19 empty products from December – luxury treats and a couple of disappointments

December was a busy month for empties, mainly because I had a lot of minis in the calendar. So here we go!

1. L’Oréal gentle eye make-up remover

I wanted to try something other than the Body Shop one. This eye make-up remover was indeed gentle and didn’t make my eyes sting once. It smelled slightly of roses, but not in an annoying way, and it shifted everything from my lids and lashes. I’d buy it again!

2. Verbena body milk

I got a mini of this from the calendar, but here’s the link to the full size one. This scent is for anyone who loves lemon or citrusy scents. It’s a milk, so probably more suitable for the summer, but I couldn’t wait to use up my little tube. I love this collection, so would definitely get it again!

3. Vanilla pumpkin shower gel

This is something the Body Shop did for Halloween and I’ve only just got round to using it up! It doesn’t seem to be available any more, but it might come back next Halloween – who knows! I liked it and found it thicker than some of the other gels, perhaps because we need extra moisturising in the autumn and winter? I don’t usually go for vanilla things as they can be a bit sweet, but with the pumpkin it was ok.

4. Sanctuary Spa green lemon and orange blossom body wash

I got this Body wash as a mini in a calendar from the previous year, but as someone who loves orange and lemon products, I would definitely buy it full size. Some of the Sanctuary Spa range can be too floral for me, but you can’t go wrong with this lovely orange and lemon line.

5. Mango shower gel

I’m not going to go on about this because the Body Shop mango range is one of my favourites and I often talk about it. The mango and grapefruit shower gels are my all-time favourites and I often go back to them. If you’re a mango lover, check out the rest of these mango products.

6. L’Occitane hand creams

There were a number of teeny tiny hand creams in the calendar, so I’ll link to the full range. Previously I’d only tried the shea one, which is nice. I think my favourite has to be the almond one, but the cherry scent is lovely too. The Verbena one is supposed to be cooling – I guess for the summer, but it was thinner than the others, so I found it more of a cooler than a deep moisturiser. There was a floral one too – I think it was rose. Nice enough as a hand cream, but the fruity ones tempted me more!

7. Max Factor foundation

I finished up my Max Factor Face Finity All Day Flawless foundation, but I think I prefer my L’Oréal one. I don’t try a lot of foundations because it’s a pain when you can’t colour match yourself, which means buying online is also harder. The coverage on the Max Factor one was fine, but the L’Oréal applies easier and I know it sounds weird, but it smells better too! I notice these things! Anyway – Max Factor was ok but I won’t be buying again!

8. Body Shop vitamin E toner

I don’t use the same toner every day because I have some exfoliating toners as well, but this is my go-to everyday toner. It’s moisturising and not too watery and has been a part of my skincare routine for a while. I already had another one in the drawer!

9. MaskerAide detox diva sheet mask

This is a hydrating and exfoliating sheet mask. To be honest, I don’t usually spend this much on sheet masks, but it came up on Latest in Beauty, which means I got it for about 1/3 of the normal price. If I’m given other types of mask, I do use them up, but when I’m buying my own, I only get sheet masks now. They’re so comfortable and easy to use. I don’t like them dripping, so I usually lie down and listen to an audio book or podcast and think of it as some me-time to relax. These masks are definitely good – even better when they’re on offer!

10. Lovelula samples

I don’t think I’m the only one who found the last Lovelula box a bit disappointing. One lovely Madara product, a lip crayon in peach that I may use, a liquid eye liner that I have given away, and a bunch of samples! Great! I gave away the Urban Veda face oil, so I can’t review that. I don’t think it was a bad product – I just don’t use face oils. The Urban Veda rose botanics day cream sample was nice enough – it didn’t make me want to run out and buy it, but it was a nice cream if you don’t mind a strong rose scent. I opened the Neem + Botanics night cream, but I disliked the smell so much that I didn’t want to put it on my face! There was also a BB cream that was the wrong shade for me – sad really as I know some people got a face mask instead.

11. Spiced apple body butter

This was something that the Body Shop brought out last year. They didn’t do it this year, which is a shame as it was my favourite one. Still, it was unopened and I couldn’t find a date on it. It smelled fine and the consistency was fine, so I used it all up and spent the early part of December smelling like a festive cinnamon stick on an apple crumble! Yum!

12. Rodial dragon blood lifting cream

This sculpting cream was in the M&S beauty calendar. I haven’t tried anything from Rodial before and I was glad to get the chance to. Having said that, It’s a sister company to the more affordable Nip and Fab, so I would normally shop there for products like this, and their dragon’s blood serum is really good. This was one of those products that was really nice to use, absorbing quickly, and with anti-aging properties for lifting and firming skin. I just don’t think I can justify the price!

13. Gatineau Melatoginene AOX advanced rejuvenating cream

I was really happy that the M&S calendar contained so many skincare products. This is another one that would usually be out of my price range in terms of what I’m prepared to spend, but I did get a few Gatineau products in the 40% off sale at Feel Unique. This night cream left my fairly dry skin feeling so soft and smooth the next morning – I was really impressed with the formula.

14. Feel Ready Radox bath soak

This was actually something that I got by accident – I’d ordered something else and it came as a substitution on my shopping order. But it turned out well because I really liked this bath soak with pomegranate and red apple. I’m not sure if it was just a Christmas thing because it had already sold out in Superdrug when I looked, but if you see it and like fruity bubble bath, snap it up! I’m not so fond of their shower gels, but I think the bubble baths are great!

15. Dr Hauschka moisturising face mask

This too came in the Lovelula box. I can’t say anything kind about it! I love the idea – who doesn’t want a moisturising face mask on a cold winter evening, but this started to irritate my face after a couple of seconds, and getting it off was a pain because it was sticky and hard to get rid of. Not a fan!

16. Cherry blossom shimmering body lotion

I got a mini of this shimmering body lotion in the L’Occitane calendar – a lovely lotion to help you prepare for parties and going out. It’s described as a floral scent, but a very delicate one, which is probably why I liked it. There were a couple of samples in this range and I’m glad I discovered it.

17. Body Shop vitamin E cleanser

I already have a new one of this cream cleanser from the Body Shop. I don’t think there are any products in the vitamin E line that I don’t like. They are gentle, moisturising, and always leave my skin feeling soft and nourished. I do try out other cleansers and have one that you wash off in the bathroom, but as cream cleansers go, I keep coming back to this one.

18. Pixie lip lift max

Another product from the M&S calendar, but unfortunately not my thing! I wanted to like it, and you might if you’re not put off by minty lip products, but unfortunately I am, so this wasn’t one for me!

19. Jasmin shower gel

Unfortunately I didn’t get the whole bottle of this as I got a faulty one and didn’t realise until it had empties itself over my drawer and the other bath products in there. We had so much fun cleaning that up on Christmas Eve! Grr! However, I do also have the jasmin spray, and I did get about 2 showers out of the 250ml shower gel! If the fruity ranges from the Body Shop aren’t your thing, this Indian Night Jasmin is a lovely, fresh alternative!

So, have you tried any of these products? If so, what did you think of them? Do you prefer this new format for the empties posts? What did you use up in December? Let me know in the comments!

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This post contains some affiliate links, but I always give my honest opinion about products.

Blogmas day 14 – winter weather expressions

English people have a reputation for talking about the weather. Have you noticed that some of the expressions we use are about winter weather?

At this time of year, there is a lot to say about ice, snow and cold, windy weather. Here are some wintry weather idioms and their meanings.

1. To be skating on thin ice
To be doing something that is dangerous or which could have negative consequences.

2. A snowball effect
A situation which gains momentum or where something increases in size or impact.

3. To be snowed under
To have so much to do that you can’t take on anything else.

4. Every cloud has a silver lining
Even if a situation looks bad, something good will come out of it.

5. To get wind of something
To learn about something, even though it was supposed to be a secret.

6. To have a face like thunder
To have a facial expression that shows that you are very angry.

7. To throw caution to the wind
This means that someone is taking a big risk.

Can you think of any more?

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The calendars

So, what was behind your door no. 14?

L’Occitane – time for another shower gel! These are like travel minis – maybe ok for the shower, but in the bath I tend to use a bit of another shower gel as well! Still, it’s good to go through the whole range of scents!

M&S: Today I got a maringa cleansing balm from Emma Hardy. I’ve never used a cleansing balm before because I usually use a cream cleanser or micellar water, so I’m looking forward to trying this out!

Question for the day

Brussel sprouts – yes or no? I’d have to say no, unless they are the ones made entirely out of chocolate!

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Blogmas day 2 – childhood memories – how my Nan made Christmas special!

It’s the first weekend of December, which means it’s time for the Christmas tree to go up. For us that means a trip to the loft to get down the tree – well actually trees, because I brought a little one with me when I moved in with S, and all the decorations. Does anyone else love that tinsel smell, which tells you Christmas is on its way?

We went into town this morning. The Christmas music was playing and there are already some little stalls with hand-made Christmas gifts. I didn’t buy anything – apart from a hotdog for lunch – but I enjoy seeing what is available, with S pointing out things that he thinks I will like!

I don’t remember it, but I apparently got into the Christmas spirit at a very young age. I had been chosen to do an “Away in a manger” solo when I was three – but unfortunately chicken pox put an end to my singing career! Ah well! After that I was too shy to take any solo singing parts at school, but I often did readings because I wasn’t scared of standing up in front of the rows of parents and grandparents!

On the subject of grandparents, anyone who read my grandparents and what we learned from them post will know that I grew up with my grandparents, so a lot of my childhood memories are about them.

My Nan loved Christmas! Not just Christmas morning, although she did wake the children up early on more than one occasion because she was so excited (much to the dismay of some of the other adults!) No, she loved the whole month of December – from the first weekend, when we decorated the tree, all the way through to the school activities, buying and wrapping presents, and planning the food!

As a child, the best part for me was that I was very much a part of it all. No doubt it would have been much quicker for Nan to wrap the presents and put up all the decorations when I was in bed, but she didn’t. Of course I didn’t see anything that was for me, but when it came to the presents that were from me, I went to the shops to choose them, and we did the wrapping together. She taught me how to wrap the difficult shapes. At the beginning, she cut the paper for me, but later I learned how to fold the paper and then have a tactile line to cut along. When we went out, I enjoyed the Christmas music in the shops and Nan described the decorations and displays.

As well as the tree, we had decorations that came out every year – the china sleigh for quality streets, the nativity scene with all the figures, and the snowy house scene that my Granddad attached to a rotating cake board that was wired to a music box. The tactile picture that went up on the living room door. It wasn’t made for visually impaired people, but I could feel Santa, his sleigh, the presents, and the raised letters that spelled out Merry Christmas! I think they looked out for things that could be enjoyed by touch as well.

I don’t have any of these things now, apart from a book that they arranged for me when I was very small. You gave the company the name of your child and a few friends, and the company created a book with a story about that group of children. I still have it – and my one was different because my Nan, who had learned how to write in Braille (a system of dots used by blind people for reading), put the words in Braille on transparent plastic and stuck them into the book so that I could read the story for myself.

Another year, my grandparents arranged for Santa to reply to my letter in Braille.

When it was time for advent calendars, we used the same self-adhesive plastic to cut out little Braille numbers for sticking on the doors so that I knew which door I could open to get my chocolate each day.

Christmas was usually celebrated at our house with my mum, my aunt and her children. It started much earlier than my Christmases do now, and the first thing was always children opening presents, followed by adults opening presents, followed by bacon rolls! Then my Nan would make the Christmas dinner – turkey with all the trimmings. Sometimes a stocking was held back for after the main meal.

My Nan isn’t around to enjoy Christmas any more, but I always think of her at this time of year, particularly when I’m doing the things that she enjoyed so much.

What are your childhood memories of Christmas?

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The advent calendars

L’Occitane – today I got a hand cream! I think handcreams are one of the things that L’Occitane does really well, so I was happy to get this little tube. Actually I think there are a few handcreams in there, so I’m looking forward to trying out some more. I already have the full-size one of this one, but it’s lovely to have a mini to put in my bag or in my desk organiser pig!

M&S – another little tube, this time it was Filorga Meso-mask. I’ve never tried this before. Apparently, it enhances skin by improving luminosity and radiance, treats wrinkles and erases signs of fatigue. You leave it on your face for 15-30 minutes and then remove with damp cotton wool. I think I’ll be trying that tonight!

If you had a calendar, what was behind your day 2 door?

Question for the day

So today I’d like to know – what is your favourite food from a traditional Christmas dinner? I have to say the turkey! I don’t think we eat enough of the stuff! I sometimes buy it at other times of the year, but particularly when I was working in London and attending different Christmas meals, I was never sorry to see turkey appearing for the 2nd or 3rd time in December. How about you?

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Blogmas day 1 – welcome to Blogmas!

So this is my first Blogmas and I’m quite excited about it! I watched quite a few Youtubers doing Vlogmas last year and felt that I really got to know them a bit better during December, so maybe that will happen here too.

I’m a teacher, so I find it easy to write “how-to” posts or to share information, but I’m not so good at the chatty, informal posts that other people do so well! So maybe I’ll learn something too!

Basically there will be four parts to the Blogmas posts. There’s the main topic – something wintry or Christmassy, something about my day, then I’m going to talk about my beauty calendars, then I have a Christmas-related question. I’ll give my answer and I’d love to hear yours!

Welcome to Unseen Beauty’s first Blogmas!

For me as a blind person, the least enjoyable part about blogging is the images. I can’t see the products, never mind take photos of them. I do get help with this when I’m talking about products, but I don’t want the stress of sourcing new images every day, so you know what? I’m not going to do it! It’s so liberating! If a photo opportunity comes up, I’ll get someone to take one, but otherwise, we have a Christmas tree and that’s going to be the Blogmas image!

The other day I saw someone saying they probably wouldn’t do Blogmas because they wouldn’t be able to get good enough images, and I think that’s really sad – in the original sense of the word. That blogger may have had loads of interesting stuff to share, but they were put off because of expectations around images.

The people who come to my blog will hopefully keep coming back for the writing. If you’re looking for a picture every couple of lines, this isn’t going to be a fun place for you anyway!

Among other things, my Blogmas is going to be stories, Christmassy products, links to other people doing Blogmas, and two quizzes!

Today

It’s the 1st of December and I’ve already started my Christmas content with my students! Not all of my students celebrate Christmas, and not all of them are interested, but for those who are, I try to find some kind of Christmas activities.

For anyone who doesn’t know, I’m an English teacher, and I work with adults, mainly in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, who want to improve their English. The activities can be anything from Christmas stories to recipes to talking about how Christmas is celebrated in the student’s country and around the world! Adults don’t want to do some of the activities suited to children, and as we work online, we can’t have a baking session together, but there is still plenty of stuff to talk about and it really gets me into the Christmas spirit – as do the Christmas biscuits on my desk from the Blogger swap box that I did with the Cozy Den bloggers!

I’m not done with my Christmas shopping yet, which is unusual for me, but I’m pretty sure our tree is going up this weekend!

What was in my advent calendars?

So – moving on to the advent calendars! I’m really lucky and I’ve actually ended up with two! I got the L’Occitane one – the cheaper one, because there were a lot of oils in the other one and I wouldn’t use them. Also I liked the sound of the things in the cheaper one more! I was hoping that there would be Braille on the products – you may remember my L’Occitane puts Braille labels on its products to make them more accessible to blind users post. I guess they think the samples in the calendar are too small for Braille. Oh well, a little disappointing, but they are still really nice products, so I’m looking forward to seeing what’s inside.

Then my Mum got me the M&S calendar as well – so I’m really happy! I’ve taken a sneak peek into that one on a Youtube review and there are a lot of skincare products in there, which excites me!

I got:

L’Occitane: cherry blossom shower gel.
M&S: Rosie for Autograph Amazing Radiance Body Glow.

This is great – they’re both products that I’ll use. I definitely prefer the shower gels from L’Occitane to the shower oils, and I’m looking forward to trying the cherry after my run this afternoon. I was impressed with the generous size of the body glow – 50ml and this is also a new range for me to try!

What was behind the door of day 1 for you?

Christmas tree in Stockholm

Question for the day

What is your favourite Christmas song?

That’s a tough one for me because I love all the festive music in the shops, or I put on Christmas songs when we’re baking Christmas goodies or setting up the tree. I know it’s probably not as much fun for people working in retail who hear the same songs on repeat all through December!

As a child I always liked Sleigh Ride probably because of all the whinnying and clip-clopping – and it’s a happy, cheerful tune! How about you?

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