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October Birchbox Product Reviews 2018

If you are new here, then you may not know that every month we like to do a review of the previous month's Birchbox, after having tried and tested all of the products. This month it is a tad late though (I mean, so late that we have already receieved November's subscription haha), but we still really wanted to make sure we got it up as we think the products were too lovely not to share! When we recieved October's Birchbox, I was honestly so excited - I think the packaging is the best yet and the products are all brands that are completely new to me. Last months box contained 6 products all for £12.95 - a complete bargain if you ask me!



October's box contained the Amika soulfood nourishing hair maskWinky Lux strobing balm in 'Radiant Pink', a Calvin Klein 'Women Eau de Parfum' sample, the Doucce luscious lip stain in 'Amber Rose', a Multi-functional charcoal soap sponge by Daily Concepts, and finally a Thermotherapy warming silver foil mask by BeautyPro, which comes in at a total of £106.95 for all of the full size products! When you consider that we paid £12.95, that really is amazing, even if some of them are travel size. 


I was really intrigued by this one, since hair masks aren't really something I tend to do very often. However, after using this, I totally loved it! Aiming to 'fight split ends and dryness', this product left my hair feeling soft and light, in a way that no conditioner ever could. My hair is in desperate need of a trim and at the minute it constantly feels horrible, but this helped to fight that feeling. Definitely something I would consider buying again if I wanted to treat myself!



Winky Lux strobing balm in 'Radiant Pink' - £15 full size: 

Personally, this has to be one of my favourite products in the whole box - who doesn't love a good highlight ay!? However, liquid highlighters are not something I would usually go far, as I find them quite hard to work with over the top of foundation. I found this to be perfect though - I just dabbed a bit onto my finger and then onto my cheekbones, and it left the most gorgeous 'wet-looking' highlight. Unlike other highlighters I have tried like this one, it blended like a dream and lasted well. Amazing, and not actually that expensive if you were to buy full size.






This claims to be a 'pigmented liquid formula' that 'applies matte and dries fast', and I can agree with that. It's pigmentation is amazing and it quickly dries down to a matte finish, but for me I just wasn't thrilled with the formula. My lips are naturally quite dry during these winter months, and so I did find it to be uncomfortable and it cracked within a few minutes of wearing it. However, that's not to say it's bad - when my lips are a bit less dry in the spring and summer I'll probably love it - it's just not really my cup of tea for this season. That being said, I'm not mad with this as I think the colour is gorgeous and I got it at a massively discounted price, but it is just something to consider if you also suffer with dry lips in the winter. 







Calvin Klein 'Women Eau de Parfum' sample - £39 full size: 

Again, I was shocked when I saw this in the box, as the brand is considered high end and it is not something I was expecting to find in a box that cost me so little! After trying this, I must admit I do get the hype about the brand now - the scent is unlike anything I have ever smelt before and it actually lasted all day, unlike most other cheaper fragrances I have tried. I won't try and describe the scent as that really isn't my strong point, but it claims to be a 'multi-layered fragrance with fresh eucalyptus' that has notes of 'sparkling orange flower' and a 'seductive cedarwood finish'. Like I said, like nothing I have ever smelt before!




BeautyPro is a brand I have honestly never heard of nor tried before, and so again this really intrigued me as I am a sucker for a good face mask! I must admit, though, I'm not usually a lover of warming face masks as I just think the heat on the face can just be quite uncomfortable, but even so I gave this the benefit of the doubt and gave it a go. When I opened it up I was quite surprised by the look of it - one side was foil and the other was just the standard sheet mask material, but the foil aspect is really unique and something I have never seen in a mask before. I found to really like this - it left my skin feeling amazing afterwards and it didn't actually heat up as much as I expected it to (which is a good thing if you don't really like heating masks, like me, but I guess it's not so great it you had bought it hoping for more). This isn't too out of my price range either, so I would definitely consider buying this one again. 



Daily Concepts Multi-Functional Charcoal Soap Sponge - £6:

This one really confused me, as I have never seen anything like this before. It is essentially a hard cube with exfoliating balls in, that you wet and use in replacement for a soap and sponge. At first, I used this on my face thinking it was a facial cleanser, but after rubbing my face with this I soon realised it must be for the body as the exfoliating aspect practically rubbed off the top layer of my sensitive face haha! Just something to note if you try it - don't put it on your face as it really does hurt haha. That being said though, I do like the concept of this as a body cleanser, as it is really easy and takes the chore out of using a separate soap and sponge. It also left my body feeling really smooth due to the 2 in 1 exfoliating aspect, so overall I would definitely consider using this again.  



Did you have the October  Birchbox? What did you think of the products? I would love to know!

Natasha & Emily xx 


Boohoo nude lustre lipstick set | Review

Clothing brands releasing makeup is a fairly new but suddenly common concept, with Boohoo being one of many to introduce a highly affordable range on their website. Even Boohoo itself is a new concept to me, as in the past, before their curve range, I haven't had any success with their clothes. Then, when aimlessly scrolling the other day for new autumn clothes, I came across this gorgeous set of 4 nude lipsticks for just six pounds, so they went straight into my bag, especially as they resemble the KKW nude range. Having never tried any boohoo makeup (you know how we are always late on the trends!) I was so excited to see what these were all about. 



The set comes with 4 gorgeous nude lustre lippies, which have beautiful matte nude packaging which makes them look really expensive. Every man and his dog also has a Boohoo discount code too at the moment, so if you want 20% off like we did just head to any love islanders instagram and you'll probably find one. You're welcome. 


 Sorry about my gross nails. 


Although a couple of the shades look the same they all swatch differently, meaning the set provides a lovely range of nude tones. In the picture above, the swatch on the left actually really reminds me of MAC Brave, one of my fave lipsticks, so the set is definitely worth the money.

The only  thing I will mention is that these don't have shade names, which makes  it impossible to know which one you are picking up, with all packaging looking the same. Besides that, these are gorgeous and for the bargain price tag, I cannot complain! 

We also thought that you would appreciate us sharing these pics of our needy pup interfering when we were getting pictures, haha! She's always wanting to steal the show! I think the lipsticks have her approval too ;)






Have you tried any Boohoo makeup? Or any other makeup from clothing brands? Let us know. 

Natasha & Emily x 

Operation Christmas Child Boxes | A way to give a little bit more this Christmas

I know what you're all saying, 'It's only October, why are you mentioning Christmas!?' Well, for starters I believe that it is NEVER too early to think about the best (in my eyes) time of the year, and what I am about to share is definitely something that takes planning ahead. Ever since I was about 12, it has been an annual tradition of ours to put together shoe boxes containing a variety of items which will be sent away to children who are less fortunate than ourselves, of a selected gender and age. Through the 'The Samaritan's Purse', you can send items to a boy or girl of either of the 3 age ranges:  2-4, 5-9 or 10-14. This year we will be doing 3 shoe boxes, one for a boy aged 5-9 (the one that I have photographed for this post), one for a girl aged 5-9 and another for a girl, aged 10-14.  For years I have wanted to blog about this amazing charity, but the early November deadline always creeps up on us and we never get the chance to put the post together before that year's deadline. So without further ado, here is what we are packing in our boxes this year.




Toiletries:

I think that toiletries are a vital to include, since a lot of the children will not have access to simple essential items such as soap and toothbrushes. Therefore I like to make sure I include these sorts of things every year. A good tip with this is to buy multipacks and then spread them across the boxes - for example, I bought a 5 pack of Primark toothbrushes for 75p, which I have then distributed across the boxes. It works out so cheap, yet to a child who has the bare minimum it will feel like they have won a small fortune! I also collect the little freebies from hotels that I visit throughout the year too - for example, the two packaged toothbrushes you can see at the top of the picture were from a hotel I visited earlier this year. Again, it will mean the world to these kids and you have literally paid nothing!



Sweets:

Another thing that I always make sure to include is a packet of sweets, as they are the only item of food that they actually allow you to ship away in the boxes. One thing to note though, if you are to do any boxes yourselves, is that the best before date must be at least the March of the following year, just to account for the shipping time. I have also just seen on the website that this is actually the last year of being allowed to send sweets out, so just a warning in case you were hoping to pack a box next year!



School supplies:

I think that school supplies has to be one of the most important things to consider when packing these boxes, because at the end of the day we'd be nothing without education. With this, I again bring out the multipack trick; I will tend to buy a big bag of pens and pencils, and then split them across each child's box. These exercise books were also only about 30p from a local bargain store, and the pencil case also came with some stationery inside it, again for only about 30p! It will make all the difference, and hopefully leave you feeling good, without even slightly breaking the bank. 



Fun stuff:

Amongst all of the essentials, it is also important that you include something the child will really thoroughly enjoy, and so usually I like to make sure I include some crayons and a colouring book. The charity also recommends that each box contains a 'wow' item, which would be anything from a stuffed toy or a barbie doll. This year my Grandma has actually knitted a few items for me to include, including this little snowman, which they will hopefully love.




To pack your own shoe box, all you have to do is simply fill a medium sized shoe box with any of the recommended items (click here to see them), wrap up the box with some Christmas wrapping paper, and then download and print off a label from online (click here) to select the gender and age you wish to send your box to. You can then pay for the shipping online here and print and insert the barcode they supply, and then drop off to your most local drop off station (find your local drop-off here). It really is as simple as that! You will also receive an email at the start of the year informing you about where the box has been sent, which I always find makes me super happy.

I hope you enjoyed this different post today, and I hope to have inspired some of you about how you can make a difference without spending tonnes. Please let us know if you are doing a box this year - I would love to chat to you all! 

Thank you,

Natasha & Emily x  

September Birchbox Product Reviews 2018

It is a common thing over here now that at the end of every month we review our Birchbox products that we have been enjoying, rather than doing an unboxing post, as this way we are able to share our thoughts on all the brands that we have been sent. Last month we did this over on Believe In Bumble's blog (here) as part of our monthly collaborations, but this month we are back, and ready to share our thoughts on everything we've received.

This month our box contained the NUXE multi purpose dry oil, the Eyeko brow liner in Medium, the Benefit Gold Rush, Marcelle City Anti pollution moisturiser and the Klorane Mango conditioner, which we have tried over the month. Before getting into the reviews of each products, I must say that this one was probably the best Birchbox yet for us, as it had a variety of skincare and makeup, unlike some previous ones that have mainly been skincare.

NUXE Huile Prodigieuse Dry Oil: 


When I first opened the Birchbox at the start of the month this product immediately intrigued me, since I'm not really a user of oils or anything like them. This is meant to be applied to either the skin or hair to add a sheen and make them look healthier and stronger. They claim 'Six essential oils, plus Vitamin E, leave face, body, and hair soft and silky' and 'microscopic flecks of golden shimmer deliver a subtle glow', which I would agree with. The reason I usually avoid oils is because they can leave a horrible sticky residue, which this doesn't at all. After striaghtening my hair I have been applying this to the ends and it makes it look immediately smoother and less dry and dead, something I really need right now as I haven't had a cut in weeks! Overall, this one was a win win. 

Eyeko Brow Liner in 'Medium': 



This one also had me really excited, especially since eyebrow products are quite rare in Birchboxes. Straight up though, this is the complete wrong shade for me, and in fact probably anyone. As you can see from the swatch below it looks almost khaki green...and I'm unsure who has khaki brows? No judgement though. 


I appreciate that this probably could work for maybe blonde or silver hair colours, but for me as a brunette it was unfortunately a miss. Such a shame, as Eyeko is a great brand. I did apply this though to see how easy it was and it is a great product which was really easy to apply, but the shade was just wrong unfortunately.

Benefit Gold Rush



This is probably my favourite from the box, as it is something I've wanted to try for a while. As a poor student spending 20+ pounds on a blusher is something that is quite unattainable, so having this sample was perfect. As usual, Benefit didn't disappoint; this smells gorgeous, looks gorgeous, and is the perfect colour. As it is a sample it didn't come with the gold sheen spray over the top like the full size, but this isn't and issue for me as I've heard that this makes no difference and is purely for decorative reasons anyway. Love love love.

Marcelle City 24hr Anti-Pollution day and nigh cream: 


This claims to 'shield skin from pollution and environmental stressors, while repairing, hydrating and reviving the complexion for a bright and radiant glow', which is really interesting to me, having never really thought about the effect of pollution and such on my skin. To be honest, though I find it really interesting, I cannot comment on whether this does do that, as I didn't really find that pollution as such effected my skin anyway, but it definitely does give the complexion a radiance. This also has a gorgeous consistency, and for someone use to using Nivea, Garnier or Simple, I can definitely tell that this has a more luxury price point. The consistency reminds me of the Body Shop body sorbets, sinking in IMMEDIATELY which I stan. Again, this was amazing!

Klorane Nourishing Conditioner with Mango Butter:


This is 'rich in fatty acids that replenish and moisturize dry, brittle hair' which sounds dreamy if you ask me. Got to love some enticing science haven't you. Or maybe I'm just nerdy.
After using this, my hair did indeed feel amazing and the scent is gorgeous. Anything Mango scented is going straight in my baaaa-sket. One of our other Birchboxes had a Klorane dry shampoo in which we also loved, so it looks like this brand might be a new favourite for hair care! 


Did you have a Birchbox this September? What did you think of the products this month? Let us know! :) 

Natasha & Emily xx 

The Art in Portrait Photography | Blogger collaboration with Always Rise Blog


Well hey there!
I’m Khalipha Ntloko, writing this all the way from Cape Town, South Africa! I’m the brains behind the Always Rise Blog,an Inspiration, Lifestyle and Beauty blog that really is a journal highlighting my growth as a woman within these 3 categories. I’m only 23 years old and I believe that I have many wonderful things to do in life so my blog is a space that not only shares the aspirations I have but also invites women to be inspired so that they too, can rise up and be phenomenal in their own unique and beautiful way.
I’ve recently tapped into my ever-growing love for photography, particularly portrait photography. My aspiration is to become a sought-after [female] portrait photographer in South Africa, but I’m actually self-taught and using a camera that is rather limiting. But, much like life, I’ve learned to get better through these limitations, and I want to share a few tips that I have picked up along the way to help you take better portraits for either your own blogs or personal use.

DON’T TRY TO COPY
In the beginning of my photography journey, I took to a lot of social media and Google pictures to source ideas. And whenever I found a picture I really liked, I would work hard at trying to recreate the exact same photo.
Little did I forget that I have a particular camera that can’t capture certain things. And I don’t have the same makeup products (or techniques) to recreate certain looks. And don’t get me started on a studio set up and lighting


As I got frustrated, I realised that recreating an image to the tee just doesn’t work for me. So I started going back to the drawing board and asked myself why I liked certain pictures. Was it the dark shadows and lighter highlights? Was it the super close of the skin that I loved? Was it the particular shade of black and white that was used? These were some of the questions I started asking myself which helped me create a particular kind of image I wanted for my portraits that I now think about whenever I take photographs. What is the mood that I want to give off in my portraits? The emotion that I want to capture instead of copying someone else’s photo? When it comes to portraits (or photography in general), be original. It’s the most beautiful way to stand out.

REFRAIN FROM AUTO
I’m sure having an automatic car is a dream because of how easy it would be to drive. I mean, a car doing about 80% of the work for you sounds like a breeze. Well, the same could be said for the camera setting ‘Auto’.
As much as the ‘Auto’ setting on your camera easily does the adjusting according to the lighting and environment for you, my advice is to rather stay away from the ‘Auto’ setting. In watching a number of YouTube tutorials and then actually practicing what I was learning, I’ve noticed that 1) capturing images on ‘Auto’ doesn’t make you any different from a smartphone camera user, and 2) there’s a big and personal power in capturing images with settings that you have taken the time to get accustomed to. It no longer becomes a case of the camera doing all the work but you’re now, in collaboration with the camera, beginning to create art.



My advice is to play around with the ‘AV’ setting. This is the ‘Aperture Priotity’ where you set the camera at a certain f-number, whilst the camera selects a shutter speed to match this f-number so that you get better exposure based on what the lighting conditions are in the environment you’re shooting in. This setting is great for landscapes, where you use a large f-number to get a bigger depth of field and crisper background. For portraits, a lower f-number creates a smaller depth of field which blurs out the background and brings more focus to your subject (hello Bokeh!)

FIND THE ‘ART’ IN PORTRAITS
Believe it or not, the word ‘art’ is literally in the word ‘portrait’; this is how I approach my own works of portrait photography. How can I create art in the images I want to capture of someone?
I have no PhD in Selfie Taking, like Kim Kardashian-West, but I know I want my work to be more than just a captured pose. I want to capture a mood, a real and raw emotion that selfies don’t always capture. There’s a freedom of creativity when it comes to portraits that I hope you’ll see not only in my self-portraits but in the works of other photographers.
Much like what I mentioned in my first point, be original in the images you capture. During my years of studying Psychology in my undergraduate, I learned that we could all look at a particular object at the same time, but our perspective and interpretations of that object won’t all be the same. I think the same goes for photography. 


During my ‘Photography’ Instagram Highlights, I remember showing my followers the same picture but only changed the temperature during editing – one was more warm, the other cool. I loved the warm version of the photo but I received an incredible favour for the cooler picture, with someone mentioning how much better my skin stood out. Meanwhile, the cooler tone image made my skin more red, which I didn’t like.

With that said, don’t be afraid to stick to our own artistic guns. I’m aware that people will not always love the work I put out, that there will be critiques and unsavoury opinion. But in the end, I will always produce something that I will be proud of. And that’s something I hope you’ll remember. To find the art in the photographs you capture in future. Photographers don’t get enough clout for the hard work we put in but I hope that this post will inspire you to rise up and find your own art that you’ll always be proud of. 



(Thank you so much to Khalipa for writing this. We found it truly inspiring and really helpful! As with all our collabs, you can find our post on her blog too. We wrote a post all about Makeup Revolution, which you all know we love, since it launched in South Africa only 2 days ago. Thanks again to Khalipa, and we hope you all enjoyed. 
Natasha and Emily x ) 

Ditch the face wipes with Magnitone London's Wipeout Cloths

Face wipes, and wet wipes in general, have a huge impact on the environment due to being non bio-degradable, so every time you remove your makeup with one, you are adding to the environmental impact that they have. Until we were contacted by PR to explain these Magnitone London Wipeout Cloths and their purpose and function, this was never something that I ever considered, even though it is actually a big problem. 



The Magnitone Wipeout cloths are very similar to the Makeup Eraser, which I believe was the first product of it's kind, and aims to remove makeup with water alone. Other companies which have duped this concept include Makeup Revolution and Primark, though there are now numerous versions of these on the shelves. 

In the box you receive two pink microfibre cloths which have 'grab and hold microfibres' to remove makeup gently and with water alone, avoiding adding to landfill and preventing any nasty chemicals from face wipes getting onto your skin. 


All you need to do is add warm water to the cloth and wipe it over the skin to remove all makeup, and then wash at 30 degrees to not harm the fibres and ensure it can be used again. 

I must admit, I was skeptical about these. I have always been a micellar water lover and really enjoy how easy they are to use, but I genuinely think I have been converted! This removed ALL of my makeup with just water (is this wizardry??) and made my skin feel so incredibly soft to touch. As a wipe replacement, I cannot recommend enough, specifically when taking into account the environmental impact of face wipes. I will admit that I would still cleanse after this, but that isn't because I don't feel clean, just because that is part of my skincare routine anyway. 

As I have mentioned, other brands have released similar products, but I can't comment on the performance of these compared to Magnitone prices etc as I haven't tried them. All that I can say is that I love these to pieces and will for sure be using them on the daily!! Also, you get two cloths here for 15 pounds, the same price as the eraser which only gives you one, and if you consider that you need to wash them you do need two really. If you think how many 1000s of times you can wash this, compared to how much you would spend on face wipes a year, it seems a win win.

Thank you so much to FuelPR for sending us these to try, and for opening us up to the world of water based makeup removal.

Have you tried these or any from other brands? What were your thoughts? Let us know x 

Natasha and Emily x 

The two £4 autumnal steals from Makeup Revolution

After a really long, extended summer in the UK autumn has finally arrived, and I for one couldn't be happier. Autumn is the season for all the warm tones and greens, so when I saw both of these palettes in Superdrug for just £4, from my favourite brand, I was sold. The Makeup Revolution Reloaded palettes in 'Iconic Division' and 'Newtrals 2' are the perfect Autumn pair, and provide all you need for the upcoming season. They are even 3 for 2 in Superdrug at the moment, so you could get three of the Reloaded palettes for just £8!





Iconic Division:
This palette reminds me a lot of the colour scheme of the ABH Subculture palette, with a mixture of mainly yellows and greens, but is a fraction of the price. If I have counted correctly, there are 12 mattes and 3 shimmers that all make up the perfect autumn shades. Khaki and burgundy...yes please. 


Swatches: From left to right is from top to bottom. 



This one contains 4 shimmers and 11 mattes, and is the perfect warm toned palette. There's nothing better than a good red/brown eye in Autumn, is there? 


Swatches: From left to right is from top to bottom. 

Though some of the mattes can be a little chalky to swatch, on the eyes they have incredible pigmentation for a £4 palette as you can see on the eye look from the 'Iconic Division' palette, and the shimmers cannot be faulted. They are so beautifully pigmented and blend so gorgeously. 

Have you tried these? What are your favourite Autumn palettes? Let us know x 

Natasha & Emily x