Sunday, December 25, 2016

December Ipsy First Impressions

Another month, another "meh" bag. I think I've fallen into a rut of having a subscription for far too long. Bright side, I just got a year's subscription for Birchbox as well so there will be something new to complain about! I no longer know what I would get excited about, product wise. Just discovering new brands at this point, but I have so many duplicates that it feels like a waste when I don't get to something I love a bit less. That and I can't justify giving things away once I've tried them and I feel obligated to try everything at least once. I sound extremely entitled and critical though so let's tuck it in and be objective about this. Scroll down for some incredibly shitty photos due to a combination of not knowing how to utilize technology, inability to operate a phone camera, zero sunlight for days now and poor apartment lighting. 

And a closeup of the bag

Angry muppet!

Would anybody actually use this as a clutch? Do you want to run around with a logo on your clutch proclaiming "I'm so cheap that this hot pink muppet was essentially a 'freebie' in a set of purchased freebies!" Oh yes, it is a furry muppet. The girls will like it. On the other hand, I got a lot of (low value) full sized items this month. 

NYX Prismatic Shadow (Full Size $6, cruelty free)
Jersey Shore Cosmetics Lip Balm (Full Size $10, cruelty free)
Aurora Intensively Precise Eyeliner (Full Size $7.99 currently on sale)

Total bag value: $33.31

I'm not overly thrilled to receive the Royal and Langnickel angled shader brush because I just don't know how I would use it. I hit the jackpot last month with a brush that was a clear upgrade to one of the re-glued ELF brushes I've been using in the past. This seems redundant, but maybe it will be useful if I ever buy a transition shade (or learn how to use transition shades) and develop a more complex makeup routine. 

Update: so, my husband stole my ELF brush to pollinate his strawberries. Multiple times. I suddenly have immediate need for a second brush.

I was actually most excited about the NYX prismatic shadow (I got the shade Bedroom Eyes), as evidenced by the plethora of photos. It's a similar shade to my Nomad shadow but a richer, cooler hue. Not that I need more shadows (I have enough to survive off of) but it's nice to have some variety to make me look like a functional adult. I've always wanted to try NYX products but never committed to buying them. I wouldn't want to waste money (again) on something I'm not sure I would like. Nor would I want to go into an Ulta to buy NYX. It just seems like a waste when I'm surrounded by other high end brands to travel that far for drugstore. And the drugstore NYX displays are pretty measly so that's out. I'm still holding out on a reddish shade though. I've been hoping one would fall into my bag for 3 or 4 months now. 

Aurora Liner, Tarte lip gloss and NYX shadow swatches
Aurora, Tarte and NYX swatches with flash

NYX swatch in daylight

Whoo... more Jersey Shore Cosmetics lip balms (sigh). I'm still working on the one from August, but I always say I can't have enough balms. Until I'm drowning in them. But somehow my Pur-lisse from October is near dead and I finally killed off my Hanalei lip treatment from May (also offered in December). 

Don't know how I feel about the Tarte Tarteist lip paint. It's a deep berry, Mississippi church-lady shade and I wonder why it's called WCW (I imagine Trish Stratus and other Divas would wear a most frosty pink like anybody from the Rock of Love Bus).  At least it looks less threatening on than it does in the tube. It's only a 1ml sample though, keeping in line the tiny, overpriced full sized Tarte products and even tinier sample sizes. I will note the full sized product is $20 at 6ml. Way to go, Tarte *sardonic applause*
Note: I looked it up (yeah, I'm that out of touch) and it's a branch off from throw back Thursday's (TBT) and WCW stands for women crush Wednesdays (meh on that non-trend I didn't know was a trend)

And finally the obligatory felt tip black eyeliner. I'm drowning in them as is but why not? I'm not sure if I would prefer felt tip or pencil at this point. I can't use pencil for anything other than tightlining but I have a ba-thousand felt tip liners right now. Ok well, three retractable and (now) three felt tip but that's a ton. Not to mention my embarrassingly old Clinique cream eyeliner in dark brown, which I'm afraid my eyes will fall out if I try to use it. 

All in all, not a bad bag. Not a good bag either though. There's nothing that I won't use, that's only happened once with my Boo-Boo Cover-up (reviewed here), which I loved the idea but hated the shade. The eyeshadow I think I'm pleased with, everything else is just useful and I will probably die or be left behind in the rapture before I get to the Jersey Shore Sun balm and Aurora liner. And even with a low value bag, it exceeded the $10 price point and I got 4 full sized items (including the brush) this month so yeah, I'll stop complaining now. Sorry again about the photos. If I waited to get a good daylight shot of flat lays (ha, I used the word "good") or me wearing some of it this wouldn't get posted until late March. I do intend to do a follow-up with better swatches, in depth comments and maybe a pick of me wearing the items, but don't expect that before New Year's with how busy it's been between Toddler/Infant Christmas and an  unexpected flight to L.A. (urgent West Coast family stuff). I'm setting my personal timer for 2 weeks. Come flog me over it later after it's past due.

Update: I scored a bonus item! My friend got the Ciatè London Liquid Velvet Matte Lipstick in the shade Pin Up in her December bag and said it is too dark for her fair skin tone so she gave it to me. I love the shade. It's one of the few I feel works for my skin tone. It also looks like the equivalent of a mauve matte lipstick (on a fair completed person) but that works on dark tones without looking ashy. Like a dark nude, but for dark/deep skin tones. I definitely need to get a shot of this in action.

Full disclosure: My Ipsy subscription was a birthday gift and Birchbox was a Christmas gift. I apologize if I sound overly critical in my analyses but I'm simply trying to provide an objective critique based off of product quality, shade matching and overall cost.

My poor husband hasn't wised up and decided to leave me yet. I came home to this the other day.

Monday, December 12, 2016

U by Kotex free sample haul (still available online)

Note: U by Kotex will be providing free samples until December 31st.

This post has been a long time coming so of coursw I'm like 2 months late. I received free samples in the mail from U by Kotex a few weeks ago and it was pretty nice. The goal of their new campaign called The Period Project is to try to find ways to help women enjoy their periods more. Let's be honest, every month I just want to curl up on the couch and die because I just feel smelly, filthy, uncomfortable and like everybody knows what I'm going through. Like a dog in heat or a biblical menstruating women. I'm not justifying the separate tent, I'm just saying... I might understand. At least my own self exile. And that's the problem they're trying to fix, the shaming of women and shaming we feel for our natural existence (yes, I'm part of the problem here). What's even better than a morale boost? The samples require no subscriptions or memberships or anything, just a quick survey and choose your samples.  They do follow up afterwards to make sure you got your samples and to get some feedback (less than 5 minutes via online survey) to determine if your opinion of the brand has changed at all and I must say, whomever is behind their marketing is a genius. It certainly endeared me to their brand. I'll be honest, since their re-branding some years ago I thought the U by Kotex brand was a subset geared towards teens and tweens (I now some brands have been providing tween sizing of feminine products which let's be honest, I shot out two kids so that shit just won't fly around here) and as a result I'd been avoiding the brand more recently. Welp, I am one to admit when I've been wrong, even when it physically hurts to do so. I was wrong.
Samples that were offered in each pack varied from tampons to pads, heavy to light flow etc, and each pack, though it leans more towards one particular need, is varied enough that one can get a decent enough feel of a range of products. I opted for pads because, as annoying and overtly THERE as they may be, I just feel more secure with them. That and I may or may have gone to Costco recently and have enough tampons to last the second coming of Zombie Jesus.

The packaging was cuter than I ever expected and too large to fit in my apartment mailbox. Items were clearly labeled for ease of identification (aside from the obvious panty liners) and there are three extra items that could be included in the packaging depending on your survey answers. You could receive recipe cards, affirmation cards, or adult coloring cards. Recipe cards include recipes for "Dark and Spicy Hot Chocolate," "Bees Knees Grilled Cheese," "Popcorn Four Ways" and "Crispy Ice Cream Sammies." Somehow I was able to get two boxes, one with the adult coloring cards and one with affirmation cards. Unfortunately, my eldest manhandled the card that said "Tell me I'm pretty while I feel all my feelings" and I don't know how to take/crop pictures so you're left to deal with this visual shit.  Sorry, guys. Of the three box extras, I would say the coloring cards would be most desirable. For me, at least. The affirmation cards were really cute though and I'm just too lazy to clean up whatever kitchen mess is left behind from having a Bloat Day, if you will. Each box comes with a card (buried under a mound of pads and pantyliners in the first image) detailing the contents and two $1 coupons.

The first box came with:
  • 1-U by Kotex CleanWear Pad Heavy Flow
  • 1-U by Kotex Security Pad Long with Wings
  • 1-U by Kotex AllNighter Overnight Pad with Wings
  • 1-U by Kotex Security Ultra Thin Overnight Pad with Wings
  • 2-U by Kotex Barely There Liners
The second box came with:
  • 1-U by Kotex CleanWear Pad Regular
  • 1-U by Kotex Security Pad Regular
  • 1-U by Kotex AllNighter Overnight Pad with Wings
  • 1-U by Kotex Security Ultra Thin Overnight Pad with Wings
  • 2-U by Kotex Barely There Liners

Shitty organization and coloring cards

Shitty cropping with affirmation cards
So I guess the gist of this post is go out and get one. Great marketing, they achieved what they wanted and I think I like the brand considerably more now. At least I don't feel like a high schooler whenever I touch their packaging. Maybe a 6th year college senior, just over the joy of binge drinking but not sure how to get out of the habit, needing to grow up but not quite sure how, pondering post college life while drinking baileys in coffee on a late Friday morning after class. I... may have just had a flashback of my college career... I almost regret not opting for a version with tampons, just for the sake of reviews, but for reasons listed above, "meh."