Wednesday, 20 February 2019

The Body Shop Basingstoke Bloggers Evening - AD Gifted

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, then you might remember my post from last year about a Body Shop Event that I went to in Reading. As I mentioned in that post, I’ve been a fan of The Body Shop since childhood, and I feel like it’s a brand that has grown with me as the years have gone by. Last week, I was invited to another local Body Shop, this time at Festival Place in Basingstoke, for a Bloggers Evening to find out about a few new launches. As a long-time Body Shop fan, it’s always exciting to hear about new scents and products, and this time round there are certainly some gems!

When my Mum and I arrived at the store (after a slightly stressful journey over, getting stuck in the longest traffic jam in history!) we were given a friendly welcome by a couple of members of staff, before catching up with the other bloggers there. It’s always so nice to see other local bloggers at events, especially when it’s people I know quite well like Dawn from Dear Mummy Blog and Laura from Loopy Lou Laura. After a bit of chatting, we were offered a selection of drinks in the prettiest glittery glasses and told to help ourselves to various types of fresh fruit that had been laid on for us. 

Then we got down to business and the assistant manager talked us through a few of their new launches, which will be coming out over the next few weeks. First up were some new products in the Shea Butter range. The Body Shop are celebrating 25 Years of Community Trade Shea this February, and to mark the occasion they have brought out some exciting new Shea based products. First up is the Shea Butter Hair Mask for Dry Hair, Prone to Damage. This sounded right up my street, as although I wouldn’t say I have particularly damaged hair, I do think it could do with some moisture and nourishment. 

The second Shea based product we were shown was probably the one the team were most excited about – 100% Natural Ghanaian Shea Butter. This is multipurpose, and the idea is that customers will use it to create their very own products. That could mean mixing it with some sugar to create a lip scrub or adding a few drops of an essential oil to create a scented moisturiser, or even using some as a melt in the bath. The staff were full of ideas of different options to try, so if it’s something that appeals to you I would definitely get chatting to someone at The Body Shop to share ideas on the things you could use it for. I didn’t realise how many benefits Shea Butter has, but you can find out all about them here. These two products, along with many more, are available in-store and online now!

Another range, which will be coming out in time for Mother’s Day, is a brand new scent for The Body Shop – Cactus Blossom. The store had just managed to get their hands on the Body Yogurt and Body Butter to show us at the event, and I’m so glad they did! When they told us what the scent was, my first thought was ‘I wonder what Cactus Blossom smells like?!’ I kind of imagined it to be fairly boring if I’m completely honest, but when I rubbed a bit into my hands I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the scent is! Cactus Blossom smells very fresh and clean – perfect for moving into the spring and summer months. Dawn described it as smelling of a mixture of aloe vera and cucumber, and to me that pretty much hit the nail on the head (although I’m guessing the official scent description will be a lot more complex than that!) After thinking I probably wouldn’t like it, I left telling myself I would be keeping an eye on the website for when the range is released because I loved the smell so much!

I don’t know about you, but I love a good face mask – I think they’re the perfect way to set aside a bit of time to just relax and unwind, although I do find some can get a little messy! That’s why I really like the idea of using a sheet mask, and at the event we were told about the new Drops of Youth Youth Concentrate Sheet Mask, which definitely sounds like something I would like to try. I’ve already used a couple of products from the Drops of Youth range and found them really good, so I’ll be interested to see if the mask follows suit. It promises bouncier, healthier-looking skin in just 15 minutes, and, even more importantly, this mask is biodegradable. It is enriched with a concentrated dose of their Drops of Youth formula and includes edelweiss, criste marine and sea holly plant stem cells from the Italian Alps and Brittany Coast. It’s also 100% vegan, 99% of their ingredients are of natural origin and it won’t break the bank at a very affordable £5. 

There were quite a few other new (and old!) products that looked good, but there were a couple that really caught my eye. The first was the new Fresh Nude BB Cream, which sounds perfect for me, as I will often go for a lighter BB cream over a full coverage foundation. It’s suitable for sensitive skin, offers 24-hour hydration and is transfer and sweat resistant, so just what we need as the weather begins to get warmer. The downside is that there are only five shades, so I’m guessing the colours won’t suit every skin tone. But hopefully that’s something The Body Shop will be working on.

The other new product that jumped out at me was the Pink Grapefruit Body Yogurt. I loved the idea of the Body Yogurts when we were introduced to them at the event last summer, so I was excited to see that they’ve now brought one out in one of my favourite fragrances, Pink Grapefruit. It’s a deliciously citrusy scent and always brings back happy memories of summers gone by, as for years my Mum’s favourite tipple has been pink grapefruit squash mixed with sparkling water – a love she has passed on to me! It almost smells good enough to eat (although I wouldn’t recommend it!) The Body Yogurts are brilliant if you’re in a hurry but still want to moisturise, as they absorb a lot more quickly than Body Butter and can be applied directly to damp skin after showering. And they don’t leave a sticky residue either, which is always a plus in my eyes. 

In my previous Body Shop post, I mentioned that they were working with Cruelty Free International to take a stand against animal cruelty by asking their customers to sign a petition. If the petition reached 8 million signatures, they would present it to the UN. So I was pleased to see that they smashed their target and took an historic 8.3 million signatures to the United Nations calling for an end to animal testing in cosmetics worldwide – the biggest campaign against animal testing ever! If you want to find out more about their fight against animal testing, they have a whole page with information and ways to get involved.

The last part of our evening was spent finding out how hydrated our skin is. The Body Shop offer skincare consultations using a special moisture monitor, so, of course, each of us decided to have a go. Two out of three of us had pretty dehydrated skin (I won’t expose who was dehydrated, but let’s just say I didn’t come out of it very well!) But the good thing was, armed with this information; the staff were then able to talk us through some products that could help our dehydrated skin (alongside making sure we drink more water!) The first moisturiser we tried was the Vitamin E Moisture Cream for all skin types. It’s fairly lightweight and absorbed easily into my skin, leaving a matte but soft finish. 

We were then given the Vitamin E Gel Moisture Cream to try out, which is similar to the first cream but in a gel consistency. I was drawn more towards this one for two reasons – I really like the gel formula because it feels cooling and refreshing on the skin, and a bit lighter than the conventional cream. But also because it contains raspberry extract and smells amazing (I’m a sucker for a good smell!) The last moisturiser we were given to try was the Drops of Youth Youth Cream, which is a bit more expensive than the other two. It has an air-whipped texture and left my skin feeling soft and bouncy. Out of the ones we tried, all three of us seemed to sway more towards the Vitamin E Gel Cream, and I’m pretty sure it was the scent that swung it!  

After a lovely evening, we left the store with a bag of goodies kindly gifted to us by The Body Shop. It included a little tub of Shea Body Butter, a few samples of moisturisers, facemasks and hair products and a cute peppermint scented reindeer bath bomb, possibly from the Christmas range. I had a lovely evening with The Body Shop Basingstoke, Dawn and Laura and will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for the Cactus Blossom range coming out soon!

Are you a fan of The Body Shop? What’s your favourite range? And what do you think about the new products coming out over the next couple of months?

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate

Although I enjoy putting on make-up, trying out a brand new lipstick and experimenting with different colours on my eyes, I think if I had to choose I would pick a luxurious skincare product every time. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not worth investing in nice make-up if you aren’t looking after what you put it on, and you really can’t beat taking your make-up off in the evening with a relaxing skincare routine.

I’ve tried all sorts of skincare products over the years – from Micellar waters and cleansing balms to fancy serums and moisturising creams. I’m a sucker for anything that will make my skin glow and help me feel pampered at the same time, so when I started seeing rave reviews for the Midnight Recovery Concentrate from Kiehl’s, I was desperate to give it a try! I had actually been eyeing up the Advanced Night Repair from Estée Lauder for some time, but wasn’t able to stretch to the fairly hefty price tag and had given up hope of ever finding anything that matched up to it. But after reading a few blog posts where people were comparing the two, I decided to head to my local Kiehl’s counter to find out more.

I went to the Kiehl’s store in The Oracle Reading, and was immediately welcomed in by a lady dressed in a white doctors coat. As I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for, we discussed what my skin was like and what I felt it needed most. I told her I had heard good things about the Midnight Recovery Concentrate, so we started with that and she let me try a bit on my hands to see what I thought. 

I was a bit nervous about using an oil, as my skin isn’t particularly dry and I thought it would make it feel greasy. But you only use a few drops for your whole face, and within a few minutes the oil has sunken into your skin without a trace of greasiness. The formula works by enhancing your skin’s natural night-time recovery process, helping you wake up in the morning to fresher-feeling skin, which is more toned and has improved radiance. It’s paraben-free and also 99.8% natural-derived, which is good to know as I like to know I’m not putting any nasties on my skin. 

The ingredients include Lavender Essential Oil, Primrose Oil and Kiehl’s signature ingredient, squalane, which is derived from olives. It smells amazing and is perfect for putting on just before you climb into bed, as you can smell the relaxing lavender scent while you drift off to sleep. 

After massaging a few drops into my hands and talking to the lady in the shop I was well and truly sold! The 50ml bottle comes in at £49.50, which although is still pricey, is more in line with what I can currently afford. Plus it lasts for absolutely ages! I’ve been using it for a good few months now and can honestly say I will be very tempted to buy a new bottle, rather than trying something different, when this bottle runs out (although I’ve still got loads left, as you need so little per application). My skin feels moisturised, healthy and glowing, and using the oil is probably my favourite part of my evening skincare routine.

As well as picking up the Midnight Recovery Oil, the lady in the shop also showed me a few other products that, based on the condition of my skin, I might enjoy using. I wasn’t in a position to buy anything else while I was there, but she kindly gave me a few samples to take home, so I could see what I thought. I haven’t had a chance to try them out yet, but they included the Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Masque (which smells amazing!), the Ultra Facial Cream and the Ultra Facial Toner.

So I’m really looking forward to giving those a try in the not too distant future, and perhaps adding some more favourites to my (ever-growing!) shopping list.

Do you have a favourite serum or facial oil that you would recommend? Or are you thinking of trying something from Kiehl’s?

Monday, 21 January 2019

My Goals for 2019

I’m not usually one to make New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve tried it a few times but always seem to find that by the end of January (if not before!) I’ve pretty much broken all of them. I tend to be more the kind of person to set myself little, more regular, goals throughout the year, as they seem more realistic and more achievable. But for some reason this year, I have ended up accidentally setting myself some resolutions! I’m not quite sure how it happened, as I haven’t gone out of my way to come up with goals for myself for the year ahead. But I noticed that as January was approaching, I just seemed to have a few ideas in mind of things I would quite like to work on this year. So I thought I would hold myself accountable and share my goals/resolutions with you. That way, if I don’t stick to them, then I will have to explain myself at the end of the year – talk about peer pressure! I will continue to make smaller goals throughout the year, but these resolutions are things I can continue to follow over the whole year and beyond.

Prioritise sleep

This is probably my most important goal, but also one that may sound a bit odd to some people considering I do actually sleep quite a lot due to chronic illness. But this is more about prioritising sleep at the right time, rather than sleeping all morning or napping during the day. I’ve always been a night owl and cope much better with late nights than I do with early mornings. But because of this, I find it very easy to slip into the habit of staying up really late doing unnecessary things and then feeling even worse the following day. So this year I want to get back into a bit of a better routine with my sleeping. It would be unrealistic of me to aim to get to bed by 9.30pm every night because it’s simply not how my body works best. But aiming to get to bed before midnight is something I know I can do, so certainly to start with, that’s what I will be trying to do. I’m not going to say that I won’t still sleep late or nap during the day, because it all depends on my health, but I think I will feel better mentally for going to bed before midnight and not staying up flicking through Instagram gone 2am. 

Read more

I have always been a huge bookworm. Ever since my Dad started reading me Peter Rabbit when I was a baby, I have loved a good book. When I was growing up, I would often spend my pocket money on the latest Animal Ark or Harry Potter novel, and would spend hours devouring each and every word. I guess that’s why I enjoy writing so much as well. This love of books has never really gone away, but my ability to make time to read definitely has. Certainly over the last year or so, I have found that it has been taking me a few months just to get through one book, and I just seemed to have lost my motivation to put reading first. But I miss it so much – that feeling of finding a new book, opening the first page and becoming invested in a storyline, feeling sad when you reach the last few pages. So this is my year to get back into reading again! It actually fits quite well with my first goal of going to bed earlier, as I tend to read most just before bed. So by getting myself to bed before midnight, it means I still have a bit of time and energy to snuggle up and read a chapter or two. It’s going well so far and I’m really excited to start getting through my huge ‘to be read’ pile!

Swim once a week

If you follow me on YouTube, especially my Weekly Vlogs, you will probably already know that I signed up to a local pool last summer. Having various chronic illnesses can make any kind of exercise pretty difficult, but swimming/hydrotherapy is something that I can do in small doses. My problem has always been finding a suitable space that meets my needs though. Most public swimming pools just haven’t worked for me – they’re either too cold, too busy, only offer lane swimming, are only open early mornings and late evenings or cost loads for a subscription to all sorts of things I can’t use. So when I was told about a fairly new pool in my town at a local retirement village, I was intrigued to see what they could offer. The pool is mainly for those living in the retirement homes, but they also allow guests over 60 and those with disabilities. The cost is reasonable, the pool is lovely and warm (but not too warm!), changing rooms are accessible (as is the pool), it’s really quiet and is just down the road from where I live. So since last summer I have been going down there roughly once a week to do a few hydrotherapy exercises I’ve learnt from my various physio sessions. And it’s something I want to make sure I continue this year. 

Get on with my Project Life album

Project Life, if you’ve never heard of it, is a super easy way of creating a scrapbook, pioneered by a lady called Becky Higgins. Instead of having to cut, stick and buy loads of supplies, with Project Life you simply have an album with lots of plastic pockets, which you can then slip cards and photos into. You can be as creative or simple as you like, which I think is what attracted me to the idea. I’d seen quite a few people on YouTube creating Project Life albums, so quite a while ago now I bought myself a few supplies to get me started. I love the idea of getting my photos off my computer or phone and having physical copies that I can flick through when I want to reminisce. So last year I decided that I would create an album for each year of my life, starting with 2018. However, so far I think I’m still trying to finish January of last year, so I’m not getting on too well! Which is why I thought I would set myself the goal this year of trying to update my scrapbook more often – otherwise there’s no way I will manage to do one every year! Right now, I need to focus on catching up with last year. I’ve printed out most of the photos, so it’s just a case of getting them laid out in the album. Hopefully I can get that finished and get 2019 on the go before next Christmas comes around!

Be more organised with my blog and YouTube

Since leaving university last summer, I’ve been trying to put a lot more time, energy and work into my blog and YouTube channel. I’m really enjoying being able to do that and love creating content for both outlets. But I’ve noticed that, while I’m not doing too badly with my YouTube uploads, I’m really slacking when it comes to my blog. And I’ve really missed writing posts regularly, so it’s something I need to change. The only way I think I’m going to manage to upload regularly on both channels is by getting myself more organised and really start planning everything I need to do. I have all these ideas for blog posts and videos floating round in my head, but I actually need to get them down on paper and then make a plan for how to transfer that into the finished articles. I bought myself a planner towards the end of last year, so my goal this year is to actually use it properly! That will include planning in advance what posts and videos I want to upload, and then working backwards by planning the things I need to do to make that happen. I have never really had a proper uploading schedule, and it can be quite difficult to stick to a plan when you have unpredictable health, but I think having even a rough idea of a plan to stick to might help. So I’m hoping to try and upload two videos (a Weekly Vlog and another video) and one blog post every week. If I manage more, then that’s great. But if I don’t manage to do that every week then that’s also fine. It’s just a guide to help me stay motivated at the moment. 

Use things up!

My last goal for 2019 is possibly the one that sounds most obscure! But this goal came from the fact I have drawers overflowing with various things (toiletries, make-up, stationery etc.…) and thought it was about time I did some serious tidying and clearing. It’s silly really, buying more stuff when you haven’t used up what you’ve got first. I wouldn’t say I’m a hoarder necessarily – just that I’ve ended up collecting things over the years then forgetting what I’ve got and therefore buying more! So this year, I want to try and go through all my drawers, wardrobes, cupboards and boxes to work out what I already have. At the same time, I want to try and organise things so I actually know where to look if, say, I’m looking for a new moisturiser. The idea is that I will actually start using up all those skincare samples I’ve received in beauty boxes and those notebooks I’ve bought in the Paperchase sale. So by this time next year, the hope is that my bedroom and office will be looking a lot more tidy and organised (well, a girl can dream can’t she?!) But I’m going to give it a good try!

And there you have it – my goals for 2019. I feel quite happy with them for once, and actually feel like I have a good chance of sticking to them over the next twelve months. I’m not naïve though – I know there will be times when I’m likely to slip and end up going to bed at 2am or going a bit mad on an online shopping spree. But I guess my overriding goal for this year is going to be to try and be kind to myself – not give myself a hard time if I go wrong and not write myself off after one slip up. So, if there’s a night when I’m not in bed before midnight, instead of giving up altogether, I plan to just start again the next night. And it doesn’t matter how many times I have to start again – as long as I keep trying that’s all that’s important.

Have you made any goals or resolutions for 2019?