April 2017 Boxycharm!

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An ok month for Boxycharm.

Boxycharm set the bar high for this year starting with January’s box. February’s was an even better follow up. March was still great, though not as great as the previous two.

And now, April.

April, unfortunately, is a definite downgrade from the previous boxes. That being said, there are some great items in here. It’s just that for a $20 monthly subscription, I expect to like at least the majority of the items. One dud is fine, but any more is pushing it.

The theme this month was “Boho Glow”, but there was really only one item that fit with the theme. I’m not sure what the purpose of the themes are if they’re not really going to run with it when it comes to what’s in the box.

Here’s what I got in my box:

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Keep vs. Pass

So I’m just keeping the highlighter and sponges and passing on everything else.

Even though I’m happy with what I’m keeping, it’s disappointing that I’m passing on so much.

May and June tend to be better months for Boxycharm and they’ve had much stronger boxes earlier this year, so if you want to sign up you can do so here.**

*Links marked with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. I don’t receive any compensation for my product reviews. However, if you choose to buy products through these links, I will earn a small commission.
**Links marked with a double asterisk (**) are referral links to subscription services that any subscriber would get. If you sign up through my link, I will receive reward points but no monetary compensation.

April 2017 Birchbox vs. Ipsy vs. Play! by Sephora

Are we really almost through April? This year is already flying by!

With another month comes another round up of beauty subscriptions. 2017 started off strong, but March was a definitely slow down. April is another hit or miss month (May’s the same), in my experience. And as you’ll see below, this year’s April offerings were a definite miss for me.

Granted, you may look at what I got and think it’s not really so bad. Fair point, but you also have to remember that I’ve been getting beauty subscriptions for four years. And for some subscriptions, you can clearly tell that they’re beginning to exhaust their sample bank.

Let’s dive in.

Everyone who’s in the loop on beauty subscriptions knows that it’s been a real struggle bus for Birchbox since major changes were made to the subscription service/online beauty retailer last July. The quality of the samples have been downgraded, with Birchbox failing to enlarge their brand pool. Plus, that beloved and amazing reward points system was taken away. And yes, Birhcbox, we old timers never forget and will probably never be over it.

They’re trying to address these issues, to their credit. For “Aces”, the most loyal group of Birchbox subscribers, Birchbox is now giving back 1.3 reward points for every dollar spent (including subscription billing) instead of the 1 point for everyone else. Here’s the thing, I still have to spend money to get that extra third of a point in rewards. This in no way makes up for no longer being able to earn rewards through sample reviews. Really, Birchbox would do better just offering 1 or 2 reward points through reviews.

The next thing they’re doing is trying a new beta program. For $12/month versus $10, you have five ways to choose your samples for the following month:

  • The standard for everyone: do nothing and be surprised; choose one of your samples beforehand with the other four being random; or picking a pre curated feature box where you’ll know all your samples beforehand.
  • A specialty box that focuses on one area of samples (aka, a whole box of SPF, or products for dry skin, etc.).
  • Pick one, skip one: Pick one category you absolutely want in your box and tell Birchbox not to include the other.
  • Skip the month completely and receive rewards points for the box value.

Almost all of the individual sample choices and the samples in the feature box were products I’ve tried before. I wasn’t tempted by any of it, but I wanted to see how this new algorithm would work so I decided to try out one of the newer options.

Again, none of the specialty boxes appealed to me because they were all things I’ve sampled in the past. Granted, if there was a specialty box that had a ton of my faves, I would absolutely go for it, regardless of repeat product. You can’t have too much of something you love.

So, I went with the pick one, skip one option. I asked for Birchbox to include a makeup product (this month’s category was a lip product) and to please leave out any hair styling creams.

Right off the bat, I wish Birchbox would let you eliminate a category entirely instead of having to pick a specific type of product. I really wanted to tell Birchbox to not include any hair products at all, because I’m so overwhelmed with them. I hope this pops up as an option next month,

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Birchbox’s first attempt at the new beta option didn’t work out for the best.

The box I got as a result of my pick one, skip one wasn’t impressive. Somehow, I ended up with two hair products so you can see why I would want an option to eliminate a whole category. The rest of the box was ok.

  • *Michael Todd Blue Green Algae Antibacterial Toner: This was the one sample I’m excited to try. I’ve been eyeing some of Michael Todd’s products for a while, so I’m glad this came in my box. The sample is a little on the small side, but there’s a good amount of uses in there.
  • *R+Co. High Dive Moisture and Shine Cream: I have way too many samples of moisture and shine creams in my stash. So many that I decluttered a bunch and set them aside for donation and friends. I have no clue why Birchbox included this, especially when I specifically told them I did not want a styling cream. I think it was included because technically the option was a “blow out” cream, which is very sneaky.
  • *Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Double the Lip in Pink Thrills: First of all, from following the online beauty community I already know this product is a dud. Second, I’m really not a fan of true pink lipsticks. Birchbox should know this from my beauty profile and should have sent a different color from this line (or a different brand).
  • *Vasanti Brighten Up! New Skin Amplifying Moisturizer: I’m not a huge fan of Vasanti’s skincare, which I’ve told Birchbox in sample feedback. Really, if I’m going to get excited over a moisturizer, it needs to be from a brand I like or from one I’ve been wanting to try.
  • *Number 4 Jour d’automne Sugar Texturizing Spray: This is an interesting product. I do use texturizing spray regularly and I’m intrigued by the fact that they use sugar instead of sea salt or powder. But, I’m also overwhelmed with hair product and am trying to pair down what I have. For now, this will be sitting in my donation bag, though I may take it out of there if I make my way through some product before heading down to the shelter.

First impression: As you can tell, I was not impressed with Birchbox’s first attempt at this new beta option. Somehow, I ended up paying slightly more for a box I didn’t like. In hindsight, I wish I’d just skip the month entirely for the reward points.

However, if you’re looking at my April box and it seems like something you’d like, you can sign up for Birchbox here.**

May’s sample choices look to be a bit better than April’s, so maybe Birchbox will be able to redeem itself.

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Ipsy also failed to impress in April.

Up next is Ipsy. Ipsy has been killing it since last fall. March was a little less impressive, but April has set the bar for bad glam bag in 2017. Again, the products just failed to excite me, were too small, or products I didn’t want.

  • *Tarte Tarteist Quick Dry Matte Lip Paint in Delish: I’m one of those people who loved the first generation of Tarte’s liquid lipstick because it was more of a satin formula that didn’t dry out the lips. I was bummed to see that they were phasing that formula out for this more matte formula. I do love a good liquid lipstick, though, so I’m willing to try out this new version. I’m a wee bit worried about the shade, because it might lean more pink on my skin tone. Also, Tarte could be more generous with their sample size. That’s one tiny tube.
  • Elizabeth Mott Show Me Your Glow Shimmer Shadow and Highlighter: This is a pretty shimmer shade, but a little light for my complexion. On top of that, the sample is really tiny, so getting a highlighter brush in there is annoying. Into the pass on pile you go!
  • Glamour Dolls x Lisa Frank Angle Blush Brush: Ok, this brush is really cute for nostalgia purposes. And of course, I love getting tools in subscription bags. But if I’m being perfectly honest, this blush brush doesn’t feel very well made. The lightweight and construction makes me feel like I’m using one of those kid’s makeup brushes from the toy store. I’ll still try it out, but I may pass this along to one of my young cousins.
  • Theorie Marula Oil Transforming Hair Serum: I have too many hair oils. I don’t need another. Bye, girl.
  • Dream by PS Cosmeceutical Infused Nail Lacquer in Southern Sand: This is a really pretty nude nail color, which I’m happy to see Ipsy include in their bags. However, I do own similar polish colors and tones, so I’ll be passing this along to someone else.

First impression: Overall, this bag is a dud for me. Again, not bad products but nothing exciting. Ipsy was just a little off this month.

Ipsy tends to do better in the summer months, so if you’d like to get on the waitlist you can sign up here.**

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I knew it would happen eventually.

And finally, we have the first dud box from Play! by Sephora. I knew it would happen eventually, but it’s still sad to see that even what is arguably the best $10 beauty subscription can’t escape bad box months.

  • *Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Eyeliner: To be fair, this is suppose to be a great eyeliner formula. Unfortunately, Sephora opted to send a black liner, which I have way too many of. I don’t need another one and will be setting this aside for donation.
  • *Sephora Collection Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover: I really do like this makeup remover and go through my supply like candy. Perfectly happy to have another one on hand.
  • *Philosophy Purity Made Simple: Both Ulta and Sephora keep trying to push this cleanser on me. Honestly, I’m not a fan because I find it strips my skin too much. I think this is more for people with truly oily skin.
  • *Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer: Why, yes, this was already in a subscription box last month. While I like this primer, I don’t need so many samples lying around. Setting aside for donation.
  • *Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream: I’m excited to try this. My skin loves hyaluronic acid, so I’d love to see how this moisturizer works out.
  • *Miu Miu L’Eau Bleue: This fragrance just didn’t work out for me. The scent is just a bit off and way too “fresh” smelling. I wonder if Sephora is really taking what we name as our preferences in our profile quizzes.

First Impression: Yeah, this is a dud box. Luckily, there are two samples I’m happy to have, but the majority of the box just didn’t hit home. However, I believe future boxes will go back to being the great quality they’ve been in the past.

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Keep vs. Pass On

So as you can see, I’m keeping six samples and passing on 10. Not a great month.

If you’re thinking about starting a beauty subscription, in my experience March through May are the worst months, sample wise. I would hold off until the June subscriptions to get a good feel for what beauty subscription services have to offer.

*Links marked with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. I don’t receive any compensation for my product reviews. However, if you choose to buy products through these links, I will earn a small commission.
**Links marked with a double asterisk (**) are referral links to subscription services that any subscriber would get. If you sign up through my link, I will receive reward points but no monetary compensation.

Beauty Subscription All Star: Luxie Brushes

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Thanks to Ipsy and Bosycharm, my Luxie brush collection is steadily growing.

If you’ve been receiving beauty subscriptions within the past year, then you’ve probably noticed that a certain brush brand has been featured multiple times.

Box subscriptions are a great way for a beginner to slowly build up their brush collection. And for seasoned enthusiasts, you know you can never have too many brushes (especially if you’re lazy about cleaning them, like me). They have to be my favorite things to receive in monthly subscriptions, along with beauty sponges. Sometimes, the brushes can be poor quality. After all, it’s not like they’re sticking Wayne Goss brushes in our bags (I wish!), but most of the time they’re pretty good quality.

The brand that has been making rounds into pretty much all the beauty subscriptions is Luxie Beauty. And I’m not mad at this.

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From the first time I received a Luxie brush, I was impressed. Synthetic brushes can be hit or miss, though I personally prefer them for their affordability and low maintenance (Real Techniques, It Cosmetics, and E.L.F. being my favorites). Luxie proves that a synthetic brush can be excellent quality.

The bristles are incredibly soft and don’t shed when washing (win!). I also love the construction of the handle and barrel. Unlike some other brushes, I’ve used and abused my Luxie brushes and they haven’t fallen apart on me.

The first few brushes from them I tried were eye brushes. I have to admit, their crease and blending brushes are well loved. What I like about them is the material of their bristles works well with powder and cream shadow. I can even make them work well with ColourPop Super Shock shadows, something I can’t say about a lot of  my other brushes. Their concealer brush, a flat edge, is my absolute favorite for applying pigments on the eyelid.

The first face brush I got to try was the 514 Blush Brush. While a bit softer than my preferred blush brushes (I like applying my blush with a stiffer brush), it still works incredibly well, especially with my more pigmented blushes that need extra blending. Again, this was great quality and good beauty tool.

At this point, I’ve tried almost all the brushes Luxie has to offer from their rose gold collection. My sister actually has the 30 piece Brush Book Set (USD $350.00) and she let me play around with all the brushes offered in there. Just like everything else I’ve tried in subscriptions, these brushes were phenomenal. Some of their standouts were their duo fibre face brushes, which worked beautifully with my cream and liquid products.

Bottom Line: Priced between $12-$30, these brushes are well made and worth their price point. Their comparable, and in some cases superior to Real Techniques brushes. While not as affordable as e.l.f., if you’re in the market for well constructed synthetic brushes this is a great place to look. Of course, it needs to be asked if these brushes are constantly in subscription services, are they even worth buying?

Personally, I say yes. I’ve now got some doubles of Luxie brushes in my collection and I’m more than happy to have multiples. I constantly use them in my makeup rotation. I don’t think you’ll be bummed out if you buy a brush from them and then end up getting the same brush in a subscription box.

You can never have too many great quality brushes.

The two subscription services that have sent me Luxie brushes are Ipsy and Boxycharm. Click on their respective links if you want to subscribe to them.

Monochromatic Peach and Bushy Brow Spring Look

I’ve been loving both the untamed, bushy brows that have been popping up all over the runway and the peachy tones that have been making a comeback for spring.

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I am really digging these warm tones.

Face:
🍑 @jouercosmetics Matte Moisture Tint: Chamomile
🍑 @toofaced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer
🍑 @benefitcosmetics Hoola Bronzer
🍑 @ofracosmetics Peach Blush
🍑 @vintagecosmetics Illuminating Face Highlighter: Rose Gold

Eyes:
🍑 @colourpopcosmetics Super Shock Shadow: I Spy (base) & Melrose (crease)
🍑 @makeupgeekcosmetics Duo Chrome Pressed Pigments: Mai Tai & I’m Peachless (lid).
🍑 @marcellecosmetics Waterproof Eyeliner: Indigo
🍑 @covergirl Clump Crusher Mascara

Lips:
🍑 @colourpopcosmetics Ultra Satin Lip in Jacquard + Lippie Pencil in Chi

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Peach tones give a beautiful sunset effect on the face.

Before buying the peach tones brands have launched, I looked through my collection and found some forgotten great makeup.

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That face glow is really coming through.

During a sale, I picked up some peach tones ColourPop Super Shock matte shadows. To give more of a glow, I pulled out some Makeup Geek Duochrome shadows that were sitting in a forgotten magnetic palette.

I used Mai Tai all over the lid with I’m Peachless in the center for a soft spotlight effect.

For the messy brow, I used the Benefit Goof Proof pencil in shade 6 to fill them in a bit and then used the Gimme Brow, brushing the hairs in upward strokes and then using a brow brush to lay down the hairs that seemed too out of place.

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I’m living for this color.

ColourPop also recently launched their monochromatic collections. I really liked the swatches of Jacquard online. In person, it’s much more of a bright coral. It was much brighter than what I like to wear. So to tone it down, I laid down a base of Chi Lippie Stix, which is a neutral light brown pencil. Then, I used a lip brush to apply and mix in Jacquard. Boom. The muted coral I was looking for!

I really loved how this turned out and will probably be playing a lot with peach tones through Spring.