Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Glossybox August 2016

Reminder: this box is £10 a month + £3.25 P+P.

First impressions:
I was one of many, many people who did not get the palette that they chose. I've been incredibly lucky to get the one I ended up with, considering the other options were pastel blues/pinks or bright glitters, but I was still really disappointed to see that it was a cool toned palette and not the warm toned one that I'd chosen. This was apparently due to a packing error and Glossybox have emailed those that were affected to tell them that they will be getting the palette that they chose in their September box by way of apology. So, I've got that to look forward to. In the meantime, I have the Hall of Fame palette - branded as "Boldly Bardot" in the choices list - to review instead. 

The pochette I assume counts for one of the items in this bag as there are only four others, which is a bit disappointing. The Birchbag was at least a separate thing. I think it's weird how these boxes both seem to be sending me similar things whenever possible. Both sent bags this month, and both sent lip/cheek tints at the same time before. It can't be a coincidence. Still, the other four products in this box are nice to receive, even if the palette is not the one I wanted. I'm happy that there's finally some form of eyeshadow in one of these boxes, even if it's not the singles I was gunning for, and even happier that there's a face mask sample: I LOVE clay masks, and use them almost religiously to keep my skin as clear as I possibly can, so it was great to get one of those. A body lotion is a new thing too, and since I don't remember the last time I saw my Bodyshop face brush (I think I might have lost it when I moved, as I've looked everywhere. They don't seem to do them anymore unfortunately), I was really glad to get the Spa to You brush. All in all, another good mix of products. I know Spa to You and MUA from previous Glossyboxes but I haven't heard of Mudmasky or Cowshed before (or Rae Feather, I suppose), so there's a lot of new in here again. 

Here's what I got this month! 

1) Rae Feather Mini Monogram Pochette - RRP £20

Okay then, Glossybox. Who on earth would pay £20 for this? It's a little annoying that it's been included as one of our five products this month, but it definitely isn't worth £20! There's no way that I'd pay that much for it just because of the Rae Feather thing. I'm not like that about designer products. If I like a product, then I like it. Who designed it has nothing to do with that. I'm not going to like something just because it says it's designer and the designers that I generally like don't always make things that I like. Maybe there's something out there by Rae Feather that I'd love enough to warrant the price, but this bag isn't going to be it. I don't understand the fascination. Think of all the amazing products that you can buy for that amount of money. I'd rather get a liquid lipstick and some change than this. Having said all that... I still like it better than the Birchbag. It's just more practical. The Birchbag's shape makes it pretty inconvenient to use, the material means it's usually filthy, and it's small to boot. This doesn't have those issues. It has a nice wipe-clean lining and it's a really good size. The MUA palette fits inside easily and there's plenty of leftover space. You could easily fit your day's face in here. For keeping Glossybox makeup goodies together, it's fantastic, but the boxes do that just fine too. This is obviously more suited to travelling than the big bulky boxes are, but I have a million makeup bags already. So I don't really know how I feel about this. I don't agree that it's worth £20 or even close, and I don't like that I got this in the box instead of something else that I would get more use out of, especially since I didn't get a hair product this month. But it's not a bad makeup bag. It does the job and it does it much better than the Birchbag does. I just don't think it was really necessary. I don't even think that it's available now that the box has been and gone, so I don't know why they've put a price on something that nobody can buy anymore anyway.

2) MUA Eyeshadow Palette in Hall of Fame - RRP £4

This is going to be a really long review I think! It bugs me when shadow names are on the underside of the palette because I find myself constantly turning the palette over to see what I'm using, so for reference, top row L-R: Rose Ash, Bare, Lion, Reveal, Tectonite and Hydra. Bottom row L-R: Shy, Catacomb, Chino, Hustle, Cool Grey and Titan. There's no mirror but I find it really awkward using palette mirrors anyway (must be an eyesight thing) and I always use a different one, so I didn't care about that. I actually really like the little window because I can look at the shadows and see whether I feel like using that palette today without having to bother opening it. The double ended sponge in the palette is a bit unfortunate - I'm not against sponges, but having a double ended one seems like a waste of space. A fluffy brush for blending on one end and a sponge for packing on colour on the other end would be so much better. 

Like I said, of the four palettes available to get in this box, if I'm going to get one that isn't what I chose then I got lucky considering the other palettes on offer. I opted to try the mattes in this first, before I even did swatches on my arm, and I was really disappointed with them. They did hold up for a good few hours before creasing, I think, but they were barely visible on my lids until that happened. You can see which ones they are on the swatches quite clearly: they barely have any pigment and are chalky/chunky (2 "Bare" and 9 "Chino"). The swatches were done with one finger swipe in the pan and one finger swipe on my arm.

I like that there's two different ones so you can mix and match to make your own crease shade, skintone-wise, but I couldn't get either colour to show up on my eyelids. I wish MUA had put a bit more effort into them. If you've only got two matte shadows in your palette, make sure they're useful. Since I decided to completely ignore those shades, I've gotten along with the palette much better. There's a lot in here to like, especially considering the price. I was going through my palettes, realising that I didn't have any affordable palettes to compare it to, when I realised that there were plenty of similarities with my high-end palettes, so I decided to do some comparison swatches.

Hopefully the picture is fairly self-explanatory (click to see a larger version). Some are pretty close, some are a bit different, some are exact. I didn't get a comparison for all of them, but these were the MUA shadows that I was most impressed with. Let me know if you want me to dig around for comparisons for the rest of the shadows in the palette. Here's what I got though, and it really didn't take very long to match them up either.
1 - UD's Dust (from Naked 3 palette) VS MUA's Rose Ash: Dust is more pigmented and perhaps a little more shimmery, but they're very similar otherwise. 
2 - UD's Half Baked (Naked 1 and 2, but I swatched it from Naked 1) VS MUA's Lion: these look different in the photo but they looked exact on my arm, so I'd say these are matches. Half Baked is maybe a bit brighter and more pigmented, but not by much. I couldn't tell the difference when they were on my eyes.
3 - UD's Gunmetal (Naked 1) VS MUA's Cool Grey: this is the only really noticeable difference in the comparisons. Gunmetal was darker. Same sparkle though, and I assume it's meant to be used in the same way. Cool Grey can always be darkened with a bit of Titan. 
4 - UD's Creep (Naked 1) VS MUA's Titan: these are pretty exact, right down to the subtle sparkles. Pigmentation was very similar but Creep was a little smoother. 
5 - UD's Hustle (Naked 1) VS MUA's Hustle: these are exact matches, even down to their name. On my arm I couldn't tell the difference, in the photo I can't tell the difference either. If I'd done this one first it might have confused me over which side was which. 
6 - UD's Sin (Naked 1) VS MUA's Catacomb: Sin is slightly more pink than Catacomb and a bit more pigmented, but these two are very close. I did a comparison later with High from the UD Smoky palette and that one is exact: High was just a bit more shimmery than Catacomb was. I wasn't paying much attention to the Smoky palette when I was looking for comparisons for some reason!

Unfortunately, MUA don't seem to sell any of the shadows from this palette as singles, but since the whole palette is only £4, it hardly matters. The mattes aren't great, but the shimmers are so good that they almost make up for it. As long as you have another shadow to use as a transition shade, the mattes being bad in this palette won't matter. The hits in this palette are fantastic shadows and I'm having a lot of fun playing with them. The fact that they stood up so well to Urban Decay, when those shadow palettes are £38.50, is pretty amazing. I didn't test the shadows with a primer as I still haven't found one that isn't a creased mess way before eyeshadow normally would be without, but the MUA shadows didn't last on me as long as the Urban Decay shadows do. I used Lion and Half Baked against each other and the eye with Half Baked looked good for much longer. Still, the MUA shadows I've tried have all lasted a good five hours or so and there are plenty of times when that's all I need. I was actually really impressed with that five hours, too: they survived oily skin in a heatwave and even when they started to crease they still looked really vibrant. For someone without oily skin, it's probably fine. It's actually opened my eyes up a bit to more affordable brand eyeshadows. I haven't tried any for over a decade now because they just didn't work that well on my skin, and I would rather spend the extra money and get high end shadows that lasted instead. I have 12 high end palettes now and a small selection of single shades and I use them all the time, but it never occurred to me to try a more affordable brand since back when I tried them before, they were really disappointing. Things have clearly changed! I can't give it full marks because those mattes just aren't really there, but I fell in love with this palette, I fell in love with the price and now I'm really excited about getting the palette that I chose in September!

3) Mudmasky Facial Detox Purifying Recovery Mask 20ml/0.7fl. oz - full size RRP £53 (the Mudmasky website says it's £59 though, so not sure where Glossybox got £53 from)

The packaging for this includes a time for how long to leave the mask on depending on your skin type, which I thought was really helpful. I've never seen that before on a face mask and I think it's really good that they recognise that people with different skin types will be using this product.
At first, once the mask was applied there was the usual itch/sting (usual for clay masks in my experience, anyway) but it wasn't long before that was replaced with something new: pulsing. I was very, very aware of every millimetre of skin on my face under this mask. It's a very weird feeling. It didn't hurt, but it felt like it was tightening and actually changing my skin. This sensation outlived any unpleasant itching and it was definitely more comfortable than some other clay masks that I've tried. The recommended time for oily skin was 11 minutes, and after this time the mask was mostly dry. There were a few dark patches still, but they contained the weird flotsam and jetsam that the formula has in it. It's not a smooth mask, it has little leafy bits in it. They reminded me of pieces of seaweed, which I hate touching, so applying this mask was a bit disgusting. I think they're actually the camellia sinensis leaves that are listed in the ingredients description, but they don't feel particularly nice either way. Also listed in the description was parfum. I have no idea why a mask that is expensive as this one is (I think I dumped £5-10's worth on my face) contains perfume. It's not tested on animals, is paraben free and contains natural ingredients, and then there's that parfum. I'm sure it serves a purpose, I just don't understand what that purpose is. Maybe the natural ingredients smell too disgusting for people to tolerate them on their face for 11 minutes without something to mask it. Who knows. 

This is quite messy to remove. The leaves in the formula will stick to your face and get tangled in any hair they come into contact with and they make the removal so much harder than it otherwise would be, so I hope they do a world of good for the skin to make up for it. It specifies to remove with cold water, which I don't recall seeing in instructions before. Usually it's warm water so I have to remove it in the shower, but this mask likes the cold apparently. I'm glad I used it before a shower anyway though, because even after removing it and drying my face, I still had pieces of leaf stuck to my skin. Sort of worth it, however: my skin is definitely feeling and looking tighter. It feels the cleanest it's felt for a long time and it is noticeably clearer. I was also able to tell a difference with oil production. As I mentioned in a previous review, this could just be a by-product of hot water on my skin, but usually after removing masks like this my skin gets oily again rather quickly, whereas with this one it didn't do that. I was impressed with the initial use and then impressed again when I tried it again. It's definitely better than the clay mask I was using before, but it's also ten times the price. The second time, I used a lot less product, so maybe it could be stretched out to last longer - it does say to use a thin layer - but it also involves washing clay down the sink, and I'm not sure of the longterm effect that that would have on the plumbing here. I have a tub of Indian healing clay and some organic apple cider vinegar to use for a face mask on the way, and I know that you can dampen that once it has dried and then peel it off rather than washing it down the sink each time. I'm definitely going to keep this one in mind, though. It did make my skin feel and look really, really nice after I'd used it. It was put in our boxes this month to mark the launch of the product in the UK, so I'm hoping that it'll be a lot easier to get hold of than some of the other things I've had in these boxes when this sample runs out. When questioned about the high price, the brand replied that you will end up saving money because you won't need to buy as much make up. I don't know about that for me - I don't wear that much makeup on my face at the moment anyway, but that's a pretty huge claim for a company to make. Still, it was very nice. I'll definitely be keeping this on my radar for a luxury skin treat in the future. 

4) Spa to You Deep Pore Cleansing Brush - RRP 6.99

As I said, my trusty Bodyshop face brush has disappeared off the edge of the planet and isn't sold anymore. I was actually eyeing up the Soap and Glory brush to replace it with, but then this came along. I love the handle. It's very easy to hold and maneuver and it also feels strong and very well made. I don't see myself snapping this anytime soon. It comes with a plastic case to protect the bristles for travelling or when it isn't in use, which is fantastic. It's easy to clip on, easy to remove, and does the job perfectly. The silicone bristles give a really nice massage for improved circulation, too. The only complaint I'd have is that I don't think the bristles are quite as soft as they make them out to be. It can be quite harsh on the face. I have to use this much more gently than I had to with the Bodyshop brush as it can be a bit much for my skin in places. But it's still a great face brush and I use it all the time. After this and the konjac sponge, this brand is definitely on my watch list now.

5) Cowshed Wild Cow Invigorating Body Lotion 30ml/1fl. oz - full size RRP £20

This was a lot thicker than I was expecting it to be! Since it says it's a lotion I was expecting a much thinner consistency than this. I think I might struggle to get all of this sample out and used. The full size is 300ml and packaged in just a larger version of this, so I'm not sure how that's going to work. I had to shake it to get product out for my first use. That said, I really, really liked this. Even though it was thick, a little went a long way. It smells amazing, but not too overpowering or choking. It isn't greasy on the skin, it sinks in really well and the absolute best part was that I didn't need to wash my hands after applying it before I could do anything else. It's not necessary to do that with this. I don't think I've ever had a body lotion be like that before - I always have to wash my hands after I've used something like this, either because of the smell on my hands or the sliminess. All this did was moisturise my hands as well. So it might be a bit difficult to get product out when it's been used quite a bit, but I'm certainly going to try anyway.

Overall Impression:
This was a really good box this month. Even with the makeup bag, I still got my money's worth from this. I know that they made a pretty huge mistake with the eyeshadow palette choices but the correction was made very quickly. They responded to my email quickly and sent out a mass email with the resolution almost as soon as the problem came to light. I was really impressed at how fast they handled that. There was none of this "3-5 business days for a response" crap. I will still be getting the palette I chose and in the meantime I have another palette now that's really nice. I would never, ever have chosen this palette with these colours but it ended up being very similar to things I already have and love. I've used it so much since I got it. Win/win.

I use the face brush pretty much every day, I use the lotion when my skin is feeling extra dry (now that the seasons are changing, I'm going to actually have to bother moisturising my skin sometimes unless I want to shed it all like a snake) and I've almost used the mask up. This is another box from Glossybox where a lot of the products have made it into my routine. It's a little different this month since two of them were sample sizes - I don't remember having more than one sample size in a previous box - but they were still decent sizes and I got a good idea of what the products were like from them. With the exception of the makeup bag (I'm just trying to pretend that the makeup bags from Birchbox and Glossybox this month didn't happen), these are all products that I would buy in future and continue to use, so that's great. Glossybox are definitely improving since my first few boxes. I would still much rather have had a haircare product in place of the Thing That Shall Not Be Named, but it does feel like they're working on variety. I got a beauty tool, skincare, body care and makeup and they're all perfectly usable.

Box average: 4/5
Cumulative box average: 4/5

The spoiler for September's box is amazing - Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara! It looks like a sample mascara, not the full size, but I don't care! There's a picture of both the regular and the waterproof and I have no idea what I'm getting. There's been no email sent around so we can choose and even if there was, I honestly wouldn't know what to go for. But I've never tried that mascara and I've wanted to for ages now, but was put off buying it in case I tried it and hated it, so it's great that I'll be getting one to try in my box!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Birchbox August 2016

Reminder: this box is £10 a month + £2.95 P+P.

First impressions:
Yellow bag! Noooooooooo! There was a 50/50 chance of me getting a colour I'd like and I got one I hate. It's dirty already from me taking photos of it. The material just absorbs dirt. The only way it'll stay clean is if I wash it endlessly. It's also much smaller than I thought it would be. The contents barely fit: the products info leaflet was folded up and squashed in amongst the samples. It has huge seams inside it that take up a lot of space. Can't say I'm a massive fan of the bag! I thought I'd be able to store lots of Birchbox goodies in it, but that's just not going to be the case. It's too small to fit most things in it. I'd much rather have had a box instead. 

For the products themselves, I was a little disappointed by what I saw this time around. A hand sanitiser in a beauty box seems like they're scraping the barrel. At no point in my existence have I ever wished for a more luxurious hand sanitiser. It's just hand sanitiser. It sanitises your hands. That's it. I wasn't overly impressed by the scrub or the moisturiser either: both are samples of products that are cheap to buy in full size. Part of me thinks that that's great if I like the products because then it won't cost me a king's ransom to replace the samples, but the other part of me doesn't get this box for samples of £3.99 scrubs. I can buy that full size and try it and if I hate it it's only £3.99 and I can use it up and just not buy it again. That's not quite how I'd feel if I bought that Rituals scrub in full size and found I didn't like that. Higher end samples make the box worth getting, because the samples themselves are more expensive, but it also saves me money in the long run as I don't end up buying expensive things that I then try and don't like (remember we cannot return cosmetics in the UK if they don't work out). That will be lost if they send cheap samples. It doesn't feel like this boxbagthing is worth the money, and I've never felt like that after opening a Birchbox before. Maybe the products will prove me wrong. As for brands, I've heard of Philip Kingsley from a previous box and heard of English Laundry from YouTube but the rest are all new. 

Here's what I got this month! As per Birchbox's competition instructions, I took my Birchbag to the beach for photos this time. 

1) Marcelle Waterproof Eyeliner in Expresso 0.8g/0.028oz - full size RRP £10.50

We got to choose the colour of the eyeliner that we got - brown or purple - and I was really happy that I got the colour I wanted. I really like brown eyeliners but I don't own many of them (I think I have two) so I was excited to have another one to test out, especially since none of the brown eyeliners that I have already are waterproof. Unfortunately, neither is this. I swatched it on my hand and then washed it off with water. It washed off in the shower without me even touching my eyes. It comes off with miscellar water when I'm cleansing my face. It doesn't stay put if my eyes water a lot on windy days. I could probably deal with that if it wasn't for the colour. It's brown, yes, but it's a shimmery brown. It's not a solid colour like I thought it would be from the preview. It's practically invisible on my waterline: I can only tell that it's there at all because my waterline has a faint bronze shimmer to it. There's no colour payoff at all. On my eyelid, it's impossible to get a smooth line. The shimmer isn't particularly consistent, and some strokes will dump a bit of darker pigment at random. Then there's a lot of back and forth to try and get that bit to blend in with the pencil strokes that were just pale and shimmery. It's weird, and it doesn't look good. The only use I have for this is the lower lash line. Because of the shimmer, it can be very subtle without the need for any smudging (if I smudged this it would just disappear anyway) so it's nice for some soft definition. I can fix any colour dumps with a cotton bud and it won't ruin whatever makeup I have on like it does when trying to fix it on the upper lash line. It took some serious eyeshadow surgery just to get the colour to be even on my eyelid, huge nope to trying that again. But on the lower lash line, it's nice. I do have to be careful with the outer corners because Marcelle's definition of "waterproof" is vastly different to mine, but it looks nice while it's there and it's subtle enough that it isn't very noticeable if my eyes do water enough to make it wander. It's pretty much useless for anything else though. I tried to sharpen it to see if that would improve it at all, but it just broke. I took the photo after this, and that's as sharp as it will go before it breaks. It's a shame because I really wanted to like it, but it just doesn't do what it's supposed to do. 

2) Philip Kingsley One More Day Dry Shampoo 50ml/1.7fl. oz - full size RRP £14.50

This is the first dry shampoo I've ever used, so I can't compare this to any other brands. Dry shampoo isn't something I'm really into (I'd rather just wash my hair if it's that much of a problem) so I've never had one before. I didn't really know what to expect. My hair is so dry that it doesn't really get greasy between washes. All that happens is that it goes from being a fluffy mess to being a bit smoother and more manageable. It's very, very rare that I would need to use something like this. So... for this review, I purposefully left my hair alone one day so I could try it. It wasn't greasy still, but it was as "one day more" as it was likely to get. I sprayed this through as per the instructions, brushed my hair... and it was like I'd just washed it. It definitely works. It doesn't really have a strong scent, which I thought was a little weird considering the product, but my hair stayed nice all day until I washed it in the evening. It didn't make my hair feel sticky or crunchy or weird and it definitely took what little "wash me please" feeling my hair gets away. I can certainly see it having its uses
 and since it was so good I will definitely consider buying it once it runs out, but as I said, it's not something I will use a lot so that may take a while. That's not the fault of the product though, that's just my routine. If you needed a decent dry shampoo, this is definitely that.

3) Amie Morning Dew Matte Finish Moisturiser 10ml/0.35fl. oz - full size RRP £4.95

I wanted to like this so badly. Partly because there had to be something in this box that I actually liked beyond the dry shampoo, and partly because a cheap matte moisturiser would be nice and save me a lot of money in the long run if I liked it enough to switch to it. But it wasn't to be. I applied this before doing a basic makeup look for a day out. I had a rare day off work and I wanted to go and wander around in the sun for a change. I always do my makeup last because my skin is so oily that the closest to me leaving the house it is, the better. But after I'd done my makeup I felt that jeans would maybe be too hot to wear outside, so I changed into shorts. In the time it took me to finish up my makeup and get changed, I decided to wash my face completely and start over without this moisturiser. My face was so oily it looked wet. That's not normal. It'd been maybe 15 minutes since I'd cleansed, plus I had powder on as part of my base. It shouldn't look or feel that oily already. 

The moisturiser itself was nice to put on. It spread out nicely, wasn't too thick, and did feel moisturising. It wasn't matte though. My skin looked dewy straight away. And then it didn't feel right. I knew I had to wash my face without even looking in a mirror and seeing how oily it was. It didn't feel right at all. It felt ridiculously sensitive and when I cleansed it it was a bit sore. I redid my face with the Caudalie sunscreen from the July box and just a lip balm and mascara - no BB cream or powder this time and nothing on my cheeks. My skin didn't feel okay. It looked fine, but something was off. Then came the horrific reaction. Reviews this month were delayed by one of the worst skin reactions I've ever had. My skin felt burned, it was sore to touch and it broke out with what I can only describe as clusters of blood blisters that burst when they felt inclined to. It was really, really bad. It's left me with some pretty severe scarring. Over three weeks later, it is still healing in the worst areas. My skin went from being near perfect to a complete mess and very painful. I thought it may have been one of two other products that I'd recently been using "full time" so when my skin improved, I tested those one by one. I'd been using the face scrub from Huygens very regularly in anticipation of buying the full size (it's now on the way here) so I waited until my skin was better, used up the rest of the sample and nope, wasn't that. That actually helped if anything. Next potential offender was the Bodyshop's face base. This is my go-to lazy product, which I will probably stop buying now unless I can find a way to make it stay matte for longer because it's really not for my skin type, but this is the third or fourth compact of it that I've had so it was unlikely to be this. I was right, it isn't. I've used it every day for the last week and my skin is fine. So, the sore face post use and immediate heavy oil production points to it being caused by this moisturiser. I am not going to try it again to double check. My face still hasn't properly finished bleeding, thank you very much. Once is quite enough.

I'm not sure which of the 39 ingredients was the problem child here. 39 seems like a lot of ingredients to me, but I don't know much if anything about ingredients to know if there's a definite "oh that'll be your problem" one in this. What I do know is that parfum is ingredient number 13. That seems like quite a high volume of parfum to me. I don't remember it being particularly perfumed, and I also don't think I've had something on my face where parfum wasn't the very bottom ingredient even on a long list, so that may be it. Two of the ingredients also have "alcohol" in their name (8th and 9th on the list), which seems like it'd be in direct conflict with the whole "moisturising" thing, but what do I know. I'm sure enough that it was this product that caused the reaction and that's good enough for me right now. I don't love covering up scars enough to want to test it out a second time. On the plus side, I got to put the few concealers I own through their paces. Thanks? 
4) Anatomicals The Buff Stuff Citrus Body Scrub 50ml/1.6fl. oz - full size RRP £3.99

I approached this in pretty much the same way as the moisturiser. It would be great if I liked it because it wouldn't be expensive to replace, but I wasn't happy that I got a sample of something that was so inexpensive to begin with. I don't believe that there's always a correlation between price and quality when it comes to beauty products, I've had some fantastic things that weren't expensive and some truly awful things that were, but this is not quite why I buy these boxes. Still, I thought that maybe if Birchbox still saw fit to include it in boxes, then it must be good. Right? Nope. I assume the pumice in this is the "scrub" part, but apart from chunks of that the scrub itself just consists of a clear, thin gel. It contains parfum, which I don't mind in scrubs as they don't bother my skin (it's just my face that cares about things like that) and they add that extra bit of luxury, but this barely smells of anything. The Rituals scrub filled the whole bathroom with scent and I only used a small amount. There's no soaping or lather at all with this scrub, so you need a lot of it to do the same job as a fraction of the amount of the Rituals scrub. Yes, this is much cheaper, but if I'm going to use so much more of it and it isn't going to be a good scrub either then it's probably more cost effective to get the Rituals one anyway. Chunks of pumice in a thin gel are not very good at scrubbing, particularly when that thin gel is being used on wet skin. It's a miracle if it doesn't just slide off the skin straight away. I would rather get the Rituals scrub and have a body scrub that's amazing than bother with this.

5) Merci Handy Antibacterial Hand Cleansing Gel in New Wave 30ml/1fl. oz - RRP £2.90

I don't really know how to review this. It's a hand sanitiser. It smells nice, I didn't notice that I could taste it if I used it before eating, and I didn't notice it drying my hands out overly much. I guess that makes it worthy of praise. But it's still a hand sanitiser. The one thing I care about is something I can't test out: I'm not a scientist, I can't test its ability to sanitise hands. It doesn't have the usual claim on the packaging of how much bacteria it can kill, so I've no idea how effective it's meant to be because it doesn't claim to be effective at all. "Hand cleansing gel" is all that it tells you. It's a gel, you put it on your hands, I don't know about the cleansing part. My hands felt clean I guess? I ate food and didn't die? Seriously, how does one go about reviewing a hand sanitiser. Would I buy this from the Birchbox shop? No idea. I really don't see myself ordering a product like this online when I can get a different one in store that essentially does the same thing (or is supposed to, anyway). But if I was a few pounds short of the minimum spend for a coupon code? Sure, why not. It did smell nice, after all. And I'm not dead. 

6) English Laundry Notting Hill Eau de Parfum 2ml/0.07fl. oz - full size RRP £46

I actually really liked this perfume, to the point where this sample is now all gone. It wasn't heady or ridiculously strong, it was wearable. The only downside was that it didn't last very long. I would spray it on and then a couple of hours later it would be gone. It had to be constantly reapplied for the scent to remain, so the sample died very quickly. It's the first perfume sample that I've had from one of these boxes and until it ran out, it served me very well. I do like getting them for their size: it was absolutely perfect for taking out with me. I have a mini spray bottle to put perfumes in to make them more handbag friendly, but that tends to smell strongly of whatever the last perfume in it was. It's not really suited to someone who has a variety of perfumes and likes to switch them around. So, the size of this was really nice. I've never seen English Laundry perfumes for sale in the area, but I'd be very inclined to try some out if I did because this was very nice while it lasted. It was great for going out for a meal or something as it wasn't overwhelming. I could spray it without it making me cough. Sometimes subtle is nicer. 

Overall Impression:
Oh, Birchbox. What are you doing. Why are you doing it. Kindly stop.

The full size of the body scrub is 200ml so the sample is only worth about £1. The moisturiser is 100ml so the sample is worth about 50p (seriously!!). The perfume sample was tiny, the hand sanitiser is small too and that's only £2.90... I don't think that this box was worth the money. At all. It felt like they put the dry shampoo and eyeliner in the boxes and the rest of the items are just cheap filler to make up the product numbers. It's not just about making the box worth the £10, it has to be worth the £10 with good products. If it has £10's worth of crap products in it then it still isn't worth the £10. After the other boxes that I've had this one feels like it came from a different company altogether. I might as well have not had this box and just bought the dry shampoo in full size. I don't really care that much about anything else in here.

As for the "box" this month... that bag is the worst makeup bag I think I've ever seen. When I say the inside seams are giant I mean it. As in they take up the space of two or so products. They have these for sale in the Birchbox shop for £8 - I sincerely hope that this bag isn't the reason that so many of the products are awful, because it definitely wasn't worth the sacrifice. I'd rather have average products sent to me in a bin bag. After the other boxes that I've had from Birchbox, I really wasn't expecting this. Glossybox have sent me two dud products, yes, but included in otherwise good boxes. This was just a box mostly full of the meh and the terrible. 

Box average: 2.5/5
Cumulative box average: 3.9/5

The spoiler on the squashed products leaflet is that if you have referred a friend to Birchbox, you get an ugly bracelet included in your box. I haven't, so thankfully I won't be getting the bracelet (I understand that some people were excited by this, but that bracelet is really not my thing). There was no other spoiler until nearer the end of the month when we got an email asking us to choose a Model Co. product: a highlighter trio or another lip and cheek tint. I opted for the highlighter trio as they're cream highlighters and if they work, they look like something I'd get more use out of. I already have a balmy lip and cheek tint from Jelly Pong Pong but I don't have much highlighter. Here's hoping that September's box is a return to the Birchbox standard that I've had in all my previous boxes. This month's was definitely a box I'd rather forget about.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Glossybox July 2016

Reminder: this box is £10 a month + £3.25 P+P.

First impressions:
This month's box is very makeup heavy this time around. With the exception of the face tanning cream and the hairbrush, it's all about the makeup. But it's a summer box, and the makeup is mostly geared towards summer essentials, so that's good. I've only just ordered a Clinique waterproof mascara (sigh. It's the moisturiser all over again!) because I really needed a good waterproof mascara so it's great that there's one in this box too. That's something that I need to have all year round. There's also some very good sized products here. Everything is a full size except the Utan and Tone product and that's still a great size for what it is. The lip product here is seriously huge. For comparison, it's way bigger than some of the samples I get from Birchbox that are intended to be used on the whole face - that Huygens scrub is only 10ml, for instance. I have had plenty of items from both of these boxes that have been smaller than this lip product but intended for use on a much larger area. Definitely pleased with how much you get for your money with that!

I'm not overly thrilled about the inclusion of a hairbrush. A hairbrush is just a hairbrush to me; like the tweezers, I don't really go shopping around for the perfect hairbrush! I have very long hair, I have a giant paddle brush for it and I also have a comb and a few other bits that don't get used very often. If this even works at all, it's still going to go in the "not used very often" pile. I would much prefer it if Glossybox sent hair products for the "hair" portion of the box as that's what I'm more likely to be looking for and therefore keep using. For brands, I've heard of Hairon and Hawaiian Tropic from previous boxes but the rest of the brands here are new to me. 

Here's what I got this month! 

1) Utan and Tone Nourishing Night Crème 25ml - RRP £12.50

This isn't the full size as far as I can find - the full size is 50ml and retails for £25. I assume the price is just halved because the product is half that size, but I'm guessing it's a large sample as I can't find it for sale like this. As I said at the end of June's post, I was terrified to use this. Ideally I wanted to use it when I had two straight days off but with me working triple my usual hours, that just hasn't happened. I was just going to have to risk it! It feels exactly like a moisturiser to put on. I didn't need a lot - I could probably make this last for a whole summer of tan if I was careful enough with it - and it smoothed over my skin nicely. I put it on my face, neck and décolletage as per the instructions, and was careful to blend it out, particularly around my hairline. It sank in quickly, it wasn't greasy and then I went to bed feeling very nervous. I was expecting to wake up with marked bedsheets, but there was nothing there at all. It really was just like I put a moisturiser on and then went to bed. Best of all though, it definitely works! Far from the orange mess that I was nervously expecting, this looked really natural. It wasn't a huge difference - I don't know if this is because I have a tan anyway - but I had a very subtle and natural looking bronze to my skin. I could tell that it was there, but other people probably wouldn't notice. That's exactly what you want from a product like this. It lasted a few days to a week I think. When I cleansed my face, the cotton pad would come away coloured. Eventually it stopped being coloured. It was a very subtle fade - it didn't just outright wash off - and it stayed looking natural throughout. I would definitely repurchase this and am now really curious about the rest of the range - and this from someone who has never used or liked the idea of tanning products before. It was very easy to apply and really very quick too - I'd have had to go to sleep anyway after all - and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. 

2) Hawaiian Tropic Island Berry Lip Gloss 20ml - RRP £6.99

I love this. This is my new favourite thing. I use it every single day. Lip balm, lip gloss and sunscreen all in one and it smells absolutely amazing. I put it on before I leave the house and it comes with me to work for touch ups throughout the day. If I go out, I have this in my bag. Without fail. It's the perfect formula. It isn't too thick or thin, it isn't sticky, it doesn't melt straight into nothing two minutes after applying... this will stay for a surprisingly long time, and will live through quite a few drinks of water while I'm at work. It's not really opaque, so it adds a subtle bit of colour that makes my lips look fuller. It's very moisturising and it doesn't have a chemical taste, it actually tastes exactly how it smells, so that's really nice for something that's so close to the mouth. Way too many of my lip products have a chemical taste to them regardless of what they smell like and it's disgusting if you accidentally taste it, but this isn't like that. I really, really love this. It's so nice to finally get a lip product that I love this much! The MUA one was great too, but I definitely prefer this one for its all-rounder qualities. Perfect for quick and simple makeup days. 

3) Icona Milano Emotion Allowed Mascara 10ml/0.34 fl. oz - RRP £13.04

This is another new favourite. I am really cursing Glossybox's lack of a shop because in all likelihood, when this is gone, it's gone. I'm assuming from the price that I'd have to import it from somewhere and that's not going to be worth doing for one mascara. It is a really, really nice waterproof mascara though. It's not clumpy, it's very black, and you can hear the brush combing product through your lashes when you use it. It has a very thin formula, so you need to be on your guard when applying it. It can actually leave little splashes of product on your skin if you're not careful. This isn't a huge problem though as I always apply mascara last and this has never ruined my makeup yet. Although it's waterproof I've never had issues with any mistakes being hard to get off my skin. It's easy to remove, too. I've seen so many bad reviews of waterproof mascaras because they're hard to remove and I think those reviewers must be using the wrong remover, because with an oil-based remover for waterproof makeup, this comes straight off. No rubbing or tugging at delicate skin required. I actually bought Clinique's waterproof mascara literally just before this one arrived as I didn't know it would be in the box this month, and I've been reaching for this one over the Clinique one because it's easier to get it looking nice without being too thick on the lashes. It creates a lovely natural eyelash look that isn't going to move if you get caught in the rain or watch a sad film or something. I have showered with this on and it's looked no different afterwards. Definitely love this, just no idea how I'll ever replace it once it's gone. 

4) Hairon De-tangle Brush - RRP £6.99

Well. Hm. The shape is apparently meant to be easy to hold as it fits nicely in the palm of the hand. I don't know about you, but I don't have suction pads on the palms of my hands, so I need to grip things with my fingers like a standard human would. I don't understand the shape of this brush at all. It's not easy to hold and I have dropped it a few times. Surely a handle is not asking for the world when it comes to a hairbrush. For what it's intended for, I suppose it does work. I only really get tangles around my hairline if I leave my hair plaited overnight - when I take it out it can be tangled around the top - and at the ends. For the hairline tangles this brush works fairly well and it doesn't tug on the hairs and break them. For the ends of my hair this brush is absolutely useless because of how short the bristles are and how thin my hair isn't. I don't know if the bristles have to be that short in order for the detangling thing to work at all, but they're too short to use on the vast majority of my hair. Separating little bits and brushing them through is the only way that I can use this brush. It's effective, but it's not a quick process. It's also very annoying with the shape of the brush, as I already mentioned. So, as predicted in my first impressions, it works well enough but I still probably won't be reaching for it very often. 

5) Blank Canvas F20 Flat Brush - RRP £11.95

I really wanted to like this more because it looked so nice. I couldn't decide between a 2 and a 3 just because I've only tried it for liquid foundation and it might be really good for powder or something. For liquid foundation, it was okay. It wasn't great. I did one half of my face with this brush and the other half with the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush and the RT side was definitely better. The Blank Canvas brush required more product and didn't seem to blend as well as the RT brush. It's not as densely packed, and it didn't smooth over my pores in the same way and it looked a bit streaky in places. I got good coverage with it, for that it was no different, but I just liked the look of the RT side better. The kicker is that the RT brush is cheaper as well. I washed the BC brush before taking the photo but as you can see, it's still stained from the foundation I tested it with. The bristles are originally white at the end. I'm not too bothered about this, as I tested it with a foundation that I don't really like (I don't like to waste my nice foundation on brush tests) and I know that that foundation stains pretty much everything, but a few bristles fell out when I washed it and you can see on the enlarged photo that there are some that are sticking out a bit. They aren't loose, I've tried to remove them and they won't budge, so I don't know what's up with that. I know losing a few loose bristles on the first wash is pretty normal, but some fell out while I was applying the foundation as well and I didn't have that issue with the RT brush. This is basically a foundation brush for me to use when I don't have time to wash the RT one. I highly doubt I'd ever reach for it otherwise.

Overall Impression:
Neither of the "beauty tool" products wowed me this month, but I absolutely love the rest of the box. I use the mascara and the lip gloss almost every day and they both look fantastic. Definitely summer beauty staples, and I'll probably love them both in winter too. Very pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the Utan and Tone product as well. It would be perfect to use before a special occasion or something. I was expecting it to be a total disaster, but it's something I'm actually really likely to use. Even though I didn't like the foundation brush or the hairbrush, I really like all the other products in this box. Once again I've got my money's worth even with things in the box that I wasn't a huge fan of. But those things are still usable. The quality of the products has definitely improved from the dud products in the first few boxes. Glossybox haven't sent me a useless product for the last two months now. Look at the box average creeping up.

I still think that Glossybox is more of a makeup box than the Birchbox is. I'd really like it if Glossybox had a better range. They're definitely good at sending quality makeup products, but it'd be nice if the rest caught up a bit too and there was more of a selection. They sent out a survey about products that subscribers would like to see (I think in July, but maybe the very beginning of August) and it was about hair products, brow products (yes please!) and something else, I can't quite remember. Might have been perfume. But it's good that they're trying to work on their range and asking subscribers for things that they'd like to be getting in their boxes. I'm not sure how often these surveys come around - I got one from Birchbox at the same time - but I think it's great that they're actively listening to what people like, what people don't like and what people want from their boxes.

Box average: 4.2/5
Cumulative box average: 4/5

The spoiler for next month is an eyeshadow palette by MUA! Finally some eyeshadows! We've been able to choose which one we got from a choice of 4 different ones and the ones that we could choose from really would cater to everyone: warm neutrals, cool neutrals, pastels and brights. I obviously chose the warm neutrals one. I know I have a lot of palettes already but this will be my first time trying an affordable brand for this. I've used drugstore brand eyeshadows before but a really long time ago, and never a palette. Excited to try it!