Tuesday, 15 August 2017

So Susan Lip Love- August 2017 Review

So Susan Lip Love August 2017 Review

About the box
Every month you will receive a bag filled with beauty items from the brand So Susan (typically 3-5 items). Sometimes these items will be So Susan's other brands, Jelly Pong Pong and Trifle Cosmetics. This bag is sent from the U.S.A. Everything So Susan and it's other brands sell is cruelty free!

$20.95 per month (approx £16.29) with free shipping worldwide $9.95 (approx £7.74) shipping to the UK. You can buy a one off bag for $45.00 (approx £34.99).

What I got
This months bag was a lovely bright red colour, with the usual random slogan across the front.

So Susan Lip Love Bag 2017 I Am My Own Muse

I like the colour but as usual the phrase is kind of lost on me and is definitely not something I would say, quote, or wear on a t-shirt!

Beauty For Real Lip Gloss in Kiss Me

Beauty For Real Light Up Lip Gloss

Beauty For Real Lip Gloss in Kiss Me Swatch

The first item out of the bag this month is the Beauty For Real Lip Gloss in 'Kiss Me' (full size, $18.00/approx £13.99). This is their 'other' brand for the month, and Beauty For Real is an American brand created by MUA Leslie Munsell. This lip gloss is kind of fun in that it lights up- just press the button in the cap and the light inside the handle comes on. Although to be honest, I can't say I've ever needed to put lip gloss on in the dark, so I can't see how it's anything for me other than a novelty. The colour is lovely and it's fairly non sticky, which is nice.

Trifle Cosmetics Matte Decadence Luxe Biscotti

Trifle Cosmetics Matte Decadence Luxe Biscotti Swatch

This item reminds me a bit of the lip crayon from last month, but this is actually a pencil. The reason why it reminded me of it is it has the same odd looking lid which doesn't seem to match the pencil/product. I'm not sure how they're designing or choosing their lids at So Susan but it looks strange to me? Anyway, this is the Trifle Cosmetics Matte Decadence in 'Luxe Biscotti' (full size, $18.00, approx. £13.99). According to their website you can use this on your lips and cheeks, but you'd have to blend it really hard on your cheeks as it's essentially a hard pencil so you'd be drawing a line. As a lip crayon though it's a great shade and blended with sugar maple and sugar cane extracts.

So Susan Muse Highlighting Drops in Royal

So Susan Muse Highlighting Drops in Royal

So Susan Muse Highlighting Drops in Royal Swatch

This is my favourite item of the bag, the So Susan Muse Highlighting Drops in 'Royal' (full size, $35.00/approx. £27.21). The shade is a very glowy bronze, and I think they would be great as part of a contour kit. The swatch photo really doesn't do the luminescence of them justice.

Jelly Pong Pong Eye Smolder in Firestarter

Jelly Pong Pong Eye Smolder in Firestarter

Jelly Pong Pong Eye Smolder in Firestarter Swatch

This is the Jelly Pong Pong Eye Smoulder in 'Firestarter' and when I first saw it my heart kind of sank because I thought it was just another black eyeliner, which in my opinion is a common filler used by subscription boxes when they don't know what else to chuck in that month. What it seems to be more like is a skinny eye shadow crayon. I know they say to use it as an eyeliner, but honestly you could probably use this as part of your eye shadow look as well as it's so soft and such a beautiful colour. It's an odd sort of product, but not a bad odd. I'm intrigued and perplexed by it!

Final thoughts
It is with a heavy heart that I have cancelled my subscription this month. When I checked my account I noticed they had started charging $9.95 for postage, and on top of an already fairly costly subscription this brings it up to around £24+ a month. Added to this is the 'non sterling transaction fee' (yeah I dunno either) my bank charges me when I pay for anything in dollars. Then there's the fact that it can be dispatched any time from the beginning to the middle of the month, and take anything from 7 to 14 days to get here, and I've kind of fallen out of love with this subscription. I love the brand in and of itself- cruelty free, lovely unique products, friendly customer service. But everything else has kind of become a bit too hard for me, and I want to focus my attentions on other things for now.

If you would like to sign up to So Susan Lip Love, their link is here.

Secret Scent Box- August 2017 Review

*I received this product free or discounted for the purpose of my honest, unbiased review.*

Secret Scent Women's Box August 2017

About the box
Secret Scent is a fragrance subscription box for both men and women (you can select your preference of gender on the website). Every month you will receive three different surprise fragrances, a 30 day supply or 9ml, in total, along with an information card for each one.

£15/month, free P&P.

What I got

Secret Scent Box

The box arrives in a diddy little white outer box which will fit through the majority of letterboxes I think. The main box inside is even littler- I love it, how cute.

Secret Scent Box- DKNY Delicious Night

The first scent I received this month was DKNY Delicious Night. The RRP of this is £60.50, although if you are a bargain lover it's currently £28.50 on Fragrance Direct. This is a very floral perfume, and it's really not my thing but I think I know someone who would like it and who loves dinky samples.

Top notes: Pomelo, Blackberry, Ginger
Middle notes: Orchid, Jasmine, Iris
Base notes: Amber, Pathchouli, Vetivier

Secret Scent Box- Moschino Pink Fresh Couture

This one is the one that comes in the distinctive bottle that looks like a pink kitchen cleaner spray- Moschino Pink Fresh Couture. This one is very sweet, like fruit and musk all mixed up. I'm not sure about this one but I may wear it a few times as sometimes I decide after a few wears. The RRP of this fragrance is £50.00 (50ml).

Top notes: Pink Grapefruit, Blackcurrant, Lily
Middle notes: Pomegranate, Rose, Pink Hyacinth
Base notes: Cedar, Musk, Ambroxan

Secret Scent Box- Armani She

Now this one is my favourite out of the box for sure, this is Armani She. It's really spicy and woody (I think, I'm not good at describing scents I don't think!) with a bit of sweetness as well. It reminds me of autumn for some reason. The RRP of this is £49.00 (50ml).

Top notes: Pineapple, Bergamot, Pear, Tangerine
Middle notes: Muguet, Orris, Jasmine, Heliotrope
Base notes: Tonka, Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Musk

Final thoughts
This was a fun box to try- I think it's quite a clever way to trial fragrances at home before you buy a full size. The Armani fragrance definitely won the box for me, and it showed how good the concept is as I never would have thought to go to Boots and look for an Armani fragrance to try. They just weren't on my radar before!

If you would like to sign up to the Secret Scent Box, their link is here.

Monday, 14 August 2017

VOBeauty Box- August 2017 Review

VO Beauty Subscription Box August 2017

About the box
VOBEAUTY (which stands for Vegan and Organic Beauty) is a fairly new subscription which sends 5 travel or full sized vegan, organic and cruelty free products every month. You do not have to enter into any sort of rolling contract- you can simply prepay for each month that you want to receive a box.

£15.95/month, plus £3.95 P&P

What I got

Unique Creations Soap Company Unicorn Bath Bomb

The first item is adorable, but something very sad happened as I unwrapped it. This is the Unique Creations Soap Company Unicorn Bath Bomb (full size, £3.00) in the Baby Power scent. As I pulled the cellophane off, I tried to be careful but obviously my stupid fingers are clumsier than I thought as the poor things head fell off! Tragedy! Still, the scent is lovely. It's a shame that I don't have a bath, but my sister does so she will most likely take this off my hands.

Made by Coopers Apothecary Vanilla Rose Nourishing Bath Salts

Next was another bath product- the Made by Coopers Apothecary Vanilla Rose Nourishing Bath Salts (travel size, 100g, £5.00). I was a bit sad that there was another bath product but to be honest it's not really VO Beauty's fault as most people do have a bath and they can't change the box just for me! All that said, these have a lovely scent to them, and are handcrafted as well as being vegan and organic.

Freyaluna Sandalwood and Orange Herbal Hair Repair Oil

This is my favourite item in the box, as I have very long hair and the ends get very dry. Freyaluna Sandalwood & Orange Herbal Hair Repair Oil (full size, 30ml, £24.00) contains orange, sandalwood and ylang ylang essential oils, as well as argan oil, hemp oil and coconut oil to nourish hair. This can be rubbed into the ends of dry hair and doesn't need to be rinsed out.

Pura Cosmetics Perfect Pout Cocktail Inspired Lip Scrub

Pura Cosmetics Perfect Pout Cocktail Inspired Lip Scrub

This Pura Cosmetics Perfect Pout Cocktail Inspired Lip Scrub (full size, £4.50) is  Strawberry Daiquiri flavour, and it does smell like strawberries but also kind of like sherbet. It smells incredibly delicious, I wish it was edible! You may receive another scent- Mojito Madness, Pina Colada or Sex on the Beach. These scrubs are great if you like matte lipsticks, as that kind of lip product shows up every little bit of dry skin. Just rub on and rinse off.

Saturated Colour Locked Lips Lipstick Sealer

Saturated Colour Locked Lips Lipstick Sealer

The last item in the box was this Saturated Colour Locked Lips Lipstick Sealer (full size, £3.50). I've never actually tried a lipstick sealer before, but I'm glad there is actually a vegan version available. This is a clear coating to put on top of your lipstick that makes it last longer and prevent bleeding and feathering. I think this would be especially useful on hot days when your makeup starts to slide off your face!

Finally I received this adorable little pot of black sparkly glitter, which after photographing and uploading I realised wasn't actually part of this months info card. The adorable guys at VO Beauty HQ actually sent me a sweet little card in my box this month which made me smile so much (thank you!) so I don't know if everyone got this bonus or if that was part of it? Either way, it's surprisingly useful for a glitter product- it seems to have a soft base which means you could use it as part of a dark glittery eye look for a night out. I couldn't find it on the VO Beauty shop but whoever makes this, it's lovely stuff.

Final thoughts
VOBeauty are showing that they can consistently send a good range of products each month, as well as provide lovely customer service. They also seem to have a love of unicorn themed products which is really something I can get behind. If you want to buy your vegan subscription box from a company where you can support a smaller business whilst still receiving amazing customer care, VO Beauty should be right up your street.

If you would like to sign up to VOBeauty, try out a build your own box, or visit their shop, their link is here.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Why I Unsubscribed From Your Email Newsletter

Ok, so not you specifically. But if you have an email newsletter and you're having trouble retaining people, check out my top list of reasons why I unsubscribe below, along with a few bonus comments from my fellow bloggers.

So, your email newsletter is all set up. Awesome font? Check. Dazzling graphics? Check. Super duper written content? Check! So why do people keep hitting the unsubscribe button?!

I've unsubscribed from many a newsletter in my time, and it's not something I do casually- partly because you have to do the whole search for the teeny tiny 'unsubscribe' text in the email and then go through ten thousand steps to finish unsubscribing. But sometimes I have to- here are my reasons.

The old 'YOU'VE WON' fake out

I love entering competitions. It's a good distraction when I'm feeling blue, and there's the added bonus of the occasional win dropping through my letterbox. But every so often I get an email with a headline saying something like "Congratulations- you've won!" My heart pounds, I start smiling- yay, I've won something! Except I open the email, and it turns out my huge win is a 20% off voucher. Yes, I'm a 'runner up' and I've 'won' a discount voucher.

This is an incredibly sneaky way of getting people to open your email, and additionally I doubt that the ASA classifies a 20% discount voucher as a prize. Result? Unsubscribe.

An email a day keeps the subscriber away

Unless I've signed up to some sort of daily news bulletin and explicitly asked to be bothered every day, please stop sending me an email daily. I get so many newsletters that send me their 'deals' and discounts every day. The problem is, I start to get a tad fatigued after a while. So even if I absolutely loved the products you were selling at the start, by the time 8 weeks have passed I've been bombarded by them and I'm probably seeing the darn stuff in my dreams. Additionally, you are surely running out of meaningful and helpful things to say at this point, and it's now become purely a sales exercise. Again- unsubscribe.

Click bait makes me cross

You know what I'm talking about- you're scrolling Twitter/Facebook/etc, and you see a link: "This woman found a HAMSTER in a cardboard box...you'll never guess what happened NEXT!" You click the link and the article itself is the most sinfully boring anticlimactic thing you've ever read. When I see click baity email subjects, my face just falls. This will make me open your email, but only to find the link to unsubscribe.

And here's a little from a few fellow bloggers, about their bugbears:

  • Mel, from Raise The Waves says "If a newsletter is nothing but recaps of old posts then I'll eventually unsubscribe as chances are, I've probably read all of their posts and don't need a summary. I'll also unsubscribe and probably blacklist anyone who adds me to their newsletter without my knowledge."
  • Angela, from Cosmic Kick says "I can't stand it when a brand sends out a newsletter titled 'Winner announcement!' when I'm not actually the winner. I took myself off the mailing list of a large company recently after they sent a newsletter titled 'Congratulations!', but inside the email read '...is what we would be saying to you if you won our competition'. It's a low tactic to make you open their emails and a complete waste of my time!"
  • Jenni, from By Jenni says "I unsubscribe when companies send an email, then send another a few hours later saying, 'Sorry, we made a mistake in the last email we sent - here's the correct link/info'. It's being done deliberately as a marketing tactic to get people's attention and as an excuse to send more emails - it's just annoying and unprofessional!"
  • Ally from Slimsights says "[I unsubscribe] when it's just paragraphs of writing. No pictures to break it up".
  • Erica from Nine to Three Thirty says "I hate it when you unsubscribe & then they send you another email to tell you that."

Looks like it's not just me who groans at the "You've won" trick! Eek- please stop doing it, marketing people!

I hope that this post has given some insight into some common pet peeves of email newsletter recipients, whether you're a marketing professional or a newbie to the newsletter game.

Do you agree/disagree with any of the unsubscribe reasons listed here? Have you got any of your own I haven't listed? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Friday, 11 August 2017

GCSEs: Living Without Them & Stereotypes

NB: for my overseas readers GCSEs (stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education) are a set of exams in various subjects that a high school student will take at the end of their school career, around the age of 15/16. This comes before college/sixth form (17-18 years). They are roughly equivalent to a USA High School Diploma.

I left school without GCSEs.

There, I said it. I hate saying it. People raise their eyebrows, or go silent, or assume I was a teenage misfit. The reality is, a lot of people leave school without finishing their GCSEs. In my case, it was because from the age of 12-15 I was suffering with anorexia, to the point where I spent years in hospital. I couldn't attend school, as I was so poorly I was at risk of heart attack or organ failure. So when I left hospital, it was kind of too late, and after that I guess partly the system failed me, and partly teenage me was completely wiped out and didn't expend much effort trying to fix the problem.

Fast forward to my early twenties. Have you ever tried to get a job without GCSEs? It's incredibly hard! When I was first job searching, I would have to discount job after job after job, as the adverts all said roughly the same thing: "Must have 5 GCSE's grade A*-C". There was no leeway, no room to offer explanations. It also closed doors for me on many college courses, the irony of which was not lost on me.

The thing is, what people don't realise is, GCSEs aren't always the be all and end all when it comes to indicating both academic ability and also, plain old common sense! I knew a tutor on a college course who left college without passing her exams and went on to get a master's degree. I also knew people with their school qualifications who were astonishingly inept at their jobs. Yet, these qualifications are used as the standard to which every employment and education applicant is held up to. If you don't meet the mark, you either have to find someone who will give you a chance, or you lose out.

When I was diagnosed with Autism last year, they sent me for a test of my intellectual abilities. This is pretty standard procedure- some people with autism have intellectual disabilities, some do not. They just like to get a reading to see where you are. My IQ was measured at around 122, or 'Superior'. I'm not saying that to brag, and I actually hate saying it because it does make me sound a bit snobby. But I just wanted to point out that the stereotype of the shirker who left school without qualifications being a dunce, which I see tossed around regularly, is decidedly not true.

I also read a lot. I read fiction, non fiction, pretty much anything I can get my hands on (except chick lit, as despite being a chick myself, I have never been able to get into it). I have done a BTEC, ECDL, an NVQ and more. But still the gap where my GCSEs should be haunts me.

Just take your GCSEs, you say! The problem is, GCSE courses for adults are sorely lacking, and those that are run by local colleges are often astronomically over subscribed. Most colleges offer a very limited selection of subjects- some only run a single English and Maths course, which would leave you lacking still for that holy grail of five A*-C grades.

I think overall what I want to express is that I don't think they should be the only thing that matters. Each of us is a whole person. We have experiences, quirks, strengths, and weaknesses, and these should make up the package of 'us' when we are being presented to the working and academic world.

If you live with the same 'gap' in your life, I'd be so interested to hear your views and experiences in the comments, or feel free to email me if you'd prefer.