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.

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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

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

Best Stuff: Water Bottles

Ok, I realize this is way off from what I normally blog about – but I sincerely love my water bottle and really need to share it.  I’m so obsessed, I’ve given these bottles as gifts to literally every one of my family members.

Being an avid internet creeper, I found myself engrossed in a documentary about plastic water bottles a couple of years ago.  I’ve read, in passing, that you shouldn’t keep disposable bottles in a warm car because chemicals can leak into the water and can cause breast cancer.  Horrible.  But there’s about a million other little ways that disposable plastic bottles can negatively affect you, and the environment.  I won’t get preachy now, but if you’re interested, here’s a video by Vice about where plastic goes when it floats into the ocean, and here’s a short article about how the chemicals in plastic affect women.  Ick.

Anyway, I decided it was time to help out in a little way and get a reusable bottle.  I needed one that could keep drinks cold, hold juices (or let’s be real here, vodka red bull), and hopefully looked decent.  I’m no square!  I ended up at Good Life Bottles.  My favorite thing about them is that they’re recyclable – not a lot of reusable bottles can say that – and I’ve only had to recycle one so far.  My also favorite thing about them is that they’re a cool, honest company.  Their bottles have a “limited lifetime warranty,” and when the bottom fell off my heavily used bottle, they sent me two new ones because they didn’t have my color any more.  That’s love.

These water bottles look cute in a bunch of colors, they keep drinks cold (or hot) for hours, they never give off a metallic taste or scent, and they’re completely non-toxic.  OH, and dishwasher safe (except the cap).  Miracle bottle, seriously.

The 1000mL Venture Bottle ($29.95), 700mL Traveler Bottle ($26.95) and 500mL Go Bottle are on Good Life’s website at goodlifebottles.com.  I should also add that they’re available at Target in blue and red, but the Target ones aren’t covered by the warranty.. and they’re also oddly leaky (my original Good Life bottles never leak at all).  Buy directly from the website if you get ’em!

Stay healthy, friends.

M

*As a side note, I realize my blog posts are often about random products, and usually very positive reviews.  I want to let it be known that I haven’t been paid or compensated by any of these companies, and I’m genuinely in love with all of my “best stuff”s.  What we have together is the real deal!

The Best Smells I Know About

A husband and a kid add unexpected, unidentified, and very un-glamorous smells to every possible living space.  I don’t expect to walk into a lightly perfumed European boutique hotel everyday, but I definitely wouldn’t be opposed to it.

I’m not particularly a scent snob – I like candles that smell like baked goods, fruit and flowers – but I can’t stand weird artificial “ocean,” “breeze,” or “country” ones.  I find the chemical scent of air fresheners (I’m looking at YOU, Febreze air) completely abrasive and irritating.  And I hate when a candle smells great on its own, but doesn’t do anything when it burns (Yankee and Bath & Body Works = guilty).

A few years ago, though, I got a game-changing Christmas gift from my boss.  It was a snuggie.  And that was amazing.  But she also threw in a super cute “Mandarin Woods” scented candle.  And THAT was even better.

Bella by Illume candles (sold at Target, $10.39) are designer-scented, highly concentrated and adorably packaged.  The scents are dimensional, interesting and sophisticated; they smell better than most perfumes.  More importantly – you can actually smell them while they burn, and the scent lingers after the candle’s put out. I haven’t found one I don’t like!

  • Winter Berry is probably my favorite during fall/winter.  It smells like just like holidays at home – like warm apples, cinnamon, and a Christmas tree.
  • Mandarin Woods smells like a monastery full of clean hipsters.
  • Vanilla Amber smells like a warm summer night in a fancy hotel with finely pressed high thread count linens.
  • Brazilian Orange smells like having a blood orange mimosa during an expensive salon shampoo.
  • Stardust Peony smells like boutique shopping with that awesome girl friend you want to be like.
  • Island Moonlight smells like a hot dude drinking a mojito.
They’re packaged two ways, in the tins (as shown above) and in open glasses – both make great gifts, but the glasses tend to build up ugly soot when they’re burned.  Also, like all candles, they smell kinda bad when you blow them out, so a lid is a huge advantage.
And if you can’t find the candles, the oil diffusers ($15.39 at Target) smell the same, but a little fainter.

Small price to pay for a little ambiance.

M