Sunday, 28 August 2011

Boudour Prive Vs Glossybox, how do they compare?

The temptation to compare Boudoir Prive to Glossybox is something that at this moment I am finding hard to resist. Certainly, I am sure I am not the first to do this, and you can be sure that I won't be the last. In my opinion, the websites of the two brands are remarkably similar right down to the font use and the shopping cart used for subscriptions. Both brands rely on social media to interact with and appeal to subscribers, and both brands offer a monthly subscription where samples arrive on the doorstep of the subscriber in a pretty pink box.

Boudoir Prive costs £10 a month; Glossybox will be £12.95 from September. Glossybox gives 5 samples; Boudoir Prive advertises 5/6 depending on the month so some months you may end up with an extra sample in your box.

So far, the Glossybox samples have been bigger than those that came in the first Boudoir Prive box. They also seem to have much more of a 'wow' factor, big names, big bottles, gimmicky products. Boudoir Prive samples are smaller but they seem to be better quality and they are certainly a lot more obscure. You are more likely to find products that you never knew existed in Boudoir Prive than in Glossybox.

Glossybox seems to be very much about giving new and fashionable brands that their subscribers can be using just before they hit the big time. They'll be a big hit for a few months and then disappear into history, but not before you've flashed your beauty product du jour around your friends and made them all jealous. Boudoir Prive is more about finding yourself a product that you have been considering for a few years, or have spent a long time trying to find the perfect quality of for a long time. You know, if you like a Boudoir Prive sample, you'll be sticking to buying it for the next few years at least.

For subscribers, Glossybox seems as though it is going to be giving the best value for money with the bigger sizes and exciting brands. But Glossybox subscribers seem preoccupied with how much their box is 'worth' each month and with getting the big names that they can't usually afford. How will this translate to sales for the brands marketing themselves with them?

For a brand looking to make sales, my prediction is that Boudoir Prive will bring them more sales from their marketing investment. Boudoir Prive are unapologetic in their reluctance to create a 'wow' factor in their boxes. They don't tempt subscribers with big flashy products and as many full size products as they can cram into the pink box. Instead, they search out staple, everyday products that maybe their subscribers haven't heard of, or maybe their subscribers have always meant to try but never parted with the money for. In the long run, this is more likely to result in sales, and then repeat sales for their brands.

Boudoir Prive seem to be looking to attract subscribers that already buy luxury products and are looking at trying the same quality as they usually buy, but with brands they may not usually. Glossybox seem to have fallen into the trap of needing to provide brands that already have a folllowing in order to save their subscribers money on their beauty products.

In the short term, I think Boudoir Prive will have the smaller subscription numbers with Glossybox outdoing themselves with known brands and full size products to gain subscribers and justify their price hike. I think long term, however, Glossybox customers will be likely to be fickle - chasing the next big beauty trend - considering the value of their monthly investment - and unsubscribing on a whim, disappointed with one month's box or when they decide they need their money elsewhere.

Boudoir Prive subscribers are likely to remain loyal to them, signing up to trial new things in the knowledge that the samples might be smaller but that the products themselves will be picked for their quality not their fashion appeal. I think Boudoir Prive will grow slowly and they might be disappointed to begin with that their subscription rates per box are not growing dramatically, but they will keep those that subscribe to them and grow slowly but steadily. I predict that their boxes will sell more products than Glossybox's and therefore the size and quality of their samples will also steadily improve with more and more brands wanting to get involved and eventually, Boudoir Prive boxes will have more impressive brands than Glossybox.

Friday, 26 August 2011

What did I get in my August Glossybox?

August's Glossybox is my third, and it is the last box before the price rise in September.
Not only that, it came out just days after Boudoir Prive launched their first box. With that in mind, I expected an impressive selection and I wasn't disappointed.

The product that seems to have created most excitement and twitter tweets this box is the Rebel Nails Nail Wraps. I'll admit it, on first glance I wasn't impressed. I was terrified of making a mess when applying them, and concerned that they would either fall off or I wouldn't be able to get them off. I was also a little disappointed by having wraps for toes not fingers, especially as the pattern was so detailed. For toes? Are you SURE Glossybox? However, tweet after tweet, facebook comment after facebook comment suggested how good these things were; and Rebel Nails were thanking Glossybox for all the sales. Caution and intrigue started battling and as you can see from the photograph, intrigue won out. The application? Easier than expected although when I tried to file off the excess it made a mess of the stickers so instead I hair dryered them on and then cut the excess off along with a slither of nail. This seemed to work. After a few days, stupidly hot bathes, and heavy duty exercise bike sessions in thick socks and trainers I have lost one nail so far (thankfully the sticker not the full nail!)

The next product in my box is a Murad cleanser with Time Release anti acne and anti aging properties. It smells clinical which makes me nervous to begin with. I have never, ever got on well with acne products, even when I was an acne riddled teenager acne products gave me more spots rather than less. I blame the harshness of the products on my sensitive skin. With this in mind, I very nearly didn't try this one, but the anti aging compound, I reasoned, would make the product less harsh. Sadly, this wasn't the case and my poor face was red and tight after washing and even with my redness correcting fluid it was still red and sensitive the next day.

I also had a Daniel Sandler Baby Jet Mascara. Within this Glossybox you either got a Baby Jet or a Jumbo Jet mascara. The Baby Jet is designed for the lower lashes and also for the tiny lashes in the corner of your eyes. As you can see, the brush is long and narrow and perfect for this task. I pretty much always leave my lower lashes clear as I find mascara makes them too thick giving an interesting daisy the cow effect. I gave this one a go though and it gives a very light coating so no daisy the cow eyes to be seen, just perfect lashes. I will be using this a lot. I'm not sure if I would buy it again - after all it's not £13 as a one off, it is an extra £13 every few months and that would buy me... err.... a Glossybox come September!

Next we have Ahava Mineral body lotion. When my Glossybox arrived, I had a bit of a summer cold so could smell absolutely nothing. I asked my husband to smell the Ahava and tell me what it smelt like. His answer? "You know those clubs where they have toilet attendants that help you wash your hands? It smells like those toilets". So armed with the knowledge that I was about to smell like a toilet and not overly impressed with this (however posh the toilet) I gave it a go. It is a good lotion, it sinks in quickly and instantly makes your skin feel soft. It's no better than similar creams though and I still am not sure about the toilet angle.

Lastly we have KMS hairstay. I remember the KMS brand from when I worked in a hair salon as a teenager, and remember that it was fairly good. Interestingly though, I haven't really used any salon hair products since then. This product is a hair primer that helps to set any other style. It also crackles when you first spray the mousse into your hand.
This seemed like a really good time to also try out the bumpits hair accessories that have been sitting in my bathroom for the past few months. As you can see from the photograph, my hair looks fresh, clean, and shiny and is held in place well. This is likely to end up being a hair care staple of mine.

What did I think of my Boudoir Prive box?

The beginning of August hailed the arrival of the much awaited Boudoir Prive beauty box.
The PR for these boxes made a big splash and was incredibly clever in it's use of social media to spread the word, along with a panic inducing 'VIP pass' to those who shared the link on their blogs, twitter, and facebook pages enough times. Clever!

With Glossybox so new in the marketplace and Feel Unique hot on it's heels, Boudoir Prive have a lot to live up to.

There was no surprise (and there should have been no disappointment) in the first set of brands found within the box - they were advertised on the website and facebook pages weeks and weeks before the box arrived, and in fact before anyone signed up for the box. Not that this stopped a few grumpy social media-ites complaining about the inclusion of the Bloom tea.

So what did I get, and what did I think?

BABOR HSR Firming Face cream
The cardboard box alongside the leaflet, and the gold seal on the top of the sample pot made this cream look like an expensive, luxury product. It screams 'exclusivity'. On breaking the seal the cream smells just as you would expect it to with no hint of perfume and only a very slight sense of chemical. It's meeting my expectations so far. In terms of day creams, I have been loyal to my Clarins for a decade now and not even my status as an Avon and Oriflame representative has swayed this, so Babor do have a lot to live up to here. Yet, the packaging impressed me enough to ditch my cream for a day and give it a whirl. It sinks in nicely, leaves the skin ungreasy, but by lunchtime the dry skin around my nose had begun to flake. Now I know that it takes at least a week to decide a face cream isn't right for you, but flaking skin is too much for me to bear so I've left it there.

Bloom Teas
This very nearly became Boudoir Prive's Batiste moment, but to be fair, this is the sixth sample in a £10 box and it is a luxury product. I have to admit that I am not and have never been a tea drinker so I passed these across to my tea loving husband who promptly ignored them.

Etat Libre D'Orange Perfumes in 'Rien' and 'Like it'
This is referred to as a 'cult' brand and the perfumes very much live up to this in that they are incredibly unique. This is the perfect addition for a sample box because they are not going to appeal to or suit everyone and this is the whole point of sampling - you reach the percentage of the audience that will buy. For me, 'Like it', I'm afraid to say, I don't. But, as I have said before, my skin turns any citrus blend into bathroom cleaner so this is really no reflection on the perfume. 'Rien' I really like, it smells dark and woody and like an incense blend. It is, however, very strong. An Eau de Toilette rather than a Parfum in this perfume would be ideal. The samples here are small, but you get two of them and it is a good, strong sample - you could literally use a tiny bit of this perfume every day and it would last you a good while.

Jane Iredale PureLash
As you can see from the photo, this one is teeny tiny! My first thought when I found it hiding among the shredded paper was 'you have got to be kidding me'. Of all the beautiful things on the Jane Iredale page of the Boudoir Prive website, I end up with the smallest and least useful of all. However, I have never used an eyelash primer so it was a perfect opportunity to give it a try and it went under mascara well and did indeed lengthen my lashes. It also helped to avoid the clumping when I added the mascara over the top of it. I have to say that this is a good product and although it isn't the biggest or the most exciting of samples, it will be one of the ones I keep using.

Olavie Body Butter
This is a reasonable sized sample and will last you a few all over applications, perfect for deciding whether or not you want to buy it but not so big that you'll have moved onto the next product before you've used up all of your sample. It is called 'wine therapy' so it has an interesting slightly wine/ grape smell which whilst not overly offensive, isn't really my kind of thing. The application is smooth, non greasy, and leaves soft skin in it's wake. It's a good product, but it's nothing special.

Sachajuan Hair Repair
I have never heard of this brand before so it is great to try out a new haircare brand and it is not one I have ever seen sold or in salons. The smell is pleasant but not overpowering and has no hint of chemical undertones, I am impressed. When I try and use it in the bath I find it difficult to get the product out of the bottle and need to take the whole lid off and give it a really good shake. This doesn't bode well for the end of the bottle as this is the first time I am using it. The hair mask itself is lovely, it soaks into my porous hair almost instantly, and remarkably once I've dried it my blonde hair looks lighter and ashier as though the mask has taken the brassiness away slightly. This is a very welcome effect on my blonde hair and I now feel like a Swedish beauty in the style of Agnetha c1977. Of course, I might not be so impressed if my hair was Anna-Frid red and was now dulled, but no product suits everyone!

Looking at the box overall, I have two products I am very happy with and will buy (Jane Iredale and Sachjuan), two that were good products but not something I will buy (Etat Libra D'Orange and Olavie), and two that, for me, were duds but still luxury products and I know that someone else would love (Babor and Bloom).

All in all, it's a good mix and it has given me some new buying ideas and also saved me from spending money on other things that might not have worked for me.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The battle of the beauty boxes!

This week saw the arrival of August's Glossybox and Boudoir Prive luxury sample boxes. From the comfort of my own house I had the ability to sample 11 exciting brands.

This week also saw the arrival of an email from Latest in Beauty offering this sample box:
For £4.95. Six products in the box including high end brand Clarins and cult favourite (and nearly the undoing of Glossybox) Batiste. Ever since Boudoir Prive launched I have been wondering ig there is room for TWO beauty boxes and all of a sudden I'm asking 'Is there room for THREE beauty boxes?'. I did a little internet digging into the beauty box business that originated in the US with Birchbox and found yet another monthly subscription box:
Feel Unique, boasting, yes you guessed it, five luxury samples for £9.95 per month.

Including Glossybox's price hike that is £37 a month it is possible for a beauty junkie to spend on samples. Whilst some of these may well be full sized, that's ultimately a lot of money to be spending on mini bottles of things you may or may not use. Are there enough subscribers to support FOUR beauty boxes?

Unless I cancel my husband's Spotify subscription, I can't justify buying more than one beauty box subscription each month. I admit to living on a tight budget over here but surely I'm not the only one who is going to have to make a choice? (And no, the choice isn't going to be cancelling Spotify... unless I also want to cancel my marriage!)

Where else can you get beauty samples?

1) Hop on the bus and raid your local department store - often sales assistants can be reluctant to hand out samples without purchases so wear your smartest clothes, strongest perfume, and best lipstick. Another tip from my sample blagging days is to carry a small bag from the department store around with you - it labels you as BUYER rather than BROWSER!

2) Spend your £37 on as many beauty and women's lifestyle magazines as you can - these are often full of samples. Not including the free gift on the front I counted three samples in the latest Marie Claire. The more expensive the clothes being advertised in the magazine, the more high end and impressive the samples inside are likely to be!

3) Head over to ebay and put 'sample' in the health and beauty section and you'll see a plethora of samples available to buy, many of them with free postage. You are probably paying for something that the seller got for free (possibly from their local department store) but you are paying for something you are keen to try rather than paying £2 a sample for a random selection. Better still, raid your local department store and then have fun selling on ebay yourself!

4) Get swapping! If you are a regular on swap sites such as Big Wardrobe or Make Up Alley you'll know that many people pass on their unwanted samples as little extras when they package up their swapped goods. I'd love to know how many times an unopened sample is passed from swapper to swapper before it finds a home, maybe we should do an experiment!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Foundation Off!

AVON Calming Effects VS Make Up Forever High Definition
let the battle commence....

I'm not sure if I have mentioned it, but I'm not a big wearer of foundation. I don't know if it is my combination skin, my porcelein complexion, or the large pores across my cheeks that causes the problem (or indeed all three of them). So far I have only found two brands of foundation that 'work' for me - Prescriptives (they mix this to match your exact skin colour), and MAC (who have a wide range of colours in warm and cool tones). Even then, there is enough satisfaction missing to mean that I would rather go without. With this in mind, it is with slight trepidation that I recently trialled two foundations. The first, Avon Calming Effects was part of a great offer in the latest Avon catalogue which meant I was able to buy it for £2. Bargain! The second, Make Up Forever High Definition isn't readily available in the UK and was lovingly carried through customs for me by my cousins visiting from the US.

The first test is the colour. As you can see both are really a bit too warm for my skin tone. (For reference, the colours shown here are MUFE High Definition in 110 and Avon Calming Effects in Ivory, both the lightest colours). At first squeeze MUFE looks slightly too light and Avon slightly too dark. The texture of the Avon foundation is thicker than MUFE which is runnier than expected. On smell, however, MUFE has it here with a clearer less chemical fragrance.

On application, both applied smoothly using a foundation brush but both seemed to collect in the dry skin around the base of my nose. Avon Calming Effects seemed a closer match to my skintone, but Make Up Forever High Definition covered the redness and markings on my skin much better. High Definition dried to a powder finish, but seemed a little flaky and had a slight caked in effect in places. Calming Effects dried to a soft subtle finish but within a few hours the oiliness in my skin began to give my face a little bit of shine. You can see the effects of both from the photos below - the left side of my face has foundation, the right is left bare.

Avon Calming Effects on the left, and Make Up Forever High Definition on the right

Once I added powder, concealer, blush, and the rest of my make up I was very impressed with the results both foundations gave. My skin looks a lot clearer and less red toned. I think High Definition takes a slightly better photograph, but Calming Effects has a slight edge in natural daylight. Am I sold on foundation for day to day wear and have I found my holy grail? I have to say, I don't think I have just yet. I'll keep looking! Having said that, I think both these foundations are better for me than my old trusty MAC foundations so in both cases I am a step forward.

Avon Calming Effects Foundation,
£10.50 fr0m Avon
(full face left)

Make up Forever High Definition Foundation,
$40 from JC Penney
(full face right)

I'm still looking for a 10/10 foundation. Any suggestions on brands/ colours I should try?

Monday, 8 August 2011

Do you have a signature scent?

Do you have a signature scent? If not, is it because you are still looking for your perfect match or because, like me, you love to match your perfume to your mood?
I have recently become an Avon representative (more about that later!) and the buzz in Avon at the moment is all about the arrival of the new Fergie fragrance
'Outspoken Instense' tipped to be a big seller. The description sounds good 'a provocative, floral fruity blend inspired by the intense euphoria Fergie feels when she is on stage', and the little scratch and sniff patch on my representatives guide smells good, but is a catalogue really the place to buy fragrance? I'm not convinced!

Buying fragrance is always a bit of a hassle. Trailing around department stores or chemists with strips of paper and stepping into the remnants of other people's spray trials is incredibly unhelpful. Firstly, all those different fragrances join together, but secondly, you can only really experience a couple of smells at a time. Urban myth and fragrances of the world tell us that you can only try three perfumes at one time before confusing your mind and not being able to tell them apart. In reality, I'm not even sure that trialling three at a time is a good idea as it is human nature to pick up on the one that smells least offensive and convince yourself that you do, indeed, like it whereas if you tried it alone you might have found it didn't work for you either.

Fragrances are a really individual thing. You might adore a fragrance on your best friend, but on you it might end up smelling like a freshly cleaned bathroom. One woman's intoxicating sophistication is another's accident with a gin bottle. Don't take a whiff from the bottle either, at worst all you are getting then is alcohol, and at best you are just getting the top notes of the fragrance. In fact, you need to really give it a good 30mins or so to develop on your skin to really be able to judge it.

So how do you find your signature scent? Firstly, take a look at the marketing information of the perfumes you currently own and love. Is there an ingredient that comes up in each of them? Is there a common theme (ie floral, intense, oriental, fresh, intoxicating, sensual, sophisticated, retro, spicy)? Decide on your buzzwords which should include a few ingredients and a general trend, and start reading the marketing literature for as many different fragrances as possible. Also, hit the review sites such as make up alley. When you see a match, grab your pen and paper and make a list of a few hopefuls. The very best way to trial perfume is by getting yourself a sample and trying it in the comfort of your own home. Trying the new Fergie perfume is easy if you already have yourself an Avon representative - ask them to give you a sample with your next order. If you are going to department stores, there are often sample vials available, see if you can find out where to get hold of one. You can also check out ebay as you can often find samples for a few £. If you have no choice but to use a spray in store, try one spray and leave and don't buy until you've really had time to check it out. Spritz your wrist and give yourself time to work out if you like it. Check at hourly intervals to see if the fragrance has developed more, and make a note of when it fades. If you can't smell it at all in 30mins then you absolutely need to give it a miss. You don't need to spend money on a fragrance with no lasting power!

Similarly, never judge a fragrance by it's bottle. Perfume branding is big business and is designed to appeal to the image you want to cultivate rather than to the fragrance that suits you best. So what if the box and the advertising suggests youth when you are feeling none to young these days? Or if it suggests powder puffs and hair rollers when you have a more urban edge? You aren't wearing the advert, you are wearing the fragrance - embrace it and own it!

Here are a few of my favourite perfumes du jour:

LUSH Tuca Tuca
Yes, that's right. Simple, affordable, natural favourite LUSH comes top in my favourite perfumes of the moment. It has floral notes of Violet with the cinammon-y/ cocoa butter-y smell hiding slightly beneath, and a creamy muskiness hitting the deep notes. It is distinctly LUSH but doesn't have that all incompassing hippy note that is synonymous with LUSH products.

Jean Paul Gaultier FRAGILE
From the top of the page, FRAGILE is my long term favourite fragrance and the closest thing I will ever have to a signature scent. The top note is undeniably Tuberose and the Jean Paul Gaultier website suggests 'The woman who wears FRAGILE is luminous and fascinating'. It certainly is a very unique and striking fragrance and one of my favourites.

Enigma, from Oriflame
Oriflame ENIGMA is a new favourite of mine. It promises 'the enchanting charm of Black Rose and Night-Blooming Jasmine' mingling with 'the sensuality of Patchouli leaves'. This is a deep and seductive fragrance that has a wonderfully musky and intoxifying quality on my skin.

Bond No 9 Nuits de Noho
nd lastly, I adore Bond No 9's Nuits de Noho. Bond No. 9 is one of those perfumes that don't seem to want to sell widely within the UK. If you can get hold of a bottle it can be rather expensive, although you can get a few £ off if you look for them on Amazon. The quality of Bond No. 9 is wildly differing with many having an edge of playdough top note on my skin, but Nuits du Noho is perfect, they call it 'A new kind of night time femininity: Irreverent, unapologetic, favours a shot if icy vodka'. If you don't mind keep restocking, and you have the patience to keep looking over a few weeks (or months) you can sometimes find the tester and purse sized versions of these on ebay and I very much recommend the worthiness in the time spent on this pursuit.