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

Advertisements

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

The Daily Sample: Jurlique Balancing Day Care Cream

Today’s lovely skincare sample is Jurlique Balancing Day Care Cream.

My first impression upon opening my sample packet was the SMELL!  This cream is strongly floral scented, like a nose-first face dive into a pile of daisies.  It’s overwhelming and almost car-freshener-artificial.  It’s runnier than a cream – I’d call it a light moisturizer, and despite its liquidity, it takes awhile to absorb.  Jurlique earns a couple extra points for the non-greasy and non-sticky product texture.

I gave the cream some time to sink in and after a few minutes, I noticed my face felt tight, almost like I hadn’t moisturized at all.  I checked it out in the mirror – my skin was matte, but felt slightly sticky to the touch.. and it smelled like cheap perfume.  I waited a few more minutes while I browsed the product reviews on Sephora.  It turns out a lot of customers complained about breakouts with this product.  Planning to hit up happy hour, I’m not taking any chances!  Off with the Jurlique!

Texture: 3/5
Finish: 1/5
Scent: 1/5
Price: $40 for 1.4 oz. 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

Overnight Success

It’s great waking up to pretty skin.  Most days, it’s just my foggy vision blurring my face into evenly toned, pore-free gorgeousness – but I do have an arsenal of no-fail products for days I need to wake up looking like a Disney princess.


For smooth, ready-to-go morning hair, I start with a good blow dry (either left over from my day, or after a night shower).  Sleeping on wet hair has never done me any favors.  Before heading to bed, I rub a few pumps of Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Overnight Hair Rescue $38, on my palms and coat my hair from the middle to the ends.  A quick pass with a wide tooth comb, and it’s good to go.  In the morning, I have freshly conditioned, pretty-scented, silky hair that’s ready to walk out the door.  My only word of caution is to err on the side of too little product – too much looks greasy.


For my face, I can’t forsake my old stand-by: Alba Even Advanced Night Cream $15.  It really evens my skin tone and makes my pores less noticeable.. but for can’t-risk-it days (weddings, brunches, and DRIVER’S LICENSE PHOTOS) I turn to AMOREPACIFIC Moisture Bound Vitalizing Masque $60.  After cleansing with my Clarisonic brush and finishing off with Clinique Clarifying Lotion, I apply the “masque” generously all over my face and neck.  It feels like a moisturizer, but takes a little longer to soak in.  It’s miraculously not greasy, sticky, or chalky, so my compliments to the chef.
In the morning, my face is plump (in a good way), smooth, soft, and even.  After a quick rinse, I have the perfect canvas for Big Day makeup.


Lastly, there are the eyes.  One big problem with my “need to look good tomorrow” nights is that my sleep is often compromised, and the eye bags give it away.  I don’t typically have issues with redness or puffiness, but when I do, it’s on an important day.  I’ve found out, though, that I can usually nip the problem in the bud with Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage $28.  It’s an eye serum with a metal roller ball applicator – which I always found a little gimmicky until this.  I rub the cold metal under my eyes and over my lids before bed, and by morning – normal eyes with normal eyelids.  I couldn’t ask for more.  It doesn’t do the miracle work of my everyday eye cream, but I can easily tap that on in the morning to take care of fine lines, dryness and circles.
These three products are my best shot at overnight success.  But I’ve also heard amazing things about Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery and I’m kind of dying to try it when my buying ban is up.

Do you have a no-fail night routine?

M

10-second review: Too Faced Powder Puff Brush

Not too long ago, I picked up the Too Faced Powder Puff Brush ($32) to replace my struggling old powder brush.  It’s deceptively cute – and by that I mean, it’s a great brush despite looking like it came with a My Little Pony gift set.  I’m not a huge fan of its over-the-top cutesy appearance, but I can deal.

Too Faced is one of those brands I had looked at as an outsider.  Much like Kat Von D and  Tokidoki, I saw it as an overpriced novelty line, and not an everyday standard.  (Too harsh?)  But after discovering Starry-Eyed glitter liner and this brush, I know I’ll be keeping an eye on this brand in the future.

These bristles are super-soft “teddy bear hair” and surprisingly dense.  It’s really one of the softest brushes I’ve ever used, and I love that.  The densely packed bristles, however, throw me for a loop.  I’m still getting used to the heavier application, but it looks great – very smooth and even.  It’s decent with pressed powders, but amazing with loose ones (like MUFE’s HD Microfinish powder).  And I’m not a mineral makeup girl (yet), but I imagine it’d be perfect for that too.

Pick one of these up next time you’re at Sephora… even if it’s just to feel the teddy bear hair.

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

Splurge, Steal, or Skip – Lip Balm

The Splurge: Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15

If you’re fancy enough to drop $20 on lip balm, this is the one to buy.  It’s nourishing and smooth, like rubbing a warm stick of butter on your lips… if you’re into that kind of thing.  I most certainly am.  This lip balm is not at all waxy or sticky, and there are tons of great colors to choose from.  Luscious as hellll.  $22.50 at Sephora

The Steal: Maybelline Baby Lips SPF 20

Baby Lips should really have its own Best Stuff post, it’s so good.  For being such a cheapy cheap lip balm, it out performs almost every other brand.  Baby Lips skips the waxy chapstick feel, and soaks into my lips comfortably and quickly.  It’s a must-have in every purse and car compartment, especially since it’s cheap enough to replace if/when it melts.  Quenched and Peppermint (both clear) are my two favorites – I didn’t realize the other four kinds are tinted, and picked up Cherry Me and Peach Kiss also.  The tint is noticeably cheap; the colors are Bonne Bell awkward and they apply unevenly.  Save yourself the patchy peach lips, and stick to clear.  $3.99 at Ulta and drug stores

The Skip: Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm

I know I’ll probably be one of the first official Burt’s Bees haters, but hear me out.  A few years ago, Burt’s Bees Beeswax lip balm was in every one of my jacket pockets.  It was my miracle drug – smooth, but a little waxy, with a soothing minty tingle.  But over the past two to three years, something at Burt’s Bees has changed.  I was thrilled when I saw the lip balm in grocery stores and gas stations, but when I picked up a replacement tube, I noticed it was hard.  Like a solid beeswax candle.  It wasn’t a fluke, I received more tubes as holiday gifts, and they were exactly the same.  Solid, waxy, and almost impossible to rub on my lips.  So I gave up on Burt and every single one of his bees.  Farewell, old friends, you were loved.

M

Everyday Skin Care Arsenal

I love makeup to death, but at the end of the day, I want every speck of it off my face.  It creeps me out thinking it’s lingering in my pores, so I go hard on my skin care regimen.  Here’s what’s working for me:


First I pre-wash the majority of my makeup off with my hands and Noxzema deep cleansing cream ($4.39) – the kind in a big blue pot.  (I pre-wash because I don’t like to get my Clarisonic brush too clogged up with makeup… it feels like I’m rubbing foamy old foundation around on my face.)  I’m not especially attached to this cleanser, I mostly use it because I get to scoop handfuls out like ice cream.


Next I deep clean with my Clarisonic Mia 2 and a cleanser: Purity Made Simple facial cleanser ($20), old school Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser ($11.49) or Biore Complexion Clearing Ice Cleanser ($7.49).  Whichever I blindly grab.


Usually, my eye makeup sticks around even after the brush, so I rub in some Clinique Naturally Gentle Eye Makeup Remover lotion ($18) and wipe it off gently with tissue (cotton balls leave awful little fuzz strings in my lashes.)

After that, I swipe my face and neck with Clinique Clarifying Lotion 1 ($13) and CVS’s hugest cotton balls ever ($1.49).  (I know, I’m sharing my favorite brand of cotton balls.  But they’re seriously huge and luscious.  I love them.)  It removes the last traces of makeup or dirt and leaves my face feeling fresh.

Then I apply Clinique Repairwear Eye Cream around my tired old eyes, and Alba Even Night Cream on my face and neck.  And it’s relaxing and wonderful, and my skin is grateful.

What skin care product or routine do you swear by?

M

In-Store Haul

Planning an upcoming trip to Vegas, I realized I am dangerously low on bronzer and couldn’t order a new one in time.  I drove to my nearest Sephora with a shopping list in hand to keep me from straying.  Once I’m in a makeup store, I’m stuck for a good hour, and will likely come out with a number of things I “never knew I needed”.  I’m proud to say I made it out this week with only one impulse buy, and I’d say it’s a good one.

Here’s my haul:


Nails Inc. Kensington Caviar base coat
.  I grabbed it on my way to the register without looking closely.  I meant to get the top coat, I’ve heard wondrous things about its wet look and I’m a little low on Polishield… but I’m hoping this base polish will be a happy mistake, because I’m basically too lazy to return it.

Too Faced Powder Pouf Brush.  My previous powder brush has been with me for years, so long the branding has worn off and I don’t even remember where I got it.  It’s been a real trooper, but it’s starting to get a little scratchy and it’s losing some hair.. so in with the new.

Too Faced Starry-Eyed Liquid Glitter Eyeliner in Mad Mad Love – this was my in-store must-have!  I grabbed for the powder brush and my eyes stuck to four little tubes of glitter eyeliner.  Normally I can breeze past it, but I have Vegas on the mind, so

Tarte Mineral Bronzer in Park Ave. Princess.  My irreplaceable everyday bronze – there just isn’t one as golden, neutral, and with just the right amount of shimmer..  This is a long-term relationship for sure.

Bumble & Bumble Defrizz Mini.  I’ve had a little issue with flyaways for a while, but LA’s dry summers don’t exactly help.  I tried some of this in the store (and more when I got home) and it seems to tame the frizz layer without any greasiness.  I tentatively dig this.

Bumble & Bumble Styling Creme Mini – honestly, kind of an impulse buy also.  It was $7 and my B&B Defrizz said I could mix it with Styling Creme “for a humidity-proof polish.”  I don’t know, I trusted the bottle.

Along with these lovelies, I got a couple of Burberry Brit Sheer samples that I promptly rubbed all over my forearms.  I’m liking it – it’s definitely the summer version of my old faithful Burberry Brit.  It’s like running a Burberry Brit-spritzed tee through the dryer with fabric softener.

Looking forward to smooth hair and glittering eyes in Vegas!

M