Belated September Birchbox

You know how sometimes you have a birthday party coming up, and a wedding, and an anniversary, and a brunch event, and someone has a baby, and your mom keeps calling you, and then it’s suddenly three weeks later?

Yeah, that happens to me a lot.  But here I am, back from God-knows-where, with a belated September Birchbox post.  In my defense, this box came super late in the month.. so late that my October box shipped less than two weeks after I got this one.

Again, I’m not super thrilled (as you can tell by the lagging post), but here’s what was inside:

SEPTEMBER BIRCHBOX

kate spade Twirl fragrance sample
I love the whole kate spade brand, but this doesn’t wow me.  It smells very “generic Elizabeth Arden grown-up perfume at JC Penney.” It’s nothing special, but I bet it’d make a little girl feel fancy as hell.

Color Club Birchbox Custom Polish in Insta-this
This polish is a gorgeous creamy opaque royal/indigo blue.  I gave away my last Color Club nail polish because it was too similar to my Essie Turquoise & Caicos, but it looked fantastic on my sister.  If “Insta-this” has the same kind of color intensity, it’s going to be a favorite in my collection.

Skin, An Apothecary Soy Body Whip in Poppy
I’d give the scent a 7/10.  It smells bright, soapy, and fresh, but there are manly, cologne-like undertones.  The texture is very fun – somewhere between whipped cream and pudding with a non-greasy, non-sticky feel.  It absorbs quickly and easily without leaving a trace (except for that overly strong scent.)  In a fragrance-free world, I’d be a fan.

twistband Birchbox custom hair tie
It was hard for me to leave this in the box long enough to take a picture.  I’ve heard so much about these non-crease comfy ties, and this one is fantastic.  No weird bumps when I take my hair down!  It looks cute on my wrist, too, unlike my standard black ouchless bands.  There are a few flaws, though – after wearing it daily for about a week, the lace print faded significantly, and the band stretched out.  It got really mangy really fast, and at a retail price of $11 for four ties, I couldn’t justify buying more.  It’s a knotted piece of elastic.  Luckily, my broke ass found a way to DIY these.  The material is called Fold Over Elastic, and it’s available in all kinds of colors and prints online.  I ordered a few yards (YARDS!) here for less than $10.

Jouer Matte Moisture Tint in hazel
I’ve never heard of Jouer, and this wimpy little sample (notice the tiny black tube next to a mini polish and a hair tie) doesn’t encourage me look the brand up.  I tried a little on my hand, and it’s too dark and orange for my NC35 skin.. so, essentially, useless.

Hollywood Fashion Secrets Fashion Tape
As thrilled as I am to be let in on these “Hollywood Fashion Secrets,”  I’m afraid they’re a little too covert.  In the fashion tape envelope, I received four small pieces of tape – a quarter-sized circle, a rounded arc, a 1/2″ strip, and a 3/4″ strip.  No instructions or anything.   There’s a subtle clue on the package, “Includes One of Each: Hollywood Fashion Tape, Special Occasion Tape, Accessory Dots, Temporary Hem Tape.”  The back of the envelope tells me I can use these to eliminate blouse gaps, hold accessories, adjust jean length and secure plunging necklines, and even with a bachelor’s degree in apparel design and years of sewing experience, I can’t visualize how this set works.  Hollywood Fashion Secrets are beyond my realm!

Birchbox offered two options for October’s box – the standard selection, or a goop-curated box.  I’m not especially a Gwyneth Paltrow fan, but I have no hard feelings toward her, and I’m inclined to think she can do better than a miniscule tube of dark orange Jouer.

I chose the goop.

M

Best Stuff: Kat Von D High Voltage Eye Primer in Smoky

I can’t believe I’ve been holding out on you with this product.  I’m sorry.

Kat Von D’s makeup line has consistently wowed me (with the exception of her Foiled Love lipstick in Forever & Never, but that was just a color issue.)  I have never been in love with Urban Decay’s Primer Potion, but it’s better than nothing, so I use it.  When Kat Von D’s smoky eye primer went on sale (now $7 at Sephora), I branched out… and I’m glad I did.

At first glance, this is a little intimidating.  The formula is dark charcoal grey, super thick and creamy.  Also, the amount pulled out on the wand is way too much for one application.  I usually smudge a bit on my hand and paint it onto my eye lids with a cream shadow brush.  I’ve tried using my finger, but the result is smoother and more even with a nice brush.

I usually don’t spread this above the crease too much because it’s very visible, unlike a skin-colored primer.  For the crease to brow area, I stick with Urban Decay Primer Potion.

I think Kat Von D’s formula is overall better than Urban Decay’s because it’s thicker, stickier, and longer lasting (look forward to a few extra minutes scrubbing raccoon eyes off before bed.)  The grey base color really backs up dark shadows, maximizing the pigment without layers of eye shadow.  My absolute favorite thing about this primer is that it makes a smoky eye look unbelievably easy and fast.  It saves me a solid 30 minutes of building up, blending, and wiping off fall-out particles.


In this picture, I swatched two layers of Gunmetal and Creep from the Naked palette on bare skin, over UDPP original, and over the Kat Von D primer.  Check out the COLOR!

I completely love this product and I’d buy a back-up, but with so little needed each time, I know this tube is going to last me well over a year.  At $7, this is a major steal and a total time-saver!

You and me forever, KVD.

M

Butter at Coterie

I know I’m not the first blogger to rave about the new beauty flash sale site Coterie, but it’s rocking my world with a Butter London sale, so I need to share.

Coterie.com is a members only site that is currently running sales on Butter, Mor, and Kevyn Aucoin, but promises more brands like Stila and Perricone in the future.  I know I just hoarded a few Butter polishes for the holidays, but I couldn’t resist this sale (what buying ban??  Shameful.)  It’s never too early to get the gift list whittled down, though, and when the price is right I stock up.

Anyway, here’s the sweet deal on Butter London: 3 shades of polish (pick from Pillar Box Red, West End Wonderland, Wallis, All Hail The Queen, Bluey and Knackered)  plus their Hardwear top coat for $36.  Combined with a $25 off code (ZOEREPORT), you’ll get the set for $11 plus shipping.  Now you know why I broke the rules.

M

Color Club & e.l.f. at Hautelook

Another sale post?  I know, I’m sorry, but my buying ban has somehow heightened my sale sense and since I can’t shop, I have to at least share the opportunity!


Color Club nail polish is on at Hautelook today until Monday with single bottles priced at $5 and duo sets for $8!  There are also a few mini sets that would make great gifts.  Each bottle is normally around $8, so it’s a decent deal.  I haven’t used Color Club personally, but I did receive a bottle in my August Birchbox and the color looked great!  I had a similar shade, so I gave it to my sister.  I noticed it on her nails recently and loved it – the color is a lot brighter and more saturated than it looks in the bottle.

e.l.f. cosmetics go up tomorrow, and I don’t know what kind of products they’ll feature, but I’m astounded they’re even doing a flash sale!  Could they BE any less expensive?  I’m not the hugest fan of e.l.f.’s makeup, but I do like their brush shampoo and facial whips (creamy highlighters that look beautiful mixed with body lotion).  It won’t break my heart to miss this one, since the brand is so affordable already.

Bargains all around.

M

Butter London BOGO at Ulta!

I may be a little late in reporting this, but if you haven’t heard the internet-wide shrieks of delight, there’s a huge Buy One, Get One free sale on Butter London nail lacquers at Ulta!

I am completely ashamed to admit it, but I broke my buying ban for this sale.  I DO, however, have the best intentions – I’ll be stashing these away for holiday gifts in a couple of months!  (Am I still considered a rule-breaker if the makeup isn’t for personal use?)  While these polishes are normally $14 each, the BOGO sale means each bottle ends up being about $7 – less expensive than Essie!

I haven’t tried Butter nail polish yet, but I’ve heard great things about it and I’d be thrilled to get one as a gift… so my friends and fam are lucky this year.

Haul away, fellow polish fiends!

M

The Daily Sample: Perfekt Lash Perfection Gel

I got this Perfekt Lash Perfection Gel sample not knowing what to expect.  The description is completely nebulous – “A silky smooth color gel that “per-fekts” and enhances the appearance of the lashes offering an easy alternative to traditional mascara, lash primer, lash treatment, conditioner, and enhancer.”  What the hell is this miracle goo?

I wasn’t sure if it’s supposed to be colored or clear, but it seems to be a pretty standard black mascara.  I figured I’d try it alone, so I applied it over clean, curled lashes.  It coated them lightly, making them appear a little longer and darker, but not thicker at all.  Even weirder – it seemed to straighten out the curl in my lashes.  To rescue my stick-straight long black lashes, I re-curled and layered on some Benefit They’re Real mascara.  The result was a 1-and-a-half-coats-of-mascara look – not the drama and chunk potential of two coats, but not really a one coat natural look either.

Perfekt lash gel worked (decently) as a light first coat, but I can’t imagine using it for much else.  “Lash primer” makes sense.  “Lash treatment, conditioner and enhancer”… I’m not so sure about that.  On the plus side, it doesn’t flake or smudge too badly – but that may be since it’s barely there at all.

Lengthening Power: 3/5
Thickening Power: 0/5
Color: 5/5
Hold: 3/5
Longevity: 5/5
Price: $28.50 at Sephora
Value: 1/5

M

Sample Overload

In the past, I may have mentioned that I’ve collected a lot of samples over time.. you might not have realized I meant a lot A LOT:

(Of course I realized this picture was blurry only after I spread everything out, clicked a few shots, and uploaded.)

You could call it a boatload.

With the spending freeze under way, I have plenty of time to try these out and share reviews, so that’s exactly what I’m doing.  I don’t like trying more than one product at once because it’s harder for me to pinpoint the effect each product had.. so I’ll be doing a sample a day.

Starting with… Brazilian Peel Clear!  (It’s the little blue and white syringe-looking thing.)  I chose it specifically for the fun-looking packaging, and it didn’t disappoint.  The tip twists and pulls off, exposing an opening for both tubes (there’s a clear gel and a creamy liquid).  According to instructions, you push the end in like a syringe to squeeze both fluids into your hand, and then mix it up until it’s warm.  My fluids went from room temp to HOT in a matter of seconds, and I was a little hesitant to rub it on my face.

It went on clear, like a gel, and stung a little upon application.  I’ve had lactic, salicylic and glycolic acid facial peels, though, and Brazilian Peel was pretty mild, comparatively.  I left it on for 10 minutes per instructions without any stinging or burning (just a generally warm sensation), and then rinsed it with cool water.  My skin looked… the same.  Slightly smaller pores if anything, but not my typical post-peel blush and glow.

I felt bad for putting my skin through the heat blast for limited results, so I treated it to a thick coating of Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief.  It’s a thick moisturizer that leaves my skin shiny (but not greasy) – so I only use it when I’m not planning to wear makeup on top.

I’m keeping an open mind, knowing that some peels improve skin in the following days and not immediately, but Brazilian Peel sells at Sephora for $78 for a set of 4 syringes – and for that price, I’m saying helllll no!  I could get a good facial with a proper peel for just a little more than that.

Fun packaging, you can’t trick me.

M

Best Stuff: Yves Saint Laurent Golden Gloss

I don’t know what inspired me to get back into glosses, but I did.  I fell for the look.  But the look isn’t easy – most of the glosses I’ve tried clump up, slide around, or just feel heavy, sticky and awful.  I haven’t been very lucky.

Then I read an article about how much Kelly Clarkson loves YSL gloss.  To be honest, I don’t care about Kelly Clarkson much, but she seems like a down-to-earth “real girl,” so I trusted her.  And more than anything, I like to try on makeup.. so I jumped at the chance to check these out.

So gorgeous.  They’re filled with flakes of “real 24-carat gold,” so they’re sparkly/shimmery in a whole new way.  (You can share that tidbit of upper-classness when you’re strutting around feeling fancy as hell.)  The gloss smells faintly of watermelon – not necessarily what I’d expect, but it’s not unpleasant.  It brushes on smoothly, and the look is very high impact.  I bought it in #30 Golden Satin, a pinky coral that almost matches my natural lip color.  It adds a whole lot of shine and a grown-up douse of glitter – super sexy.

Before I found YSL, my personal rule was no gloss without an updo.  One of my hugest pet peeves is getting my hair stuck in my lip gloss (so gross).  This is the game-changer – the high-shine solution that doesn’t turn my lips into fly paper.

As for durability, let’s be real about my lifestyle needs.  I eat ice cream literally every day.  And this smart little gloss is my partner in crime.  Even after a couple (yes, more than one) rounds of afternoon soft serve, it looks completely gorgeous.  Unexpectedly perfect.  Like I’ve never even picked up a spoon.

So while this is a bit of a splurge ($30 at Sephora), I know it will be a lasting favorite for me.  Plus, I’m going to act crazy classy around my house knowing my lips are coated in gold.

M

The Kick-Off

Today’s the day!

Actually, yesterday was the day, but I sleep through most of my weekends so it barely felt like I was missing anything.

For those who don’t know, I’m taking a vacation from beauty spending for 60 days.  I celebrated my last days of freedom by mall-cruising Ulta, Sephora, and Target as well as partaking in some over-the-top online shopping.  I’m happy to say I think I’ve binged myself beyond satisfaction for a while, and I’m hoping the overkill will carry me through a few weeks.

With that bridge crossed, let’s get back to normal blog things.  I’ve got drawers full of products I’ve loved, hated, or never tried at all, so reviews are in order.

M

VIB Clutch o’ Samples

One of my final hurrah purchases came in yesterday along with the VIB jam-packed sample clutch (fun size everything!)  The clutch is hideous, naturally, but here’s what’s inside:

  • Benefit POREfessional (0.25 oz)
  • Lancome Hypnose Drama Mascara (0.14 oz)
  • Sephora Instant Moisturizer (1 oz.)
  • Smashbox Hydrating Photo Finish Primer (0.25 oz)
  • L’Occitane Shea Hand Cream (0.34 oz)
  • Murad Intensive-C Radiance Peel (0.33 oz)
  • Algenist Overnight Restorative Cream (0.5 oz)
  • Stella McCartney Stella (0.05 oz)
  • Hanae Mori EDT, 1.2mL

This is how it’s done, Birchbox!  The original clutch featured Stella, but mine was replaced with Hanae Mori – and I’m glad!  I think it’s actually for men, but it smells strongly of vanilla with a little jasmine, and I’d wear it in a heartbeat.

I haven’t had a chance to dig in to the rest of the samples, but with the spending freeze fast approaching, I expect I’ll be cherishing them soon.  Even though I have a hoarder-style stash of samples already, I always find them useful for car and purse extras, saving suitcase space on trips, or to fill up my basket of guest toiletries (my girl friends love that!)

On a related note, Sephora’s offering 5 free samples (rather than their usual 3 free) til 8/28.  Double points for VIB’s AND extra samples?!  Get it, girl.

M