The Indulgence Gift Box | Harrods Christmas Hampers

A visit to Harrods department store in London would not be complete for me without at least ten minutes spent gazing longingly at their Christmas Hampers and Gift Boxes. As a total foodie with a taste for the finer things in life (if not always the money to back it up!) they epitomise my dream luxury gift. Gourmet treats, beautiful packaging embossed with the iconic Harrods logo and the general feeling that in being gifted one, someone is letting you know just how much you mean to them!

Well pinch me please because as the title of this post probably gives away, I felt very special indeed when Harrods themselves contacted me to ask if I’d like to receive a gift handpicked especially for me from their newly released Christmas selection.

I chose to keep the contents as a surprise to make opening it even more of a pleasure. The huge cardboard box that it came in gave nothing away, but just look what I found inside!

 

The Indulgence Gift Box | Harrods Christmas Hampers

Harrods had obviously done their research on my favourite past-time because they had chosen to send me their Indulgence Gift Box*, otherwise known as the Pamper Hamper! It’s the only hamper in their Christmas collection to feature relaxing pampering products from one of my favourites Molton Brown in addition to a selection of gourmet food and drink items – what a match made in heaven!

Let’s take a closer look shall we?

Harrods Indulgence Gift Box Christmas Hamper

Harrods Indulgence Gift Box Christmas Hamper

I was thrilled to see not one but two large boxes of luxury truffles, a truly decadent treat that I enjoy on only the rarest occassions usually! My favourite flavour Marc De Champagne features in one of the boxes but I’m equally looking forward to trying the liquid centered passion fruit caramel truffles, they sound scrumptious!

Harrods Indulgence Gift Box Christmas Hamper

There are are two mini bottles of Harrod’s own Premier Cru Champagne. Each bottle would fill a champagne glass I believe making these perfect for toasting the festive season with a loved one.

From Molton Brown there’s a full sized scented candle in Rhubarb and Rose which smells just wonderful – really sweet but fruity at the same time…

Harrods Indulgence Gift Box Christmas Hamper

…accompanied by their Rose and Rhubarb Handcream….

Harrods Indulgence Gift Box Christmas Hamper

…and a full sized bottle of Rose Body Wash. I was really pleased to see this in there as I adore Molton Brown bath and shower body washes. Not only do they foam up into a really good lather but they always smell amazing too.

Harrods Indulgence Gift Box Christmas Hamper

If I’m honest I’d have liked to see a few extra items included as it’s a huge box which gave me the impression upon opening it that I was going to keep finding more goodies as I dug through the cardboard padding. In fact, most of the items were displayed in the top layer and only the bottles of champagne were concealed underneath. However it IS a beautiful keepsake box and because of it’s generous size I think I’m going to use it as a blanket box so that I can keep it on display in my living room!

Harrods Indulgence Gift Box Christmas Hamper

You can view the full selection of Harrods Christmas Hampers here. Prices start at a very reasonable £35 for a champagne and truffles gift box and go all the way up to a mind blowing £5000 for The Ultimate Harrods Christmas Hamper, which contains everything from caviar to smoked duck, Louis Roederer Champagne and rare Malt Whiskey!

Thank you Harrods, I feel well and truly spoiled…

…and isn’t that just how you want to make someone special feel on Christmas Day?

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: As mentioned above Harrods very kindly gifted me the Indulgence Gift Box so that I could share my honest thoughts with you. All views are, as always, my very own.

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Autumn Home and Beauty Favourites

After what has seemed like the longest Spring in history, (Summer – where were you?!) Autumn has finally arrived and I for one couldn’t be happier about it. Admittedly it’s a bit rubbish having to get up for work in the dark and it being pot luck as to whether my freshly blowdried hair will survive more than 30 seconds outside, but that can be forgiven because it’s such a cosy, comforting, laid back season.

In Autumn it’s perfectly acceptable to put rest and relaxation first. You can go home and get straight into your comfiest, cosiest pjs if you want to and on a Tuesday if people ask if you have plans the correct answer is “Yes – Bake Off!” Here are a few more home and beauty favourites that I’ve been loving so far this season:

Scented Candles

Autumn Home and Beauty Favourites

I love lighting a scented candle at this time of year… or 7! I find them so calming, not just because of the smell but also the peace that comes with watching one softly flicker away in a low lit room.

Yankee Candle are my favourite for long lasting luscious scents that fill a whole living space but at the rate I burn through them it can all get rather expensive, so I’ve found Bayliss & Harding to be a more affordable supplement to my addiction. They still offer some lovely scents and pretty packaging but I find that Tesco often put them in the sale at which point I bulk buy!

Ted Baker Porcelein Rose Shower and Body Lotion*

Ted Baker kindly sent me a selection of the new releases from their latest bath and body collection Porcelain Rose which is available at Boots this Autumn, which has given me an excuse to have lots of indulgent pamper sessions recently.

Autumn Home and Beauty Favourites

I have been particularly loving the Body Wash and Body Lotion from the Pretty Pearl range (both retailing at £8). Both are really gentle on my sensitive skin and leave it feeling silky smooth, baby soft and smelling delicious too!

Autumn Home and Beauty Favourites

The Pretty Pearl scent is a delicate fruity-floral number with top notes of sweet violet, soft rose petals, patchouli and warm sandalwood and a base of musk and raspberry leaf.

The packaging is a winning combination of crisp white, rose gold and vintage floral print that goes rather beautifully in my bathroom with my new fluffy white towels. (More on those in a minute in fact!)

Autumn Home and Beauty Favourites

For £20 you can buy a gift set version in a matching beauty bag which contains the body wash, lotion and a matching body spray, so if you’re stuck for a present and know someone who loves a good pamper session you can’t go wrong with this in my opinion!

Autumn Home and Beauty Favourites

The Fluffiest of Fluffy White Towels

I recently spent a week in a gorgeous cottage in the Peak District. The bathroom had super soft bathsheets that made me realise how old and scraggy my ten year old ones were, so when I saw that The White Company had a sale on I decided it was time to treat myself to a new set.

Autumn Home and Beauty Favourites

When they first arrived I was a bit disappointed as straight out of the box they didn’t feel all that thick but after a couple of washes however I’m over the moon with them. They’ve fluffed up beautifully and wrapping myself in one is just the best feeling!

Autumn Home and Beauty Favourites

I find the bath sheets just the right size for chilly Autumn days where it’s not quite cold enough to have the heating on, but when you step out of the shower you don’t really want any inch of skin left exposed to the cold. In comparison, the jumbo sized bath towels are the perfect size for my nearly six foot fella who is rather chuffed to have a bath towel long enough that he can wrap himself up in it like a burrito!

Eve Lom Facial Cleanser

I recently ran out of the facial cleanser I normally use and thought I’d treat my skin to some proper indulgence by trying out a cult beauty product – the Eve Lom Facial Cleanser, which I’d received in a Look Fantastic Beauty Box ages and ages ago!

Autumn Home and Beauty Favourites

It’s got quite a buttery consistency which applies really well. I thought it might leave a greasy residue but when used with a hot cloth to gently remove the cleanser whilst buffing my skin, it feels thoroughly cleansed afterwards and super soft, as if it’s been treated to a nice drink of water. The only thing I’m not too keen on is the eucalyptus and chamomile scent.

I can see why people rave about this product but it is expensive at £55 price tag for a 100ml pot, although I would say that a little does go a long way.

Autumn Home and Beauty Favourites

Another fantastic cleanser that I’d recommend if you can’t stretch your budget is the The White Company’s Super Balm Gentle Daily cleanser. (Reviewed by me here.) It doesn’t exfoliate like Eve Lom’s version but still does an incredible job and is £25 for 150ml, so the daily hot cloth cleansing treatments can continue even when my pot of luxurious Eve Lom cleanser eventually runs out!

Charbonnel et Walker Champagne Truffles

I love putting together gift boxes full of things I think people will love and no matter who I’m compiling it for, I always end up including some of these truffles. They just look so pretty and special!

Autumn Home and Beauty Favourites

Sometimes you just have to indulge yourself a little bit too though don’t you? Even if my occasion was simply that it had been a long day!

Are you loving the change of season? What are your favourite ways to relax and unwind at this time of year?

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: This post contains PR samples where marked with an asterisk, all other products were purchased myself. As always no matter how I received them, all reviews, thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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Homedics Duo Salon IPL Review

Earlier this year HoMedics launched the Duo Salon IPL*, their latest home hair removal device featuring some truly innovative new technology. Being that I’m already an advocate of IPL hair removal I was thrilled when HoMedics sent me one to put through it’s paces. I’ve been using the device for over six months now so I thought it was about time to tell you all about it and give a proper long term review of the IPL hair removal method.

Duo Salon IPL – How It Works

IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) devices emit a gentle pulse of light which travels down the hair follicle to heat the hair at its roots. This causes the roots enter a sleeping phase, effectively stunting any hair growth and eventually the hair sheds away naturally. It works by using the hair pigment to attract the light and the skin tone to conversely not attract light, so this makes it most effective for those of us with a combination of light skin tone and dark hair colour. (Note that as a result of the science behind it, it isn’t recommended for darker skin tones, blonde or red hair colours).

Homedics Duo Salon IPL Review

I found this device really easy to use. It turns on at the base, then you set it to the level of intensity you require and then place the window over the patch of skin you want to treat. The green light will stop flashing when it’s charged and ready, at which point you can press the button to emit the pulse of light. Then you just move the device to the next area to be treated and repeat the process.

Homedics Duo Salon IPL Review

Homedics Duo Salon IPL Review

Does It Hurt?

So the big question is does IPL hurt? In my case, I’d have to say that yes it does a bit sometimes, but nothing worse than waxing or epilating! The pain is momentary as you press the button, a small warm zap then it’s over. Sometimes my skin feels a little bit warm for a few minutes and then calms down again, I haven’t noticed anything that lingers beyond that.

I find that there are a couple of factors that affect how much discomfort I feel:

Firstly, certain areas of my body are much more sensitive to the treatment. I hardly flinch at all when I do my underarms, bikini and lower legs but I have been known to utter some choice expletives when I treat my knees, ankles and upper thighs!

Secondly, the Duo Salon has 5 settings with 1 being the least intense and 5 being the most intense, and thus the one you’re most likely to feel. I’d recommend starting low and gradually increasing the strength to build up your tolerance.

Homedics Duo Salon IPL Review

Finally, where I am in my cycle affects my sensitivity to the pulsed light – right before my period it stings like an absolute mofo, whereas the rest of the time I’d only feel a slight discomfort.

At Home Treatments In 20 Minutes

As mentioned above the Duo Salon has 5 settings. On the lowest level it emits a super fast 2 flashes per second and you don’t have to wait any length of time between pulses. This allows for incredibly speedy at home treatments that can be completed in just 20 minutes. On the lower settings the pulse is not so intense though so this does mean that you might need to go over the area a couple of times to get good results.

After experimenting with different settings, I tend to keep it set to maximum level 5 now. This means that the device needs a few extra seconds between pulses to charge up again  so the treatment time is a bit longer, but the pulse is strong enough that I only ever need to treat each area once which I prefer.

Active Cooling Technology

What I have found really special about this device (and utterly fascinating every single time I use it!) is the Active Cooling technology which is a world first for an at home IPL device. I don’t know what sorcery went into it’s creation, but basically when you press the glass to your skin to begin the treatment it feels icy cool, soothing your skin and helping to prevent skin irritation.

Homedics Duo Salon IPL Review

The Duo Salon comes with an aesthetically pleasing white carry case which I keep out on display between treatments. It’s got a handle so it’s easily transportable too.

Homedics Duo Salon IPL Review

I also really like that it’s got a facial attachment and technology which makes it suitable for all types of hair. The attachment is magnetic and clips straight on and off.

Homedics Duo Salon IPL Review Homedics Duo Salon IPL Review Homedics Duo Salon IPL Review

Just make sure you read the instructions and use a low setting if you do try it on your face. Don’t use level 5. Telling you on behalf of a friend.

Treatments and Price

IPL devices don’t offer permanent hair removal so to begin with you need to repeat the treatment every two weeks, then repeat the process every 2 to 6 weeks thereafter. In my case, I can go a good 3 weeks before I notice any kind of growth at all now, sometimes up to 5 whole weeks! Even when the hair does return it’s patchy and soft, nothing like the stubble that I’d get from shaving.

The Duo Salon normally retails at £499.99 (reduced to £399.99 at the time of writing) and is available from Homedics, as well as Boots and Argos too. I guess whether it’s a worthy investment really depends upon each individuals own needs. I’ve got really sensitive skin which is easily aggravated by razors and depilatory creams, especially my underarms, so long lasting hair removal has always been something that I’ve spent money on via regular spa waxes and epilators. With IPL the results are by far the most long lasting of any at home device I’ve ever used so as with many things, I’ve found that you get what you pay for.

Have you tried IPL hair removal? Would you consider it?

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: I was gifted this device in return for an honest review. Hopefully you’ve found it helpful but do let me know if you have any questions, either in the comments below or to my Twitter @lovedbylaurac and I’ll do my best to help!

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Caudalie Vine[Activ] Skincare Range

Over the years I’ve been offered all sorts of new and exciting skincare products to try. My skin is in pretty good nick as a result despite a love for wine and a tendency towards less than 6 hours sleep on any given night.

I did go through a period of not wanting to try anything new because I thought it was probably best just to stick with tried and tested favourites and not muck about too much with my skin too much. Recently though, I’ve decided that there’s nothing wrong with switching things up and trying something new every so often. After all, quite often in doing so I discover something that ups the stakes and makes my skin look or feel better than I thought possible.

Caudalie Vine[Activ] Skincare Range

That’s why I’m glad I decided to try the Vine[Activ] range from Caudalie. I was quite happy with my old skin care routine but the temptation to try a range designed to fight the premature ageing signs associated to a modern day active lifestyle was too great to resist.

I received four Vine[Activ] products* from the lovely team at Caudalie: an eye cream, daytime moisturiser (which I’m saving for the colder months so haven’t mentioned below!), a serum and a night oil. All use formulations which help to create a barrier against pollution, boost the skin’s hydration and promote a smoother, healthier complexion over time.

Here’s how I got on:

Vine[Activ] Energising and Smoothing Eye Cream | £27.50

Caudalie Vine[Activ] Skincare Range

I’ll be honest and say that I used to use eye creams religiously and then got a bit fed up of putting in the effort without seeing much reward. I decided to give this one a go however and it does definitely leave my eyes feeling more refreshed. I haven’t noticed any improvement to the appearance of my laughter lines or dark circles (although I may have stopped using it too soon, it’s hard to tell!) so although I had a positive experience with it I probably wouldn’t repurchase it.

I tell you what I would repurchase though!

Vine[Activ] Glow Activating Anti-Wrinkle Serum | £36

Caudalie Vine[Activ] Skincare Range

The Glow Activating Serum is my ‘must buy again’ pick. It’s got a beautifully light, almost milky consistency that sinks in well, smells fresh and instantly makes my skin feel brighter and luxuriated. I’m not big on using face creams during the day but as this one is so light I’ve been using it to pep up my tired face in the mornings.  My fella tried it and has since become a big fan too. I’m really glad that he’s enjoying it, but bloody hell it does mean you get through the bottle at an alarming rate!

Actually though I shouldn’t complain as it was nice to get his opinion on it too. He explained that he’s prone to getting little bumps under his skin but has noticed a marked reduction since using the serum regularly.

Vine[Activ] Overnight Detox Oil | £30

Caudalie Vine[Activ] Skincare Range

The Overnight Detox Oil is my other top pick. As the name suggests it does it’s work whilst I’m fast asleep! I apply a couple of drops to my face at bedtime and when I wake up it has all absorbed into my skin. I have never noticed any residue on my pillows (something I always worry about when using facial oils) and after use my skin feels smooth and healthy.

More than anything else, I’ve really noticed a difference on the occasions when I’ve skipped a night as my skin seems to miss it now! Luckily a little goes a long way with this one so the bottle is lasting ages…

…despite a certain someone having taken a shine to this one as well!

Caudalie Vine[Activ] Skincare Range

So there you have it. Not every product I try is so amazing that I’m willing to fork out for it time after time but every so often I discover something that I’d be hard pressed to live without!

Have you tried any skincare from Caudalie? What are your ‘can’t live without’ skincare essentials?

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: The skincare items in this review are PR Samples but as always they’ve been through rigorous testing by yours truly and I’ve provided my honest opinions.

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Comfort Zone Pop Up Spa at Aqua Sana Woburn Forest

Last month The Good Spa Guide invited me to a girls day out at Aqua Sana Woburn Forest. As a regular visitor to the Aqua Sana at Elveden Forest in Suffolk, I was excited to be able to go check out their newest and largest spa.

Comfort Zone Pop Up Spa at Aqua Sana Woburn Forest

The Aqua Sana spa is located in the heart of the forest which is the just the perfect setting for a pampering retreat. I arrived feeling tense from driving for an hour and a half in rush hour traffic but the combination of the fresh air and sound of the trees gently rustling in the wind had a wonderfully calming effect on me – instant stress relief!

Usually on a spa day I’d spend the majority of my time steaming my face off in the treatment rooms or curling up with a good book, but this trip was a little bit different. The spa were hosting a pop up by top skincare brand Comfort Zone so I donned my swimsuit and a big fluffy towelling robe and flip flopped my way over to see what it was all about.

Comfort Zone Pop Up Spa at Aqua Sana Woburn Forest

The pop up is one of three that Aqua Sana Woburn Forest are hosting over the summer. Each one runs for a month and features a brand that is well regarded by spa professionals but is perhaps not so well known outside of the industry. With complimentary workshops, one to one consultations and extra treatments on offer it’s a really good way to discover top class skincare products and treatments that you might not otherwise ever get to hear about.

Comfort Zone is a professional range of spa treatments and home care products with a concept that I can truly buy in to: skincare science with a soul!

Comfort Zone Pop Up Spa at Aqua Sana Woburn Forest

Basically what this means is that whilst they offer advanced science based skincare solutions, they also actively promote holistic, healthy lifestyles and are an eco conscious brand. They use renewable energy sources during manufacturing, natural, sustainable ingredients which are free from parabens and silicone and are strictly against animal testing. It just goes to show that it’s possible to produce world class beauty products without compromising on ethics!

The discovery session with Comfort Zone turned out to be an incredibly relaxing way to spend half an hour. Our Comfort Zone therapist let us try out cleansers, toners, serums and masks from across the ranges to come up with our own individually tailored skincare routine, then talked us through some simple ways to reduce anxiety and stress and help us to improve our wellbeing.

My favourite product discovery was the Hydra Memory Mask which left my skin feeling wonderfully soft and supple. The therapist referred to it as ‘water for the skin’ and it certainly felt like I’d been treated to an instant moisture boost.

Comfort Zone Pop Up Spa at Aqua Sana Woburn Forest Comfort Zone Pop Up Spa at Aqua Sana Woburn Forest

Afterwards I headed to the Comfort Zone stand in the retail area for a one to one skin analysis and treatment consultation. The therapist used a handheld device to measure my skin’s hydration, elasticity and health. It only takes 5 seconds to get each reading and is all very clever, although admittedly it was a little bit scary seeing my skin magnified to a cellular level!

My skin turned out to be in reasonable shape but the deep tissue scan identified some signs of ageing damage beginning to appear so I was advised to use anti-ageing products that stimulate cell regeneration and hydrate the skin. You can’t stop the ageing process, but you can help to slow it down so I found it really helpful to know what areas to concentrate on!

This sort of skincare analysis can also be of use to people suffering from skin complaints as it helps to pinpoint exactly where the issues lie so that you can then identify the best ways to treat them.

Comfort Zone Pop Up Spa at Aqua Sana Woburn Forest

Hands down though my favourite part of the day was going up to the treatment room for a Sublime Skin Lifting Facial Massage. I spent a heavenly 60 minutes being pampered from head to toe with products from the Comfort Zone Sublime Skin range. The anti-ageing treatment mainly focused on applying various luxurious treatments to my face to help lift, tone and firm the skin but I also get treated to a hand, arm, decolletage and foot massage too!

By the time it ended I was so sleepy that I could hardly walk and when I rejoined the girls for a spot of lunch they commented that I was glowing. I’ll take that!

Comfort Zone Pop Up Spa at Aqua Sana Woburn Forest

Having thoroughly enjoyed the pop up I then had the rest of the day free to explore Aqua Sana. Within the site there are actually six spa areas to visit, each offering it’s own unique experience. The Blossom and Herbal Spas focus on aromatic scents to stimulate your senses, whilst the Salt Spa is great for a body detox.

Comfort Zone Pop Up Spa at Aqua Sana Woburn Forest

The Fire and Ice Spa, based upon the concept of using a combination of hot and cold treatments to soothe and invigorate was the one I spent most time in. I made a beeline for the Lava-Volcano Sauna as I was suffering from a cold that day and the intense dry heat did wonders to help my breathing and clear my head. Afterwards I went into the ice room and rubbed handfuls of the stuff onto my skin which I wasn’t sure I’d like, but it felt weirdly refreshing so I was glad I dared to try it!

Ooh actually I’ve just remembered another favourite part of the day; how could I forget the outdoor balcony area with heated water beds and cushions?! There is nothing more relaxing than curling up under a faux fur throw, listening to the sounds of the forest. I fell asleep for half an hour… no regrets!

I thoroughly enjoyed my spa day and would highly recommend that you go and try it out for yourself. The next pop up is by ESPA and runs from 19th May through to 15th June offering complimentary 10 minute treats and workshops ranging from ‘Mindfulness & Breathing’ to ‘Body Cleanse & Revitalise’ so it’s a great time to plan a visit!

LovedByLaura

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored, however my trip to the spa and treatments whilst on site were complimentary so I must say a big thanks to The Good Spa Guide, Aqua Sana and Comfort Zone for their wonderful hospitality.

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