January Birchbox

After the delay in getting December’s Birchbox delivery, it was a lovely surprise to arrive home during my first week back at work to find January’s box waiting for me. This month’s box is sponsored by Women’s Health, and has a vaguely healthy feel to it.

Soviet Winner The Pooh stands guard over this month's samples...

Soviet Winnie The Pooh stands guard over this month’s samples…

I was just discussing with my boyfriend how pleased I’ve been with some of the products, and how it’s nice to be able to try so many things in reasonably sized samples without having to shell out for the full sized product, especially as I’m confident that I’ll buy some of the products I’ve tried when the samples run out. Sometimes there’s just too much choice out there, and if you can’t afford to try everything (and who can??), then it’s great to have it narrowed down for you. stilaaprstila Lip Glaze (normally £15)
What: A coveted, suits-all-complexions colour – this sheer gloss is a cult classic for a reason!
Thoughts: Ugh! Ugh, ugh, ugh! So sticky! Apparently I am no longer a lip gloss person. I was excited about trying this out, but now I can’t get it off my lips. The colour failed to suit my complexion, actually just bringing my lips down the match the pale yellow shade of my skin, but with additional shine. Oh, and I don’t know which shade I have, because they didn’t mention it anywhere – I reckon it’s Kitten.
Would I buy: No. I’ve given this to my brother’s girlfriend, who will hopefully like it more. 
beauty-protector-protect-and-detangle-excluBeauty Protector Protect & Detangle (normally £14)
What: This sweet-smelling spray detangles, adds shine and protects from both UVA rays and heat damage.
Thoughts: This is the second product I’ve tried from Beauty Protector, and I’m impressed once again. While the hair mask I got in November is seeing some use, I think this is more likely to make it into my everyday routine, because I am L.A.Z.Y. It’s got a lovely smell to it, and it left my hair very manageable and sleek. The sample came in an interestingly textured rubber bottle.
Would I buy: Potentially. It’s on the pricey side for my tastes, but if it continues to impress I will be tempted. 
rad_glyco_mask_on_may13_clip_rgbREN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask (normally £30)
What: Radiance in a tube! A fast-working, exfoliating treatment that improves texture, tone and combats congestion
Thoughts: This has an orange tonic smell to it which I’m not sure I like. The consistency is quite thick, and it feels warm once on. I was skeptical of the exfoliating claims, since it’s got such a smooth texture, but actually, once it came off, my skin felt ever so smooth and clear. It didn’t magically erase the spots which have reappeared since I returned to work after Christmas (I literally got a huge spot on the train to work on my first day back), but it definitely caused them to progress a little.
Would I buy: It’s expensive for me (Mrs. High Street), but I’m going to keep using this tester weekly and see how I feel when it runs out. It says to apply generously, but a little goes a long way, so I think it would last a long time (partly because I am crap at establishing a beauty routine).
sw-the-cool-fix-2pzShaveworks The Cool Fix (normally £11)
What: This genius cooling gel lotion treats ingrown hairs, razor bumps and redness after hair removal
 This stings like a thousand bees after shaving, but once that pain has subsided, I was left slightly less likely to scratch all the skin from my legs. My skin felt quite nice after I’d stopped swearing, and I think that if I was a bit better at moisturising generally, this would work even better. 
Would I buy: I have used it twice despite the pain, so maybe.activebod-feelgreatshowerconcentrateactivbod Feel Great Shower Concentrate (normally £5)
What: Refreshing sea minerals and green tea mingle with soothing almond oil for an energising post-workout shower
Thoughts: I liked the smell of this (sort of mint and lime, a bit like a mojito), and it didn’t seem as drying as the Original Source skin quenching (ha!) shower gel I have been using.
Would I buy: Maybe, I’m not super excited about it, but it’s fine. 
em-greentea_eshop-exclEmbrace Matcha Green Tea (normally £24.99)
What: Our new favourite superfood, matcha is 100% natural with 10 times the antioxidants of regular green tea!
Thoughts: I was a bit disappointed to receive a teabag in this box, but I tried it and it reminded me of Japan, which made me happy. It’s not actually a tea bag, but a sachet of green powder, which leads to a bit of a claggy situation towards the end of the cup, but if you power through and think of the antioxidants, then it’s ok. I didn’t think I liked green tea, but this was surprisingly nice.
Would I buy: It’s 24.99 for 30 servings, which seems expensive… but it works out at about 83p per serving, and maybe that’s ok. Maybe for a health kick. 
pilatesband-eshopBirchbox Pilates Band (normally £7.99)
What: Tone, increase strength, and improve muscle endurance with this stretchy resistance band
Thoughts: Always useful to have a resistance band, and I haven’t managed to break it during a first exploratory workout. Anything that encourages people to do a bit of exercise is great in my book.
Would I buy: I’ve thought about buying them in the past, but I’d go for a set of bands of difference strengths with interchangeable handles. My brother is a personal trainer, and that’s what we’ve used for workouts in the past. 

December Birchbox

It took it’s sweet time, but when it finally arrived, my December Birchbox was a very welcome treat.


The Hound just isn’t sure if any of these products are right for him…

It even came with a Smokey Eye Masterclass, which explained to me how to apply my new eyeliner in order to look like I’d slept in it (according to the picture). Let’s discuss: eslor-firmingcollagendaycream_1 Eslor Firming Collagen Day Cream (normally £50)
What: Give skin a plumping boost with this ultra hydrating lotion infused with Hydrolyzed Marine Collagen
Thoughts: This is quite thick and gloopy, so I was worried it would be a disaster on my oily skin, but it’s actually much better than the oily skin Garnier moisturiser I have been using for years. Not too oil inducing on the t zone, and great on that weird flaky bit of skin between my eyebrows. I’m not sure if I see a plumping boost, but I like none the less.
Would I buy: I was planning to, but while writing this I’ve discovered that a full size pot costs £50, so no. I don’t want to spend £50 on something which I’ll have to replace in three months (ok, one year, I’m forgetful with skincare).
electric-hair-h-1-shampooElectric Hair Electric Hydrate Shampoo (normally £17.50)
What: Help to repair the damage and improve shine with this nourishing, moisture-rich formula
Thoughts: While I didn’t see any improvement in the state of my split ends, this was a nice shampoo which left my hair feeling clean and shiny. I didn’t need to wash it for three days, which was a result!
Would I buy: Yes, I think I might. 
eyeko_fateyesticktrio_900x900Eyeko Smoke Fat Eye Stick (normally £8)
What: Your smoky eye just got as easy as 1-2-3 with this pigmented jumbo pencil
Thoughts: I think the one included in my box is full sized, and as such, I assume the packaging is the same as if I’d paid for it. If this
is the case, then I’d be really disappointed, because the lid just does not stay on. Unfortunately, the product also doesn’t stay on – I inspected the damage in the office loos at lunchtime, and there was nothing left. 
Would I buy: Nope. It really didn’t work for me.
benefit_highbeam_900x900Benefit High Beam (normally £19.50)
What: A suits all skintones liquid illuminator. Paint a small amount onto cheekbones, then blend, blend, blend!
Thoughts: Wow! A Benefit product I don’t already own! I wasn’t sure I understood the point of this, but when I tried it I felt very pretty – it really highlighted my cheekbones and brows.
Would I buy: Potentially. As with all Benefit stuff, it’s quite pricey, and it’s not something I could be bothered to put on every day – I have a 25 minute window in the morning from getting out of bed to sprinting to the station, so full makeup is unusual. I shall save my tester for special 
occasions! modelsown-velvetgoth-sardonyx_1Models Own Sardonyx Nail Polish (normally £5)
What: Matte, yet sparkly, this multi-dimensional shade has a velvety finish that we’re obsessed with
Thoughts: A pretty red sparkly nail varnish. I applied two coats, because there weren’t enough sparkles with my first application. It’s stood up very well to a week on my toes. It is a little weird to have matte nails – the sparkles make it ok, but plain matte nails make me feel a bit weird. I like the velvety lid very much.
Would I buy: I would, but since I don’t think I’ve ever finished a nail varnish, I don’t need to buy this one! I might think about getting one of the other colours, as they’re all quite ‘me’.
unnamed_39_English Laundry Signature for Her (normally £60)
What: A scent inspired by an English country garden – rose geranium and white flowers with hints of chocolate and jasmine
Thoughts: I often find that perfumes don’t last that long on me, so a tester is a nice way to er… test. I’m normally more of a fruity scent person, but as floral scents go, this is a nice one, with a hint of fruit and an absence of old-lady-wee. The scent lasted for a couple of hours, which is alright by my standards. Am I imagining that perfumes last all day on other people? Does everyone else just rush around reapplying stuff all the time? Am I the worst girl ever? Is it true that putting some vaseline on your wrists first make scents last longer? So many questions!
Would I buy: I am very tempted by this. I’ve recently cleared out a lot of my perfumes because they were so old and starting to smell of pure alcohol, so I think this could find a spot on my shelf. 
coin-purseSophia Webster Purse (normally £25 according to the leaflet, but £10 on the site)
What: Take a walk on the wild side with this leopard print pouch from the coveted designer and our Birchbox collaborator!
Thoughts: It’s just a free purse thing, like you get with a magazine sometimes, nothing to get excited about. It smells of plastic, but is quite cute. I was planning to wedge the Eyeko eye stick in there to keep its stupid lid on, but since I’m going to donate the stick to someone else, I’m currently just using it to store random things I find in my handbag.
Would I buy: No. Her shoes are cute though.

November Birchbox

Do you ever get stuck in a beauty product rut? Back in November, I did, so I decided to sign up for Birchbox. For £12.95 per month, you receive five beauty samples each month, and you can cancel at any time. It’s cheaper if you sign up for six months or a year, but a monthly payment with no commitment was exactly what I wanted, just in case I turned out to be rubbish at all this ‘looking my best’ nonsense.

Just a note:  this is not a sponsored post, I’m just really excited about trying new things!

You can fill in a beauty profile – hair type, skin tone, what type of products do you want to try (I’ve asked for extra organic stuff) – and they try to personalise your box based on that. Your products come in a nice reusable card box, which I’m currently using to store the beauty products I don’t use.

The wobbly Russian lady is delighted with her beauty products!

The wobbly Russian lady is delighted with her beauty products!

I wanted to review the boxes I’ve received, partly for my own records of what I might like to buy more of, and partly because it might be useful for other people.

Moaning first: I find the delivery service they use quite irritating. They had my December box in the warehouse for about two weeks before I complained and it miraculously arrived the next day – not really sure my complaint did anything, but it was still a long delay, and the delivery company never bothered to reply to my email. From a purely selfish point of view, I wish they’d use Royal Mail because, if I miss a delivery, the sorting office is right by the train station so I could collect it on my way home. I missed one delivery from this company and the guy left my parcel under a pile of leaves by my front door – entertaining, but not exactly secure, and I feel like he might have been mocking my poor gardening/housekeeping skills.

The theme for November was Cosy at Home, which to me means no makeup, but not to the Birchbox folk. See – I’m learning already! There were five beauty products, plus one lifestyle supplement, which I won’t review because I gave it to my mum.

rdb-04Révérence de Bastien Nail Polish No. 10 (normally £16) – Full size!
What: A premium lacquer that’s packed with pigment for a luxe finish, and is free from an array of chemical nasties.
Thoughts: I only applied one coat, because I am lazy. It dries the same colour as it looks in the bottle, and I imagine that two layers would give a nice rich colour – it’s a bit see through with one layer. I’ve had it on my toes for two weeks, and it’s a bit chipped, but not as bad as a lot of nail varnishes I own. I’m not very inspired by the packaging, which is a bit dated, and the lid feels cheap (as it’s full size, I assume the real product is the same), but I like that it’s a bit natural (I am uncertain how natural exactly).
The colour I received doesn’t seem to be available on the Birchbox site, so I’m just linking to everything that is.
Would I buy: Honestly? No. I wouldn’t pay £16 for nail varnish. Besides, this one will probably last me for years.

bp-mask-eshop_1_Beauty Protector Protect & Treat Hair Mask (normally £16)
What: Rejuvenate and protect your hair with this luxurious mask packed with argan oil, honey, amber and crushed pearls (yes, really!).
Thoughts: This smells amazing, and I think my hair looks nicer than usual after using it. I got two little pots and gave one to my brother’s girlfriend (who is really into beauty stuff) in her Christmas stocking, so this one has been a big old win.
Would I buy: I’m not sure I’m a hair mask person. I didn’t really know what to do with myself while I waited in my freezing cold bathroom for 10 minutes while it worked its magic. Still, I’ve got loads left in the tester pot, so it might win me round.

l_b-bronzer-siennaLord & Berry Mini Bronzer, Sienna (normally £19)
What: Super fine, matte bronzing pigments create a healthy glow for a burst of radiance (without the tell-tale shimmer!).
Thoughts: Confession time – I don’t know the difference between bronzer and blusher. I normally use Dallas by Benefit, which is the latter, apparently. I apply them in the same way, so I guess that’s fine. This is quite sparkly, so I don’t know what they mean about no tell tale shimmer. At first I didn’t think it looked that good with my skin tone, but I’ve got used to it now, and I really like it.
Would I buy: Dallas is £23.50 per pot, which horrified me when I just looked it up, but I get through about one every two years, so I suppose I can live with that. This is £19 for the same amount (12g), so it’s a bit cheaper, and the packaging is nice and smart (my sample is just in a little plasticky pod thing, sadly), so I might switch allegiances. 

pixi_sheabutterlipbalm_coralcrush_900x900Pixi by Petra Shea Butter Lip Balm (normally £8) – Full size!
What: A full size nourishing lip balm packed with Shea butter – plus a hint of colour
Thoughts: This is nice! I liked the colour, which was subtle enough that I didn’t manage to smear it all over my face, but bright enough to make me look like I wasn’t dead. It’s pretty moisturising, and God knows I love lip balm.
Would I buy: Yes, I think I would. It bridges the gap between lip balm and Clinique chubby sticks. Since I hate Clinique and blame them for everything that is wrong and weird about my skin (clarifying lotion of maximum burn, I’m looking at you), I would be very happy to stop buying chubby sticks.

10145874Dr Jart + Pore Refine Recover Primer (normally £18) – Full size!
What: Treat, heal and conceal with this mattifying primer that minimises imperfections for a flawless make-up base
Thoughts: I’ve been using Benefit POREfessional for ages, and I like it a lot. This is a bit different as I think it’s more about treating the problem, while providing some level of coverage for your saucer pores. This definitely leaves my skin less greasy at the end of 
the day (possibly less greasy than wearing no make-up at all). If you’re not putting anything on top of it, then I’d go for the POREfessional, since it has a bit of colour to it, but if you add on some extra makeup layers, then this really starts to impress with a silky smooth looking finish.
Would I buy: OUT OF THE WAY DR OETKER, IT’S YOUR PIZZAS THAT CAUSED THIS PROBLEM! DR JART IS MY NEW GP!!! Yes, yes I would. The bottle is massive, so I think it’s really good value. I’d also like to try the other products in the range.