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Beauty Review – March and April Birchboxes

I’m not sure how I managed to miss a month’s review but I thought I would do a condensed double-whammy of beauty products that I received over the past two months plus an extra purchase I made.

March’s Box

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This box was rather plain and uninspiring when I opened it but there were some gems hidden inside.

First up is the Batiste 2-in-1 Dry Shampoo and Conditioner. This seems like a great idea but I just don’t use dry shampoos. I will however pass this onto my husband who does.

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I was surprised to see an inclusion from Bobbi Brown. Although the product sizes are quite tiny, it is still quite a high-end brand and I am really looking forward to trying out these three mini face masks.

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Next, a Balance Me Instant Lift Primer which I was pleased with as I love the brand and am always keen on testing out new primers. This smells nice and isn’t too silicone-y upon first use.

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Given that summer is fast-approaching, it was good to include a tanning lotion. This one from Vita Liberata is their Ten Minute Tan and I will use this as soon as it gets warm enough to contemplate getting my bare legs out!

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Finally, from Benefit I received a Double The Lip in the shade Pink Thrills. This is a lipstick and lipliner in one and although I can see the idea behind it, I just don’t think it quite works. Firstly, the two colours don’t really complement each other – I just wouldn’t use a dark purple lip liner with a bright pink lipstick! Secondly, it doesn’t really blend out very well and is quite a dry formula. With enough priming and blending I can just about make this work for me but for a product that was created to speed up application, it seems to have done the opposite!

April’s Box

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This was a much prettier offering in collaboration with Boden who included a £10 voucher.

The first item I received was a Baïja Paris body lotion in Fleur De Tiaré. I know some people moan that these products are ‘filler’ but I take these mini moisturisers with me whenever I go away and this one will be coming with me to Croatia in June.

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I also received Polaar’s face scrub with Arctic Cotton – an ingredient I don’t think I have used before. It’s meant to be moisturising but I’m usually quite wary of scrubs being too harsh on my skin.

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Next, a bronzer and highlighter duo from Manna Kadar Cosmetics. I haven’t heard of this brand before and on first impressions, the packaging feels very cheap and flimsy. However, the formula of the products aren’t bad. The bronzer is too dark for my skin tone so I will probably try using this as an eyeshadow but the highlighter is a nice peachy colour and looks quite natural.

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I think ModelCo are quite an underrated brand and I have really liked everything I’ve tried from them and use their brow gel and bronzer on a daily basis. This black eyeliner is another great product. My only niggle would be that it feels like I’ve received quite a few black eyeliners from Birchbox now so a different colour would have been nice.

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Finally, a Keratin conditioner from Luseta Beauty. This looks right up my street and will be going straight in my travel make-up bag to use on holiday.

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If you are a Birchbox customer, you will know they are making a few changes to their membership (free delivery, money off your orders, more opportunities to personalise your monthly box) and I realised some of my Birchbox points were about to expire so I put in an emergency order so I didn’t lose them!

An old faithful, Seche Vite, which I use on a weekly basis to give that gel finish to a manicure.

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My absolute favourite foaming shower gel from Rituals. This is quite expensive compared to what I would normally pay for a shower gel but it really is amazing stuff.

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I also bought a mini nail varnish remover pot from Ciate which is chocolate orange scented. These are so handy for removing nail varnish and I was in need of a new one too.

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Phew – that was a mammoth post but it has left me feeling really excited about testing out all these new products!

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Five Friday Favourites #11

Soreen

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How have I reached my thirties and not discovered the chewy delights of malt loaf?! Ian introduced me to this treat and I have had it every morning for breakfast with butter and sliced banana.

A New Primer

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Lumene is a Finnish skincare brand and I bought this Beauty Base over the summer when we did a little Scandi tour. It claims to be a moisturising, illuminating primer and I think it ticks those boxes. My foundation looks great on top of it too – a fab little find!

Bloodline

We have almost finished season one of this Netflix series and it’s really good. It has also made us want to take a Florida road trip one summer.

A Wardrobe Overhaul

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Last Sunday, I had a huge sort-out of my wardrobe…I even dragged Ian into it too! I tried almost everything on, put some stuff into storage and donated a pile of things too. It has felt good knowing everything in my wardrobe now fits and is something I love and I rediscovered some treasures too.

The Longs Arms

I had a full-on week at work and on Thursday I felt like I wanted to go out to dinner just to celebrate getting everything done! My absolute favourite place to eat near us is The Longs Arms in South Wraxall. The food is exceptional and I especially enjoy their amazing ice-cream flavours. Last night, I opted for a scoop of Turkish Delight and one of Cadbury’s Crème Egg…delicious!

Latest Purchases #109 – A Huge Sephora Haul

This is a really long time coming but these are some of my favourite posts to read and watch online so I didn’t want my photos to go to waste.

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This little haul is from October when we went to Boston. I sent Ian back to the hotel and told him I would be some time and spent a lovely hour or so pottering around Sephora, testing things on the back of my hand, blagging some freebies and eventually making a few choice purchases.

First up, a set of the Sephora Cream Lip Stains. These are mini versions of their bestselling matte lip creams and I think you get a really nice selection of shades. I got Always Red, Infinite Rose, Blackberry Sorbet and Cherry Blossom (it’s fairly easy to work out which is which) and I think I have all bases covered from a deep, vampy berry, to a bright red, to a casual nude. I have a few other shades in full size and I really like them. They are slightly drying but the staying power is worth it.

I bought a Sephora Highlight Lowlight Face Contour Duo which is a chunky crayon, in the shade Light. I know contouring seems to have had its day now but, done with a light hand, is a great way to bring some subtle definition to your face…no crazy Kim K sculpting going on here. These shades really suit my skin tone too.

I really wanted to try the CC Cream from IT Cosmetics but they didn’t have my colour. I did however pick up the Bye Bye Under Eye Illumination, a brightening concealer for the under eye area.

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I am yet to try anything by Sunday Riley (it may have something to do with the price of some of the products!) but I picked up a miniature of Martian Mattifying Melting After-Gel Toner. This is an ‘essence’, a product currently taking the beauty world by storm, and looks a great post-cleansing boost which prepares your skin for foundation.

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I was relatively restrained with nail varnish and just picked up one bottle from Formula X. This monochrome nail topper in Chaotic is similar to a L’Oreal one I have almost used up and looks great over a variety of bases.

I bought a set from one of my favourite brands: First Aid Beauty. I have tried all three products inside this set and loved them all. The Ultra Repair Cream is wonderfully hydrating, the Face Cleanser is gentle yet effective in removing make-up and the Facial Radiance Pads tone and brighten with a wash of glycolic acid.

My two final products are both from the ‘Sephora Favourites’ set which I get really excited about! These are boxes filled with a collection of themed products and allow you to try a variety of brands and items for a really good price.

The first box I picked up was called Beauty Sleep and all the products were designed to be applied before bed and left to work their magic overnight. Inside was: Blue Moon Cleansing Balm from Sunday Riley, Sleep Tight Firming Night Balm from Farmacy, Splash Absolute Hydration Replenishing Sleeping Mask from Algenist, a Sephora Pearl Sleeping Mask, Cell Renewal Night Cream from Caudalie, a Wild Rose Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial by Korres and an Anti-aging Power Eye CreamAnti-aging Power Eye Cream from Origins. Phew!

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I am really excited to try the Sunday Riley balm as well as working my way through the various night creams and masks. Bought individually, these items would cost almost $120 but this box was just $30 which I think is excellent value.

Finally, I bought the Trending: Beauty’s Most Coveted box which contains all the products currently being raved about on beauty blogs and websites. A lot of these products are quite high-end and expensive so this was a great way to try them out for a fraction of the price.

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I received: a nude BeautyBlender, Becca’s Shimmering Skin Perfector in the shade Moonstone, Ka-Brow from Benefit, a Luna Play from Foreo (a facial cleansing brush in case you were wondering!), an Urban Decay lipstick in the shade 714, a GlamGlow SuperMud Clearing Treatment, a NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in the shade Custard, a bottle of Tarte’s Rainforest of the Seas Marine Boosting 4-in-1 Mist, The Edgiest Kohl Shadowstick in Black Viper by The Estee Edit, another of the Kat Von D Tattoo Liners in Trooper, a Cover FX highlighter stick in the shade Bubbly, and a pot of Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder (plus  powder puff).

The sample sizes are really good and I can’t describe how excited I am to try some of these products! I have been wanting to try the Becca highlighter, the NARS concealer and the Laura Mercier powder for such a long time but never seemed to get around to buying them.

I had no idea what the Luna Play was beforehand but am intrigued to give that a go too as well as trying out the GlamGlow mask which I have only heard amazing things about.

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The only downside to one of these sets is the colour selection. Both the Benefit brow product and the NARS concealer are a touch too dark for me. I can still use them both (maybe with a tan!) but they wouldn’t be my first choice of shades.

So, I did get a bit spend-happy but I am so pleased with everything I bought, especially the two ‘Sephora Favourites’ boxes. Now to start trying everything out and hopefully finding a few new favourites!

Beauty Review – December Birchbox

An early Christmas present arrived in the form of the latest Birchbox. I had just got used to the new little trays the products were coming in and Birchbox have changed things up again with this new style box. The colours are festive and the idea is that the box can be used a desk tidy afterwards which is handy.

 

The ‘Merry and Bright’ box contains a selection of beauty treats to use over the Christmas period and up to New Year’s Eve.

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Firstly, I received a full size Ciaté Fierce Flicks Eyeliner, worth £15. I love these types of eyeliners – my favourite being the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner – so I cannot wait to try this out for some serious flicks. I have tested it out on the back of my hand and my first impression are good – it is a true black, very pigmented and applies beautifully. I hope it has good longevity too.

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Next, a Benefit POREfessional: Matte Rescue. This is a mattifying gel to minimise pores and create a smooth base for make-up. I used to love the original POREfessional primer but kind of went off silicone-based primers. However, I am keen to try this gel version and see if it works any better.

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I received a hair product from Percy and Reed. The Wonder Balm is a leave-in hair primer that claims to do an awful lot of things with one application! I am so fussy with hair products but will give this a go and see if it does anything for my curls.

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Next, a New Leaf Deep Pore Exfoliating Polish from Amie Skincare. This is a good sized sample and smells amazing – like peaches. I try not to use harsh exfoliators on my skin too often so I will try this one with caution.

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Finally, the product I was most excited about receiving – a Caviar Stick in the shade Amethyst by Laura Mercier. These creamy eye shadow sticks are fab. I have one other colour already and find the product to be well-pigmented and it really does last with minimal creasing. This colour is beautiful and exactly what I would have chosen myself. It is a mauve/ taupe shade with a touch of sparkle making it perfect for Christmas and New Year parties.

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I read a blog post this week about how beauty boxes need to up their game if they want to survive in 2017. I agree with this and I think this month’s Birchbox is definitely a step in the right direction after a few average boxes. I think the inclusion of Ciaté and Laura Mercier products are great and it is higher end products like these which will keep me subscribing.

Beauty Review – November Birchbox

Hello! Apologies for the radio silence this weekend. I caught a particularly nasty sickness bug which left me feeling rough all weekend and hardly eating for days…if you know me, you’ll know how rare this is! I’m particularly annoyed as I missed seeing my best friends but I am grateful to be back on my feet and slowly getting my appetite back.

I received this month’s Birchbox a few weeks ago and the first thing that made me smile was the beautiful box design. I love peacock feathers and will definitely be keeping this one. This month’s collaboration was with Tatler, which isn’t a magazine I read but does make you think of the finer things in life.

I have had mixed feelings on my Birchbox subscription over the last few months so I was slightly apprehensive of what I would be sent this time. Luckily, I was pretty chuffed with the contents…although they do seem to be diminishing from the 6 or so items you used to receive in the past.

First of all, I saw a bottle of Blonde Toning Shampoo from Beauty Protector. I use purple shampoos weekly to keep my hair from going too brassy-coloured so this was a perfect addition for me. It smells great and is a good size too.

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Next, a Lip Tar Primer from Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics. This was a small tube but you don’t need much. I wear matte lipsticks which can be drying so a product that will prime my lips as well as offering some hydration sounds fab. I haven’t tried this yet but it will come in handy over the festive period when I like to rock a red lip.

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This next gold tube caught my eye: a BB Cream Golden Glow Illuminator by Marcelle. I am always after dewy, glowing skin and will try anything to help me get it. This BB cream makes a lot of claims but does have a good luminosity to it.

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I switch between using a powder, gel and pencil on my brows and really like trying new products. I am quite fussy – it is tricky to find the right colour as a blonde and I don’t have the best eyebrows to work with anyway. I was pleased to see an eyebrow pencil from bbrowbar and the shade Cinammon Spice was a decent match for me. The formula is quite waxy and it shapes as well as adding a good amount of colour. I think I would repurchase this.

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Finally, a moisturiser from Nuxe, one of my favourite skincare brands. This is a good-sized sample and I like the fact that this is moisturising yet slightly matte, making it great underneath makeup. Another one I would repurchase with my Birchbox points.

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A really good selection of items in this month’s box which was very much needed after a poor one in October. I’m hoping for a festive offering next month…33 sleeps!

Latest Purchases #101 – US Drugstore Haul

The pound-dollar exchange rate was pretty poor when we were in Boston (thanks Brexit!) so we didn’t do a whole lot of shopping. I tried to only buy things that we couldn’t get in the UK and one afternoon, I had a browse around our local CVS store and came away with this little pile of goodies.

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First up, the base products. I am always on the hunt for a new foundation and I got these two from the Maybelline ‘Fit Me’ range. I went for the Dewy and Smooth and the Matte and Poreless foundations which cater for dry to oily skin. I have tried both and like them but I don’t like the fact that you have to pour the product out – I would much prefer a pump.

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I also bought this BB Cream from ELF. I liked the fact this had SPF 20 in it and will be great for those days where you just want to wear a light base. This also has a pump in the lid!

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Another ELF face product was this Illuminating Face Primer. This is very golden and definitely needs a light touch! You could actually use this as a highlighter on the cheekbones or, as it recommends, mix a little into your foundation for a bit of extra glow.

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Onto lip products now and with the colder weather, mine are already suffering! I really like the EOS lip balms and I bought the Blackberry Nectar flavour.

I also picked up a bumper pack of Carmex lip balms in Cherry and Winter Mint flavours which should keep my chapped lips at bay.

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I bought a new Maybelline mascara. I have used their Great Lash version for years but haven’t seen the Blackest Black colour before.

I also got an ELF mascara with a regular and waterproof end.

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I broke my spending ban on nail varnish with a new bottle from Essie. Metallic nails seem to be having a moment and I love this shade, Good as Gold…expect a post on Monday!

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I am a fan of the Milani blushers and picked up another one in the colour Berry Amore. This is a dusky pink shade baked with swirls of gold.

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Also from Milani is this Color Statement Lipstick in Teddy Bare. I don’t have a colour like this dark nude and I think it is quite seasonal. I have tried it a few times and it is creamy, well-pigmented and smells like watermelon.

From ELF, I bought a Matte Lip Colour in Tea Rose. It isn’t a drying matte formula and I like the long, thin ‘pen’ it comes in.

I think I was having a bit of a moment by the ELF stand as I also got an eyebrow kit. This is a gel and powder duo which I haven’t used before but will enjoy experimenting with!

Finally, I bought a Maybelline Color Tattoo cream eye shadow in Bad to the Bronze. This is quite a warm, taupe bronze as opposed to an orange-toned one and the pigmentation and staying power is excellent. I wear these eye shadows on their own or as a base colour and they don’t crease like many other cream products.

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I was really happy unpacking this selection of items and now comes the fun bit of testing them all out!

Sunday Summary #43

Life

I have one more week of term left which means a mad rush to fit everything in then we are off to Boston! If you are a regular reader of this blog then you will know my love for visiting America. I haven’t been to Boston before so am planning to fit in as much as possible and have spent a chunk of today booking us in for various things and, of course, finding the best place for East Coast chowder and lobster rolls!

Ian and I have been enjoying Scandi dramas a lot lately. We are watching The Bridge and also watched the film ‘The Keeper of Lost Causes’ last night which was great…any other recommendations?

Food

I’m a real grazer so always looking for new snacks, especially healthy ones. Now these aren’t perfect but they are a bit better for you than crisps and taste delicious.

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We had a really disappointing dinner out this week at the newly renovated Dandy Lion in Bradford on Avon. I don’t like to bash local businesses but this was slow service, coupled with a really bad burger and I won’t be revisiting to make the same mistake twice.

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Fashion

I bought a new pair of boots for this Autumn/ Winter. These black leather ankle boot have  cool tassle on side to add a bit of detail and look good with jeans or tights and a dress.

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There are so many nice knitted jumpers around at the moment and I opted for this leopard print number from H&M. it is heavy enough to keep you warm, has a nice zip detail at the back and is a cool, loose boxy shape so looks great with a pair of black skinny jeans…I love it!

Beauty

My nails are finally getting back to a decent length and condition so I decided to indulge in a bit of nail art. I spotted this nude and navy spotted look on Lena Dunham and am really pleased with how they turned out.

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Finally, I have been using this Lancome duo this week and both are lovely. The serum is quite a wet formula but feels very hydrating. The moisturiser however is the real star. I think it is aimed at slightly more mature skin than mine but it leaves my face feeling as smooth as if I had applied a primer and my foundation sits well on it. I may keep an eye open for this at Duty Free next week…

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