Product Recommendation: Grapeseed Body Scrub

I’ve mentioned this before- I LOVE Bodyshop products. They last long, they make you smell fantastic and they also do good things to your skin! And they have things which suit different skin types quite well- most important.

I have combination skin. Now for those of you who know have been seeing that term in different places but don’t entirely know what it means, check this out- according to ‘Combination Skin’ essentially means that “you are dry in winter and oily in summer. Some people incorrectly use it to mean oily in the T-zone but this is classified as an oily skin type.” Other dermatologists argue that combination skin is a distinct skin type characterized by varying amounts of oil production on the face.”

Now I fall in the latter part of the definition i.e I have varying amounts of oil production on the face but overall dry skin body-wise. And given the place I stay in, Hyderabad, the winters are especially harsh on my skin unless I keep it hydrated well and frequently.

That’s where this particular product comes in- Spa of the World™ French Grape Seed Scrub. Part of Bodyshop’s premium offering, the Spa of the World range, this product firms, tones, exfoliates and hydrates the skin quite thoroughly.

While there’s a rough element to it with the slight coarse quality of the grape seeds, these seeds also contain oil so even after the exfoliation is done and the scrub’s washed away, there’s a softness to the skin that lingers because of the oils that are released.

The spread is thick and if kept unused for a while, the coarser seeds and sugars tend to sink to the bottom while the buttery part of the scrub stays on top. Mix both layers well before using on the skin. Use on damp skin and exfoliate areas of the body which tend to have rough skin like elbows, knees etc.

Amongst the range of products available in Bodyshop, this one is still fairly costly, priced at Rs. 2795 on their website and on Nykaa; click here to buy from Bodyshop and here to buy from Nykaa. It is available for Rs. 2,236.00 on Boddess- click here to buy.

This product lasts long and ends up being value for money in the long run. You’ll smell fresh and mildly fruity for a long while.

Product Preview

Hello everyone! Thought I’d try this format of reviews as a change. I haven’t yet got around to using this product yet but am all geared up to do so!

Have a look at my video and wait for the review in a few days!

Product Comparison: Eco-friendly Laundry Detergent

I have been looking for more alternatives for my home-cleaning needs. I was happy with whatever I was using because things looked and were cleaner but the run-off from those cleaners used to make me uncomfortable.

I have been wondering about how genuine and effective the eco-friendly cleaners can be and I tried out three of them for a period of a few months and here’s what I’ve found- while advertising always makes things look and sound better than it actually may be, it’s best to take out those 10 minutes to do your research and then go ahead and make your choices about what to buy.

I have been trying out these three brands in particular- Wild Ideas, Born Good and The Better Home. And in them I’ve been test driving the laundry detergent because we generate lots of dirty clothes in this house and since I can’t avoid doing laundry, I prefer to have the output be less harmful for the environment.

Let’s start out with Wild Ideas– I love that they work not only towards sustainability in their offerings but also promote and uplift the very needy. My introduction to them started with a classmate of mine recommending their dishwashing bar- read it here. But my own experience with their laundry liquid has been less than stellar.

I can do without a mild aroma coming from my clothes since I prefer them air and sun-dried and smelling of the outdoors rather than of any flowers, but the amount of liquid it takes to get clothes looking and feeling clean and fresh is where my problem is with this product. Even a direct application on stubborn stains required quite a bit of scrubbing and pre-soaking, which may or may not still get the clothes totally clean. So I would give it a 5/10 in my book.

It retails for Rs.120 for 500 ml and is available on their website-click here to buy, Amazon– click here to buy, on Golisoda-click here to buy, on Bigbasket– click here to buy and on Good By Nature– click here to buy.

Onto Born Good. This was a recent discovery through online ads and till now the experience has been pretty decent. I say decent and not fantastic because I am still in the process of using their products and till now I haven’t seen much that made me worry or wonder about their efficacy or how ecofriendly they actually are.

I bought their 4-pack laundry detergent that has a color reviver (needed for my kid’s clothes), anti-microbial wash (this was an indulgence because a cap full of Dettol will give me a similar result but I don’t know if there’s any kind of harm the run off from Dettol does to the environment), and two fragrance liquid washes. And what I did like about this brand is that their ingredients are listed out on their website and in case you want to still delve a bit deeper, you can email them for more clarifications and they come through; in a relatively short period of time.

The final brand, The Better Home is where my experience was fairly bland. There was hardly any discernible difference in the way the clothes looked, felt or smelt after a wash. And I tried both very dirty and moderately dirty clothes. This detergent seems rather mild which might be good for the environment, but in the consumer’s mind, it basically ends up meaning they need to use more of it to get more visible result.

This product retails at Rs. 210 for 500 ml on their website- click here to buy. On Amazon it’s priced at Rs.189 for 500 ml wither discounts if you end up subscribing- click here to buy. On Flipkart, 500 ml is priced at Rs.190– click here to buy.

At the end of the day, the comparison shows us that the mass-produced non-environmental friendly laundry detergents are priced lower and that may end up being the determining criterion for many.

Plus the decades long brand value associated with names like Surf, Tide, Ariel et al. But for those who do want to make the change to something that claims to be pro-environment, it’s worth a try to see if these detergents are value for money and nett a good ROI in terms of clean clothes, less water usage and less pollutants.

Please do drop in a line and let me know about your personal experiences with eco-friendly laundry detergents and if there are any other brands that can be featured here.

Product Recommendation: Moisture Absorber

Have you ever opened a suitcase full of old clothes or the wollens you packed away after winter and were greeted by a less than fresh smell? A musty, slightly damp feel to your clothes, important documents or pictures that were packed away? If you have, then today’s post is perfect for you because we’re going to be reviewing a moisture absorber called Absorbia.

Recommended by friends who’ve faced similar issues and had a tough time getting mould and mildew off their personal belongings, Absorbia has been a boon, with the differences visible in a matter of days! An offering of Better and Brighter Home Care (click here for more info), this product seems to be a pretty popular way to tackle dampness, mildew and prevent mould in our living spaces.

Take a look at how it works-

With Absorbia being useful not just to protect expensive fabrics, but also other rooms in the house along with it seemingly cleaning the quality of the air in the storage spaces as well; it is widely used and available with majority of the supermarket stocking it.

It is quite affordably priced with Rs.169 being the cost of a tub that claims to last for upto 60 days, depending upon the humidity factors.

You can also source it from the following e-Retailers: on Amazon– click here to buy, on Flipkart– click here to buy and the Absorbia website- click here to buy.

Note: while looking at the packaging and the website of the product, nowhere is it stated what goes into making of the gel that converts the moisture into water nor are proper disposal methods of that water mentioned or recommended. For those of us who have been using mothballs or naphthalene over the years and might find the smell annoying, Absorbia looks like a very user-friendly product and whether it’s ecofriendly or not remains unknown.

Try it out and let me know how your experience has been fighting mildew with Absorbia.

Product Recommendation: Eco-Pencils

In this day and age when more and more kids are using technology to type things out or using voice-to-text software instead of writing things out, the recommendation of pencils might come as a surprise to many. But these pencils are special! Not only are they made of recycled paper, they literally complete the cycle by going back to the beginning. Here’s how.

Each pencil pencil has seeds which are enclosed in a small capsule at the end. Once the pencil becomes too small to hold and write with, just uncap it, pour the seeds out into a pot that has good potting soil and voila! You have seeds on their to becoming plants with the right amount of water, sun and love!

The concept of recycled pencils which carry seeds within them is a great way for kids to connect with the concept of their own carbon footprints and learn about nurturing the environment. This idea was kicked off in 2012, Michael Stausholm started a company called Sprout. The company’s main product is the Sprout Pencil, which was originally invented by three students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston.

We gave these pencils out as return gifts on our child’s birthday last year and it was a hit! If anything else, the idea of reusing something or caring for the environment will slowly take root along with the seeds in the pencil.

These products are sold under various brand names and on most of the major e-Retail sites. Click on this link for the list of brands and the sites they are available on along with their prices. With prices starting from as low as Rs.160, it’s a good way to let kids choose more sustainable, responsible and ecologically safer brands and products in their day to day lives.

Buy your plantable pencils today!

Creativity Reco: Soundtrap

There are many things that one likes to do to relax and take a load off. But you can’t not put too high a premium on being creative and creating something that gives you a sense of purpose, achievement and accomplishment while doing some R&R. And while we’re at it, let’s not forget the FUN factor!

My child’s school came up with a very fun and creative way of helping the kids connect with music and eventually create some of their own. They were learning about Music Without Words and how to communicate about themselves using music as a language.

And in came Soundtrap! An offering from Spotify, Soundtrap is a collaborative platform that can be used very effectively in the field of education, targeting the S.T.E.A.M outlook or concepts.

According to Wikipedia, Soundtrap was founded April 1, 2012 in Stockholm, Sweden by Björn Melinder, Fredrik Posse, Gabriel Sjöberg, and Per Emanuelsso who believed that it was too “complex to make music” and who wanted to create a studio with collaboration and “a full production environment where you can do professional-sounding podcasts, collaboratively done on the web (read the full article here)

And while I could write about how their DAW (digital audio workstation) is fun and easy to use and how the program was named “The Best Website for Teaching and Learning” in 2015 by the American Association of School Librarians and was featured on Google for Education’s “Creative Apps for Chromebooks” in 2016. It was also given 4/5 stars by Common Sense Media, saying that the dashboard was easy to use and that the “extensive video tutorials and support features facilitate use of this tool to its fullest potential.” the fact that my child enjoyed making something wholly on his own, that gave him the means to express himself and his emotions; make it good in my book.

Soundtrap is a freemium platform and is available for a trial period of a month before the paid period kicks in. Starting from Rs.7000 and change per annum and working out to a lesser than Rs.600 per month, this is great way for your child to unleash their inner DJ, composer, musician and even podcaster! And it’s conveniently available as an app as well for those who like to make their music on the go.

Is Soundtrap a good way to engage your child when the digital medium is the norm rather than the exception? Take up the trial for one month and see what your child is capable of. We did and the results have been great!

Gadget Review: Smartphone

All of us gravitate towards particular features in the gadgets we use in our day to day life. Some like a particular look and feel whereas others prefer functionality over aesthetics.

Over a point of time I’ve found that while aesthetics are necessary for people to form opinions about the things that they use; for a gadget like a smartphone which is usually kept stuck to the ear or primarily used to communicate- the “pretty-factor” stops being important after a while. All phones are roughly the same shape with the size, weight and thickness being the primary things which differ.

I have been a Samsung loyalist for a number of years now for the following reason:

  • caters to all the budgets
  • has good after sales service
  • more number of authorized service centres around
  • replacements parts don’t cost the earth
  • usually a basic troubleshoot suffices
  • phone is fairly hardy especially when it comes in contact with kids
  • functionality and ease of access is very good!
  • Camera specs have increased significantly over the years.
  • Battery life is well-above average
  • There are plenty of accessories out there which are compatible with it in case one does care a lot of prettying it up.

I recently acquired a Samsung Galaxy M31s. I’d been using a Samsung Galaxy A8+ for a few years and it really changed the way I used technology and helped me streamline things that I needed to do, liked to do and wanted to do.

And while that may be true of all smartphones, for me the cost is the one of the determining factors that comes into play when I look at any purchases- even before the features. This is a primary reason I’ve abstained from Apple products since I find the cost pretty prohibitive compared to functionality while any repairs, parts also are priced very high.

Onto the features of the M31s: The camera merits a mention right off. It’s good..great even! I won’t get into the nitty-gritty by writing the apertures etc but you have a 32 megapixels front camera and 64-megapixel+ 12-megapixel + 5-megapixel + 5-megapixel rear camera set-ups which basically means more depth, more clarity and an overall better photography experience with your smartphone.

Think about it like having multiple cameras with different lens set up, ready to take different types of images- all bundled up into one smartphone! The camera feature also has slo-mo modes apart from the Pro-mode and that means you don’t have to install a couple of apps I used to fall back on either to add a bit of zing to my pictures.

Once you’re used to a phone that’s more than 5 inches long, a few centimetres here and there barely register. The weight is a bit more than my previous phone but it doesn’t feel like am holding bricks in my hand either.

And these are the features I quite like: The Digital Wellbeing Mode (read more about it here), the sound/speakers, the display, the battery and the processor. It all works fairly like a dream. So if you’d like a great camera, a good battery (that lasts through half a season of 42-minute long episodes on a streaming platform), good speakers then this is a good phone to invest in. And their fast charge is really a FAST charge!

My recommendations:

  • Go for the 128 GB one. You’ll be clicking more pictures and taking more videos once you see the output.
  • Opt for the 8 GB RAM (price difference is Rs.2k with the 6 GB RAM)
  • Get the add-on 1 year protection that comes pretty cheap along with the purchase.

This phone retails at Rs.19,499 for 6 GB to Rs.21,499 for the 8 GB. Buy this phone on Amazon– click here to buy. For Flipkart click here. To buy directly from Samsung, click here.

Guest Review: Water Saver Gadget

Some products that I review are very simple in their design and function but the impact they carry is quite large in comparison. In a country like India saving water is something all of us should actively be working towards primarily because so many of us go without clean water, drinking water or even access to water as and when we need it. So for those of us lucky enough to have water on demand to not only use but also to squander, the responsibility for saving it becomes essential.

Say hello to Subhashini, our guest review today. She describes herself as, ” I’m a software engineer, live with my family in Hyderabad. I’m interested in the eco-friendly, low-waste lifestyle. I was looking for water saving devices in the home because our taps were high-volume and lots of water would get wasted when brushing, doing dishes etc. This was an easy way to control the flow without nagging everyone in the house.

She recommends the Bulfyss Jal Jeevan Mission Kitchen Tap Water Saving Aerator Nozzle. Despite the rather large name it’s a small device that indeed does end up saving water.

Subhashini found that it actually works as advertised; especially on the following:

  • Installation was very simple and needed no tools.
  • No need to call a plumber. Just unscrew the end of the tap nozzle and take out the old one, put the new one in.
  • Output is actually 3 liters a minutes.

Once one gets into the habit to having less water to use without actually having a water shortage or crisis, it becomes a habit that can be sustained life-long.

This product is available with the following retailers:

  • Rs.249 on Ideakart– click here to buy.
  • Rs.229 on Amazon– click here to buy.
  • Rs.249 on– click here to buy.

Take the steps towards water conservation today!

Product Recommendation: Action Camera

Whether you are a photography buff who is big time into the look and feel, edits, the finished product or a click-o-holic or even both- an action camera will add a spark to your experiences whether it’s just to taking pictures of things in or motion, diving underwater, capturing the beauty of the wilderness or the road you’re traveling on.

My experiences with the action camera have been restricted to the GoPro and it’s been a hoot! I ordered by GoPro Hero 5 Session camera three years ago and since then we’ve and our friends have had lots of fun with it- at home and while on vacation.

What’s good about it you ask? Where do I begin:

  1. Fits in the palm of your hand.
  2. Survived an 8 year old’s handling.
  3. Doesn’t take that long to charge
  4. Voice activation mode is fantastic
  5. Battery lasts for a good bit-unless you’re taking videos.
  6. Resolution is great- for both stills and videos.
  7. Audio quality is really good.
  8. Easy to lug around while traveling.
  9. Easy to clean
  10. Accessories don’t cost the earth. Click here to buy the brand I chose when GoPro’s accessories weren’t available.
  11. Very user-friendly.
  12. The app helps in clicking pictures, editing them and viewing what stays and goes.
  13. The wide angle mode has been fantastic when shooting vistas, architecture and nature overall.

Now onto the not so great stuff about it-

  • Not prohibitive but if you aren’t going to use it too frequently, you might as well go with a mobile phone which is water resistant upto a degree.
  • Battery heats up while charging.
  • Not heat resistant- get too close to a fire or a heat source and the casing heats up good.
  • Works well with an extreme micro SD card. The regular kind won’t give good results therefore overall costs up. You will also need a micro SD adaptor to access the card.
  • Sand does create a bit of a problem when used on the beach or dropped in a sandy area.
  • There’s no view finder so you’ll have to wait till you transfer the images to see it unless you have the app handy in which case too, the images will take time to load before you see what you like and what you need to reshoot.
  • Once the camera model is outdated, any repairs can be tough to get done. Best would be to just upgrade to another model.

This camera has brought a lot of joy and giggles especially to my family. I either deal with a camera-shy grown up or a child who fluctuates between making the worst faces possible or acting like a celebrity running from the paparazzi!

With our holidays usually comprising of water in some form, the Hero Session 5 has taken the enjoyment to another level altogether!

It may not be possible to pick up the Hero Session 5 but GoPro cameras and accessories are stocked on both Amazon (click here to buy) and Flipkart (click here to buy). Pick one up for your family today and capture the liveliness in your life!

Product Review: Hair Serum

A lot of us aren’t experts in managing our own hair. I usually just run a comb through it, brush out the tangles and pull it into a ponytail and then it’s forgotten till the next brushing. But everyone likes a head of hair that’s thick, healthy and shiny. On the rare days that I leave my hair open, I do deal with frizz of varying degrees. Especially on days following a shampoo. On those days I quickly use a very light serum to get a bit of gloss, ease of managing tangles and an overall better (if not nicer) looking head of hair.

Here’s my little handy helper- The Liss Unlimited Shine Perfecting Blow-Dry Oil, a non-oily, light and easy to use offering from L’Oreal.

Why do I choose this over the regular oil that I use once in a while to keep my hair healthy? Well, oils tend to be well..oily and heavier, giving the hair a matted down, too shiny and often unhealthy look- while it may actually be conditioning and softening the hair or toughening the roots.

This serum works quite well because it’s a leave-in that doesn’t need too much shampooing to get rid off. It leaves no marks on pillows even if used with a slightly heavy hand and with its mild smell, it actually does boost the look and feel of your hair without going to too much trouble.

A quick squirt and you can be on your way to work, run errands or just be lounging around but with more manageable hair. In terms of quick fixes, it’s one of the best ones out there!

And while I don’t blow dry my hair every time I use this oil, the days I combine the hair dryer along with it, the results are great and the change is visible!

This product retails at Rs.639 for 125 ml (marked down from the MRP of 650) on Amazon– click here to buy. Click here to buy it on Nykaa for Rs.650. On Flipkart it’s available for Rs.520 for the same quantity- click here to buy. The L’Oreal website for India doesn’t have provisions for products to be bought online. Instead it’ll help you find the salons in your zip code which stock the the items.

While the cost isn’t prohibitive, it’s not entirely cheap either. But keeping in mind how only a small amount is needed for semi-thick, shoulder length hair; a 125ml bottle should last upwards of 3-4 months if used according to the needs of our hair. Ideally the hair serum is meant as a quick fix and to be used on the days when the hair is especially frizzy. However, if you battle the frizz daily, then you may need to use this product more frequently.

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