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The 'Tampon tax'

Recently there's been some confusion over what has been called 'Tampon tax' and exactly how much tax is applied to feminine hygiene products. As I happen to know somebody who has previously been involved with a campaign regarding the tax applied to these products I thought I'd do a post to try and help clear up some of the misconceptions regarding this.

The 'Tampon tax'

Feminine hygiene products are taxed, but this is at a reduced rate of 5%. They used to be taxed at the full rate, which at the time was 17.5%, but in around 1996 a friend of my boyfriend launched a campaign for the rate to be removed and for sanitary products to be provided free of charge for women claiming Jobseekers allowance (or whatever the equivalent was at the time). With the help of Labour MP Dawn Primarolo this was partially successful and in 2000 the tax on these products was reduced to the 5% rate that it is now. The tax wasn't removed completely because of EU policies setting the rate of tax that is charged. 

What I found really interesting about my boyfriends friends campaign was that at the time she couldn't find a single female to support her campaign because they weren't happy talking about periods. The only support she could get was from male friends, one of which was my boyfriend. I know that in the past women have been uncomfortable talking about personal issues like periods, and some women are still uncomfortable with it today, but I would have thought that just 15 years ago she would have been able to get a considerable amount of female support for an issue like this. 

Earlier this year I saw something pop up on Twitter which I believe was a petition stating that feminine hygiene products are taxed but yet no tax is charged on men's razors. This isn't the case. The government provides a list of rates of VAT on goods and services (which is available online here) that are either exempt or on a reduced rate and this shows that sanitary protection products are charged at 5% (as shown below). Razors are not included on this list, meaning they're charged at the full rate of 20%.


I believe the 'Tampon tax' issue has arisen again in the last few days/weeks because at the moment the government is renegotiating its relationship with the EU. It has been proposed by Labour MP Paula Sheriff that VAT should be removed completely from feminine hygiene products, but a large numbers of MPs have voted against this, so her proposal failed to make it through the Commons. You can find a list of all the MPs who voted against removing VAT from these products here. Despite the proposal not making it through the Commons the government have said that they will take up the issue with the EU.

I'm happy to pay a reasonable amount of tax or NI as in exchange for this we receive free health care, collection of our rubbish, a pension etc. What annoys me about VAT though is that this was first introduced to be applied to 'luxury' products, such as TVs, cars, holidays, and is now applied to pretty much everything, including products that woman have no choice but to buy. I know 20% on the few pounds that these products cost isn't a lot of money, but why should women have to pay a luxury tax on a product that is a necessity, not a choice.

If you'd like to join the campaign against the proposed increase in VAT on feminine hygiene products you can sign Laura Coryton's online petition here or you could write to your local MP to pledge your support (or maybe not if they're on the list I've linked above!). 

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Glo & Ray Sky breaker long lasting eyeliners & La Amo Creamy matte lip colour

Glo & Ray are a brand that I have heard of before but I haven't previously tried any of their products. When I was asked if I'd like to try any of their products I took a look at their website and was impressed by the colours available in their Sky breaker long lasting eyeliners. As you may be aware I've been looking for some liquid liners in green and purple shades and although the Sky breaker liners are crayons rather than felt-tip pen style liners they had the sort of shades I was looking for. I was sent the Sky breaker long lasting eyeliner in Forest green* and Orchid* and in the parcel I also found the La Amo Creamy matte lip colour in Muse*.

Glo & Ray Sky breaker long lasting eyeliners & La Amo Creamy matte lip colour
Glo & Ray Sky breaker long lasting eyeliners & La Amo Creamy matte lip colour
Glo & Ray Sky breaker long lasting eyeliners & La Amo Creamy matte lip colour
Glo & Ray Sky breaker long lasting eyeliners & La Amo Creamy matte lip colour

Each of the products I received come in a black corrugated cardboard box with simple white lettering. Although I do like prettier packaging I also love this sleek simple look and the boxes are nice and sturdy so the products inside are well protected. The actual products also follow the same theme with the only colour being colour coded ends on the liners so you can see which colour you're picking up. 

As you may know I much prefer a bright lip over a pink or nude shade, but I think I may have fallen for Muse. It's a very pretty coral/pink shade that I think suits me and works well with my new hair colour. One thing I'm concerned about is that some of my brighter shades of lipstick won't work well with my now red/plum hair. Despite being a matte shade this is really creamy to apply and very comfortable to wear. This is probably because it contains something called a Hydro wrapping system that softens and moisturises your lips while you wear it. I wouldn't say it's a full matte, it does keep a slight sheen to it and doesn't dry down and because of this and how moisturising it is it's not really long wearing. You'll get two to three hours wear before you'll need to reapply, probably much less if you've eaten or drunk a lot while wearing it. It's so easy to apply I don't mind needing to top up quite regularly. The bullet feels nice and sturdy when winding up and down and the closure has a satisfying click that I would trust to keep the lid on if dropped in my bag.

I have quite a lot of excess skin in my eyelids so one of the reasons I like liquid liner so much is because the liquid flows easily over my eyelids, whereas pencils can drag and pull on my skin making application difficult. So if I'm going to use a pencil it needs to be really creamy so it doesn't pull too much on my skin. The Sky breaker liners are not the softest I've used but they're not bad at all. Although they do pull a little on my eyelids I don't find application too difficult and the colours I received are lovely and just the sort of shades I'm looking for in a liquid liner, maybe just slightly darker than I'd like. I found they lasted well and didn't smudge as I wore then but were easy to remove with an oil cleanser. I did try these on the waterline but for me they didn't last very long. This is nothing against the product though as I'm yet to try a liner that lasts longer than about 10 minutes on my waterline! These are really nice liners and definitely worth a very reasonable £5.50 each. 

Considering the liners are less than £6 each I was surprised to find the lipstick is £12, making it just a few pounds cheaper than a MAC lipstick. Although it's a lovely lipstick that I think I'll get a lot of use from I'm not sure I'd pay £12 for it. 

The Sky breaker long lasting eyeliners and La Amo Creamy matte lip colour are both available on the Glo & Ray website. 

Have you tried anything from Glo & Ray?

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*PR sample 

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Lush Meadowhall VIP re-opening party

I had no idea that Lush Meadowhall were getting a sparkly new store until an invitation popped into my inbox inviting me along to the VIP re-opening party. The store officially re-opened on 16th October but a few local bloggers and Lush fans got to see the store early the evening before. 

The store wasn't just having a refit but was actually moving so when I arrived I had to hunt down the new store. I've visited Meadhowhall several times in the last few years but apart from the (old) Lush store, The Body Shop and a couple of others I don't actually know where most of the shops are! When I arrived the shutter was down but you could see the staff preparing for the party and lots of shoppers were stopping to have a nosey through the shutters. When the shutter was raised a barrier was popped in place and after checking the guest list we were allowed in. 

This is a bit of a picture heavy post as we all like a bit of Lush porn don't we! 

Lush Meadowhall store re-opening
Lush Meadowhall store re-opening
Lush Meadowhall store re-opening
Lush Meadowhall store re-opening
Lush Meadowhall store re-opening
Lush Meadowhall store re-opening
Lush Meadowhall store re-opening
Lush Meadowhall store re-opening
Lush Meadowhall store re-opening
Lush Meadowhall store re-opening
Lush Meadowhall store re-opening

If you've been lucky enough to be able to visit the brand new Oxford Street store than you might be able to tell that the look of the new Lush Meadowhall store is based on the London flagship store. I would guess that all stores across the UK might gradually be re-fitted to have a similar style. The party included champagne (or orange juice) and some tasty treats, demonstrations, skincare consultations, make your own Comforter bubble bars and live music from Canary & the cat. The live music was a nice touch to make it a proper party but unfortunately I suffer from something called APD (Auditory Processing Disorder) which means I really struggle to make out what people are saying when there's a lot of background noise or loud music.

The new store included all of the new Halloween and Christmas products, a few of the products that were Oxford Street exclusives but have now been rolled out to all stores and a few more new products that are currently exclusive to the Meadowhall store. If I remember correctly this is new packaging and new flavours for Toothy tabs and a new powdered toothpaste, both of which can be seen in the collage above. Unfortunately I can't remember if there were any other exclusive new products.

One of the best things available on the night was definitely making your own Comforter bubble bar. If you've ever wondered how you make one you start with two squishy balls (keep it clean!), one white and one pink. You place them next to each other, squidge them together and then use the palm of one hand to flatten them down. You then use the palm of your hands to rotate the balls round on the board until they join together a bit more. You then tilt your palms inwards and keep turning which makes it come up into a cone shape (which helps to make the colours 'swirl' together) and then flatten it again into the typical Comforter shape. You then leave it for at least 24 hours to harden. Mine looked quite good when I first made it but as we had to pop them into bags to take home when they were still really squishy it didn't look quite as good once it had hardened. I know everyone always comments on how amazing the Comforter smells and gosh you're all so right (yes, I've not actually tried one before)! I could smell it in the car all the way home and can smell it in my bedroom. I can't wait to try it.

There was several things I wanted to buy but I was very good and only bought one of the new Hot oil treatments for hair. As you're probably aware my hair has been through quite a bit recently so I thought I'd really give it a treat. I went for Damaged but you can also get Tangled and Kinky. I'll report back after I've given it a try. I also really wanted to try Golden handshake, which is a hot hand mask. You know I like a bit of nail art and like looking after my hands so this sounds like an amazing treat. The only thing I'm a little unsure about is that it does contain some glitter, which I personally can't see the point of in a product like this. I'm sure I'll be picking this up soon though 'for the blog'!

Apart from getting to make my own Comforter bubble bar the other highlight of my evening was actually more of a personal one. I was having a mooch around the bath bombs/bubble bars when one of the male staff members came up to me and asked if I was from The Little Blog of Beauty. When I said yes he said he recognised me and wanted to thank me for the post I did on blemish fighting skincare as it really help him. If you're reading this Matt thank you so much for coming over to me, I've never been recognised from my blog before!  

When I left I was also kindly given a goody bag containing a few products to try which included a face mask* of my choice (I went for the Christmas limited edition Cranberry), a Star dust bath bomb*, Five gold rings bubble bar* and some new Toothy tabs* in Limelight. The face mask is missing from the photo below because it was in the fridge!

Lush products

If you're local to the Sheffield area you should definitely pop in and take a look at the lovely new Meadowhall store.

Have you bought anything from the new Halloween and Christmas ranges?

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Glossybox October 2015 - Autumn spell

The October Glossybox was an accidental purchase. I know bloggers often use 'Oops it fell into my basket' as an excuse for buying something that they really shouldn't have, but this really was an accidental purchase, I didn't realise I'd bought it! I ordered the September box and than cancelled my subscription before the end of the month as I just wanted that box. What I didn't realise was that since I last subscribed to Glossybox their terms have changed. You now have to cancel on or before the 14th of the month or you'll receive the following months box. I got a shock when I received an email saying my box was on the way but it was my fault for not reading the terms when I signed up. I have to say I'm not keen on the new terms as if you receive a box you don't like and decide to cancel you might not have enough time to do so before you're tied in to the next box.

My little mess up aside, I'm liking the look of this months box. 

Glossybox October 2015 - Autumn Spell
Glossybox October 2015 - Autumn Spell
Glossybox October 2015 - Autumn Spell
Glossybox October 2015 - Autumn Spell

This month we're back to the standard pink Glossybox, which is a little bit disappointing after last months beautifully designed box. A big plus this month though is that, like last month, all five products are full size. I like to see at least one full size product in a beauty box if possible, so all five products being full size is fantastic.  

The first product that caught my eye was a large Lanolips box. At first I assumed this was a lip balm, especially as I'd seen a lip balm featured in another post on the October box, but when I looked closer I discovered it's actually the Lanolips Antibacterial hand cream (full size 50ml worth £8,99). The large box is actually quite deceptive as once open it you discover the hand cream is only half the width of the box. I've never really understood why some brands use a large box and then pop an extra bit of cardboard inside to make a smaller section the product sits in. Why not just make the box smaller and save cardboard? This contains aloe vera and claims to kill 99.9% of germs instantly while moisturising with a silky liquid glove of lanolin. A hand cream that also sanitises your hands as you apply it sounds pretty good to me. I do have several hand creams in my stash waiting to be used so I'll either pop this in line to use later or re-home it with my mum.

The next product to catch my eye was the Nicka K Airbrush blending sponge (full size worth £6.50). I think I may have heard of Nicka K but I'm not sure if I might be getting the name confused with another brand. I already own several different makeup sponges (that I rarely use, oops!) but I want to start using them. I might also do an update on my comparison post including this one. This Nicka K one is certainly a different shape to the others but I'm not sure this will actually add anything to how it applies makeup. 

The skincare item in the box (not including the hand cream) is a Talika Photo-hydra day cream (full size 30ml worth £24.85). I've never heard of Talika so I have no idea what this product might be like. They're a French brand (which we all know usually means good things) and this is a gel-creme containing hyaluronic acid and is said to be deeply hydrating. As my skin is currently desperately in need of moisture and loves these kind of creams I have high hopes for this. 

Finally there are two makeup products in the box. The first is a So Susan Haute light highlighting pencil (full size 1.5g worth £15). Although I've heard of So Susan I have no experience of their products. I've swatched this on my hand and to be honest it doesn't look promising to me. It might have just needed warming up a little but the pencil felt quite hard and the formula appeared a little chalky, so I'm not sure how I'll get on with this. I also had a lot of trouble getting the lid off and thought I might end up breaking it (I didn't). 

The second makeup item is a Jelly Pong Pong Fairy lashes curl mascara (full size 8ml worth £17.95). I have come across Jelly Pong Pong before but like So Susan have no experience of their products. I didn't think that Jelly Pong Pong was a cheap brand but was surprised to find this is worth almost as much as my favourite Benefit They're Real. This comes with a bristle brush in a pretty standard shape that is wider in the middle with tapered ends. I have about a squillion mascaras waiting to be used but this will be going straight in my makeup bag as I really want to give it a try now.

Overlooking the fact I have loads of hand creams, mascaras and makeup sponges (Glossybox have no way of knowing this!) I think this is a good box. There's a good mix of skincare (hand and face), makeup and makeup tools and although I'm not keen on the So Susan highlighter everything else looks very promising. 

A note on future Glossyboxes - the November box will include one of Revlon's best selling lipsticks and subscribers will be able to pick the shade they receive from four available (keep an eye out for an email if you're a subscriber). Also on the 16th November Glossybox will be releasing a one-off box, Glossybox for NARS. You'll need to be quick though as they'll only be 3000 available and it's bound to be a popular box. The box will cost £30 for subscribers and £35 for non-subscribers. 

What do you think of this months box?

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The Body Shop Spa of the World Moroccan rhassoul body clay & Japanese camellia cream

Back in August The Body Shop launched their new Spa of the World range and I was sent a few products to try out including the Moroccan rhassoul body clay*, Japanese camellia cream* and Thai lemongrass massage oil. Today I'll be giving you my thoughts on the body clay and camellia cream.

The Body Shop Spa of the World Moroccan rhassoul body clay & Japanese camellia cream

I was excited to try both products but the one I was most intrigued by was definitely the body clay. Although this is probably the sort of product you'd find as standard in a spa setting I believe this might be the first product of it's type, at least that I'm aware of, available on the high street (please correct me if I'm wrong). 

Still living at home with my parents (yes I know, still at home in my 30s, life went wrong!) it's not easy for me to wander around half naked with large amounts of product slapped all over my body (although they probably wouldn't bat an eyelid) so I saved this until they were away and I was in desperate need of a pamper night. I started running a bath (which takes forever because there's no pressure behind the hot water) and applied this to the top half of my legs. I don't like to show any leg above my knees because I have huge knees and the tops of my legs look 'puffy' when I stand. So I thought this was an area this product might help with.

As you can probably imagine if you've ever used a clay face mask, this is pretty messy to apply. If you're thinking of trying this product Id suggest picking up the brush you can get to go with it or it'll probably end up everywhere. Basically you pop some in your hand, or on the brush, and slap it on. Although it's a wet clay as you start to apply it does feel quite dry for spreading over a large area, so it does take a little bit of work. This comes out a typical clay mask kind of colour but I found as it dried it looked like it almost disappeared, ending up a light grey colour. Once dry you can jump in the shower and scrub it off or like me jump in the bath and soak it off, with a little bit of hand scrubbing to help it along.

I don't think I could say that this provided any long term results, whether for just a few hours or longer, but for me this product was more about enjoying the experience of using it. From the cooling sensation when first applied, to the tightening effect as it dried and the slight scent I could detect, it just really helped to relax and calm me down when I really needed it. I think there was a slight 'tightened' effect after use, but I don't think this stayed around for a prolonged period of time.

I've been using the Japanese camellia cream for a few weeks now and I really like it. I like The Body Shop's body lotions but I'm not keen on their body butters as they're too thick for my skin and don't absorb well, a problem I have with a lot of body products. The camellia cream is like a middle ground between a lotion and a butter; it's much thicker than a lotion but lighter than a butter because of it's more whipped cream texture. With this I find even if I use a little too much it still melts into my skin after a few minutes and doesn't leave anything sticky or tacky behind. There is a slight scent to this product but I really couldn't tell you what it is or describe it. I'm guessing maybe it's what Japanese camellia smells like. I'm really enjoying using this and although it is a little pricey it comes in a huge tub (really not ideal for travelling!) so it should last a while, especially if you save it for a pampering treat on special occasions.

In general the products in the Spa of the World range are a little more expensive than some of The Body Shop's other products but the price is justifiable for a spa range that is slightly more luxurious and more for occasional use. The Moroccan rhassoul body clay is £16 and the Japanese camellia cream is £23.

Have you tried any products from the Spa of the World range?

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*PR sample. Post contains affiliate links

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Halloween candy bark

This post has a very American title but any UK equivalents just don't sound the same. Halloween sweets in chocolate doesn't have quite the same ring to it does it?

I took a trip to Asda for the ingredients to make this but I discovered it's actually quite difficult to find sweets that are actually Halloween, as in shaped like bats etc. There was a lot of multi-packs of standard sweets and some M&M's in Halloween colours, but they were peanut and I don't like them. The only thing I could find was a Maynards set in a plastic Dracula that set me back £3, which was a bit more than I really wanted to pay. To be honest I couldn't really find the sort of stuff I wanted at all, but what I picked up would have to do. Edit - I discovered later if you go to Tesco they have a much better selection of actual Halloween sweets

Halloween candy bark

I used:
  • 1 200g block of Asda dark chocolate (£1.20)
  • Tango popping candy sachets (cherry, orange and apple) x 30 (£1.00)
  • Maynards Halloween mix (which contains 1 x 145g Sour tricks, 1 x 145g Spooky treats and 1x 160g Myths and Monsters) (£3)
  • Asda pumpkins & bats sprinkles (£1)   
You'll also need:
  • Saucepan
  • Pyrex bowl (that can sit comfortably on the saucepan)
  • Dish
  • Cling film
Halloween candy bark

The Maynards set actually contains quite a lot of sweets and I only used around 7 of them, so there's plenty left over for you to eat separately or maybe bag up for Trick or Treating gifts (if you like to give them out). Also, although the Myths and Monsters packs did contain some Halloween appropriate sweets it also contained mermaids and unicorns, which couldn't really be any less Halloween! 

Here's how to make it:
  1. Start by preparing some kind of dish to pour the melted chocolate in to and line this with some cling film. The cling film means the chocolate doesn't stick to the dish when it sets and can be peeled away from the chocolate. 
  2. Fill the saucepan with water but make sure this doesn't touch the bottom of the Pyrex bowl. Heat up the water but try not to let it boil if possible so as not to burn the chocolate, simmering water is better.
  3. Break the chocolate up into smaller chunks and add a few at a time to the bowl, letting them melt before adding the next ones and stirring all the time.
  4. Once melted pour half of the chocolate into the lined bowl and add the popping candy. I used six sachets, two of each flavour.
  5. Pour the rest of the chocolate over the top and add whatever sweets you've bought pushing them down slightly into the chocolate, but not so they're covered.
  6. Pop in the fridge and wait for it to cool and set.
  7. Once set take out of the dish, peel off the cling film and break into rough chunks. 
Halloween candy bark

Once finished you can pop this in a box to give as a gift, arrange on some suitably Halloween themed paper plates for a party or just eat it yourself. As I said I'm disappointed I couldn't get the sort of sweets I wanted for this but I'm quite pleased with how it turned out and it tasted amazing. I did stand my tombstone sweet up in the chocolate but when I fetched it from the fridge I was disappointed to find it had fallen over!

Will you be making any Halloween treats?

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The 'new hair' new hair care

If you follow me on Twitter chances are at some point over the last few months you may have seen me having a little moan about my hair. After trying the Colour B4 hair colour remover (and messing it up) I decided I was going to get it stripped professionally at the hairdressers. I headed down to consult my hairdresser and she asked me to start fading my colour using washing up liquid. After several weeks of fading (mostly using Head & Shoulders rather than washing up liquid) I consulted my hairdresser again and was told that it probably didn't need stripping, she'd just dye over the top of the colour I'd got to. 

I was pleased to hear it wouldn't need stripping as I was concerned about it becoming damaged, but when she finished it really wasn't what I wanted at all. I'd decided to go red but dying this over the top of my old colour resulted in it going even darker than it was before. It looked black, until it caught the light and flashed red, but the worst part was that my roots were really obviously red. I went back a few days later to complain but I still wasn't happy as she wanted to just continue dying red over the top saying it would fade over time and become the colour I wanted.

So five days later I paid another £50 to another hairdresser to strip out that colour and dye it the colour I wanted. I was much happier this time, although the colour I ended up with still wasn't quite what I wanted. So a week later I dyed it again myself with a box dye and I'm finally happy with the colour I've got. 

I've never hugely been into hair care and in terms of shampoo and conditioner (when I actually used conditioner!) have mostly used what my mum has bought or reasonably priced products that were new out that caught my attention. When I decided to strip my hair I also decided I was going to really start taking care of it to make sure it stayed in good condition and to help protect my colour. So I've recently acquired quite a few new hair care products.

The 'new hair' new hair care
The 'new hair' new hair care
The 'new hair' new hair care

Have you spotted the product that wasn't in the main shot but that I snuck in for the close up! I'm fully aware that red is a difficult colour to try and maintain so I'd decided to switch to colour protect shampoos and conditioners. I've been dying my hair for five years now but for some reason have always just used standard shampoos and conditioners. Some time last year/possibly earlier this year I won some Aussie products and really enjoyed using them so decided to pick up the Aussie Colour mate shampoo and conditioner. These are a little more expensive than I used to spend but they're always on offer in Boots. I was recently chatting to a PR about hair care and when I said I was changing my colour they offered to send me the Bed Head by Tigi Colour goddess shampoo* and conditioner*. I don't think I've ever used higher end hair care before so I'm really looking forward to giving these a try.

In terms of treating my hair to a mask I also bought the Aussie 3 minutes miracle colour deep treatment as it was 3 for 2 when I bought the shampoo and conditioner and this was definitely my favourite product out of the ones I won from Aussie. Of course I've seen Philip Kingsley's Elasticizer mentioned here and there so I thought I'd give it a try. This is quite an expensive product but I got it in the sale when an additional discount code was also offered, so I got it for around £12. If you read my September Glossybox post you'll have seen that I bought the box specifically for the Maria Nila Luminous colour masque. The masque is worth nearly £19 and I paid £13 for the Glossybox so it made perfect sense.

The Fudge red head colour conditioning treatment was actually given to me by the hairdresser that corrected my hair, thank you Kirby (yes my new hairdresser is called Kirby!). I was planning to get a product like this to try and help keep my colour vibrant between dyes and was thinking of trying Maria Nila's version. However, if I like this one I might stick with this as it's only a couple of pounds per sachet.

After reading Jemma from Floral Etiquette's August beauty favourites post I decided I needed the Living proof prime style extender in my life. The idea of this product is it works like a primer, but for your hair, helping your style to last twice as long. The part that really attracted me to this product though is that it's said to repel dirt and grease helping your hair stay cleaner for longer. If a product (other than dry shampoo) really can help me go longer between washes then it really will be a holy grail for me.

Finally, the sneaky stealth product is the TRESemmé Perfectly (un)done Wave creating sea foam, although to be honest I've kind of guessed at the name because it really isn't obvious what the name should be. This was a magazine freebie and I really wasn't intending to pick it up, but as I've decided to start going for wavy/curly hair more often (I've even bought some brand new tongs) I thought I'd try it. As it mentions sea foam I really thought it was a mousse but it's actually a liquid, which I have to say did confuse me. I've read up on how to use it though and it sounds good. 

Some of these I have used once or twice but others I haven't touched at all yet, so I'll start trying and will report back on each of them over the next few weeks.

Have you got any recommendations for me for kick ass hair care for red hair?


*PR sample

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Vichy Idéalia Skin sleep Recovery night gel-balm

Me and sleep are not really the best of friends. Don't get me wrong I enjoy a good sleep and do like a lay in rather than having to jump out of bed for something (like a 6am call time in London) but sleep seems like such a waste of time. Just imagine all the extra things you could get done if we didn't have to sleep. Evolving past having to sleep every night (or at all) can't come soon enough for me, although I think we're a fare way off that yet!

I've always been a night owl and as I don't work 9 to 5 my bed time is usually 2am (again not great when I have a 6am call time in London). Unfortunately I do also sometimes suffer with periods of insomnia, which can see me not getting to sleep until maybe 4am and then waking up at something like 9am, and there's nothing more annoying than wanting to sleep and not being able to. So I don't always get the beauty sleep that me or my skin needs. I also suffer with dehydration and just generally dull skin, so my face is far from glowing.

When Escentual asked if I was interested in trying the Vichy Idealia Skin sleep Recovery night gel-balm* of course I said yes. A night cream that could make my skin look like I've slept for a week? Get-on-my-face-right-now!

Vichy Idéalia Skin sleep Recovery night gel-balm
Vichy Idéalia Skin sleep Recovery night gel-balm

The idea behind the Vichy Idéalia Skin sleep is that even if you suffer from poor or a lack of sleep you'll wake up to plumped skin, rested features and a fresh complexion. I think this is such a good idea for a product as so many people suffer from sleep problems and thanks to our increasingly busy and stressful lifestyles, mobile devices and social media the problem is just getting worse. It's designed to stimulate functions in the skin that should occur in deep sleep such as microcirculation and barrier function. It contains hyaluronic acid to stimulate cell regeneration, salicylic acid to smooth and even texture and caffeine to decongest the skin and stimulate circulation. The product does however also contain alcohol denat, so this is worth bearing in mind if you're sensitive to alcohol in your products. For maximum results the product should be used in conjunction with facial massage and when you take the pot out of the box you'll find written and illustrated instructions on how to do this printed inside.

I was pleased to see this is a gel-creme formula as my skin really does prefer these over heavier creams. The gel-cream is a very light pink colour and I think I can also detect a very light scent. Despite being a gel-creme this does feel quite rich and I thought it might take a few minutes to sink in, but it actually absorbs quite quickly and only leaves a slight stickiness on my skin that I really don't mind at night. 

I've been using this for a few weeks now and I'm really impressed. My skin rarely glows in any way, it's just destined to forever be dull, but while using this I've been waking up to fresh, glowing skin. There's not a lot more to say really, it just works, and if you suffer with dull skin or lack of sleep I'd recommend giving this a try.

Vichy Idéalia Skin sleep is usually £26.50 but as it's currently French pharmacy month on Escentual you can get it for just £17.66 (a third off!). It's currently out of stock but you can still order it and according to the website it should be despatched within a week.

Do you get enough sleep?

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*PR sample 

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Eylure Pro-brow Dybrow dye kit - Dark brown

Apart from attacking them with a pair of tweezers and plucking them into oblivion when I was a teenager, I've never really done anything with my brows. I don't fill them in because I've never attempted it before and to be completely honest I'm scared I'll end up looking ridiculous if I make a mess of it. It's become a thing now to judge people on their eye brows, so I'd much rather leave mine au naturel rather than risk becoming the next dodgy brows meme!

This year I've pretty much abandoned the tweezers completely and my brows have grown out nicely. I just need to get round to having them shaped professionally now. I have pale skin and naturally blonde hair so my brows are quite light, too light for the dark brown/black hair I've had for nearly five years. I'm also starting to get white/grey hairs in my brows and I'd ideally like to try and cover these rather than pluck them out. I've recently dyed my hair red and as I was changing my hair colour I thought it was about time I tried to darken my brows slightly. I read a post recently about Eylure's Dybrow kit, so I decided to check it out.

Eylure Pro-brow Dybrow dye kit - Dark brown
Eylure Pro-brow Dybrow dye kit - Dark brown
Eylure Pro-brow Dybrow dye kit - Dark brown

The only shades I appear to be able to find this in are dark brown and black. I've been told that there is also a light brown shade but I've yet to come across this anywhere. I bought dark brown but then really started to panic that it might be too dark for me and I might still end up looking ridiculous. I struggled to find good before and after photos online but I was reassured by reviews that this wouldn't come out too dark, so I went ahead and gave it a try.

I'm really sorry that I don't have any before and after pictures, despite having just moaned about the lack of them, but both my old camera and my phone camera won't focus that close up and my dad is currently on holiday with his DSLR (how selfish of him!). So I'm afraid I'll just have to describe the results to you. 

The kit comes with a cream colour, activator, a mascara wand/brush, a little plastic thing to mix with and a dome in the plastic packaging to mix this in. The kit apparently contains up to 12 applications and each application should last up to six weeks. 

Mixing this up is a little fiddly but not too difficult to do. You squeeze 2cm of cream colour into the dome and add five drops of activator. You then need to mix this together using the little plastic stick thing until you have a paste that doesn't drip. The first time I attempted this I thought I'd done something wrong as it didn't appear to be mixing so I threw that away and tried again. The second time I discovered there wasn't anything wrong with the mixture it just takes quite a while to get it to mix together properly. Once you have a paste you then apply this to your eyebrows with the brush. I used the plastic thing to apply the paste to the brush and then brushed this through my brows. You leave this on for a couple of minutes before wiping away with a damp cotton pad and then rinse well. You can repeat this several times in one day to achieve the colour you want. 

I needn't have worried about this being too dark because as I've just mentioned you can use this multiple times to achieve a darker a colour. Just one application gave me brows that were noticeable darker than they were before, but not dark enough to look out of place against my pale skin. The only thing I'm slightly disappointed about is that this did struggle to cover my white hairs. I only did this around a week ago, so I can't comment on how long it does last, but the process is definitely simple enough to do every few weeks if required.

This little kit is just £7.99, which I believe is cheaper than one professional brow tint, so this is definitely very good value.

Have you ever tried tinting your bows at home?

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