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

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

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

 

Birchboxes – August & July

TA-DA!  I found my July Birchbox photo.  I’m overwhelmed with pride.

So let’s talk about what’s in these babies:

JULY BIRCHBOX

Color Club Mini Nail Lacquer in Blu-Ming
I love this color, but it’s too similar to Essie’s Turquoise and Caicos, a staple in my polish collection – so I handed it off to my sister.

Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner in Black
It’s “fine.”  A felt-tip black eyeliner, very similar to the tokidoki Perfetto liner I have in Sabo-chan.  The formula is a little more consistent than tokidoki’s – it goes on smoothly, like writing on my face with a fresh new fine-tipped Sharpie.  I like it, and I always have room for another black liquid liner.

Harvey Prince Eau Flirt
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m pretty monogamous about perfumes.  I don’t feel like I need to mix up the way I smell, but when I get samples, I’ll give them a whirl.  I brushed off Eau Flirt at first sniff – it’s girly, sweet, and fruity.. not something I’m especially fond of.  I dabbed it on anyway, and noticed a little more depth once it had absorbed.  It’s slightly more sophisticated than a high school sophomore’s locker stash of body spray… but only slightly.

Supergoop City Serum Sunscreen
I actually have this already, and I dig it.  It’s a nice alternative to scented, sticky, oily sunscreens.  It’s an SPF product that feels like a nice facial moisturizer.  These little sample packs will be great to throw in a purse or for short airplane trips when I don’t want to check luggage.

Tea Forte minteas in Ginger Pear
Odd in a good way, these tea-flavored mints are shaped like little leaves.  They’re definitely more tea than mint, and the taste is unusual, but it grew on me.  I can’t say they actually help me “focus” like it says on the tin, though.

Birchbox neon ear buds
I don’t use ear buds and if I did, I wouldn’t use these ones (ouch, sorry B-Box).  I don’t like the way they feel in my ears, and this gaudy color combo didn’t help anything.  These suckers were a total waste.

AUGUST BIRCHBOX

EYE ROCK Designer Stick-on Liner
These are the most interesting things in the box – four styles of stick-on cat eye liner.  I’m a little scared about trying these out, and I don’t expect it to end well.  At least it’ll be hilarious, and I can use the extras to put fake eyebrows on my Halloween jack-o-lantern.

Juicy Couture Viva la Juicy La Fleur
The name alone is a whole lot of fancy.  Juicy Couture, in my opinion, often walks a very thin line between cute and tacky.. and what’s adorable on a teenager can be horrifyingly awkward on me.  A spritz of this perfume smells like grapefruit and sugar-covered daisies.  It’s sweet enough to entice the varsity quarterback, but that’s reaaallly not on my agenda nowadays.

theBalm Stainiac in Beauty Queen
I’m actually really liking this stain!  It’s thick, red and gelatinous in the tube (not the first thing I want to slather on my face), but the result is a soft raspberry color.  On my cheeks, it takes a few carefully blended layers to show up, but that’s preferable to a sudden blob of color.  As a lip color, it soaks in quickly and doesn’t dry me out, so I approve.

Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream
This tiny tube (smaller than a super glue, much smaller than travel toothpaste) makes me feel like Yu-Be could’ve been a bit more generous.  I hate stingy samples because I can’t get a good feel for 0.1 oz of skin cream.  I guess my knee caps are adequately softened.  Yu-Be seems like a decent lotion, but nothing special, and the strong medicinal scent is very nursing home.  No, thank you.

Schick Hydro Silk Razor
One of my full-sized perks in this box was a razor.  I know shaving is technically part of a beauty routine, but it feels like a stretch for a beauty box.  At least it’s a crazy 5-blade mega razor, and it came with a couple of coupons (for more razors).  I don’t know what more to say.

Beauty School pamphlet
This is a cute idea – a fold out pamphlet that talks a bit about brushes, how to read product labels, shaving tips (again with that?) and makeup quick fixes.  Helpful little hints, but if you’re a makeup junkie, it’s nothing you haven’t heard before.

I’m holding out for a Birchbox that makes this subscription worth it.  Two months in, I’m fearing the worst.  On average, I place 2-4 orders a month (eek) to online makeup retailers, meaning I’m getting handfuls of samples and full-size products that I love delivered to my door.  I’m a sucker for surprises of any kind, so Birchbox reeled me in with the novelty aspect, but I’ve yet to receive a sample better than Sephora’s freebies.

My fate is in your hands, Birchbox.  Hook a girl up!  (and not with a drugstore razor!)

M

August VIB Perks

Sephora VIB’s (and VIB-curious): Have you checked out the August promos?  Killer deals!

This weekend (Aug 17-19), Very Important Beauty Insiders have the hook-up with a sample-packed clutch with purchase.  Spend $35 in store or online (way, way too easy) and enter VIBCLUTCH at checkout.  If you bulk up your cart to $50, free shipping too!  Here’s what’s inside:

  • Benefit POREfessional (0.25 oz)
  • Lancome Hypnose Drama Mascara (0.14 oz)
  • Sephora Instant Moisturizer (1 oz.)
  • Smashbox Hydrating 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)

Promos like this are why I’m probably too spoiled for Birchbox.  Buy some thing(s) you know you love for $35, AND get a bunch of generously-portioned freebies, PLUS three free samples, AND a points perk, if you’re a frequent shopper.  Deal$.

Also, while I was in the store last week, I picked up a VIB August schedule flyer I hadn’t seen before.  I tucked it into my purse feeling sly as hell – insider info!  I’m sure they have these out all the time, but this is the first one I’ve noticed… so allow me to share, if you’re a little unaware, like I was:

Aug 17-19 VIB Event Weekend – Special events with complimentary express service looks for fall.  Exclusive gifts for VIBs with minimum $35 purchase.  I’m really DIY about my makeup, so I won’t be taking them up on the service – but hop in, if you’re into that!

Aug 20-26 VIB Double Points – Double Points on every merchandise purchase, online or in-store.  Now’s the time to splurge!  Picking up one Urban Decay Naked palette ($50) will get you 100 points – meaning an instant gift with purchase.

Aug 27-31 Free Shipping – Online orders ship for free with no minimum purchase, enter code VIBSHIP.  The bummer with this promo is that you have to use a code.  Sephora famously allows only one promo code per transaction, so you can’t cash in on any other freebie offers.

If you’re not a Sephora Beauty Insider, definitely consider signing up!  If you spend $350 in a year (again, TOO easy), you’re automatically upgraded to Very Important Beauty Insider (VIB) status, which gives you access to crazy events and deals like these.

I realize I probably sound like a Sephora corporate drone sometimes, but I promise you, I’ve got no affiliations with the company (aside from being a die-hard fan for life).  I’m an avid shopaholic across the board, and this store has the greatest customer loyalty program I’ve ever seen.  Aside from the freebie offers, points with every purchase, birthday gifts, and in-store events, their return policy is simply the best.  I may spend a lot at Sephora, but I know that if I don’t love a product, I’ll absolutely get my money back.  Even if I’ve tried it on.  Even if I’ve just changed my mind.

But I’ll end my enthusiastic love letter now.  Enjoy your August perks!

M

10-second review: Too Faced Starry-Eyed Liquid Eyeliner

A total impulse buy, I grabbed a tube of Too Face Starry-Eyed liner ($17.50) when shopping for some essentials at Sephora.  I had bid adieu to my days of chunky glitter eye makeup (a very prevalent look in my high school makeup repertoire), until this eyeliner reeled me in.

I bought Mad Mad Love, pink iridescent, because if I’m going to be impractical about a purchase, I’m going all the way impractical.  I tried it out randomly on a weekday, with just a tiny swipe at the outer corners of my upper lids (above my standard black liner).  After I smudged it out a bit, I was left with a look that was pretty, unexpected, and oddly subtle!  I’ll admit I was a little gun-shy at first, but in small doses, this is a fun addition to summer eye looks.  It’d be great for a pool party.

Then I brought this little guy to Vegas and took it to the next level.  It’s literally impossible to be the most garish girl in Las Vegas, so I went hard on the glitter (and LOVED it.)  A couple of heavy lines on my upper lids, and a little bit along the outer lower lash line – it was big, pretty, and somehow still not too much.  It’s noticeable, but not obscene.

Some things I love about this particular liner are:

  • It stays exactly where you put it, even when smudged.  The fall-out is next to zero, so you won’t have to worry about glitter bits migrating to your forehead and cheeks.
  • The color (this one at least) is multi-dimensional.  So many glitter makeups are one solid color (all pink, for example) and I think it looks so cheapy cheap.  Mad Mad Love has pinks, champagnes, purples, and silvers.  Grown-up glitter.
  • Once it’s on, it’s on.  Even with an eye makeup remover, this liner outlasted the rest of my makeup.

So if you’ve been watching a lot of Toddlers & Tiaras, and you’re feeling especially showy, this is the eyeliner for you.  It’s available at Sephora, Ulta, Amazon and Too Faced, and there are six other colors if pink isn’t your thing.

M

Orly, Supergoop and Alterna at Hautelook

Heads up – it’s a beauty extravaganza over at Hautelook!

If you’re not familiar with Hautelook.com, it’s a great flash sale site, similar to Gilt.  Right now (and I mean RIGHT now, these sales will be over in the next two days), their beauty section is killer – Alterna hair products, Supergoop sun protection, Tweezerman tools and Orly nails.

Orly polishes are on sale for $4.50 each, marked down from the usual $8-$8.50.  It’s a good time to try out the brand, if you haven’t, and experiment with new colors at about half the price!

Alterna hair products are going for 50-70% off, and Supergoop’s not too shabby at 30-40% off retail prices.  I haven’t tried either brand yet, but I’ve read great reviews, so I picked up a couple of things on the cheap.

I’m excited to share my haul when it gets here.

M

Best Stuff: Lush Face Masks

I LOVE stopping into Lush stores because of the giant soap boulders, fun little scrubs and bath bombs.  And Lush is the perfect name for this company, because when I’m soaking in one of their adorable bath bombs (especially the ones that release glitter or flower petals), I feel like the damn king of luxury.

But Lush’s most lovable product by far is their fresh face masks.  These babies are a cheap thrill at $6.95 each, and each pot is good for about 10-15 masks.  Their ingredients are so fresh, you need to keep them refrigerated and each one is handily stamped with an expiration date.

I love-love-love the way these masks smell, and they’re the most effective masks I’ve ever used.  Brazened Honey is probably my favorite, with its exfoliating almond bits and strong sweet honey scent.  Love Lettuce and Cupcake share second place.  Each one affects my skin in a different way, but I can honestly say that I see a difference after one application.  My pores are tighter, my face feels clean and smooth and my skin actually glows.  IT GLOWS, friends.

I really can’t convey the greatness of these masks over the internet, so I’ll ask you to do your skin the favor of finding a Lush store and trying one.  Or a couple.  Because when you bring in 5 empty pots, you get a fresh face mask free!  And that’s awesome.

M

Best Stuff: SPF!

Summer’s here, and the time is right for dancing in the street.

Alright, that was lame.. but the video is hilarious, if you haven’t watched it.  Plus, I totally have the hots for Mick Jagger AND David Bowie.

As you may know from previous posts, I am terrified of wrinkles and sun damage.  Unfortunately, I am also easily freaked out by greasy skin products and weird chemicals.  That being said, finding a good sunscreen took a lot of trial and error.  I’m super happy with these picks, and I think you’ll dig them too.

For the face:
Devita Natural Skin Care Solar Protective Moisturizer
 SPF 30+ (about $17)

I am totally in love with this moisturizer, and the SPF is just an added, undetectable benefit!  It has a creamy lotion texture with absolutely no stickiness, greasiness, or sunscreen smell.  Best stuff, indeed.

For when you forget yours:
Neutrogena Men’s Triple Protect Face Lotion SPF 30 ($6.99)

On the off-chance I’ve forgotten my Devita moisturizer at home, I’ve found that my husband’s SPF moisturizer is almost as good (and easy to find in drug stores everywhere).  It smells a little manly, but it’s non-greasy and easy to wear under makeup.  Couldn’t ask for more.

For when you’re already wearing makeup:
Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral SPF 45 ($30)

Once I’ve painted on my layers of foundation, concealer and powder, there’s no way in hell I’m smearing a lotion sunscreen over it.  Awhile ago, I picked this SPF powder up at Sephora and loved it.  It’s a bit tinted, so while I’m upping my sun protection, I’m also refreshing my makeup.  Unfortunately, I’ve read a few articles about how sunscreen powders can be harmful if inhaled, so I stopped using it just to be safe.  Like any news story, it could be sensationalized, but I’d say use this one at your own risk.  And hold your breath if you do.

For everywhere else:
Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 60 for Sensitive Skin (about $15)

After (again) being terrified by reading up on sunscreen chemicals, I found Vanicream mineral sunscreen and gave it a shot.  It’s very thick and very white, and it takes some serious deep tissue massaging to get it all rubbed in.  It makes my skin a little bit sticky-shiny, but not nearly as bad as most others.  The good thing is that my skin is completely protected… the bad thing is that I don’t tan at all with it on.  If I know I’m out to get a little bronze, I pick up any generic low SPF spray at a drugstore and grease myself up like buttered popcorn.  I haven’t found the perfect middle ground yet, but if you have – share!!

M