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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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

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

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

Best Stuff: Bumble & Bumble Creme de Coco Masque

I confess, I often neglect my hair.  It’s reasonably healthy, and my stylist is basically a miracle worker whose cuts last me months on end.  It’s totally passable with a quick wash-and-half-dry, but with a bit of extra work I’ve discovered it can be amazing.

I’ve noticed in my everyday “good enough” hairdo, I have a lot of little flyaway pieces and frizzies.  They don’t bother me much, but I figured if I could tame them with just a little conditioner, I’d give it a go.  So after a few clicks around the internet, I found Bumble & Bumble Creme de Coco Masque ($27).  I’m already a sucker for skin masks, so I figured I’d like a hair mask too.

I wasn’t prepared for the explosion of YUM smell when I opened the bottle.  This stuff smells like a coconut milkshake on an island beach.  I smoothed it on in a bath while watching Jersey Shore re-runs (sorry).  After about ten minutes, I rinsed, and re-rinsed.  It took me awhile to realize that the super-silky feel wasn’t leftover cream, it was my hair!  Whoa.

After towelling off, I ran a comb through my wet hair.  It was surprisingly easy – a world of difference from my normal nest of tangles.  The coconut smell lingered and my hair was smooooth.  Even after drying, my hair had a whole new teddy bear softness and a little extra shine.  I can get used to this.

Essentially, the Creme de Coco Masque is a ten-minute miracle that makes me want to swoosh my hair around like a Pantene commercial.  While my hair wasn’t bad before, it’s awesome whenever I use this.  It’s surprising what a little extra care can do.

M

Best Stuff: Perfume

Out of all makeup and skincare stuff, perfume is the least interesting to me.  It’s an everyday necessity, but I don’t need to smell dramatically different from one place to the next.  Furthermore, I’m picky about any scent that’s going to spend all day stuck to my clothes and hair, so not many perfumes make the cut.  Here are the ones that have:

High School: Liz Claiborne Curve for Women ($16.99 at Overstock)

I don’t have it around to smell any more, but from what I recall it goes very well with a Tommy Girl blue messenger bag and Friday afternoon pep assemblies.

Early College: Versace Red Jeans ($40 at Kohl’s)

This scent has a permanent spot in my brain, thanks to the way it covered up smoke and vodka odors.  I mean, library books and innocence.  I still like the way it smells, but it’s kind of potent and slutty.

Late College/Now: Burberry Brit EDT ($82 at Sephora)

This stuff caught my attention when I was studying abroad in London.  I smelled it in a department store and couldn’t get it out of my head for months.  Back in the U.S. of A, I ended up buying Burberry London, Burberry Brit EDP, and several other Burberry “meh” perfumes until I found it again.  I love this scent.  It’s grown-up and a little floral, but not overwhelming.  Best of all, it’s not too girly – my main complaint with perfumes.  My bff also wears it, and it smells different (but fantastic!) on both of us.  Good going, Burberry Brit.

My Sometimes Smell: Philosophy Amazing Grace EDT ($15 – $62 at Sephora)

For my less-than-sophisticated t-shirt days, I skip my grown-up perfume and go with Amazing Grace.  It smells casual, relaxing and sweet, and I spray it on at bedtime when I’m being fancy.  (Why not Jessica Simpson’s “Fancy Nights,” you ask?  Because that sounds gross.)

So now you know what I smell like.  What perfume are you rocking these days?

M

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