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!

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).

Mascaras that make my lashes sad (and a few that don't)

I've noticed something recently -- people are doing their makeup without mascaraCarina brought it up in her comment on my Take It or Leave It post. Then Lisa Eldridge mentions that she saw a lot of looks in Korea where girls didn't focus on lashes. And just last night I read Paris B's post on going without. Common theme here? Asian lashes. 

Long, lush lashes are totally addictive -- I've been there with the lash extensions and false lashes, and I get it. They look good! But I've gotten to the point where I refuse to feel bad about my short, straight Asian lashes. It just feels like one of those beauty standard things that I will never meet, simply because I live in a place where you just don't see that many Asian people in mass media, so it is what it is. (In other news, Soo Joo Park signed on as the first Asian L'Oreal spokeswoman! Hell, she doesn't even have brows in that promo shot; how's that for bucking trends?)

All that being said, I'll probably always wear the stuff. It's not that I'm ruling out trying some looks sans mascara, but it just makes me feel better. I've tried a fair few, and I have OPINIONS, people. 

THE TAPERED BRUSH

I really like this brush shape, because it feels the most manageable -- you can get the inner lashes without getting mascara all over your eyelid, but you can also cover a lot of real estate lash-wise by using the body of the brush head. The Lancome Hypnose Star (6.5ml, £22.50) has a flattened shape, while the & Other Stories Curling Black (8ml, not found on their site but was £12 at full price) has a round cross section. The Lancome clumps slightly on me, and I find that the tube opening isn't small enough to get rid of excess product. But it holds a curl fairly well, whereas the & Other Stories doesn't; disappointing when it calls itself a Curling product. Also, the silver on the packaging chips and flakes off like crappy nail polish. 

THE CHUNKY PLASTIC BRUSH

Both the Makeup Revolution Awesome Lash (7ml, £3) and L'Oréal False Lash Wings Waterproof (7ml, £10.99) have giant plastic brush heads. The Awesome Lash has tiny, uniformly spaced bristles, with an opening that gets the excess formula off, but sadly the formula does nothing for me. Like, you literally can't tell that I have mascara on. If you had pale lashes it might work for you in terms of tinting them black, but it's not for me. The False Lash Wings has a curved, asymmetric brush head, with the idea that the wider bristles at the base fan out your lashes, while the short bristles catch the inner lashes. In practice, though, I feel like it's a little cumbersome to use. The formula is pretty good, being both voluminous and lengthening, as well as holding a curl (do you notice a theme here?). It does seem to make my lashes a bit crunchy though.

THE HYPED BEYOND ALL BELIEF  

benefit roller lash they're real

There is really nothing quite like the Benefit Cosmetics hype machine. People go nuts for the stuff on social media, so I try their products out because OMGWTFBBQ new things! However, very few of their products that I've tried have worked out for me -- I like the Girl Meets Pearl highlighter, and have a feeling Gimme Brow would suit me -- and I feel as if the hype just results in me feeling disproportionately disappointed, even though they probably have about an average strike rate in terms of dud products. Anyway, They're Real (8.5g full size, £19.50; I have the sample from this kit) is ok on me -- holds a curl, slightly lengthening, but is a little too clumpy for my liking. When you have about ten lashes, gluing them together into five just looks a bit silly. Roller Lash (8.5g full size, £18.50; sample from Elle magazine) looks pretty good immediately after application -- volumising and lengthening -- but it doesn't hold a curl, and it smudges on my under-eye area. The kicker is that it flakes off beyond all belief; big huge no-no with my sensitive contact-wearing eyes. 

THE FIBRE FORMULAS

I like the idea of formulas containing lash-building fibres. In reality, though, it doesn't always work out. Case in point: Eyeko Sport Waterproof (8ml, £18) has a nice lengthening and curl-holding formula, but much like Roller Lash it flakes off and wreaks havoc on my eyeballs. L'Oréal False Lash Telescopic (9ml, £10.99), however, has all of the things about the Eyeko, and it stays on my lashes. It's my favourite of all the mascaras in this post, and gives a nice fluttery lash.

The new-to-me luxury pick

kevyn aucoin the essential mascara

Instagram friends may have already seen a shot of this: I went kind of nuts at Liberty and bought all of the things, including the Kevyn Aucoin The Essential Mascara (10g, £26). I've been wearing it over the past couple of days, and it's a bit of an all-rounder. It performs very similarly to the Lancome Hypnose Star, right down to the fact that the opening isn't very good at getting rid of extra product so you can end up with random clumps clinging on to a lash. It's a proper, sooty black, and once it's on, it's on... until you go to remove it, and it slides off really easily. I believe it's meant to be a tubing mascara, but I didn't think to try sliding it off with just warm water. It is, however, the most expensive mascara of the lot, at least in terms of price-per-unit (Lancome Hypnose Star takes the cake in terms of price-per-ml; I don't have the density of the Kevyn Aucoin mascara so can't convert). It's good, but I don't think it's that good. Time will tell, because I intend on using this for, like, six months because holy hell that is a lot of money.

The One I No Longer Own

The original Lancome Hypnose was a favourite of mine. In fact, I went through a three-pack from duty free -- it was that good. The only reason I didn't repurchase it was because I found the L'Oreal False Lash Telescopic, which is a lot more affordable and I was trying to wean myself off ridiculously-priced luxury makeup at the time. If I wasn't such a product-junkie I'd probably buy it again!

Next up I would like to try mascaras from Japanese and Korean brands, because I feel like they would have the formula down pat for Asian lashes. Any recommendations? I've heard DHC and Fairy Drops are good!