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

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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

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

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

Hoppin’ Blogs

Since leaving my crazy, hectic, overwhelming career in the fashion industry, I’ve led a pretty insular life of freelancing and good old-fashioned housewifin’.  The freedom is fantastic, but my only coworkers are the UPS delivery guy and the occasional microwave repair man.  I miss out on all those fashion and beauty tips you typically share on a lunch break (or in my former life, a sugar-free Red Bull and cigarette break).

The blogosphere has introduced me to a whole new world of like-minded ladies (and gentlemen!)  I love to explore, read, review and share with you all.. it’s like a sleepover every day!  So when Katie at Sparkle Girl’s Life set up this beauty blog hop (a totally foreign concept to me), I jumped.  Or.. I guess, hopped.

I’ve had a great day clicking through over 60 beauty blogs, and finding some fascinating new friends to follow.  If you’re feeling browse-y, click over and dig through yourself… guarantee you’ll find some good reads!  And keep an eye out, because she’ll be doing another blog hop next month.

Thanks, Katie!

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

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

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