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.
I know… I missed posting on ‘discoveries’ in February and March, but I’ve got a very good reason – I gave birth to my baby girl last month and as you can probably guessed, she’s been keeping me really busy! Seriously! But now that she’s almost 2 months old, things do get better, and I hope it will continue to get better so that I can go back to blogging regularly. Anyway, enough about that… after all, this post is supposed to be about the things that have caught my attention this month; so, here they are:
1. Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation and Concealer
I got a sample of this foundation from one of the magazines I subscribed to and I took a liking to it immediately. That’s saying a lot considering that I’m not fond of liquid foundations – they always look greasy on my face and they never last all day (not on me at least). But this one is different. The texture is lovely – very easy to blend; it provides great coverage (medium to full) but it doesn’t feel at all heavy on the skin – in fact, for the level of coverage it offers, it gives you a surprisingly natural matte finish with a subtle glow; it also lasts all day without caking-up or making your face looks like a greaseball. That said, if you’re after a foundation that offers sheer coverage, then this one is probably not for you, but otherwise, I’d say, go grab one for yourself.
2. bareMinerals bareSkin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation SPF 20
Another new foundation on the market and this one is from one of my favourite brands, bareMinerals. It’s a mineral foundation and skincare serum in one – now we’re talking… whoever said make-up can’t be good for the skin, right?! It’s lighter than the Clinique one above, very natural looking and it also gives you a soft, silky finish, but coverage-wise, not as good in my opinion – which could be a good thing (or not) depending on what you want out of your foundation really. But it also doesn’t last as long, which is quite disappointing (but that could be just me and my problem with liquid foundations in general). To be fair, you’re supposed to apply the foundation with their special brush and I didn’t, I just use my fingers, and maybe that’s why. I might just give it another try because I really like bareMinerals products, and I do like how this foundation feels on my skin.
3. Neal’s Yard Remedies Beauty Sleep Concentrate
I’m obsessed with aromatherapy and organic products, especially when it comes to skincare – the power of plants on your skin… what could be better than that? And I love Neal’s Yard Remedies’ products – sure, they’re quite pricey but they actually work (and they smell amazing). I’ve been using their almond moisturiser for quite a while now and it’s one of the best moisturisers I’ve ever tried. So when I wanted to buy a new night cream, I looked no further than their website and decided to get one of these. Again, it’s one my best beauty buy so far. It’s thicker than your average moisturiser, but then again, it’s a night cream so I do want something heavier. Neal’s Yard claims that it supports your skin’s night time recovery and helps prevent premature skin ageing. Is it true? Hey, I’m no expert, but I can certainly say that my skin feels more hydrated and actually looks plumper in the morning, and that’s good enough for me. And because it’s packed with a lot of essential oils, it smells amazing and I find that it also helps me sleep better (although, this might just be psychological).
4. Botanics 100% Organic Rosewater Toning Spritz
Yes, we’re still talking about the power of plants and this time it’s about flower water – I love flower water; I always use it no matter what the season, wherever I am, wherever I go. And most mornings, I ‘wash’ my face with it (after all, your face doesn’t get dirty when you sleep at night so I don’t see the need to cleanse it with cleanser and/or water in the morning). Anyway, one of my favourites is Kats Kalma’s Geranium flower water, which you can get online or at Greenwich market. Unfortunately, she doesn’t produce flower water in winter, so I had to shop around for an alternative. I never realised how much people charge for flower water – some carry a price tag of more than £20! Needless to say, I decided to wait, until I saw one of these in Boots. It costs £3.99 for 150ml and it’s 100% organic. Perfect!
5. Balance Me Radiance Face Mask
This is a mask from another one of my favourite brands, Balance Me. Their Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm is divine (hands to heart!), and this mask doesn’t disappoint either. They claim that it’s quick to boost tired, lack-lustre, dry skin and not only that, it also gives you instant pick-me-up visible results thanks to a bespoke blend of purifying kaolin clay and a skin-brightening fruit acid complex. And they’re right – the first time I used it, my skin instantly looked brighter, felt smoother, fresher and more hydrated. Also, unlike most clay-based masks, it doesn’t strip your skin of its natural oils (so you don’t end up with skin that feels awfully tight and looks awfully dry), plus it doesn’t ‘cling’ to the skin, so it’s really easy to wash off – I don’t know about you but I really dislike having to rub my skin raw just to remove my mask.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Uber. In fact I think almost everyone has, including me – I’ve heard of it for quite sometime now but only fairly recently I had the opportunity to use its service. In a nutshell, Uber is a private cab company, but unlike the conventional cab companies, you can’t hail Uber drivers on the street nor can you order your cab by calling the cab company with your phone. Instead, you have to download the Uber app from the App Store, Google Play or Windows Phone Store and request your cab through one of those apps. Don’t let that turn you off though – the apps are really simple and easy to use, and once you’ve set up an account, you can request a cab with literally one click. What more… you get an estimate of how much your trip is going to cost before hand (so no surprises when it comes to paying), you can link your credit card / PayPal account details to your Uber account (so no stumbling around for cash when you reach your destination), it’s much cheaper than the competition, and you can track where your driver is and his route on the map. That said, Uber is not perfect, and its drivers certainly do not know London as well as London Black Cab drivers who, after all, have to spend 3 years mastering its streets. In fact, the last time I ride with Uber, I had to use my Google Map and navigate along with my driver! Not ideal really. But it’s no secret that black cabs are expensive – of course, being a Londoner, I still use them; I think it’s the safest and most convenient way to get around London when you’re already out and need a cab (you simply need to hail down one) or if you don’t have a map of some sort and don’t know where you’re going. But otherwise, I’d say Uber is a winner. Plus, when you refer your friend to Uber, both of you will each get £10 Uber credit – refer enough friends and you could potentially ride for free everytime! Of course, if you’re thinking of signing up to Uber, please do use my code to get your free credit: e2qoc!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!