My thoughts on the new Being by Sanctuary range

I tested three products from the new Being by Sanctuary range that you can buy at Boots. Here are my thoughts!

Most people know about Sanctuary Spa products. I think they’re really good, and am still working my way through a Sanctuary Spa advent calendar!

If you like the range, don’t forget that there are some Sanctuary products in my birthday giveaway so get your entries in if you haven’t done it already!

But that’s not what I’m talking about today.

A couple of weeks ago I went into Boots. I didn’t find any of the things that I went in for, but while I was there, I discovered the new Being by Sanctuary range – “5 punchy fragrances that will leave you smelling fresh!”

I’d describe these as a bit more zingy and exotic than the usual Sanctuary fragrances, and I liked all the ones I picked up. There are five scents in the range, but there were only three on display when I was checking them out. The scents are:

1. Cloudberry and lychee blossom
2. Salted caramel and macadamia
3. Hibiscus and coconut water
4. Chilli mango and tonka bean
5. Water lotus and pomelo

To be honest the advertising language on the advertising page doesn’t really speak to me – I think in my mid-30s I’m about 15 years too old to be in the target audience, but who cares? I can still enjoy the products!

I got three different products in different scents, and to be honest, it’s hard to pick a favourite. The coconut and the salted caramel ones weren’t on display at the time. I probably wouldn’t have bought those two anyway though because I have other coconut stuff from the Body Shop and I hate salted caramel! Ok I don’t know if I hate this particular salted caramel, but in general I’m not a fan!

I think my favourite has to be the chili mango and tonka bean body lotion, which won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me, the lover of all things mango. It’s in a pump container, which means you don’t have to scoop it out, and it’s a lovely, rich but spicy mango scent. Unlike another body lotion I tried that was aimed at a younger audience, it did still moisturise as well as you would expect a lotion to. These products are generous sizes too (300ml), so you won’t run out quickly. The body lotion is available in the other scents too, but I wanted to try different things out.

Do you know what a pomelo is? I didn’t! Apparently it’s a citrus fruit, 15-25 cm in diameter, and which weighs half a kilo! I’ve no idea what they smell or taste like, but the pomelo and water lotus body wash is another decent size, 250ml, and I would say smells more floral than citrus, but not in a traditional floral way. You can definitely smell the water lotus if you know what that smells like.

And what on earth is a cloudberry? Apparently they come from a plant that likes to grow in Finland and Scandinavian countries, among other places. The cloudberry is the fruit that can be eaten, and apparently cloudberry jam is a thing in Sweden.

Anyway, I don’t know what they smell like, but the lychee blossom and cloudberry body mist is very sweet and fresh. I guess I wouldn’t wear it on its own, and it is quite a young and sweet scent, but I like lychees and I think if paired with a fragrance that goes well with it, you can get away with it at any age!

So my favourite was the mango – what a surprise – but I like the way that the range includes a variety of scents (sweet, citrus, floral – but not traditional floral) and of course the other ones that I didn’t try.

I was happy with all the ones I picked up.

How about you? Have you tried any of these products? What did you think of them?

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12 empties from August – reminiscing, being scared, and new favourite shampoo

The products that I used up in August – which ones I loved, and the ones I’ll avoid in future!

Before we get on to the August empties, if you live in the UK and you’d like to be in with the chance to win some skincare products, my birthday give-away is running throughout September, so head on over and enter if you haven’t done so already!

Haircare

The good, the great, and the somewhat scary!

Let’s start with the good. When I did my 7th Heaven review, I hadn’t had the chance to test out all of the masks. Although the papaya was my favourite, I also liked the honey one and I still need to try the coconut. I’m happy with these though and I like these little single-use masks, particularly for going away.

I raved about the Yes to cucumbers volumising shampoo in July, and now that the tube is finished, I’m pretty sure that this is what I’m going to stick with – that is, once I’ve used up the Mane & Tail one that I’ve just bought. But this Yes To product smells good, lathers up well, is affordable, and leaves my hair feeling clean and alive – so I will definitely be buying more of it!

And now for the thing that left me wondering if I was having an allergic reaction – the John Masters scalp stimulating shampoo. (I do have allergy issues, but not usually with skincare ingredients!) Fortunately this was just a travel size from the Lovelula box. I know some people really like it, but apart from not being a fan of mint-scented hair products, I didn’t like the way it felt like someone set light to my head. It’s apparently meant to do that and feel all tingly, but it’s not for me!

Bath and body

I was so sad when the Anatomicals Java Lather coffee buzz shower gel ran out at the beginning of August! It smells amazing, like you’re bathing in coffee, and I’d recommend it for any coffee lover! I can’t justify buying it again because I have some other shower gels knocking around, but it’s definitely something I’ll get again in the future.

If you like banana and want some bubbles, you might like the Imperial Leather banana bubble bath. I just picked it up from the supermarket because I fancied a change, and I was pleased that it foamed up well, and although the banana scent was there, it didn’t smell sweet and like fake bananas as some other products do. So nice for a change when I’m swapping out my bubble baths!

It must have been a month of baths, because I also got through a Radox stress relief bath soak with rosemary and eucalyptus. As a child growing up with my grandparents, I always had bubble bath, but we didn’t have Radox! Radox reminded me of my visits to my mum during the holidays when we would make bathtime last for ages, relaxing in the water and having stories! Now, when I smell it as an adult, it often takes me back to those times. I haven’t been impressed with one or two of the shower gels that I’ve tried, but the bubble baths are something that I often go back to!

Now for a couple of shower gels. I used up a body wash from the Sanctuary Spa advent calendar, and I love their fresh and luxurious scent. This wasn’t a floral one, so it got extra points from me. I also used up the virgin mojito shower gel from the Body Shops summer range. I think the mixture of lime and mint was a cool idea, but I preferred the pineapple and coconut one! Still, I’m glad I tried them both.

Skincare

I have to say I was a little disappointed with the wonderous whip body lotion from Zoella, but then I think I’m maybe expecting more from it than it was meant to give. Even when I use a whipped lotion, I still want a degree of moisture for my fairly dry skin, and I don’t think this lotion gave me enough. It’s fine if you’re at the gym and you want something to dry really quickly, or if you don’t have dry skin, but I probably won’t get this again because I need that bit of extra help!

Another thing in the Sanctuary calendar was the Sanctuary spa luxurious body balm and I was happy to see it again! I’d already tried this from Latest in Beauty, so I knew that I liked it. This is a thick and luxurious balm which smells good and leaves your skin feeling pampered and moisturised for hours afterwards (not greasy, just soft and smooth).

The next thing I tried was the Skyn Iceland hydro cool firming eye gels. The link leads to a pack of 8, but I only ordered 1 in my Latest in Beauty box, so I can’t report on what it does if you use them over a number of days. I read somewhere that you are supposed to cool them first, but I didn’t know that at the time. They are supposed to help soothe the under-eye area, reduce fine lines and puffiness. They were easy to apply and having them on was a pleasant experience, but I can’t say I noticed any dramatic effects. I think for me the money is better spent on sheet masks, but if you have tired eyes or you want to give your under-eye a treat, then why not?!

Make-up

My ELF hydrating face primer ran out, so I replaced it. I do use the Porefessional one from Benefit as well, but I can’t afford to use that every day! The ELF one is a more affordable alternative, and it does the job well enough. I like the pump dispenser because you always get the right amount. As I have dry skin, I like the fact that this one is moisturising too. It doesn’t have that same silicone base as the Benefit one, but it gives good coverage and doesn’t go weird and flaky with my moisturiser as some primers do. I’ve already got a new one!

Can someone explain to me the point of Foaming micellar water? I got some in my calendar and whilst I’m a fan of micellar water for removing make-up, I really don’t get why you’d want a foaming one! I’ve used it up, but won’t be repurchasing.

So, those were my August empties. Have you tried any of these products? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments, and also drop your links if you’ve done an empties post or video!

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The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

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September give-away

September is my birthday month, and to celebrate, I’m doing a give-away for readers in the UK.

Edit: this giveaway has now closed. Sign up to the newsletter to find out when the next one will be.

This give-away is to thank my readers for their support since Unseen Beauty started at the beginning of the year.

I’ve bought a couple of my favourite skincare products from the Body Shop, and added in some other skincare products. Details of how you can win are below. The draw will be open throughout September and I’ll notify the winner at the beginning of October.

What you can win

  • Body Shop mango body butter
  • Body Shop grapefruit hand cream
  • Body Shop satsuma shower gel
  • Face mask and muslin cloth
  • 2 mini Sanctuary Spa candles
  • Sanctuary Spa face mask
  • Sanctuary Spa body scrub
  • Lavender soap
  • Maybelline duo contour and highlight cream stick

The Body Shop products are from my favourite ranges, so I do hope you like fruity things!

I’ve tried to stay away from make-up because I think this is a more personal choice and I don’t want people to get colours that they don’t like, or that don’t work for them.

I know the cream contour and highlight won’t be the right shade for everyone. I originally bought it for myself, but as the two colours are on the same stick, it will be hard for me to use it because I can’t see where one ends and the other begins. I really wanted a double-ended one, so hope someone can get some use out of this – I’m all about the creams! If it’s not your colour, maybe you have a friend who would like it!

What do you have to do to enter?

All you need to do is enter your details in the form below. The questions are to make sure that you’re a real person, and they also give me the chance to find out what people like, and what other blogs I can check out. This is a UK-only give-away.

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on Saturday September 30th 2017 and I’ll draw the winner on Monday 2nd October.
  2. 1 entry per person.
  3. This is a UK only giveaway, so the winner will need to be able to provide an address in the UK for the prize to be sent to..
  4. I will give each person a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number.
  5. I will contact the winner on 2nd October to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  6. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

Tips on style, products, and organisation from Jane – a Rehab Officer for Vision Impairment

Tips on style, products, and organisation from Jane – a rehabilitation officer for Vision impairment

You may remember Jane from my article about a holiday with a difference article. I decided to do a more in-depth article with Jane because she works as a Rehabilitation Officer for Vision Impairment and I thought she would have some good tips in relation to style, clothes, and appearance for people with different levels of visual impairment. My tips work for me, but I know very little about what tips and tricks people with partial sight use, or what other low-tech solutions are on offer. If there’s something that I’ve hated with a passion since I was a child, it was a one-size-fits-all mentality. In this interview, the answers are all from Jane, apart from the paragraphs in brackets, which are my thoughts.

1. Can you tell us something about yourself and your job?

“I work as a Rehab Officer for Vision Impairment (ROVI). I work for a local authority and have been in the job for 5 years.In preparation for this, I completed two years vocational training at Birmingham City university.
I assist people who have sight conditions in maintaining their independence. This can be people who are new to sight loss, or people who’ve never been able to see. There are many ways in which people can be referred to us, such as through the hospital system or they can refer themselves. We don’t work with children, because that’s a different department, so all of my service users are 18 and over.”

2. What are some of the most common questions that people ask you about looking after their appearance, clothes, hair, nails, shopping etc?

“Many clients are frustrated that they can’t check their own appearance. Sometimes it’s hard to ask for help, and in other cases there is nobody around who can give the help.”
(Kirsty: I can believe this. I lived on my own for over 10 years, and my dog never got into style and fashion feedback! Now my boyfriend does check my make-up if he’s around, but I can understand that many guys wouldn’t be interested in helping with this task! Even if they were interested, some friends and relatives aren’t comfortable about giving really honest feedback – and let’s be fair – some blind people aren’t good at taking it! But when I say “do I look ok?” I mean it – I’d much rather fix anything that wasn’t right before I leave the house, than wander round looking odd.)
“If people have some useful sight, a magnifying mirror can help, particularly for tasks like shaving or applying make-up. Some of my clients use this one. Try to avoid really cheap mirrors because I’ve found they can have a distortion in the glass.
Also, good lighting above the bathroom mirror can make things much easier.
I also get questions about hair styles. My advice is usually to start with something simple that’s easy to manage. You can always build up your skills when you have some free time, or else go to the hairdresser for something more elaborate if you have an important occasion coming up.”
(Kirsty: I would say this applies to make-up too. I know I’d rather do a simple look well, than attempt something really complicated and do an average or a bad job of it. The time for building up your skills is not half an hour before an important night out – it’s those evenings in when you are not under any pressure. When I want to try something new, I get feedback on it first before incorporating it into a look for going out.)
“If you’re learning make-up, or even if you’re not – you could stick to paler colours, because then mistakes would be less noticeable.
If you’re on your own and you aren’t sure what colour something is, or whether something looks ok, there is a phone app called “be my eyes”, which puts you in touch with a sighted volunteer. Video apps on your phone also mean that you can call a friend on Skype or Facetime and ask for some advice. If you don’t want a video call, you could send a selfie.”
(Kirsty: This is true – I had a friend checking outfits, make-up and jewellery with me once when I was planning for a date. It didn’t matter that she lived miles away – the video conference made it feel as though she were in the room with me!)
“If you would rather rely on image recognition than a person when you want to find out what something is, you could try the TapTapSee app. This won’t tell you whether you look ok, but it can help you tell the difference that feel similar by identifying what they are.
Matching clothes is another issue that often comes up. People don’t want to go out wearing outfits that don’t match, and there are a number of things that you can do. For example, there is a device called the Penfriend. You record messages on labels to say what things are, and the device replays the message when you scan the label in the future. This can also be useful when you want to know the washing instructions. You have to have someone read these out the first time, but then the job is done, and there are special labels for the Penfriend that can go through the washing machine.
Some people buy a lot of black trousers or skirts, and then any top or shirt that they put with them will look ok. Some people sew different shaped buttons into clothing so that they know what colour the garment is. Others make a habit of not buying a lot of the same item in different colours. In addition, there are colour detector devices, which identify the colour of clothes, and even apps that do the same thing.
Some people keep certain types of clothes together to make them easier to find (all the jumpers together etc), and others keep going out clothes and scruffy clothes separate. If you have shoes of different colour that feel similar, keep them apart, or keep them in shoe boxes. ”
(Kirsty: I have never seen colours. I understand the concept of light and dark, and that’s about it. Still, I think it’s useful to learn what colour things are, even if the colour names are just words to me, because then I can learn which ones can go together, or which ones suit me.)
“Other people ask questions about how to know when clothes are clean.”
(Kirsty: I don’t struggle with this, but it is annoying if you get a coffee stain on something and you don’t know whether it came out in the wash. I once took a red-wine-stained dress to the dry cleaner’s, and they didn’t tell me they hadn’t got the stain out when I picked it up. This was really annoying! I guess really all you can do is ask if you can’t be sure. On the subject of washing, we have different baskets for the different colours. I do the washing, but my partner has to put his clothes in the right basket!)
“As a sighted person, it can be hard to bring up that someone doesn’t look ok. Most people would want to know if their skirt is tucked in their underwear, but what about if someone’s top is inside out, or if they have lipstick on their teeth? Do you point this out? How will the other person respond?”

3. What tips could you give someone who wants to know more about current trends if they can’t see the pictures in adverts?

  • It’s good to ask your friends, someone the same age, and definitely someone you trust and who can distance themselves from what they like or would wear.
  • Youtube is a good source of information. Some Youtubers are better than others at describing things, but some go into detail about what clothes or make-up products look like.
  • Well-written blogs are the same – you won’t get much information if people only post a load of images, but some are quite descriptive.
  • There are personal shopper services at places like House of Fraser or Debenhams – the service is free and they are not pushy about whether you buy.
  • If you find a brand that you like, you might like other things from them and it’s easier to choose the right size.

4. What things are still good to know, even if people don’t ask?

“I think sometimes, whether or not they have a visual impairment, people don’t think about the way things change as you get older. Some of the lipsticks that you wore in your 20s might not look as good in your 50s. Your skin changes, so as well as needing different skincare products, the tone can change as well. Do you still want to keep the same hairstyle? This isn’t just limited to blind people, but not seeing people of your own age ageing around you can mean that you don’t think about these things as much.”

5.What advice do you give people about shopping for clothes/make-up/accessories?

  • Find someone who will give you an honest opinion – whether that’s a personal shopper or a trusted family member or friend.
  • Dresses can be easier, because you don’t have to find a top to match!
  • Try to pair things that are the same style – don’t mix formal trousers with a scruffy top.
  • Some things can be dressed up, others can’t
  • Have input on the things that you can decide. You might need advice on colours, but you know which fabrics feel good to you and how long/short you want things to be.
    • 6. What tips have you come across for marking things in the bathroom or organising toiletries?

      • Some people stick labels on products, although this can be a pain if the products get wet. Others mark the packaging in some way, or use an elastic band to make the shampoo feel different from the conditioner
      • If you share a bathroom, have your own space, so you only have to think about identifying your products.
      • This wouldn’t work if you want to keep to the same brand, but you could make a point of buying bottles that don’t feel the same.
      • Some products are already tactile – such as the raised letters on Radox bottles.
      • Some companies, such as L’Occitane, put Braille labels on their products.
      • I’ve already mentioned the Penfriend – I’ve seen someone using it to label smaller items such as lipsticks.
      • Don’t have too much stuff out

      (Kirsty: I would really struggle with the last point – I’d rather have to remember a lot of stuff than not have too much stuff out, but everyone is different and you have to do what feels right for you! If you do want different products that feel the same, you could buy the shampoo one week, mark it, then buy the conditioner. I don’t do this now, but I used to do it all the time when I had nobody to ask!)

      Band-It products are An alternative to regular elastic bands. You can also buy the Band-Its from RNIB.

      Here’s a note about the Band-its from Hannah who designed them: “Band-its are thick elastic bands with distinctive tactile shapes around the edge, such as cubes, cylinders and lines. This makes them easy to tell apart by touch and not just by colour, which is particularly useful if you have very limited sight. The thickness of the bands also means the colours are very prominent on the bottles. They are also suitable for use in a wet environment, such as a bathroom.”

      7. What are a couple of common frustrations, either from people who have lost their sight or who have always been blind, and what solutions have you found?

      (Kirsty: When I asked this question, I was thinking about my experiences with powder make-up products, and how I’m not too fond of them. I solved this by using cream products. ~Also, at school, I was hopeless at painting my nails, but I got other students to do it for me in exchange for help with homework! I didn’t do the homework for them, but it was a bit like extra tuition in exchange for something I couldn’t do myself.)

      Problem 1: not being able to find things.
      Solution: having designated places for things, having your own space where other people won’t move things, and remembering to put things away. The iPhone has the “find my iPhone” app, and you can also get devices to attach to things such as keys. The devices can be tracked so that you can follow it to the keys. Maybe you could also declutter!

      Problem 2: where can I go if I need help? There isn’t always someone around
      Solution: it’s good to build up a network of friends with similar interests. Not just so that you can ask them things, but if they are your friends anyway, they won’t mind helping out once in a while, and you can find ways to help them too. Also having a network means that you’re not asking the same person all the time. There is also the “be my eyes” app.

      Problem 3: I’m not good at taming my brows.
      Solution: if you don’t feel confident about plucking your brows, you could have them plucked for you, in the same way that people get their eye lashes tinted or a professional wax or tan. Work out which things you want to do yourself, and which you want to get done professionally.

      8. What kind of questions come from the men in terms of looking after the way they look?

      “Sometimes men are concerned about shaving. If you don’t feel comfortable with a razor, an electric shaver can be a good alternative. A magnifying mirror can help if you have some vision, but also don’t be afraid to rely on your sense of touch to feel whether you got all the hairs.”
      (Kirsty: Blind people can use shavers – I do – but it’s about finding out what people are comfortable with and getting the job done in a safe and comfortable way.)

      9. Do you ever get asked about tanning?

      (Kirsty: I asked this because this comes up in so many beauty discussions, but I’m really not interested. This is the colour my skin is, and that’s ok for me.)

      “I understand why some people would be worried about self-tanning, especially if you can’t see if it’s gone on easily. I know people that have had success with spray tans, where the tan is applied for you.”

      10. Do you know any good resources (blogs, magazines, accessible books etc) for blind or partially sighted people looking for style tips?

      Tell us in the comments if you are aware of any other links and resources that you think should be added to this list!

      Thanks to Jane for her time and tips!

      More from Unseen Beauty

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      The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

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My August favourites – cream shadow, owls, and a cow pat!

My round-up of things that I have been enjoying this month including make-up, skincare, jewellery, and chocolate!

Here are some of the things that I have been enjoying this month! Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried any of these things, or leave a link to your favourites if you’ve done a blog post or video for August!

Make-up

Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while now will know that I’m a big fan of cream eye shadows. I know that some blind women use the powder ones, but I find them a bit too hit-and-miss, especially when you can’t see if there is any fall-out. I recently discovered the MeMeMe Cosmetics dew pots. There are 11 shades, and I got the woodland truffle. The cream applies and lasts well. It’s at the cheaper end of what you can pay for cream shadows, but some of the others in that price range do contain more product. I like the packaging, but the opening where it comes out is quite small – I’d prefer it to be wider and more shallow, than small and deep so that the product would come out more easily. Still, I’m happy with the product and glad to have found another cream shadow to add to my collection.

When my contour cream started running low, I looked for an alternative and found a bunch of cream highlight and contour sticks. The first one was a mistake, because it was highlight on one side and contour on the other. We discussed marking the packaging so I’d be able to tell where one product ended and the other one started, but in the end I decided not to even try because I can’t see where one colour is wearing thin. So this has gone into my giveaway for September in the hope that someone else will be able to use it.

Realising my mistake, and that I’d need to check the descriptions more carefully, I then went for the Rimmel duo contour stick, which was better for me because highlight is on one end and contour is on the other, so they are completely separate. I’m a big fan of cream products, so this should keep me going for a while. It’s definitely easier to find cream highlighters than contour creams, so I’m glad that I found the two-in-one!

(Find out which other make-up products I’ve reviewed here.)

Haircare

Now for something new and sooo good! I’d tried the banana shampoo and conditioner from the Body Shop before, but now they’ve brought out a banana hair mask. It smells amazing, comes in a generous tub and is a real treat for the hair. I’ve already finished mine! I want a mask that will leave your hair shiny and nourished, but if I’m going to sit there with it on my hair, I need it to smell good too! This mask, containing organic banana puree from Ecuador and brazil nut oil from Peru, ticks all my boxes and I’d definitely recommend it!

Skincare

Staying with the Body Shop, I forgot how much I liked the vitamin C glow-boosting moisturiser. It smells amazing, like fresh oranges, and it is good for waking me up in the morning. According to the Body Shop’s description, “This fresh, lightweight gel formula will give your skin a daily boost of radiance and hydration. With vitamin C, it awakens and clarifies your complexion, revealing a natural healthy looking glow.” I use something more heavy-duty at night time, but this is something I have been enjoying in the morning to give me a moisture boost before make-up.

I like the Grumpy Cow range from the Cowshed, but when the Gorgeous Cow body lotion came up on Latest in Beauty, I was happy to give it a try! To be honest, as a citrus girl, I’m still on team Grumpy Cow, but if you like your body lotion to be sweet and floral, the Gorgeous Cow line might be for you! This lotion contains lavender, ylang ylang, and Moroccan rose oil.

Staying with Cowshed, I heard a number of people talking about a mini Cowpat handcream that they got in their beauty boxes – I’m not sure which one it was now – maybe Birchbox. Some people liked it and others didn’t – but I decided I wanted to try it, so I bought the full-size Cowpat hand cream. This is a thicker cream, and one that I enjoy using in the evening. It contains both shea and cocoa butter, grapefruit and coriander oils. The coriander does give it a distinct scent, which is quite strong, but I quite like it. So if you want to know more, why not get yourself a cow pat!!

Treats

So, in terms of chocolatey goodness this month I can recommend the Cadbury Dairy Milk Big Taste Triple Chocolate Bar! What a mouthful! It’s basically a bar made up of triangle, and each triangle has a section of milk, plain, and white chocolate. All the flavours mix together as you chomp it, or you can try to separate them! Either way, it’s good!

I wasn’t really sure where to put the next thing. We saw an advert based on a character from Game of Thrones about how plastic water bottles from sparkling water are bad for the environment. Of course everyone knows this, but seeing the advert made me stop to think – because we were getting through a lot of sparkling water. Actually the ad was banned for being offensive, (I didn’t think it was offensive), so I can’t link it. But anyway, as a direct result of seeing the ad, we went and got a soda stream. This is fairly expensive, and it depends how much you would use it and how often you drink sparkling water. However in our house, the machine will have paid for itself in 15 weeks and that’s a lot of plastic bottles that now won’t be “making the dolphins cry”.

Jewellery

I discovered the brand Izubezu London a couple of months ago when I got my bee pendant. I love this kind of necklace because it’s so tactile, which means you can appreciate the detail by touch, and it’s not just something nice to look at. This necklace is unusual because as well as the tactile bee, there are three hexagonal, honeycomb-shaped links on the chain next to the bee.

This month, as someone who loves owls, I noticed that they had an owl necklace too, so I got that as well. The owl is bigger than the bee, and you can feel its head, wings, and feathers.

I think these pieces make a lovely gift for anyone, or for yourself, but as someone who can’t see them, I really appreciate the tactile element. The necklaces are well-made with unique, interesting designs. These were my favourites, but if you are interested, you can also check out the range because there were plenty of other necklaces.

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Finding your writing voice

Today’s post is a guest post that I wrote for the UK Bloggers’ site. It’s about some things to consider when you’re developing your unique style of writing, or your blogging voice. How do you want to sound to readers? What parts of your personality do you want to bring out?

There are plenty of posts about how to get more readers or take great pictures, but your own blogging voice is a powerful tool – and it’s one that only you have!

You can check out the article here.

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Lovelula review – 15 products from April, May, and June

My review of the products in the April, May, and June boxes from Lovelula.

Do you know about Lovelula? It’s one of the many beauty subscription boxes, but its emphasis is on natural, cruelty-free products. Until now, it was also more skincare based, but the last couple of boxes have made me wonder if this is going to continue. If it doesn’t, that will be a problem for me, but this post is about what I got in my April to June boxes. I like to write my posts after I’ve had a good chance to test out the products, which is why I’m doing it now!

The picture shows 5 of the 15 products reviewed in this post.

April

The April box was a good one for me. There were two products that I really liked, two that were ok although I probably wouldn’t buy them, and one that I gave away, but only because I didn’t like the scent.

My favourite in this box was the FOM London Antioxidant Hydra Plump & Firm Cream. The cream contains an anti-aging silk complex that promotes collagen production and moisture retention. This is combined with antioxidants (rhidiola and ginseng) and shea butter for thirsty skin. This cream is rich, but not greasy, and it does have a fairly strong scent. We received a generous travel size in the box as the full-size is quite expensive! I need to use up some of my other creams before buying any more, but I would recommend this one!

My other favourite was the Madara Brightening AHA Peel Mask. I’m not a fan of grainy exfoliators and I’m naturally drawn to the ones that use natural fruit acids. This one contains vitamin C from quince fruit, lactic acid and soothing elderflower. It smelled good too! Usually I’m a sheet mask kind of girl, but I happily made an exception for this one and I have come to really like the products from Madara. I wouldn’t have found out about them without Lovelula, so that’s another plus point.

Next came the Greenfrog Botanic Soapberry Handwash in Geranium & Peppermint. This was a travel size. I put it in the bathroom and we used it up, but I think peppermint belongs in tea or icecream – I’m not sure I want to go round smelling like polos! It was nice enough, but I wouldn’t go out and buy it.

We also got a sample of the Marlenha Petal Delicate Eye Serum, which I thought was nice enough, but I think there are more affordable products on the market that are just as good, so I wouldn’t buy the full-size. Still, it was nice to try it!

Some people got a little Apple & Bears Pomegranate & Aloe Vera Body Wash. I would have been really happy with that, but I got the honey and hemp one, which I didn’t like. I gave mine away, but if I’d got one of the other scents (they also do a green tea one and a grapefruit one), I would have liked everything in the box.

So overall I was happy with the April box!

May

This box had three haircare products in it, which may have annoyed some people, but I could use all of them, and there hadn’t been much haircare in previous months.

My favourite product in this box was the Agario London Styling mist. Actually I have two of these because I got one from a friend in a beauty product swap! To be fair, I’ve never used this product on its own – I always put on a couple of squirts of my mango detangling spray, and then spray the mist on top. My friend said it made her hair greasy, but I didn’t find this. It does look a bit wet for a couple of minutes, but it dries out. I don’t need a styling spray, but the product contains lemon zest and oats to give your hair shine and strength. It also contains argan oil to target damaged hair and seal split ends. So I’m happy to add these things that I know are natural and good for my hair.

My next favourite was the PHB gentle moisturiser. We got a full-size jar of this product. To be fair, I liked the other moisturiser more, but this is still a good face cream, and particularly good if you have sensitive skin. Someone like me with dry skin should probably go for the hydrating moisturiser from the same range, though I haven’t tried it yet. Anyway, it’s a nice, lightweight moisturiser that would be fine under make-up and it was an interesting addition to the box.

To be fair, I haven’t actually used the Laidbare cleanser and toner yet. I’m a bit suspicious of two-in-one products, and I don’t usually use cleansers that you wash off, but I will give this a go at some point. Not what I’d usually buy, but part of the fun of these boxes is discovering new things to try.

The last two products were mini hair products and I’ll talk about them together. We had the John Masters lavender and rosemary shampoo and the John Masters citrus and neroli detangler, which apparently can also be used as a conditioner. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the brand, and the products themselves worked fine – but if I’m not keen on the scent of something, I won’t buy it again. Lavender is for going to sleep – it’s fine as a bath soak, but I don’t really want my hair to smell of it. The same goes for neroli, I’m just not fond of the stuff. So while I think these were good products, the scent would prevent me from buying them. Still, I’d be happy to try out other products from the range.

So again, even though I haven’t used one of the products yet, I think this was a good box. Maybe a bit top-heavy on the haircare, but overall I was happy with it.

June

This box was a bit disappointing for me with one product I didn’t like because I don’t think it’s a good product, one I won’t use, and one that I will use at some point but which didn’t excite me very much!

But let’s start with the one product I really liked – the Madara daily defence Ultra-rich balm. I’ve already said that I’m becoming a Madara fan and this product didn’t disappoint. I’m not out in extreme weather conditions as described on the page, but I do have dry skin, and this balm was great at moisturising and softening the dry areas. It was gone way too quickly! Apparently this is because the vitamin-rich Northern cloudberry and sea buckthorn oils soothe, hydrate and restore the skin barrier providing softness.

Next was the one I felt was just ok – the John Masters soap. I’ll put this in the kitchen when my other one runs out.

I’m so glad I didn’t spend £20 on the Bellapierre kiss proof lip crème in antique pink. I did not like this product at all! The formula did not dry down and left my lips feeling sticky for ages. I have a job that involves a lot of talking, and I don’t enjoy feeling my lips sticking together all the time. Some people said that they didn’t experience this, but I saw a few Youtube videos where people had the same problem as me. Not happy with this product!

The last things in the box were a Balm Balm face mask and a Muslin cloth. It’s not Lovelula’s fault that I don’t like grainy face masks. This is an interesting idea, because you add water to the powder to make a paste, but it’s not the kind of product that I would use, so the mask and the cloth are going in my September giveaway.

I don’t mind there being one or two make-up products in the box, but I think there’s a difference between products that are just not your thing, and those that for some reason don’t work as they are supposed to. I was a bit disappointed because I will only use two out of the five products from June.

What do you think>

Do you subscribe to Lovelula? What do you think of the box? Is it something that you would consider? Have you tried any of these products? Let me know in the comments!

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Hive Originals – with ingredients fresh from the beehive

My review of four products from Hive Originals. Products contain natural honey and beeswax from the Hive Origianals beehives.

So, S and I were at a chilli and cheese festival, chomping on unusual cheeses and looking for the hottest chillis that we could find, when he noticed a different kind of stall and one that he thought I would like! He was right! I spent the next 15 minutes or so being given a tour of the Hive Originals stall, testing out products, and deciding which ones I wanted to buy!

Claire took her time explaining about the products. I was most interested in the skincare, but there were also candles, soaps, foot care products, and products for men, all made with natural ingredients from the Hive Originals own bee hives.

According to the website: ” Our bees work extremely hard to produce their honey and beeswax. Our skincare follows the same ethos and is lovingly hand-crafted so that we can ensure that only natural products ever go into any of our products. Raw honey is well known for its healing, moisturising and protective qualities. We blend our raw honey and beeswax with the finest organic vegetable and essential oils to truly bring you the very best that nature has to offer. ”

I have been reading a lot lately about the benefits of honey in skincare, and I was interested to find out a bit more about why it’s good for you and how these hand-made products are made.

I could have spent a lot more (there were face creams too!) but in the end I decided to get four things

Body lotion

Firstly I am always keen on a citrus scent, and after testing out several of the body lotions, I chose the orange one. This orange body lotion is a lightweight whipped lotion with organic sweet orange essential oil. It also contains skin-regenerating honey, and beeswax to lock in the moisture. It’s great if you like a fresh citrus scent. If you don’t, there are other body lotions in the range.

Hand cream

I like the lemongrass scent anyway, but lemongrass is also a natural insect repellent, so this is a good handcream to wear in the summer to keep the insects away. This is especially good for me because they love to bite me and leave everyone else alone. I think maybe they like the high caffeine content in my bloodstream!

Anyway, this rich lemon-scented hand cream contains beeswax and jojoba oil, which act together to create a protective barrier to lock in the moisture and protect against the elements.

Lip care

I didn’t know what to do because there were lip balms containing two of my favourite things – so I got both of them! Both contain beeswax to protect, cocoa butter to soften, and organic sunflower oil to nourish and repair the lips.

The Mango lip balm turned out to be my favourite, because you can almost taste the juicy mangos, and it’s not as sweet as some other mango products. However, if you want a sweet treat, or a gift for the chocolate-lover in your life, I can also recommend the chocolate lip balm!

Have you tried any products from Hive Originals? If not, why not check out what else they have to offer!

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Holly’s story – from a puppy farm to a loving home

You can help dogs like holly by not contributing to the demand for puppy farm puppies.

From a puppy farm to a new forever home
You can help dogs like holly by not contributing to the demand for puppy farm puppies.

Something a bit different today, but anyone who has been reading this blog for a while will know that dogs are close to my heart!

Meet my friend Holly! She’s an eight-year-old yellow Labrador and she lives with my partner’s grandparents.

I met her nearly two years ago one evening after work. S had suggested going to visit his grandparents. It was a bit unusual going after work, but it would be good to see them, and of course they had the dogs – a greyhound and a saluki, who had both come through a rescue organisation.

When we got there, I was ushered into the front room where, dozing on a duvet, was the newest addition to the family – Holly.

S’s grandma had seen Holly on a dog rehoming website and she knew immediately that she wanted to help.

Holly had been living on a farm in Ireland, where she was being used for breeding. In her six short years, she had already had several litters of puppies, and she was unlikely to have had a break between each litter. Her teats were swollen, she was terribly overweight, and she didn’t seem to understand the concept of going for a walk. This combined with the worn patches on her elbows suggested that she had spent a lot of time just lying on a hard floor throughout the cycle of mating, pregnancy, and giving birth to puppies. The puppies would be sold and then the cycle would start again. This is no life for a smart, young Labrador.

Fortunately for her, Holly was rescued from this life of puppy production and she was brought to her new forever home around two years ago. She now goes out for regular walks with the boys (Perry the Saluki and Gwyn the greyhound). She can’t run as fast as them, but she has lost several kilos already which makes it easier for her to move around. Like all Labradors, she loves her food, but her new diet is helping to bring her weight down to where it should be, and of course going for walks helps with that too.

Holly is a typical Labrador in that she likes to be patted. She is very calm, and I often sit on the floor stroking her when we go round to visit. She has perked up a lot in the time I’ve known her, and although people haven’t always treated her well, she likes people. When I first met her, she had her lovely, kind nature, but she seemed so tired. Not the kind of tiredness that goes when you’ve had a good night’s sleep, but weary because life had been tough for her, and somehow lacking enthusiasm.

Now she often trots out behind the boys to greet us at the door, and there’s nothing like a tasty treat to awaken Labrador enthusiasm!

Her legs aren’t strong enough to allow her to jump up into the car like the others, but she has learned how to use the ramp.

I’m so glad that she now has a life with a soft bed, the chance to have a good diet, people to give her hugs, and interesting places to explore.

Some months later, Holly was spayed, so there’s no risk that she will have to go through another pregnancy. She’s had enough of that to last a lifetime!

There are plenty of good reasons not to buy from a puppy farm (also known as puppy mills in the US). These are essentially irresponsible breeders who run factories for producing puppies with little concern for the puppies or the mothers. The dogs are often not well-cared for, there is little or no medical history, basic medical care and immunisations are not given, there is insufficient information about the parents (including any hereditary health problems), and the dogs are often taken away from their mother too early, which is bad for their social development. If you get a dog from somewhere like this, you could end up with a sick puppy, or one with behavioural issues. Temperament can be inherited, so if you’re not allowed to see the parents, or the mother has behavioural issues that go beyond the normal protectiveness towards her puppies, the puppies could have issues too.

Some people go to puppy farms because they don’t like the fact that good breeders and animal rescue organisations will want to vet potential new homes first, but if it were your puppy, wouldn’t you want to make sure that it was going to a good home?

I can understand why people who genuinely want to help would buy a puppy from a place like this and give it a better start in life, but even if you do help that one puppy, it’s contributing to the wider problem. As long as people think there is money to be made in this way, and as long as there is a demand for puppies, people will try to meet that demand. This means they need dogs like Holly to be mothers – again and again and again. In the UK, it’s illegal to breed from a bitch more than six times in her lifetime, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t do it.

So if you really want to help dogs like Holly, it would be better to go to a rescue organisation, or if not, a registered and responsible breeder, than to support the puppy farm trade.

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17 empty products from July – new conditioner and some old favourites

The products that I finished up in July – what I thought of them, and whether I would buy them again!

17 empty products from July – new conditioner and some old favourites

Right, it’s time for the July empties! Not all of them are pictured here – partly because there were a lot, and partly because I had to completely destroy some of them to get all of the product out!

Have you used any of these products? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments, and also feel free to share any of your empties posts or Youtube videos there.

Skin care

I can’t show you the first thing that I used up because it’s not available at the moment, but it is a lip gloss from Hot Lips. I got two, but the one I finished up was the grape flavoured one. It’s a gloss with a difference because you apply it using a roller ball rather than an applicator, or even worse, nothing at all! I like the way that the ball slides over the lips to give an even finish. I would use this again if it weren’t unavailable, but I also have the cherry one to finish up.

I like the sweet mandarin and grapefruit range from Baylis and Harding, and we had the Sweet mandarin and grapefruit hand lotion in the bathroom for a while. You get a decent amount. It’s not the thickest, richest hand cream I have, but it’s got a pleasant scent, and I had it near the sink so that I remembered to put on some hand cream when I washed my hands to stop them drying out. I like to have something more heavy-duty at night, but I think this is a nice product to keep in the bathroom.

I also got through the strawberry and pomegranate hand cream from the same range. This is in a tube, not a pump dispenser. It’s a bit more expensive than the grapefruit one, and I don’t usually like strawberry scents because they are too sweet. However the mixture of strawberry and pomegranate makes it work for me!

I’m quite hard to please when it comes to eye creams, but I did enjoy the Bee good youth enhancing lift and brighten eye cream. I think it’s a fair price, and I like the fact that it uses more natural ingredients. It absorbs well without being greasy and moisturises at the same time.

According to the web page, it’s made from natural British bee ingredients including the antioxidant-rich propolis which fights bacteria and helps to repair skin damage. Propolis has natural preservative properties that eliminate the need for harmful synthetic preservatives. Vitamin E is expertly blended with skin tightening oat extract, and the brightening silk tree extract to address dark circles and fine lines. It moisturises, strengthens, and enhances the elasticity in your face.

I got mine from Latest in Beauty, but you can buy it elsewhere too and I would get this again once I’ve used up my other eye creams.

One of my earliest memories of the Body Shop, apart from the Dewberry perfume, is the Cocoa butter body lotion. I won one in a prize draw run by Heidi from the Body Shop at home and it took me back to being a teenager! I can’t find the link on the site now, so maybe it’s only available on special promotions. It’s made with cocoa butter from Ghana and it’s a nice, lightweight lotion for the summer.

Staying on the topic of things that I used when I was younger, a few months ago I repurchased the No. 7 moisturising night cream. I shudder to think of my skincare routine back then! I knew a lot less than I do now, but I always understood the importance of moisturising, even in the night time! The smell of this product took me back to being a teenager, and I think the no. 7 products are rather underrated! I’ve tried plenty of other creams since, but I enjoyed coming back to this one. It absorbed well and left my skin feeling wonderfully soft and smooth in the morning.

Boots had a deal on face masks, so I picked up a couple of the Garnier pomegranate sheet masks to mix in with my Korean stash. You get a lot of product with these masks and they’re different because once you’ve got it settled on your face, you peel off the protective outer cover, which presumably is there to stop it sticking to itself.

As someone with dry skin, I really like these because they are super-hydrating and another plus for me is that they also contain hyaluronic acid, which helps the skin to retain collagen, increase moisture, and provide elasticity.

I mentioned my L’Occitane lavender oil in my L’Occitane post back in March, and as a little goes a long way, I’ve only just finished it up. This product has completely changed the way I think about oils. I didn’t like them before because I thought they were messy and annoying, but the roll-on packaging means that you don’t get too much out at once, and you can just apply it to the skin where you want it. Lavender is known for its calming properties, and I enjoyed applying this oil before going to bed.

Next – this isn’t a point about a specific product, but when I was tidying up my products I came across some sun cream that was years out of date, so I chucked it. I am not usually ultra-strict with dates if the product seems and smells fine, but with sun care it’s not worth the risk. If the product has past its usefulness, you’ll get burned!

Another Latest in Beauty finish was my Katherine Daniels micellar water. It’s out of stock at the moment.
I’ve gone from someone who didn’t see the point of micellar water to someone who uses it all the time! I enjoyed using this one, and it has won an award for best eye make-up remover, but I think I still prefer the one from Madara, so I’d be more likely to buy that one again unless this one came up on Latest in Beauty.

I’ve got a few Sanctuary spa products from the Sanctuary Advent calendar. This month I used up the Sanctuary rose body lotion (I got a mini and this link is to the full-size one). I enjoyed the mini, but think this scent is a bit too floral for me. It reminded me of a teacher I used to have at school – she must have worn this or something similar!

Bath and shower

Another treat from the calendar was the Sanctuary bath soak. It contains aloe vera to moisturise, and there was a decent amount of bubbles. I got the mini because it was in the calendar, but I would buy the full size version.

Next up is the Seascape unwind body wash, which I got in my March Lovelula box. I don’t usually go for lavender body wash, but this was good for unwinding in evening baths!

When putting in an order for L’Occitane, I had the choice between paying postage or adding one small item to qualify for free postage! I’d already enjoyed the verbena bubble bath, so I got, and used a little Verbena shower gel mini I’d usually get a larger one, but this would be fine for a weekend away!

I don’t usually buy face washes, but I used up my Sanctuary Spa face wash from the calendar. I probably wouldn’t get this again, but it was fine to use in the shower and it didn’t leave my skin feeling dry.

Hair care

I continued with my hunt for good hair care products, and the Korres almond conditioner sounded like a good thing to try as I had already been impressed with a number of Korres products. I don’t have dry, damaged hair, but I have very long hair, so I like to make sure that the ends get a lot of nourishment so that they don’t split. Still, maybe the one for normal hair would have been better, but I’ve only just seen that whilst looking for the link for this one! Almond does sound more appealing though! Anyway – I enjoyed using the product and was happy with the soft and silky results.

Perfume

I don’t want to add a link for this because I believe this fragrance has gone out of stock and there are a lot of fakes around. I was bought the Gucci Envy perfume as a gift many years ago. It’s always a gamble when you buy perfume for someone, but I was pleasantly surprised with this because I really liked it. I repurchased it once, but wouldn’t do so again because it’s so hard to get hold of. There is another one called Envy Me, but I can’t say what I think of that because I haven’t tried it out yet.

Thank you for reading if you got all the way to the end! Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts on these, or the products that you’ve used up!

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