Sephora Play! August 2017 Unboxing

Purchased

This is going to be a fairly short review/unboxing post because I’ve actually already gotten my September box and am ready to write that review up, but then I realized that I forgot to write up my thoughts on August. (I blame “back to school.”) Continue reading “Sephora Play! August 2017 Unboxing”

Advertisements

February 2016 Birchbox & Ipsy Reveal

This post contains referral links.

Birchbox

Feb2016BB

The curated box this month didn’t really appeal to me, so I decided to go with a sample choice. Continue reading “February 2016 Birchbox & Ipsy Reveal”

Thoughts on November Birchbox and Ipsy

Now that I’ve gotten both boxes and had a chance to try out the stuff in them, I figured I’d share my thoughts on the products inside.

Birchbox

20151110_143458

I stated before that I opted for the curated box this month. Here’s what I got along with the value of the sample sizes:

Avène Hydrance Optimale Hydrating Serum, 0.1 oz – $3.56
I stated before that I’ve used products from this brand in the past. Considering my previous experience, I was a little surprised to find that the full size of this was only $36. As I’d expect from a serum, this is lightweight and very moisturizing, but I had to use a lot of it, and I imagine I’ll only get about three uses out of the tube I was sent. I doubt I’ll buy the full size. I just wasn’t that impressed.

Jouer Lip Enhancer, 0.15 oz – $7.27
This is nearly half the size of the full size tube. Not bad. Tati suggests having this next to my bed and putting it on before I go to sleep. I’ll admit it’s great for preventing chapped lips. It feels a bit like thin Vaseline, but I haven’t noticed any enhancement.

Shiseido ULTIMUNE EYE Power Infusing Eye Concentrate, 0.18 oz – $21.66
This stuff is expensive, but I have to admit that I was impressed with how well this stuff hydrates. I’ll definitely use up what I’ve got. The first time I used it, I dispensed about the same amount I usually do of my regular eye gel, and it was WAY too much, so I’ve been more sparing with it since. A little really goes a long way. Am I impressed enough to spend $65 on the full size? Probably not, but it’s on my Christmas wish list now.

Living proof. Perfect hair Day (PhD) dry shampoo, 1.8 oz – $9.90
I go through a lot of dry shampoo since I don’t wash my hair every day. This stuff goes on clear. There’s no annoying white powder in my hair when I use it. I already had another product under my cabinet from this same brand– the No Frizz styling cream— which I also love. The styling cream has a fresh grapefruit scent to it. The dry shampoo doesn’t smell exactly the same, and I can’t quite place it, but I’m just as in love with it. I might end up purchasing this again if I can ever get through my current stockpile of dry shampoos.

LOC One & Done Shadow Stick, 0.05 oz – $10
This was a full size shadow stick. I have so many eyeshadows and lipsticks and yet I keep buying more because some part of me is that child who wants that gigantic box of crayons. This was really nice. It glides on true to color, and it really does stay put and wears comfortably. I’ve had rotten luck in the past with similar products that would crease or smudge easily. I like that this stays in place without even needing a primer. It also paired well with my beloved Naked 2 palette. I’m VERY tempted to run on over to the Birchbox store and use my points getting the full lip and eye collection. I’m that impressed. If anyone got a sample of the lip color, let me know in the comments what you thought of it. Is it budge-free? Does it transfer a little too easily? Is the finish a true matte? How does it feel? I need to know these things.

The color I got was Day Trip, which is a great color for fall. Here’s a swatch:

20151112_100138

The total value of my November box was $52.39— not bad for a $10 box, and I’ll use everything. If you’d like to try Birchbox, click here for my referral link. You can also get 50 points added to your account with a new subscription when you use the code SUBSCRIBENOW50 at check out.

Ipsy

20151114_132809

SLMissGlam Boutique Blusher Brush – $14.50
This item alone paid for the bag, so that’s nice to have right out of the box. The bristles are synthetic and super soft. I still lean toward my Sonia Kashuk goat hair brush as my absolute favorite for blush and bronzer, but this will make a nice backup.

Smashbox Cosmetics Full Exposure Mascara, 3 ml – $5.33
I’m not super picky about mascara as long as it doesn’t flake or smudge easily. This doesn’t, and I love the brush. Would I purchase it again? Probably not. I just can’t justify the price considering there are other, much cheaper mascaras that also work for me, and I toss mine after about a month or two. Not to mention, I usually have 2-3 mascaras on hand due to my subscription boxes and gift sets. It’s a nice mascara, though, if you’re willing to spend $20 for a full size tube. Mascara just isn’t one of those things I tend to splurge on.

Hey Honey Come Clean: Propolis & Minerals Facial Scrub, 0.5 oz – $5.22
I was running low on scrub, and I didn’t care for the sample I got in my Target box, so this was nice to find in my bag. It’s REALLY THICK, and at first I thought maybe it had dried up in the tube, but persistence paid off. (I’d hope that the full size is a little easier to dispense.) It has a pleasant, sweet smell and feels great on the skin.

Demeter Fragrance Library Twilight Orchid Roll On Perfume Oil, .33 oz – $6.60
This has such a gorgeous, floral fragrance. Right now, I can’t stop sniffing my wrist where I applied it, and I’m sure I look like a total weirdo. It’s not overwhelming at all, and if I didn’t have a huge stash of fragrance samples (see also, the reason I have a mascara stash) I’d consider buying a full bottle. The only issue I have with the roller ball is that it might be a bit too subtle. I felt like I had to use a lot of it for it to be noticeable, particularly compared to the vanilla roller ball ipsy sent me last month, but if you don’t like overly heavy perfume, this is could be a good thing. It was also long lasting, and I think it’ll combine well with the vanilla. Unfortunately, all I see on their site is the cologne spray, and I don’t know if that’ll last as long as the perfume oil, but it has a very reasonable price point for the full size spray.

J. Cat Beauty Skinny & Long Eye Pencil, .08 oz – $2.99
According to ipsy, those who got this will get it in either Dark Grey or Ash Silver. Mine was in Ash Silver, which I’m thankful for because I don’t actually have a silver eye pencil. I have two dark grey pencils. This is a gorgeous shade (see swatch below) with just a hint of shimmer. I can see myself using it on upper or lower lashes, and it’s a great color heading into the holidays. It’s not smudge-proof, which I prefer in an eye pencil, but the product doesn’t claim to be, and I can always use another eye pencil. Plus it’s only a $3 pencil.

20151114_133003

The total value of my November bag was $34.64, not counting the cute makeup bags I get every month, and I’ll use everything here. If you would like to try Ipsy, click here for my referral link. As far as I know, there aren’t any coupon codes to use right now, but I’ll keep you posted. One of the things I’m not too fond of with Ipsy… When you first sign up, they’ll place you on a waitlist. You can skip the waitlist by sharing on social media (and you can later either remove those posts or set them so that only you can view them), but I find it annoying that you’re forced into viral marketing in that way. Still, it’s a wonderful way to try out new products, and it’s absolutely a great value.

My Curly Hair Routine

Since I’ve been raving so much about curly hair products, I figured I’d do a short description of my hair care routine and suggest some of my favorite products.

Before I get started, you should know that my hair isn’t wavy or even remotely straight. I have a natural tight but not kinky curl, and I have super dry hair. If that describes your hair, then this routine will likely work for you. If it doesn’t, it probably won’t.

Rule 1: No shampoo.

This is a lot more common nowdays than back when I started doing this about 10-15 years ago, but shampoo absolutely does NOT touch my hair. This is the most important thing to remember if you have dry, curly hair. Shampoo is too drying, and you can technically get all the bad stuff out of your hair simply by rinsing it with water. I personally wash my hair with conditioner. There are certainly a lot of cleansing conditioners out there now, but you can really use just about any conditioner you like. I find the best ones are the cheap ones, as you’re not necessarily looking for a heavy hitting conditioner just yet. I just want to get the gunk out of my hair, and the cheap brands are good and thin and perfect for it. You’ll use a good amount of conditioner to do this. Just work it through your wet hair and detangle with your fingers and then rinse. Follow up with your actual conditioner.

Favorites:
Herbal Essences Naked Cleansing Conditioner
Suave Professionals Rosemary + Mint Conditioner

Rule 2: More Conditioner (if needed) and a hair mask at least once per week.

This part really depends on what you used to wash your hair. I find that if I use the Herbal Essences, I can just leave it in and be fine without using a separate conditioner in the shower. If I used something that’s thinner, then I might need to rinse it out as soon as my hair is clean and work a separate conditioner through my hair and leave it in while I finish up my shower. Once a week, I’ll use a hair mask for a good deep conditioning treatment.

Favorites:
Hair Food Moisturizing Hair Mask
SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque

Rule 3: Use a leave-in conditioner AND a styling cream to control frizz.

Yes, even after you’ve washed your hair with a conditioner and even after you’ve used a deep conditioning treatment, you might still need a little something extra. The moisture boost of a gentle leave in plus the control of a styling cream will keep your hair frizz-free. I work in both while my hair is still damp from the shower and then I let my hair air dry. Let me emphasize that last part. My hair does not respond well to hair dryers. Resist the urge to speed up this process. Some of the best products out there work as both a leave in conditioner and a styling cream, so instead of two products, you only have to work with one.

Favorites: 
SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Renewal Lotion
Curls Crème Brule Whipped Curl Cream

Rule 4: Use a leave-in to refresh curls the next morning.

First off, if you’re letting your hair air dry, and you have a lot of hair, you’ll likely be showering the night before instead of the morning of, which means we have to consider sleeping arrangements. I find two things to be helpful. One is a loose high ponytail to keep you from rolling around all over your pretty curls while you sleep. The other is a satin pillowcase. (Trust me, it’s worth the investment.) When you wake up the next morning, you’ll still probably want to freshen up your curls. For this, I dampen my hair with a light leave-in spray and put everything back into place.

Favorites:
John Frieda Frizz Ease Daily Nourishment Leave-in Conditioning Spray
L’Oreal Paris Hair Expertise EverCreme Nourishing Leave-In Spray

Rule 5: Dry shampoo on days in between washes.

Since I don’t use shampoo on my hair, it’s actually a little okay if I wash my hair every day, but some days I don’t have time. On days when I’ve skipped the night before, I hit my roots with a quick spray of dry shampoo.

Favorites:
Dove Hair Therapy Refresh + Care Volume Dry Shampoo

Target Beauty Box is on sale NOW!

Target Beauty Box
Image from Target.com

These will sell out quickly (as in, within a few hours), so snag one while you can. Here’s the link.

Good news for all the straight haired ladies who got left out last month, this one seems to have a lot of samples that might interest you, with a few night cream samples and a mascara thrown in. Cost of the box is only $5 and has a $16 value.

Here’s what is included:

  • L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Mascara This appears to be full size.
  • L’Oréal Paris Advanced Haircare Total Repair 5 Shampoo The picture also shows a conditioner. Travel size for both.
  • L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Hairspray Travel size.
  • L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Cell Renewal Night Cream Foil samples.
  • L’Oréal Paris True Match Shade Strips
  • L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Volume Filler Foil samples
  • L’Oréal Paris Advanced Haircare Ultimate Straight Foil samples.

I won’t be purchasing it myself because I have no use for most of the hair care items here, I’m full up on mascaras, and the remaining skin care samples just aren’t enough for me to justify purchasing the whole box. That said, I was more than pleased with last month’s box aimed more at my hair type, so it’s time for someone else to have a turn.

Target Beauty Box – The Curly Girl Edition

20150917_132434

Target’s beauty box gets on my nerves just a bit because, unlike Walmart’s typically inferior version, it’s not a subscription box. Therefore, you find yourself stalking Twitter announcements to catch it the second it goes on sale and then battle it out with a thousand different ebay opportunists just so that you can get yours before it sells out within hours of going live.

It’s a good box, and people want it. Why not make it a subscription box and then make the process easier?

Unlike other boxes, however, Target does show you what’s in the box before you buy it. Having curly hair, I couldn’t order it fast enough. It’s only $5, and this is what was in it:

20150917_132610

CONDITIONERS!!!

I pay a little under $5 for just one conditioner, so $5 for a box of them plus a couple of other things (toothpaste, Aquaphor) I’ll definitely use is saving me money in the long run.

I honestly feel like we’re seeing a curly hair revolution right now. I really love that there are so many products specifically for curly hair that actually WORK (cleansing conditioners, leave-in conditioners, dry shampoo, etc) and aren’t greasy or sticky. For so long, these products really weren’t around or were hard to find, and most manufacturers tended to leave it at shampoo, conditioner, and scrunching gel or mousse. And I can’t count the number of times someone has suggested I just give it up and straighten my hair.

So here we go…

Jane Carter Revitalizing Leave-In Conditioner

20150924_103311

I use a leave-in conditioner for two things: applying to wet hair after I wash to keep it soft and frizz free and to spritz on my hair on mornings I DON’T wash it to revive curls from the previous day. This works well enough for both of those things, and it smells great, but it’s lacked a “wow” factor to really sell me on the product and get me to buy this instead of my usual Dove or Pantene or Herbal Essences. (I like all three, so I usually just get whatever is on sale that week.)

That said, I have a leave-in spray that I’ll use, so I’m still making out okay with this box so far.

Curls Créme Brule Whipped Curl Cream

20150924_103044

Well, the name is fitting. It smells like a dessert. This appears to be another leave-in conditioner and styling cream combo. You’re supposed to add it to your hair after washing and then add a little more on the day(s) after to revive your curls. That’s simple enough for a product that normally sells for around $10.

It did leave my hair incredibly soft and my curls well-defined with no frizz. They’re not crunchy like you can get if you use a regular styling cream, so I appreciate that a lot. The second day was a bit rougher. To be fair, it was humid enough to drown, so any product would have been put to the test. Frizz was a problem, and adding more of the product didn’t help by much. I wonder if it would have been better had the weather cooperated. I’m not completely sold on it, but I’ll definitely keep trying it out for as long as this little bottle will last me.

Dove Quench Absolute Crème Serum

20150924_103250

I’m already in love with Dove’s products. I frequently use their dry shampoo, in particular, and unlike the other samples Target sent me, this was full size and covered the cost of the box all by itself. I’m excited to give their new Quench line a try.

This definitely does leave my hair feeling soft and wonderful, and it smells great, but I’m going to need to use a styling product with it, which leaves me less impressed than I was with the SheaMoisture and Curls products. Speaking of the SheaMoisture product…

SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Renewal Lotion

20150922_085533

I always want something that smells nice to go in my hair, and this stuff reminds me a lot of Bath & Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar scent, so I love. $10 is a bit pricey for a styling product for me, but this seems to do double duty as a leave in conditioner and a styling cream. I tried it out on freshly washed hair, and my curls were still gorgeous and virtually frizz-free three days later with no need to add anything else to my hair.

This is quite possibly my favorite item in this box. I love Dove products, and I’m glad to have a full size of their leave in. I loved the Curls Creme Brulee. I liked the Jane Carter spray okay enough, but this… I have no words for how well it’s worked on my hair. I will definitely be getting this in the full size just as soon as I burn through all of my other leave-ins. It was quite the unexpected gem.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

20150924_103424

I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve never tried Aquaphor before now, so I was very excited to get this. It’s supposed to have a million different uses, but I’m kinda wondering what the big difference is between this and petroleum jelly.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to try it out on myself, first. My daughter, as it turns out, is a bit OCD about her hand washing– which is great because she doesn’t get sick a lot, but it’s murder on her hands. They get very red and chapped sometimes, and they were red and chapped just as this came in. Since this is supposed to be a product designed specifically for the purpose of healing skin, I decided to give it a try on Mini Me’s hands, and it worked great. I ended up ordering a full size jar.

Colgate Optic White Platinum Express White Toothpaste

20150924_103349

This was really more of an add-on item (along with the Aquaphor) in an otherwise curly hair themed box. I’ve used the brand before, and I’ll use this. It’s toothpaste, after all. Who doesn’t use toothpaste? But I’ll also say that whitening toothpaste does almost nothing for me. To notice a real difference, I use whitening trays or strips. With toothpaste, I just require that it gets my teeth clean, and this does a good enough job. I just wouldn’t make a super special effort to get this one over the oodles of other toothpastes– even whitening toothpastes– that happen to be out there.

This turned out to be a great box overall. I got plenty of products that I’ll use, and I even found a new favorite. (My apologies to ladies with straight hair, but if my experience is any indication, there will be plenty of other boxes with volumizers and such in the near future.)

Here’s the part where I’d normally provide a link, but again… Target hasn’t yet made their box a subscription, but I do keep an eye on it, and I’ll try to put up a post with a link when it does go on sale.

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!

2015-09-12 15.24.17 20150912_144751

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

2015-09-12 15.26.43

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

2015-09-12 15.25.54

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.

20150917_104129

Here’s the swatches:

2015-09-24 09.28.19
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

20150912_145104-1

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

20150912_145027-1

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

20150912_144926-1

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

2015-09-12 15.25.06

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.