It’s a Pot Party! LUSH and One Million Trees in One Day

23 Mar

Not that kind of pot party! It’s a Lush Charity Pot Party to benefit the charity, One Million Trees in One Day, a three-day event in each of Ireland’s LUSH shops in which allll the money made from the sales of their Charity Pot, minus VAT, will go towards funding the reforestation of Ireland.

The Charity Pot is the cornerstone of Lush’s policy of lending a helping hand to charities and grassroots organisations that seek to do good in our communities. One Million Trees in One Day is a cross-border initiative whose goal is to plant that number of young, native trees in both the Republic and the North, to give our ecosystem a boost and help us increase our natural resources.

So head over to a Lush near you and grab a pot. The initiative runs from Friday the 27th to Sunday the 29th, and the addresses of the five shops are below, following a re-post of an interview I did with Gabbi Loedoff last year.

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‘Our hope is that we can create a model that shows a different way to do business,’ says Gabbi Loedolff, a buyer for the SLush Fund initiative. Having started working for the brand as a sales advisor and then manager of Lush‘s busiest London shop, she moved over to working on Lush’s wish list of projects — and somehow found the time to study Anthropology.

She describes her current role as ‘a bit of a dream job: working closely with different communities around the world to understand their needs and potential and help them create truly environmentally, socially and economically sustainable projects.”
GABBI
Now with a new self-preserving formula, the little pot is still doing a lot of good: minus the VAT that goes to the government, the rest of the money made on the hand and body lotion goes to help grassroots causes whose focus is making the world better for people, animals and the environment. Over £7 million has been raised since 2007. In a word: wow. Gabbi spoke to us about how what she does contributes to the Charity Pot and about how one person can in fact make a difference.

Gabbi, can we get some background on you, and your previous work?
I grew up in South Africa and I started working for LUSH in 2001, whilst on a gap year before starting a new university degree. My initial plan was to travel around Europe, but as often happens, I ran out of money and decided to get a temporary job to save some additional funds. I applied to an advert in a newspaper, which led to a job at LUSH and, well, here we are in 2014!

It was during this time that I got the amazing opportunity to manage our charitable SELF-PRESERVED CHARITY POTgiving and launch the Charity Pot in its initial form, so this is a project that is very, very close to my heart. After doing our charitable giving, I did more retail projects before moving into the buying team in 2011. This was near the start of the SLush Fund (Sustainable Lush Fund) and I was fortunate enough to be involved from the early days: creating application procedures, choosing projects to support and actually visiting the groups on the ground.

I remember cornering Mark Constantine, the founder, back in my early days with LUSH to quiz him as to how we were supporting the actual producers of our ingredients, on the ground, and here I am, working on this very same question on a daily basis!

Which SLush Fund ingredient are you the buyer for, and what projects you call your own?
At the moment, I buy all cocoa and product packaging for LUSH, but have been involved with various other materials over the last few years. The way the SLush Fund is set up, I get to be involved with all the projects even if I do not directly buy the material at the end.

One of the projects I am most closely involved with is the cocoa butter from Comunidad de Paz San Jose de Apartado, a Colombian Peace community. We first came across the Peace community through our colleague Paulo Mellet, the man behind the SLush Fund. He told us about this amazing group, working to live a self-sufficient life of peace in an area riddled with conflict, and the challenges they faced.

It just so happened that they grow cocoa, which they struggle to sell on the local market, and we use 100s of tonnes of cocoa butter a year. We had been talking for a while about how to ensure full traceability on our cocoa and this seemed the perfect opportunity to not only support an amazing group of people but also explore a new way of buying cocoa. What better way to support people, as a cosmetics company, than trade based on truly fair prices? We agreed to buy a 25 tonne shipment, which we had sent to Europe to be processed into cocoa butter and cocoa powder.

The relationship with the Peace community has continued to grow and thrive and to date we have bought about 7 shipments of beans from them.

How do you find new vendors?
Most of our partnerships to date have been people that have come recommended to us through the networks we work with. Some of the SLush funding has been to existing suppliers, like the Ojoba Collective that produce our shea butter, while others are completely new relationships.

When we are exploring supporting a new project, we have an application process which includes a detailed but straightforward application form. This application covers the aims, the proposed environmental, social and economic outcomes of the project, the background of the people behind it and we do reference checks too. The budgets need to be quite detailed — we have a limited amount of money and like to ensure that it is being used as efficiently as possible.

Can you talk about a day-in-the-life of someone who is producing a product you’re working with?
The Ojoba Collective in the Bongo Soe region of Ghana consists of around 400 women. It’s a very, very dry region and work is scarce. Before starting the cooperative, many of the women had to leave their families to travel south to try to find work. When we first started working with the group, they had about 40 members. Now, more than 400 women are part of the collective.

The women will finish their chores at home before coming to the processing site. Here they wash the shea nuts before laying them in the sun to dry. The nuts are roasted and ground before the real work begins: they beat the shea liquid, from the nuts that have been ground, until a creamy butter separates from the liquids. This butter is then filtered and boxed up ready to ship out.

The profits are shared equally amongst all the women — even those who have been unable to contribute during a period due to poor health or those that have become too old to work.

They attend literacy classes and have just started a shea tree nursery with support from the SLush Fund. By creating their own shea nursery, they are securing a source of Shea nuts for the future.

How do you see this sort of initiative growing over the next few years?
Our hope is that the projects we have already started will all become financially independent — generating enough income to run themselves without further support — and that we can continue to start new projects around the world. The absolute ideal for us would be to end up in a situation where all our materials are not only sustainable, but regenerative too. Our North American team have started their own SLush project, which is very exciting. For the projects themselves, my feeling is that they will continue to grow and that the amount of people benefiting from the work they do will increase.

It can often feel that, as one person, it can’t be possible to make a difference in the world — can you share some inspiring thoughts or a story that would encourage folks to keep the faith?
I am regularly amazed by just how much of a difference one person can make, and how wide their reach can be. One example is our friend Paulo Mellet, who sadly recently passed away. A dedicated activist and believer in permaculture, it was his inspiration and vision that brought about the SLush Fund. As a company, we were already working hard on sustainable and transparent supply chains, but under his guidance and through his vision, we have taken this so much further.

Another great example is a gentleman called Paul Yeboah from Ghana. He started the Ghana Permaculture Institute demonstration site on a small piece of degraded land. He now has a thriving site that offers permaculture training, grows mushrooms, processes moringa seeds into oil and also very visually illustrates to the local community how you can regenerate soil without using pesticides or fertilisers. They offer a micro financing scheme to women to enable them to start their own businesses.

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Lush Charity Pot: €16.85/£12.95/$22.95 (240g)

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Lush Cork – 96 Oliver Plunkett St, Cork 

Lush Henry Street – 33 Henry Street, Dublin 1, Ireland

Lush Grafton Street – 116 Grafton Street, Dublin 2, Ireland

Lush Belfast – 12-14 Castle Lane, Town Centre, Belfast, BT1 5DA

Lush Newry – Unit 20, The Quays Shopping Centre, Albert Basin, Newry BT35 8QS

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I Try Before You Buy: Shower Creams, Gels and Washes

13 Mar

Soothing your dry winter skin starts in the shower as does your daily fragrance. Depending upon your desire for suds — lots, or little — all of the below will get your pelt through the winter and may endow you with fragrance, too. Or not! Whatever you prefer! I am extremely fussy about scent in the shower and really feel that it can make or break my day…

DOVE Silk Glow Body Wash {€2.99}
*****
The proof isn’t always in the price point: this is extremely good value for 250mls, and it really does make my skin feel silky and glowy after use. It also has that glorious Dove scent and also! The tiniest squeeze of product produces loads of foam. Great price point!

LUSH Dreamwash Shower Smoothie {€13.65}
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Gorgeous texture — like you are icing yourself like a cake — meets lovely and soothing scent… but also unfortunately meets one the famous black pots that are fiddly to deal with in the shower. Also, if suds are your thing, the way they are my thing, then this won’t bubble up to your usual standard.

ROGER & GALLET Fleur de Figuier Gentle Shower Cream {€12}
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This is soap-free and sulfate-free, and yet you get a nice crop of bubbles with which to scrub yourself. I found the scent to be slightly too sweet, but R&G have such a great range of fragrances, I’m sure I’ll find something that suits.
Shower stuff
L’OCCITANE Fouette Whipped Shower Foam {€17.50}
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Shake it up, and it’s like mousse for your body when you dispense it. I love being able to layer with the Fouette Body Cream {€22}, but again, I like a nice froth of soapy goodness in the course of my morning ablutions — and I didn’t get the amount I prefer.

NIVEA Water Lily & Oil Shower Gel {€10.99}
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Ooh, love an oil, and this is luxurious bargain considering you get 250mls. It doesn’t smell all that flowery, which is great if you’re me and hate too much fragrance, and not great is you did want to smell like a delicate flower. Otherwise, lots of lather for a little bitta gel, and you’ll feel silky, too.

CLINIQUE Deep Comfort Body Wash {€21}
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This is terrific, if kind of expensive. It suds up like nobody’s business, which is something of a learning curve: I used up way too much product early on because I didn’t realize that I didn’t need that much. Paired with Deep Comfort Body Butter (€34, 200ml), your skin will in fact be comforted deeply.

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FOTYesterday + The Hair

10 Mar

FOTD 09 03Highlights — not just on The Hair — include:

> essence Long-lasting Lipstick {€2.89} in Come Naturally: really emollient, loving the dark nude, feels like a balm.

> Foundation via Elizabeth Arden Flawless Finish Perfectly Satin {€38}, which has not let me down in the month or so that I’ve been trialing it. It’s matte, but not so matte that you look like you should be displayed in Madame Tussaud’s — a lovely, natural glow is allowed to illuminate your skin without your face ever looking greasy.

> Sadly a function of the iPhone, the No7 eyeshadow is not showing up as well as it ought. This Mini Palette {€14.25} is fabbbbbbilis, the shadows are light in weight, but deep in pigment. It felt so light, even on the brush, that I loaded it up too much the first time out, and have since pulled back a little.

> Gave The Hair a little treat before shampooing: BC Oil Miracle Barbary Fig Oil {€27} from Schwarzkopf Professional. Soaked it into the lengths and ends and left it for… well over an hour I’m sure, since I was hard at work doing keyboardy stuff. Washed it out with the matching Fig Oil & Keratin Restorative Shampoo. Silky!

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Synaesthesia Treatment at Lush Spa, Chelsea

9 Mar

Life can be hard, and so can London. I’ve never lived there, but I’ve visited often, and even after one day — one happy, varied day wandering around, breakfasting on eggs royale, getting some makeup put on my face at the Charlotte Tilbury counter at Selfridges; taking the Tube; looking for WiFi… even after less than eight hours of it, London was wearing me out. By the time I got to the LUSH Spa in the King’s Road, Chelsea, I was shocked there wasn’t line of people streaming out the door, queuing for pampering.

The level of busyness reminds me of New York, which I mention because I got confused about the way the numbers run on streets. In Manhattan, it’s across, so 19 may be on the left, and 20 on the right. Here, and in Dublin too, the odds are all on one side, the evens all on the other — so when I got to where I thought 123 was, I was surprised at the lack of LUSH branding… and at the thought that it was in a some class of shopping centre. I did that thing where I wandered up and down, undecided, and then decided to wander along the road a bit longer — ah. There was the storefront. That made much more sense.
LUSH Kings Road Spa front

Despite the length and breadth of the city, the Tube makes you get places faster and I was half an hour early. My stupid injury leg was acting up too, but there was nowhere for me to wait, so I went next door to the Starbucks and had a big auld Chai Latte with a helping of some previously elusive WiFi. I almost had my nose removed by an impatient, not-watching-whose-space-she-was-invading, skinny-latte-to-go person who just reached right across me to grab some sugar — GRAB THE SUGAR BEFORE IT ALL GOES AWAY LONDON PERSON! Janie Mac. I am increasingly sounding like auld dear, but you’d want to try that in Dublin!

This is all to say that I really needed my 80 minutes of massagey goodness by the time I was lead down to the spa, in the lower ground floor of the shop.
Kitchen Table
The waiting space is small, and the essence of the LUSH treatments are so personal, that I saw why you wouldn’t want anyone hanging round while you were being taken through your preparation. I was to receive the Synaesthesia, the brand’s first, and signature, treatment.  
Massage bars in kitchen
The event is organised around a word that one chooses from the phrase written on the wall, and the bottle chosen {very Alice in Wonderland} from a nearby shelf. I chose my word and my bottle, and was talked through the use of the music, a bespoke symphony that mirrors a day from dawn to dusk in the Dorset countryside. I was advised that it would be played at sound level, which is: not as a subliminal element. There were moments when the transitions between movements were jarring, but in general, it was lovely, and was an unusually big part of the experience.
Synaesthesia
I was greeted at the door of the room with a dry-iced infusion of the scent I had chosen: it was theatrical, but fragrant. The room actually had a chair for me to sit on when I disrobed, and I can’t stress enough how much sense this makes, and how few rooms actually supply this basic piece of furniture. Particularly when you’ve got a stupid injury leg and don’t need to be hopping all over the place trying to get your knicks off.

{You have the choice of hot stones, as shown, or an abdominal massage. I went for the belly rub despite being dead ticklish.}

The massage was thorough, from face to toes. I had been invited to remove my make up beforehand, and there was some confusion as to what was going to happen. I had other stuff to do following and didn’t really want to cleanse. I was assured this was okay, but it really wasn’t, as the treatment kicked off with a face massage. Now, I have long longed for the face to be included in many a full-body massage I’ve enjoyed; I was somewhat distracted by the use of product on my face over my foundation and wished I’d asked what was specifically going to happen. I think that the LUSH ethos comes down so heavily on the side of ‘whatever suits you’ — which is normally great — but in this case, it would have been preferable to have cleansed.

It took some time to cop, but the movements of the massage flowed with the movements of the music. The breaks in the score were timed with the breaks in the massage, and the whole thing felt like the perfect gestalt of sound, touch, and scent. I didn’t find myself as floaty as I might get during a treatment, due to the sound level of the toons, but otherwise, I felt utterly relaxed.

A lovely cup of tea awaited, as well as a massage bar emblazoned with my word, and bath bar that unlike many of LUSH’s offerings, is reusable — just hold underneath the flowing water and let dry when you feel your bath is properly bubble-fied.

I left, to the easy-going goodbyes of the staff and a decision to give the number 11 bus a go. I just couldn’t face the Underground and the stressy crowds. The journey from King’s Road to the East End took basically forever, and the conductor was a fussy young fella who was unhappy with the way the side doors were closing and made a big production out of his feeling — I called him ‘Stan Shunpike’ in my head to preserve my good mood. Otherwise, the bus was the perfect tour of the sights, from the fancy window displays in Chelsea, through Trafalgar Square, past St Paul’s, and I did ultimately reach my destination.

Any my stupid injury leg? All the better for the attention to it, and to my entire body. As ever, I resolve to have more massage in my life, for both physical and mental wellbeing — we’ll see how that goes…

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In the mood to splash out? This is super splashy: £125 for 80 minutes, plus your complimentary products.

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LUSH Spa
123 King’s Road, London SW3 4PL, United Kingdom
+44 20 7376 8348

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I {Almost} Used It All Up: Kiehl’s Magic Elixir

3 Feb

Gahhhhhhhh!

IUIAAU KIEHL'S

It’s not that I wanted to be done with this, because I love ittttt — but that’s not much of a dose, is it?

A couple of years ago, scalps were the new black, and it makes sense: scalps are skin, and even if you shampoo, you’re still not really taking specific care of that specific part of your body.

Now, many may holler, ‘This is ridic! Is there not a square inch of ourselves that goes without its own special product?!’ Me, I don’t care, I love product {obvs}, so was happy enough to take yet another step onboard.

I loved this on days when I had the time to drench my roots and leave it. Nothing like a good hair treatment to make one feel virtuous. And such treatments are pretty low maintenance: just lash it on and forget about it until it’s time to shower.

After using this truly Magic Elixir, my hair was silky, and my highlights looked like they’d gotten top up. What’s not to like?

That little tiny bit in the bottle, that’s what’s not to like…

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€28.50/£25/$20

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Plus! Avocado oils! So good for us internally and here, externally!

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Banishing Winter, One Nail at a Time

20 Jan

I am done with this cold weather malarkey. I banish you, winter! Away!

Right, so, whatevs: let’s show winter we mean business.
No7 GEL LOOK

Hello, pretty. On our left is No7 Coral Crush, on our right is Sweet Lilac. Both are from the Gel Look line of nail varnishes on offer, which promise one stroke of durable, shiny goodness.

My nails as usual are in rag order — although I must blog about my NYC New Year’s Eve mani/pedi experience, it was boss — so I won’t subject you to their nastiness.

Just meditate on this lovely image, and do pick some up and give them a try.

I saw many a Boots stand in a variety of drugstores in Manhattan, go have a look and see if they are there!

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No7 Gel Crush Nail Varnish, €9

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The Thing About Samples: Sisley Paris All Day All Year

19 Jan

The thing is, samples can make you want something.

Want this:
SISLEY ALL DAY ALL NIGHT

I am not a comprehensive Sisley fan. That Black Rose Cream Mask is beast, but I found the Global Perfect Pore Minimizer to be no use a’tall. I’ve had more time for their makeup, in fact — Phyto-Ombre Glow Luminous Eyeshadow, and Mascara So Intense, yes and yes — and generally tend to choose between either skincare or face paint when I’m thinking about a brand. {Do I? Will have to give that a serious think.}

I had a facial ages ago in the Brown Thomas beauty rooms, and of course the products show to their best effect when used by a pro. I got some wee samples, hence the above, and they’ve been languishing in one of my organisational units. I went on my usual New Year Clearing Out Tear, and it was either pitch it or give it a go, so I reckoned, just use it — why let even .13 ounces of something really expensive got to waste.

Well, this stuff is terrific. Which is bad news because: spendy — ruinously so. At €250 for 50 mls, I guess I have about €3 worth of this stuff in that wee pack. The thing is, my skin felt both tightened and moisturised simultaneously, which sounds impossible, but in practice, feels exactly correct and what you want out of an anti-aging product. I felt like I was fighting dryness and gravity — and! my foundation looked amazing even after a full day out and about. This promises that after 28 days of use, you’ll look more youthful, and I gotta say, I’d love to give that a try…

Is it worth €250/£236/$410? Will I wait for your answer until you pick yourself up off the floor?

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It may be worth cruising by your local Sisley counter to see will they give you a little sample of this extreme goodness…

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Wind-ter Getting You Down? Moisturise at Night!

12 Jan

I don’t know about you, but the gale force winds are wrecking my head, espesh with being out on the horses in it. I haven’t minded the noise at night, though, and I’m doing my best work in the dreamtime to keep my skin from getting wrecked, never mind my head.

Lashings of cream at night is my only man these blowy days. I’m a big fan of sleeping through the hard stuff, and by deeply moisturising at least three times a week, at bedtime, I feel that I’m keeping my complexion in good nick.

Here are three of my favourites.

GREEN ANGEL
Yeah, I know it says ‘daily’ on it, but GREEN ANGEL Seaweed Daily Moisture Face Cream with Jasmine, Neroli & Vitamin E {€24.95} is well able for double duty at night. Anything with seaweed in it is going to be alright by me — add in those oils, and this is bliss in a jar.

NUXE
NUXE have a new addition in their Merveillance Expert Rich Correcting Cream {€40}, and it’s a good one. I’m happy to use this as directed in the morning, but have been finding it to be great at night, too. Actually? Rather better, as the consistency of the cream is rich and thick. While it does absorb nicely, I’m finding its thickness and richness to be better at the end of the day as opposed to the beginning of it.

ORIGINS
Oh, hello, darling. I love, love, love ORIGINS High Potency Night-A-Mins Renewal Cream {€45}, and wish they would make a version that was for the entire body. I hoard this, TBH, because it is like a miraculous new-face-in-a-jar. It never fails to make my skin glow the morning after the night before; the only thing I’ll say against it is that it smells so good, sometimes I keeping myself awake breathing it in. Just me…?

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I had long wondered about the day cream v night cream debate — as in, what’s the difference? — and posted about it here

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Festive ’14: Emma So Natural and Glove Your Body

19 Dec

Support your local artisan/provider!
EMMA SO NATURAL
Handmade in Ireland, Emma’s So Natural line incorporates wax tart melts and small travel candles in tins, but for me, it’s alllll about the tumbler candles.

Made from soy wax as opposed to paraffin, these last longer as they burn more slowly, and they are cleaner and greener, too. Essential oils provide the scent, and you can choose from seven. There are also seasonal choices, including Wonderland, a mix of pine, eucalyptus and benzoin.

Last shipping day by courier is the 22nd!

GLOVE
Gotta use a glove to apply the fake tan — I do know that many prefer the bare hands, but: no. Glove Your Body’s offering looks more like a plush toy than a tanning mitt, and its many features — you’d be surprised that a self-tan accessory would have more than one feature — makes it easier to spread the product around, ensuring that your tan is more even and natural-looking.

Feature One: the obviously plush surface, which helps contain the tan. Whenever I use a sponge mitt, I find that the liquid can roll all over the surface, making it hard to manage. Definitely not a problem here.
Feature Two: Inside, there are finger-holders, like in a baseball mitt, meaning that it’s not going to slip and slide all over the place.
GLOVE YOUR BODY inside
Feature Three: An opposable thumb! I had no idea that it would come in so handy! Why? I just feel like I’ve got better control of the whole process because my thumb is free.
Feature Four: Machine washable!

All in all, if you are a serial tanner, this is the Pro Mitt. And it feel really nice, too.

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Emma’s So Natural tumbler candles, €18.50; 2-pack, €35; emmas.ie

Glove Your Body, €19.99; http://www.gloveyourbody.com

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Festive ’14: LUSH

17 Dec

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMASI’m going to be honest: I’m keeping Lush’s 12 Days Of Christmas for my very own self. It is full of the brand’s top seasonal offerings, and everything in there will last well into next year.

There are so so many stunningly packaged parcels on hand at your local Lush, quite literally something for everyone, all along the spectrum of price. It’s like the Beauty Division of Santa’s Workshop all up in there.

LUSH assortment

Amazing! I gotta say, though, that I am the ultimate fan I know of the Lush line, of their bath additives specifically — I wrote ‘addictives’ three times! — and I’ll put these to good use. If you know someone like me, then you will not go wrong with this one.

The box itself is gorge, and is shaped like a storybook. Here’s what’s inside.

LUSH 12 DAYS inside

Faves: top left, the Snow Angel Bath Melt; second row, all the way right, Hot Toddy Shower Gel; third row left, Golden Wonder Bath Bomb; third row all the way right, Lord Of Misrule Bath Bomb; bottom right, Karma Soap.

I am willing to be beguiled by the others, which include Holly Golighty Bubble Bar (top right) and… all the rest.

Here’s to fragrant bathing in 2015!

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€64/£49.95/$99.95 << There are a few substitutions in the American box, FYI

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