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!

Zombie flu pick-me-ups: what's on my sick day tabletop (feat. Caudalie, Paula's Choice, Homeoplasmine, The Body Shop, L'Occitane, This Works)

Where: Southbank, London
When: last Friday, the first night of the Southbank Centre Christmas Market
What: mulled wine, all permutations of fat and carb combinations, and a screening of Tarantino's True Romance at the BFI

Basically a recipe for a great night, yeah?

It was just too bad, then, that I was starting to look and feel like a viral outbreak movie character, right before they turn into a zombie: cold, pale, sweaty, nauesous. Not even a double-shot hot toddy helped. I held it together until I got home, and spent the weekend feverish, aching, and doing my best impression of a consumptive invalid.

I wish I'd taken a photo of my bedside table -- think Tracey Emin's My Bed, but with more phlegmy tissues and less vodka #lifestyleblogger. Here are a few products that made me feel vaguely human.

 The ones that smell good: This Works deep sleep heavenly candle and the Caudalie Beauty Elixir

The ones that smell good: This Works deep sleep heavenly candle and the Caudalie Beauty Elixir

Put this one in the not-sure-if-it-does-anything-but-it-smells-good category: This Works deep sleep heavenly candle isn't quite as soporific as the pillow spray in the same range, but I think the lavender and chamomile made me feel more zen than zombie.

The Caudalie Beauty Elixir is an old favourite (Six Word Review here), and I recently won a bottle from their stand at Stylist Live (which I also won tickets to -- just as well, because it so wasn't worth the £25!). The rosemary and mint essential oils act like a less repellent Vicks Vaporub (although I think Will feels differently...), and the citrus and rose components also help make it a good pick-me-up. It does contain alcohol, though -- it might be that or the essential oils that make my raw nose sting, so I spray it on my neck instead. 

 The French pharmacy loves: Homeoplasmine and Embryolisse Creme Nutritive Douceur Mains

The French pharmacy loves: Homeoplasmine and Embryolisse Creme Nutritive Douceur Mains

On the subject of sore noses (and cracked lips because of all the mouthbreathing, holy crap), I like Homeoplasmine. This stuff is basically Vaseline, but... it's fancy French Vaseline! I picked this up when I was in Paris earlier this year -- totally an Into The Gloss-provoked purchase -- and it's a really good all-purpose balm. There's no smell, and it's far less greasy than actual Vaseline. (I've previously written about similar balms here and here.)

Another French pharmacy pick-up was the Embryolisse Creme Nutritive Douceur Mains. While lightweight, it's really quite softening and hydrating and non-greasy -- basically all I want in a hand cream but often have a hard time finding.

 Is it a bird? Is it an amoeba? No, it's the Body Shop's Luxury Face Flannel!

Is it a bird? Is it an amoeba? No, it's the Body Shop's Luxury Face Flannel!

I barely washed my face (or showered, for that matter. YOU'RE WELCOME), but when I did I used the Body Shop's Luxury Face Flannel. This isn't your traditional terry cloth flannel or thin, rough muslin cloth. It's made from PVA, which makes it ultra smooth and soft after you wet it. I've been using it for a few months now, and it's so great for sensitive skin. I normally use it to remove my cleanser, and it's good at taking off makeup. Since it's basically plastic, it also dries fast and stiff which means you can mould it into weird shapes if you so desire.

 The nourishing skincare: L'Occitane Pivoine Sublime Perfecting Cream and Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid

The nourishing skincare: L'Occitane Pivoine Sublime Perfecting Cream and Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid

Skincare-wise, I stuck with my usual Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid (previously reviewed here). This helped get rid of the flakies and cleared up any blocked pores. I always feel like I look better the day after I use it! L'Occitane were giving away luxury-sized samples of their moisturisers recently, so I tried out the Pivoine Sublime Perfecting Cream. It's a gel-cream formula which absorbs quickly and dries to a matte finish, and has a light rose scent. I haven't tried it under makeup yet, but I have a feeling it would work well on my oily skin. The pot format grosses me out a little -- pump bottles all the way -- but hey, that's what preservatives are for, right?

BRB, looking for my brain: I need it back at work this week!

The Anti-Haul: What I Didn't Buy

For a very brief period I ran a tumblr blog called Things I Did Not Buy. The idea came from a frugal, beat-your-consumerist-tendencies tip I read somewhere: you see something you want but really don't need, put it on a 30-day wishlist, and if you're still thinking about it after that then you let yourself purchase it. The tumblr was pretty short-lived because I realised that Pinterest was a much cleaner way of presenting something like that visually, and the rest of it could just go on a list on my phone or notebook, which would make it easier to forget about whatever it was that I wanted to buy in the first place.

I've been thinking a lot about minimalism over the past few years, and have tried to not give in to the BUY BUY BUY urges I get every now and then. There seems to be a lot of this going around, spurred on I'm sure in no small part by Marie Kondo's Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, which many of the bloggers I follow have been talking about (read Liz's heartfelt review at the Beauty Reductionista). I haven't read the book, but I went through a phase of reading a bunch of minimalism blogs, and a lot of that thinking has stuck around in my brain. 

All of this to say: I have stopped myself from buying a lot of stuff over the past wee while, with the major rate-limiting factor being that I just haven't had the spare cash for it. Most of it has gone towards a personal trainer for the past couple of months, which has been amazing -- more on that another time, maybe. Anyway, I wanted to get my low-spend progress down on the blog to help spur myself along! So, here are some beauty-related items that I stopped myself from buying over the past few months -- an anti-haul*, if you will.

L'Oreal now have a Pink series to their Collection Exclusive range. I swatched them all in-store, and was almost tempted to walk away with the Blake and Liya (the latter is exclusive to Superdrug) by the 3 for 2 offer. I came to my senses though, and realised that I already have a ridiculous number of lipsticks. Time to give them more love instead of buying more!

My favourite MAC formula is the Mattene (previous mentioned here and in a swatch panel here), so I was super tempted by the recent Macnificent Me collection. Personal Pick, a mid-toned cool pink, turned out to be not that special when I swatched in person, and while I like the idea of wearing a deep purple like Own the Look, I'm not sure that I wanted to pay £17.50 for the privilege. 

H&M have recently launched a 700-odd piece beauty range. I have high hopes, especially considering they're the same people behind the & Other Stories brand, whose beauty range I love (previously mentioned here, here, and here). The Velvet Lip Cream in Le Beau Monde caught my eye because it reminded me of the Sephora Color Lip Last in West End Swirl, which, as previously mentioned, is completely awful to wear. I don't think I own any shades like the Gossamer Lip Stain in Centre of Attention, a bright fuschia. 

Other things that I put in the H&M cart (twice! I walked away from this stuff twice!) include the powder and angled blusher brushes -- I've realised that I much prefer angled brushes for blush to the normal rounded shape; the Revelation Shower Oil -- I thought this would be good for winter; the True Matte Finishing Powder, because I'm running low on my MAC MSFN and Bourjois Healthy Balance powders; two of the blushes -- the Pure Velvet Cream Blusher in Sunny Peach and the Pure Radiance Powder Blusher in Sunrise Pink; two of the Eye Colour-To-Go pencils in Plummy Tones (again, I don't own anything like this) and Chantilly (I've been wanting a white eyeshadow base). Problem is I currently have a 20% off voucher for H&M calling my name from my wallet...

I had a hard time choosing between the Nars Steve Klein One Shocking Moment Cheek Studio Palette and the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit for my one splurge in the leadup to the Holiday season. In the end I went for the Hourglass, but I may still yet change my mind and exchange it...

As for the Real Techniques Collector's Edition Eyelining Set -- I nearly purchased this from a TK Maxx for £15 (it retails for £20), but decided I had enough liner brushes at my disposal. FYI for UK purchasers, it's cheaper from the Real Techniques website, even after accounting for import taxes.

What about you? What have you put back on the shelf lately, literally or figuratively?

N.B. I used to spend a stupid amount of time on tumblr. It was a great little community, but a couple of years ago I started to spend less time scrolling through the dashboard, until half-way through last year when I just stopped visiting altogether. Here is my original tumblr blog, if you feel like a stalk through the archives!

*I know that this isn't an original phrase, but after it came to me I had a quick Google, and there doesn't seem to be consistent usage of it in beauty blogging or elsewhere. We're going with it.

Keep Calm, Carry On: What I Packed for Greece (Skincare, Makeup, Packing List)

Bangkok, around seven years ago: Will and I were about to head to the airport to go home. We struck up conversation with another Kiwi (who knew someone I knew, funnily enough - two degrees, etc) and went on to share a taxi.

I was impressed by how lightly she packed -- an everyday sized backpack and a tote bag, from memory, whereas I had been lugging around one of those big 60L backpacking monstrosities for three weeks around Tokyo and Thailand. Those packs have their place (tramping, festivals, or transporting your favourite possessions when moving across the world, like I did last year), but I couldn't help thinking how I would have been a much happier traveller had I not had to constantly schlep around a good fifteen kilos on my back.

Ever since then I've tried to pack light, with varying levels of success. For this trip, a week-long Greek sailing holiday, I went as minimal as I could. It helps that it was hot, and that we pretty much only fly with the budget airlines where you have to pay extra for checked luggage. This is SO NERDY, but here's what I packed, for anyone out there who obsesses over this stuff like I do:

 Sunset in Aegina: the black & Other Stories maxi is a little boobilicious at times. Wearing the Soap and Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude over Marc Jacobs Nude(ist) Lip Pencil.

Sunset in Aegina: the black & Other Stories maxi is a little boobilicious at times. Wearing the Soap and Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude over Marc Jacobs Nude(ist) Lip Pencil.

  • Three dresses -- a long black maxi (similar to this one, but in stretch cotton) and a short racerback tank dress (similar to this one, but with a twisted back), both from & Other Stories, plus a white linen sundress with crochet panels from Country Road several years ago (second from left in this pin).
  • Soft white button up shirt from Miss Selfridges, similar to this, and denim shorts from H&M - I probably could have done without both of these.
  • Two pairs of shoes -- jandals from Muji and plain black chunky sandals (£10 from a local department store).
 Same day I threw up my breakfast Greek yoghurt and figs over the bow of the boat.

Same day I threw up my breakfast Greek yoghurt and figs over the bow of the boat.

  • Two pairs of togs -- a one-piece and a bikini. Next time: two bikinis, which would double as bras.
  • Undies! And two bras.
  • Blue cotton towel from Sicily -- chartering the boat included towels but I used this as a sarong as well.
  • Two plain black singlets (H&M) and a pair of soft black shorts (Trenery) for sleeping.
 Calzedonia bikini top and a blue cotton towel from Sicily.

Calzedonia bikini top and a blue cotton towel from Sicily.

  • My beloved Saben Tilly's Big Sister handbag for going onshore, and a backpack from H&M (similar to this) as my carry on "personal item" for stuff like my diary, camera, notebook, phone, and travel documents. The challenge for next time is a smaller personal item. 
  • Sunglasses, an aviator style. I dropped them in a dirty toilet just before we left for the airport BAHAHAHAHAH. Luckily they were $5 from Cotton On.
 Evening in Hydra. Wearing the makeup in the next shot, applied on-deck! Mostly piled on the Korres Zea Mays Blush in Orange.

Evening in Hydra. Wearing the makeup in the next shot, applied on-deck! Mostly piled on the Korres Zea Mays Blush in Orange.

Cosmetics-wise, I tried to fit everything into this Muji case and the regulation-sized ziplock bag (although I cheated and put some stuff in Will's). It's a mixture of favourites and a few new things I've been playing with:

 Muji travel case with everything shoved in it. Applying makeup on-deck while moored up in Hydra: Real Techniques Duo Fibre Face Brush, EcoTools Tapered Blush Brush, Estee Lauder Doublewear Eyeliner, Korres Wild Rose and Vitamin C Treatment, Korres Zea Mays Blush in Orange, Muji eyelash curler, ArtDeco Bronzing Glow Blusher.

Muji travel case with everything shoved in it. Applying makeup on-deck while moored up in Hydra: Real Techniques Duo Fibre Face Brush, EcoTools Tapered Blush Brush, Estee Lauder Doublewear Eyeliner, Korres Wild Rose and Vitamin C Treatment, Korres Zea Mays Blush in Orange, Muji eyelash curler, ArtDeco Bronzing Glow Blusher.

 Maybelline Powder, Coppertone Facial sunscreen, Muji eyelash curler, ArtDeco Bronzing Glow Blusher in Queen of the Jungle.

Maybelline Powder, Coppertone Facial sunscreen, Muji eyelash curler, ArtDeco Bronzing Glow Blusher in Queen of the Jungle.

 Soap & Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude, Sephora Rouge Infusion in Peony, MAC Mattene in Eden Rouge.

Soap & Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude, Sephora Rouge Infusion in Peony, MAC Mattene in Eden Rouge.

  • Maybelline Clear Smooth All In One Shine Free Cake Powder SPF25PA++ (£1 at the local pound store! I think this is an Asia-only release), applied using the Real Techniques Duo Fibre Face Brush (from the duo fiber collection). I know from past experience that liquids and BB creams would simply melt off my face in the 30+ degree heat, so I just used the powder over the top of sunscreen if I felt like a bit of coverage.
  • ArtDeco Queen of the Jungle Bronzing Glow Blusher (limited edition from a couple of years ago, but still available here and they seem to do a variation on the theme every now and then), applied with the EcoTools Tapered Blush Brush
  • Estee Lauder Doublewear dual ended eyeliner in Onyx and Coffee (I think this was a limited edition release; the full sized version has a smudger on the other end), smudged out with the Real Techniques Shading Brush, and the Makeup Revolution Awesome Double Flick Liquid Eyeliner. I probably could have done with leaving one of the liner options behind.
 EcoTools Tapered Blush Brush, Makeup Revolution liquid eyeliner, Marc Jacobs Lip Pencil in Nude(ist), Real Techniques Shading Brush, L'oreal False Lash Telescopic mascara, Estee Lauder Doublewear eyeliner, Real Techniques Duo Fibre Face Brush

EcoTools Tapered Blush Brush, Makeup Revolution liquid eyeliner, Marc Jacobs Lip Pencil in Nude(ist), Real Techniques Shading Brush, L'oreal False Lash Telescopic mascara, Estee Lauder Doublewear eyeliner, Real Techniques Duo Fibre Face Brush

 Soap & Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude, Sephora Rouge Infusion in Peony, Lush Solid Perfume in Karma, MAC Mattene in Eden Rouge.

Soap & Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude, Sephora Rouge Infusion in Peony, Lush Solid Perfume in Karma, MAC Mattene in Eden Rouge.

  • Coppertone facial and body sunscreens (these were three for £1 at the local pound shop; another Asia-only release I think), contact lens solution (FYI: no one seemed to sell solutions for RGPs in Greece, and mine got confiscated at customs because it was 120 mLs... woe), and mini shampoo and conditioner (I got the Charles Worthington Sunshine Protector range from Boots).
  • Collistar Glycolic Acid, previously reviewed here.
  • A freebie pack of Simple Face Wipes (although I've bought them in the past) to remove makeup and sunscreen, and then I would do a second cleanse with the (shock horror) freebie soap on board.
  • Lush solid perfume in Karma, in the old push up packaging -- such a gorgeous scent! It's an orange and patchouli blend, and almost smells fizzy, if that makes sense.
  • Skinny cotton buds from Muji, a few cotton pads, tweezers, and hair ties.

Looking back, I could definitely have gone lighter, but hey... [insert something about minimalism being a journey, not a destination]. What about you -- what can't you travel without? How many lip options would you be happy with? And would you mind if I write more travel posts? I've got a lot more to say about Greece!

 Ahhhhhhhhh take me back.

Ahhhhhhhhh take me back.

Extras for experts: How to Pack Like Joan Didion (Into The Gloss).