Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Glossybox May 2016

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

First Impressions:
The box is the same size as the starter box but it has a different design: there were four in circulation I believe and I got the New York box design. Pen and ink style cityscape. I do like this design, but I prefer the usual pink. I suppose if you've been subscribed for longer than I have, it's nice to have a change. Again, it does seem a little bigger than is necessary, but maybe there are some months where the products are larger and I suppose this size means they aren't automatically restricted with what they can include. The addition of the Proper Corn filled the box that much more, for instance.

Inside, the box has more of a makeup lean to it than Birchbox seems to. I like that the two boxes are different though, or there's not much point in having both, and it's still a good range of products. It has a very summer holiday theme which is great right now. Two skincare products, two makeup products and a hair product certainly makes for a more balanced box than the starter kit. As far as brands go, I've only heard of Revlon and Proper Corn. I've never tried the latter, and for Revlon I think I have one emerald green nail varnish or something like that. I've never tried anything else from that brand. I know that the Revlon mascara was a choice, but it was only a choice if you were subscribed before the first few days of April I think. Because I subscribed in the middle of April, I didn't get to choose which one I got. I was happy to get a lengthening mascara as I trust that they aren't going to clump all over my face. I was a little disappointed to get another moisturiser though. I know that Glossybox can't help that I got one in my Birchbox as well, but I got a moisturiser from Glossybox last time and I still want to build a shrine to it. It made it take longer to do these reviews because I couldn't use the one in this box at the same time as the one in the Birchbox and I was a little sad that I had to hold off on the Être Belle for the time being. I'm not sure if that's more of a mark against this box or praise for the last one though! I'm going to guess that the mascara, lip product and hair ties are full size, and that the sunscreen and moisturiser are travel sizes. The card this month doesn't actually say which is which, it just gives the full size price, which was a little annoying.

Here's what I got this month!

1) Hairon Zero Crease Hair Tie pack of 3 - full size RRP £3.99

I wasn't remotely fussed about these when I saw them in the box. They're a fun colour but I don't really put my hair up. It's too long and too heavy to do things that would call for something like this. I tried them after letting my hair dry naturally while leaving it loose. It was still a bit damp from being washed and after a while it did have a barely there kink in it when I took the hair tie out, but since my hair wasn't fully dry I will give them the benefit of the doubt on that score. It felt weird because of the design and I have no idea what it looks like while it's in my hair. The design and the material used for these ties are great for a major pet peeve of mine when it comes to hair ties though. You know when you put your hair in a ponytail and over time the hair tie just slides off your hair and the ponytail gets loose? These don't do that. It stayed put. I was pretty impressed with that, considering how much hair it was having to hold together. I did put the ponytail at the base of my neck and not higher up because I didn't want to die of a headache, but usually even like this hair ties still get loose and these didn't at all. When I took the tie out of my hair I was disappointed at how stretched out it was. The one I'd used was double the size of the other two and barely fit back in the little box they come in (which is super cute). But as you can see from the photo, it does shrink back to size: the one I used is at the top of the triangle. I have no idea if that's something that will change with time and use or not. At the moment though, if for whatever reason my hair isn't already braided out of my way and I want to tie it back, these are great. 

2) Absolute New York Velvet Lippie in Rumba 6g/0.2 fl. oz - full size RRP £4.93

Where do I even start with this. I really, really wanted to like it. It smells exactly like the Nyx Soft Matte Lip Cream. I have that in the shade London and I really like it, so I expected to like this as it's basically the same thing. The tube colour looks a bit out of my usual zone, but it's still nice and after the MUA gloss from the starter kit box, I had high hopes. But inside, it's just orange, not coral. The picture doesn't really do the orange justice. It doesn't suit me at all and it makes my teeth look very yellow (they aren't). Normally I could forgive this. I'd hate the colour, but I'd be curious about the other available colours and go hunting to see if there was another that I liked. But the formula is horrible too. It feels the same as the Nyx one in that it's more of a mousse but unlike the Nyx one, this looks awful. It manages to be streaky and patchy at the same time. It just looked worse the drier it got and it dried my lips out too. No matter how many layers I tried to get the colour looking even, it wouldn't cooperate. It settled into every line on my lips and made them look instantly really dry and about 50 years older even though they were really hydrated before I put this on. I put up with it for about ten minutes before I removed it. Then I thought it couldn't be that bad, and really since I was going to review it I should give it another try. The second time, I had it on for around fifteen minutes before I couldn't stand it anymore. There's nothing I could ever do to make it look good, so I can't say how long it would last. There's no way I'm wearing it long enough to find out. I've heard some bad things about some of the Nyx shades and that the formula isn't the same for every shade, so maybe this product suffers from the same issues and other colours are nicer, but I'm not really inclined to spend any money on finding that out after trying this one. It's unusable.

3) Hawaiian Tropic Protective Dry Oil SPF 15 100ml - full size RRP £13.99

I was worried about using this when I saw the word "oil" and saw the cap because I just assumed it would spill everywhere and be super messy, but it's actually more of a gel that turns to oil when you rub it into your skin, which I really liked. I don't generally get burnt from the sun. It takes a whole day on the beach with little to no sunscreen for my skin to care about the injustice that's being done to it, so I'm not sure how well this works to guard against actual sunburn. I wore it when I walked to work and walked around the shops and to and from the supermarket and yes it was warm and sunny, but I wouldn't ordinarily get burnt from doing that. It's nice to know that there's some protection there, though, and I was impressed with the application. The only reason this isn't a full five stars is because of the scent. It's not a bad scent in small doses, but it's a bit overpowering for something that's designed to be all over your skin. I only applied it to the tops of my shoulders because that's where I get burnt if it happens at all, and the scent completely covered the perfume on my neck. I didn't even use a lot of this, but I could smell it the entire way to work and for quite a while after I arrived. It would really benefit from having the strong scent removed (yes it contains parfum in case that's not obvious) as I don't think it's particularly necessary. Scented skin is what perfume is for! Something to neutralise a chemical smell I could understand, but this is clearly way beyond that. My usual sunscreen is an invisible waterproof spray by Soltan and that is fantastic. It's also not got a strong smell, so I'm not sure that I'd use this over that. But I do really like the formula of this. I'd never heard of the brand before - my Soltan spray works well enough that I don't go browsing for anything else - but this is actually available locally, and in little travel sizes as well. I think that's perfect, as my spray is huge and if you were going away for a week, perhaps a little unnecessary unless you have a whole family to use it on. I'm not even sure if my spray is still sold. But even if it isn't and I run out of the spray, I don't think I'd be turning to this brand with a scent that strong. It's a shame but it really is off-putting.

4) Bee Good Youth Enhancing Plump and Firm Moisturiser 15ml - full size RRP £23.50

This is sold at this size on the brand's website as a travel size for £9, so this was actually a really good deal for this box (the full size is 50ml, for comparison). It also has the cruelty free bunny on the packaging, which I appreciate and wish companies were more transparent about. It was tough to get a moisturiser in each box and did push these reviews back somewhat, but this is a nice one. It's a really good size, has a fresh citrus-y scent, and it definitely does do what it says it does. Unfortunately, it suffers from the same issue that the Caudalie one does: it's not for oily skin. It does address other things that I ticked boxes for, but it kinda seems like the number one priority is ignored when it comes to these products and that's my skin type. It can do all the plumping in the world but if it's not suitable for my skin type then it's not really all that suitable, is it? It gives the skin a beautiful dewy finish that initially looks great, but for oily skin that really doesn't last very long. I'm really curious now about the serum and eye cream from this brand, just because for plumping and firming the skin this does a really good job. Same as the Caudalie one, it's been a night cream for me and I obviously couldn't use them at the same time, so that was a bit of an issue. But when I wake up after using this, there's a noticeable difference to my skin. It looks fantastic. I'm assuming there's no law on using it at night only, because it's been doing a great job so far and it's definitely got me wondering about the rest of the brand.

5) Revlon Super Length Mascara 8.5ml/0.28 fl. oz - RRP £9.99

It was a little exciting to be getting a newly released product in a full size like this. As I said at the top, I didn't get to choose which one I got, but I was happy to get a lengthening mascara as it usually means it's going to be more suitable for a "your lashes but better" kind of look. I was really weirded out by this mascara at first. I've never used a mascara with a fibre formula before and it just looks like the brush is falling apart. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about putting it near my eyes! But this mascara really, really works. Perhaps a little too much for me. I naturally have quite long lashes, and this mascara makes my eyelashes travel into eyebrow territory. It's also really hard to wear with my glasses, because my eyelashes touch the lenses. Several times, I've taken my glasses off to clean them and there's been streaks of mascara on them. It's also not the most comfortable feeling in the world when it happens. I wonder if I might have gotten along better with one of the other new releases instead. But if I had shorter eyelashes I would be singing the praises of this mascara. It doesn't add much (if at all) by way of volume, so the effect is quite natural but it also means that it's nice for more than one coat too if you wanted to build it up. The only real downside is that I have had some fibre-related fallout after using this, both after a while of wear (probably scraped off on my glasses, in fairness) and immediately after applying. It's maybe not as big a deal as eyeshadow fallout, which can lead to sparkle and colour in places where neither particularly belongs, but it's still a thing that can happen. It also isn't as black as I'd like it to be. It's more of a natural black, which I suppose does suit the overall natural look of the mascara, but I like black-black mascara better. Maybe I'm just being picky though. It's definitely a "super length" mascara.

6) Proper Corn Lightly Sea Salted Popcorn 10g
I haven't added a price for this one because there's nothing about it at all on the products card. It was just in my box. But this added bonus was delicious. There's no solo photo of it because it didn't live long enough. It was the size of your average bag of crisps, so a nice amount, but I wish the bag had been bottomless. I've never had salted popcorn before. The idea of savoury popcorn just seemed weird: in my head it's a sweet snack. But this was really nice. Not too salty but still flavoured enough. And sometimes I just feel like eating something savoury. I'd definitely pick this up if I saw it in shops. Yum.

Overall Impression:
I was most excited for the lip product when I first opened this box and that turned out to be a huge disappointment so it let this month down. The rest of the box had to try and make up for it, since I tried the lip product first. However, I'm going to cut the box some slack. With boxes that contain more makeup I think I'm going to find more things that I don't like, unlike skincare and haircare, since those products are rarely completely awful. With those, I feel like even if I didn't completely love it, it's still usable somehow. It's easier to be on the fence about those products. I don't remember trying many skincare or haircare products ever in my lifetime that I absolutely hated and would never use again. But with makeup, it either works and I like it or it doesn't. There's not a whole lot of middle ground for me. I'm either going to use it or I'm not. If Glossybox continues to have more makeup items in it, there's going to be more room potentially for products that I can't stand to be included.

On the other side of that, though, I felt that this lip product was so bad that it was hard to understand how it ended up in the box at all. It's like nobody at Glossybox's HQ tried it before they thought it was a good idea to send it to everyone. I have no idea how products get selected for boxes, but it seems hard to believe that nobody noticed that this one wasn't very good. Ignoring the lip product, the rest of the box wasn't bad. If I don't count it in the box average score, then this box would get a 4, which is much better. It's just a shame that I've had one dud product for both boxes now. Since this month's box has a different design to the rest, if my other boxes stick to the usual pink, then this box will be used as a Glossybox Sin Bin and will just serve as a home to the worst products I get from this subscription. As I said, it's easier for Glossybox to send me something I hate with the kind of products that they're sending, but it's also hard to ignore that I haven't completely hated anything from my Birchbox subscription yet. I'm hoping the dud-per-box trend stops, but I also feel that even with it, both times I've still had my money's worth, so it's hard to take a stance on.

To prove the point about skincare and haircare, the sunscreen isn't amazing when it has that scent, but it's still usable, and I will still in all likelihood use it up eventually. It's much better suited to my bag for use on the go than my current one is, if nothing else. The moisturiser didn't suit my skin type, but it's great at night and I am still using it. I don't wear my hair in anything but a braid very much because of the length, but if I do feel like having it down and then for whatever reason I need to tie it back quickly, the Hairon ties are great. Makeup isn't like that.

The star of the box, if the popcorn doesn't count (although that was a really nice surprise, I wasn't expecting to get anything like that) has got to be the mascara. I've never been a giant fan of Revlon as a brand, but I do find myself still using that mascara almost every day, even with the lashes-on-glasses issue, just because it really opens my eyes up and looks great with any eyeshadow look. That alone is £9.99, so really that's paid for the box. Even with the dud the box has still managed to offer good value for the subscription cost, and I've got to hand it to Glossybox for managing that.

Box average: 3.3
Cumulative box average: 3.6

I actually do know something about the next box and I am really excited to try it - everyone will be getting a lip and cheek tint from Emite in their June box. I only have one lip and cheek tint already and it's a red Bodyshop one that was in a members promotional freebie bag, but it's a sparkly red and I've only used it once or twice. I did like it, though, so that's caused the excitement over this one. I've never heard of Emite - the sneak peek info says they're a Swedish mineral makeup brand and I'm really curious about this product. There was an email sent mentioning this at the end of the month as well as a small section on the products leaflet about it too, which I thought was nice for anyone who got a starter box in May (and therefore maybe not the information on their leaflet) as they'll still get the email letting them know. I only own one blush (yeah I know - new thing for me) so I'm hoping that the colour is nice for cheeks. There's going to be four full size products in June's box, which is also exciting. Now I'll get to play Guess the Sample. I have no idea what the other products are going to be but the lip and cheek tint combined with the guarantee of four full size products seems promising, so fingers crossed!

Birchbox May 2016

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

First impressions:
I hated this box design. I mean, I like the pattern, but scratching the box off was incredibly messy. I store my boxes stacked one on top of the other so scratching it off into a pattern wasn't really an option (although I've seen some cool designs on Instagram!), since it would be scraped when I moved the boxes around. Scratching the whole thing off took a really long time and the silver dust went everywhere. Not a patch on the Rifle Paper Co. box from last month! And once again, this box is too small for the contents. The lid doesn't go on properly, which isn't great for my box stack as the Birchboxes are wobbly. I like the size of the boxes, but I do wish they were very slightly larger. I think the products fit without the drawstring bag, but I'd also rather have a wobbly box than lose the drawstring bag. It's great for keeping the box lining nice as I've said before, and it's also nice for taking products out and using the box as something else.
Inside, this box has a good range of products again: as this is the second box I've had now, this might just be a Birchbox thing. And it's a nice thing. There's a makeup tool, hair care, skin care and a makeup item. I love the variety as it means I'm not struggling to use products: I don't like using lots of new things in the same area. If I have a new primer I'll keep my base the same, if I have a new mascara I'll use an eyeshadow I've already used a lot, etc. If something new irritates my skin, I want to know what it is. Having a wide range of products is great for testing everything at once. As for brands, I've heard of LOC and Caudalie but never tried anything, so this is all new to me. Another reason I like this box! I assume that the Spectrum Collections sponge and the LOC stick are full size and everything else is a travel/sample size product. 

Here's what I got this month! Shiny box surface is shiny.

1) Spectrum Collections Unicorn Tears Wonder Sponge - RRP £4.99

I'm not the best at reviewing things like this, because these sponges get compared across the board to each other and I've only ever tried one other sponge before. I have the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge and I think I've used it maybe twice so far. I also only own four foundations. Nevertheless, when I tried this sponge with a foundation, I was impressed with it. It gave me really even and good coverage. No harsh lines, no dry cakey patches, just smooth coverage. I did think that maybe it was... wetter than the Real Techniques sponge? Even though I use both when dampened, the Real Techniques one seemed to handle the water better and my face didn't end up as damp. Still, I really liked this sponge. I also love that it comes in its own little pouch, as I have somewhere to store it. I have nowhere to store the Real Techniques one and it's really inconvenient. I'm not sure if it's obvious in the picture, but there's a cruelty free bunny on the back of the packaging too, which is a plus. I'm curious how this would work with concealer as I haven't tried that, but I will definitely be using this again (after it's had a bath, obviously).

2) LOC One and Done Shadow Stick in Empress Me 1.35g - RRP £8

I was super excited to see this in my box as I've heard of LOC shadow sticks and heard nothing but great things. It's also a completely new thing to me as I don't own anything but powder eyeshadows, so I couldn't wait to try it out. I would perhaps have preferred the other colour as that was lighter and more suitable for everyday wear, but this is a really nice colour (a bit dirty in the photo, as I photographed everything after I'd already used it). The pencil makes it very easy to apply, it was very easy to smooth out the edges and it looked really nice. But it didn't cope with oily skin. It's definitely not "one and done" for me: it creased after only about half an hour. This is why I don't use cream shadows. They don't last. I was expecting this to be different after hearing so many great things about it, but it isn't. I haven't tried it with a primer yet as primer is still a new thing to me, so I'm still testing the ones I have to find something that definitely works, but if I use a primer and then a powder to set the primer and then this shadow stick, it's a much longer process. Three and done. When I use Urban Decay or Too Faced eyeshadow palettes, unless it's very hot outside and I'm going to be outside for a while, I don't usually need a primer. My favourite Urban Decay eyeshadow goes on smoothly with just my finger and lasts for so long without creasing I don't even know how long it would last without creasing. It's over twelve hours on me. This was less than one hour. I couldn't justify buying these shadow sticks when I already have things that work better for my skin type. That said though, this was a really pretty colour. I can imagine it's very nice on people who don't have oily skin. I will keep trying with primers until I have something I can test it out with to see if I can make it work for me. When I used it I wanted to see what it was like on its own, so I didn't even use powder beforehand. It's pretty and looks nice even as a liner, so hopefully I can figure something out.

3) Philip Kingsley PK Prep Polishing Balm 20ml/0.67 fl. oz - full size RRP £18.50

This is one of those products that just smells expensive. Similar to the hair products from Beaver in the last box. They smelled expensive too. The scent for this one isn't the same as the Beaver products, but it's another that I really, really like. I wish these brands were more readily available here. This time, the sample is a good size for what it is - you don't really need a huge amount of it, even if you can sit on your hair - and my hair loves it. When I want a good hair day, I've been using this. It feels really nice on my hair, it smoothes everything out and my hair is like silk. But unlike other products, my hair is still workable. It's so smooth and so soft but it isn't going to fall apart if I try to do anything with it. I found with this on the ends of my hair, my braid stayed much neater than it usually does. As well as being able to brush through the ends of my hair like it's just been cut (it hasn't, for a long time), I can still do things with it without it being so silky that it's very unruly and doesn't last. For me, this does exactly what it says it does. My hair feels great, it looks great, and it's much easier to work with for styling. I'll be gutted when I run out of this.

4) Caudalie Vinosource Moisturising Sorbet 10ml/0.33 fl. oz - full size RRP £23

I was really on the fence about this one. Getting moisturisers in my boxes after that Être Belle one is always going to seem a little unfair on whatever I get. This is nice, but it's not the Être Belle one. I ticked a variety of boxes for the skin concerns part of the beauty survey, and this fits what I asked for, but it doesn't suit the most important part of my skin like the Être Belle one does, so it can't compete with that. It has a lovely fresh scent to it and you don't need a lot to moisturise your whole face. It's supposed to reduce redness, and I don't have a whole lot of redness, but it did seem to eliminate what I had. What it didn't do, however, was suit my skin type. It's not for oily skin. It was very good for the areas of my skin that get dry and flaky, but I couldn't use this during the day. It's definitely suitable for sensitive skin and my skin liked it in that sense, but it really added to the shine on my face. I've been using it at night to try and alleviate the effect. It's a lovely moisturiser but with my skin type, it's no good to me compared to the Être Belle one. However, because it's good and it does do what it says it does, I was torn on what score to give it. I know there's something for oily skin by this brand and I am now super curious about that. It was mentioned in a recent video by Jordan Liberty and after seeing how much my skin likes this one as far as sensitivity and dry patches are concerned, I'd love to try the one that's more geared to my skin type.

5) Rituals Tao Wai Wang Mild Exfoliating Body Scrub 70ml/2.3 fl. oz - full size RRP £19.50

This is another winner from this box. It smells amazing and the scent fills the bathroom when I use it. It's nice and fresh, not heady, so it's really nice for the shower. It's also a really good exfoliating scrub. It can be a bit resistant to wet skin at first, so I'd advise mashing it into more of a paste in the palm of the hand before applying. A little went a lot further than I thought that it would. It's not too harsh, it didn't hurt or irritate my skin, and my skin was super soft afterwards. Even using it where I wouldn't think I'd need it (feet are a given, for example, but I've never used body scrubs), it did make a difference. Soft skin on my legs, soft skin on my arms. It creates a nice canvas for moisturising creams to get to work. I imagine this with the foot cream from last month would work very well together. One for the list!

6) Yu-Be Moisturising Skin Cream 3ml/0.10 fl. oz - full size RRP £19.50

This is a tiny little tube and there's precious little information about it, but after trying it I love it. I have a problem area on my chin where the skin can get very dry and irritated, and this week I used something that that area did not like. It was the worst it's been for a long time: huge dry and flaky area with angry little bumps of irritation and general redness. I put this on at night in just that area and a little on my lips as a balm and the next day the patch of dry skin was completely gone and my lips were super smooth. I hadn't needed a lot of it, so even though the sample is tiny it's enough to give an idea of how well the product works. For dry skin anywhere, this is great. It didn't add to the problem and irritate my skin some more and now that area has basically healed. If it happens again (it will), I know what to turn to for an emergency fix. Another one to consider for the wishlist!

Overall Impression:
This was a really nice box to get overall. The products didn't interfere with each other and I didn't have allergies or reactions to anything. There's a lot of new favourites in this box with the hair styling balm, the scrub and the Yu-Be moisturiser, however tiny it may be. The only real problem product is the LOC stick just because my skin is too oily for it, but I imagine that would be helped by a decent primer (when I can find one that works). As I said, it's a shame that this isn't a more wearable shade for me because then I probably would have had chance to test this out already by now. I have used it a few times and I'm disappointed by how it copes on my skin but hopeful that I can get it to work with a primer. I have several that I can try with it. One manages to crease on its own, though, so I've got a bit of experimenting to do. Plenty of powder eyeshadows crease on my skin, so it's no surprise to me that a cream shadow does as well.

The rest of the box is fine: either things I outright loved or could use for something or other. The Caudalie moisturiser does make me too oily for day use but it also does a very good job of soothing my skin after a shower before bed, when it's at its driest. The sponge was nice to get as now I have something to use while the Real Techniques one is drying and vice versa. I didn't get any products that I thought were complete garbage and definitely got my money's worth. So far these boxes have been very consistent.

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

No sneak peeks of the next box yet, so I have no idea what's in store for June! There was an option to upgrade the box to add a pair of sunglasses for an extra £18 but I didn't really like either of the styles available, so I didn't. Apart from that I've heard nothing. There's been no email sent around to choose something like there was for the colour of the Spectrum Collections sponge last time. I can't decide whether I like spoilers for these boxes or not. If it's an item that's really exciting then it makes me excited to see the rest of the box when it arrives, but there's always the potential that it's something I know I won't care about. It's also nice to get a box that's a complete surprise as I can't form any opinions on it before I open it. I did see on their Twitter that there would be a sneak peek though, so fingers crossed it's something nice! 

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Birchbox April 2016 and Glossybox Starter Kit

I signed up to two beauty box subscription services in the third week of April after hearing a lot online about American beauty box services and finding this article by the Independent that listed ones available in the UK. I chose Glossybox and Birchbox as I couldn't decide between the two, even after reading a mountain of blogs and watching half of YouTube for more information.

For Birchbox, I did get an April box, which contained a guaranteed Benefit product sample in it. For Glossybox, I had missed the April box and received a starter kit instead. To me, this is my April box, so I wasn't bothered. I don't know if they offered anything special in the April boxes or not. I literally signed up for them on the day I learned of their existence.

Both boxes are £10 a month, with postage pushing Birchbox to £12.95 and Glossybox to £13.25. Each subscription boasts around 5 products to be sent each month (sample, travel size and full size) and upon subscribing, you complete a questionnaire to help your boxes be tailored to your needs (hair colour, hair type, skin type, etc). You can also edit this throughout your subscription, which is useful. Glossybox was sent via Royal Mail, which meant I could fetch it from the sorting office that's practically next door, but Birchbox was sent via Hermes and delivered to a neighbour. I've got no idea where it would end up if my neighbour hadn't taken it in for me. Neither box fits through a letterbox, so this may become an issue at some point, but I hope not.

The Glossybox is much larger than the Birchbox - almost double the size - and was packed with shredded black paper inside to stop everything from rattling around too much. There was also a removeable pink paper lining sealed with a sticker and a black ribbon to protect the box and keep everything together. The Birchbox, on the other hand, was tightly packed inside the box in a drawstring bag, to the point where the box didn't actually close properly with the products inside. As this is my first month for both boxes, I don't know if these are standardised sizes or not. I got full size products from Glossybox, so it would make sense if their box was a standard size as it can accommodate a range of products at full size. I actually really like the size of the Birchbox too though, and I particularly like the drawstring bag as this protects the box from any damage from the products moving around inside (even if it stops the box closing properly) and is reusable for other things. For April, Birchbox teamed up with the Rifle Paper Co. and the box is so beautiful, I'm glad that it's pristine inside so that it can be kept. I'm going to keep the products I got in their respective boxes, so it's nice that they're both suitable to keep and they look nice to display. Subsequent Glossybox deliveries will probably be condensed into one box though; there's plenty of space in the one I have so far for more products to fit inside.

Here's what I got in my boxes!

Birchbox April 2016:

First Impressions

I was so happy to end up with the box design that I chose, even though I was late subscribing. I really like the range of products in this box! I ended up with hair care, skin care and makeup items, which I thought was fantastic. I've only heard of and used one brand in here and that's Benefit, but I've never used a Benefit mascara before, so everything in this box is totally new to me. The accompanying leaflet explaining the products is, therefore, extremely useful. It tells you what each product does, how to use it and how much the full size version costs - except the Nuxe, which I believe is a bonus item. There are four things listed on the page with this, no prices included and very little by way of usage instructions, but I assume it was one of four possible bonus items for this month. The only downside is that it doesn't mention whether a product is full size or not. So for reference, everything is a sample/travel size except the Nuxe, which was full size. (It's fine, I can Google.)

 1) Benefit Cosmetics BADgal Lash Mascara (4g/0.14oz) - full size RRP £17.50

Benefit is one of my favourite brands, but as I said above I've never tried one of their mascaras. I wore this to work on the day it arrived. It looked just as good when I took it off as it did when I put it on. It didn't smudge all over my face (it was quite warm outside) but it washed off easily. It's a black mascara, not clumpy, and made my lashes thicker and added extra length as well. It's the kind of mascara look that I really like, and this will definitely be well used. Because it's not clumpy I can layer it if I want a more dramatic look. It's not a full size product, but I never seem to finish mascara tubes properly anyway, so I'm not fussed about that. It's a good size, the brush is big and it's perfect for my mini makeup bag.

2) Cynthia Rowley Beauty Eyeliner in Black (0.8g/0.03oz) - full size RRP £11

I swatched this on the back on my hand straight away and was impressed with it. It is so smooth to apply, it went on like butter. And then it wouldn't budge. I rubbed at it until my hand was red, and it was a bit faded, but not smeared all over my hand. It didn't come off until I put a bit of the Absolution cleanser onto it. It's very creamy and very black. I don't generally like eyeliner - it's difficult to apply on my eyes (I think anyway) - but I do like this. I've only tried it so far for tight lining. It didn't transfer to the waterline and it did stay for far longer than other eyeliners have done (it beat Perversion by Urban Decay, at any rate). When it did come off, it only came off closer to the eyeball, so it still looked like it was there (if that makes sense). It didn't make a huge mess, it didn't look awful, and my eyes were watering a lot because it was very windy outside (as usual). I'm curious to see how it would fare if it wasn't windy, or on the upper or lower lash line. I'm impressed with it so far at any rate.

3) Absolution L'Eau Soir et Matin (30ml) - full size RRP £27

I already knew this was a good makeup remover because of the eyeliner swatch, so I was expecting to love this when it came to removing the eyeliner from my eyes. I did not. I definitely did not. Aside from the fact that it has a very strong chemical smell, it says on the packaging that it's "organic cleansing and purifying water for eyes and face". It might be for other people's eyes, but it burned mine so badly I had to stumble around with my eyes shut trying to find something to wash it off with. My face looked nice after I'd used it, and I've heard it does wonders for clearing skin up in general (at that price it had better be doing something, to be fair) but if I have to use another one for the eye area then I might as well cut this out and just use the other one that I can put near my eyes. I'll continue to use it on my face, because aside from the horrible smell it did a good job, but it's going nowhere near my eyes and I doubt I'll bother with it beyond this sample.

4) Beaver Professional Hydro Nutritive Repairing Shampoo and Conditioner (40ml/1.35fl.oz shampoo, 10ml conditioner) - full size RRP from £11.50 

First off, these both smell amazing. This seems like a product influenced by my questionnaire answers, as I tend to have very dry hair, so that was nice. The shampoo is in a little travel sized tube but the conditioner is in a packet. I would really rather the conditioner had also been a tube. It's hard to keep packets nice for another use if you don't use the whole thing in one go. I also didn't get that there was four times the shampoo as conditioner, since I generally work the other way around. I have very long hair and it needs a lot of conditioner. But the directions for this say to use the shampoo mainly on the scalp and mid-lengths and the conditioner on the ends, so I thought I'd give that a try. However, in practice I was right. The shampoo lathers up really well but the conditioner sample just wasn't enough. When I tick the box to say I have long hair, I mean my hair is almost touching the tops of my legs, so I imagine that most samples like this will be too small. I used the conditioner on the ends but the rest of my hair felt dry still, so I had to use more than the directions said was necessary. My hair is soft and shiny now and feels really nice but I had to use a leave-in conditioner on it as well as it wasn't conditioned enough. Not entirely the product's fault that I didn't get along with this as much as other products: the conditioner sample was just way too small for me. I'm sure it's great for people with shorter hair as the ends of my hair felt extra silky afterwards and they're usually super dry. For that it gets a rating upgrade, as my hair needs cutting at the moment and anything that makes it nicer until then doesn't deserve a 3 just because the sample is small.

5) Kueshi Foot Care Cream (40ml/1.3fl.oz) - full size 100ml RRP £12

First thing to note about this is the smell. It smells of TCP. Almost as strongly as TCP smells of TCP. I had to go and wash my hands after using it because I couldn't stand it on my hands. It's definitely the kind of foot cream to use before bed, which is what I did. It was nice to apply, not greasy, and in the morning my feet were noticeably softer. I've seen a lot of complaints about getting foot creams while I was looking up previous boxes, but it's coming up to summer and sandal weather and soft feet in time for that is more than welcome. It definitely did work and I will keep using it. It's just a shame that it doesn't smell nicer.

6) Nuxe Masque Crème Fraîche de Beauté (50ml/1.7oz) - £18.50 (Birchbox website)

I tried this at night on the day the box arrived. I was too curious to leave it much longer than that. It smells really nice - not overpowering but nice and fresh and clean. I really liked the scent. There's not a lot of instructions on how to use this, either how much to use or how often. It's a no-rinse mask, which I've never tried before. You leave it on for 10 minutes and at the end either rub any excess product into the skin or cleanse it off. I started off with a tiny amount and built up from there until I felt like I'd used enough and in the end I didn't need a huge amount so the tube should last a while. It made my skin super oily looking and I was a bit nervous of it, but after 10m it had done its magic, I massaged the excess into my skin and went to bed. When I woke up, my skin looked amazing. I have very oily skin (but still dry and flaky in places. I wouldn't call it combination because it's still oily where it's also dry - it's weird and hard to cater for) and it's usually oily when I wake up, but there was no oil on my skin at all. It felt hydrated and looked great. It actually looked like I'd cleansed already, even though I'd just woken up. I am definitely going to be using this and am already considering repurchasing once it runs out, even though I've only used it once.

Glossybox Starter Kit April 2016:

First Impressions

Less varied than the Birchbox, but I can't compare the two fully as I know I didn't get the Glossybox for April. This is definitely more makeup centred, but I have no idea if they're all like that. The card for Glossybox does say what size each product you actually get is - all of mine say they're full size except the moisturising gel which is a "luxury size" (whatever that means. I googled it and this is the size that's sold, so I assume that it's also full size and have no idea why it isn't called that). It also gives the prices. However, there's precious little information on the card about how to use each product. It's a double sided card as opposed to the Birchbox leaflet, so there's less information. It's not impossible to look up products so this isn't a huge issue, but it is extra hassle. I did really like the contents though. It's mostly makeup but a good range of makeup and definitely colours I would not normally have chosen, but still really like. I'd heard of Nails Inc and MUA before but never had any of their products, so this is all new to me.

1) Être Belle Aloe Vera Moisturising Gel (40ml/1.36fl.oz) - full size RRP £15.93

This has a lovely fresh scent to it - it is aloe vera after all - and is definitely a gel! I usually use Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturising Gel (I actually just bought a whole new bottle: I might regret that now) but this is much more gel-like than that. It soaked straight into my skin and didn't leave behind any slick. The scent did linger, so someone who was sensitive to things like that might not like it, but I didn't mind as it was so nice and it did fade eventually. I really love this product and it's another that I'm considering a full size of when I've run out (sorry Clinique). It moisturises my skin without making it greasy and when I used it before my usual makeup, my skin stayed matte for much longer. I barely even needed to powder, my makeup lasted for my entire work shift almost and that literally never happens. I'm not sure if it's the Nuxe or this but since these boxes turned up my skin has improved hugely. All the flaky patches have almost gone and it's less oily as well. Both products are on my wishlist now and I would definitely recommend this to people with really oily skin!

2) Nails Inc Nail Polish in Battersea Park (10ml/0.33fl.oz) - RRP £11

This is a lovely khaki colour. I would never have chosen this for myself so it's definitely a new thing for me, but I have it on my nails now and I really like it. It's very thick to apply, which I'm not used to, but it still went on very smoothly and had no air bubbles in it. It dried fast and it looks great after just one coat. I would never normally have gotten this: Nails Inc is not sold near me and I'd never get khaki either, but it looks great and I really like it. I didn't use a top coat (my usual top coat is amazing, so I felt it wouldn't be a fair test of the polish) and although some nails could have done with a second coat, I left it after one. I was expecting it to chip off the next day as I use my hands a lot and though it has worn off very slightly on the tip of the nails (it's barely noticeable), it hasn't actually chipped and this could easily be fixed if I'd used a top coat. I'm not sure how often I'll use the colour, but I did like the formula and in a way I'm glad that it isn't something I already have by a million other brands.

3) So Susan Statement Skin Highlighter Pencil in Starlight (1.8g/0.06oz) - RRP £15

The first obvious thing about this product is the cruelty-free rabbit proudly displayed (and rightly so) on the packaging. It's a beautiful golden highlighter and swatched on my hand very smoothly. I didn't own a highlighter before this turned up so I was excited to try it. It doesn't look very large for a £15 full size product, but after trying it it's pretty obvious that it's going to last a long time. I used it as a cheekbone highlight and inner corner highlight for work and at the end of the day, it was still very much there. It's the perfect shade for my skin tone and it looked really nice. It can be blended for a more subtle highlight or built up if you want something stronger. It's just a shame that I don't have anything to compare it to. I have an Anastasia Beverly Hills order waiting on a decent payday and when I finally get that, I'm getting the glow kits. It never occurred to me to look at highlighters that weren't in powder form. I'm not sure how it'd compare to a powder, but having the stick did make applying it really easy and really fast.

4) MUA Power Pout Glaze Low Voltage Gloss in Enchant (3.2ml) - RRP £3.50

I was horrified when I saw this in the box! It was the first thing to be opened and played with because it's such a bright pink and I never wear any bright lip colours, so I couldn't wait to see what it was like because I was worried I'd hate it. It's the only lip product I've had across the two boxes, so it seemed to matter that I liked it. And I do! It's not opaque, it's quite sheer and subtle with a touch of colour and very nice. So although it is bright pink it doesn't look bright pink. I don't own many glosses, so I was happy to get one. I'm not a giant fan of the packaging as I prefer wands and this is a brush. To get more product onto the brush you twist the silver end, which can result in too much product coming out. It's not awful packaging though, I can live with it, and I will definitely get some use out of this. I also don't think I can beat it for the price. I wore it to work and it felt really nice and lasted for a few hours until I needed a drink of water. It's obviously just a gloss and does need to be reapplied, but it smells lovely and looks really nice. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I didn't hate it.

5) The Vintage Cosmetic Company Floral Slanted Tweezers - RRP £8

This is a product that I wasn't bothered about when I saw it. It's certainly very pretty, but I have tweezers and I tend to stick to those: tweezers for me aren't the kind of product where you try loads of brands and types. They're just tweezers. However, when I signed up for these boxes I swore I'd try to give everything I got a fair trial. So I did. And I can't stand them. I tried to tidy my brows with them and they didn't remove a single hair, they just cut them and made it harder or impossible for me to rescue with my usual tweezers. I think you'll find, Vintage Cosmetic Company, that that's not the purpose of this whole tweezing exercise. Normally I'd say they look so nice that they'd make a nice stocking filler or something, but there's no point in them looking nice if they don't do the job. My usual tweezers are plain silver and I'd still use those over these any day. It's a shame, because they are pretty, but they just didn't work.

Overall Impression 
My favourites are definitely the Nuxe mask and the Être Belle moisturiser. I don't know if I'll change my mind with continued use or not but at the moment I feel like building a shrine to these two products. Skincare is definitely an area that I need to improve on. Closely on the heels of those are the MUA gloss and the Benefit mascara. With the MUA gloss I really didn't think that I'd like it and I love it. I didn't have the same reservations about Nuxe and Être Belle that I had for this and it's nice to be wrong. But I was expecting to like the Benefit product before I even opened the box and saw what it was (there were four possibilities I think). It felt like a safe bet because I've loved everything I've tried from the brand so far, so I ended up not being as excited for it as the others which was perhaps a little unfair, as I've used it every day since it arrived and loved it.

I'm not too bothered about getting the tweezers since I loved everything else. I still got way more than my money's worth out of that box, so I'm not going to whine about the one thing I got that I didn't like. Four other full size products (that moisturising gel alone, really) more than made up for it. 

Overall I was very happy with both boxes, and I can't wait to see what I get next month/in a couple of weeks (one benefit of subscribing late in the month, I suppose - not long to wait!) - I know there's a Spectrum Collection's Wonder Sponge in Birchbox's May box because they emailed to ask for my colour preference, and I know there's a full size Revlon mascara in the Glossybox because of a sneak peak email (apparently you did get to choose this, but really early into April, so anyone who subscribed in April gets a random one I suppose) but otherwise I have no idea about either box. Because it's my first proper month I also don't know when they'll be arriving. Glossybox start shipping their May box at the end of the first week I think, but I have no idea about Birchbox or when either one will arrive. I may split the reviews after this initial post though to keep the two boxes separate.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to set up camp online to see if I can get a Too Faced Sweet Peach palette when they finally launch online here before they sell out. Fingers crossed!