Birchbox January 2016: Best. Year. Ever.

A new month, a new year and a new Birchbox! After being (mostly) pleasantly surprised with last month's box I was hoping for more of the same this time. So let's find out if that's what I got...

This month's box is in partnership with Pinterest and is all about how creating boards can help you to visualise your goals for the coming year. I actually really like the design of this month's box - it's bright and colourful and the different images are very eye-catching.

Inside, as well as the usual monthly booklet with product details and tips, are these five postcards littered with motivational quotes and quirky illustrations. These are definitely going up on the wall in my shed to give me a boost!

Birchbox #NoFilter mirror

OK, so it's not the most wildly exciting extra but I actually quite like this little mirror - they're always useful to have in your bag for whenever you need an impromptu make-up touch-up. My only criticism of this would be that because it's a flat mirror rather than a fold-out one it could be prone to scratches, so maybe it's best to keep it in a soft pouch or bag pocket rather than rattling around in your make-up bag.

Caudalie Fleur De Vigne Shower Gel

This is a really nice shower gel. It's got the fresh, slightly sharp grape scent that's typical of Caudalie products but that doesn't clash with other fragrances, lathers up nicely and doesn't leave my skin feeling too dried out. I'd still need a body lotion afterwards but if you don't suffer from dry skin you could possibly get away with just this. The packaging's nice too in a natural, almost clinical way.

Jelly Pong Pong Lighten Up

I'm not someone who uses highlighter a lot but I quite like the idea of having one in a pencil - it's far easier to just draw it on and blend it in. However, other than an ingenious application method and some cheery packaging, I'm not that wowed by this product, for the simple reason it doesn't give me quite the levels of brightness I was hoping for. Whilst I don't want my face to glow like a Belisha beacon, I just feel this is a bit too subtle and doesn't build up very well.

Benefit They're Real! Tinted Lash Primer

Mascara primers are becoming quite a big thing in the beauty industry so I was intrigued to see what Benefit's version brought to the party. Firstly, the packaging is really nice; I love the brushed silver and it fits really well with the rest of the They're Real! range. However, I was a little bit underwhelmed by the product - it didn't add a massive amount of colour to my lashes and I didn't feel it did what I'd expect from a lash primer, ie helping mascara to stay on (though that could just be because I used it with a tubing mascara). That said, it is good for weekends or when I don't want to look too 'done' as it just makes me look a little bit more groomed.

PARLOR By Jeff Chastain Moisturising & Repairing Shampoo

Two of the main things I love about salon brands are the sleek packaging and that slightly floral, fresh 'hairdressers' smell, and this delivers both of those in spades. It also left my hair in a really nice condition - soft and moisturised but not too heavy or weighed-down - and with the cold snap we've been having that's definitely something I'm in need of. I've had a few Parlor products through Birchbox before but I think this one is definitely my favourite so far (to the extent I've moved it into my regular routine as a fringe shampoo). It is a bit on the pricey side for me though so not sure I'll be buying it once this runs out.

Absolution L'Eau Soir Et Matin

Micellar waters are always good to have for quick changes of make-up or fixing any mistakes, so I was pleased to receive this sample. It doesn't have the nicest smell - the lemon balm in it makes it quite sharp in a slightly toilet-cleaner way - but it's not overly offensive and it does do the job of removing even heavy make-up quickly and efficiently (I had to go over my face twice to get all of it but only needed one cotton pad). I like the packaging as well - it's got a cool, edgy vibe to it but the monochrome look makes it seem quite clean at the same time as well. Definitely one to throw in the travel beauty bag for impromptu weekends away.

So overall I'm quite happy with this month's Birchbox. I'll probably use everything in there (apart from the highlighter) but think my favourites are the shampoo and the shower gel. Looking forward to the February box now!

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