Saturday, 28 January 2012

Review: Carmine January Box

It feels like a long road back here, my life has just been stuffed full of things like a suitcase you have to sit on to get it closed.  Silly metaphor, but it's how I've been feeling recently, so tired and single-minded, bloodthirstily forcing my mind and body to do moremoremore, write more thesis, no time for a sit-down.  And now we're already at the end of January and I have 11 months until I give it in.  Only 11 more months of feeling like this, then.

So anyway, the end of the month usually heralds a new beauty box or two being delivered, and Carmine's the one I've received so far this month (discounting the Feel Unique box, whose offering this month was unusually bad considering the other months were so great!), so I thought, in the flood of the Blogosphere doing the same thing, that I'd add my little two cents to the pile.

I never got around to reviewing December's box - it came in the midst of packing, wrapping and celebrating and it kind of got lost in the whole of Christmas - so I'll recap a tiny bit: I loved the inclusion of a Japonesque brush in the box and thought it was unique in that not many beauty boxes have done this before.  The inaugural JolieBox (formerly Boudoir PrivĂ©) had also included a brush in their December offering, but it was their own branded one, and as a concealer brush I found it lacking - it was too floppy and irritating to use.

...So I liked the brush.  I also really love the KMS Free Shape quick blow dry spray, and have used that one a lot since December.  I think, on the whole, my least favourite product was the Weleda shower cream, as I'm a soap kind of girl - no two ways about it! I just love the smell of soap and shower gels typically aren't for me.

So there we are.

Now, onto January:

I had a mixture of thoughts when I eventually got the box open (hereafter referred to as the Carmine Shimmy), a sort of mixture of both surprise, overall pleasedness (not a word, but I don't care) and then, a tiny pang of 'oh'.  I'll explain.
  • Eldora lashes: I was pleased to receive these and not the diamantĂ© lashes, which aren't my style at all.  After a week of wearing lashes as part of my Carmine article on Eldora (which you can read here!), I already knew these were coming, but didn't know what ones I'd be getting. I'll get some use out of these, I think they are very pretty.
  • Korres Wild Rose 24 hour Moisturising & Brightening Cream: I'm not one to join the increasing storm of those who have received this several times in various other beauty boxes, as I've never received it, so I'm satisfied with this.  I've learned from my beloved Caudalie cream from the first Carmine box not to judge something on first try, so I'm cautious to say what I think, apart from it smells nice, soaks in well and I think I might've liked a slightly more generous sample size.
  • Eyeko Fat Eye Stick in Charcoal: Eyeko. I have a conflictive relationship with Eyeko (ranty post linked here), after they essentially tripled the price of their products and relaunched under the whiny excuse of 'but we USED to sell our products in Harrods for loads more!' I do like this pencil - I received a soft grey-black shade, and while it is very smudgy, it's not something I'd wear all over the lid anyway. I used this smudged into my top lashline just yesterday and I really liked the effect.  It is very soft and smudgy, but I have a personal niggle with Eyeko and it soured it a little for me.
  • Balance Me Radiance Face Oil: I do like facial oils, and although this is a repeat brand from Carmine's first box, I don't have a problem with that, as it's more of a product I'll enjoy using. It's lightweight and comes packaged with a little rollerball - I kinda like that.
  • Westlab Himalayan Bath Salts: This was unfortunately my 'oh' product.  I don't really like baths, I can't stand when my fingers go all wrinkly around the 10 minute mark and I feel compelled to get out. Just typing that gave me shivers! I'm unlikely to use these, sadly, but the premise is interesting, however, like the continued affiliation with Dead Sea Spa Magik and every single beauty box under the sun, I can say I'm very skeptical to the claims.  What can I say, though?! I'm just not a bath salts kind of girl - I also feel like the sample could have been a little bigger.
So, to round up... Overall, I did like the January offering from Carmine, and I will be using 4 out of the 5 items in the box, for sure.  As for the bath salts - well you can't win them all.  I'm not a person who judges a beauty box on the calculated value of its products, as I think that's kind of pointless - I think full sizes are nice but shouldn't be expected, and calculating the value seems to create a false sense of economy, where people feel better when their box is 'worth' £40 whatever the products inside, and rant on Twitter when it's worth say £20.

So, at face value, yes I do like this month's offering, but it's not a SQUEEE moment for me, it was quite a mixed experience.  I like everything apart from the bath salts, which I just don't.  Seriously - the wrinkly fingers and toes and ewww. I can't do baths for very long.

How did you get on with this month's box?

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Chop, and other stories.

It began with a full week of bad fringe, which every time I blinked felt like it unstyled itself despite the industrial strength hairspray I used each ozone-killing day to stop it from splitting awkwardly into a centre parting, like that ever so popular male hairstyle of the 90's, the curtains.  My brother had curtains, and he also had a shell suit. 

Both of those should stay firmly in the 90's, not least because shell suits were both obnoxiously-coloured and flammable, and turned young fashion-conscious boys into moving human infernos anyway.

… And they were just horrible.

So anyway, the bad fringe.  It started when I went home to my parents' house for Christmas.  You know how they say there's something in the water? Well, my hair has grown accustomed to its daily onslaught of London water, and the soft water in the quaint, conservative climes of Kent left my hair confused, and too soft.

You're probably going to stop me at 'too soft' and indignantly say, 'well there's no such thing as too soft,' and there I will have to disagree. My hair is fine, there's just quite a lot of it.  When it's too soft, it is slippery like an eel, and worse still, creepingly flat against my skull, skulking closely about like Gollum.  To have the benefit of that, plus long hair made me look like Cher (or, alternatively, Christopher Lee as Saruman in Lord of the Rings, sans beard.  I bet you cannot unsee the resemblance between Cher and Saruman now.)

The good fringe drought continued after my return. Bits stuck out, it kept getting that Vicky Pollard look about it.  And then I looked at the rest of my hair and wondered what the hell it was actually doing, other than lying there, getting a free ride daily.  My usual hair routine always culminated in a ponytail or bun, and I never wore it down… So what was the point?

Within 24 hours I was sitting in the chair and watching it all be cut off, back to where I started, and I feel infinitely more 'me' now; slightly scruffy, texturised and less prissy and neat.

I love it. If a haircut could be home, then I'm hanging up my coat in the hall and curling myself on the couch in my usual spot.  Familiar doesn't always mean boring.  I've never felt less boring with my new-old hair.

In the spirit of bringing you some actual content, rather than telling you my usual too-long-didn't-read story about something inconsequential, I'm going to tell you now that my long-beloved OSIS Dust-It Mattifying Powder and I have been reunited.

 I started using this wonder product after unexpectedly getting a pixie crop about 5 years ago, and have never looked back.  It's a lightweight powder which I tap directly into my roots, and then I muss up my hair a bit to give my roots some volume.

The first time you use this, your hair will feel weird, and probably horrible - and if you use too much, you will spend the whole day touching your hair and cringing.  Less is more! What I get from this product is this amazing all day… malleable quality.  It doesn't hold my volume all day, but all it takes is a quick muss up and it looks as voluminous and bedhead as before, and I like to use it in the ends of my hair, too to give it a bit of oomph at the ends, and to shape it how I like it.  It also works really well when your hair's getting to that 'second-day' phenomenon where it's not quite in need of a wash, but a bit limp and in need of some shoulder-pads.

The world seems to love these kind of hair powder products at the moment, but let me say something: this one is the original, and it's the best, and I've been spoiled for using any other brand since laying eyes on the little red salt-shaker pot.

In the interests of branching out with my hair products - what products do you count on for a daily dose of volume?


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