What to get a baby for Christmas: Toy buying guide for baby’s first Christmas 2020

What should you get for a baby for Christmas in 2020? What are the best baby toys in the UK and Ireland this year for a budget? Whether you’re the new parents, grandma or an aunt, that first Christmas is hard to shop for. I remember last Christmas, my baby was only a few months old and I had no idea what to get! Then, amazingly, we were inundated with presents from relatives and somehow no one bought us the same thing twice. I’ve broken down the best toys and gifts for baby’s first Christmas by age and budget and reviewed them below:

0-3 Months:

At this age, babies are in the third trimester. They sleep a lot, wake up to feed and cry, and sleep some more. They have very little interaction with their environment and in the words of one of my friends (whose baby was born exactly one year earlier than my baby), “they don’t give a crap about toys”. So what to get for a newborn baby for Christmas? You have two options. You can either get them something they might enjoy in a few months’ time or get them something really, really simple. They are growing rapidly, and mama will probably appreciate some baby clothes in the 3-6 or 6-9 months size.

Best budget buys for newborns (under £20):

Lullaby toys tend to be enjoyed by even very young babies.

Baby Einstein in the UK do this super-cute star lullaby toy for £12.99. It attaches to the cot and features bright colors which babies love! It has motion activation so if your baby is over 6 months and alone in their cot, if they stir, they can be lulled back to sleep without you risking waking them up more by going into their room and turning the lullaby toy back on. At this price point, this is about the best lullaby toy you can get and the ideal Christmas gift for newborns this year.

This Manhattan Toy Lullaby Squirrel is £20. It attaches to the cot for safety and the squirrel slowly moves into his acorn as the music plays. There are also crinkles and textures for baby to explore, making this a good toy for when baby is ready to touch things.

Crinkle books with high-contrast images start to come into their own when baby is about 10-12 weeks old. My baby adores Bumble Bee. It’s £12 which is a bit on the expensive side for a cloth book but if our copy got lost, I’d buy it again because my jellyfish still loves this book at 14 months. As well as having high-contrast images, a brief, rhyming story that’s easy to read, crinkles in almost every page and even some textured ribbon pages and a shiny mirror, it’s a lift-the-flaps cloth book so it will stay interesting for babies for a lot longer than other cloth books. Just remember to remove the plastic from the mirror at the back of the book (I used a knife very carefully around the very edges of the mirror). Oh and did I mention Bumble Bee has a clip to attach it to the pram, which you can detach and give to your baby as a teething ring because it has two different chewy textures?

For a cheaper crinkle book with fewer features, Giraffe and Friends is a super-simple book. It has a rattle page and a crinkle page, but largely is pictures of animals with the only words being the names of the animals. I’d give this one 6/10 for engagement, interest and features but it’s £6.99 and you get what you pay for with rag books for babies.

For an indestructible twist on a British classic baby book, Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell comes in a cloth book version, perfect for little babies who like to chew the pages and rip the flaps off board books. And you can currently get matching outfits in Sainsbury’s, for your little zoo fan!

Another fantastic option for cloth books for newborn babies is the timeless Guess How Much I Love You by Northern Ireland author Sam McBratney, also available in cloth book (they call it the Guess How Much I Love You Snuggle Book). We have Guess How Much I Love You in French (Devine Combien Je T’aime) and my 14-month-old baby often brings it to me to read him.

And I have to give a special shout-out to Noises by Jo Moon because, although it’s now out of print and hard to get, this book gave us our baby’s first smile at a toy, on an 8-hour car journey to the south of England from Northern Ireland last November. We have now read it about 1000 times and sometimes he falls asleep with it. I wish, wish, wish the cloth books Noises and Patterns by Jo Moon were still in print because they are perfect for little ones. Ah, cloth books… I could buy every cloth book on Amazon and make a little library of them if I had the space in this tiny house!

Mid-range £20-50 toys for Newborns:

Toys for this age group tend to be either very cheap or very expensive, I think the only thing we had for a newborn that cost between £20 and £50 was bouncy chairs. We ended up buying two in the end because I tripped over the first one and broke it (also, OWWW), but also that one was only up to 9kg and we had a heavier baby who was born on the 98th percentile so we needed to upgrade by 6 months anyway.

Originally we got a chair like this one from Red Kite with the thin wire legs. Pros are it’s easy to bounce (you can even bounce it with your foot) and he liked batting the toys. Cons are it’s not going to last as long as a sturdier bouncer. If your baby is on the smaller side, however, you will probably find this fits your baby quite well in the early months.

If we were doing everything again, I’d opt straight for a chair that would last up to 18kg. We now have this Bright Starts one, which has a toy arch and the same vibrations as the bouncers for younger babies, although this one doesn’t so much bounce as rock, our 14-month-old still enjoys rocking it himself by kicking his feet. And it *says* 18kg but I’ve sat in it (I weigh 45kg) and it can take my weight, so if you have older kids, you don’t have to worry about them wrecking the baby’s chair. We also use our bouncer for weaning, as we have no space for a high chair or a dining table in our tiny home. 10/10 recommend this chair unless you have a tiny baby or a preemie in which case something like the Red Kite one above would be better.

High end toys over £50 for 0-3 months:

A baby rocker like the Ingenuity ConvertMe Swing2Seat is another fantastic option but never, ever, ever let your baby sleep in it unsupervised. The best ones vibrate and play soothing lullabies to get your baby to drift off.

3-6 Months

Ahh, this is where toys start becoming interesting and babies start interacting with things more!

Budget buys under £20 Christmas gifts for a 3-6 month old baby

All of the toys for 0-3 months will still be interesting to a 3-6 month old baby, but babies will also be interested in rattles and crinkle mittens.

Our baby adored the Guess How Much I Love You rattle. He still plays with it at 14 months of age so we’ve had a lot of use out of it. When he was really little, we used to put his whole hand through the hole in the middle and he loved waving his hand and rattle it!

He also loves his Panda teething mittens! These come in a pair and they’re black and white. Young babies love high-contrast toys so this was really eye-catching for him. His hands never fitted inside (98th percentile baby problems haha), but he still chews on it and loves exploring the crinkle sounds. He has been teething since he was 4 months and a lot of teething remedies are for older babies so this was a great buy. Now his molars are coming in, he loves chewing it with his back teeth.

We also have a night light projector. These don’t need to be expensive (the baby won’t know or care) and this £15 one is fantastic! It doesn’t sing (that costs more money) but there are so many toys that make noises and not so many that can do a good light show!

Mid-range Christmas gifts for a 3-6 month old baby (£20 to £50)

A basic baby gym requiring no batteries is a great investment. They fold up mostly flat for taking on car rides if you’re going to see family at Christmas and can keep babies occupied while they discover all the toys on the toy arches! This one is perfect. They’re also great for tummy time and as baby learns to sit.

All babies develop at different ages, but if yours is an early roller, an activity play mat might be a great choice at this age!

High end Christmas gifts for a 3-6 month old baby (over £50)

If you want to spend a lot of money, the Fisher Price rainforest baby gym is a fancy-schmancy hi-tech baby gym with sounds and lights, which will captivate your little one from birth and last through the 3-6 month age range, although don’t expect them to do more than fall asleep in it for the first couple of months (at which point you’ll probably want to move them due to safer sleeping).

The perfect Christmas toys for 6-12 month old babies

By this stage, they’re probably sitting, maybe crawling, and definitely waking up every day ready to play, play, play!

There are so many more options at this stage.

Budget Christmas gifts under £20 for babies 6-12 months of age

Baby keyboards are where it’s at for 6-12 month old babies. During tummy time or sitting time, they will love pressing the buttons and hearing the sounds. We have this one from Baby Einstein, who really lead the way in innovative musical instruments for babies.

Cars are another big favourite at this age. Babies discover wheels sometime around 6-12 months and that’s it, cars have their attention forever. It happened to all my cousins’ babies, my friends’ babies, and then it happened with mine, too. Finding toy cars suitable for 6-12 month old babies can be hard. These ones are age-appropriate.

Grandma and granddad also have this Fisher Price baby piano at their house which our baby loves because it also does funny sounds like ducks quacking and cows mooing.

A ball pool! If you have the space in your house, a pop-up ball pool will provide so much fun and wonder for a 6-12 month old baby (and beyond… who doesn’t love a good ball pit). We have a modular one from Tesco that cost about £20 for the pool and the matching crawling tunnel, but they aren’t doing them right now (they class them as a summer toy), and the downside is, the balls fall out through the hole for the tunnel, which is annoying as we don’t have enough space to set both up indoors, so it hardly gets played with now. This £7.99 ball pool would be a great budget alternative. Or, if you have a travel cot, just buy about 3 or 4 packs of play balls from anywhere for about £10 for a pack of 100 (or get one mega pack of 300 from this place for £20) and put them and the baby in the travel cot in your living room, which is what I do when I need to contain the baby e.g. to make tea (which is why we don’t use our ball pool)! I know that adds up to over £20 for the pool and the balls, but you can get started with one pack of balls and a pool for around £16 together, and buy more later, or get relatives to each buy a pack of balls, and the baby will still love this!

Mid-range Christmas gifts for 6-12 months of age (£20 to £50)

The baby Einstein touch piano is a great upgrade if you have £24.99 to spend on it. We’ve played with one but not bought it because we wanted one with buttons to press, for cause and effect. It’s a 2 in 1 keyboard and xylophone and I’m going to get it once my baby outgrows his current keyboard.

Sit-me-up baby sitting support:

About 5 or 6 months, your baby might start sitting. At this point, you will want some way of supporting them. With a very long baby (98th percentile for height and weight) we found that by the time he was ready to try sitting, he was too big/heavy for a lot of the sitting toys to work properly, and they just tipped over with him in. We tried LOADS (this was January and February, before the playgroups all shut down).

Our favorite, and the one we ended up buying, was a horseshoe-shaped cushion support type of baby sitter. This one is very similar to the one we got (ours was from Mothercare who are now bankrupt).

The other type he got on well with was this donut-shaped sitting support, which he used several times at playgroup. The thickness of this one was quite good for my baby’s size. We avoided the seat-type ones because when he fell sideways, the seats fell with him which meant disentangling him from them. Anyway, I have an especially wiggly baby who hates being fastened into toys and not moving around, so the cushion sitting supports for babies were much better for him as he could use them independently and roll around on the floor for a bit when he got bored.

For travel, this infant sitting support would be a great option. It’s inflatable and the play tray is detachable, and it has extra neck support.

Baby Walkers:

I’m not a big fan of the type of walkers where the baby is stuck inside it. I’ve heard of them tipping after getting stuck in doorframes, going down staircases, and generally not being very safe. My health visitor also said to avoid them and while I know health visitors aren’t always a fountain of knowledge, mine really is so I believe her about the number of injuries she’s seen from the Dalek-type baby walkers. From a child development point of view, they don’t teach proper walking or posture, either, which can lead to later back trouble.

Instead, I recommend the sort of walker where the baby pushes it around independently. My baby was very very late to start cruising so we’ve just bought him this Nuby push-along walker which is suitable from 6 months and Nuby are a reputable brand (I’ve seen some really worrying reviews of imported walker toys, so while I am usually happy to buy things from abroad, I would only go with a known brand for this type of toy).

High end Christmas gifts for babies aged 6-12 months (over £50)

Jumperoo: About 6 months, you’ll be ditching the baby gym. Jumping is where it is at for 6-12 month olds. We love this Fisher Price rainforest jumper! For us, this was absolutely worth spending £75 on, even though it takes up most of the floor space in our living room. Just remember babies can’t use them for more than 30 minutes at a time because their hips are still developing as they learn to walk. Benefits of jumping include leg strength, co-ordination and gross motor control. But really, babies shouldn’t be doing any activity for more than about 30 minutes to keep their developing brains stimulated and to avoid over-tiredness.

So that’s it for my top gifts for baby’s first Christmas. What are your favourites? Let me know in the comments! P.S. Sorry to my American readers, this article is all about British baby toys available in the UK, but if you head on over to US Amazon I’m sure you could find some of the toys I’ve linked to above!

Note: This article may contain affiliate links. It does not affect the price you pay or my opinions of products.

Tested: The Holy Grail concealer for blue undereye circles, dark circles and tattoos.

I’ve been working on my under-eye blue circles for a few years now. Every time I get on top of them with a great skincare routine to erase dark circles, I forget to keep going with my routine then they make a comeback. Thanks, ADHD.

So it’s no surprise, then, that I have tried a lot of concealers to cover up under-eye discoloration and concealers to get rid of dark circles. And I’ve written a lot of reviews of concealers that get rid of dark circles. Here are my previous favorites, in case you are wondering.

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A few weeks ago, I found a product that was so good, it actually covered up my tattoo in just two coats. The Urban Decay All-Nighter waterproof concealer. Staring at the empty space where my tattoo used to be, I was still skeptical. I’ve been hurt by concealers that cover everything but cake in my fine lines and age me about two decades in one fell swoop. So I tested it some more.

Let’s look at it in more detail.

The Urban Decay All-Nighter waterproof concealer comes in a silver tube the size of a mascara. It looks great in my handbag. And because it’s shiny, it’s easy to find, even in low lighting like when you’re trying to touch up your makeup in the car.

Not that you’ll need to do many touch ups with this one. Honestly, with the amount of actors having to do their own make up right now, this product will be flying off the shelves.

Onto the testing.

So I have this tattoo. It’s Hello Kitty. You might think it was a moment of drunk regret, but you’d be wrong. I got this tattoo when I was in Santa Barbara, California, and the only time I’ve ever wanted to get rid of it was when I was in Japan because you’re famously not allowed to use the hot baths if you have tattoos, even Hello Kitty tattoos, in case you’re a gang member.

At the time I used a different method to get it to vanish, which I’ll talk more about some other time. Today, I decided to see if this waterproof concealer would have worked.

First I painted over half of it with one coat of the Urban Decay All-Nighter waterproof concealer. As you can see, the heavy black lines have significantly faded away.

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Interestingly, it actually conceals better in brighter light, as you can see in this photo with the flash on:

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However, since I don’t live my life on a film set, I live in a world of natural light, it would still be obvious to anyone who looked at my wrist that there was a tattoo there. Only now it was a tattoo covered in makeup.

So I added a second coat. That changed things.

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Now that’s what I call coverage. That’s in the same light as the first photo.

But wait. We haven’t tested two coats with the camera flash, yet.

Oh. My. God.

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You would literally have to be 30cm away from my wrist to know there was a tattoo there in bright light.

Okay, great, it works to make the tattoo disappear. But how long does that last?

Before we answer that, you’ll notice I’m wearing a dress with white stripes, I can confirm there was no transfer of cosmetics onto dress. Literally none.

Okay, now let’s see how long it lasted.

Using the time signatures from my phone, you can see I finished the second coat of concealer at 3pm:

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At 9pm, after about 6 hand washes, and doing the dishes, it was only looking a little faded, so it will give good coverage for at least 6 hours:

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At 2am, it had faded a bit but was still giving phenomenal coverage:

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“Ah,” you say, “But you said at the start of this review that testing it on a tattoo isn’t the same as testing it on your face.”

And you’d be right.

So I put it on my ugly mug and took some pictures. On one side, I put the Clio Kill Cushion Foundation SPF 50 PA++++ on top of my concealer. I left the other side bare except for the Urban Decay concealer.

I put it on at about 5pm and it gave pretty good coverage immediately (first photo is my face with no make-up):

And this was after applying the Urban Decay. On the right hand side of each picture, I put foundation over the top to see how this product would work with other make up, because let’s face it, few people wear just a concealer alone.

The coverage was so strong, and yet even up close, my face didn’t look made up, and there was no caking, it just looked so natural! If you get a good shade match for your skin, you could actually wear this concealer by itself.

To be honest I was quite busy that day so I didn’t get to check in again until 3am, at which point I’d lost my phone so I had to use my husband’s phone and get him to send the photos in a Facebook message. After 10 hours, his phone made it look like this, but I don’t know if his camera has some odd settings or isn’t HD or something like that because I didn’t feel that pretty when I looked in the mirror.

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So because I wasn’t 100% sure of what I was seeing, I decided what the hey, let’s leave it on overnight and see what happened.

I woke up pretty late because I’m still breastfeeding a baby who demands milk every couple of hours and I’m coming off some medication I was taking for post-natal depression, and these things are conspiring to make me very, very sleepy right now. So it was 2:45pm when I got up and took a photo.

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Seriously I was shocked.

For comparison, I washed my face and took another photo #nomakeupselfie and all my usual imperfections came back:

 

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This apparently took ten minutes.

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And this is what my pillow and eye mask looked like after sleeping in my make-up:

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Guys the Urban Decay All-Nighter waterproof concealer is the real deal. 100%. If you can’t get rid of blue circles or want to know how to erase dark circles under eyes, this is the new best quick fix on the market. The best part? It’s waterproof and stays put for at least 12 hours. Even when you get it wet. There’s a huge range of shades and the bottom line is, it’s cheaper and better than Bobbi Brown’s concealer. And it looks better in your bag and doesn’t require you to buy a separate concealer brush.

Vertict: Holy grail product.

Get it here on Amazon if you’re in the UK and Ireland, or visit your local department store that stocks Urban Decay in the States.

Have you tried this, yet? Let me know in the comments!

New products for blue and purple dark circles under eyes!

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This article is about some products that are supposed to help improve under-eye dark blue and purple circles that appear under eyes, especially in people with pale skin.

I’ve talked quite a lot in the past about how to make lifestyle changes to get rid of blue circles and some quick fixes for blue and purple circles, but one thing people keep asking me for are articles about concealers, color correctors, and products designed to target these areas. I’ve said in the past that the targeted products don’t really work, but since I wrote my original, really long article about getting rid of blue under-eye circles, things have changed a little. That article is still packed full of good blue circle busting advice, but there’s some more products on the block that might also help you out:

So let’s first look at the two on the left: The Maybelline The Eraser Eye Perfect and Cover Concealer (in the US it’s called “Age Rewind” but for some reason they changed the name in the UK). The two on the left are different shades: Light and medium.

Firstly, they now contain peptides, which, as I’ve said before, if used over time will improve the appearance of blue and purple circles because they thicken the skin. Thinning of the skin is one of the main causes of blue under-eye circles.

Secondly, however, they also act as a concealer. The coverage isn’t huge but it does visibly reduce the under-eye blue and dark circles, especially in photographs.

I have found this product works really well in the short term, but I don’t know if there’s just not enough peptides in it, but I only noticed a very small improvement in my under-eye area over a longer term. I think you still need to make lifestyle changes overall, but this is a nice quick fix.

The only downside? It only comes in two shades: Light or medium. I’m an NC20 in the MAC color spectrum and I found light was sometimes a little too orange for me. If you have the same issue, the only way to get it to blend with your skin is to wear foundation. Obviously, that’s not a great solution if you don’t like wearing makeup or if you can’t wear it. I also found it slightly drying of the under-eye area, but I solved that by using an under-eye moisturizer under the Maybelline The Eraser Eye Perfect and Cover Concealer aka Age Rewind Concealer.

Now onto the pandas: These are the Tony Moly Panda’s Dream Cooling Eye Stick and the Tony Moly Panda’s Dream Brightening Eye Base. They look the same, but they’re quite different. The cooling eye stick goes on like a gel, and feels light and refreshing from the moment it touches your skin. The brightening eye base is a solid white stick.

The brightening eye base is the least pleasant to apply, because it tugs on the under-eye area, but it is also the most effective of the two, for getting rid of dark and blue circles. The other one is mostly a feel-good product.

My best tip is to use the Tony Moly Panda’s Dream Brightening Eye Base first, then to go over it with the Maybelline Age Rewind concealer.

I’ve also found both the Panda’s Dream Brightening Eye Base and the Maybelline Age Rewind Concealer have good longevity: I bought them six months ago and they’re still going strong. I highly recommend both of these as tools in the war against blue under-eye circles. The only thing I didn’t like is with both the Tony Moly products, the stick seemed to pull itself off the base inside the panda, and now they sort of wobble loosely meaning I have to hold the actual sticks of cosmetic in place while I use them, and then I get product on my fingers during application. Of course, that doesn’t stop me recommending them.

 

Five Asian Sheet Masks

Today I’m going to review some sheet masks that are K-beauty (and also C-beauty… China beauty. Yeah that’s a thing. And they’ve got some decent stuff available).

By the way, in case you’re wondering what happened, I scheduled my posts, one a week, for the last 4 weeks, and I thought it was a glitch that I couldn’t see them. Then, today, I checked behind the scenes and none of them are there. Hmm.
So while I’m figuring out where all my content has gone, here’s five of the face masks (sheet masks) I’ve tried since I got here, and I’m sorry if this is a weird time of day to get notified of a new post, but the scheduling thing isn’t working out so good:

Mizon Enjoy Vital Up Time Face Mask:

 


I’m not sure how I felt about this one. It was great on my skin and I felt super-chill while I wore it, but after… my face seemed moisturized and refreshed, and I was happy enough with the product, but I didn’t really feel energized or however else I’m supposed to very tactfully say, “not old” in polite conversation. It didn’t really do a lot on the anti-ageing front. There was a slight redness for a couple hours after, as you can see in the picture above where I’ve just taken the mask off, but then my face settled down again. So it’s definitely NOT one to try before an evening out. Maybe I’m being spoilt by so many sheet masks lately, because it was still above average for a sheet mask, and I think as long as you’re not looking to eradicate fine lines or smooth the skin it was good, and it did leave my skin glowing after the redness settled. There’s a selection of Mizon sheet masks available on Amazon; have you tried any of the others? I’d love to know how they turned out!

Conclusion: Great for a girly night in. Felt quite nourishing. Not so hot for fine lines.

Coryman Eye Mask Superior Shining and Repairing Eye Mask:
These were da bomb. Like, there’s no other way of describing them. I found them in a beauty store in a shopping mall in the city where I live, and they are the BEST GODDAMN THING that ever happened to my eye area.

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The scientific description is fundamentally meaningless but the actual product… I used it once and I noticed a difference under my eyes. The faint expression lines I’ve been getting since I hit 30 were gone when I wasn’t smiling. I like this. I wish they did a full face mask. I’d be all over it. It wasn’t the only thing I’ve used lately that’s shown a huge improvement in my skin’s elasticity, but it’s definitely in my top 3 products right now. Tragically, you can’t get these in the US, or I’d link you to them. 😦

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As you can see, it’s got collagen, pentapeptide-4, hydrolysed silk AND vitamin E in it. I love all of those.

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And as a DISTINCT plus, you get to sorta look like Zorro when you wear it. Kinda. In the right light. Maybe I imagined that. I’ll do a comparison on this and the Sea Algae eye masks really soon.

Conclusion: I am in LOVE with these.

The Face Shop The Solution Firming Face Mask:

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This one definitely felt like it was doing something. It firmed but it didn’t moisturize so it needs to be paired with a face oil or serum after you use it. This was £1.99 as I got it before I left the UK and just used it this week. On Sunday, I bought that cute kitty hairband to keep my hair and sheet masks separate, so they were a great combo now my hair is shorter again. If you’re in the US, you can get a multipack that includes a vast selection of The Face Shop masks on Amazon.

Conclusion: These were good on the anti-ageing front but my skin needed moisture afterwards.

I also tried tomato and broccoli masks from South Korea last week. The full name is V Prove Tomato Lycopene Vitality Phyto Therapy Mask Vitality Air Pocket Sheet and V Prove Broccoli Chlorophyll Vitality Phyto Therapy Mask Vitality Air Pocket Sheet. A lot of these sheet masks have names that sound like word salad. I really want to make a pun about literal salad being in these masks but I don’t remember the last time I saw broccoli in a salad:

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No, they did NOT smell or taste like tomato or broccoli. I was disappointed. It was like the Tony Moly red wine mask all over again (I’ve STILL not tried the Tony Moly rice one, because it’s to help clear skin and I haven’t had a breakout in SO long). I thought the “chlorophyll” in the broccoli one was a little silly, since human beings have no use for chlorophyll, and when my friend first showed me these masks my first thought about the chlorophyll was, “it’s what plants need” (its from a film called Idiocracy where people just repeat stuff they saw on adverts). The broccoli one was okay, and my skin felt fairly happy after I used it (I needed to moisturize after, though), but the tomato one (maybe this was obvious to anyone who wasn’t me) just made my face really red and sensitive for a day or two. At first I thought it would be gone in an hour or two but as time went on I realized it wasn’t fading. Eek!! I already have a redness problem, so I don’t recommend the tomato one. Maybe the tomato ones are for a different skin type (one that doesn’t have a redness problem). The broccoli one was like the Mizon Vital Up Time mask; the effects were moderate, but it was nice for a quiet evening spent not leaving the apartment! And I may have been imagining it but I sorta think (maybe, possibly, perhaps…) the redness was lessened with the broccoli one. I can’t find either of these on Amazon but there is a VProve soy one on there. I’ve not tried that, though, and since the broccoli was fairly decent, but the tomato was a miss, I’m not sure I’m going to try the soy one any time soon. Anyway, these come in a multipack so I have a lot of broccoli and tomato to use up, now!
Conclusion: Broccoli was a hit. Tomato was a miss.

Overall, then, The Face Shop and Mizon masks were predictably quite good, but they’re kinda expensive. I liked the broccoli face mask and it was unbeatable on value for money, but it definitely didn’t work any miracles. The Coryman eye masks were AMAZING and I need to get me more of these just as soon as I remember the name of the shop. I know the name of the mall, though, so it can’t be too hard to find… right?? Right???

Having said all that, no face mask will fix beauty issues on its own, and I’m going to talk about serums and essences next time, because I’ve found a couple of really nice ones that work very well when used as part of a beauty routine that incorporates regular sheet masks.

Review: iPhone SE 16GB

So I decided that I’d review my iPhone, since I’ve had it for a few months now. First, let me start by saying, I’ve never owned any Apple product before in my life. I had no idea what to expect when I bought this phone, and I only went by whether it would do what I wanted it to.

I spent ages looking through phone reviews of Sony, Alcatel, Samsung Galaxy and some weird brands I’d never heard of. The thing was, they were all very, very expensive or the reviews implied they were incredibly crap BY DESIGN. Seriously? Who spends R&D money designing a phone to be awful? The iPhone SE was the only phone at the mid-range price point. I’m not really interested in paying £400 or £500 for a phone, and when some phones were selling at up to £900, they can fuck right off. I didn’t spend that much money on my LAPTOP and that was essential for working.

I bought the 16GB phone rather than the 64GB phone for one reason: Price. The 16GB was £289.99 second hand (unlocked) and the 64GB one was over £400.00 at the time (they’re probably a little cheaper now), so it didn’t make sense to spend so much extra money. If you’re the sort of person who likes to store films and music and whatnot on your phone, you might want to get the bigger phone. I upload my photos regularly and I don’t tend to download many apps, so the 16GB suits me because it’s realtime data (eg. mapping, Facebook and Snapchat and Kindle for iPhone) that I need my phone to handle. The iPhone SE does these things comfortably, without an overcomplicated interface or installation system. I had never used an Apple phone before, and I was amazed by how easy it was to get everything to work straight out of the box.

Another thing I like about this phone is that there are a lot of nice phone cases available for it. I currently have a Cinderella phone case with moving glitter inside that’s like having a snowglobe on the back of my phone. I also have one that has the Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter. I really love that there is so much scope to customize my phone and make it look unique.

The camera is quite good; not as good as my DSLR, of course, but it gets some nice pictures when I just want snapshots of things. The front camera is only 2.1 Megapixel and I thought that would be awful compared to the 8MP camera on my old Huawei, but Apple have done a lot with a little and the camera is better than the 8MP one I used to have, and the colors on things come out much more accurately. The normal camera is 12MP and both cameras have produced decent shots.

I also liked the battery life. People complained about it, but given that I’m used to my old Huawei Ascend’s battery lasting less than a day on a full charge when I don’t even use the internet on it, I was pleasantly impressed that my iPhone lasts 2-3 days on a charge, even though I have Wi-Fi or Mobile Data switched on pretty much 24/7.

The thing that stood out the most though was the commonality of it. When I was choosing a new phone, I literally asked everyone I met about their phones. So many people were cursing the day they spent large amounts of money on their Android phones, but everyone with the iPhone SE was telling me how much they liked it, and showing me how it worked, and so on. Everyone with an iPhone SE was happy to spend the time talking to a complete stranger about how well their phone handled Pokemon Go or how many photos they’d stored on it. I liked that, because I figured that if anything went wrong with my new phone, there would be a hugely supportive and knowledgable community of iPhone users who were able to help me out.

In fact, every time I’ve not known how to do something on my phone, my friends with iPhone SEs have showed me how it works. Usually, it’s because I’m used to everything being over-complicated on my previous Android phone, and I haven’t found a single thing that was harder to do on an iPhone. It’s nice when one little aspect of life is a bit easier. I don’t like overcomplicating things; my brain does enough of that anyway.

So, after 5 months, I’m finally ready to recommend the iPhone SE. If, like me, you want to get a second hand phone, Amazon are selling a few reconditioned iPhone SEs in 16GB and 64GB like this one.

If you already have an iPhone SE, I highly recommend the Kindle for iPhone, because it lets you read all your ebooks on your phone (and if you don’t own a Kindle, I also recommend the Kindle for PC free app from Amazon to read ebooks for free).

Too Faced Naturals Pallette

I wasn’t supposed to buy the Too Faced Naturals Pallette. I didn’t plan on buying this and yet I couldn’t leave without it because the moment I saw it, I fell in love with the amazing colors in this pallette.

Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette
Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette

Price: £32.50.
I got it from: Too Faced counter, Debenhams, Oxford Street, London.
What you get: Nine eyeshadow colors, including 3 matte shades and 6 highly pigmented shimmering sparkling shades. They are presented in a metal tin with an extensive leaflet detailing how you could use these colors.

Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette
Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette

The reason I bought this eyeshadow pallette was because I adore neutral shades, and I especially love shimmering neutrals (my go-to eye makeup before I got this Too Faced pallette was a blend of the Laura Mercier Baked Eyeshadow in Ballerina and the Bourjois Eye Shimmer Pot in 07 Ambre, both over the top of the Laura Mercier mono eyeshadow in ginger). It’s nice to have more sparkling shades to get a more dramatic eye look for those times when I want my make-up to show up on camera.

Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette
Those colors… sooo good!

What do they look like?
I swatched them on my arm and photographed them, and the only editing I’ve done to that was to write the color names under the swatches, because as everyone knows I hate using photoshop and have to look up tutorials on YouTube every single time I need to do any image manipulation! As you can see in the second set of swatches, a couple of the colors aren’t very visible in the camera although IRL they were a little bit more obvious. I fiddled with my camera settings a lot but those colors just wouldn’t show very well. That’s worth bearing in mind for any events where you might want to look photogenic!

Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette swatches
Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette Swatches

Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette Swatches
Too Faced Natural Eyes Pallette Swatches. Heaven is the whitish one; Silk Teddy hasn’t really shown up (I took like a million pictures so oh well).

How do they wear?
I’ve only used these eyeshadows twice so far, but both times I really liked the way they came out, the blendability was a complete joy and the color went on creamy-soft, color payoff was maximum! I used the Urban Decay eyeshadow primer under the colors and I feel this gave a lovely blank canvas to make these colors come out beautifully. Next time I use this pallette I will get photos.

What do you think? Do you have any of the Too Faced Pallettes? Which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

What actually happens when a content farm steals your handmade content

Today I want to talk about something that very regularly affects writers, beauty bloggers and photography bloggers, and occasionally affects travel bloggers too: Content theft. How does it happen and what can you do about it?

I am a moderate traffic website; according to both Amazon and Alexa, I am not yet in the big leagues (I’m in the top 1,000,000 websites, but so are 999,999 other sites). I do have some very good SEO, however, and I score first result on the first page of Google for at least 10 different search terms, because I work very hard to make my content relevant to what people are searching for. Because of this, I’m not blind to the crappy games some other sites play so they can rank higher in Google.

The past two days, however, my single most popular article has taken a nosedive. My traffic has plummeted and I have lost more than a hundred visitors a day. When investigating this, I discovered that a content-farm type website has basically stolen my top ranking article, reworded it and dumbed it down, and posted it on their site. They aren’t ranking above me, but they’ve got enough relevance that they’ve taken some of my traffic away. The thing is, despite the fact they’ve directly paraphrased my article, and added in some photoshopped snazzy pictures (that they also haven’t attributed), they’ve not actually said where they got it from. And they haven’t asked me if they could steal my stuff.

content theft statistics
Picture showing my most popular page; this page was most popular, day in day out, for months.

content theft how to tell
The stats for the blue circles page have increased, proving this shouldn’t have been a “quiet day.” It’s only my most popular page that’s been affected, and all the other stats were just the usual day-to-day fluctuations. That’s how I knew it was probably a content theft issue.

I get by solely on my income from this website and from the books I write (on my author website). This website (Delight and Inspire) generates 20-100% of my income on any given month. Needless to say, I don’t make much money. So when someone steals my personally researched and written articles, changes a few words to get past Google’s duplication penalties, and, by proxy, prevents visitors from finding my site, it makes me feel worried. If people took every article from my site and did that, I’d have no income. It would be like someone putting the PDF of my books on torrent sites, and it’s obviously not a nice feeling.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about it because they haven’t just copied and pasted my work. So this is an exercise in pragmatism more than a solution. I am usually not remotely precious about copyright, and when people email me, asking if they can, for example, translate my articles into Italian, I am usually happy that the information is getting shared. But that’s the difference. The cool Italian guy asked, and I knew they were using my content in that way, and I’m happy with the result, which is that Italians can now read that information in their own language. I now get 1-2 emails a week from Italians trying to cross the Bering Strait (true story). Generally, I think sharing information is the way forward.

When someone does it without acknowledging the source material, however, they’re just trying to make themselves look good with other people’s hard work. And that’s not ok. I would bet money that the person who stole my content was paid by the content farm for “creating” my content. But since half the internet is run by automatic bots and computers these days, with little user generated interaction on sites like Livestrong (a content farm), there’s no-one I can contact about this issue (normally, you can contact someone and ask for the page to be taken down or attributed).

So after the initial infuriation has worn off, I am left with the truth of the situation. Someone stole my stuff, they fooled Google (and whoever paid them to “write” it) and my income has been affected. I cannot do anything about it, so I can either go crazy (crazier) with rage and fury at this daylight robbery and turn into a pathetic dribbling ball of tears, or I can choose to let it go.

Imma let it go, and looking to the future, I’m going to try to ensure that I keep producing fresh, relevant content for my readers that ensures I always rank first on Google for other things. Like my lip plumpers review or my eyelash serum comparison reviews that I have written.

How have you dealt with copyright theft? Let me know in the comments!

How moist. Spray on Moisturizer review + roundup.

Today I want to talk about spray-on lotion moisturizers, because moisturizing lotion is important.

I bought three recently, because I wanted to know whether Vaseline Spray and Go was really the best one out there, since a few others have recently been released.

spray on lotion

Up for test are:

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Rapid Moisture Spray $12 (I bought for £1.99 in a discount store)

Balance Active Formula Nourishing Spray Body Lotion (that links to UK Amazon – not available in the US) – I bought for £1.00 in a discount store.

Hydrate and Go Body Moisturiser Spray – I bought for 49p from a discount store, apparently not available on Amazon.

And they’re all being compared to my current favorite:
Vaseline Spray and Go Cocoa Radiant $6.20

First let me start by saying this whole experiment has proved how much I love the Vaseline Spray and Go in Cocoa Radiant.

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Spray Lotion:
The Palmer’s Cocoa Butter spray smelled similar to my usual Vaseline one, and I did like it after it rubbed into my skin, here’s a before and after:

spray on lotion
Before

spray on lotion
After

The only issue I had, which reviewers have commented on, was that the spray top didn’t work very well so it was very difficult to dispense product. Normally with spray lotion, I have a problem doing my right arm – because I have to use the hand that’s covered in lotion (from rubbing it in while I sprayed with the other hand) to spray the bottle. With the Palmers one, it was actually impossible to get the spray nozzle to press down with my lotion hand. It was too stiff and the bottle became too slippery. Aside from that, I liked it though, and if I saw it at £1.99 again, I’d buy it, but I’d never pay $12 for it!

Pro’s:
Silky soft skin afterwards
Smelled really nice
Nice thickness
No sticky residue

 

Con’s:
Sprayer didn’t work very well and I felt like I was fighting it a lot.

Balance Active:
The Balance Active one was less pleasant to smell – it smelled like that talcum powder that middle aged women used to use when I was younger, and deodorants with names like “Mum” or “Sanex” when they all smelled the same as each other. The spray also had issues – the actual sprayer seemed to work ok, the main problem was that the lotion separated when it was sprayed, so in the middle there was a white streak, and round the outside was watery colorless stuff. It looked a bit dodgy, if I’m honest, and I wouldn’t want to share photos of that as they’d get mistaken for jizz. Having gotten past that to actually putting the product on my skin, I found that it was moderately moisturizing but a bit too watery to replace normal lotion. It wasn’t sticky, but it didn’t leave my skin feeling as silky as the Palmer’s or my usual Vaseline spray lotions. I did find because the lotion separates when sprayed that it sprayed my carpet and furniture a lot more than my actual legs, so I was spraying it into my hand to rub in, instead of directly on my body, by about day 3. Here’s a before and after on the other leg to the one I did with the Palmer’s (above):

spray on lotion
Before

spray on lotion
After

Pro’s:
It was very cheap when I bought it.
It did moisturize my skin a bit.

Con’s:
It left my skin feeling dry again 12 hours later.
I didn’t see anything to substantiate the “anti-ageing” claims on the bottle.
The bottle’s too bulky for gym or travel use.
The lotion separates when it’s sprayed. This makes it difficult to aim.

Hydrate and Go:
The “Hydrate and Go” one looks like a Vaseline Spray and Go dupe. But it isn’t. I would say it was the worst of the four spray lotions I have tried. Like one or two other things that boast a “non-greasy formula,” this Hydrate and Go was sticky, leaving my skin feeling like I might not want to go outside in case wasps got confused and thought I was a can of coke. It was that bad. I actually had to go shower again after using this, then use my Victoria’s Secret (non-spray) Love Spell lotion to get rid of the sticky feeling. I hate stickiness. I wouldn’t buy it again. In fact, from the dust on the lid, you can see that I never used it again after the first use, and I only kept hold of it until now so I could show you a photo for this article. I don’t have any before or after shots for this one because I just wanted it off my skin.

Pro’s:
It didn’t cause me to catch on fire or get AIDS.

Con’s:
Everything else you can think of.

Vaseline Spray and Go:
I like the way it sprays, it’s a bit thinner than a normal moisturizer but it’s good for when I’m in a hurry. It’s a little bit bulky but nowhere near as bad as the Palmer’s or the Balance Active. It smells nice and is non-sticky. I only really looked for another one because it’s quite expensive to buy this in the UK compared to the prices I paid for the other three. However, I now know it’s also better than the other ones.

Pro’s:
Smells nice
Non sticky
Moisturizing

Con’s:
Expensive.

Conclusion:

I will be using the Palmer’s until it’s empty (if I can get all the product out with that dodgy sprayer) because I really like it aside from the sprayer issues, then I’ll buy more of the Vaseline Spray and Go. It’s the original, and it’s the best of all the ones I tried because it just works.

Have you tried any of these? What did you think of them?

Concealer: Maybelline Age Rewind vs MAC Pro Longwear Concealer

I decided to do the ultimate concealer comparison between the two most popular concealers available to cosmetics junkies: MAC Pro Longwear Concealer and Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser Concealer (which is also known as Maybelline The Eraser Eye Instant Anti Age concealer as it recently got re-branded for the UK, which is why it says this on my product).

1. Packaging:
While both products come in glass bottles, the Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser one is better packaged, with a twist top and a fuzzy under-eye applicator. It took a LOT of twisting to get my twist-top to dispense product, but I had the same problem with the MAC Pro Longwear’s pump top, and I remember with both of them spending ages trying to get them to dispense and wondering if I’d bought duds!! I’m not very patient haha.

Left, Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser Concealer shade Light. Right, MAC Pro Longwear Concealer shade NC20. Review Comparison
Left, Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser Concealer shade Light. Right, MAC Pro Longwear Concealer shade NC20.

2. Value for Money:
Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser is $6.99 (or £7.99) but you get 6.8ml where there’s 9ml in the MAC Pro Longwear Concealer although it costs $21.00 (or £17.50), so the Maybelline one is still better value for money.

3. Color:
I’ve done photos of the swatches. I’m neutral toned but I prefer yellow undertones to a product so MAC’s NC20 was matched to me in the shop (as their warm/cool is ass-backwards compared to everyone else’s). MAC Pro Longwear concealers are available in a huge range of colors so there’s something for everyone. The Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser lost points here because it only comes in “light” or “medium” and I bought light but really it was very pink which I disliked.

4. Coverage:
The MAC Pro Longwear had better coverage on its own or on top of foundation BUT it came at the expense of looking cakey. Underneath foundation, Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser was better. As you can see in the photo below, without any other makeup on my face, both products give similar coverage to each other, but both products have a transparency that appears in bad lighting (see second picture when I’ve fiddled with the camera settings to replicate bad lighting).

Left, MAC Pro Longwear concealer shade NC20, right, Maybelline Instant Anti Age The Eraser Eye review compare
Left, MAC Pro Longwear concealer shade NC20, right, Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser (no other make up on face except concealer) in good lighting.

Left is MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NC20, right is Maybelline Eraser Eye Instant Anti Age concealer in Light. review compare
Bleurgh Calgon take it away!!!! Left is MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NC20, right is Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser concealer in Light. This (purposely badly lit) picture shows they’re a bit transparent in bad lighting and therefore pretty ineffective on their own.

5. Finish:
The Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser has a MUCH better finish, it looks more natural where the MAC Pro Longweaer concealer caked into my fine lines and even found new ones that I don’t usually have. Obviously, the old lady look isn’t what I’m going for when I use a concealer so this is a huge dealbreaker for me.

6. How does it work with other make up?
The MAC Pro Longwear works over most foundations although even with moisturizer and primer it really magnifies those fine lines which bothers me. The Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser concealer looks more natural underneath foundation, and works well to minimize the appearance of discoloration and skin imperfections.  I put Sana Keana Pore Putty BB Pact (a sort of BB cream foundation crossover) over the two concealers, and added lipgloss because my lips were dry, but didn’t put any other products on, and the results are quite good – although it’s obvious that, even under the Sana Pore Putty, the MAC Pro Longwear concealer has gone translucent and the dark patch is showing through under the eye, whereas the Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser has done a much better job of making the imperfections disappear.

MAC Pro Longwear on left, Maybelline Eraser Eye Instant Anti-Ageing on right, under Sana Keana Pore putty, with lipgloss on lips. compare review
MAC Pro Longwear on left, Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser on right, under Sana Keana Pore putty, with lipgloss on lips.

MAC Pro Longwear on left, Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser on right, under Sana Keana Pore putty, with lipgloss on lips. review compare
MAC Pro Longwear on left, Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser on right, under Sana Keana Pore putty.

7. Irritation:
I find the Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser to be less drying and irritating to the eye where the MAC pro longwear concealer is both more drying and more irritating, and leaves my eye area sensitive even after I remove my make up. For this reason, I find myself reaching for the Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser more.

8. Long Lasting:
I found they both lasted as long as each other, the MAC pro-longwear creased from the moment it was dry so it didn’t really wear very well and its formulation makes it a total bitch to fully remove without micellar water. The Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser was easier to remove and didn’t seem to disappear over the course of the day.

Conclusion:
I like the color range, coverage and blendability of the MAC one, but the Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser Concealer gives a much better finish overall and is more comfortable to wear, so I personally prefer the Maybelline one even though the color is definitely not perfect for my skin, because I can put foundation or powder over the top to correct color but I can’t do anything to cover up the problems I have with the MAC one. I would still use the MAC one, but not on dull, dark days or evenings or any time I might go into bad lighting.  Overall, if you are looking for a new concealer and can’t decide between the MAC pro longwear concealer and the Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser, I would recommend the Maybelline one, available here in the US (where it’s still called Age Rewind) or here in the UK (where it’s been renamed Maybelline Instant Anti-Ageing The Eraser Eye) (affiliate links, but obviously I only link to things I actually recommend even if, such as in this case, it’s the cheaper option).

Have you tried either of these? Let me know what you thought of them in the comments!

Review: We Buy Any Car (why I chose to sell privately despite being out of time)

This is a review of We Buy Any Car, discussing why I sold one car privately and scrapped the other car after trying to use We Buy Any Car.

I am writing this on my website because We Buy Any Car has fiddled it so that you have to post an invoice number to review them on Trustpilot (the allegedly trustworthy review site). Of course the problem with that is that only the people who will actually agree that the service was OK enough for them to sell their car are people who will get an invoice number.

I absolutely wouldn’t mind them valuing cars at well below market value if they STARTED with the price they actually intend to pay you for your car when they quoted you online, and you had a clear and transparent decision to take or leave that price, but that’s not what they do, and that’s what I have an issue with.

Basically, We Buy Any Car is a car-buying website with aggressive advertising and tactics which claims to to buy your car regardless of the condition it is in. Obviously we all know they’re going to give you a price below market value, this review isn’t so much concerned with that as HOW they arrive at it and the lack of transparency, coupled with the fact they’re fiddling their reviews to make themselves look good. I tried to use them in 2014 and again last summer and both times I found their whole set-up to be absolutely shocking.

Firstly there’s the fact they claim they guarantee to honour the price they quoted, if the car is in the condition you say it is. Of course, when the guy actually inspects your car, he makes up a bunch of crap that’s allegedly wrong with your car that is untrue, so you can either accept a vastly lowered price (after being promised a quick and easy sale) or have to advertise your car privately.

My 2006 VW Golf was originally valued by We Buy Any Car at £1850. In late 2014, £1850 was about 60% of the market value of my car, but I wanted a quick sale so thought I’d take that. Despite being female I’m not an idiot when it comes to cars, and I knew full well that my car was worth over £2000 so £1850 was pretty much as low as I was prepared to go but I was lured in by their promises of a quick easy hassle free sale (all lies). When it came to it, We Buy Any Car weren’t actually worth the time of day because, despite claiming they won’t haggle over the price, they really, really were doing and it wasted half a day of my life plus the time online in the first place and the fact I had to wait a week to even get that far because they were fully booked. That’s a week I could have been selling my car. If I hadn’t been 100% confident in my self-defence abilities, I could easily have felt intimidated enough by the way they were treating me to accept their offer (they were being very intimidating with the way they spoke to me and were trying to make me feel like I didn’t know my own car).

An example of the things they found “wrong” with my VW Golf:

1. The man was sitting in my car on a blazing hot summer’s day, running my engine and wasting my petrol, so he could sit in front of my air conditioning for over 40 minutes and cover my driver seat in disgusting sweat, while someone on the phone was telling me that my car didn’t have air conditioning.

2. They found scratches and dents on the car that didn’t exist. For example, on the driver door they claimed there was a scratch when it was actually a smudge from the man’s own dirty fingers.

3. The “it’s time for a service” light was on. I had disclosed this. They said this meant the car had an imminent engine failure. It actually means that the car needed its annual service. The picture of the engine, of course, being the “engine failure” light, not the picture of the spanner. Despite the fact I had disclosed this, they decided to further reduce the price because of it.

4. They said my car hadn’t had a cam-belt change, despite the fact I was waving the receipt for it in their faces the entire time and it was also written into the service book for 80,000 miles (which is early on a Golf), having just hit 100,000 miles (hence the picture of the spanner).

5. They said I hadn’t disclosed the one piece of damage to the car, despite the fact that I’d printed out the form I’d filled in and could clearly prove that I had, in fact, disclosed that dent. Then they said that the dent meant the car needed a total respray and used it to further reduce the price.

They amended their quote to £1050, but because I stood my ground and argued with them for over half an hour, I got it up to £1675, proving how little confidence they really had in the “issues” they found with my car. I walked away from that “deal” and sold my car privately, so I don’t have an invoice number for We Buy Any Car, so I can’t add my review to Trustpilot. While measures like this are intended to prevent spammers and fake reviews, all it’s doing in the case of We Buy Any Car is skewing the reviews so that nobody gets to hear the bad stuff. I just reviewed my car insurance on Trustpilot and they didn’t want an invoice number (or other proof) for that. In the end, I got £2000 for my VW Golf from a private buyer via Gumtree, which produced a lot of time wasters but did get my car sold quickly. If I’d held out for full market value, I think I would have got it but I was in a hurry to get the car off my driveway so I could park my new one.

The second time I dealt with We Buy Any Car, they actually refused to buy my 2004 Citroen Xsara Picasso just before Christmas, no reason given. It didn’t start, didn’t work, but had a very clean interior and no damage to the outside. I got the £20 scrappage instead. So “We Buy Any Car” is also false advertising, and I now have 2 bad experiences with a company and no invoice number to write a review on Trustpilot.

The fact of the matter is, We Buy Any Car are misusing spam measures on online review sites to try and improve their poor image. Most of the customer experience takes place BEFORE you accept their offer to buy your car. I would bet that 50%, possibly more, of the customers of this company don’t actually complete the sale due to their shocking tactics. The beauty of this scam, then, is that you can either be ripped off for hundreds of pounds so you can write a review on an “independent” review site, and tell other people about your experience (not to mention giving We Buy Any Car more money when they resell your car to a dealer at profit) or, technically, you’re not a verifiable customer, because no money has changed hands.

The fact that Trust Pilot is complicit in enabling We Buy Any Car to mute legitimate reviewers casts doubt on the trustworthiness of its other reviews. Are they really representative of the customer experience?  Having an invoice number is no guarantee of legitimacy anyway – you can’t prove that companies are not just taking customers’ invoice numbers themselves and getting their staff to write glowing reviews, so requesting an invoice number is no guarantee of authentic reviews.

So the real questions are: Is Trust Pilot really that trustworthy as a review site? and, why does Trading Standards only intervene if you’ve bought something that’s not fit for purpose? They wouldn’t get involved even if you take the obviously dodgy deal being offered by companies such as We Buy Any Car? because you accepted the money after being browbeaten into it by their staff, to avoid having to start the whole car selling process again from scratch.

I think Trust Pilot need to make it harder for companies like this one to falsely skew their results when the rest of the internet will tell you how crap We Buy Any Car is, and I think the law needs to change so that companies like this have to operate in a more transparent way.