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:
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.
Every now and then I discovered something new… something about me… something around me… be it interesting facts, places I’ve never been before, brands I’ve never heard of or tried… And I thought it’d be nice to record those discoveries – to have a kind of journal of the past and planner or to do list for the future – and share it with you every month. Today is the second last day of December (and 2014), so here I am, sharing the things that have caught my attention this month…
1. Daniel Wellington Watches
“When Swedish Filip Tysander met British gent Daniel Wellington…”
I first saw Daniel Wellington’s watches in Vogue and I immediately like what I saw. The brand was launched in April 2011 and since then it has received many great reviews from top fashion magazines and bloggers. And I totally can see why. The watches are simple, classy, well-designed and more importantly, affordable. They’re also very practical and versatile – all the straps are interchangeable, so you can change the whole appearance of your watch instantly to suit every occasion (or just for fun). It’s definitely a brand to look out for.
A new online retailer based in Antwerpen, Belgium, which specialises in selling and buying luxury and high end vintage bags and accessories. Authenticity of items sold is guaranteed and they ship (with insurance) worldwide. I suppose, I don’t have to explain any further…
3. India Mahon
India Mahon is an independent British jeweller with a boutique in Cotswold where she designs and handmade her jewellery with ethically sourced materials. I’ve never actually visited her store before; I got to know her from Vogue (yes, again), but I’ve looked at her collections on her website and I think her designs are beautiful. I personally like the Carnelian bracelet, the Blue Peruvian Opal necklace and the Ivory Pearl and White Topaz necklace. She does bespoke jewellery as well (if you want something more personal).
4. Cécile et Jeanne Paris
Still on the topic of handmade jewellery, I recently discovered the Cécile and Jeanne brand (by accident) during my recent trip to Paris. I’ve mentioned it in one of my previous posts – my husband and I was just walking along the street when their beautiful jewellery displayed in the store window attracted my attention. They have a workshop in Paris where they design and handmade all their jewellery and accessories. They don’t have a store in the UK but you can buy their products online. My favourites are the Musthaves long necklace, the Sautoir Maitika necklace, the Cuff Paris and the Cuff Thousand and One Nights. Like India Mahon, they do bespoke jewellery as well.
5. Neal’s Yard Remedies
I’m obsessed with aromatherapy, natural and organic products and I’ve heard of Neal’s Yard Remedies for a while now. But I don’t know why, I just never got around to actually trying it… until now, that is. I guess it’s because I’ve always associated organic products with a hefty price tag, but then the products that I usually buy are not cheap either. So I’m slowly changing my beauty regime and trying to incorporate more natural products into my life – it’s one of my new year’s resolutions! I bought the Almond moisturiser and the Beauty Sleep Concentrate from Neal’s Yard recently, and I’ve got some samples with my purchase (as you can see). So far, I’m very happy with them. I’m going to use them for another week or so and then I’ll post a review on my blog.
6. Lisa Hoffmann Fragrance Jewellery (exclusive to Scent City)
Eco friendly scented accessories… fragrance jewellery… fragrance + fashion… it’s a girl’s dream! Launched by Lisa Hoffmann, exclusive to Scent City and introduced to me by Vogue! I want!
This year, I spent Christmas in Paris – something that I do every couple of years or so. My husband and I drove there on Christmas Eve and we came back to London last Saturday. Yes, it’s not a long trip, but still, it’s magical. As much as I like spending Christmas on my own, I was pleased to be able to spend it with my husband’s family this year, and of course, it’s always lovely to visit Paris.
We woke up at 5am on the 24th and made our way to Dover. We were supposed to board the 8.45am ferry to Calais, but we got there early, so they let us board an earlier one. Lucky us! The sea was a bit rough though – I got sick! But that’s probably because I’m more prone to motion sickness than others. All in all, it wasn’t too bad. We reached France at around 10am and then we just took our time and arrived in Paris with plenty of time to get ready for dinner, which was delicious by the way.
Just look at all that food! And I didn’t even take pictures of our main course and dessert!
We didn’t get a chance to breakaway from the family and visit Paris until the 26th. Not that I’m complaining – going to Paris is like going home; we don’t really do all those touristy things people do when they go for holiday. But still, it’s nice to go for a walk, just because it’s really romantic and Paris is beautiful at this time of the year. So that’s what we did on Boxing day (even if there’s no such thing in Paris).
We started our day with a typical petit déjeuner parisian (gosh, I like the sound of that) – we had some parisian brioche and parisian hot chocolate at the famous Place des Voges. They were lovely – a bit expensive, but hey, we don’t do this everyday, and it’s Christmas.
After breakfast, we went for a stroll in the city. We did a bit of sightseeing, a bit shopping, discovered new shops… I love shopping; there’s no doubt about that. Besides, I believe that when you’re in Paris, you should fully embrace the local culture… yes, yes, like going to the museums, of course (Paris is full of them), but Paris also is famous for its couture houses and luxury fashions: Dior, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Chanel, Louboutin, etc, etc. One of the best in the world really. Interestingly, when I talk about them, some people still roll their eyes (even French people) and I just don’t get it. If I were French, I would be very proud to have all those designers commanding the world’s attention. I mean, it’s what made Paris famous for being chic, elegant and glamorous. I can’t afford most of the things they sell, but it doesn’t stop me from admiring them (and wanting them) – hey, I love beautiful things. Anyway, here are some more pictures from that day (if you’re interested):
The art installations in front of Centre Pompidou and musée du Louvre never fail to captivate… We didn’t go in to le Louvre this time, but if you haven’t seen the infamous Mona Lisa, you really should!
Cécile and Jeanne are Parisian jewellery and accessories designers. They’ve got a workshop in Paris where they design and handmade all their products. I actually discovered this place by chance; my husband and I was just walking along the street when I was attracted by the beautiful jewellery displayed in the window and so I went in. They’re not cheap but I don’t expect them to be – they’re beautiful and very French. I didn’t buy any, but I just might very soon. They don’t have a store in the UK, but you can the products online.
Don’t you just love Paris. Even at Ladurée, they’ve got super chic shopping bags! I always think their macaroons are a bit overpriced (they’re selling it for 5 euros per piece here), but still, I love those bags!
This was the best cafe frappe I’ve ever tasted! Seriously! It’s so smooth, refreshing and not too sweet. I was in a desperate need of a cold caffeine that afternoon, and this frappe was just perfect.
After our afternoon coffee break, we decided to go see some Christmas decorations at Paris’s most fabulous places – where else… Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, Champs Elysees and Avenue Montaigne (of course).
Look at all those lights…
And that Louis Vuitton store on Avenue Montaigne!
And of course… it’s Dior, darling!
… which was our last stop of the day. We had dinner with my husband’s family that evening and came back to London the next day. There was an hour delay at Calais due to the weather – they had to suspend all ferry services in the morning, but luckily, ours was in the late afternoon, so it was okay. I got sick again and it was worse than the first time. I’m definitely taking the Euro Tunnel next time! Anyway, we had an amazing time in Paris (as you can probably see), and in a few days time, we’ll be off to Tenerife for some sun! Yay!
I’m new to subscription boxes. I decided to give them a try because I like the concept. How do they work? Well, basically, you pay a monthly subscription fee and then each month you receive a box filled with sample and full size beauty and lifestyle products. You can’t choose what goes into the box, but certain companies let you take a ‘style quiz’ and send you products that best fit your profile. I think they’re great – they let you discover new products and different brands, which you might not have known otherwise, and they give you an opportunity to try the products out before deciding whether they’re really for you. Besides, who doesn’t like receiving a box filled it with beauty goodies? But with so many subscription boxes out there, the question becomes, which one should you sign up for? I’m going to try a few over the next few months or so, and hopefully, at the end of it all, I’ll be able to find one or two that’s worth sticking up to (and of course, I’ll keep you in the loop). This month, I subscribed to Birchbox and I’ve received my box – so let’s see what’s inside:
Price: £10.00 + £2.95 P+P
Got my December box for: £7.95 (with £5 discount using the code: 5OFF)
First impression: I like it (not love) – I think they could have have done a better job with the design of the box, but hey, it’s just a box. I’m slightly disappointed with the samples I got – don’t get me wrong, I think they’re good value (I’ve got 2 full size products worth £21), but I’m just not very keen in trying half of them out. I think they don’t really fit my profile. To be fair though, I haven’t actually completed my ‘beauty profile’ yet, so maybe that’s why the contents of the box are not ‘tailored’ enough.
What’s in the box:
1. Benefit High Beam, sample size
I love Benefit’s products and I’ve been wanting to try the High Beam for a while, so I’m glad I got this. And just in time for Christmas too.
2. Electric Hair Hydrate Shampoo, sample size
I’ve never heard of Electric Hair before, but it’s got good reviews, so why not – I’ll give it a try.
3. English Laundry Signature For Her EDP Spray For Women, sample size
This smells nice, but the thing is, I’m not very keen on trying out a new fragrance. I’ve got my favourite perfumes and I’m quite particular about the scents I use. This ended up being my bedroom spray…
4. Eyeko Fat Eye Stick Trio, full size, £16.00
I haven’t actually tried this out yet, but why not. I guess I’ll be experimenting with smoky eyes for my Christmas dinner.
5. Vasanti Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator, sample size
This scrub is enriched with papaya, professional microcrystals and aloe and claims to work like professional microdermabrasion, which delivers that soft, smooth and radiant skin. I’ve only used it twice and already I’m falling in love – the texture, the smell, the way it makes my skin feels after – it’s just amazing. The full size product costs £26; I think it’s a bit pricey, but it’s 99% natural and according to the label, it lasts 6 months. So, who knows, I might just get it. If it were slightly cheaper, I’d definitely buy it.
6. Models Own Velvet Goth, full size, £5.00
It’s a nail varnish and I rarely polish my nails and I don’t like the colour they gave – so there you go. But I’ll give it a try anyway.
But where do I start, you ask? Here’s a list of some of my favourite retailers that have jumped on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday bandwagon:
1. Retailers selling a range of products
Amazon UK: Amazon launches multiple deals with differing number of stocks and prices every 10 minutes between 8am and 9pm. Head over to their website to see all available and upcoming deals . While you’re there, you might also want to check out the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX Tablet – you can get up to £100 off all week, subject to availability.
Asda: Asda offers a range of discounted products in stores only, on Friday and Saturday. Sale starts at 8am on Friday. Check their Black Friday’s site to get an idea of the deals on offer and which stores are participating.
Marks and Spencer: M&S offers up to 30% off certain products online and in stores. Starts at midnight on Thursday until midnight on Monday, 1 December.
Sainsbury’s: Sainsbury’s offers a range of discounted products in stores only. Starts at 1am on Friday in its 24-hour stores and from normal opening hour in all its other stores.
Tesco: Tesco offers discounts of up to 70% on a range of products online and in stores. Starts at 00.01 on Friday. Go to Tesco Direct to see the deals.
2. Fashion and beauty
Benefit Cosmetics: Benefit Cosmetics offers 15% off everything online from Friday to Monday, 1 December. Use code SAVE15 for your purchases.
Cath Kidston: Cath Kidston offers 15% off everything online and in stores from Friday to Sunday. Use code SNOW15 for online purchases.
Hunter: Hunter offers 20% off everything online and in stores. No codes needed and expiry date unknown.
L’Occitane: L’Occitane offers a number of deals online starting on Friday until Sunday, 7 December. Use the following codes for your purchases:
- Escape to Provence gifts for £15 when you spend £30: BLACK (valid from 9am until midnight on Friday)
- Weekend exclusive gift free when you spend £180: SPOILME (valid from 9am on Friday until midnight on Sunday)
- Buy 2, get 1 free, on a gorgeous selection of travel kits: 3FOR2 (valid from 9am on Friday until midnight on Sunday)
- Get a £10 gift card for your next purchase when you spend £50: GATE1 (valid on Monday, 1 December)
- Free hand rescue collection when you spend £25 or more: GATE2 (valid on Tuesday, 2 December)
- Pampering collection free when you spend £50 or more: GATE3 (valid on Wednesday, 3 December)
- Expert care collection for men free when you spend £50 or more: GATE4 (valid on Thursday, 4 December)
- Free 250ml shower gel when you spend £40 or mor: GATE5 (valid on Friday, 5 December)
- Weekend essentials collection free when you spend £40 or more: GATE6 (valid on Saturday, 6 December)
- Create your travel kit free when you spend £45 or more: GATE7 (valid on Sunday, 7 December)
On top of that, you’ll also get free standard delivery on all orders until Sunday, 19 December.
Mango: Mango offers 30% off everything online and in stores from Friday to Sunday. Use code 5BLACK4 for online purchases. It’s also offering free return until 15 January 2015.
Sweaty Betty: Sweaty Betty offers 20% off everything online from Friday to Sunday. Use code BLACK20 for your purchases.
3. Gadgets and electrical
Carphone Warehouse: Carphone Warehouse offers saving of up to £200 online and in stores. Starts at 8am on Friday until midnight on Tuesday, 2 December.
Currys PC World: Currys offers a range of “black tag” deals online from 8am on Friday until midnight on Wednesday, 3 December. Most of the offers are also available in stores. Rumour has it that it’s knocking £80 off Apple MacBooks and iMacs.
Game: Game promises big discount on… well… games. In stores only, and stores will open until 3am on Friday. Check their website for details.
John Lewis: John Lewis offers a range of deals (mostly electrical), which starts at 00.01 on Friday on its website and 8am in stores. It’s also offering price match on a range of products found elsewhere (including £100 off all MacBooks!). Check their website for details.
Disclosure: this is a non-sponsored post; it does, however, contains affiliate links.