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Latest Purchases #88 – Sephora Haul

Possibly the visit I was most looking forward to making whilst we were in America, I had a list and was a woman on a mission when I went to Sephora in Georgetown, Washington! I am so surprised this store hasn’t made it to the UK but I think that just makes it a little bit more special when you do get to visit one. I picked up a range of make-up and beauty items, some I had been lusting after for a while and others I grabbed on a whim. I also bought two lipsticks which have gone missing since returning home…I’m still hoping they will turn up one day soon!

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First up, a little bottle of Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray that I bought as a present for Ian. I don’t use anything like this in my hair but I’m told this stuff is the best so like the good wife that I am, I popped one in my basket.

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Next, a bronzer from Sephora’s own make-up range in the shade Aruba. This formula has some serious shimmer so gives a lovely glow when used. It is quite dark but with a light hand, gives a beautiful golden sun-kissed look.

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I had to pick up another one of the Instant Nail Polish Removers when I saw it. It is one of the best I have used and my nail varnish was so badly chipped, I used it as soon as we got back to our hotel room! I was toying with this and the ‘white chocolate’ version from Ciate but it was such a tiny pot for the same price, I thought the Sephora one would last a bit longer.

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Next, a Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in the shade Trooper. I had been after one of these eyeliners for so long and they are raved about in the beauty world. I have used this a couple of times and am pretty impressed. The staying power is the best I have seen in a liquid eyeliner. My only complaint is that it isn’t as deep a black as I was expecting but you can build up the colour quite easily. The tip is really unique too – very fine but you can get a thick or thin line from it. I now wish I had picked up a couple of other items from her line as the packaging seems just as beautiful as the products.

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A bit of a less glamorous purchase now – deodorant! I have read a lot lately about how harmful aerosol deodorants can be so decided to try a more natural version and see how I get on. I had read recommendations for the Pure Vanilla Healthy Deodorant from LaVanila so picked up a stick.

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I picked up these Sephora Sleeping Masks for gifts and really wish I had bought myself one too!

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Next, a cleansing oil to try out from Boscia (another one recommended by beauty bloggers). I use these type of cleansers every evening and keep finding gems so hopefully this one will prove as good!

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One reason I love/ hate Sephora is how easy they make it for you to spend more than you had planned! I wanted to try out the First Aid Beauty Radiance Pads (a favourite of Lily Pebbles) but when I saw this lovely kit with their Face Cleanser and Ultra Repair Cream included, I decided to try out a bit more from the range.

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A real treat now from Tarte. Their Amazonian Clay 12-hour Blushers are raved about but quite pricey. After not buying one the last time I was on holiday, I decided to try out the shade Tipsy, a gorgeous bright coral-pink shade. I also love products that are embossed and this pretty jungle path means I will be really reluctant to use it too much!

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I have saved the best for last as this was the purchase I was most excited about trying. I love the ‘Sephora Favourites’ boxes where they select the best items from different brands based on a theme such as ‘bronzers’ (which I have bought in the past). I picked up the ‘Time to Prime’ box which contains a variety of amazing primers. Included is a Formula X Base Coat, an Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, an Urban Decay Subversion Lash Primer, a Smashbox 24-Hour Photo Finish Shadow Primer, a Bite Beauty Line and Define Lip Primer and a Living Proof Prime Style Extender for Hair. I think you’ll agree, this is a pretty awesome collection!

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Beauty Review – May Birchbox

I’m a bit late reviewing this month’s box but it’s another good’un so better late than never!

My first thought when I opened the box was that it had a really cool design on it but was a bit plain…I soon realised why and how it linked into this month’s creative theme of ‘Free Your Mind’. Here was my first peek inside:

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The ‘little something extra’ in the box this month was a pack of colouring pencils, allowing you to personalise the lid of your box (there’s a mini competition running on this too). Adult colouring books are having a moment so this concept feeds in really well to that idea of making some time for yourself. I am currently into cross stitching to unwind in the evening so I’m not sure I will colour in my box but I do like the idea behind it.

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Right, onto the beauty items! I love a good hair mask and this one from Number 4 looks lovely. The Lumiere d’hiver Reconstructing Masque contains some amazing ingredients and is designed to leave your hair smooth, strengthened and shiny.

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Next a nail varnish from Wah London, a brand I am hearing more and more about after discovering their nail art. There was an option to receive a nail varnish, nail art pen or press on nails and I’m glad I got to try out one of their polishes. I had the shade The Blue Room, a vibrant yet slightly creamy coloured blue. I have just bought a similar shade so kind of wish I had another colour but that’s not their fault so I will give this a go and report back.

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A brand whose skincare I really like, I received a Caudalie tinted moisturiser. I am a big fan of these in the summer when you don’t want to wear too heavy a base on your face and this comes with a good SPF which is always a bonus. Unlike most other formulas, this smells amazing and the coverage isn’t bad either.

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I always welcome a face mask and this one from Absolution looks and smells lovely. It is called the Youth Activator Mask so sounds as though it is aimed at my skin type and aims to add a burst of moisture.

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Next a product that I wasn’t that excited about but Ian will definitely use – Parlor’s Moisturising Sea Salt Spray. I just don’t use anything like salt spray on my hair but Ian is a fan and the fact that this contains almond oils means it shouldn’t be as drying as other formulas are.

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Finally, a make-up item from Jelly Pong Pong (I love this name!) I received the Caribbean Sun Bronzer in the shade Martinique which looks perfect for my pale skin. It is a duo that contains a matt bronzer and a shimmery pink blusher. The palette is a little bit small to get a big brush into but I imagine that swirling the colours together would create a lovely glow too. I like that the compact has a mirror and on first impressions the blusher looks like the real winner – the bronzer is a tad on the chalky side for me.

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Overall, I really like this month’s box. My stand-out product is the Caudelie tinted moisturiser and I am excited to try it out properly this week.

Beauty Review – December Birchbox

I’m feeling like somewhat of a cliché today. After writing my 2014 resolutions post yesterday, I have been a busy bee! I was up and out for a run (suffice to say, I struggled!) this morning, out and about doing various admin tasks this afternoon and then arranged several appointments with builders to continue with our home improvements. This may not last long but I am embracing this enthusiasm while it lasts!

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Today’s rather belated post has been on my to-do list since before Christmas but you know how crazy things get in December and I accidentally tidied away this Birchbox so have only really sat down and had a proper look through it today. I think opening my beauty advent calendar throughout last month made me forget the December Birchbox had arrived but it was definitely a nice surprise to find it again!

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As expected, the emphasis was on sparkles and Christmas parties which is slightly redundant now but a good selection of products nonetheless. Birchbox seem to have ditched their magazine completely now and a set of postcards arrive with every delivery with a lifestyle article, hair or make-up tutorial and this month also had some lovely gift tags to use!

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Here was my first peek in the bag:

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First up, the Non-Aerosol Hairspray by Number 4. I have a very low-key hair care routine and hate using anything that leaves my hair feeling dry, crunchy or full of product. However, the fact that this is a botanical-rich formula and not out of a can means I will give it a go!

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Next, Nail Glitter by Nail Rock – a brand I have seen online but not yet tried myself. I love trying out a new nail product and although I have lots of glitter nail varnishes I have never tried this approach to a sparkly manicure. I received a lovely navy blue nail varnish and a bright blue pot of glitter, which conveniently left tiny pieces of glitter everywhere! I think this colour combination is great and will result in a statement textured manicure – it’s on my to-do list!

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A slightly unusual product next – a Twistband in a pretty pastel blue colour. This hairband claims not to leave those annoying creases in your hair and I think it looks rather nice and ribbon-like.

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A bit of luxury in the form of this pomegranate face mask by luxe brand Delarom. I love trying out new face products and this will be a Sunday night treat before going back to work again.

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Next, a beautifully scented body lotion by BeeKind. As you may have guessed from the name, this contains honey as well as a lemon scent. It actually smells just like Lockets but I like how refreshing it is.

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Finally, my favourite product in this month’s box was this shimmery powder by Alima Pure. It’s not a brand I have heard of before but I love this nude colour and it has just the right amount of shimmer to be noticed without being too glittery. I think it would look lovely worn alone as an eyeshadow or used as a highlighter.

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Overall, this wasn’t too Christmassy and I can see myself using all of the products included…a nice little bit of pampering to start the new year! x

Beauty Review – March Birchbox

I decided to make the most of my early morning wake-ups by booking in a haircut and colour for 8am today. It’s amazing how much better you feel when you get rid of your roots and split ends!

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I had a very special delivery this week…my very first Beauty Box!

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In case you are new to this concept, there are a few companies on the market offering this service whereby you get a box delivered each month with 4-6 beauty and make-up products in it to trial before you buy the full-sized product. These products are from a combination of well-known high-end and new, independent companies so you get to try a whole range of brands. Often the contents of the box are worth around the £40-50 mark but each box costs just £10 plus postage.

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Now I know these have been around for ages and are by no means a new thing, but I was very excited when this pink box arrived and I couldn’t wait to see what was inside and start testing out the products.

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Included in this month’s box was the Birchbox magazine, which gives you more information on each product, tips on how to use them and various interviews and beauty articles. The theme for this month’s box is ‘Role Models’ and here was my first peek at the contents…

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Obviously the first thing I spotted was the heart-shaped tin of Lindt chocolates! These are my absolute favourite chocolates and I know I will enjoy them with a cup of tea!

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Right, onto the beauty stuff…

Molton Brown perfume sample in ‘Valbonne’:

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I haven’t tried any perfumes by Molton Brown before but I do like their bath and shower products. I wasn’t overly keen on this product when I first spritzed it on but it was a real grower and after a few minutes it mellowed to a sweet, slightly earthy and rose scent. I’m not great at describing perfumes but to be honest I doubt anyone would purchase a perfume without trying it out themselves first! The full-sized bottle of this retails for £65, which is more than I would usually spend on a perfume, but I may keep my eyes peeled for it in the sale!

Yu-Be Moisturiser:

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Next up is a very small tube of this cult Japanese moisturiser. It can be used anywhere on the body to tackle dry skin and I tested it out as a hand cream and a lip balm. The smell is lemony with a slight medicinal edge but this doesn’t linger once applied. When I first put it on my hands it was slightly greasy but it dried smoothly quite quickly and left my hands feeling incredibly soft. On my lips, it was absorbed quickly and they definitely felt softer afterwards too. It’s a shame there wasn’t slightly more of this sample as I would have liked to try it as a body cream after a shower but I have heard it is coming to Boots and is already in SpaceNK so I will look out for it and would definitely buy this again.

Laura Geller Gel Liner in ‘Purple’:

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The only make-up item in this month’s box was this Inkwell waterproof eye liner by Laura Geller. There is a fine brush concealed in the handle and a little pot of highly pigmented colour, which makes the product compact and great for travelling. I am slightly annoyed as I have only just made an online order for another purple liquid eyeliner but you can never have too many! It is easy to get the colour on the brush and you can create a thick or thin line depending on the look you want.

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The product is quite creamy in application but it dries quickly and the pigmentation and staying power is very impressive, although if you aren’t used to the gel eyeliners it may take a bit of practice to get used to applying them. I haven’t tried any Laura Geller products before and this product retails for £24.50 so feels like a real bargain!

La Sultane de Saba Body Lotion with Argan Oil:

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I use body lotion once, sometimes twice, a day so I am always on the lookout for a new product to try. I was intrigued by this one containing Argan Oil as I thought this was predominantly in hair products. It has been somewhat of a trendy ingredient in recent months so I wanted to see what it would be like in a body lotion. I have to say I wasn’t blown away by the packaging, considering it is a luxe brand and it was quite difficult to get out of the bottle. There was no real scent to speak of – it actually reminded me of that delicate, powdery smell of baby lotions. Upon application, this product was absorbed into the skin very quickly, leaving behind a fresh, powdery scent. This was a good moisturiser, leaving my skin feeling very soft, and given the handy size I will be packing it for our city break this weekend!

Sanctuary Active Reverse Facial:

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I haven’t tried this yet but thought it was only fair to do a quick write-up about it. I am a fan of Sanctuary products and this two-step facial claims to ‘dramatically improve the appearance of your skin’ so I can’t wait to give it a go! There is a serum to apply first then a warming rose clay mask…if it is any good I’ll let you know.

Plump ‘N’ Thick Leave in Thickening Hair Mask by Nick Chavez:

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Finally, a hair product to thicken your tresses. I never choose any sort of volumising or uplifting hair treatments so I wasn’t that fussed about this product to be honest. I tried it out on dry hair first and it didn’t really have much of an effect. This spray didn’t really make much difference on my towel-dried hair either. It did smell lovely though and maybe it is a miracle product for the right hair type so this will be passed on as a gift to my Mum!

Overall, I am pleased with my first arrival from Birchbox and I have decided to give this a 3 month trial before renewing or cancelling my subscription. There was a good range of quality products, many of which I may not have come across on my own, and I love the fact that my favourite chocolates were included too!

However, there is an argument that my £10 would be better spent on one decent product that I definitely want and will use so I think I will wait and see what next month’s box holds!