Box De Lux : The Beauty Box With Boarding School Charm

Box De LuxBeauty Boxes never dented my consciousness until I began blogging, and when I did discover them, I was somewhat overwhelmed by all the factors to be considered when choosing one. Annual subscription, or pay as you go? Be surprised, or pick your own contents? Samples or full-size products? Themed box or just a jumble? Urgh – tiring!

I did a little research, but only one company really stood out from the pack for me: Box De Lux. Box de Lux distinguished itself from the competition by offering food and drink in the box as well as beauty products – and by being twice the price of most of the other boxes!

Now I am in no way a gourmand, but the food and drink angle made me feel that Box De Lux might stand a fighting chance of getting opened and used in an enjoyable, ritualistic way. I am useless at actually relaxing with product. I am a stranger to the ‘pamper evening’ – ‘pamper’ is a word so ugly, I can barely bring myself to type it – and I feared that a regular beauty box (particularly if heavy on sachets) would simply linger unused, taking up space and making me feel guilty. This tuck-box-and-beauty-box-in-one concept though, looked like just the system required to force me to spend an hour with my feet up, tasting and testing …

However: £35? That’s a lot! It’s the price of two luxe lipsticks, or one prohibitively priced one … so I was tempted, but I did not give in. But nor did I go in for any of the other, cheaper boxes, as I’d realised that they would almost certainly gather dust along with all those samples we receive in and with magazines each month.

Happily for box-less me, I met Jessica (who represents Box De Lux) when I was searching for attractive tech accessories – and beauty was far from my mind.  But when Jessica realised that I had a beauty blog, she offered me a Box De Lux to try.

Box De Lux June 2013 contentsInitial impressions were very positive. Box De Lux is packaged in a sturdy little box that looks like a posh shoebox (for someone with very petite feet), and when I pulled the lid off, it was absolutely BURSTING with stuff – and happily, there was not a sachet in sight.

Box De Lux by nightSpreading it all out on a side-table, I was gratified to find that the contents filled the surface in a satisfactory and spoiling way. I had decided to use it in the evening, so I accessorised with a small candle (to add a little camp to my relaxing), a copy of George Orwell’s Books v. Cigarettes (to read whilst my varnish dries), and my favourite mug.

So what exactly was in the Box De Lux? This was the Summer Prep Box that came out in June, and it contained:

Revitalash sample (£30); Ultrasun lip balm (£6); Ultrasun Factor 30 15ml (£2.85: r.r.p. £19 per 100ml); three bottles of Aden Cosmetics Nail varnish (£7.50); Aden Cosmetics Lip Gloss (£6); Nakd Bar x 2 (£1.70); We Are Tea tea bags (one Gunpowder, one Moroccan Mint) (£2); Propercorn (Sour Cream & Chive) (£1)

Was I pleased with the contents? Yes, I was, and surprised as well. There isn’t one thing in the box that I’ve previously tried, and it’s a very practical mix. I approved whole-heartedly of the Ultrasun products: I always have my main sun protection ready to go early in the summer, but rarely remember to buy handbag sizes until urgent need forces me to, so I felt extremely smug having  a lip-balm and an emergency tube of factor 30 tucked about my person and ready to go at the very beginning of summer. Similarly, the Revitalash eyelash serum has absolutely not been on my must-try list: far too expensive to tempt me, and I only have a passing interest in the length of my lashes – but getting a tube out of the blue? Intriguing! I’m currently testing another eyelash conditioner, but looking forward to trying Revitalash later this year.

Aden liquid lipstick and nail varnish Box De LuxAden aren’t a range I would have picked for myself. I’m not a fan of their packaging, which makes me think of other-people’s-mums in the ’80s, but the formulations were fine. I have spared you photos of my toenail daubings, but here you can see the depth of colour with just one coat of each of the three nail varnishes.

Aden nail varnish Box De Lux

The Liquid Lipstick is completely the wrong colour for me: although it looks very pink and warm in the tube, on my dark lips and against my pale skin it becomes a chalky nude that gives me a startling resemblance to Mandy Smith in her Bill-Wyman-marrying prime. I enjoyed trying it though – it’s been years since I used a lip lacquer and this has inspired me to dig out some of my old ones and see if they’re still wearable.

Aden Liquid Lipstick

My best discovery has been the tea. I’m a total caffeine addict and swig endless amounts of cheap instant coffee every single day. But the We Are Tea teabags were a revelation. I am dubious when it comes to healthy teas: I feared watery, insipid – even worse, dusty. What I got was a delicious explosion of flavour, and if We Are Tea had a London stockist where I could browse and sniff at my leisure I’d have invested in more already.

The burning question: is Box De Lux luxurious enough to justify the £35 price tag? Well, if you do your due diligence on the box contents, then mathematically the answer is yes: the contents come in at over £55. There are no irritating sachets and if a particular product isn’t to your taste, it will be chunky enough to pass on to a friend who might well find it delightful.

But to me, the Box De Lux USP is that it feels like a Care Package: comforting and indulgent and exactly the sort of thing you’d like to receive at boarding school, and I’ve held this post back until now because I consider Box De Lux to be a marvellous Back To School gift. Including food with beauty products sends a ‘somebody loves you’ message that is especially pleasing to the soul. Ironically, I would be more likely to invest in a Box De Lux if it contained one added feel-good factor and was proportionately even MORE expensive … to me, Box De Lux begs for a book (which is why I added my own.) It certainly wouldn’t have to be a new book, just a good one with great design values: a Penguin Great Ideas or something from the Persephone publishing house would hit the spot perfectly.

Happily there is no need for anyone to speculate about whether or not the Box De Lux is worth the spend – Box De Lux have partly lifted the traditional Beauty Box veil of secrecy and uncertainty, and so you can simply go and look on their website to see if you think each particular box will give you enough bang for buck. You can buy boxes individually, or take out quarterly, bi-annual or yearly subscriptions (which are more cost-effective.) Box De Lux also offer individual themed boxes at varying prices.  I think Box De Lux is a lovely concept to receive or give as a present and I’ll be watching with interest to see how the brand develops in the crowded and competitive Beauty Box market.