By Aoife Osborne, Designer
How many times have you seen an ad for a product on your social media account, or before a YouTube video, or even on a website banner? And then it comes back again, and again, and again, like a cold sore that just refuses to heal? How many times have you wondered if those products are any good, or thought about buying them?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve done this a lot. You’ve probably even ordered them a few times and have learned the hard way that ordering overly advertised products is a game of Russian roulette.
So, with that in mind, I asked my friends for some products they’ve always wondered about and decided to test some of them. First, a few ground rules: one, I was going to prioritise products I was actually curious about or had tried myself. Two, I was not going to try every single product suggested to me, so I put a cap that I would try a maximum of four new goods or services. Three, if I found something really absurd about a product or service I would take it upon myself to honestly explain why it did or did not work. For my reviews of the products and services that I ended up trying, keep reading!
Like many students, I’m usually on the run between lectures and buses, usually with a minimum of one bag filled with books, food, my tech gadgets and more. For this, I usually require heavy-duty deodorant. The one other time I tried a natural alternative, I was reapplying it every half hour to top it up.
Despite my scepticism, Wild actually does work – apply once a day, and that’s it. You’ve probably seen the videos on YouTube but it works exactly like they say – you order a case and get one refill, and then get a monthly subscription with three refills of your choosing. Given that I usually end up buying expensive deo anyway (between €4 or €5) Wild works out at roughly the same price but lasts longer so therefore, is better value. I am much happier with a brand that is environmentally friendly, cruelty free, and smells like a candle instead of the secondary school bathroom. On the subject of scents, I recommend the rhubarb-raspberry, and the mint-eucalyptus.
My first order did take ages to arrive, but the customer service team was second-to-none in tracking my package for me and I’ve not had an issue since so I think this was just a once off. I also find the monthly service a bit too much as I tend to get between six and eight weeks out of a refill, even with frequent use, but it’s super easy to change your shipping dates.
Let me preface this by saying, when it comes to shaving it is completely down to personal preference. For me, there are weeks where I shave once every few days and then weeks on end where I don’t shave at all (don’t at me).
Estrid is relatively simple, choose your handle colour and how often you’d like to receive new blades, or you can manually ship your order as you need them. This is a huge plus for me as during the summer, I switched to monthly refills but during winter, I just hit that ‘send me my order now’ button when I felt like I needed them.
Before Estrid, I’d stick with the disposable ones from Dealz or EuroGiant, so this is a price jump for me. However, I’ve decided I’m okay with splurging a little on this company. The packaging is paper and shipping is climate-compensated, so combine that with the reusable handle idea and my one-use plastic rate immediately goes right down. Plus, I feel better for spending my money with a brand that doesn’t gender their beauty products, therefore avoiding that cheeky Pink Tax – #winning.
Recommend: Yes, if you’re a shaver – if not, no judgement. You do you boo.
As a five-foot-two plus size gal, tights are the bane of my existence. They’re usually too tight, don’t stay up on my waist, or tear really easily. However, I also love wearing skirts and dresses and going tightless means that I end up spending two days dousing my legs in aloe vera to combat chafing. Not fun.
Snag Tights turned up in my Facebook feed during the summer, advertising the Chub Rub shorts. Now, while I’m not fond of the name, I absolutely freaking adore these shorts. Game-changing. After that, I decided to try their regular tights. I used to twist my head like a confused puppy when my friends would talk about their ‘favourite tights’. Now, I get it, because these are just too comfy.
My only hang up with these is the price – at about nine euro a pair, they’re not cheap. For reference, a multipack of three pairs of tights in Penneys is €4.50. Make of that what you will.
Recommend: If you can justify the price, then yes. If not, Penney’s now sell actual plus size tights.
This is one that I tried exclusively for this article. When it was suggested to me, it was with the question ‘is it just a gold-plated one-way ticket to debt?’ After six weeks of using it, I can tell you: yes and no.
The idea is when shopping online it creates a temporary card for you, and then breaks the purchase into three separate instalments, and you pay one each month. It really is that simple, and it does cap your spending. What I did notice, however, was after a few purchases that it became easy to say ‘but sure it’s grand, I’ll order it through Klarna and it’s only a third of the price.’ The big problem I foresee with it is that if I did that too many times across multiple purchases, I’ve ended up pulling together much more than I originally intended or hoped to spend and then have to pay that same amount next month, and the month after.
I don’t regret using Klarna as it definitely made my Christmas shopping easier, and I did also use it on two big yearly purchases (a website renewal and a Canva subscription) but I can’t see myself sticking with it. Overall, my advice with Klarna is to proceed with an overabundance of caution and if you’re even slightly prone to splurging, steer clear!
Recommend: Only if you feel you can control your spending – if not, caveat emptor.
So this one was suggested to me and initially I ruled it out as it would have pushed me over the budget I had set for this article. But, when a gift box with Spotlight Dental’s logo ended up under my tree on Christmas morning, who was I to not report back on it?
I’ve never used teeth whitening strips before, but these were super simple to use and they actually did work. I should mention the kit also included the mouthwash, toothpaste and whitening pen, and I used all products in unison and as directed for fourteen days, which is the course of strips. At the Day 3 mark, I saw a difference in my teeth. By day 5, my boyfriend saw a difference and now, at the end of the two-week mark, I’m definitely super pleased with the progress.
Now, did it work exactly as on the box? No, it honestly didn’t. There is definitely a noticeable difference and I am much happier with how my teeth look but they could stand to be a little brighter. It is worth noting that products such as cigarettes, red wine, tea, coffee and tomato-based products can hinder the process due to staining agents they contain. I’m not a smoker but I am known for my love of coffee, which could explain the fact that the two-week course was not enough for me. At the time of writing, my plan is to continue using the course of whitening toothpaste and mouthwash with the pen, and treat myself to some more strips if I spy them on offer some day.
Recommend: Jury’s still out on this one, but due to the cost I think this one is a treat-yourself purchase.
SugarBear Hair Care
Okay, when these were suggested to me, I decided to look them up – in case my purple locks don’t give it away, I’m a big fan of colouring and treating my hair and I’m a big believer of treating skin and hair from the inside out so I was intrigued.
I found the ingredients, and the recommended dosage. A month’s supply of these will set you back 38USD, and arrive in three to four weeks. Express shipping will cost an extra 7USD and arrive in four to six days. But, here’s where it gets interesting. Several reviews from the UK and EU claim that they’ve been charged customs fees, and have received paperwork stating that the product does not meet EU guidelines. Now, I can’t confirm if this is true or not but I felt I had to mention it – and once I realised, I headed over to Boots.
It turns out the ingredients are almost exactly the same between the Boots Hair Skin and Nails supplement, but a one-month supply of those will cost €7.50. Factor in Boots’ three-for-two offer across vitamins and that means you could get six months’ worth of the Boots vitamins for the same price as one month of SugarBear Haircare. Needless to say, I gave this one a skip.
Is it even January if you’re not overloaded with ads on fitness, dieting, gym offers, juice programmes and more? I know so many people who’ve thought about apps like Noom, so I decided to give them both a go.
What I’m going to say is, I can imagine this app being very, very dangerous – there’s no actual human support or guidance that I could see, which I can imagine being an issue if you’ve experienced issues with disordered eating or body image. And truthfully, it didn’t offer anything spectacular. I can’t honestly say I saw anything outstanding with Noom so once my free trial ended, I didn’t subscribe.
Recommend: Not for me, and can’t recommend in good conscience.
As an English major, it’s no surprise that I’m a bit of a word nerd. What I struggle with is that I love words so much, I use them too much. Seriously, I am a big fan of long, convoluted sentences. As a result, every essay I’ve had graded since first year has had the same comments on my sentence structure.
You may be asking, how accurate is Grammarly? Does it actually work?
Well, as an experiment, when I subscribed to Grammarly I asked to evaluate an essay I’d just received back which had been noted as being a bit hard to read (sorry Dr Corcoran!). Amazingly, Grammarly highlighted the same sections that my feedback comments also flagged. I then used Grammarly on my Christmas assignments and, for the first time in my entire university experience, I did not receive any feedback that my essays were hard to read – incredible. Money well spent, and a subscription I will absolutely be renewing as long as I am in education.
Recommend: For sure!