Special Delivery! February Birchbox

Hello kittens!

I haven’t had a moment to sit down and chat Birchbox in a while, but since I’m currently working my way through this month’s samples, now seemed a good time to hop back on that wagon.

For those who don’t know, Birchbox is a beauty subscription box. Each month, Birchbox sends you approximately five beauty samples and one or more ‘lifestyle’ items (for example food or accessories). The sample sizes are generally large or full sized products, and by reviewing those samples on the website, you can accrue generously offered points to spend in the well stocked Birchbox shop. I’ve been having Birchbox delivered, on and off, for two years, and I love it. It always brightens my day when my box shows up, and I’ve fallen for certain brands based on those samples.

This month’s box theme is Birchbox Loves. Let’s get to it.

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First up, the London Butterflies Bath Salt Scrub. Whilst I’ve never heard of this company before, I’m familiar with the concept of scrubs, and own a couple I’m fairly faithful to. The sample size of this product seems very generous, and the packaging is beautiful- clean, pretty and luxurious. No expense has been spared, and the 34g sample is a perfect miniature of the full sized 225g product.

The product is described as being full of ‘Dead Sea Salt and Sweet Almond Oil’. It has a fresh, soapy fragrance- very classic and pleasant. Disappointingly, it’s not almondy in scent, despite this being the top ingredient. You can almost smell the saltiness of it, however. It doesn’t contain any synthetic scrub elements either- no plastic beads or the like. This is a huge bonus for me, as I HATE those synthetic beads with a passion- they’re crap for the environment, and can easily be replaced with salt, sugar or sand for a similar effect.

I’m really excited to try this product, and I’ll be pretty broken up if it’s a let down. It seems to tick all the boxes otherwise. I also think it’s pretty on theme. It’s a product that’s obviously had some love poured into its creation, it’s a pampering goody, and it makes me excited to try it.

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Next we have a product by a brand that Birchbox introduced me to, and I love. theBalm cosmetics produce a wide range of cosmetics, but this one is a highlighter. Cindy-Lou Manizer is marketed as a multipurpose product- highlighter, shimmer and eyeshadow. It’s a very pretty shell pink colour with a touch of shimmer for extra luminosity- similar in tone to products I use for highlighters already. I imagine it would be perfect for a dewy, spring/summer look. The formula is very light too- barely there and pleasant to the touch.

theBalm always has fantastic packaging, even for their samples, and this one is a miniature version of the full sized product. The outside looks like a wanted poster for the glossy, illuminated Miss Cindy-Lou Manizer, aka ‘The Con-tour Artist’, who is ravishing in her retro prison stripes. The packet itself is magnetised card over plastic, and opens to reveal a dainty pan of product. It’s cute, feels well thought out and expensive, and is full of the tongue in cheek humour theBalm love to use.

As with the first product, this product feels very pamper-y, and perfect to brighten up your skin for a youthful, first-date look. And I love, love LOVE theBalm, so for me, that puts it on theme too.

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The third item is an eyeliner pencil by Cynthia Rowley Beauty. My sample is black. A quick swatch on the back of the hand reveals the soft, almost oil pastel-y formula of the product, and a rub with my hand reveals its sticking power. According to Birchbox, it can be blended for a smokey look, but I imagine you would need to layer it up for anything more than a smudge. I’ve actually tried this pencil a few times, and it’s pretty nice. The formula goes on nicely without any drag around the sensitive eyelids. Unfortunately it’s not waterproof, and I have allergies, but otherwise it lasts all day.

The pencil itself is a cute mini pencil in lovely matte black with a glossy highlight, gold font and festive golden baubles on the cap. Cynthia Rowley Beauty isn’t a brand I’m familiar with, but this pencil seems pretty good and I look forward to trying it. And really, who doesn’t love a pure black eyeliner?

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Moving on to haircare, Birchbox have sent me the Liz Earle Beauty Co. Botanical Shine Shampoo. I’ve heard excellent things about Liz Earle, and enjoyed the sample of facial cleanser I was sent in another box.

The sample size is a generous 50g, presented in a tube. Also included is a brochure about the rest of the Liz Earle range and their ingredients. The product has a powerful, tart and fruity fragrance, very sweet and reminiscent of fruity sweets. It claims to be ‘naturally active’ and rich in vitamin e, aloe vera, shea butter, apple and orange extracts. The product contains no animal extracts and is It is also SLS/SLES free, which many people will find appealing. Personally I have no preference regarding SLS (which is a surfactant- what makes most shampoos, soaps and shower gels foam and move over the skin), but this is the first shampoo product I have tried without, so it will be interesting to see how it performs. If it does all it promises, I’ll love it!

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Wild About Beauty is a cosmetic line created by Louise Redknapp and MUA Kim Jacob. A few boxes back Birchbox sent out some of their creme eyeshadow range. This month, they’ve supplied us with a full sized product- their Rose Water Illuminating Serum. I really like WAB’s packaging- deep maroon-purple with black silhouettes of insects, feathers and leaves, with contrasting silver text. It’s not the cleanest I’ve seen, but it is pretty. Inside the box, the tube’s colour palette is inverted. The 30ml tube has a pump cap.

This serum is rich in rose water, which is beautifying and soothing for sensitive skin, along with several other natural extracts. It claims to have anti-oxidant and anti-ageing properties, and is designed to boost the radiance and lustre of the skin. Unlike most serums, which in my experience are best applied alone or before moisturisation, this one is designed to be used alone or after moisturisation, almost like a primer.

The serum itself is prettily perfumed, and has a pink iridescent shine to it. It sinks in quickly upon application and leaves the skin smooth and smelling sweet and musky. I look forward to seeing how effective it is on my face, and under makeup.

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Finally, we have this month’s lifestyle item, which is The Chia Co’s Oats + Chia product. This is an instant porridge- you only need to add hot water to have a quick meal. The sachet I got was mixed berries flavour, and honestly, I’m impressed by the ingredients. There is no rubbish in this porridge mix: whole grain oats, chia seeds, coconut sugar, dried mixed berries, virgin coconut oil, and that’s it. No additives or flavourings or preservatives. This product is dairy free and vegan, and also purports to be Non GMO and Kosher. Chia seeds are a super food- packed full of omega 3, fibre and protein, and this seems like a great way to get them into your diet.

The packaging is cute and blocky, with big bold text and clean lines. Very nice indeed- I look forward to giving this a go!

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All in all I thought the box contents were great. There was a good mix of product types, but still plenty of makeup, which I obviously love. All of the products felt geared towards pampering yourself- a beautiful scrub, a luxurious shampoo, a beautifying serum, a nutritious and delicious porridge, an illuminating highlighter and a fierce black eyeliner. Whether that makes you think of a perfect pre-date pack (this box was released for Valentine’s Day, after all), or just a way to love yourself and beat those winter blues, I think it was pretty on trend, without being gaudy and covered in love hearts and false sentiment. Good job, Birchbox. Now, was this box value for money?

  • London Butterflied Bath Salt Scrub: 225g product costs £35, so this 34g sample is worth £5.29
  • theBalm Cosmetics Cindy-Lou Manizer: £16 for 8.5g product, so this 0.57g sample is worth £0.30
  • Cynthia Rowley Beauty Eyeliner: £11 for 1.19g, so this 0.8g sample is worth £7.79
  • Liz Earle Beauty Co. Botanical Shine Shampoo: £10 for 200ml, so this 50ml sample is worth £2.50
  • Wild About Beauty Rose Water Illuminating Serum: full size, £22

The Chia Co Oats + Chia: 5 pack is £4.95, so this sample is worth £0.99

Total: £38.87

This box was super generous: even after shipping (£2.95 of the £12.95 total cost) this box is worth more than three times what I paid. This of course doesn’t include the points I will earn back for a) having bought the box, and b) reviewing the products on Bichbox’s website. Also, there were no duff products this month- all killer, no filler. I’m really pleased with this box, and I’m going to enjoy pampering myself with all the products.

If this has piqued your interest, and you want to join in the Birchbox fun, click here to start!

Later days!

sigdraft

Special Delivery! Birchbox September 2014

Hello kittens!

Time to catch up on Birchboxes of the recent past! The September box followed the theme of Happy Days, with a bright turquoise box to shake things up this time. The box is designed to be turned into a, for lack of a better phrase, Happy Box. I’ve encountered similar ideas in therapy before- putting together self-soothing kit consisting of a box of items to lift the mood via the five senses. It’s why I tend to have something crafty (touch), some perfume (smell), some chocolate (taste), a book (sight) and ready made playlists on my iPad (hearing) by my bed. I think using this box to do that for yourself, whether you have clinically diagnosed anxiety or not, is and excellent thing to do. And it’s also a great excuse to have chocolate by your bed.

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The box this month felt really jam packed with stuff- the reusable drawstring bag inside was completely packed with goodies. I’m going to start with the extras first.

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This photo clip screams nineties/early noughties tat to me. Blergh. However, the idea of having a photo of something you care about nearby to boost your mood fits into the theme well. It’s not always possible to have a pin board or even room for a photo frame by your desk at work, but you probably have room for this. I think this is nice item for Birchboxers who are parents to give to their children instead, as the photo clip  would be a fun way for them to display their pictures in their rooms.

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This is probably going to find its way into a recipe, and then into my mouth, rather than the other way around. I do like dried fruit, I’m just a sissy about committing and eating it, or pretty much anything that strays beyond my bubble of food safety sometimes. It’s a full sized snack pack though- if you like dried fruit, this would be a good item for your happy box!

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Yaaaaaaaaaas! I’ve been wanting to try a beauty blender for an age, yet haven’t got round to picking one up. Theoretically it should fit in with my beauty regime well, and maybe tempt me back into the world of liquid foundation. I know that basically its just an egg shaped sponge, but let a girl dream, won’tcha? I think most people would be very happy to see this much hyped item, complete with solid cleanser, in their box, so I guess that fits into the theme. I also love the no-holds-barred pinkness of this product. Eee!

This *seems* to be a full sized product. The cleanser is just a puck of the solid cleansing product, rather than it being in its own pot, but otherwise it seems to be identical to the full product

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Birchbox asked their subbies in late August which product they wanted in their boxes. They had a couple of different options, and I chose Modelco Lip Laquer in ‘Viva’, a pretty corally pink. I really like this idea, and I hope that Birchbox do it again. It’s great that subscription boxes are generally a surprise, but it was nice to feel like the curator of your box for a while, and helps avoid inappropriate shades being sent to people.

As it was, my box came a little, er, half-baked. The Lip Laquer had been omitted, as had all the usual paperwork inside the box, and I had a mascara instead. A quick phone call to Birchbox (I must emphasise how friendly their staff are, how quick they are to fix problems, and how swiftly they answer the phone!) and this was rectified. I can’t complain, as I got an extra product out of their goof, so happy days!

I am not great when it comes to lipgloss. I have a dainty little mouth, and I feel gloss often makes it look smaller, rather than juicier. Also, I wore it a lot in my teens, and it feels a bit young for me now (she says, aged a whopping 27). Still, this gloss is a very pretty colour with good colour payoff. It’s very sticky, which can be a problem if you want to build it, but it’s nice enough, and it lasts pretty well, by gloss standards. It also now reminds me of my holiday, which makes me happy. I’d definitely use it again.

As for the mascara, I have SO many mascaras, it’s kind of insane. Particularly as I only really use one or two regularly. I really need to ‘shop my stash’… maybe I will do that in another post. I will try this one… but it goes to the end of the queue.

Another thing- Birchbox are throwing around a lot of Modelco products of late. Not a criticism, merely an observation.

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Agave Healing Oil is a hair treatment oil. These are all the rage at the moment, but I have been using hair oils for a few years now. They are excellent products to use between washes, or at the end of styling for shine and to repair damage and nourish the hair. Agave looks to have come excellent ingredients. Baobab seed oil is a super food for the hair, like Argan on steroids. It also contains Agave sugars and leaf extract, hence the name I imagine. Agave nectar is considered a superfood for the body- I’m worried this might be sticky on the hair, but likely not. There’s a bunch of other ingredients, but notably coconut to moisturise and vanilla, which is very gentle and conditioning for skin and hair. You’ll probably also smell great when using this product. I’ll definitely give it a go, and after all, a great hair day is a happy day!

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Serums are one of those products that a lot of people don’t know what to do with, and ask me about. Is it a moisturiser? Do I only use it at night? In what order do I use it and my other products?

For those who don’t know, serum is an intensive, concentrated treatment for the skin. It should be used at least once daily, usually at night, before moisturising. It *is* a moisturising product, but it tends to be a much richer, often oilier formula, designed to give a powerful dose of nutrients to the skin, as well as drenching it in good oils.

This serum is designed for day use instead. You would use this, again, before your moisturiser, after toning the skin. With vitamin C to help treat discolouration (sun spots, age spots etc) and repair cells and collagen to plump out fine lines, this serum is designed to help with signs of ageing from sun exposure, and generally give your face some love so you can get back to enjoying your day. I’ll definitely give this one a go.

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One thing that causes me stress about my face, more than anything else, is my dark circles. I’m never going to get rid of them completely, but I can at least try and show my eyes some love. This is what this Benefit product is all about. It’s Potent is a brightening eye cream designed  to combat dark circles. It’s nice and light and milky- you don’t want to out any heavy creams near your eyes, as the fats will build up in the thin skin there and make your eyes appear more puffy. I actually already own this product, though I’ve misplaced it currently, so I’m very glad of a travel sized spare. It contains a variety of skin firming ingredients, and loquat extract, which fights free-radicals to prevent and heal signs of ageing.

All in all, this box made me very happy. The products are all very nourishing, feel good products, with a few frivolities thrown in too. But how does the value of the box stack up?

  • Birchbox Photoclip: £0.99? It’s very hard to put a price on it.
  • Urband Fruit Magnificent Mango Snack: £1
  • beautyblender and solid blendercleanser :£26
  • Modelco Lip Laquer in ‘Viva’: Full size £15, but volume on both full size and sample is undisclosed. I estimate it’s about 1/3 the size, so £5
  • Agave Healing Oil: £16 for 60ml, so 4ml sample is worth £1.06
  • Skin & Co Sicilian Light Serum: £29 for 30ml, so 5ml sample is worth £4.83
  • Benefit It’s Potent! Eye Cream: £25.50 for 14.2g, so 3g sample is worth £5.39

Total: £44.27

That total is insane, but I may have been a little generous on the beauty blender. However, that is how much the equivalent product cost. It bears mentioning my erroneous extra, too.

Modelco Power Lash Black Mascara: £24 for 10g, so 5g sample is worth £12

Grand Total: £56.27

This is the most value I’ve ever gotten out of a Birchbox, even if I may have been generous on the beautyblender. I knew this box felt jam packed. Birchboxes usually come in around £25-£30 value mark, so double your money (including p&p), but this one is more than twice that. So thank you, Birchbox. You’ve made my day very happy indeed!

If you’d like to try Birchbox, click here to subscribe!

sigdraft

Special Delivery! August Birchbox

Hello Kittens!

This post is sooooo super late, so I’m going to breeze through it as quickly and accurately as I can. August marked the start of my new job, which I love, but which obviously takes up 30 hours of my week, plus travel time, plus me being wiped out when I get home. It’s super, and I love it, but dayuuuum.

So! The August Birchbox theme was Away We Go! This box was designed to celebrate all that’s great about summer and summer holidays.

image[14]The products came packaged in a super useful clear makeup bag- perfect for travel. Also included was the usual menu cards, including some cutesy baggage tags, and this month’s lifestyle extra- a preview chapter of Tasmina Perry’s chic-let, The Proposal.

This extra is true to theme, but not my sort of read. When I went away in September, I took a stack of books, but they were mainly YA Fiction, Fantasy and Sci Fi. Meh. I’m a nerd. I know what I like. And don’t get me wrong, I love romance novels and stories, but for me it’s best when one’s riding a magic pony and the other one’s a werewolf.

I fear I may be muddling a few stories up.

Anyway, nice extra, but not something I’m going to get use out of.

IMG_6266The best makeup for summer and sunny climes is a good, bright complexion, and cleansers are a big part of that. As I write this, I am recovering from illness, so my skin is super gross and grey and blergh, but usually my complexion isn’t too bad, minus the odd blemish. This enzymic product is probably great for oilier skins. For mine, particularly with its exfoliation properties, I probably couldn’t use it more than once or twice a week. I also worry about those ‘micro-crystals’ being synthetic rubbish that I’ll just be washing down the drain to kill fish. Not cool. Still, papaya is lovely for the skin, and I’m not committed to my cleansing routine, so I’ll try this.

IMG_6267I love the name of this product! I also appreciate them popping in two tubes of sample, given the total weight of one is so dainty. It makes for a fairly good sample this way.

I don’t currently use a CC cream- my make up routine is concealer followed by powder. I understand the purpose behind them, but I’m off liquid foundations and creams at the moment. However, CC cream is right on theme. In summer or sunny weather, you want to wear, and can get away with wearing, less heavy makeup. You want to let your skin breathe, and avoid your makeup slipping, and a lighter product with a lighter coverage and finish is good for that.

The shade of this one is a little dark for me, even with its ‘adjusting’ properties, but I reckon with a full face of makeup for a special event it might be ok. I will definitely try this out when I’m feeling brave. Or tanned.

IMG_6269I’m super into hair products at the moment. I went through a phase of never wearing mine down, and I’m trying to wear it down now at least once a week. To aid with that, and getting through my lion’s mane, I like to use a detangler/treatment oil, which this seems to be. As a protector, it’s great for preventing your hair drying out in any weather extremes, so bright sun and sea air in summer, and blustery cold in the winter. It’s also a pre-heat treatment, so great for me, as I’m playing around with heat styling my hair once in a while (I generally don’t even blow dry it). I like the packaging, and the brand name, Number 4, is so mysterious. I’m intrigued!

IMG_6270First a hair treatment, now a face treatment. This light oil is designed to be used like a serum, particularly at night. It’s a concentrated dose of plant extracts, plus omegas 3, 6, 7 and 9, which are super for skin health. This is perfect as a lighter weight skin care item for hot weather, but also to protect you from, and help repair damage from, sun exposure. I have dry skin, so I imagine it will drink this up. It needs mentioning that this and the other skin products are mentioned by B-Box as bring good for ageing skin. Guys. I’m 27. That’s cold.

 

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IMG_6271Wild About Beauty is a new start up company by Louise Redknapp and makeup artist Kim Jacob. This cream eyeshadow (the shade is called ‘Buster’) is a beautiful deep bronze colour. Whilst it was advertised as being buildable, it isn’t *that* buildable. You either have a little on or quite a bit on- there aren’t a dozen shades between, and you hit a saturation point with it. However, as a cream eyed shadow it would work as a great base for powder, and used lightly could work as a bronzer on the rest of the face. This would be a nice contour/crease colour for barely there summer makeup for tanned people. As a professional pale person, I could make it work as part of a look with some powder shadows for back up.

The packaging is adorable- I love the deep purple with the barely there black logo, and I appreciate the little mirror stashed in there, and how the pod fits together. It feels classy and polished.

So that was the August box! I loved the change up from drawstring bag to a real make up bag, and the contents were all interesting and on theme. Here’s how they total up.

  • The Proposal Sample chapter: Hard to say, but approximately £0.50 for this sample.
  • Vasanti Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator: £26 for 120ml, so this sample is worth approximately £4.33
  • Supergoop Daily Correct CC Cream: £33 for 47ml, so this sample is worth £4.21
  • Number 4 Lumiere d’Hiver Super Comb Prep & Protect: £20 for 200ml, so this sample is worth £3
  • Nude ProGenius Omega Treatment Oil: £58 for 30ml, so this sample is worth £9.67
  • Wild About Beauty Crème Eyeshadow: Full size, £13

Total: £34.71

This was a really generous and well put together box. With one product being worth the entire cost of the box, including P&P, I have no complaints whatsoever.

Later days!

sigdraft

 

 

Special Delivery! Memebox Mini 3 Review

Hello kittens!

Are any of you darlings into K-Pop? Or have you only dabbled in the odd bit of Gangnam Style-ing? Either way, you might have noticed how polished and beautiful and clear-of-skin those K-Pop girls are. I know I’m jealous. Welp, it’s because of the kickass potions and lotions they use.

For the longest time, Korean and east asian cosmetics lines have been out of reach of us poor schmucks in the west, which is a crying shame. However, the tide is turning, and more and more lines are becoming available certainly in america, if not globally. Regardless, there is one surefire way you can get your mitts on all those Korean goodies. That source is Memebox.

Memebox is a beauty box service rather like Latest in Beauty, except on hyperdrive, and for Korean cosmetics. If you want a specific box to target one body part, one look or instead a mixed basket, there’s a box for that, and they release dozens a month, not to mention their well stocked online store for individual items. Formerly only available in the states, Memebox have opened their doors to the world, and now loads of locations can enjoy what they have to offer.

On the outside, their myriad options can seem kind of pricey, with boxes ranging in price from around $20 to $30 dollars, plus shipping. However, with the exchange rate as it is, that’s not really much pricier than a UK based box like LIB, and the contents seem to be full size products.

To try Memebox out, I chose the Memebox Mini 3. Memebox Minis are few and far between, but they’re actually a lot more like a Birchbox. Each one contains approximately 5 products to try in deluxe sample size. These are the smallest and cheapest option that Memebox offers, at $15, or £7.90 in UK money, which also includes the shipping. That’s pretty darn good. I managed to order Memebox Mini #3 back in march when it was announced. I had to wait nearly two months until mid june for the box to be released and then shipped, but the box arrived just before I went on holiday (#swbholibobs), and I tried out all the products while I was away.

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P1000823The Memebox came in its own branded pink padded envelope. Inside was an adorable pink square box- very reusable. The box contents came neatly and securely packed, with a Menu/Tips and Tricks card. This I was very glad of as, er, I can’t read Korean.

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First up was the Illi Total Ageing Care Cleansing Kit. Now, I’ve complained about sachets in previous box review posts, but I am not complaining here. Not only did they give me a total of six sachets (3 of each product in the kit), they also gave me a deluxe sample size of each product in a sweet box. I really like the packaging on this- the clean black and white of the bottles, the simple papery box.

The products themselves are a cleansing oil and a foaming wash for your face and neck. Their scent is very light and delicately fragrant, and they leave your skin feeling super duper clean and not remotely dry, though not super moisturised either. I used mine after a shower, but you could of course use them during. First, massage the oil all over your skin and rinse off, then lather up with the foaming wash, rinse and pat dry. In terms of sample size, you probably have 10 days-2 weeks worth here, which is a great sample size really. Each sachet contains about 1.5-2 uses worth in it, so you can either be decadent or frugal with it.

I liked this product- it’s perfect for daily cleansing and is very gentle, yet pampering.

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P1000828The only other product in the box was this A.True tin… but inside was a treasure trove of different A.True products to try. The tin is a lovely size and obviously reusable- mine is currently full of cotton buds. A.True make their cosmetics with Darjeeling black tea from a company called Compagnie Colonial. It’s the oldest tea ‘brand’ in the world.

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The first product in the tin was this ‘Real Black Tea True Active Essence’, which is a toner. It smells scrummy, as all the A.True products do- of aromatic tea and a fruity fragrance not unlike apricot. It left my skin feeling really fresh and soft.

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Next we have the ‘First Anti-wrinkle Essence’, which is a serum product. Each sachet has two uses in it really, and I wasn’t being cheap with it, either. It’s a lovely serum, with that same mild and sweet fragrance. It’s easily absorbed into the skin, and just lovely. I’ve tried lots of serums in my time, and this is one of my favourites, because it is so gentle, yet it makes me feel very pampered.

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The final ‘product’ in the tin completes the skin care routine- a moisturiser. ‘First Anti-wrinkle cream’ is a light facial cream designed, as with the other products, to rejuvenate your skin and gently moisturise. Again, it was super gentle and had a lovely formula. I probably liked it least of the products I tried, but simply because it didn’t wow me like the serum and toner did. It’s a nice moisturiser, but it won’t stop traffic.

The final touch in the tin was two bags of Earl Grey tea in a lovely little drawstring bag, to finish off a good pamper session. Earl Grey happens to be my favourite.

I really liked all the products. The tea theme in the A.True cosmetics was charming, and the cleansers were lovely too. I also really liked that the box provided a complete skin care regimen for you to try. It had everything to get you from getting up (a cup of tea), washing your face (the Illi cleansers), toning (the True Active Essence), concentrated serum (First Anti-Wrinkle Essence) and finally moisturising (First Anti-Wrinkle Cream). I took it away on holiday, and it was just perfect for that. The same sizes were pretty darn generous too (a minimum of 10 days supply).

As with all boxes I try out, I like to find out if I got value for money, despite how much I enjoyed the contents. I’ve included all of the prices in dollars, as this is the only price I could find. I have then calculated the equivalent price in pounds sterling, because I’m British and that’s what makes sense to me. So here goes:

  • Illi Total Ageing Care Cleansing Oil: $22/£13.18 for 200ml, so the total sample of 21ml is worth $2.31/£1.38
  • Illi Total Ageing Care Cleansing Foam: $17/£10.18 for 200ml, so the 21ml total sample is worth $1.79/£1.07
  • A.True True Active Essence: $51/30.55 for 180ml, so the 30ml sample is worth $8.50/£5.09
  • A.True First Anti-Wrinkle Cream: $46/27.56 for 50g, so the 10ml sample is worth $9.20/£5.51
  • A.True First Anti-Wrinkle Essence: $50/29.95 for 40ml, so the 10ml total sample is worth$12.50/£7.49
  • 2x Compagnie Colonial Earl Grey Teabags: $9.60/£5.75 for 25, so the sample is $0.77/£0.46

Total: $31.66/£21

On an outlay of £7.90, the contents of this Memebox Mini are easily worth twice the box price, nearly thrice. This is fantastic return, and this box was truly a pleasure. It’s lovely to look at, the products were all completely new to me, and they were all lovely.

To be honest, I find the Memebox experience a little bewildering, as the website is quite hectic, and they don’t archive sold out/past boxes. Combine that with the sheer number of boxes that are released every week, and it’s hard to know where to start. If another Memebox Mini came out, I would order it in a heartbeat, and I would love to try more of their range, but it will take more investigation than I currently have time for before I do.

Let me know if you try Memebox, and what you think!

Later days!

sigdraft

Special Delivery! July Lootcrate

Oh my goodness, kittens, this is so LATE! Unfortunately my Lootcrate got lost in the post, and I had to have another one shipped over from the states. It finally arrived a few days ago. However, I’m please to announce that it was worth the wait. I was really looking forward to this box: the July theme was VILLIANS, and come on, everyone loves a good villain. I know I do. It’s also a theme with a vast base of source material. Comics, games, anime, cartoons, movies, tv shows, books… no good story is complete without an antagonist. I’ve been pretty hard on Lootcrates in the past. Let’s see if this one met my exacting standards.

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image[4]This crate came in a different shaped package from what I am used to, but even the packaging delivers. The inside the box has been delightfully graffitied by the legendary DC comic villain, The Joker. The share ‘with no one!’ gag had me laughing, and got me in the right mood for the rest of the box contents. I also really loved the cover of the Lootcrate magazine this month (pictured). A swarm of villains are trying to steal a Lootcrate, and whilst that’s adorable, it’s also cleverly tied in to the villains we’ll see in this box, sans Robotnik/Eggman. That right there is a shame, but with five other franchises represented across film, comics and games, just on the cover of the magazine and box art, I’m already impressed. This is far and above the effort that was made for the TRANSFORM box, and even the ADVENTURE box back in May.

image[1]The box was jam packed with a wide variety of goods, which again is really satisfying. Just unpacking the box for this photo had me squealing.

image[12]Let’s start with the T-shirt. I LOVE it! A cute, clever mash up of DC’s Joker and Marvel’s Loki, complete with Prince of Asgard swagger, and Tom Hiddleston’s iconic ‘whore’ pose, not to mention the lovely Joker twists to that fancy costume, and maniacal graffiti laughing in the background. A clever, well executed T-shirt design with lovely artwork on a quality cotton base. Thumbs up, Lootcrate.

image[5]My door key is an absolute bastard, so this Darth Vader key ring will suit it down to the ground. The fob is made of rubber, coloured and cut to create the iconic helmet of the famous villain. I love Star Wars- I was raised watching the original three films (A New Hope is my favourite), so this ticks all the boxes with me.

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Next up are two posters from the Batman franchise- a stylised Joker and his girlfriend/henchman/punching bag, the wonderful Harley Quinn. These posters haven’t been cut apart, which seems pretty lazy, but the artwork is stunning, if not necessarily to my taste (look at the cloth they are displayed on. Yeah.) I’ve seen a lot of hate for these posters online, and I’m not sure why. They aren’t meant to be the highlight of the box by any means, and there’s nothing wrong with them. They’re printed on fairly sturdy glossy paper stock, just like any standard poster or art print. The Joker poster is particularly graphic and interesting. It bears mentioning that this the third reference to The Joker and Batman franchise in this box so far, but having Harley in there too softens the blow.

image[6]This is a DVD of the DC Comics documentary ‘Necesscary Evil’, which looks at the top-notch villains in the DC universe. The cover portrays The Joker, again, as well as Cat-Woman from his franchise, Sinestro from The Green Lantern and Lex Luthor, from Superman. It’s the full documentary, which came out last year, and is a multi franchise product. I’d be really interested in watching it, as I love comic book movies and their super villains. I would say I like comics too, but I’m a completionist, so I always want to start any comic franchise at the beginning, which means I rarely get started.

image[11]Deadpool socks. I love the merc with a mouth- he’s one of my favourite Marvel characters. Also my feet get cold and I’m really good at losing socks. Cheers, Lootcrate!

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Rocket Raccoon! I am one of the few people who has yet to see GoTG in the cinema, but I am fully onboard with this franchise and thoroughly looking forward to it. This comic has a Lootcrate exclusive cover (see the ickle crate in his fuzzy little paw?) but is otherwise the full first issue of this series. I’m stoked to have received a comic in my crate and I’m probably gonna go and read it when I’m done with this write up, but I do question this one thing: To my knowledge, Rocket Raccoon is a hero, not a villain. At worst, he’s an antihero, but not truly evil, surely? However, with Thanos (I *think* it’s Thanos? No flames if I’m wrong, please) looming on the cover, that’s good enough for me.

image[7]The final items in the box were the month’s badge, featuring those dastardly villains from the cover of the magazine, and a big square magnet of Bowser, of Super Mario fame. Aw, he wants me, guys. I feel like a princess ❤

This crate was excellent. Yes, the Joker and the Batman franchise was featured heavily, but of the three items he was featured on (that doesn’t include the box art), he shared two of those with other franchises, and one of them with a Marvel character (ooer!). Besides from the Joker and the Batman franchise, the crate included goodies featuring characters from Thor (Marvel), Star Wars, Super Mario Brothers, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men, Superman and The Green Lantern. That’s a pretty broad field. The only other thing I would have liked is an anime villain, like Queen Beryl or Prince Diamond of Sailor Moon, or Vegeta, Cell or Frieza of Dragon Ball Z, for example. That would have made this box a five-star package. But  despite my geeing out, let’s see if it was worth my while financially.

  • ‘Joki’ T-Shirt: £15 (based on other shirts by the same artist)
  • Darth Vader Keyring: £2.95
  • Loot Crate July Badge: approximately £0.75
  • Bowser Magnet: approximately £1.50
  • DVD of ‘Necesscary Evil’: £5
  • 2 Posters- Joker/Harley Quinn: approximately £2.50 each, so £5
  • Deadpool Socks: approximately £5.70, based on similar designs
  • Rocket Raccoon Comic: £2.40 (potentially more as this is a limited edition cover)

Total: £38.30

Lootcrate always delivers value for money, and the value of this month’s box is easily what I paid for it, including shipping from America. I had to estimate the cost of a lot of items this month, as they were either Lootcrate exclusives, or I simply couldn’t find a like-for-like product out there in the world. Now, whether it is an exclusive or promotional item, or it has been discontinued, it is difficult to say. What I can say is that this box was excellent- varied both in type of content and source material of said content. I now can’t wait for August’s counter, as the box theme is going to be HEROES.

Later days, nerds!

sigdraft

Special Delivery! July Birchbox

Because I am a terrible person with a vivid imagination, I imagined I had a) taken all the photos for this blog entry and b) had already written and posted up said review. Alas, neither was the case. However, this wrong is about to be righted, with the help of my iPad (so excuse the photo quality) and my limited maths skills. July’s Birchbox theme was Sun, Sea and Sand, with products to make you feel light and bright for summer.

First up was the Laqa & Co Lip Lube. And with a name like that, I was expecting something fun at least.

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I love Laqa & Co. I first came across them about a year ago, with their nail pens, which I still covet. Later in the year, Birchbox sent me a sample of one of their Fat Lip pencils in Wolfman, which to this day I love. So I was very pleased to receive another product from their line. Liplubes a shiny, sheer lipsticks. Yves Rocher and your shame of a sheer lipstick, take note- this is how it’s done. The colour payoff is good, the formula is silky, not sticky, yet lovely and slightly shiny. I got the beautiful and flattering coral shade, called ‘Bees Knees’, and that’s exactly what it is. This colour and formula is great for summer. If you’re going to be doing a lot of eating and drinking, you’ll need to reapply all the time, because it is only a sheer lipstick, but for work or play, this product is lovely, and so easy to apply perfectly.

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 09.41.08Just like their Fat Lip Pencils, the Lip Lube is a twist up, no sharpen lip crayon. Just outline your lips, then fill in the middle for perfect coverage. Oh, and the peppermint extract in the formula leaves you with a fresh, tingly, slightly lip plumping finish. If you haven’t guessed, I really, really like this product. I’ve used it loads. I’ve done a bit of rummaging, and I’m almost certain this is a full sized product. Super satisfied with this offering!

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This Whish Lavender body butter applies like a thick lotion rather than a traditional body butter, and I can appreciate that. It means it absorbs nice and quickly, and you aren’t left rubbing it in for twenty minutes, lest your bedsheets stick to you. And once it has absorbed, it sinks in really, really quick, with no greasy residue. The formula is full of organic, natural ingredients and skin kind goodies like Shea butter, raspberry butter, aloe, seaweed extract and rice bran oil. Whilst it’s a nice product, and I will use it up, it isn’t the best moisturiser I’ve ever tried, and, er, it doesn’t smell like lavender. I found this really confusing. If you daub a load on, you get the tiniest puff of lavender fragrance, but not nearly enough to call it a ‘Lavender’ product. It smells more like candy than anything else- really sweet and feminine.

image[4]This smells delicious: fruity and citrusy like an orange, and yet nothing like an orange, and kind of aromatic. Definitely a summer, bright fragrance- perfect for the season and box theme.

imageBefore this, I’d never tried any Vita Coco products, or coconut water in general. It’s super popular at the moment, and was a perfect, almost Paleo treat back when I was deep in the diet. It’s pretty low in sugar, with only 2% added fruit sugar to the 89% coconut water and 9% lemon puree. It’s pretty tasty- obviously not very sweet, and with that slight bitterness that coconut has an after taste. It’s really refreshing though, and a perfect size to pack for a summer packed lunch. I would buy this again, definitely.

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I have a really good relationship with my eye cream already, but this product was really very nice. Not too thick, more a lotion consistency, this product absorbs nicely with a very mild tingly sensation. If you have really super sensitive skin (I have sensitive skin, but I know people who are less resilient than I) this might not be for you. It has a pleasant bright scent, and promises 99% natural ingredients. There are too many herb, flower and nut oils to list them all, but a few choice ones that jump out are witch hazel, aloe, rosehip, jojoba, camomile, cucumber and carrot seed. I’ll definitely use this up. Whether I repurchase is another matter, because a) I have loads of eye cream to use and b) I’m not convinced I like it as much as others I’ve tried.

image[1]Yes.

YES.

Thank you, Birchbox. I LOVE this product. I’m sure I’ve recommended it to you before. Basically, if you see me wearing makeup, I’m wearing this product as my primer. This is the nation’s bestselling primer, and frankly, it’s because it works. It does exactly what it promises to- it reduces large pore, fine lines and imperfections, and blurs your skin to a beautiful matte ready to apply makeup more evenly over it, or it can be applied over makeup for the same effect or touch ups. It’s great for summer, when you get a bit glowy, as it can help tone that down to mild dewiness, or even matte perfection. I’ve literally just finished a bottle, and replaced it, so this spare has been donated to my lovely mum for her to use and love. This is such an excellent product, I was thrilled to get a spare.

I loved this Birchbox. There were no duff products, and loads of goodies I really rated. And as for value…

  • Laqa & Co Lip Lube in ‘Bees Knees: full size, £14
  • Whish Body Butter ‘Lavender’: the 150ml full sized product is £14.50, so this 22ml sample is worth £2.13
  • Weleda Sea Buckthorn Creamy Body Wash: 200ml product goes for £7.95, so this 20ml sample is worth £0.76
  • Vita Coco Lemonade: £1.69 in most supermarkets
  • Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream: The full sized 15ml product is worth £20, so this 7ml sample is worth £9.33
  • Benefit Cosmetics The Porefessional Pro Balm: 22ml product is £24.50, so this 7.5ml sample is worth £8.35

Total: 36.26

This was a great haul, with excellent value for money. As for all Birchboxes, I paid £12.95 all in, which means the contents are worth nearly thrice what I paid. As you can tell from my gushing, I really liked this box all in all, with a good mix of brands I like and new products, all of which I will use up.

See you soon for the August box review!

Later days!

sigdraft

 

 

 

 

Special Delivery! June Cathampurr review

This review is SUPER overdue, but after the fun and games of the first Cat Hampurr review, I decided to give their second box a go. This time, I invited Dexter, my big black tuxedoed cat to join me in the unboxing. Japes ensued.

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DeeDee also demanded to be included.

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This box was really heavy, and jam packed with goodies. The first item I picked out was the Feline Fayre tins. Cathampurr were kind enough to furnish us with five of them, wrapped in purple tissue…

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Yeah…

Anyway, five tins is an excellent sample. My two fuzzbutts are greedy guts, so one of these wouldn’t go very far- more a snack than a meal. I was really pleased that the chosen protein source was fish, as I prefer to feed these two on fish products. I feel, probably erroneously, that the source/level of processing of fish in animal feeds is less than with poultry and meat. I also worry about growth hormones and such in poultry not of british origin… but I digress.

The packaging on these tins, plus the portion size, suggests this is a classy, premium product, and the cats were definitely interested. Truth be told, I’ll probably end up feeding some of this, if not all, to my rats, because I am a cruel mummy, and the cats eat a mainly dry food diet.

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Since June marked the start of the football World Cup, Cathampurr included some catnip spiked toy balls so the cats can have their own kick about. I appreciate the inclusion of a two-pack, as it means they can have one each, instead of one of them (DeeDee) playing whilst the other stares on wistfully (Dexter). Also, my cats love to throw their toys under furniture, so at least they’ll still have one to play with if they lose the other.

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Uhoh. Another catnip toy. This time it was an adorable floral bunny from the Natural Pet Toy Company. This went down a treat with the kitties, and it still has some mojo, nearly two months on. Here’s Dexter’s reaction to said little rabbit…

Pretty scary, really. Basically, they loved it. It’s a brand I’m not familiar with, but I’d use it again!

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Next up was a sample of Burns’ chicken and rice dry cat food. Burns is a great brand and I have used them for years to feed my other pets. They provide excellent quality at competitive prices. I consider them to be a premium brand, but they won’t break the bank either. I’ve never used their cat food before, however, so the kitties will enjoy trying this out. The sample is about one meal’s worth.

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Lilly’s Kitchen Crunchy nibbles are a wet food topper to add interest and promote dental health. My cats actually decided they wanted to eat them on their own, and tore into the packet one night when I left them unattended. I never said they were well behaved cats. They have no class. Anyway, the packaging of this product is so. Darn. Cute. I love it! It’s a brand I’ve never heard of, and given how much they enjoyed the product, and the lovely packaging (I’m a packaging fan- I can’t help it), I would be interested in trying it again.

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I think the above picture sums up Dexter’s thoughts and feelings about this product.

It’s true love.

Arden Grange Liver Treat is a patê/paste treat, which I have never used for the cats, but they took to it like a duck to water. Or a pig’s liver to a cats face. It smells… rich, and the cats, once they worked out how the deliciousness was conveyed, went mad for it. I’ve used paste treats for other pets before, and for them it’s been excellent to mask medicine. I imagine this product would be perfect for getting ground up or liquid medicine into tricky customers, too. Regardless, it was a huge hit, a new brand to me and something pretty different to what I was expecting from the hampurr.

Finally there were some vouchers. One was a huge, laminated monstrosity for a brand that wasn’t even in the box.

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If you have read previous unboxings, you’ll know I don’t tend to count vouchers towards box value, because they generally require additional spending, and that’s not what we’re about here at SWB. I also thought it was weird that this brand had put a voucher in, when they hadn’t provided a sample. Very odd.

So, as you can see, the box was jam packed, and pretty much every product was a hit with the fluffies. But, was it a good deal?

  • Feline Fayre Simple cat food x5: 24 tins retail for £16.56, so 5 are worth £3.35
  • Jolly Moggy Catnip Sisal Balls: £2.50
  • The Natural Pet Company Catnip Bunny: £4
  • Burns Original Cat Food: 2kg is worth £7.99, so this 50g sample is worth a minuscule £0.20
  • Lilly’s Kitchen Crunchy Nibbles for Cats: 400g goes for £4.95, so this 40g sample is worth £0.49
  • Arden Grange Liver Treat: £1.99

Total: £12.63

I think this total really proves that quantity, and even quality, doesn’t always mean value. On a subscription, a CatHampurr will cost you a total of £15.90 (£11.95 + 3.95 shipping)- it’s more if you want to order a one off box. That means that before shipping, the contents of this box aren’t worth much more than what you paid, and with shipping included, you’re out of pocket. I know that Cathampurr is a new start up (this was only their second box) but this is pretty poor. Subscription boxes across the board should be providing value for money, no matter who they are catering for. LootCrates regularly provide twice the box value, and LIB often give you thrice the cost of the box back in goodies. For this reason, I decided it wasn’t worthwhile at this point to continue getting the Cathampurr, no matter how much the cats enjoy opening them with me. For less than the cost of the box, I could buy them stacks of treats and toys each month. However, I would be very interested in following this company, and I hope they go from strength to strength. If their repute grows and they manage to increase the value of their boxes, I would definitely think about going back.

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If you’d like to watch the unboxing, be sure to check out the video below for live action shenanigans!

Later days!

sigdraft

Special Delivery! Loot Crate June 2014 Review

My Lootcrate arrived whilst I was away to the grand #swbholibobs, and though I unpacked it right away, It’s only now I’ve had a moment to sit down and write it up. So apologies that it’s so belated. I think it might also be because this crate didn’t make me say ‘wow’, if you know what I mean. Anyhoo, here she is. Also, DeeDee wanted to be in this unboxing. She’s learnt that unboxings are fun from Cathampurr, so… yeah. Apologies for accidental catspam.

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As standard, the crate herself is a plain black box with orange insides, filled to the brim with all these goodies. The first thing that caught my eye was this month’s shirt.

P1010061This is my favourite item in the box by a long way. Not only does it appeal to those who love transformers, but also to those who enjoy Marty McFly’s escapades in the Back to the Future movies. I am one of those people. I think this is a really funky crossover, beautifully realised. The shirt itself fits true to size and is really sturdy, which I appreciate, especially compared the the really slimy shirt in last month’s crate. It’s important to note that this isn’t a limited edition shirt. If you see this post and want this shirt, you can get it here.

P1010070Next up we have the blind box Transformers vinyl figure. As you can see, I got Starscream. These guys are super cute (I’m a sucker for all SD/chibi things) and well put together, though sadly they themselves don’t transform (and I kind of feel that all transformer models should…) and it’s really tough to get him to hold his gun. I’m not a massive Transformers fan, but this little cutie will probably stay 🙂

P1010064I don’t really get what Hexbugs are for, except for perhaps expensive cat toys. They have an appeal of about a minute tops, as the bug scuttles about. I mean, kudos to the creators, they do look like creepy little roaches, but I’m not impressed. Maybe that’s because I’m not a ten year old boy, but who can say. My cats like it though. This Hexbug is Transformers themed, and I got Bumblebee.

P1010063This month’s Loot Crate pin features the very cool Loot Crate Transformer, who is a bus!

P1010067Free candy! Warheads are American sweets, and they’re pretty gross. Once the sour bit wears off they’re less gross. A nice extra treat, however. DeeDee wanted to eat them.

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Finally, everything else. First off there’s a, for me, Decepticon vinyl sticker courtesy of Hasbro and The Loyal Subjects. The rest of the stuff is courtesy of MLG or Major League Gaming, which I had never heard of, though I do know of eSports in general. Apparently they are the number one broadcaster of professional level gaming. Included are a wristband (how retro!), a set of stickers and a $5 dollar voucher for their site. It’s a nice touch, but I’m not much into vouchers in my subscription boxes, as it’s an incentive to spend money, rather than being part of the value of the crate. Hence, I won’t be including this in my valuation.

All in all this crate was a bit of a flop for me. Ignoring the fact I’m not a big Transformers fan, there are serious issues with this crate. The MLG stuff wasn’t on theme, and pretty mucheverything else was from a single fandom. Yes, I know the theme was TRANSFORM, and Transformers really embody that theme, but they could have taken it further. What about other giant robot franchises which transforming mecha? What about The Power Rangers? What about transforming heroes such as Sailor Moon, Beast Boy, Mystique…? I really could go on, and I think the Loot Crate team should have too.

Time for the total value of this crate.

  • Marty McPrime Shirt: £17.38
  • Transformers Blind Box: $11.99-$12.99, so approx £7.50
  • Transformers Sticker: Estimated value £0.75
  • Transformers Hexbug: £7.99
  • 3 Warheads: Estimated value £0.20
  • Lootcrate Pin: Estimated value £0.75
  • MLG Wristband and ‘Starter Kit’: £4 (1.50 for the wristband and £2 for the stickers)

Total: £38.57

Getting Lootcrate in the UK costs £17.76 all in, so even if I thought this month’s crate was a bit of a bust, I did get more than twice my money’s worth, which is great. That is something that Lootcrate are consistently good for: value for money.

 

See you for the next unboxing!

sigdraft

 

 

 

 

 

Special Delivery! Candy Japan Review

Bemmu over at Candy Japan was kind enough to send me sample shipment of Candy Japan to review for you guys, and here’s what I thought.

So, what is Candy Japan? Well, it’s a fun subscription service run by Bemmu Sepponen, a Finn who’s settled in Japan with his wife. For 25$ (£14.62 in real money- sorry America!) a month, you will receive 2 shipments of delicious, interesting Japanese sweets and snacks. That’s £7.31 a shipment, approximately, which includes shipping. The system runs a month in arrears, so if you’re impatient this might not be for you, but I really like the fact you get two shipments a month. It’s double the surprise for your buck! Unlike more formal subscription boxes, Candy Japan often ships out in smaller, more convenient mailing envelopes, but its definitely what’s inside that counts. Bemmu also sends out an email about your shipment around the time it should arrive, including the product name (if you can’t decipher it) and what it’s all about.

So this is what I got in my shipment; so in other words, here’s a sample of what £7.31 gets you:

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Excuse the shoddy framing on my armchair. Gawd.

Honey-Kumquat Jelly

Hachimitsukinkan Jerii (go GCSE Japanese…) are round, orange jelly candies flavoured with honey and kumquat. The kumquat bears on the packaging hint at the sweet treats inside, and of course, bears love honey! These sweets have merit beyond their cute packaging. They have a crystallised sugar coating and a liquid centre. They’re sweet and fragrant- somewhat citrus, somewhat not. I can’t taste the honey overwhelmingly, but they’re very palatable. Even with the cutesy packaging, I think these are sweets that adults and children could enjoy.

Super Mario Gummy

Suupaa Mario Gami are super cute sweets in the shape of Mario’s face. The packaging is bright and fun, covered in popular Nintendo characters (such as the plumber himself). The gummy candies smell very sweet- of cola and melon, and are translucent brown in colour. They taste almost like cola bottles (they are supposed to be cola flavoured) but a little more fruity. Apparently I should consider myself lucky, as my pack included several candies that weren’t Marios- I got two mushrooms, two coins and a question block. These candies are adorable, and I can name a dozen of my friends right of the bat who would find them charming, and of course they would appeal to kiddies too.

Salted Caramel Chews

Shio Miruku Kyarameru are salted caramel chews. These are a more premium kind of sweet than the other two cutesy gummies. With salt purportedly from Lorraine, France, and cream from Hokkaido in northern Japan, these are gourmet chews. The sleek black packaging reflects this sophisticated image. Like a lot of japanese chewy sweets, these come individually wrapped. They smell amazing- creamy and almost fudgey, with a pretty pale cream-caramel colour. They taste super creamy, with just the barest hint of salt. The consistency is like a soft true caramel,with a little more of a chewiness of a typical chew sweet. They’re divine. Oh my goodness. I’m trying not to devour the whole packet in one sitting, particularly as I’m on the Paleo diet at the moment, but it’s a trial. These are definitely best enjoyed by those mature enough to enjoy the subtle flavours here.

 

So, is Candy Japan worth the money? Well, that’s up to you, really. Its difficult to pin down how much the shipment is worth, because most if not all of the candies aren’t available in this country. However, I’ve tried to estimate their cost using the same, or similar, products via several uk stockists of Japanese candies including The Japan Centre, Cyber Candy and the best source of similar sweets, Tofu Cute. Incidentally, I couldn’t find any of the shipment specific products readily available via UK stockists.

Based on similar products (i.e jellies and gummies) of around the same weight at the Mario and Honey-Kumquat candies, you would pay about £1.99-£2.99 in the UK for each packet, perhaps a little more for the Mario gummies. Based on very similar products such as Hi-Chew and Puccho, which are less ‘premium’ options, I expect you would pay about £1.50-£2.50 for the Salted Caramel chews. All in all that is about £6-8 worth of sweets, so the price of £7.31 a shipping is pretty good value- probably cheaper than purchasing separately over here (if you could even find these sweets- I couldn’t), and with the added bonus of the surprise of opening the packet.

If you love sweets, or Japan, or both, this would be a lovely subscription for you to sign up for. It also screams to be shared with friends or colleagues- blind tastings would be great fun. With the regular deliveries ensuring continued interest, plus Bemmu’s helpful emails, this is a really fun idea and great service.

Maybe I’ll sign up long term when my diet is done!

Later days!

sigdraft

Special Delivery! June 2014 Birchbox

Wotcha! It’s time for another Birchbox review! This month’s box ended up coming up courier due to a cock up by Birchbox. This filled me with angst (rightly so, following previous debacles with Birchbox and a certain courier company) but this one came lickety split fast and without a hitch. So good job, said courier company, GG on stepping up.

This month’s box theme is the World Cup. I’m no great fan of football, so I’m not hugely interested in all that, but it did mean Birchbox got to play with a global theme. Ish. Let’s get on with the unboxing!!

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It was such a let down to go back to a plain box after the gorgeous Harper’s Bazaar box last month, but really that’s nothing. This month, randomly, the box came wrapped in an external mailing box like it used to, rather than the cardboard wrap as it has since I re-subscribed. Odd, but no real issue.

Inside the box was the usual inventory card, a flyer about networking, and a bunch of tips and tricks postcards. The canvas bag this month is stunning- Brazil themed for the world cup. I love this deep yet apply green. It more than makes up for going back to a plain box!

Right off the bat, there are some really big samples in the box, plus a full sized sample, and a lovely pillow pack full of secrets! Yay! Let’s go!

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This month’s lifestyle extra is a cute little keyring, again in the Brazil colours. It’s sweet, and it’s already on my keys. It’s also reminded me that I need to get some flip-flops. Hmm. Like the bag, this little treat is meant to represent World Cup host nation Brazil in the box.

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This sample is enormous. I have full sized products this size; not hair products, but still. Here to represent the UK comes Silk + Honey, a UK artisan start up company, focussing on 100% natural, do-it-yourself cosmetics. This sample is mixed up, and comes with a use by, but when you buy the full product, you get the fun of putting together the potion and/or lotion, to make a full size product. I really like this idea- it’d make a fab gift for any beauty nut, crafter and anyone interested in natural cosmetics. This has that same earth floral smell I love in the Beauty Protector products- a mix of Rose and Geranium essential oils, and in this case, oodles of shea butter, honey and silk protein. It feels really thick, and I can’t wait to try it. There’s probably enough for 1-2 uses in this sample, depending on how much hair you have. Since I can sit on mine, it’s more likely just the one.

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I was thrilled to find an OPI sample in the pillow pack. Teeny weeny though it is, nail polish lasts forever and this packaging is adorable. The colour is a cosmic, shimmery, iridescent mauve- the kind of shade that will go with anything. Considering it’s from OPI’s new summer line, The Brazil Collection, I am surprised at how, well, tame it is. This season’s colours are neons and brights, after all. There are plenty of outrageous shades in The Brazil Collection though; I just happened to get this beautiful and classy one instead.

I have to say, the formula on this is great. OPI polishes are famously high quality, but the pay off is drying time. This is strong and colour true as ever an OPI polish was (I only have one coat on in the picture above), but I had two coats completely dry in 5-8 minutes, which is UNHEARD OF. I’m not complaining- it’s fantastic! I can’t speak for the rest of the collection, but this polish, called ‘Next Stop… The Bikini Zone’, is brilliant.

Again, this product is meant to represent Brazil, but why not the USA, where OPI is based? It’s not as if the box doesn’t already have plenty of Brazil themed elements.

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This packaging is designed to make this teeny weeny sample look bigger and grander than it is. That annoys me. The sample size is fine- it’s a sample, after all. There’s no need to try and trick me with a 10ml box for a 5ml product.

Apparently this product can be used for everything and the kitchen sink- moisturising cream, make up remover, repairing mask, after shave cream and baby-care product. That seems somewhat boastful. However, it does seem highly moisturising, and absorbs into the skin pretty well. It’s got a milky consistency, a bit thicker than a true body milk. It makes me question its use as a face mask, but who knows? I’ll look forward to trying it out.

This product represents France in the box, naturellement.

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Naobay is a Spanish beauty company, so this generous sample of body lotion represents Spain in the box. This is another company I hadn’t heard of, which is great as that’s a big part of why I get a beauty box.

The lotion is purported to be ‘natural and organic’, with 98,86 % of the total ingredients being from natural origin, and 19,16 % being organic. Those luscious organic ingredients include olive oil (which is amazing for skin), avocado oil, shea butter and aloe vera, as well as some herbs. It absorbs really well, as doesn’t leave you greasy. Also, it smells really citrussy and delicious.

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I’m a packaging fan, and this really doesn’t work for me. It looks so dated and, dare I say it, cheap. Maybe they went for transparent plastic because it’s a sheer lipstick… whatever they did, it was a bad design choice, it’s ugly and I hate it.

Ehem.

This is another French product representing our chic near neighbour. The colour I got was Marron Glacé, which a) wasn’t a colour Birchbox seemed to know they were sending out when I got the questionnaire on the website, and b) isn’t really for me. I tend to wear baby pinks, corals, magentas, hot pinks and sometimes reds. It’s not a bad colour, but it’s not one I would wear.

Having said that, the colour density in this product is so naff it doesn’t really matter. I could wear it and no one would notice. Yes, I know it’s a sheer lip colour, but this is so ‘sheer’ that it’s barely there- sheer lipsticks should give similar coverage to a lip tint, but often with a shiny, glossy finish. This product fails on both fronts. The swatch on my hand is 5-10 layers. On my lips that much barely shows up.

Calling this a lipstick isn’t really right. It’s more a tinted balm. The product has natural oils to condition lips, so why not market it as that? Then again, there are cheaper and better balms, and tinted balms, than this, in very similar shades. The moisturising is nice though- my lips do feel softer than they did before I put it on.

 

This box promises ‘samples from far-flung destinations as well as discoveries from closer to home.’ I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s a lie… There are three Brazil THEMED products, only one of which was an actual cosmetic, and that was from an American company. Beyond that, there are two French products, one Spanish one and British. Forgive me if I don’t consider any of these destinations all that ‘far-flung’ or exotic. Why didn’t they find something from the AMAZING range of products coming out of the far east? Or something genuinely South American? It’s a bit feeble to be honest- if you’re going to theme a box, go all out or go home. Anyway, here’s the maths.

  • Birchbox Flip Flop Keyring: It’s hard to place a value on this, but lets for argument’s sake say £1.50
  • Silk + Honey Shea Butter Hair Mask: The full set goes for a whopping £55 and makes 200g. The kit does come with a bunch of spatulas and little bottles you could theoretically reuse, but for ease’s sake, I’m going to say that the end product is the valued part. So, this generous 50g sample is worth £13.75
  • OPI Nail Lacquer: Full sized 15ml bottles are £11.95, so this 3.75ml sample is worth £2.99
  • Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré: The full 75ml product is £20, so this 5ml sample is worth £1.33
  • Naobay Body Radiance Lotion: This is £14 for 250ml (full size) so this 30ml sample is worth £1.68
  • Yves Rocher Sheer Botanical Lipstick: Full sized, and worth £9.90

Grand Total: £31.65

This box may not have driven me wild, and I may think that they could have pushed their theme so, so much further, but the value is excellent, and with a full sized product and several excellent sized samples, I really can’t complain. And even though I have received my third nail polish in 3 months, it’s OPI (which is my favourite brand) and it’s gorgeous. So I’m cool with that. For now.

That being said, I feel like I complained all post long. Hmm. I think it’s the heat getting to me. Don’t expect many posts in August, kids. If this is how it’s going to be, I’ll be hiding in my chest freezer until autumn.

Later Days!

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