That sounds like the kind of thing that would happen to me…


The Product: Garnier Simply Essentials 2-in-1 Makeup Remover

The Claim: Removes even waterproof makeup. No perfume, no alcohol, no rubbing.

Does it work? YES! And no one is more surprised than me, because for years I’ve laboured under the impression that Botanics All Bright Soothing Eye Makeup Remover was the only product in all the land that could successfully remove my waterproof mascara. (Or the Lancome version, which is even better, but WAY too expensive for my budget…) This one, however, is just as good, although I will quibble with the “no rubbing” claim – I’m not sure how I’d remove my mascara without at least a BIT of rubbing (It’s definitely not like in a TV commercial, where the person just gently waves a cotton pad in the general direction of her eye, and POOF! All makeup gone!), but it doesn’t take a lot, so I’ve actually re-purchased this a couple of times now since I first tried it. And photographing this particular bottle has just reminded me I need to do it again. Brain, take a memo, please.


The Product: Inhibitif Hair Free Deodorant (PR Sample)

The claim: Contains “high concentrations of multiple actives” (whatever that means) to inhibit hair growth. “With daily use, the need to shave or wax will be reduced dramatically.”

Did it work? Nope: I used the entire bottle, and the need to shave or wax was NOT reduced dramatically – in fact, I honestly didn’t notice any difference at all, although, as with the eyelash serum, it’s a fairly tricky thing to measure, isn’t it? I mean, have YOU ever tried to count how many hair follicles you have under each arm? GOD, it was a NIGHTMARE, let me tell you. Nah, I jest: I didn’t take a particularly scientific approach to this one either (or, indeed, a remotely scientific approach), because I was assuming the “dramatic” difference would be self-evident – which it wasn’t.

Again, I suppose that if I was to compare my skin before and after, it might show some kind of percentage reduction in hair growth, but in order for me to justify the cost of this (It’s £8.99: I normally just buy whatever deodorant is on special offer at the supermarket…), the difference would have to be one I’d notice without having to send a sample of skin tissue off to the laboratory for analysis.

Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil

The Product: Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil (PR sample)

The claim: “Rehydrates and revitalises cuticles and nails.”

Does it work? I kinda wish I hadn’t started this now, because it’s all taken a turn for the super-negative, but let the record show that no, I didn’t really notice a difference with this either. In its defence, I have the driest, most awful cuticles in the entire world (No, seriously: I’ve conducted a study and everything…), and so far absolutely NOTHING has ever worked on them, so I’ve pretty much given up on them now. Don’t worry, Essie, it’s (probably) not you: it’s me.

On the plus side, this smells nice, and absorbs quickly, and although I’ve been using it for quite a while, I still have most of the bottle left, so although it’s pricey, it lasts forever. Or thereabouts. I think I might go and apply some now, actually – toodlepip, everyone!


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  • anya
    January 7, 2016

    I also find this
    a good dupe for the lancome mascara remover. And cheap also!

  • Lily
    January 7, 2016

    I’m going to do that incredibly annoying thing where I recommend something that worked for me. Apologies in advance!

    Have you ever tried coconut oil for your cuticles, Amber? I know it’s the product that everyone is (was at least) talking about, but it’s the only thing I’ve ever found works for my nails and my skin is superduper sensitive.

    • Amber
      January 7, 2016

      I have, but it didn’t make any difference for me, unfortunately 🙁

      • Lily
        January 8, 2016

        Damn. Hope you find something that works! Frankly the diversity and individual nature of skin and hair in humans is something I could live without. I wish we all just had set types and there were products that would definitely work for each skin/hair type! Would have saved me (and I suspect, millions of us) hundreds of pounds of fruitless searching!

  • Dana
    January 7, 2016

    I’m super glad to learn about the Garnier make-up remover. I had been using Maybelline (their only product I’d ever used except for Kissing Potion back in Jr. High,) but of course they changed it, and it’s not great. Now I just have to remember to take a trip to the store to buy it. By the way, I just found your blog–You are hilarious! I write a fashion blog (on my business webite) and am inspired. Thanks!

  • Isabelle Kate
    January 7, 2016

    I absolutely love essie polishes yet I never knew they had a cuticle oil, I’ve clearly been living under a rock. As part of my waitressing job I do a load of washing up and it often leaves my cuticles extremely dry, so I need to invest.

    Isabelle | http://www.isabellekategm.co.uk

  • Michelle H
    January 7, 2016

    Do they sell the L’Oreal lash serum there? It actually did make a noticeable difference in my eyelashes… to the point where even my husband noticed. It’s not terribly expensive either.

  • Lisa
    January 7, 2016

    Castor oil is often recommended for great lashes; I think LilithMoon has a video about that stuff on YouTube. I didn’t try it myself, but maybe you want to try it?

  • Clementine
    January 7, 2016

    Ooh, very good to know about the makeup remover. I too love the Lancôme one but only use it when I get a sample or someone lovely gifts me a bottle. A budget alternative is very welcome!

  • Ruby Feldman
    January 8, 2016

    May have to try the make up remover…currently use elf wipes followed by Simple brand of the same “water” make up remover….but always like to try new products,

  • rachel
    January 8, 2016

    ooh I’ve been considering this eye make up remover as an alternative to Clarins, great to know it works, will chuck one in the trolley when I’m next the supermarket

  • Xandra
    January 11, 2016

    Have you ever tried Lush’s Lemony Flutter on your cuticles? It’s called “cuticle butter” but I use it for feet, as chapstick, around my nose when I have a cold and it gets impossibly dry…sometimes it’s the only thing that works!

  • Mirela
    January 14, 2016

    You have a great blog! A good thing for cuticle might be the Paula’s Choice Lip Balm. Yes, it’s a lip balm but you can use it wherever you need it! I’ve heard really good things about it and I can’t wait to try it for my poor dry lips! I’ll definitely give it a go to the make-up remover. Maybe I am going to wear mascara more often.

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Does It Work? Beauty products put to the test