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.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Play! by Sephora Review for August 2017

The end of the month is still acceptable to get a monthly box review up, yeah? This time it's Play! by Sephora, a box that I was on the fence about subscribing to for the longest and I finally took the plunge if only to answer the siren call of skincare. Play! by Sephora is a beauty box curated by the Cosmetics retailer Sephora that provides 5 skincare, haircare and makeup items a month in a drawstring bag (meh) and a bonus perfume sample. Perfume is not really my thing and an easy freebie that one can get with any purchase but if it doesn't count as one of my 5 samples then I really don't give a shit. Play provides subscribers with a profile they can fill out to best "personalize" their box each month. I say "personalize" in quotations because unlike other subscription boxes I've encountered, Play only sends out relatively few items and very few box varieties (5-10 types maybe) a month and your profile is used to pigeonhole you into the closest-but-still-not-quite-right box variety.

Geeking out over makeup!
The bag is never my favorite part.

The theme this month was Makeup geek and omg, was the info sheet that was shipped so freaking cute. I loved that they had a very basic yet informational periodic table of the elements basically outlining how various ingredients commonly found in skincare (and featured in this box) affect skin, hair and makeup. I did find this theme odd considering there is a makeup line called Makeup Geek. This month's Sephora Play box was different from any of the previous ones that I've seen and the one previous box I've received in that it offered two colored beauty products and one tool.

Beauty Blender Micro.Mini - $9 or 2 for $18
Kat Von D Lock-It Conceal Crème in #33 - $7.40
Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick in Golden Almond - $7.36
Clarins Body Fit Anti-Cellulite Contouring Expert - $10.14
Qhmet Biologics Cocoa Tree Detangling Ghee - $2.59
Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue - $2.38

I was excited about the idea of getting a Beauty Blender Micro.Mini in my Play! box but the reality did not justify my excitement. What the shit is the point of a beauty blender that is so freaking tiny? I haven't even brought myself to use it yet because I'm fully capable of turning my current blending sponge around and using the pointed end for precise application. I guess this is functional for some people but it's just an extra step and an extra item to clean.

Dry Micro.Mini
Wet Micro.Mini. Not much of a difference.
I wanted so much to love the Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick in Golden Almond.

The texture is great, it's medium to full coverage where a little goes a very long way and it blends out easier than I expected but I cannot provide any feedback on how well this works because well...

(Left) Kat Von D Lock-it Concealer in #33, (Right) Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish in Golden Almond in indirect sunlight

There is no fucking way I can get away with wearing this outside. It is so incredibly dark that I cannot get away with wearing it as a base but unfortunately it is too orange to pass as a contour shade. That and I just have no idea how I would even go about beginning to contour. I tried it as a bronzing shade but that was pretty offensively orange as well. I love how Play! says they sent this item based on my skin tone in my profile and yet anybody who got my box combination #221 got the exact same shade as the Kat Von D Lock-It concealer that I did. And on that note...

While Kat Von D Lock-It Conceal Crème in #33 is almost a perfect shade for my face (I know it looks out of control on my arm but that is due to my constant donning of hoodies and long sleeves), I cannot get away with wearing it out because my face and body are two completely different shades. Oddly enough, the difference starts around the neck and is so stark that matching anything to my face makes me look more novice than I actually am, and I admit I'm pretty freaking novice at applying makeup. It is a very full coverage, which looking at Kat Von D's overall aesthetic, this is not surprising. I was stunned that the shade was nearly a perfect match for me but I'm disappointed that my face does not agree with the rest of my body. Is it worth risking finding self tanners for brown girls? Probably not. Maybe if I find myself in daylight or a pool one day this can come in handy.

I got a nice but severely overpriced body lotion in my box this month. Clarins Body Fit Anti-Cellulite Contouring Expert costs an exorbitant $70 for 200mL. The claim: it reduces cellulite. I think I need to stop bitching about anti-cellulite skincare. Kind of. I will just  leave this here. This podcast/blog post show that I am an idiot for discrediting any effect caffeine may have but I also cannot help but feel a little vindicated because of it. Basically, the oils and emollients in lotions and the sheer quantities of caffeine needed to see any anti-aging effects more or less negate the effect of caffeine in a lot of skin care items. So long story short, cosmetics companies are overselling (and overcharging for) the effects of their products on cellulite and aging while preying on our insecurities and collective gullibility. If I just wanted a nice non-greasy feeling body lotion and I had a ton of money (think Emily Gilmore or Blair Waldorf loaded) I could see myself blowing money on something like this. But then I'd also have a bathroom entirely stocked in Lush products.

Or  I could just pay for liposuction

Every time I receive a hair item in a subscription box I try it on my kids. In the past this was because items often did not fit my hair type. A recently added issue is I have loc'd my hair so I'm limited on product types to use. Qhmet Biologics Qhmet Biologics Cocoa Tree Detangling Ghee is no different as it markets itself as a detangling cream. Let me tell you! This stuff works magic on Livy's hair. She's got the curlier hair of the two of my kids and just a spritz of water and a small amount of this and it's pretty easy to comb through without entirely coating her head or using too much product and she smells like a little chocolate chip running around! The best part? 8.5 oz of this stuff is totally affordable so not only do I love it but I am absolutely going to buy more instead of hoping I end up with more in a subscription box down the line. This works great with the Garnier Sleek & Shine (reviewed here) but the smell mixes to make her smell like a chocolate covered fruit, but a fruit that doesn't get chocolate like kiwi.

Qhmet Biologics at work. Sorry for the frizzy Day2 Curls.

Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue is a fragrance actually works on me. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have my heart set on the Kat Von D Sinner and Saint perfumes that were offered this month but I really do appreciate this D&G sample. It is described as feminine, floral and fruity and the notes I'm catching are granny smith apples, citron and a little bit of musk. Other notes listed on the website are bluebells, jasmine, bamboo, white rose, cedar wood, amber and musk. It smells like the beach to me, really because of that clean crispness of the granny smith apples though it smells more fruity than apple-y.

Holy crap, this month was full of a lot of pissing and moaning from me about Sephora. Sorry, guys. At least the box value was pretty high at a value of $38.87 and I got to try some mid-range to high-end brands. Credit where credit's due: I got a decent body lotion that costs way too much, a pretty awesome smelling perfume sample, a decent and affordable hair product for one of the tots, and I got to try two pretty freaking awesome brands of face base. I've always wanted to try the Hourglass Vanish foundation formulas and I finally got a chance to try. I may even consider snagging one if I ever see an incredible deal come up (Ipsy had them available for almost a month at some point back in 2016, maybe it will happen again?). There are so many shades that risking ordering online can prove to be a highly dangerous game so at least this sample allows me to narrow down the field just a little bit. I had been wanting a concealer and I'm thrilled I got to try the KVD formula. It's pretty hardcore and if you want something covered it absolutely won't disappoint. I recently bought some drugstore foundations I keep saying I will review someday but I erroneously bought shades that are slightly too dark so maybe I can work this concealer with those. Little beauty blender, I don't know what to do with you. Maybe I can find someone who will love it? Ultimately the box was decent but that's just because I only started subscribing to this box for the bath, body and skincare with the occasional hair find for the kids.

Monday, August 21, 2017

August 2017 Ipsy Review UPDATED

Glam Bag Time! I seriously look forward to getting my Ipsy bag in the mail every month and in fact I've begun stalking the mailbox like cheetah approaching the watering hole. All with the dexterity of a dumpy puma. Ipsy is my first and perhaps my favorite subscription box so far. It costs $10 a month including tax and shipping and provides subscribers with 5 items curated based off of a profile created upon signing up. The 5 items subscribers receive can be anything from makeup, skincare, haircare, fragrance, tools and bath and body, based off of profile settings (both full sized and deluxe or sample). Every month subscribers also receive a makeup bag exclusive to that month. For example: so far I have not received any fragrance or nail polish samples in an Ipsy bag. Subscribers can also earn points through reviewing items every month and having people sign up through their referral link. Points can then be used to redeem items in the Ipsy shop.

This month's bag came in a gold mailer with a booklet explaining the burgeoning Ipsy Cash system. Love that pink poodle!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Target Beauty Box August 2017

Every month Target releases a beauty box , usually ranging from $5-$10 with sample sized and full sized beauty and personal items that can be purchased in store or through their online website. Shipments also arrive within the first week or two of the month. Here it is mid month so I've had a little time to play with my Target Beauty Box and drop off an opinion.

The August box cost $7 and is still available online. Target values the box at $21 (we will see why this is bullshit later). This month's box included:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Curl Definition for Toddlers?

I was holding Lizzie saturdayand had an "Aha!" moment. I looked into her nest of curls and noticed her 3A/3B curls glowing in the diffused sunlight of an overcast day. She never sits very still and for ease of grooming I always have hair in one or two ponytails but for whatever reason I wanted to let her run around as a free cavebaby for the day. This post is pic heavy so sorry about that.
Image result for donnie the wild thornberrys
This looks about how our Sunday went.