Product Reviews Sustainable Living

May Product ‘Empties’

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The empty packaging of my May Product 'Empties'

This month, I have used up a lot of products so this is going to be a long and varied post! I am excited to share with you my opinions and experiences, and as usual, I will also comment on the sustainability and ethics of the products!

Beauty Products

LUSH Santa’s Belly Shower Jelly

An empty tub of Santa's Belly Shower Jelly

I received this shower jelly for Christmas as part of a LUSH gift set. As the name suggests, shower jellies are like shower gels in the form of a blob of jelly!

The jelly is a bright, cheerful red colour, and is shaped like Santa’s belly, with a belt. It smells refreshing and fruity but not too sweet. The scent is supposed to be apple and star anise, but I wouldn’t necessarily guess that if I didn’t know.

I have used LUSH shower jellies in the past, and they are a fun novelty but I wouldn’t normally choose them over shower gels or soaps, because they are a bit trickier to use. I found that the best way to use this jelly was to rub it all over myself, and then lather it up with a wet shower puff afterwards.

When the jelly got small, it started breaking apart and was harder to use. I kept dropping bits all over the shower, and I couldn’t get enough on me to make a good lather. So at this point, I added the last bits of jelly into my leftovers mixture.

On the tub, it suggests putting the jelly in the fridge or freezer and then using it cold, but I didn’t try this. Maybe I would try this in the summer if the weather was hot!

Sustainability and Ethics

LUSH is a company with great ethics, and this product is vegan and is not tested on animals. The majority of the ingredients are natural. The jelly does come in a plastic tub, but it is made of 100% recycled plastic, and I can return it to LUSH to be recycled again. However, a soap or solid shower gel would still be a more sustainable option because it wouldn’t need any plastic packaging at all, and it would last longer.

Would I buy this jelly again?

This is a Christmas product so it is only available to buy during the Christmas season. I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy it again, because it is less convenient than shower gel or soap, but if I received it as a gift next Christmas I would still be pleased and would gladly use it!

LUSH Ocean Salt Face and Body Scrub

An empty pot of Ocean Salt Face and Body Scrub

I have used Ocean Salt before and I like it. I had a small amount left in a pot, and I used it up this month as part of my skincare routine. The scrub can be used on your face or body, but I have only ever used it on my face.

The scrub has a fresh, salty smell – it’s hard to describe but it reminds me of summer. It is quite abrasive and it makes my face sting a bit when I use it, which I would expect because it contains salt, citrus fruits and vodka. Any tiny scratches created by the exfoliating effect are going to sting, with those ingredients! It is easy to apply and remove, although you have to be careful not to get it in your eyes!

Sustainability and Ethics

This product is from LUSH, and comes in a 100% recycled pot which can be recycled again. Therefore it is a good choice of scrub from a sustainability point of view. The scrub is not vegan because it contains Lanolin. However, there is now a self-preserving version of this product available from LUSH which is vegan, so I would definitely buy that version next time!

Shobu ‘Breathe’ Shower Bomb

An empty sachet of Shobu Breathe Shower Bomb
The back of the sachet of Shobu Breathe Shower Bomb, showing the directions and ingredients
The Shobu Shower Bomb out of its packet

I received this product in this month’s Cruelty Free Beauty Box, which is a subscription box that sends out vegan and cruelty free products. I had never heard of a shower bomb before, so this intrigued me! It claims to be a bath bomb for the shower, and the scent is eucalyptus, rosemary and peppermint – all good for clearing the airways, hence the name ‘breathe’!

How to use a shower bomb

I used the shower bomb during my shower, first placing it on the shower floor out of the direct flow of water, as recommended on the packet. I didn’t notice anything happening for a while. Gradually, I could smell the minty, eucalyptus smell which got stronger throughout my shower, but it wasn’t very strong. After a while, I could hear it making a fizzing sound. I half expected a minty vapour to rise up from the bomb, but nothing as dramatic as that happened. I didn’t feel a ‘breathe easier’ effect. 

Later in my shower, I moved it closer to the flow of water to see if it would do more. It dissolved a lot faster once it was under the water, but it still didn’t smell particularly strong. When I had finished showering, there was still a bit left but not enough to save for another shower. I ran the water for longer than usual just to get the rest of it to dissolve. Maybe if I had put it under the running water (or closer to it) to start with then it would have dissolved by the end of my shower.

I went back to the bathroom about 10 minutes after my shower to see if the scent was still there. It was, but it still didn’t seem very strong. I know that our sense of smell can vary though, so maybe I just wasn’t smelling very strongly on that day!

I noticed that my feet felt grainy after getting out the shower, so I think the dissolved bomb got over my feet. In retrospect, I probably should have rinsed them more carefully!


From looking at the ingredients, it appears that the bomb doesn’t actually contain real peppermint, eucalyptus or rosemary. It looks as though it is just ‘parfum’ with those scents. I feel as though this bomb would have been more effective if it contained real peppermint oil, rosemary and eucalyptus because it would smell stronger and clear the airways more!

Sustainability and Ethics

The shower bomb came in a plastic sachet, which is not great for the environment. Also, as mentioned I ran the shower for longer than usual to get it to dissolve, so I used more water than normal (although this could have been remedied by putting it straight under the running water). 

It says on the packet, ‘Best enjoyed before or after washing’. If I did this, I would obviously have used even more water than normal. However, I just went about my shower as normal with the bomb in there. The water wasn’t running the whole time because I stop the shower while I apply my shampoo etc.

I got this in the Cruelty Free Beauty Box, so I know that this product is cruelty free and vegan.

Would I buy this product again?

I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy this again, because I didn’t think it was very effective. The recommended retail price is £3 which seems quite expensive for one shower, but it is a nice novelty. If I received it again I would gladly use it, and I’d be curious to try out the other scents that are available from this brand.

Avon Planet Spa Face Mask – Japanese Sake and Rice

This was a small sample that I received as part of a giveaway. I didn’t keep the empty sachet for this post because it was dirty, but here is what it looked like before I used it:

Avon Planet Spa Japanese sake and rice face mask

This face mask smelt really nice. I would agree that it smells of Japanese sake and rice, but I probably wouldn’t have recognised the smell if I didn’t already know. It is an unusual scent for a face mask, or indeed any cosmetic product – I have never come across this scent before.

The mask was white in colour, and had a thick, creamy texture. It dried very quickly – in fact it started drying on my hand before I had even applied it to my face! This was probably because I was taking a while to get all the product out of the small sample pack. The full sized version would come in a tube or tub so it would be easier and faster to apply.

Once applied, I could feel the mask drying on my face. My skin gradually felt tighter and tighter. When it came to washing it off, it was quite difficult! I used a lot of water, and in the end I had to use a flannel to get it all off. It also blocked the sink! Maybe it is best to wipe this mask off with a tissue and put it in the bin, rather than washing it down the sink.

On second thoughts, maybe it was meant to be a peel-off mask, but this wasn’t indicated on the sachet.

Immediately after taking off the mask, my skin felt pretty smooth! It’s hard to say what the long lasting effects are, because I only used this mask once.

Sustainability and Ingredients

The sample obviously came in a plastic sachet which is not great for the environment. Also, because it is so hard to wash off, it either requires using a lot of water or tissues. Perhaps the best option would be to use a flannel to get the mask off and then rinse out the flannel, however, this obviously uses water too. If I used this mask again, I would see if it peels off.

I found the ingredients of this mask online, and it doesn’t seem to contain very natural ingredients. It contains parabens and parfum, among other chemical ingredients that I have never heard of. I am unsure whether the product is vegan.

Would I buy this mask again?

I couldn’t find the full sized version available online, so I assume that this mask is now discontinued. I probably wouldn’t buy this mask again anyway, because I prefer to use products that have more natural ingredients, and don’t come in plastic packaging. It was nice to try out the sample though!

Avon Planet Spa Face Mask – Mediterranean Olive Oil

This is another sample that I received in a giveaway, along with the above mask. It came in a green sachet and claimed to be a hydrating face mask.

Avon Planet Spa Mediterranean olive oil face mask

This mask was very different from the Japanese sake and rice mask. It was a translucent gel that felt cooling and refreshing when applied to the face. It had a smooth and silky feel and was easy to apply. There was plenty in the sample for a generous coating on my face.

The scent was light and fresh – it reminded me of cucumber even though it is supposedly olive oil.

This mask didn’t dry out and have a tightening effect on my skin like the other mask did. It remained gel-like. It was a bit hard to wash off because it went slimy on contact with the water with a similar consistency to slug slime! But it was much easier to wash off than the other mask, and it didn’t block the sink.

My skin felt smooth and hydrated immediately afterwards. 

Sustainability and Ingredients

Again, the mask came in a plastic sachet. On the plus side, this mask was easier to wash off so I used less water. I am unable to find the ingredients online, but I imagine it contains some unnatural ingredients like the other mask.

Would I buy this mask again?

I preferred this mask to the Japanese sake and rice mask, because it was easier to apply and remove, and it had a cooling effect on my skin. Unlike the other mask, this mask is still available to purchase online in a few places including eBay. However, I probably won’t buy this mask again for the same reasons I gave for the other mask.

Jelly Belly Coconut Lip Balm

Jelly Belly Coconut Lip Balm

I received this lip balm several years ago as a gift from my friend. It was a long time before I got round to using it because I had various other lip balms on the go. Also, I suspected that the ingredients were not very natural in comparison to my other lip balms, which I confirmed with a bit of research online.

I did eventually use this lip balm, and it smelt very nice and coconutty! It did the job of moisturising my lips. The tube didn’t last particularly long because the texture is quite ‘squishy’ and lots came off on my lips each time I applied it.

Sustainability and Ethics

I am not sure about the ethics of the Jelly Belly brand. All I know is that this lip balm comes in a plastic tube, and it contains some unnatural ingredients. I wouldn’t purchase it again because I would prefer to buy lip balms with natural ingredients, and ones that come in a metal tin or other recyclable packaging.

Hairburst Shampoo and Conditioner

Empty bottles of Hairburst Shampoo and Conditioner

I have been trying out the Hairburst Shampoo and Conditioner since January, and I have finally finished a bottle of the shampoo! The bottle ran out at the same time as my third bottle of conditioner, which shows that I get through the conditioner 3 times as fast as the shampoo!

I have already written a lot about my opinions of these products in my latest Hairburst update, so check that out if you’d like to know more!


Alive! Women’s Energy Soft Jell Multi-Vitamins

An empty tub of Alive! Women's Energy Soft Jell Multi-Vitamins

I bought these vitamins a couple of months ago from Holland and Barrett as a spontaneous purchase. I liked the idea of a chewable vitamin that contains fruit and vegetable extracts as well as many different vitamins and minerals. It is rare to find soft jells that don’t contain gelatine, so this was another aspect that drew me to these as they are suitable for vegetarians.

The product is titled ‘Women’s Energy’ but I can’t say I have noticed a particular rise in my energy levels. On the tub, it recommends taking two soft jells each day, but I have only been taking one. This is because the product contains quite high levels of Biotin, and I have read about some safety concerns linked to taking large amounts of Biotin. I also wanted to make the product last for twice as long. Maybe I would notice more of a difference if I took two each day.

The soft jells are free from gluten, soya, dairy, yeast, and artificial flavours, colours or preservatives.

The soft jells are quite large and they are shaped like strawberries and slices of orange, which makes them visually appealing. They taste sweet and fruity. The top ingredient is dried cane syrup, which makes them perhaps not the healthiest option when it comes to supplements!

Sustainability and Ethics

These vitamins come in a plastic tub. This can be reused or recycled, but it is not as sustainable as a glass jar would be.

As I mentioned, these soft jells are vegetarian. However, what I didn’t realise at first is that they are not vegan, because they contain beeswax as a glazing agent. 

Would I buy these again?

I have already bought 2 more tubs of these vitamins, before I realised that they are not vegan. Therefore I will use these up, but after that I will look for some different vitamins that are vegan. Ideally, I would like to find some that come in a glass jar rather than a plastic tub.

The Raw Botanics Co. CBD Oil

Over the past year, I have used several different brands of CBD oil, to help reduce my anxiety. I haven’t noticed a difference in effectiveness between the brands. I bought this particular one on Amazon.

Empty box that The Raw Botanics CBD Oil came in
The Raw Botanics CBD Oil empty bottle next to the cardboard box

This CBD oil is mild tasting, unlike some other brands that taste strong. Some brands have peppermint oil added which I like because it gives a refreshing taste, but this one is just plain and mild. The oil is clear, unlike some other brands where the oil is brown.

The dropper works well, and it was easy to get every last drop out of the bottle, unlike some other brands. When I got to the last few drops, I unscrewed the lid and tipped the oil directly into my mouth.

The packaging is attractive, with a clean, simple black and white look. It consists of a glass bottle with a dropper, inside a cardboard box. There are clear instructions and ingredients on the bottle and the box. There is also a paper leaflet inside, with more information.

Sustainability and Ethics

The glass and the cardboard are recyclable, but I am unsure of how to recycle the dropper because it is made of plastic combined with glass. I could re-use the bottle but I have already accumulated quite a few dropper bottles of this sort. I could look into purchasing larger bottles of CBD oil, if they are available, to reduce the number of dropper bottles I accumulate!

On the leaflet inside the box, this product claims to be 100% natural, vegan friendly, cruelty free, made with ethically sourced ingredients, and manufactured in the UK. This shows that this brand has good ethics, which is important to me.

Would I purchase this product again?

I have been trying out many different brands of CBD oil over the past year, and I tend to buy whichever I come across in the shops, or whichever is cheap with good reviews online. I intend to continue using CBD oil in the foreseeable future and I would buy this particular brand again, because it works well and has great ethics compared to other similar products.

Rescue Pastilles – Blackcurrant Flavour

I have been using various Rescue Remedy products for the past year, to help ease my anxiety. These blackcurrant pastilles have been a staple. I get through the tins very quickly! I don’t know whether the pastilles actually work or whether they just provide a placebo effect, but either way I find it comforting to use them.

The pastilles have a nice taste and a chewy texture. They are just like eating a sweet! If you don’t chew or suck them, they last in your mouth for a long time. I often tuck one in my cheek in anxiety provoking situations, and forget it is there!

Sustainability and Ethics

The pastilles come in a metal tin, which is great, because it can be recycled and reused. They do however come with a plastic seal around the outside. They are made in Switzerland, therefore they have been imported which is not ideal from a sustainability point of view.

These pastilles are not vegan, because they contain beeswax. However, I choose to use these for their therapeutic properties. Many of the other Rescue Remedy products are vegan, but in some situations the pastilles are the easiest to use subtly. If I came across a vegan alternative, I would happily switch to it!

An empty box of Rescue gum and an empty tin of Rescue pastilles

Rescue Chewing Gum

This is another Rescue Remedy product that I use to ease anxiety. I find chewing gum to be helpful, and this gum is supposed to contain 4 drops of flower essences in each piece, which is an added bonus.

It is spearmint flavoured and has a minty taste, which is not as strong as the other brands of gum I have tried. I can’t taste the rescue remedy drops. 

The gum is sugar free and is sweetened with Xylitol, which is great because I prefer to avoid sugar and harmful artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame. 

It is good value – you get 25 pieces of gum in the pack and costs less than £5 depending on where you buy it. This works out cheaper than most other gums, and you get the added benefit of the rescue remedy, so it’s a great gum to buy if you chew gum for therapeutic effects!

Sustainability and Ethics

The gum comes in a cardboard box, but it is wrapped in plastic film which is not ideal. It claims to be suitable for vegetarians, but I am unsure whether it is suitable for vegans.

Food and Drink

Retrocorn – Strawberries & Cream Popcorn

A bag of Retrocorn Strawberries & Cream
The back of the bag of Retrocorn Strawberries & Cream

I received this bag of popcorn in the Cruelty Free Beauty Box this month. This is a subscription box that sends out vegan and cruelty free beauty products, but the popcorn was included as a special treat this month.

This isn’t a product I would normally buy, as I try to eat as healthily as possible. On the rare occasions where I have popcorn, I usually go for the salty kind. But I was definitely up for trying this product!

The popcorn comes in an attractive bag, and is described as ‘Strawberries & Cream Popcorn coated with crushed sweets’. My first thought was, ‘wow that sounds sickly sweet and so unhealthy!’ and indeed, the top two ingredients are sugar and glucose syrup! So this certainly isn’t a healthy snack, but at least it is gluten free, vegan and non-GMO, and it contains no artificial colour or flavours. There are 85 calories per serving (half a bag), which adds up to 170 calories in the whole pack. This is fairly low compared to some other sugary snacks.

So, what was it like?

As popcorn is a classic cinema snack, I decided to save the bag for when I went to the cinema with my friend. We shared the popcorn between us. I was expecting the popcorn to be very sweet and sickly but I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t taste too sweet at all. If anything, it seemed less sweet than the normal sweet popcorn you can buy in the cinema. I could taste the strawberries and cream flavour, but I didn’t think it was particularly strong.

The popcorn was the normal size and texture that you would expect from popcorn! I couldn’t see what it looked like because the cinema was dark, so I’m not sure whether or not you can see bits of crushed sweet like in the picture on the front of the bag.


The popcorn comes in a plastic bag, which is not very environmentally friendly. On the plus side, it is a British company and the popcorn was made in the UK, which means it hasn’t been shipped across the world. Also, as a vegan product it is likely to have a lower carbon footprint than its non-vegan counterparts.

I would suggest that the product could come in larger bags so that it could be bought in bulk, but then again, who eats half a bag of popcorn? Most people would just eat the whole bag at once anyway, so at least the smaller bag stops us from eating too much sugar at once!

Would I buy it again?

As I said before, I don’t normally buy products like this because I prefer to stick to healthier options. So I probably won’t buy this popcorn again, but I certainly enjoyed it as a one-off treat!

If you like the sound of this popcorn, you can find it (and other flavours) on the Retrocorn website!

Twinings Spiced Ginger Tea

An empty box of Twinings Spiced Ginger Tea

I bought this tea at the Co-op, and it comes in a pack of 20 tea bags. It contains ginger root, liquorice root, cinnamon and cloves. The combination of these ingredients makes it taste spiced and warming, and it’s a great tea to drink if you are feeling cold. The spice is not overpowering though, and the liquorice gives it a sweetness. I always left the teabag in and it wasn’t too strong, but then, I do like my teas strong!

I can’t remember how much these teabags cost, but they were not expensive.


The teabags come in a cardboard box, but unfortunately there is a plastic bag inside containing the teabags. I realise that the teabags need to stay fresh but maybe a better option would be to individually wrap the teabags in paper, like some other brands do. At least there was not a plastic film around the outside of the box, like some teabags have.

The box says ‘sealed for freshness’ and the Best Before End date is January 2021. I would rather it didn’t have the plastic bag even if it meant a shorter shelf life as a result, because most people would use the teabags in far less time than 2 years anyway! And even after the Best Before End date, the teabags would still be fine.

The teabags are produced and packed in the UK, locally to where I live, which is great from a sustainability point of view.

Would I buy these teabags again?

I would buy these teabags again, but if there was another option available with less plastic packaging then I would buy that instead.

PUR Gum – Chocolate Mint x5

5 empty packets of PUR Gum in Chocolate Mint flavour

I am going through a phase of chewing lots of gum, and I actually finished off 5 packs of this gum during May! I have already written about this product in my April Empties post, so check that out if you are interested.


Superdrug Aqua Safe Plasters

An empty box of Superdrug Aqua Safe Plasters

I used up this box of Superdrug plasters. Don’t worry, I wasn’t injured – I just used them on my heels to stop my new shoes from rubbing! They actually expired in 2014 and it says on the box not to use them after their expiry date – oops! Oh well, they did the job! They are made of a thin, clear, plastic material and they are gentle on the skin. They come loose in a cardboard box, although each individual plaster is wrapped in a papery film.

I doubt it’s possible to buy these exact plasters any more because they were quite old, but I’m sure there are similar available, and I would buy them again!

Cat Washi Tape from Accessorize

A roll of Cat Washi Tape with only a little bit of tape left

This cute washi tape was grey with little cat faces all along it! I love using washi tape because it has so many uses. This particular tape came in a set of three tapes from Accessorize, which my sister gave me for my birthday. The other two tapes in the set are plain green and plain coral, and I haven’t used them yet.

A box of 3 Washi Tapes - one green, one coral, and the cat tape which is nearly used up

Washi tape is more sustainable than sellotape because it is made of paper rather than plastic. It also comes on a cardboard roll. These particular tapes did come packaged in a plastic box though. 

Wow, that was a lot of products!

I hope you enjoyed reading about the products I have used up this month. Have you used any of them yourself? What was your opinion? Let me know in the comments!

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May Product Empties


  1. Millie says:

    Wow you went through a lot this month!! I didn’t even know a shower bomb existed either haha. The hairburst product looks interesting so I think I am going to go have a look at your update on that now! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      The shower bomb was definitely a new discovery for me, I would never even have thought such a thing existed!

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