Make-up without sight – how one blind woman does it

Have you ever wondered what your make-up would look like if you did it without being able to check in the mirror?

I can see the sun streaming in through the window, or whether the light is on or off, but as I have been almost totally blind since birth, that’s all I can see. No shapes, no colours. So when I do my make-up, I can’t check in the mirror to make sure it looks ok.

When I was a teenager, I never considered make-up as something that wasn’t accessible to me. It was just like everything else – I’d probably have to find a different way to do it, but as long as I could get the results I wanted, I didn’t care about the process and whether my friends did it the same way. That doesn’t mean that the learning process was easy. I was being taught by people who had always put on their make-up using their sight, and if you can’t do that, sometimes you need to be creative.

The first thing you need is honesty. The only time my grandmother said “You can’t go out like that” was when there had been a particularly bad loose blusher disaster of which I was blissfully unaware (I never use loose powder blusher now because it’s too unpredictable!), and when I ask my partner whether my make-up looks ok, I’m not looking for a “you look wonderful” (unless I do of course!). I want to know if I’ve got the look I was going for or if I missed a bit of foundation near my hairline or had a mascara fail. I can usually tell if I did the latter, but it gives me peace of mind to check. That doesn’t mean I won’t go out the door without asking someone first, but if I’m on my own, I’m probably a bit less adventurous.

The hardest thing for me is having no concept of colour. I don’t know what my favourite colour is because I’ve never seen them. That makes it harder to decide what look I want to go for. I can make informed choices about the types of product I want to use, but when it comes down to the colours, I have to trust people. Rather than naively trusting anyone though, I do think about all the feedback together, to look for patterns. Some shop assistants are fantastic, whereas others just want to sell you stuff. Even well-meaning friends can get it wrong when they are influenced by what they would usually buy, instead of really thinking about what would suit someone else. You can ask 10 people and get 10 different answers, so I tend to choose people whose choices and suggestions have got me the most compliments and people who can explain their choices.

I wouldn’t say there is one way for blind people to do their make-up. I know blind women who like short mascara brushes, use powder eye shadow and get their lashes tinted. I don’t do any of these things, but I think you just need to find out what works for you. I tend to be a more hands-on kind of girl, blending products in with my fingers so I know exactly where they are. I avoid powders where I can, apart from my foundation setting powder, because cream products have less chance of fall-out, and when you can’t see the end result, it’s good to eliminate the chance of product landing where you don’t want it to. Until a few months ago, I wasn’t aware of many of the products that are on offer now. I have discovered new things that make life much easier and solve some of the problems I had as a teenager. I’m now eager to see what else is available, both by trying things out in beauty subscription boxes, and working with brands to make their products and services more accessible to blind people.

My products fall into two categories – ones that I’m happy to change up all the time, and ones that I stick to because I’ve found something that I like.

I like foundation in a pump dispenser because then I know how much product I have each time and that one pump of it will cover my face. When you can’t see the coverage, you have to be thorough and aware of the areas that you sometimes miss. For example I pay extra attention to my hairline and above my left eye, because these are the areas where I sometimes forget to blend, and the skin under my nose so that I don’t forget it altogether! I then cover it with some fixed powder using the sponge that comes with it.

When I was younger, I used powder eye shadows, but to be honest, the results were a bit hit and miss. I could usually manage to cover the eye, but sometimes there was fall-out on my cheeks and I wasn’t always sure that I had got rid of it. It was only recently that I discovered two types of product that make the process much easier for someone who can’t see: cream shadow crayons and cream shadow pots. Both of them are cream-based. I either use the crayons or sticks to colour in my eyelid, or I apply the cream shadow to my finger tip and apply it to my lids. Ok, it’s non-conventional, but it is a way to make sure I apply the make-up evenly and exactly where I want it to go. Eye primer can make this process more difficult, because the eye already feels creamy before you add the products, but again it’s about being thorough – going over an area twice is better than missing half your eye!

Some blind women don’t like applying mascara, but I’ve always found it ok as long as I’m not rushing. The critical point is making contact with the brush. I usually bring the brush up to my eye and blink gently so that my lashes touch the brush. This means that I don’t poke myself in the eye with it or paint part of my face. Once I can feel the lashes with my brush, I can follow round and coat all of them. I always go for bigger brushes that look the same all the way round. Combs annoy me. I’ve found one that I like now and the only reason I would change would be if someone recommended a fatter brush.

You already know about the blusher disaster that made me hurl my loose blusher to the back of the cupboard. When I was a teenager, I swapped it out for a fixed powder, but as I couldn’t feel it on my face very well, I was never sure about the coverage. Now I have cream highlighter, which I just draw on my face and blend in, cream blusher and cream contour. I love these products, because applying them is a really tactile experience. I can feel where they are. I can feel the shape of my face and where the product needs to be. I can feel if something isn’t blended in properly because of the texture on my skin.

I know there are blind women who use a lot more brushes than me for jobs where I use my fingers. It’s a matter of choice. The idea that a brush may not be clean or it may have a different colour on it than the one I want to use is a major turn-off for me, and I feel I have more precision with my fingers. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try them, but I don’t feel I need to use them just because most other people do.

Applying lipstick is not difficult, but I find the traditional lipsticks easier to apply than the liquids, because you have more control over exactly where they are going and they are more forgiving than the extra-long lasting liquid ones if you make a mistake. I have a selection from different brands because they are easy to identify by touch. If I have a number of lipsticks or cream shadows from the same brand, I mark the packaging in some way so I can tell them apart.

I’m no expert and I know I go for simpler looks than many of my sighted friends. That’s ok for me – partly because I want the make-up to be more subtle anyway and to enhance what’s already there, and partly because I would rather do a simple thing well than a complicated thing badly! I’m still learning, but I wanted to share these ideas to show that this is something that blind people can do if they want to.

I can’t see the results, but the people around me can, and if I do it well, I feel good about it in the same way that I feel good wearing nice clothes or a piece of jewellery.

Some of my favourite products

These products won’t suit everyone, but I’ve listed some of the ones that I like and find easy to use. Also, as I can’t easily get pictures of all the products that I use, linking them means that you can have a look at the images on other sites or get further information.

Face

Lips

Eyes

Over to you!

Has reading this article made you want to ask any questions? If it has, post them in the comments and I’ll try to answer! Also, if you’re visually impaired and you want to add anything about how you apply make-up, or any tips for making it easier, I’d love to hear them!

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My language learner journey – finding accessible materials for language learning

You don’t have to do the same activities as other people to get the same results. Here I talk about how I found accessible resources to help me to learn German and Turkish.

My language learner journey – finding accessible materials as a blind learner

I’ve loved languages since I was a child. First I wanted to write stories and poems in English, then I developed an interest in other languages too. French and German were two of my best subjects at school, though unfortunately I’ve forgotten all of my French now.

As a learner who can’t see, my goals are the same as any other language learner’s goals, but the way I get there is often a bit different. It’s the same with many things – whether I’m cooking dinner, training a dog or running my business, I look at what other people are doing or what advice they are being given, then I consider how much of it would work for me, and what things I would need to do differently in order to get the same results.

I hope that this post will help blind adults, or parents and teachers of visually impaired children by giving them ideas about useful resources for people who can’t use some of the options available to sighted learners. Schools should be providing information in an accessible format anyway – this is more about learning as a hobby or adults finding their own resources for learning a language.

German

At school, I followed the same curriculum as everyone else. Texts were made available to me in Braille or on my laptop. When we watched videos, I usually sat with a friend who whispered what was going on and I whispered back what I could translate from the dialogue. We worked it out together.

After leaving school, I decided to continue with my German. Learning on my own was a slightly different story because I couldn’t assume that all of the materials that I would need would be readily accessible. Having studied German at school, it was easier for me, because I could understand materials that weren’t just intended for language learners.

Two libraries for blind people in Germany kindly allowed me to borrow their Braille and audio books, which meant that I could pursue my love of books in another language.

It’s important to realise, however, that each language has its own system for Braille. Braille takes up a lot of room, and often symbols are used for groups of letters. However, the same symbol does not denote the same group of letters in each language. The English “CH” sign means “AU” in German, and the German “CH sign” means “TH” in English. So, if a blind person wants to learn Braille in another language, they will be learning a new writing system as well as a new language.

I also looked for interesting articles online, joined forums (the first one was a forum where people chatted about their dogs), and looked for language exchange partners online.

Sometimes my visual impairment came up, such as when someone sent me a picture and I couldn’t see it, but I never make it part of my introduction because I don’t think it’s the most interesting thing about me. In the dog forum, I was there to improve my German and talk about my golden retriever.

I became active on a German networking site called Xing, which is similar to Linkedin. I joined a group in which people can look for language exchange partners and after a while joined the moderation team. I often wrote to new members to welcome them, and as a result, I started chatting to someone called Sarah. Sarah and I became friends and when I heard that she was coming to London with her partner, we decided to meet and go for dinner.

Much of my tandem exchange experience has been online. It’s much easier to chat by email or on Skype than to go and meet a stranger somewhere! However, I did meet a couple of my exchange partners after I’d had a chance to speak with them and get to know them a bit. I took precautions, went somewhere that I knew and told someone where I was going.

Anyway, back to the meeting with Sarah…We had a good evening and we also decided to have a language exchange trip – I would spend a few days with Sarah in Berlin and then she would come back to London to stay with me. We had a lot of fun – chatting, going horse-riding, visiting a museum where I was allowed to touch the exhibits, cooking, going to the cinema and of course shopping!

Whether or not websites are accessible, if you find the right tandem partners, one-to-one communication with other people is something that anyone can do.

Some websites for learning German were accessible, others are designed so that you have to click correct answers with a mouse and you can’t just select them with the enter key. This rules sites like this out for people who don’t use a mouse. However, some website designers get it right and label their graphics, don’t use elements on the page that you need to activate with the mouse, and label any fields correctly. It’s really just something you have to try and find out which websites work for you, which can be used with a bit of effort and which are a complete waste of your time.

The same applies to further education. I had a really good experience with the Goethe Institute, who emailed me the materials for the course that I did with them and worked together with me to find the best way to comment on my work. I had a terrible experience with another training provider for long-distance learning. I’ve found it doesn’t depend on whether or not the organisation has had experience working with blind people before, but how willing individuals are to try new things and to find solutions to accessibility problems.

Turkish

Later I decided that I also wanted to learn Turkish. This was slightly more difficult – partly because I would be starting right from the beginning, and partly because it’s a bit harder to find resources for learning Turkish than it is for learning German. I knew that I didn’t want to join an evening class because most of them referred to working through books. Therefore I went off in search of a private teacher. This is more expensive than a group course, but I knew from my brief experience with learning Hindi that it’s worth the extra cost if you can find a teacher who will make the lessons accessible.
Nurcan, the teacher whom I found online, had never taught a blind learner before, but she was willing to give it a go! We did use a book, but Nurcan read the exercises to me, or sent them to me by email. I took copious notes on my netbook, and when I needed help with pronunciation, we recorded words and phrases on my Dictaphone. I emailed my homework to Nurcan and she emailed back the corrections. If there were activities involving naming the picture, Nurcan would give me the English word instead of showing me the picture. When I could read short texts, we found texts that were publically available online.

If we did exercises with multiple options, I wrote them down, so that I didn’t have to try to keep all of the options in my head. When we worked on grammar exercises, I wrote down all the completed sentences, so that I had a record of examples, which I could then use to help me with my homework.

I found a number of tandem partners online, with whom I practised my Turkish. Some of the apps that are designed for this purpose can’t be used by people who use speech software because the labels and app controls are not labelled correctly, or they don’t work with VoiceOver, the speech software on the iPhone. Therefore I looked for tandem partners on more traditional sites, or social networking sites such as Facebook, where there are many groups and pages about language learning. I even found a lady called Ayse, who lived virtually round the corner from me, with whom I learned to make some Turkish dishes!

I also found a Facebook group for people who were learning Turkish. Sometimes I couldn’t understand the posts, because people posted pictures of text, which my software just recognised as a graphic. However most of the time people posted questions or links, so I could learn from the things that they wanted to know or share. Sometimes people knew that I was there and described the pictures or typed out the text.

I couldn’t find accessible copies of the textbooks that some of my friends used, but I did find websites with grammar explanations and a really good podcast that had a different language topic each week. In fact, as my language skills improved, I looked for podcasts for Turkish people on subjects that interested me. Podcasts for or about children usually use simple language, as do podcasts in which people tell a story, such as travel shows or short documentaries about places or things. These activities really helped me to develop my listening skills. I didn’t understand every word, but I felt a real sense of achievement when I could understand the main points.

Many of my friends recommended Turkish soap operas, but this was too much work for me. I use the dialogues in films to try and work out what’s happening on the screen. If I have to struggle with the dialogue as well as to try and remember who’s who and figure out what they’re doing, the whole thing becomes a chore! It’s easier when you’re more familiar with the language – I could do it in German, but if you are likely to miss key information because you didn’t see what happened, the whole experience can become quite frustrating. The same applies to films. I can’t use subtitles, but then I think some people rely on them too much! I did watch some videos, but they were usually factual ones, because people generally speak more clearly and the visual element is not so important.

There are loads of apps for language learning, but I tend to use apps that I already use, such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype, the podcast app and the online radio app. I know that these are accessible. Many of the language apps are not, and anyway if I’m going to be chatting to people, it’s much faster when I type on my laptop than on my phone.

I tend to use more low-tech solutions for tasks such as vocabulary learning. Well, they’re more high-tech than pieces of card, I suppose, but rather than having word lists on an app or piece of software, I have a big spreadsheet for testing vocabulary and recording definitions.

Everyone is different

I think it’s really important for people to know themselves and how they learn best. Listening is important to me, but if I’m going to remember a new word, I need to write it down. One of the biggest mistakes is to think that all blind people just need the same material as everyone else, but in audio form.

In conclusion, I would say that it’s definitely possible for a blind person learning on their own to find a lot of accessible materials. The internet has opened up so many possibilities now and we don’t just have to rely on materials that have been especially designed for us as blind learners.

Most of my customers who want to learn English are sighted, but I do have some blind and partially sighted customers and followers on social media. I’m happy that I can offer accessible learning materials – after all, the materials have to be accessible for me, too, but each person is an individual, and just because something was the best solution for me, it doesn’t mean that the same way of doing things will work for everyone.

This post was first published on my English with Kirsty site but I thought it may be of interest to some people here as well..

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.

This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested.

Lovelula Feb 17

The Lovelula subscription was one of the first ones that caught my attention when I began researching beauty boxes in December. In January, I decided to try it out. I was too late for the January box, so I got the February one.

The concept

I subscribed to this box partly because I’m interested in organic products, and partly because there seemed to be more of a focus on skincare than make-up. I am interested in make-up, but I’m more choosy about the type of product that I will use, whereas with skincare I’m more open to try new things. This is important for a box which puts the selection together for you – I wanted there to be a higher chance that I would use the things in my box.

Another plus point for me is that everyone gets the same, so there’s no disappointment because someone somewhere got a better deal, or products that you would have loved.

I’m lucky in that I usually ask my partner what the products are – out of all the guys in our circle of friends, I think he knows the most about beauty and skincare products now! I know not every visually impaired person is in this position, but the fact that everyone gets the same means that in a few days of the beauty boxes arriving, people start to blog about the products, so you can find out more about them that way if you haven’t found some other way to do it!

The products

This is what I found in the February box. I hadn’t heard of any of the brands before, so it was a good chance to get to know some new ones, and there were also two types of product that I’d been hearing a lot about and that I wanted to try.

The first was an instant hit – the Greenfrog botanic body wash – neroli and lime. I’m a lover of all things citrus, and this body wash contains anti-bacterial lime, along with organic soapberries,which are good for sensitive or dry skin, and moisturising aloe vera.

My other favourite is the Ooh replenishing oil. This fast-absorbing marula oil contains vitamins C and E, anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids. Although I have dry skin, I’ve never worked with face oils before, mainly because I was concerned the oil would leave my skin too oily or cause breakouts, but so far I’ve been happy with the results and I’ll continue to use this in my evening skincare routine.

Next out of the box was the Madara micellar water, which is actually my first micellar water. I’ve heard the hype about micellar waters. I do like the fact that this one also includes hyaluronic acid, which helps the skin to retain moisture. As I haven’t really been using it long enough to measure results, the jury’s still out on whether it will remain part of my cleansing and moisturising routine, but I’m happy to give it a go.

I was intrigued by the Weleda skin food, which is apparently to protect and repair dry skin. I’ve read good things about it on other blogs, but I wouldn’t usually use something on my face that I also use on my feet! That said, the ingredients are natural and it does contain almond and peanut oil, which both soften and sooth the skin. I think I will use this as a hand and foot lotion.

The only thing in the box that I won’t use was the

New Body Shop almond and honey range and your invitation to my Body Shop party

Find out what’s new at the Body Shop and come along to my party!

New Body Shop almond and honey range and your invitation to my Body Shop party

As you may have gathered by now, I’m a fan of the Body Shop products. Partly because I support the natural products and the way the Body Shop works to give something back to nature and work with local communities, and partly because I like the quality of the products and think they work.

New almond milk and honey range

When I heard that a new range was coming out for dry and sensitive skin, I was excited to try it out. My skin tends to be dry, particularly in the winter time, and although I don’t have sensitive skin, my food allergies sometimes cause problems with my skin as well, and at those times I really appreciate products that are gentle on my skin.

I got the biggest box, because the smaller one contained something I wouldn’t use and I wanted to give the set a fair try. The set came presented in a gift box and in it there was bath milk, shower cream, hand cream and body butter.

The first thing I noticed was the scent. I thought it would smell like my almond hand butter, but if anything, the honey is the stronger scent in this range. However it’s not as strong as some of the other Body Shop fragrances. My boyfriend has been known to say “you’re wearing grapefruit!!” when I’m only halfway down the stairs, but this range is much more subtle and suitable for people who don’t like the stronger scents or who avoid scented products because of sensitive skin.

The first thing I tried was the bath milk, which is basically a bubble bath. I didn’t actually know that the Body Shop did these and so I was happy to give one a go. They give you a decent covering of bubbles, but not crazy bubbles, even with the whirlpool on. Especially with this one I felt that I was being moisturised while I soaked, so it wasn’t just for the scent or the bubbles. I sometimes combined the shower gel with this bath milk, or swapped out the bath milk and used my apple one with the almond and honey shower cream so that I got a mixture of scents.

I hadn’t realised this, but it seems there are two types of body butter – the ones that set to a firm butter-like consistency, like the strawberry and raspberry one, and those that are more like a thick mousse, like the pink grapefruit and this one. I prefer these because although I’d say the moisturising benefits are comparable, I think the mousse-like are easier to spread on the skin.

The hand cream is also a bit thinner than some of the others, but it moisturises well, doesn’t leave your hands feeling sticky, and doesn’t take ages to rub in.

According to the Body Shop, all of the products in the range contain organic almond milk from northern Spain, and community trade honey from the Sheka rainforest in Ethiopia. The products are vegetarian and cruelty free, and they have been designed to nourish and replenish dry and/or sensitive skin.

Overall, this doesn’t push my favourites like pink grapefruit and mango from the top of the list, but I would definitely reach for these products when my skin is particularly dry or sensitive and I want to give it a bit of extra moisturising care. If you don’t like strong fragrances and your skin needs a bit of pampering, I’d definitely say “give it a go”.

A couple more bits

As I was doing an order anyway, I picked up a couple more bits:

Papaya shower gel

What can I say! This smells amazing! I don’t think you can go wrong with the Body Shop shower gels, apart from maybe the floral fragrances, which I don’t really like. But if you like papaya, you’ll love this!

Vitamin E lip care

I bought this as a gift for a friend last year as part of a vitamin E skincare set that I put together myself. She liked it so much that I decided to get one too! I do like the lip balms, but I find them a bit messy when I’m out and about and just want something that I can apply straight to the lips. This vitamin E stick ticks that box. It isn’t flavoured and it has a creamy texture to keep lips soft. If they started doing these in mango, grapefruit or satsuma, it would be amaaazing, but for now I’m happy with the vitamin E, and knowing the results from the day and night creams in this range, I am happy to use this on my lips as well.

Spiced apple bubble bath

Seriously, how did I miss this at Christmas time? I didn’t know about it, but noticed it on special offer, so I snapped it up too!

Come to my party!

You may have already attended a Body Shop at home party. There is now a new way to get all the benefits of a party at home without even having to go anywhere.

I am hosting an online Body Shop party on Sunday 26th February. If you decide to come, you can

  • Get offers and discounts that you wouldn’t find in store
  • Find out about the new ranges like the almond milk and honey products
  • See pictures of the products (there will be descriptions for screenreader users) and ask questions, which will be answered by Heidi, a Body Shop rep
  • Get personalised recommendations from Heidi based on your skin type or need
  • Pick up a special gift for Mother’s Day, or maybe just to treat yourself!

The event is open to readers in the UK. If you want to come, all you need to do is fill in your details on the form and I’ll send you an invitation by email. If you use Facebook, you’ll be able to attend the Facebook event. If you don’t use Facebook, I can still send you a link to the online catalogue. Your email address will only be used for the invitation, unless you also sign up for the Unseen Beauty email alerts.

Joining the event is free and there is no obligation – there’ll be no pushy sales, just information about the products, chat and some fun activities. The event is from 10 till 12, so it’s great if you can pop in and take part in the live event, but if you’re not around at that time, you can also come in later on in the day to see what’s been posted and place your order with Heidi if anything grabs your attention.

Payment is by Paypal or Bank transfer – there is a £2.50 delivery charge for orders anywhere in the UK, and postage is free if you spend over £30.

I look forward to seeing you there!

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January empties

The products that I used up in January, what I thought of them, and whether I would buy them again.

Today I’m going to talk about the products that I used up in January. There seem to be a lot of skincare and bath products – this is partly because I’m making an effort to use up things that have been opened, and partly because I have quite a lot of minis from the advent calendar.

Skincare

First of all, I’ve used up a number of hand creams. I get dry hands and I like to have a hand cream on my desk, in my bag etc, so I usually have a number of them on the go.

I’m not a big fan of strawberry products because they’re often quite sweet, but I liked this Baylis and Harding strawberry and pomegranate hand cream 75 ml because it moisturised well, wasn’t oily and had a nice scent. It was a decent size to put in the little piggy basket on my desk.

I had to think about the next one – would I actually recommend it? It’s the Patisserie de Bain lemon hand cream 50 ml. This company produces products with wonderful scents, and anyone who likes citrus will probably like this. I love the way my hands feel after using this product – they stay soft for a long time, longer than when I use some more expensive products. However, when you’re applying the hand cream, the hands do feel a bit sticky and I don’t like this very much. If you can put up with it for a couple of minutes, you’ll be ok. Once the product has been absorbed, your hands don’t stay sticky. But if the initial stickiness would put you off, this is probably not the right product for you!

The next thing is the spiced apple hand cream from the Body Shop. This was part of the Christmas 2016 range, so you can’t get it any more, but if it comes back next year, I’ll be buying some more! I only wish the Body Shop would do hand creams that are bigger than 30 ml. 30 ml is fine for your handbag, but for your desk or bedroom, it’s good to have a bit more. I also used up the spiced apple body butter that was part of a Christmas set in the apple tin pictured on this post. They both smelled amazing and I don’t think you can go wrong with the Body Shop body butters!

Next up is something I wouldn’t buy again – the Nivea essential light moisturising cream for normal to combination skin. I’m not even sure how I came to have this product and I wouldn’t get the best out of it because I don’t have normal to combination skin. That’s probably why it  didn’t do a great job at giving me the moisture I needed. But even if I got one for dry skin, I think there are better moisturisers on the market than this one.

Now to something I did enjoy, and at the same time, a big shout out to the lovely lady at the Clarins counter! This was a tester, so I didn’t use it on my face over a long period of time, but I really liked the Clarins multi active night cream. I got the one for dry skin and it applied well, leaving my skin feeling smooth and moisturised the next day. This is expensive, and I know cheaper products that I believe would do just as well, so I would see this as more of a special treat or something to tell Santa about than something I would get for every day use. Though if you’re looking for a high-end moisturiser, I’d definitely say “give it a go!”

Next is something I thought was really grim! I’m the kind of girl who uses something up, even if it isn’t my favourite, or I pass it along if it doesn’t suit me. But I couldn’t pass on something which I thought tasted awful, so I just had to bin it.At first I was really happy to have found a chocolate and cherry lip balm, but I can’t have this stuff on my lips. It tastes strange and it’s not smooth. So the Palmers chocolate and cherry tinted lip balm had to go!

Bath and shower products

Firstly something that was so good that I had to repurchase – Avon chocolate orange bubble bath! This made my whole house smell wonderful. Ok, if you don’t like strong scents, this isn’t for you, but if you love the mixture of chocolate and orange as much as I do and want to smell like you’ve been bathing in a tub of Terry’s chocolate oranges, this is the bubble bath for you! There was a decent amount of bubbles too.

On a similar note, I also tried out the Faith in Nature chocolate bubble bath and shower gel – after all, who doesn’t want to soak away the stress of the day in chocolate? However I was a bit disappointed with it – mainly because it smelled delicious when you poured in the bubbles, but the smell didn’t last. So if you want lots of bubbles, it’s ok, but I wanted the chocolatey goodness all the way through bathtime, and that just didn’t happen in the same way as with the chocolate orange. I’m also a little bit suspicious of two-in-ones such as cleanser + toner, shampoo + conditioner or body wash + bubble bath. Maybe that’s just me, but I’d rather have something that does one thing well, than something that does several things to an ok standard.

The next thing I got through was an enormous satsuma shower gel (750 ml) from the Body Shop. I already have another one of these, so that tells you what I think about them!

One of the Body Shop advent calendar surprises was the Polynesian Island Tiare shower gel, which I wouldn’t repurchase because I’m more of a fruity than a floral girl when it comes to bath products and skin care. It did the job well enough though, I just wasn’t that keen on the scent.

We also used up some products from the Baylis and Harding sweet mandarin and grapefruit range. Firstly there was the bubble bath – I got it as part of a gift set and you don’t seem to be able to buy it separately. Secondly we used up the hand wash in the same range, something that I will definitely buy again.

I was sad to see the end of my Victoria’s Secret mango temptation body wash, which I got for Christmas. A must-have for anyone who likes mangos!

Hair products

I’ve been using the same shampoo and conditioner for years now and, although I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the product, I am going to try out some different ones. So I won’t be repurchasing the John Frieda sheer blonde go blonder conditioner, but it served me well!

Food and drink

I munched my way through some delicious milk, dark and white chocolate espresso beans which my boyfriend picked up as a surprise for me on a visit to Whittards. Chocolate and coffee are two of my favourite things, and I think they are flavours that go well together.

What do you think?

So, have you tried any of these products? If so, what did you think of them?

If you’re interested in any of the body shop products, I’ve included the links to the shop online, but at the end of the month I’m going to have a virtual Body Shop party for UK readers. More information will be coming soon, so remember to sign up if you want to know how to take part. Also, in March I’m going to be looking at skincare and products for the hands. Do you have any recommendations of things that I should try?

Remember that you can see lists of all the products that I’ve reviewed on the featured products pages.

This post does contain affiliate links, but I only link to things that I own or have tried.

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Guest post – Amy’s January Glossybox

Find out what was in Amy’s Glossybox in January!

Guest post – Amy reviews her January Glossybox

Today I have another guest post for you from Amy.

The grand unboxing

Hello again internet land. Kirsty has very kindly allowed me back into the metaphorical building, so I can’t have messed up too badly in my first ever post. This is good news because I kind of enjoyed this blogging lark. Although it could be she has kept me around as I have received my Glossybox Beauty Box for January and I promised her an unboxing.

Beauty boxes are something which I started around this time last year. I decided that not only did I need a treat but also a surprise on a monthly basis. After all, I work hard for my money and who doesn’t like surprises. I am pretty sure if I asked my other half to source stuff every month he would forget/get bored/buy the wrong things so beauty boxes were the only way to go. There are a number of these on the market, and I have tried a few over the last year, and its just a nice no ties way to surprise yourself every month and find new and exciting things along the way. I have found a few doozies which are now part of my every day/week/month/routine, which I would have missed otherwise. Obviously you have your flops as well, and some months you have better boxes than others, but none the less after my first box I was hooked.

Originally I started out with Birchbox, as it was top of the google search list and I know a few of my USA buddies get their boxes from here, so I thought that I would be onto a winner here. You fill in some questions about you, your skin and hair types and other bits and bobs so your box can meet your needs (to a point), paid my £10 plus £2.95 P & P and eagerly awaited for Mr Postie to bring my first box, which turned up pretty quickly. You review products from your box for points, which allow you to buy full sized items of your box samples if you wish, although it takes a while to build up the points. They were very good with their marketing, giving you a sneak peek into the next box, or allowing you to have a choice of a certain shade of an item which made it all the more fun. This was until it went wrong. See, I am one for customer service internet land. There is no excuse in todays day and age for shoddy customer service, and unfortunately I found Birchbox to be less than amazing when it came to this.

To save you my tales of woe, I paid my money, waited patiently for my box which never arrived, and the customer service to deal with the matter took forever and was not overly helpful. I ended up getting the promised items squished into a far smaller packaging box, unlike the normally wonderfully presented box you would receive, and that sealed the deal. I cancelled my subscription immediately. Nevertheless, if you wish to try it you can sign up here and hopefully you will have a better experience than me.

Missing my monthly surprise fix I started looking again and quickly found Glossybox. They have been nothing short of amazing and in my honest opinion, the box content is far better than Birchbox. They run the same as Birchbox, fill out some questions, pay your first month, receive a box full of goodies. There marketing is very similar as well in the fact of you get sneak peeks and additional choices of stuff for your box, and if you review your items in surveys each month you get Glossydots, which when you reach 1000 you get a free box. Each survey seems to be worth 20 dots, so again its a waiting game. The price is exactly the same as well, so its pretty much winner winner chicken dinner all round. The only time I have hit problems with Glossybox, and I use the term problem loosely it was more of a first world problem, they solved it super speedy and gave me a free tinted lip balm for my troubles. Have to say, super service all round.

To sign up to these guys click here and get ready to have surprise time every month.

If you want to give Glossybox a go and get 20% off your first box, you can use Kirsty’s code KIRSTY-RGE when you place your first order on the Glossybox site.

I have signed up to a couple more over the year but quickly cancelled as they weren’t worth the money, but I do have a few more to talk about, just not in this post because, well what is it they say, don’t show the dealer all your cards, or something like that! That is saved for another post at another time dear internetlanders.

The January box

Anyhow, onto the good stuff, the stuff I received this month.

So a bit about the box first I guess, Its sent to you in a black and white box, which you open by pulling a small tab to one side which pulls along a perforated line at the front. Essentially it’s like playing grown up pass the parcel. Inside is your box filled with goodies and nothing else like silly bits of advertising paper. The actual goodie box is a sturdy pink box, which has a lid on top. They never have any pesky stickers on the lid to keep it closed. Open this to reveal a message from the editor Evie Leatham, some beauty news and a list of your products in case you are unsure what they are. You always pretty much get a sneak peak of next months box too. Every box is wrapped in pink tissue paper, sealed with a sticker of a G which is the Glossybox logo, which is always to the side and is tied in a bow with black ribbon. It sounds complicated to get into but its really not. You could rip it open if you wish, lord knows that’s what I do on occasion. Remove the pretty packaging and get to your goodies inside. They are always packed with shredded black paper, and arranged as nicely as the jiggling from Royal Mail will allow. The box itself is a great thing to keep and store bits in. If you are of the creative nature you can check out pintrest as people do all sorts of fun things with their boxes.

This month was a good box month. They seemed to have collaborated with an Instagramer called Deliciously Stella and all the items seem to have a food theme.

First out of the box was a Nip and Fab Kale Fix Moisturiser, which also contains watercress and almond oil. The blurb on the leaflet says that it will enrich the skin and I know from other Nip and Fab products that I have used in the past that they never disappoint, so I am excited to try this product out. It has no smell I can detect really other than your typical smell from face creams, and the small amount I tried on my hand seemed to absorb like a dream, but then I would expect nothing less from this brand. Product is a reasonable size, and I should imagine will last a while as a little goes a long way. It is a squeezy tube, which you remove the cap from the bottom and give a good squidge to get the product out. Stands on its cap once replaced for easy storage. It has printed writing on the tub, but its not raised really so you may need to get a trusted sighted friend to read to you if you are interested in what it says. Retail price is listed as £19.95.

Next was Unani Illuminating Milk Cleanser which is a full sized product. It has a cap at the top which you push backwards to open, and the little opening pops up as you push the cap backwards. From what the product says you can use this to remove make up and it also says its gentle enough to be used twice a day. Again it has no perfume which I think is a positive in a cleanser, and not sure I would like the smell of milk on me all day. Bottle is round and the cap is at the top and again has printed font on which is not raised. Retailing at £14, its available to buy at Comprar Cosmetica.

Third thing I pulled out I was super excited with, and I might end up trying right after I finish up with you. Sheet masks seem to be the latest craze from Korean Skincare. No mess or fuss, just beautiful skin. What’s not to love? (Keep your eyes peeled for a post or two about these in the future folks!). This item is Vitamasques’s Manuka Honey Face Mask. Its sealed so I can’t have a smell alas, but the packaging boasts three layers of mask which aid in hydration, so that can only be a good thing. Retailing at £3.99 you can grab them Vitamasques and it looks like they do a whole load more of them, so I shall be stocking up I think. Packing is tear open style, and has a notch at one side to make this easier to do. Its flat as well so you can store lots easily. It has pictures of honeycombe on the front, and again has printed writing on. It looks like a very grand product and you can tell a lot of thought has gone into the images chosen. (Amy has since done a review of the mask and you can read it here.

Fourth thing is an amazing looking eyeshadow from The Balm, which is a drugstore brand, but is pretty pricey. I don’t actually own anything from this brand, but I have heard good things. Anyway, this Eyeshadow, Meet Matt(e) Trimony shadow is a beautiful aubergine purple with a red base. It can be used wet or dry and looks like it packs a punch, so I can’t wait to try it. Whilst this is full sized I believe it belongs in a pallet of shadows which retail at £34 and you can grab these either at Boots or Superdrug, or direct from The Balm. Its a little flip open box, which is a bit fiddly to get into, but once you do the shadow is safely inside. It would be great to slip into a handbag or take away traveling as it is light and takes up no space.

Last, but by no means least, a box of Hairon Zero crease hair ties in a very light pink, which I won’t use as my hair is way too short. They are a strange sort of hair tie and pretty hard to describe if I am honest! Its like a tightly wound piece of plastic, a but like you used to get on those key rings which you could stretch. They look small, but I guess when pulled they extend pretty far. They are plastic of a sort so I am not sure how long they would stay in your hair, but I think that they are kinder to your hair causing less breakages, so it wins points for that. Anyway, as I say moot point for me as I won’t be able to use them, but that’s what you get with a surprise box, you win some, you lose some. I appreciate I am not doing them justice here, but I am really lost for how to describe them! They retail for £3.99 and you get three in a box. You can pick them up at Hairon. Comes in a little clear plastic box for neat storage when not using them.

I make a disclaimer now, I am not sure how friendly these sites are to navigate for people with screen readers, so I will apologise in advance. If you are having issues and are interested in a product please shout and I will try and find an alternative site for you. I also don’t know if different people get different items in their boxes based on their initial answers, so if you get something else I am sorry, but I am sure it will be equally exciting and wonderful.

Right, so now I have babbled your ear off I am going to leave you in peace. I would highly recommend this box to you, so let me know if you pick one up and what you think of it.
Ciao for now Internetland.
Amy
Xxx

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January 2017 favourites

My favourite products in January 2017!

I’m going to do monthly favourites posts on my blog. The things are either new in January, or something that I’ve rediscovered or have really been enjoying. The categories on these favourites posts are the same as on my featured products pages, so if you want to see what else has had a good review, check out the featured products pages. I only include things on those pages that have had a good review.

Make-up

When my mum heard about my cream eye shadow discovery, she bought me two more! The first one was from a range that I already have, but a different colour. I now have the Maybelline Color Tattoo in pink gold.

We also discovered that Max Factor does cream shadows, so we got the Max Factor excess shimmer cream eye shadow. You can see the whole range of colours on the Boots website – I got the copper one.

These are a different consistency to the Maybelline ones – in fact I think they are easier to apply, because they are more like a liquid face cream than a solid product. A little goes a long way, and you do need an eye primer underneath – otherwise it will crease. I like these so much that I got another one, but that will be featured in my drug store haul!

Skincare

You have probably worked out by now that I love everything mango! I mentioned the Victoria’s Secret mango shower gel in my Christmas post, but this month I’ve also been using the Victoria’s Secret mango body lotion, which has the same sweet mango scent and in fact stays on your skin even longer.

My Christmas Day treat from the Body Shop advent calendar was the Oils of Life sleeping cream. It was a generous mini and I would say that this night cream measures up well to others in a higher price range. My skin felt lovely and smooth in the morning, and the cream didn’t feel greasy when I applied it. I’m not a fan of scentless face creams so I was pleased that this one has a faint scent, though I couldn’t actually describe what it is – definitely something natural and something that I’m happy to have on my face. I’m trying out some of the other night creams from the Body Shop, but I would definitely get this one again in a larger size.

Hair care

Carrying on with the mango theme, the Avon Magnificent mango crazy hair tamer has become part of my daily hair care routine. I don’t care that it’s supposed to be for children – it does the job and helps me to get the knots out of my long, thick hair, and it leaves the hair with a faint mango smell. Not as sweet as the body lotion, but still distinctively mango! This link is for two bottles, but you can buy single ones or packs of 3. It’s cheaper to bulk buy, but of course you first need to work out whether you like the product. I will definitely be replacing it, but as I only use 2 or 3 squirts each time, it will last for a while yet.

I wanted to give my hair a treat, so I bought a range of hair masks to see which one I liked most. The first one I tried was the Garnier hair mask with avocado and shea butter    which, according to the manufacturer gives your hair supple bounce and shine. I would definitely say that my hair is softer and more silky after using this product, and I  love the smell – for some reason it reminds me of holidays! The description says that it is for dry, damaged hair, which is not what I have, so maybe there is a better product on the market for me – although I have to say that I’m pleased with the results, and with 300 ml, it’s a generous size.

Jewellery

This isn’t new, but I’ve been wearing it a lot this month. I don’t have a dog any more, but this lovely pewter golden retriever necklace reminds me of my golden guiding girl, and unlike some necklaces that are available, the shape of the dog is easy to feel, from the end of its snout to the tip of its waggy tail!

I like my jewellery to express something about my likes or personality, and this definitely shows that I’m a golden retriever fan.

The picture is of the necklace, but I don’t have the original box.

Food and drink

I talk a lot as part of my job, and I always have something to drink next to me. Although I could drink coffee till the cows come home, I do try to swap it out with other things, and as the weather is still cold, I tend to reach more for hot drinks. After having lychees at a Chinese restaurant recently, I remembered my old favourite Twinings mango and lychee green tea. As a child, I thought I didn’t like tea. The truth is, I don’t like the traditional English tea with milk – because I think it’s grim – but fruit teas, jasmin tea, rice tea – anything like that is fine and a good winter warmer.

If you’re looking for something cool and refreshing, I recently discovered Bottle Green mango and coconut presse.

Clothing

I love owls and when I found this    studded owl top, I had to get it! Actually it was going to be for New Year, but I didn’t get round to buying it. I made up for this in January and I was really pleased with the way that I could feel all the detail on the owl – his face, ears and the detail on his body. I’ve been disappointed by Amazon t-shirt stinginess before, but in terms of this, I’d say it’s fine to get your actual size, and I can confirm that it stayed intact in the wash. Still, I’d recommend that you wash it inside out to protect the owl.

How about you?

So, what are your favourite products this month? Do let me know in the comments – 1. Because I’m nosey and 2. Because I’m always looking for inspiration when it comes to new things to review!

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