Autumn Unseen Beauty giveaway

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It’s time for my Autumn giveaway on Unseen Beauty. It’s open internationally, and all you need to do to enter is fill in the form at the bottom of this post.

I know some bloggers wait till they have a huge box of stuff before doing a give-away, but I’d rather do smaller ones and run them more often so that more people have a chance of winning something. I like to show that I appreciate it when people regularly interact with my blog, so if you don’t win this time, you have the chance of carrying your entry forward to the next giveaway.

The winner of my Autumn giveaway will receive:

  • A L’Occitane verbena body lotion mini
  • L’Occitane verbena icy lip balm
  • L’Occitane Verbena soap
  • Trifle cosmetics – praline eye shadow palette
  • A shampoo bar
  • A mini mask from Mudmasky
  • A wipe-out make-up remover cloth
  • A shell make-up brush
  • The Beauty Crop Wing Woman liquid eye liner
  • Palmer’s cocoa oil lip balm
  • Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know what my readers like and where they are. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use CAPTCHAs on my site.

    The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

    It’s one entry per person using the form, but if you’ve entered giveaways before and asked for the entry to be carried forward, I will make sure your additional entries are counted.

    Terms and conditions

    1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on Sunday 8th October 2018 and I’ll draw the winner on Monday 9th October.
    2. I will give each person a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I don’t like Rafflecopter and want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
    3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away. Otherwise it will not be retained.
    4. I will email the winner on 9th October to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.

    5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

21 empty products from March

Welcome to another empties post! Quite a lot here again, but there were also a number of samples and one thing that was given away due to make-up rage! Let me know if you’ve finished up anything good – or not so good – lately, and if you’ve written a post or done a Youtube video, feel free to post it in the comments.

1. Garnier micellar water

I think most people have already heard of this. There was a time when I couldn’t see the point of micellar water, but I like it for taking off make-up before going in with the rest of the skincare routine. I had the one for sensitive skin. This link is to the 700 ml – which is huge – but I couldn’t find the link to the 400 ml one which I had. It doesn’t feel as luxurious as the Madara one, which is twice the price for much less product, but it does the job nicely.

2. L’Occitane cherry hand cream

The English teacher in me doesn’t want to post this link because it refers to “an handcream”! No!

Anyway, this cherry blossom hand cream smells amazing! I only had a tiny one from a gift set, but this link is to the full size. It’s not the richest one that they do, so it’s fine for during the day because it soaks in quickly and leaves your hands smelling of beautiful cherry blossoms.

3. White company shower gel

This was part of the set that I got last year and I thought that using the shower gel and the body lotion separately would make the set last longer. I raved on about the Seychelles handcream for ages, and this was the shower gel that I got in the same range. It’s lovely – makes me think of holidays. This is the link to the Seychelles bath and body gift set

4. Innis Free sheet masks

I use a sheet mask once or twice a week and this month I used lime, strawberry, blackberry, green tea, and rose from my Innis Free pack.

There are 18 masks available and you get a selection of 16 which could be acai berry, aloe, bamboo, broccoli, Coconut, cucumber, fig, ginseng, green tea, lime, manuka honey, oatmeal, pomegranate, rice, rose, shea butter, tea tree, or tomato

I enjoyed all of these and so far there have been none in the pack that I don’t like. They have enough product without dripping everywhere, and so far none have left my face feeling sore or sticky.

5. Grapefruit hand cream

NO surprises here, I had another of my favourite Body Shop handcreams lying around and finished it up. These handcreams are handbag size, smell great, do the job, and they’re often in the sale, so they are even better value for money. Here’s the link to the Grapefruit one.

6. Happy Jackson London soak it up girl

I hadn’t heard of this brand before, but I got these as a Christmas present. There were four bath blocks in here – two mango and raspberry, and 2 coconut. You snap off blocks and dissolve them in your bath like bath bars.

7. pomegranate and orange bath salts

I can’t link to these because you can’t get them in the UK – they were from my Germany swap box. S&J know that I like all the fruity things! There’s quite a lot of bath stuff in the empties this month. It’s not because I have been having more baths – I love baths and have them all year round – but obviously something like a bottle of bubbles would take longer to use.

8. Pomelo and water lotus shower gel

This is from the Being by Sanctuary review that I did last year. The scent is fresh, probably because of the water lotus, and this is a thicker cream, which feels moisturising as well. My favourite from this range is still the mango one, what a surprise, but this one is nice and refreshing, especially in the morning.

9. Sanctuary hand cream

Another mini from an advent calendar, this Sanctuary Spa essentials hand cream isn’t the kind of scent that I usually go for because it’s more floral, but it does leave your hands feeling soft for a long time. So if you’re not into all the fruity handcreams that I usually talk about, you would probably like this one more, and it does have a good formula for soothing dry hands.

10. Melon bath cube

Another treat from my Germany swap box – which is why I can’t link it, but all of the Germany products are pictured on the swap box page. Another fruity bath!

11. Moisturiser from Amazon beauty box

I hadn’t heard of Pai skincare until I got a sample in my Amazon beauty box. The box is no longer available, but this is a link to a 50 ml of the Pai skincare chamomile and rosehip calming day cream. Pai skincare creates organic skincare for sensitive skin. I don’t actually have sensitive skin, but I’ve no problem with using something that will be gentle on my face. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it good for sensitive skin. I used it at the time of the month when my skin was least happy!

12. Toning pads

I’ve talked about these Nip+Fab dragon’s blood cleansing pads before.

“Wipe away the day with the gentle NIP+FAB Dragon’s Blood Fix Cleansing Pads enriched with salicylic and hyaluronic acids to deeply cleanse pores and provide long-lasting hydration for skin that appears plumper.”

I’m a big fan of this range and have already bought more. Apart from being handy because the pads are already soaked in the liquid, hyaluronic acid acts like a sponge and holds water in the skin, preventing it from becoming dehydrated. A great thing to have for anyone, but particularly if you are prone to dry skin.

13. Manuka honey hair mask

I’m a fan of hair masks and I’ve used 7th Heaven ones before. This Manuka honey one is a single-use mask, and good for anyone who wants to try out some different masks to find out which ones they like. I think the product is good – it left my hair glossy and was good for the dry ends, but as someone with very thick, long hair, I could have done with more product than was in this single use pack. It would probably have done most other people with shorter hair though.

14. Geranium and mint shower gel

This came in a Lovelula box. I didn’t like it much, but I used it up!

15.Boss the scent for her – Hugo Boss

I don’t usually get perfume samples in Latest in Beauty unless they are a decent size, but I was interested in this Hugo Boss one, so I chose it as one of my 9 options. I was glad I did! The Scent Intense for her is hard to describe, so I’ll copy out the notes for you:
Top: Honeyed Peach & Freesia Bloom
Heart: Osmanthus Flower
Base: Roasted Cocoa

I’m not usually into floral scents – maybe it’s the cocoa that drew me! I don’t know! But this is a scent that I would definitely be interested in buying now that the little tester has finished. Again that’s one of the things I like about Latest in Beauty – the chance to try before you commit to a full size product.

16. Burt’s bees night cream

Burt’s Bees don’t only do lip products. They also make this intense hydration night cream with clary sage, which is a plant that survives on rugged hillsides, making the most of the moisture it finds and retaining it. So basically it helps your face to do the same – to keep in moisture and not dry out. This cream has quite a distinctive scent. Some people don’t like it. I’m fine with it – for me it just smells like being outside on a walk, but if you prefer scentless cream, this is not the one for you. In terms of the benefits though, I do like it because the next day my skin is not dry, and I also like the brand because it uses more natural ingredients.

17. Garnier sheet mask

I’ve mentioned this before too, but the Garnier pomegranate sheet mask came up on Latest in Beauty again, and it’s a good one, so I added it to my selection. There is a lot of serum in this mask though, so it’s best to do it lying down, or else you have it dripping down your neck, which I don’t like! Still, if you want to give your skin a good drink, this mask will help it to feel soft again, particularly good for these colder days when we spend a lot of time going between the cold outside and centrally heated homes.

18. Cowshed gorgeous cow body lotion

I got this as a mini once, but I got the full size Cowshed Gorgeous Cow body lotion for Christmas. The gorgeous cow is one of the ranges from the Cow Shed, and it contains:
• Madagascan ylang ylang, Bulgarian rose and Indian palmarosa oils to evoke a happy, blissful mood
• French lavender to help soothe and balance the mind.

The cream is rich and nourishing, and your skin will feel soft for hours after you’ve used it. More of a special treat than something I buy all the time, but it was a lovely gift to get for Christmas.

19. Caudalie sample

I got a free sample of the Caudalie Glycolic Peel Mask with my Feelunique order, but I really didn’t like it. I wanted to like it. But it was really hard to get it off my face and I didn’t notice any benefits, so this isn’t something I would buy. Still, who doesn’t love trying samples with their orders?!

20. Clarins eye shadow

I was really, really disappointed with this. To be fair, I’ve given it to my mum and she likes it, but I feel cheated by this because it was marketed as a cream eye shadow, and on using it was definitely more powder than cream.

I did pick up a couple of lovely cream shadows from Feelunique, and I’ll tell you about them in my April favourites. But when I went to use this, instead of getting cream, the top of the product broke away as loose powder and went on my carpet. I do not usually get make-up on my carpet! It came off, but I feel that if most of the other brands can agree on what a cream shadow is, Clarins shouldn’t market what is essentially a slightly more creamy powder shadow as a cream shadow. If I’d known what it was like, I would never have bought it.

In the end it didn’t go to waste because my mum got a new eye shadow, but I don’t have that kind of money to waste – if I think I’m buying a cream shadow, that’s what I expect to get.

I don’t really want to promote it, but here’s the link for what I would never call a cream shadow!

21. Clarins tester

The second tester in my Feelunique order was better, and it was the Clarins extra firming day cream SPF15. I had to be a bit careful of this in terms of which serum I put under it, otherwise it pilled, but overall I liked the product as a day moisturiser.

Discount on Feelunique

You can get £10 off your first Feel Unique order by going onto the site using my affiliate link. This offer is open to new customers only, and the minimum spend is £30.

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Jan 18 favourites – Torak, tea creatures, and my new chair

So, it’s time to talk about all the things that I have been enjoying this month. Let me know in the comments if you have tried any of these things, or if you’ve written a similar post for January!

1. Haircare set

There are a number of Christmas presents in this list. The first is the Little Treats haircare set from Cowshed. I hadn’t tried any of their haircare products, and I liked these little minis because I got to try the cowlick shampoo, the saucy cow conditioner, and the wild cow shower gel. There’s a set for the body too, ideal if you want to try out some of the products without committing to full size. All Cowshed products are free from animal ingredients and the brand does not test on animals.

2. My new chair

I saw one of these chairs when visiting a friend and my Mum got me one for Christmas. The chair has no back, and you sit on it with your knees resting on a tilted cushion in front of you, so your legs bear part of your weight. The idea with the chair is that it is good for your posture because it makes you sit up straight. You shouldn’t sit on it all day, but I’ve put it at my desk next to my office chair and spend a couple of hours on there, mainly when I’m doing paperwork and not on video conferences with customers. My posture when I’m with customers tends to be ok because they can see me, but I do have a tendency to curl up on my office chair, sitting on my legs, and this new chair will make sure that I don’t do that!

3. L’Occitane bubble bath

I always have bubbles in the bath and a lot of the time go for my old favourite – Radox – but sometimes it’s nice to have a special treat! This lavender bubble bath from L’Occitane is lovely for when you want to rewind after a long day. It gives a generous amount of foam and if lavender isn’t your thing, they do different ones such as shea and verbena as well.

4. Bloggers!

If you’ve been following the blog, you know I did Blogmas last year. This meant I also followed a number of other people doing Blogmas, which meant we were all doing quite similar content because it was Christmas-related. Now the festivities are over, it’s interesting to see the other content that these bloggers are putting out, giving me plenty of other stuff to read!

5. Torak!

Do you know who Torak is? If you read my Let us howl post, you might, because in that post I introduced all the wolves at the wolf sanctuary near Reading. Earlier this month, Torak got out of his enclosure, it’s believed because his enclosure was damaged by the wind. I was worried for his safety as there was no guarantee that he’d be captured safely, especially not with the sensationalist headlines that some media outlets were using. In thee end, there was a happy ending and someone from the wolf sanctuary was able to slip a lead on him and walk him home. I hope this event will be used positively to educate people about wolves. He wasn’t out on the prowl looking for an unsuspecting child to snack on. He didn’t even help himself to lunch when he walked through a field of sheep. Some of the ideas about “big bad wolves” from our fairytales need to be challenged so that people understand wolves are of course wild animals that need to be respected, but not something to be pursued or hated. Game of Thrones and the dire wolves have helped, but there is still a way to go.

6. Tea creatures

Am I the only person who had never heard of a manatee? Well, I know what they are now because of a tea gift. If you like loose-leaf tea (my favourite is mango) and want something cute to sit on your cup, there is a whole range of rubber friends who can infuse your tea for you and make sure that none of the tea leaves get into your cup. I was given the manatee but since then I’ve bought him some friends – the hedgehog, the elephant, and the sloth! The idea is that you put the tea inside the creature, which comes in half. Fit it back together, hang it off the side of your mug by its leg hooks, and just lift it off when it’s brewed long enough. I usually set them to drain, then take them apart and empty them out when they’ve cooled down. They’re practical, but cute as well!

7. Cleanse and polish

I’m very late to the party with this, but for Christmas one of my friends got me the Liz Earle cleanse and polish kit. I can’t link to it, because it’s the festive one with orange extract, which I think I would actually prefer to the normal one. It’s a hot cloth cleanser, so you massage the cleanser on to your skin, then remove it, along with excess oil and dirt, with a muslin cloth that’s been soaked in warm water. I don’t usually use wash-off cleansers, but I like this in the bath!

8. Chocolate!

I was surprised and happy when, for the first time, some of my friends had the idea of using my blog as inspiration for what to buy me and I was given the Hotel Chocolat fruity treats and lemon drops that I’d been raving about in last year’s September favourites!

S’s grandma also thought of me when she saw this make-up set made out of chocolate! I think it’s the first time I’ve ever said “I’m going upstairs to eat my lipstick!” They were both kind thoughts!

9. Korres body milk

I have talked about this Korres pear and bergamot body milk before, but I was happy to get a sample size in a free beauty box from Amazon. These body milks are lovely they still moisturise the skin, but are lighter than body butters, and ideal for the summer – although I’ve already used up this sample!

The beauty sample box is usually £35, but if you spend £50 on selected beauty products from Amazon, it’s free. I know that sounds like a lot, but the two main drugstore websites are not very accessible to me as a screenreader user, and I get a lot of my standard bath, skincare, and haircare products directly from Amazon, because I don’t have accessibility issues there. So I got 8 sample products, some quite generous samples and more like travel-size products, for free! There’s only one that I won’t use – the mud mask – but everything else will be showing up in favourites or empties posts. I think that’s more fair than doing one post on the box because I want to test things out first rather than just give my first impressions.

But the body milk is great!

10. Cherries!

One final L’Occitane product for this month, and this was also something from a Christmas gift set. I am usually a bit careful with things that are described as floral, but this cherry blossom scent is more cherry than blossom! I actually got a mini that is smaller than this, but the one I got doesn’t seem to be available to buy individually.

So, what have you been enjoying this month? Let me know in the comments!

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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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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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Latest in Beauty – June and July product review

18 products from my Latest in Beauty subscription – what I thought of them and whether I would buy them again.

No, this is not a really late post. I wait till I’ve had the chance to use up, or at least use my products so that I can give an honest review about them and whether I would buy them again.

Latest in Beauty is a subscription box with a difference – you can choose your own products, which means you don’t end up with things you won’t ever use, or which are the wrong colour for you. You can choose 3, 6 or 9 products, and the more products you buy, the better value they are.

I get the 9 product box (only the first one comes with a bag, but that is ok for me, because I don’t want hundreds of make-up bags!)

You can’t buy individual products on Latest in Beauty, and in any event most of these will no longer be available because they switch out products all the time. Therefore I’ve included links to other places where you can buy the products online so you can read more about them, see what they look like, and of course buy if you’re interested!

June

1. Hydraluron Moisture Boosting Mask by Indeed laboritories
This sheet mask contains hyaluronic acid and is intended to moisturise and make your skin feel smoother. I was happy with the mask, but it didn’t make me want to run out and buy more or replace my other sheet masks. Still, I use sheet masks once or twice a week and it was good to get the chance to try something new.

2. Sanctuary spa luxurious body balm
I was already a fan of Sanctuary Spa, and I was pleased with this new discovery. A decent sized sample pot, I believe the same size as the one from the Sanctuary Advent Calendar. I like it particularly for dry areas after a shower and it smells good too! I was glad I had another one from the calendar and have since got a 3rd one from Latest in Beauty – so this went down well!

3. White Company – Seychelles hand cream
It’s back again! Anyone who read my first Latest in Beauty review will know that this was already a firm favourite! It’s back in stock on the White Company website now, but for a long time it wasn’t, so I kept stocking up on these minis. I do like the product in its own right, but now that I associate it with my wolf weekend, I think I like the memories that it brings back too, which is probably why I keep going back for more. It contains coconut without being overpowering, is creamy without being greasy, and leaves your hands soft and smooth for a long time.

4. Thé Vert & Bigarade perfume from L’Occitane

This was the first scent that I’d tried from L’Occitane. I already liked some of their skincare and shower products, and this was an interesting change to what I normally wear. It’s always a bit of a gamble with perfume, but this one contains orange and fits in with my usual citrus vibe. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be on the L’Occitane site at the moment.

5. Strengthen Nail & Cuticle Finger Masques
To be honest I prefer the glove masks in this range because they stay on better and you don’t have to keep your fingers really still, but if you’re a cuticle biter (no I don’t do this at all!) it’s a good way to get some moisture to the cuticles, and the product is already inside the finger holes, so there’s no fuss or mess.

6. Jackson D-Shape Bangles
These are fine if you have the hands of a 6-year-old! They came nicely presented in a box, and the bangles themselves are nice enough, but they are tiny! I found that having the flat part of the D on the same side as my wrist and with a bit of shoving, I could get them on, but I don’t have particularly large hands, and I also saw a few Youtubers having the same struggles as I did.

7. Bubble Bath

I threw the bottle away before I decided to do these review posts and it doesn’t say on my order exactly what kind of bubble bath it was! I think it smelled of lavender or something – nice enough, but not something I dashed out to buy again.

8. Essential Micellar Face and Eye Makeup Remover from Katherine Daniels

This was lovely – so lovely in fact that it is now out of stock! To be honest, I only used it as a micellar water because I have a separate eye make-up remover, but it felt good on the skin, smelled good (I can’t stand micellar waters that don’t smell of anything now) and probably most importantly, got the job done. This was a nice travel size too, so ideal for going away.

9. MUA highlight Shimmer Stick
I’m a big fan of the cream make-up products – you don’t see that many on Latest in Beauty, but I snapped this one up to go in my highlighter collection. It’s nice an creamy, which means it blends in well.I believe there are different shades, so make sure you get the right one for you!

So no real disasters here, apart from maybe the bangles. The shimmer stick was a generous size, so will keep going for ages. I still have some of the perfume left. I replaced the balm and would buy the make-up remover again.

Jul

1. Revlon Ultra HD Lipstick in Hibiscus (860)

I’m fine with drugstore lipsticks, and I’d already got a couple from this range. If you get the 9 product box, it works out at £2 per item, so if you find a colour that you want, £2 for a lipstick is not bad!

2. Hydrating Face Spray
I’m not sure I’d pay £24 for a water-based product (I’m not sure how many ml), but £2 is ok!

I didn’t get that much use out of this because I bought it for really hot weather, and we didn’t have much really hot weather. Oh well, I have it for next year!

3. Green tea sheet mask from Masque Bar Green Tea Sheet Mask

To be honest I was struggling a bit to find things I wanted in the July edit. However, I’d had these ggreen tea masks before, and I pick them up if I’m lacking in inspiration, because I know that they are good and they are a nice change to go in my sheet mask collection.

4. Soften Glove Masques
This is similar to the finger masks that I got in June, but they cover the whole hand. My hands are quite small, so I have to wriggle the fingers down, but this is so easy to do with no mess because all the product is already inside the gloves. After my previous experience with gloves sopping with product, I appreciate these even more! I have already got another pair since I got these.

5. Seychelles Hand & Nail Cream
Yep, it’s back!

6. AA Skincare Green Tea & Aloe Vera Soothing Cleansing Wipes

I didn’t really need these because I like my Yes To cucumber ones, but as I couldn’t find anything that really excited me, I decided to be practical.I rarely use these for make-up, so can’t tell you how good they are for that, but if you just want to freshen up a bit, they’re fine.

7. Shave Foam Gel from the Refinery

I was still on my “let’s be practical” train of thought. Shaving foam in itself would have been fine – I did use it up in the end – but why oh why put peppermint oil in it? Peppermint is for ice-cream or polos – not for legs! I can’t get on board with the whole mint in the bathroom thing unless it’s for toothpaste!

8. Luxe Vivid Lipstick in Hot Chili
I couldn’t actually find a link for this, but it’s an MUA lipstick and I didn’t have any of those, so I decided to give it a go.

9. Lime Twist Lip Balm
I thought the first Carmex product I tried was nasty, but decided to give the brand another go with this one. But unfortunately, although I usually like lime products, I didn’t like this one either!

So, July wasn’t quite as good as June, partly I think because there was a lot of tanning stuff in the edit, and I don’t do tanning, as well as a lot of nail varnish, wich I didn’t want. This limited my choices a bit.

So, one product I didn’t like, a couple that I wasn’t fussed about, some new lipsticks and some old favourits. I was a bit underwhelmed, but I think that most of the things I got were still good value for money.

How about you?

Have you tried any of these products? If so, what did you think of them? If you do Latest in Beauty reviews, either as blog posts or Youtube videos, feel free to leave a link!

Don’t forget the giveaway is still open

My September giveaway is still open, so if you’d like to be in with a chance to win some skincare goodies from brands such as the Body Shop and Sanctuary Spa, this is where you can enter.

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

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

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

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

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

Skin care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bath and shower

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

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

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

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

Hair care

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

Perfume

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

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

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