Saturday, 18 May 2013

Birchbox May 2013

So far, my experience with Birchbox has been rather disappointing, so I decided to give one last box a go and then decide whether or not to continue with my subscription. I knew that something was not right when I saw this month's box still wrapped up in its little parcel waiting for me when I got home late and completely failed to get excited over it. Whereas beauty boxes used to have be on their toes and I'd be running down the stairs as soon as I heard the door bell ring when it was beauty box time, this time I practically had to force myself to take at least a little peak.

1) OPI | Nail Lacquer
Full size: £11.50 / Sample value: £2.88

OPI! A great brand which I love for its nail polishes and I'd quite happily own every single shade they make (even if I'd have to rent a separate room to store it all). Unfortunately there is no shade name included, so if I wanted to buy the full size I'd be left guessing. The colour itself doesn't appeal to me at all - I own a similar shade and it just looks horrendous on my nails, but you never know, as this might be completely different. It's still very small, though, even as far as mini polishes are concerned.

2) Murad | Hydro-Dynamics Ultimate Moisture For Eyes
Full size: £57 / Sample Value: £13.50

This is another very small sample once you get it out of it's cardboard outer. As it's an eye cream I would imagine you don't need to use a lot, however, so I'll still get a fair few applications out of it.
As a brand, Murad are well known to me and their products have been a bit hit and miss so far, so it's nice to get something new to try out. But even if I love it, I honestly doubt I'll be spending £57 on a full-sized eye cream.

3) Biorganics Hair Therapy | Salon Secret Elixir Hair Perfecting Oil
Full size: £12.99 / Sample value: £3.99

Oh, there we go: Another tiny mini sample. Biorganics actually sell this on their website for £4 for anyone who wants to try before they buy (even though you're technically still buying, just a smaller amount). This is not a brand I am familiar with, but it's nice to have some hair care that is free from any chemical nasties and I'm a big fan of hair oil anyway, so I'm sure this will get used up.

4) Wei | Chinese Rose Foaming Cleanser
Full size: £25 / Sample value: £1.67

Another sample that turns out to be tiny once you get rid of any unnecessary packaging. I reckon I'll get about 3-4 uses out of my tube. However, the cleanser does smell amazing: Zingy, yet comforting due to the mix of citrus and rose. I'm also a bit of a fan of Asian skincare, so it's not going to lay around and gather dust.

Beauty Extra: Wei | Pomegranate Buffing Beads
Full size: £13 / Sample value: £0.65

I know I've been going on about sample size a little this month, but come on... I almost chucked this, because I thought it might be one of those gel-pearl bags that you get in new handbags to keep the moisture out. You're meant to mix these with your regular cleanser to turn it into a face scrub - a nice addition seeing as the box contained a cleanser from the same brand, but the size is just ridiculous. Sure, I'll use it, but I still won't know properly how the product works and performs after just one application.

Lifestyle Extra: Kusmi Tea | Detox Tea
Full size: £13.85 / Sample value: £2.22

I've seen these pop up in beauty boxes before, but never got one for myself. I do like the pretty tin and seeing as I love tea I'll enjoy having a few cups of this. Not sure I believe in its detoxifying properties, but it will be nice to try. I'm sad to say that the little lifestyle extra actually got me more excited than any other products in this month's box.

So, the overall verdict on my May Birchbox? Shocking.
Technically all the samples amounted to a value of £24.91, which is not only very low compared to usual beauty box contents, but overall I feel like I've been ripped off with this box. The samples are tiny and getting one or two applications out of something won't help me decide whether or not it's any good at all.
After doing a bit of research and seeing what some other people got, I am actually genuinely pissed off. I already own the makebelieve bronzer that some people got in theirs, but even though I would have had no use for it, at least it would have shown me that Birchbox have tried. To me it looks like they're desperate to get samples for their boxes and there is just no effort involved in making the boxes exciting.

So, for me it's goodbye Birchbox. I tried and you failed me on three separate occasions and believe me, there are other ways to spend my money.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

MUA Liquid Eyeliner Review

It's so difficult to walk past a MUA stand without picking up little bits here and there. I was fine until I bought my first MUA item and ever since it's become difficult to stop. It's a bit of an addiction now and my boyfriend has threatened to put me on a leash if I run off one more time to buy handfuls of make-up whenever he looks away. Whoops!

One of my first items by MUA was their felt tip liner and even though it ran dry quite quickly, I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of the product - all for a single pound! Being a typical beauty blogger, however, I couldn't just go back and buy the same when the old one ran out. I had to try something different, so I decided to give the liquid liner a go this time around.

Once again, the packaging cannot be faulted. It's not as glamorous as anything high end, of course, but for the price you could do a lot worse. It's sturdy, sleek and doesn't break or cause any spillages if you want to chuck it into your handbag and not worry about it for the rest of the day.
The brush is also a good length and width, meaning it's not too floppy and allows you to draw a precise line, which you can make as thick or as thin as you want. Unfortunately, applying liquid eyeliner is just a lot more difficult than applying a felt tip one, no matter what brand you use. The only tip I can give you if you struggle is practise, practise, practise. I still struggle to get a clean, perfect line, but I get better with each application.

I went for shade 5, which is a classic, non-fuss black. There are also some other shades, including other neutrals like brown and grey, and some more interesting shades, such as a bright emerald and a turquoise blue.
The black itself is gorgeously inky, deep and glossy. As it dries it gives a sort of vinyl-like effect which looks stunning while it's still fresh.

MUA Liquid Eyeliner Swatch - Shade 5
Where this product falters, however, is in its longevity. It's virtually impossible to draw on a thick, dramatic line, as it will crack and flake pretty much instantly, so you've got to stick to a thin, understated line with this one. More of a "thick lashes" effect than a full on 60's cat eye flick. Even then it will start crumbling after a few hours' wear. I tried using primer as well as setting the liner with some eye shadow, but neither seemed to make a difference.
I don't know if the other shades behave in a similar fashion, but I would say if you're after a brilliant eye liner, try the felt tip liner instead. It only costs £1 more, but it will stay on your eyes all day - literally.
Also, if you've got any tips on how to stop this one from cracking, then please let me know in the comments section below!

The MUA liquid eyeliner retails at £1 and is available from Superdrug or online on the MUA website, here. Meanwhile, if you'd like to check out what I've had to say about the felt tip eyeliner, you can read this blog post.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Crystal Clear Deep Cleanse Gel Review

Crystal Clear is not a brand I was familiar with up until when they contacted me at the beginning of the year. Ever since, some of their products and skin care treatments have been popping up here and there, which piqued my interest in this brand - especially after I saw them featured in Elle, which I still consider my holy bible for anything fashion and beauty related.
I've got two products by Crystal Clear to review for those of you who are just as intrigued as me, but want to get an opinion on how their products work before you splash the cash. First up is the Deep Cleanse Gel.

It's been a while since I used a gel cleanser - I've somehow grown accustomed to the gentle effectiveness of a cream, foam or balm cleanser, so this had a lot to live up to.
The gel comes out clear and is to be massaged into damp skin, where you let it froth up and do its magic before rinsing it off again. It has a gorgeous citrus scent which is particularly welcome in the morning when it just gives me a nice little invigorating buzz every time I get a whiff.

As for its effectiveness, the hint with this product is really in the name. DEEP cleanse gel, boy they really mean it. It does state in the product description that it doesn't just cleanse, but it exfoliates as well. After using it, my face felt literally squeaky clean. My skin didn't burn, but I did get quite  the tightening sensation and any moisturiser and serum I applied afterwards sank in extremely quickly.
At first, my skin didn't like it. As a matter of fact, I broke out after the first few applications and was about to put it aside and switch to a milder cleanser - but I stuck with it, hoping that my skin was simply going through this "purging stage" some deep cleansing products and devices can bring on.
Turns out I was right. After a week those breakouts started clearing up - and so did everything else, revealing bright, radiant skin, which allowed me to step back from the heavy foundations.

I really do believe that cleansing is the single most important step in a skincare regimen. My skin can tolerate most creams and serums and doesn't really discriminate between budget and high end creams. But as soon as I change cleansers it shows immediately on my face.
With balms and creams I'm quite used to a soft, fuzzy, slightly plumping effect on my skin (sorry if that makes no sense to you at all), while this gel works in a completely different way. My skin seemed brighter and tighter, a bit as if a spot light was turned on it at all times - almost clinically clean.
Personally, I cannot make my mind up which effect I prefer, but if you struggle with problem skin, oily skin or breakouts, then I would definitely recommend this to you. I can honestly say I've never used a cleanser that was more thorough than this. And don't be discouraged if at first your skin rebels, just like mine did. Stick with it and you'll soon reap the benefits. As for dry and sensitive skin types, I'm a bit on the fence. You'd definitely have to follow up your cleanse with some very rich and moisturising products - maybe ask for a sample before you try to see how your skin reacts.

The Deep Cleanse Gel retails at £27 for 200ml

Soap & Glory Hand Food Review

I've never seen a hand cream prop up so much across women's hand bags, desks and night stands as Soap & Glory's hand food - in this country at least. I don't think there's a female Brit that hasn't at some stage tried this cream.

For me, there aren't many hand creams I can use during the day. I just hate that sticky, wet feeling they leave on your fingers and having to run around like a t-rex for ages, waiting for it to sink in. As a result, I will usually only use a hand cream before going to bed, slathering on a fairly thick layer and letting it sink in while I'm snoozing away, even if a lot of it ends up on my pillows and sheets.

Upon first application, this hand cream was everything I hate in a hand cream. It melted into a sticky, slimy gloop and took forever to sink into my skin. Impossible for me to use in the day time, unless I was sat around doing nothing with my hands - which happens, well, never.
Over night however, the story was a different one. I woke up to baby soft hands every morning, which made it a bed time staple in no time.

And of course, no Soap & Glory review would be complete without at least mentioning the product scent. Fragrancing seems to be something S&G are absolutely brilliant at and this hand cream is no exception. It smells like marshmallows and the scent lasts long enough to still linger a little bit in the morning when I've applied the night before.

Nevertheless, I'm sorry to say that this won't be a repurchase for me. I'm still on the hunt for a hand cream that sinks in quickly enough to use during the day time, so if you've got any suggestions, please let me know in the comments section below!

Soap & Glory Hand Food retails at £5.00 for a 125ml tube.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Bourjois Cream Blusher Launch - Are you excited?

I have to admit it's been a while since I got excited about a new product launch, but there's a few summer collections that have got me written all over them.

One of those exciting new things is the Bourjois cream blush. Now, Bourjois blushes have been around for a while - almost 150 years actually. Yeah, 150. One-five-oh. I had to do a double take when I first saw that number. Either way, Bourjois are now bringing out four new cream blushes and I cannot wait to get my mitts on them.

They describe them as a cream-to-powder formula, which is my preferred texture when it comes to blushers and the reason why I'm loving my Topshop blushers so much. Bourjois blushes actually seem to uphold a pretty good reputation in the blogging world, so I'm quite surprised I don't own any more than I do.

The four shades available are:

01 Nude Velvet
02 Healthy Glow
03 Rose Tender
04 Sweet Cherry

I personally can't wait to get my mitts on 03 and 01!
These launch next week on May 15 in Boots, Superdrug and on and they seem very reasonably priced at £7.99 each. If you can't wait that long, Selfridges already have them in stock now.

And if you'd like to see some sneaky preview swatches, why not check out this post on Do Not Freeze?

Will you be heading out to pick up a Bourjois cream blush?