Scholl foot care - Dry skin, smelly shoes and sore feet!

Although I do take care of my feet in the summer when they're on show in sandals I do tend to forget about them in the winter when they're wrapped up in socks and boots. So I gratefully accepted a foot care package from Scholl to help me look after my feet this winter. I was sent the Dry skin instant recovery cream*, Fresh step shoe spray* and the Party feet ultra slim invisible gel cushions*.

Scholl foot care products

I don't suffer from smelly feet but what I do have a problem with is smelly shoes, which mostly affects my ballet pumps in the summer. I often have to throw away a perfectly good pair of ballet pumps that still have plenty of wear left in them because they've got to the 'too smelly' point, where you can't risk taking them off in public. I'm feeling so attractive right now! There's not a lot you can do about this as you can't really stop your feet sweating, but you can use something like Scholl's Fresh step shoe spray as a kind of Febreze for your shoes. This eliminates odour instantly and provides 24 hour odour protection and freshness. I've found that this is quite a wet spray, so it's not one to use if you're in a hurry and need to put your shoes on straight away as you will need to leave it to dry. I won't have as much need for this now we're in autumn but I'll definitely be stashing this away for next summer.

Like most people I have to keep an eye on my heels or they get dry and rough and in no state to pop in some pretty sandals in the summer. As I've already mentioned I tend to forget about my feet in the winter but nobody wants nasty heels any time of the year. The Scholl Dry skin instant recovery cream contains something called Deep Hydrate which exfoliates dry, dead skin cells allowing moisture boosters to penetrate deep into the skin. What surprised me about this is that as you apply the cream it feels slightly gritty against your skin. I guess the idea is it lightly exfoliates the skin as you apply it. This is very light exfoliation though so it's not going to work miracles. If your heels are particularly dry I'd recommend exfoliating them first either with a manual scrub, manual file or one of the new electronic files, as if you do have quite a build of hard skin the cream won't get through it.

Scholl foot care products

Something I've always had a problem with is shoes hurting me. It doesn't matter what type of shoe it is, even ballet pumps will usually end up rubbing me somewhere. It's only normally boots I can get away with and even then I have had pairs of boots that have hurt me. I remember thinking years ago how amazing it would be if you could get some kind gel or something similar you could stick to your shoes where they hurt you to stop them rubbing. Somebody else must have had the same idea as me as I later discovered Scholl party feet. These are gel cushions that come in various different shapes and sizes with a sticky back so they can be attached to the inside of your shoes. I've been using these for years and they can be a real life saver. You can get them to go on sling back straps, under the balls of your foot, at the back of your shoe to stop it rubbing on the back of your foot and 'sore spots' which are small circles you can place anywhere in your shoe where it might rub. The sore spots are particularly useful for where my little toes are slightly deformed and sit curved outwards rather than flat (I'm so sorry if you hate feet!) and I use the heel shields in every pair of ballet shoes/pumps I own. Although the glue on them is pretty good I do find they usually come unstuck after a while but I then just add some super glue and then they're in there for life!

Scholl products are available from Boots stores and the Boots website.

What do you use to take care of your feet?

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An update to the eggsperiment - Nicka K Professional airbrush FX blending sponge

Back in June I did a post on an eggsperiment (I know, dreadful!) comparing the Primark make-up egg, Real Techniques Miracle complexion sponge and the original BeautyBlender. I crowned the Miracle complexion sponge as my favourite of the three with the BeautyBlender coming a close second. Since then I have gained yet another make-up sponge which came in my October Glossybox. This one is the Nicka K Professional airbrush FX blending sponge. As I now have four make-up sponges from different brands I thought it would be a good idea to update my eggsperiment and compare this one to my existing three.

Nicka K Professional airbrush FX blending sponge

The main different between this sponge and the others is that this has what I can only really describe as an 'hourglass figure' with a 'waist' or groove in the middle of the sponge. At first I thought this was a little pointless when it comes to using the sponge as it doesn't appear to add anything to how you can apply your product. But when I used it I then realised this actually gives you a good grip on the sponge, either using your fingertips or by resting the groove in the crook of your thumb holding it in place with your index and middle fingers. You can use the curved bottom for large areas of the face and the pointed top for getting into areas like the eyes and around the nose.

Nicka K Professional airbrush FX blending sponge
Nicka K Professional airbrush FX blending sponge

Price wise this one costs £6.50 meaning it's slightly more expensive than the RT one (around £6) and much cheaper than the BeautyBlender (£16). This is a much denser more solid feeling sponge than the RT and BeautyBlender, it's much closer in feel to the Primark sponge. I didn't find that this one particularly swelled up after running under water but then I often don't run it under the tap for long enough (I'm impatient) but this might also be because it's a denser sponge so it requires more water. 

As this is quite a solid sponge I don't find this as comfortable to use as a softer sponge. It's far from uncomfortable but as I stipple foundation onto my face it feels quite solid, especially on bonier areas like the cheek bones, brow bone and the jawline, and I'm not really keen on this, I personally prefer a softer feeling sponge. 

Like all of the make-up sponges I've tried this does provide a really nice almost airbrushed looking finish, but because of how solid the sponge feels it's definitely not my favourite. My favourite out of all four sponges is still the RT one followed by the BeautyBlender and then it's a close call between the Primark and Nicka K sponge. I think the Nicka K one just wins because of the unusual shape, although I don't think this is really needed.

Are you a fan of make-up sponges and which is your favourite? 

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The Body Shop Christmas hand creams

They're back again! I'm a huge fan of The Body Shop's little hand creams and last Christmas I was very excited to see they'd released some new limited edition scents in their Christmas collection. Last year we had Glazed apple, Frosted cranberry and Vanilla brûlée and I completely fell in love with Glazed apple. I originally bought one of each scent to try as they were on 3 for 2 when I bought them, but when I tried to buy some more Glazed apple was sold out, so I never managed to get my hands on any more.

I've been waiting with baited breath for this years Christmas collection to see if Glazed apple would make a return, and of course it did. The Body Shop would have been crazy not to bring it back if it really was that popular last year!

The Body Shop Christmas hand creams - Glazed apple and Frosted Cranberry

This year has seen the return of both Glazed apple and Frosted cranberry, but Vanilla brûlée has been replaced with Frosted plum. Although I did like Vanilla brûlée I think Frosted plum will probably be more popular. 

This year has seen a price increase for my favourite little hand creams but they're still a very reasonable £4 each. They're the perfect size to drop in your handbag and they're the only hand creams I will currently use throughout the day because they absorb so quickly and don't leave any kind of greasy feeling behind. 

Glazed apple has a gorgeous sweet, crisp, fruity scent that makes my mouth water and Frosted plum has a slightly more tangy but still sweet and fruity scent. I've only bought one Glazed apple one so far this year, which may well have been a mistake if they completely sell out again, but I'm glad I got my hands on at least one if they are going to sell out again. 

If they were on offer I would have also picked up a Frosted cranberry, but I didn't want to spend £12 on hand cream in one go. I'm pretty sure I will be heading back to pick up another Glazed apple and Frosted plum (if they don't sell out) and if they are on 3 for 2 I'll definitely treat myself to one of each.

The Body Shop Christmas hand creams are £4 each and available in store and on The Body Shop website.

Have you tried The Body Shop's hand creams?

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Lush Five gold rings Christmas bubble bar

Earlier this month I reviewed the Lush Star dust bath bomb from their Christmas range that came in my goody bag from the Lush Meadowhall VIP re-opening party. Today I'm reviewing the Five gold rings bubble bar*, which was also in my goody bag.

Lush Five gold rings Christmas bubble bar

As the name suggests this features five gold rings (so it's not actually a bubble 'bar') that are secured together with a piece of orange string. The string isn't the prettiest to be honest but I guess it doesn't need to be as it's only purpose is to hold the rings together. As I'm sure you're aware by now I'm not a fan of glitter in bath products at all and unfortunately each of the rings is completely covered in gold glitter. You only have to touch one of the rings and your fingertips turn gold, which is then a pain to remove. I would never actually buy a bath product like this myself but as this was included in my goody bag I feel obliged to try it out and report back for my lovely readers. 

I'm assuming that as there are five gold rings the idea is that this will do five baths, although the five rings might just be to fit in with the name. I started off with one ring but ended up adding another because I wanted more bubbles. However this might be because I have problems adding bubble bars to my bath. There's no pressure behind our hot water so to stop the cold overpowering it you have to add some cold to the bottom of the bath then top up with just hot water. This means the hot water is very hot, so I can't actually crumble the bar under the water, I have to crumble it and kind of flick it into the water and I think this effects the amount of bubbles produced. 

In a recent chat I actually picked up a great tip for adding bubble bars to your bath. I don't know who tweeted it as I don't follow them so unfortunately I can't credit them but it apparently originally came from a Lush staff member. They said to use a colander to hold the bubble bar under the running water. As the water dissolves the bar this apparently produces masses of bubbles and depending on the size of the bar means you can get more baths out of it because you need to use less. I'm planning to buy some bubble bars for my dad for Christmas (I so converted him to Lush baths!) and I'm going to grab a cool little colander from somewhere to go with them for a bit of a novelty. 

Back to the Five gold rings bubble bar, the rings are really quite soft which I was really pleased about as I do struggle to break up harder bars, so much so they make my fingers really sore. Inside the bar is like a toffee colour and as I've already mentioned this is completely covered with gold glitter. There is a light scent that I would say is possibly vanilla/toffee/cinnamon ish but I could smell this most on my fingers after I'd crumbled the bar. This turns the water yellow, which unfortunately does look a little like you've had a wee in the bath, and the gold glitter is suspended in the water. 

All the glitter sits on the bottom of the bath once you've drained it but this is easily rinsed away and I was surprised to find that very little glitter was left on my skin afterwards. This one isn't particularly skin softening as there isn't really anything in there to achieve this and it's also worth nothing this one does contain SLS, which does disappoint me a little. I've already gone SLS free when it comes to washing my hair and am considering extending this to other products, I'm just a little concerned this might limited my choices too much. 

At £4.95 for what is effectively five small bubble bars this is very good value but it's not one I would personally buy again, mostly due to the glitter. If you like the look of the Five gold rings bubble bar you can buy yours in store or online.

Have you tried anything from Lush Christmas range?

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Birchbox x Skinnydip (November 2015) - Squad goals

At the beginning on November Birchbox Instagrammed a picture of this months box (technically there's two, more about this shortly) and I was so excited by it I regrammed the picture to my own Instagram. In case you haven't seen it yet this months box features a collaboration with quirky accessories brand Skinnydip and to celebrate the box has had a very Skinnydip style mermaid esq makeover. There are two boxes available, a pale blue one and a darker blue/purple one, and both feature the same seashell design and updated Birchbox x Skinnydip logo. There is no pick your box this month though, you have no choice over which one you receive. I had my fingers crossed for the darker box but actually got the lighter one. Although I'm a little disappointed it's still a very pretty box I'm pleased to have.

As you may be aware I don't currently subscribe to any beauty subscription boxes but order boxes one off if I love the look of the contents. As much as I loved the look of the box itself I don't order them based on the boxes alone, I always wait to see what the contents are, but as soon as I saw the contents of the November box I'd ordered it quicker than you can say Birchbox!

Birchbox x Skinnydip (November 2015) - Squad goals
Birchbox x Skinnydip (November 2015) - Squad goals

Although #SquadGoals is probably THE hip term of the moment and I can see why they've used it I have to admit I do find the term a little cringy (it's probably my age, I also hate bae!). It does accurately describe what is a very good round-up of brands/products though.

Lets start off with the disappointing sample. I've mentioned before that I don't believe there's a place in beauty boxes for tiny perfume samples you can pick up for free in department stores, so I was disappointed to see the English Laundry sample. The saving grace is that this is actually a 'beauty extra' rather than one of my samples. The perfume smells nice enough but it's not really my kind of thing.

Birchbox x Skinnydip (November 2015) - Squad goals

The first sample is a Cowshed Cow pat hand cream (worth £8), which is the only full size product in my box this time. In the last few years I've gone from not using hand cream at all to becoming pretty dependent on it, so a new hand cream to try is always welcome (even if it is called Cow pat!). Unfortunately this isn't one I can use as it contains lavender, but as my mums default when she runs out of hand cream now is to come to me to check my stash, this will be going to her. 

One of the products I really wanted to see lurking in my little drawstring bag was the Living proof Restore instant repair cream (30ml worth around £6). I'm currently trying a Living proof product that I don't think is working for me personally, but I'm definitely curious to try more of their products. Their products are quite expensive (this one is £25 full size) so it's nice to have a sample size to try before committing to an expensive full size product you might not like. I don't suffer from split ends at all since I started dying my hair, but after everything my hair has been through recently I do have some breakage I'd like to attend to.

I have a few of Lord & Berry's lipstick crayons and I love them. So when I saw a Lord & Berry product was included, even though I didn't know what it was, I wanted it. This is the Lord & Berry Silhouette neutral lip liner which is a translucent liner. I believe this is a sample size and the full size is worth £8.50/£9. I already have a liner like this from The Body Shop but I prefer this one because you can sharpen it (even though you can't actually see it!). The idea is you apply this around the edge of your lip line and it's completely invisible (so can work with any lip colour) but stops your lipstick bleeding. A product I think any lipstick lover should have.

I've only tried a few REN products but have loved the ones I've tried, so I was happy to see the REN Wake wonderful night-time facial (10ml sample size worth £8), which I haven't tried before. I don't know much about this product other than that you pop it on before bed and wake up looking gorgeous (hopefully) so I'm looking forward to slapping some of this on.

The final sample is a little pot of Trilogy Make-up be gone cleansing balm (10ml sample size worth around £2.50). I usually prefer cleansing oils rather than balms but I've seen this popping up on a few blogs recently and it comes highly recommended so I'll see how I go. Off the top of my head I don't think I've tried a Trilogy product before so this will be my introduction to the brand.

There are also two additional perks of the Skinnydip collaboration. The first is that if you're a new subscriber you can upgrade your box to include a Skinnydip phone case (with iPhone and Samsung S series versions available) for the reduced price of £4 rather than £12. The second is that on the back of the Birchbox booklet in your box you'll find a code for £10 off an order off at least £24 from the Skinnydip website. Including the box, the contents and the offers available I think the November Birchbox is pretty amazing and I'm really glad I decided to order it. You can sign up for a Birchbox subscription on the Birchbox website.

What do you think of the November Skinnydip collaboration box?

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Protecting my hair colour - going sulphate free

Recently I've been thinking about shampoo. As you may be aware I've recently switched to using colour protection shampoos because my hair is now red and as you may also be aware red is a very difficult colour to try and keep in your hair. 

Although I've been aware of sulphates in shampoo I've never really given them much thought. Sulphates (or sulfates outside of British English) are detergents that are added to products to produce a foam or lather to help remove dirt and oil. You'll find them in cleaning products but also in personal products such as hand soap, shower gel and the product I'm talking about here, shampoo. To check if a product contains sulphates you'll need to look out for Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) or Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES) in the ingredients. Sulphates are a known irritant and although they effectively remove dirt and grease from your hair they can also be stripping, removing your hairs natural oils and causing it to be dry. 

Sulphate free colour protection shampoos

I was using two different shampoos for coloured hair that I featured in this post. It was only after reading Jemma's post on a sulphate free shampoo that she was using that I thought to check the ingredients in my colour protection shampoos. When I did I found that there was SLS in both of the shampoos I was using and that it was the second ingredient after aqua (water). As sulphates strip hair of its natural oils this means they will also strip hair of artificial colour. It makes absolutely no sense to me how you can claim that a shampoo is colour protecting when the second highest volume ingredient in the product is one that by its very nature will strip colour.

As I can't afford to keep up having my hair dyed in a salon (and also because neither of the two hairdressers I went to actually gave me the colour I wanted) I've taken to box dyes. Despite using a permanent dye the first time I dyed my hair myself it washed out completely in three weeks and I was back to my stripped colour. Admittedly I do tend to wash my hair every-other-day as it gets dirty/oily very easily, but washing out completely in three weeks is far from ideal. Despite my dislike of dry shampoo I've decided it's something I need to start embracing to try and help my hair colour last longer and I've also made the decision to go sulphate free when it comes to shampoo.

It's all very well deciding to go sulphate free, but this really does narrow down your options. Not even considering standard shampoos I discovered that every single colour protect shampoo I checked in Tesco contained SLS. Going sulphate free means in general you're going to have to move towards high-end products and therefore obviously high-end prices. So far the only budget option I've found is L'Oreal Hair expertise Pure colour shampoo and even then this isn't that cheap at around £6. I'd been looking around for this after receiving a recommendation and happened to stumble on it half price in Wilkos. It's also currently on two for £9 in Boots, so there are offers around. When I first checked this one I found something called Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSA) in the ingredients and I did wonder if this was still a sulphate with a slightly different name. A quick Google search revealed that this is actually a 100% natural origin alternative to sulphates that is derived from coconut and palm oils. So this is one that's ok to find in colour protection shampoos.

I have to say I'm really disappointed that high-end colour protection shampoos also contain sulphates as this is a really cheap ingredient. This effectively means some high-end brands are charging a lot of money for cheap ingredients that won't protect your colour despite the claim on the front of the bottle. So far I've only found two high-end sulphate free colour protection shampoos, and one of these isn't very easy to get hold of, but I really haven't checked out many so far. The first is the Maria Nila Luminous colour shampoo (£14.99) which is currently only available in the UK from Sally stores and the Sally website. The other is the Paul Mitchell Ultimate colour repair shampoo (£7.75 - £39.25) which is more readily available. I have a travel size of the Maria Nila shampoo to try but don't currently have the Paul Mitchell one. 

So the sulphate free colouring protecting shampoos I'm currently aware of are (price lowest - highest):
As I come across more brands/products that offer sulphate free colour protection shampoos I will update this post. I also intend to try all of the ones I come across so I can review them, but you'll have to bear with me as this might take a while!

Have you ever considered going sulphate free?

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Vichy Dermablend Corrective fluid foundation and setting powder

There are several foundations I have my eye on that I haven't actually tried yet because I haven't got round to buying them or because they're a little on the pricey side and ideally I'd like to try a sample before investing. One of these foundations is Vichy's Dermablend. Although this is around mid-range (£18) I've always been a little cautious about colour matching and whether a full coverage foundation like this would work for me. So I was delighted to receive an email from L'Oreal, the parent company to Vichy, asking if I'd like to try some Dermablend products. 

I was kindly sent the Vichy Dermablend Corrective fluid foundation*, Dermablend setting powder* and a foundation brush*.

Vichy Dermablend Fluid corrective foundation and setting powder
Vichy Dermablend Fluid corrective foundation and setting powder
Vichy Dermablend Fluid corrective foundation and setting powder

Although my skin is doing quite well at the moment I do go through periods of breakouts, scaring, redness and dark circles (usually all at the same time, what a lucky girl) and often each of these things can be quite difficult to try and cover. I'm not a fan of plastering on makeup to try and cover issues like this, as often I think it draws attention to the area, so full coverage foundations are not something I've really tried before for fear of ending up with a caked on look. 

Dermablend was created by an American dermatologist, Dr. N. Craig Roberts, back in 1981 (so it's a year older than me) and it apparently changed his wife's life. The Dermablend Corrective fluid foundation contains a high concentration of pigments to provide a better coverage than standard foundations that is buildable, highly blendable and provides a natural finish. It's suitable for sensitive skin, is non-comedogenic (doesn't clog pores), long lasting, and contains SPF 35. Other products available in the range include a Corrective stick (concealer), Corrective compact cream (compact cream foundation), Total body corrective foundation (a foundation for use on the body) and of course the setting powder that I'll also be talking about here.

Previously I wouldn't have been able to use the Dermablend Corrective fluid foundation as the lightest shade available was Opal, which would have been too dark for my pale, almost see-through skin. Luckily Vichy have now released a lighter shade, Porcelain, for pale ladies like myself and this was obviously the shade I chose to try.  

There's a sleek black theme through the whole Vichy Dermablend range and the foundation comes in a very easy to use squeezy tube. I was expecting the foundation to be quite thick but actually it's not really any different from a standard foundation. Although it is a little thicker than I'm used to at the moment as I currently use the YSL Fusion Ink foundation, which has a lighter more serum like feel to it. Because the Dermablend foundation is high coverage I'd definitely recommend starting off with a small amount and building it up if you need to. To start with I went for my usual method of application using my RT buffing brush. Buffing this in feels a little drier than I'm used to but I found that with a little more work it did blend well. However I found that buffing this into my skin meant the foundation settled into my pores and although it didn't look bad from a distance up close it did have a 'speckled' effect over some areas (particularly my cheeks and chin) where it was sat in my pores. I didn't find that it clogged up my pores and caused any breakouts, but I wasn't keen on how it looked on my skin. 

Although I'm not a fan of using foundation brushes for applying my base I next tried using the foundation brush that Vichy sent with the products. I found that as long as I was careful with my blending I didn't end up with any brush strokes and although this method was better than using a buffing brush I did still slightly end up with the 'speckled' effect.

Knowing that a sponge usually provides the most natural, almost airbrushed finished this was the method I tried next and I found that this was by far the best method of application. Pressing the foundation onto my skin with a sponge prevented it settling into my pores and provided the best finish. As I used a damp sponge this did sheer out the coverage slightly but I just applied some more to the areas that needed it. 

Coverage wise I personally didn't quite find this to be full coverage, but then I've used grease paint (stage foundation) in the past and that stuff is full coverage (and nasty!). It did very well at covering breakouts, scaring, redness and dark circles but I was cautious about adding more and more and instead went for a small amount of concealer over the top. 

I really wanted to love this foundation, and I do think it's a very good foundation, but unfortunately it didn't work well with my skin. I usually have dry and dehydrated skin that strangely can become oily in places when I cover it with foundation, usually on my chin, eye lids and sometimes around my nose. I did like the look of my skin when I first applied it, but I really don't think this would last 12 hours on me as it just doesn't sit well after a few hours. I think I might reach for this if I do need a good level of coverage, but not if I need my makeup to last really well, if I'm on set for example.

Vichy Dermablend Fluid corrective foundation and setting powder

The Dermablend setting powder is a loose powder that fortunately comes with a sifter (to help prevent those little snow storm accidents) and puff applicator. The powder is white, and is very white when first applied, but when you pat this into the skin it becomes translucent. You do have to be careful not to apply too much though or it can look a little powdery. As I mentioned above once I apply makeup over my chin it can become oily and usually it really does go for it. Often within an hour or two my chin can be a bit of an oily makeup mess and I'm yet to find a powder that really does hold this off for at least a bit longer. Although I do like this powder it doesn't appear to help with my makeup destroying oily skin conundrum. If you're happy using the puff to apply this you could carry this with you for touch ups throughout the day as long as you're careful and make sure you screw the lid back on tightly.

Although I'm disappointed the Dermablend products didn't work so well with my skin I think they are good products and I'd recommend giving them a try if you're looking for a high coverage foundation. You can find the Vichy Dermablend range on the Escentual website and in Boots stores and the range is currently on offer at both retailers.

Have you tried any Vichy Dermablend products?

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Benefit boutique Birmingham event

At the beginning of October an email popped into my inbox inviting me along to see Benefit's new boutique in Debenhams in the Bull Ring, Birmingham. I RSVP'd to confirm my place and headed over there on 22nd October.

Benefit boutique Birmingham

I'm afraid taking some pictures was pretty much an afterthought before we left and these were taken on my phone, so they're probably not the best.

Although the Benefit boutique is new to Debenhams I don't believe it's brand new, I believe it may have been there for at least a few weeks. I don't get over to Birmingham very often (even though it's only an hour from me) but if I remember correctly one of the Benebabes said it was originally in John Lewis, or a similar large store in the centre of Birmingham. The store rebranded their beauty hall so all of the concessions had the same simple look, no matter what brand they were, and as I'm sure you're aware that's just not Benefit! So they moved over to Debenhams so they could continue being bright, girly and gorgeous.

When I arrived straight away I was asked what makeup look I'd be interested in trying and was popped on a stool for a Benebabe to give me a little makeover. I think I went for a day look (I can't actually remember now!) and the products used on me included the new Air Patrol eye primer, They're Real liner, and They're Real coloured mascara. I'm a big fan of They're Real mascara and have used it in the past but Air Patrol and the They're Real liner are both new to me. During my makeover I did ask about my favourite BADgal mascara in plum and was told it's now been discontinued. I'm so disappointed! 

When I received the email about the event we were offered one free service with the choices being a brow arch and tint, a spray tan or a body treatment. As I've been growing out my brows all year and have been desperate to get them shaped for months I went for the arch and tint. I had no idea Benefit offered services such as spray tans and body waxing but the Birmingham boutique has two rooms to one side; the very pretty one pictured below for waxing and another plainer room for spray tanning. I don't know if these services are offered at other counters/boutiques across the country?

Benefit boutique Birmingham
Benefit boutique Birmingham

As soon as my makeover was completed I headed over to get my brows sorted. This was my first time having my brows waxed, so I was a little nervous, and although it did sting a little it really wasn't too bad. This took a while to do but the Benebabe that tended to my brows for me talked me through everything and said I was doing very well for a virgin waxer (gold star for me!). I can't believe how good they look now their shape is no longer caterpillar! The only issue I've had since having them waxed is that the skin around my brows did dry out afterwards, but this isn't unusual for me, and I also had a few spots where I was waxed. After my tint I would say my brows are possibly a bit too dark for me, but that may well be because I'm just so used to them being quite light as I'm naturally blonde. I have recently tinted them myself at home but I was quite cautious and didn't go too dark.

After my brows had been transformed I was then lead away from the counter and taken to Chi Kitchen where an amazing Asian buffet had been laid out for us featuring sushi, spring rolls, calamari and other amazing dishes. I had no idea this was going to be part of the event and I love Asian food, so this was a lovely surprise. I believe Chi Kitchen is technically in the beauty hall and is tucked away in a corner, so it might not be one you'd necessarily spot, but I'd definitely recommend hunting it out.

Benefit boutique Birmingham
Benefit boutique Birmingham

After filling our tummies we all realised we hadn't actually taken any photos (hence why there's none of the buffet, we just tucked in!) so we headed back to the boutique to have a look round and take some snaps. My local counters where I live and where my boyfriend lives are both quite small, with just one double-sided display, so the Birmingham boutique felt massive to me. One thing I noticed about all of the displays was just how neat and tidy they were and there wasn't a single product out of place or missing. Obviously all of Benefits Christmas gift sets were also out in force for eager and organised Christmas shoppers. This years packaging is probably not the most Christmasy but it's certainly very bright and eye catching. To be honest I haven't actually checked any of the sets out yet, so I don't know what's included in them this year but there are plenty of them so there should be something for everyone.

I would have loved to have treated myself to a product or two that I'm lusting after but money is a little tight at the moment so I was very restrained. We were kindly given a goody bag though that contained mini samples of the original Porefessional* and Porefessional License to blot*. I already know I'm not a fan of the Porefessional primer because I don't like silicone primers, but I'm looking forward to giving Licence to blot a try and am hoping it might work miracles on my oily chin.

Thank you to the Birmingham Benebabes for inviting me along and for my new brows. If you're not local to Birmingham you can hop on over to the Benefit website to locate your local store and of course you can order online.

Are you a fan of Benefit?

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*PR sample. Post contains an affiliate link

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Lush Star dust Christmas bath bomb

It's that time of year again...Lush Christmas bath products time! The Star dust bath bomb* was included in my goody bag from the Lush Meadowhall VIP re-opening party. I decided to treat myself to a bath on Friday so I grabbed this and chucked it in. 

Lush Star dust Christmas bath bomb

I don't recall this one from last year, so I think it may be new for 2015, but I may be wrong (and often am!). This contains fine sea salt, fair trade vanilla absolute, rosewood oil and bergamot oil. There's only a light scent and I would say it's vanilla based. 

The bath bomb is a plain white star with a subtle gold lustre and although you can't see it in the picture there's also spots of a frosty blue in it. When I dropped this in the bath I thought it would be gone within around 20 seconds, but it did hold out a bit longer than I anticipated, lasting maybe a minute or so. Predictably it starts off with a white foam and some light flashes of blue as the spots dissolve. The lustre also starts spreading out across the water. As it dissolves it then starts to release a little more blue from the middle. Something said to me there was some kind of surprise in the middle and about half to three-quarters of the way through it started releasing little blue, green, red and yellow stars. I was a little concerned what these were made of but they are like a kind of paper that does dissolve. I've just checked the ingredients and they're listed as edible stars so I'm guessing they might be rice paper. This does have a pretty effect as the coloured stars move out across the bath through the white foam.

I thought the stars had dissolved away completely while I was in the bath but when I emptied it I discovered they'd all just floated down to sit on the bottom of the tub. When I then rinsed the bath I discovered they were more stuck to the bottom than sat on the bottom. They do stain, but you can remove this with a few scrubs with your finger, or if you have quite high powdered water you can blast them off. 

When you get out of the bath the lustre does settle on your skin, so it's probably not one for men unless they're going for the Edward Cullen look, but it would be very pretty if you're heading to a Christmas party. Although once you've dried yourself and applied moisturiser some of this is lost. Before I got out of the bath I also found there was a white powdery kind of covering over parts of my skin, so you might want to give yourself a rinse to make sure this is removed. If any of the stars have dissolved on your skin you might also want to remove them as the colouring is quite bright and random bright blobs on your skin is not a good look. I forgot to check my skin before moisturising but as my skin felt pretty good afterwards I would say this does offer some skin conditioning properties from the rosewood and bergamot oil. 

At £2.95 this is one of the cheaper products in the Christmas range and although it doesn't put on much of a show (apart from the release of multi-coloured stars) I thought it was a lovely bath bomb. I do tend to prefer bubble bars, but I do like some bath bombs if they put on a good show or offer some benefits to my skin, as long as they're not too expensive. I say add this to your Lush Christmas product wish list...we all have one right!

Have you tried any products from the Lush Christmas range?

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*PR sample 

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