So – it’s been a year since my first Birchbox (technically it was a weird clutch-like Birchbag), and 13 boxes later it’s been a somewhat wild ride. Over the past year I’ve discovered some pretty amazing products (my favourites are the Philip Kingsley dry shampoo, and the Marcelle eyeliners), but there have been a lot of misses among the hits – including endless Benefit products, orange BB cream and an endless variety of similar leave-in conditioner sprays. For now, I’m going to put my Birchbox subscription on hold (one box a month is enough for me, I think), although it’s very possible I’ll miss it terribly and end up resuming it at some point next year.
Meanwhile, here’s my unboxing and review for this month’s box – a really cute and festive-looking red, pink and silver box. It’’s definitely one of the better ones I’ve had, so luckily we’re ending this on a high…
Ciate London Fierce Flicks Eyeliner
Ciate do awesome nail polish, but as it turns out, they also do awesome makeup. Liquid eyeliner is such a pain for me (thanks hooded eyes), so finding the right pen is critical if I want to attempt any kind of flick. Luckily, this felt-tip style eyeliner has a perfectly-sized point that makes application a lot easier, and a highly opaque jet-black pigment for a sleek look. I wore this to my work Christmas party last week and it went on like a dream, staying put all night despite the 4 or 5 G&Ts that I managed to drink. The packaging is also really cute, with silver stars printed on the black pen and pretty typography. I really want to try more makeup bits from Ciate, so watch this space in case I get my hands on some of their eyeshadow.
The Fierce Flicks (what a name) Eyeliner is available here for £15 – a moderately high-end price, but justifiable considering the quality.
Percy & Reed Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm
Another Birchbox-favoured brand, Percy & Reed do sort-of expensive haircare that isn’t half bad. The last item I had from them was a can of hairspray, which I used a few times and then decided I don’t really like hairspray (typical).
This so-called Wonder Balm is supposed to be an all-in-one treatment for your hair – providing moisture, shine, smoothness and protecting against humidity and flyaways. The formula is a slightly sticky, thin gel that unfortunately comes out of the tube quite fast (that was fun to clean up). The instructions say to smooth this through damp, towel-dried hair and then style accordingly. I applied this before bedtime, and woke up to what can only be described as a cloud of hair. The volume was intense, but after brushing it didn’t look half bad – the balm definitely added texture and definition. I didn’t have time to style, but I imagine this product would have helped my hair’s curl-holding properties a fair amount.
While it’s not something I’d use much, this balm would be ideal for someone with more frizzy and untamed hair, as it smooths but does not leave a crunchy or sticky feeling behind. It’s not cheap, at £18 for 75ml, but it is effective – and it smells really good.
Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour in Amethyst (Travel-Size)
Sad story time – I have never tried anything from Laura Mercier. I’ve heard endlessly about some of their amazing, holy grail-level products, but since it’s not sold locally to me I haven’t had a chance to buy anything from the brand. Amongst the raved-about items online are these cream eyeshadow sticks – named “Caviar Sticks” presumably because they’re so luxurious. I have quite a few shadow sticks in my collection (mostly from Kiko – those ones are incredible), but I don’t have any purple-y shimmer tones like this one.
I absolutely love this product – it’s so easy to swipe on and blend out, creating a sultry smokey effect in no time – the longevity is top-notch as well, with minimal smudging or creasing. This shade is universally-flattering too, a sort of multi-dimensional brow/purple/pink tone that I’m totally gonna pair with the Ciate eyeliner. The only downside to these is the price – £22 each, which isn’t too bad considering how lovely they are, and how much use you would get out of them. Available here in a variety of different shades.
Leighton Denny Nail Polish in Just Perfect
Next up this month is a polish (which I don’t really count as makeup), from the nail brand Leighton Denny. I haven’t tried any of their products before, so don’t really have any idea about the quality or formula of these polishes. The shade isn’t particularly festive, in my opinion – it’s a bright peachy pink, which would probably be more suitable for summer, but is sure to flatter all skin tones. Having said this, I do have quite a few similar shades from other brands, so I don’t think the colour is anything special.
It’s advised that this polish is used with a base and top coat (always a good idea), and that two coats of colour should be enough to give an opaque finish. This looked really nice on and applied smoothly, although it took a while to dry – the formula was fairly long-wearing too, lasting a few days before any chips appeared. I’ve taken it off in favour of a more glitzy/holiday-appropriate nail look, but I’d definitely wear this again once the hot weather rolls around. These polishes retail for £12 each, which is moderate (although I think Essie’s formula is better for the price) and are available here in a variety of shades.
The POREfessional: Matte Rescue Invisible Finish Mattifying Gel
Fun fact: I have never bought a full-size item from Benefit, but have lived a nomadic existence, drifting from miniature-sample to miniature-sample. I tried the original Porefessional through Birchbox a while ago, and I really liked it at a smoothing primer (it has a weird powdery texture and off-white colour). This product is quite different from the original, with a clear and water-based gel texture – ideal for those put off by thick primers – although it still contains dimethicone (steer clear if that’s not your thing). It’s intended to mattify skin and prevent shin, while providing a soft-focus effect for a flawless look.
Currently, I have pretty oily and acne-prone skin – so I need all the help I can get with my base, however this really disappointed me, even though it went on nicely and felt hydrating and soft. It almost made my skin even more oily, and did a terrible job of keeping my (Kat Von D) foundation in place. I personally wouldn’t buy this again, and I think describing it as matte isn’t really accurate. I do however think this could be good for those with dry skin that don’t want an overly luminous or oily primer, as it felt lightweight and looked mostly invisible. The full size tube costs £21.50 for 50ml – not horrendously expensive, but still infringing on the high-end side of things.
Not too bad for a last box then – I’ll be keeping the box itself since it’s so damn pretty and handy for putting stuff in. I’m also pretty chuffed with the makeup bits, although there weren’t too many of them (this is the main thing I prefer about Glossybox) – Birchbox UK is available here for £10 + £2.95 shipping per month.