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..

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February 2017 empties

Find out what I used up in February and whether I would repurchase these products.

So, this is a list of the products that I got through in February and what I thought of them! Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products and what you think of them in the comments! Also, feel free to link your February empties posts!

If you’re interested in Body Shop products, I’m holding an online Body Shop party at the beginning of July. Let me know using the contact form if you want to know more or to get an invitation.

Skin care

It always looks as though I’ve got through loads of hand cream, but remember that most of the Body Shop ones are mini 30ml ones!

I finished up the Sanctuary Spa essentials hand cream and this is something I’d recommend for people who don’t like a strong scent. It’s got shea butter and almond oil in it, and although it’s a thinner consistency than some on the market, it smells good and does a decent job. I prefer my orange and lemon one from the same brand, but if you like it less fruity, you will probably like this!

I also used up the satsuma hand cream from the Body Shop, another of my favourites, and the coconut one, which is nice enough but I found it a bit intense!

I was sad when my Cowshed – grumpy cow uplifting body lotion came to an end. Apart from totally loving the name – to wake up my inner grumpy cow – I was really impressed with the moisturising properties. My skin was wonderfully soft for ages after using this and I’d definitely buy it again. Actually I wanted to use it as the picture for this post, but when you get to the end, you have to be quite brutal with it to get the rest out, so the bottle wasn’t in the best state to be photographed! I think it might be better in a tube, but I love the actual product.

The Christmas Eve surprise in the Body Shop advent calendar was the raspberry body butter, which doesn’t appear to be available online at the moment. It was a full-sized product and a good buy if you’re into the raspberry scent. I thought it was ok, though I am more of a fan of the less solid body butters like the almond and honey or the pink grapefruit one.

I also used up a mini of the Apivita Bee Radiant Age Defence Illuminating Cream. It’s described as a rich cream, although I’d say it’s more of a light moisturiser. Still, it’s apparently 98% natural ingredients, including orange stem cells, and it’s something I would probably use in the summer for dull skin and for moisturising.

I mentioned the Clarins exfoliator in my favourites post. Finding out about this made me happy because I do not like the gritty texture of most other exfoliators on the market. However, this one uses natural fruit acids to do the same job. So the product is smooth and there are no bits in it. It was a bit hit and miss getting it from Boots – the website doesn’t seem to be stocking it any more, although some shops still do. So if you want it, it’s cheaper to go to a local boots. If you can’t or don’t want to do that, you can also get it from the Clarins website, which is more expensive because you pay P&P, but you also get free samples, which isn’t guaranteed at Boots. I’d just say if you’re visually impaired, watch out, because it’s quite a thin liquid and the bottle opening is quite large – I think a pump would have been better but ultimately I was just happy to find n exfoliator I could bear to have on my skin!

Bath and shower

As a lover of all things fruity, I decided to try the Radox cherry shower gel. After all, their bubble baths are good and they remind me of being a child! However, I would never buy this again. It does smell of cherries, but it also has an unpleasant synthetic smell and I was glad when the bottle was empty! I will still buy the bath soaks from Radox, and in fact I have enjoyed other shower gels from them, but not this one!

Staying on the theme of shower gels, I used up another of the minis from my Body Shop advent calendar, the rose shower gel. This isn’t one of my favourites, but I liked it more than some of the other floral scents. If you like the smell of roses, then this is a perfectly decent shower gel.

I’ve already reviewed the Almond milk and honey shower cream when I reviewed the almond and honey range and this is something I would particularly recommend for people with dry or sensitive skin. Just don’t be confused by the name – it contains both almond and honey, but smells predominantly of honey. It’s gentle on the skin and I would buy it again.

I don’t tend to stick to one hand soap, and the one I’d really like to review here is the Carex chocolate orange one, but that seems to be out of stock. Still, if you want something a bit light-hearted, they also do a strawberry laces hand wash, which takes me back to my childhood and has a nice, strawberry scent.

<h3 Hair care

I’m switching out my shampoo and conditioner and I’m trying a few new brands, looking for my holy grail!

In terms of shampoo, I tried the Body shop’s banana shampoo. I was a bit worried about going round smelling like a banana, but it wasn’t a really in-your-face banana smell and it lathered up nicely. It’s a gentle, cruelty-free shampoo and I would buy it again, after I’ve tried out the other products that I have my eye on. It says “use daily” and I never wash my hair daily, but at least it’s good to know that it’s gentle enough to do that if you want to.

I bought the Alberto Balsam mango conditioner just because it had mango in it and someone on Youtube had been raving about how great it smelled! It did in fact smell wonderfully of mangos, but I found it very watery and had to use tonnes of it – much more than I would have with the higher end brands. Ok, it’s half the price, but I didn’t really feel I was giving my hair a treat with this. I’m totally up for a bargain, but I think this is a case of you get what you pay for!

Now over to you

So, have you tried any of these products? I’d love to know what you think of them!

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Visit to the Tower of London

The day I met one of my students for the first time face-to-face, and we visited the Tower of London

One of the interesting and exciting parts of my job is that I work with people in different parts of the world. Most of my customers live in Germany. I meet with them online and help them to improve their English. The customer who has been with me the longest started when I opened English with Kirsty in 2012, but I’ve never met her, because none of my training is face-to-face.

There are many reasons why I love online training – it opens up the pool of customers to people who aren’t in your local area, and also you don’t spend hours trudging around from place to place. After 10 years of commuting to my job in London, I’m done with that!

Anyway, that said, if I hear that one of my students is coming to London, I take the chance to meet up with them.

People tell me as much or as little about themselves as they want to, but I think one-to-one lessons give a trainer the opportunity to get to know people a bit better. I’d already shared in Heike’s excitement as she began to make her wedding plans, and when I found out that she and her fiancé (now husband) were coming to London, we made arrangements to meet and go to the Tower of London. I’d been there before, but I was 5, and the only memory I had was of wandering around with a mini crown on my head. Nothing more! So I wanted to go again!

Even if you live in a city like London that has so much to offer in terms of history and interesting places to go, I think you only really discover them when friends come to visit. Well at least that’s my experience!

I always find it strange when I meet someone for the first time although I feel that I already know them! However, I’m used to this because so much of my work is carried out online.

Heike and Dirk met me at the station and we went to the Tower of London together. I thought it was one big building, but it isn’t. You can walk around the grounds and you don’t get lost because you are provided with a map. There’s even a tactile map for blind people, which I thought was cool! In addition to that, we got the audio tour guide. I needed people to tell me the numbers on the nearby signs, but when I typed them in, the machine then played the information. I usually do this to stop my sighted companions ending up hoarse with all the reading, but on that day it had an added bonus because it also gave Heike some extra English listening practice!

It’s an interesting feeling to know that you are walking where famous characters from the past have walked. I thought about Anne Boleyn, who was held at the tower before her execution – an educated woman with strong opinions on how to rule the country, whose only crimes were not producing a son and losing at the dangerous game of court politics. She walked around in the places where we went – before being beheaded by sword and not by axe, which apparently was less painful. What a thoughtful guy.

Historically, wild animals, such as lions, tigers, and elephants, were given as gifts to royalty, and the Tower became home to these animals. Visiting them was encouraged, and in the 17th century, King James I installed viewing platforms. There seemed to be little understanding of what the animals needed or how to work with them, and life with the animals did not go without incident. One of the zookeepers was nearly killed by a snake, and someone accidentally left a door open, which resulted in a fight between a lion and a tiger. The lion was wounded and did not survive. I am not anti-zoo as long as the animals are well-cared for, but it seems in the tower they were not – the animals were just a means of entertainment for the people. Animals are no longer kept at the tower.

After walking around the grounds, learning about the various buildings and being startled by a Yeoman Warder (also known as beefeaters, but they don’t like that!, who shouted a command for other soldiers to march, we decided to walk along the Thames and get some lunch. The Yeoman Warders have to have served in the armed forces, with an honourable record, for at least 22 years. The name beefeater is thought to have come about because they were given special privileges, such as being allowed to eat as much beef as they wanted from the King’s table.

There are restaurants in the tower, but I thought it would be nice to go along the river and I also thought there would be a better choice of food. We settled on giraffe because it has a selection of dishes and most people can find something they like on the menu.

After that, we walked along the river again and got some ice-cream.

It was really good to meet Heike and Dirk in person, to spend the day chatting with them, and to share in Heike’s experience of learning something about my home city!

How about you?

Have you been to the Tower of London? For London readers, if friends were coming to visit, where would you take them? Let me know in the comments.

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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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February favourites

Find out what I’ve been enjoying this month includes Greek skincare and Korean sheet masks.

February favourites

I’ve been trying a lot of new things this month and I’ve made some interesting discoveries from around the world. As always, if you’d like to see what else has received a positive review, you can take a look at the product pages.

Skin care

I’ve never really liked the idea of face masks. The idea of slathering mud or something like that onto my skin just sounds messy and not something I wanted to do. I’m maybe late to the party, but at a girlie night if you haven’t already, I discovered sheet masks. They take away all the hassle of applying face masks because you just open the packet, unfold the cloth, make sure you have it the right way up (the two holes next to each other go at the top for your eyes), then smooth it onto your face. Easy! It’s maybe a little cold at the beginning, but it’s relaxing and it doesn’t go everywhere! As someone who can’t see, I think this way of applying masks is much easier.

I’m using the Skin Food everyday facial masks and so far I’ve tried orange, yoghurt, tomato and lentil. These ones come in a pack of 10 with the 10 different foods. My skin was soft afterwards and they’re good for bringing out the impurities!

I get dry hands and lips, particularly in the winter, so I do what I can to look after them. I usually have a number of lip products on the go – on my desk, in my bag, next to my bed etc. AT the moment I’m enjoying the EOS lemon drop lip balm because I love the lemon flavour and it’s easy to apply on the go. I like it because you can apply it straight onto the lips and it’s unusual because it’s a sphere rather than a stick. If lemon’s not your thing, it comes in a range of other flavours too.

In terms of hands, my absolute favourite Body Shop hand cream was in the advent calendar, so I’ve been enjoying that as well. It’s the pink grapefruit one, it has a thick, non-oily texture and it smells amazing! Don’t forget that if you like Body Shop products, I’m doing an online party at the end of the month, so follow the blog or sign up for alerts if you want to know when it is and how you can take part (just for readers in the UK as otherwise the internationalshipping costs would eat up any money you save!)

There are some textures that I just do not like. The gritty, grainy, sandy texture of scrubs is one of them! Ugh! I know it’s good for you, but I just don’t like it! Not just because of what some companies put in them – I am anti-microbeads, but even if it’s something natural, I don’t like the sensation of putting it on my skin. The result was that I saw the benefits of exfoliating, but never did it. That’s why I was really happy to come across an exfoliating toner from Clarins that uses fruit acid rather than harsh abrasive particles to exfoliate your skin. Unfortunately the Boots website has sold out and it looks as though they won’t be getting any more stock, so I’m going to try to get some more from my local one soon. I really hope this doesn’t mean that the product is being discontinued. Just in case it is, do you know of any other exfoliators that use natural fruit acids instead of abrasive particles?

Finally I’ve been trying out some Greek skincare products. It started because my friend Joanna – why not check out her Youtube channel sent me some samples including Fresh Line Galatea nourishing body milk, which contains wonderful things like coconut milk, almond oil, avocado oil, vanilla and marshmellow. I’ve always been more of a body butter than a body milk kind of girl because I thought the milk wouldn’t cut it with my dry skin, but I was wrong. So I decided to get the Fresh line Galatea body milk as a full-sized product. So happy that we can get these in the UK too!

I’d also heard that Korres, another Greek brand, was good, so I decided to try their almond and cherry collection with shower gel and body milk. I haven’t tried the shower gel yet, but the body lotion was like the Galatea one, not so thick, but it still absorbed quickly and left the skin feeling soft and smooth.

Food and drink

When visiting a friend before Christmas, she gave me some flavoured coffee to try. I’m not usually that adventurous when I’m out – I love coffee, but most of the alternative seem to involve milk, and I think milk ruins a good coffee! Anyway, this hazelnut coffee can be made without milk and it’s delicious!

Tools

This isn’t something that’s new – I got it last year, but it’s been out this month and I like to use it to open my pores and get rid of any impurities lurking under the surface of the skin.

I first got a facial sauna when I was a teenager, struggling with breakouts. Unfortunately it didn’t survive one of my house moves and ended up with a massive crack down the side of it, so I decided to replace it last year. I don’t add essential oils, though I know some people do – let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations.

This is a lightweight unit that is easy to use. It’s not the cheapest, because if you get the absolute cheapest there are often complaints about the unit not producing enough steam, but it’s not the most expensive either – I wasn’t looking for loads of extra functions.

Dogs, wolves and owls

This is the section where I post things about some of my favourite bird and animal products – owls, dogs and wolves. Spring is showing signs that it’s on its way, but it’s definitely not here yet. These owl pyjamas will keep you warm! I’d recommend getting a size up from what you would normally buy. I find them to be cute and comfy, but not over-generous with the sizing!

So how about you?

Have you tried any of these comments? What products are you enjoying this month? Let me know in the comments!

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