Student Survival Kit Review

Amphora Aromatics Student Survival Kit Review

For those that don’t already know I’m currently finishing off a Masters in Information and Library Studies. The appearance and subsequent diagnosis of my ME (you can read all about that over here) threw some of my plans into chaos but thanks to a supportive department and understanding supervisor I was allowed to go on medical leave. But before all that I’d also graduated with two undergraduate degrees; one in Art History from the University of Leeds and one in English Literature from the University of Glasgow. So when an opportunity came about to the check out Amphora Aromatics’ Student Survival Kit I signed up straight away, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my studies it’s that it’s super important to remember to look after yourself. And that is exactly what Amphora Aromatics had in mind when they created this survival kit.

 

Student Survival Kit Introduction

The Kit

The kit features some great products that utilise aromatherapy to provide relief and comfort for students in all walks of life. Whether you’re a Fresher just starting out, a student in the middle of their course or a Masters/PhD student there is something for everyone. The products also cover a range of needs; there’s some great beauty items from AA Skincare for skin, lips and hair care, face marks by Ooh-arr, a foot lotion by Amphora Aromatics and their specially developed focus Aromatherapy Blend.

What attracted me to this kit was that Amphora Aromatics  have covered all the bases and put together an assemble of products that I would have picked myself. I’m a big fan of aromatherapy products as I’ve mentioned before and I really appreciate that they combined their knowledge of aromatherapy with the realities of student life when creating their student survival kit. While it’s great to have some excellent face care products to pamper yourself with for a self-care session, it’s even better when you’re getting the healing and soothing effects of aromatherapy to boost you too! I’ll be talking more about this in my review of AA Skincare’s Lavender & Tea Tree Moisturising Face Lotion below.

As every student knows it’s not always easy to splash out on products to pamper yourself, especially when you’ve got x amount of expensive textbooks to buy. All the prices in the student survival kit are reasonable and the slightly more pricey items, such as AA Skincare’s Natural Shampoo Bars and the FOCUS aromatherapy blend is something that will last for a long period of time. Prices start at £1.20 for the Ooh-arr facemasks, with most products ranging between £3.40 – £.5.60.

 

Amphora Aromatics - My Student Survival Kit

My Student Survival Kit

I was given the chance to choose three products to create my own student survival kit and then provide an honest review of them. So before I get into the review of each product I wanted to explain why these three products beat off the other contenders to make it into my personal survival kit!

First up is Amphora Aromatics’ Fresh Feet Lotion which made it onto this list because sore feet is a part of any students life. I’ve not met a campus yet that hasn’t been huge, and I know from experience how often students have to trek from one side of the campus to the other – usually in a tiny 5 minute window! Throw in the cold weather as we head into winter and it’s a horrible combination for our bodies, especially our poor feet. I’m a big fan of foot lotions especially those that are made from peppermint so this was a must for my own kit.

Next up is AA Skincare’s Lavender & Tea Tree Moisturising Lotion because as I said it’s important to remember to take time out to give yourself some self-care. This lotion can be used as a cleanser as part of your daily routine so if you’re super busy and don’t have time for a full on pamper session you can still actively be looking after yourself and your skin. It was the two key ingredients, lavender and tea tree, that drew me to this product and ultimately got it a spot in my kit. Lavender isn’t just great for your skin; it’s great for your well being. It’s great for stress – which lets be honest is something ALL students will suffer from at some point during their studies – due to it’s calming and sedative products. So you’re not just helping to soothe your skin, you’re also giving yourself a calming boost at the same time! I talk more about how I noticed this while using the product in my review below. Tea Tree is fabulous in skin care due to it’s natural antiseptic and antibacterial qualities, so popping that in a moisturiser alongside lavender was a win-win for me.

The final product in my kit Amphora Aromatics’ FOCUS Aromatherapy Blend, and if you’ve been keeping up with my blog you’ll know I suffer from ME. Since hearing about Focus blends I’ve been wanting to try one to see if it could help me focus when struggling with fatigue and brain fog. However, this is something that can benefit all students. If you’re having a long day with back to back lectures, or you’re stuck in a room that is too hot and stuffy, it’s really easy to start to lose focus. Early morning lectures, especially if you’ve been out the night before, can be a nightmare too. Blends like this are great for popping in your bag or spotting on a tissue to keep in a pocket. It’s also designed to be used in a oil diffuser or burner so after a long day of classes you can get back home, pop it in and feel able to focus on that mountain load of coursework waiting for you.

Now that you know why I picked these three items, it’s time to find out how they shaped up!

The Products

Amphora Aromatics - Fresh Feet Lotion

Fresh Feet Lotion

Due to my hypermobility I’ve always suffered from sore feet and being a student didn’t help with this at all. Hurrying across campus, often struggling through crowded hallways and in wet and cold weather; yep student get definitely need some TLC! And lets be honest; until it gets to the summer and we whip out the sandals we won’t really give them much love. Peppermint and Tea Tree are an ideal combination for a foot lotion because not only do they help keep your feet feeling and smelly fresh, but tea tree has lots of natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities too.

After a long day the idea of giving your feet a thorough pamper or a pedicure is not at the top of any student’s list. A lotion like Amphora Aromatics’ Fresh Feet Lotion is something that you can rub into your feet within minutes, or use as part of a longer massage to really work out those aches and pains. The fact that it’s so easy to use, and not messy means that you can use it on the go too. If you know you’re going to have a long day at Uni, followed by a shift at work or a night out then pop this beauty in your bag. No one’s going to know if you whip it out in the toilets and rub some on your feet!

The light weight lotion spreads really easily and absorbs quickly not leaving a sticky residue behind like some foot lotions, and also not leaving you with excess cream to spread. It does smell strongly of peppermint but no more so than any other peppermint product out there – pocket mints smell stronger as an example. It is a foot lotion after all so you don’t want something with a weak scent. I found that it doesn’t take much to use as it spreads so well so the 100ml bottle will keep you going for ages! And finally; does it work? Yep! I recommend putting it on overnight (and wear socks to lock in the goodness) and you’ll wake up with feet that feel nurtured, soft and refreshed.

 

AA Skincare Lavender & Tea Tree Moisturising Lotion

Lavender & Tea Tree Moisturising Lotion

I have been eyeing up the AA Skincare range for a while, and have heard great things about so many of their products so I wasn’t surprised to find that I liked this product. I was surprised, however, to find just how much I needed it. I thought I had most of my skin care routine sorted out and this product came along and proved just how wrong I was!

It’s described as being “perfect for balancing acne prone skin” in the Student Survival Kit and while I don’t have terrible acne I would definitely describe my skin as acne prone. I’m now in my 30s and I still have trouble with it. I’ve made great progress in recent years after discovering Garnier’s PureActive and SkinActive ranges, but it’s still not perfectly under control. Well, after a month of using this lovely product I can say for certain that it definitely does balance your skin.My skin felt more hydrated and refreshed, and generally it felt like a balance in my skins levels had been reached. It really did feel like I’d found the missing piece of the puzzle for my skin routine. It kept my skin free from blemishes, and any that did pop up due to hormones were soothed away thanks to the wonderful combination of tea tree and lavender.

The added bonus with this product is that it smells very strongly of lavender – and before you think, oh no, give me a moment to elaborate. Strong smells, especially lavender, can be a big turn off and I hear you on that one. When I first got a whiff of this moisturiser I did think it was pretty strong and wondered whether it was going to be too strong. What I found was that it disperses as you use it and ends up becoming a pleasant lingering scent instead. My fiancé normally notices when a product has a strong smell and when questioned he had absolutely no clue what I was talking about. So don’t worry you won’t be walking around smelling like you’ve dunked yourself in lavender! 😉 You will, however, be benefiting from the therapeutic qualities of lavender. I like to use this product before bed so that the lavender helps to calm and soothe my skin and my mind, preparing me for a nights rest.

 

Amphora Aromatics - FOCUS Aromatherapy Blend

FOCUS Aromatherapy Blend

You might be wondering what exactly is an aromatherapy blend, and why is it worth investing £7.50 in a tiny bottle of 10ml? That’s a pretty steep price, or so it seems, especially for a student. Aromatherapy blends like the FOCUS blend by Amphora Aromatics isn’t just a bunch of oils thrown into a pot. Made from pure essential oils, Amphora Aromatics’ blends are specially formulated to produce a mix of oils that work in harmony to help boost your mood or well-being. They have a whole range, but this one is specifically designed to help stimulate and clear your mind, enabling you to feel refreshed and be able to focus more.

The instructions on the product itself says for use in a diffuser or oil burner; I did not test the product in either of these for two reasons. As I am asthmatic I have to be careful when burning oils, especially those with a strong scent and that is why I didn’t try this in my diffuser either. While I was very happy with this product and it’s effects (read on) it does have a very strong smell due to the main ingredient; cloves. I have a pretty sensitive nose; I can visit candle shops and Lush without any problems, where as my mum who has an incredible sense of smell cannot even walk past them. So hopefully that can give you an idea of scale for strength of smell.

I did still use the blend though and found other ways to use it that worked for me! For example, I found it useful to spot some on a tissue and smell that, and I also used it during steaming sessions to clear my sinuses and found that it worked fantastically for that. After steaming I felt much more refreshed and focused than I would have done using a vapour rub, while also benefiting from clearing my sinuses as the blend also contains Eucalyptus (one of the main ingredients in vapour rubs!).

After using the oil I definitely felt a difference in how I felt. It helped to clear my head, almost feeling like someone had run through my mind and giving it a shower. The cobwebs were gone, the fuzziness and the fatigue that coated my thoughts had been brushed away and I could focus again! I really do recommend trying this blend if you find you are having trouble concentrating in classes, or exams. If you have ME like me, or another condition that causes fatigue or brain fog then this may also benefit you. As with all aromatherapy oils be aware of the ingredients and check that they’re safe for you to use. As this blend is made of pure essential oils it isn’t safe to use directly on skin, but you can easily dilute it with a base cream or base oil. You can out the full range of base products available at Amphora Aromatics right here.

Conclusion

Everything I tested in this review would be a fantastic part of any Student Survival Kit. They are just the right mixture of practicality and pampering mixed with all the goodness that aromatherapy has to offer. What I particularly liked about these three products was that none of them meant taking extra time out of my day to add some self care and aromatherapy into my routine. They are all items that are quick and easy to use, and also so easily portable; you can pop them in your bag and use them on campus if you need to. The whole kit listed by Amphora Aromatics fits that bill actually, and is also a great starting place for anyone who has never tried aromatherapy products.

Over to You

Although this review was aimed at students, I think that most of this was applicable to anyone and I hope that even if you’re not a student that you got something from it! For the students among you don’t forget to also check out my student advice section. It’s my way of passing on my knowledge and experience to the next generation of students. If you have any questions about student life then feel free to get in touch 🙂

Do you have a student survival kit? Or if you were a student what would be in your kit?

Personally I think everyone could do with a survival kit for those long days; how do you cope with long/bad days?

Have you tried aromatherapy before? Do you use oils and blends or do you prefer to use products like AA skincare which contain aromatherapy oils?

Let me know in the comments! And if you have any questions about anything in this review please do not hesitate to ask 🙂

Geeking By in September

Geeking By in September

September proved to be a wild month (quite literally in the case of Storm Ali!), it was unpredictable, filled with challenges and nothing went as it was supposed to go. Nevertheless I got through it and here’s my monthly recap for you all 🙂

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Blogging & Projects

As I already mentioned I’ve been working on the Unique Bloggers group for the last few months, so that was a big part of my work load this month 🙂 It is both terrifying and exciting at the same time but I’m still so happy that I made the move to do it. I’ve been continuing to work on building this blog up which has pretty much entailed me playing catch up after the last few months gallivanting. The Zodiac series has taken the biggest hit and I’m hoping to have caught up by the end of this month, leaving me with two more to get out next month and then I will be up to date. I really don’t want to be behind in the run up to Christmas.

Games that define us collaboration - World of Warcraft

 

I have a birthday post AND a Halloween post planned for the first time ever – yep, get a load of this organised girl! How long that is going to last is anyone’s guess 😉 I’ve also just finished up my part in the Games that define us collaboration which goes live in November and I had an absolute ball taking part in it. I cannot wait for you guys to read my entry! Honestly though you need to check out EVERYONE’S posts. The whole group has worked super hard on this for months and the results are amazing. Even if you are not a gamer there is certainly something to be gained by reading these posts because they are about people not just games.

 

One of the things that has helped me get more organised with my blog has been the addition of a planner dedicated to my blog I’m using this gorgeous Harley Quinn notebook (featured above) that we got in a Lootcrate one month. It is a bullet journal-esque planner in the sense that I am also using it as a mindful and self care exercise to give myself a break away from the computer now and then. I’m not doing anything too fancy, but it’s fun and it’s giving me a creative outlet. I’m also taking part in Inktober this October for the first time and you can find out more about that at the start of the month. Here are the past two weekly spreads of my planner:

 

 

Dissertation

Three years ago I started my Masters in Information and Library Studies with the intention of finishing the course, completing the dissertation and by now ideally working in a library somewhere in Glasgow. Well.. pretty much none of that actually happened. I managed to complete the classes and coursework, and that was it. Since then I have been on medical leave and only a few months ago was I finally able to talk to my doctor about returning to my studies. All the months and months of changing medication, battling side effects and taking mindfulness courses had finally done some good and I was beginning to feel at least a little bit in control of my life again. I am very fortunate that I have a supervisor that supports me 110% and an exam board that has weighed my contributions and hard work against the unfortunate luck of getting a serious condition like ME/CFS just as I started my Masters. If I didn’t have those two things I would be just graduating with a diploma and honestly? My self esteem would be plummeting right now. Instead I was given the option to have one last deadline to complete my dissertation which I accepted.

 

September Dissertation Update

 

On the one hand it might seem like that was the wrong decision. After all, I could have just taken the diploma and walked away without having to write 20,000 words. The problem is that I know I would never have been happy with that. This illness has already taken the last three years from me and I love my dissertation topic. I need to finish it to prove that I can do it, to prove to myself that I am still able to do these things – that despite everything changing and the whole world turning upside down, I can still be me. If I had taken the easy way out I seriously believe my entire career would have suffered from crippling low confidence and that is not how I want to begin my career as an information professional.

Plus, I have until May. I already have 8-9ooo words already written. I worked out that I need to write a minimum of 1,500 words a month which is 375 words a week. Yeah, that sounds ridiculous right? But if I get a string of bad days or even a bad week the knowledge that I only need to get a few words out is going to help a lot. Ideally I’d love to be able to just bash it out and write thousands of words out in one day like I used to be able to; but that isn’t my life any more and I have to accept that.

 

Challenges in September

Challenges

There are a whole bunch of personal challenges this month. From dealing with guilt at not being able to stuff due to health problems, to working on some couples challenges, every where I looked I was facing something that previously would have sent me spiralling. I am actually pretty amazed and happy that I got through them all and it’s because I approached them by working through them one at a time – something that I definitely credit to mindfulness. There were definitely some moments when I felt utterly helpless and there were tears, but I used those times as outlets rather than huge breakdowns. It was a case of me letting it all out and then getting up, dusting myself off and saying ‘ok, let’s do this’.

 

Health

I don’t think there will ever be a monthly update where health is not a sub-title and I felt it even more so this month. Mine wasn’t so bad, but it felt like everyone around me was suffering. Chris has been going through a really bad period as we adjust his medication and my mum had a scan and the news was not good. Not cancer, but still not good. And I’m just left here doing all I can for them and sometimes it really doesn’t feel like it is enough.

The last mindfulness session was this week and due to unforeseeable events I missed it. Things happened and I just wasn’t able to face a room full of people. I was really upset because I’d also missed the two sessions before that, but none of them could be helped. My IBS was faring up due to stress one time and then another night I just didn’t sleep well, and sleep is crucial to someone with ME. It’s a 10am appointment so I can’t just go back to bed and get some more shut eye before it either. We have another appointment in December which is a sort of check in so I will be able to see everyone one last time then.

 

Health, Therapy & Mindfulness Updates

 

I was extremely happy to finally get my counselling appointment through! To be honest I’m well over due for more therapy. I’ve been trying to soldier on since my ME/CFS symptoms first started and since then it’s been one thing after another; my mum got sick, we found out about Chris’ heart, and so on. And then there’s just a mountain load of stuff from my past which I still need to work through. As my counsellor put it today; I’ve chipped away at my wall a lot through therapy and with mindfulness, but more bricks have been added and then some I just don’t have the right tools for yet. Thankfully he was super nice, and we clicked straight away which for me is important with a therapist. I still remember very distinctly one woman who I spent about 10 minutes with before I walked out of her office. She decided to tell me that the answer to all my problems was that I needed to ‘get out more’. So I’m always really nervous about meeting a new counsellor for the first time, and it was a huge relief to meet him and get on really well with him.

I did have to wait a really long time for these appointments but it came with some massive benefits. As it is at homeopathic hospital where I’ve been having treatment for over a year now I don’t need to explain everything all over again. That saves me a lot of time. When you’ve got 7 health problems you want to be able to drop the name, say how it makes you feel and move on. Not have to explain your whole medical history and background which can take up a good half an hour. And usually you only have 6-8 sessions with most NHS services; here I have unlimited. We will have a mini review every so often to see how I’m doing but until I feel like I am able to walk away confidently without the need for support the sessions keep going. And the final bonus was something I hoped would be possible and I’m really glad it is; he is going to do a mindfulness practise with me every so often! We were talking about how much it helped me and when I mentioned how disappointed I was that I missed my last few sessions he said we could do it! That is going to help me so much too.

 

Over to You

How has your September?

Did you have any wild weather like I did? Or has your autumn started our pleasant?

Any big events this month or any coming up?

As always I love to hear from you so let me know in the comments! 🙂

My Fantastic Beauty Surprise!

My fantastic beauty surprise!

I am a self-confessed competition addict. I love entering competitions, and I also have a pretty good track record of winning things. Most of the time I’ll share them on twitter or with friends, and that’s about it. This time though I think this haul deserves a blog post of it’s own! I’m also planning to review a lot of it so it’s been a great win in terms of blogging, and has come just at the right time. It also actually made me cry, which sounds dorky, I know. I entered the competition by Beauty Base just as I was beginning to get my meditation and daily life schedule back on track at the start of May. I was feeling really happy about how I was doing, and the competition required you to answer a question; why do you deserve to win this hamper? I always answer honestly and as my ME/CFS was the first thing on my mind at that moment, that is what I answered with. It wasn’t an aim at a sob story, it was just reality. I doubt that’s why I won. Competitions are done by random generations, it wouldn’t be fair otherwise. So this win represented a personal win too, almost like the universe was giving me a small pat on the back.

Now that I’ve rambled on I guess I should actually show you the goodies? 😉

My Beauty Prize - Opening the Box!

 

As you can imagine it took a while for them to get everything together and then of course I was away in London, so I had to wait until I got back to be able to open it! Despite our train being massively delayed and us getting home really late I had to delve into it and see everything for myself. I’d seen a photo with the competition but it’s never the same as actually holding things in your hand, being able to read the labels and of course, being able to pop the lid and smell them!

 

Beauty Prize - Everything Laid Out

 

As you can see it is quite a haul! It is huge and I’m really  chuffed with it. I use face masks, scrubs and sheets regularly to help keep my skin clear which in turns helps me control my skin picking. I’ve also found that face masks are brilliant for relaxing my facial muscles when I get a particularly bad migraine. Due to the difficulties with my migraines over the last few months my supply of face masks has been depleted so this couldn’t have come at a better time!

Here are some more photos so you can get a closer look at everything!

 

Beauty Prize - Ayumi face masks and washes

Beauty Prize - Ayumi Products

Beauty Prize - Byphasse Products

Beauty Prize - Dr Pawpaw, Technic Products and Perfume

Beauty Prize - Close up of the Technic glitter me up lipgloss

Beauty Prize - Face masks, sheets and pore strips

Beauty Prize - Himalaya Face Scrubs and Toothpaste

Beauty Prize - Himalaya Face Washes

 

I’ve used a Himalaya product before (their Almond & Cucumber Peel off face mask) and I’ve been quite happy with it so it was this brand that drew me to the competition in the first place. So I am super excited to be able to try so many of their products out now! I’ve also tried some Technic products before and been really happy with those. Otherwise the only other brand I recognise is Dr PawPaw which I’ve been eager to get my mitts on as it’s been taking the beauty world by storm and quite frankly I want to see if it’s worth the hype. There’s only a about 2-3 products in the whole bunch that aren’t useful to me and that’s the wrinkle ones! I don’t think I have wrinkles? I may try them to see – maybe I do have wrinkles and I’m just oblivious 😛

Overall I am really happy with it all. Now I just need to decide what to try first! Once I’ve found a home for everything… this has prompted me to have a much needed clean out and get rid of some things I’ve been holding onto for far too long. I’ve contacted a local women’s shelter and will be handing everything viable over to them so it goes to a good cause.

 

Over to you

Have you guys tried any of these brands? Is there anything here that tickles your fancy? Let me know because I’m happy to try something sooner if you would like to read the review – plus let’s be honest, I need the help in narrowing my choices down 😉