So, it's taken me a while to write about it, but last weekend I made my first solo trip up to Birmingham to a Christmas party being hosted by the lovely Andy (Pampered Prince) and Jess (Spoilt Face) at Samsara Skin clinic. It was also the first blogger meet up of any kind that I've attended, so it's fair to say that I was more than a little apprehensive...but I needn't have worried, it was a brilliant day!
On arrival at the Lakeside Gallery we were greeted with a drink of Collagen Shot with raspberries. I was a bit bamboozled when it was offered, but readily gave it a go and found it was very tasty! Apparently it helps to plump the skin from the inside out. I don't know if it was mixed with anything else, but I'm definitely intrigued by the concept and might invest in a pack to try for myself. The gallery had been split into two halves to make the setting more intimate, and had been decked out in Christmas-sy decorations, metallic writing and customised furniture.
After a little introduction from the Samsara duo we made our way to the two tables set out with bottles for our perfume class with Elijah Choo, founder of the bodhi ("beau-dee") skincare range. He talked about the difference between synthetic and natural fragrances, and asked us to guess what several different scents were before passing around a natural rose scent and a synthetic rose scent to see whether we could smell the difference. I really enjoyed listening to Elijah talk, and wish I had recorded it or brought a note-book to keep track of all the informative details.
We were then given sheets on the fragrance wheel and one to fill in our personal recipe. It was fun trying out the different scents on the table - some of them like Lime were amazing and others I wasn't keen on (looking at you Vetiver!) but I really enjoyed giving them each a sniff before settling on top, heart and base notes.
I chose top notes of Honeysuckle and Mandarin, heart notes of Cinnamon (LOVE IT) and Neroli with base notes of Sandalwood and Bezoin (something I hadn't heard of before, but it smells deliciously tasty, like maple syrup). I was trying to go for a spicy sweet scent - I'm really happy with what I ended up with and have been wearing it every day.
We then broke away to try out the tea station, set up on another customised piece of furniture by Whatnot and Doodah. Here I hadn't a clue what to go for so went for a crazy mix of Cardamon, Licorice, Blueberries...and a few other bits and pieces that I didn't think to write down - if you spot something you recognise, do comment. It tasted brilliant - I have one of these tea cages myself, but I haven't ever used it for creating my own tea in this way. I'm going to have to give it a go now I know how tasty it can be.
We also then got to tuck into the food, which was amazing! I'm a veggie so I appreciated that all the food was suitable for vegetarians and mostly vegan as far as I know. The food was from The Warehouse Cafe, a restaurant in Birmingham that is close by to The Custard Factory. There was a borscht-type soup, and these kind of dumplings that you could place in and eat with them. I'm still kicking myself for not going for a second helping, but I was diverted by the gorgeous bread with apple and (what tasted like, but not sure whether it was?) blue cheese. Delish,- I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
After a short break, Elijah and Jess announced the two runners up and the winner of the perfume competition. The lady who had been singing on our entrance (Rumbi) and is a Samsara customer won and received the lovely Cacao Cocoon and Temple Balm - a sweet surprise.
With full stomachs our attention was then re-directed to a table featuring an array of different beauty products, ranging from those I own to those I've never heard of (but now want!) and some I've seen before. Jess and Andy then talked us through making a custom facial using the products on the table. The one that I was most interested in was the one made by Jess for dry skin: a base of oatmeal powder with added extras such as manuka honey, rosehip oil, and a few spritzes of Pai toner and Cosmedix pure enzymes mask. Andy then talked through a version for oily skin. It was great to listen to them talk as they made the masks as you can tell that they not only know what they're talking about, but are pretty passionate about it too.
While they talked, I also couldn't help noticing how great their skin is, to the extent that I probably had a touch of the crazy about me as I stared, stared and stared a bit more. They are fantastic adverts for their work, and I'm definitely hoping to try some of the products that were recommended by them.
After all this, it was half past four and time to leave the gallery. Guests were given the opportunity to donate to Shelter for a children's Christmas Party, before we trotted back through the Custard Factory to the Samsara Clinic and were given a lovely surprise goody bag, featuring Bodhi, Almost Edible and a face mask. I have been burning the candle this week and it is really fragrant, and such a cute little pot too! (Of course, that it's a base of Cinnamon doesn't hurt. :P ) Lastly, tucked inside the gold card in the bag, was a voucher for a facial at Samsara which I am really excited about as they really know what they are talking about.
Cue a few more photos of the group, a little browse around the products and a couple of purchases, and it was finally time to head for home. All in all, it was a fantastic day - really informative and interesting, with lots of lovely people, food and chat! I can't wait to return in 2014 to cash in my voucher and see the clinic again. Thank you to Jess, Andy and all the other guests there for making it a great day :).
To read other write ups of the day (so far) and to see more photos taken by the other bloggers, you can visit:
Sophia @ Tattooed Tea Lady
Lauren @ All In Beauty
Danni @ Holistic Green Beauty
Tasha @ Tasha in My Weird Wide World
Lizzie @ Bare Faced Chic
Sophie @ Sophie's Beautique