May 2016 Birchbox Review #3: Model Co. Lip Lacquer Lipgloss

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The smallest lipgloss sample ever…minus those absurd lip sample packets from certain brands.

Matte liquid lipsticks have been reigning over the lip market for the past two years. I love the super matte lip look, but it can get a little mundane. Not to mention, super drying for the lips. This summer, however, lipgloss made its comeback. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with lip gloss since I started wearing makeup mainly because the formulas available when I was a teenager were sticky and super heavy feeling. I still cringe at that sensation and heavily associate it with lipgloss.

Any time I try a new gloss, I go in assuming that it’s going to be this horrible heavy curtain of stickiness. This is despite me knowing that formulas have improved so much since my teenage days of sparkly gloss. (I swear, there was a glitter explosion in the early 2000s.)

In May’s box, I received the Model Co. Lip Laquer in the shade Creme Brûlée (USD $24.00, full size). The gloss is suppose to be fully opaque and deliver a hydrating formula. From the description, this is my preferred type of lipgloss. Even though shimmery lipgloss is making a comeback in the fall, my preferred finishes are either sheer or a solid color with no shimmer. Though I will say that ColourPop put out some beautiful metallic finish glosses that I really enjoy. I also like that it’s hydrating because some glosses can weirdly dry out the lips. How? I have no clue.

This is a straight nude colored gloss — no pink or peach undertones, just a true nude.I’ve seen Kim Kardashian West rock the super nude lip gloss for a long time and been envious of the fact that I’ve never been able to pull it off. I was hoping this color would finally let me see if I could make a true nude glossy lip work

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A very true nude, indeed.

The Creme Brûlée color itself is stunning. For a true nude, this did not wash me out. However, I do suggest wearing this only if you have other makeup on your face or else it might wash you out.

True to its description, Model Co.’s Lip Lacquer did go on with full opacity. One swipe and I had the color I wanted. There was no patchiness, which is the number one thing you don’t want with a solid color gloss.

Luckily, the formula on this was very lightweight, nonsticky, and hydrating. It felt so incredibly comfortable and I totally forgot I was wearing it. It’s truly a beautiful formula. However, I do have one complaint.

At first, I thought this was because I hadn’t properly exfoliated my lips, but this still happened when I retested. After a couple of hours of wear, I noticed a white ring forming along my inner lip. I suspect that the white in the formula began to separate from some of the other color.

That’s the only thing that’s keeping me from repurchasing this lipgloss. I’m not a fan of ending up with that ring. It might not be a deal breaker for someone else, as you can easily fix it. But it was annoying enough for me to not want to repurchase, especially since I don’t have this problem with a lot of the other gloss I own, both more affordable and high end.

Bottom line: Model Co. offers a stunning nude gloss color that doesn’t wash out my tan complexion. The formula is incredibly comfortable. If they were to correct the whole white ring situation, I would love to try this again.

If you’d like to subscribe to Birchbox, follow the link!

 

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August 2016 Beauty Subscriptions Are Here!

Yes, it’s been a magical week of packages in the mail, which means beauty subscriptions have arrived! Overall, I’m very pleased with what was sent my way. Let’s dig in:

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Fantastic Birchbox!

Yes, it’s been a magical week of packages in the mail, which means beauty subscriptions have arrived! Overall, I’m very pleased with what was sent my way. Let’s dig in:

When Birchbox makes a great feature box, the beauty gods sing. This box includes:

  • Two past favorites (Marcelle Golden Glow BB Cream and Beauty Protector Detangler
  • A pack of 12 cleansing wipes from Acure
  • A mini Stila Liquid Lipstick (in a shade that will actually work universally!)
  • Hair oil from Living Proof
  • I also got a bonus packet of a water supplement. Sometimes, Birchbox throws in these random food samples, but I don’t mind them.

Phenomenal box, Birchox.

What isn’t so phenomenal, though, is the changes they made to their reward program. You no longer get 10 reward points for reviewing each product! This is a huge letdown, as they had the best rewards system out there. You can still earn points when you shop in their shop and you’re essentially getting a free dollar for each dollar you spend. You also don’t have to wait to reach the full 100 points to redeem each $10 reward, which is great. But still, I really think they should have kept some points for reviewing the samples. I can understand them possibly losing money for giving 10 points per sample review, but maybe lower it to 5 instead of getting rid of it all together?

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Gorgeous artwork from Michelle Phan

Ipsy also killed it this month. First, a moment to appreciate the gorgeous bag Michelle Phan designed for August. I’m getting Mermaid Unicorn Princess vibes and loving it. This is definitely a bag I want to keep. The products inside were also really great on first impression:

  • A sheet mask from 111Skin, which is a very pricey brand. I love sheet asks, so please keep them coming!
  • A liquid Illuminator from NYX. Love NYX and always down to try more from them.
  • An eyeshadow trio from Jelly Pong Pong. Beautiful pinky neutral shimmers, though I do wish it included a matte shade.
  • A full size nail polish from Ciaté! I already love this nail polish brand and am so stoked to get a full size!
  • And an organic face scrub. I love me a good scrub, especially one that’s more nourishing for treat yourself bath days.

A+ from Ipsy in August.

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A solid box from Boxycharm.

Boxycharm’s offering in August was also very good. Of course, it doesn’t live up to the beloved March box, but there are some really interesting items:

  • A serum from Aloette. I’m always down to try a new facial serum.
  • A liquid lipstick from Dirty Little Secret. Never heard of them, but I love discovering and supporting indie companies. Some of my favorite liquid lipsticks come from indie brands. The only complaint I have is that I wish we had received a more on-trend color for the season. The color we do get is an orangey red, which is very pretty, but definitely outside the more muted colors that are in style. This is a problem Boxycharm has had consistently. I know “on trend” colors can cost more, but it’d be nice to see some of them from time to time.
  • Doucce Maxlash Volumizer Mascara. I remember trying their Punk Volumizer Mascara in last year’s October Boxycharm. Great mascara, if a little too much on the clumpy side for my taste. Maybe this one will be more up my alley.
  • Beauty For Real Shadow Stick. I’ve tried and liked some stuff from this brand before. And the color of this shadow stick is very pretty and great for every day wear. Shadow sticks aren’t my preferred type of eyeshadow, but they’re really great for getting ready in a hurry.
  • Coastal Scents Blush and Bronzer Palette. Coastal Scents is super affordable and you can definitely find some gems among their products. The matte bronzer in this palette seems promising, as it looks to be cool enough to also work as a light contouring shade. There’s also a pretty shimmery bronzer for dusting over the face. Again, the issue is the color of the blushes not being super trendy. On the plus, the colors are very pigmented from first swatches. But they’re very bright pinks, which can definitely work but aren’t the most modern blush colors. These seem more comparable to the blushes that were in style about 3 to 5 years ago, when bright pink cheeks were in. But really, I’m so happy we get a mini brush. I’m super stoked about that brush!

Not the best Boxcharm has offered this year, but still good!

 

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Sephora is focusing on the eyes.

August’s Sephora Play! was a bit of a step down from the great July box. However, this isn’t a bad box at all. Even the duster bag included is so stinking cute.

August’s focus is all about the eyes, from skincare to makeup. Of course, they also included a fragrance sample (they always do). This month’s box has:

  • An Urban Decay Perversion Mascara. I’ve tried this in the past. It’s good, but not quite my fave. I’ll definitely share my pros and cons with this mascara.
  • A Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow in Pink Granite (Iridescent finish). Yes, it is one of those teeny sample pans, though not as tiny as they could go, which was appreciated. I got a soft, pinky taupe color that is very versatile.
  • A Sephora Contour Eye Pencil. Sephora really knows me, because they sent a plum purple shade, which is just what I love. Especially in the fall and winter, deep purple liners are my neutrals.
  • Lancôme Énergie de Vie The Smoothing & Glow Boosting Liquid Moisturizer. I’m happy with the moisturizer I use during the day, but am still on the search for an ideal nighttime moisturizer. This will be a fun one to try.
  • Algenist Complete Renewal Eye Balm. Love seeing how high end eye cream perform in comparison to my drug store beloved, Cerave.
  • Clean Reserve Warm Cotton. Oh, wow. I’ve already opened up the fragrance and they aren’t kidding when they say warm cotton. This smells like straight up fresh laundry. Not a bad smell at all, but not something I’d like to wear on my skin. However, I’m using this as a room fragrance and loving the fresh laundry scent.

Overall, a great Sephora box, though I’m not quite as enthused as I was with July’s. Still, can’t really complain.

With Boxycharm being the only box that was slightly underwhelming on first impression, August was pretty great for beauty subscriptions!

May 2016 Birchbox Review #2: COOLA Makeup Setting Spray

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Great in theory…

Every so often, cosmetic items will come out that make you think, “Wow, this is a really great concept.” Setting sprays with SPF is one such item. I’m a huge stickler for wearing SPF as a part of my daily routine. The best anti-aging secret out there is to protect your skin from sun damage.

While anything with SPF isn’t great for flash photography, it is great for protecting the skin on a day to day basis. This is why I was really intrigued by Coola’s Makeup Setting Spray (USD $36.00 for 1.7 oz). I really do like Coola’s SPF products. I find that they do a good job of protecting my skin while not causing it to clog or breakout. My preferred from them is their Unscented SPF 50 Sports Sunscreen. That bad boy got me through a week in Punta Cana completely sunburn free.

The price point puts it in the same range of Urban Decay’s All Nighter. However, I was not expecting it to perform quite the same. I only wear All Nighter when I need heavier makeup looks to last all night long. It’s not a daily wear setting spray. In fact, since I wear lighter makeup most days of the week I usually skip the setting spray all together.

I expected Coola’s setting spray to offer a lighter alternative: something that helps lighter, everyday makeup (BB creams, sheer/medium coverage products, etc.) last a little longer throughout the day while giving you a different option for applying sunscreen. I also thought the setting mist was genius because it allows you to reapply SPF throughout the day without messing up your makeup.

I was all set to love this product.

On the positive side this is an all natural, mostly organic product. But as I’ve said before, just because something is “all natural” does not mean it’s necessarily good for your skin. Looking at the ingredients, there are some winning ingredients to help soothe the skin: aloe, cucumber extract, sodium hyaluronate (though this is better in a moisturizer or serum), algae extract, etc.

The problem is that the first ingredient listed is Alcohol. Yes, it’s a naturally sourced alcohol, but it wasn’t very promising to see this as the very first ingredient. I generally avoid a heavy concentration of alcohol in any skincare I’m going to be wearing daily. I don’t mind it in small amounts, but as a top ingredient? Not so much. Granted, I know products like All Nighter include alcohol as a top listed ingredient. But those are products I won’t be using on a daily basis.

I was hoping that since it was naturally sourced I could still make this product work.

As a setting spray, it did meet my expectations when it came to extending the wear of my makeup. A light face with BB cream, a little concealer, and some blush did look fresher longer when I used the Coola Spray. Unfortunately, the alcohol in it did start to irritate my skin. From the first use, my skin would get a burning sensation when I misted my face. It got to the point that after a few days of use I couldn’t take it anymore. I stopped using it.

I don’t have particularly sensitive skin, though I do tend to avoid skin irritants to avoid skin damage, so I don’t normally get burning sensations from products that contain great quantities of irritants. It was enough to make me take this as a warning sign and stop using it.

Bottom Line: Coola offers some of my favorite SPF products. This SPF setting spray was really great in theory. However, the high amount of alcohol irritated my skin. I can’t recommend this to people with sensitive skin, or really, anyone. If they go back and reformulate this with a lower alcohol concentration or a formula more ideal for sensitive skin, I would be so open to trying it. After all, an everyday setting spray that lets your reapply SPF everyday over your makeup is a genius idea.

If you’d like to subscribe to Birchbox, follow the link!

May 2016 Birchbox Review #1: Davines LOVE Shampoo and Conditioner

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Davines LOVE Shampoo. We meet again.

I reviewed this back when I was on tumblr, but I decided to move that review over here and update it a little.

I’ve received hair products from Davines in the past. Some I liked, some not so much. My favorite product of theirs is the hand cream, which is lovely and discontinued (WHYYYYY). Anyway, Davines LOVE Shampoo and Conditioner retail for USD $25 and $29, respectively. I’ve tried these before, but back when it was the old “pink” formula. I did like the old formula a lot. Back then, this was a cult favorite, so I was surprised to see that they changed it. Still, I figured it was for the better.

So how does the new formula compare?

First, let’s start with the packaging. Davines is so generous with their sample sizes. The shampoo came in quantities to last me three weeks worth of washes, and it was in an easy squeeze bottle, which made it great for storage and use. By far, the best shampoo sample packaging I’ve ever received. You rock, Davines. The conditioner was a bonus item, so it came in a standard foil packet. I hate foil packets, but this was a bonus sample and came with a ton of product, so I can’t be too mad. (But it would be nice if the bonus sample came in a mini bottle – just saying.)

Now, the actual formula. The smell is pleasant. It smells like a shampoo version of clean laundry. It’s a very clean, not overpowering smell.

LOVE shampoo and conditioner are suppose to tame frizz and detangle hair. I don’t have too many problems with tangles since I have short hair. However, I live in a high humidity area with wavy hair – so I get all the frizz. The old formula did a great job of taming the frizz.

This new formula…eh. I had a bit more frizz than usual with it. Maybe it was the fact that the weather here has been more humid than usual, but the shampoo and conditioner just did not deliver on that promise. The detangling formula, however, still kept my hair incredibly soft. The new formula isn’t terrible, but just didn’t deliver on frizz control.

The conditioner also was not very nourishing for my hair. I don’t think this is due to a difference in the formula. Really, the difference is due to me now coloring my hair*. When I received the first sample three years ago, my hair had no color treatment, so I didn’t need as much hydration. Even though the shampoo and conditioner don’t strip your hair color, the conditioner simply isn’t hydrating enough if you color treat. However, I think the conditioner would work just fine for people who don’t color or for those that have finer hair.

*Update: I have shaken up my hair conditioning routine and now do a deep prewash treatment with coconut and castor oil. I think with this new routine, the conditioner should work just fine on my hair.

Bottom Line: While the new formula isn’t as good as the old, this is still a solid shampoo and conditioner. For my thick, wavy hair it did not deliver on its frizz control promise, but the detangling ingredients kept my hair soft and easy to manage. The conditioner wasn’t hydrating enough for color treated hair (at the time of reviewing), but will work for those who don’t color.

If you’d like to subscribe to Birchbox, follow the link!

July 2016 Beauty Subscriptions: First Impression

July has come and gone, and in an effort to do my beauty subscription first impressions in a more timely manner I bring you July’s boxes.

(August will be the first month I’ll actually be on time. Hooray!)

Overall, July was spectacular. Every beauty subscription delivered at least a few products that were good. And…to further my obsession, I’ve added a new box subscription!

Let’s start with Birchbox.

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When mystery boxes work out well.

I wasn’t tempted enough by the pre-curated box that Birchbox was offering for July, so I took a risk and just chose one of my samples keeping the other four a complete mystery. Whenever I do this, I run the risk of getting a completely dud box. But when they deliver, oh, it’s magic.

Birchbox simply killed it. While heavy on the skincare side, I’m so happy with the samples they selected. First, I already know I love Coola’s sunscreen so I love having a backup travel size in between purchases.

Second, a Shiseido sample that isn’t hella dinky (plus a bonus dinky sample, lol). High priced skincare can give the teeniest samples, but this one has a ton of product. I’ve been using it throughout the month of July and still haven’t gone through half of my sample.

Third, we have a sea salt spray from Davines, which I wasn’t excited about. I’ve been anti-sea salt spray from past experience (gives great editorial looking hair…makes your hair feel like brittle crap). However, I can tell you know that I was very surprised by Davines’ offering.

Fourth, a moisturizer from Dr. Jart that’s an incredibly interesting concept. It’s suppose to feel like water droplets on your face. You’ll have to wait and see if I experienced this.

The sample I chose was the Marcelle mascara. The theme for the box was mascara (rolls eyes, my least favorite type of makeup sample). Still, I’ve yet to try a bad product from Marcelle. Their Hydra C Facial Exfoliating Gel (which has been discontinued and replaced with a new formula…hopefully I like it) and Gentle Eye Makeup Remover for Sensitive Eyes are holy grail staples in my daily skincare routine. I also love their BB cream Golden Glow, so I’m always down to try more from them.

Again, stellar Birchbox.

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Ipsy also delivers a great contender.

In the battle of the $10 subscriptions, I gotta say that Ipsy and Birchbox have basically tied. That almost never happens. Each month, one is clearly superior to the other. But I had a hard time choosing in July.

I just want to note that I love the bag design for this month. The reflexive material with the arial view of the beach umbrellas is adorable.

Ipsy included two masks from Shray. Uh, two sheet masks?! Yes! Now, I’ve already tried the Ms. Amazing mask, which came in a previous Boxycharm. It’s really nice, so I don’t mind having another one in my stash. I also got another mask that’s for acne breakouts. Great for those pre-period small breakouts.

The hand cream from Delectable…oh my god. I can’t speak to its moisturizing abilities, but the smell is HEAVENLY. It smells like a lemon cupcake. I get hungry just smelling the bottle.

I’m also happy I get a chance to sample Too Faced’s very well talked about Hangover Rx Primer. Now, I do have combination skin so I’m a little afraid that it’ll leave m t-zone too dewy. But I do want to see what all the fuss is about.

Samples from theBalm are always adorably packaged. I was stoked because I’d heard such great things about the Meet Matt(e) Trimony palette and have been dying to try some shadows.

And, of course, you need a good brush to try your eyeshadow sample. I’m always down for getting brushes and received a crease blending brush from Vasanti. I can never get enough crease brushes, as they’re my most used eye brushes.

Excellent, Ipsy. Simply excellent.

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Good idea, but not a lot of follow through on the concept.

I was pumped when OFRA announce July’s mermaid theme. I freaking love mermaids and that word sparks so many possibilities when it comes to makeup. Which is what we got in the box left me wanting.

The good:

That Noyah Lipgloss. I love that it’s an all-natural lipgloss, first. Second, that dark pink color definitely says mermaid to me. Lipgloss has made a brief comeback (a welcomed break from the super matte lip), and I’m happy to add this to my collection.

Also, the Mally Eyeliner is a bright blue that also gives some serious mermaid vibes. I’ll probably use this more as an eyeshadow or inner corner highlight.

The meh:

The OFRA palette could have been such a great mermaid concept. I do love that it’s an actual magnetic palette. And I do like OFRA’s shimmer shadows, but we know from previous posts that I’m not that into their matte shades. I’m hoping their mattes have improved somewhat from those that I received in an Ipsy purchase. But on top of that, these shades do not say mermaid. They’re very basic. I would much have preferred some neutral shades with an exciting shimmery color or two to make a truly mermaid look.

The side-eye emoji:

Yet another hair oil. I have so many in my arsenal, I don’t think I’ll have to purchase another oil for at least two years. It’s a giant bottle, which is great, but I’m very much over getting hair oils.

Overall, great concept but so-so execution of the idea.

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Hello, new friend!

And we come to the newest addition to my beauty subscriptions: the Sephora Play! Box. I got off the waitlist for the May box and tested out that one and the June one before deciding whether to continue the subscription. I didn’t want to start something new just to end it shortly after. But luckily, I was really impressed by Sephora’s contribution to the beauty subscription world!

July in particular was fabulous. Each box varied a bit depending on your beauty profile and whether you have combination/oily or normal/dry skin. Since, I’m combination I got those products. Everything in here, on first impression was something I definitely wanted to try.

I’m a beauty blender fanatic, so I always want to try something new from their product line. I also definitely need to blot my t-zone throughout the day (high, combination skin). It’s always great to see if something will beat my $1 e.l.f. blotting sheets.

A mattifying Smashbox primer? I can always use one whenever I’m wearing more full coverage makeup.

NEST also makes some of my favorite fragrances and the description of Citrine definitely seems like something I would enjoy.

Since Marcelle is, apparently, discontinuing my favorite nighttime exfoliating cleanser, I’ll be on the search for a new one. This sample cleanser from First Aide Beauty wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

Of course, The Kardashians are my guilty pleasure and I was so excited when their hair stylist, Jen Atkins, came out with her hair line, OUAI. I’ve already tried some products from the brand (including this wave spray) and definitely have some thoughts.

And lastly, I’m always happy with a Too Faced product. And one from their chocolate fragranced line is even better. The Chocolate Soleil is beloved by many in the beauty community and I can’t wait to try it.

July was definitely a great month to be a beauty subscriber.

Hogwarts Inspired Makeup Series: Slytherin

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Or perhaps in Slytherin (my house!!)
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folks use any means
To achieve their ends.

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Face:
🐍 Maybelline Fit Me! Matte & Poreless Foundation: 238 Rich Tan
🐍 Maybelline Fit Me! Concealer: Medium
🐍 Maybelline Better Skin Transforming Powder: 70 Pure Beige
🐍 Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit: Medium to Tan
🐍 NARS Blush: Sin
🐍 Anastasia Beverly Hills Moon Child Glow Kit: Lucky Clover

Eyes:
🐍 Maybelline Color Tattoo: Creamy Beige
🐍 Make Up For Ever 15 Artist Shadow Palette: S-102, S-114, ME-122
🐍 Make Up For Ever Shadow: D-306
🐍 L’Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow: Liquid Diamond
🐍 Cynthia Rowley Eyeliner: Silver
🐍 Physicians Formula Eye Booster Eyeliner: Ultra Black
🐍 Guerlain Cils D’Enfer Maxi Lash Mascara

Lips:
🐍 Maybelline ColorBold: Gone Griege

Hogwarts Inspired Makeup Series: Ravenclaw

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Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind.

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Face:
🐦 Maybelline Fit Me! Matte & Poreless Foundation: 238 Rich Tan
🐦 Maybelline Fit Me! Concealer: Medium
🐦 Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit: Medium to Tan
🐦 Physicians Formula Bronze Booster: Medium to Datk
🐦 NYX Ombré Blush: Nude to Me
🐦 OFRA Blush Stripes: Illuminating

Eyes:
🐦 Maybelline Color Tattoo: Creamy Beige
🐦 Smashbox Photo Op Eyeshadow Trio: Filter
🐦 ColourPop x KathleenLights: Midnight
🐦 ColourPop: Baby T
🐦 L’Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow: Amber Rush
🐦 Marcelle Waterproof Eyeliner: Indigo
🐦 L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Mascara: Blackest Black

Lips:
🐦 Lonely Planet Cosmetics Disco Lips: Fascination