Monday, May 7, 2018

Airpl 2018 Play! by Sephora Review

Play! by Sephora is a monthly subscription that provides members with 5 samples plus a fragrance bonus (sometimes it's a single use foil packet of some sort) of hair care, skincare, and makeup for $10 a month plus tax. The samples tend to be on the smaller size but the caveat is that sampled products can easily be found in store or online at and usually they are higher end brands with the occasional Sephora Collection thrown in, which is still pretty good quality. Each box also includes tips and tricks, product information and 50 beauty insider points that can be redeemed in store with purchase. I have yet to redeem any in store because the local Sephora has a cast member whose makeup is godawful and she manages to have time to help me every time I go in.

Sephora won my heart this month with the plethora of skincare and even some of the makeup. This month's theme was Insta-beauty which I could not relate to. (I'm too self conscious to post many non-personal photos on Instagram, which I'm strongly considering making my current account entirely private and starting one for the blog if I see an increase in traffic, otherwise there's really no point. I really don't want to come off as vain as I actually am, let people dig a little to find that out about me.) The one cool thing about the theme: the box info poster included a flat lay so I got a bit lazy with the photos this month! 
Thanks for making my job easier, Sephora!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

April 2018 Ipsy Review

I know in the past I’ve talked a big game about being a brood mare and being able to handle whatever life throws at me but these past several days showed me how full of crap I truly am. I’m still trying to crank out April posts but please excuse any bouts of rampant stupidity and errors that may slip past me. I genuinely tried, which may actually make it that much worse. Now on to business!

Ipsy is a $10 monthly service that sends out 5 makeup, skincare, hair care, or fragrance samples (sometimes full sized) with a makeup bag. Items range from drugstore to high end and sample to full sized. Firstly, is this not the cutest bag ever? I haven’t loved a bag this much in over a year! I’ve been hiding it from Lizzie and Liv because I really don’t want to share. Adulthood: playground rules. The bag is two sided, the front has a very cute butterfly pattern and rose gold accents at the bottom corners. The back of the bag is a solid lilac hue. The outside material is faux leather and the inside is satin in a matching lilac shade. The bag also features a rose gold zipper and rose gold pull. I really do enjoy how sturdy this bag feels compared to some of the bags I’ve received in the past.

Monday, April 30, 2018

April 2018 Birchbox Review

Birchbox is a subscription that sends 5 beauty, hair care or skincare items, usually mid-range to high end) to your doorstop. I imagine Birchbox works best for ma mature audience or somebody who doesn't mind small samples. Today’s post is a race against the clock. I was trying to finish April recaps before April ended but I got caught up a bit and now I’m trying to outwit a sleeping newborn with jaundice. Christ, it’s only been 2 years. How did I already forget how tedious this stage is? April/May reviews may be slower than I anticipated (even with the time off of work) because I’ve learned these past 4 days that I’m shite at juggling kids (with one second birthday and a legitimate birth day) and personal grooming free time and that at this stage in life, managing to wash my ass three days in a row is one hell of an accomplishment. It gets done, just far less efficiently than I would hope. Sticking with the theme of “my life is a dumpster fire” Birchbox seemed to be aware that I would need all the help I could get in April. This month’s box included:


Thursday, April 26, 2018

March 2018 Birchbox Review

Birchbox is a $10 monthly subscription that sends members 5 beauty, haircare or skincare samples straight to their doorstep. Admittedly, the sizes aren't the largest but Birchbox does provide customers with high end and occasionally relatively unknown brands. I like to think of Birchbox as a low risk, mid range to high end discovery box. The best part, items can be purchased in the Birchbox Shop with each dollar spent being converted to points that can be used towards future purchases in the shop. Occasionally Birchbox will send out bonus foil packet samples and I really must find out how they determine which subscribers will receive bonus items and which ones won't. This month, including bonus items, I received 8 items and the box itself was pretty darn cute.


The first bonus item I received was the Estèe Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Synchronized Complex II, which is a lot of words for “Eye Treatment.” This was more of a jelly than a gel or cream and had the oddest texture. It felt almost powdery, the quality I like about some of my favorite serums but it also had an almost petroleum texture it at the same time. It was as if it wanted to feel greasy but was unable to commit to that texture. I wasn’t a fan of this eye treatment upon first application but after about 30 minutes it left my eyes feeling hydrated without feeling too coated in Crisco and Vaseline. I liked it even more after it penetrated my skin overnight. I woke up with the skin around my eyes feeling very supple. Holy shit, did I just change my mind on a $60 product that I will never drop that kind of cash on? I need to find a dupe, stat. Oh, and it occurred to me that the 0.5mL probably cost far more to package than to product. I mean, FAR outside the profit margin.

I tried the Real Chemistry 3-Minute Peel in one of my first Birchboxes from Ipsy back in 2017 and I don’t recall disliking it. There was just a general indifference. This should be right up my alley since I was absolutely that kid in school who liked peeling dried Elmer’s School Glue off of my hands. Instead I’m always left feeling like it’s just a bit too gimmicky for my taste. There’s also no mild exfoliation upon initial application as it is a smooth, clear gel that happens to pearl up when rubbed into clean dry skin. I’m pretty sure it’s the product itself that is pearling, not any dry facial skin, none of the clumps contain hair or anything.

My Ouai Leave-In Conditioner sample was gone three days after I got it. It only lasted two uses for 1oz. That stuff was amazing in Lizzie’s hair. I realize I say that about a lot of lightweight leave-in conditioners, sorry, but this one is pretty great. It is light weight, sprayed without clogging the nozzle, was very hydrating without weighing her curls down and actually penetrated. A few spritzes were more than enough to effectively condition her air and give it a healthy shine. I wish there the sample was large enough to try on Olivia’s hair (we’re talking type 3A/3B compared to 3B/3C. It actually makes a huge difference in performance.) I may have to make a Sephora run someday for a few Ouai products.

I received what I guess could be technically considered a full sized item in the form of ModelCo’s Luxècreme Long Wear Lipstick. Birchbox sent one shade out of a trio kit but the lipstick itself is a full sized bullet in the color Sienna. I found the texture to be smooth and creamy but unfortunately when swatched I realized it’s not a color that will work for me. I had to refrain from wearing it on my lips so I could pass it on to somebody at work so sadly I cannot attest to its long wear claim. It would have been nice if the shade pulled more brown than pink, or even a brick red but fortune was not on my side in March.

I’m intrigued by Smashbox Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer but I remain on the fence. I seem to be having a hard time finding bullet lipsticks to use it with. Over the weekend I tried wearing it over Wet n Wild’s lipstick in Cashmere, one of my few traditional formula lipsticks. Cashmere is a deep espresso brown with a slightly frosty satin finish so I thought “Why not?” I applied and blotted twice before adding Insta-Matte on top. The formula is not transfer-resistant, it’s not long lasting at all. Perhaps the most damning characteristic against the product is that it pulls up lipstick that is already on my lips. I’ve tried applying it from the tube, with my finger, with applicators, each method results in less than desirable results.

Juara Candlenut Body Crème is my second foray into Juara products and let me say, it smells great. The formula is non-greasy and while I find it doesn’t hydrate my hands for very long the scent subtle enough and smells enough like a sensual candle that I would be willing to use it to give my husband a back rub (if full sized), thus resulting in another pregnancy that I’m perfectly good without at this stage in life. Wait, would an almond scent candle be considered a sensual scented candle? Probably not, but I have a very bland life.

The other bonus samples I received were the R+Co TELEVISION Perfect Hair Shampoo and Conditioner. 7mL is a ridiculously tiny amount to work with, especially with my hair length and thickness so really I’m only able to comment on the scent of these two products. The shampoo smelled like a mix of floral perfume and black pepper. The foil packet was so small I couldn’t even get a full first lather in and had to supplement with a random shampoo I had just hanging out in the shower caddy. I couldn’t detect any real scent in the conditioner because the smell of the shampoo was so overpowering that it lingered in my nose for the next several minutes. This foil packet was all insufficient to get any idea of how the product works.

While it wasn't the most thrilling box ever, I did end up with a shload of items, a few of which were new to me and a couple of which I absolutely loved. The value of my box came out to be about $41.60 which is a great investment at the $10 price point considering just about everything will get used. It was a month with very few legitimate gripes. I wish I could make March my baseline for minimum Birchbox acceptance criteria.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

FOTD: March 2018 Subscription Box Edition

This post contains referral links.

I tried to be proactive this month and do a FOTD using items I received in my March subscription boxes, plus a couple of supplemented items to fill in any gaps. I'm not sure if this is going to be a recurring theme. I just happen to have time and daylight to work with now, huzzah maternity leave!

I just realized I have more "dots" than Morgan Freeman's ass...
I realize I look like a grease ball and my face doesn't match my body. That's a constant issue I have. The shades are so different that if I were to try to match my face to my body I would look more anemic than I already am. If I try to match my body to my face that would... well I've never considered self tanners, let's be honest. I have like 3 single oz samples but I'm not sure if I want to commit to buying a mitt and risking the awkward discoloration for a few weeks. Perhaps a future post?

Texture, mismatched skin tone, mustache and brows aside, here was my FOTD for doing absolutely nothing around the house but wrangle a 3 year old and two 2 year olds for a day (I was watching a nephew as well).

Face: I washed my face with BRTC Jasmine Waterful Foaming Cleanser (which was incredibly drying) from my March Ipsy bag (referral link here) and exfoliated with the Real Chemistry 3-Minute Peel from Birchbox (referral link here) which seemed to do not very much. The resulting dryness left the perfect canvas to try out the Bobbi Brown Extra Illuminating Moisture Balm from the Sephora box. This balm turned out to be a bit too oily. My solution to this was to follow up with Dr. Brandt's Pores No More from an Ipsy points redemption from... I want to say August 2017. Please don't judge me.  For my base I used Maybelline Fit Me foundation stick in the shade Toffee 330. I usually avoid this thing like the plague because even though it says it's formulated for a shine-free finish for combination skin, it looks horrifically oily on me after a couple of hours. This shade matches my face perfectly but you can see the difference between my face and body. Sorry, world.I tried spot concealing with the Kat Von D Lock-It Concealer in D33 Warm from a past Sephora box (August 2017?) but it was so dark compared to Maybelline that I had to basically fix my face afterward. I attempted highlighting and bronzing with the City Color Glow Duo from Ipsy. As you can see, that didn't go over so well. My bronzing game is pretty weak and I didn't go hard enough with the highlighter because I was able to see myself in person. For blush I used the Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Fiesty (November 2017 Ipsy) which appears to have been muddied out by my poor bronzer application. I finished everything off with Supergoop! SPF 50 Setting Mist from the March Sephora box. This was a regrettable decision that left me blindly groping around for a minute as the "mist" shot me in the brow/lid area (after I had applied my eye makeup) and caused temporary irritation from the SPF. The easiest way to apply this is by spraying it onto my hands and patting it onto my face, but then there's the concern of messing up my makeup.

Lips: I tried prepping with Glossier Balm Dotcom in Rose and line my lips with the Contour Cosmetics lip pencil in Juju from March's Ipsy bag. I followed this with on top of Wet n Wild Silk Finish in Cashmere and topped that with Smashbox Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer that I got in Birchbox.When applying Cashmere I had to apply and blot twice just to get the right texture. I'm not positive if this is because of the quality of the lipstick, the nature of bullet formulae that I'm very unfamiliar with, or the fact that I've had this lipstick for 2 years now. My lips have been crazy dry so I had some issues with flaking and texture in this pic.

Eyes:  I started with my Smashbox 24 Hour Photo Finish Shadow Primer and followed it up with Meech & Mia Loose Shadow in Beige (yet another Ipsy reward). Steve Laurant Beauty Blush in I'm Blushing from my April Ipsy bag. This has become my new favorite shadow for the (eventually) warmer weather and a lighter look. It's the perfect shadow because I'm pretty lazy and my basic look usually only involves one shadow like this. The shimmer helps add a little depth to an otherwise one dimensional look. I smudged Tarte Sex Kitten Eyelienr (Ipsy) along my upper and lower lash line and also used it to tightline. It was serviceable at tightlining smudged amazingly well along my lower lash line; I'm just realizing I love that almost bruised under eye look. What really pulled the look together was the Stila Stay All Day Liquid Liner (Sephora) paired with the Stila Huge Extreme Lash Mascara (bonus December 2016 Birchbox). I'm not proficient at the cat eye so I didn't even bother. The liquid liner provided a nice, crisp, super black line and the mascara added beautiful volume to my lashes. My biggest complaint about the mascara is that it flakes pretty awfully.

If anybody is interested, I have 5 free Ipsy bags to give away with subscription. It is limited to one per person and Ipsy states "Your invite is valid for first-time subscribers only. Your friends will have 3 days to claim one free personalized Glam Bag when they sign up." To my understanding I will not receive any compensation for people subscribing via this method, but I do benefit in that it will remove the bright pink "5" alert notifying me that I do have the bags to give away. If you're interested at all just leave a comment or email me and I will touch base with you.

Sephora Play Review for March 2018

I’m almost proud of myself for slowly creeping up to where I should have been all alone with posting. At this rate, I may have April reviews posted before the end of the month Mother’s Day. I was so excited to finally make it to March because believe it or not I’ve been looking forward to writing about my March Sephora box. Play! by Sephora is a $10 monthly subscription that provides members with 5 samples from the beauty, skincare or hair care categories and a 6th bonus item that usually consists of a fragrance sample but can sometimes be a foil packet. Sephora isn’t as customizable as Birchbox or Ipsy because they only curate approximately 4-11 boxes for subscribers and one has to hope one hits enough “key” points to score a box that’s the right fit. Sephora is a great subscription in other regards though: it’s perfect for anybody who cares about brand names, values and product availability (everything shipped to subscribers can be located in store or online at

March samples included:
·         Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser - $3.73, Cruelty Free
·         IGK Mistress Hydrating Hair Balm - $2.90, Cruelty Free, Vegan
·         Amika Soulfood Nourishing Mask - $1.68, Cruelty Free

I finally got around to using the Bobbi Brown Extra Illuminating Moisture Balm and the consistency of this moisturizer caught me off guard. I expected an illuminating, lightweight moisturizer but this was an outright cream. It has a very light golden pearlescent sheen to it which caught my attention and affection but once I started rubbing it in it just kept going. It was so thick and overwhelming that I felt like a giant greaseball and had to follow it up with a mattifying primer. I will continue to give this a shot in smaller quantities and hopefully I can get it to work out for me. One thing I’ve noticed in my couple of Bobbi Brown products I’ve tried is that the brand seems to be very all or nothing about formulas and applicators (remember the mascara of yesteryear?)

The dark horse of March’s Sephora box was the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner. I’m so over black liners, I’m so over black liquid liners, and unless it resembles Kat Von D’s brush topped Trooper eyeliner, I’m not interested. But man, Stila applied surprisingly smoothly and dramatically. The final look was stunning really, even if my application game is pretty poor. This liner was very easy to control, even with its traditional felt tip. It is super black, waterproof might be an overstatement, and it was amazingly precise. And the available shades at Sephora, amazing! I wish I were bold enough to even wear some of them. Overall I’m happy with this eyeliner.

Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser had the type of foaming power that was hydrating, not stripping, and I love it. The cleanser itself smells reminiscent of toasted almonds and I felt like it cleaned wonderfully (uncommon for me with cream cleansers) without stripping my skin of oils as if I were to use a bar or dish soap (it happens occasionally with foaming cleansers). 

IGK Mistress Hydrating Hair Balm was... interesting. Balm is the correct word on this case. A little goes a long way and the product was a clear, thick, non-greasy feeling paste. I cannot attest to how hydrating this balm is as a leave in conditioner but it did definitely smooth out Lizzie’s hair when I combed it out last night (photographic evidence below).
Lizzie's hair after using IGK Hair Balm

SUPERGOOP!’s Defense Refresh Setting Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 50 made an enemy out of me. I was most excited to see this in the box. But holy shit, I was attacked. In no way does the word “mist” apply to this product. I took a Super Soaker to the face and priming the pump does nothing, it’s the sprayer itself. You know that feeling of getting sun screen in the eyes? Yeah... it’s kind of like that, even without it being a direct shot into the eyeball. I had hoped mine was defective but I doubt that and the aggressive spray has turned me off from ever wanting to buy a full size of this. A quick browse through buyer reviews showed that a lot of people had issues with clogged spray nozzles unfortunately. I tried the method of spraying my hands and patting it in and they seemed to work but I’m only comfortable doing that on a bare face. I like the product, I just wish the application would have gone better.

Amika Soulfood Nourishing Mask was pretty awesome. This might actually mark the first time I’ve actually enjoyed a Sephora bonus foil packet. It actually worked as a decent conditioner on my hair, and we’re talking a foil packet here. The formula was super thick which might weigh down fine hair and it smelled mildly of Play-Dough but small beans.

Dry skin arm swatch of the Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner
I didn’t expect this kind of excitement but almost everything was well executed this month. The brands were great, the sample sizes varied from on the smaller side of standard to functional, and most importantly, I can use everything! Albeit, this is with some tweaking in application here and there. The value of this box was insane (for Sephora) at $36.64. It seems so high because for once, the personal value was high too since I can actually use everything. Thank you, Sephora, you made my month with this. Yes, I’m aware that I have a very low bar for material pleasures.