Birchbox - January 2013

I’ve been tempted by beauty boxes for ages but have always talked myself out of it, reasoning that £10 a month could be spent on a nice nail varnish or two, rather than taking a risk on samples. However, I’ve been feeling in a bit of a beauty rut lately, so am keen to find new products without having to splash out on full-size versions which may not work for my skin - Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish, I’m looking at you. I thought the rebranding of JolieBox as Birchbox was the perfect time to subscribe to one of these beauty services and see if they live up to the hype, so here goes...


KMS California ADD VOLUME Volumizing Spray, 30ml. I was intrigued to try this as I have very fine hair which tends to look lifeless and boring unless I make an actual effort with it. This is applied to towel-dried hair before blow drying, with the heat working its magic to amp up volume. I think perhaps I was expecting a little too much from this product. I can't say I noticed any real extra volume after use, no more than blow drying normally gives anyway. The full size costs £14.85.

Fresh Sugar Rosé Lip Treatment, 2.2g. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Fresh so was excited to see this included. I really like the feel of this on the lips and it does a pretty decent job of hydrating them. The colour pay-off is minimal, but pretty nonetheless. I also really like the light citrus smell of it, and the fact that it contains SPF15. Bonus. A really nice product, but pretty pricey at around £15.

WEI White Lotus Moisture Rich Eye Blend, 2ml. WEI is a new brand to me and seems pretty exclusive, available only in Space NK and now on Birchbox. This eye cream is quite thick but blends easily into the skin, leaving a slight powdery feel. It's claimed to diminish the appearance of crow's feet, lines and wrinkles, so would suit more mature skin. Full size costs £60.

Taaj Crème Mains Délhicates Hand Cream, 30ml. Hand creams are something which normally never go unused with me. However, the smell of this means that I'll be shipping it off to my mum or sister. Why anyone would want cinnamon included in a hand cream is a mystery to me. The cream itself does an ok job of hydrating dry hands, but I have found equally good creams which are less offensive on the nose, and the purse. The full size costs £10.

Teapigs, super fruit. This is included as the 'lifestyle extra' in the box. Firstly, I love that these are called 'tea temples', it really adds a sense of divinity to tea drinking. I'm a huge tea fan, but just can't get into fruit varieties. Smells delicious though. A pack of 15 'tea temples' costs £3.99.

Overall, I'm not wowed by Birchbox's January offering. The Fresh lip treatment is the highlight, while the rest of the products are a little underwhelming. Fingers crossed the February box is more appealing.

NOTD: Essie 'Eternal Optimist' + Look Beauty Nail Pop 'Bling'

This weekend's manicure is a very pretty and unashamedly girly one. Using my all-time favourite colour, Essie's 'Eternal Optimist', I added a coat of Look Beauty's Nail Pop in 'Bling' for a little sparkly interest. This is one of the best glitter polishes I've found in terms of opacity, and it's not too pricey either, currently on sale in Superdrug for £2.50. Bargain!


NOTD: Space nails

I can’t get enough of glitter nails and love this dark variation, with Rimmel Lasting Finish Pro in ‘Midnight Blue’ as a base. I created a similar thing when I uncovered Ciaté’s ‘Glass Slipper’ in the Mini Mani Month calendar (post on that here), but wanted to add more depth to the nails, cue Nina Ultra Pro in ‘Puple-Xing’. This is a glitter-heavy purple polish, with purple, silver and halo chunks throughout. It applies almost opaque, so I dabbed it on with a cosmetic sponge to get a lighter distribution. I then painted on a coat of ‘Glass Slipper’, although again dabbed the sponge over my nails to take some of it off and make it a little less harsh.

I keep staring down at my nails and wiggling them so the different glitters catch the light. I must look a right oddbod.

Empties #1

A round-up of the products I've finished over the past few months.

1. Bioderma Créaline H20 Solution Micellaire. By far the best make-up remover I've found and something I always feel sad about when reaching the end of a bottle. It's very gentle on the skin (no burning eyes) and takes make-up off so easily. Plus, a 500ml bottle lasts me ages. I wish it was easier to get hold of in the UK, but I stocked up when I went to Paris last year so should be set for most of 2013, phew.

2. Avène Extremely Gentle Cleanser. This is my second or third bottle of this; testament to how much I love it. I use it with a hot muslin cloth, which helps to leave my skin soft and smooth. I don't see dramatic improvements using this cleanser, but it is a great everyday one which can be used on the eyes (massive plus for me) and doesn't dry my skin out. Definitely a product I'll keep on repurchasing.

3. Oilatum cream. Another of my skin care favourites and one which I'll be adding back into my routine as soon as I run out of my current face creams (Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré and Avène TriXéra+ Selectiose emollient cream). Oilatum is a rich, thick cream which I like to use all year round. I'm interested to try the bath formula version, that could make for a nice, pampering Sunday treat.

4. Nivea Smooth Nourishing hand cream. I've gone through several hand creams in an effort to ward off dry and cracked skin in the colder months and this is my favourite of the bunch. The smell is very inoffensive (unlike a lot of other hand creams) and it sinks into the skin pretty quickly, leaving no greasy or oily residue. Definitely going to add the full size 100ml version to my basket next time I'm in Boots.

5. Clinique All About Eyes Rich. This was my first foray into eye creams and now my skin care routine feels incomplete without one. While I did enjoy using this and would repurchase, I'm interested to see if I can find an even richer (and possibly cheaper) eye cream. If you have any recommendations, please let me know.

6. Blistex Medplus for Lips. My lips are always dry, so I'm forever applying lip balms, sticks and creams and have been through my fair share. This one didn't stand out as being amazing, but it was ok. I liked the mild mint smell and the feel of it on the lips, but wasn't entirely sold so probably wont pick it up again.

7. Kate Moss eau de toilette. This brings back memories of my late teenage years and smells lovely. My (poor) attempt to describe the scent: youthful and musky, with floral hints (rose perhaps..?). I can't believe how cheap this is (£13.30 in Boots atm!), definitely an incentive to buy it again... and again.

8. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle eau de parfum. I was so sad to finish this up as it's been my favourite perfume since I got it for Christmas a few years ago. The smell is a delicate floral and fruity mix which is feminine but not overpowering. As lovely as it is, the hefty price means I won't be buying it again in a hurry, but it'd make a nice indulgent purchase.