An SWB Announcement- Blog plans and future.

Hello darlings.

It’s been eons since I wrote to you, and frankly that’s not on. My emotional health has been suffering due to a lack of creativity in my life, I’ve felt guilty and stunted due to not providing content, and this negative atmosphere has only exacerbated the situation, causing a backlog in topics, meaning some limited edition products have become unavailable before I’ve had a chance to talk to you about them. And that, frankly, SUCKS.

I think I need to make a change, and take the pressure off myself for the moment. I need to write whatever comes naturally right now, and now worry about keeping the blog balanced between food and beauty. That has been weighing on my mind lately- not because I want to stop food writing, but more because I haven’t had anything to talk about- I’m cooking a lot at the moment, but not desserts (which I’m known for) and nothing innovative. I’m working hard at the moment on my job, on other projects and on my health, so cooking is more for sustenance right now than adventure. That doesn’t mean it isn’t tasty- I make a batch of my chilli nearly every week and it’s wonderful- but it does mean it’s not good blog fodder. Also, with my forays into YouTube starting, I haven’t had anywhere suitable to film a food video at all.

I consider myself a food writer. The way I view the topics I write about is as cook. I’m interested in how ingredients work, smell and feel, and how they combine to make something more than themselves; how they work as a recipe. This hasn’t changed, but the fact is that for right now I haven’t got anything foodie to talk about. I do however have A LOT of beauty and lifestyle stuff sitting on the back burner while I’ve guilted myself over not providing food content.

So, to hell with that, I’m just going to write. If you’re only here for the food, I understand, and I’ll see you again later in the year when I’m feeling foodie again. If you love the beauty stuff, then stick around. There’s a lot more to come really soon.

Love and kisses, and thank you for your patience and continued readership.

sigdraft

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.

IMG_7736

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.

IMG_7733

IMG_7734

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.

IMG_7731

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?

IMG_7738

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!

IMG_7737

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.

IMG_7732

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!

IMG_7729

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