The Naturals VoxBox

My first Influenster VoxBox came a few days ago, and the theme is Naturals!  While I don’t always write about my “green” lifestyle in this blog, I do make it a priority to live as responsibly and sustainably as I can.  I do my best to stay informed about environmental issues, and to use products and practices that support a greener earth.  That’s why I’m particularly excited about this VoxBox – these samples have introduced me to a few new eco-friendly brands and products, and I’m glad to share!

Here’s the loot:

First off, I received GEODEO Deodorant in Island
Typically, I don’t ask much of a deodorant – a little sweat protection, not too much residue on my clothes, and a nice scent (no “powder fresh” or “spring rain” here.)  As far as the scent goes, I couldn’t love this more!  Geodeo Island smells like a super juicy pear, fruity, simple and awesome.  The texture is smooth – not chalky at all – and completely clear.  Like, unbelievably clear.  I even tried rubbing the stick directly onto my black tank top – no white marks!  That’s an absolute first for me.   Geodeo doesn’t last as long as my usual stick (Secret deodorant in Va Va Vanilla), but I get about 4-5 good hours out of one swipe.  And I’m alright with re-applying, especially if it means I’m absorbing fewer toxins.
Geodeo’s bragging rights include no animal testing, sulfates, parabens, or phthalates, and the packaging is recyclable.  There’s a lot to like!  Try it out for $4.99 from Drugstore.com.

Next is LypSyl Intense Protection LypMoisturizer.  Check out this adorable tube!


I actually love this balm.  I’m a sucker for cool packaging – so the oversized oval tube with it’s cute little bee push-up switch is right up my alley.  I’ve mentioned that in the past, I loved Burt’s Bees, but noticed their balm seems harder and more waxy  in recent years.  LypSyl balm reminds me of my first tube of Burt’s Bees – super smooth and buttery with a minty tingle and scent.  In a way,  I’d say LypSyl even trumps old Burt by moisturizing my lips without a detectable layer of product.  This balm has earned a coveted place in my everyday purse, and I will definitely buy another when it’s out!  You can find it at Walmart for $2.82.

CleanWell Individual Hand Sanitizer Wipes
I’m actually very familiar with this brand, and I keep the sprays in my car and purse.  I love that they’re alcohol and triclosan free – very rare in sanitizers.  I’m a little bit of a germaphobe, but I hate dry, cracked hands and I’ve read a lot about how triclosan interferes with hormones.  CleanWell is a staple for my family, and these handy wipes are welcome in my arsenal.  I found mine at Trader Joe’s, but you can also get them online at GNC, $3.49 for a pack of 10.

Desert Essence Coconut Shine & Refine Hair Lotion
Hair Lotion?!  The bottle and the product look like your average body lotion and I read this carefully, front and back, to be sure of its purpose.  It IS for hair, and it’s pretty lovely.  The scent is awesome – very strong, sweet coconut.  The texture is that of a light, smooth body lotion.. not a heavy pomade or cream, but not as runny as a serum.  The instructions recommend applying a dime size amount to the ends, and distributing it evenly.  Being overly enthusiastic, I squeezed almost a tablespoon into my palms and rubbed it generously over the ends of my hair.  Even with my super-sized dose, Desert Essence added softness and shine without an oily wet look or chunky separation.  I’ve been known to overdo it with leave-in conditioners (leading to last-minute greasy updos), but it’s safe to say this hair lotion is nearly fail-proof.  If you’re looking for soft, manageable hair with a Malibu Barbie scent, check this out for $9.99 at Desert Essence.

EBOOST Natural Energy in Orange
If you’re familiar with Emergen-C, you’ve got an idea of what EBoost is all about.  Little packets of citrus flavored vitamin powder mix with water for an energy and immunity boost on the go.  I’m not a huge fan of Emergen-C, but EBoost is a step up.  It foams up quickly and easily, and tastes like orange soda at the first sip.  The aftertaste is decidedly vitamin-y, and I’m not crazy about that.  Overall, I’ll skip the powder packets in favor of trusty, taste-free vitamin pills.  If you’re good with vitamin drinks, and you want a tastier option, EBoost is $23.99 for 20 pouches on Amazon and it comes in Orange, Superberry, Pink Lemonade and Acai Pomegranate.

Then there’s The Original Dish Drying Mat
It doesn’t sound like the most exciting product in the world, I know, but I really like having this mat around.  Even though most of us have dishwashers, there’s always a cocktail glass, wooden spoon, or coffee pot that can’t handle the rigors of machine washing.  I hand wash a decent number of dishes every night, and end up perching them on my stove or leaving them strewn over a dish towel.  It’s not ideal for drying, and it wouldn’t make Martha Stewart very proud.  With The Original Dish Drying Mat (yes, I’m going to use its whole name whenever I can), I have a set area for my hand-washed dishes.  They dry faster, they’re safely cushioned, and my kitchen doesn’t look like a junkyard.  Its pretty cream color won’t last long in my house, but luckily, it’s machine washable.  The Original Dish Drying Mat is available for $4.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond.

NECTRESSE Sweetener
Nectresse is a zero-calorie monk fruit sweetener from the makers of Splenda.  The package says monk fruit extract is at least 150x sweeter than sugar, and I believe it.  Nectresse looks a lot like standard granulated sugar, but it smells a little more like maple syrup.  I put a tiny bit in my coffee, and it was pretty sweet.  Out of curiosity, I poured some straight into my mouth (don’t tell my dentist), and it was really sweet.  If you’ve had Truvia, you’ll know what I mean.  I have no problems with monk fruit or Nectresse, but I’ll be using this sparingly since a little goes a long way.  You can score a free sample at Nectresse.com.

M

Disclaimer: I received these products in a complimentary VoxBox, for testing purposes, from Influenster.

Advertisements

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

 

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

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

Bumble and Bumble Bargains at Target

I don’t know if you know about this, but daaamn – Target has some killer deals on Bumble and Bumble!

Their selection is pretty limited, but right now, the full-size bottles are buy one get one free.  And at $20-$27 each, that’s a great deal.

Target offers Salon Travel Kits if you want to try before you invest – $29.99 for a 2 oz. bottle of a shampoo and conditioner (either Creme de Coco or Seaweed), plus 2 oz. bottles of Styling Creme and Styling Lotion.  The styling products work fabulously with just a couple of drops, so those mini bottles will last you several months at least!

I already love the Creme de Coco hair masque and conditioner, so I decided to try the shampoo.  I also picked up the Styling Lotion (because I’m digging the Styling Creme) and a Seaweed shampoo.  Four full-size products, and I only paid for two.  Big ups to Target.

M

Sephora Mini Haul

Another fun bag from Sephora came in today, hurray!

Here’s what’s inside:

4 mighty fine samples: Clinique Stay-Matte Foundation, Dermadoctor Photodynamic Therapy and Shiseido Bio-Performance Serum, plus a free deluxe size Smashbox Photo Finish Primer (watch your backs, Rimmel and MUFE).

The Sephora Pro Blush Brush #49, to replace my awful Sephora Complexion brush.  I finally took a stand against that nasty, constantly shedding (and subsequently thinning) brush.  I cried out, “I shouldn’t have to live like this!” while carefully picking Complexion Brush hairs off my fully made-up face.. and that’s when I knew it was time to upgrade.

A 500-point Beauty Insider perk, Amore Pacific Flawless Skin Essentials set… because my points were stacking up, and after looking into this brand, I knew there was no way I’d buy any of this without trying it out.  $125 eye cream,  real talk.

Lastly there’s the Beautyblender 2-pack.  These things are blowing up online, and I felt like a complete dumbass spending $26 on a couple of sponges… but the reviews are unstoppable, and curiosity got the better of me.  Don’t make a fool of me, Beautyblenders!  Or do.  You’ve already made a 96% profit on a set of pink foam eggs, you can kind of do whatever you like.

So that’s what’s new in my beauty cupboard, I’ll let you know how everything works out!

Have you tried/enjoyed/hated any of these things?  Share!

M

Pssst – Freebies at Ulta & Sephora!

Just wanted to let you guys know, Ulta has a seriously fantastic Benefit gift with purchase on right now!  Free Deluxe Size Porefessional balm, Bad Gal Lash mascara and Cha Cha Tint w/any $25 Benefit purchase.  For the record, I haven’t tried any of those three, but I WANT to!  (Anyone know if they’re good?)

If I were to jump on this deal, I’d blow the $25 on:

  • Erase Paste concealer ($26) – I’ve been in and out of love with this, but right now, it’s my daily under eye concealer.  It only comes in 3 shades, which is weird, but it’s surprising how well it blends into foundation.  It’s thick (paste, indeed) so I have to take some time patting it in with my fingers or a sponge.  Worth it.
  • Bella Bamba blush ($28) – Got a sample size as a Beauty Insider perk with Sephora, and I am digging it.  I’m usually a coral or peach blush girl, but when I go pink, it’s Bella Bamba.  It’s a little shimmery, and it smells like fruit punch Starburst.  And for some reason I like that.
  • Finding Mr. Bright kit ($27.99) – for $1.99 more than the Erase Paste alone, you get mini sizes of Erase Paste in Medium, Girl Meets Pearl, Posie Tint, and High Beam.  BARGAIN.
  • Sweet N Wow 2-piece kit ($29) would make an adorable gift for my light-skinned blonde friend.  Posie tint and Sugarbomb blush.. perfect light pinks.
  • Maaaaaybe Stay Don’t Stray eyeshadow and concealer primer ($26) – I tried my Sephora mini sample of Stay Don’t Stray just yesterday with mixed feelings.  I’m not sure when a concealer primer should go on so I put it on over my foundation primer, but before my foundation.  I was impressed with how it brightened up my eye area, but once my foundation and concealer were on, it wasn’t especially noticeable.  I might also add – my eyeshadow STRAYED!  I’m willing to give it another chance, but I’m not sure I’d buy the full-size yet.

Also going hard on the freebies, Sephora’s 15 Days of Beauty is offering your choice of 6 of their “mini thrills” today with a $25 purchase and the code “15DAYS” at checkout. Your choices are:

  • Kat Von D Sin-Full Lash Mascara (deluxe sample)
  • Sephora Collection deluxe sample set – primer, SPF 15 moisturizer and a mascara
  • Gucci Guilty shower gel (deluxe sample)
  • Chloe long vial (perfume deluxe sample)
  • Korres travel size Guava Body Butter
  • Tarina Tarantino Sparklicity Gloss (deluxe sample)

Not bad, not bad at all.

M

Freebie-Loader

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a straight-up sucker for gifts with purchase.  I love the thought of buying a couple of things, but getting A BOX FULL OF THINGS instead.  It’s a cheap thrill.  Or more accurately, a free thrill.

A lot of times, gifts with purchase are useless little samples designed to rope customers into spending money on something they don’t want.. but after loading up on hideous department store freebies as a teen, I’ve come up with a few rules for myself:

1. Always buy something useful to ‘earn’ the free item.

2. Don’t jump for the freebie unless it’s something I already like, or am very interested to try.

My best tip is to keep a shopping list of makeup and tools you use and replace regularly (for me it’s Clarisonic brush heads, Make Up For Ever foundation and concealers, nail files, new Essie polishes and hair products.)  When some amazing gift with purchase comes up, I have a legitimate NEED to spend the money and earn some free swaaaag.

And with that, I announce my two newest freebie shipments from Clinique and Sephora.  (I should have posted on this sooner, since I think the Clinique promo is over.. sorry homies!)

Here’s my Sephora haul:

I spent, I think, around $40 on this fine array.  I bought the Make Up For Ever concealer, Sephora primer (now entering the ring in my primer battles – more on that later), Tokidoki nail tattoos (can’t stop loving the cuteness) and the Sephora Hot Hues neon lip balm.  My three free samples were the Dior serum, MUFE HD primer (I already use it, but this little packet will be handy for traveling), and a daily face peel.  I got the Fresh Sugar Kisses duo free as a birthday gift, and the Benefit Bella Bamba blush free with 100 Sephora Beauty Insider points.  The Tokidoki eyeshadow (in Diamante) was a gift with $25 purchase promo.

And then there was Clinique.  I can’t find their eyeshadow duo in Coffee Shop in any store anywhere, but the colors are so good with my skin.  They’re the perfect warm neutrals, and I will love them til the night closes in.  Clinique has such killer gifts with purchase that I added the eye makeup remover SORT OF on a whim.  I’ve been half-assedly looking for one, and Clinique’s had great reviews.

So for a total of around $45, I got these bad boys PLUS a fancy bag full of excitement.

What’s in there, you say?  Another eyeshadow duo (Lucky Penny and Chocolate Chip), Moisture Surge Intense, Repairwear Laser Focus, All About Eyes Serum mini rollerball, Lash Doubling Mascara, and the ol’ Chubby Stick in Mega Melon.  Yessss.

My favorite things about freebies are that I get to try a bunch of new things, and they’re usually small enough to stuff in my purse.  Also, I like that they are free.

With that, let me point you toward Sephora.com for their “15 Days of Thrills” promotion… 12 days left with a new gift with purchase daily.  And Ulta.com‘s not looking too shabby with their 5-piece Philosophy gift set with purchase.  Get your freeloading on, friends.

M