Play by Sephora: June 2017

Okay folks, I know it’s been awhile, but so much has been going on this year and so much to catch you up on.  I got a new day job!  One that is more money, has better benefits, windows, less stress and an opportunity for advancement! Unfortunately, I’m still finishing out my old one with hardcore deadlines and crazy business that all happens at the end of September/beginning of October.  Soon, I’ll be free and that will give me more time to get you all caught up on cool stuff like a Kbeauty haul, a mystery game sub box, house renovations, and so much more.  I do post lots of sneak peeks on my Instagram, so you can see what’s in my sub boxes in real time.

I’ve also been promoting my debut novel, The Ice Maiden’s Tale.  I’ve gotten some really fabulous blog reviews and just had an awesome interview with Julie Whitley on her blog.  If you’ve read the book or just love fairy tale stories, I’d love to chat with you.

So now I’m just going to dive into the enormous backlog of boxes and go with my June Play by Sephora subscription.
June’s theme was “Summer Starters” (which is totally appropriate since it’s like 80 degrees today in NYC) – “Whether you’re sweating in the city or cooling by the pool, kick off your season of sunshine with these warm weather must-haves.”

Benefit CosmeticsThe POREfessional Face Prime
(Full Size: $31.00)
Description: “Silky, lightweight face primer minimizes pores and smooth s skin for a flawless soft-focus finish.”
Verdict: Anti-climactic
I lost count long ago of how many times I’ve gotten this as a sample.  It’s a nice product, but I’ve tried it a ton of times already.

First Aid BeautyHello FAB Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer
(1.7 oz: $28.00)
Description: “Ultra-hydrating priming moisturizer features electrolyte-packed coconut water plus micro-pearls for a subtle dewy glow.
Verdict: Love!
I love the First Aid beauty brand so I’m always up for trying a new product from them.

Ouai Rose Hair & Body Oil
(Full Size: $32.00)
Description: “Quick-absorbing blend of nutrient-rich oils from around the world replenishes hair and skin plus adds moisture and illuminates.”
Verdict: Hit!
Ouai is a brand that I’ve gotten in boxes before and I’ve really enjoyed their products.  I’m going to use this to try to tame some of my frizz.  Hopefully it will work!

Kat Von DEverlasting Liquid Lipstick in K-Dub
(Full Size: $20.00)
Description: “Long-lasting, high-pigment liquid lipstick with a creamy formula glides on smoothly like gloss but leaves a matte finish.”
Verdict: Like
If this had been another shade it would have been a love.  I adore Kat Von D’s eyeliner and I own and use some of her eyeshadows.  I’m not sure if I can pull off this bright fuchsia shade, but I’m happy to get a chance to test out the formula.

IGK Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel
(5 oz: $29.00)
Description:”Lightweight coconut oil—infused hair styling gel softens and hydrates hair for effortless undone looks.”
Verdict: Hope you’re not allergic to coconut
This is the second coconut product in this bag and I’m thinking maybe having two products with similar ingredients in the same month might not be the best idea. In any case, I like getting new hair products because I have no idea how to style my hair and can use all the help I can get.  We’ll see if this helps me look less like I just rolled out of bed and stuck my finger in an electrical socket.

This Month’s Perfume Pick:
Yves Saint Laurent – Black Opium
(1.6 oz $91.00)
Description: “A modern and intoxicating scent with rich notes of coffee, sweet vanilla, and delicate white flowers.”
(Sorry I’m missing a pic, but for some reason the ones I took were all blurry.)
Verdict: Perfect if I want to knock out myself and take an elevator full of people with me.
I appreciate it when a perfume gives itself a name that makes it obvious it will simply kill people who are sensitive to scents (remember Dior’s “Poison”?).  You hear the words “Black Opium” and you know what you’re getting.  It smells like a migraine, the kind where you lock yourself in a dark room for days, put ice on your head, and hope not to puke on your sheets. Sniff at your own risk.

OVERALL
Verdict:
Hit!
Despite the boring POREfessional primer and the death by perfume, I really enjoyed this box.  It had a lot of great brands that and gave me a chance to try out some new offerings.  The only real fault I found was it having two coconut products, but that shouldn’t be a problem for most folks.

If you’re looking to try out some high end beauty but don’t want to commit to the high price tags, consider the Sephora sub. For only $10 a month, you get a good amount of product and a nice variety.

How do you feel about the “coconut oil” beauty trend?
Is it a great natural inclusion or has it become an over-used beauty buzzword?

THE BACKSTORY
Each month Play by Sephora, will send you 5 deluxe samples handpicked from their shelves (plus a fragrance bonus) – all in a collectible bag.

Cost: $10 per month (plus any applicable tax)
Bonus:  Each month you’ll get an included card that you can bring to Sephora for an extra 50 bonus points for any Purchase.  These points are part of Sephora’s VIB program and can be traded in for an assortment of samples.

Save

Birchbox: July 2016 Review & New LE Box

So today is the end of an era, where I’m reviewing my very last Birchbox.  Now, I may decide to one day give it another try, but for now I just found that the value wasn’t there for me.  That doesn’t mean I won’t try out their Limited Edition boxes, so don’t be surprised if you see Birchbox pop back up here again.  Speaking of which, Birchbox introduced a new Limited Edition box:
Limited Edition: Cheers to You!
le-cheers-to-you
Cost: $50.00
Description: “Birthday? Engagement? Got the job, aced that exam, or conquered a 5K? Whatever the “woohoo!” moment, this box is filled with products and keepsakes to help you—or someone special—celebrate. Think: a gem-inspired palette, a soothing gel mask, a gold-accented tray, and much more. Planning on gifting the box to a rockstar in your life? There’s a matching, festive card (ready to be filled in by you).”
This box looks like it’s got some great items (I’m loving the little tray) but for me it’s a bit pricey.  (I expect a higher end brand than Pixi for a $50 box).  I’m opting out of this one, but hoping that we see some other great Fall inspired LE box.

Now let’ see what my last Birchbox included:
box open-box
I think I’ll miss the cute boxes most of all!

face-mask
Balance Me Radiance Face Mask
(Full Size $34.00)
Description: “Suitable for all skin types, the clay-based formula cleanses, exfoliates, and brightens skin.
Verdict: Like
I enjoy trying out different types of masks and this is a new brand for me.

benefit
Benefit They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara
(Full Size: $24.00)
Description: Formula with all-day wear for lashes so long and thick, you may be accused of fakery.”
Verdict: Like
This was the sample I chose from the mascaras that were up for grabs.  This is one of my favorite mascaras (right after It Cosmetic’s “Hello Lashes”), so I figured I’d just stock up.

cartier
Cartier Baiser Volé Lys Rose Eau de Toilette Spray
(1.7 oz: $90.00)
Description: ”This sweet, subtle scent comes from a captivating cocktail of crystallized pink lily petals and hints of raspberry.”
Verdict: Who wants to pay $90 for a headache?  Any takers?
So we get to one of the most compelling reasons I canceled this box.  The damn perfume samples.  I cannot use 99% of perfume samples and yet I can’t opt out of them. They are also free everywhere – magazines, makeup counters. They should not be included as one of the main items in the box.  An extra item? Sure, why not.  But as one of 5 samples.  Nope.  This year, I chose the curated box twice.  That leaves 5 remaining boxes with unknown samples, out of which 3 included fragrance.  I chose the option for the “least” amount of perfumes in my box and I still got them over half the time.  Unless Birchbox changes the perfume situation, I doubt I will re-subscribe.

clinique
Clinique City Block™ Purifying Charcoal Cleansing Gel
(5 oz: $20.00)
Description: ”A detoxifying cleansing gel with charcoal to zap pores of dirt, oil and makeup.
Verdict: Hit!
I’m not particularly into Clinique skincare but I’m intrigued by a Charcoal Cleansing gel so this one will be fun to try out.

loc loc-close loc-swatch
LOC Ultra-Gloss Lip Pencil
in Punch Line
(Full Size: $12.00)
Description: “From the Birchbox brand: A hydrating, lasting, and glossy lip pencial in a sheer watermelon pink that flatters everyone.”
Verdict:  Like
First, after getting some super small samples in past boxes, I’m really liking this full size.  This felt nice going on and the color is a nice cheerful hue. I like the sheer consistency which makes it a lot more wearable than more opaque lip products.

OVERALL
birchbox-7-2016
Verdict:
Like
This box came while Birchbox’s old review policy was in place so I paid $10.70 for this box and received $5.00 in Birchbox points with my reviews.  If it weren’t for the perfume sample, I would have given this one a “hit”.  I will use all the items in the box, and the size of the samples was definitely an improvement over previous boxes.  I’m interested to see if Birchbox works on improving their sample curation now that they’ve lost a significant number of subscribers.

How do you feel about perfume samples in your beauty box?
Do you love them?  Hate them?
Think they should only be bonus items?
Dish!

THE BACKSTORY
Birchbox subscriptions cost $10 per month or $110 per year (Women’s Sub)
$20 per month or $195 per year (Men’s Sub)

Points System:
Whenever you buy something at Birchbox they give you Birchbox points. $1.00 = 1 Birchbox Point.
You can redeem reward points for money toward your Birchbox purchases.
You can also earn points by referring/subscribing friends.

Play by Sephora: June 2016

Since I reviewed Birchbox’s June box yesterday, I thought it would be apropos to review the June Play by Sephora today.  This box is Julep’s direct competition in the $10 beauty subscription slot.
My first Sephora box was a great hit, so I was excited to see what subsequent months would bring.
Open Box
June’s theme was “The Minimalists” – Effortless is More.  Sephora described this as “Next-level nude and no-maintenance naturals: this month, we’re paring it down for understated style that prove sometimes less really is more.  Get a low-key look for summer with a  game-changing hair cream, refreshingly lightweight sunscreen and more must-haves for creating an easy-going appeal.”
Play Bag

Bumble
Bumble and bumble Don’t Blow It
(5 oz: $31.00)
Description: “Innovative crème adds body and enhances fine-to-medium hair textures for a laid-back, air dried style.
Verdict: Love!
As someone who only blow dries her hair for special occasions, air dry products in subs make me so so happy.  I’d probably not risk buying this on my own since it’s spendy, so I’m super excited to get a chance to try it out before committing.

Mascara
Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Mascara
(Full Size: $24.00)
Description: “Bestselling mascara lengthens, volumizes, coats even the smallest lashes, and features a specially designed brush.
Verdict: Like
Benefit mascara is one of my go to mascara options so I’m very familiar with it.  It’s made the rounds in tons of beauty boxes, but it’s a fabulous product, so I’m happy to have another one for my stash.

Tarte
Tarteguard 30 Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30
(1.7 oz $32.00)
Description: “Antioxidant-infused, non-chemical SPF 30 sunscreen moisturizes and protects without leaving a stick feel.”
Verdict: Miss
SPF 30 is not nearly enough for a vampire like me.  I had to give this one to a friend.

BronzerBronzer Swatch
BAREMINERALS bareSkin Bronzer
(1 oz: $28.00)
Description: “Blendable, lightweight liquid bronzer may be worn alone or over foundation to give skin a sheer, natural-looking touch of sun.”
Verdict: A little too Michael Kors for me
Sadly, unless I am an Oompa Loompa or Michael Kors this is just not going to be “natural” for me.  With my pale, cool undertoned skin it’s just way more orange than it should be, so I’ve passed it along to a friend.  If you’ve got skin tone like mine and are looking for a natural bronzer, I highly recommend Laura Mercier’s Bonne Mine palette.  It’s easy to apply (it even includes direction cards), lasts forever and actually looks natural.  When I wore it someone actually said to me, “Oh you’re one of those rare redheads who can get sun.” No, I can’t, but I what I can do is shop.

Primer
BECCA Backlight Priming Filter
(1 oz: $38.00)
Description: “Shimmering makeup primer acts as a soft-focus filter to blur imperfection sand give skin an effortless, luminous look.”
Verdict: Hit!
I’ve only really started experimenting with primers in the past year, but they can really make a huge difference in your skin.  I haven’t tried a “shimmer” version, so I’m psyched to see how this one works with my skin.

This Month’s Perfume Pick:
Tocca
Tocca Beauty Florence (1.7 oz Size: $68.00)
Description: “Timeless and romantic, this fragrance conjures long-ogo Paris with a sophisticated blend of bergamot, violet petals, and blonde wood.”
Verdict: Not as terrible as I thought it would be
I thought this might be incredibly overpowering, but it wasn’t too bad, although stil to strong for me.  Unlike Birchbox, Sephora offers the perfume sample every month, but it is an extra.  You get five items PLUS the perfume.

OVERALL
Sephora Play June 2016
Verdict:
Like
With tax, I paid $10.70 for this box and while not everything worked for me, I thought the theme, variety of products and size of the samples was great.  Sephora also includes a bonus card for extra points on your next purchase, which is another nice perk. I really liked 3 of the items, and I think that most women (who aren’t as pale as me) would probably like even more of them.   I also don’t find an issue with the fragrance inclusion since it’s an extra.  I find the box definitely worth the $10.70 pricetag.

How do you think Play by Sephora compares to Birchbox?
Which sub would you rather receive?

THE BACKSTORY
Each month Play by Sephora, will send you 5 deluxe samples handpicked from their shelves (plus a fragrance bonus) – all in a collectible bag.

Cost: $10 per month (plus any applicable tax)
Bonus:  Each month you’ll get an included card that you can bring to Sephora for an extra 50 bonus points for any Purchase.  These points are part of Sephora’s VIB program and can be traded in for an assortment of samples.

Birchbox: June 2016 Review

Today I’m back from my brief hiatus to review one of my last Birchboxes.  Because of the very controversial changes to the Birchbox subscription that I discussed in my last BB review, I opted to cancel my subscription after July.
Box
So let’ see what June brought inside my very cute box.
Gimme BrowGimme Brow Swatch
Benefit Gimme Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel
(Full Size $24.00)
Description: “This innovative, water-resistant fiber gel has a precision tip for shaping and buildable formula for thick, lush brows.
Verdict: Like
This was the sample I chose and I got the medium shade.  The product seems to work decently but I actually really prefer Julep’s eyebrow product.  I think it’s easier to apply.  I also hate that redheads never get our own shade.  Yes, I know eyebrows are typically darker than the hair on your head, but I’d love to see an option that gives a more reddish tone.

Coola Sun
COOLA® Environmental Repair Plus® Radical Recovery™ After-Sun Lotion
(Full Size: $32.00)
Description: This soothing lotion uses agave to moisturize protect and calm any post-sun woes.”
Verdict: Déjà vu all over again
Is it a Birchbox if we don’t get anything from Coola?  Since the sun and I are mortal enemies, I do not need “after sun” recovery, because I load myself up enough sunblock and protective clothing/products.  I really hate these “recovery” products.  Just use enough damn sunblock the first time and save yourself $32 extra dollars and those wrinkles.

Evologie
Evologie® Intensive Blemish Serum
(Full Size: $35.00)
Description: ”Aside from obliterating blemishes (as if that weren’t enough), the serum also tackles scars and hyperpigmentation.”
Verdict: Not the best fit
I don’t really have much of a problem with acne and I’ve indicated that on my profile. This says it tackles scars and hyperpigmentation too, but those aren’t problems for me either.  I do get the occasional pimple so I’ll set this aside, but it really wasn’t a good choice for me.

Oribe
Oribe Côte d’Azur Eau de Parfum
(Full Size: $95.00)
Description: ”Enjoy the scent you love form Oribe, now in a perfume that lasts all day.
Verdict: You know they give these away for free at makeup counters?
Oribe makes fabulous hair products, the only problem with them is they have a very strong perfume scent.  I don’t use a lot of the Oribe products I own just because the scent gets to me.  Now, this product right here is a perfect example of why I canceled Birchbox.  Fragrances should not be included in the 5 products.  Every makeup counter will give these to you for free, plus so many people cannot handle strong scents.  Birchbox lets you select a “least” option for getting perfumes.  Out of 6 months of boxes, I chose a curated boxes twice.  Out of the remaining 4 months, I received a perfume sample 3 times.  Is it really worth me paying $10.70 a month to consistently receive a product I can’t use or opt out of?  When I got points for reviews it offset the cost, but now?  No way.  You can keep your tiny little vials of headaches, Birchbox.

Parlor Shampoo
PARLOR® by Jeff Chastain Moisturizing & Repairing Shampoo

(Full Size: $22.00)
Description: “A lightweight, sulfate-free cleanser infused with softening and strengthening ingredients.”
Verdict:  Again?
I don’t know how many products are in the Parlor line but I feel like I’ve gotten them all 10 times already.  For the love of god, try a new brand.

OVERALL
Birchbox June 2016
Verdict:
I’m a Sad Panda
This box came while Birchbox’s old review policy was in place so I paid $10.70 for this box and received $5.00 in Birchbox points with my reviews.  Even with the discount, this one was a stinker.  The only item I really liked was the Benefit product I chose and that product is super tiny.  The products don’t match my profile and it’s the same brands over and over again.  Where are the cool fun finds?  Hello, Birchbox if we haven’t bought Coola or Parlor by now, WE ARE NEVER GOING TO DO IT.  Birchbox is never going to last if they want folks to pay full price for such badly curated boxes.  They have a lot of great brands and unique products, they can do better.  At this point the only thing I’ll really miss about this sub are the cute cardboard boxes.

How do you feel about fragrances in beauty subs?  Are they appropriate as key items or should they only be used as “extras”?

THE BACKSTORY
Birchbox subscriptions cost $10 per month or $110 per year (Women’s Sub)
$20 per month or $195 per year (Men’s Sub)

Points System:
Whenever you buy something at Birchbox they give you Birchbox points. $1.00 = 1 Birchbox Point.
You can redeem reward points for money toward your Birchbox purchases.
You can also earn points by referring/subscribing friends.

Popsugar: March 2015

It’s time to finish out all the last of my March box stragglers, because I have a stack of new boxes I’m just waiting to rip open, carefully photograph and write about for you guys. Popsugar is one of my favorite subs and they’ve really been hitting all the marks on curation this year, so let’s see if they can keep up the trend.
Open Box

Bliss
Bliss Micromagic Microdermabrasion Treatment
(Suggested Retail: $48.00)
Category: Must Have Beauty
Description: “Scrub away winter dullness with this Micromagic Microdermabrasion Treatment from Bliss. Formulated with vitamin E, volcanic pumice, and aloe, the treatment will smooth and soothe skin for spa-perfect results at home.”
Verdict: Hit!
Bliss is one of my favorite brands, and their spas are my absolute favorite place to get a facial. I’ve always had good luck with their skin treatments and creams so I’m excited to give this one a shot during my next at-home spa day. I also think a microdermabrasion treatment is a great beauty pick for Spring.

Air Freshener
Greenmarket Purveying Co. The Archivist Lemon+Cucumber Reed Diffuser Kit
(Suggested Retail: $20.00)
Category: Must Have Home
Description: “”The smell of spring is in the air with this fresh and invigorating diffuser. Handmade with natural ingredients, this lemon-cucumber kit is the perfect way to refresh your sense for the bright season ahead.”
Verdict:
Love!
It’s that time of the year for spring cleaning, so once I’ve scrubbed down my kitchen and done some organization I’ll be breaking into this diffuser kit. Citrus and fresh scents are my absolute favorites in general and are perfect for the kitchen.

Pouch
Samudra Pink Pina Zip Pouch

(Suggested Retail: $40.00)
Category: Must Have Home
Description: “”We love this hot-pink zip pouch from Samudra. The see-through material is great for easy access to all your beach items. If pineapples and pina coladas don’t get you excited for warmer weather, we don’t know what will.”
Verdict: It’s like we took a trip to the dollar store in 1985
Lucky for you this is a Popsugar exclusive, so there is no chance of you getting stuck with one from a different sub box. I’d be stating the obvious to tell you this is ugly and cheap looking. You have eyes and my pictures are pretty clear. The part that really needs to be expanded on is that this is supposed to be worth $40. Like if you were paid minimum wage, you would need to work a little over 5 and a half hours in order to purchase this monstrosity. In NYC city speak it would be more than the cost of a weekly metrocard, plus a Big Mac from the giant Mickey D’s on 42nd, a dirty water dog from a street cart, with a couple bucks left over to tip the awesome bluegrass band that plays on Thursday mornings next to the shuttle train. Popsugar included a Samudra pouch in their 2014 Summer Box and that one was cloth and had a lovely costal scene. This one is just an insult.

Pad
Knock Knock What to Pack Pad
(Suggested Retail: $7.00)
Category: Must Have Home
Description: “Never forget to bring anything again! Knock Knock’s hand drawn What To Pack pad makes packing fun and easy.”
Verdict: Hit!
I’m a list-maker. I’ll admit it. It’s pretty much a compulsion. When it comes to packing for a trip I have spreadsheets. Yes, I meant that as plural. And yes, I absolutely need more than one, because…reasons. I don’t know if I travel enough to use this pad too frequently but it might pry me away from my computer and make my packing a little less…intense. At the very least it’s inspired me to put aside some of my sub box items into a travel kit for my next vacation (which will hopefully come sooner rather than later.)

Wet Brush
Wet Brush The Squirt
(Retail: $4.99)
Category: Must Have Beauty
Description: “Detangle your locks pain free with the Squirt from Wet Brush. Ideal for wet or dry hair, the famous intelliflex bristles eliminate hair breakage while also massaging the scalp. Plus, this travel size is perfect on the go.”
Verdict: Love!
I got the regular Wet Brush in my very first Popsugar Must Have box and it is a staple in my shower. I apply conditioner, throw on a shower cap, let my hair marinate for a few minutes, then brush through it and rinse. This is perfect for travel since I don’t want to lug that larger brush around. Another item that I’m adding to my in-progress travel kit.

Popcorn
Halfpops Halfpopped Popcorn
(Suggested Retail: $1.69)
Category: Must Have Food
Description: “With more crunch and less fluff, Halfpops’ tasty air-popped kernals prove that good things come in small packages. Delicious and gluten-free, get ready to experience ethe new generation of popcorn.”
Verdict: You’re not fooling anyone, this is the stuff you’re supposed to throw away after you make actual Popcorn.
I like popcorn except when I get a halfpopped kernel in my mouth. It’s too hard and gets stuck in my teeth and yuck.  Like nails on a chalkboard but in your mouth. It’s really the only thing I dislike about popcorn at all. And this is an entire bag of them. Why, dear lord why? Who thought of this? Do they also package up the little strings stuck to bananas or the shells on pistachios? I’m going to pretend I never saw these, we’ll all be happier for it.

SPECIAL EXTRA

Benefit 1 Benefit 2
Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash Mascara and POREfessional
Description: “This deluxe sample set is a must when it comes to packing! For smoother-than-smooth skin, apply POREfessional for a lightweight primer and finish eh look with this ultracurling Roller Lash Mascara.”
Verdict: Gift
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll remember that I already reviewed the Roller Lash and found it sorely lacking. I also own the POREfessional primer and I think that’s a fabulous product for minimizing pores. I already have a few of the primers in a trial size so I’ll be gifting this kit to someone else.

OVERALL:
March 2015 Popsugar Box

Verdict: Halfhearted

Oh Popsugar you were doing, so so well this year, but the streak is broken.   While this box does have some high points, its lows are just too hard to overlook. Excluding the Benefit deluxe sample, the “value” on this box is supposed to be $121.68, but if you remove the $40 pouch that is nearly worthless, the value jumps down to $81.68, which is far below what you expect from a Popsugar box.  Luckily I like and can use the Bliss product, but if you can’t this box is not even going to be worth the $42.75 pricetag you paid to get it home.

From a curation standpoint, this box has too many ideas going on. One was Spring! Rejuvenation! Fresh! And the other was Travel! Vacation! (Although I have no idea where halfpopped corn fits into either). I wish Popsugar had gone with Spring for this box, and done the travel one in April or May (which would be a perfect transition to summer). January and February had such thoughtful, tight curations they made this one seem like even more of a mess.

Did you get the March Popsugar box? If so, what did you think of the $40 Pouch and halfpopped corn?

POPSUGAR NEWS!

Remember how I said that I was taking a break from Popsugar LE boxes, because I was uber disappointed with my 2014 Neiman Marcus box? Well, I finally took the plunge and decided to give Popsugar another chance with one of the pricey CFDA LE boxes.  I’m taking a bill risk on this box, because I devoted a chunk of my Spring wardrobe budget to it, so be sure to check back to see if my gamble paid off.

THE BACKSTORY

Popsugar is a women’s lifestyle subscription that delivers a monthly box of fun, full-size products hand-selected by Popsugar editors.

In addition to Popsugar’s monthly must have boxes, they have some seasonal special edition boxes that contain uber luxe items.  The price tag on these boxes is higher, but the products you receive are high end.

Popsugar Pricing:
Monthly – $39.95
3 Months – $109.85
6 Months – $214.70
12 Months – $404.40

Coupon Codes:  REFER5 = $5 off site wide
POPSUGAR10 = $10 off a 3 month subscription

Birchbox: August 2014

As we’re heading into this warm September, I still have a few August boxes to show you guys. Included in these stragglers is my August Birchbox.

Box

So the usual cute Birchbox.
Box2

Now for what’s inside.
Open Box

Anyone else tired of the unbiquitous “keep calm” memes? Show of hands?

Open Box 2

This month’s theme is “Lighten up.” And it’s supposed to help us keep “cool” and laugh “our way into fall”. Interesting. Let’s see if it lives up to the hype.

Liner
Noir Cosmetics Long-Wear Eyeliner
(Retail: $15.00)
Description: Thanks to vitamin E and jojoba oil, the crayon has an uncommonly smooth texture that makes it easy to draw a rich line without pulling the sensitive skin around your eyes.”
Verdict: Miss/Gift
So Birchbox has been sending out emails to allow us to choose one sample in our boxes. Previously, I’d received my emails with no problem until the August choice, when my email didn’t take me to the selection page. I assumed that the email was only an announcement and the selection email would come later. Sadly, I was wrong. This eyeliner was one of the options subscribers could choose from.  Once I knew I’d lost my choice, I was sure I’d get this, since it was the one option that would be totally useless for me. I very very rarely wear black eyeliner. As a pale redhead I just look goth if I try to wear this outside of an evening look. I didn’t swatch this since I wanted to gift it. I’d love to see less black eyeliners in these boxes. Most subscribers have a ton of black (or don’t use it at all) and it’s not like there is much shade variation there.  How many black eyeliners do you really need?  At least with another neutral like brown or gray you have more shade variations to work with.

Shampoo
amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo
(5.3 oz Retail: $21.00)
Description: The weightless spray absorbs excess oil and dirt, leaving locks clean and deodorized as well as lighter and softer. Plus, it can be used on color-treated hair.”
Verdict: Gift
This may win the award for most adorable travel sized packaging. Unfortunately, I am well stocked with dry shampoo of both regular and travel size but I’m putting together a travel beauty kit as a gift and this will be the perfect addition.

Naobay Body Radiance Lotion
(250 ml Retail: $24)
Description: “Olive oil, shea butter, and avocado oil deliver serious moisture, while aloe vera soothes and protects skin.”
Verdict: Meh
For some reason I forgot to take a picture of this one (Sorry folks, guess old age is finally getting to me). There are so many lotions on the market, that for me to rush out and buy one it has to wow me and this just doesn’t. It’s light, the smell is inoffensive, and it seems to moisturize well enough, but it’s not compelling in any way. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but it’s just not a win for me.

BBDr. Jart+ Dis-A-Pore Beauty Balm
(1.7 oz Retail: $36.00)
Description: “”This tinted BB cream, for use on combination to oily skin, treats and tightens pores and fine lines for a smooth, even complexion. At the same time, the all-in-one formula protects skin from harmful UV rays and hydrates as it works to keep oils at bay.”
Verdict: More Meh
For vampires like me, spf 30 isn’t enough.   I have combination skin and I didn’t find that this did much for my pores (which are quite large and noticeable). I also found the coverage on this just a bit too sheer for my taste.   Another miss.

Eye CreamBenefit It’s Potent! Eye Cream
(.5 oz – Retail: $34.00)
Description: Lush hydrator that brightens dark circles and boosts skin’s elasticity over time.”
Verdict: Meh Squared
So I actually love trying out eye creams. I think they are a really important part of a skincare routine, but these packets are so tiny there’s no way to determine if this cream is effective. There are some products that can work decently in foil packets (hair styling creams, shampoos/conditioners, perfumes, body creams, face masks, etc) but eye creams and anti-aging products do not fall into that category. And while those little cardboard containers may look kind of big there is only an itty bitty tiny amount in each one. There is no way for me to judge an eye cream adequately after only 2 uses. It’s just a waste to put this in the box. Now if this had been a small tube where I could at least get a week’s worth of applications, this would have been a “love”.

 Full Box
OVERALL
Verdict:
Meh to infinity & beyond!

I’m finding the theme here to be a bit mixed. I guess the dry shampoo and the spf 30 BB cream go with the lighten up, but how does a black liner called “noir” fit into that?  Nothing about black gel liner feels “light” to me.

This was probably the biggest miss for me since signing up with Birchbox. I was super disappointed that I missed out on picking my sample since there were a few options I would have loved and that on their own would have made this box a success.

Because I made a regular Birchbox purchase with a special coupon code, I got this month’s Birchbox for free and after reviewing each item, my points earned me the equivalent of $5.00, so despite my dislike of this box, I still came out ahead.

What did you get in your August Birchbox? Did the items jive with the “lighten up” theme?

THE BACKSTORY

Birchbox subscriptions cost $10 per month or $110 per year.

Your options: Women’s Box or Men’s Box

Points System:
Whenever you buy something at Birchbox they give you Birchbox points. $1.00 = 1 Birchbox Point.
Each 100 Birchbox reward points can be redeemed for $10.00.
You can also earn points by reviewing the samples they send you (10 points per sample) and referring/subscribing friends. If your review all the items you receive in your box each month, you’ll receive 50 Birchbox rewards points!
If you purchase a full size of one of the sample items they sent you in that same month, you receive free shipping on them and often extra points.

Road Trip Beauty Essentials: Blog Hop Post

I’m part of a fabulous Beauty & Fashion bloggers group on Facebook and each month they host a blog hop.  This month’s topic was 5 beauty essentials you’d grab for a last minute road trip.  With winter being so brutal this year, the wanderlust beats strong in my heart so I couldn’t resist joining in.
Background

My Destination:  I live in northern NJ, just outside NYC so I’d head out to Connecticut.  I’d spend a night at Foxwoods casino playing some slots, seeing a comedy show and grabbing a fancy pants dinner at David Burke’s Prime.  The next day we’d head out to pick up some Sheer Chardonnay from Stonington Vineyards then go antiquing in Putnam at the Antiques Marketplace with lunch at the Courthouse Bar & Grille.

If you’re a subscription box junkie like me, you always want to grab the cool beauty finds from your latest boxes and run with them.  I figured we’d start off with a few fun things from recent boxes and then add on my 5 beauty essentials to create an effortless and versatile look.

Let’s start with something compact to hold our beauty products.  The Gorgana clutch from the February Popsugar box is billed as a “jewelry roll” but it will be perfect to hold our makeup and can double as a great clutch for that nice steakhouse dinner.  In that same Popsugar box, we received a Modelco lipgloss/lipstick duo.  Two in one products are great when you don’t want to pack a ton of stuff and this shade is a lovely neutral.  Let’s grab one more goodie from our boxes…an eye sheen from the Julep February Maven Boxes.  I received the Dusty Taupe and it’s a pinkish shimmery neutral that is fabulous for day or night.
Box Items

Now that we’ve grabbed some fun new things, let’s dive into our five beauty standbys.

It Cosmetics
Your Skin But Better CC Cream with SPF 50+

(Retail: $38.00)
Description:
IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream with SPF 50+ is your Full Coverage Color Correcting Cream, Anti-Aging Serum, plus Broad Spectrum Physical Only SPF 50+ all in one! Paraben-free and SPF 50+ UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum, Physical Only, Non-Chemical Sunscreen. The anti-aging hydrating formula is infused with peptides, niacin, algae, vitamins A, C, B, E, hyaluronic acid, and hydrolyzed collagen along with anti-oxidants and exotic natural botanicals for long-term brightening and color-correcting benefits.”

This guy is a multi-tasker if ever there was one and I use it every day in the “Fair” shade.  It’s like a cross between a tinted moisturizer and foundation.  It gives you a ton of coverage, but isn’t super heavy and doesn’t look like you’re wearing a mask.  It’s also got a high SPF so you don’t have to worry about constantly reapplying sunscreen to your face and the serum aspect gives your complexion that dewy youthful look.  It’s easy to apply with your fingers so no need to pack any brushes or sponges for this.

It Cosmetics Hello Lashes Clinically Proven 5-in-1 Mascara
(Retail: $24.00)
Description:
Hello Lashes Clinically Proven 5-in-1 Mascara revolutionizes and takes the place of 5 products: 1) Your natural volumizing mascara, 2) Your conditioning, hydrating lash primer, 3) Your lash enhancing serum, 4) Your lash tint and 5) your lash comb/curler! Hello Lashes Clinically Proven 5-in-1. The triple brush lengthens, curls and separates lashes while the innovative Magic Wand Lash Ball Detailer tip is designed to reach every last inner and outer corner lash.”

So I’m one of those folks with oily lashes.  Mascaras will often end up giving me those giant raccoon eye smudges after five minutes of wearing.  This one not only stays put, but it gives me volume and curl, so no need to pack an eyelash curler.   It also has a unique brush design that has a spiky little tip which allows you to go in and get all those little lashes that the regular brush can miss.

Benefit
Benefit Fine-One-One
(Retail: $30.00)
Description:
This creamy stick features lovely coral, watermelon, and champagne pigments that blend together for a sheer wash of color. The swipe-on stick is supereasy to apply—great for times when you’re on the go.  This goofproof tint features a cream-to-powder formula that goes on sheer and imparts a lasting pink hue that blends coral, watermelon, and champagne colors. The multidimensional shade brightens dull cheeks and works as both a blush and highlighter. You can also wear it as a pretty lip tint.

This product is so easy to apply and gives the perfect mix of color.  It is a really natural shade that compliments nearly every skin tone.  The stick includes a highlight and contour shade as well, so it’s an everything in one.  Just swipe on and then blend with your fingertips.  You get a fresh, youthful and natural look. It’s that easy.

Laura Mercier
Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour in Khaki
(Retail: $26.00)
Description:
This no-fuss, creamy eye shadow stick delivers easy application and high-definition color. The long-lasting formula glides on smoothly, blends easily, and is resistant to unwanted creases. The possibilities are many. Wear as a liner, shadow, or both, for a flawless finish.”

Laura Mercier caviar eye sticks are amazing.  You can use them as a fabulous eye shadow or line your eyes for the easiest smoky look you’ve ever tried.  The Khaki shade is perfect.  It looks great on everyone and it can transition from day to night with no problem.  I’m extremely pale but have brown eyes.  A smoky eye with black or gray can look severe, and brown or bronze doesn’t really bring out my eye color.  But Khaki is the perfect compromise.  Dark enough for that edgy look, but with enough color to keep me from looking too goth.  Apply that Julep eye sheen over you lid and crease and then line your eyes with this for a perfect day to night eye.  If you want a full smoky eye for the evening you can apply to your entire lid.

Laura Mercier Smooth Focus Pressed Setting Powder – Shine Control
(Retail: $34.00)
Description:
Laura Mercier Smooth Focus Pressed Setting Powder – Shine Control is a lightweight, oil-free powder that visibly eliminates shine and produces a fresh, matte complexion. The naturally derived Shine Control Complex controls oil breakthrough and the ultra-sheer, mint green shade works to correct redness and visibly even out the skintone. It’s ideal for touch-ups throughout the day as it keeps your complexion flawless and shine-free.”

An easy to apply powder that controls shine is a must have in your bag.  I keep one of these in my purse at all times.  It’s perfect for keeping shine away and evens out skintone.  The mirrored compact design is perfect for a quick touchup.

Full Bag
The best part about these beauty must haves is they are all multi-taskers that don’t require you to pack any brushes.   I also managed to fit everything into that cute little clutch.  Ultimate cosmic (beauty) power!  Itty bitty living space.

Have you tried any of my must haves?  If so, what did you think?

Are you planning a road trip?  If so, where are you heading?

To read some other fabulous blogs on the subject, take a look at my fellow blog hop participants.   Happy Reading!

BLOG LINK LIST