February 2016 Ipsy Review #2: VINTAGE by Jessica Liebeskind Sparkling Lipgloss

I’m weirdly proud of the way this picture came out.

My relationship with lipgloss has had its ups and downs. I use to wear it all the time as a teenager, since I saw it as something a little more sophisticated than lip balm, but not so grown-up as lipstick. Though, with teenagers nowadays knowing how to contour and color correct, everything is fair game.

Even as a teenager, I was never a huge fan of lipgloss, because of its sticky and heavy texture. Of course, companies have vastly improved their formulas since I left high school ten years ago but it hasn’t been my go-to lip product. I just preferred lipstick (matte and creamy finish) to the glossy look. Plus, my lips are naturally plump and I sometimes didn’t like the way clearer glosses made them look a lot bigger. It called too much attention and I wasn’t a fan.

Since my teen years, I’ve discovered some wonderful opaque colored glosses that I absolutely love (hello, NYX Butter Gloss!). Thanks to these, I have a more open mind when it comes to gloss finishes.

Ipsy sent my way the VINTAGE by Jessica Liebeskind Sparkling Lipgloss in Pink Sequin (USD $21.00, full size). Any lipgloss at that price point means I have to measure it up against not only my fave drugstore glosses, but the pricey ones I can find at Sephora and Ulta.

So much sparkle. So much pink.

When I initially swatched the formula on my hand, I was a little worried. This gloss seemed to be a sheer one with a ton of sparkle. I’m talking way more sparkle than I’m comfortable with. I don’t mind shimmer (hello, I’m a highlighter addict), but sparkle has never been my thing.

This lipgloss was reminding me of the stuff I wore in high school when glitter was all the rage (on the eyes, the lips, the body, t-shirt writing…everything was covered in glitter). The pinky color and packaging also reminded me of the glosses you’d see a little girl get in a play makeup kit. Needless to say, my expectations weren’t very high.

Enough sparkle to make a unicorn jealous.

First impressions on putting it on was that this was a phenomenal formula. This gloss applied well and settled on to the lips comfortably. I did like how the applicator was one of those painter’s brushes instead of the traditional doe foot. It works well for sheerer glosses. The pinky color of this shade was actually a good match to my lips’ natural color. The overall affect was definitely SPARKLE…but not terribly in your face.

I wore this gloss over an entire day and was very impressed with how it held up. Of course, I had to reapply in between meals. However, I didn’t find the gloss to be heavy, sticky, or to dry out the lips. I’m not sure how, but some formulas are drying. This one, however, is actually on the hydrating side.

While this gloss was much prettier than I expected and had a dream formula, in the end I probably would not buy from the Sparkling Lipgloss line. Sparkle just isn’t my personal aesthetic. However, with a formula this great I would be very interested in trying a more opaque gloss from VINTAGE or really any other lip product from them. This has been a very promising introduction to a new (to me) makeup line.

Rating: 5/5. If you want to get your sparkle on, but don’t want to look like a glitter bomb exploded on your lips, VINTAGE’s Sparkling Lipgloss are a great option. The sheer finish makes it ideal to wear on the lips alone or over your favorite lip color. The price point is comparative to what you’d pay at Sephora, but the formula is absolutely wonderful. Could you find something similar at the drugstore? I don’t know for sure since I’ve only purchase opaque glosses. But let me know if there are comparable sheer/sparkly glosses at the drugstore.

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February 2016 Ipsy Review #1: It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product

Because I don’t already have a million leave in conditioner samples in my stash.

I can’t blame Ipsy for sending me a product that I’ve already tried and owned in the past. After all, there’s not really a section where I can check off those products. Though, I did let them know in my February feedback that I’ve tried It’s a 10’s various conditioning treatments and would no longer like to receive any. In fact, I’d be down for not getting any more conditioning treatments in any of my subscriptions for a while. It’s nice to keep a travel size bottle or two for trips, but most of the time I stick with what already works for my hair.

That being said, this is by no means a bad brand or a bad product. If you’ve been on the beauty scene for a while, then you’re at least familiar with the name. It’s a 10 has a whole line of hair care products that you can buy at the drugstore or Ulta. It’s definitely way more affordable than luxe brands like Living Proof, Amika, and Bumble & Bumble, but it’s also not the most affordable in haircare. Ipsy sent me the Miracle Leave-In Product (USD $18 for 4 oz or $36 for 10 oz). You are getting a ton of product for the price, so definitely don’t feel like you’re wasting your money if you buy this.

I remember when this first came out, there was so much hype around it. It was suppose to be this magical hair product that could do everything: condition, add shine, repair split ends, heat protect, etc. You’d think this stuff was made of unicorn tears.

In all honesty, this is a VERY versatile hair product. It’s nourishing enough to act like a conditioning treatment in wet hair (though, in my opinion, very damaged hair will need something heavier), but light enough to use as a styling cream or a touch-up product on dry hair between washes. It also smells really good. Back in the day when I used It’s a 10, I really liked it.

So why did I stop using it? Well, when I started coloring my hair my needs changed. It’s a 10 just simply couldn’t meet what I needed. More than a leave-in treatment, I now need deeper conditioning whenever I wash my hair, which is why I resort to a hair mask.

What about as a styling cream? I still think It’s a 10 works fabulously as such. However, I found that for my personal hair needs, Living Proof’s PhD 5 in 1 Styling Treatment just works better. My hair does what I want it to more easily. It’s nitpicky, but in the end Living Proof won out, despite the higher price point.

And as a touch-up treatment on the ends? Yes, absolutely, it works really well as that. But yet again, I found that Bumble & Bumble’s Hair Dresser Oil just delivers slightly more of that shine and softness that I need to liven up the ends of my hair between washes.

So who is this good for? I’d say, if you cannot afford higher end hair products or you can’t spend your money on so many hair products, It’s a 10 is probably your best bet. Also, if you’re not as high maintenance about your hair as I am and want a product that is great at multitasking, this is absolutely for you.

Who knows? There may be a day when I come back to this product. For now, I’ve passed along this well sized sample to a friend who already loves it.

Rating: 5/5. It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product hits it out of the park. It’s versatile, nourishing, and priced just right. While there are definitely other products out there that can perform better, I have yet to find one at a higher price point that is as versatile as this.

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February 2016 Birchbox Review #5: ARROW Boost Color Enhancing Lip Balm

Guys, GUYS. Birchbox is hitting it out of the park!

We’ve finally reached the whole reason I passed on February’s Editor Box. Ever since Birchbox announced they’d be expanding their own makeup line to include everyday, active makeup I got incredibly excited. I was so impressed with their Love of Color makeup line and thought they’d do a great job with these new products. I watched the previews and thought, “I really want to try this.” When I saw one of the monthly sample choices was a product from the line, all bets were off. I was getting this.

Here is how Birchbox describes their ARROW line:

“Specializing in lightweight, long-wearing makeup and refreshing skincare, Birchbox beauty brand ARROW is designed to keep up with your on-the-go, active life—whether that means going straight from pilates to brunch or just powering through an action-packed, appointment-filled day. Each breathable product creates a fresh, natural, beautiful effect, so you can feel cool and confident from an A.M. gym session to a late-night work session (and everywhere in between).”

In the box this month was the ARROW BOOST Color Enhancing Lip Balm (USD $14.00, full size). For that price, I expect it to be some great lip balm. Not only should it be moisturizing, but it also has to deliver great pigmentation. As you can guess from the name, this lip balm is a “color smart” product, meaning the color on your lips will differ depending on your own body’s pH. So everyone gets a unique color.

Here’s the “before” shot of my lips. No pigment, but just a little bit of Aquifer, because they were feeling a wee bit dry. Good thing my nostrils were clean.

As a balm, it’s pretty moisturizing. The balm itself is quite lightweight and doesn’t feel like vaseline on the lips, making it very wearable. It’s also not at all sticky. I wore this to the gym several time and didn’t have the issue of fly-away hair sticking to my lips, like you do with some balms. The moisture won’t last all day and, like most lip balms, you will need to reapply.

This particular balm does have a light minty scent. It isn’t overpowering and I don’t see anything in the ingredients showing that it has peppermint oil, which can be drying, or fragrance, which can cause irritation. I do see some typical emollient seed oils and some hyaluronic acid (score!), as well as mango butter. Vegans should note this does have beeswax.

After applying the balm and letting the color set.

The color smart claim is legitimate. After applying the balm, I noticed the color adjusting within 5 seconds. I already have quite pigmented lips, but the color adjusted to a slightly darker, flushed pink. It could pass for being my natural lip color and was lovely.

Being completely honest, I was impressed with the lasting power of the color. It lasted through my whole workout…and I don’t mess around. I was covered in sweat, red in the face, but my lips still looked hydrated and prettily pigmented. This lip balm isn’t going anywhere. I even wore it through showering and it STILL didn’t come off.

The color does fade a bit as the balm wears off with eating and drinking, but will reappear once again when you reapply. Like most tinted balm, do be careful when reapplying because it’s still slightly prone to color build-up in lip lines from the wax collecting there. Just a quick swipe with a napkin before reapplying will take care of the problem.

Rating: 5/5. I love this lip balm. It’s what I wear every day to the gym  and on days when I don’t want to wear lipstick or gloss but still want a hint of color. It’s amazing. Right now, ARROW only has three products in the line, but since the launch went well I see they’re adding more! So excited to try!

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February 2016 Birchbox Review #4: Catherine Malandrino Romance de Provence Eau de Parfum

Man, everyone wants Catherine Malandrino to happen.

Perfume samples in subscription boxes can be so hit or miss. I don’t mind receiving them, but they’re not my favorite. I’ve actually only had one perfume sample work out for me in the four years I’ve been receiving subscriptions. (That would be Harvey Prince’s Sincerely). I also don’t like reviewing them too much, because scents are all about personal preference and what works with your body chemistry. A perfume can smell amazing on one person and terribly on another. Still, the review must go on!

I’ve received a few Catherine Malandrino samples from Birchbox and Boxycharm and have been less than impressed. This pricey perfume line’s scents just don’t work well for me. I find them both too sweet and too mature for my taste. (Full disclosure, there’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with being “mature” or liking “mature” scents. They’re just not my personal favorite.)

Birchbox served us up with yet another perfume from Catherine Malandrino, this time the Romance de Provence Eau de Parfum (USD $80.00 for 1.5 oz). See, I told you this brand was pricey. The scent is described as beginning “with subtle fruity layers and opens up to a floral bouquet of jasmine, orange flower, rose, violet and lily (all against a backdrop of powder musk, amber, and patchouli)”. When I read the description, the fact that amber and orange flower, two of my favorite notes, made me a little more excited to try this perfume.

For reference, I have two types of fragrance preferences: very light, non sweet citrus scents and warm, amber and sandalwood scents. Here’s a link to the Harvey Prince Sincerely ingredients so you’ll get an idea of my scent preference.

And here’s what’s up: this is definitely miles beyond the other scents I’ve tried from this brand. The warmer background notes definitely make this perfume more pleasant. I can definitely sense the orange flower in there. However, it is still way too sweet for my personal taste. The fruity notes are just too strong.

Sweet scents just don’t mix well with my body chemistry. It’s not sugary sweet, but still strong enough that I didn’t like the way it meshed with my skin. However, I think this perfume could smell quite lovely on someone with the right body chemistry.

Rating: 3/5. While this scent is still too sweet for my taste and didn’t work with my body chemistry, if you love fruity scents against warmer notes, this perfume may be up your alley. Still, $80.00 for an eau de parfum still seems very pricey. Definitely make sure to try this in person before making an investment.

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February 2016 Birchbox Review #3: BORGHESE Fango Purificante Clay Cleanser

Oh, Birchbox. At least you tried.

A lot of times when I get skincare items in Ipsy or Birchbox, they miss the mark by a mile on my skin type. When I was a teenager and in my early twenties, my skin was quite oily (thanks, hormones!) and I would have killed for a good clay based cleanser. As I’ve gotten older, my skin as gotten a little drier. Now, I have more combination skin (normal with a slightly more oily t-zone). So with this clay based cleanser, they sort of got it right.

I’m incredibly picky about my face cleansers, because even though my oiliness has calmed down I can be acne and irritation prone. I did a ton of research before committing to my current cleansers, which have worked out really well. I wasn’t in the market for a new cleanser, but I thought why not? Let’s see how this does.

Borghese Fango Purificante Clay Cleanser (USD $30.00 for 3.5 oz) is a pricey clay based cleanser. Granted, you are getting 3.5 oz, but $30 is still a pretty penny to pay for a cleanser. But some high end skincare is super amazing, so I won’t hold the price against it.  The packaging of the full size is also a squeeze tube, which is perfect for dispensing without exposing the cleanser to the elements and bacteria.

What this cleanser has going for it is that it’s suppose to be a gentle cleanser made out of Tuscan clay. Let’s be real, it doesn’t really matter where the clay comes from…dirt is dirt. But clay can absolutely be a great oil extractor for those of us with oily patches. As for the “gentle” claim, the ingredients almost all check out. There are a lot of safe, natural, and beneficial ingredients such as some clarifying oils, amino acids, and (my personal favorite) hyaluronic acid. These are all great because they will gently cleanse and repair the skin without leaving behind excess oil.

The one flaw: this cleanser has fragrance, skincare enemy number one. I did some research and it looks like this doesn’t have too much fragrance in it. Plus, since the cleanser does wash away it won’t stay on the skin. Still, if you have very sensitive skin and know you don’t react well to fragrance, you may want to keep away.

I actually think this could be a fabulous cleanser for folks that have extremely oily skin and a normal cleanser just isn’t cutting it. However, my skin was not a fan. The problem was that the clay and a few of the oil cleansing ingredients extracted too much moisture from my skin.

What I did was swap my typical nighttime cleanser, Marcelle Hydra-C Facial Exfoliating Gel, for the Borghese. I use a more exfoliating cleanser at night, to control my oily t-zone. This one from Marcelle works great for my combo skin and doesn’t dry out the rest of my face. I could tell immediately that the Borghese was doing its job of extracting oil. My skin felt super tight and dry, even after going through my moisturizing routine. This bad boy is powerful.

But it absolutely overpowered my skin. By day 5 of using this cleanser, my skin looked severely parched and was starting to feel itchy from being dry. I immediately stopped using it and did a few moisture masks to reverse the effects.

I don’t think this cleanser is bad at all. It’s just not a good match for someone who has anything drier than oily skin. I think someone with my skin type is better off sticking with gentler cleansers and just using the occasional clay based mask on their oily areas.

Rating: 4/5. While this cleanser was not a good match for my normal/oily combo skin, I do think this could work wonders for people who have severely oily skin and need to get it under control. Fragrance aside, the ingredients are very promising and, in my experience, do work at extracting oil.

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February 2016 Birchbox Review #2: Color Club Nail Polish in That’s My Jam

Because we all paint our nails on our nights in. (It’s not just me, right?)

Continuing the theme of girl’s night in, Birchbox sent me a mini nail polish from Color Club in That’s My Jam, (USD $8.50, full size). The color is one that’s exclusive at Birchbox and is described as deep wine color that “walks the line between pink and red”. This is a spot on color description and is exactly what you’ll get. I’m not the biggest fan of red nail polish, but I still wanted to test out the formula.

I’ve heard mixed reviews about Color Club, but had yet to try anything myself. I’m always down for exploring outside of my usual brands (OPI, Essie, and Formula X).

The formula went on pretty well. The first coat was a tad bit streaky, but dried down nicely. By the second coat, I got full opacity. While I don’t like to wear red, I can’t deny that the color applies beautifully. It’s a little lighter than what it looks like in the bottle, but that makes it a great red for the spring.

At-home polish job. Please ignore any messiness.

Staying power was decent. Though I accidentally chipped one of my thumbnails by attacking a zipper (my bad), the rest of my nails didn’t start chipping until 5 days in, which is pretty astounding. And by “chip” I mean barely noticeable chips, not gigantic chunks. I actually got a solid 8 days of wear out of this before I had to take off the polish because I wanted to change the color.

Rating: 5/5. I’m not sure if this polish lasted a long time because of the polish itself or because of my base and top coat. Either way, it lasted a long time and I would love to try some other colors from this brand.

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February 2016 Birchbox Review #1: Corioliss Argan Conditioning Mask

Another day, another hair mask

I’ve been feeling down about getting hair masks in my subscription boxes. Over the past few months, I’ve been inundated with them and I’m over it. It doesn’t help that I already use two hair masks that I absolutely love and don’t see myself straying from any time soon. Still, it’s always interesting to see if there’s anything out there that would beat what I currently use.

The theme of Birchbox’s February box was having a night in. A hair mask is clearly fitting, as you could use a night in to treat your hair. Argan oil is a great way to restore moisture and softness back into hair. Corioliss Argan Conditioning Mask (USD $40, full size) is a pricey hair mask that boasts ingredients like argan oil, vitamin e, and fatty acids that are suppose to repair hair. I also spotted sea buckthorn oil (which is also in my favorite Amika hair mask), a bunch of other oils (jojoba, wheat germ, and rosemary), and interestingly tea tree oil extract. This ingredient was a little puzzling, because I’ve always heard of it being used as an astringent or a scalp cleanser. Still, a promising ingredient list.

Since I only wash my hair two to three times a week, I always use a hair mask. This just works best for my hair. I just swapped out my Amika for the Corioliss while I tried this. The mask itself is pretty lightweight and smells nice and clean. Toweling off, I could tell that the mask hadn’t over moisturized my hair (something that I’ve had happen with conditioners and masks). The last thing anyone wants is heavy, greasy feeling hair.

I blow out my hair before either straightening or curling. At this stage, I can also get a good look at my ends and judge how well a hair mask worked. My ends did feel really nice and soft. My hair was very manageable. However, I did notice a difference in texture between this and the Amika mask. My hair was a little duller than usual, and the ends, while soft feeling, still looked dried out and did not style quite as nicely.

I wanted to make sure this wasn’t just a styling fluke, so I continued using this mask for the next couple of washes. But each time I got the same results: soft, but dull looking hair.

It’s too bad, because this mask almost has it right. It might be that my color treated ends (I use the balayage technique) were just too much for this mask. So while it may still be too nourishing for people with really oily locks, if you don’t color treat your hair this might work for you.

Rating: 3/5. This mask has such promising ingredients, but just wasn’t enough for my hair. While it does deliver softer, more manageable locks, it just fell short of giving me healthy looking hair. Still, it may be worth a shot for people who don’t color their hair.

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