September 2015 Ipsy


Like Birchbox, Ipsy is a $10/month service that sends you samples every month. You take a quiz, and they tailor the samples they send based on your answers. In addition to samples, Ipsy will also send you a pretty new cosmetics bag every month. Last month was houndstooth, and being an Alabama fan, I was in love despite the cheap plastic feel of the bag itself. This month is a pretty gold bag, and the texture is significantly better. Plus the gold is nice for autumn. If you’d like to give Ipsy a try, here’s my referral link.

So here are the samples I got this month…

ACURE Brightening Facial Scrub

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This has a slight minty scent to it, and it works well enough. I’m not sure how I feel about larger granules in my scrubs. It felt a little bit like rubbing gravel all over my face.

I’ve seen worse than $10 for a scrub. I’ve also seen folks rave about ACURE products, and this is a natural product, so while this isn’t my personal cup of tea, I’d say to try it out.

NAOBAY Natural & Organic Oxygenating Moisturizing Cream


This was really nice and moisturizing and light on my skin, which means (for me) it’d make a good daytime moisturizer. It also has a light, citrusy scent. One thing I like about my sample sizes this month is that there’s enough for me to try out the product over several days, and I haven’t noticed any problems with breakouts or irritation, and it keeps my skin really well hydrated all day. You will, of course, need a separate sunscreen.

The price, however, is a deal breaker for me. I’m glad to have the sample, and I’ll use it, but I can get a good moisturizer that works for me for less than $20, so I don’t feel the need to spend around twice that much since I didn’t magically turn into a 23-year-old or anything.

Pixi by Petra Brow Powder Trio

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Usually, I love brow products, but I absolutely hated this. My favorite brow products to date have been an Anastasia eye pencil that a friend gave to me and my e.l.f. brow kit. (Honestly, how many products does one need for eyebrows?) They both go on effortlessly and fill in everything like a dream. This… Well, I was going to do swatches, but I had to scrub my brush over the powder just to get some on it, and then I couldn’t even see the swatches. I’m a very fair-skinned girl, so it amazed me that even the medium color seemed to disappear against my skin.

Nope. I’ll pass, thanks.

J. Cat Beauty #MOTD Waterproof Slide on Pencil for Eyes in Bronze

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This is a really pretty metallic waterproof pencil, though I did just recently get a very similar one from Julep. That said, it’s not like I won’t eventually get around to the bottom of my Julep pencil, so I’ll set this aside for that. The color is gorgeous, and due to my horrible photography skills, the swatch will of course not do it any justice, but here you go.

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It’s also not insanely expensive at $4 per pencil (versus $12-16 for the Julep pencil I liked). I’ve never used anything from J. Cat Beauty before now, but I did find a few products on their site I want to try now, so I might be using my discount with them this month.

NYX Cosmetics ipsy Eye Shadow Trio

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This trio was put together by NYX exclusively for Ipsy, and it’s probably going to be one of my go-tos for fall. I’m kind of swimming in eyeshadows at the moment, and you won’t hear me complain. The first two shades here are very shimmery with a black matte shade as the third. I currently have (I think) six matte blacks in various palettes, but I use matte black a lot, so it won’t be left out. The far left shade here is almost sheer on me except for the shimmer, and the middle is a shimmery bronze. These are alternating on my lid at the moment while I use the black to create a cut crease or line my lashes. Very pretty. Here are the swatches. Again, please excuse my lighting fails.

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See how pretty and sheer the bottom color is?

NYX is one of those brands I adore because it’s in my drugstore and has great products for not a lot of money. It’s kind of second on my list, right below e.l.f.

So there you have it. I feel a little bit like I got away with something this month. There was only one product here that I hated, and I’ll definitely get several uses out of everything else, even if I wasn’t crazy about it.

September 2015 Birchbox

I only recently started subscribing to Birchbox, but I’m enjoying it so far. I get to try a few different items every month for only $10, and I’m okay with that. They’re typically products (like conditioner or face wash) that I’d end up having to buy anyway, so it’s saving me money in the long run. Thanks to a few different subscription boxes, I’ll probably never have to outright purchase some products, though I’ve found a few new ones that I’ve loved so much that I’ve continued purchasing the full size.

If you’re interested in trying Birchbox, here’s my referral link to get $5 off your first box through October 9. Now, on to all the fun stuff in this month’s box!

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When you first join Birchbox, they’ll quiz you on your skin type, hair type, etc. to determine what product samples they should send you. So far, they’ve been pretty spot on with me.

Each month, Birchbox gives you the opportunity to select one of the samples that will be included in your box while keeping everything else a surprise. Alternatively, you can pick a box where all the samples have been pre-selected. You can also add on an extra item or two, and when you’re done checking out your samples, you can go to their store and shop for the full size items. You get points for reviewing the items they send you, and you can use those toward your purchases. This month came with a coupon for an additional 20% off any purchase of $35 or more. I’ll probably take advantage of that. I also got two bonus foil packets, giving me seven total samples instead of five!

POP Beauty Portfolio Eyeshadow Trio in Sugar Plum

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This was the sample I chose for this month. I love the pretty floral packaging for this, by the way.

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This had some great pigmentation, and the colors were absolutely gorgeous, and the powders feel like velvet to the touch. The plum is perfect for fall. I’ve worn it by itself (alternating the second and third shades for crease/lid) as well as with my Urban Decay Naked 2 palette.

Even better, Stitch Fix (which I really should get around to reviewing) sent me a top  this month that goes with these colors perfectly.


Here’s the swatches:

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Yeah, I need to learn how to better lighting. These are much prettier than this picture implies.

I’m pretty tempted to buy the larger palette based on how much I loved this, but I have a ton of eyeshadow in my house right now.

(MALIN + GOETZ) Grapefruit Face Cleanser & Bonus Moisturizer


The Cleanser: The claim on the Birchbox website is that this “dissolves dirt, clears up breakouts, and balances skin’s natural pH. The daily wash is gentle enough for irritation-prone complexions, and rinses away completely.” That’s a fair enough claim, as they’re not promising any miracles. I can be a bit of a hard ass when it comes to cleansers because I believe that ultimately they don’t really sit on your skin long enough to make a big difference. All I want is something to gently clean away the grime that won’t leave my face feeling tight and overly stripped, preparing the way for the REAL goodness that is the moisturizers and other nighttime treatments. And honestly, there are too many cheap cleansers out there that can do that for cheap. I see no reason to splurge on a cleanser unless you’re one of those rare people whose skin overreacts to EVERYTHING and you find that one special cleanser that your face will accept. I’m not one of those people, so you have to really impress me with a cleanser to get me to spend a lot of money on one.

The cleanser does live up to the claims. It left my skin feeling clean and soft, not tight and dry, and it smelled pleasantly like grapefruit. So while I wouldn’t personally pay $32 for a full size cleanser, this is a nice product for those who would.

The Moisturizer: Moisturizer, for me, is where I’d spend my money if I needed to for a good product, so I was a little more excited to try this than the cleanser. I would have loved to have had more of this to try, because I really prefer testing out a new moisturizer over a few days to a week to see if I notice any differences. Unfortunately, I just had the packet. It feels thick on your fingers, but when it goes on it’s very light and absorbs quickly. It only took a very small amount to cover my face, neck, and even my chest. I think this would shine as a daytime moisturizer for that reason, though you’d still have to add your own sunscreen. (I prefer a daytime moisturizer with sunscreen because I’m lazy.) At night, I think I’d prefer something a bit heaver.

Davines LOVE Smoothing Shampoo & Bonus Conditioner


The Shampoo: This is a good size sample (2.5 oz), and it smells great. It claims to tame frizz, but my dry and curly hair is a shampoo-free zone. Cleansing conditioners only, please and thank you. My daughter can use it just fine, though. I’m a bit hard on shampoos in the same way that I’m hard on cleansers. Unless you’re dealing with a medicated shampoo, it doesn’t sit on the hair long enough to really improve its condition. What you really want from a shampoo if you use one is something that’s going to wash away the grime without stripping away too much moisture, stripping your color, and/or doing damage to your hair. Since that’s the basic job description of MOST shampoos, it’s not a product I’ll typically spend a lot of money on.

This seemed to work out well enough for my daughter. Her hair was left feeling clean but not “squeaky” clean and definitely not dry and straw-like, so it did it’s job. It didn’t do anything  unusual or spectacular that we don’t normally get from her usual bottle of Suave that costs less than $3. But if price isn’t something you’re concerned with, and you want to pamper yourself, then it’s still a good product.

The Conditioner: I was really disappointed with this, and I wanted to love it because it smells as wonderful as the shampoo. Conditioner, unlike shampoo, is something I would spend some extra money on if it works well, and at $29 for a full size container, you would hope that it’s worth it. No. I’m definitely going to have a ponytail day after using this stuff because it didn’t even do the basic job of conditioning my hair while my cheap Herbal Essences cleansing conditioner manages to do it with no problems. My hair felt like dry straw, even after leaving it in for several minutes while I showered.  Judging from the more recent reviews, it seems that I’m not the only one who’s had a bad experience. Some are speculating that it’s because the formula has changed. Maybe I can find a fabric softener that smells like this or something, but I’m definitely not switching out my conditioner to this.

English Laundry Eau de Parfum Signature for Her


Since my husband grabbed this out of the mailbox as we were leaving, I made the mistake of opening it up and trying this out immediately while we were in the car. I also sprayed way too much of it. A little goes a long way with this one. We had to drive with the windows down for the rest of the trip.

I love these little perfume samples I tend to get. They’re the perfect size for tossing in my purse, and I’ve only had a few that I didn’t care for. This one is light and floral, which is perfect for me. I even caught a hint of one of my favorite things ever, jasmine, though I’d prefer it more as a spring/summer fragrance than going into fall. I tend to prefer spicier fragrances with hints of vanilla as the weather gets cooler. It was a hit for me, though.

As I said earlier, I get so many of these perfume samples that I’ll likely never have to actually buy one, but this is now on my list of favorites just in case.

Juice Beauty GREEN APPLE Peel Sensitive

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The first thing I’m going to say here is that this stuff is not going to be the consistency you’d expect from a mask or peel. It’s VERY liquidy and runny, making it difficult to apply. I didn’t even need to squeeze the tube, and I ended up making a huge mess with the product. It also managed to irritate my skin a little bit when it went on, which is odd considering it’s supposed to be extra gentle, and I don’t have sensitive skin. It did leave my skin feeling soft as I washed it away, but it really wasn’t anything I haven’t gotten with other products. Even if it had, the skin irritation and runny consistency is a definite deal breaker.

I had pretty good luck with Birchbox in August. I even found a new leave-in conditioner and a new dry shampoo. (Yes, I use a little dry shampoo on my roots in between washes since that won’t dry out my hair.) September seems like more of a mixed bag. This month, I had two items I loved, two items I hated, and three items I liked but wasn’t wowed by. For $10… I can live with that.

Mini E.L.F. Haul: Flawless Eyeshadow Quads and Acne Fighting Foundation


I’ll start by saying that I’m a huge fan of E.L.F. and their products. Great products that you can try for cheap is pretty hard to hate on. Further, let me take a moment to gush about their customer service. I was supposed to have received their Studio Blush in “Gotta Glow,” which I hear is a pretty good dupe for the NARS blush in “Albatross.” Albatross is $30 and a highlighter that gets rave reviews, and I adore my NARS contouring blush, so if I can get the same effect from a product that costs me only $3, I’m definitely going to try out the $3 product. Unfortunately, my studio blush wasn’t included though I was billed for it, and the website says they’re not out of stock, so I had to contact their customer service… on the Friday afternoon before Labor Day.

E.L.F. thankfully managed to get back to me within 24 hours, not only promising to send me my blush but also sending me a $5 gift card for my trouble– which is $2 more than what I paid for the blush. I definitely have to give them major props for the way they’ve handled it. As I said, the blush appears to be out of stock online, so fingers crossed that the one they sent me is the correct one.

Now… On to the products I did get!

E.L.F. Acne Fighting Foundation in Porcelain


I already use E.L.F.’s Studio BB Cream in Fair, and I love it. It’s a staple of my makeup collection for my every day “I’m not wearing any makeup” look. I’ve tried their Studio Flawless Finish Foundation in Porcelain, and while the shade is a good match for me, I would prefer something with a more matte finish and fuller coverage for my powerhouse foundation on days when I need it. Right now, that powerhouse foundation is Lancome Teint Idole Untra 24H, and I do love it. Of course, if I can find a similar foundation for $6…

There’s a pleasant citrusy fragrance to this product that I can’t quite place. It could be attributed to one of the “acne fighting” ingredients included (camphor, maybe?). I honestly can’t attest to that part of the product’s claims. I’ve battled blemishes, but I don’t have particularly bad skin. I purchased the product more for its full coverage and long lasting claims.

It goes on smoothly enough with a brush. I also used both fingers and a sponge just to be thorough. The coverage isn’t quite as good as with Lancome’s, which isn’t entirely unexpected. At Lancome’s price, I’d darn well better be getting my money’s worth. But for the price, I’d say E.L.F. hasn’t done half bad. I was able to build with this by buffing it into the skin with a foundation brush.

I tried doing a selfie of myself both before and after, but I can’t figure out how to get the lighting adjusted properly. Not to mention, pictures of me without any makeup could quite possibly scare small children. I’ll just say that I could see a full matte finish, and it was still in place after seven hours with little more than a setting spray to kick off and two blotting papers over the course of the evening. For $6, I definitely don’t feel like it was a waste of my money. I’ll likely be purchasing this again.

E.L.F. Flawless Eyeshadow Quad in Rio De Janeiro


I already own these in Beautiful Browns, Tantalizing Taupe, and Smoky. I’m slowly working on getting the full color collection, as Tantalizing Taupe is probably my favorite eyeshadow quad. I use it all the time, and this from a woman who owns and loves the Urban Decay Naked 2 palette.

Regarding E.L.F.’s shadows… They’re very powdery, and they do have a tendency to wear off and crease easily, so I definitely recommend using a good primer with them. Thankfully, E.L.F. sells an amazing one of their own for only $2! If you’re going to really need stuff to stay in place, I also recommend following up with a brush of their Lock & Seal over the finished look.

These colors practically scream “fall,” which is why I got this one in particular. The base/highlight doesn’t add much in the way of color, but it does add a pretty shimmer perfect for the brow bone and inner eye. This didn’t contain any matte colors, but I don’t mind that. It’s gorgeous, as you can see.

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Here, I’m using the “base” color all over. I’m using the peachy “lid” color on the lid up to the crease. The “crease” color is in the crease, obviously, and then pulled it out toward the outer corner to form my usual cat eye shape. The “line” color is being used to line the uper and lower lash lines and was also used to darken the outer “v” and blended into the crease, since the crease color left the outer corner a little too light for my taste. I’m also using Wet  n Wild Volume Plus Mascara in Black and E.L.F. Studio Eyebrow Kit in Light.

I know it’s difficult to see the lid color with my eye open. I have very hooded lids, which is why I’ll do my best to give you a picture of my eye both open and closed. I know my mascara could be thicker, too, but I’m purposely keeping it light here to highlight the shadow.

E.L.F. Flawless Eyeshadow Quad in Blushing Beauty


There’s not really much to say here that I haven’t said above. I’m using the same lash and brow products as before. Here’s the finished look:

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I used a slightly different application here from before. The “base” and “crease” shades were matte with this palette, but there was definitely some shimmer to the “lid” and “line” shades. I started by sweeping the base all over my lid and up to my brow. This time, I worked in my crease, building the color there and pulling it out into the outer “v” before I used a brush to pat the “lid” color into place. I also swept just a little of the lid color into my lower lash line before using the “line” color to line both upper and lower lashes.

I really hope that the lighting isn’t screwing up the overall effect for you guys. I can tell it’s not entirely doing the colors justice.

E.L.F. Flawless Eyeshadow Quad in Party Purple


This one didn’t come with my order, but I spied it while I was at Target, so I picked it up. I’ve been wanting to try out some purples, and as with all things E.L.F., why not? It was only $2, after all. So here’s the finished look:

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Brows and lashes are using the same products as above, though my brows are a little messy here. I’m lining with a mix of the “line” and “lid” colors. The “lid” color is on my lid, of course. “Base” color is used all over as per usual. This one had a slight pink tone to it and a bit of shimmer. I think this one and the Rio base are my two new favorites. Both are very pretty. I’m going to say the same for the gorgeous purple “crease” color here, used in the crease and outer “v.” I love this color so darn much. I’m probably going to be trying some other looks with it. I have a wine-colored lip/eye liner that I got in my Ipsy for August that I think will go great with this and the blush colors.

At the end of the day, my opinion on E.L.F. isn’t changing anytime soon. They have some great products, and if you hate them, you’ve lost only a few dollars per item. Most single items are no more than $6. So by all means give it a try!