Sunday, 27 November 2011

Carmine November Box Review

I was nervous for Carmine's November offering, and with good reason.  Where other beauty box brands have always created hype with their first boxes to gain the maximum subscriber increase in the shortest amount of time, they rarely deliver the goods for the new subscriber on the second box.  I think you all know what I'm getting at here, and I can probably sum it up in precisely one word: Batiste.

You can see why I was nervous.  I had no reason to worry, though.  Even though I do blog for Carmine as one of their freelance writers, whatever I say on my blog is unflinchingly honest and unrelated.  Even so, a small part of me, even though I hold no bias, felt like I really wanted Carmine to do well for their second box, to succeed where others failed.

L-R: New CID i-Pout in Belle, Dainty Doll Eyeliner in Shake Your Tailfeather and Cosmetics à la Carte Brow Ink in Taupe.
- Cosmetics à la Carte Brow Ink in Taupe:
My favourite product of the box.  The timeliness of this product being in my box is spooky - I'd had the page from Cosmetics à la Carte open for weeks (I'm a serial tab-hoarder), contemplating whether or not to purchase it to replace my Suqqu pen.  The colour is a little warmer than I was expecting, but I like the flexible nib, which reminds me of Lancôme's Artliner.  It is possible to use this as an eyeliner too, but the shade doesn't suit me ever so well on the lashline.

After using Cosmetics à la Carte Brow Ink in Taupe.

It does, however, deliver great, natural-looking brows and works well to both draw individual hairs in and to go for a more full-whammy kind of look.  I'm aware Carmine polled their subscribers on what colour they wanted out of a possible 3, a tactic I'm impressed with after Glossybox sent out HD Brows palettes for black hair to blonde people.
- Dainty Doll Eyeliner Pencil in Shake Your Tail Feather: I was excited to see this in the box, but I feel the execution of this pencil is a bit below par.  The packaging is gorgeous, and the colour is beautiful too, but I had to scrape this across my hand to get much pigmentation. It definitely needs a warm-up/blast with the hairdryer.
- Lulu's Time Bomb Flashback Night Cream: This is not a brand I'd heard of, and I didn't know Lulu had released a skin care brand! This is a decent size and undoubtedly something I will use. I am not fussed on the smell, but I do like that it sinks in quickly though I can't speak for the anti-ageing results in a week's worth of use.
- Neom Real Luxury Organic Body Lotion: I mentioned in my slightly damning Boudoir Privé review that body lotion doesn't excite me at all.  That still holds true.  If you could only see my collection of unused body lotions, they just keep multiplying! Neom are an up and coming brand which have received a lot of positive acclaim recently.  I would've personally preferred the body wash, but that is the luck of the draw!  This is a very decent-sized sample, and it is a lovely lotion to use (and I know that, as receiving a lotion in my box prompted me to start doing that whole moisturising thing).  The smell is not my cup of tea.
- New CID i-Pout Lipstick in Belle: I find the packaging gimmicky for this: I can honestly say I've never needed to apply lipstick in the dark! However, from what I've seen from the shades in other people's boxes, Carmine picked shades which were quite safe for a variety of skin tones, and the lipstick glides on the lips very smoothly.  I like the colour much more (when I tried it on again today) than I did initially, though I am not keen on the frost, and I will definitely wear this a lot.

Wearing New CID i-Pout in Belle (with the sloppiest application ever).

I actually think Carmine did very well with this box, the only low point for me being the eyeliner, which I find very hard and dragging across the delicate eye area.  I friggin' love the brow pen and have used it to death - it's replaced my usual routine as it's so much quicker.  I respect the fact that Carmine polled subscribers on their hair colour, too.  I'm really excited to see how Carmine do for December now!

Unrelatedly, I actually saw Carmine tweet the other day that you can now buy the October and November boxes as gifts (either for someone special, or for yourself), and I quite like that idea.  It comes in special Christmas packaging, which is quite sweet - or it's just good if you missed the other boxes *coughTHEBALMBLUSHcough*

OH.  And a shameless plug for my most recent articles because I'm still a beaming parent watching their child's first steps: if you want to see me take on Twiggy's 60's Mod look then click here, or if you want to see my experience with Cosmetics à la Carte, click here!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Flash Review: Benefit They're Real! mascara

I didn't expect to like this.  Benefit and I usually have a relationship based on shivering cold indifference, where Benefit tries to be all 'But look what I can do!' like a hysterical child and I just shrug and continue trying to blend the hell out of my war-painted Benetint streaks on my cheeks, which look like I've face-planted into a beetroot.

It's safe to say, Benefit and I usually just don't get on, especially due to the usually over-enthusiastic nature of their staff, who seem to take every opportunity they get to swipe some form of glitter-laden radioactive powder product over your face and convince you it makes you look really healthy.

A couple of things changed a week ago on a routine shopping trip.  I was doing that loitering thing, where I wait for the Benefit sales assistant to be busy hard-selling someone else before I grace the counter with my presence and analyse everything in a sort of Bruce Willis 'get in and get out' fashion (but I don't usually go for the army rolls, as that kind of practice is usually considered uncouth in a crowded shop).  I should say at this juncture that I am a completely awful candidate for bored sales assistants. I am the queen of 'Oh, I'll be back later' and fake contact details; I simply do not like it when people try to talk to me when I'm browsing, even if it's their job.

Anyway, I got snagged by an assistant who was hiding (hiding!) behind the counter bending down below eyesight, and I asked the fateful question which sent me spiralling from haughty disregard of Benefit to handing over my card and paying for yet another thing I didn't need.

It was all in her lashes. They were so curly and thick and I wanted them. And then she told me what it was, and I felt conflicted - buy another Benefit product and hate it? Or maybe, just maybe?

And that's how we got here.  To a review which was supposed to be of the flash variety, but, as with all of my posts, I… have no excuse. I'm completely incorrigible.

My bare, sad lashes.

An unimpressive picture trying to illustrate the volume and curl. Do you know how hard it is to take a photo of your own eye? This is the best one of about 40.

1. In the thick of it: I have straight lashes which are not really anything in any spectacular way. They're not really long, or short. They don't do anything special, they just exist and cause me to spend lots of money on mascaras.  They're Real! really thickens and lifts my lashes, and not just temporarily - my lashes stay curled and perky the whole day, and my lashes look so awake and my eyes look brighter.
2. Givenchycheat!: The end of this brush is sort of mace style, like the renowned mascara designed by Givenchy.  According to Benefit lore, it's supposed to help lengthen the lashes… It sort of just clumps them up for me. In fact, I don't get a lot of length from this mascara, but the fact that I get such a curl means length is less important.
3. Exercise-proof: This mascara does not smudge, flake or budge throughout the whole day, and survives every hour-long work-out (and I mean, there is some seriously gross sweaty-face going on there) without smudging at all. There's a down-side - it takes some effort to remove.  It's very resilient, let's just put it that way. Even the Bioderma takes a couple of passes.
4. High and not quite dry: This mascara seems to take ages to dry on me - I'm one of those types of people who seems to sneeze 50% of the time while applying mascara, and smudge everything everywhere.  Add into the mix that it's also kind of hard to remove and you've got a bit of a mess on your hands, especially if you smudge it on your top lid.
5. All in the clique: The packaging! I don't really care much for the aesthetic so much as the execution: the tube clicks shut, so you know it's properly air-tight and isn't going to dry out too quickly.

The conclusion:
Winner winner, chicken dinner. Whether or not it's worth the price of £18.50 is up to you - I do think it's overpriced - but it's a fantastic mascara.  I get great volume and all day curl hold in this, and it's really really black without going grey at the end of the day.  The wand, however, is sort of a tromp l'oeil. It looks like those rubber wands that have become really prevalent recently, but the spikes are harder and… spikier. Just don't poke yourself in the eye, because it hurts even more than with a normal mascara.

I'm impressed, Benefit. You're out of the doghouse, for now...


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