Hello gang! Oh my goodness last week just wasn't going my way. I had a scare a week past Saturday, we ended up having to phone for an ambulance for me (we've never phoned 999 before). I was in tremendous pain, it didn't feel normal for me and when it got unbearable, there were no arguments from me about phoning for help, which is a pretty good indication of how bad it was! Anyway I'm fine now, a little spooked by the whole thing, but decided upon a stress free week to recover. The universe had other ideas. On Tuesday I settled down to blog about my new shoes for Shoesday Tuesday and the editor I use online was down. I could've tried something else, but it takes so long when it's a system you're unfamiliar with and I figured it would be back up soon. It was working on Wednesday, so then it was the turn of the photo hosting site I use to stop working. It's still not letting me upload anything, so I'm furious as I pay a yearly subscription for this "service" purely for blogging purposes and that comes out my own pocket as I don't get paid for blogging. I sent off an extremely cross email to them, after getting no reply to my Facebook DM. No reply to that either funnily enough. I have zero confidence in them, there's been several MAJOR issues these past few months (where all my blog images appear as broken links, when their site is down) and they have just become wholly unreliable and I want to cut ties with them altogether.
I've never claimed to be a whizz when it comes to technical things. I got into blogging through my love of fashion, beauty and writing and have had to learn photography, editing, HTML and dozens of other things along the way. You can't blog without all of that unfortunately, so you just have to adapt! My generation didn't really have computers at school and most of my life existed without mobile phones or the internet, so I'm pretty much self-taught in that respect. This isn't the type of stuff I want to be losing sleep over, but my blog can't function without those technical bits. Obviously I'm completely overwhelmed when it comes to reading up on things like bandwidth limits or third party hosting and anything new takes time to learn, so last week was an unwanted hiatus, though I've been busy "behind the scenes" as it were. For years I've wanted to leave, I'm just going to say their name because they are so useless they deserve the bad press, Photobucket, but they have me over a barrel. They really do. From what I know, (I think) I'd have to delete every blog image from my 8 years of blogging, find where it's located (erm, I've had several PC's/hard-drives since then, so a lot are lost), upload to a new host site then individually upload them back into the blog posts in the correct order, as when I leave Photobucket for good, my images will appear here as broken links instead. Please shout out if this isn't the case, because I believe this is the unenviable task I'm going to be forced to do. If there's a bigger word than "dread" then that's what goes through my head when thinking of that, but it's going to have to be done. If I do a little bit each day (where I'll find the time, I honestly don't know), I'll be hard-pushed to complete it in a year (but IIRC my subscription runs out in August, so it'll have to be finished by then). I just checked and apparently I have 23,000+ photos stored on Photobucket (not all blog photos I hasten to add, but probably 98% are) and I have two blogs too, urgh, why is life never simple? Santa, send someone to do it for me please!
So yeah I've been unable to blog and just feeling so frustrated that I now have work piling up and stupid Photobucket is making me look bad. I know it's not my fault, but you don't and it makes me look unreliable. Anyway, I'm trying out Google Photos as my new host for this post (that rhymed), as I heard it was more reliable to host the images yourself. So let me know if you have issues with bad quality photos (grainy or blurry) or lengthy load times and I'll see what I think too. I think the storage space is limited and then comes in a plan which you pay for, so I'll have to see how it goes before committing. I'd rather not revert back to using another third party host where I might run into similar issues like I'm currently experiencing and I'm seriously not uploading all these photos a third time! I'm sure back when I first started I used something similar to this, but my storage became full and I also noticed a massive decrease in quality if I uploaded from my desktop. Nobody ever teaches you these things when you start out though and things change and evolve over time (Google Photos didn't exist in 2008) so what can you do? Other than that I've been dealing with delayed deliveries, a shoe order that took a week to get here (with "next day" delivery), worrying about Christmas present buying, getting inveigled into a 6 week plan (complete with homework) from the psychologist which I truly can't be bothered with (nor have time for), but am stressing about and I've still never told you the whole saga after the scary meeting (because it's SUCH a lot to type and I've not had time or energy for that). I just feel like there's too much going on just now and I'm struggling to keep up, but that's life for us all isn't it? I hope your week has been better and I know that was a long intro, but it needed to be said. Now, let's get on with the goodies you came here to see.
Every year, the big beauty brands make a special gift set, available for a short period of time, at a reduced price (usually when you spend £x on other products). I get ridiculously excited waiting for the Lancome one to come out (it's seriously the beauty highlight of my year) and have bought....oh I've lost count, 6 or 7 I think, over the years. I love showing you everything that's inside as it's always a tremendous bargain. As you know I haven't been psychically shopping for almost 3 years now, so I have to do everything online. I didn't jump on this when it first came out as I was waiting for something else and by that time it sold out (probably because they put it online and forgot to stipulate that you needed to buy other products in order to get it a reduced price). So Mum and I decided to go real shopping and let me see it instore. The shopping thing is part of my "plan" anyway (not the psychologist plan, but now I appear to be attempting 2 plans and doing neither very well because oh yeah I'm ill and everyone keeps forgetting that). So we went to my local Debenhams when they had a GWP (Gift With Purchase) on and went on a Sunday because it's quieter and therefore easier in the wheelchair, but the Lancome lady wasn't there and we ended up getting a bit of a rough deal on the GWP because she couldn't find everything. By this point the set had come back online, but at full price (£179), this time they'd forgotten it should be reduced when you buy other products! Argh, honestly, why can't people just get it right? I sucked it up, missing out on the free gift as I wasn't paying £125 more than I should've for the set!! Anyway, I'll link to where it is available online (and working) for you at the bottom of the post. So the Lancome The O Beauty Set 2016 comes in a red box and the Christmas packaging on all the Lancome gift sets this year is super pretty. They have this Parisian scene with reindeer flying over the Eiffel Tower and town houses in gold and pink, I think it's sweet.
The vanity case itself is very similar to last year, but instead of red, it's a purpley pink. It has a flatter base, but rounded sides and a double zip all the way around. It's not a hard case and is fully lined inside. It's cute and I do like the colour, but it's not my favourite they've ever done. I loved the gold glitter and the red patent more (because something about shiny red makes me wee).
And inside, this is everything you get! Impressive.
As with GWP's I'm always on the lookout for a mix of classics in these annual sets, that I'll use time and time again, something new to try out and a bit of variety not just within the set, but year on year.
The price of this set and the stipulations on which to buy may differ from place to place (or online to instore as I found!), but generally it's priced at £179 full price, but if you spend £30+ on Lancome, you get it for £54. I say this every time, but you are crazy to buy it full price. Silly, silly. You could easily spend £30 on the counter, even if it's not stuff you'd use, give it to friends or family for Christmas or donate it and you'll still be paying significantly less than the £179. It's just madness to do otherwise. Now more maths, there are 3 full size items in this set, which perfectly illustrate the bargains going on here. They are shown below. Bi Facil at £21.50, Grandiose at £25 and a Hypnose palette at £38, that's £84.50. So you're already saving £30, plus getting the vanity case and ALL the other contents for free. No brainer!
So let me talk you through everything inside, we'll start with skincare. As mentioned above, there's the 125ml Bi Facil makeup remover. When I wore makeup this was my staple eye makeup remover. Now I don't, I have a pile of these to get through! Personally I'd love to see the toner (Tonique Douceur, which I just repurchased a giant 400ml of, as mine had run out) or a cleanser like Gel Eclat in there. I do think a cleanser or toner would appeal to more people than a specific makeup remover though (for example my Mum doesn't wear makeup but has a skincare routine). Then you get 15ml jars of Visionnaire Day Cream and Hydra Zen masque. I'm really keen to try the Hydra Zen as I haven't used it before (and it's not been included in one of these sets previously). It's a serum-in-mask, intense overnight hydration cream. Visionnaire was in it last year, but you can't go wrong with a good moisturiser. Genifique serum is in there (7ml), which went straight to my Mum as she loves this stuff (don't blame her, it's lovely) and there's also the Light Pearl from the same range (5ml). I love this, it's an eye serum that has a really cool (literally) pearl applicator which feels so refreshing under the eyes. I've used several of these before and both were included in the set last year.
Then for makeup we have Grandiose mascara, which is the one with the bent "swan neck" brush. This is full size and was also in the set last year, but as I've not been wearing makeup I haven't tried it. The other full size item is the Hypnose Eye palette in DO21 Bastille. Every year we are treated to a palette of some sort, occasionally made exclusively for the set. I'd researched this particular one prior to seeing it in person and it was very difficult to find any information on it. Anything I did find, hinted to me that it may be an Asian exclusive previously or in any case discontinued. You'll often find certain shades or products are continent specific with brands like Lancome. I know there's been a lot over the years in Europe that the USA don't stock for example. From looking online, the palette appears to be very similar to the current Matte Hypnose in 108 Beige Brule if you're not planning on buying this set. I was a little disappointed that this palette didn't come in a special compact after the pretty one last year with the silver parcel scene on the lid. The colours inside also aren't as exciting as the purple and gold last year, though it's a neutral friendly, going to appeal to everyone palette. The two larger shades are great for highlighting or all over lid colour. The trio in the centre consist of a deep brown for use as a liner, a champagne to use on the lids and a medium brown which could be smudged along the lashline or blended into the crease. As always there's a full size mirror in the lid and applicators (double ended sponge applicator and brush). I'd have liked to see some more glitter in there for excitement and because it's Christmas!
You get 2 mini Lip Lovers, which are a hybrid of lipstick, gloss and balm. 337 Lip Lover was included last year too and is an everyday pink. 335 Framboise Etoile is a brighter pinky red. It scares me a little (as red lips generally do) but Lancome love red for Christmas, so I'm not surprised to see it here. Last year, we got a mini red lipstick alongside Lip Lover.
There's also a mini Le Crayon Khol in 01 Noir, black eyeliner, staple, enough said. Plus a mini Blush Subtil in 03 Sorbet de Corail, a deep coral. Now I checked my post from last year as I thought this was the same shade, but that was actually 031 Pepite de Corail (now discontinued?). They are both coral anyway. If memory serves, last year might've been a little more intense in colour and sparklier, but I haven't compared them side by side.
Finally, we have random pieces. A mini (4ml) bottle of La Vie Est Belle. This has come in the set every time for the past few years and was actually how I fell in love with this fragrance all those years ago. I just wish I could get the spray off my (now empty) full size bottle and fill it up with all these mini versions I have! Alas, it's non removable. The final item in the set is a mini Powder Brush 1, which I'm guessing is just a short handle version of the retail one but with a full size head (because it appears to be very generous). I'm a bit mixed on this one, as it came in the set last year and while I know when I was wearing makeup, an extra face brush really wouldn't have gone amiss, I'm not sure everyone will feel that way. It's handy when you've washed your brushes and they are still wet and it could be used for powder or at a push, blush, so it is useful, it just would've been nice to see something different from last time.
So what do you think? I'm a little disappointed that the palette isn't more exciting and that the brush and mascara are the same as last year, but it's still a worthy set and I'm pleased I got it. You can find it here or here and let me know if you got it or are wanting one of the other brand sets this Christmas.
Post contains affiliate links. No items were gifted, all opinions are my own.