Product Reviews Sustainable Living

April Product ‘Empties’

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The packaging of my April product 'empties', laid out on a blue and white background

It’s time for my April product ’empties’ post! I have 9 assorted products to write about this month, which include haircare, dental care and a drink! As with my March post, I will look at these products from a sustainability point of view. I will comment on their packaging and how eco-friendly they are.

What did I use up in April?

LUSH Baked Alaska Soap

In my March Empties post, I mentioned that I would like to buy unpackaged items as often as possible, and feature these as ‘invisible empties’ in my future posts. Well, here is my first ‘invisible empty’!

I received this soap for Christmas as part of the LUSH ‘Christmas Party’ gift set. The details on the gift tag describe the soap like this:

When you’ve bin feeling sad and blue, bake it off with lemon myrtle and grapefruit oils. Feel Mary and bright and lather this up on your soggy bottom.

As described, the scent of this soap is lemon myrtle and grapefruit. It smells lovely and citrusy but I wouldn’t necessarily have guessed the scent without reading about it. It is not strong or overpowering at all. I think the scent and aesthetic make this soap well suited for any time of year. I don’t think it is especially Christmassy.

This soap is a really pretty combination of blue, green, yellow and pink, with a layer of white on the top. I’m not sure what the difference is between the white part and the rest of the soap. When I first opened the gift box, the white part was all crumbly, and bits had broken off everywhere. I’m not sure whether this soap is always so crumbly, or whether it was a result of being stored in the gift box for a while and possibly knocked around a bit.

Here’s what it looked like…

LUSH Baked Alaska soap with lots of white crumbly bits on top
Here is the soap in the state it first arrived in.
LUSH Baked Alaska soap held up to show the underneath

I salvaged the bits that had broken off, and added them to my ‘leftover bits of soap’ mixture. After using the soap for a few days, the white part became smooth and bits no longer crumbled off.

LUSH Baked Alaska soap after a few days of use - it is much smoother
Here is is after a few days of use – much smoother!

The soap lathered well, even when it got really small. Once it got over the initial crumbly stage, It stayed in one piece and it didn’t fall apart or go slimy like some soaps do. When it finally got too small to use, I added the last bit to my ‘leftovers’ mixture!

Is it sustainable?

The soap is vegan, packaging free and made by LUSH which is a company with great ethics. It lasted me for approximately 3 months of regular use, which is longer than a liquid soap and some other solid soaps would last. It doesn’t melt away too fast when it gets wet. This means it could easily be used in the shower in place of a shower gel, although I haven’t tested this out myself. These factors make it a wonderful choice of soap from a sustainability perspective.

Would I buy it again?

This soap was a Christmas product for 2018, and is not currently available to buy. Hopefully it will make a reappearance next year! I would definitely welcome this soap as a gift again, and may even repurchase it myself. The only downside was the fact that it crumbled at first, but I found a way around this so I didn’t really mind, and it was probably a one-off occurrence!

Hairburst Conditioner for Longer, Stronger Hair

An empty bottle of Hairburst Conditioner

This product featured in my March empties as well! But don’t be fooled! It lasts longer than a month because I used up my last bottle towards the beginning of March, and this bottle towards the end of April!

I am now on my third bottle of Hairburst conditioner, but I am still on my first bottle of Hairburst shampoo! This is because the shampoo lathers easily and I don’t need to use much, whereas I need a generous amount of conditioner to fully coat my hair.

I don’t have much to add that I haven’t already written about in my March empties post or my last Hairburst update. Check those out if you would like to find out more about my experience with this conditioner!

Hairburst Volume & Growth Elixir

An empty bottle of Hairburst Elixir

I have been using this elixir since January, along with the Hairburst shampoo and conditioner. It is described as a multifunctional hair product, and is formulated to ‘provide volume and fullness, reduce hair loss, improve the strength and quality of hair, leave hair glossy, and provide UV, heat and pollution protection’. I have mostly been using it as a heat protection spray when I blow dry and straighten my hair.

I can’t say I have noticed a huge difference in my hair, especially in terms of growth or volume. However, my hair does feel nice when I use this spray. It doesn’t make my hair look greasy, even though I use it liberally.

The bottle is quite small, but it has lasted me for nearly 3 months with regular use. The fact that it comes in a plastic bottle is not ideal, especially as it has a spray pump, which cannot be recycled as easily as normal lids. However, the pump works beautifully and it sprays a fine, even mist. It continued to spray properly right until the last drop, and I was surprised to find the bottle empty with barely any leftover product in the bottom. Because of this, I intend to reuse the bottle for homemade cosmetic products, or I may decant products into it from less well functioning spray bottles!

I will also mention that the elixir is vegan, as well as SLS and paraben free!

Would I buy it again?

I have already purchased and started on my second bottle of this elixir, and I would purchase it again while I am trialling Hairburst products. In the future I would look for a similar product that doesn’t come in a plastic bottle, or I would make my own product.

You can read more about my experience with this elixir in my last Hairburst update.

Kingfisher Natural Toothpaste – Aloe Vera, Tea Tree and Fennel

An empty tube of Kingfisher Aloe Vera, Tea Tree and Fennel toothpaste, alongside the cardboard box that it came in.

This is a Fluoride free toothpaste, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I am choosing to avoid Fluoride at the moment, as I am concerned it may cause more harm than benefit!

I like the Kingfisher brand of toothpaste because they only use natural ingredients. They list on the tube where each ingredient comes from and its function. The toothpaste is vegan, and is not tested on animals. It is made in the British Isles, which is good for sustainability as it is not imported.

The back of the empty tube of Kingfisher toothpaste, showing the directions and ingredients.

I have tried various flavours of Kingfisher toothpaste before, but this is the first time I have used this particular flavour. It appealed to me because Aloe Vera is soothing, and Tea Tree is antiseptic. I sometimes get sore gums, and I hoped this toothpaste would help with this. It seems to have worked because I have had very few problems with my gums recently.

If you are used to minty toothpaste, it may take you a while to get used to the flavour, but I’m all up for strange flavours and I actually find it pleasant and not too strong.

Would I buy it again?

I actually ordered this toothpaste on Amazon because I couldn’t find this flavour in any shops. The best deal was to buy 3 tubes at once. This means I still have 2 tubes remaining, and luckily I was happy with this toothpaste so I have already started on the second tube!

When I run out of Kingfisher, I hope to find a toothpaste I like that doesn’t come in a plastic tube. I have made my own toothpaste in the past but I wasn’t sure about its effectiveness. I know that LUSH sell ‘toothy tabs’ so I might give those a try!

Superdrug Procare Sensitive Expanding Floss

I never used to floss my teeth, but I have been flossing regularly since I set myself a flossing challenge in February 2017. I have tended to pick up any random floss, not really knowing which types are better than others. Last time I ran out of floss, I headed to Superdrug to get some more, and this one caught my eye.

An empty packet of Superdrug Procare Sensitive Expanding Floss

The floss expands when you use it, which means it can more effectively fill the gaps between your teeth. The thread is a soft texture which means it’s gentler on sensitive teeth. Mine are a little sensitive, and I found that this floss was softer and less harsh than normal floss. So I would recommend this floss if you have sensitive teeth.

One thing I will say about this floss is that when it was getting quite empty, it made a screeching sound when I pulled the floss out. I don’t know whether this would happen with every pack, or if I just got a screechy pack!

You get 40 metres of floss, which is generous compared to some brands. I can’t remember exactly how long this floss lasted, but it must have been about a month at least.


The floss is vegan and cruelty free. It does of course come in a plastic container though, which is not great for the environment. Furthermore it was made in China so it has been imported. I know that none of the regular brands of floss are very good for the environment, so I would like to find a more eco-friendly brand of floss. I have been seeing a few advertised recently around social media, so I will do my research and aim to switch to a more sustainable brand. For now, I am using another pack of the same!

How to re-use the packaging

If you are into sewing, a great way to re-use empty floss packs is to store loose lengths of thread. This stops them from getting tangled. To do this, open up the pack, wind the thread around the middle and pull the end through the gap, just like floss! Some packs are easier to open than others, and this particular brand is quite easy to open so it’s great for this purpose.

An empty pack of floss, repurposed as a thread-holder

LUSH Ultralight Sunscreen Lotion

I won’t write much about this lotion because it has been discontinued from LUSH for several years now. This was a free sample I received years ago. I used most of it when I first got it, and I really liked it. It only has a low SPF of 10, so it is great to use in the Spring or Autumn when the sunlight is not so strong. It has a lovely scent that reminds me of summer, and it feels light and smooth on the skin.

An empty tin of LUSH Ultralight sunscreen lotion

I recently found this tin and there was a little bit left. It had gone a bit funny because it was years old, but I used it up anyway and I’m sure it didn’t do me any harm! Obviously I won’t be able to purchase this sunscreen lotion again because it is discontinued, but I like the fact that the sample was in a metal tin. LUSH is a great company for sustainability and ethics, so I would definitely buy an alternative sunscreen lotion from them.

Peppersmith Sugar Free Gum – English Spearmint

An empty box of Peppersmith English Spearmint Sugar Free Gum

I wrote about the English Peppermint version of this gum in my March empties post. All of what I wrote there applies to this gum too, except that this flavour is not quite as strong and sharp. I like both flavours about equally!

PUR Gum – Chocolate Mint

An empty pack of PUR gum in chocolate mint flavour

I only started chewing gum about a year ago, and I mostly use it to ease anxiety. PUR was the very first brand of gum that I tried. I always go for gums that are free from sugar, aspartame and other harmful ingredients. PUR gum ticked the box, as it is sweetened with Xylitol. It is also vegan, gluten free and non-GMO.

I had seen the chocolate mint flavour advertised on the PUR website, and I liked the sound of it. Unfortunately though, I couldn’t find it in any shops. So I went ahead and ordered some on Amazon. I ordered a pack of 12 blister packs because that was the best deal! So these will definitely keep me going for a while.

I have just used up the first pack. I like this gum, but I am not as keen on the flavour as I thought I would be. The chocolate flavour tastes quite artificial, and it fades quickly, leaving a minty taste that is not very strong compared to the exclusively mint flavoured PUR gums. However, it does the job and I will continue to use the rest of the packs. I will go for a different flavour next time though.

It’s tricky to find sustainable gum!

The packaging is not the most environmentally friendly. It consists of a plastic and foil blister pack, with a cardboard sleeve. The sleeve can of course be recycled, and I will try to salvage the foil to recycle, but I am still left with the plastic. I am yet to discover a brand of sugar free, aspartame free gum that comes in fully recyclable packaging. Please let me know in the comments if you know of one!

Innocent Seriously Strawberry Smoothie

An empty bottle of Innocent Seriously Strawberry Smoothie

I don’t buy bottled drinks on a regular basis, but I bought this smoothie for a picnic with a friend. We were planning to share it, but we had plenty of food and drinks between us, so we ended up not drinking it on our picnic. I took it home, put it in the fridge and had it the next day.

It was a really nice, delicious smoothie, and I very much enjoyed drinking it. Once I started, it didn’t last long because I couldn’t resist another sip! I finished it within 5 minutes. The main ingredients are strawberries and bananas, which are a great combination for a smoothie!

I took it out the fridge about 20 minutes before drinking it. This meant it was a good temperature to drink – still cool but not cold enough to set off my sensitive teeth. I recommend doing this if you don’t like your drinks ice cold.

Although it is probably not as healthy as eating fresh fruit, or drinking freshly squeezed or pressed juice, it is still a good, fairly healthy treat to have occasionally. It is a source of vitamin C.

If you’re familiar with Innocent, you’ll know that they use humour on their bottles, which are always entertaining to read. This bottle is no exception! On the base of the bottle it says ‘Rub bottle to free genie (maybe)’. I tried it and it didn’t work 😉

How sustainable is this smoothie?

Obviously this drink comes in a plastic bottle which is not ideal, so it would be better to make your own smoothies, or find ones that come in a glass bottle. However, it does at least state that it is made from 30% recycled plastic, which is a start, and it can be recycled again.

Innocent is a good company to support if you are going to buy smoothies, because it states that the ingredients are sourced sustainably, and they give 10% of profits to charity. If you drink smoothies regularly, it is a good idea to buy a large bottle, and decant the smoothie into a cup or flask when you want some. This saves on packaging and will save you money too.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my April product ’empties’!

I would love to hear your opinions on these products, if you have used any of them. Also, if you know of any more sustainable alternatives to these, let me know in the comments!


  1. That hair elixir looks like something I’d enjoy! I wish I owned more Lush products but they’re such a ripoff where I live! I’m currently using their Rehab shampoo which I love. Looks like you had used up some great products here!

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      The hair elixir is great, it’s quite expensive but it’s a really nice product. I love LUSH products too – I don’t think I’ve ever tried their Rehab shampoo though, maybe I will give it a try!

  2. The Alaska soap bar from Lush looks amazing and so colourful. Too bad it was a limited edition.


    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      It was amazing – hopefully it will be back next Christmas! x

  3. I love peppersmith gum too! While I usually prefer spearmint flavour as it is less strong than peppermint I find that the peppersmith peppermint is mild enough for my tastes. 🙂 I used to love their lemon mint but I can only find that as breath mints now (maybe it was always only breath mints and I’m remembering wrong, who knows).

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      I find the peppermint flavour quite strong but I like both! I’ve never tried their lemon mint but it sounds really nice, it’s disappointing if it only exists as breath mints now – but maybe I will try those anyway!

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