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Birchbox June 2016 - Paradise Found

My Birchbox post is a little late this month, but there is a very good reason for both that and my recent lack of posts. If you follow me on Twitter then you may be aware that I moved house at the beginning of June. I only had an admittedly very full bedroom to pack up as well as a few things in the loft and in a cupboard, but it took so long to pack and has taken even longer to unpack and settle in. I've stayed active as much as possible on Instagram but had to completely abandon blogging for a while and I've really missed it. But now I'm back, and my first post is about June's Birchbox*. 

This month Birchbox have gone for a tropical feel with the theme Paradise Found and there are two boxes; one featuring a palm tree print and one a pineapple print. I'm not sure if you got to pick your box or not this month, but you usually do have the option. There was also an upgrade available this month where you could add a pair of Quay Australia sunglasses for £18 instead of £30, but I believe this was only available before the box was actually released.

Birchbox June 2016 - Paradise Found
Birchbox June 2016 - Paradise Found

I received the palm tree box and although I think I might have preferred the pineapple one, in general I'm not a huge fan of this box design. Although in some ways the box is quite bright it's also quite pastel and I tend to prefer a bright colourful box. You can't deny that the boxes are very 'on trend' though. They just needed a watermelon slice box, a flamingo box and a unicorn box and that would have been all blogger obsessions covered! This month there has been a slight change to the box and although it is still box shaped it actually has a drawer you pull out rather than lifting off the lid. I think this one will end up on my brand new desk/dressing table used as storage.

Birchbox June 2016 - Paradise Found

When I first opened the drawer the first product that came into view was the Percy & Reed Session Hold hairspray. I only tend to use hairspray when I've curled my hair, which isn't very often at the moment, but I believe my current one is almost empty so this will come in useful. I haven't tried this at all so I have no idea what it's like but I do like the dinky little size that you can drop in your handbag. As long as it doesn't make my hair in any way crispy or solid it will probably be a thumbs up from me. 

The next product I spotted was a Laura Mercier Soufflé body crème in Ambre Vanillé. This is currently sealed (I do like to see an actually sealed product) so I can't see what it smells like until I decide to open it, but I would imagine it smells amazing. The only Laura Mercier product I've tried is a primer and that was the one that convinced me primers can actually do something for you, so I have high hopes for this being a lovely product. 

To follow was a James Reed Overnight Tan Sleep Mask Tan Face, which is a little bit of a mouthful. This is basically a fake tan for your face. You apply the gel at night, making sure you blend into the hairline and décolletage, and wake to a subtle golden glow. Hopefully! I can see the possibility for disaster with this so if I do decide to try it I'll probably start off with a patch test in my elbow or somewhere inconspicuous so I can see how it develops. 

Next up is a product from a brand that I haven't personally come across called Absolution. The product is called Le Nettoyant Pureté and on looking at the packaging I wouldn't be able to tell you what sort of product this is. Resorting to the Birchbox booklet informed me this is a gel face cleanser. The ingredients are in English and I can see that lavender is high up on the ingredients list so I'm cautious about using this. I will give it a try as it is a wash off product, but this might not be a product for me. 

Birchbox June 2016 - Paradise Found

Finally I found a little Jelly Pong Pong Paradise Pigments in Cake Pop. Again I wasn't entirely sure what this product was at first glance but it's actually a lip and cheek tint. The colour is quite shockingly bright, but the booklet does reassure you that this is much more subtle than it looks in the pot. This is the only full size product in this months box. 

Although there are a good mix of products this month, including make-up, hair care, facial tan, facial cleanser and body lotion, it's not my favourite box of the last few months. I think the products are good but are maybe not the right selection for me personally. I certainly wouldn't call it a bad box at all though.

If you'd like to sign up to Birchbox it's just £10 a month for the box plus £2.95 P&P and you can sign up here.

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The Body Shop Honey Bronze Drops of Sun Holiday Glow Creator

I feel like I've been waiting forever for The Body Shop's new Honey Bronze Drops of Sun Holiday Glow Creator* to be released, but it has now landed on The Body Shop website so it's time to tell you about it. I didn't want to post about it before it was available to buy as that's a bit of a tease!

The Body Shop Honey Bronze Drops of Sun Holiday Glow Booster

I was sent this back in March so I could give it a try and provide a review for the product page on the website. I do find it a little frustrating when I look at a brand new product on a website and because it's brand new there's no reviews. So I think this is a great idea, although no reviews are currently showing on the product page for this! 

One reason why I've always been so cautious about attempting self-tan is because I've never really known how to attempt to tan my face. Even when I tan naturally my face tans differently to the rest of my body and is usually lighter. You can't really hide it if you've made a complete hash of tanning your face so adding something in to your moisturiser sounds pretty foolproof. I've wanted to try the Clarins Glow Booster since it was released but was unsure about picking it up because of the price. Prices for the Glow Booster appear to vary between about £17 and £19 online but The Body Shops Drops of Sun has a slightly more budget price of £12.

If you're familiar with the Clarins Glow Booster then this is a very similar product. The idea is you take some of your moisturiser and pop it on the back of your hand, mix in a drop of Drops of Sun and then apply to your face as normal. One drop will probably provide you with a subtle glow but you can add more drops if you wish for more of a tanned look. You can also add a little to your foundation and use to contour, or even apply to your whole face I guess if you wish. It's matte and shimmer free and doesn't have an orange tone to it so you don't need to worry about looking like a cross between Edward Cullen and an Oompa Loompa. 

The Body Shop Honey Bronze Drops of Sun Holiday Glow Booster
The Body Shop Honey Bronze Drops of Sun Holiday Glow Booster

As much as I do like the design of the bottle it is glass, so may not be particularly travel friendly unless you wrap it up well (get it wrapped up in some knickers!) and also there are some issues with the dropper. I've found that once there is some product in the dropper it's easy to dispense a drop, but when the dropper is empty it can be difficult to get any product into it. I guess because it's a little thick it doesn't 'suck' up easily. There is usually some product on the dropper when you remove it from the bottle so you might have to resort to trying to wipe some off onto your blob of moisturiser. 

I'm really quite pale, almost see-through, and I found that this was quite subtle with one drop. I personally prefer this though as I'd rather build it up over a few days or add a little bit more if I know I need to rather than waking up the following day and getting a shock.  

The Body Shop Honey Bronze Drops of Sun Holiday Glow Creator is available in store now and on The Body Shop website. 


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Birchbox May 2016 - For the Dreamers...

Oh Birchbox what a good box you have this month! This months inspiration is fantastic dreams, one of which Birchbox thinks is winning a dream holiday.

Birchbox May 2016 - For the Dreamers
Birchbox May 2016 - For the Dreamers

Let's start off with the box itself shall we. This month the box has had another make-over, but to see most of it you'll need to grab a coin and scratch off the silver coating on top of the box. You know when you scratch a scratch card? It's just like that. For two lucky subscribers scratching off the silver covering will reveal they've won a dream holiday of five nights in either the Maldives or Crete. Even if you're not one of the lucky ones make sure you check the booklet in the box for another opportunity to win a holiday, this time to Mallorca.

As my box is a PR sample I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be winning a holiday but I wanted to reveal that gorgeous design so got scratching. I really like the idea of revealing if you've won a prize, but in practice scratching off the whole lot was a real pain! It took ages, made a hell of a mess and damaged the box a little as in the light you can now see scratch marks all over it. I personally think it would have been better to just have a small scratch panel, maybe just under the Birchbox logo. But I love the design and it will definitely be added to my pretty box collection.

Birchbox May 2016 - For the Dreamers
Birchbox May 2016 - For the Dreamers

On to the actual box contents and for me they're just as amazing as the box itself (the design, not the scratching). I'll actually make a start with the 'little extra' as going from left to right feels right. This months lifestyle extra is a little sample sachet of Vite Coco Coconut oil. I'm fully aware that everybody has gone crazy for coconut oil but as of yet I haven't tried it myself in any way. I did ask on Twitter what I should use it for as a newbie but got no responses (nobody loves me!) so if you have a suggestion as to the best way to use it please leave me a comment (someone, anyone?). 

I do like to have a good scrub (I'm talking my body, not Birchboxes covered in silver) so I was pleased to see a tube of Rituals Tao | Wai Wang Mild Exfoliating body scrub as my current pot of scrub is approaching finished. I've actually tried this already #EagerBeaver and it is quite a mild scrub. I'd possibly like it to be slightly scrubbier, but if you prefer a mild scrub then this is for you. This does contains shea butter and coconut oil quite high up in the list of ingredients so it does provide some moisturisation as well.

Birchbox May 2016 - For the Dreamers

Caudalie have recently repackaged their Vinosource range with new pink packaging and my box contained a sample of the Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet. The new pink packaging has definitely caught my eye and I wanted to try their Moisturizing Sorbet so I'm delighted to see this in my box. 

Birchbox posted a sneak peak on their Instagram of the Philip Kingsley PK Prep Polishing Balm and I noticed a lot of people moaning about having Philip Kingsley in the box again. I personally don't mind repeat brands as long as it's not the same product that's been featured before. I don't recognise the packaging on this one so I believe PK Prep might actually be a new range, so it's not 'the same old samples'. I find the ends of my hair frizz quite easily even when blow drying so I'm all for trying a new product that might help smooth them. 

There's another repeat brand with theBalm Stainiac. Yes theBalm has featured numerous times in Birchbox but each time I've received a different product including a cream blush, powder highlighter and lip/cheek stain. Their samples sizes are so cute and I've got a lot of use out of the previous two I've received. This one is a Benetint type product that comes with a little doe foot applicator.  

Birchbox May 2016 - For the Dreamers

Finally there's a Spectrum Unicorn Tears Wonder Sponge. This one was the 'pick your sample' this month as you could choose between pink and lilac. I would have quite liked a Spectrum brush because I'd like to try one, but I believe they have featured one of their brushes recently. I do already own three foundation sponges but as I've only used each of them a couple of times and then left them sat on the side they probably need chucking for hygiene reasons. Once I'm settled in my new place (with a dressing table) I intend to start using one regularly so I'm glad to have received a brand new one. This one feels much stiffer than the BeautyBlender and feels more like the Nicka K one I have. Price wise at £4.99 this comes in a little cheaper than the Real Techniques version. 

Overall I'm really pleased with this months box. The actual box features a beautiful design and there's a good mix of products including body skincare, face skincare, make-up, a make-up tool and hair care. If you like the look you can subscribe to Birchbox here.

What do you think of the May Birchbox?

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Coping with fainting

I've been a fainter since my early teens and the first time I fainted was pretty embarrassing. I'd gone to London with my best friend and her parents to see a travel show, although for me and my friend it was more about the trip to London than the actual travel show. The show was really busy and packed with people and I started to feel a bit weird. Then I fainted right in the middle of a crowd. I woke up on the floor with loads of people looking at me and then security escorted me away to go and see a medic, how mortifying! 

Although it has been quite a rare occurrence since then I've started suffering regularly since June 2014 and it's now something I have to make sure I'm prepared for, especially in the summer. Technically I've only ever fainted once, that first time in London, but ever since I've had a 100% success rate at avoiding actually fainting. Although I know the signs well and know how to deal with them I'm aware many people have possibly never fainted before and may not know what to do to try and prevent it happening. So I thought I'd do a post to help you identify when you might be about to faint and what to do to try and stop it.


There may be different reasons why somebody might faint. For me it's related to not having eaten, forgetting to drink, or overheating, but when it comes to my brother he faints when it comes to things like needles and hospitals (and he's getting worse!). The advice I'm providing here works for tackling the reasons why I faint, but might not necessarily work for fainting for other reasons. It can only help though.

The signs 

The first sign will be that you'll start to feel unwell. For me I'll start to feel a little light-headed and like I'm starting to struggle to support my own body weight, so I might need to hold on to someone or something to support me. I'll also start to feel hot and as it progresses will feel hotter and hotter and will probably be sweating quite badly. Any noise or anybody talking to me will start to sound distant, like they're a long way away from me. If I'm walking I'll probably start to sway a little and will have trouble 'finding my feet'. The last thing to happen will be I'll lose my vision. At first it will go fuzzy, probably around the edges like tunnel vision, then go completely and then I'll faint. I also asked my brother and he said he'll just see white, as well as feeling unwell and becoming hot. The closest I've come to actually fainting since the first time in London was two years ago on set. In fact that was the start of me starting to experience fainting regularly. It was baking hot and I was in full period costume consisting of two or three skirts, an apron, a blouse, two corsets, a jacket, a shawl, a cap and a bonnet. I was down to around 50% vision and I walked into a wall, while we were filming! 

What to do

Sit down - If you start to feel the early signs, whether you think you might end up fainting or not, the best thing to do is sit down. If there are no chairs, walls, benches or anything else you can sit on then just sit on the floor. Yes you might get a few strange looks but believe me it's far better to get yourself sat on the floor safely rather than leaving it until you fall and risk hurting yourself. Yes in films people's legs go and they crumple elegantly to the floor or into a handsome man's arms, but according to my friend when I fainted I fell like a plank a wood into a poor unsuspecting man's back (mortifying!). You probably won't end up looking like the image I've used above. If you can sit with your knees up so you can rest your head on or between your knees that will also help, but in general just get yourself on the floor. If you can lay down that's even better but to be honest that's only really possible if you're at home, unless you're fine with laying down in the supermarket or the middle of the street!

Remove clothing - Be sensible with this one. If you can take off a coat/scarf/jumper etc then do to let your body temperature come down. If it's hot I carry a small water spray with me and if needed I'll spray it on my face, wrists and the back of my neck to help bring my temperature down. 

Drink water - As I said dehydration is a contributing factor towards me fainting. I've always had a problem with drinking water because I hate the taste, but since I started fainting I've forced myself to start drinking it and usually always have a bottle with me. Even if dehydration is not the cause of feeling faint it will help you to recover and feel better. 

Dioralyte - Although water on its own is good I would recommend adding Dioralyte. This is intended for replacing lost fluids and salt when you have diarrhoea, but it's perfect for helping your recover after a fainting spell. This is what the medics on set carry around in their kit and give you to help stop you fainting/recover from fainting. You just pop a sachet in a bottle of water and drink it. You can barely detect it, it just makes the water a little cloudy and sweet and it's surprising how much this perks you up. I now always carry a couple of sachets in my bag just in case.

Eat - Ideally it's probably best if you eat something as soon as possible. A meal or a sandwich or even something like a few biscuits would be good but I know this isn't always practical. Although I don't do it all the time if I'm on set or going to be out for a long time in the summer I'll carry a little packet of biscuits (things like those Belvita breakfast biscuits are good) or even better something like a little pack of Jelly beans or Jelly babies for the sugar.

The main one is definitely sitting down, but if you can do at least a few of the other as well then you should feel fine in about 10-15 minutes. I would be a little cautious for the rest of the day though. On some occasions I've gone on to do maybe another 10 hours on set with no problems and other times I have had other spells later in the day (in the full period costume for example, I did have two corsets on!).

Have you ever suffered from fainting?

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Yes to...Carrots & Cucumbers

Yes to are a brand that I'm aware of but I haven't personally tried anything from any of their five different ranges that include Carrots, Cucumbers, Blueberries, Tomatoes and Grapefruit. Each range addresses a different skin type and the products that I have to try are for normal to dry skin (carrots) and sensitive skin (cucumbers). I'm not quite sure if it applies to all ranges but the two I have consist of at least 95% natural ingredients and they're free from parabens, petroleum, SLS and phthalates. I did have to Google that last one and they're chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl, lovely! 

I've been trying the Yes to Carrots Exfoliating cleanser* and Yes to Cucumbers Daily Calming moisturiser*.

Yes to Carrots Exfoliating cleanser & Yes to Cucumbers Daily Calming moisturiser
Yes to Carrots Exfoliating cleanser

The Yes to Carrots range is the original range from the brand and features a moisturising formula to soften and hydrate skin and hair. They contain beta-carotene which protects skin from damaging free radicals and shea butter, sweet almond oil and avocado for moisturisation and improving the appearance of dry skin. The range also includes a shampoo and conditioner, facial cleansing wipes, an eye cream, day and night cream, body wash, body lotion, body butter and hand cream.  

The Yes to Carrots Exfoliating cleanser is a creamy cleanser containing finely ground bamboo to act as the exfoliant. The bamboo is pretty much invisible within the cleanser but if you look closely you can see little gritty white bits within the cream. This isn't the harshest exfoliator I've tried but it's also not the most gentle. In general I now prefer acid exfoliators over manual ones and this is just bordering on being a little too harsh for me, but it's fine if I go gently. I'm currently suffering with very dry and dehydrated skin with flaky patches that are proving persistent and this does a good job of manually scrubbing the dry skin away. 

Yes to Cucumbers Daily Calming moisturiser

The Yes to Cucumbers range is hypo-allergenic and dermatologist tested to calm, soothe and protect sensitive skin. The cucumbers range contains cucumbers and aloe vera, which are rich in vitamins and minerals and have soothing and cooling properties. It also contains green tea as an astringent for treating troubled skin and breakouts and spirulina which is an antioxidant. The cucumbers range is smaller than the carrots range but also contains a shampoo and conditioner, eye gel, facial wipes, gel cleanser, face mask and body wash. 

The Daily Calming moisturiser comes with a pump which I always prefer over a pot for hygiene reasons but also because I always have long nails and it really annoys me getting cream under them. This is a light cream with quite a strong cucumber scent. I know cucumbers don't really have a strong smell, but if you don't like the smell of cucumbers you might not be keen on this. For some reason despite being a light cream I thought my skin might have trouble absorbing it, because it likes to be a pain, but it absorbs completely leaving soft smooth skin. It also does have a slight cooling and soothing feel to it. This is ideal as a morning moisturiser and it has been coping quite well with my dry skin with a hydrating serum layered underneath. This is a nice little budget moisturiser.

The Yes to Carrots Exfoliating cleanser is £6.99 and the Yes to Cucumbers Daily Calming moisturiser is £11.99 and both are available in Boots and Whole Foods stores. 

Have you tried anything from any of the Yes to ranges?

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Instagram round-up April 2016

I nearly forgot to do my April Instagram round-up!


T:L I'm a big fan of Lord & Berry's lipstick crayons, so when I had the opportunity to try out some more Lord & Berry products I jumped at the chance. I can't wait to try the lipstick and the mascara, which has a quite unusual wand.

T:M Any pictures I post of products from the bareMinerals Lovescape collection tend to be very popular and I'm not surprised. The packaging and products are beautiful.

T:R I'm a huge fan of the original Bourjois Rouge de Velvet liquid lipsticks so I'm always eager to try any follow up products they release. Unfortunately I've found these disappointing, Hopefully I'll get my post up on them soon.

M:L The April Birchbox featured a collaboration with Rifle Paper Co and the two box designs available were both gorgeous. I'm not surprised the picture of my April box now holds my highest 'like' record.

M:M This one is my entry to the Essie and Rankin competition for a chance to be pampered by Essie and photographed by Rankin. The post I read said Essie would pick their favourites so I tried to make an effort to create a good image. They actually picked their winners at random and unfortunately I wasn't one of them.

M:R One of the products in the April Birchbox was a sample size of one of Benefit's newest products, Dew the Hoola. Although the bottle inside isn't that exciting the outer cardboard packaging has a beautiful design.

B:L I featured these Revlon Parfumerie shades in my spring bright nail shades post and the bottles proved very popular. It's a shame these shades were discontinued quite a while ago.

B:M I've wanted to try the bareMinerals Complexion Rescue since last summer but never got round to buying it. I've finally got my hands on it and I got it for a bargain price too.

B:R As I said I'm a big fan of the Lord & Berry lipstick crayons and these are the shades I currently own.

I thought I might add a little bit to these posts recommending a few accounts I enjoy following. This month I'm focusing on cats! If you're a cat fan then you need to be following @cobythecat and @smoothiethecat. Coby's liner is 'on fleek' (you'll see what I mean!) and Smoothie has the most beautiful green eyes.

What accounts would you recommend?

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China Glaze Ever Glaze Extended wear gel nail varnishes

Although I'm a big fan of nail varnish I've never really bothered with gel varnishes before. I can't wear proper gel varnishes that are cured because I can't remove them (it burns my skin) and I've never really thought that standard nail varnishes with a 'gel effect' could look quite the same. I've also never tried a China Glaze nail varnish before, maybe because they're not widely available over here in the UK. So I was definitely up for an opportunity to try a few shades from China Glaze's new Ever Glaze range.

China Glaze Ever Glaze Extended wear gel nail varnishes

I received three shades from the range; Adrenaline Rush*, White Noise* and Pretty Poppy*. The bottles these come in somehow manage to look quite standard but also slightly unusual. They have what I can only describe as a rounded semi-circle shape if you look at them from the top and an upside-down skirted shape looking at them straight on. 

Although the two bright shades do satisfy my love of a bright colour they aren't really the sort of shades I would usually go for. Poppy would suggest to me a red shade but it's actually orange and I've never really been a fan of orange nail shades. Adrenaline Rush is a pink I would consider wearing but it does contain a very very fine blue shimmer that I'm not keen on. White Noise is a pretty standard clean white. As I predicted the white has all but disappeared in the swatch below but it is there!

China Glaze Ever Glaze Extended wear gel nail varnishes

When I first saw the brush I thought it was a little on the short and stumpy side and I did think it might make application a little difficult. It's a very neat, precise looking brush and I did find that actually it helped with very precise application. I did need to make sure there wasn't too much varnish on the brush though as although I liked the formula if you did use too much it had a tendency to run down and pool at the sides of the nail. 

Pretty Poppy and Adrenaline Rush are probably two coaters and do leave a nice glossy gel like finish, but I do like to add my current top coat of choice Essie Gel Setter on top. White nail varnishes are notoriously difficult to apply and White Noise did take three coats to even out the colour but the texture was still a little uneven. This should be sorted out with a good top coat. I didn't notice that the finish on any of them was particularly 'plump', but I think that is hard to achieve with a standard nail varnish unless you use a lot, which then takes forever to dry. 

My nails are quick chippers; I usually have at least a chip or two within a day and then if I don't stop myself I start picking. I've only worn Pretty Poppy for any length of time (and I surprised myself by actually quite liking the colour) and although I took it off to change colour after a few days I don't think I had any chips when I did take it off, maybe just a little tip wear. Although the colours maybe weren't for me these are nice nail varnishes and I'd definitely consider buying a shade I liked more. 

These are exclusive to Sally so they're not that easy to get hold of, but if you don't have a store nearby you can order them online here and they're £8.99 each.

What's your favourite gel nail varnish?

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The red hair colour refreshers - Schwarzkopf & Maria Nila

If you follow me on Twitter you may know that my red hair is gone and I'm back to brunette again. There are a couple of reasons why I decided to give up on having red hair. The first is that red hair is very high maintenance and to be honest a bit of a pain in the bum. But the main reason for me was to do with work. If you don't know I work in TV and film and when I decided to go red there were very few periods roles around. Sods law as soon as I dyed my hair an unnatural colour pretty much all the roles became period roles. These are some of my favourite roles to do, but with an unnatural hair colour I don't stand a chance of being cast. For some roles they're really picky and will only use people who have completely natural hair (no dye), but others will take people with dyed hair as long as it's a natural colour and not obviously dyed. So I went back to brunette and now actually have the colour I was originally after when I left my naturally blonde hair behind five and a half years ago.

As the red has now gone I thought I should probably review a couple of red hair products I was using before I give them away. I will point out that I've only used these products once, maybe twice each because I did tend to just re-dye my hair when I was home. So I don't think I've used then enough for a thorough review, but I can give you my initial thoughts on them.

Schwarzkopf Live Colour Refresher & Maria Nila Colour Refresh
Schwarzkopf Live Colour Refresher

Although I have changed brand at the moment (I'm not ruling out going back though) I've always been quite loyal to the Schwarzkopf Live XXL dyes. When I first went red I used a different brand but when the colour washed out completely within three weeks I decided to go back to using the XXL dyes. Of course being a red shade it did still fade quite considerably, but it didn't wash out completely. I spotted a tweet from a PR regarding Schwarzkopf's new Live Colour Refreshers and when I asked if they had any information on the products I could read before I decided whether or not to buy one they kindly sent me one to try.

The Schwarzkopf Live Colour Refresher* is a ready to use mousse that doesn't need mixing and can be used in the shower without gloves. You can apparently get six uses out of each pack. To use you shampoo as normal, shake the can well before spraying some mousse into your hand and applying evenly. You then wash your hands well and leave for three minutes before rinsing away. 

Schwarzkopf Live Colour Refresher

Although this is suitable for different red shades (the shades are all shown on the back of the pack) I did think this might be a little too bright for me as my shade was quite a dark red. Using this certainly wasn't anywhere near like re-dying my hair, but it did freshen it up a little. It might be good to use if you're going somewhere or doing something but don't want to or don't have the time to re-dye your hair. It was a little bright for my hair but worked well if I wanted to head a little more towards a bright red rather than darker red. I can't see on the packaging how long this is supposed to last but I would estimate maybe a couple of washes at the most.

Maria Nila Colour Refresh

I became aware of Maria Nila when their products were featured on a few blogs maybe last year and their packaging definitely attracted me to their products. Being a Swedish brand they aren't easy to get hold of in the UK, but you can find them in Sally stores and on the Sally website. I'm quite lucky that there's a Sally store probably a couple of minutes walk from my boyfriends house, so I headed down and picked up one of their Colour Refresh products to try. They have a good range of shades available, including a couple of slightly more unusual shades, and for the red haired ladies they have Bright Red and Autumn Red. As I said my red was on the darker shade so I went for Autumn Red. 

Like their colour masque (which I will get round to reviewing at some point) this product is gorgeous. It's 100% vegan, sulphate and paraben free and contains softening argan oil. This one you apply evenly to towel dried hair and leave for between three and ten minutes depending on the result you want before rinsing out. This is a thick, conditioner like product that smells amazing and you will need to wear to gloves to use it as it's a deep, dark red shade that will leave your hands red. 

This one was much closer to my shade of red and I loved the effect it had on my hair. It really did refresh my colour, although not quite as much as actually dying it, and it also left my hair feeling amazing. Unfortunately I couldn't say how long this lasts, maybe only a couple of washes, but this is the sort of product I would consider using every Sunday maybe as a conditioning masque and colour booster. Although I'm sure my new brunette shade won't fade anywhere near like my red did I'm considering picking up a brown shade to help keep it looking glossy and healthy. I'm also considering keeping actually keeping the red and using it if I fancy a short-term slight red tint to my hair.

You can find the Schwarzkopf Live Colour Refreshers (£4.29) in Boots and Superdrug and can find the Maria Nila Colour Refresh (£16.99) in Sally stores and online.

Do you ever use a colour refresher on your hair? 

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Merumaya Melting Cleansing balm

I've been a fan of cleansing oils for a while now and have recently come around to cleansing balms, so when I saw a tweet looking for people to try Merumaya's Melting Cleansing balm* I put myself forward.

Merumaya Melting Cleansing balm

Although I have heard of the brand Merumaya this is my first experience of using one of their products. The Melting Cleansing balm contains echium oil which contains omega 3, 6 and 9 to reduce lines and wrinkles, improve elasticity and help to repair barrier function. It also contains sweet almond oil, which Merumaya refer to as a 'wash on' moisturiser, leaving a velvety feel on the skin. Although called a balm this is somewhere between a cleansing oil and a traditional 'solid' balm. Whereas an oil will usually come in a bottle with a pump and a balm in a tub or pot, this one comes in a squeezable tube. It dispenses easy providing a 'blob' of silky feeling balm. Although it doesn't actually require melting down the best way to apply the balm is to rub it between your fingers to spread out the balm before applying to dry skin.

There is a fragrance to the product but I can't actually place what this is. Although reasonably strong I don't find it particularly overpowering and it's quite pleasant as you massage the product in to your skin. I haven't actually tried using this to remove make-up but while I don't like using solid balms because I have trouble removing them from my eyes, I don't think this would be a problem at all with this one. As I said this is a very silky feeling balm so you don't need to use an awful lot and it glides over skin easily. After massaging into the skin for a while you add water to emulsify into a milk. Merumaya recommend then removing with a cloth but I've found it is easy enough to remove this just with water. 

As winter has been starting to change into spring I've been struggling with very dry skin and I've turned to this to try and get some moisture into my skin. It's one of those cleansers that not only leaves your skin feeling really clean but also not at all stripped, as if you've used a light moisturiser rather than cleanser. Using this and a few other fail safe products my skin has improved and I'm not having to battle with dry patches as much now. 

The Merumaya Melting Cleansing balm is £16.50 and is available from the Merumaya website. 

Have you tried any Merumaya products?

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*PR sample 

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