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 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 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!

sigdraft

Special Delivery! Latest In Beauty- The BeautyMart Box

I’ve talked about LIB before, and how their boxes work, so I won’t bore you with those details again. What I’m here to talk about is the BeautyMart box they put recently, and how its contents stacked up. Sadly the box is now sold out, but there are several other options still available, with others on the way.

What is BeautyMart? I was asking the same question when I came across the box on LIB’s Collection page. BeautyMart is a new start up by Anna-Marie Solowij, former beauty director of Vogue and Millie Kendall of Ruby & Millie cosmetics, among other claims to beauty fame. As a collaboration between these beauty buffs, BeautyMart strives to provide ‘iconic and edited beauty’. By vetting make up products, from lofty lines to high street favourites, they select only the best of the best, products they would personally recommend, and these are the only products they sell, rather than entire lines. This curation of their products is what sets them apart from other online boutiques (this, and they have several high street stores to peruse)- it it’s not up to their exacting standards, you won’t see the product on their shelves.

So, the box. The BeautyMart box was a collaboration between BeautyMart and LIB to celebrate their launch earlier this year. The box cost a total of £16.90 (£12.95 for the box, and £3.95 P&P), so definitely on the pricier end of the scale of boxes I review. This is what I got!

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P1000549Like the last LIB box I received, my order was sent in a simple mailing bag. However, whether it’s because of the simple matte finish on this box, or it was transported more carefully, the box arrived in perfect condition. Inside a layer of black tissue was sealed with a kiss (aww!). This is the BeautyMart logo, and it was a nice touch. Inside that, the products were nestled in pale shredded tissue, with a postcard on top to tell me all about BeautyMart. Considering the price of the box, and when I saw the glossy inside, I was really hoping for at least a little pamphlet to tell me about the goods. It would have saved me googling some of them later on! But hey ho.

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Inside, the box was crammed with products- a total of 10 including a freebie (like the hair serum last time). This box struck me with the variety of products right off the bat- the different colours, packaging and sizes got me really excited to dive in. I went straight for the biggest product first.

P1000553… and then I read the label. And then I went to google.

Balmain Silk Perfume, it turns out, it a hair oil spray. It’s designed to protect and polish your hair, has detangling properties, and, of course, is perfumed. This is the full sized product.

The packaging is very simple (perhaps too simple? ) and chic (I love the type face), and I have tried the product a few times, to great success. It really does leave you with super silky, shiny, polished hair, that is delicately fragranced. I also use it as a detangler sometimes, and it’s great for that too. As I have curly hair, this is a very useful product for me, and the oil helps keep my hair from getting too dry, and helps hold my natural curl when brushed through, rather than dissolving into frizz.

Even before I’d tried it, I was pretty excited about this product (I love finding new brands, and Balmain was completely new to me), although not until I’d googled it to find out what it was! Even so, it’s my star product of the box.

P1000555A great sized sample of body lotion, Weleda is a brand I’d heard of, but rarely seen and not tried. I was happy to receive it in my box, as I have dry skin and so long as it’s gentle, moisturiser will always get used up.

P1000557Another full sized product, it again took a googling to find out what the Colour Bug is for. Inside this cute puck-like case, is a pressed powder. Turns out, it’s hair chalk. Hair chalk is today’s hair mascara (do you remember those? I used to have a gold one when I was a teenager), for a pop of instant, temporary colour. I have no idea how to use this product still, but bright colours in hair and makeup are in this summer, so I’ll have fun trying it out… when I work out how.

P1000558Again, I’m sure I’ve heard of this brand, but I’ve never tried it. I think I must have seen it when I was in Japan god, ten years ago. Time does fly. I feel so old. Anyway. This Yu-Be cream is almost more of an emollient, and it has the wonderful herby, medicine-y smell that I am all about. Yeah, I know I’m strange, but I love that sort of thing. I guess it sort of smells like Tiger Balm, or Vapo Rub. Whatever it is, it really is long lasting, and perfect for really dry, troubled spots like elbows, knees and feet, perhaps even hard-worked hands. I really like this one, and when this runs out, I’d be keen to repurchase. It’s a very functional product rather than a pretty one.

P1000559This is a nice sized perfume sample, with pretty packaging. I’d always prefer a mini spray, simply because these… daubers? These bottles with the dippy thing have the possibility to leak or spill really easily.

Anyhoo, the perfume smells delicious- really pretty and fruity. It’s packed with rosy notes (I love!) and other florals, so it’s hyper feminine and just, well, lovely.

P1000560This BB cream is too dark for me. Even with my skin having gone a smudge darker in the sunshine, I’m still pale as anything, and light isn’t light enough for me. Bummer. I figure though that any face make up product going in to a sample box is going to be really hit and miss. There are so many shades of skin tone, that picking a kind of average is the best they can do.

Who knows, maybe I’ll tan properly and this will be the right shade. Pigs may yet fly, folks.

I tried a bit of my hand however, and it is very mattifying. So, yay!

P1000561This is an oil based cleanser, so great for removing make up. It’s full of skin kind olive oil and vitamin E. I always worry about using oil on my face, because I don’t want things to get greasy, but apparently this is water soluble. Hmm. We shall see. It’s another really good sized sample though- several washes worth in there.

P1000562Being a pasty beauty, I don’t use self tanners. I don’t look tanned- I just look grubby. Same with bronzer. So this product is useless to me.

However, it’s a very clever product, and full sized, and the packaging is very nice. The sponge is very dense- semi-abrasive even, so it can buff out streaks and any unevenness of tan, and can get the stuff off your hands if needs be. Obviously I haven’t tried it, but given the way the sponge feels it seems legit, and if so, it’s a pretty cool little product.

P1000563A sachet? Really? This is such a let down after such a chock-a-block box. Even cheaper boxes, if they dared put in a sachet, would put in a larger size. I know this is a serum, and therefore you don’t need much, but this is TINY, maybe two lean uses at best, and just looks so cheap compared with the other items.

That’s pretty much all I can say about it, as I haven’t tried it yet. Every time I look at it, I think, meh. Sachet. Crappy.

P1000565This full sized Model Co mascara was my freebie, and a very generous one it is too. This is their Black Lengthening Mascara, which I found out via google again. The packaging is very sleek and chic, yes, but informative she ain’t, which seems to be a theme of this box!

So, ten items (or 9 and a stingy little sachet blah) in one box? Not bad at all- in fact, it’s probably the biggest haul I’ve had in a beauty box. But how do the figures stack up?

  • Balmain Silk Perfume: 200ml full size, worth £24.50
  • Weleda Skin Food: 10ml sample size. The full size 75ml product is £10, so this sample is worth £1.33
  • Kevin Murphy Colour Bug: full size, worth £14
  • Yu-Be Moisturising Skin Cream: 10ml sample size. The full sized 31ml product goes for £13.50, so this sample size is worth £4.35
  • Plum by Mary Greenwell Perfume: 2ml sample size. The full sized 50ml product is £65, so the sample is worth £2.60
  • Rimmel Matte BB Cream: 8ml sample size. The full sized 30ml product is worth £6.99, so this sample size is worth £1.86
  • DHC Deep Cleansing Oil: 30ml ‘mini’ size, worth £4.50
  • Bronze Buffer: full size, worth £10
  • Astalift Jelly Aquarysta: 0.5g sample size. The full sized 15g product is worth £26, so this sad little sachet is worth £0.87

Total: £64.01

Woah. But wait! Don’t forget the free gift I got in my box!

  • Model Co Black Lengthening Mascara: full size, worth £10

Grand Total: £74.01

Blimmin’ eck! For a £16.90 outlay, that’s £57.11 worth of stuff that you didn’t have to pay for. That’s really good. I was totally stunned when I saw these figures, and double, and then tripled checked my maths. It just goes to show how good a deal some of these beauty boxes can be. Sure, I got a couple of products I won’t use, but at least one of those is totally re-giftable, and all in all the box was really, really pleasing to the eye and pocket. Not to mention the great mix of premium and standard products, and tons of brands I’d never used, or heard of. The only criticisms of the box have mostly been mentioned above- so many of the products needed a little in-box guide to help decode their use, which was lacking. I would have also liked to have seen more makeup, but the range of products was really very good anyway. Oh, and the sachet really was the fly in the champagne that was this box.

So, another great Latest in Beauty box. Though this one is no longer available, they add new content fairly frequently (for example, they added a new box about 10 days ago that sold out super quick, and the Glamour Edit box I reviewed is still available.) and amazing deals can be had. Not to mention fun!

That’s all for today, kittens. See you again soon!

sigdraft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Delivery! May 2014 Birchbox unboxing

This month, or rather last month, Birchbox teamed up with Harper’s Bazaar, probably one of the glossiest of the glossy magazines, to create a box full of on trend, high quality samples. So, let’s get on with it!P1000694

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P1000697I love, love LOVE the packaging this month. The box is sumptuously printed, celebrating the chicness of Harper’s Bazaar perfectly. It’s really summery and on point for the season, and yeah… I like it a lot. I also love the mint accent on this month’s freebie canvas bag. Good job, guys.

This month, as well as the usual contents postcard, there is a mini magazine full of tips and tricks, courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar, as well as a special subscription offer for both companies. Nice, but you know me- I’m here for the products, not the paper work.

P1000700The first item in the box is something I already own, already love, have already recommended to you guys… They’re Real by Benefit is a great mascara. Hyper black and long lasting, though not waterproof, it comes with one of the best mascara wands around at the moment- perfect to reach every single lash, corner to corner and root to tip. I’m thrilled to have another handbag size of this product, and it will so get used.

P1000702The box smelt great when I opened it, reminding me of a previous box that smelt awesome too, and it’s these little beauties that are responsible. Many boxes ago, Birchbox launched their own in-house brand, Beauty Protector, with a deluxe sample of their detangler. It smelt phenomenal and worked a charm, and I nearly cried when it ran out. These shampoo and conditioner samples have the same heady fragrance (somewhat floral but not too girly, yet almost musky, and feminine), so I really look forward to trying them.

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P1000709This full sized nail polish is by Soigné, a brand I’d never heard of, which is apparently ‘so hot right now’. This is an unforgiving orange shade called Persimmon. I swatched it on a nail, and it’s fine- it didn’t blow me away. The colour is really pigmented though, which is ace, but otherwise it’s a fairly standard formula, 2 coats to opacity and average drying time.

What got me most about this product is how much packaging there is. The box is twice the size of the polish, and it’s packed in this toxic smelling rubber mould, like a gun or something. It’s weird, and seems really unnecessary. And stinky.

P1000703Aromatherapy Associates make some really tasty smelling stuff, and this bath and shower oil is no exception. It’s an ok sized sample, given the type of product it is. Made with bright and citrussy grapefruit, aromatic rosemary and punchy juniper, this is designed to invigorate you and bring you to life of a morning- something I likely need. As an oil, it also has some moisturising qualities too. The packaging is super cute too.

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P1000706I’m pretty excited about this product, and it’s between this and the mascara for my top product of the box. This Liz Earle cleansing system comes with instructions, and a reusable lovely muslin cloth to use the product with. The cleanser is designed to not only cleanse, but to provide, with the aid of the cloth, gentle and mild exfoliation and ‘polishing’, for smooth and lovely skin. I can’t wait to try it, as my skin sure does need a pick me up, and with my recent birthday shunting me out of my mid and speedily towards my late twenties, I’ll take all the help I can get to stave off the oncoming and inevitable ageing process. Yes, I know I have bags and wrinkles- let a girl dream she’s still a fresh faced girl, alright?

I also have to mention the little tissue package- a cheap and easy way to keep all the gubbins together, sure, but it made the product feel like a surprise within a surprise, a present within a present, and I appreciate that.

So, here’s the value tally. The box, as with all Birchboxes, cost me a total of £12.95.

  • Benefit They’re Real Mascara: Full size 8.5g product costs £19.50, so this 3g sample is worth £6.88
  • Beauty Protector Shampoo: Full size 250ml product costs £14, so this 30ml sample is worth £1.68
  • Beauty Protect Conditioner: Same as for the shampoo, this 30ml sample is worth £1.68
  • Soigné Nail Polish: Full sized, worth£11
  • Aromatherapy Associates Revive Morning Bath and Shower Oil: Full sized 55ml product is worth £39, so this 3ml sample is worth £2.13
  • Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser: Full size 180ml product costs £13.25, so this 30ml sample is worth £2.20

Total: £25.57

This has been a really great box. I’d always prefer more makeup and less bath and skin products, but this box had great variety and lots of fun new brands to try. The value was good, and the theme was spot on. I would question including two nail polishes in a row however- I think they can do better than that, and I look forward to seeing if they do come the June box.

Later days!

sigdraft

Special Delivery! April 2014 Birchbox Unboxing

Yay! It finally arrived! If you aren’t a regular reader, you might not know of the palava with getting this delivered, but I am trying to put that behind me. Let’s get on with the unboxing! This post will be very picture heavy. You have been warned!

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P1000613Birchbox have changed their shipping packaging since I last ordered. Now, instead of a box enveloping the box, it’s just a perfectly fitted and taped sheet of cardboard. Effective, and less packaging. I approve! The box itself looks just the same, with the natural coloured lid, and inside things were as expected too. On top of the reusable drawstring bag of goodies was a stack of cards. This month’s theme was Good Enough to Eat, so Birchbox had created a set of postcards with product info, tips and tricks and a recipe on the back, which you can see in the picture above. They also had their regular contents card and some other promotional material. All cute, but I’m not here for the postcards. I’m here for the samples!

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P1000617Inside the box this month were 5 beauty samples and the Lifestyle Extra, for a total of six items. Although the variety seemed really good, with plenty of cosmetics rather than loads of skin and haircare, the samples were pretty small. Still, let’s have a look at them one by one.

P1000619Face wipes are a make up user’s best friend. I also always keep a pack in my bag for emergency freshening up if I’m commuting or have a long day or journey. These Yesto Cucumbers wipes are a brand I’m not familiar with, but they look pretty good- 95% natural, with aloe and cucumbers which are cooling and skin kind. This pack of 10 is perfectly handbag sized, and is already in my handbag. Not what I was expecting in my box, but definitely useful.

P1000620I have only ever seen Colour Club nail polishes in Birchboxes for some reason, but I really like them. The last one I got is one of my favourite polishes.

This is not.

I like green a lot, but this colour is so drab in the bottle. And it’s pearlescent. I HATE pearl polishes. For me, it needs to be shimmery, glittery, or creme colour. Supposedly being pearly is on trend for this season… if so, then I will happily be off trend. And if I want to wear pastel green, I’ll wear OPI’s Gargantuan Green Grape.

To be fair, I swatched this product on a nail. It’s opaque in one coat, and completely dry in about ten minutes. It does look brighter out of the bottle than in, but it’s still pearly. Ew.

P1000623Spanish A Level, engage! This is ‘hydrating almond milk’ by Campos de Ibiza, a skin product. It smells lovely. The texture reminds me of old school suntan lotion, but it smells better and absorbs less greasily.

I’ll definitely try this and see how I get on. It’s very cooling, and I bet would feel great after a long hot day.

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P1000627I love the packaging of The Balm Cosmetics. It’s always on point. This sample from their new cheek and lip palette ‘How ’bout Them Apples?’ is no different. And hey there, Tasty Mr Pie. You can hang around on my blush products any day.

The packaging is magnetised and a great travel/handbag size. It’s a really melty creamy formula which goes on and blends perfectly. I love the colour and I’ve actually tried it on my cheeks and lips for a night out. It’s beautiful, and on the cheeks lasted all night, leaving me with a pretty flush. On the lips, eh, not so much. Not like a stain, anyway. But I really look forward to trying and using this more, and now I really want the palette!

This is definitely my star product from this box. It makes me want to put on a full fact of makeup so I can try it out again.

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I might be being picky, but this stub of a pencil looks really stingy. To be honest, there’s probably more product here than, for example, in the blush sample, but it looks so miserly!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m definitely up for trying eyeliner products, so this will get used. However, I’m not all that excited about it, looking at the swatches I did on my hand. The formula is very hard, so getting colour payoff took a lot of layering and pressing, which I don’t really want to do on my eyes! It’s definitely a subtle shade from what I can see rather than a bold colour, which might be great for me starting out. We shall see!

P1000630I can’t believe this packet is only 8g, but of course popcorn is very light. I pied this perfectly snack sized sample while I was pricing up the contents of the box, and this size is definitely the right size for a snack or lunchbox, so not a stingy sample by any means! It’s so tasty and smells awesome, and I’ll definitely be buying it IRL.

Ok, number crunching time. Just exactly how much did my £10 plus £2.95 shipping get me?

  • TheBalm Cosmetics How ‘Bout Them Apples Cheek and Lip cream: The full 20g palette is £26, this 0.57g sample is worth £0.74
  • Lord and Berry Couture Kohl Kajal Eye Pencil: The full sized pencil (4g) retails at £10, this sample (0.6g) is worth £1.50
  • Color Club Gala’s Gems Nail Polish: A set of four is £15, so this one pot is worth £3.75
  • Yes To Cucumbers Facial Wipes: A pack of 30 retails at £4.99!!! This sample (10) is worth £1.66
  • Campos De Ibiza Almond Body Milk: A full sized bottle (200ml) goes for £16.55, so this sample (38ml) is worth £3.14
  • Propercorn Sweet Coconut and Vanilla: A full sized 20g bag is £0.90, so the 8g sample is worth £0.36

Grand total: £11.15

I was pretty shocked at how low this was. I have never had a Birchbox skim so close to the mark on cost to the consumer before. This box is only worth £1.15 more than I paid for it, and a couple of quid under the full price of the box including shipping. That’s really, REALLY disappointing.

Having said that, apart from the nail polish, I like everything in the box, I would have paid a lot more for the sample sized cheek cream. Looking at other blogger’s boxes, because the contents do vary a little based on your preferences, I wonder if I would have gotten a different, more valuable box if it hadn’t been ‘lost’ by the courier and had to be replaced. Who can say? Either way, I will keep monitoring the box values going forward, because for me the value for money aspect is one of my favourite things about subscription boxes.

Roll on the May box!

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Special Delivery! All about Latest in Beauty, and Glamour Beauty Edit Box unboxing.

When I first came across Latest in Beauty around the time I decided to order a subscription box for the first time (so, a year back), it wasn’t much to shout about. You could order small samples for free, and only pay the shipping. It was a great option for those on a tight budget, but not very exciting.

Things are pretty different now. When I logged on to the LIB site a couple of weeks back, the “Little Beauty Box’ option linked to a page saying they were reworking this product. Now the link is gone entirely. However, there’s been a big change in the company. Now they offer a shop where you can sort of put together your own collection of deluxe size samples (for example a Modelco mascara for £6 instead of £10, or a deluxe Mirenesse lipgloss sample for £3 instead of its value of £6.57), or their LIB Collections.

LIB collections are sample boxes containing a mixture of big samples and full size products. However, they aren’t on a subscription and they aren’t secret. If you click on to a box you can see exactly what you are getting in advance. The boxes are themed, often based on a body part, type of product, season or a collaboration between LIB and another company or brand. You can order these at any time, basically until they are discontinued or stock runs out. They also vary in price, with some offering free shipping, others charging for it. This approach is being offered by several other companies now, and I can see the appeal- shipping is pretty quick because there’s no mass ship date like with Birchbox or Glossybox. I do like a good subscription though- if I wanted to order again with LIB, I’d have to reorder items as from an online shop.

LIB are currently offering the ‘Glamour Beauty Edit‘ box, which is a collaboration between them and Glamour magazine. They describe it as a ‘get pretty, feel happy’ collection full of ‘must-haves for Spring’. Priced at £14.99 with free shipping (hooray), I decided to give it a go. Just a warning guys- from here on out, this post gets REALLY picture heavy.

So, the box arrived with a freebie- John Frieda Frizz Ease. It’s a good product and good sized sample, lord knows I need it and will use it, and it was free! The box was a little bashed up- LIB ship their boxes in post bags rather than anything padded or protective. Still, it was pretty much unscathed, and it looks really good. I love the blue.

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Inside, the box looked really bright and spring like, with sky blue tissue sealing in the goodies like a gift. Inside the products were nestled in, well, a nest of pastel yellow, straw like shredded paper. I loved it- perfect for a spring box. It looked like a grown-up easter nest.

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So lets actually look at the products, of which there were seven, which right off the bat smacks of good value. It works out at a little over £2 a product, which is cheaper even than ‘drugstore’ prices. The first product I looked at was the Invisibobble.

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Yeah… so this looks pretty odd. It’s a set of three bright blue rings of coiled plastic. Straight off, I’m thinking, how the heck is this invisible?! Further reading (not on the packaging mind you) educates me that the ‘invisible’ part relates to the fact that the product is supposedly ‘traceless’. Due to to its material and design, it doesn’t crimp hair like a standard elastic band will, damages less, and holds the hair securely without having to be pulled tight. Pulling your hair back tight can lead to dryness and imperfections on the forehead and tension headaches.

I did stick this in my mad barnet, and it did hold my hair securely without being as tight as I usually pull my scrunchie. Does it look as good? Probably not. But I got three in the box, and I’ll enjoy trying them out. I wish them luck taming my lion’s mane.

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Next was a full sized Burt’s Bees lipbalm. I tried it straight away and I really like it. It’s very waxy, so it doesn’t budge or smear as much as some other balms. It’s all natural and packed full of oils and skin-kind goodies which is awesome, and it’s got peppermint in it. One, yum- it smells awesome. Two, it makes my lips tingle, and I love that feeling. So yeah, super happy with this item- it went straight in my handbag.

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I’ve never heard of these guys before, but the lacquer is a really pretty colour. The LIB website describes this as coral, which makes me wonder what coral they’ve been looking at. It’s in the coral spectrum, sure- a bright and warm orange-pink, but this is so deep it is nearly red. This is really big bottle, and I opened it up to look at the brush, and it seems pretty good- wide enough to coat my nails in a maximum of 3 swipes. I popped some on my thumbnail, and it dried quickly (5-10 mins) and was opaque in two coats. I can definitely see myself wearing this colour, and the quality seems pretty good. The simple but flirty packaging, with that sassy font, really appeals too.

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I’m terrible at eyeliner, and I don’t wear it because of that. However, I really want to, so I’m darn pleased this Daniel Sandler pencil made it into the box. I love the colour too- black eyeliner is classic and great, but bright hues are where it is at. As you can see, I decided to swatch it, and the colour is a  really bright aqua. The pencil itself is a pigment core within a plastic applicator, not a traditional pencil. The formula is very creamy, so you could smudge it out for a smokier look if you got in there quick. Once dry, it’s not budging- I washed my hands with soap and water and rubbed it dry with a towel, and it was still true. I’m really looking forward to trying this on my eyes. It’s also a brand I’ve not heard of.

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I’m fairly sure I’ve tried L’Oréal mascara before, and it’s been pretty good. I love the packaging and name of this one though, and according to LIB its the hottest new release. Inside, the formula is blacker-than-black. The brush is a bristled spooli, which is ok, and has this… bendy bit in the middle. Apparently it can rotate on 360 degrees, though I’m not sure quite why I need that. I’ve had a brief play with it, and it’s ok- hasn’t revolutionised my life yet, but I need to have a proper go with it to see what I really think. It is really, really black though, and it didn’t smudge off my bottom lashes, which is almost unheard of, so kudos.

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Shower gel! It smells really good, and I can always use shower gel. I’m not familiar with the brand, so I’m looking forward to trying it out. If it does have a good amount of rice milk in it, it should be nice on my skin. We shall see.

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Another brand I don’t know, and ADORABLE packaging. I really don’t do much with my hair. It’s really long and really curly and kind of bananas, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to. I’m not sure I need volumising mousse with how much hair I have, but it might bump up my roots? I don’t know, I’ll certainly try it out!

So, that was the box. All in all, I’m rather excited about almost all of the products. If I had to pick a ‘Star Product’, i.e. the one I am most excited about trying, it would be the eyeliner. The colour is lovely, and applicator seems tidy and easy to use, and the formula seems to deliver. Now, if you’ve read my roundup in my previous experiences with boxes, you’ll know I’m not afraid to get down and dirty with the maths to work out what exactly I’m getting for my money. The Glamour Beauty Edit box isn’t going to get off any more lightly than the others.

  • Invisibobble: £3.75
  • Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lipbalm: £3.69
  • Cheeky Chat Me Up Nail Paint in ‘Tongue n’ Cheek’: £7
  • Daniel Sandler Long Lasting Waterproof Eyeliner in ‘Aqua Velvet’: £9.25
  • L’Oréal Mega Volume Miss Manga Mascara: £8.99
  • Rituals Zensation Organic Rice Milk and Cherry Blossom Foaming Shower Gel Sensation 50ml: £2.13 (200ml full size = £8.50)
  • Percy & Reed Abundantly Bouncy Volumising Hair Mousse: £3 (200ml full size = £12)

Total: £37.81

Of course, I also got a 25ml sized John Frieda Frizz Ease free with my purchase, so…

  • John Frieda Frizz Ease Original 6 Effects Serum: £3.15 (50ml full size = £6.29)

Grand total: £40.96

If you remember, the box cost me £14.99 with free shipping. Even before the free gift I got, you are getting well over twice your money’s worth. Also, the coloured cosmetic products are pretty much universal. Blue eyeliner can go with any eye colour, black mascara is well, black mascara, and nearly red nail polish suits all skin tones. So, good job LIB. I look forward to playing with my products in more detail. It’s a bit lame however that they can’t incorporate a contents card, like other boxes I received.

If you remember my Glossybox review, I was a little miffed by the inclusion of so many easy-to-find brands. That was because the expectations I went into the process with was very different to the expectations I had with LIB- for Glossybox I was expecting to try all sorts of new brands AND new products, not just new products. On ordering this box from LIB, I briefly flicked my gaze over the products before I ordered, so I sort of knew what I was getting. In terms of make up of the box, I would say the common vs uncommon or new brand build of the box was very similar to Glossybox, but my expectations so far have been met, unlike the Glossybox experience for me.

So would I order another box from LIB? Yes, definitely. Would I order every box from LIB. No, definitely not. Which I suppose is the beauty of the scheme. Also, this would make an excellent gift. Just saying’.

Until next time, kittens!

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