Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Review | Glowwbox February 2015

I was excited to receive the February Glowwbox 'Handbag Heroes' Edition* this week. Glowwbox is a monthly beauty subscription service for women with darker skin tones. This is the second time I've tried one of their boxes (my review of the December 2014 'Party' Edition can be found here). There's quite a few subscription beauty boxes in circulation currently but I love the concept of Glowwbox in particular and it's one of the few that appeal to me. The subscription costs £10 per month plus £3.95 postage and packaging, which is a similar rate to some of the other beauty boxes available. So far my experience of Glowwbox has been positive and it’s introduced me to quite a few brands and products I haven't tried before.

Inside this box are 6 products, 5 of which are full size - Lavera Natural Lipstick in Berry Violet or Brown Sugar (£11.95), Benecos Natural Mono Eyeshadow in Mokka (£3.95), Lavera Basis Sensitive Organic Lip Balm (£3.45), Beauty UK Nails in Red Royale (£2.99), Primavera Energising Hand and Nail Cream (full size 50ml £13) and Vintage Cosmetic Company Small Makeup Bag in Floral (£6). 

I rely on on-the-go makeup (and a bag to carry it in). I’ll often be found perfecting by brows or adding a touch of rouge whilst on the commute to work as I'd rather get a few extra minutes in bed than spend it putting my face on. The floral Vintage Cosmetic Company makeup bag is a cute design and the size is good enough to hold most of the essentials without taking up all available space in your handbag.

I love lip products, so I was excited to try Lavera goodies inside February’s box. The lip balm contains a whole host of natural ingredients and it feels like a real treat for my lips. The natural lipstick in 'Berry Violet' is also a really beautiful colour. It's a grape purple that would suit a range of tones but would especially compliment darker skin. I'm not sure if it's just the one I have (as I've not tried this brand before) but I found the lipstick formula to be really stiff. Applying this straight from the bullet is difficult (as the texture sort of smears on the skin) though once it's on it won't budge, at all. The Benecos Eyeshadow shade is also purple, but a different tone to the lipstick. I'm not sure how often I’ll reach for this shade and I imagine I'll probably reserve it for when I'm looking to try something new. 

Hand cream is definitely an essential for most handbags but I rarely carry around cream anymore (I just pinch my friend's if I need any). As a result I can’t see myself paying £13 for the full size of the Primavera Hand & Nail Cream which is only 50ml anyway. I can see why it's on the pricey side though as the ingredients are pretty impressive and all natural. 

As this is the February Edition there was a Valentine's slant on the theme of the box and the red nail polish by Beautyuk was a nice touch. I love the colour which is a bright red with gold shimmer. I haven't tried it yet though so I'm not sure how good wear or coverage is. 

As with the first Glowwbox I received I think the contents of the box are great value for money. The RRP of one or two products seems to equal the cost of the entire box which is always a plus (providing you like the products of course). This was the February Edition, but if you'd to get your hands on this box it's still available on the Glowwbox website until the end of this week. 

*PR sample - All of the products in this box were provided courtesy of Glowwbox. See my disclaimer here.

Have you tried Glowwbox or other Beauty Box Subscriptions? 

Lesley x

Monday, 2 March 2015

New In | A couple of Beauty buys

I've not switched up my makeup routine in a long time and I thought it was about time I tried something new, notably the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge (£5.99) and MAC Pro Longwear Foundation (£25).

I've always loved my MAC Studio Sculpt Foundation as the texture and coverage is amazing. I've stuck with it for 5 years as it looks so good when it's applied. Unfortunately it just doesn't last on my oily skin quite long enough. I've tried to make the foundation last longer with the aid of a primer, a setting spray and even by mixing it with another of MAC's foundations but my skin always wins and kicks this product off my face. I finally resigned to buying a new foundation altogether. It was this old video by Sammi from Beautycrush in which she compares various different MAC foundations which convinced me to switch to Pro Longwear Foundation. So far it has not disappointed (thanks Sammi!)

The texture of this foundation is so different to the Sculpt. It's really lightweight and leaves a really smooth finish which thankfully lasts a lot longer. The coverage of this product is sheer to medium and whilst I usually prefer as high coverage as possible, the finish is so natural-looking I don't mind some of my blemishes peeping through my makeup (as much).

As well as a new foundation I also bought a new makeup sponge. I used to love using sponges to apply makeup and I'm not quite sure why I stopped. With the right sponge your makeup can look like skin and who doesn't want that as opposed to cake face? I've been tempted by the Beauty Blender which has received so much hype over the web but I just can't part with 16 whole pounds for a sponge! I love the Real Techniques brushes I own, so their Miracle Complexion Sponge (and the fact that it's more purse-friendly) seemed like a natural fit.

Admittedly I had to watch Sam's video here on how to use the sponge first as the different edges have different uses. The flat side at the bottom helps apply makeup to the face, the round side blends product out and the pointed edge is great for applying concealer. The design of the sponge in general helps it serve various functions and for a relatively cheap buy I'm really impressed with the results.

Have you tried either of these? What having you been buying lately? 

Lesley x

Friday, 27 February 2015

Review | Root2Tip Natural Hair Butter

I was sent a few Root2Tip goodies for Christmas, including the Triple M Miracle Moisture Milk (£13.99)*, the Root2Tip Protein Balance 'Elasticity Retention' Hair Masque (£12.99)* and the Natural Hair Butter (£10.99)*. The Moisture Milk and Protein Masque are already amongst my favourite hair products which I've been using and purchasing for some time (I've also reviewed them both here and here). I've never tried the Natural Hair Butter before though and I've ended up relying on this product more for my skin than hair.

Root2Tip is a natural haircare brand and this butter is full of skin-loving ingredients, primarily Shea butter. The product is made for all hair types and has many uses including providing shine and hold to a curly hair (or curly sets). I've found Shea butter is just too heavy for my hair, which gets weighed down easily. As a result I prefer to only use this product pre-shampoo treatment on my ends. I warm the butter up a little in my hands and smooth it down the lengths before stepping in the shower and it stops my hair getting stripped during the shampoo process. My ends feel so smooth and buttery post-wash I love it!

The product is also recommended for use on the skin and I use the product on my body the most. I've been applying it to my knees, elbows and hands a lot recently to banish any dryness. It works wonderfully at keeping my skin super soft and hydrated and I only need to use a little product at a time. My skin has felt amazing combining applying this butter regularly along with a weekly body scrub using this DIY.

Overall this is a great product with a few uses, though I love it more for my skin than hair.

Root2Tip products can be purchased from their website.

*pr sample. Read my disclaimer here.

Have you tried anything by Root2Tip? 

Lesley x

Monday, 16 February 2015

5 Ways to Whiter, Brighter Teeth

This post was one of my most popular posts from 2014. It was originally an article I wrote for Birthday Magazine but the website hasn't been updated since the beginning of last year so I'm re-posting it here.

I'm personally in a love hate relationship with my teeth (I love to hate them) and the thing I hate most about them is that yellow-y tinge that occurs every now and again from drinking too much tea. It seems I'm not alone. Whiter teeth are often cited as one of the top things women would like to change about themselves. Luckily there's a whole host of brightening methods to choose from, so here's a few ways to get your teeth whiter and keep them that way.

Home Kits

A popular method to whiten teeth is by using home whitening kits. These can be purchased either on the high street or online, and can cost anywhere from £10 to £100. Several options are available, ranging from dental trays, strips, ‘paint on’ formulas and even whitening pens. The choice can get a little overwhelming so speak to your dentist for guidance about whitening. To ensure you end up with a product that delivers there are certain things you need to look for when buying a home kit. Hydrogen peroxide is the most common ingredient in effective whitening products and it has to be a high enough strength in order to actually brighten teeth. Legally in the UK, home kits should only contain 0.1% hydrogen peroxide. Be wary of products with higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide as if these are used incorrectly they can leave you with nasty chemical burns. Be careful to stick to timings and usage instructions too. Over-whitening the teeth can wear away the enamel leaving your teeth translucent or grey and with increased sensitivity. In general whitening strips tend to be a safer (depending on what they're made of) and are a ‘no fuss’ option.

DIY Naturally

If you prefer to DIY and love keeping it natural, look no further than your kitchen for teeth whiteners. Oil, baking soda and strawberries are all claimed to be remedies for dull, discoloured teeth. Oil pulling is ancient Ayurvedic technique which involves swishing oil around your mouth for 15-20 minutes before spitting it out and rinsing with warm water. It’s thought to remove all of the toxins and bacteria in the mouth, leading to whiter teeth. Organic oils such as Sesame, Olive or Coconut are often cited to produce the most benefits. It does sound a little crazy but at least it’s au naturel. Strawberries are also claimed to whiten teeth as the fruit contains malic acid which helps lift stains. To use, mash up some strawberries and combine with baking soda (another natural whitener) so the mixture is not too acidic. Apply the mixture to your teeth and leave it on for 5 minutes before rinsing. As too much acid can erode the enamel on your teeth it’s suggested to do this no more than once a week.


The most dramatic whitening results can only take place in the dentist’s chair. Whitening available from your dentist is far stronger and effective than any legal product that can be purchased from shops or online. Gleaming white teeth can often be achieved in a single session, but the sparkling results come at a price. Costs can total over £200 for one treatment. If you don’t fancy forking out for a brighter smile, a regular clean and polish from your dentist is another option. This will remove deeper stains and discolouration more than regular brushing and it costs a lot less than a whitening procedure.


If you want to keep your teeth pearly white dentists recommend brushing teeth for a full two minutes, two times a day. It’s suggested to brush gently at 45 degree angle against the gum line for thorough stain removal. Want that super clean feeling? Go electric instead of manual. Electric toothbrushes have been proven to be more effective than a manual brush. It’s also advised by dentists to avoid certain foods and drinks to keep teeth white. Beverages such as tea, coffee, fizzy drinks and wine all cause discolouration. It’s usually the acidity or the sugar levels in foods which wreak havoc on our teeth. Chewing sugar-free gum after meals and using mouthwash can also help to keep stains at bay.

Fake It

No time for whitening? You can get the appearance of whiter teeth simply by wearing a red lipstick with blue undertones. This trick works as blue balances out any yellow stains on your teeth. You can also fake it by wearing bronzer as this gives the face a sun kissed glow which makes teeth seem brighter.

How do you keep your teeth white?

Lesley x
© Fresh Lengths.Maira Gall.