Love Lula Beauty Boxes

My last post on beauty boxes proved really popular – if you haven’t read it yet you can find it here: The Battle of the Beauty Box: Birchbox v Glossybox. Following my three month review of these beauty boxes I switched my subscription to Love Lula, partly to have a bit of variety, but mostly because natural beauty and skincare is where my real passion lies.

Love Lula is my favourite online store for buying natural beauty and skincare. It has a really wide range of brands to suit all budgets, free delivery and always has good offers running so I can get money off or some free products thrown in. My only gripe is that sometimes I get hooked on a brand which they then stop stocking – bring back Nuxe please!

The price of the Love Lula Beauty Box is £12.50 per month including p&p, which is competitive with other boxes on the market. It is a recurring month-on-month subscription so once you’ve signed up you must unsubscribe if you want to stop receiving the boxes. There is no cost saving if you opt for the three month or full year subscription – it works out at the same price per month.

Before I start going through the boxes I received I’m going to start with a whinge…my first box took five weeks to arrive. FIVE WEEKS! I am not patient at the best of times so it felt like forever. Love Lula is predominantly an online store that has tapped into the beauty box market and I believe they only send boxes once a month, so if you just miss the cut off date (as I did) you may wait a while for your first box. Following that, all my boxes arrived regularly each month so perhaps I just need to develop a bit more patience 🙂

 

December

My first Love Lula Beauty Box was the December one. I had high expectations as most beauty box companies pull out all the stops on the Christmas edition and I wasn’t left disappointed. The box contained:

 Balm Balm Eau De Parfum in Ylang Ylang 33ml ~ £22

 John Masters 100% Argan Oil 3ml ~ £1.65

 PHB Sugar Scrub in Peppermint 100g ~ £4.95

 Beauty Brews in Poise 50g ~ £9.50

 Madara Total Renewal Night Cream ~ £20

Three of the products were full-size (the perfume, body scrub and tea) and the value of the contents was approximately £58.

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I liked the variety of the products; a skincare product, a body product, the argan oil (which can be used on the hair or the skin), plus the perfume and tea which were unusual but welcome additions. Having so many full-size products means that if there’s something that’s not to your taste you can gift it.

I was also impressed with the brands – Balm Balm, John Masters and Madara in particular are all big names in the world of natural beauty.

So far, I’ve used the tea, night cream and perfume which are all lovely. I’m looking forward to using the sugar scrub as it is so pretty and smells super minty.

One thing to note is that if you like fancy packaging this box probably isn’t the one for you – the packaging is a plain cardboard box with shredded paper inside. That isn’t a problem for me, as there are only so many fancy boxes I have room for before I have to start throwing them out, which seems like such a waste. I respect that Love Lula’s ethics extends to reducing the impact on the environment from unnecessary packaging.

 

January

Balm Balm Face Balm in Rose Geranium 30ml ~ £8.95

Laidbare Pack Your Bags Eye Cream 30ml ~ £7.99

REN EverCalm Day Cream ~ £8.40

John Masters Evening Primrose Shampoo 60ml ~ £5.50

Apple & Bears Body Silk in Grapefruit & Seaweed 50ml ~ £6

Two of the products were full-size (the face balm and the eye cream) and the value of the contents was approximately £37.

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Although two of the brands contained within the box were the same as the previous month (Balm Balm and John Masters), they are brands I like and the products differ nicely from those in the previous box (three skincare products, a haircare product and a body product).

I get through tons of facial moisturiser, shampoo and body lotion so was happy to receive these. I’ve used REN and John Masters before and love both but Apple & Bears was a new brand to try. I don’t get through as much eye cream and face balm so wouldn’t want to receive these too often.

 

February

Madara Micellar Water 100ml ~ £14

Weleda Skin Food 10ml ~ £2.50

Ooh! Oils of Heaven Marula Oil 15ml ~ £9.50

Maggie Anne Nail Polish in Jasper 11ml ~ £10.50

Greenfrog Botanical Body Wash 100ml ~ £3.90

Two full-size products again this month (the micellar water and nail polish) with a total box value of approximately £40.

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Although the body wash is not full-size it is still a good amount. The brands this month were all different from those in the previous month’s box with a good variety of products too – two skincare, two body care and a nail polish.

I’m a big fan of micellar water and the packaging on this Madara one is beautiful, it definitely has bathroom shelf appeal. The other four brands were new to me – great to have lots of new ones to try. The nail polish is a gorgeous colour. I’ve seen other beauty boxes include nail polishes but the colours can be a bit ‘out there’, whereas this colour is in a suits-all neutral shade. Its surprisingly chip-resistant too – in fact, I’d even go so far as to say it’s on a par with OPI.

 

March

Seascape Body Wash in Unwind 300ml ~ £16

PHB Brightening Hand Cream with Neroli & Ylang Ylang 50ml ~ £10.95

Hurraw Papaya & Pineapple Lip Balm 4.3g ~ £4.99

Laidbare For Richer For Porer Face Masque 50ml ~ £7.99

Kimberly Sayer Restore Anti-Aging Cream 1.5ml ~ 50p

This box contained an impressive four full-size products, which more than made up for the fifth sample being a small sachet. The total value of the box was again approximately £40.

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Seascape is a totally new brand for me and I was pleased to receive such a huge bottle of shower gel. The seahorse packaging is beautiful too and it looks lovely in my shower. PHB is my favourite new brand discovery of 2017 – all their products smell heavenly and are lovely quality.

I was happy to get the lip balm as I get through tons of lip balm all year round. I’ll be interested to see if this brand matches up to Burts Bees (my all-time favourite lip balm). I was also really happy to get a face masque included as I didn’t receive any in my three month subscription with Birchbox. Although the Kimberly Sayer sample was only a small one, the fact it was included in the box meant I was entitled to 20% off further purchases of the brand for the rest of that month with Love Lula, so I took the opportunity to stock up on my usual facial moisturisers, as well as trying new body moisturisers from PHB and Laidbare (both of which are gorgeous, FYI).

It is definitely a great feature of the Love Lula box that you get 20% off further purchases of any of the brands included for the rest of that month. It means that if it’s a brand I already like I can stock up on my favourite products for a discounted price, or if I really like a new brand included in the box I can try a few more of their products without breaking the bank.

I love surprises so I also really like that Love Lula don’t publish any spoilers of the items included in their box each month – it is always a total surprise to find out what is included (even when I’ve tried to find out I haven’t been able to :-)).

One thing that might be a downside for some is that you can’t personalise the box to your preferences. This hasn’t been an issue for me as I’ll use all the items I’ve received, plus as I mentioned earlier you can always give anything you don’t use as a gift, but I know some people like to have a say over what they receive.

Overall, I think the Love Lula Beauty Box is a really affordable box to try if natural beauty products are your thing, and the discount for brands included is really handy. Although some of the brands are repeated across some months, there is a good variety of products which are all great quality.

If you’re interested in trying the Love Lula Beauty Box, you can use the link here to sign up. If you decide to give them a try let me know what you think, or if you know of a fantastic beauty box I should be trying, let me know which one in the comments below.

Beauty Geek x

 

 

Environ Advanced Active Vitamin Facial by Liberty at Bodilight

Mention facials and for most people the image conjured up involves aromatherapy oils and lots of relaxing massage. While that’s truly lovely, beauty addicts like me want instant results as well as some much-needed chill out time.

Step forward, the advanced active vitamin facial by Environ. Using cutting-edge technology, including electrical pulses and sound waves, this is as far from your traditional facial as you can get, and is a firm favourite with celebs such as Sadie Frost, Hilary Swank, Elle Macpherson and Sienna Miller.

You may not be familiar with Environ as you can only buy their skincare products from selected professionals. A South African brand, the main ingredient their products focus on is vitamin A, which is essential for skin health. Environ uses vitamin A in much larger quantities than most other brands; so much so that their products have a step-up system, whereby you start at Level 1 on a low vitamin A dose, gradually working your way up to Level 5.

So after work, one cold, rainy Friday, I head along to Bodilight to see exactly what this facial can do for my skin. The aesthetician carrying out my treatment, Liberty, starts by conducting a thorough skin consultation and asking what results I’d like to see. The great thing about this facial is that although the technique is the same, the wide range of product options allows it to be tailored to your particular skin type. Liberty selects the colostrum gel to help calm my sensitive skin.

Liberty begins with an eye cleanse, followed by a pre-cleanse and a regular cleanse. Next, is a non-granular exfoliation (i.e. an exfoliator that uses acids/enzymes instead of little scrubby particles). I’ve started using non-granular exfoliators more and more recently – I think the results are just as effective as traditional granular exfoliators but with less risk of causing damage to the skin by over-zealous scrubbing.

So far, fairly normal. However, the mini-peel uses the Environ Ionzyme machine to drive the vitamins much, much deeper into the skin than traditional methods using an electrical current and sound waves. This isn’t at all uncomfortable, it creates a tingling sensation, which I actually found quite enjoyable.

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Next is the really unusual part. A really thick mask is applied which Liberty warns me will feel really cold. The mask can be applied all over your eyelids and mouth, leaving just your nose uncovered, and sets into a rubber. If the thought of this doesn’t appeal you can opt to have your eyes and mouth left uncovered but, never one to back down from a challenge, I leave just my nose uncovered. I find the fact I can’t open my eyes and mouth really relaxing but then I also find small spaces really relaxing so maybe I’m just a bit odd!

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The mask conducts the electrical current from the Ionzyme machine and drives the vitamins deeper into the skin. You can hear a faint high-pitched noise while the current is on – a bit like the noise you can sometimes hear from a TV and some people (me included) see flashing lights (not as scary as it sounds)!

While the mask is on, Liberty massages some oil into my hands and pops on a pair of heated mitts which is very welcome as my hands get ridiculously dry at this time of year.

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Despite the unusual elements of this facial I still find it really relaxing, with low lighting and soothing music (although as most busy mums will tell you, the chance to lie still for an hour without being asked a question every five seconds counts as relaxation in itself).

Once the mask has worked it’s magic, it is carefully peeled off in one piece, with an entertaining imprint of my face! Liberty finished by applying a serum to help protect my skin.

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I’m really curious to see the results and had expected my skin to look quite red due to the mini-peel. However, the treatment has actually reduced a surprising amount of the redness from my sensitive skin and the texture of my skin feels amazing – easily the best and most instant result I’ve had from a facial.

If you’re local to Milton Keynes you can experience the Environ Advanced Active Vitamin Facial for £79 at Bodilight, who are based at The Hub (and helpfully have convenient and free parking at Sainsburys). You can also opt for a ‘classic’ version of the facial (minus the mini-peel) for £59 and an ‘express’ version for £49.

For this week only (w/c 13/02/17) you can experience any of the Environ facials with Rianne for a massive 50% discount – what better excuse do you need to treat yourself?

Beauty Geek x

 

Neal’s Yard Remedies ‘Deliciously Ella’ Facial Wash & Moisturiser

You may have heard of Ella Mills AKA ‘Deliciously Ella’ due to her overhaul of her diet and lifestyle in order to manage a serious illness she suffers from. A few vegans I know swear by her recipes which use simple, natural, unprocessed ingredients (I’ve tried her brownies which contain sweet potato of all things and they’re very good).

Ella has recently released a ‘Deliciously Ella’ Rose, Lime and Cucumber Facial Wash and Moisturiser in collaboration with Neal’s Yard, using the same philosophy of natural ingredients. A lot of work has gone into these products – they’ve been 18 months in the making so I had high expectations for them!

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You can really smell the cucumber in them – it’s lovely and refreshing. They are fairly light in texture so I would say they are best suited to normal/younger skin (teens and twenties). The facial wash is £16 for 100ml and the moisturiser is £25 for 100ml. Although they’re not cheap, both products go a long way so will last a long time. Plus, if you buy them as a duo you get a cute bag and pay only £35 (a saving of £6).

You can buy your Neal’s Yard products through Nicola D’Costa at http://www.uk.nyrorganic.com/shop/nicolad. It is also worth checking out her Facebook page.

Beauty Geek x

Neal’s Yard Facial Oils

Due to having skin that is prone to breakouts, facial oils are something I’ve only started using in the last few years in order to help fight the aging process. I have found it is best to invest in a quality oil and use it less, than slather on an inexpensive one more regularly.

I tend to use facial oils after exfoliating or using a mask, as a kind of mini at-home facial. I also use an oil if I feel my skin has become dry in places – particularly at this time of year when it is struggling to adjust to the effects of cold weather and central heating. Don’t be afraid to target the oil to just the areas of the face that you feel need it. Also, it is better to use it at night so it can really sink in (and if you have long hair like me, tie it up so the oil doesn’t transfer and leave you with greasy-looking locks).

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Neal’s Yard offers a range of facial oils, varying in price from £20 to £28.50 for 30ml. The options are frankincense (rejuvenating for skin showing signs of aging), rose (rehydrating for normal skin) and orange flower (nourishing for dry skin).

I tried both the frankincense and rose facial oils. I wasn’t sure what frankincense smells like but it’s lovely; quite earthy, so good if you’re not into floral scents and not at all strong or overpowering. The rose smells exactly as I think a ‘good’ rose scent should – more turkish delight than old-lady-floral.

The texture of both oils is lovely – indulgent without being greasy – and both absorbed into the skin well. The bottles come with a very handy little dropper so you can dispense the tiny amount you need easily. If you are using the facial oil once or twice a week a bottle will last you months so cost per use is actually very low.

You can buy your Neal’s Yard products through Nicola D’Costa at http://www.uk.nyrorganic.com/shop/nicolad. It is also worth checking out her Facebook page.

Beauty Geek x

Neal’s Yard Bee Lovely Hand Cream

I get through gallons of hand cream at this time of year and the Neal’s Yard Bee Lovely Hand Cream (£10 for 50ml) is great. Nice and rich but not greasy, it really left my dry eczema-prone skin feeling repaired and cared for. It isn’t cheap but a little goes a long way. Although it contains a honey blend it doesn’t smell like your typical honey product, it smells of the lovely orange essential oil that’s also in it.

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Amongst other products, the Bee Lovely range has a body lotion (£21.50 for 295ml) and a body butter (£23 for 200g), which if the hand cream is anything to go by, will definitely be worth a try.

You can buy your Neal’s Yard products through Nicola D’Costa at http://www.uk.nyrorganic.com/shop/nicolad. It is also worth checking out her Facebook page.

Beauty Geek x

Neal’s Yard Peppermint & Lime Deodorant

Although Neal’s Yard Remedies is one of the biggest names in organic natural health and beauty, I haven’t tried many of their products before. Thankfully, through a mutual friend I was put in touch with Nicola D’Costa, who is an Independent Consultant for NYR and who kindly sent me a fantastic range of products to try. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting a series of blogs sharing my views on the products with you all.

Firstly, a bit about NYR. As well as using excellent quality natural and organic ingredients they are a fantastically ethical company, and also use a lot of Fairtrade ingredients. Their signature dark blue glass packaging is fully recyclable and cleverly blocks UV light, meaning less preservatives are used. Importantly for me, their products do not contain parabens or mineral oils.

The first product I tried was the Peppermint & Lime Deodorant (£8 for 50ml). This roll-on deodorant is a new addition to Neal’s Yard and is both vegan and cruelty-free.

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I have a friend who has switched to natural deodorants as opposed to anti-perspirants and she swears by them. I haven’t taken the plunge yet, although I have been tempted as I have sensitive underarms. This deodorant is aluminium-free. Aluminium is an ingredient which is common in anti-perspirants and can cause irritation (it has for me previously). The deodorant has been clinically proven to give 24 hour protection, using ingredients such as bamboo powder to absorb moisture. Most importantly, it smells really fresh, mostly of the lime as opposed to the mint. It is also available in a rose and geranium scent but I imagine the lime one is nicer for a deodorant.

It dries fairly quickly, caused me no irritation and didn’t mark any of my clothes. It was surprisingly effective and while I’m still not entirely sure if I’d be confident enough to use it on a really hot day or when exercising, for normal day to day use, it is an excellent alternative to chemical-laden anti-perspirants.

You can buy your Neal’s Yard products through Nicola at http://www.uk.nyrorganic.com/shop/nicolad. It is also worth checking out her Facebook page.

Beauty Geek x

So intu Christmas

I loved my Autumn/Winter 2016 blogger event with intu (if you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out here) so when they invited me back for a Christmas shopping event I couldn’t wait. The Christmas Village is lovely and the whole area has a real festive feel.

A serious shopping session requires caffeine, and there is nowhere better for a kick-ass flat white than Pret. I travel a fair amount with work and Pret is my favourite place to grab a healthy lunch to eat on the train (the Chicken, Pesto & Buffalo Mozzarella Salad is awesome). So, nicely refreshed after visiting the Pret within Midsummer Place, I head straight to Coast to check out some Christmas party looks.

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Coast have some fantastic sale items at the moment, which is perfect if you want something for the Christmas parties that is high-end without breaking the bank. The first dress I try on is the Callista Printed Dress, reduced from £225 to just £99. It is completely stunning, made of weighty jacquard which helps give you a nice smooth shape, and features both a bardot neckline and dipped hem.

combined-coastCallista Dress, now £99, Coast (Midsummer Boulevard)

I am a massive fan of a Christmas jumper, but if novelty versions aren’t your thing try the Celyn Knit Top, £69. Super soft with a slim fit, it features subtle Christmas shapes in silver and copper diamantes. It looks cute paired with the Prinsloo Jacquard Skirt, £95 – perfect for when you want to look well put-together without trying too hard.

Celyn Knit Top £69, Prinsloo Jacquard Skirt £95, both Coast (Midsummer Boulevard)

If you’ve seen the recent Coast ads, you’ll have seen the ever-stylish Olivia Palermo looking stunning in the Exeter Jacquard Skirt, now reduced from £179 to £119. This skirt again features a dipped hem, but also pockets – great for striking a pose. The Milton Keynes Coast store always has excellent customer service and the helpful (and stunningly pretty) Olivia helped me style the skirt with the Robyn Structured Top, £89. I would never have chosen this top myself as it looked cropped (I’m not a fan of exposing my midriff in public) but as the skirt sits high on the waist it was a perfect match.

Robyn Structured Top £89, Exeter Jacquard Skirt now £119, both Coast (Midsummer Boulevard)

Those of you who read my last blog will know I love fur (faux, of course) and Coast hasn’t disappointed this season with the beautiful Hollywood-style Chelsea Faux Fur Coat. Not too long in the body, it sits perfectly over the high-waisted skirts and dresses I tried on and you will use it every party season.

Chelsea Faux Fur Coat £129, Coast (Midsummer Boulevard)

Next, I head over to Karen Millen which is beautifully arranged, making it easy to spot loads of gorgeous pieces.

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Karen Millen (Midsummer Boulevard)

Straight away I spot this gorgeous Italian wool, camel-coloured coat. I have been hunting for one like this and it’s definitely the best one I’ve found. It has a detachable fur collar meaning you could use it for autumn, winter and spring. I’m not usually a fan of detachable collars, as they can be quite obvious and look ‘gappy’, but this one is so cleverly crafted I didn’t even realise at first that it was detachable. At £350 it’s an investment piece, but it will last year after year and continue to look fantastic.

Camel Coat CZ032 £350, Karen Millen (Midsummer Boulevard)

Next up was this achingly hip biker jacket in a go-with-everything deep tan colour. The Italian leather is some of the softest I’ve felt and I loved the chunky silver zips. It’s another luxury piece at £399 but no-one wants to wear cheap leather do they?!

Slim Biker Jacket JZ055 £399, Karen Millen (Midsummer Boulevard)

Feeling brave, I decided to try the Two-Tone Satin Jumpsuit, £250. I normally avoid jumpsuits as I worry they’ll make me look heavy on the bottom half, but this one is super-slimming on your waist, hips and bum – great if you’ve got curves. The detailing on the satin top half really adds some interest too. This is a great alternative to a dress for a Christmas party too.

 Two-Tone Satin Jumpsuit PZ077 £250, Karen Millen (Midsummer Boulevard)

However, if an LBD is a winter essential for you, this Black Fringe Mini Dress, £199 is stunning and really unique. I absolutely love the detailing at the top.

Black Fringe Mini Dress DZ107 £199, Karen Millen (Midsummer Boulevard)

Next, it’s time to hunt for some gifts for my friends and family, so off to Debenhams I go to see what the beauty counters have to offer. First up, I know my Mum is need of some more Viktor & Rolf BonBon Eau De Parfum – mostly because she very clearly informed me of it with a hopeful look in her eye (£50 for 30ml, £70.50 for 50ml or £99 for 90ml). Hint taken, Mum, this lovely caramel-y scent will be under the tree for you come the 25th.

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Viktor & Rolf BonBon Eau De Parfum £50 for 30ml, £70.50 for 50ml or £99 for 90ml, Debenhams (Midsummer Place)

These Benefit gift sets are perfect for my 13 year old niece who is just starting to explore the wonderful world of make-up. She’ll love ‘It’s a Gal’s World’ (the peach-coloured box on the middle shelf in the picture below), which contains the legendary ‘Porefessional’ primer, as well as an eyeliner, mascara and four eyeshadows in easy to wear shades. There’s even an eyeshadow applicator included and it’s under £25.

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‘It’s a Gal’s World’ £24.50, Benefit, Debenhams (Midsummer Place)

OK, so I know I said I was shopping for friends and family, but I am my own best friend so I think I thoroughly deserve this beautiful bareMinerals ‘Glow Together’ palette, perfect for getting the ultimate Christmas shimmery highlight.

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‘Glow Together’ £29, bareMinerals, Debenhams (Midsummer Place)

After that short distraction, it’s back to my list and this ‘Give Me a Swirl’ brush set is amazing value. Previously, I’ve bought each of the brushes individually at a total cost of £78. With this set, you get the Supreme Finisher Brush, Blooming Blush Brush and Expert Shadow & Liner Brush for only £39. If you’re in any doubt as to how good these brushes are check out my previous review on them here. They’re super soft, don’t shed and wash really well. I reckon my sister will love them.

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‘Give Me a Swirl’ £39, bareMinerals, Debenhams (Midsummer Place)

Finally, it’s time for the obligatory goodie bag shot, and intu haven’t disappointed with more fantastic treats. The Karen Millen tote is just gorgeous and the Clinique cosmetic bag with skincare and make-up left me feeling totally spoilt. Add to that an intu gift card (yay, more shopping!), some fragrance samples and a lovely Pret Christmas Tiffin and I am one happy (and shopped out) blogger.

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So get yourself up to intu, get your presents bought, and then relax and enjoy the run up to Christmas Day safe in the knowledge there’ll be lots of happy faces when the presents are opened.

Beauty Geek x

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The Advent of Beauty: The Best Beauty Advent Calendars for 2016

In the last couple of years, beauty advent calendars have become a massive deal, and this year pretty much all the big beauty brands have released one. After all, who wants chocolate when you can have a brand new beauty product every day in the lead up to Christmas?! Prices range from the eye-watering to the purse-friendly and everything in-between. This post includes my pick of the 2016 options, including the one I’ve bought for myself.

The Beauty Pro’s Choice: Charlotte Tilbury ~ ‘Charlotte’s World of Legendary Parties’

Styled as a beautiful chest of drawers, this luxury advent calendar features 12 travel-size products with a good mix of skincare and make-up. Charlotte Tilbury as a brand is bang on trend at the moment as well, so it will definitely get envious looks from those who see it on your dressing table.

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The downside? At a whopping £150 (£12.50 average cost per product) it is definitely an investment. Arguably, if you’re spending that sort of money you might prefer to pick the exact products you want rather than have them chosen for you. Order online at http://www.charlottetilbury.com

The Affordable Choice: Tanya Burr ~ ’12 Days of Christmas Beauty Calendar’

At the other end of the price spectrum is the Tanya Burr calendar, featuring 12 make-up items, all of which are limited edition. If you’re not familiar with Tanya, she is a beauty vlogger who has developed her own make-up range. Although particularly popular with teens, her make-up gets good reviews and is equally a worthwhile buy for adults.

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The rrp of the calendar is £25, but at the moment it is on sale in Superdrug for just £12, meaning an average cost per product of just £1. You can’t really go wrong with that, can you? Buy in-store or online from Superdrug for the best deal.

The Ethical Choice: Lush ~ ’12 Days of Christmas’

Vegan-friendly and without the use of any animal testing, this is a great choice for those who want to treat themselves with a clear conscience. A simple, octagonal box tied with ribbon in festive green and red colours (Lush are anti unnecessary packaging) contains 12 cute, seasonal skincare items, five of which are Lush’s infamous bath bombs.

At £52.95, the average cost per product is £4.41, and will keep you smelling gorgeous over the festive period. Buy in-store or online from Lush.

The 24 Day Make-Up Choice: bareMinerals ~ ‘Countdown to Gorgeous’

There aren’t many beauty advent calendars that cover 24 days (most opt for 12) so serious make-up addicts will love bareMinerals calendar which includes (amongst other products) six lip glosses, four lip balms, five eye shadows and two blushes.

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The external packaging in stylish black, white and gold tones opens up like a book to reveal a deep red interior containing the windows with the products hidden behind. At £75, the average cost per product is £3.13, meaning this is a great way to try lots of products from a premium brand at a fairly low cost per product. Buy in-store or online from bareMinerals for the best price (also available at QVC but the price is slightly higher).

The 12 Day Make-Up Choice: Benefit ~ ‘Girl O’Clock Rock’

If you love your make-up but spending £75 on the bareMinerals calendar is a little out of reach (let’s face it – this is an expensive time of year), Benefit is offering a 12 day calendar for just £34.50.

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The packaging is in typical quirky style (it even plays you a song!) and contains 12 mini products, including some of the brand’s most popular items. The average cost per product is £2.88 – one of the lowest average costs of all the calendars I looked at.

The Variety & Outstanding Value Choice: M&S ~ ‘Beauty Advent Calendar’

First things first, the RRP of this calendar is £250…I know what you’re thinking, how on earth can this be outstanding value?! Well, the great news is that if you spend £35 on clothing, beauty or home in M&S you get the calendar for only £35. So after updating my work wardrobe, I popped one of these in my basket too.

What I love about this calendar is that it contains a variety of different products by different brands, and not just any old brands but really good quality ones – REN, Nuxe, Burts Bees, Neals Yard, Philip Kingsley and Nails Inc to name just a few. It contains 25 products (the most of any calendar I reviewed) and the average cost per product is just £1.40. No skimping on the packaging either – the calendar is shaped as a beautiful Christmas tree with each product contained in a separate box. At the time of writing, these had sold out online but some were remaining in-store so get in quick and grab one!

I’d love to know if any of you have bought the calendars I’ve featured and what you thought of them, or if you’ve tried others that are worth considering for next year.

Check out my Facebook page & Instagram, where I’ll be featuring the products from my calendar as I open them each day.

Beauty Geek x

 

 

 

 

The Battle of the Beauty Box: Birchbox v Glossybox

Beauty boxes have taken off in a big way. In fact, with so much choice, it’s hard to know which one to go for. So with the help of my good friend Kirstie, I’ve taken two of the most popular boxes head-to-head to see which comes out top.

Kirstie opted for a three month subscription to Glossybox which was £38.25, while I went for Birchbox. Birchbox don’t offer a three month subscription so I paid for three separate monthly boxes. The price is still pretty comparable at £38.85 in total (each box was £10, plus £2.95 postage and packaging).

September

Kirstie and I ordered our boxes on the same day. Kirstie’s Glossybox was the first to arrive within a couple of days and my Birchbox arrived a few days after that.

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The packaging on both is lovely, with both boxes of good enough quality to reuse. The Birchbox has a pastel theme with a cute chevron pattern, while the Glossybox is a classic post-box red. The Glossybox has tissue paper tied with ribbon inside which the Birchbox doesn’t have, however Birchbox picks up points for the quirky sliding drawer design which allows you to stack the boxes once you’ve collected a few.

Overall, it’s a tie with each box picking up 4/5 for gorgeous presentation.

Presentation:  Birchbox ♥♥♥♥♥  Glossybox ♥♥♥♥

The Birchbox contains a total of five items; a haircare product, a skincare product, two body products and a make-up item, plus a free bracelet. The stand-out product is the gorgeous Model Co Highlighting Trio consisting of bronze, pink and cream shades. Also welcome is the shower oil by one of my favourite brands, Nuxe and the Almond Body Butter by Whish smells good enough to eat. The skincare item is a micellar water (Bioderma Hydrabio H2O) and the haircare product is a volumising spray (Batiste Stylist Oomph My Locks XXL). The bracelet is sweet, but not something I’d wear, so a bit of a wasted gift for me.

The Glossybox contains a total of six items, two skincare products, three make-up items and a nail product. The skincare products consist of two face masks – one from the new range by The Body Shop which are being advertised everywhere at the moment (Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask) and the other is Vitamasques Hydro Face Mask. The mascara included (Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara) is a waterproof version of one of the most highly recommended mascaras on the market. Other make-up items are GOSH Long Lasting Lip Marker and Rodial Smokey Eye Pen. In addition, there is a nail product in the form of Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy Diamond Top Coat, tapping into the DIY gel nail trend.

Both boxes have a good range of products, but Glossybox picks up an extra point for having an additional item and such on-trend products.

Products:  Birchbox ♥♥♥  Glossybox ♥♥♥♥

The total value of the Birchbox comes to £22.70 (not including the free bracelet), more than justifying the spend on the box. Four of the five items are relatively low value at under £2.50 each, but the full-size highlighting trio is worth a whopping £17.

The total value of the Glossybox is more than double that of the Birchbox at £52.38. Only one of the items is less than £7 in value, and the full-size eye pen is worth £17, the mascara worth £11.40 and the hydro face mask and top coat worth £7.99 each.

Glossybox wipes the floor on value for money, with lots of high-end items.

Value for Money:  Birchbox ♥♥♥♥♥  Glossybox ♥♥♥♥♥

Overall: Both boxes are beautifully presented with some quality products but Glossybox takes the lead this month thanks to its outstanding value and on-trend products. Birchbox 10/15, Glossybox 13/15.

September Winner: Glossybox with 13/15

October

The Birchbox arrives first this month, followed by the Glossybox a few days later. The packaging on both is as in September albeit with different colours and themes. This time the Birchbox is themed around star signs, which is a sweet idea and especially nice as my birthday falls this month. As Libra is an air sign I get the air box, which is a dark blue with little silver stars. The Glossybox is a lovely pastel pink with black accents.

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Again, each box picks up 4/5 for gorgeous presentation.

Presentation:  Birchbox ♥♥♥♥♥  Glossybox ♥♥♥♥

The Birchbox contains six items; two haircare items, a make-up product, two skincare products and an eyebrow brush. The best product is the full-size Lord & Berry Lip Crayon which is a great colour but I’m also very happy with the NKD SKN fake tan. Although inexpensive, the eyebrow brush is welcome as I don’t currently have one. I also have a hair elixir (Number 4 Fluoro5 Elixer Restore & Repair Oil) and a facial mist (Doux Me Pure Spring Mist). Due to an error, I get the same volume spray from Batiste that I received last month. I’m told this will be corrected in next month’s box which seems a little presumptuous given that I’m on a month-by-month contract.

The Glossybox also contains six items; a skincare product, a bodycare item, three make-up products and a haircare item. It’s hard to pick a single stand-out product as five of the six are fantastic. These include; Bee Good Honey & Camelina Facial Exfoliator (both ethical and British), Rituals The Ritual of Sakura Magic Touch Body Cream (which smells divine), Universal Beauty Secret Flush Soothing Cream Blusher & Lip Stain Duo, Trifle Cosmetics Lip Parfait Buttery Lip Cream and PS…Pro Longwear Lipliner. The sixth product is a mystery shampoo. It is worth mentioning that four of the six products are full-size too.

Birchbox drops points this month for sending a duplicate product, while Glossybox steams ahead with five outstanding products.

Products:  Birchbox ♥♥♥  Glossybox ♥♥♥♥♥

The total value of the Birchbox is £10 higher than last month at £32.15. Four of the products have a value of less than £5 each, while the facial mist is worth £8 and the highest value item is the lip crayon at £12.

The total value of the Glossybox is slightly less than last month at £47.65 but still £15 higher than the October Birchbox. Only one of the products is worth less than £5, excluding the mystery shampoo which it is not possible to put a value to. The highest value product is the cheek and lip duo at £15, followed by the lip parfait at £12.95 and the facial exfoliator at £10.50.

Birchbox picks up an extra point this month for the increase in value but Glossybox still represents far better value for money overall.

Value for Money:  Birchbox ♥♥♥♥  Glossybox ♥♥♥♥♥

Overall: Both boxes continue to be beautifully presented. Birchbox has dropped a point for having a duplicate product of its September box but gained a point for improved value for money. Glossybox remains in the lead with great products and fantastic value. Birchbox 11/15, Glossybox 14/15.

October Winner: Glossybox with 14/15

November

The Birchbox arrives first again this month, followed by the Glossybox a few days later. The packaging on the Glossybox is exactly the same as last month. The Birchbox packaging is the same style as October but with a stunning peacock feather design and really has the wow factor.

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Birchbox gets 5/5 for presentation with an original and beautiful design. The Glossybox picks up 3/5 – while it’s lovely it is exactly the same as last month.

Presentation:  Birchbox ♥♥♥♥♥  Glossybox ♥♥♥

The Birchbox contains six items – one of which is the replacement product for the duplicate product in last month’s box. The six products are as follows; three haircare, one skincare and two make-up products. Again, it’s good to see a quality brand such as Nuxe within the box, although a bit of a shame to receive products from the same brand twice within three months, as part of my reason for ordering a beauty box was to try different brands. The Beauty Protector shampoo is also a premium product and is great for blonde hair like mine – a benefit of Birchbox allowing you to tailor the box to your personal colouring and preferences. The Lip Tamer is quite an interesting product as it preps your lips and promises to prevent lipstick budging. I’m not particularly fussed about the dry shampoo, and despite the brow pencil sounding promising (I am slightly brow obsessed) it is way too hard to create nice soft strokes with and I doubt I’ll use it. The Hair Wonder Balm sounds intriguing and is something I’ll use.

The Glossybox contains five products; one skincare, one make-up, razors, pillow spray and a blending brush, plus a free Ferrero Rocher. The stand out product is the 111SKIN Bio Cellulose Facial Treatment Mask, a limited edition product for this season that contains real crushed gold. The De Bruyere Beaute Pearly Eyeshadow Pencil was used at Victoria Beckham’s Autumn/Winter 2016 show and comes in a lovely shade that will suit most types of colouring. The razors aren’t particularly exciting but will always come in useful as will the blending brush. Although only a small size the This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray is a lovely product and not the sort of thing you would necessarily treat myself to so is very welcome.

The Birchbox has a couple of premium brands which are very welcome, although there is not as much variety as I’d like on previous months contents. Glossybox once again has a fantastic range of products with some luxury and unusual items.

Products:  Birchbox ♥♥♥  Glossybox ♥♥♥♥♥

The total value of the Birchbox is pretty consistent with last period at £34.20. No individual item is worth over £10, with three items worth between £7-£9 and the other three worth under £5.

The total value of the Glossybox is also consistent with the previous month at £46.73 and is over £10 higher than the November Birchbox. Two of the items are worth over £10 each; the face mask is worth a whopping £20 and the eyeshadow pencil worth £13. Two of the products are worth over £5 each, with the remaining product worth about £1.

The scores are consistent with October due to the values being so similar individually and in comparison with one another. Glossybox still represents far better value for money overall.

Value for Money:  Birchbox ♥♥♥♥  Glossybox ♥♥♥♥♥

Overall: Despite the Birchbox packaging this month being the best we have seen from either brand, Glossybox just manages to remain in the lead due to yet another box of fantastic products which give great value. Birchbox 12/15, Glossybox 13/15.

November Winner: Glossybox with 13/15

Overall Results: If you haven’t tried a beauty box before, either brand is definitely worth a try and represents good value for the £13 ish cost per month. Kirstie and I both really enjoyed receiving a beauty box each month as a fairly inexpensive treat to ourselves and both of us have decided to continue with a beauty box of some type each month, albeit I think we’ll both switch up the brand from time to time.

From the three month trial of Birchbox and Glossybox, Glossybox wins with an impressive 40/45 overall, compared to 33/45 for the Birchbox. Despite the price of the beauty boxes from each brand being so comparable, the Glossybox consistently manages to deliver better value for money as well as interesting and varied products.

Overall Winner: Glossybox with 40/45

A massive thank you to Kirstie for her help with writing this blog. If you know of a great beauty box I should try then get in touch in the comments below, or via my Facebook page or my Instagram (secret.diary.of.a.beauty.geek).

Beauty Geek x