Avoiding spoilers for beauty advent calendars is particularly tricky when you are so into watching Youtube videos and reading other people’s blogs but somehow I managed to avoid finding out the contents of anything in the box until it came to actually opening the first few days.
The Look Fantastic box is a bit of a step up compared to the one I got a couple of years ago but given my progression in so many elements of my life this year it seemed right to finally give myself a gift that keeps on giving and can continue to serve a purpose in my life after the festive period. God isn’t it sad that we have to wait for Christmas to justify rewarding ourselves for all those amazing things we achieve throughout the year.
Having said that I did treat myself to their Easter box, this contained a number of individual plastic eggs with products inside, and that was one of the main reasons I was leaning towards getting this box; I was so impressed by the contents of that one compared to the cost that I had to make the most of pre-ordering this on the very first day. Okay, maybe I treat myself twice a year.
The Box Itself
The box itself comes as a beautifully patterned blue miniature wardrobe with a flap on the top that opens to reveal a little storage compartment, perfect perhaps for your daily jewellery, and a then a number of drawers within that once the gift boxes are removed could be used as part of a daily makeup collection or to house all the other jewellery and nic-nacs hanging around.
The pattern inside takes you into a magical Christmas wonderland with trees, presents, a little mirrors, birds and much more in a teal, purple, white and shimmery design that really brightens up the entire box and draws you into not just the magic of Christmas but also into the wonders and mysterious journey of the box. One thing is for sure, the box is simply too stunning to get rid of afterwards.
Unfortunately the 2017 box has now sold out and looks unlikely to get restocked so if you do want to order one from Look Fantastic you will need to sign up and receive email updates and keep a beady eye out for the 2018 version. It is loaded with makeup, skincare and general beauty bits from well known brands and with most products being generous full-size products or generous sample sizes that makes the £79.99 price tag, with products over £300 value inside, an absolute steal.
I was so excited to open day one and it is probably as excited as I will get during the entire festive period as it begins the start of a month of self-indulgence and justifying every item purchased for myself as justifiable because “it is Christmas”.
The box felt pretty light so I knew not to expect a bottle of liquid so had mentally narrowed it down to a makeup product but that was still a pretty broad consideration and I was certainly interested to find out which bit of my face the product would be intended for and also if the product would even be something I would use or suitable for my skin type and tone!
It turned out to be an Illamasqua lipstick in an adorable limited shade called Vixen. This is the second Illamasqua product in my life, the hydra veil primer being the other, so it was great to be able to further discover a brand and the variety of things it has to offer.
The product has a beautifully pretty marbled effect that gives a range of hues in red, pink and white and sits elegantly in a shiny and pretty hefty black bullet. It feels sophisticated and like one of those ‘grown-up’ reds without also screaming ‘granny’ red helping to make it a wearable shade for a large majority of advent calendar receivers.
On application the lipstick is a little bit of a challenge to apply as it is quite a hard formula that means it does not just glide quickly across the lips. For me this harder feel is perfect with a red shade as it stops it from being easily able to blend and escape the lip line and whilst it is harder it is certainly not at all drying or moisture-suckling after a day of application!
The balance of formula given the shade really works well and is one that I will be looking forward to using in the weeks and months ahead. If it is the formula of all the marbled lipsticks by Illamasqua then I might feel a little differently as there are some shades where you just want quick gliding application to be possible.
The second day was missing from the box. I spotted this on the 11th November and raised it with the customer service team with them saying a replacement would be arranged on the 17th November. I raised it with the team again since and was told it would be dispatched “soon’. The 2nd December came and went with no replacement arriving.
I believe it is supposed to be a Ciate eyeliner or something, which isn’t even my cup of tea, but this is about the principles of getting what you paid for. If it ever arrives I will pop my thoughts into another round up of the calendars offerings.
After the disappointment of not being able to open day two I was looking forward to getting back into the swing of pulling the drawers open and searching for the third box of the bunch.
On discovering the box it turned out to be quite a large box that had a reasonable amount of weight to it. At this point I was a touch uncertain as to whether to expect a tube with a cream in or a bottle of liquid but I guessed it meant it was going to be some sort of skincare or haircare product; both of which are things that I am generally happy to try more of because it is so hard to figure out what is the ‘perfect’ product for me having had little guidance from dermatologists or hair dressers along the way.
It turned out to be a Grow Gorgeous product all about detoxing the scalp which sounds super dull to some people but if like me, sorry for the TMI but let us get real here, you have the driest most flaky disgusting scalp in the world or you have a lot of product build up then a scalp detox product sounds unbelievably delightful.
Whilst the product sounds amazing I also know that I am terribly lazy and this product needs you to wet your hair, leave it in and then get on with washing your hair afterwards. Essentially you have to go through that cold and risky phase when you put conditioner in your hair not once but twice during your hair washing routine and is that really the life I am about? I am not so sure. If I do actually ever get around to using it though I will do my best to share my thoughts with you either here or on instagram but at present it just seems like a product that is dreamy in theory but hassle in reality.
After a pretty large and hefty box on the third day I was expecting something light and airy for the fourth but this was not at all the case and instead there was an even heavier and slightly larger box awaiting me. With the previous item being haircare I decided that this one absolutely had to be skincare because otherwise placing two haircare products next to each other is an incredibly bold move by the designers!
Sure enough it turned out to be a skincare product but one that, unlike the previous day, I will 100% get around to using. Inside I discovered the First Aid Beauty‘s Ultra Repair Cream which is raved about by so many people in the beauty community because of how effective it is and how it is good for people with sensitive skin. Personally the product excites me because it says it is suitable for face and body meaning you do not have to mess around with two different tubes in your bathroom but also if you happen to be travelling this can go in your suitcase instead of wasting that much valuable space and weight!
Whilst packaging should not influence somebody regarding a product I also happen to find this tube really pleasing to look at and with that it is a product I will be much more likely to reach for among the moisturising products I have sitting in a drawer ready to be used up. This will almost certainly feature in a future blog post where I will be able to share my full thoughts but I am hoping for great things based on the hype around the brand and also the price tag of something that just comes in a squeezy plastic tube.
The box for day five appeared to be a similar size to the one for the lipstick, when I managed to track it down in the drawers, so I was expecting it to be another makeup style item. I doubted it would be another lipstick, having not read anything about the contents in terms of quantities of makeup/hair/skin/other items it seemed unlikely that there would be another lipstick or at least so soon into the set. I do find the navy boxes to be less exciting than the other box design and having several numbers in a row being this design it is getting a little boring, just give me box design variety already!
And, as I am 94.35% of the time, it turned out that I was wrong. The product falls somewhere between skincare and makeup in my world. Yes, I know what you are thinking, micellar water is generally regarded as skincare and there is no reason to class it as makeup BUT micellar water is the sort of thing I am likely to use to freshen up my face and ensure it is nice and clean before I put my makeup on. A liquid product is not the sort of thing I particularly reach for when it comes to cleansing my face during my usual routines but I do often end up leaning for a face wipe or something to just refresh my skin before going in with a moisturiser and makeup… judge me all you want but at least I know how I can find a purpose for this without neglecting my existing products (especially with it being 99% natural and therefore likely to go off super quickly).
Overall Thoughts So Far
Apart from the big sticking issue of day two being missing and the customer service dragging their heels to either source a replacement or keep me up-to-date with the progress of the replacement the calendar has hit the spot so far.
The box is super pretty and will certainly be able to be re-purposed at the end of December and sit out amongst the rest of my beauty stash with some sort of clear use. The box alone brings me joy and whilst it is not the sort of thing that I would go out and purchase for the box alone it is something that I am happy to have welcomed into my life.
My first impressions of the products are generally good, with only the scalp detox product being the one that is slightly dubious to me, and I can imagine them being part of my daily routine or part of my collection that actually has value and a purpose to sit with me rather than being moved along. If there is anything, such as the scalp detox, where I go to use it and do not get along with it or find myself not using it a number of months down the line (especially if I do not have other products of the same type in use that just means I haven’t got to it yet) then I will set it aside to pass it along. Throughout the box I am expecting at least one or two products like this.
I am looking forward to opening the rest of the box and will aim to share the contents and my first thoughts on each of them in a future blog.
If you have this calendar I would love to know what you think of the products so far in the comments below or on twitter.