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Latest Purchases #86 – US Drugstore Haul

I ended up buying quite a bit of make-up and skincare items when we were on holiday so decided to split them into a Sephora Haul (coming next week!) and a kind of high street/ drugstore one. I tried to stick to brands that either aren’t available in the UK or products that I hadn’t seen on the shelves in Boots or Superdrug before. I think I was fairly restrained as I could have added a lot more into my basket!

First of all, not strictly a US purchase but one I used every day on holiday after buying it in Duty Free. This perfume from D&G is my first perfume from the brand and I really like it. I’m rubbish at trying to describe scents but I thought this was fruity and summery and every time I smell it now I think of our holiday.

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Next, a few bits I picked up in Bath & Bodyworks. I love this shop and if I wasn’t so worried about our luggage allowance, I would have treated myself to some of their candles too. I always have one of these scented hand sanitizers in my handbag so picked up some new scents – I picked some lovely summery ones but the ‘Napa Valley Sunset’ is my favourite as it is wine-inspired!

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Some Essie nail varnish next and I managed to narrow this down to three new shades; Chillato (a pastel pistachio – I blogged about it here), Where’s My Chauffeur (a turquoise-blue) and Golden Nuggets (a gold glitter).

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Another nail product from Sally Hansen, the Salon Effects Nail Stickers. I have tried these before and they are really good. They sit on your nails just like nail varnish and I loved this cool geometric pattern.

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Some lip balms next and the first one is from from Eos in Coconut Milk. I really like the formulas of these and the little egg shape it comes in!

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I also picked up a Burt’s Bees Rose Tinted Lip Balm. I thought this would be a chunky colour stick but the cardboard packaging was just for show and it’s just a regular little stick. There isn’t much colour pay-off from this but I always find this brand to be good quality so look forward to using this.

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This seemed a fun product next from Chapstick with a double ended, duo-flavoured stick.

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I wanted to try a few things from the brand Milani and read glowing reviews of their baked blushers. I picked up Corallina which is a beautiful rosey coral pink with a gold shimmer running through it. I think it looks beautiful although the lid cracked in my suitcase so I won’t be taking it in on my travels. I noticed a rattling sound when I picked this up and found a little mirror and brush underneath which is quite handy. I have swatched this and it is very glowy so can double up as a highlighter too.

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I also bought two eyeshadows in different formulas. Bella Cappuccino is a satin matte formula in a warm, medium brown with a hint of golden shimmer. I wasn’t sure what ‘satin matte’ would be like (surely it’s one or the other?!) but it’s actually a perfect description for this formula. I wouldn’t say this isn’t hugely pigmented and is slightly on the chalky side but a good ‘base’ colour for me.

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However, Bella Bronze is a different story! This is a metallic eyeshadow in a deep bronze with a beautiful coppery shimmer. The formula of this is so soft and buttery and it blends really well too. Of the two, I would definitely buy from the metallic range again.

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Another brand that we don’t get in the UK but has some real gems is Wet n Wild. I decided to try out one of their mascaras and there was so much choice! I opted for Megaplump and will let you know how I get on.

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I also picked up a blusher in the shade Mellow Wine. It may be a tad on the dark side for me – I will have to apply this with a light touch! This also contained a little brush, although like the Milani one, it doesn’t feel amazing quality.

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People seem to go mad for the Wet n Wild eyeshadow palettes so I picked up a small one named Silent Treatment. It contains three eyeshadows, embossed with ‘browbone’, ‘crease’ and ‘eyelid’ to use all three together – very handy for those less confident with a smoky eye. These are lovely eyeshadows although the darkest shade is a bit glittery so more of a night time look for me.

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I also wanted to try a lip product from this brand and am really into chunky lip pencils at the moment so picked up a Megaslicks Balm Stain in the shade Red-ioactive (I love the name!) This is so pigmented and although it applies with a gloss, after that has faded you are still left with a really strong wash of colour – I like this a lot.

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Carrying on with the lip products, NYX is another brand that was on my list to try so I bought one of their butter glosses in the shade Peach Cobbler – maybe it was just for the name?! This is a pretty peachy coral colour sitting somewhere between sheer and opaque and as it is a gloss it gives a very lush finish but is a tad sticky.

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Finally, a little trip down memory lane with a good old faithful mascara. I saw this at the till for a couple of dollars so thought why not?! It was only when I opened it that I realised I had picked up the shade Royal Blue. However, coloured mascaras seem to be having a bit of a comeback worn at the tips over black mascara so I shall give that look a go with this mascara.

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Phew – I am so excited to start using these items and seeing which ones will make it into my daily routine! x

Beauty Review – June Birchbox

I for one am so happy it’s Friday! It has been a tiring week and I find myself sat on the sofa with a beer watching the Glastonbury highlights as the rain pours outside…the weather is definitely helping my festival jealousy as I’ve done Glasto in torrential rain before!

I received my June Birchbox earlier in the month and was looking forward to its arrival as I was given the option of its design and opted for a chic Parisian nautical style. I really like it when I am contacted by Birchbox prior to delivery to state my preference on a product or design.

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This month’s theme is ‘Step Outdoors’ with a nod to spending more time outside in the sunshine whether that is in the park, at a festival or a BBQ. Birchbox have collaborated with French Sole who do such lovely ballet pumps and subscribers had the opportunity to buy some of these limited edition shoes through the Birchbox website.

Anyway, here is my first look inside the box:

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First of all a French Sole ‘shoe bag’. I can’t say a shoe bag is high on my list of priorities but this is a lovely wipe-clean design that I think makes it a perfect wash bag for a night away.

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A perfume next by high-end fragrance house Penhaligon’s. I received the scent Iris Prima which is inspired by the English National Ballet. This is a grower on me – I wasn’t keen at first but after a few minutes, the strong muskiness fades to a soft, sweet vanilla. A good one for the handbag but I don’t think I would buy a full-sized bottle for £85.

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Who doesn’t like trying out a new mascara?! This one is from ModelCo and looks to be a good black mascara with a chunky brush.

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I hadn’t heard of this next brand, HIP, an all-natural French hair care brand. This shampoo sounds similar to the Sunday Shampoo I love from Bumble and Bumble with the aim to refresh your hair and scalp.

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A decent-sized product next from one of my favourite beauty brands, Balance Me. I received their Super Moisturising Body Wash which smells amazing. This is a creamy shower gel which feels really moisturising – great if you’re in a rush in the mornings and don’t have time to moisturise!

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I love REN products but haven’t tried this particular one. The Instant Firming Beauty Shot, sounds a great boost for skin that’s looking a bit tired – it is actually described as ‘an espresso shot for the face’ which I am definitely in need of some days!

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The final item is a fun summery one. I really like these metallic tattoos from STYLondon – I’m going out in Bath on Saturday night so if I remember, I may wear one!

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No amazing stand-out products but a decent box this month. I think I am most looking forward to trying out the REN face serum although I have been hoarding all these samples for the past few months ready for my travel bag when we go to America so have lots to get through! x

Beauty Review – March Birchbox

Beauty Review – March Birchbox

I was really pleased when I opened this bright Birchbox and saw it was a collaboration with Habitat. I love interior design so was excited to see what products had been picked.

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I always try to be honest on here as I’m not being paid to review these or anything but I was slightly underwhelmed when I first opened it. I was picturing a cool photo frame, print or candle influenced by Habitat’s designs but a flimsy notebook seems to be the extent of Habitat’s influence!

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Yes, it’s a handy notebook (ideal for my weekly shopping lists) but hardly the prettiest to have on your desk.

Whilst I’m having a moan I may as well get the other disappointing product out of the way – another book preview; two chapters of Penny Vincenzi’s latest novel, A Perfect Heritage. I understand this is a good marketing ploy to lure people in to buying the whole book but I find it a really cheeky inclusion in this box and will be unlikely to read it solely because I would then HAVE to buy the book to find out what happened next and I don’t like that kind of marketing.

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Onto beauty now and the product I had pre-ordered through Birchbox. I really like this option where Birchbox email you a few weeks before the box is due to be posted and allow you to pick a shade or type of product. This time, I had the selection of three different Benefit mascaras and seeing as I already had the other two, I jumped at the chance to try out their latest Roller Lash mascara which has gorgeous retro packaging and promises to curl and lift the lash.

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Next up, another brand I love – Philip Kingsley. I admit I have only tried this through Birchbox samples but everything I have trialled I have loved, especially their cult Elasticiser treatment which I will buy full-sized when I finish my tube. This time, I received their Smooth Cream which is designed for curly hair…perfect for me!

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A facial cleanser next by Janjira. This contains pomegranate and acai and smells lovely. I have tried a face cream by this brand before and quite liked it. This face wash will be a nice wake-up to use this week.

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You can tell summer is on people’s minds when the tanning products come out! I have to say that on first look, this product from Tan Organic doesn’t grab me. I’m really not keen on the dark packaging but a quick Google revealed some positive reviews of this self-tanning oil so I will give it a go when it looks warm enough to start thinking about getting my legs out!

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A perfume next from Catherine Malandrino – it’s a lovely scent and perfect handbag size. I probably won’t buy the full-sized version but I do like a perfume sample every now and then simply to try something I may not pick out myself.

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So a mixed bag, well box, this month. I really like the beauty products but feel the ‘lifestyle’ items weren’t up to the same standard. Here’s to next month being a good all-rounder!

Beauty Review – May Birchbox

Phew – this half term is proving to be incredibly productive so far! My Mum is staying with us for a few days and she is definitely the driving force behind it all but so far we have cut the front hedge back, painted the front gate, painted the living room, painted the kitchen and done a huge sort out of my wardrobes (yes, plural!) resulting in three full bags of clothes and shoes for the charity shop. We are heading out for afternoon tea now as a reward for all our hard work before an evening with my bestie, manicures and lots of cheesecake!

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This month’s Birchbox arrived recently and I have to say it was the prettiest one yet! A collaboration with Harper’s Bazaar, this box is all about the ‘Great Outdoors’ and being outside, whether it’s for a picnic in the park, camping, al fresco dining  or a music festival.

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Here was my first peek inside the bag:

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First up, They’re Real Mascara by Benefit, one of my favourite make-up brands. This cult mascara has been on my list to try for a while so I was very happy to see this included. I’m currently in love with a No. 7 Lash Adapt Mascara which I think will take some beating…let’s hope the Benefit one lives up to the hype!

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Next, a shampoo and conditioner from Beauty Protector. I have used the Protect and Oil hair oil by this brand before and loved it so I am looking forward to using these. They are perfect holiday size and I love the fact they have included both the shampoo and conditioner as I like to use the same brand hair products.

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The next box was one of the most beautifully packaged nail varnishes I have ever seen! I received the shade Crème au Beurre by Soigné which is a beautiful pinky nude shade. I do have a couple of new nude shades but expect to see this one making its way into a manicure very soon. This is non-toxic too so hopefully a bit gentler on my nails.

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Next, a Bath and Shower Oil from Aromatherapy Associates in Revive. This smells divine – very citrusy and refreshing yet quite herbal. This is quite a high-end brand so nice to see it included, although I can’t see myself paying £39 for the full-sized version!

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Finally, an oldie but a goodie. I can’t speak highly enough about Liz Earle’s Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser – I rave about it to my friends and have converted a few of them! This leaves your skin feeling so clean and refreshed and is a product I always repurchase once it has run out – there is a reason why one of these cleansers sells every 23 seconds!

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I love the collaboration with Harpers Bazaar this month, even if just for the beautiful packaging. I think this is one of my best Birchboxes yet – full of high-end brands and products I love…keep up the good work! x

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Beauty Review – Boots No.7 Ultimate Collection

Another glorious day here today with the daffodils starting to bloom in our garden – I couldn’t resist picking some for the kitchen table.

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Today I wanted to share something that I actually bought around Christmas but have only just got around to opening and using recently. I was doing some last minute Christmas shopping in Bath and popped into Boots to get some photos printed and couldn’t resist the offer they had on.

With contents worth over £120, this amazing No.7 box was down from £65 to just £32! I grabbed one for myself and one for my Mum (good daughter points!)

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I always used to associate No.7 with older women but in recent years their skincare has won rave reviews and I have a few pieces of make-up from the range too which have made me think again.

Packaged in a beautiful gift box and wrapped up with a bow, this collection contained:

  • Completely Quenched Moisturising Body Lotion (200ml)boots5
  • Blissful Body Wash (200ml)boots6
  • Sumptuous Bath Soak (200ml)boots7
  • Beautiful Skin Cleansing Lotion (200ml)boots8
  • Protect & Perfect Hand Cream (75ml)boots9
  • Beautiful Skin Dry Skin Rescue (50ml)boots10
  • No. 7 Lash Adapt Mascaraboots11
  • No. 7 Lip Glossboots13
  • Protect and Perfect Day Cream (50ml)boots16
  • Protect and Perfect Night Cream (50ml)boots15

As you can see, these are not mini versions of the products and the box contained lots of best sellers – the day and night creams alone are worth £22 and £24 each!

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I also liked the range of things included – something for the bath, body, face and some make-up.

I have been using the day and night cream recently and I have to say I am a fan of both. Boots often do 3 for 2 offers and I would definitely repurchase the day cream as it soaks into the skin quickly and leaves it feeling so soft.

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The bath stuff is lovely too and smells delicious – very luxurious and it feels like a treat to use them!

Apart from the face creams, and possibly the Dry Skin Rescue and mascara, I’m not sure I would buy the other items full price but that’s not to say I don’t rate them. They are all pretty wonderful but there are just other brands I would opt for. Saying that, if I ever saw these items in a similar kit at this price I would snap them up in an instant!

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Beauty Review – My Boots Advent Calendar (Days 12 – 24)

Now that Christmas is starting to wind down, I thought I would share the rest of my advent calendar goodies and my overall views on this non-chocolate alternative.

Day 12 – Boots Nail Shine Solution

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I get through clear top coats quite quickly given how often I paint my nails so always welcome a new one to try out. This one from Boots’ Salon range contains sea kelp which is meant to nourish the nails whilst finishing to a high-gloss shine.

Day 13 – Vichy Liftactiv Serum for Eyes and Lashes

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A brand I love, this Vichy product is unique in that it claims to not only reduce lines and wrinkles around the eyes but also fortify and strengthen lashes. This is a lovely, hydrating serum which is great on the skin around the eyes but I am yet to see a noticeable difference in my eyelashes.

Day 14 – Couture La La Perfume Sample

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A pleasant enough scent but as I mentioned in my last review I don’t think these sample are the most interesting inclusion in these calendars!

Day 15 – Seventeen Tattoo Me Semi-Permanent Liquid Eyeliner

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Despite claiming to last for 48 hours (who wears makeup for that long?!), I am looking forward to trialling this. I love a sweep of black eyeliner with cute flicks and this product has received rave reviews from beauty bloggers for its longevity and true black colour.

Day 16 – Spotty Nail File

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Always handy but I prefer using a glass nail file and I think this was a bit of a crap gift.

Day 17 – Soap and Glory Flake Away Body Scrub

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I already own the full-sized version of this and I love it! It smells delicious and is a great exfoliator. I tend to keep a tub of it in the shower and use a handful before fake-tanning or when I feel I need a good scrub!

Day 18 – Ghost Perfume Sample

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This is one of my Mum’s favourite scents so I will be passing this sample onto her to use up.

Day 19 – Carmex Lip Balm

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A cult lip product and one that I have started using in the last year. I love the medicinal smell of Carmex and the slight tingle you get when you apply it. I stocked up on the cherry version of this whilst we were in San Francisco as I spotted it for 75cents a tube!

Day 20 – Mavala Pure Diamond Nail Varnish

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I really like this nail brand and this clear polish is packed full of glitter pieces. At first I thought it was just silver but in the light it has a gorgeous holographic effect and I think it would look great as a topcoat.

Day 21 – Botanics Heat Protection Shine Serum

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I don’t actually use any heat products on my hair but this stuff smells so lovely I will still use it up! It contains camomile which is great for blonde hair and after having my hair dyed again recently, I am keen to keep it in good condition.

Day 22 – Nails Inc Porchester Square

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I do already have this shade but it is one of my absolute favourites. A beautiful grey-purple colour, I always receive compliments when I wear this and it is no surprise it is one of Nail Inc’s best-selling shades.

Day 23 – Umberto Giannini ‘Backcomb in a Bottle’

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This is a good brand and sounds pretty cool but I just know this is something I will never use on my hair type.

Day 24 – Seventeen Blow Out Mascara

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Another Seventeen product that has rather OTT claims, this time to volumise your lashes by up to 12 times their normal size! I can never have enough black mascaras and after a quick look online, this too has received rave reviews. I would never think to try this brand, although the packaging seems to appeal to a younger audience, but I am going to give the eyeliner and mascara a week-long trial and will report back!

Phew – that’s all 24 windows opened, plus a Boots voucher towards any of the products in the calendar! Overall, I have loved this calendar. It is great value for money when you consider it was around the £30 with £70 worth of product included. I have definitely discovered some new brands (Seventeen and Balmi) and received some items from brands I already love (Mavala and Vichy) and I have particularly loved the nail items.

I do feel there was a bit of filler, namely the perfume samples and hair products, but I think that just comes down to personal preferences as I know some people love trying out new perfume samples in beauty boxes.

I will definitely be keeping an eye out for another advent calendar like this next year. I would love the Ciate one filled with nail varnishes but I’m sure there will be a whole new range available next year as more brands jump on this bandwagon.

What do you think of beauty advent calendars? x

Beauty Review – November Birchbox

I’m a bit late with this month’s Birchbox review but it has meant I have had an extra few days to trial these products.

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The theme of this month’s box is ‘icons’. I like that the team behind this brand put some effort into their choices each month but I don’t really see anything ‘iconic’ about the contents of the box and I think some of the articles and links are slightly tentative.

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There was however a card to fill in and share on social media which was quite fun to do and I found it interesting reading what other people had put.

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Anyway, onto the contents…

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An interesting mix this month – not one of my favourite deliveries if I’m honest but some nice products I will definitely use.

First up is a perfume sample, always a welcome addition for the handbag and this scent by English Laundry is perfect for me. I’m not keen on anything too heavy or musky and this is light, sweet and fruity. For a second, I thought ‘English Laundry’ was the scent which got me rather excited as I love the smell of fresh laundry but alas…I need to get out more!

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Next, three teabags from Pukka Herbs. I like this brand and have some of their teabags in my cupboards. I treated myself to the earl grey straight away and I think the cinnamon one sounds perfect for these cold evenings.

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A hair product next – Weleda’s Replenishing Oat Shampoo. I love this brand for skincare and didn’t realise they had hair products too. This one has gone into my ‘weekend away’ box as it is such a handy size.

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I’m really not too sure about this next product – a highlighter pencil by Chella worth almost £16. I am used to using powder or cream highlighters in a palette and I find this pencil doesn’t apply as well. You really need to blend it in well to remove the pencil lines which can be a bit of a faff. Saying that, it is a lovely creamy consistency and the ‘ivory lace’ shade is good for my pale colourings.

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Birchbox included their own double pencil sharpener. Nothing ground-breaking but always useful.

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A real skincare treat next with Matriskin’s Collagen Serum. I love that it comes with a pipette and I have been using it morning and night although it is slightly on the sticky side if I’m in a rush in the morning! Having read a few reviews of this serum, it seems to be good stuff but at £80 for a full-sized bottle I don’t think I will repurchasing it.

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Finally, a make-up item from one of my new favourite brands, Laura Mercia. I’m always trying out new mascaras and this one really lengthens my lashes and is a good size for travelling with.

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Upon reflection, this is actually a pretty good box – two make-up items, shampoo, tea and skincare but there just isn’t much to get really excited about, especially after I loved last month’s box so much…maybe I’m getting a little complacent with these beauty boxes?!