Brush and Powder Unboxing September 2016

Brush and powder september

It’s a mixed bag this month from Brush and Powder, with the focus of the box being seasonal transitions. In this regard it couldn’t be more on point, my head is spinning at how quickly the weather has changed here in England! I feel like it took less than a week for summer to well and truly end, we’ve had rain all week and I turned the radiators up on full for the first time. My partner is walking around in a onesie and all I think about is how nice a cup of hot cinnamon tea will be. Ah well, it was nice while it lasted. Goodbye sunshine.

As I mentioned in my August unboxing, Brush and Powder’s goal has been to provide subscribers with a full face beauty routine catered to your skin type. We hit the ground running with a cleanser and essence, so I’m happy to see that they have delivered on that promise with a handy serum this month. Certainly as the weather continues to turn my skin needs an extra boost to maintain that all important moisture barrier. The entire box drives home this theme of intense pampering, with a variety of items that on the surface seem pretty random but in practise should keep your skin completely nourished all month long. I am on the fence about the contents however, though I’m happy to be proved wrong once I begin testing. So what’s in the box?

It’s Skin Collagen Nutrition Serum (B&P price $15) This isn’t a brand that is normally on my radar so as always I am happy to be exposed to something new. I am also weirdly obsessed with the sort of retro bottle this serum comes in, which I realise now I should have photographed. I can imagine this cute bottle on a 1950s or ’60s vanity table, it just has that sort of look. Realistically I found this on average around ten dollars or lower elsewhere but my main concern is topical collagen. Creams, serums and the like just are not actual delivery systems for collagen production, and I steer clear of gimmicky marketing stuff like this in my purchases whenever I can. It’s possible this is a great product in its own right though it does look a little bit silicone heavy, I just like to make informed buying choices so I doubt this would be something I would lust after.

MiSkin Diaforce Hydrogel Eye Patch in Ruby (B&P price $25) I got a phantom shiver up my spine when I took this out of my box, remembering the disaster for me that was Koelf hydrogels and the absolute nonsense behind terms like ‘ruby’ and ‘diamond extract’. Again I really feel you have to separate the marketing from the reality and just hope the product stands up well from the other ingredients. I happen to adore masks so the first thing I did was add a couple of these to my undereye area then apply a regular full face sheet mask right on top. Decadent! Will I use these? Probably. Do I believe in the mystical healing power of diamonds and ruby dust? Bollocks.

Brush and Powder September 2016
Forencos 7 days Mask Set (B&P price $34.50) The price here is an immediate sticking point with me as I can see this set much, much less expensive online. Unless it’s something quite dear like Banila Co. masks or another top tier brand I really don’t agree with essentially receiving 7 sheet masks as this month’s ‘star’ item. A disappointment to be sure. Mask sets are something that I am always vaguely willing to try. I purchased similar types from Lululun, and also Mamonde’s 7 day variety. I just never get around to committing to a single brand for a week when there are so many great masks to be had. I will say though the packaging for these masks is great. I wonder what it’s like for this guy to be sheet mask famous lol

Tony Moly Kiss Kiss Lip Essence Balm (B&P price $10) The packaging from Tony Moly always makes me wish that the products worked better for me. I adore this little pair of lips, I can already imagine heads turning when I whip it out of my bag to apply during the winter months. Look on me and be jealous of this cute lip balm! The honey extract obviously has me curious so I won’t be able to turn this one down. My lip care right now consists entirely of a small lanolin wool fat pot that I use religiously every morning. Kiss Kiss Lip Essence sounds a hell of a lot better than lanolin wool fat when you’re trying to explain your lip balm game.

Missha Hair Band (B&P price $5) I love Missha but I’m over hair bands in beauty boxes I have to admit. This is much more stretchy and comfy than the one I got from Pink Seoul, but it’s one of those things where you wonder exactly how many you need laying around the house. I understand this is box filler though, it happens.

Cremorlab Samples
(free) I LOVED the mask I got from Brush and Powder from Cremorlab so it’s kind of weird that I’m more pleased with these little sachets than with some of the other items I received. My only gripe is that there’s only one of each, so that ruins any testing really as I won’t be able to gauge much efficacy. There’s a good variety though, with products that represent the entire range. I received a sun cream in spf35, a CC cream, Fresh Water Gel, Mineral Treatment Essence, Aqua essence Water Fluid and something just called Smooth Pudding. I’ll have to do some digging and see what’s what but I’m very excited to get to try more from this brand and pleased that B&P has managed to get me excited about new product offerings.

Brush and Powder September 2016

To sum up, I’m not crushingly disappointed with my box but it’s not nearly as impressive as the last one I received. The pricing is a little more disjointed this month, and I am also worried about setting a precedent where masks suddenly become the bulk of the box. Full size products is what I signed on for, and I would have much rather seen that $34.50 spent on something with some wow factor. Next month we can expect to see an eye cream, so I’m curious to see if the quality gets back on track. It’s impossible to knock it out of the park every single time I do realise. What’s more, not only does Brush and Powder offer free worldwide shipping but the customer service is second to none. This already put it head and shoulders above most other companies in a space where the market is becoming so saturated. What makes me happy is knowing that each month I’m receiving products that I will definitely use, and until that changes I will remain a customer.

The Ordinary Part Three: Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%


The Ordinary
Reformulated Ingredients List: Ascorbic Acid, Squalane, Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Coconut Alkanes, Ethylene/Propylene/Styrene Copolymer, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glucomannan, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene Copolymer, Acrylates/Ethylhexyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Trihydroxystearin, BHT.

I was lucky enough to snatch up a few bottles from Deciem during the mad rush for The Ordinary, a weird and wonderful new range of skincare products. I have been testing for a month now and have been dying to share my results. I’ll be writing these as a series, starting with the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum. Also look out for a Alpha-Arbutin review.

First things first, I love Vitamin C. L-AA and me go together like peas and carrots, it makes my skin positively glow. Like many fellow Vitamin C addicts I keep a bottle of C20 handy, and because I love the stuff so much it has pride of place in my fridge just to ensure I don’t end up with an oxidized bottle too quickly. C20, as the name suggests, is 20% L-AA by volume so imagine my surprise to find The Ordinary pushing the boat out with an additional 3%. I couldn’t decide if this was a gimmick, would there really be a huge difference from that thin a margin? And if there was indeed a difference, would I experience some unforeseen irritation? Whatever the case, I wanted to find out.

One of the things I trumpeted about in my original Ordinary unboxing on Instagram was how adorable the apothecary style packaging is. And I stand by that, just look at it! The 30mL bottles are generously sized, and with the other products I tried the gel-like consistency is dispensed easily. The Vitamin C suspension however, is not in the same vein and it was immediately apparent what a misstep it was keeping this essence in the same type bottle. The thick, gloopy mixture doesn’t play well with the included pipette top and in fact the best way I found to apply the stuff was in a slick from side of the glass rod. Most would agree this throws up some contamination concerns, as ideally I would like my product pristine to apply to my clean face. It really couldn’t be helped though as I was sorely lacking in any bottle replacement to suit the consistency of the serum.

I get more of a burn and flush from The Ordinary’s Vitamin C than from my regular brand. I use L-AA about twice a week, rotated with other actives so that I don’t stress my skin. With this suspension in particular I actually noticed a slight itch after application, which I never have done before. As the thickness of the solution would suggest, it also sits heavy on top of the skin which isn’t the greatest feeling. I felt a bit greased up after use, and also noticed the serum was a little gritty. All these things said, I was a first through the gate buyer on day one of launch, and as I understand it The Ordinary is working overtime to address some of these issues, most importantly in regards to packaging. The website now features a crisp white tube, and a quick glance at the reformulated ingredients mentions squalane so I can only surmise that they are aware of possible batch issues that need seeing to. So while I am rating this product a woeful two stars, I am bound to add the caveat that my bottle is NOT what is being sold on Deciem anymore and it’s entirely possible that in the mad rush of the public to try this range, including the resulting shortages immediately after, then some issues may have arisen. It’s unfortunate to be stuck with the subpar version of what could be a great serum but the silver lining is knowing this seems to be one indie company who takes customer feedback very seriously, acting swiftly and making necessary changes for the good of the brand.

The Ordinary Part Two: Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA


Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Alpha-Arbutin, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Hydrolyzed Sodium Hyaluronate, Propanediol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Lactic Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin

I was lucky enough to snatch up a few bottles from Deciem during the mad rush for The Ordinary, a weird and wonderful new range of skincare products. I have been testing for a month now and have been dying to share my results. I’ll be writing these as a series, starting with the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum. Also look out for my Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA spheres review.

Continuing my quest for flawless, luminous skin I decided to jump on the Alpha Arbutin bandwagon. Alpha Arbutin is apparently over twenty times stronger than B-Arbutin, and is naturally derived. Though not as effective as another skin bleaching agent, Hydroquinone, Alpha Arbutin is much safer and outperforms other prized ingredients such as bearberry and even licorice extract. Like most of my other Deciem purchases, this serum is clear with the consistency of a watery gel. Applied with my fingertips, it sinks into my skin instantly with no residue or stickiness after drying. I use A-Arbutin after a short waiting period every morning following a quick dab of Niacinamide 10%. For me, this is becoming a very effective two pronged attack on the slight imperfections I would like to address.

What I like best about these serums is that they are so gentle. When you think about skin resurfacing it’s entirely possible to add too many actives to a routine, many times exacerbating the problem by stripping the skin with acid peels. I love that I am able to layer these much more gentle formulations without suffering any irritation, but still get fantastic results. Because this is a water suspension, it boosts the efficacy of Hyaluronic Acid too. The one grievance that I have is that there is no indication on the percentage of Hyaluronic Acid contained in the bottle. I love HA, I use a pure ampoule from Mizon that works brilliantly and also own many other items that contain this great ingredient. It just jars a bit that The Ordinary is very transparent about the formula amounts in the rest of the range yet seemed to drop the ball on this particular one. My Vitamin C serum is clearly marked as containing dehydrated hyaluronic acid spheres at 2%, for example. A small nitpick, but important for customers like myself who are vigilant about labelling and contents. Still, great stuff and doesn’t detract one bit from my success with this product. I’m all too happy to award it five stars.

The Ordinary Part One: Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%


The Ordinary

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Niacinamide, Zinc PCA, Tamarindus Indica Seed Gum, Pentylene Glycol, Carrageenan, Acacia Senegal Gum, Xanthan Gum, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

I was lucky enough to snatch up a few bottles from Deciem during the mad rush for The Ordinary, a weird and wonderful new range of skincare products. I have been testing for a month now and have been dying to share my results. I’ll be writing these as a series, starting with the niacinamide serum. Look out for my reviews of Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA, and Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA spheres.

When I first started using this niacinamide solution, my first thoughts were how quickly my skin seemed to just drink it all in. This is a water suspension of course and not glycerin like my previous one, so I don’t get the occasional tackiness after application that glycerin can leave behind. The serum is clear, with the consistency of a very light gel. I feel it absorb instantly, leaving my face baby soft. I always use this as a first layer after cleansing with micellar water in the morning, then allow it to set before continuing my routine. I still use Vitamin C and don’t want any interactions, so I use this in the morning and keep Vitamin C as a nighttime step.

I was curious if I would have better luck in fading some annoying surface imperfections with this product than I did with the Niaserum 12%. I wanted to use The Ordinary products side by side, to see if they complimented each other and gave me more noticeable results when used as a set as well. While I don’t have particularly sensitive skin, I felt that the ingredients were mild enough that I could get away with introducing my new products quickly. Mercifully my face didn’t rebel, and I’m happy to say I have had a fantastic result in just four weeks. By the second week in fact I found myself doing a double take in the mirror as my skin was looking simply divine. There’s a noticeable freshness, with clear and even tone that really glows. While I’m not convinced that I particularly saw a huge amount of fading, I will say that my skin seems to repair itself much more quickly and I don’t feel that new imperfections from the odd spot here and there are quite as noticeable.

Using my serum every evening I find that with this and every bottle that I purchased I am about halfway through, so this will last me another whole month. I admit though that I could have got away with far less, however I do use product from neck down to my decolletage. This equals about one fullish pipette per day. Even slathering in such a luxurious way, I am still saving a vast amount of money in comparison to the only other highly concentrated niacinamide serums on the market: Niaserum and Paula’s Choice. I still can’t get over the fact that this little potion was only a fiver, guys. It’s mind blowing what The Ordinary is able to achieve at such a realistic price point, I’m obsessed with this brand right now and you should be too. Competitors, take note!

Amazon finds: InstaNaturals Micellar Water


instanatural micellar

I do a lot of reviewing, but one of my main sources is Amazon. There are so many vendors looking to tempt new customers, I receive a pile of products each and every week and turn down far more than that. I take reviewing seriously on every outlet, because when I’m shopping I rely heavily on other reviewers to inform my purchases. This is why I love projects like Vine, Boots at Home and even Beauty Bible for allowing women to communicate the pros and cons in such a saturated market so that the cream rises to the top.

InstaNatural is an American brand so not widely available in the UK. In fact, I believe that the only real storefront is on Amazon so if you aren’t a frequent shopper there you may run into trouble trying to find it. Prices are in the mid-range, possibly on the expensive side in my opinion for a few products but on the whole generally affordable. Organics always carry a heftier price tag, but InstaNatural pledges to remain free from parabens, sulfates, artificial colors, artificial dyes, mineral oil, and formaldehyde. This resonates strongly with me as I’m sure it does many people, but the problem comes in still crafting a product that actually works.

I admit that I haven’t had a 100% success rate with this brand. This isn’t the first InstaNatural product that I’ve tried, but it’s the first that immediately gained a place in my routine, edging out another popular micellar variety. The packaging is clean and simple, with a nice precise spout on the bottle. There’s a gentle, fresh fragrance that feels great on my clean skin and I immediately look and feel really hydrated. In the weeks that I have been using this water I have noticed a real marked change in my skin that my previous brand wasn’t really nailing, and I really think this comes down to ingredients. I was using a woefully basic micellar water, but InstaNatural is packed with additional extracts of lavender, cucumber, sage, and calendula. Honestly, my skin just laps it up and I couldn’t throw out my other bottle fast enough. I’m really happy with how this is working for me paired with the great stuff I purchased from The Ordinary, which I will be reviewing in due course. I’m definitely a convert and will be keeping a close eye on InstaNatural in future.

Ironpower Niaserum


Ironpower NiaSerum
Ingredients: 12% niacinamide, purified water, glycerol

Now that I have firmly established retinol in my routine, I am slowly adding other products to supplement my skin care. I have definitely noticed a change, and the really rewarding thing is others have commented on it as well. This has been a huge boost to my self esteem as I close in on my goal of going foundation free most of the time; my regimen is working for me so I am keen to continue and reap the benefits. As I mentioned in my empties post I did very much enjoy my bottle of Stratia Rewind but the niacinamide content is only 5%. That is the percentage that niacinamide is effectively absorbed, but I really wanted to bump that up since I am not only looking to fade spots but am also regularly using chemical exfoliants. I want to head off any potential thinning of the skin caused by retinol use, and also offset the dryness and irritation that this ingredient can cause.
When it comes to high content niacinamide, the brand that I hear about most is Paula’s Choice. I do not personally own anything from the range, but I do appreciate the attention to detail and well laid out, informative website. With that in mind though, I felt that it was quite a bit overpriced and decided to widen the net. My credit card settled on two other contenders worth a trial, and Niaserum is the first of these. I found Ironpower with a quick Google search, and it really seems to suit my needs. No nonsense, no filler, highly concentrated niacinamide in a simple glycerin suspension. Ordering directly through the website I was able to take advantage of a special offer that gave me two 50g bottles for only £41.25, and shipping was free. This is a vast savings on Paula’s Choice Niacinamide Booster, which is currently £38 when on sale for a 20mL bottle. I also decided to be cheeky and gamble on the goodwill of what seems like a fellow small business owner, so added a quick note at checkout to please observe the UK customs shipping threshold then crossed myself and prayed not to be stung too badly. A week later my box was in hand, with the customs form filled out just as I had asked, expertly packed with no fuss. Very impressive, and also appreciated.
What I like best so far about this serum is that it is presented in a handy spray bottle. I am able to give my face a quick spritz after my morning gentle cleanse, then simply pat dry. Because the solution is only water and glycerin I actually get quite a bit of hydration just from the serum alone. I don’t feel any need to use this more than once a day, there is only so much that it’s possible to absorb, but I do think I have had good results, especially as I have been regularly rotating in other exfoliating products to test at the same time. More on those later! My skin is plump and even, and alongside my retinol I can already see fine lines beginning to fill in. I notice some scars and pigmentation far less than before, especially across my cheekbones and chin, plus there is an overall brightness that I didn’t have before. I’m confident that I’ve made the right choice in trying something new, and will definitely continue with high content niacinamide formulas in future. My intention is to test a different serum in the coming month and see how it stacks up against this one. My contender is a new product to my knowledge, sitting at 10% niacinamide content just like Paula’s Choice but vastly less expensive than both that booster and my Ironpower Niaserum. It’s possible that I may have found a powerful, yet cost effective replacement for them both. Stay tuned!

Brush and Powder Unboxing August 2016

Brush And Powder Beauty Box

After my struggle with Pink Seoul I really wanted to find a subscription box that wasn’t quite so punishing on international wallets. Beauty boxes are everywhere- new companies spring up all the time, make a small splash and then sink back under the waves. I’ve lost count of the subscriptions that I personally have signed up for, but I do know that most of them don’t even exist anymore. We’ve all been there! Shipments come late, quality suffers, customer service drops off dramatically if it ever existed at all and we all chalk up another loss to the beauty box gods. So it’s with great excitement that I’m revealing a little company that seems to be trying to buck all these trends. Enter Brush and Powder.

The best way, unsurprisingly, to find out about new beauty box launches is on social media. I ran into Crystal over on the B&P Instagram and she has been incredibly helpful ever since. Brush and Powder is still very new with only a few boxes under their belt but seem to be actively keeping an ear to the ground and listening to what the people want. This is a really smart strategy when there is so much competition in the market as Korean beauty is quite literally everywhere right now. Luckily they are based right near Seoul, so everything is shipping direct too. With other services I was paying for products that had been ordered from Seoul, boxed and shipped to America, repackaged and sent to the UK. Not very efficient, nor cost effective. It’s no wonder that international customers were being priced out. One of the first conversations I had with Crystal was about shipping, and she assured me that it was FREE. No more being taxed for my location! To top it off, products purchased from Brush and Powder’s new webshop? ALSO FREE SHIPPING. Deciding to push the boat out, I explained the issue I was having with my current box, wherein the charges from customs was nudging the price far beyond what the contents were worth. It’s great to be able to claim back full cost on a lost box but how often does that happen? My concerns were heard, and I was able to note on my account the customs threshold for my country. This was the clincher for me, as finally I would be able to get a box delivered without any additional fees just because of my location. I decided it was time to order. However, this was back in July and I missed the train that month, so I had to wait. I didn’t have to wait too long though, because when August boxes shipped I got a notification that I’d been bumped up to Kpacket shipping free of charge. My box from South Korea arrived on my doorstep in seven days. Suddenly I had reached it, the beauty box heaven that had been foretold. Korean based company, friendly staff, good customer service, quick shipping…please don’t let this box be terrible, says me. And it isn’t. This box is great.

Brush & Powder Box

One of my main complaints has been that the contents of the boxes I have received rarely balances out with the cost involved. Being able to take shipping and customs out of the equation means that I can enjoy Brush and Powder how it was intended. A monthly treat, a curated mix of surprise products that I may not have purchased myself. I would like to say firstly I did not receive some special beauty blogger treasure trove. I requested a Dry Skin box, and I am certain everyone else with my skin type will also receive the same things. Hilariously, this mix of products could not be timed any better for me personally. This is nearing personal genie level curation, because for the most part if you had asked me what I needed earlier in the week half of this box would have been on my list. The welcome card that I recieved is also fantastic, laying out a really interesting roadmap from the B&P staff. Instead of simply sending what is new or trendy, the idea behind these boxes is to build a routine to suit your skin type from the bottom up. This month, the focus is on cleansing and an essence. Next month, apparently we can expect a serum step. I love this approach because Korean beauty, especially multi step routines, can be daunting even to veterans. There’s so much out there, and new converts can have so many questions. This gives anyone the ability to subscribe, receive appropriate products on a monthly basis AND have the time to properly test them before introducing a new step. Responsible beauty boxing guys, we made it. If there was a single reason I would recommend this box, that would be it. So what did I receive this month?

Missha Time Revolution First Essence

Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence Intensive (B&P price $49) Readers, I have been wanting to pull the trigger on this essence forever. I have added it to carts. I have pored over the ingredients list and run it through CosDNA. I have spent an hour reading r/asianbeautyrehab and sworn I would never buy anything again. Seriously, I have gone back and forth over buying this and NOW I DON’T HAVE TO. It’s mine, and if it breaks me out you are never going to hear the end of it.

Berrisom Opps My Lip Tint Pack (B&P price $9) Like Benton’s Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream I am beginning to realise that no box is complete without a tube of this stuff. Join me in creating the world’s largest lip tint collection, because I still haven’t used this yet I keep getting a new one each month. The only bum note in the entire box for me personally, but I know others love lip tinting. Call me, I’ll hook you up.

Tonymoly Shiny Foot Super Peeling Liquid (B&P price $9.50) I have heard so many great things about this foot mask. I focus so much on my face and hands that maybe my feet don’t get the attention they deserve. Or, maybe I’m just terrified of clocking up yet new ways to spend too much money. Maybe a bit of both.

Papa Recipe Bombee Honey Mask (B&P price $3) It’s cute, it’s honey and organic propolis and we all know that’s enough to sell me really. Bees 1, Willpower 0.

Cremorlab White Bloom Triple Bright Floral Mask (B&P price $5) There’s so many fruit and flower extracts crammed into this little mask that I cannot wait to use it. I’ve heard so much about the thermal water in these products. Cremorlab is one of those brands I hear good things about but haven’t really gone to seek out on my own so again this is one of those enabling moments that may spell shopping in my future. Watch this space.

There is also a ‘bonus’ item this month in the form of Scinic Honey Banana Cleansing Foam. (B&P price $7) Funny story, I was standing over my sink washing my face the other day and realised that my current cleanser, The Face Shop Rice Water Cleansing Foam, is getting woefully low. I like it, but I’m not in love with it so I would like to swap out with something new for awhile. The Scinic has some fruit extracts thrown in, I don’t see much that makes it a wow factor cleanser at all but I’m happy that I’ll have something to tide me over in the interim whilst I decide what my skin could use next. And hey, bonuses are great.

The total cost for this box, no matter where you are, is $54.99 or, at current exchange rates just shy of £42. If you were to shop directly with Brush and Powder, as stated their price for these products would come to a grand total of $82.50 or, at current exchange rates just shy of £63. Now of course you can find some of these products elsewhere on the web at much lower cost. If you’re willing to gamble on Ebay and have sellers that you know send authentic products then probably some more dramatic savings. The Missha essence is not fifty dollars across the board, Jolse carries it for $33 and change. For those of us shopping in the UK, is your best bet for a majority of these products. Adding the essence, foot peel, lip tint and face wash to my cart brought my total to £53.10. That’s without a Cremorlab mask, nor the Papa Recipe mask which only sell in boxes of 10. I’m well aware that with some digging I could probably do better price wise, but I have personally got a lot of value out of this box and am certain to get a lot of mileage out of my products. I’m also super excited to see where Brush and Powder takes me next on my skincare journey, because they have the forethought to consider that is exactly what the customer wants. Not the same old tired things each month, but to be able to track your progress from your very first box all the way to the results you may see after six months, or a year using the service. As long as standards remain high, I’m on board to see what’s coming. You can start your own journey by signing up. See you next month!

Konjac Spaghetti Bake

shirataki spaghetti

I am on a diet. I have a bunch of weight I’d like to shift, and it got to the point where I wanted to radically change my eating habits so that I could be both healthier, and happier. Enter the ketogenic or ‘keto’ diet. My partner also wanted to lose a little so supported me wholeheartedly, which I am eternally grateful for. Together we’ve lost a significant amount which is great, but even better is how much different our lives have become. Refined sugar was something that I ditched years ago but I was still eating lots in different forms. I was also addicted to carbs really, having bread and pasta and all sorts all week long. When we started keto, we ceremoniously cleared out our fridge, threw everything out of our cupboards and pressed the reset button. Except for a brief period of madness over the Christmas period, we haven’t really looked back.
One of my signature dishes has always been spaghetti, I love Italian foods and sauces but they are so heavy and not at all suited to my new way of eating. I wanted to figure out how I could do a version of spaghetti that we could enjoy, but also keep it quick and easy. Quick and easy are my watchwords on keto; I find that I am better able to stick to my goals if I keep things breezy. Shirataki, or konjac noodles, are talked about on every low carb forum under the sun. They are extremely divisive, kind of like Marmite. You either love these things, or you hate them. I went through a few brands and even more different varieties before I hit on the only types that I could stand, but when I did I was able to create some really believable dishes. This is one that I tend to make once a week, because it’s so easy to throw together and just pop in the oven.

500g minced beef
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cups baby spinach
1 handful of mushroom, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 jar ASDA Extra Special Tomato & Chilli Pasta Sauce
1 pkg Slendier Angel Hair Noodles
1 pkg shredded mozzarella cheese
1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
fresh rosemary sprigs
drizzle of olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Rinse and drain konjac noodles then press into a baking pan. Drizzle pan with olive oil. Sear and cook the minced beef, adding bell pepper and onion. Allow vegetables to soften then add garlic, stirring occasionally for two minutes. Top with mushroom, spinach and herbs, tossing until they all begin to wilt. Empty entire jar of tomato sauce into the mixture, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper then simmering on low heat for 10-15 minutes. Tip all of the sauce over the konjac noodles, working the noodles into the sauce until combined. Top with a generous handful of mozzarella cheese and bake for 45 minutes at 180 degrees. Remove from oven, plate and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Pink Seoul Mask Box July 2016

Pink Seoul Mask Box July

My Pink Seoul has landed! This month looks cute, really imaginative and fun so hats off to them for mixing it up a bit. I believe that the shipping was also swift which is nice, as usual it did get held and charged by customs but only took two days for a redelivery. Unfortunately this will be my last Pink Seoul unboxing, I had intended to carry on with at least one more Plus box but caught the spoilers online and didn’t fancy what I saw as the included items are either replacements or not appropriate for me right now. I went back and forth over the mask box subscription, truth be told this is a gift from my partner so he would happily continue paying if it was something that I wanted. However, I’m 200% sorted for masks right now, plus the customs charge on top of being charged for shipping each time makes the mask box far more expensive than it need be. I will be testing another branded box instead that will ship in one week and am really excited to see if it’s a better fit for international customers. That said for the most part I have enjoyed what I saw from Pink Seoul and am sure their offerings are very attractive for US based clients. However for me the numbers just don’t add up, I purchase far more masks for this kind of money elsewhere. Here’s a quick breakdown using only the value assigned from the Pink Seoul website, disregarding cheaper prices that are normally found elsewhere with a little digging.

Pink Seoul Mask Box + Shipping $45.90 (£34.87)
Customs fee £12.17
Total cost: £47.04


Purpletale 5 Step Facial Solution (Pink Seoul price $7.95)

The Face Shop Mask Sheets (Pink Seoul price $3)

Nature Republic Aloe Vera Soothing Gel (Pink Seoul price $8)

Acwell Water Moisture mask (Pink Seoul price $3)

The Face Shop Real Nature masks in Lily and Peony (Pink Seoul price $2 each)

Etude Therapy Air mask (Pink Seoul price $2)

Leaders Mela-Tox mask (Pink Seoul price $4)

Freeset Donkey Milk Skin gel mask (Pink Seoul price $3)

Accessory Hair Ties (Pink Seoul price $4 for two)

Thank You Farmer deluxe free sample set

Total Value converted to pounds sterling at current exchange rate: £31.05

At the end of the day I actually really like this box. I am over the moon to get a backup Mela-Tox after my rave on Instagram about it! But I like to be a savvy shopper, personally. Hopefully some of this information will be useful as well to other people looking to jump into the K-beauty box scene. It may not arrive until the end of the month or possibly the beginning of September but I anticipate having a new contender box to recommend very soon!