Saturday, December 12

The Christmas Tag!

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Thursday, December 10

Brunch At Counter | Vauxhaull Arches, London

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I recently went to a Secret Sleepover with the team at Bloggers Hangout. We stayed in a London Apartment and had a great night, be sure to catch up with the post here!

The following day, we were treated to brunch. It was a total surprise for me on the day and as I was told Counter* was a fantastic restaurant, I packed my camera and wanted to share our brunch with you!

Located in Vauxhaull Arches, right next to the station, Counter has a really cool vibe. It's not too posh for brunch but I could definitely envision myself returning for a nice evening meal too. The decor is beautiful, with a choice of glass tables or more of a 'booth' style private seating arrangement. It stretches really far back and is much bigger than it looks on the outside. The whole restaurant was extremely clean, even the toilets are modern with dyson dryers. The bar is centrally located, with plenty of staff to help. 

I have a real sweet tooth and and normally love pancakes for brunch. I was also treating myself after winning at the Cosmo Blog Awards two days earlier, so I opted for the Cinnamon & Apple French Toast. I can honestly say it was the best I've ever had. The portion size was huge too! My friend Khrissie chose Eggs Benedict with crispy bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise on a muffin. It looks amazing. Meanwhile, Rach selected baked eggs, truffle mushrooms, tomato and spinach with walnut pesto. I love how the menu has healthy, savoury and sweet options for everyone, I'd love to take my mum one day.

We all enjoyed a pot of tea and fresh juices. Once we finished, the Manager showed us 'Make Your Own Bellini' too, a gorgeous peach syrup and Prosecco treat. Each of our meals was priced at £8 and with drinks etc, you're looking at about £12 per person which in my opinion, was really great value for money for the quality, service and experience we had.

Massive thanks to Counter for having me, you did not fail to disappoint! It was truly wonderful and I will definitely be stopping by again soon!






*Counter & Danielle at Bloggers Hangout kindly invited myself and two bloggers for a complimentary brunch in return for an honest review.

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Wednesday, December 9

Saturday, December 5

Top Ten Revision & Exam Tips!

Looking back at my teenage life, I really wish there were more YouTubers around with videos on learning to save my money, how to drive and tips for studying. This year, I set out to create all three for girls and guys who are currently going through any of these experiences, and I did it! This is my final 'advice' style video for 2015 and to top it off, I teamed up with an app called Gojimo too. Let me know if you're studying any of these help you and be sure to share your experience using Gojimo over on Twitter - @brogantatexo.

Finally, if you're doing mocks or exams, GOOD LUCK. You can do it!


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Friday, December 4

Novotel Hotel Stay | Blackfriars, London

As a blogger who lives two hours from London, there are many times during the year I need to stay in a hotel. When the lovely people at Novotel* offered to accommodate both Amelia & I for the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards, I was very grateful for a place to rest my head. I knew it would be a wonderful stay from reading the TripAdvisor reviews (4 and half stars!) however, this truly exceeded my expectations.

Located on Blackfriars Road, Novotel is close to London Waterloo Station, The Thames River, London Eye and Tate Modern. I was in a Superior Room on the 10th floor and had great views of London. I used Uber to drop me off and my driver could pull up right outside too.

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Lets be honest, a hotel room in most places does exactly what it says on the tin, but it's the little details that leave the biggest impression on me. For example, plug sockets with little shelves next to the beds = WIN. Perfect for charging my phone. Thank you Novotel.

Secondly, they have Bluetooth speakers!? I couldn't believe it! I had a room to myself so as you can imagine, there was something a bit nice about blasting Bieber around my room whilst I did my make up for the awards (not too loudly, obviously). Free Wifi is also a massive bonus for me, the signal strength worked great in my room and was so easy to connect.

The bed. Oh the bed. It was HEAVEN. Feather pillows and crisp white bedding. I was almost glad I didn't have to share the luxury however, there is plenty of room for two and it's unbelievably comfy.

The 'coolest' feature which I didn't feel the need to use was the glass screen that separates the room from the bathroom, it becomes transparent or opaque at the touch of a button!

Finally, the bathroom was gorgeous, especially the rainfall shower and super bright lights! I loved the the design and how the doors blended into the walls when you had them open too.

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Also good to know..

- Self check in / check out
- USB charging ports
- Flat screen 32" TV
- Safe
- Minibar
- Fridge (which Amelia & I successful fitted a bottle of champagne standing up right in!!)
- 'Smart' pillows for extra comfort
- Room service available (the club sandwiches are delicious)
- Pets are allowed!

Restaurant
I didn't eat dinner at the restaurant but I did come down to experience breakfast which was included in our stay. Amelia did the opposite and had hers set up as a room service however, I'm fussy and like to pick what I fancy that morning (especially as I had a hangover).
The food was amazing, full English Breakfast, pancakes and all! The manager came down to check all his staff and guests were happy which didn't go unnoticed either.

Final thoughts
The hotel also has an indoor heated swimming pool, fitness centre and sauna however, I didn't have time to experience these. The customer service in reception was fantastic however, and the area was extremely clean and tidy. To use the lifts in the hotel you had to tap your room key before entering the floor you required, which made me feel safer.

Overall my stay at Novotel Blackfriars was fabulous. Priced from £150 a night, I can honestly say that I'll be staying again in future. I really enjoyed it and couldn't fault a single thing!!


ps. I filmed a little 'hotel room tour' in this vlog too!
*Complimentary stay in return for an honest review.
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Monday, November 30

Thai Square Spa Experience | Covent Garden, London

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After the Cosmo Blog Awards last week, Amelia & I visited the Thai Square Spa in Covent Garden for a Ritual Massage*. It was a real treat to celebrate after my two wins! I used to work for a large cosmetics company who have spas across the world, so I'll be honest, I'm quite fussy when it comes to treatments. I've had my fair share (I used to have 2/3 a week once upon a time) but I can honestly say that the Thai Square Spa did not disappoint and certainly lived up to it's glowing reviews.

The Spa
Located on Shelton Street near Neal's Yard in Covent Garden, the Spa is known for being a little haven to 'escape the stresses of everyday life'. It has been converted from an old Victorian warehouse, with 14 treatment rooms, 5 of which are specially designed Thai massage rooms. They have double treatment rooms too, which is sometimes hard to find if you prefer going with a partner, friend or family member. The decor had a stunning contemporary feel, with beautiful thai artifacts and dim lighting throughout. It was absolutely spotless clean with the floor polished to perfection. I particularly liked the plants and throughout too.

Before the treatment
We were introduced to our therapist by first names, and I was very impressed that mine remembered my name and used it to talk to me before and after too. It's the small details which make a spa experience. We were then invited to change into robes and slippers. The changing rooms are quite small, so I wouldn't recommend carrying a large bag, but there are lockers. I took a bikini, but we were given paper knickers to wear which I didn't mind at all.

Ritual Massage
I enjoyed a 1 hour, full body Ritual Massage however, it is available for longer if you wish to pay a little more. However, I personally felt like an hour was plenty. There are three different choices of oils for this particular treatment, I experienced the Andaman Aromasoul Massage & Body Oil. It's a blend of herbs and spices, inspired by Thailand’s Arabian aromatherapy influences, including rosewood essential oil, Sandalwood and Myrrh. The treatment itself combines various oriental massage techniques. My therapist and I discussed how much pressure I'd like, and which parts of my body I prefered her to work on. She started by inviting me to indulge in a floral foot bath. There is something really nice about someone washing your feet before you start, it makes you almost feel...clean? There were little hibiscus flowers floating in the water and when she finished, the bowl was placed under the bed and I could see the flowers when I was facing down, which was really nice and didn't go unnoticed. The massage itself was incredible. Traditional, professional and in time with the music. She didn't rush and her pressure point techniques were some of the best I've experienced. The treatment was relaxing, yet removed my knots in my shoulders and I left feeling very uplifted. It didn't make me fall asleep, but I felt ready to face the world again, and when I left and stepped back into Covent Garden, I felt like I was floating on clouds!

Overall
Priced at £75, I genuinely think this is worth the money. The whole experience was wonderful and I can't wait to visit their new location on Northumberland Avenue not too far down the road. I had a sneaky peak and it's really starting to come together beautifully. Massive thank you to the team at Thai Square Spa, see you again soon!

Be sure to check out Thai Square Spa here.



*Thai Squa Spa kindly invited myself and Amelia for a complimentary treatment in return for an honest review.

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Wednesday, November 25

The Bloggers Hangout & Gift Unboxing!

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On Friday 20th November, I was selected to join a handful of fellow bloggers and The Bloggers Hangout team for a Secret Sleepover in a London Apartment. As it was the day after the Cosmo Blog Awards, I thought it would be the perfect end to an awesome few days in London, and so I packed my pjs and headed to Putney!

I was so nervous because I hadn't met any of these girls before. They were HILARIOUS, and I found myself giggling straight away. When we walked into the lounge, there was a Christmas tree with tons of gifts under it. A black AND white bag EACH. In true blogger style, we were so eager to look at the goodies and all dived straight into the bags going "OOOOH, LOOK AT THIS!".

After all the excitement (which genuinely felt like Christmas too), we were then treated to massages and manicures whilst we waited for dinner.

Eat First then delivered food, we all got to choose what we fancied and I went for Tandoori Chicken, Baked Potato and Brownie. We opened the fridge and it was FILLED with drinks, before realising the freezer was also FILLED with ice cream. I'm not going to lie, we were spoilt.

Full on food we then selected Love, Rosie on Netflix. A film I'd already seen a few weeks before but still enjoyed having it on in the background whilst we chatted all things blogging. We went to bed at 1am, before heading to brunch the next day at a restaurant called Counter. I loved it so much, I've got a separate post coming for it soon.

The other bloggers who attended:

- Charlotte | http://www.thestylum.com
- Khrissie | http://www.khrissieloves.com
- Rachy | http://www.ukafrolista.com
- Seema | http://www.seemakukadia.com
- The Clothes Maiden | http://www.theclothesmaiden.com




Massive thank you to The Bloggers Hangout & the following brands who gifted us products!
Charlie and Ivy's | http://www.charlieandivys.co.uk
Conscious Skincare | http://www.conscious-skincare.com
Don Gaucho | http://don-gaucho.com
Double Dutch Drinks | http://doubledutchdrinks.com
Love Kombucha | http://lovekombucha.co.uk
Luscombe Drinks | http://www.luscombe.co.uk
Natural Spa Factory | http://www.naturalspafactory.com
PHB Ethical Beauty | http://www.phbethicalbeauty.co.uk
Portlebay Popcorn | http://www.portlebaypopcorn.com
The English Cheesecake Company | http://englishcheesecake.com



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Sunday, November 22

I WON! ♡ Cosmopolitan Blog Awards 2015


You know when you're growing up and you have big dreams but never imagined they'd come true? Imagine how it feels when they do? How do you even put that into words? In the four and half years I've been blogging I've put sweat, tears, passion, soul and my whole heart into my blog and channel. Each year, I've watched many of my friends and fellow bloggers attend the Cosmo Blog Awards, and I've always thought how amazing it would feel to be shortlisted.


So, when my name was called on Thursday to say I'd won Best Beauty Blog and then again about 10 minutes later, to say I'd also won Highly Commended Best Vlog, my whole body starting shaking and I cried.

I cried because it made me realise how much it meant to me to win, and I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment right there on the spot.

Two awards. TWO!

How amazing that both platforms won an award each?!

We didn't give speeches on the night (thank god, can you imagine me crying into the microphone?!) but I wanted to say a few thank yous. Firstly to Cosmo, for hosting a beautiful ceremony at One Marylebone and for selecting me as the winner. The evening was awesome and we stayed until the lights came on. My best friends Megan, Kate and Dionne for your incredibly kind words and phone calls, you're the best and biggest cheerleaders I could ever ask for and I love you all so very much. Thank you to my fellow blogging friends on the night for congratulating me and giving me big hugs whilst I stood shaking like a leaf for about an hour! And to my fellow blogging friends who didn't attend the night, but messaged me with loads of love and support. Thank you to YOU, for voting and making winning possible for me. I received hundreds of messages saying congratulations, how proud you were of me, how much you believed in me and how crazy it all was. Last but not least, the biggest thank you to my Mum. She's been the most supportive and understanding person since day one, she's watched every video and read every blog post, she gives me constructive criticism and totally understand my vision for the future. She picked my dress and shoes for the night with me, and reassured me it looked beautiful on more than one occasion. (which was from Lipsy, by the way!)

Winning both my categories felt like the icing on my incredible 2015 cake. I'm starting to think that this has been my year. I'm still smiling from ear to ear, still emotional about it all and was so eager to put my frame on my wall, that I accidentally bent the nail and made a hole too big. (Dad said he'd fix it, clearly I should stick to beauty and not DIY!)


Thank you for making this dream of mine come true. 

It feels incredible to be an 'Award Winning Blogger' now!

I am over the moon.

Lots of love,

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Thursday, November 12

Soap & Glory Smoothie Star Breakfast Scrub Review

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Soap & Glory Smoothie Star Breakfast Scrub - £8.00

I've got a common and harmless condition on the tops of my arms called Keratosis pilaris. It basically looks like little red goose-pimps and there's absolutely no cure for it. It's common for people with eczema like me, and although my forearms aren't perfectly smooth and are often a little bit red, it doesn't bother me as much anymore. However, I am always on the hunt for a scrub that isn't too harsh, smells nice and genuinely works to reduce redness and boost my confidence. Hence why I'm sharing my new love for Soap & Glory's Smoothie Star Breakfast Scrub today!

I'm not going to lie, the smell sold it for me. Maple Syrup yumminess. It contains organic cupuacu bio scrubs, bananas, almond and honey extracts. As you can see, I've used my fingers to dive into the product but I quickly appreciated that a little goes a long way! This pot is bound to last me several months. I use my fingers and palms to rub directly onto my arms first, before gently washing off with a mitt. I find this way isn't too harsh and leaves my skin feeling super soft.

I've also tried this on my legs and loved the results equally as much. I mean, a scrub is a scrub and does what it says on the tin, but this ticked all the boxes for me and will most definitely be in my favourites this month. I'm giving it a solid 5/5, thanks for solving my problems S&G, this really is a gorgeous product.


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Friday, November 6

5 Lessons I've Learnt About Not Appearing My Age. ♡


I was out shopping and got chatting to the girl behind the till in River Island. She mentioned that she was 16 and it really surprised me, because she was so professional and acted much older than her age. This took me back and got me thinking about how people used to do exactly the same with me when I worked in retail when I was 16 and therefore, inspired today's post.

I quickly realised from a young age that people often perceive me as much older than I actually am. I constantly get comments online and in person saying "you seem so much older" and sometimes I take it as a compliment, but other times I feel a bit offended because people presume that if you're a certain age, you haven't got an element of knowledge or experience compared to them. You shouldn't assume that someone is of a certain age just by the way they look or act but it really got me thinking. I know most of the comments I receive are genuine and heartfelt and meant in a good way (and I do take them as compliments), but I also know that some people take it the wrong way too, and think I'm trying to be someone I'm not. As I turned 21 this year, I just wanted to share some thoughts on this topic so far.


♡ People can be unintentionally patronising.
I was a speaker at an event recently where I did a live Q&A about my blog and Instagram etc. At the end of the event, I approached some of the PRs and brands to do a bit of networking, and after feeling so nervous about the whole thing, I was hoping for some positive feedback. Instead, someone said "you were good, until you mentioned your age and made me feel old!" and then everyone laughed. Am I no longer good because I'm younger than you thought?

♡ Confidence can make you seem older.
There are different kinds of confidence. Its taken me time to build mine and is often the biggest reason people think I'm older than I actually am. I was never confident when it came to acting, being on stage or giving speeches at school however, I've slowly learnt (and am still learning) that feeling and looking confident gives me a massive happiness boost. It's how I continue to put myself on the internet, make friends and succeed in what I do, so if it makes me seem older then I'm rolling with it!

♡ I might act mature, but doesn't mean I always am.
I'm 21. I don't know everything. In fact, I hardly know the world at all. I've learnt a bit during my childhood and teens, but it's my twenties that will teach me a whole new level of life I've not yet experienced. Like I said, just because I appear confident at times, doesn't mean I'm always mature or think I'm older and wiser, because I'm most definitely not. Sometimes people use the quote "an old head on young shoulders" which is a nice compliment because I guess I come across as thinking, talking and acting older but regardless, it doesn't mean I always am.

♡ I'm not a stereotypical twenty one year old, but that's okay!
I didn't go to uni. I don't party three times a week. I haven't lived in halls. I don't have a student loan...
Even though I don't regret any of my life choices or feel I've missed out on any of these things, I'm not a 'stereotypical' 21 year old. My choices have happened because of time, gut feeling and believing in myself and therefore, naturally I sometimes appear older. I've been working full time for a while (I was a Manager in a shop at 18!) and if I could, I'd 100% have my own flat by now too. All these choices make me seem like I've 'got my sh*t together' but reality is, I'm feeling the exact same as every 21 year old right now.

5 ♡ People always presume.
There have been many situations where I've proved someone wrong because they've presumed because of my age, I wouldn't understand or wouldn't handle something the way other people my age might. For example, someone recently said to me '"I'm going to be honest, I thought that being 6 years younger than me you'd bring drama to our friendship but actually, you've really got your head switched on". Once again, I'm not saying I ALWAYS 'have my head switched on' but this was a really good example of how someone presumed I was too immature for their friendship based on my age, and clearly I proved I wasn't. Past experiences might have impacted their opinion but either way, don't always presume, even though we're probably all guilty of it!



What do you think? Do you ever get mistaken for acting or looking older? Or the opposite and people think you're in fact younger and act immature for your age? Let me know and be sure to catch up with previous 'Lessons I've Learnt' posts too!



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Friday, October 30

Magnitone BareFaced Cleansing Brush

I know, I'm reallyyyy late on the cleansing brush bandwagon, and let me be the first to admit that I just wasn't sure about parting with my pennies for one. So when I met the lovely people at Magnitone and they kindly gifted me the latest brush, I was over the moon and couldn't wait to tell you about it. Is it as good as people say? Is it genuinely worth the money? How often are you likely to use it? Read on to find out!

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Magnitone Barefaced Vibra-Sonic Daily Face Brush - £70.00*

What is your skin like before using the brush?
I have very dry, eczema-prone, sensitive skin. I have an allergy to some perfumes. I use less than a handful of skincare products and like to stick with fragrance free where I can. I rarely get breakouts or spots and generally, although I have to be careful due to my sensitivity, my skin is quite good. 

Which products do you use?
I've always used the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish to wash my face, along with a muslin cloth. More recently, I've been trying similar product from Bee Good & Sephora too but I lean towards my Liz Earle to use with my brush.


Which Magnitone do you have?
I've got the Green Magnitone BareFaced Vibra-Sonic Daily Face Brush. It retails at £70 and is available directly from their website, or Boots currently have £10 off online.

What does it do?
It contains a Vibra-Sonic technology which is basically a combination of sonic oscillations and pulsed vibrations to work deep in the skin, remove dirt out of pores, tone and boost micro-circulation. It also has a second mode called PulseLift Toning, to supercharge vibrations and provide a toning skin massage.

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How does it feel whilst using?
Extremely soft! The vibratations aren't harsh at all. In fact, you can barely feel them. The brush has a 20 second timer and 1 minute stop, which beeps to prompt you when to move for your t-zone, cheek and neck. It's 100% waterproof to use in the shower too.

How did your skin feel after?
After my first use, I was actually a little disappointed. It must have lifted all the dirt to the surface and I came up in little red rash-type bumps. They weren't extremely visable but I could feel them around my chin and nose. I double checked with Magnitone and they suggested I get myself a pack of the Silk Bliss Brush Heads (currently on order!). They reassured me that it's perfectly normal, it's just my skin's way of adjusting to a new and deeper method of cleaning. Therefore, whilst I wait for my new brush head, I've been using it 2/3 times a week instead of daily, focusing on the t-zone where I need it most, and ignoring the 'beeps' it recommends when you should switch. Instead, I don't press as hard, even though it's tempting to want to scrub, you must let the vibrations do the work! These changes have worked MUCH better for me and just goes to show how everyone is so different.  After one month of adapting and testing the product, I can honestly say that it leaves my skin feeling really clean and I don't feel the need to use a harsh face scrub anymore. Welcome to my skincare routine, Magnitone!

Do you take your makeup off with it?
I actually prefer to use a micellar water or wipe first to take off the majority of product, before going in with my Magnitone.

What's the battery like?
I've been using mine for 1 month, around 8/9 times, and I haven't needed to charge it yet! If you're using it daily, I'd say it would probably last around two weeks. It has a little light that flashes when charging and solid when full, with an easy USB charger which I use with my iPhone plug. Therefore, I would have liked to have seen a plug included too but it's not a big deal.

Is it portable? 
Absolutely. I wouldn't hesitate to pack this on holiday or a weekend away with me. It isn't heavy at all and comes with a little clear bag to travel with too.

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Does it come with warranty?
Like all expensive gadgets, I always take the time to check it has warranty, just in case it stops working. Luckily, this comes with 12 months and the option to opt-in to their free MyMagnitone Membership, which gives you £5 off as a welcome gift. I've already used mine to get my extra brush heads!
 

Would you recommend it?
If you're looking to take your skincare to the next level and deep clean the skin and pores then yes, I would recommend. It is expensive but in comparison to many others on the market (Clarisonic starts at £99), it's actually very reasonable and despite being gifted for this review, I would purchase it. Plus, Magnitone they just won 'Best New Electrical Product' in the Pure Beauty Awards 2015!

I also just wanted to take the time to say how impressed I was with the customer service. After my little break out, I used their online chat/messenger (emails to brands can sometimes take ages and I'm very impatient!) and explained my situation. I got some great advice and had an advisor called Jenny refund my order for Sensitive Brush heads, change the stock levels, provide me with a new welcome code and then this allowed me to re-order the Silk Bliss ones instead, as she felt these would suit me better. I was so impressed, she had no idea I was writing this review and was super efficient and helpful. It reassured my faith in the product and I'm now excited to try the new Silk Bliss heads, whcih I will report back on soon!

What do you think? Do you own a cleansing brush?
You can purchase a Magnitone online here.


*PR Sample
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Tuesday, October 20

Lush Salted Coconut Hand Scrub


I spent the summer working outside in the forest and my poor hands were really put to the test. I pushed and pulled on ropes, carabiners, harnesses and rakes, so as I'm sure you can imagine, they needed a little TLC, especially now winter is coming. I've normally got quite clammy hands that never need moisturising, but they've been so dry recently that even the skin around the cuticles has been tearing and bleeding (ouch!) and causing me all sorts of troubles. 

The first time I tried Lush's new Salted Coconut Hand Scrub, I ran out to the post office to collect my parcels and on the way, spent the whole 20 minute car journey smelling my hands and rubbing them against my cheeks! I literally couldn't believe they felt SO good and the whole time I was thinking "I need to blog about this!!".

It says to use a generous amount but honestly, I think a little goes a long way. You take a dollop and rub between wet hands, before rinsing off. I've tried with dry hands too but it doesn't quite have the same affect.

It's packed full of fine sea salt which Lush claims is a wonderful natural exfoliant to help cleanse and treat the skin. I've used their Big Shampoo before too, which does the same sort of thing to the scalp. The coconut oil leaves hands feeling so soft, with the best scent ever!

Despite the £7.95 price tag, I can safely say I'll be repurchasing this. I know it'll last and leaves my hands smelling amazing. Highly recommend.


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