Thursday, January 11, 2018

Ipsy Review December 2017

Ipsy is a beauty subscription service that sends subscribers 5 beauty, hair care, skincare and fragrance samples and a cute makeup bag for $10 a month. Samples vary in size from sample sized to full sized items and it's a great way for someone who doesn't necessarily care about brands (products range from drugstore to mid-range with the occasional high-end product) and wants to build up a makeup and brush collection quickly and affordably.

My December bag consisted of:

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Birchbox November 2017 Review

Can I just say I loved the design of the box this month? The colors, the scallops, it was just a beautiful box. I am going to have a hard time trying to re-purpose this as a gift box because I'm that selfish of a person. The contents of the box were pretty strong too.

This month I received:

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Ipsy Review November 2017

I got ahead of myself a bit. I was just about to hit publish on a post and realized it was for my December Ipsy bag, having totally ignored my November bag. Oops. Ipsy is a beauty subscription service that sends subscribers 5 beauty, hair care, skincare and fragrance samples and a makeup bag for $10 a month. Samples vary in size from sample sized to full sized items and it's ideal for people who aren't brand conscious and don't mind potentially receiving indie, up and coming and drugstore brands.

Here’s some of the stuff I received in November:

Nomad brow duo in fading natural light without flash
NOMAD COSMETICS Brow Powder in Brunetta Brillante was probably the biggest disappointment of the entire November bag. In what possible way does this look like a brow powder? Not only is it too light to function as a brunette shade but both shades in this duo are shimmery. I thought “Hey Self, maybe I can use this as a neutral lid shade instead” but it was just a little too ashy and patchy to be effective as an eyeshadow. The brow duo is not sold alone on their website but it is sold as part of a palette (found here) for $47.

The second disappointment of the month is the SKYN ICELAND Berry Lip Fix with Wintered Red Algae. Perhaps disappointment is too strong of a word but it was definitely underwhelming. The balm had a distinct berry scent which warred with the with the actual mint flavor of the balm. The texture was oddly gritty and felt more drying over time than anything, but I’m not sure if that was due to the change in the season at the time. I’ve started wearing it again just trying to kill it off and I’m still finding it to be very unhelpful in the hydration department. It’s like a drying, mint flavored Crunchberry.

On to something I actually did enjoy! I did not known what to expect from TARTE Deluxe Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush but I was impressed. I got the shade Feisty which is a deeper nude rose blush that works amazingly well on my skin tone. The blush is quite pigmented and buttery so it blends out quite easily for a natural flush, which is great since I tend to be heavy handed with my blush application at times. The lasting power is there too. I don’t usually apply throughout the day: what I walk out of the house in is it for the day. I wouldn’t say 12 hours but I will say that this blush lasted long enough throughout a work day that I did not look crazy by the time I got back home.

Being an fan of the brand ColourPop I was excited to get a chance to try out their Ultra Satin Lip in the shade Baracuda. I love the formula. It is reminiscent of the Tarte Creamy Matte liquid lipstick but a little less messy and a bit longer lasting. The Ultra Satin Lip cannot hold up to meals well without reapplying and I did notice some smudging throughout the day at the corners of my mouth and my lip line but the formula is definitely workable without bring hideous. The berry shade isn’t my favorite though as I have many shade so similar to it and I don’t find berry or mauve shades to be the most flattering on me. If this was more of a brown-ish shade I would be all over it.

The hero of this bag was hands down the NAKED COSMETICS eyeshadow in Mother Nature #06. The shade is beautiful, basically a loose powder form of a teal and brick red duo chrome shadow. I typically hate loose powder shadows because of the mess they create but the medium works out in my favor in this case. It makes it so much easier to pick up an ideal amount of product on a shader brush and distribute it in an even, non-patchy manner. It also made blending out the shadow much easier and it’s simple to create a one shadow look since it is a duochrome.

Right to left in natural light: Nomad brow duo, Tarte blush, Nomad eyeshadow, ColourPop lippie

Everything washed out with flash
Flash: Wearing both Nomad shades as eyeshadow, Tarte blush, ColourPop lippie, and Skyn Iceland lip balm

Natural light

In November I paid $10.00 for $39.59 worth of product. I won’t even bitch about the low value of my bag because I got to try a couple of new items and formulae and I also scored what is my absolutely favorite eyeshadow in my collection right now. Not to mention the valid of the eyeshadow exceeds the cost of the subscription. In the time since I received my bag I’ve only gotten any real use out of the eyeshadow and blush with an occasional appearance from the not too great lip balm. Still worth it.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Play! by Sephora Review November 2017

Sephora Play is a monthly subscription box that sends our 5 makeup or beauty samples and a bonus fragrance monthly for $10 plus tax. It’s a great subscription service if you care about product accessibility and mid-range to high-end brands that are also available in store and online. Sephora Play tends to be skincare heavy so if you are more interested in makeup I would recommend Ipsy as a similarly priced alternative. Usually Sephora ships out around the 15th of each month so imagine my shock and awe when I received my box on the 7th of November so why is this going up on the 25th 28th the day after Christmas?

This November I received:
Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Mascara - $13.81
Sephora Collect Ultra Shine Lip Gel -$5.00
Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask - $8.10
Caudalie Vinosource Thirst Quenching Serum - $16.33
Moroccanoil Treatment - $6.80
Burberry My Burberry Blush - $3.60

Lately I've been so overrun with mascara so that I don't care if I get a mascara sample but oh my lord, I love this Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir. To date my favorite mascara has been the Smashbox X-Rated mascara followed my either IT Cosmetics Superhero Stretch and with Urban Decay rounding out the list. Velvet Noir however defines beautifully as well as lengthens. I'm not positive it actually added any volume but I would say it holds silver medal to X-Rated, displacing my previous number 2 and 3 mascaras by one rank. I also didn't experience any flaking or smudging throughout the day and I absolutely love the wand which resembled the IT Cosmetics Superhero Stretch wand. Update: My beloved Lizzie grabbed my mascara wand out of my hand as I was taking photos and may have ruined the mascara. And her clothes. I tried cleaning the swans but it doesn’t work nearly as well as it used to. Shortest mascara lifespan ever.

That moment when you realize it's time to invest in a lightbox...
So far I have enjoyed all of the Sephora Collection products I've tried and the Ultra Shine Lip Gloss was no exception. This formula is more gloss than pigment and the color provides a beautiful, sheer, natural flush to the lips. The formula is hydrating and has minimal stickiness. I also love the hourglass shape of the applicator for a more even finish. I really didn't expect to like this gloss that much between the color I knew was being offered this month and the simple fact that I am not really a fan of super glossy lips-it just looks so passe and artificial in general. Different strokes, I guess.

I enjoyed using the Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask. I’m biased though, I love charcoal masks. I loved feeling that tightening effect of certain clay wash off masks that lets me know that they’re actually working. That said, it did. Or dry out my skin, but I did feel like it cleared and brightened up my complexion a bit. It also wasn’t a beast to wash off like other wash off masks I’ve used in the past. I did try this to spot great two blemishes on my face and that... well that was wholly ineffective. At least it didn’t aggravate the situation.

I gave the Caudalie Vinosource Serum a little love now. I love how my skin feels after application. I have to be honest though, the price is a little steep for anything I would ever pay for and I have a few variants of the Vinosource line now and I have yet to see what advantage one serum might have over the other. Well shit, I guess that was a bit of a mixed-to-contradictory review. Sorry about that.

I’m never excited to see a hair oil in a subscription box but at least Moroccanoil was a thicker one and smelled nice. A little went a long way in the kids’ hair but alas the sample was only 10mL so I only got about 2 uses per child out of this. It did soften and help detangle and add some much needed sheen and hydration to the typically straw-like hair.

I’m growing to love getting perfume samples in my Sephora Play boxes. In the beginning I was ambivalent at best but now I almost look forward to getting them. My Burberry Blush is a beautiful fragrance that just smells classically light and floral with notes of pomegranate, rose and jasmine. The pomegranate sold it, I think.

Wearing the Sephora Collection lip gloss and Marc Jacobs mascara (not that you can tell) in fading natural light

Same lighting with flash
All in all I loved November’s box. The value was definitely (maybe?) there at $53.64, according to my public school math. The skin care was great, the mascara and fragrance were fabulous where the mascara might even be worth purchasing, the lip gloss was a wearable color and the hair item was somewhat usable.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Target Beauty Box Review November 2017

November had barely even started and my Target Beauty Box had arrived in the mail. Yes, my busy (lazy?) ass hasn't gotten around to reviewing it until halfway through the month but let's pretend that gave me more time to experience the items within, shall we?

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Ipsy Review October 2017

Ipsy is a $10 a month subscription that includes 5 beauty, haircare, skincare or fragrance samples and an exclusive bag each month. Samples range from your basic sample size, deluxe size and sometimes full sized and you can see anything from drugstore and indie brands to department store/high end. After doing a quick tally last night I realized I've received at least one full sized product every month since I first subscribed in April 2016.
Image courtesy of  Ipsy
This month  I received:
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide on Eye Pencil in Perversion - $13.33 Cruelty Free, Vegan
Marc Anthony Hydrating Coconut Oil & Shea Butter Oil - $4.73
Rimmel London Lasting Finish Kate Nude in #47 - $4.99 Full Sized
IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Powder - $9.67
Skyn Iceland Arctic Relief Eye Cream - $12.86

The bag itself is gorgeous. It's the typical plastic type material I've come to know and love from Ipsy but with a modest yet beautiful textured lace design printed on it. The adorable zipper pull is also a little bat. I felt like this bag was perfect for October. I got some serious throw bag Beetlejuice vibes from the bag.

Image taken from
My lighting situation is pretty awful so please excuse the stock photo of the bag nabbed from the Ipsy website.

I love the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide on Eye Pencil in Perversion. Next to the Sephora Collection waterproof eyeliner, this is the second black eyeliner I've actually fallen love with. It doesn't smear or budge and is perfect for tightlining without transferring onto my lower lid. I still had issues with my oily lids (even with primer) and smearing with this, plus the pencil format makes it difficult for me to get a precise line but that just means I'm limited to tightlining with this liner.

The Marc Anthony Hydrating Coconut Oil & Shea Butter Oil smells great but I may have spilled half the bottle in the fruit bowl containing cherry jolly ranchers one day when I was trying to wrangle the toddlers trying to get ready for a doctor's appointment. This oil works well with hydrating the tots' hair. Too bad I was dumb and wasted half of it though.

Rimmel London Lasting Finish Kate Nude in #47 ended up being a very wearable nude shade. I don't normally use bullet lipsticks but I was so excited to see that I received this in my bag this month. It is very creamy upon application and is semi-opaque. The shade is gorgeous without being too pink and the shade doesn't blend in with my lips or overall skin tone so I don't look washed out with this shade on. My favorite part about this lipstick is probably the packaging. It just looks so damned classy.

I haven't found too much use for IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Powder. The powder itself is incredibly silky and smooth and the powder poof included makes application a breeze. I have't had much experience with this powder though because I've found that it's very easy to over apply and it isn't exactly translucent on my skin tone, especially if I cannot control my zeal when powdering. Bye Bye Pores is a great powder otherwise. It does an amazing job of countering shine and it does work well with setting my foundation. Again, the key is to use the included powder puff.

My last item this month was the Skyn Iceland Arctic Relief Eye Cream. Holy shit do I hate this eye cream. The consistency is goopy and gelatinous making it very easy to remove a small amount from the 4g container and apply it evenly around the eye area. It just has this odd, slimy marshmallow consistency and just goops around and reforms, almost, when I did through the container to try to get a tiny amount for my eyes. Product info promises a tingling, cooling feeling around the eyes and a decrease in dark circles, puffiness and fine lines. Fortunately I do not suffer from any of those signs of aging but I did not notice any cooling or tingling sensations upon application. Another point of contention with this product for me is the smell. I don't recall noticing any particular smell with my first impressions but it's now 20 days after I've received the sample and this shit smells like congealed milk in the bottom of a milk jug that has turned into a disgusting dry-ish sludge resembling cottage cheese. I've loved items that I received from Skyn Iceland in the past but this product is so god-effing awful that I may have to reassess my previous brand loyalty.

Right to left: Bye Bye Pores, Rimmel Kate Nude, Urban Decay 24/7 in Perversion
 The total value of my bag this month was $45.58. Of the items I will actually get plenty of use out of, my personal bag value was $18.32 for the Rimmel lipstick and the Urban Decay eyeliner, which still far exceeds the cost of the bag. Of all the beauty boxes I've encountered so far I would say Ipsy is the best bet for beginners in makeup or for someone wanting to build up a collection affordably. Not only are you likely to get full sized items but Ipsy is very makeup heavy and provides tips, tricks and idiot-proof suggestions for how to use products on their website. Those who are more concerned with brands or skincare would do better to subscribe to Birchbox, Sephora Play or Target Beauty Box while those more concerned with having some control over their subscription boxes would do best to deal with Birchbox alone.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Birchbox Review October 2017

Holy crap, I received this box so long ago now that I actually had to revisit the app to remember what items I received this month. For those of you not in the know, Birchbox is a $10 a month subscription service that sends 5 sample sized beauty, skincare and hair care items right to your mailbox. Subscribers have the option to choose one item in their box a month, not take any action and let all 5 items be a surprise, or choose a curated box where all items are revealed prior to selection. If you have any interest in subscribing to Birchbox, I urge you to Google some coupons or simply visit My Subscription Addiction because they always have coupon codes or gifts-with-subscription affiliate codes available.