Monday 25 October 2021

Bonkers is 12 today!

Source: Flickr

As regular readers know, I very rarely mark the occasion of my blog anniversary on the actual date. Days often go by before I remember, sometimes running into weeks, assuming I even do. On a whim I took a look just now at my very first post and read something else I had forgotten, namely that my intense and obsessive interest in perfume when I first fell down the rabbit hole was sparked by a phase of my thyroid being overactive, even though my diagnosis is of "underactive" thyroid. The thing is that if you accidentally overmedicate the condition, which is all too easy to do, it is like taking speed, hehe, and you can be prone to frenetic bursts of activity and bouts of insomnia. Coincidentally, I am coming out of such a phase again now - which has unfortunately contributed to my newly discovered osteoporosis, but there's no point crying over a surfeit of trabecular bone perforations. I did this by gradually lowering the dose of my medication (you do need to keep an eye on that, especially as you get older or add other drugs into the mix). However, even when I was at the peak of being in "manic mode" lately, I can report that this did not translate into a renewed compulsion to test every new perfume that moved. ;)

But I do still love the stuff, and am currently helping a friend to find a new signature scent, or better still, a perfume to start off her fragrance wardrobe, a concept I was keen to impress upon her as "the only true way". Moreover, yesterday I nearly met a perfumer in The Cotswolds, who is a friend of an old friend with whom I was spending the weekend, though it didn't work out in the end. This Person of Interest is involved in all sorts of fragrance-related projects, and is bound to know a lot of the usual suspects on the scene, so I would love to chew the cud with her one day.

In another surprise turn of events, I have been wearing Puredistance Rubikona for at least a week (review here). I initially re-tested it as a possible contender for my friend's new perfume (though the cost is admittedly a bit of a barrier!), but it ended up hitting the spot every single day when I was mulling over what to wear.


Source: Puredistance

So yes, I am not "over" perfume yet by any means, and greatly value all the friends I have made through the hobby, both real life and virtual, but I don't have that irrepressible urge to try, try, try, and often in the old days buy, buy, buy. Which is probably just as well. 

It also occurred to me that I probably don't deserve to celebrate a blog anniversary anymore, when I post about once a fortnight usually, and also had that long hiatus during my various health investigations. These haven't run out of steam either in fact, but the longer they drag on, the lower the chance of the doctors having overlooked something imminently fatal, one can but hope!

On that subject - not death, the other subject ;) - I would be curious to know if readers have a preference in terms of how often a blog owner posts? There are of course daily blogs, and several times a week blogs, and then the more "leisurely" (read "lazy"!) ones like mine. But I can only write when the spirit moves me, and will never ever have a schedule, even if that erratic rhythm sheds readers and SEO brownie points - as it very likely does.

I do have quite a few things in mind for the future, including - strange to report! - a couple of perfume reviews. I may not keep Bonkers up for ever though, as I would quite like to turn my hand in earnest to travel writing - maybe even a book featuring my many (mis!)adventures down the years on work trips, band tours and holidays. But we'll see...

So here it is, my 724th post, having batted off all the companies who would like to write guest articles here about everything from the Aquibear Countertop RO Water Purifier, to the Goodpapa K1 Multi-Function Spin Scrubber, the Elevoc Clear ANC + ENC Earphones, or the happily more snappily named MP Magic Boxer Brief, which prides itself on being:

"the first underwear with the unique seamless pouch on the current market. Totally seamless briefs for total comfort and once go seamless, never go back!"

Hmm, I bet you are wishing I had reviewed that last one...! And I wonder what perfume he wears? Looks like a Sauvage or a Bleu man to me, what do you reckon?


Wednesday 20 October 2021

Eczema-friendly anti-ageing night creams: ouch-proof contenders to suit every budget

Pinky's improvised throne from a box insert

About ten years ago, on the same day in Brussels I had the strange experience of a teenager giving up his seat for me on the Metro, and being kerb crawled in the red light district into which I had inadvertently strayed. I remember joking to friends at the time that I was "on the cusp between cougar and care home". The same was true in dermatological terms, for back then I had acne and wrinkles. To the list I have added a Vitamin E allergy and eyelid eczema / contact dermatitis, about which I wrote a longer post here. (Scary photo alert!)

I haven't been troubled too much by incidents of eczema this summer  - or not since June, say - when there is a confluence of pollens, but one of my eyes has recently gone that way again (wrinkly top and bottom, and sore to the touch). I think this is due to a new serum that has a number of allergens in it, most notably lavender. I should know better really than to put it round my eyes. Hey, I don't even like lavender, but it was heavily discounted!

Now recycled into coasters for pots of cream

There is nothing for it but to desist from using the serum and wait for the reaction to subside, as it usually does. I don't need to alter my night time routine though, as I already have an armoury of benign unguents at my disposal. To be fair the bar is set pretty low in terms of what I look for in a cream, and goes something like this:

1) non-irritating, especially around the eyes

2) a pleasingly hydrating feeling on application, whether the cream is thick or thin

3) anti-ageing ingredients of some kind (ceramides and peptides being the most eczema-friendly)

So for anyone curious, here is a trio of night creams to suit different budgets. I use them on (a very haphazard) rotation. Well, I don't use the Drunk Elephant one anymore as it is used up, and I only kept the pot for photographic purposes, in anticipation of this post. 

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream (£50 - Cult Beauty)

6 Whipped African Oils & Ceramides

I hadn't heard of any of these African oils, the names of which I will spare you - they seem pretty recherché, and how pray does one whip an oil? I found this product on Beautypedia, where it had garnered a coveted 5 star rating from Paula Begoun. It comes in a beautiful mauve, white and grey box, with a striking monochrome design for the packaging insert. It is an airless jar with a "press-pump action", which I had to watch a YouTube video to figure out, haha. This design is said to be more hygienic and to inhibit the growth of bacteria that you get with pots you can dip your fingers in. Or is it something to do with the degradation of the product's active ingredients through the process of oxidation - or quite possibly both? I know Paula is very hot on pumps, but frankly I don't care too much about this aspect, for as my mother used to say: "You eat a peck of dirt before you die." And by inference apply it to your face too. She herself stuck her fingers in a pot of Pond's Cold Cream all her adult life and it didn't do her any harm. But maybe by the same token the product didn't do her any good, as it had gone rancid on the quiet - oh, I don't know. But speaking for myself, I am not as pump-orientated as is the modern way, even if I should be. Now initially when I tried this cream I had a bad reaction - my whole face felt very hot and burning for several nights in fact, but suddenly all that subsided and my face had obviously adjusted to the novelty of the whipped African oils. Perhaps they whip your skin in fact?? That would explain it. The  product is strikingly unscented - almost bizarrely so, when you think of the price tag - it smells more like something you might be prescribed rather than a high end niche product you have bought with your own money. It has a medium rich texture, and lasts quite a while, though the lid gets hard to press when there is very little left in the pot, which reminded me of trying to keep your balance on one of those wobble board things. 

Would I rebuy? No, not at £50 - I was feeling a bit maudlin during lockdown and wanted to treat myself, and I did enjoy it to the last blob. I have cut up the packaging insert and put a piece on my pinboard, leaving the rest to serve as (very small) coasters.

It is not as mauve as it looks in this photo!

Cerave PM Facial Moisturising Lotion (£18.98 - Amazon UK)

With 3 essential ceramides, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid

I have been using this product for years!, and already sang its praises in another dermatitis-themed post. It is another five star product on Beautypedia and I wouldn't need to feature it again only the formulation has changed, as Paula notes in her review:

"One point we do want to address: several people have contacted us saying that the updated formula stings their skin. This might be due to a potentially higher concentration of niacinamide in the formula, but niacinamide typically doesn't cause this reaction and most people tolerate even high amounts of it without incident. Another culprit could be the higher amount of pH-adjusting ingredient sodium hydroxide, which wasn't present in the original formula."

I did indeed find this cream quite stinging to start with, but after avoiding the eye area for a bit (which is where La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Yeux comes in (with thanks to Undina for the introduction!), my skin gradually got accustomed to it, and now I can slather the stuff on with abandon anywhere on my face. Though "slather" isn't quite the right word, as the lotion is correctly described as "Ultra Lightweight" - in texture if not in its ingredients, as you can see.

Would I rebuy? Absolutely. I am on my first bottle of the new version, but must have got through a good half dozen bottles of the old. While holidaying in New York, ex-Mr Bonkers and his girlfriend at the time kindly made a detour to a drugstore to pick up three bottles for me on a "three for two" offer. He Whatsapped me a photo of his girlfriend holding the product aloft in her pink nail polished hand(!) to check they had found the correct one. It is a US brand you see, and is hard to find in UK stores. The price quoted above is from Amazon - you can get other items from the Cerave range in both Boots and Superdrug, but I have only ever found this PM moisturiser online.

Nivea Hyaluron Cellular Filler (£15.75 - Boots)

Pure hyaluronic acid and collagen booster 

Right, so after my Drunk Elephant had finally keeled over, I found myself searching for a slightly richer cream that would make a comforting change from the lightweight Cerave above, especially after acid toning when I don't really want anything too heavy on the anti-ageing ingredients front in case the combined effects might cause a bad reaction. I turned to this budget night cream (which has some pretention of anti-ageing benefits) from Nivea. It is admittedly a finger dipper, but as I mentioned above I am not fazed by this, and even prefer the sensual act of dipping compared to wiping off the paltry dollop dispensed to me by the Drunk Elephant. I realise I am going completely against the tide of current thinking on the matter, so please feel free to shoot me down in flames. This cream is scented, but only gently, in the way that all products from the Nivea stable tend to be - it is a familiar, soothing fragrance that I couldn't really describe. I see Limonene, Linalool, Citronellol and Geraniol - and unspecified Parfum! - are listed, suggesting a citrus, rosy kind of leaning, but it is more elusive than that. Overall, I found this cream to be punching above its price tag in terms of a "luxury" feel.

Would I rebuy? You bet - I just sprung for my second jar, which is accolade indeed, as only a few products make it onto the repeat list. I can't find any reviews of substance on the Net, nor is it on Paula's radar that I can see. I don't know what the collagen booster consists of either, though  Macadamia oil and Magnolia bark are amongst the ingredients, so it might be them.

NB Honourable mention goes to Eucerin Eczema Relief Flare-Up Treatment (Colloidal Oatmeal Skin Protectant Cream / Ceramide 3 Enriched).

Eucerin is a Beiersdorf brand, ie the same stable as Nivea, and is well regarded on the dermatologist circuit. I'd say this product is more for calming angry skin during a flare up than something to be used every day. It has a bit of an anti-ageing angle, but is more about its emollient effects. I include this for any American readers in particular, as it is the very devil to get hold of in Britain - I bought it via Amazon in the end, but it took forever to come from the States. It is currently on a deep discount compared to what I paid though - just £7.30, plus £4 postage - so if your complexion is currently in distress, this will sort it out. I have been prescribed a colloidal oatmeal lotion through the doctor as well, which was similar in texture and general feel, though it lacked any ceramides - AproDerm, in a ginormous tub with a pump mechanism. Now that's more like it...;)

Tuesday 5 October 2021

The Smell of Despair: random off-topic post on how not to sell a sofa


Apologies for the lack of squarely perfume-centric content of late: I do have a couple of perfumes I quite fancy writing about, but before I get to those something else always seems to catch my fancy! I am gearing up at some point to write a piece on skincare, and one on sleep, and one on "life hacks" I was surprised to discover recently. But I'll admit to having been majorly sidetracked by a full-on house project lately that has taken the best part of a month, involved preternaturally early starts, and consumed my attention - and an entire jar of sugar in the workmen's tea. ;) I could write a post about that experience perhaps, as lessons have been learnt. Much as they were when I had the main bathroom refurbished back in 2016, and reported on that process, which was harrowing and instructive in equal measure.


And because of my distracted state, instead of something more germane (feeble pun in the title notwithstanding), I have decided to split an infinitive and finally do the silly post I threatened to write some years ago (bet nobody remembers!) - on how not to sell a sofa. I don't believe I have ever sold a sofa myself, but I have bought a lot, even. Looking back, I bought five for the house I shared with ex-Mr Bonkers (they are all still there too); then I have shoehorned five into this house, which I am astonished to realise on totting them up, and have two in France - one a cast off from my friend L, which was gathering dust in her barn, and goes back to her student days. Of the sofas in this house, two were bought on eBay, two on Facebook Marketplace, and only one was new - bought at a very good price from a manufacturer near Nottingham which deals directly with the public in a limited way, but doesn't advertise the fact. The company allegedly made the chairs for the film Dark Shadows, starring Johnny Depp, but I certainly didn't run into him browsing through fabric books on my visit to their showroom. Finally, the one in France that wasn't a gift was another eBay bargain. So I may be a bit of a sofa tycoon, but I am a canny shopper with it.

Now the fact that I have searched for so many sofas online - sofa surfed, you could say! - means that I have seen a lot of listings, and formed a view as to what is and isn't conducive to making that sale. There will undoubtedly be other factors, but for my money these are some of the problem areas that occur in adverts:

Sofa looks like a Michelin Man wannabe

Now I accept that in order for a sofa to be comfortable, a degree of padding is required. But these examples of "extreme upholstery" take the concept of pneumatic seating to a whole new level.


This one arguably has a 'Birth of Venus' scallop shell vibe going on?


This imposing black and beige model is free to a good home!


Sofa has hidden flaws?

I nearly named this "implausible antimacassars", for that is what the fabric draped over the back of the sofa below reminds me of.



And here is a covert operation involving cushions AND strategically placed fabric.


And another one... "Throwing" everything at the cover up operation. ;)

Sofa is not "staged" to its best advantage

I have a friend who - as a kind of running joke - posts photos on Instagram of furniture he has spotted abandoned on street corners. The photographs below are not quite that, but not far off it!



 Not a very scenic backdrop, but a bonus pouffe.


Misjudging the optimal cushion count

This point is related to the staging one above, but concerns the accessories placed on the sofa itself rather than the background of the photo.

Strangely, it IS possible to have too many cushions, and I speak as someone who errs on the side of profusion.


Meanwhile, this sofa strikes me as crying out for a "balancing cushion".


Sofa (and/or its owner) have given up the will to live

Actually, this category has some overlap with the others - or probably would have if you could see all the items in question. Full marks for transparency, mind.


At least this throw and baby drink paraphernalia? are not disguising any imperfections as such, but it doesn't make for a smart presentation of the goods.



The seller of this one is both transparent - and persuasive...

"hole in the back but cushions cover it perfect for someone just starting out and in need"



 By way of contrast, here is how the sofa that ended up in France was displayed by its owner:



I kept it for a while in the garage until I found someone to transport it over there (see photo at the top of the post). If I ever decide to sell it I have the listing photo ready to go! ;)

Have you ever bought or sold a sofa on the Internet? Do share your good or bad experiences!