August 2020 – chocolate owls, neck fans, results, and cheese bread!

Good things in August 2020

Well, August isn’t usually holiday month for me. It hasn’t been for as long as I can remember. When you don’t have children, taking holidays outside of the school holidays often feels like a smart move! It’s hot! It’s sometimes a bit much! But generally there’s a holiday vibe and I like the long summer nights where you can eat in the garden and spend more time outdoors.

We are still being careful and shielding, so you won’t see a lot of staycation posts this summer, but there are still good things, and things to be grateful for. I think in some ways I’ve socialised more this year than I have before, even though I’m not saying “yes” to any face-to-face socialising right now.

New course

Since I’ve been working for myself, August is often a quieter time because many of my customers go on holiday. This year was the launch of my pilot programme for a new course though, so it was actually quite busy – getting things ready and starting off the programme. I have a really lovely group and I’m enjoying working with them. It’s good to try something new!

University results

This actually belongs in July, but I didn’t write this kind of post then!

The end of the university year was a bit different because two of my final assessments were cancelled. With so much else going on, it was quite nice to not have to do them, but nobody really knew what would happen in terms of the results. We knew the previous results would probably become more relevant now, but it wasn’t really clear what would happen. I think an opportunity for better communication was missed there.

As it happened, I got my two distinctions, but as I understand it, the calculations were all adjusted down because they also reflected previous students’ performances on the final exams. I wasn’t on the threshold, so I got what I was aiming for, but some people dropped down into the next bracket, through what felt like no fault of their own. If you screw up an assessment, ultimately it’s on you, but if it happens because generally other people don’t do as well in that assessment, it doesn’t feel fair.

Overall I was happy – year 1 took me 2 years because I’m part-time, but I did it! Posts about the final two modules are coming soon – I don’t like to write them until I’ve properly finished.

Next module booked

There were some questions about the accessibility of the module I wanted to study next. That took a bit of time to resolve, but it feels as though we have a better process in place now, and a way to make sure that the transitions to future modules go more smoothly.

I’m looking forward to writing the code for web pages – less so to the reliance on diagrams to communicate ideas about how said web pages should turn out! But at least we have a plan now to make it more accessible!

New products

The Body Shop has come out with some new hair and body mists. Body mists are nothing new, but not all of them are suitable to be used on hair – some ingredients can dry your hair out – but these ones are fine .

There are 5 in the range – apricot and agave, lime and matcha, pomegranate and red berries, pink pepper and lychee, and coconut and yuzu.

I got the apricot one and the lime one. My favourite is the apricot one, but both of them are good!

Not quite so new, but I also enjoyed the new zesty lemon range of products – they were a special edition, but if they come back, I can definitely recommend them if you love zingy citrussy scents. I enjoyed the zesty lemon body yoghurt. It’s made with lumpy lemons, which presumably wouldn’t be up to the normal standard for selling and eating.

Portable neck fan

I turned up to an online meeting during the heatwave and a friend was wearing one of these! It’s a great idea – you take your fan around with you wherever you go! It’s like three sides of a square. The side opposite the open side goes behind your neck, and the two arms sit on your shoulders, facing forwards. You have to be careful with long hair, but I push mine back and I haven’t caught it yet! The arms blow out air onto your face and neck, and there are multiple settings for how intense you want the fan to be. This is the neck fan that I got.

New platform to try

I was involved in an accessibility research project throughout August. I probably can’t say a lot about that at the moment, but one thing it also gave me was the opportunity to try out Microsoft Teams with Jaws and VoiceOver (the two screenreaders that I use on my laptop and my phone).

I was impressed! It’s so much better than what we use at university! I mainly use Zoom and other conferencing tools at work, but it was interesting to try something new. It’s more involved than Zoom, but it also has more features for working collaboratively.

Chocolate owls

These are the owls featured in the image for this post. They were delicious – some were with orange essential oil and others with peppermint. (If you intend to try this, make sure the essential oils you have are suitable for internal use – not all are).

The owl moulds can be bought from Amazon – this is one of my owl mould sets.

They were amazing – both sets were good, but I think my favourites were the orange ones! I’m going to try dark chocolate tnex.

New Turkish friends

I know my biggest weakness in learning a language is speaking. I hate it. I don’t want to do it until I’m really good – but the only way to become really good is to do it!

Especially if you’re living in a country where you’re not being exposed to the additional language every day, you need to be more proactive.

So I went to a language exchange site. You have to be a bit careful, because especially if you are a woman, you can get inundated with messages, some of which are quite annoying. I started chatting with a few people. Some fizzle out straight away, so it’s good to not only rely on one or two right at the beginning. I’ve found two people wit whom I’m meeting regularly online now for English and Turkish practice. It’s hard for me – I would much prefer to write – but they are both really friendly and having a real person to speak with definitely gives you a reason to do it!

Duolingo

I wrote before about improving my Turkish on Duolingo.

I saw that this way of strengthening the connection between language pairs was also really good brain training. A lot of activities for training your memory involve pictures, and therefore don’t work for me. But I love languages, so I decided to use my subscription to this app to work on my active languages, refresh a couple that I used to speak, and also try a couple of new ones.

I want to write a more in-depth post about this and what I’ve discovered. At the moment I have 12 courses, which are combinations of 8 languages!

Baking bread

I haven’t jumped on the sourdough train, but we have been trying out some bread recipes. Yesterday we made cheese and onion bread – something I’ve never had before – but it has cheese in it, so it must be good, right? It was amazing! Random internet recipes can be a risky business, but I can recommend this yummy cheese and onion bread! Not an affiliate link – just something we found and enjoyed.

So, that’s a round-up of my August! Tomorrow is September – I love autumn!

How was August for you?

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Vitamin C products and beauty box finds

Vitamin C products and beauty box finds

I thought I hadn’t done a skincare post for a while, so here are some of the things I’ve been enjoying (or not so much!) lately. Let me know if you have tried any of them and what you thought.

Vitamin C range from Pixi

I was excited when Pixi brought out its vitamin C range. I’m not sure exactly when they came out, but I got them some time last autumn.

I first tried Pixi skincare when I heard about the glow tonic – I’m all about the chemical exfoliants – so when I heard that the new range had this kind of toner, I decided to give the whole range a go. It’s made with oranges and lemons to brighten and exfoliate the skin, without any abrasive particles.
The cleanser and the serum also contain grapefruit extracts. I know how a product smells is no indicator of how good it is, but these smell amazing and that made me want to use them!

The juice cleanser is a no-fuss cleanser – I’m not sure how well it would work with heavy make-up because I tended to use it in the morning, but it’s gentle and refreshing, and you don’t need to wash it off. The vitamin C tonic is similar to the glow tonic, but I think it’s gentler, and this meant that even when I had both of them on the go, I was more likely to reach for the vitamin C one. The vitamin C lotion comes in a tube and is a fairly light-weight moisturiser, good for wearing in the daytime, and fine for layering with other products.

I’d recommend all of this range. I also have the serum, but it’s still going as it was out of stock when I bought the others. I haven’t tried the caviar balm yet.

Lovelula

I signed up for this subscription because I wanted to try more cruelty-free and natural brands. You don’t know what’s coming in the box, and it tends to be more skincare than make-up. This time there was one hit and one miss, but even if something isn’t for me, I do appreciate the chance to try new things, for a fraction of the normal price.

Madara often shows up in this box, but I’m ok with that as I really like their products. This set of 10 Hyaluronic Collagen Booster Ampoules alone costs double what I paid for the box! They are enriched with hyaluronic acid and natural plant sugars, to stimulate the protein structure of the skin and provide a protective layer to shield the skin’s protective barrier. You basically use them like a serum, after toning and before moisturising. The capsules are very generous, but I tended to use them in one go because I understand the point of having sealed capsules is to prevent exposure to the air. Madara is not a cheap brand, but I am happy to pay more for serums and moisturizers if I think they are worth it. I would buy these again.

I really wanted to like this Rescue My Hair Shampoo Bar – Pollution Patrol from My. Haircare. It was the first shampoo bar I’ve tried, and I love the idea behind it. However, the “ultimate sensory experience” they promised just didn’t happen for me. My hair felt stripped afterwards, I didn’t like the scent or the texture, and I didn’t come away feeling that I’d done something good for my hair. I do have a couple of other shampoo bars, and I will try those, but so far I can’t see myself making the switch.

Latest in Beauty

I’m loyal to this subscription because I get to choose my products. I might make a mistake, but they’ll never send me something I’ll never use!

Yardley Lily of the valley hand cream – this was an all-round good hand cream. All the hand-washing of late does mean dryer hands, so I want to take care of them. It is floral, but a pleasant kind of floral!

Rodial Vitamin C sheet mask – this was one of the products – usually more high end ones – that they have as the product of the month, which means there is enough for everyone. Rodial is a more expensive brand, but if I were going to invest in something from them, it wouldn’t be a £14 sheet mask! The plan I’m on meant that I paid £2, but I do prefer the ones that are tissue soaked in the serum, rather than this kind of solid slimy stuff – I know that’s not a good description! It felt nice enough afterwards, but is not something I’d rush out to buy.

Single use hair masks like the couple I’ve got from Hask aren’t the most environmentally friendly way to go, but they are a way to check whether you like a product before committing to buying it, and the 50g ones give me enough product to work with as someone with really long hair. I’ve had the charcoal with citrus oil purifying mask, and the argan oil repairing deep conditioner. These can also be bought as a larger size, and it got me interested in the brand, so I also tried the orchid and white truffle moisture-rich shampoo. This is a budget-friendly brand, but my hair always feels really good afterwards.

Advent calendar

So my plan last year was to build my own beauty advent calendar. I had a lot of fun doing it, with some budget-friendly buys and more expensive treats, and the best bit was I knew I would use everything in there. Often the best thing in a beauty calendar is something I don’t want – such as a palette – and it feels like a bit of a let-down. Most of the wellness products have already gone, but I have a couple of skincare bits still going strong! There’s usually a sale at Feelunique in November, so I could try some new things and make the money go further.

I haven’t found a link for the Yves Rocher Hydra Végétal Moisture Boost Serum from a site that I would use, but it’s definitely a good one and one that I’d get again if I found it. As the name suggests, it’s good for dry skin.

I also wanted to try the e.l.f. Beauty Shield Vitamin C Pollution Prevention Serum. I liked the packaging – you push the top down and it draws the product up into a kind of pipette. Unfortunately that’s where the positive feedback ends! I found the product very watery – which in itself is ok if you use it like an essence, but it was sticky too and just not pleasant! I didn’t finish it.

Body shop

I finished the almond bath milk powder from my Body Shop pamper package. It’s powder to milk, so you just shake some in and it becomes bath milk. Think more moisturising than bubble bath, but this is a lovely gentle range.

The banana bath blend smelled good enough to eat! These are bubble baths made with fruit and vegetables known for their vitamins, and these are made from wonky bananas, which makes me happy because they weren’t wasted!
I used up a tub of the shea body butter – I think I must have got it in a set. I usually go for more fruity scents, but this one is good for sensitive skin or if you don’t want a strong scent, and it is really good for dry skin.

An old favourite – the
Gentle eye makeup remover.
This doesn’t sting my eyes, so I repurchase it.

I was super lucky to get to try the two new ranges – Sicilian lemon, and cucumber. Unfortunately the cucumber hand cream also contains mint, and gives you the weird tingly sensation that peppermint products often do. It might not be so bad with a wash-off product, but this stays on your skin and I found it quite uncomfortable. I think it would be even worse for more sensitive parts of the body. I think cucumber would be really nice, but I feel the peppermint was a mistake.

Supermarket

I needed some shower gel, so decided to try something new from the supermarket. I like fruity scents, so I tried the Kind natured lime and mandarin body wash and an almond milk hair mask. This was a new brand for me and I liked the brand’s commitment to natural ingredients and the fruity scents.

So, let me know if you’ve tried any of these and what you thought.

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Mystery pamper packages from Heidi at the Body Shop at Home

I’ve said for ages the Body Shop is missing a trick by not offering a beauty box subscription. They still aren’t, but Heidi, my friend and a consultant at the Body Shop at home, does now offer mystery pamper packages. They have the added bonus that they’re not entirely a mystery because she asks you a few questions first to make sure that you get things that you like.

This post is not sponsored and I paid for my pamper package. I think it’s a cool idea, so I wanted to show you what was in mine, and to let people in the UK know about them. Especially at the moment, when we’re being asked to stay at home, they can be a nice treat for yourself, or to tell someone else that you were thinking of them.

It could be a complete surprise, but Heidi also likes to get an idea of what you like, what type of skin you have, whether you have any favourite ranges or things that you particularly want to avoid.

What was in my box?

I got my box before the lockdown, so Heidi packaged it up herself. At the moment, all packages are coming directly from the warehouse to keep everyone safe, but essentially they still work in the same way – Heidi puts your products together and the package is worth more than you pay for it.

Mine included a sachet of hot chocolate too, but that was gone by the time we got round to taking the photo!

Mango perfume

I’ve mentioned the mango eau de toilette before on the blog – in fact, Heidi reads my blog and saw that I had run out! This usually retails for £9, so there’s almost half the £20 I paid for the box covered by the first product! The mango range is my favourite range from the Body Shop, so I was really happy to get something mango-scented in there. It’s fresh and fruity – sometimes I use it as a perfume and other times as a body mist. But either way the mango scent follows you around for the rest of the day!

Egyptian milk and honey bath powder

This is the most expensive item in the box and it’s from the Spa of the world range. You put some of the Egyptian milk and honey bath powder to milk in your bath, swish it around, and the powder dissolves into the water. It contains honey and three oil extracts to make your skin feel smooth and help you relax.

Bath time and pamper time are important for me, so it was good to get a body care treat in my box. Oh, and it also comes with a cute little wooden trowel to scoop the powder into your bath!

Coffee face mask

I’m excited whenever I see the C word – coffee! Like mango, it’s one of my favourite things! I usually go for the sheet masks, but I was intrigued when the Body Shop brought out a coffee mask, and happy that Heidi put a travel size one in my pamper package.

It’s an exfoliating mask with natural coffee bean particles. Good for use in the morning to wake you up, and it smells amazing too! It’s enriched with coffee and Community Trade sesame seed oil from Nicaragua, Community Trade cocoa butter and shea butter from Ghana, and organic Community Trade cane sugar from Paraguay.

Vitamin E lip care

This vitamin E lip care with SPF15 is a good handbag essential to keep your lips from getting chapped and sore. This one is particularly good if you don’t like flavoured lip care. It does contain coconut, but you don’t really taste it.

Final thoughts

So, this is a way to get a surprise, or also to try out something that you’ve had your eye on for a while. If you want to find out more, check out Heidi’s Facebook group. I was really happy with mine and highly recommend them! There was bath care, fragrance, and two face products, with a product from four different ranges, and the value was a lot more than the £20 that I paid.

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Pamper products in March

I’ve got a slightly smaller collection of stuff to talk about this month – mainly because I’m not repeating staple products that I’ve already talked about, but I think that during this time of uncertainty, it’s nice to do things for our well-being. For me, that’s been long baths where I can relax and get a break from interacting with people – because as much as I like people, I recharge best by getting some time out alone. If anything, as I’m still working full-time from home, and every group that I’ve ever been involved with is now meeting online, I’ve felt a bit of socialising fatigue, which I know sounds odd in a time of social isolation. It seems selfish writing that when there are people who are really isolated and craving some human interaction, but I’ve also learned that people having a different problem doesn’t make your own problem any les valid.

So bathtime is good. My skincare regime is good – there’s something comfortingly predictable about all the steps that always come in the same order and are doing something good for my skin.

Here are a few things that I discovered in March:

Aveda

I only discovered this brand at the end of last year when I got a travel size of the almond cherry shampoo. After that I got the shampoo and the conditioner because I was so impressed. The conditioner was finished first, but they both lasted a decent amount of time. They are not cheap, but some of the more expensive products are less watery, so you end up using less. This conditioner is especially good for long hair like mine. It contains naturally derived cherry blossom extract, almond oil and shea butter. It leaves my hair soft, less tangly, and smelling amazing!

Body shop

Of course there are products from the Body Shop in here!

The first is a big jar of the Drops of youth ® Bouncy sleeping mask. This has a slightly strange consistency – it’s like a gel, but it settles down into more of a cream once it’s been on for a few minutes. It’s an overnight mask, but I usually put it on a little while before I go to bed so that it doesn’t stick to the pillow. It’s great for giving thirsty dry skin a drink overnight, and it promises skin that looks plumper, fresher, and renewed. It smells good too, though I couldn’t tell you wat it smells of! I can’t speak for anyone else, but an unlikely benefit I’ve found is that sometimes I get red blotches on my forehead, and using face oils or this mask helps to reduce those as well.

This isn’t a cheap mask, but the jar lasts a long time. Luckily for me, my friend Salomi bought me one last year, so I already have another one to use.

We often hear about the body butters, but the Body Shop does some really nice lotions as well. I keep coming back to the almond milk and honey body lotion because it’s really gentle and soothing. It comes in a tube, so you can get every last bit out! You can smell the honey more than the almond milk, and although it’s not as thick as the butters, it does keep your skin hydrated for a long time.

Still on the subject of body lotions, there are a couple of whipped lotions too, which are light in texture, but which are still great moisturisers – particularly nice in the summer months, when you want something a bit lighter. The mango whipped lotion is part of the mango range, so of course one of my favourites! It contains mango seed oil from India and smells like real mangos.

Molton Brown

In February I talked about my Indian cress hair set that my Mum got me for Christmas, and in March I finished up the conditioner. Again, not a cheap set, but it lasted ages, particularly the conditioner. I’m not usually a floral scent kind of girl, but this jasmin and honeysuckle is fresh and not overly floral. My hair smelled great for ages and more importantly, it felt soft, nourished, and smooth. These products are cruelty-free and even the packaging lets you know you’re in for a treat!

I think sometimes we can spend a lot on things like make-up and then be horrified when a hair or skincare product is a bit more pricy – but I would actually rather invest more in the things that will be put on my hair and skin first.

Retro Rich

I hadn’t actually heard of this brand before. I follow Sussex Sandra on YouTube and she finds some interesting new boxes, particularly more inclusive ones, because many of the mainstream boxes often leave her with things that she can’t use because they don’t take into consideration the full range of skin tones that their members have. We should be doing better than this.

Anyway, Sandra reviewed a haircare beauty box, primarily aimed at people with curly or coily hair – so not me with my type 1 straight hair – but the products sounded so good and inclusive that I wanted to give it a go. I use some of them differently, but they looked like interesting, good quality products and I decided to give the box a go.

The February box focussed on the brand Retro Rich, and that’s how I discovered the Queen of the Nile hair mask – probably my favourite item in the box. Some of the other products are things that I wash out whereas people with different types of hair can leave them in, but super long hair needs moisturising down to the tips, and this mask is something that anyone can use to give their hair a pamper. You just use it like any other hair mask – leave it on for 10 minutes or pop it under a shower cap (I’ve done both). It smells lovely and my hair felt amazing afterwards.

The box comes out every two months and you can find out more about the Odyssey box here.

Rituals

It was the first time that I tried a shower oil from Rituals. I wasn’t actually sure whether I’d like it, but having used it, I actually liked it more than the foam, which seems to be their more well-known shower product. This ritual of Sakura oil contains cherry blossom extract, and rice milk, known for its purifying properties. I love this scent anyway, and the oil isn’t greasy – it’s easy to wash off and doesn’t leave a mess in your bath or shower!

Weleda

I’ve tried the pomegranate body lotion before, so I also picked up one of the Pomegranate shower gels. This brand is probably best known for its skin food, which isn’t something I tend to use, but the pomegranate range is worth exploring as well!

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Luxury treats – February product review

A bit later than usual, but here are some of the skincare products that I used in February and what I thought of them. All of these products were bought with my own money or birthday/Christmas presents from family and friends. None of the products are sponsored, although the post does contain some affiliate links.

Balmonds

This wasn’t a brand that I was familiar with until I started getting Lovelula again last year. This intensive facial oil got me back into using facial oils. I’d had a bit of a thing against them after a bad experience with a particularly greasy one, but this is not like that. It is a fairly rich oil, but it soaks in well and leaves the face feeling soft and rehydrated. The lavender scent makes it a nice choice for bedtime as well.

Body shop

This Mango body Scrub is an old favourite. I love the mango scent, and the fact that it’s a sugar scrub means it’s not messy, so you’re not for ever clearing up something messy like coffee grounds. It just dissolves and washes away. It’s firm enough to feel that it’s doing something to the skin, but it’s not so abrasive that it hurts.

The Ethiopian coffee cream is from the spa of the world range and it’s a luxury body cream. It doesn’t smell of coffee, but it contains caffeine, which is known for its stimulating properties, and it promises to leave your skin feeling firmer and smoother.

The moringa body butter is not something I would usually buy because of its floral scent. I got it in a calendar and used it up because it’s one of the creamier body butters, which I like as opposed to the really firm ones. It’s not something I’d buy again, but it is good as a body moisturiser, and if you like more floral scents, you might like it too!

I was having some problems with my skin and decided to pick up the aloe toner for sensitive skin. It’s super gentle and reminds me a bit of the vitamin E toner. As a rule I don’t have sensitive skin, but I like to use something like this if I have had a reaction to something or just want something really gentle. I’d definitely pick this up again.

H2k

I’d never heard of this brand before, but I picked up the Oilovme serum for fine lines and blemishes as one of my Latest in Beauty choices. This small tube retails for £9.99, and as a 9 product subscriber, I paid £2. This is why I really like LiB – you get to try some new brands and products for a fraction of the price. Anyway – it’s an oil-based serum (sunflower seed and wheat germ) and I particularly applied it to any areas with blemishes. It doesn’t say anything about tea tree oil, but it smells of it, and did calm down any areas where I had hormonal breakouts.

Hugo Boss

I’ve talked about this The scent intense for her perfume before. It’s not the notes that I usually go for, but I smelled a sample of it and really liked it, probably because of the fruity peach and roasted cocoa notes. It does contain osmanthus flower too, but it’s not a particularly floral scent. This is something that I wear quite often, and I finished up my 30 ml bottle. Fortunately I got a really good deal on it in the sale last year, so I do already have a replacement for it. I don’t replace all my perfumes when they run out, but I like this one enough to keep wearing it.

Molton Brown

Molton Brown is usually known for its shower gel gifts, but they have some really nice haircare too. I’ve talked about the Indian cress purifying hair set before, but I got one for Christmas and have now finished the conditioner. The shampoo lasts a bit longer because with that, a little really goes a long way. They smell and feel luxurious, and the jasmin and honeysuckle scent stays on your hair for ages. This particular set is the purifying one and it contains enriching Indian cress extract. Not something I can afford every day, but it’s a lovely treat once in a while.

Radox

Budget friendly and fruity, I got through a couple of Radox shower gels. I particularly liked the lychee and watermelon one because it’s so fruity and refreshing, with a creamy texture that felt moisturising as well. I’m always up for trying fruity scents, and they don’t have to be expensive.

Rituals

Back to the pampering products again – I got this Ritual of Ayurveda shower foam in a Christmas present, which was the Feelunique bathtime pamper box (now sold out). I didn’t even know that Feelunique did these boxes, but I look out for them now. They basically collated a bunch of products to help you have a relaxing night in, and I love the Ritual of Ayurveda scent with its sweet almond oil and Indian rose. I didn’t actually know there was rose in it – it’s not an overbearing rose scent – you really mostly smell the almond oil. Anyway, this certainly makes bathtime more special!

Seascape

This is another Lovelula discovery – the Island Apothecary uplift body lotion. It says that it contains eucalyptus, lime, and lavender, though the only thing I could really smell was the lavender. It was nice enough, but I’d be interested to see whether they do ranges with some different scents.

So, fewer products than usual, but some really nice ones nevertheless. I’m also only talking about things where I have something to say – for example I finished an eye cream and all I really had to say about it was “yeah it was ok” and I don’t think that makes interesting reading! Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products, and if you have, what you thought of them.

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Skincare and haircare in January – new discoveries, and mango and grapefruit favourites!

Another month has passed and I wanted to tell you about some new products that I discovered and some old favourites! Let me know in the comments if you have tried any of these.

Andalou Naturals

I got this Nourishing kukui cocoa Body Butter from Latest in Beauty and it’s like covering yourself in a layer of chocolate! It smells amazing! It’s called a body butter, but it’s not the hard type – it’s more like a thick, rich cream! The chocolate scent lessens after a while, and I was sad to see it’s hard to get hold of this in the UK as it appears to be a US brand. It’s available on Amazon, but that works out at about 3 times what I paid for it on Latest in Beauty. So either I got a good deal or there is a lot of mark-up on this product on Amazon!

Body Shop

I got the Strawberry shampoo and conditioner in an advent calendar. My overall favourite haircare from the Body Shop is the banana range, but this strawberry range is good too, leaving your hair smelling as sweet as fresh strawberries. It’s also good for cheering up dull hair and leaving it nice and shiny.

I also finished up a large juicy pear sugar scrub, which was part of last year’s Christmas range. I like the sugar scrubs because they are much less messy than products that don’t dissolve, and this one was my favourite scent from the festive ranges. I haven’t included a link because it was only available at Christmas time. It’s worth trying out some of the other scrubs because the consistency seems to be different – this one was more coarse with bigger sugar crystals than the mango one that I usually use, so I think it’s not just the scents that vary between scrubs.

It’s an old favourite, but a good one! I got one of the mango sets for Christmas, and I’ve already used the mango body butter. This is of the best scent from the Body Shop as far as I’m concerned, and the body butter is rich and nourishing, keeping you hydrated through the winter.

Cowshed

Such a shame they changed all their names! My favourite used to be called grumpy cow and it’s now just called replenish. I thought it was a fab name. Maybe someone bought it for their mother-in-law or their wife and it didn’t go down too well. Who knows!

But anyway this isn’t grumpy cow, but it’s from the Cowshed and still good. It’s what used to be gorgeous cow and is now just called the indulge range. I made us up a Christmas Eve box this year with some pampering treats and other Christmas goodies, and a little set of this was in there for me. This shower gel makes you and your bathroom smell great for ages, and it contains lavender with some floral notes.

Dr Botanicals

The Dr Botanicals pomegranate superfood sleeping mask has been doing the rounds in beauty boxes for the last couple of years, but I hadn’t had one until it showed up in my October Pip Box. I have been trying a few things from Dr Botanicals recently and so far I’ve liked all of them. This one is an overnight mask that you apply at the end of your evening skincare routine. I tend to not put it on directly before I go to bed so it can dry down a bit, but it’s not sticky or oily as some overnight treatments are. It’s marketed as a smoothing and brightening mask, but I find it’s pretty moisturising too.

ELF

In the past I have talked about this Hydrating face primer a lot, but now that I’ve finished this one up, I won’t be buying any more because I’ve found other things that I like more. It is good if you want a hydrating base, but I prefer my Body Shop primer because it’s not quite so thick, but still leaves a smooth base for your make-up.

Madara

So far I’ve liked everything I’ve tried from Madara, from body care to face products. We got samples of the nourish and repair shampoo and conditioner in the January Lovelula box. I didn’t dislike them, but afterwards my hair felt pretty dull and tangled, not like it usually does when I’ve just washed it. It looked ok the next day, but I’ve got products that leave my hair feeling much nicer than that, so I was grateful for the sample so that I now know not to buy it!

Lucky Cloud

This brand was new to me. We got the balancing Cleansing Balm in the December Pip Box. I’m only really just getting into cleansing balms after one that I really didn’t like. I think there’s a lesson in there – if you try a new type of product and don’t like it, it might be that particular product that you don’t like, and not all things in that category – for me, all cleansing balms.

So, this balm is not super sticky and although it has exfoliating green clay in it, it’s not grainy or scratchy. It also has anti inflammatory oils like grapeseed and jojoba and I found it to be a very gentle cleanser. I would buy this again or try other things from the range.

Original Source

I don’t often buy from this brand, but I wanted to try out their mango shower gel – because mangos! It’s a budget-friendly shower gel that smells of mangos! I’m not faithful to shower gels, so like to swap them out and this is something I would use again.

Rituals

One of the things I put in my self-made advent calendar this year was the Ritual of Holi Body Cream from Rituals. I wanted to try out some of their other scents and I thought this one sounded good. I’ve still no idea what a flamingo flower is, but it’s got pink grapefruit in it, which I love. The Rituals products are always a luxurious treat, and this cream was no exception. It’s rich and nourishing, and like pretty much all of the products from this brand, it smells amazing! I would definitely buy this again, as well as other products from the Ritual of Holi range.

So – some new brands, new products from brands I like, something that has been replaced by something better, and a slightly disappointing product that was only a sachet. I think January was a pretty good month for me in trying out new skincare and haircare. Let me know your thoughts on any of these products in the comments!

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This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested. All of the products were bought with my own money, apart from the mango body butter, which was a Christmas present from a friend.

December products – new haircare favourite, mango goodness, and festive treats

I didn’t get round to finishing this post in December, but I wanted to do a kind of update – it is an empties post of sorts, but it also highlights some of the new brands and new skincare products that I’ve been trying. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these, and if so, what you thought of them!

Aveda

I was given a sample size of the Aveda almond and cherry shampoo along with something else because I helped fix a problem on a website – so it wasn’t paid for by me, but not gifted by the brand either!

I had never tried anything from Aveda before and this shampoo smelled amazing. It was nice and gentle on the hair too, something I appreciate after trying a different one recently that made me feel like my scalp was on fire. I’ll definitely be buying the full size of this along with the conditioner because I think the best way to try things out is to use the shampoo and conditioner together.

Bare minerals

I’ve never used anything from this brand before – mainly because mineral make-up is harder for me to use as someone with a visual impairment, but I didn’t actually know that they did skincare as well.
I got a sample of the Skin longevity serum in an advent calendar and I really enjoyed using it, though it’s not cheap! You’re supposed to use it with a Bare Minerals foundation, which I didn’t, but I would be interested in trying out more skincare from this brand.

Body shop

I thought I’d tried out everything from the mango range, but then I discovered the mango Eau de Toilette! It’s the same juicy mango scent as the rest of the range. To be honest I use it as more of a fruity body spray than a perfume, and I’m really sorry it’s gone! I’ll be replacing it soon!

I’d been avoiding the vanilla scents, but Halloween came round again, so I thought I’d try the vanilla pumpkin hand cream – and I really liked it. It smelled good enough to eat. I think I don’t like pure vanilla on its own, but the pumpkin just gives it something else and I hope they bring it back again next year! I haven’t linked this because it was a Halloween special.

I picked up the spicy vanilla body yoghurt, one of the 2019 Christmas scents, because I had a mini of the shower gel in the same Christmas scent and quite liked it. This scent is very sweet though and if you’re used to more fruity scents, you may want to be a bit less generous at the beginning. The first time I wore the body yoghurt, I slathered it on like I normally do and then went in the car to get some tiles. By the time we’d reached the tile shop I was finding the scent overpowering and not feeling too well! This has never happened with a body lotion or yoghurt before. Since then I used a bit less than I usually would, because this is a fairly strong and sweet scent, and I was fine.

I was having some problems with my face being really sensitive and reacting badly to a mask that I’d tried, so I wanted a moisturiser that would be really gentle. I had tried the vitamin E cream before, but I also wanted to try the aloe one. I really liked it – it did lock in the moisture, but was gentle too and is made with fewer ingredients so keeping it nice and simple. It’s formulated without colour, fragrance and preservatives – which means it’s a good idea to get it used once you’ve opened it, but it also means there is less to irritate it if you do have sensitive skin.

La Roche Posay

I got this vitamin b5 serum in the pick and mix samples from Feelunique. You just pay postage and then you can get five samples for free. You also get the postage back in the form of a voucher that can be spent on Feelunique.

Some of the samples are quite small, but this was a generous one – a folder with 8 sachets for 8 days of use. People tend to descend like vultures if anything good comes on the selection, even though you are only supposed to make one selection each month. So I was lucky to get this.
My skin definitely liked this serum, but you should make sure it has had time to sink in before going in with anything else.

Little butterfly London

Actually I think this is for babies – or at least for mothers with babies – but the dewdrops at dawn body lotion came up on Latest in Beauty, and I decided to give it a try because I hadn’t heard of the brand before and other people were giving it good reviews. It was a full-size body lotion too, and as a 9 item box subscriber, this worked out at £2 for me, which is much less than the actual value. I liked it – it is gentle on the skin, whilst still feeling like you’re putting moisture back. I liked the pump, but it was really hard getting down to the bottom because the packaging is very stiff plastic, and I felt a bit bad because I know I wasted some.

Lush

I’m too late to talk about these really because they were Christmas specials, but I tried out the polar bear bubble bar – which was fresh and minty, but not in a way that was overpowering, and the Santa bubble bar on a stick, which smelled amazing! The polar bear was definitely the best value for money in terms of the bubbles it produced, but if they come back next year, I’d buy either of them again.

Natura Brasil

I was trying out some new products from Feelunique and I came across the Ekos Castanha Body Cream, which seems to be sold out at the moment. I wanted to mention it though, because the cream came in a cardboard box that had Braille on the side. I’ve never seen it as a product marketed towards Braille readers – in fact I didn’t even know it had Braille on until it arrived – but it was lovely to see accessible packaging like this. I don’t know whether this brand puts Braille on all of its packaging, but I think it’s cool, so wanted to give it a mention here!

Rituals

I got a 10ml sample of the Ritual of Dao night balm from the Feelunique Pick n Mix. It lasted a long time because you really don’t need a lot. This is something to put on your hands at night because it is very quick, as you would expect for a balm, and it doesn’t sink in very quickly. It smells great though and your hands do feel soft in the morning.

Shay and Blue

I’d tried a perfume from this brand with the blood orange scent, but then I got this black tulip one in an advent calendar. I don’t think it’s something I would have picked up usually, because I don’t tend to go for floral scents, but I really liked this. It’s different, and maybe it’s just because I got it in winter, but I think it’s a nice wintry scent – a bit spicy and heavier than I would usually wear in the summer.

Vitamasques

This was a lovely Christmassy product from the Pip Box. It’s a cranberry and apple face mask – packed with vitamin C! A lovely pamper treat and festive too! My skin liked it and it wasn’t massive – I don’t have a big face and I like it when I come across masks that fit me properly!

If you enjoyed this, you might also like my November post that was about new products and testing out some high end samples.

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Skincare in November – new products and high-end samples

Someone asked me the other day why I write about products when I’m not paid to do so y brands. But I think the fact that I’m not working on paid advertising campaigns is part of the reason I do it. Sure, if something came up that I really like, I’m not against it, but there has been a big move in the blogging world towards so much sponsored content. People say they’re only giving their real opinions, and I believe some of them, but with many blogs and YouTube accounts it feels more like a magazine with ads than someone having the independence to say what they really think – good or bad.

One of the things in this month’s list is there because a friend gave me a recommendation. She isn’t a blogger, but she’d tried something and thought I would like it. In terms of blogs and YouTube channels, those are the accounts I like to follow too. People who give me tips about things I might like, who share their discoveries, or the things that didn’t work so well for them.

So that’s really why I do it. I have a day job – this is just something I enjoy and want to share with others – because I find it interesting when like-minded people do the same.

Let me know if you have tried any of these products, and if so, what you thought of them.

Body Shop

This is the product that was recommended to me by my friend Sarah – the Aloe body cream. It’s a soothing, cooling and hydrating moisturising gel cream that absorbs quickly. I imagine it’s a good thing to use as a general body cream if you have sensitive skin and react badly to more scented products, but it’s also really good for sun burn. I forgot to renew my sun cream and didn’t realise that as the sun moved, part of my arm was no longer under the parasol. I burn really easily – and badly – and this cream worked well as an after sun.

The camomile range is also a gentle one, and I didn’t realise that the Body Shop did a Micellar water. This isn’t the only product I use to cleanse my skin, but I do use micellar water sometimes and wanted to give this one a go. It’s not the cheapest on the market, but the skincare products are often on free for two, so if you plan it right, it can bring the cost of all the products down. I would buy it again.

I like to try out different moisturisers, but I got a
vitamin E face cream
in an advent calendar, I think it was last year, and this is a range that I often come back to. It’s promoted as being suitable for all skin types and it’s just a really nice face moisturiser. I believe it’s one of the more popular ones too.

If you find the strawberry range a bit sweet, you might like the Japanese cherry blossom and strawberry body cream. I wanted to give it a go because I needed some new body lotion and I thought the cherry blossom might just take the sweet edge off the strawberry. It’s a fairly thin cream, more like a lotion or a body yoghurt than a body butter, and although it’s still quite a sweet fragrance, I do prefer it to the strawberry line on its own.

I’ve talked about the Oils of Life sleeping cream before, but not for a while. It’s more expensive than ranges like vitamin E, but if you want to treat yourself or someone special, it’s a good investment. The cream contains three different seed oils from around the world and leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth in the morning.

The juicy pear shower gel was a gift from my friend Heidi and it’s part of the Christmas range. It’s actually my favourite of the three scents because it’s so fresh and fruity! It’s good, like all the other shower gels, but I am glad that they created this as one of the festive fragrances. If you think you might like juicy pears from Italy, go and have a sniff and see what you think.

Gatineau

Advent calendars are to blame for this! I discovered Gatineau a couple of years ago because there was a night cream from this brand in an advent calendar. After that I got a discovery set that contained their serum, and I was convinced. This is a very expensive serum, even if you can get it in the sale, but I really do rate it. I finished up the ultimate smoothing Serum and this made me sad! I haven’t replaced it yet, but if I see it in the sale I’ll definitely think about it. It works to reduce the early signs of aging, but is also a really nice serum to hydrate and smooth the skin.

I also got a sample size of the peeling treatment, which definitely got my attention because I like chemical peeling products as opposed to physical ones. The consistency is a little strange at first – it’s like a fairly thick cream, but once you massage it in, it feels more like an oil. You can either wash it off after a few minutes, or leave it on for 20 minutes as a peeling mask and then wash it off. I think some detoxifying treatments are a bit hit and miss, but I definitely noticed results after this one with less clogged pores and skin that felt refreshed. Again, the price tag reflects this, but I do think this is a premium skincare brand that works – and not one where you’re just paying for the name.

Korres

If I feel like pampering myself with a shower gel, I often pick up something from Korres – either from Feelunique or from Ocado. My favourite is the Almond and cherry shower gel – it moisturises as well as cleanses, and it smells amazing!

L’Occitane

I got a mini Verbena perfume in an advent calendar last year. I’m not sure if you can buy these tiny bottles separately. I do like the verbena scent, but tended to use it as more of a body scent than a perfume. I think really I prefer this scent as a shower gel or body lotion.

Origins

I got this mega-mushroom treatment as part of an Origins set. I really liked some of the products, but I wasn’t really sure what to do with this. It said to use after cleansing to reduce redness, so I used it as a kind of toner on areas when my skin was being particularly sensitive. I don’t think I’d get it again, but maybe I’m just not the right target audience.

However, the orange gel cream is definitely something that I would use again – it’s a lightweight moisturiser and it smells of oranges. Actually this was the reason I gto the set of minis in the first place!

Zelens

I got a mini of this transformer instant renewal mask in an advent calendar. This is one of the times when the calendars can be really good, because you try things you otherwise wouldn’t. This mask is very expensive and I wouldn’t usually pick something like this up. I’ve heard great things about Zelens, and I definitely enjoyed giving it a go – although with a smaller size it’s hard to tell whether the product really worked. Normally it’s a bit out of my price range though.

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15 bath and skincare products to talk about in September

I’m back with a products post to tell you about 15 more (mainly bath and skincare) products that I’ve been using recently. Have you used any of these? Let me know in the comments!

Body Shop

NO empties post on Unseen Beauty is complete without some Body Shop products.

The Mango body butter is one of my favourites because it’s from the mango range. It’s not a new product for me, but I love the tropical scent and the way it leaves your skin so soft afterwards.

I got the super volumising mascara because I wanted to find a cruelty-free one that I liked, but unfortunately although this was ok, I didn’t find it as volumising as some of my others, so I’m still looking. On the plus side, it had a decent brush and it didn’t clump.

I’m still using up advent calendar products, and last year I got the moringa body yoghurt. I love the body yoghurts, especially in the summer. The mango one is my favourite, followed by almond milk and honey. I don’t tend to by from the moringa range because it’s too floral for me, but if floral is your thing, then this is a great product because I’d highly recommend the body yoghurts on the whole.

I only use roll-on deodorants now because they’re better for the environment than aerosol cans, but I only recently discovered that the Body Shop did a roll-on deodorant as well. It’s from the aloe range, which is also quite new to me, but which is gentle and kind to the skin. It’s formulated for sensitive skin, so has no fragrance, but it does the job it’s supposed to, and I usually wear a body mist anyway, so the lack of fragrance doesn’t bother me. It’s slightly more expensive than other roll-on deodorants, but it’s made with community trade ingredients and gentle on the skin, so I would pay the extra and buy it again.

I picked up the tea tree skin clearing toner even though it’s for oily skin, which I don’t have! Still, if I do use it at times when I have hormonal breakouts because of the skin clearing properties – tea tree oil is my friend when it comes to that. This product took me a bit longer to use up because it’s not the right skin type for me to use all the time, but I like to have one or two tea tree products in my stash for when I need them.

Bubble Tea

Not for drinking! As well as a range of bath products, I discovered that Bubble Tea also produces hand cream. This lemongrass hand cream is out of stock as I’m writing this, but it was fresh and citrusy, and a good size too at 100 ml It also contains pineapple and shea butter, and is cruelty-free! I just got it from the supermarket and hope it will come back in stock.

Burt’s Bees

I love all things grapefruit, so when I saw that Burt’s Bees had a pink grapefruit lip balm I snapped it up! I have too many lip balms really, but this one actually got finished up, which shows how much I liked it! I can highly recommend the mango and pink grapefruit lip balms from this range – they keep your lips nice and soft, and they smell and taste amazing!

Clinique

I got a mini of this high impact mascara as a gift with purchase when I had my Clinique make-over.

As someone who can’t see to apply her make-up, as a rule I tend to struggle with mini mascaras more than full-size ones, but I wouldn’t expect a full-size one as a gift with purchase. It’s described as thickening and volumising and I would buy it again because I agree it does both!

Elizabeth Arden

When I was about 16, someone bought me the Sunflowers perfume for Christmas and I felt like buying it again a couple of years ago. It’s very fresh and summary with notes of melon and peach. Buying perfume is always a bit risky, but this friend did well and the fruity fragrance is just my thing. I’m not sure if it’s too young for me now, or it just makes me feel 16 again because it was my signature fragrance at that time!

Freshly

I’ve talked about the Freshly products before, but I finally finished up the toner as well, which lasted a long time because it came in a spray bottle, meaning you spray it directly onto the face. It’s good because you don’t waste any, but it’s also good because there’s no need for cotton pads. I liked all of the products in this set. They’re not cheap, but they didn’t give me any reactions, and they’re made with natural ingredients from fruits and other foods, which means they smell amazing too. This soothing and hydrating toner had lime extract in it, and the apple micellar water was lovely too.

Lush

This is a Halloween special, so if you want it, you need to get it before they all get snapped up! Yesterday I tried the lucky cat bewitched bubble bar, which comes in the shape of a lucky cat face. It smells of bergamotte and blackberry. Poor little cat face, but it makes a lovely relaxing bath!

Nuxe

After being introduced to this brand last Christmas, I was interested to try some more of their products when they came up on Latest in Beauty. I’ve got a couple of mini tubes of the correction cream, which has a light, gel-like texture and the typical Nuxe scent. It’s for normal to combination skin and although it does feel lightweight, it keeps the skin moisturised and is also intended to help protect the skin against pollution whilst protecting the skin’s natural balance.

Radox

Good old Radox! I usually just use them for bubble bath, but was intrigued to try out the grapefruit shower gel! I have to be honest and say I don’t like it as much as the Body Shop pink grapefruit range, but if you need some shower gel and are looking for a grapefruit one, it’s a good everyday one to have.

Madara

I forgot I had this, but this overnight cream from Madara is something I would buy again. You tend to get a lot of Madara products in the Lovelula natural beauty boxes, and they tend to cater more towards dry skin. I’ve tried a few of their products now, but recently found out that they do haircare and body lotion too, so I’m looking forward to trying out some of those.

Yes to

There’s been a bit of a grapefruit theme this time. I also tried the Yes to grapefruit body wash and was happy enough with it. However, I’ve had bad reactions to two different lines from this brand, so although this body wash was fine for me, I’m going to be avoiding the brand in future because there’s something in some of their products that really doesn’t like me.

So, what have you been using or used up recently that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments!

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New products and old favourites from the Body Shop

I guess the brand that I am most loyal to is the Body Shop. I don’t use their products exclusively, but I buy a lot of stuff from there because the products are great value, they’re kind to my skin (I’ve never had a bad reaction from anything there), I like the brand’s ethics, and the products smell amazing too.
This post is about some things from a recent online order, where I also got to spend the points I earned from recycling my old products, and some things I picked up in a Sale on Facebook. Heidi is a Body Shop at Home consultant and she has a Facebook group where the sale was held.

What I got from Heidi’s sale

The sale was stock clearance, so everyone watching the Facebook live could just say which products they wanted from the selection and buy them if they were still available.
I was happy when the Body Shop started doing sheet masks as I give myself a face mask treatment once or twice a week, and the sheet masks are so much nicer to use than the ones that you paint on. I got two of the vitamin c sheet masks, which are part of the vitamin C range for hydrated and more radiant-looking skin. These masks definitely have enough serum in them, but they are not sopping like some others where you feel that you are wasting serum. I find the Body Shop masks fit my face well (some from other brands are definitely too large, too wide, or go up too far above the eyes. However, they don’t cover the chin and lower jaw area as well as some others do.
Recently a new range of hand washes came out and I was eager to try them, especially as one was my 2nd favourite scent – pink grapefruit! The pink grapefruit hand wash smells amazing, just like the rest of the range. It leaves your hands feeling soft, and although it’s a bit more expensive than other hand washes on the market, the packaging is part of the recycling scheme, so you can earn £1 back in points when you recycle it. You can read more about the recycling scheme here. I probably wouldn’t use these all the time, but I definitely like them as a grapefruity treat!
I hadn’t had anything from the banana range for a while, so I also got a banana shower cream, which is one of the special summer edition shower creams. I like the fruity scent, but I also like the fact that it’s made from bananas that won’t sell to the food industry and presumably would otherwise have gone to waste.This shower cream smells exactly like the banana haircare products.
I don’t usually buy from the strawberry range, but I do like the fast-absorbing body yoghurts, especially in the summer, when it’s hot. So I got a pot of the strawberry body yoghurt as a change from the mango or almond milk and honey ones that I usually get. This body yoghurt is enriched with strawberry juice and almond milk and the strawberry scent really makes you think of summer.
So that’s what I got from the sale – a couple of things I liked already, a new product, and an older product that was new to me.

What I picked up from the Body Shop online

The online store is mostly accessible, although I have had problems applying vouchers using a screenreader.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that the mango range is my favourite. I had £5 to spend because I returned 5 items of recycling, so I spent them on a mango shower gel because it smells amazing!
I picked up the almond hand wash too, but it doesn’t appear to be on the site any more. If it comes back, it’s a good alternative for you if you aren’t into fruity scents as much. I like it because it has a distinctive almond scent, more so than the almond milk and honey range.
I’ve tried the eye shadow sticks before. They’re certainly easier to use than powder eye shadows. I have a couple from the Body Shop and have recommended them in the past, though now I’ve tried a few other brands, the Body Shop ones aren’t the gentlest on the eyes, and they can dry out and drag a bit. I prefer the formula to be a bit more creamy. Anyway, I’ve recently been investigating liquid eye shadows because even without being able to see what I’m doing, I can paint the liquid eye shadow on where I want it with no worries about fall-out as I’d get with a powder. So I was interested to see the metallic eye shadows, which unfortunately seem to be out of stock at the moment. Not every day will be a metallic eye shadow kind of day, but I was happy with this because it gives me another option that I can feel confident about using without worrying whether it looks ok.
I’ve already mentioned the vitamin C masks. I used something that my skin really didn’t like recently, so I picked up a couple of things from the aloe range because they’re good for soothing and hydrating skin – either because you naturally have sensitive skin, or because you had an experience like I did and justwant to sooth it after irritation.(Of course if you have skin concerns, you should seek advice yourself as this recommendation won’t be suitable for everyone). Anyway, the aloe range has helped me in the past, so I got one aloe sheet mask and one vitamin E sheet mask” because they are good for hydration.
These masks are also good in the really hot weather because they have a cooling effect as the liquid evaporates.

How about you?

Do you like any of these products, or have you tried anything new recently from the Body Shop? Let us know in the comments!

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This is not a sponsored post and I paid for all products myself. This post contains some affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you purchase through my links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested.