A beauty care package from Jenn Wilson (XO Reader/Angel)

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Olivia Singer
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A little while back, before I started writing here, I was talking about how much I wanted a Clarisonic but couldn't afford one in the Disqus on one of Gala's articles.

Getting into conversations in comments here is one of the reasons I love XOJane- because if other people ever want to talk to me about beauty products, or anything really, then I am a happy lady. Conversation moved on to the cheaper version, the Olay cleansing brush (which I still couldn't afford) and a wonderful US reader, Jenn Wilson, offered to send me hers because she has a Clarisonic and so doesn't need it.

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Things I want but can’t afford: Clarisonic Classic Sonic Skin Cleansing System, £155, cultbeauty.co.uk

It's when people make those sorts of weirdly nice offers that I remember the world can be a pretty good place and that I get back what I put out there in some way. I have had some shitty things in my life in the past few years so karmically I'm guess owed some wonderful lady in America sending me her beauty brush when I can't afford one myself. I enthusiastically gave her my address after she offered to send it to my place of work (erm, my bed?) or a PO Box but, quite frankly, if she wanted to hunt me down and stalk me for conversation about electrical beauty devices, I was down.

This article could take a really different turn right about now, but it's not going to. She didn't fly over and hang outside my sober house, which is a bit of a shame, but she sent me a care package. It was one of the most genuinely benevolent things anyone has done for me in a very long time, it was filled with sparkly pencils and a card with a giraffe and my ultimate favourite - beauty products.

Lots of nail wraps were inside which made me kind of sad because I'd had a difficult week and did what I struggle so desperately to avoid; I had bitten off all my nails, peeled back the skin on my fingers until they were a bloody mess, picked at my face, all the gross physical manifestations of my anxiety that sometimes I just can't avoid and my hands looked like they'd been through a blender.

Also I felt sad because Pre Beauty Box (PBB?) I just was not into nail wraps. I tried these ones from Claire's Accessories that looked like these incredible peacock feathers but were about as effective as Prit-Sticking bits of paper to my fingers. They picked off in a hot second, they looked like crap for the two minutes they were on my hands, in total: zero stars. But this lady sent me some from OPI which I hadn’t tried and so in honour of her, I gave it another shot.

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OPI Pure Lacquer Nail Apps, £3.60 for 16 stickers, labeautyzone.com

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The OPI nail strips were amazing. They come in this sealed package and when you open it, it smells like a bottle of nail varnish has been opened and so it doesn't feel like it's all just a big con to buy regular stickers with good marketing. It actually seems to be nail varnish. I had to trim some of the strips so that my bloody cuticles didn't get in the way but they look rad applied- so rad that I haven't picked them off and I haven't eaten my flesh. Jenn, you have saved me from self-cannibalism and I take it all back (also - I am so sorry for doubting you, Gala).

Equally revolutionary was the Olay Professional Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System (how intense is that name? I love when companies call things ‘professional’, as if using their products will make me feel like a buisnesswoman). Cleansing brushes don’t look that impressive in the shops; I have been into Space NK so many times to look at the Clarisonic but I really couldn’t get behind them, they seemed like a big electric toothbrush for my face but everyone was raving about it. Again, I have been proven wrong- this care package is like an exercise in humility for me.

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Using the Olay Professional Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System, £31.95: how are you feeling about my action shots? Shameless photoboothing,

The Olay is sort of like a mini-microdermabrasion every time I apply my cleanser, my skin is incredibly smooth afterwards and perfectly primed for my night serums which absorb significantly better if dead skin cells are buffed away. It is gentle but fairly thorough and it makes cleansing my face a lot less boring because I can just move it lazily around my face for two minutes whilst I read the papers without thinking too much. It has two speeds in case you want it to be a little more gentle (as if!), but it does sound quite a lot like a vibrator on either. I don’t know if that’s necessarily a bad thing, because it is a pretty good alibi for sounds coming from your bathroom if you have roommates.

I obviously got a little overzealous and tried using it with exfoliating scrubs which actually doesn’t work as well as I imagined but I do highly recommend it for cleansers. I now desperately want the Clarisonic just so that I can get the attachment for your body- did I mention, it is waterproof? You can use it whilst your conditioner is setting! I can and will be the smoothest lady alive, although possibly the hungriest once I have spent my grocery money on beauty paraphernalia.

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Dot Cotton: me in a matter of months

Also included were some samples and one in which I was most interested was StriVectin-SD’s new Power Serum for Wrinkles. ‘Whatever’, some of you might be thinking, ‘you’re 24, you don’t need wrinkle cream’. I have two things to say to that- one, I am the heaviest smoker since Dot Cotton and prevention is better than cure and two, I have really bad dark circles and have read positive things about StriVectin’s products for that. This is their newest product, one that is the ‘most technologically advanced formula’ they’ve ever created- I just love a vague bit of science behind my beauty products.

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StriVectin-SD Power Serum for Wrinkles, £67.25, salonskincare.co.uk

Using the StriVectin for a few days, my dark circles are improved, but I have lizard-like skin when it comes to sensitivity. I do know that if you have particularly sensitive skin, you might want to avoid it; it is tingly in the way that gives me warning signs. However, it feels rich and I prefer serums to creams a lot of the time because they can penetrate deeper (ooer!). It did improve the clarity of my skin slightly, but it didn’t change my life although I think I ought give it the full, suggested 8-week test before I cross it off my beauty list forever.

Ultimately, the box could have been empty and I would have been overwhelmed with gratitude because the thought of someone sending me things they think I’ll like out of the goodness of their heart is incredibly special. But it wasn’t, and I am now a cleansing brush and nail wrap convert. What are the kindest things someone has done for you lately? What have you done to make someone feel special today? Are you going to buy a cleansing brush that looks like a sex toy? What’s in your ideal care package? Share with me!