Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Our back-to-school allies (review)

photo by Allan Foster on Flickr

Wherever I look, people seem to be coughing, sneezing and blowing their noses at the moment, so I suppose cold season is now upon us. I hate this time of year as a teacher because the kids are always coughing without putting their hands over their mouths (I might remind you, I teach 11-16 year-olds, not little kids !) and at parent-teacher evenings, I shake about a hundred hands in a row which probably spreads even more germs. So far I haven't succumbed to the back-to-school bugs but I tend to think it's more a case of when, not if, I come down with a cold. Luckily, I've received several bug-busting or immune-boosting products to review lately that should help me and the rest of the Madhouse Family stay fighting fit for a little while longer ! Here's a little round-up :

First up was Sterimar's new Stop & Protect Cold & Sinus Relief (RRP£8.99 for 120 sprays). This is a brand that I already use to alleviate my hayfever symptoms in the summer months, so I'm really pleased to see that they now offer a winter ally too. It is designed as a rapid and effective double action nasal spray that effectively relieves the symptoms of colds and sinusitis fast, but also fights further infection to protect against new attacks. Using natural sea water, it forms a protective and invisible film which encapsulates, inactivates and rapidly neutralises the germs responsible for the symptoms of common colds, preventing viral development by up to 99%. It also contains added copper to reduce the spread of germs, manganese as a fluidifying agent and cleansing eucalyptus oil. It is drug-free so is perfectly safe for pregnant/breastfeeding women and children aged 3+. I'll definitely be reaching for this as soon as I get the first signs of a sniffle or bunged-up nose.

I'd never really thought about cold and flu bugs lurking on the surfaces in the home, but Dettol pointed out that the flu virus can live up to 2 days and the cold virus up to 7 days, so keeping surfaces clean and disinfected can help prevent the spread of illnesses. They sent through a bottle of Dettol Surface Cleanser (RRP £2) which kills 99.9% of bacteria, including E.coli, salmonella, MRSA and the flu virus. You can use it all over the house so I've been wiping down door handles as well as the kitchen worktops and plastic tabecloth on the dining room table.

Even now that the Madhouse kids are pretty much grown up, I always like to keep a pack of baby wipes in my bag for cleaning up hands (and faces and T-shirts !) when we're out and about. If we're out geocaching or on country walks, stroking animals and picking up leaves and conkers, it isn't always possible to wash our hands so baby wipes and a little bottle of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer are the next best option. These are equally useful if one of the members of the family has a cold, to try to prevent the spread of germs. Organyc sent us through a packet of baby wipes from their all-new 100% Organic Cotton baby range, as well as some of their female sanitary protection products, all of which use Organic Cotton with no added nasties.

I think one of the biggest reasons that the back-to-school bugs are so virulent is because everyone is so tired and run down getting back into the school routine that they don't have the strength to fight them off. I was delighted to receive 3 months' worth of Seven Seas Perfect7 Woman to try out because I've reviewed them before (click through to read my review) and I was impressed with the little signs I noticed (longer and stronger nails, less feelings of tiredness ...). I've been taking them for a month, since going back to work, and I've again noticed that my nails and hair seem in better condition as well as my general sense of well-being (less tiredness and less bad moods !). Perfect7 is designed for people feeling the first signs of ageing who want to support their body from the inside and is formulated with 7 key benefits in mind for both men and women, with a unique blend of Omega 3-rich marine oils, key vitamins and minerals. You take one capsule from each blister pack once a day and they are totally tasteless and easy to swallow.

 I was actually very interested to read some research carried out by Seven Seas to see what does and what doesn't make you look older or younger than your years - there were a few surprises in there. While bad habits such as smoking and a high intake of alcohol were shown more frequently in the visually older participants, interestingly there were a few lifestyle factors that made no statistical difference, such as anti-ageing skincare regimes. Also you can no longer blame your offspring for your grey hairs, as there were no statistical differences between those who did and did not have children ! Here are the findings : 

Busting the myths: factors which made no difference to looking older than your years 1. Anti-ageing skincare products 2. Regular exercise 3. Stress 4. Being vegan or vegetarian 5. Having children 

The 7 Lifestyle habits for looking younger 1. Having a positive attitude 2. Long-term relationship or marriage  3. Cut out caffeine 4. Increase oily fish intake 5. Low sugar diet 6. Reduce alcohol 7. Give up smoking 

Time to stop blaming my grey hairs and wrinkles on the kids then ! 

We also received some Holland & Barrett Omega 3 Fish Oils to help keep the Madhouse kids on top form. Over the coming months, a whopping eleven products will be released in the range, with Teensense and Kids Omega 3 chewable fruit burst capsules in store now. These come in two flavours, blackcurrant and orange, and will soon be joined by Calcium and Vitamin D ‘Softie’ versions in the coming weeks, followed by multivitamin tonics. Both Teensense and Kids Omega 3 Fish Oil capsules contain Vitamins A, D, E and C for healthy hearts, brains and vision and are made exclusively for teens and children aged 3 years plus, respectively. The benefits of Omega 3 for the heart, brain and vision are well known, but many fish oil supplements have an unpleasant fishy taste and smell. Well, the verdict was mixed on this one. Sophie wasn't keen on the texture (you need to chew the soft capsule quite hard to burst the fruit flavour centre) and she really didn't like the flavour of the Teen range. Juliette and Pierre were quite happy to eat the Healthy Kids ones though and agreed that they are more pallatable than other fish oil supplements I've given them in the past ! You're supposed to take two per day so each tub won't last long. (RRP £8.49 for 30 Teen capsules, £7.49 for 60 Kids blackcurrant and £7.29 for 60 Kids Orange - not sure why the different flavours have different prices !)

Well, hopefully this little lot should see us through the winter months in fighting form !

Disclosure : I received the products in order to write an honest review.


  1. Sterimar is a brand I have recently come across and think we might give it a go.

  2. I haven't heard of Sterimar before. All good tips for beating the cold bugs.