The Libbie Club: an honest first impression (and some hints & tips)

Subscription and sample boxes aren't new, but the Libbie Club is one with a bit of a twist. It was launched last year by the people behind Latest In Beauty, who actually do fairly decent beauty boxes; most contain a good ratio of full size to sample size products. For control freaks like me (at least when it comes to beauty products) is that there are no surprises! I liked their previous Caudalie box, and British Beauty Blogger's Dream Box III was full of products I still use today.

March 2016 box from The Libble Club: Nude Double Dose of Genius oil and moisturising milk, The Hero Project Hyasoft Instant Moisture Boost, and Ciate London Mistress nail paint.

March 2016 box from The Libble Club: Nude Double Dose of Genius oil and moisturising milk, The Hero Project Hyasoft Instant Moisture Boost, and Ciate London Mistress nail paint.

The difference with the Libbie Club (UK and Ireland only) is that after you pay the £20 joining fee, you receive your first box and get the subsequent boxes for free... but only if you review the products and, most importantly, share the offers from your personal Libbie Club page in order to "convert" other buyers.

I am of two minds about this. On the one hand, it rewards people who have the social capital to be able to "convert" potential customers, whether that be through social media, a blog, or word of mouth. On the other, it seems a little unfair that someone who converts 200 people ends up with the same reward (i.e. next month's box) as someone who converts two. I suppose it levels the playing field! Granted, they do reward top sellers with more products, and there may be other kinds of rewards as well that I'm not aware of yet. 

Hint #1: once you hit the "share" button, the site counts it as sharing - you don't actually have to hit Tweet, post to Facebook or email anyone.

I feel a bit ick about trying to "sell" to family and friends, which is why I've limited any sharing to my twitter (@brushandbullet). I'm also hesitant to push it on my Instagram or here on the blog -- there's a reason I haven't approached PR companies and brands, as I like the freedom from obligation (even if I wouldn't be paid, I feel like there would be a different level of expectation if I was being sent free product). But hey! At least it's a different story from direct selling for brands, or multi-level marketing.

Becca Beach Tint in Watermelon and Ultimate Colour Gloss in Palm Breeze 

Becca Beach Tint in Watermelon and Ultimate Colour Gloss in Palm Breeze 

One issue I have is that products sell out, and the popular ones do so quickly! Like, I would have recommended the Nude Skincare Double Dose of Genius kit (my short review here) but it was gone by the time I went to share the offer (it was a good one too -- basically half the retail value for the amount of product). There's no indication when, or indeed if the product would be coming back into stock. 

Hint #2: purchasing from your own page counts as a sale! Which is how I got the April box -- I got the Becca Beach Tint in Watermelon which comes with a free Palm Breeze lip gloss.

Another issue: there doesn't seem to be the functionality to add a review for products which you can buy separately (the Becca Beach Tint is an example). I quite liked writing the short reviews (no direct link, but click through and you'll see "My Reviews") and it would be good to be able to do so for all products, not just the ones that came in the monthly boxes. I generally spend between five to eight hours on each or my blog posts, including conception, research, photography, writing, and editing, and I feel like short reviews like those pose less of a mental barrier. I'm not as precious about the writing and I think it's encouraging me to do more with my blog.

April 2016 box from The Libbie Club: Bee Good Cream Cleanser, The Hero Project Glow Drops, and Eyeko Fat Liquid Liner.

April 2016 box from The Libbie Club: Bee Good Cream Cleanser, The Hero Project Glow Drops, and Eyeko Fat Liquid Liner.

The thing is? I legitimately like the products I've received from The Libbie Club so far. The Nude travel size kit was a win. Ciate London's Mistress is my first ever jelly finish nail polish, and I'm definitely going to look for more (shame the shareable offer is for a £30 "Mani Must Have" kit; the polish comes free with it). The Eyeko Fat Liquid Eyeliner would work well for me in the winter when I don't have oily eyelids! At the moment, it starts smudging about four hours in, but it's an inky, opaque black, applies really smoothly, and doesn't lift off when applying over the top of any existing product. (There's currently a free mini mascara offer on that one.)

Hint #3: I found it a little hard accessing my account information. It wasn't immediately obvious to me: click on the "My Account" link on the left hand side bar to edit your profile and see past orders. 

The Libbie Club dashboard screenshot: click on "My Account" at the top left to access your account details. Hey, it wasn't super obvious to me as i was expecting it to sit on the top right!

The Libbie Club dashboard screenshot: click on "My Account" at the top left to access your account details. Hey, it wasn't super obvious to me as i was expecting it to sit on the top right!

They've also started featuring The Hero Project, a new brand which appears to come under the Pangaea Laboratories umbrella; those guys own Medik8, a cosmeceutical/professional skincare brand, and Progen, which does hair thickening and growth products.

The Hero Project Hyasoft Instant Moisture Boost: a clear gel which absorbs instantly -- great on my oily skin as a serum step, but most will probably need an actual moisturiser on top. Also pictured: Coronary Blues by Fintan Whelan (I picked this up at the King and McGaw pop up in Old Street a few months back, but it's also on their website).

The Hero Project Hyasoft Instant Moisture Boost: a clear gel which absorbs instantly -- great on my oily skin as a serum step, but most will probably need an actual moisturiser on top. Also pictured: Coronary Blues by Fintan Whelan (I picked this up at the King and McGaw pop up in Old Street a few months back, but it's also on their website).

The Hero Project has launched only two products so far. I really like the Glow Drops from the April box (a dry-touch blend of ten oils which smells predominantly of rose and geranium to me), and the Hyasoft Instant Moisture Boost from the March box is a nice little addition to my current nightly routine.

The Hero Project Glow Drops. Also pictured: Gold Triangle screen print by Quantum Design (I got this in Bristol, but she has an etsy!)

The Hero Project Glow Drops. Also pictured: Gold Triangle screen print by Quantum Design (I got this in Bristol, but she has an etsy!)

I haven't decided whether I'll buy something to qualify for the next box yet, although I've got my eye on the Caudalie Instant Detox Mask (it's 20% off and the best price I've seen on UK sites).

What do you think -- would you think about joining something like this? Have you ever bought stuff off an acquaintance's recommendation? That's what I read blogs for, but there are definitely bloggers I trust more than others!

Flashback: read my thoughts on beauty boxes from all the way back in 2014!

Vengeance is Wine: Barry M Sunset Daylight Curing Nail Paint review

Just about every nail brand I can think of has a "gel effect" line out now. A lot of them promise not just the look but longevity of a gel manicure, but do they actually deliver?

I thought I'd try the Barry M Sunset Gel range with Vengeance is Wine (£4.99, 10ml) when it came out last October -- it was in the Autumn/Winter 2015 collection (reviewed by Polished Inka). I've now worn this a few times, and I can confirm: it definitely doesn't last as long as a classic gel manicure cured by UV lamp. But it looks good while it lasts! Which, depending on my application technique, can be up to five days without dents or scratches or chips. 

Barry M Vengeance is Wine Daylight Curing nail paint and gel effect topcoat

Barry M Vengeance is Wine Daylight Curing nail paint and gel effect topcoat

For some reason my brain keeps wanting to call this "Revenge is Wine". It also makes me want to insert a Mr Burns gif, so let's get that out of the way:

mrburnsgif.gif

According to Barry M's product copy, the system is meant to "deliver the look and resilience of pro salon gel nails without a UV lamp or the expense!" I was pretty disappointed by the wear when I first tried it -- it chipped within the first day and dented really easily. It was nothing like an actual gel manicure. BUUUUUT I've always been pretty crap and impatient at putting on polish... apparently you're not supposed to slosh on two coats without waiting for them to fully dry in between. I've since had much better results after putting on two thin coats and taking my time; it's lasted roughly five days each time I've worn this with a bit of tip wear and minor chipping by days six and seven. It definitely starts looking scruffy around day seven and by then I'm ready to get rid of it.

Barry M Vengeance is Wine: this is day five of wear, and you can see some tip wear and a chip on my index finger. The shine starts wearing off too.

Barry M Vengeance is Wine: this is day five of wear, and you can see some tip wear and a chip on my index finger. The shine starts wearing off too.

I'd been looking for something that was classic but a little bit vampy, and Vengeance is Wine is spot on -- a deep, rich red with brown undertones. The closest I have in my collection is the Body Shop's Colour Crush in Crimson Kiss (£5, 6.8ml), which is lighter and leans more purple. The formula itself is on the thick side, and it applies evenly. It's actually pretty decent in coverage after just one coat but needs two to be fully opaque. The brush is on the wide side -- almost exactly the same width and shape as those of my YSL polishes -- and flat so it lays across the nail nicely, and I can cover most of my nails in three strokes. 

Barry M Sunset Daylight Curing nail paint: I like the brush size and shape -- it's wide and the shape lays down the polish nicely

Barry M Sunset Daylight Curing nail paint: I like the brush size and shape -- it's wide and the shape lays down the polish nicely

The polish on its own has the shine of your average nail polish. However, the Sunset Daylight Curing range includes a Daylight Curing Topcoat -- I bought it at the same time as Boots had a two-for-£7 deal on Barry M. It gives the whole thing the high-shine, plush finish of a gel manicure. The instructions say to only use with the Sunset gel range, but I've since used it with other brands (Chanel, & Other Stories, and Priti NYC to name a few) with good results. However, the shine does wear off -- you can see it fading on my nails in the photos.

Vengeance is Wine removes just like a regular polish, and while it's such dark colour, there's been no weird staining after removal even without using a base coat. I'm pretty pleased with it overall, and am thinking of picking up more colours from the range -- possibly Dark Side of the 'Shroom (also from the A/W collection) or Bug A Blue (from the recently released Spring 2016 collection; products shown on Beauty Queen UK's blog). 

I'd love to hear about any experiences you have with similar gel-effect polishes, particular by Sally Hansen and OPI. There's also Sensationail, which is an actual gel polish system that includes a UV light, but I feel like it's a lot of investment -- plus I'm really not keen on the annoying removal process for gel nails. Thoughts? 

Watercolour blushes: Daniel Sandler, Bourjois, Makeup Revolution review and swatches

My makeup modus operandi is basically natural-looking with subtle definition and pops of colour, like I could have plausibly "woke up like this", slapped a bit of lipstick or eyeliner on and not tried too hard. To that end, watercolour blushes have been working out well for me -- want to see some swatches?

Daniel Sandler Cherub and (tiny sample of) Spice, Makeup Revolution London The One Fluid Blusher in Rush Me, Bourjois Aqua blush in 02 CocoriCorail and 04 Berry Nice

Daniel Sandler Cherub and (tiny sample of) Spice, Makeup Revolution London The One Fluid Blusher in Rush Me, Bourjois Aqua blush in 02 CocoriCorail and 04 Berry Nice

You can see my wee collection above, with offerings from Daniel Sandler, Makeup Revolution London, and Bourjois. In terms of texture, the Daniel Sandler Watercolour liquid blush and the Makeup Revolution The One Fluid Blusher are the most similar in texture -- very liquid, with pigment suspended in a silicone base. To apply, I put a drop (that's all you need!) on the back of my hand, and either tap it on my cheeks with fingers or swirl a duo-fibre brush in it and apply a sheer layer. All of these are really blendable and most dry to a skin-like, satiny-matte texture, and I think that's the beauty of these -- they're more workable than quick-to-dry stains, last longer than cream blushes, and harder to overdo when compared to a regular powder blush.

I first tried Makeup Revolution's The One Fluid Blusher in Rush Me over a year ago. It's a glowy coral shade with a noticeable golden shimmer to it. It actually reminds me a little bit of Nars Orgasm powder blush, although Orgasm has a bit more iridescence to it -- see a comparison below (sorry, I had a hard time editing it to both show the colour and finish!):

Top: Nars Orgasm powder blush, bottom: Makeup Revolution London The One Fluid Blusher in Rush Me

Top: Nars Orgasm powder blush, bottom: Makeup Revolution London The One Fluid Blusher in Rush Me

Makeup Revolution London are known for making dupes of famous and higher-end makeup products (I totally have thoughts about that...), and this, I guess, is a copy of Daniel Sandler's Watercolour Liquid Blush. I had the opportunity to meet Daniel at his blush masterclass held at Beautymart in Topshop Oxford Circus in December, and got to have my blush applied by the man himself!

We went through the different options and settled on Cherub, a matte medium pink, topped off by the shimmery Icing. On the day you could get a free sample if you made a purchase of a full-sized Watercolour blush; Daniel didn't have samples of Icing with him, so we decided on the warm pink-ish brown Spicey. He applied the blush with his Waterbrush, which I really liked the look and feel of -- it's more of a paddle brush style, similar to a flat foundation brush, but I've had good results with my fingers or a duo-fibre like the Stippling Brush from Real Techniques

Daniel Sandler Watercolour liquid blush in Cherub and Spicey

Daniel Sandler Watercolour liquid blush in Cherub and Spicey

I have noticed that Makeup Revolution's formula seems to settle much quicker in the bottle than that of Daniel Sandler's. It also seems a touch greasier -- judging by the ingredients list, the Makeup Revolution formula has more silicones, and it may just be that there is a higher pigment to silicone base ratio in the Daniel Sandler. This might contribute towards the price difference: Makeup Revolution's blush retails for £3 (Superdrug, which weirdly stocks a wider range of these than Makeup Revolution's own website), while Daniel Sandler's is around £15 depending on where you get it (Look Fantastic, Beautymart, and Daniel Sandler's own website, where you can also get samples for £2.50), so it depends on your budget and preference. I haven't noticed any separation issues on my face with the former though, so from a performance point of view it's fine. According to the packaging, Daniel Sandler products are produced by Kryolan in Germany. I've never used Kryolan but they make products for professionals, so there's a bit of clout behind DS products! 

Daniel Sandler vs Makeup Revolution -- see how it settles? There is 15ml of product in Daniel Sandler and 14.4g in Makeup Revolution

Daniel Sandler vs Makeup Revolution -- see how it settles? There is 15ml of product in Daniel Sandler and 14.4g in Makeup Revolution

Sneaky note from Daniel Sandler on his twitter a while ago: he's launching Glow Watercolour, which I assume is capitalising on the massive highlighting/strobing market.

The Bourjois Aqua Blush is less fluid and more of a gel, almost mousse-like texture. Unlike the Makeup Revolution and Daniel Sandler ones, these are water-based -- you can feel a cooling sensation when you apply it to your skin. I have 02 CocoriCorail and 04 Berry Nice -- both dry matte. I wouldn't normally go for a coral or peachy shade like CocoriCorail, whether that's on the lips or the cheeks, but after using Korres' Zea Mays Blush in Orange I'm a convert. This is much more subtle, though, and gives a really natural, slightly flushed effect on my NC30-ish skin.

Bourjois Aqua Blush in 02 CocoriCorail and 04 Berry Nice

Bourjois Aqua Blush in 02 CocoriCorail and 04 Berry Nice

Berry Nice is true to its name, giving a similar flush to what I normally turn when I've been in the cold, or after the gym. I feel like it's quite a bit more pigmented than CocoriCorail, although it might just be that Berry Blush has cooler undertones and pops against my warm skin more, while CocoriCorail is very similar to my skin-tone. A slight downside is that these have a fairly strong scent, which is pretty typical of Bourjois products. I also find that they clog a little bit inside the pump applicator, and to get around that you have to give it a couple of pumps so that you can get fresh product out -- a bit annoying when barely half a pump is enough for both cheeks! These retail for £8.99 at Boots, Superdrug, and FeelUnique amongst other places. 

Swatches of Bourjois Aqua Blush in 02 CocoriCorail and 04 Berry Nice

Swatches of Bourjois Aqua Blush in 02 CocoriCorail and 04 Berry Nice

For me, these work best on the top of liquid or serum textured foundations (like Glossier's Skin Tint, quick review here). I have a bit of pigmentation from blemishes on my cheeks, but if you have even-toned skin without many imperfections, these would also work really well on bare or moisturised skin. Lisa Eldridge has a really great video on liquid blushes where she goes through application methods here. I'd love to try the Becca Beach Tints shown in the video, as well as Stila's new-ish Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush. I've also just seen that Lancome will be bringing out a cushion blush soon as well! 

Let me know if you've tried these, or any other similar products I should check out. Not that I'm buying makeup for the rest of the year (or as long as I can hold out) -- the Bourjois blushes were my last loot, all the way back in November! Are you proud of me?

I woke up like this: Glossier skincare REVIEW (Milky Jelly, Moisturising Moon Mask, Priming Moisturizer, Perfecting Skin Tint)

Want a discount code? Skip to the end of the post for a link for 20% off Glossier.

I first came across beauty blog Into the Gloss by way of a photo of Jen Brill posted on Tumblr, from this interview. Since then, the blog has become a lot more editorialised and broader in coverage, but the "voice" remains consistent: chic, friendly but not too chummy, and filled with a good mix of both aspirational and more down-to-earth content. 

Peekaboo! 

Peekaboo! 

The way they've leveraged their audience and social following into a customer base for their new cosmetics brand Glossier (referral link) has been interesting to watch. I really like how they ask their community for ideas and feedback (viz. the post that spawned the Milky Jelly Conditioning Cleanser, and the update prior to the release). I love their slogan, which totally reflects my philosophy towards beauty: Skin First. Makeup Second. Smile Always. (Speaking of their slogan: as I write this, they've begun their campaign for Phase Two of their product range. Judging by the pre-launch video and emphasis on "Makeup Second", there are going to be lip and eye products, and maybe a concealer or eye cream.)

The problem with being really good at building hype is that there are bound to be frustrated people. One big obstacle is that Glossier currently only ship to the US and Puerto Rico, so unless you use a third-party mail forwarding service (or in my case, a certain bestie named Jess living in New York), you're SOL. Thanks, Jess!

From left: Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask, Milky Jelly Cleanser, Perfecting Skin Tint in Medium, Priming Moisturizer.

From left: Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask, Milky Jelly Cleanser, Perfecting Skin Tint in Medium, Priming Moisturizer.

These will be featured in future posts complete with comparisons and "dupes", but I wanted to give a quick review after having used them for a full month.

Milky Jelly Cleanser: my favourite of the four. True to its name, the texture is squishy and jelly-like, and it's really great at melting off light makeup. Most days I'm quite happy to just use this on dry skin, then rinse and wipe off with the Luxury Face Flannel by The Body Shop (previously reviewed here). You don't really need a face cloth to wipe it off, though, as it rinses clean, but I just prefer doing so with all of my cleansers.

Priming Moisturizer: I didn't want to like this -- there are so many moisturisers out there on the market already that basically do a similar job at a lower price point. But this legitimately soothes my sometimes ruddy skin, and is nice and plumping. There are no oil-control properties, though, and I suspect it will be a bit too much for my oily skin come summer time. If you're into a dewy finish, the moisturiser works really nicely with the...

Perfecting Skin Tint: think BB cream crossed with a serum -- this is the thinnest in texture out of all of my base products. I ordered this in Medium, and it works with my currently NC25 to 30-ish skin tone. The coverage is so sheer that I feel like it would work just fine within a couple of shades of my current colour. This doesn't cover up anything but the faintest of my blemishes but does a good job of evening out my skin tone, and is really quite dewy in finish. It leaves a little bit of a sheen, but there aren't any discernible shimmer particles -- kind of like a toned-down version of MAC Strobe Cream. It works well for me in winter (I powder over it), but I suspect it'll be just a tad too glowy for my summer grease-face.

Moisturizing Moon Mask: I adore the illustration on the packaging! However, this was the most underwhelming of the bunch. The texture is lovely -- bouncy and gel-like, it reminds me of the Drops of Youth Bouncy Sleeping Mask by The Body Shop and Garnier's Miracle Sleeping Cream. For a mask that purports to be "intensely hydrating", however, it did just an ok job of rehydrating my parched winter skin, and I think it works best if you apply it on wet skin that's fresh from cleansing and perhaps wet with a bit of hydrating spray. It disappeared into my skin like a moisturiser, so I might try using it overnight rather than rinsing off like a regular mask.

Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask. How sweet is this illustration?

Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask. How sweet is this illustration?

I have read reviews that said the Soothing Face Mist stings sensitive skin types, so I avoided it -- you may want to keep that in mind and do more research if you have finicky skin. I would have liked to try the Boy Brow after my recent experience with Benefit's Gimme Brow (three word review: "like, not love"), but they are out of stock until mid-March. No Balm Dotcom for me either, as I figured I have enough balms and ointments to last me for at least another year (see some previous favourites here). 

Basically, these are good quality basics that should work for most people, and they've developed the range with a view of making soothing, gentle. and effective products. There aren't outrageous claims (ahem, Charlotte Tilbury), and I like how there isn't a focus on anything "anti-ageing" (that's a whole other post). I like the goodies included in my order too -- the bubble wrap pouch and the stickers are a nice touch!

If you use my link to purchase Glossier, you'll receive 20% off your first order! (Full disclosure: this gives me store credit.) Shipping is free with orders over $30 USD.

Glossier motto skin first makeup second smile always

Smith and Cult Stockholm Syndrome (review and swatches)

For the past four months or so I've been on a beauty product low-buy, and it's been pretty successful. The only things I've bought have been replacements or things I needed, so when I had a £5 reward voucher on my Space.NK account I treated myself to something I'd been eyeing up for a while now: Stockholm Syndrome from Smith & Cult.

Smith & Cult Stockholm Syndrome nail polish

Smith & Cult Stockholm Syndrome nail polish

90s kids will probably remember Hard Candy, the nail polish brand. I never owned any but thought they were so cool, what with the colours, the teenybopper rings that came fitted on the caps, and slightly provocative ads I'd see in the Seventeen magazines I'd get out of the library. From what I can tell the range went downhill after being bought by LVMH, but its co-creator Dineh Mohajer has now come out with Smith & Cult.

I picked this up at the Kensington Space.NK after attending a School of Life session "Discover 100 things you didn't know about yourself" at Harrods in an attempt at self-improvement. (It ended up just making me cringe, so I looked around the Harrods art gallery and stationery department instead.) The store was probably the biggest Space.NK I've seen in London, and pretty much stocked all of their available brands. From memory there were maybe twelve or so S&C polishes in the store, with the rest being online exclusives. See the 35-strong range here -- I'm drooling at the blues!

Smith & Cult Stockholm Syndrome nail polish on my nails.

Smith & Cult Stockholm Syndrome nail polish on my nails.

I've been wearing two coats of Stockholm Syndrome by itself with no base or topcoat. It lasts about five days on me with a bit of tip wear, which is pretty damn impressive considering how rough I am with my hands. It only really started looking like shit when I burned two pots this past weekend and had to scrub the shit out of them. 

The Smith & Cult website describes Stockholm Syndrome as an "opaque elephant gray". To my eye it almost comes across as taupe in bright natural light, but it mostly comes out a slightly cool dark gray. It's not exactly a high-shine finish and would definitely benefit from a good topcoat. I'm seriously considering getting the one in the range seeing as how well the polish has lasted. 

Smith & Cult Stockholm Syndrome nail polish. Background: Hands, Hands, Hands by Horst (1941)

Smith & Cult Stockholm Syndrome nail polish. Background: Hands, Hands, Hands by Horst (1941)

The bottle is basically a miniature paperweight -- solid glass with a dented metal lid, which is a faux cap in the vein of Chanel or Butter London bottles. The brush itself is housed in the real cap, about the same size in width and length as the YSL brush, slightly shorter than OPI, and is a good size for my small nails. My one complaint is about the cap, because it's on the small side (I didn't take a photo of it, but you can see a shot in Tynan from xojane's post on the range). I find it a little fiddly to hold, and definitely prefer the long, tapered design of OPI's lid.

The names of the polishes in the range are all named after moments or episodes in Mohajer's life. See this evocative quote for Stockholm Syndrome: When one ex started bawling, triggering two more, I made a quick b-line for the door -- was she the one experiencing Stockholm Syndrome, or her exes? What kind of pain and kindness did they inflict on each other? It had me thinking about how the beauty-obsessed often associate life events with products -- a perfume I can no longer wear because I associate it with bad feelings, a nail polish I used on myself and the other bridesmaids at a best friend's wedding, or the lipstick I wore when I really didn't feel like going on a night out and need a pick-me-up. It's not like I'll be creating a beauty brand anytime soon, but I think it's similar to why I write this blog: seeing my life events through the lens of beauty. 

Tell me: what's a memory you associate with a beauty product? Or, if you started your own makeup brand, what would be the first thing you make?