My Little Box January 2015 Review

So, my search for that perfect beauty box continues… If you’ve been following my blog, you’d know that so far, I’ve received one from Birchbox and one from Love Lula, and so far, I’m quite happy with Love Lula. But I thought I’d give a few more a try before deciding on which one to stick to. Yesterday, My Little Box arrived from Paris. It’s a January box – I know it’s a bit late, but hey, better late than never. Let’s go see what’s inside:

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Price: £11.00 + £3.95 P+P per month

Got my January box for: £11.00 (using the code: MYFIRSTBOX)

First impression: I like the presentation – the box, the ribbon, the bag, etc. I think it’s chic (as you can see).  But that’s not the most important thing – it’s what’s inside that counts, right? So, first impression when I opened the box was… that’s it? 3 samples, 1 bag, 1 calendar and a small magazine? Although, to be fair, the samples are of a much bigger size than those I received from Birchbox and Love Lula. I suppose, at the end of the day, it’s down to preference – do you prefer to receive fewer but almost full-size products, or more but true sample-size products? I would prefer a mix of both (obviously), but if I had to choose, I think I’d choose the latter. I mean, the idea of a subscription box is so that you can try as many products as you can before deciding whether to buy the full size version or not. Anyway, I’m not entirely disappointed because I kind of like my box. I also like the fact that you can ‘tailor’ what you’ll receive in your box by completing your ‘beauty profile’ online (just like Birchbox).

What’s in the box:

1. 2015 Calendar, £10

The calendar is nice, but does it really worth £10? I don’t know. Of course, it’s a neat idea to include a calendar – this being a January box and all; some people might like it, some people might not… I’m quite indifference really.

2. Sports bag, £20

Again, the bag is nice. It might or might not worth £20. The material is a bit thin, so I’m not sure if I’d use it as a sports bag. But I like the design and the size, so why not.

3. Nailsinc Nail Polish, full size, £11

I don’t really varnish my nails, only once in a while, but I’m quite happy that I got this, just because I’ve heard of the brand for quite sometime now but I haven’t got the chance to try it yet. So, yeah, happy.

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4. My Little Beauty Energising Mist, full size, £7.5

I’ve always liked mist… facial mist, body mist, room mist, you name it. So I’m glad I got this. It’s a face and body mist combined and it smells really nice. One thing is sure: it’s definitely going into my ‘hospital bag’ – I think it’ll come in handy during my labour, which is not in a long time now!

5. Talika Photo-Hydra Day, 30ml

This product is expensive! But it claims to be “much more than a moisturiser“; “it’s the first cream to use energy from natural light to delve deep into skin and moisturise it.” Whatever that means… doesn’t matter… it’s a moisturiser (or much more), and it’s an expensive one, so I can’t wait to give it a try.

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The things that have caught my attention this month | January discoveries

1. Micellar Water

I’ve heard of micellar (in French, pronounced “me-sellaire”) water for a while now, but (I don’t know why), I’ve only just tried it this month. “MODELS swear by them, every make-up artist has one in his or her kit and with their no-rinse, three-in-one formulas they’re perfect for travelling and late nights.” (Vogue). So what exactly is micellar water? Well, in a nutshell, it’s a soap free product that removes make-up and cleanses the skin without the need for rinsing, and also tones and moisturises it. It gets its name from micelles, that is, tiny balls of molecules that are made of fatty acid esters, which according to Bioderma, “are similar to the phospholipids of the skin cell membranes and naturally help rebuild the skin’s hydrolipidic film.” Sounds complicated, I know. I suppose, what’s important is that, I gave it a try and I absolutely love it. It’s very gentle yet very efficient in everything it claims it can do. It’s also really easy to use – I just have to soak a cotton pad with it and sweep it across my whole face, that’s it; I don’t have to rinse it off with water, I don’t have to tone my face after – perfect for lazy old me. Okay, I won’t replace my main cleanser with it; I still like to properly cleanse my face (especially at night) with my natural and organic product, but I use it most mornings and as a second cleanser (in place of toner) to wipe away any residue / dirt / make-up left by my first cleanser. So yeah, it’s definitely a product that I will continue using. I’m using Bioderma – a celebrity favourite and one of the first companies that came up with micellar water, but there are plenty of other brands out there you can try.

2. Nourish Kale Enzymatic Exfoliating Cleanser

This was one of the samples I received from my Love Lula January 2015 Beauty Box. I was (still am) really glad that I got this – it’s definitely one of the best cleansers I’ve tried so far. It’s 81% organic, which is a good start, and I absolutely love the smell – it’s very fresh – and the way my skin feels after using it. I like the fact that it’s multitasking – you can use it as a gentle cleanser, a daily exfoliating mask or a weekly revitalising facial mask. I’ve tried them all and I love them all, but I particularly like using it in the morning because, as I’ve said before, it’s very refreshing.

3. James Read Sleep Mask Tan

I first saw this product on board British Airways in one of their duty free magazines and I thought… hmm… that’s interesting – tan whilst you sleep and wake up to a golden glow in the morning. I almost bought it but a few things stopped me: (1) I was worried that it would have a strong smell (from my personal experience, self tan products can have an overpowering smell); (2) I was worried that it would stain my linen; and (3) I was worried that it would clogged my pores (I mean, we all know that skin cells do their repair work most effectively at night, and so I really don’t want to load my face with chemical-laden cream before going to sleep). However, on their website, they say that the formula is infused with skincare essentials, like aloe vera, cucumber, hyaluronic acid, red algae, etc. Sounds comforting enough. They then go on to say that you can also apply it in the morning to build a healthy glow throughout the day. Now that might actually sway me towards buying the product.

4. Priv: The On-Call Beauty and Wellness Professionals

Elle calls it “the beauty app equivalent of the taxi service Uber.” It’s an app that allows you to bring a trained professionals of your choice (be it hairdresser, make-up artists, masseuse, manicurist, etc) to wherever you are. I’ve downloaded the app but haven’t tried it out yet, or rather, I couldn’t, because there isn’t a single registered trained professionals within my area. I suppose the success of this app will depend on how many trained professionals they can recruit, but it’s still early days, so let’s see what happens. Priv is available to download from the App Store and Google Play.

5. Daisy Chakra Bracelet

Again, I saw this bracelet on board British Airways in one of their duty free magazines. It’s designed by London jewellery label Daisy and it’s worn by a number of celebrities, including Katy Perry, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Kanye West, etc. According to Daisy, “the Chakras are the manifestations of spiritual energies on the physical level, responsible for well-being and a happy, healthy life.”; and “The Chakra bracelets are designed to balance your Chakras and ensure your life force and vital energy.” Well, that’s lovely, but for me, I just think it’s pretty, and if it really balances my Chakras, then that’s a plus. Regardless, I’d love to have one.

6. Nutribullet

Of course, the superfood extractor! Which my husband and I received as a gift from a very good friend this month. I love it, we love it, and we highly recommend it! Enough said. I wrote a review here if you’re interested.

Nutri bullet review and recipe: banana blueberries smoothie with chia seeds

I’m sure you’ve heard of Nutribullet – the superfood extractor that is so in right now. It claims to “completely break down your food to get all the essential nutrition” (that you don’t even get by chewing) with its “super high powered motor” and “bullet cyclonic action”. So, no, it’s not your usual blender or juicer… it’s much better than that. My husband and I were very lucky to have been given one of these as a gift recently. We tried it for the first time last weekend and it was amazing. “Releasing essential nutrition” aside, it’s a very powerful blender, yet it’s smaller (and much more good looking) than most regular blenders. I like the fact that it’s easy to set up, use and clean. And I also like the fact that the jugs serve as cups, so you can use them to drink your smoothies (or whatever it is you made) on the go or store them in the fridge – they come with handles and lids, so it’s very convenient. With most of us leading a very busy lifestyle these days, we tend to forget to eat healthily, let alone get our 5 a day. But with Nutribullet, I believe I’ve found my shortcut to a healthier lifestyle!

Anyway, here’s the first smoothie we made with Nutribullet – we mixed two popular superfood (blueberries and chia seeds) with bananas and almond milk to create a smoothie that’s just full of goodies (that is, high in antioxidant and work as an immune system and energy booster):

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If you’re interested, here’s what you need:

2 bananas
A handful of frozen blueberries
A pinch (or 2) of chia seeds
Almond milk (filled to the line)

Serves 2

Disclosure: this is a non-sponsored post; all opinions are completely my own based on my personal experience.

Love Lula January 2015 Review

As I mentioned last month, I’m currently shopping around for that perfect subscription box that I think is worth… well… subscribing to. I said that I’m going to try a few over the next few months or so and I’ve promised to keep you in the loop. Last month, I subscribed to Birchbox – it was okay, I liked my box, but I wasn’t overly impressed. You can read my review here. This month, I subscribed to Love Lula and here’s what I think of my box:

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Price: £12.50

First impression: I really like it. Okay, so the samples came in a normal box, so in terms of the box itself, there’s really nothing to shout about (and I complaint about Birchbox’s box design last month!). But I think the products that I got are better than the one I received from Birchbox. I like the fact that Love Lula specialises in natural and organic products and I’m actually looking forward to try out all the samples I received. The only downside with Love Lula’s subscription is that everyone receives the same items – unlike with Birchbox, you can’t customise your ‘beauty profile’, so you won’t receive a box that’s tailored for you. Despite that though, I still think that the items I received from Love Lula fit my profile better than Birchbox. I’m tempted to continue with my subscription… really tempted… but I’m going to give My Little Box (yeap, the one from Paris) a try next. Love Lula is definitely in my shortlist of beauty box to subscribe.

What’s in the box:

1. Yes to Cucumbers Facial Wipes, 10 wipes

I bought these wipes before from Waitrose and I really like them. They’re 95% natural, they smell really nice, they don’t leave my skin feeling dry and they’re quite effective in removing make-up as well. I’m glad I got this and the size is perfect for my purse.

2. Nourish Kale Enzymatic Exfoliating Cleanser, sample size

I’ve never heard of this product before, but I like the fact that it’s a multi-tasking cleanser and mask, and that it’s made with pomegranate and organic kale. The sample’s really small though, but I can’t wait to try it out.

3. Funny Bee BB Cream, sample size

I’ve never been a fan of BB creams; I don’t think they like me either. I find them really oily, heavyweight and I just can’t stand the smell. This one is made in France and it’s 99% natural. I’ve tried it out and I must say that it’s not oily and it doesn’t have that weird BB cream smell that I dislike. It’s also not as heavyweight as the other BB creams, but for me, it’s still a bit too much – it’s not very easy to blend and the colour doesn’t really match my skin. I actually looked like I had foundation on. So, I’m still saying no to BB cream.

4. Ecotools Mini Brushes

I love Ecotools brushes. They’re just so soft and give a natural finish. I have one that I use everytime I apply my MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus foundation. These ones from Love Lula are really small… I’m not sure they’ll be of much use to me really. I suppose they’d be more useful for people who have never tried Ecotools brushes before.

5. Vinali Body Lotion, 25 ml + Day Cream, sample size

Again, I’ve never heard of this brand before, and again, it’s made in France. Not much I can say about body lotion and day cream except that I use them everyday. So I’m happy that I got these and I’ll definitely give it a try.

6. Madara Detox Mud Mask, 12.5ml

I was actually looking to buy a mud mask since I saw an advert for Glam Glow on board British Airways on my recent flights to and from Tenerife. Love Lula read my mind!

7. Balance Me Rose Otto Hand Cream, 30ml

I love Balance Me Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm. I use it at night to clean my face when I’m wearing make-up or when my skin feels like it needs a bit of ‘aromatherapy exfoliating’ treatment. So I’m really glad that I get to try their hand cream. I love the smell. My husband said it’s a bit too strong, but I love it, I’m obsessed with aromatherapy. I also like the texture – it’s not sticky, it’s not oily and it gets absorbed really quickly. I’ll probably buy it again when it’s finished.

One week in Tenerife, Spain

Happy New Year, everyone! I can’t believe it’s almost mid-January and this is my first post of 2015! My husband and I kicked start our New Year with a one week trip to Tenerife and we just came back on Tuesday. We had an amazing holiday – it was beautiful, the food was delicious, and the weather was great (we had sunshine all week; temperature was in the region of 21 degrees celcius all day… not bad, huh?). I think Tenerife (south Tenerife, in particular) is a great destination if you’re looking for a bit of sun, sea and sand in the winter. It’s only 4-hour flight away from London and it’s a place that won’t break your bank account.

We flew British Airways and was treated to this view as we approached the island – it was a promising start to our holiday:

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We stayed in the south west of the island, around Costa Adeje, Playa de Las Americas and Los Cristianos – one of the most popular resorts on the Canary Islands and definitely the place to be for sun worshippers. I don’t recommend staying in the north if your purpose of going to the island is to escape the winter chill – we did a day trip there and it was freezing!

So, in the south, we love…

The beaches (of course), feeling the warmth of the sand under our feet, soaking in the sun, swimming in the sea, and just lazing around all day.

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The food… particularly tapas and fresh seafood! I love seafood! Two restaurants that we really like and highly recommend is Cafe Epoca in Los Cristianos and El Mago in Costa Adeje. Both are highly rated on Trip Advisor and rightly so. They serve great and tasty food minus the hefty price tag. El Mago is more expensive, but it’s not overpriced… we paid around 45 euros for 3 tapas, 2 mix paellas, and 3 drinks (the beer was 1 euro for a pint). And it’s a beach front restaurant, so the view was amazing. But if you’re after cheap eats, then go to Cafe Epoca – you probably won’t pay more than 15 euros for 2 persons for a decent lunch.

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I know I said that we went to Tenerife for the sun, and of course, we got plenty of that, but we also spent a couple of days exploring the north of the island and the mountain. We had to wear our winter coats most of the time, but these places were worth it. Rent a car – you’ll be glad you did, it’s the best way of getting around the island (we pre-arranged with British Airways when we bought our tickets and picked up our car at the airport).

So, away from the sun, we love…

The majestic El Teide – the highest volcano in Spain and the highest point above sea level in the Atlantic. It has a lunar landscape (a must-go if you want to experience how it feels like to be on the moon) and it has been a popular filming location for many sci-fi directors. Do take the cable car to the peak (well, almost… you need a special permit to climb to the actual peak), but a 10-minute ride on the cable car takes you close enough and it costs 26 euros. My husband went, I didn’t – pregnant women are not allowed on the cable car! There’s a cafe at the cable car station though and with a very good wifi connection too… so, it was okay.

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Pyramids de Guimar. These pyramid-shaped structures were built from lava stones; they were discovered in 1998 and have been dated to the 19th century AD though their origins remain a mystery. It costs 12 euros to enter and takes about 2 hours to explore. You can ask for an audio guide (or not)… I think it’s worth a visit if only for the views.

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The cliff of Los Gigantes. It doesn’t need much explaining. There’s a beautiful port and town at the foot of the cliff – popular with tourists and I think it’s a nice place to stop for lunch. We did; we had a paella at a restaurant called La Paella Rustica – it was really nice, but that was before we tasted the paella at El Mago. Still, it was a good lunch.

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The mountain village of Masca… simply stunning… enough said! My only advice is: go when it’s still bright… navigating in the tight twisty mountain road at night is really not fun!

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There you go… the highlights of our trip to Tenerife. We wished we could have stayed longer, but hey, London calling!

So, to wrap it up, here’s what we brought back with us…

The recipe for our favourite coffee ‘Barraquito’: coffee with milk, condensed milk, cinnamon powder and a slice of lemon. So yummy! I’ve been making it since we came back – a perfect winter warmer.

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And of course, souvenirs. We bought quite a few things (the usual: fridge magnets, arty crafty stuff, etc), but these are my favourites: raw pearls (and I even got the seller to give me the shell which still has pearls in it for free), a bracelet made of volcanic stones, and another bracelet made of Olivine or Peridot (that is, green minerals that grow inside lava stones in Lanzarote). I’m happy!

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