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 google.com
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.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Referral Links

Hey guys. I want to provide full disclosure for my readers (all two and a half of you who happened upon this blog probably through some porn aggregator site). After some thought I decided to not post any more referral links moving forward in my reviews. To date I only have four subscriptions: Target Beauty Box, Sephora Play, Ipsy and Birchbox. Of the four, onlyIpsy and Birchbox have referral links. Neither of those is overly useful to me: I basically refuse to buy items through the Birchbox Shop at a markup for some pretty shitty “perks” in the form of points and I really don’t see much point in trying to acquire more Ipsy points. That and I also feel like a shit dropping my referral links in posts. 

To date I have not had any affiliates nor have I had affiliate links, just those two referral links. Should I start again in the future or have enough readers (thanks, porn!) to warrant affiliate links, I will be sure to let you know. 

That said, Ipsy and Birchbox reviews coming for this month in the next couple of days. Including one surprising disappointment.

Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Play! By Sephora Review October 2017

Play! by Sephora is a monthly subscription box that features brands available buth in store and online at sephora.com. The subscription costs $10 a month plus tax and free shipping and includes 5 samples from makeup, beauty, skincare and haircare categories and also a fragrance sample. October's theme focused on complexion. This month's items included:

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Target Beauty Box Review October 2017

Every month Target releases a beauty box of makeup, beauty and grooming items featuring brands that can be found in store and online at Target.com. The price ranges from $5-$10 and each box contains between 5 and 8 items, on average, with the occasional shade variance with the makeup item. At $7 this box sold out amazingly fast this month, it was sold out before mine arrived in the mail.

This month's box was full of wonderful items, including three full sized makeup items so it's no wonder it sold out so quickly. This month I received:

 *Not Leaping Bunny certified 

First off Raw Sugar Lemon Hand Wash smells a-may-zing! It smells like sweetened lemonade. I love that the brand is ingredient conscious and even the packaging is made of post consumer materials. My only issue I have is the nature of the packaging. It is a hand wash that is packaged like a body wash in a squeeze bottle meaning if I have to use this I have to wrap my filthy hands around the outside of the bottle. This may be re-purposed as a body wash instead.

The Masque Bar may be one of my least favorite sheet mask brands that I've ever used. Their masks are always so thick and relatively dry. Masque Bar Wrinkle Reducing Sheet Mask was no different. I understand I'm already biased in my general dislike for sheet masks but I just can't help but feel like Masque Bar masks provide even fewer benefits than other sheet masks. This rings especially true since I've actually encountered one or two sheet masks that I hated less than others in the past. In fact, in retrospect, if I were a different person with different skincare preferences, I might even say I... enjoyed them?

Elf Clear Wax Brow Pencil, the ELF product I never had any desire to really try or buy. Fortunately this one arrived when I had some crazy Jack Nicholson eyebrows going on. The right one has been torn between darting right, strafing left or cutting north toward the baby hairs. This isn't something I can see myself reaching for frequently but it's nice to have on hand in case of emergencies, say a swift gust of wind or small forehead gnomes wandering through the brush.

Thanks to beauty boxes I will likely  never need to buy shampoo for myself again-conditioner is a different story. The inclusion of Maui Moisture Shea Butter Shampoo was a pleasant one. This shampoo smells amazing and it provides a decent lather. I did not notice that my hair was any more clean than usual but then I don't really know how I would measure that metric since I can't exactly do the squaky-clean test. I do love the scent and the size of this sample, clocking in at 100mL. I was a little irritated while researching this brand though. They claim to be cruelty free and vegan on their website but nowhere did I find a Leaping Bunny seal of approval, for those of you who may care about cruelty free brands. I hope this company does try to receive that endorsement in the future if they are indeed cruelty free.

Neutrogena Nourishing Eyeliner in Brushed Pewter turned out to be a nice eyeliner shade in a smoky, charcoal almost black. The eyeliner itself comes with a sharpener (yay!) and a smudger that I will likely never use as I feel that the smoky eye look makes my eyes look beady. I also acknowledge the fact that I could avoid this problem if I learned how to properly smoke out eyeliner/shadows. The formula itself is quite creamy and there is some transfer onto the lower water line and a little smudging after application but my arm swatch remained there throughout a full 24 hours of wandering around with kids, cooking and bathing tots. It took some scrubbing the next day to remove most of the remaining arm swatch.

Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Color in Midnight ended up being the dark horse of this month's box. Target sent out shade variations this month and I got very lucky to receive this beautiful deep purple that most people would probably consider unwearable. The formula is pretty shit: it's patchy, it's streaky, it is matte while not being completely transfer proof, it begins to fade patchily within an hour and it applies poorly over any kind of balm or lip treatment. But oh my god am I willing to overlook that for this beautiful shade. It's a very deep purple that is everything that I wanted my NYX liquid lippie to be, just in a subpar formula. I wore this to work on Friday and got a few nods of approval from my fellow lab nerds. I love that it's a daring shade that isn't too off the wall or socially unacceptable *coughbluegreycough*. I really must find a similar shade in a better formula.

The L'Oreal Extraordinary Hair Rebalancing Clay Shampoo and Conditioner were underwhelming though I do appreciate Target including both items that complement each other. I was able to get a full lather out of the shampoo packet and they smelled like your typical salon products but I just did not notice any real difference in the cleanliness or moisture of my hair.

Swatches of the Neutrogena eyeliner (smudged on far left) and Rimmel lippie
Wearing the Neutrogena eyeliner, Rimmel lippie and Elf Brow Wax

The ELF Brow Wax is trying so hard here...

This was easily my favorite Target Beauty Box in recent months (perhaps since May or June) mostly due to the numerous full sized makeup items and their overall wearability. The total value comes out to about $20.74 and most of that was in the form of the three full sized makeup items.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Play! by Sephora Review September 2017

Sephora has come into the beauty box scene nearly two years ago with their own Play! by Sephora box and of the three months I've received so far I can't really complain much. The cost is $10 a month plus tax and like Birchbox and Ipsy, Sephora sends out a number of box variations each month. Unlike Ipsy and to a lesser extent Birchbox, Sephora does not have a very broad range of boxes, even though they state boxes are tailored to your personal profile you set up upon applying. What they're really saying is "We have 3-9 pre-curated boxes each month and whichever box you hit the most benchmarks for is the box you're getting." Unfortunately, this means if skin tone was rated as most important by Sephora that month than you may end up with a box that is tailored to your skin type (based off of what you fill out in the profile) but the skin type (oily/combination/dry) may be completely off. It's a gamble I'm willing to take (so far) with this box because I do love that the samples, while not the largest, are not foil packets and all samples are from brands that can be found in store or online meaning the labels range from mid-range to high-end. This month's box was one of the stronger ones. Items included:

V = Vegan
CF = Cruelty Free

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Birchbox Review for September 2017

I was just sitting back washing my face and masking (something I haven't had time to do for most of this month) and I had a quick feeling of what bliss is. My husband is out working, the kids are in bed (and actually quiet), my mother-in-law is visiting her other son and his wife for most of the evening. I have found silence. And as I type this I hear the door and slowly whither inside. It was sweet while it lasted. But in my short reverie I decided I'm going to color with Lizzie when I wake up tomorrow.

What does any of this have to do with a Birchbox review, you ask?


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

September 2017 Ipsy Review

Ipsy is a $10 a month subscription service that provides subscribers with 5 sample, deluxe and sometimes full sized items as well as an exclusive-to-that-month cosmetic bag. Brands represented range from drugstore and indie to high-end and it's a great way to build up a makeup collection or experiment with new-to-you brands on the cheap. Ipsy has also recently provided an option for subscribers to skip a month. (Referral Link enclosed). The bag itself was really nice this month. It has a blue inner lining (that I forgot to photograph), a classy gold zipper and the outer portion of the bag is a pretty minimalist studded black faux leather design. It reminds me of the evening version of the January Glam Bag somehow.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

First SuperShock shadow down!

remember ther ColourPop haul I did a while back? Well we finally have the first casualty. I thought the patchiness of the shade Porter was a formulation issue but apparently I was wrong. I have a slightly longer post up on Instagram and hey, I started a Tumblr for absolutely no reason that I actually understand.

Sorry for the sparse posts. Living situations have changed a bit (a lot) and I have photos taken of Ipsy, Birchbox and Sephora but haven't had the chance to sit and actually work yet. My goal is to have those done by the end of the month. I truly want to use my cold as an excuse but I don't think I can right now so I guess it's time to stop screwing around and get to it.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Target Beauty Box September 2017

Every month Target releases a non-subscription beauty box that ranges from anywhere between $5-10. Items included in the box are typically things one would find in the store and samples are sometimes foil packets but more often than not deluxe sized samples with the occasional full sized item thrown in. This month two boxes were released but since I'm a lazy blogger I only purchased the Your New Basics box for $7 (the other box contained mostly foil packets of brands and items that were not new to me). Both the Your New Basics and Total Hydration boxes are still available for purchase at $7 if you're interested.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

August Birchbox Review

Birchbox is a $10 a month subscription that sends out a box with 5 beauty samples. Samples range from beauty to skincare, hair care, fragrances and the occasional snack or lifestyle item of which I have yet to receive. It's August 31st and I'm just now getting around to reviewing my Birchbox because according to the company's site they partnered with a new shipping company and shit met fan. Full disclosure: It's not my favorite subscription box but if you're into poorly matched lip shades and tiny samples of high end brands I'll just drop my referral link right here.


I loved the box design itself this month. It reminded me so much of home and my heart did swell just a little bit seeing the sunset and palm trees. Up to this point I didn't really realize I was homesick.

I'm perfectly fine with my broken, bushy brows but I found myself falling into the Benefit Brow craze. Fortunately I scored the Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow this month and I must say I do like it. I got the shade 5 deep and it's a really nice, cool toned match for my brows. I was a bit concerned that it would pull more red than ashy and look strangely warm and brown against my face but my fears were all for naught. I really really need to go get my brows threaded but at least now I feel confident enough to get them done a bit thinner to fit my face shape and my ginormous glasses. Last time I got them done I was not assertive enough and ended up with a straight brow. While I do like the straight brow style on Cara D, mine looked nowhere near as glamorous in part due to my huge Maurice Moss sized glasses.

The Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream is the second Dr. Jart+ product I've received and so far they're not really scoring many points with me. This moisturizer is a fairly thick cream that is full of ceramides, waxy fatty acids that help the skin maintain moisture and is also a component of vernix caeseosa (or baby cheese) on newborn babies. Cool beans, I can respect that. Except I have combination leaning toward oily skin so... no dice. Unfortunately this cream is just a bit too thick and tacky for my taste but I imagine it would work wonders on somebody with normal or dry skin. My biggest hangup is that it has that thicker tacky consistency after application which drives me insane (yeah, I know it's probably more mental than anything) so it's definitely an evening cream for me.

I received another perfume this month called Like This. It is a collaboration between the brand by Etat Libre d'Orange and Tilda Swinton, whom I've had a total girl crush on since Constantine. This fragrance has a very deep, woodsy, musky, almost gourmand scent to it. I'm not sure if what I'm smelling is gourmand or floral though because the scent tends to evolve on me rapidly for the first 10 minutes then gradually over the next few hours. It definitely has a deep autumn scent to it (love!). The info card describes it as having notes of ginger, rose and pumpkin. Omg I just want to roll in a pile of leaves with every sniff.

I received Glamglow Thirsty Mud H this month! Please excuse my excitement but teeny samples by this brand were part of the reason I had subscribed to Play! by Sephora so I was too excited to receive this tiny sample in my Birchbox instead of say, another dry shampoo. This is a wash-off mud mask that you apply to a damp face and leave on for roughly 20 minutes. It contains hylauronic acid, raw honey and ginger and smells amazing. I applied this before bed and my skin felt calm and refreshed and moisturized without that tacky post-moisturizer feeling I get. It did take quite a while to wash off though so if that's a point of annoyance this mask might not be for you.

For the love of fuck I wish Birchbox would either take my skin tone into consideration or just stop sending me colored lip products entirely. I had been eyeballing Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipsticks for a while on Hautelook while never biting the bullet and buying one. I got the shade Perla, a rosey "nude" shade. My husband worded it best: "I imagine a manatee floating dead, absorbing all that water. Turning sort of sickly purple/gray with hints of what used to be pink. That's what your lips look like in that color." Mind you, this is after I attempted to fix the color with a nude toned NYX lip liner in the shade Coffee. It smells the way fondant tastes. It applies a bit patchy on my lips and requires at least two coats. The downside to this is that after the second coat the lipstick begins to pearl (no pun intended) a bit on itself. It has a very offputting fragrance that smells almost exactly what cake fondant tastes like and has a bit of a sweet flavor to it as well. The formula is not transfer proof and it dries to leave a powdery finish on my lips. Overall this product was a resounding no with me but I wonder if I would have given it a higher rating if I were able to at least wear it for an extended period of time.

Stila Perla swatched in very shitty lighting

Left: Stila Stay All Day in Perla alone, Right: Stila Stay All day on top of NYX lip pencil in coffee

Too cool that I got two bonus foil packets this month. It feels like that has been happening more frequently, actually. This month's foil bonuses were Oribe Shampoo and Conditioner for Brilliance And Shine. I'll be honest, I didn't get a chance to use these yet because my box came in  after weekly wash day. Please somebody explain to me though why the full size of the shampoo and conditioner are $49 and $52 respectively? Is it the brand we're supposed to be paying for or are these comprised of some form of infant tears and unicorn farts? I would also love to meet the people who are willing to shell out that kind of money for a shampoo and conditioner because I will take that opportunity to ask him or her to buy me a latte.

Am I happy? Yes and no. I could absolutely do without shipping delays and poorly matching shades. I hate the liquid lipstick shade (as I often do because I highly doubt they take my profile's skin tone into consideration) but I did get Glam Glow, Oribe foil packets, a questionably nice smelling perfume and Benefit Gimme Brow (score!). I accidentally ended up with two boxes this month. I had sent an email around August 21st saying I never received my box and my shipping hadn't updated since the original notice on August 9th so they apologized to me and sent a replacement box. My original "lost" box arrived 4 days ago while my replacement box just showed up in the mail today. Oops. My one comfort is that I'm not the only person who has had shipping issues and concerns. I've also been toeing the line about whether or not I wanted to cancel but I believe this shipping issue is the last straw. My subscription is up for renewal in December but I think I feel more comfortable moving to a monthly plan from my current annual subscription. Shipping delays and vendor changes make me pretty nervous.