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As I am sure you will all know by now, I am a huge fan of the brand Lush and am trying to sample all of their products. Though they are most famous for soaps and bath products, they also produce a number of cleansers. One of those I’ve tried recently is the Coal Face cleanser.
Coal Face is a fresh cleanser, which means that you buy the amount you want in the store (or online), get it weighed and wrapped, and take it home. This means it is better for the environment as minimal packaging is needed. Once home, you just need to keep it in a soap dish or leave it by the shower/sink. 100g costs £4.75 and my piece lasted me for a good couple of months, so I think it’s really good value for money.
I used Coal Face in the morning, as I prefer a more luxurious creamy cleanser in the evening. In addition, the cleanser is black and I prefer to use it in the shower to make sure I get it all off! Don’t worry about the black colour though, it certainly doesn’t mean that it’s dirty.
A full large solid piece of cleanser, from which individual slivers are cut, looks a bit like a flower, similar to the Fresh Farmacy cleanser. The black colour comes from the charcoal, which is absorbent and helps to make this cleanser good for oily skin. Other ingredients include antiseptic rosewood and sandalwood, as well as liquorice root which softens the skin. The base of the cleanser is made up of rapeseed oil and coconut oil, and it is suitable for vegans.
The cleanser lathers up well and has a pleasant fresh, slightly liquorice-y scent. I rub it gently over my face in the shower, as it has slight scrubbing properties too. I then rinse it off. The cleanser goes on easily, lathers up well and feels very refreshing. It doesn’t cause my skin any irritation but does sometimes make it feel a bit tight. The cleanser is designed for oily skin, and mine is combination but can be sensitive.
Overall I think this cleanser has helped keep my skin reasonably smooth, clear and in good condition. In the summer it’s ideal in the hot weather but I found it to be slightly drying and I think it would be too harsh for me during the winter. I would consider buying it again, but I would probably only use it every few days, not every day.
I do suffer from dandruff on occasion so I was pleased to find this Ginger Anti-Dandruff Shampoo in The Body Shop. Priced at £4.50 for 250ml, it was similarly priced to other Body Shop products and I was able to get hold of some on offer.
The shampoo comes in the typical Body Shop shampoo/shower gel bottle, with an easy-to-use flip-top lid and a transparent body so that it’s easy to see how much product you have left. I liked the label on the shampoo, which made it look quite modern.
The Body Shop describes the shampoo as a cleansing and refreshing product with ginger extracts that is perfect for dry scalps. It definitely smells of ginger, but the scent isn’t overwhelming, and I can’t smell it on my hair after I’ve washed it. I love ginger but I know a lot of people don’t, so this might be handy information.
The shampoo works just like any other: apply to wet hair, rub in and rinse. It lathers up well and cleanses the hair with no problems. As usual, I apply conditioner afterwards. It doesn’t irritate my scalp.
Regular use suggests that it is reasonably effective at dealing with dandruff. I’ve noticed that I hardly seem to get it any more. It does seem to be slightly harsh on my hair, so I tend to only use it every two or three days, not every wash.
One negative effect I’ve noticed is that it does seem to strip hair colour to a certain extent, so this is another reason not to use it every day.
In general, though, this is an effective anti-dandruff shampoo that is recommended by me.
I am a huge fan of Lush and am trying to sample all of their products. One of the most recent products of theirs I have tried is the Ice Blue Soap, which is ironically one of their most longstanding products; the Ice Blue scent has also been produced as a shower gel and a shampoo in the past. It is a rich blue colour and has a lovely fresh scent, appealing to both men and women.
***What is Lush?***
Lush is a store that makes toiletries and cosmetics, using natural and organic ingredients where possible and minimising packaging where they can. It started out as a mail order company called Cosmetics to Go, but this failed and the new store, Lush, opened in Poole, Dorset. Later branches of the shop opened in London and beyond, and there are now Lush stores all over the world. As well as in store, you can also buy products from the website, www.lush.co.uk. There are similar websites for many different countries including the USA, Japan and Germany.
Lush buy ingredients only from companies that do not test on animals. All of their products are suitable for vegetarians and many are suitable for vegans.
Lush say: "We believe in happy people making happy soap, putting our faces on our products and making our mums proud.
"We believe in long candlelit baths, sharing showers, massage, filling the world with perfume and in the right to make mistakes, lose everything and start again."
The soap, which is suitable for vegans, is made with a base of rapeseed and coconut oils. Lush no longer make their soaps with palm oil owing to environmental concerns. The soap lathers up well and doesn’t irritate my skin. It is very refreshing and, while I do have to use moisturiser after use, I don’t find that the soap dries my skin out. It contains sweet wild orange oil, bergamot oil and peppermint oil which together give the soap a lovely refreshing minty smell.
It costs £3.10 for 100g which is about normal for Lush soaps. Ice Blue is a gorgeous blue colour with bits of white in; it looks a bit like the sea. I like to use it in the summer. It also contains sea salt which helps to exfoliate.
The soap smells amazing, really refreshing, and helps me to wake up in the morning. It is gently exfoliating and cleanses without drying my skin out. After use I can smell the scent faintly on my skin, but I do prefer to use moisturiser so I tend to find the smell of the moisturiser overpowers the scent of the soap.
This is a lovely soap and I can understand why it’s been so popular at Lush all these years. Definitely recommended.
I got a small spray vial of perfume in a beauty box a while ago. The said perfume is called Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Mandorlo di Sicilia Eau de Toilette – a bit of a mouthful! It isn’t a fragrance I’d ever heard of before, and I was shocked when I looked it up online and found the price: £57 for 75ml and £82 for 150ml. I was very happy that I had a free sample!
The packaging isn’t particularly exciting. It comes in a square dark blue bottle that looks more like aftershave than perfume. In fact when I looked it up I found that it actually IS aftershave. That explains it! Having said that, it isn’t an obvious “aftershave” smell and I think it is a unisex scent. I certainly wouldn’t wear it if I thought it made me smell like a man!
The scent of the perfume is gorgeous. It contains almonds, star anise, bergamot and orange. The scent is meant to evoke Sicily and it is lovely, with a citrusy tang tempered by the sweetness of the almond. The fragrance has a base of cedar wood, vanilla, Tolu balsam and white musk.
The scent lasts a good few hours on me, and I find I can’t stop sniffing my wrists when I am wearing it. It is totally unique and I can’t think of any other similar scent. The scent deepens as time wears on although it is still recognisably the same scent. The warmth of the almonds and the freshness of the citrus make it the perfect perfume for the summer, particularly summer evenings.
This is very expensive but if I saw it on special offer I would certainly consider purchasing it, or asking for it as a special gift. Though it is meant as an aftershave, I would recommend it for both men and women. A gorgeous, unique scent.
A while ago in the Body Shop sale I picked up a few cleansing products from their old-school range. They had brought back a number of products that were popular in the 90s, complete with original packaging. My bottle, which was the same clear plastic as the current ones, had a black lid and a retro-style label. The bottle is made from 100% recycled plastic and was fully recyclable. I bought the Cucumber Cleansing Milk and Cucumber Cleansing Toner. This review will focus on the Cleansing Milk.
It’s easy to see the white cleansing milk in the clear plastic bottle, meaning it’s easy to see how much you have left. The lotion is made with Community Trade organically grown soya oil, and it is designed to be cleansing and lightly moisturising.
The lotion is quite runny and has a faint fresh scent. To use, I apply some to a cotton wool pad and wipe it over my face. It feels cooling and soothing on my skin and doesn’t cause any irritation. It does a good job of removing makeup and making my skin feel clean, although I do prefer to use a specialist eye makeup remover if I am wearing heavy eye makeup. After use I apply toner and then moisturiser. I tend to use the product in the evening only, as I prefer to use a facial wash in the morning.
Regular use suggests that the cleansing milk is doing a good job of keeping my face clean and blemish-free. Overall I recommend the product, and at £4 for a bottle it is reasonably good value.
A while ago I signed up for some beauty boxes and accumulated quite a few samples. One of the samples I got was a small glass pot of the Benefit Total Moisture Facial Cream.
Benefit is an American brand most famous for its makeup products, however, it has in the last couple of years launched a skincare line. This product normally costs £27.50 for 48.2g of product, which is quite pricey, however this is in line with their makeup range. The product does look quite classy, with pale green and white packaging, and a glass pot. It’s clear glass, so it’s easy to see how much product you’ve got left.
The product is designed for normal to dry skin and is described as a “hydra-concentrated facial cream with tri-radiance complex”. That complex is meant to help reinforce the skin’s moisture barrier. It contains mango butter, a naturally moisturising ingredient. It has a faint but pleasant smell.
I don’t have particularly dry skin, so I stuck to using this product in the evening, rather than during the day when I prefer a lighter moisturiser. The lotion went on easily, and was thick but not too thick. It sunk into my skin well and felt non-greasy, which I was impressed with. Despite this, I felt that it kept my skin moisturised well into the next morning, including the dry bits I sometimes get on my face. Regular use helped my skin look and feel in good condition.
As my skin tends towards being oily, I couldn’t very well use this as a day cream, but as a more intensive night cream I’ve been very impressed with it. I would certainly consider repurchasing it in the future, but considering the price I might well wait until a special offer!
I really like treating my skin with a face mask every week or so and have tried several masks in the past including several from the Montagne Jeunesse range. A while ago I got an email offering a free face mask to try from the new range. Never one to pass up a freebie, I filled in my details and shortly afterwards received this Dead Sea Mud Spa masque in the post.
Animal lovers will be pleased to know that the mask has been approved by the Vegetarian Society and bears the BUAV bunny logo to show that it has not been tested on animals.
The masque comes in a plastic sachet and has a picture of a woman about to wear the masque, surrounded by green leaves and a sunny beach picture. The sachet design is similar to others in the range.
The product is made up of mud-infused fabric containing nutrient-rich sea kelp and seaweed. You are meant to cleanse your face, then apply the masque, leave for 10-15 minutes, massage and rinse.
Applying the masque, it felt very strange to be putting damp mud-infused fabric on my skin, but once I got used to it the sensation was oddly pleasant and rather calming. The masque felt cooling and I felt a slight tingling, though no irritation. As instructed, I left the masque on for about ten minutes, relaxing as I did so. It had a pleasant fresh scent that luckily wasn’t too strong.
After I removed and rinsed off the masque, I found that my skin felt cleaner and looked brighter and more radiant. I could definitely tell that I had just applied a face masque. The effects calmed down over the next few hours but overall I could tell that it made a difference to my skin. Highly recommended.
Montagne Jeunesse products are made in the UK and these face masks can be bought from places like Boots, Superdrug, Savers and Amazon (where you can currently buy 6 sachets for a fiver). Normally they are priced at £1 or less which makes them good value for money, particularly when each sachet can normally be used at least twice. You can find out more at www.montagnejeunesse.com.
A while ago in the Body Shop sale I picked up a few cleansing products from their old-school range. They had brought back a number of products that were popular in the 90s, complete with original packaging. My bottle, which was the same clear plastic as the current ones, had a black lid and a retro-style label. The bottle is made from 100% recycled plastic and was fully recyclable.
The passionfruit cleansing gel is a pale peach colour and it’s easy to see how much you have left. The gel is gentle but effective, refreshing with a scent of passion fruit. I thought the gel smelled gorgeous, and it helped to wake me up in the morning. I tended to only use this product in the morning, using a creamy cleanser at night.
The cleanser is meant to be massaged into damp skin, then rinsed with clean water. It doesn’t irritate my skin or cause any breakouts. It lathers up well and only a small amount is needed at a time. It is gentle on my skin and my face feels thoroughly cleansed after use. I did really enjoy using the cleanser.
Overall, while I don’t find this cleanser particularly groundbreaking, it does a good job and has a lovely smell. It cost £4 which I feel is a reasonable price as it lasted a long time. Keep an eye on the Body Shop website as it may come back in stock.
I tried a sample of this Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream not long ago. BB Cream has become really popular in recent years. Inspired by popular products in Asia, BB creams are similar to tinted moisturisers, in that they moisturise while also adding a little colour. They are meant to condition and care for the skin; this one contains Vitamin C and mineral pigments to keep skin looking fresh.
The product is meant to hydrate and illuminate skin in one. It also contains SPF 15, which is handy, as you’re meant to wear some kind of sun protection every day but I don’t like to use “proper” suncream, which can be greasy.
Normally priced at £9.99, the cream is available in Light, Medium and Dark. Being incredibly pale I was glad that my sample was in the Light shade, although I still feared that it would be too dark for me. This was not the case, however: thankfully the cream blended well with my pale skin.
The cream sank into my skin well, kept it reasonably moisturised (I had to use extra moisturiser during the coldest days of winter, but otherwise it was fine) and didn’t cause irritation. I felt that it helped care for my skin and keep it looking good and healthy.
Overall I’d be happy to purchase this BB cream. It is a good product that treats my skin well.
My favourite store, Lush, launched two new products in the last couple of years. Identical in size and shape – they clearly came from the same mould as the Shimmy Shimmy glitter massage bar – they were priced at £7.50 and were designed as skin tints. One, Silk Stockings, was designed to add a light shimmer and the illusion of stockings to paler skin, while the other, Black Stockings, was designed to add a deeper shimmer to black and Asian skin, or add a hint of fake tan to lighter skin. Having already reviewed Black Stockings, I will now review its lighter cousin, which doesn’t seem to be available on the Lush website any more although I am sure it will pop up on the Lush Kitchen at some point.
Now, I am quite happy to be ‘pale and interesting’ – and trust me, I am REALLY pale – but when it comes to my legs, I understand that a little bit of colour can work well. I prefer to steer well clear of actual fake tan, as well as those body lotions which purport to add colour over time (‘tanning by stealth’, I call it), but I thought it couldn’t do any harm to try some of this once in a while. I love the vintage look of stockings, but they’re a hassle to wear, as well as being hot in summer, and expensive: I thought the Silk Stockings bar would be a handy substitute.
The bar is designed to do three things: add subtle colour, even out skin tone, and moisturise. Suitable for vegans, the bulk of the bar is made up of cocoa butter and shea butter, both of which are excellent moisturising ingredients. This means that you don’t need to apply moisturiser before using, even if you have dry skin. I have found that the bar keeps my legs soft and smooth all day, just like my normal moisturiser.
The bar also adds subtle colour and helps even out my skin tone, which is handy as it helps stop my legs being pasty white, and also helps cover up any flaws or spots (like shaving marks!). I am very sparing in the way I use this: I rub the bar gently on part of my legs then use my hands to massage the colour throughout my legs.
Altogether, this bar is handy for adding a hint of colour and glow to my legs particularly in the summer. It costs £7.50 which sounds like a lot, but it lasts ages – my bar hardly looks used. I find it helps make my legs look a bit less pasty and gives them a pretty subtle shimmer. Recommended.
I'm pretty devoted to my Lancome (for when I want to splash out) and Rimmel (for when I'm on a budget) mascaras, but I'm always happy to try a new one.
I got a miniature Full Exposure Mascara in a Smashbox gift set a while ago. I had never tried the Smashbox brand, but looked forward to giving it a go.
The mascara claims that it produces no clumps or flakes, and instead gives you “maximum impact, scene stealing lashes”. It comes in a small black tube with red writing.
The mascara has a standard-size brush that’s nothing to write home about. It’s larger than some, but I still find it easy to use. I don’t find it a problem applying the mascara to my lashes.
The mascara doesn’t clump and goes on my lashes smoothly. I find that it doesn’t flake throughout the day. It makes my lashes look longer and thicker, not to an overly dramatic extent though. One coat is ideal for a natural daytime look, while I apply a second coat for a more dramatic look.
This mascara isn’t as dramatic as some others I’ve tried, such as Lancome Hypnose, so it isn’t a product I often choose to wear when I’m going out. However, for the daytime, or less sophisticated evening occasions, it is ideal. A full-size tube costs £19, which I personally find a bit too much for this mascara, though I would pay the same for different products. However, if it was on offer I would consider repurchasing.
I’ve got a stockpile of Body Shop products in my room and a while ago I went rummaging through it and pulled out this Earth Lovers Lemon & Thyme Shower Gel. I don’t think the range is still available online, though it may be in store – but you might be able to get hold of some on eBay if you want.
The 250ml bottle is 100% biodegradable and made of 100% recycled plastic. It looks like it’s The Body Shop’s attempt to move into the “natural cosmetics” market – the shower gel is soap-free and contains no sulphates, no parabens and no colourants. It doesn’t look particularly exciting, but the green and yellow coloured bottle is pleasant enough. The gel contains Community Fair Trade aloe vera to soothe and condition skin.
I really love the smell of this product. It is fresh and natural without being overly herbal – some products containing herbs can be quite odd but this really is lovely. I’ve enjoyed using it to wake me up in the morning as it is very refreshing.
The actual shower gel is clear and is very runny. It lathers up surprisingly well for a sulphate-free product, but I do end up using much more than I want to, just because it is so runny. I try to minimise this by washing with a sponge and being careful when I tip the product out, but I still end up using it very quickly, and I only have a small amount of product left despite only using it for a couple of weeks.
The product is gentle on my skin and doesn’t cause irritation. I do have to moisturise afterwards, however, and I’ve not noticed much of an improvement in the condition of my skin compared to when I use products containing chemicals.
Overall, I can’t really recommend this product. It has a lovely smell, but it isn’t particularly economical.
I have a lot of little bottles of cleansers that I’ve accumulated through monthly beauty box deliveries. I’ve cancelled them all so I can get on with actually using the products I have!
One of these is the Dr Nick Lowe Purifying Foaming Cleanser. This product is an anti-bacterial foaming facial wash. It contains something called “Anti Blemish Cranley Complex” which is meant to deep clean pores and lift daily impurities. It replenishes and brightens with a deep-cleansing action. My bottle is 50ml, which appears to be worth £4, as a full-size 150ml bottle available from Boots costs £12. This isn’t a cheap facial wash, but isn’t the most expensive either. As well as Boots, it is available from the Dr Nick Lowe website at www.drnicklowe.com and online stores such as Makeup Alley.
The bottle is simple white with black lettering, and a clear plastic top which you remove in order to press down on the pump. It comes out a bit like shaving foam – the small size of the bottle belies the amount of product you get, as one pump produces enough foam for the face. It has a very faint scent which isn’t unpleasant but isn’t anything special either. You are meant to massage the foam onto wet skin in gentle circular motions, rinsing off with lukewarm water and drying the skin gently.
I find the product easy to use. The foam covers my face well and I don’t need to use too much. It feels very gentle on my skin and I find that after use my skin doesn’t feel tight or dry, which can sometimes happen. It is good at removing makeup, including mascara, though I haven’t tried it with waterproof mascara. I tend to prefer using a separate eye makeup remover first, as otherwise I can end up with mascara off my eyelashes but down my cheeks instead, but if I need to I can remove it all with this cleanser, plenty of rinsing and a muslin cloth or some cotton wool pads to dab.
I have slightly oily skin which this product has not aggravated, though it hasn’t actively reduced the oil content of my skin. Overall my skin looks bright and in good condition, though not to the extent that it’s a huge difference.
I am pleased with this cleanser. It does a good job at cleansing impurities and makeup from the skin, while remaining gentle. It isn’t the best cleanser I’ve ever used and it’s not the cheapest, but it’s a worthy choice.
I’m trying to save money at the moment, so I’ve been purchasing cheaper shampoo and conditioner products. One of my best purchases has been this Alberto Balsam Sun-Kissed Raspberry Conditioner.
This brand has been around for a long time: I remember using it over a decade ago, and it’s still going strong. It is one of the most consistently cheap brands available, costing £1 in Tesco and Savers for a 400ml bottle, and varied, but always low, prices elsewhere. There are a number of different types around, each with a different colour. The raspberry conditioner is pink with a picture of raspberries on the front, and it is for normal to dry hair.
The conditioner contains pro vitamin B5 to strengthen, and juniper and camomile extracts. It has a lovely fruity smell that is slightly artificial but pleasant nevertheless. It is quite runny, so I need to be careful not to use too much.
I apply a 50p-sized piece to my hair, concentrating on the ends, after shampooing. The conditioner goes on well and rinses off easily. My hair doesn’t smell too much after shampooing, which is a shame as I do like the raspberry scent. There is a faint aroma, however.
It is stated that the conditioner improves softness and shine, revitalising and moisturising the hair, and I have to say that this is true. My hair does feel soft and it does look reasonably shiny. I won’t say it’s a miracle worker but it does do an adequate job.
The bottle has a flip-top lid which is easy to use, and the plastic is clear so it’s easy to see how much you have left. All in all, an excellent product.
A while ago my favourite shop, Lush, introduced the Kitchen, in which they made very limited edition batches of new and older products. This is how I got hold of the Witches’ Ball, a product first produced for Christmas 2008, and which has made several appearances in other seasons since (usually around Halloween time). I paid £3.95 for mine – this is pricey but normal for a Lush bath product, and I justify it by pointing out that it’s cheaper and healthier than a glass of wine and just as relaxing! In any case, I got two baths out of this – it’s not a single-use product, unlike the bath bombs.
Witches’ Ball is unusual-looking, dark purple colour with “bits” in it, a blend of herb and spice essential oils. It is made with a base of sodium bicarbonate, cream of tartar and sodium laureth sulphate, which help it to dissolve and turn into bubbles in the bath. It also contains dried cranberries and currants, as well as stuck-on dried star anise which do give it something of a “magical” appearance. The product contains peppermint, rosemary and sage oil as well as cloves and dried parsley – an unusual combination which accounts for the refreshing herbal fragrance, very unyusual especially in a bathing product!
As with all bubble bars from Lush, I crumbled it under the running bath (after cutting it in half first and saving the other half for later) to allow it to dissolve. By the time it was finished and I got into the bath, the water was a pale purple colour, rather inviting, with random bits floating about and a lot of bubbles. In fact it looked rather like the contents of a witch’s cauldron.
My bath was relaxing as I enjoyed the refreshing and natural scent, although I did find that the “bits” got in the way to an extent! When I got out of the water, my skin felt soft and I didn’t have to apply much moisturiser. I experienced no skin irritation.
Despite my initial fears about the “bits”, most of them went down the plughole and the larger ones were easily plucked out of the bath and dropped into the bin. No rinsing and scrubbing required!
Overall, I recommend this unusual and relaxing bath. Keep an eye on the Lush website, I’m sure it’ll make another appearance in the Kitchen at some point.