If you hadn’t already guessed, I’m a beauty addict. I struggle to walk past a make up department or Superdrug without buying something, or at least covering my hands in swatches. Thank God we don’t have Sephora here or I would be significantly poorer than I already am. (Just kidding, Sephora, please come to the UK, I love you). I spend hours watching YouTube tutorials and reading blogs and articles, desperate to know as much as possible, to be familiar with all the newest brands and trends. But unfortunately, beauty and make up are not my full time job (yet), and there are only so many hours in the day (and money in the bank) for researching and getting my hands on the latest products.
This is where Birchbox comes in. Set up in 2010, Birchbox is a monthly subscription service that sends you five (generously sized) samples of make up and beauty products, personalised to suit you, for just £12.95 a month. They also offer gifts, deals, and often full size freebies. It’s great for both the make up obsessed and the relative novices for getting to try new products and finding out what works for you. Your monthly delivery comes in a super cute box, with a different design each time – I stack mine on top of each other and use them for make up storage. And who doesn’t love getting a parcel full of goodies every month?
Benefit BADGal BANG! Volumising Mascara
This month’s Birchbox came with arguably the most talked about and highly anticipated mascara so far this year, Benefit’s brand new BADGal BANG! Volumising Mascara. Four years in the making, this “gravity-defying formula contains aero-particles, one of the lightest known materials, derived from space technology,” (I’m not saying this is pseudo-science bullshit, all I’m gonna say for now is hmmmm…) and claims it will lengthen and lift lashes while adding volume. I’ve used this a few times now, and it definitely lengthens without any clumping, which I’m really impressed by. The formula is quite wet and glides on really smoothly, and I’m also a huge fan of the brush – it’s plastic and very flexible, and has a pointed end which makes application to the inner and outer lashes super easy. However. I saw no volume. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have very long lashes, so length isn’t my biggest concern – I need volume, and this just hasn’t delivered. Day to day I’ve found myself still reaching for my Maybelline Total Temptation mascara instead, which is half the price (review here). I’ll persevere and try it a few more times, because hey, space science, but I don’t think I’d buy my own.
Rituals The Ritual of Sakura Foaming Shower Gel
It’s pretty hard for a shower gel to be bad – I mean it either smells nice or it doesn’t, right? – but I actually don’t really like this one. It smells great, of rice milk and cherry blossom, which obviously appeals to my love of all things Japanese, and the packaging is simple and pretty. If it wasn’t a foaming cleanser I would honestly love it, but I tend to steer clear of them. Foaming cleansers contain sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), a surfactant, which is what causes the product to foam up. Some dermatologists recommend avoiding any products with this in the ingredient list, especially if you have acne-prone or sensitive skin, as it chips away at the outer protective layer and can end up causing more problems (you can read more about this here and here). Although this advice is usually applied to facial cleansers, SLS will have the exact same effect on the rest of your body and I would never recommend using these types of shower gels, as satisfying as a foamy lather can be. Fortunately, Rituals have brought out an entire Sakura range with over 30 different (non-foaming) products, so you can still get your hands on that gorgeous cherry blossom smell without compromising your skin.
GLAMGLOW SuperMud Clearing Mask Treatment
I really love this product. I like a mud mask as I find them to be super effective in dealing with acne and rebalancing oil and shine, but in the past some have really irritated or even burned my skin. This however felt super gentle, left my skin softer, less oily, and pores smaller. It also contains activated charcoal for a deep cleanse. My only negative is that it’s quite liquid, which means it really gets everywhere – I’d recommend applying with a bowl and brush to avoid your bathroom looking like a mud spa. I try to use a face mask at least twice a week, switching them up depending on which skin issue is worse at the time, and as I seem to be getting all the acne I fortunately missed as a teen right now on my chin, at the age of twenty fucking three, I’ll definitely be adding this to my routine.
Amika Bombshell Blowout Spray
As I’ve said before, I’m shit with my hair, and I need products that work fast and work well. This spray is honestly the answer to my prayers. It does everything, and does it all pretty well. Used on damp hair before blowdrying, it protects from heat, smooths, adds volume and nourishes. This is the lazy girl’s dream. After just one use, my hair felt softer and looked bouncy. It can also be used on dry hair to add a bit of volume and hold if needed. Now, I’m no expert when it comes to hair, so if you are and know this to actually be a Bad Product, I’m all ears. But for now, for my inexperienced hands, it’s perfect, and I will definitely be buying a full sized bottle once my Birchbox sample runs out.
BLAQ Hydrogel Eye Mask
These eye masks were probably my favourite product out of this month’s five. (Note: I don’t have my own photo because I used them before I had the chance) Lots of late nights mean I often have dark circles under my eyes – along with this new acne I mentioned (can you tell it’s not bothering me? Cos it’s not, I don’t even care, I love being 23 years old with acne), they are the bane of my skincare life. I’ve never really thought of doing much to sort them out as they’re usually covered by my concealer, but I gave these a go while also doing a face mask and Oh My God they are amazing. They come in the form of a gel semi-circle, which you peel away from its packaging and simply place under the eye for 15-20 minutes. That’s literally all you have to do. They contain activated charcoal (seems to be everywhere at the moment?) which de-puffs, detoxes and eliminates dark circles. I love the simplicity of it, they feel so amazing and refreshing on, and would be a really nice addition to my bi-weekly facemask if they weren’t £22 for a pack of five. I just can’t really justify the price, as much as I loved them. When I’m rich and famous, though, I’ll be using these every fucking day.
And so there it is – a real mix this month, with some things I’d use again and others that I’ll be steering clear of. If you already subscribe to Birchbox – what did you get this month? What are your thoughts? Does anyone feel like buying me some BLAQ eye masks so I can live the bougie life I deserve? I’ll keep waiting…
- Benefit BADGal Bang Volumising Mascara, £21.50
- Rituals The Ritual of Sakura Foaming Shower Gel, £8.50
- GLAMGLOW SuperMud Clearing Mask Treatment, £42
- Amika Bombshell Blowout Spray, £14.99 (CF, V)
- BLAQ Hydrogel Eye Mask, £22 (CF)