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

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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! 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! 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: Beauty Box Round-up

You might remember that nigh on a year back I wrote about beauty boxes. I took out a subscription to Birchbox and Glossybox from June-November inclusive, and it was a blast. I, like everyone LOVE getting stuff in the post, particularly surprises, and that’s exactly what a beauty box does. You pay your money, input a little bit of information about your preferences and then, once a month, a box appears full of surprises. Perfection.

The two boxes I took cost me the same: £10 per month plus shipping of £2.95, for a total of £12.95. Each box came in a reusable, sturdy box with the company logo, packaged again for protection in a plainer mailing box. In each box I received between five and seven items. These ranged from make up to beauty tools, lotions and potions and, for Birchbox, a ‘Lifestyle Extra’, which was often a snack. The items receives were either a decent sample size (i.e a bottle, tube or mini/handbag version, rather than a couple of sachets) or full size products. Glossybox was definitely the prettier box, with a glossy pink finish, ribbons and plenty of tissue packaging inside. Birchbox was smaller and plainer in natural colours. Inside, the products came packed in a reusable drawstring bag. Both companies included a magazine or pamphlet in their boxes to tell me about the products and their value.

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This brings me on to one of the best things about these boxes: value for money. I got into the boxes because I wanted to try new products, but the fact you get such good value is a huge perk.

For example, here’s a Birchbox from last year:

  • Révérence de Bastien Nail Polish- this came full sized, and retails for £16.00.
  • Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar water (cleanser)- a 20ml sample. The full sized 250ml product retails at £9.99, so the sample’s value is £0.80.
  • Aromatherapy Associates Revive Body Gel- a 40ml sample. The full sized 200ml product retails at £31, so the sample’s value is £6.20
  • Molton Brown Ylang-Ylang Nourishing Body Lotion- a 30ml sample. The full sized 300ml product retailed at the time for £18 (it’s now £25), so the sample’s value is £1.80
  • ModelCo. Party Proof Lipstick- this came full sized. A set of three retails at £15.50, so this ‘sample’ is worth £5.17
  • Green & Black’s White Chocolate- a 15g sample. A full sized 100g bar retails for £2.29, so the sample is worth £0.34

Grand total Birchbox value: £30.31

As you can see from the maths above, if you are open to trying new things, the boxes provide value for money and then some. Minus shipping, I received products worth three times what I paid, and I would say that for Birchbox, this about the average.

Now, for sample Glossybox. This one was their ‘The London Edition’ box from september last year.

  • Elizabeth Arden ‘Untold’ fragrance- the sample was 5ml. The full sized 50ml version retails for £48, so the sample is worth £4.80.
  • Eylure Pre-Glued Lashes- full sized, worth £5.06.
  • Toni&Guy HairMeetWardrobe Classic Shine and Gloss Serum- full sized, worth £7.19.
  • Be A Bombshell Cosmetics Onyx Eye Liner Marker- full sized, worth £8.26
  • Rimmel Stay Blushed Blusher- Full sized, worth £4.49

Grand total Glossybox value: £29.80

The value is almost the same as Birchbox, at nearly thrice the box price. Again, this is pretty much standard for the boxes I received from Glossybox, and a damn good deal!

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I think these two box round ups are fairly standard for what I received. Glossybox often had the full sized products, and more fragrances, but I also found that often those products were, what is often called in the beauty world, ‘drugstore brands’. There’s nothing wrong with the products, far from it, but they are really easy to get hold of, and aren’t really that special. I got into boxes to try new brands- higher end brands I usually couldn’t afford or hadn’t tried, new brands and those not widely available. All too frequently, I found myself being sent things I could have easily picked up myself at the supermarket or chemist, which was really disappointing. Also, I got hair serum again in the November box, this time from John Frieda. Again, this is really easy to come by brand. I actually already had the product.

Looking at the sample boxes, the difference is clear. Modelco is the only brand from the Birchbox, ignoring the lifestyle extra, that you can buy outside of brand shops, department stores or boutiques (including Birchbox’s online shop). It’s a newer brand, and was new to me. In comparison can buy three of the products in the Glossybox in my local Asda. Given that Glossybox is so, well, Glossy, it was the reverse of what I expected, and kind of a let down.

Beyond the value perk, Birchbox’s reward’s scheme is incredible. You earn a point for each £1 spent with Birchbox, including boxes (so 12 points a box), plus you can review the items you received in your box for extra points. Each 100 points accrued is worth £10 in the Birchbox shop, which included products from all the brands they work with, and of course full size versions of the box samples. The points are valid for 1 year from earning date, and quickly add up, meaning you can daily pick up high end goodies for a steal, at no extra cost to yourself and with only the mild labour of answering a few questions about your products. You can also earn 50 points for referring a friend, and they’ll get 50 point too. It’s awesome.

Glossybox have a ‘Glossydots’ system in place, but these aren’t accrued by ordering the boxes. Instead you earn 200 for referring a friend, and 50 for each product review. 1000 Glossydots is worth one free Glossybox, but can’t be used in the store. Basically, it’s good, but perhaps not as useful as the Birchbox scheme.

A negative shared by the boxes is a forgivable one to some extent. Sometimes, you are going to get a couple of products in your box that you can’t use, or really don’t like. If may be you have already tried them and know they’re not for you, or it may be that they are the wrong colour. Of course, the whole point of these boxes is that they are a surprise, so I can understand why this can happen. But it is still disappointing, and I think could be improved by, er, improving the ‘Beauty Profile’ questionnaire both brands ask you to fill in before you get started.

The reason I cancelled my subscription last year was because I wasn’t in the right place mentally or financially to enjoy two boxes of goodies a month, not because I wasn’t satisfied. I was finding that I was leaving boxes unopened, or unpacked, because I didn’t feel like playing with them and didn’t feel I had the time to get into them. If you are short of time or scatterbrained like me, and you fancy giving a box a go, I would highly recommend only ordering one, because you won’t get through them.

However, now I’m ready to enjoy beauty boxes again, the choice of which box to order was clear as day to me. Yes, I love my collection of pretty pink boxes for storage, but I much prefer the packages inside my little brown Birchboxes. However, if I was just getting into makeup and skincare, I would absolutely love the contents of the Glossybox, and combined with the great presentation, I would be sold.

If you’d like to sign up for Birchbox, click here!

If you’d like to try Glossybox, click here!

Until next time,

sigdraft