Wednesday, 17 January 2018

VOBeauty- January 2017 Review

About the box
VOBEAUTY (which stands for Vegan and Organic Beauty) is a 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
I have to start by apologising as I didn't manage to order the December VO Beauty box in time before it sold out, so I didn't review it- sorry if you were looking for it. Happily though, I got my act together and ordered the January box in good time to receive it.

The first item this month is the Anatomicals Calming Algae Mask (full size, you can get the mask as a set of three for £3.50 here). Anatomicals always have really fun, whimsical packaging, and what's even better is they are cruelty free and paraben free. This is a mud mask with a blend of algae and mineral extracts and is meant to detoxify and calm skin. Definitely a good all purpose mud mask, and one I will pop in my stash

Weirdly, this is the product I'm most excited about this month, the Benecos Sea Buckthorn & Orange Shower Gel (sample, 30ml, approx. 74p, find it here). I love trying out new shower gels and the scent of this one is delightful- it actually contains organic apple juice so perhaps that's what I'm smelling. It is meant to be gentle on the skin leaving it moisturised and refreshed.

The first makeup related item this month is the e.l.f Lengthening & Defining Mascara (full size, 80p {currently in the sale, normally £2.00}, find it here).  This comes in the e.l.f trademark black, simple packaging with a fairly small wand. The formula came out quite dry and clumpy, so I wonder whether it may need a few drops of saline in it to revive it. It's kind of a disappointing mascara compared to what I'm used to, but for 80p/£2.00 it's not so bad.

The other makeup item and the second e.l.f product is the Defining Eye Brush (£2.00, find it here). Again, it's a simple, sleek design which is what you'll always see from e.l.f, a long standing cruelty free good value cosmetics brand. I haven't tried any of their makeup brushes before but this one has soft synthetic fibres and will be a useful addition to an eyeshadow tool ensemble.

Finally this month is the Pure Purpose Wheatgrass & Lemongrass Coffee Body Scrub & Skin Mask (£13.50, find it here). This claims to be both an exfoliating body scrub and a healing skin mask in one. I wouldn't recommend using abrasives on sore, inflamed skin suffering with acne or eczema, so I'm not sure I agree with them on this one. But I do like the ingredients, their cruelty free ethos, and I love a good coffee scrub so for that purpose I think it's a winner.

Final thoughts
Hmm. This wasn't really my favourite of all the boxes VO Beauty have sent out, it was quite low in value and some of the items didn't really speak to me. However, that will happen with subscription boxes from time to time, and you have to commend VO Beauty for sticking to their purpose of cruelty free, vegan and kind to the environment products every month. I only wish that every business could do this!

If you would like to sign up to VO Beauty or browse their cruelty free shop, you can find their link here.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Artemis & Xena- Woodland Adventure Box Review

About the box
Artemis & Xena is a quartlery box service aimed at empowering women and supporting mental health awareness. Each box can be ordered for yourself or sent to someone else as a gift and contain gifts and items based around a theme that can be uplifting, empowering and above all, a lovely treat. I really love this concept.

£19.99 for the one off box. Discounts available if you purchase an annual subscription.

What I got
I'm unboxing and reviewing the contents of this whole, one off box, so beware, spoilers ahead (sorry Lisa! 😀)

This is the 'Woodland Adventures' box, and is absolutely full of woodland creatures!

The first item I pulled out of the box was another box! This is the Sass and Belle Bear On Bike Tin (usually £4.00, £2.50 in sale), it is 11cm x 8 cm and made of tin. It's part of the 'happy animals on bikes' collection at Sass and Belle, and if that's not the most adorable thing I've read all day I don't know what is. I love little boxes and tins like this- they're great for putting little odds and ends in, bits of makeup, sewing things, craft bits, etc. I'm hoping to move house this year so I've put this in my 'happy cute things to decorate my new house with' box.

I love a good notebook, so I was really happy to see this Sass & Belle Animal Adventure Notebook, I got the racoon 'Be Brave' design. The paper inside is plain and unlined, but is surprisingly thick and 'grainy', making it seem of lovely quality and quite satisfying to write on. I think you could use this for both writing and drawing, whichever you prefer.

I love this little fellow, he is the Sass & Belle Woodland Animals Nail File (£1.00). I feel a bit sad using the poor old badgers face to make my nails pretty but he doesn't seem to mind so much.

This is another item part of the 'happy animals on bikes' collection, the Sass & Belle Follow Your Dreams Fox on Bike Plaque (usually £3.50, £1.30 in sale). It is made of tin and has a lovely illustration and quote on the front, along with a metal bendy wire on the back to use for wall hanging purposes. This is another thing for the new house box, it's so cute!

Going along with the nail theme again, we have the Sass & Belle Hedgehog Manicure Set (£6.50), which includes little dinky nail scissors, clippers, tweezers, file and cuticle tool. It all comes in the little zippy up hedgehog. I love having compact nail kits for my handbag so this is a win for me.

I think these have to be my favourite thing in the box, these are Sass & Belle Animal Adventure Coasters (worth ???, you can find them on ebay here). They're really heavy and solid, they feel like stone or something similar and they are such lovely bold illustrations I had to take a photo of each of the four coaster designs to show you how lovely they are!

The final item from the 'Animal Adventure' range are these lovely Gift Tags (£2.50). You get four of each animal design, so twelve in total and they come with lovely jute string to give them a fancy feel. Definitely going in my card and gift wrap basket for future use.

A little beauty addition were these Collection Luscious Lashes Cat's Eye Lashes (£2.99) which is nice, although I still haven't got the hang of these but I imagine I have a few willing guinea pigs in my family who will let me practice.

Finally, along with this adorable packet of chocolate coins, there were some lovely planner and to-do sheets printed on proper card paper which I will actually be using as they are so fancy and easy to read. I love it when even the little things are done well and well thought out in these boxes.

Final thoughts
My approximate estimation of the value of the contents of the box is around £29.00, although this took a lot of guesswork and wasn't based on sales value. Still, this was all curated for me, packed up in a beautifully presented box and sent off for minimal postage costs. I think this is a lovely way of getting some sweet, good quality surprise gifts and the thought behind Artemis & Xena never fails to delight me.

The Woodlands Adventure box is still available, you can find it here.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Pink Parcel- January 2018 Review

About the box
Pink Parcel is a monthly subscription box that sends all of your period essentials- so sanitary towels, tampons or a mix of both (your choice), as well as a generous serving of beauty products, a snack item and tea.

£12.99 a month, inc. P&P

About the box

First item out of the box this month is the Bandzee Glamour Hair Ties (full-size pack of 4, £5.95, find them here). You can also get them for £4.95 with a Bandzee subscription, which I imagine is handy if you're a constant hair tie misplacer like me! I love this newer kind of hair ties- they're soft, stop your hair getting a big kink in it, and are surprisingly resilient considering they look like ribbon. You can get all kinds of designs, but in this month's Pink Parcel we get this set, 'Glamour', which is shimmery rose golds/pinks and creams. They also came in an adorable spotty drawstring bag which I thought was a nice touch.

Next is the Laritzy Eye Pencil (full size, £18.00, find it here). I got the shade 'Shimmer' which is a shimmery pearly white, but there are four shades going out so you may get a different one to me. I am kind of shocked at the price of nearly £20 for just one eye pencil, so I probably wouldn't buy it but it's a cute change from regular old black eyeliner. You could use it on your upper lid as usual, or perhaps change it up by running it along your lower waterline to open up your eyes or along your brow bone to illuminate (although that might not work with your shade if you get a pink for example!)

January can notoriously be a bit of a 'blue' month so this is a very topical product to include- this is Made by Coopers Apothecary Happy Mist (30ml, £12.00, find it here). A Blend of lime, basil and clementine essential oils, this 'atmosphere mist' is meant to uplift and energise when spritzed in your environment. The scent is very different, but no unpleasant- I certainly will be using it.

The last beauty item is actually a recent brand repeat, this being Browcote Waterproof Brow Gel (full size, £6.99, find it here). This is made by the same people who bring you the cult lipstick sealer, Lipcote. The see-through liquid is brushed on with the little spoolie attached to the lid and sets your brows in shape, come rain or shine. I like this as it's truly a universal product, being clear.

This was surprising to me at first, but then I remembered this is the January box and lots of people are on health kicks right about now, post-Christmas food-fest! This is Vega Essentials Nutritional Powder (sample, one serving, worth approx. £1.72, find it here). This sample is chocolate flavour but if you like it, you can also buy vanilla flavour. To make a vegan/plant-based smoothie, just blend with a dairy-free milk, one banana and half a cup of ice. It is made with a blend of plant-based protein, fruit and vegetable powders, and chocolate flavouring. There are also serving suggestions for making milkshakes and even baking with it! It's certainly a versatile product and I am all too happy for the world to be embracing animal-free diets, so I am actually really happy Pink Parcel included this, even if it was a bit odd at first look!

The food and tea this month is Montezuma's Organic Milk Chocolate with Chilli & Lime, and We Are Tea, in various 'flavours' (I got peppermint leaf). I really do not like odd things in my chocolate- salt, fruit, chilli- bleurgh. But I am generally the exception to the rule, so I know this is probably a good selection for most and I have lots of friends and family who will gladly take this little bar of my hands. As for the peppermint tea, that's going gratefully into my stash, it's so good for settling my anxious tummy.

Final thoughts
At first glance, I thought I didn't like this selection, but once I tried the products out, read about them and considered them in context of the time of year, I actually came to think this is a really clever, fun selection of products. Pink Parcel has obviously thought about how people might be feeling unhealthy or down after Christmas/festive indulgence and hyperactivity. I appreciate it when lots of thought goes into these boxes, so this is a thumbs up from me!

If you want to sign up to Pink Parcel, their link is here. Also, they now seem to have got their Pink Parcel shop sorted, with all sorts of goodies, including those featured in current and previous boxes. Just click 'Pink Shop' from the homepage to take a look.


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Beauty Tool Round Up 2017

* An asterisk denotes an item sent complementary for consideration for review.

It's reaching the end of another year (already?!) and as part of my blog's end of year celebrations, I am listing my favourite beauty tools I discovered in 2017. Whether they save time, do their thing better than others, or make your beauty experience cheaper or more pain-free, I thought long and hard, and here are my picks.

Look Good Feel Better Sculpting Sponge // M&S

I've tried a lot of makeup sponges in my day, but none of them has compared to this little pink chap. Soft, just the right level of absorbent, works damp and dry and is shaped so that each contour can be used for a different purpose- corner of nose, eyes, etc. And on top of all that, Look Good Feel Better is a cancer support charity, so your makeup buying habit is actually contributing to a good cause.

Real Techniques Bold Metals Arched Powder Brush // Boots

The Bold Metals collection of everyone's favourite makeup brush brand may be a tad pricey (the cheapest brush starts at £12.00), but around Christmas and the sales is probably the perfect time to invest in one. Currently, this bad boy is reduced to £14.67 from £22.00, and I actually got my hands on this for under £5.00 on an Amazon flash sale. The handle is strong but thin enough to be able to angle it in your hand, whilst still being weighty enough to feel premium and easy to handle. The fibres (cruelty-free, thank you very much) are soft and cut in a curved shape so as to aid contouring. Perfect.

The Brow Shaper by Lilibeth of New York* // Instant Beauty Fix

I'm putting my hand up here and now and saying I admit it, I'm an eyebrow plucking avoider. I hate it, the pain and the red skin afterwards. When I was asked to try out this little device, I was so excited that I might be able to tame my bushy brows with minimal agony. It's a little plastic wand with a stainless steel metal part on the end which you run gently against the grain of the hair, between your eyebrows and below. It folds up for ease of travelling as well. It does take a little time to get the hang of it, but once you do you can have your eyebrows tamed in under ten minutes. You can also use it for 'peach fuzz' on your face, for example, your cheeks and upper lip. It didn't irritate my sensitive skin, and so far I haven't had any scary stubble grow in (which was my main fear with not using tweezers) so I'm pretty darn impressed! At £14.95 for two, it's definitely a yes from me.

Real Techniques Stippling Brush // Boots

This is pretty much my holy grail of brushes. Need to buff in my foundation? Stipple it. Contour a bit heavy handed? Stipple it. Washing machine broken? Stipple it. Okay maybe not that last one, but seriously, this is a brilliant brush for buffing out contour, foundation, jaw lines and more. The flat-topped brush is made of synthetic and therefore cruelty-free fibres, which is a must for me. Additionally, it's a pretty pink colour, which despite my advancing years I still appreciate greatly.

Detangling Wet/Dry Brush

I messed up here. I took a photo of my absolute favourite wet/dry detangling brush, which I picked up as a bargain from Asda, and now it seems to be out of stock online. However, I have a brush almost exactly the same by the famed Wet Brush, which you can find here for £11.99. Do have a look when you're next in Asda picking up milk though because this one was a bit cheaper and does basically the same thing! Wet brushes are amazing because, as the name may have given away, you can use them on wet hair. With long thick hair like mine, this is super important but you can use it on short hair too and will get the same benefits. Flexible bristles mean they detangle gently, without the brute force of regular brushes so your hair will thank you for it!

So, what do you think of my roundup of favourite beauty tools for 2017? Do you like any of the tools on my list? Have you got any of your own to add? Let me know in the comments!

Stocking Fillers- Amara Living

* Items marked with the asterisk were sent complimentary for the purpose of this review.

Today I am excited to introduce you to a new brand, and a few of their lovely stocking fillers (just in time for last minute Christmas shopping!)

Amara is a luxury home and lifestyle brand where you can buy anything from homeware, chic furnishings and home fragrance, to jewellery, watches and stationery- and lots of lovely things in between. You can find brands like Kate Spade, Ugg, Ted Baker, Orla Kiely and Urban Apothecary.

Here's a selection I chose to showcase the kind of stocking fillers you can find.

Flamingos Cosmetic Bag* // Marinette Saint Tropez // £21.00

I fit the contents of an entire Powder Beauty Drawer in here, and I probably could have done it twice more!
If you read my blog, it's probably partly because you love subscription boxes as much as I do, so I chose this lovely Flamingo Cosmetic Bag because it is so roomy, you can fit plenty of makeup or toiletries in it, whether for travel or just day to day. I love that the flamingos are embroidered on rather than printed, it makes the bag just that little bit more interesting and unique.

Kindness Mug* // Ellen Degeneres & Royal Doulton // £10.00

This mug is part of a range by Ellen Degeneres and made by Royal Doulton, who are pretty renowned for their nack at making lovely crockery. I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but this mug is absolutely enormous, which I think is great in the winter as you can fill it up with a nice hot drink and warm your hands with it. Besides that, the lovely blue colour and the message 'Kindness' is uncomplicated yet sweet. There are also 'Love' and 'Smile' mugs if you prefer those designs.

Prosecco Rose Candle* // Voluspa // £12.00

I chose this gorgeous candle because the rose gold trend is alive and well, and it is a great price for a luxe candle by Voluspa- a brand which is apparently loved by celebrities and also makes diffusers and room sprays. When I opened the lovely pink tin I was hit by a sweet mix of rose and prosecco fragrance; I normally don't go for rose scents but the prosecco tones it down so it becomes a lovely sugary scent. This candle is made with coconut wax and has a burn time of 25 hours.

Bow Paper Clips* // Kate Spade // £10.00

Finally, I went for a stationery item by beloved brand Kate Spade. These cute little bow paper clips will not only be good for cheering up dull paperwork in the new year but could be used in penpal correspondence and decorating your 2018 planner. You get 12 clips in the pack, and they come ready to gift in pretty packaging.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my stocking filler selections from Amara Living. What do you think of my choices? Have you browsed their stocking fillers yet? Let me know in the comments!