April Birchbox: Blooming Marvellous!

April showers bring forth May flowers as the saying goes, but at Birchbox the flowers have come a little early! The April box is a collaboration with stationery company Rifle Paper Co. and has a gorgeous flowery design on it. I received the cream and green version of the design which I love. It goes very well with my little craft project which you can see in the background of my photos, it’s not quite finished yet but when it is I’ll be sure to snap a photo and share it with you all.


What’s In The Box?

All of the products this month are sample sized.

Benefit, Bad Gal Lash mascara
A personal favourite, I’m quite glad to receive this out of the possible Benefit samples available this month. I love these little travel sizes as they are great for taking with you in your handbag or any small make-up bag that you carry – not to mention that I actually finish them before they go clumpy! This is their original mascara and is designed for enhanced volume, there is also a waterproof version available now but I always go for this version.
Other Benefit possibilities people might have got this month from Birchbox are:Benefit-4-Products

  • ‘Air Patrol’ eye primer & eye BB which I have a full size of and to be honest I’m not a huge fan. It doesn’t stop my eye make-up creasing which is rather the point of eye primer for me. Good points though are that it has SPF, something more eye products really should start having as the eye area is one of the most sensitive.
  • ‘Dew the Hoola’ which is their newly released liquid bronzing product – stay tuned for an upcoming review of this and ‘Shy Beam’ in another post.
  • ‘They’re Real!’ mascara, this is the waterproof false-lash effect mascara and one of the products that really put Benefit on the map. This is another personal favourite and something I always have in my make-up kit.

Cynthia Rowley Beauty, Eyeliner in black
A smooth and long wearing product designed to set after 30 seconds. Eyeliner for me is an absolute must so this is something I’ll definitely use, my favourite pencil from Smashbox is getting rather stubby so this is actually quite timely.
This liner is also available in some interesting and trendy shades such as rose gold and silver – I really wish I had got one of those shades instead! I would do a swatch but… it’s black? If you really want one let me know and I will do one but I’m not sure I see the point for this shade.

Balance Me, Tinted Wonder Eye Cream
CP-BM103-10-T-TWCP-488x638As tinted eye creams go this has to be one of the most tinted I’ve tried, it also smells amazing. If you have sensitive or watery eyes it might not be suitable for you though as the fragrance is quite strongly of lavender (it contains lavender essential oil.) This is definitely a sample I’ll be making the most of, it beats the pants off both the Clinique and Elemis offerings I currently have on my dressing table.

Beaver Professional, Hydro Nutritive Repairing Shampoo +  sachet of conditioner
A shampoo designed to repair your hair. It’s fragrance is very mild, to be honest I really couldn’t smell much even with product right under my nose! A novelty I noticed is that the packaging states the pH value of the product which they say is 5.5 – 6.5. This encouraged me to examine the ingredients at which point I can see there is a surprisingly short list of ingredients, heavy on surfactants and foaming agents. It also contains a silicone and more concerningly methylisothiazolinone which is a common cause of contact dermatitis – the hairdressers frequent foe.
The conditioner claims to have 18 kinds of amino acids and vitamins – I can only assume all of these must be thought to come from the hydrolysed keratin (also found in the shampoo) as there is nothing else ‘special’ on the ingredient list as far as I can tell. Any hairdressers want to weigh in on this one?

Kueshi, Foot Care Cream
Surprisingly thin and spreadable for a dedicated foot cream, this product contains tea tree, royal jelly and sweet almond oil. The tea tree gives it’s fragrance to the product and also provides a slight cooling effect to the area where the cream has been applied. The skin felt lovely and soft afterwards, I really like this.
I can see a tea tree cream like this being great for anyone who suffers from repeated infection with tinea (good old athletes foot!) as tea tree is a natural anti-microbial and may help stop re-infection.

26292655766_880cf51975_mI upgraded my box for the princely sun of £4 and also received these two dinky Rifle Paper Co. notebooks.

Well, Birchbox promised two make-up items in the box this month and they delivered! It’s great that they have listened to their customers and put more make-up in the box. I think most subscribers are, like me, more interested in getting make-up samples on a regular basis than moisturiser or shampoo if only because there really is only so much moisturiser a girl can use! I mean, we only have one face each. And I know you could say that there is only so much make-up you could use too but it’s fun to do something different every day with make-up whereas you can’t do that with skin care or else your skin gets annoyed and breaks out.
Overall I’m very happy with this box; a box design I actually really like and won’t just hide in a drawer somewhere as storage or, dare I say, chuck in the recycling! Three of the products I will definitely use, a fourth I will pass along to a person I know will benefit from it. The small shampoo might be useful for travelling or for a guest.

To find out more about Birchbox UK (or get your own!) visit their website – birchbox.co.uk

Did you get anything different in your April Birchbox? What do you think about how many make-up samples ought to be in the box – the same or more?

L’Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Clay Bundle Review

L'Oreal Elvive Clay

Extraordinary ClayI don’t normally foray into hair care products on my blog but since I had these new products to try out I thought “why the heck not?”
The Extraordinary Clay Re-Balancing range is designed “to break the cycle and put an end to oily roots and dry ends, giving you 72 hours of purified roots and hydrated ends.” Sounds brilliant, so how does it work?

First you apply the hair masque to your dry, unwashed roots and scalp and massage it in well. Yes, that’s right the masque goes on first! Very unusual I thought but it works very well at absorbing all of that grease from your scalp. The product has an unusual but not unpleasant mild fragrance and is, surprisingly, quite a bright blue colour – I was expecting a more obvious ‘clay’ colour. My only real complaint about the masque was that its blue colouring stained my hands so I had to use quite a bit of exfoliator to get them back to normal again afterwards – I’ll be using some disposable gloves in future for this part. The masque is left on the roots for 5 minutes to do its work – during this time I was freaking out about my blue hands not washing clean but if you avoid that fate do sit and relax!

masqueAfter your five minutes are up it’s time to rinse out the clay masque. Despite my concerns I found the masque rinsed out of my hair really easily and my roots were already feeling so much cleaner than at the start.
The re-balancing shampoo, which blissfully doesn’t contain any silicones (which can build up on your hair over time) lathered up straight away – no need to “rinse and repeat” here. I also noticed from the ingredients list on the back of the bottle that it contains hyaluronic acid (sodium hyaluronate) which is a great beauty workhorse and will help your dry ends hold on to moisture until you wash it again. I’m surprised they aren’t shouting about this on the front. The matching conditioner has the same (no silicones, and more hyaluronic acid than the shampoo) good points. The fragrance of the shampoo conditioner is very similar to the masque, maybe a slighter milder version of the same scent.

So how is my hair looking now it’s dry? It’s very clean feeling and quite shiny and seems fuller than usual – I guess the deep clean at the roots has enabled them to get a bit more natural volume! My hair has a lovely clean smell to it, a nicer version of the shampoo’s own smell. I’ll certainly be continuing to use this hair care system as I’m quite impressed with the extra volume, my hair is usually naturally very flat without a lot of blow drying and styling but blow drying is not something I can often manage (not enough spoons and keeping my arms raised makes them vulnerable to dislocation).

Did it last 72 hours without going greasy? That’s a big fat yes! Some of the volume had disappeared by then but I had spent my time outdoors wearing a hat due to cold and rainy weather which will have helped flatten my hair down significantly. I do think overall it was a little more flyaway in the lengths but that’s probably a result of washing away all the silicones from my previous shampoo. I will keep an eye on it as I continue using this product and I will update you all if anything dramatic happens (good or bad! I’m beholden to no one here.)

All three products are available together as a bundle from Boots.com for £10 or can be purchased individually online only. ETA: All three are now available widely, I hope you have as much success with the masque as I do.

Kath x