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Latest Purchases #92 – A Birchbox Haul

I was looking to up my skincare routine now that the weather is getting colder and the heating is on. I suffer from quite dry skin in the winter so looked to the Birchbox website for a couple of new items to try out. Of course, my search for skincare soon led to other things and before I knew it, a large box had arrived on my doorstep full of goodies, followed by a second order using the free shopping points I had earned from the first one!

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First up, the two items I actually needed: moisturising cream.

I bought this jar of Aquaporin Plus by Bluemandarínes, a 24-hour hydrating cream. I always think a glass jar adds a little bit of luxury and this cream is rich yet sinks into the skin quickly and has a beautiful, delicate floral scent. I think this would work as a day or night cream.

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I also picked up a jar of Melting Moisturising Cream by Akane. Upon further reading, this brand uses the Akane red apple tree from Japan which has antioxidant properties and is perfect for normal to dehydrated skin. Whilst also quite a thick, rich cream, this has an almost matte finish which I think makes it perfect for use in the morning before makeup.

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On the few occasions that I wear my hair straight, I have been struggling with some fine, wispy pieces of hair that seem to want to curl up again so I was after some light hairspray that would hold these flyaway hairs down without a heavy, sticky feeling. Montibel·lo is a good haircare brand and I bought their Flexible Hold Finishing Spray. It sounds like exactly what I’m looking for and this huge bottle should last me a while!

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I really like the brand Weleda and their all-natural approach but I had a few hit and miss products from them this time. The one I loved was the Wild Rose Creamy Body Wash which smells amazing and is just a really lovely shower gel.

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I also picked up the Oat Replenishing Shampoo and Conditioner which I’m just not a fan of. The shampoo was fine and I will use that up but the conditioner was so thick and heavy and it left my hair really matted and unmanageable.

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Finally, I earned enough points to splurge on a luxury product I just love. At £28 for a little 30ml bottle it isn’t cheap but the Make Up Base by RMK is amazing. This milky formula sinks into the skin so quickly and leaves you with a soft, flawless base. I use this base with glowy and matte foundations and it really helps them last. I first tried this as a sample through Birchbox and it was only when it ran out that I realised how much I love it and it has actually replaced my silicone-based primers like Benefit POREfesstional as it feels much kinder to my skin.

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Overall, a pretty successful haul and I’m hoping my skin thanks me for it! x

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Beauty Review – October Birchbox

I thought I’d better get my Birchbox review for this month done before November rolls around!

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This month, I had the choice between the Stylist Guest Editor Box or the Back to Basics Box. I had a quick look at the contents of each and there was one product that swayed it for me…

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The Back to Basics Box contained a bottle of Seche Vite, my holy grail topcoat that I have only just run out of. I thought it would save me an online order plus postage to choose the box with a fresh bottle inside so I opted for this sleek navy Birchbox.

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As well as the bottle of Seche Vite, it contained several ‘beauty essentials’ for eyes, hair, teeth and face.

First up, a duo from the brand Beaver (snigger…)

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I received a moisturising shampoo and matching conditioner which my dyed hair is always in need of.

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Next, a tube of toothpaste from Regenerate. Not something I can get too excited about but useful nonetheless.

From Eyeko, I got the Fat Liquid Eyeliner in Black. Now, this is a brand that people have raved about ever since the Alexa Chung collaboration but I just don’t see the fuss with their eyeliners! I don’t find the black to be dark enough and the staying power on me is poor.

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I am always open to having my mind changed though so will give this eyeliner a go however on first impressions, it seems rather chunky to get that thin, cat-eye flick I like.

Last of all, a mini bottle of Bioderma. I usually use the pink one (for sensitive skin) but this is the Hydrabio H20 which claims to have more hydrating qualities for dull, dry skin. I don’t find a huge amount of difference between the two but both are lovely to use and great at removing make-up from the skin quickly.

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Overall, a pretty good box this month. I was going to buy another bottle of Seche Vite anyway so I’m glad that was included and the rest of the items are all interesting to trial.

Beauty Review – September Birchbox

It cheered me up no end to come home and find the latest offerings from Birchbox waiting for me in my front porch. I have recently had a bit of a sort through all of my beauty products and I really do think the Birchbox items are some of the best.

This month, you could choose your box design as they had special ‘Birthday Boxes’ to mark Birchbox’s five year anniversary of starting in the States. I wasn’t too fussed about which box I got, but this balloon design is very cool.

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A product from Benefit is always a good inclusion for me! This time, it was a mini stick of the POREfessional: License to Blot. I use the primer from this range so will be interested to see if this oil-blotting stick is as good. This claims to mattify shine after application for up to 6 hours. I don’t have very oily skin but on warm days, I could probably use this.

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Next, a ‘Beauty Wash’ from Beauty Protector. This is just a shower gel which smells pleasant enough but definitely isn’t something to get too excited about.

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I also received a lemon and sage-scented body butter from Bliss which sounds lovely. I’ve used a face wash from this brand before so look forward to trying one of their bestselling products.

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I haven’t heard of John Master Organics before but this bottle of their citrus and neroli detangler looks and smells great. I do suffer from knots and tangles (#curlyhairproblems) so this sounds like it will be great for me.

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Whilst on the subject of hair, the ‘Beauty Bonus’ this month was a Birchbrush, their version of the Tangle Teezer. Now, I don’t actually brush my hair so won’t get any use from this but I’m sure I can find a friend to pass this onto.

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Finally, I received a Cheeky Lip Pencil in the shade Humble Brag by the brand Laqa & Co. One of my all-time favourite lip colours is from this brand so I was really pleased to get another product to try out. This pencil is for lips and cheeks, although I can see myself using it predominantly on my lips. It is a creamy, dusky pink when applied and finishes to a creamy matte.

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Not a bad month for Birchbox although when I saw it was a big birthday edition, I did have high hopes for something a bit more special. I think my favourite products are the lip pencil and the detangler but (with the exception of the hairbrush) the rest will definitely be added to my stash! x

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 – Bumble and Bumble’s Sunday Shampoo

It has been a lovely Saturday – one that started out with no plans but has quickly filled up with fun stuff! After a quick morning yoga session (still working my way through 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene) we headed off to Bristol for lunch with friends and enjoyed a variety of ciders and pizza before wandering along the Harbourside in the sunshine, stopping off for doughnuts and ice lollies.

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I wanted to do a quick beauty review today as I tried out a new shampoo which I had been wanting for a while but couldn’t quite bring myself to spend almost £20 on a bottle of it. Luckily, I had been storing up points on my Boots card so treated myself to this last weekend and in my warped mind I was able to justify it as being completely free!

This is a once-a-week clarifying shampoo which is designed to go one step further than ordinary shampoo and remove all build-up of products leaving you with super clean hair. I was worried that this would be too strong and strip my hair of its natural oils but after two uses of this shampoo I can report that it has left my hair squeaky clean and manageable.

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I still use some conditioner and a hair oil afterwards but my hair definitely feels lighter and not so weighed down after using this Sunday Shampoo…I was a real rebel today though and used it on a Saturday…I know!

I realise this is a lot to pay for a bottle of shampoo, but you really don’t need very much and as it will not be used on a daily basis, I can see this lasting for ages. So, would I buy it again? I think I could justify it although I am hoping that by the time this bottle has run out, I will have enough points on my Boots card for a ‘free’ repurchase! x

 

Beauty Review – April Birchbox

Hello and Happy Saturday! It’s a sunny one and I was up and out on a run this morning to start the day. I have really been trying to get back into running lately as not only does it burn a few pounds but I just love how awake and energised I feel running through the country lanes with the sun on my face…I’ve even managed a few 6am pre-work runs this week which I never thought would happen!

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I arrived home to find this month’s Birchbox waiting for me on my porch which was a lovely surprise as I had forgotten it was coming. After a couple of average boxes in recent months, I am pleased to report that things are back on track and I think this is a really great box. I love the pink and rose gold box that this month’s goodies arrived in too! Here was my first peek at the contents:

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Now before I get into the products, I am going to have a moan about this week’s theme: ‘Royally Good’. I was slightly distracted by the beautiful pink and mint green design and thought this was a celebration of Britishness. Yet, when I had a read through the cards, I realised that the whole box was dedicated to the second royal baby?!?!

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Yes, apparently we are at fever pitch waiting for the new royal arrival so all products are introduced with the word throne/ rule/ crown/ queen thrown in for good measure. I guess this could all be seen as a bit of fun but the article that really annoyed me was the one that gave us an insight into what we could do if we were queen for a day which included lie-ins, pancakes, chocolate and a ‘pamper sesh’…hardly the most inspiring message for independent women!

Anyway, I have to admit that the reason I subscribe to Birchbox is not the for the accompanying literature but the products inside so here is what I received.

A Laura Mercier Foundation Primer. This is the third one I own and I love this item. It is a perfect base for my make-up and a cult product from a great brand.

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Next, a Bergamot Pear Body Milk by Korres. I love their skin products and think their scents are always a little bit different from what else is on the market. This is going in my travel bag for the summer.

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A foaming face wash next from Bliss. This looks like it will do a good job but I am quite wary of anything foaming as it is usually very drying. I think when I try this I will have to make sure I slather on some moisturisers afterwards.

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I am quite into a hair and skin mask treat on Sunday evenings at the moment and these single sachets are always fun to try out. I received a warming clay mask from Befine with cardamom, arnica and pomegranate. I have a few pomegranate products, which is a great antioxidant, and my skin seems to like them.

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A hair product next – Percy and Reed’s Smoothed, Sealed and Sensational Volumising No Oil Oil. A bit of a mouthful but an interesting product nonetheless! I quite like hair oils and while I don’t need any more volume in my locks, anything that can help tame the frizz is always welcome!

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Finally, a nail varnish which made me very happy! From Lola Barcelona I received a gorgeous coral shade in Rambla which brings back very happy memories of strolling down La Rambla on holiday in this city. I couldn’t wait to try this brand out so popped the polish on my toes. It wasn’t the best formula upon application and I needed three coats for full coverage but it has dried to a lovely glossy finish and looks great. I feel this is a great summer shade to wear with a tan.

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So despite a rather naff theme this month, I love April’s Birchbox. There isn’t one product I’m not excited to use and I have some welcome additions to my travel make-up bag for our July/August holiday! x

Restaurant Review – Boopshi’s, London

I am forcing myself to have a ‘laptop-day’ today and plough on with my mountain of work. I spent yesterday in Bath having a haircut then went back in to town in the evening for burgers meaning very little work was done.

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I have my class reports to write this holiday and I remember at the start of the Easter break telling myself that if I wrote 2 reports per day then I would get them all done within the 2 weeks. After a few days, this number had moved up to 3 a day, then 4 and I am now left with trying to get them all done by the weekend…I feel lots of tea will be needed today!

But first, a restaurant review. I love going to stay with my friend Cat as she will always pick somewhere a bit different for us to go for dinner. Boopshi’s is a ‘schnitzel and spritz’ restaurant doing that thing where they don’t serve a huge menu but what they do serve, they do damn well!

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It’s an Austrian restaurant which immediately made me think of grandiose Viennese glamour but I was surprised to see a very modest restaurant – think minimal skandi style with rows of shared tables.

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We started off with a selection of cocktails – I had a cherry sherbet, Cat had a pear and elderflower concoction and Ian ordered a bourbon sour, all of which were delicious.

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For our mains, we all opted for schnitzel. I had pork, topped with a duck egg and capers, Cat had chicken and Ian had rose veal topped with anchovies and capers. We also shared a bowl of gooey, cheesy spatzle and a potato salad.

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The schnitzels were a generous size and went beautifully with the various toppings and gravy that was served. I loved the spatzle too – like an Austrian mac ‘n’ cheese and so filling.

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Unfortunately we didn’t leave ourselves room for pudding but left thoroughly satisfied and I would definitely recommend Boopshi’s to friends. It was a really good meal but it’s difficult to say whether I would return again. If I find somewhere I like, I tend to want to work my way through the menu and try different things whereas I think we had Boopshi’s best offerings on our visit. I’d say that’s the only downside of these places that become famous for just serving one thing – although it was pretty perfect schnitzel! x

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