19 February empties

Well, I have quite a lot of empties to share with you this month, so let’s get straight on in!

1. Cherry and almond body milk

So this Bath set from Candy Spa was a Christmas present. I thought the mango powder would be my favourite, but no, it was the cherry and almond bath milk, which smelled great! The fizzy mango powder was good too, but I found you needed quite a bit of it to get a good mango scent going on!

2. Molton Brown gingerlily body wash

This was a little sample, but I wanted to include it because it is the first ever Molton Brown product that I’ve tried and although I don’t think you can wash a whole body with such a small sample, the product is a lovely treat.

I got mine in the Amazon beauty box, which you get free if you spend £50 on beauty. That does sound a lot, but I buy a lot of my beauty products and toiletries on there, so when I stocked up, I did hit the £50. In the box you get a body mud scrub from Rituals (70ml), day cream from Pai Skincare (10ml), this body wash (30ml), Elemis lavender repair mask (15ml), Gatineau radiance enhancing Gommage (15ml), Laura Geller make-up primer (15ml), Korres body milk (40ml), and Dr Lipp nipple balm (4ml).

This box is now unavailable – I guess they sold out – but if you see anything similar on Amazon and were planning to spend money on beauty treats anyway, it’s a nice way to try out some new products for free! Oh, but if you want the body mud, keep an eye out for the March give-away, either by following the blog or subscribing to the email alerts!

3. Age defying moisturiser

I think I got this in Latest in Beauty, but you can buy the full-size one from the Green People site. It’s certified organic and fair trade, and as a moisturiser it was fine. It claims to moisturise, as well as reduce fine lines and wrinkles. The only problem for me was the lavender scent. Lavender belongs in the bath or as an oil for relaxing – but not on my face. Still, if you’re ok with the lavender, it’s a nice product.

4. L’Oréal million lashes mascara

So sad this mascara ran out. I like its formula, the way it lengthens and separates my lashes, and I like the wand. I want to use a couple of others up first, but I will be buying this again.

5. Maskorea too many late nights sheet mask

Another find from Latest in Beauty, this 3-part sheet mask was a new experience for me! As I’m writing this, the mask is on special offer. I don’t think I’d pay full price for it, but if you’re going for a weekend away and space is at a premium, it does include a foaming cleanser and a night cream as well, which makes it a bit different from your standard sheet mask. I was happy with it on Latest in Beauty, because with the 9 product box, I only paid £2, which made it a bargain – and the mask itself was a good hydrating mask.

6. Body Shop banana shampoo

I have mentioned this before, but I wanted to add it into this post because there is now a larger option available for the banana shampoo in case you find yourself in the situation in which your shampoo runs out before your conditioner. I love this banana range and although it’s fine for all hair types, it’s a nourishing range, so good if you have dry hair, or just want to give it a pamper!

7. Satsuma body butter

This was enormous and took a long time to use up. I love the fruity scents from the body shop, and I don’t think you can go wrong with the satsuma body butter!

8. Eyeko mascara

This mascara came in the M&S beauty advent calendar. I liked the fact that it was waterproof. I liked the formula because it didn’t stick my lashes together. I did not like the curved brush, and as a result I wouldn’t buy the full size!

9. Kiwi, shea, aloe, and bamboo Innis Free masks

I use a sheet mask once or twice a week and used the above four from my Innis Free selection 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. Last time I was reviewing sheet masks I was complaining about a sticky residue on the face, and this doesn’t happen with these Innis Free ones, which gives them extra plus points.

10. ginger shower gel

I picked up the Soaper Duper ginger body wash at the supermarket because I wanted to try a couple of products from this range and I was intrigued about the ginger. The body wash is thick and creamy, leaving your skin feeling soft, and the zingy ginger and lemon scent is refreshing. The bottle is an unusual shape, which means you have to give it a good squish to get the last of the product out. I would buy this again or see what else they have in the range.

11. cranberry shower gel

I got this cranberry shower gel from Lavera just before Christmas, but have only just got round to using it up. Intensive moisture? I don’t think so. I found it quite thin. Yes, it smelled of cranberries and that was cool, but there are nicer festive products out there!

12. Shea butter and almond body lotion

This was from my swap box from Germany and it’s made by a German brand that you can’t get here. Still, I enjoyed trying it out and smelling of almonds. It was nourishing and gentle on the skin.

13. L’Occitane cream

This was the teeniest sample, but the best thing in the L’Occitane advent calendar as far as I’m concerned. I’ve had the full-size product before and loved it! It’s so gentle and soothing on the face, with a subtle scent. It leaves the face feeling soft all day, and soaks into the skin quickly. This is a lovely cream and I’m glad they included it in the advent calendar.

14. almond soap

I really am not sure about this! On one hand I love the smell of almonds in this soap from L’Occitane, but the crushed up almond shells that are supposed to help exfoliate were not my thing. They just made it feel as though the soap were dirty. Like the one we had at the riding stables that I never wanted to touch because I didn’t like to think of where it had been. I know the reason for the shells, but the almond oil on its own would have been better!

15. Maringa shower gel

I had this little mini from the Body Shop. All of the Body Shop shower gels are good quality and made with natural ingredients. The maringa line is for you if you prefer a floral to a fruity scent. I prefer the fruity ones, but it was still nice to try out a mini from the Maringa line

16. strawberry shower gel

Another Body Shop shower gel mini – this time the strawberry one. I preferred this to the maringa, but it is a very sweet scent, and not something I would use all the time. Still, I do like the smell of fresh strawberries from time to time!

17. sunflower hand cream

I wanted to try out some products from Laidbare, so I got their sunflower hand cream. I love sunflowers – that was part of what attracted me! I had this on my desk and I liked the subtle sunflower scent. This isn’t runny, but it isn’t heavy-duty either. It sinks in quickly, but leaves the hands feeling moisturised. It’s not sticky, so a good one for your handbag or to use throughout the day.

18. Manuka honey sheet mask

This was my favourite item in the Pink Parcel box in February. It’s the Manuka honey sheet mask from Vitamasques.

Manuka honey has loads of great properties for your skin and hair. For example, it hydrates, locking in moisture and absorbs moisture from the air. It promotes skin regeneration, oxygenates pores to draw out bacteria, reduces redness due to its anti-inflammatory properties, and inhibits a group of enzymes that destroy collagen, a protein we need for firm skin – the opposite of wrinkles and fine lines.

19. Schreck apple lip balm

This apple-flavoured Chapstick was a lovely addition to my lip balm collection. I enjoyed the fruity flavour and it did its job, with the benefit of added SPF. This is a pack of 4, but they are cheap and it’s actually more cost-effective to buy a multi-pack.

So, what did you use up this month? I like a good empties post, so let me know in the comments if you have written one!

Listen to the podcast episode

I’ve also produced a podcast episode about my empty products for February. You can look for Unseen Beauty on Apple podcasts (previously known as iTunes), or wherever you get your podcasts. Alternatively, you can listen to it here:

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Chocolate tasting – German and Swedish chocolate

Hello to all the chocolate lovers out there!

One of the things we do when we visit new countries is a chocolate test! We look for a few different types of chocolate from that country, buy it, and chomp our way through it! All in the name of cultural research! Good idea, right?

Today’s post is about chocolate from Sweden and Germany.

Swedish chocolate

We tested three types of Swedish chocolate. My favourite is the Marabou apelsin krokant milk chocolate bar, which is a delicious chocolate orange bar with crispy bits! If you like Terry’s chocolate oranges, you will like this bar too! It’s got a distinct orange flavour and the crunchy bits just add to the texture! Yum! We buy one every time we go to Sweden now!

The other Marabou product is the Marabou mint krokant milk chocolate bar which is basically a crunchy mint bar! The crunchy pieces in this bar are not as soft as the orange ones – they’re more like tiny bits of butterscotch or something like that, so they don’t melt in your mouth straight away. I do like this one too, but it also has tiny bits of nut in it, and I think the mint would be better without them.

I couldn’t find the third one online, but it’s the Plopp bar! Ok, I admit it, I bought it because of the name, which is at first a bit amusing for English speakers, but I wasn’t disappointed with the milk chocolate and soft caramel centre! These are slightly smaller than the other two, and also very moreish!

German chocolate

In terms of German chocolate, it wasn’t as much about trying out new things, but sending my partner off with a list of things to bring back when he went on a business trip there! I haven’t been to Germany for a while, but I used to go regularly, and I always left a bit of room in my suitcase for chocolate – specifically coffee and strawberry chocolate!

I don’t know what it is about the English chocolate market, but we are not very adventurous when it comes to chocolate with coffee or fruity fillings.

If you go to Germany, or a German shop here in the UK, you don’t have this problem, because Ritter produces both coffee and strawberry chocolate.

My favourite is the Ritter Sport Espresso (5 bars). It’s quite strong, and ideal for coffee lovers. I find in the UK, there are only really weak, creamy alternatives with a hint of coffee flavour, but this is not like that, which is why I like it.

There is also a strawberry one – the Ritter Sport strawberry yoghurt chocolate bar (5 bars). This has a creamy yoghurt centre with strawberry in the centre of each square and is a treat for anyone who likes to mix chocolate and fruit as I do!

My other strawberry favourites are the Ferrero Yogurette bars, which are individually wrapped, thin, finger bars of chocolate with a smooth strawberry yoghurt filling inside. This is different to the Ritter one, because that has tiny strawberry bits in it. I remember several years ago that there was also a special mango edition of these, but I haven’t seen them since.

When I went on my school exchange to Germany, I collected a selection of the Yogurette bars and bottles of sparkling mineral water. My host family was concerned that I was hungry and thirsty, but the real problem was that some of the English students didn’t like these things, so I rescued them before they got thrown away! Because you can’t throw Yogurette away!!! That’s just wrong!

What do you think?

Have you tried any of these bars? What do you think of them?

If you’re Swedish or German, are there other things that you think I should try?

Or maybe you’re from another country – I’m always looking for chocolate recommendations, so let me know your suggestions in the comments!

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The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

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January empties

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

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

Skincare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bath and shower products

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hair products

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

Food and drink

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

What do you think?

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

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

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

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

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