Over the last few months, I subscribed to four different beauty boxes from four of the most popular subscription box companies – Birchbox, Love Lula, My Littlebox and Glossybox. My plan was to find one or two that’s worth subscribing to long term. Naturally, I want a box that offers good value for money, a good range of products to try on, and most importantly, products that actually fit my profile. Having compared all the four boxes, I’ve finally decided to go with Love Lula. If you’re interested to know what I think of any (or all) of the boxes, please do click on the appropriate link(s) above. Otherwise, let’s go see what’s inside my May 2015 Love Lula beauty box:
What’s in the box:
1. Ren V-Cense Youth Vitality Day Cream, 15ml
I’ve always wanted to try Ren products; I’ve only ever heard good things about them. I’m not quite sure why I haven’t actually tried them – I just kept putting off buying them for some reasons. So when I saw this in my box, I was really happy, and I’m not disappointed with the cream either. I love the fruity smell and the texture – it’s creamy yet it absorbs so quickly into the skin I can almost apply my make-up instantly. It’s also very moisturising but not at all oily; in fact, it leaves the skin feeling soft and rather silky. I can’t comment on whether it really reduces fine lines and wrinkles or not – I haven’t used it long enough to find out, but overall, I think it’s a good cream.
2. Salcura Skin Repair Moisturiser, full size, 50 ml
I’ve never heard of this product before, but it’s a moisturiser and I’m always up to give moisturiser a try. The cream is formulated specifically for people who are prone to eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, dry and itchy skin, and contains anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and itch relief properties. It’s perfect for me as I suffer from very dry and sometimes itchy skin! Again, I really like the texture – it’s fast absorbing, it’s not oily but I do find that if you applied too much, it feels rather sticky – so, a little goes along the way.
3. John Masters Exfoliating Body Bar, full size
I love natural bar soap and sometimes, I prefer it over shower gel. I don’t know, I just feel like it’s easier to wash off and it makes me feel cleaner; not to mention that bar soaps are also generally cheaper than shower gels. Anyway, this one is really nice – it’s got amazing smell, it doesn’t dry my skin out (unlike a lot of other bar soaps out there) and it’s grainy so it does have an exfoliating effect. So as you can probably tell, I’m really glad I got this.
4. Teatox Skinny Detox Morning Tea
This tea contains lemon grass, dandelion herbs, yerba mate, goji berries, sencha green tea, ginger root, birch leaves, nettle leaves, goldenrod herbs and horsetail herbs. Sounds delicious. I haven’t actually tried it but can’t wait to do so.
5. Figs & Rouge Rambling Rose Balm, full size, 17ml
Again, I’ve never heard of this product before, but I love this balm. It smells wonderful and very nourishing. It says it’s multitasking – so you can apply it on your lips, body and face, but I’m using it as a lip balm mainly and also around my cuticles sometimes.
Verdict: I love this month’s box as I love my first Love Lula box. It always contain products that I actually like and would buy again. That’s why I chose Love Lula over the others, and so far, I’m very happy with my choice, and I’m really looking forward to receiving next month’s box.
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.
2 days until Christmas! How exciting! My husband is from Paris, so we’re driving down there tomorrow to spend Christmas with his family. I like travelling by car – I like the fact that we don’t have to rush and that we don’t have to worry about baggage allowance. Don’t get me wrong, I like travelling light, but let’s be honest, it’s not really possible to do that at this time of the year – what with all the gifts, etc. We have a large box dedicated just for them! Moreover, I’m pregnant! So, it’s probably better to just take the car. Personally, I’m still travelling light though – here’s what I’ll be carrying and wearing everyday: my new Burberry bag (Christmas gift from my husband), my trusted Ugg boots to keep me warm, a snood or a scarf (both from New Look), and a pair of legging (from Littlewoods) or bamboo tights (I love bamboo tights – they’re so soft and so lightweight; they keep you cool when it’s warm and keep you warm when it’s cold) from Boots.
And here’s what I’ll be wearing them with: my favourite Sweaty Betty jumper over a tank top, which I’ll wear with the legging (I think it’s perfect for car travel – really comfy), Mango jersey dresses (which I’ll wear with the bamboo tights), a Zara top and a cardigan from Asos (which I’ll again wear with the legging). I’m in my third trimester now and I’m still really tiny, so I haven’t bought any maternity wear yet. I hope I don’t have to. So far, these styles work for me, and they’re all in my normal size 8. I suppose, dress smart (read: ditch the jeans, skirts, and anything tight for a while) and you don’t have to spend money on something that you’ll only wear for a few months or so.
Oh, and the parka, of course. I bought this last year from Tesco F&F. It looks really good and is of surprisingly good quality for Tesco. In fact, it’s as good as the more expensive ones. I wear it all the time and with literally anything. Definitely my favourite winter coat!
Anyway, enough with fashion. Moving on to beauty stuff now. I mean, it’s Christmas, and that means Christmas eve dinner and Christmas day brunch, and spending Christmas in Paris means… well, taking a romantic walk in the city and do what Parisians do (whatever that is). My point is, I need to look good, and so, it’s obviously important to pack the right beauty products and make-up. I’m sure you’ll agree. Here’s what I’ve decided to bring with me:
1. Jean Paul Gaultier Perfume; 2. Waitrose Cucumber Facial Wipes; 3. MAC Lipstick; 5. Benefit Beautiful Eyes, High Beam and Ultra Plush Lip Gloss; 6. Bare Minerals Foundation, Warmth, Mineral Veil and Primer; 7. Lancome Mascara; 8. Eyeko Fat Eye Stick (sample from Birchbox); 9. Max Factor Eyebrow Pencil and Eye Liner
I did mention that I’m travelling light, right? Well, it’s true. It looks like I’m bringing a lot of stuff, but honestly, they all fit in my Cath Kidston ‘weekend bag’ – see:
Finally, as you know, we’re travelling by car. That means, we have to cross the English Channel with a ferry, which takes around 1 and 1/2 hour; and it also means spending hours and hours on the road. Obviously, I need to keep myself entertained and what better way to do that than with the latest edition of Vogue and food, which go into what I called my ‘food bag’ from Cath Kidston:
That’s it! I better go catch some beauty sleep and I’ll tweet from Paris tomorrow! xx
Disclosure: this is a non-sponsored post; it does, however, contain affiliate links.
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.
(You might also be interested in Beauty and pregnancy (part 1): your hair – what is safe and what is not?)
1. General skin care: face wash, toner, serum, face oil, moisturiser, eye cream
The majority: When it comes to your regular skin care routine, the majority suggests that, whenever possible, you should only use the most natural and chemical-free products. This is because, what you choose to put on your skin may be absorbed into your bloodstream, and thus, could potentially reach your unborn baby. If you don’t want to go all organic, that’s fine, but you should at least avoid products that contain these ingredients: Retinoids (Vitamin A), Salicylic Acid or Beta Hydroxy Acid, Benzoyl Peroxide, Sulfates, Parabens, and Phthalates – all of which have been linked to birth defects and other pregnancy complications, such as, miscarriage and impaired growth.
The minority: According to the minority, yes, you should avoid taking any form of oral Vitamin A and Salicylic Acid when pregnant, but there’s simply not enough data to prove that they carry the same risks when applied topically. The minority thinks that doctors are just being extra cautious, and in their opinion, a small amount of Retinoids, Salicylic Acid or Benzoyl Peroxide (say, 2%) is considered safe.
My opinion: I think, as long as the jury is still out there with regards to topical Retinoids, Salicylic Acid, and Benzoyl Peroxide, it’s probably best to avoid products that contain these ingredients during pregnancy. After all, it’s not that difficult to find alternative, safer products to use; it’s not even that difficult to switch to entirely natural and organic products, which may even be cheaper to buy. You could, for example, ditch your commercial facial cleanser and use organic oatmeal or sweet almond oil to wash your face instead, or replace your chemical-laden toner with organic floral water – if you need some ideas, read my post on the “3 natural and organic beauty products every girl should own”.
The majority: We all know that it’s very important to wear sun protection before you… well… go out and play in the sun. And in the opinion of the majority, it’s even more important to wear sun protection while you’re pregnant because your pregnancy hormones cause your pigment-producing skin cells to react more strongly to the sunlight; without sun protection, you could end up with dark-brown patches on your skin (officially known as chloasma or melasma, but commonly called ‘the mask of pregnancy’). Having said that, the majority suggests that pregnant women should choose sunscreens that don’t contain Retinyl Palmitate (that is, a topical form of Vitamin A) – (I’ve written about Vitamin A when discussing general skin care above, so I’m not going to repeat it here). Other ingredients to avoid include: Oxybenzone, Homosalate, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, Octocrylene, Para-Aminobenzoic Acid, and nano-sized ingredients (as they can be easily inhaled – I’ll write more about nanoparticles below in the make-up section). They say that you should use physical or mineral blocks made with either Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide instead as they don’t penetrate the skin.
The minority: The minority agrees with the majority with regards to the potential effects the ingredients mentioned above has on fetal development. But, they say, even though your body absorbs them, they’re only absorbed in such small concentrations that it’s hardly a cause for concern. So, all sunscreens are perfectly safe to use during pregnancy. If you’re not convinced, then use sunscreens that are made of Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide – they should put your mind at ease because (as you already know) they don’t penetrate the skin.
It’s probably worth mentioning at this point that there’s one article online which question both the majority and minority’s views with regards to Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. It says that there is research to show that: (i) these ingredients have reproductive and developmental effects in animals if they’re nano-enginereed; and (ii) doubts exist as to whether they’re actually absorbed into the skin or not.
My opinion: Honestly, I don’t know what to say. I mean, if you had to avoid all the ingredients mentioned above (including Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide), then you’d be left with very little choice when it comes to sunscreens. I suppose, you could use sunscreens for babies? I personally think that Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide in cream or lotion form is okay; you should be concern with nanoparticles only when using sunscreens in powdered form (as only then they can be easily inhaled). I might have to ditch my BareMinerals SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen for a while – not only is it in powdered form, it also contains Retinyl Palmitate! Blimey!
The majority and minority: I’m combining their views here because they basically say the same thing when it comes to make-up (yes, they finally agreed on something). According to them, make-up products that are non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic are safe to use during pregnancy; but you should avoid cosmetics that contain Retinoids, Salicylic Acid or Benzoyl Peroxide (you know why). They also say that if you want to be super careful, then you might want to try minerals-only make-up as these products use ingredients that don’t get absorbed into the skin. Also, be careful with lipsticks that contain lead; the risk of getting lead poisoning from lipstick is unknown (and probably very small), but it’s perhaps best to use one of the many lead-free lipsticks that are out there.
My opinion: I agree with the above, but that’s probably because I have to use non-comedogenic products anyway. As far as mineral make-up is concerned, well, I’ve heard of the benefits: they provide better coverage, they look more natural, they feel weightless and are more comfortable to wear, and they’re also kinder to the skin; but to be honest, I have yet to try any of them. Many of the mineral make-up that are currently out in the market come in powdered form, and so, may contain nanoparticles. They’re basically finer particles of minerals like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, which (because of their form) become airborne when they’re applied and thus can be easily inhaled. Rumour has it that they have similar effects as asbestos and can cause lung cancer! But of course, not all mineral make-up manufacturers use nanoparticles in their productions – the question is, which one doesn’t? I’ll look into this in more detail as I think they warrant a separate post, and I’ll keep you updated. In the meantime, I’m sticking to liquid and compact foundation.
4. Spots treatment
The majority and minority: The two groups, again, agreed when it comes to spots treatment. They say that prescription oral acne medications, such as Accutane and Retin-A are dangerous during pregnancy and can cause birth defects. Okay, so they differ a little when it comes to topical acne creams that contain Retinoids, Salicylic Acid or Benzoyl Peroxide – which most of them do. The majority says that you should avoid using these products completely, while the minority says that products containing not more than 2% of these ingredients are safe to use.
My opinion: Erm… avoid? And use tea tree oil instead? I think it’s less irritating to the skin anyway than those commercial acne creams.
5. Facial and other cosmetic treatments
The majority and minority: The reason why I’m combining both views once more is because the only thing they differ on is (again) whether you should avoid products which contain Retinoids, Salicylic Acid or Benzoyl Peroxide completely or not (remember that some of the products your aesthetician used in the course of your facial treatment may contain these ingredients). Other than that, they agree that as long as you tell your aesthetician in advance that you’re pregnant, you can totally get a basic facial done during pregnancy. You should, however, avoid treatments which involve electric currents, such as chemical peels or light therapies. With regards to other cosmetic treatments (those that are more invasive, like, botox, etc), they say that it’s best to skip them when you’re pregnant.
My opinion: I have to agree with the above. I don’t see why you can’t get a basic facial done during pregnancy. I mean, you’re practically just deep cleansing your face – only done professionally. As long as you tell your aesthetician that you’re pregnant and you’re cautious over the products used, go on and indulge yourself with some relaxing facial.