GLOSSYBOX: April 2015 Review.

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I think someone at GlossyBox found and read my semi-scathing review of March’s assortment of items- not only because what I received this month was infinitely better in quality, but because my April box arrived WAY ahead of schedule- reaching my door before this month’s Ipsy Bag and Loot Crate even shipped! If that weren’t enough to surprise me, the box itself was really neat looking- featuring a funky, Pop Art styled blonde applying makeup on the top. I loved it- especially because the boxes come in handy when I’m gifting things throughout the year.

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Also included in April’s bag was a neat little makeup pouch with a bedazzled lip print in the same Pop Art-ish style, I was already impressed with how different April’s box was shaping up to be- and that was before I even saw the actual products and samples that were inside!

What I Received:

Julep Gel Eye Glider in “Smoky Taupe Shimmer” (*Full Size!*)

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Stained Gloss in “Meta” (*Full Size!*)

Estee Lauder Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum

Aerin Waterlily Sun Perfume

Marrakesh Endz Split End Mender & Preventer

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Product # 1: Julep Gel Eye Glider in “Smoky Taupe Shimmer” ($16)

Whenever I write about pencil or liquid liners, I almost always end up comparing them to my favorite liner type- gels. I love the easy, painless, and mess-free application that comes with gel liners. I love how pigmented most versions are. More than anything- I love their longevity. I rarely have to worry about gel eyeliners smudging, fading, or flaking- which is exactly what I need and what I’m looking for since I rarely have time during the day for touch-ups. My only (very minor) problem with gel liners is that carrying around a brush and a pot of the product can be a little inconvenient- especially when I’m traveling since I tend to forget one or the other or they get mixed around and misplaced in my makeup bag. Thankfully, Julep have come to my rescue with this one-step pencil version of the gel liner.

I fully admit I was skeptical at first prior to trying this product, but the second I felt and saw how smoothly the pencil glided across my lids without any nicking or pulling, saw the beautiful charcoal color as I swept it upwards to give myself a nice and even cat eye- and then watched as the liner did not budge in the slightest throughout the day- I was thrilled. Julep completely won be over with this!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! This product combined the best of both worlds for me- all the aforementioned perks of a gel liner, but with the convenience of an easy-to-store and sharpen pencil. I loved the color of “Smoky Taupe Shimmer,” and will definitely re-purchase again once I’ve run out- but I’d love to try some of the other available shades, too!

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Product # 2: Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Stained Gloss in “Meta” ($18)

The last OCC lip product I tried was a deep crimson and matte-finish Lip Tar that I had liked very much despite how drying the formula felt without the aid of a balm or gloss under/over the product. When I received a similar shaped tube in this month’s GlossyBox, this time filled with a bright pink/coral color- and saw that it was a gloss instead of a matte finish- I was intrigued and hopeful. Unless there’s a serious screw-up with the ingredients somewhere- glosses don’t usually dry my lips out.

Like the Lip Tar, this gloss was highly pigmented and lasted a very long time without bleeding towards the outer edges of my lips or flaking off. A little of this product went a long way, and it looked very bold and vivid once I’d applied enough to my liking. It took a few seconds to adjust to the shade at first, but once I did- I loved it. It’s very Summer-appropriate. When the color did begin to fade after a few hours, it left behind a nice and even-looking stain on my lips- which meant I didn’t have to make a mad dash to the closest mirror to re-apply. .

Unlike the Lip Tar, this product had a shiny finish and wasn’t drying at all. My lips felt comfortable the entire time I had this gloss on- and even long after it had finally come off entirely near the end of the day. I think I’ve found a winner!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I was so pleased with this gloss for having all the components I loved about the Lip Tar I had previously received, and for also being better formulated to get rid of the drying effect. This is a great, vibrant color that I can and will be wearing for the remainder of the Spring and Summer to give my otherwise natural makeup look a nice and fresh pop of glossy, pigmented color.

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Product # 3: Estee Lauder Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum ($62 – $92)

A long, long time ago- in a faraway place that feels like a lifetime away- I worked as a Clinique Consultant within a department store. Across from my work space was Estee Lauder, Clinique’s parent company- as well as a couple of friends who worked as representatives for the brand. During slow days and nights where I would work ’til close, I’d often find myself over at their counter, perusing their makeup and skincare. Being in my late teens/very early twenties at the time, I liked the packaging of Lauder’s products- but I mistakenly thought their skin care was for more “mature” skin (i.e. women in their forties/fifties and up,) and at the time- their pricing was well beyond my available budget. When purchasing Lauder, usually to assist my friends with annual “Gift With Purchase” events- I stuck to lip glosses and bronzers- and that was about it.

Now that I’m a bit older and (a little) wiser- I’m comfortable with experimenting with different brands and products that are outside of my comfort zone or what I’m typically used to. I received this travel-sized jar of Estee Lauder’s “Enlighten” serum and, forgetting my previously mentioned “mature skin” way of thinking- gave it a try. While the box and jar said this is a nighttime serum, I read in the pamphlet included in my April GlossyBox that this product can be used during the day as well before moisturizer and SPF. As is the case with most serums, I only needed a small amount to cover my face- which meant I was able to try this sample for quite a while before I began to run out.

The serum itself is lightweight and absorbs quickly without leaving behind a residue or a shine on my skin. It’s fragranced- which had me a little worried since my skin can be sensitive to perfumes- but thankfully this product didn’t cause any sort of painful reaction. In fact, after a few days of night and day use- my face was GLOWING. I couldn’t believe how clear and even my complexion looked and how soft and smooth my skin felt. It was unreal and had me kicking myself for not trying this product sooner.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! Okay, so the price point- even now that I’m more financially responsible- is a little staggering, I know- but this serum is incredible. It has been working wonders on my skin and I haven’t even had to use a lot to achieve such amazing results. I would, and will- happily splurge on a full-size bottle of this, sooner rather than later. My skin feels healthy and soft, and it looks so much brighter!

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Product # 4: Aerin Waterlily Sun Perfume ($110)

My best friend Sean and I spend a considerable amount of time in NYC- specifically at the McKittrick Hotel, home of “Sleep No More,” where we attend dinners, parties, special events, etc. The place has such a unique vibe, including the way it smells. There’s a certain fragrance in the air whenever Sean and I don our “Sleep No More” masks and step into the performance area. It’s this sort of earthy, musky scent that wafts throughout the rooms as we wander. It’s not awful, but it’s definitely distinctive- and not necessarily something I would want to smell like on an average day at my office, for example…

… It’s also very, very close to how this perfume from Aerin smells. A long-lasting combination of florals and musk, the first thing I thought of when I first spritzed some of this perfume on was the McKittrick. Like I said, it’s not terrible- but I don’t think it’s something I could see myself wearing on a regular basis. Also, $110 a bottle? Yikes.

Would I Purchase?: No. By all means, if earthy musks are your thing- you’d probably enjoy this perfume very much. It’s powerful and stays on for a long time- but I’m a fan of lighter, more floral fragrances. This one was just a little too heavy for me.

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Product # 5: Marrakesh Endz Split End Mender & Preventer ($5.99 – $17.99)

Having recently touched up my red highlights and using heat on my hair to temporarily straighten my curls for a couple of days- my hair was in need of some TLC to repair any damage sustained in the process. I figured there was no better time to run some of this lightweight cream through the ends of my hair and see if it could do the trick. First things first- like the bottle says- there’s hemp oil in this product. Your hair WILL smell like it all day unless you use additional styling products to mask it. I personally like the fragrance- and have been using this cream all by itself. It makes my hair soft, manageable, and even a little glossy looking as it fights frizz and flyaway strands- NOT greasy. Also, the price point is reasonable considering the quality!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! This is one of those fantastic products I never would have known existed if not for GlossyBox. I love the results I’ve been seeing with this cream, the ease of how it’s applied, and sure- the scent. It’s just an overall great addition to my hair care regimen and I plan on ordering a full-sized bottle once I’ve run out of this sample.

Wow, GlossyBox. You really went above and beyond with this month’s assortment of products and samples. With the exception of the perfume, which just wasn’t really my sort of scent- this box was incredible. From the cool design, to the bonus makeup pouch, to the timely shipping- and of course- the great products that were included: I was thrilled. This more than made up for March’s lackluster box, and I’m excited to see what’s in store for May!

Closet Crushes: Practical Festival Wear.

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Oh, “Closet Crushes” posts- how I’ve missed you. It’s been well over a year- maybe a year and a half- since I’ve shared some of the contents of my wardrobe on here. With work, travel, geeking out at comic-conventions, and more recently- unpredictable weather- I haven’t had much time or motivation to primp and pose outdoors in some of my favorite pieces in recent months- and the “Closet Crushes” posts sort of fell to the wayside as a result.

But now, with beautiful weather here at last and my closet recently cleaned out and organized from a LOT of Spring cleaning- I’ve been inspired to start them up again- and with the first leg of Coachella wrapping up this past weekend (and the festival fashion recap posts emerging online)– I thought I’d share two of my favorite, practical, but still stylish ensembles to wear for such an occasion.

Here’s the thing about Coachella. Over the years, the festival has become less about music and more about which celebrity can show up wearing the most outlandish, impractical, and uncomfortable looking outfits (sometimes engaging in some cultural appropriation along the way.) How someone can enjoy a band’s set in 75+ degree weather, surrounded by a mass of other sweating, sticky bodies, and trying to decide between succumbing to dehydration or spending $12 on a bottle of water- all while wearing layers upon layers of leather, fringe, suede, feathers, tulle (the worst fabric imaginable,) and three pounds of metal bangle bracelets- is beyond me. That sounds like a miserable time!

I’ve been to a few outdoor music festivals throughout the years, and I’ve always made it a point to dress in clothing that was comfortable and suitable for the elements. Jeans, t-shirts, and waterproof boots in case of rain or puddles were pretty much mandatory- but sometimes the heat and the sun beating down during the day could make me feel like I was roasting- and I turned to more flowing, breathable fabrics that let me stay cool and able to move around (and dance!) freely without looking like an insane person.

I love my shin-length, nude-colored cotton crochet skirt (in the left hand side of the photo above,) which I usually layer with a tank top and a lightweight sweater in case it cools down at all during the day- and my white, cotton crochet dress (right side of the photo above,) is loose-fitting and feminine- making me feel pretty and comfortable. I especially love the design of it’s bell sleeves- which give me some serious BoHo vibes.

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For accessories, I try to keep it simple. Too much dangling from my neck and arms is uncomfortable, at least for me- so I tend to stick to one or two pieces- like a unique and lightweight necklace and one or two chunky bracelets that won’t interfere with my movements too much. I like these pieces since I can barely feel them whenever I wear them.

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Lastly, the finishing touches- my footwear and my sunglasses. I love these faux-leather cowboy style boots year-round, since they’re comfortable and look pretty chic with jeans and dresses alike, regardless of the season (I once paired them with short shorts when I was in Las Vegas- and it looked pretty cool.) Best of all? They keep my feet dry in the case of an unexpected downpour, and are easy to clean should I encounter the dreaded outdoor festival mud pile. Ick.

The sunglasses, large and round- are back in style this season, and have been all but permanently attached to my face as of late. They’re also going to be making another appearance in an upcoming “Inspired By” post!

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And those are just two of my favorite, and practical- outdoor festival looks.

Do you have any practical festival fashion must-haves? Feel free to share in the comments!

Notes of Spring…

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Firstly- it is absolutely GORGEOUS out today! It’s cool, but not cold- sunny with only a few clouds scattered throughout the sky- and there is absolutely NO snow to be found anywhere! I’d nearly forgotten what grass looked like until now. I had my car windows down earlier this morning when I stepped out to run some errands, and on the road I saw more than one person savoring this beautiful day on their motorcycle.

It’s official- Spring is finally, FINALLY– here! No question about it- unless we get another freak snowstorm or something.

We made it through, New England!

Not that I haven’t been ready for it for weeks now. A peek into some of my entries from January through February, and even throughout March- showed (plenty of times) that I was so over and done with winter, to the point where I just wanted to bundle myself up in blankets and hibernate- and that I was more than ready to enjoy the warmer weather and sunshine.

Since a short time before Easter I’ve been adorning my home with fresh flowers and embracing the pastels in my wardrobe, storing away my heavy coats and dark colored shirts and sweaters until the end of the year. My makeup collection has even received a Spring makeover (I’ll write about that soon,) which has me looking fresh-faced and bright as of late.

I’m heading out with some friends to enjoy the remainder of this lovely weekend, and on Monday morning- I’ll be selecting a winner of my “Is It Summer Yet?” Giveaway. There’s still a few more hours to enter if you haven’t done so already!

‘Til next time!

xox

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That’s a Wrap! Dissecting Season 5 of “The Walking Dead.”

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TheWalkingDeadSeason5PosterPast reviews and reflections of previous seasons of “The Walking Dead” have always been fairly easy to write- in my own experience- because the story arcs have been relatively similar throughout the years. The surviving group takes up residence somewhere they believe to be safe. It turns out not to be safe at all. They encounter the designated “bad guy” of the season- be it living or undead- they prevail, although they typically lose one or two members of the group along the way- and the audience is left with a cliffhanger ending to keep us coming back the following season for more. It’s a simple formula, but it works- and it’s entertaining.

At the end of season four, Rick and the remaining members of his group (sans-Carol, Tyreese, Judith, and Beth- who were elsewhere,) were preparing to fight their way out of a train cart after being ambushed and subsequently captured by the shady folks at the slaughterhouse disguised as a sanctuary, Terminus. Rick’s final line, a call to arms in the form of “they’re screwing with the wrong people,” left fans counting down the days until the season five premiere last October to see just how our favorite band of survivors would escape in one piece.

This past season, concluding just over a week ago, had the distinction of breaking away from the aforementioned storytelling formula- firing on all cylinders from the first agonizing, brutal, and bloody minutes of the season premiere and rarely losing momentum. There were a lot of losses amid the chaos, of course- and more than one designated “bad guy,” which made for a lot of intersecting story arcs and character development- but did the show suffer as a result of too much going on at once?

I’m putting my review, which includes a LOT of spoilers- behind the “Read More” tag, so if you haven’t seen the season finale or haven’t quite caught up with the show just yet- don’t proceed!

Otherwise, let Eugene’s seductive gaze guide you in.

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GLOSSYBOX: March 2015 Review.

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GlossyBox had started off 2015 with the best of intentions. Impressive product selections, more prompt delivery- and I had expressed hope on more than one occasion throughout January and February that their attempts at tweaking and improving their service for new and longtime subscribers alike would last throughout the remainder of the year. By doing so, I think I may have unintentionally jinxed myself- because a late winter storm (that was surprisingly not affecting anywhere near where I live,) caused a delay in March’s shipping schedule. I was notified via e-mail, which was a good and appreciated move by GlossyBox’s customer service- and I was therefore prepared for when my box finally turned up a little more than a week ago.

Shipping hiccup aside, March’s box contained not one, or two- but three full-sized items, as well as two samples of a product valued at over $100. I dove right in!

What I Received:

Ouidad Color Sense Color Preserving Shampoo & Color Preserving Conditioner

ModelCO More Brows Eyebrow Thickening Gel in Medium/Dark (*Full Size!*)

Orogold COSMETICS 24K Multi-Vitamin Day Moisturizer

So Susan Cosmetics Concealer Quad (*Full Size!*)

Bellapierre Cosmetics Cheek&Lip Stain in Pink (*Full Size!*)

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Product # 1: Ouidad Color Sense Color Preserving Shampoo & Color Preserving Conditioner ($18 – $65)

In the spectrum of “First World Problems,” taking care of color-treated hair is right up there near the top. It’s taken me a couple of years, but I’ve finally found and developed a cleansing, conditioning, and styling system that works well with both my curls and my red dye job. I try not to stray from it too far or too often- and usually only do so when it’s to try a different product I’ve received a sample of or that has come highly recommended to me. This lightly fragranced, sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner duo from Ouidad- created specifically for curly and color-treated hair to protect it from UV rays, drying out, frizz, etc.- seemed like it was designed just for me. I was so excited to see what kind of results I’d get.

First, the shampoo. I fully admit I’m picky about my shampoo. I like it to lather, but I don’t like it to strip my hair of it’s natural nutrients and especially not of my color (and who does?) While this shampoo did lather, albeit with a little difficulty- it didn’t make my hair feel necessarily clean. Each time I used this sample, I ended up washing my hair 2-3 times per shower just to make sure it wasn’t my imagination. Each time I rinsed, my hair felt a little oily- which kind of grossed me out.

The conditioner didn’t fare much better. The consistency of this product, almost too thick to get it out of the bottle without having to unscrew the cap and vigorously shake it- made it difficult to distribute evenly through my thick hair without using almost the entire sample. I even left the conditioner in my hair a little longer than the recommended three minutes before combing through and rinsing- but it didn’t soften or help de-tangle my curls at all. My hair actually looked and felt coarse and frizzy after I’d used this product. So disappointing.

Would I Purchase?: No, to both. This shampoo and conditioner were just not for me at all, which is a shame- because it’s not very often I can find products that are supposed to be beneficial to both curly hair AND color treated hair (it’s either one of the other, and results in a lot of mixing and matching on my part.) The shampoo actually made my hair feel dirtier than before I’d washed it, and I saw absolutely no improvement with the conditioner whatsoever. I’ll stick to the system I have going right now, since that seems to be working out well for me so far. 

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Product # 2: ModelCO More Brows Eyebrow Thickening Gel in Medium/Dark ($18)

Ever since I started using makeup/cosmetics back in my mid-teens- I’ve gone through countless lipsticks, glosses, blushes, and eyeliners- but only a handful of brow gels and powders. My eyebrows have always had a manageable thickness to them, and a natural arch- so be it my own laziness in the morning or just never seeing the need to fill them in between tweezings/waxings- but I very rarely use products like this ModelCo gel.

I digress- thicker, fuller brows are most definitely “in” right now- and not content with just throwing out my tweezers and letting nature take it’s course, I decided to give this modified mascara wand a try to see if I could achieve my own version of the Cara Delevingne unkempt look.

The gel applied easily enough. It wasn’t clumpy or watery, and it very closely matched the natural color of my own brows where it didn’t look like I had applied anything at all- which is what I had hoped for. The gel did give my brows a fuller look without making them appear TOO outrageous- and held any rouge hairs in place- which was also nice. It took a little getting used to at first, but I’ve really started to enjoy the results the more I use this product.

Would I Purchase?: Maybe. Don’t get me wrong. I like this gel- and I like the way it made my eyebrows look for the most part- but I don’t know if this is something I’d re-purchase in the future quite just yet. Taking my minimal and hassle-free Spring and Summer makeup routine into consideration- this is just an extra step I’m not sure I’m ready to take in the a.m. when I’m getting ready for work or getting ready to go out for a weekend. I think I’ll know eventually after I get used to using the tube I have now every day!

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Product # 3: Orogold COSMETICS 24K Multi-Vitamin Day Moisturizer ($118)

At a whopping $118 for a full-sized jar of this daily moisturizer, I ended up staring at the two capsules I received in March’s GlossyBox prior to use- half expecting a unicorn or a leprechaun to spring out of the samples once I’d opened them. For that much money, I was ready to see instant results and had my sunglasses within reach to shield my eyes from the luminous glow I was sure to achieve after applying this perfumed and fast-absorbing cream, which contains actual 24 karat gold- on my face and neck area.

Here’s what happened instead- I broke out. BAD. After two days of using this product, my face was all but covered in painful blotches. They thankfully went away after I stopped using the cream for another two days (and after a nice detoxifying mask,) but I wanted to be sure it was this moisturizer and not just a weird reaction to something else that had caused such a horrible reaction. Just in case. I tried using this cream one more time- and immediately saw another fresh crop of sore-to-the-touch blemishes pop up in the area where I’d applied it.

Most expensive breakout ever.

Would I Purchase?: No. God, no. Never. Look, this might work fantastic for other people. For someone with less sensitive skin than me, this might be a Godsend. It might hydrate and get rid of fine lines and wrinkles almost immediately- but for me- it caused a week’s worth of skin problems and is simply not worth a penny of it’s price.

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Product # 4: So Susan Cosmetics Concealer Quad ($30.95)

Let’s just cut to the chase. I can only use one, maybe two of the shades in this quad- those two being the pearl white and the lightest nude tone available as a highlighter and concealer, respectively. The waste of the two other product shades aside- I was fully ready to be pleased with this product since I’ve been so smitten with a quality So Susan blush I had received in a recent GlossyBox as of late.

First things first- this concealer is not easy to apply. At all. The texture is waxy, too waxy, really- which made getting any on my concealer brush (and then my finger when I got desperate,) near impossible. Secondly, when I was able to get enough of the product on my brush/finger after swabbing multiple times to apply to my face- it barely covered anything. Not a blemish and definitely not any dark circles under my eyes. Even the pearl white highlighter, which I applied- with difficulty- around my brow bone hardly showed up. I ended up scrapping this quad completely and going back to my liquid concealers to cover any imperfections.

Would I Purchase?: No. Much like the Ouidad shampoo and conditioner I received last month, this product was a dud for me. With two shades of the quad going to waste even before I’d opened it, the unnecessary difficulty in applying the shades I could use- and topped off with the complete lack of coverage whatsoever- this one is getting thrown out.

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Product # 5: Bellapierre Cosmetics Cheek&Lip Stain in Pink ($19.99)

Having been fairly discouraged with March’s GlossyBox so far, I was bracing myself for one last bit of disappointment before I’d even opened this highly pigmented pink solid lip and cheek stain from Bellapierre. From past experiences, anything designed for the lips AND cheeks is usually drying and disastrous on my complexion. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case with this product- which blended easily along the apples of my cheeks and gave me a natural, flushed finish that complimented most makeup looks I’ve been wearing recently. This is a nice go-to for those days when I need a hint of more color since there’s no shimmer and it stays in place all day without getting patchy or fading completely.

I haven’t tried this product on my lips, however- and don’t plan to. I like the lip balms I’m wearing now and I don’t really have a need for yet another pink to add to the collection.

Would I Purchase?: Maybe. This was a nice product that applied with no mess and didn’t budge until I washed my face. It didn’t dry my skin out or otherwise cause any kind of bad reaction like a certain aforementioned moisturizer- but I wasn’t necessarily blown away by this stain. I will definitely be using more of the full-sized jar I received in last month’s GlossyBox, but I don’t know if I feel inspired enough by it to rush and purchase another one if and when I run out.

I’m not a complainer. That’s not who I am by any means- but wow, was March’s GlossyBox a let-down. With only two products being “okay” out of a box otherwise filled with things that were just not that great- I’m really hoping that April’s selection of items and samples is a vast improvement. I don’t expect every month to blow me away- because that’d be a difficult standard to uphold time and time again- but following up a great assortment in January and February with what I received in March’s box was pretty surprising.

We’ll see what happens when this month’s box arrives.

March 2015: In a Nutshell.

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NYC – March 2015.

Good evening (in my time zone, anyway!)

I’m so used to publishing posts in the morning during the weekdays that writing this so late in the afternoon feels a bit unfamiliar to me! I’ve been incredibly busy at work (which is a good thing,) and enjoying a touch of warmer weather as much as I can. I actually have a window open as I type this, and while it’s by no means beach weather quite just yet- it still feels really refreshing!

Winter has been putting up quite a fight on it’s way out the door. This past month, on more than one occasion here in New England- we’ve seen snow dustings blanket the area- only to be melted away within hours when the sun finally came out through the clouds to wrestle back it’s control of the sky. The forecast for the week ahead is showing a steady rise in temperatures and no snow on the horizon- so here’s hoping April will be more mild!

Unpredictable weather, a battle with a flu (and then a sinus infection- ugh!) and some non-stop Spring tidying aside- March was a really fun and productive month for me. I did a little bit of weekend traveling, teamed up with the good folks over at Rocksbox for a great promotion, and just recently put up my Summer-themed giveaway (which I’ll link to again below!) I’m also a few weeks into my Springtime diet and fitness regimen- and wow– I’m already noticing such a big difference. I look and feel so much better than I did, say, near the end of last year- for example. I’m sure I’ll be doing more posts pertaining to it in the near future- be it exercise routines, healthy recipes, or even a “Day In The Life” type of post. We’ll see!

With tomorrow being April 1st (and also “Stay Off The Internet Day” for those of us who typically fall prey to April Fools jokes, fabricated news stories, and the like,) I’ve been plotting out my plans, goals, and posts for the upcoming month. I’m hoping to spend a weekend in one of my favorite spots in Upstate New York in a couple of weeks since I haven’t been there in years and have been pining to go back- and I’ve stumbled on an incredible abandoned location a couple of hours away in Connecticut that I’m  hoping to photograph now that the snow isn’t obstructing my view of anything and everything quite as much anymore!

Over the next few days, I’ll have my review of my March GlossyBox up- as well as my breakdown of the recently completed and absolutely wild fifth season of “The Walking Dead” (“RICK. DO IT.”)– which is always so much fun to write.

Until then, there’s still time to enter my “Is It Summer Yet?” Giveaway- so be sure to check it out!

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– Click Here To Enter! –

Bring on April!

“Is It Summer Yet?” Giveaway!

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In some of my recent posts, I had hinted at an upcoming giveaway I was putting together in celebration of the Spring and Summer seasons finally arriving after what was undoubtedly one of the worst winters my neck of the woods has seen in a very, very long time. I wanted the giveaway to be seasonal, fun, and have a more personal touch with reflections of some of the items and essentials I covet in the warmer months. I’ve been carefully curating the contents (say that five times fast,) over the past couple of weeks, and I’m excited to announce that it’s finally time to share what one lucky, randomly selected winner will receive in my Summer-themed giveaway!

The “Is It Summer Yet?” giveaway is pretty self-explanatory- consisting of accessories, cosmetics, a bit of home decor- and a little something for the foodies out there. Each item was selected to help jump start a Summer/beachy frame of mind for the winner and are all products that I also own and use regularly every year after I dig myself out of the snow and welcome the sunshine!

*This giveaway IS NOT limited to United States residents only! Since I will be paying for the shipping and handling out of my own pocket- it’s open to those of you across the pond, below (or above) the border, and anywhere in between, too!*

Here’s what’s included:

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Lush’s Ocean Salt Scrub:

The first step to getting glowing Summer-ready skin is exfoliation, and I turn to this incredible face and body salt scrub from Lush to do just that! A scoop of this bright blue, Margarita-scented scrub is enough to gently buff away dead and dry cells, revitalize the surface of my skin, and leave my face, elbows, knees, etc. super smooth.

Bath & Body Works “Cool Amazon Rain” Body Lotion:

After exfoliating, I turn to lightweight body lotions that quickly absorb as they’re applied to keep my skin soft and hydrated all day and night. I love this newer lotion from Bath & Body Works which has an energizing, citrus, “tropical” smell to it.

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Harney & Sons Fresh Brew Iced Tea Tins in Peach and Raspberry Herbal:

I love iced coffee, especially before I go in for a long day at work- but in the warmer months I find myself taking afternoon iced tea breaks, too. These individually packaged fruit-flavored teas- made specifically to be iced- are especially nice and refreshing.

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Good Housekeeping Juices & Smoothies Recipe Book:

Iced coffees and iced teas aside- Summer is also the season of smoothies and healthy juices (and milkshakes and frozen margaritas on “cheat days” from all that healthy eating.) This hardcover book from Good Housekeeping has really great recipes that cover all ends of the frozen-beverage spectrum and will be sure to come in handy when you’re ready to have a picnic, BBQ, camp-out, beach day- or any other outdoor get-together.

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Maybelline “Baby Lips” Lip Balm:

When it comes to my Summer lip care, I stick to the basics. Hydrating glosses in bright corals and pinks, and sunscreen-packed balms. One of my favorites is this colorless “Baby Lips” balm from Maybelline with SPF 20. It keeps my pout soft and smooth for all-day wear and I don’t have to worry about any color fading since it applies clear. I just throw this in my bag on-the-go for quick touch-ups.

Sephora’s Formula X Nail Polish in “Prism” and “Incandescent” :

I love bright, tropical colors on my nails in the Summertime- and this year I find myself already gravitating towards bright blues, greens, and orange tones. I picked out two of my favorites, “Prism,” a metallic turquoise with a hint of pearl, and “Incandescent,” a bright and solid cantaloupe-tone. Both are from the Formula X line at Sephora, which is long-lasting and isn’t packed with harsh chemicals.

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Bumble and Bumble “The Surf Set”:

Despite having coarse and curly hair, I’ve managed to develop a relatively quick and simple step-by-step process to achieving beautiful and healthy-looking “beachy” waves over the past couple of years- no flat-iron required- thanks in part to Bumble and Bumble’s “Surf” line. In this giveaway, I’ve included three travel-sized bottles of the set: the shampoo, conditioner, and my personal favorite- the salt spray- guaranteed to get your hair looking like you’ve spent a day at the ocean.

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Old Navy Mint-Colored Beach Tote:

To store all your giveaway goods, I’ve included this faux-leather, mint colored beach tote from Old Navy. While I definitely love bold colors and floral prints in the Summer- I thought this lovely pastel was too pretty to pass up and would be suitable to carry along in the Spring, too.

Old Navy Sunglasses with UV Protection:

Rounded sunglasses seem to be a big trend this year (whereas last year was the Summer of cat-eye sunglasses,) so I opted to keep the shades simple for anyone’s tastes with this pair of chic rose-hued and thin wired sunglasses from Old Navy. I own a very similar pair, and I’ve been loving them so far! I feel kind of like Penny Lane in “Almost Famous” whenever I have them on.

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Bath & Body Works 3-Wick Candle in “Island Margarita”:

And finally, since I couldn’t include actual alcohol in this giveaway- I settled for the next best thing- this margarita scented candle from Bath & Body Works. With the lime part of the fragrance being the most distinctive, this is a great, slow-burning candle that will make your entire space smell amazing and tropical.

IMPORTANT STUFF:

The giveaway is running from now through midnight (EST) on Monday, April 13th, 2015, after which time a winner will be selected  at random through Rafflecopter and contacted directly to obtain additional information to process shipping. If selected, you’ll have 72 hours to respond to the confirmation e-mail. If I don’t receive a response in that time, I’ll unfortunately have to select another winner, instead!

Nothing in this giveaway can be traded or swapped for something else. What you see is what you’ll be receiving if you win!

HOW TO ENTER:

Like each of my past giveaways, I’ve set up an official page for this one using Rafflecopter – CLICK HERE to head over to it, review the guidelines, and make sure your entries are properly counted!

There are two ways to enter the giveaway and you can do one or both of them!

1. Comment on this post with your name and e-mail address. Please keep in mind that I have comment moderation turned on to avoid spambots- so if your comment doesn’t appear right away; don’t panic! I’ll put it through as soon as I’m able!

2. You can tweet about the giveaway and link back directly to this post or to my homepage: LegallyRedhead.com

Good luck, everyone- and remember to check the Rafflecopter page to make sure your entries have been counted!

xo

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Loot Crate: March 2015.

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The concept of spies and secret agents has always intrigued and entertained me- especially when it comes to female spies. I love the idea of an underestimated and bad ass woman stealthily, successfully and fearlessly getting the job done. Be it historical, real-life spies like WWII’s Nancy Wake and Civil War-era spy, Mary Bowser- to the fictional and cinematic spies like Marvel’s Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff or the “Resident Evil” franchise’s Ada Wong. If  I wasn’t enjoying my work as a paralegal so much and I didn’t have an active social media presence- I could be a pretty good spy. Maybe. Possibly.

Okay, probably not.

I digress. I got to live out my secret agent fantasy through Loot Crate’s March box. The theme? “COVERT,” and I’ve been waiting since the end of February to get mine!

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The mini-magazine in March’s crate was especially fun to thumb through, featuring an ode to classic spy movies from the James Bond franchise, the Bourne trilogy, and even “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,” which I watched the other night for the first time in ages, oddly enough- as well as a tribute to the “Metal Gear” game collection (“Snake? Snake? SNAAAAAAKE!”)

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One of the coolest items in March’s Loot Crate was this comfortable black digital wrist watch that only briefly displays the time when the face is pressed on.  I like the concept, although I’m quite smitten with my current (and not very covert) Michael Kors watch- so I will probably be gifting this one in the future!

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One thing I always need and have a use for are notebooks! For work, for when I travel, for shopping lists and random thoughts. I always try to have a pen and paper within reach and in my purse. These two small, 48-page notebooks are almost pocket-sized- making them perfect to carry along with me throughout the day- and I love the cover design!

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One item I received in this month’s box that I will definitely be gifting to a nature enthusiast friend of mine for the next time they go hiking or camping is this paracord survival bracelet. It can be used in so many different ways- as a tourniquet, a fishing line, a makeshift fastener for broken equipment, etc. It’s such a cool and versatile item and I know my friend will appreciate how helpful it can be in any situation!

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I’ve never seen “Orphan Black,” although some of my friends are pretty much obsessed with it and are constantly telling me how great it is! The premise sounds interesting, and I’d like to check it out and catch up when I have a chance. Lucky for me, Loot Crate included the very first issue of the comic-version of the story in March’s crate. I have a long list of reading to catch up on- and I’m adding this to it!

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I haven’t had a Mad Libs book since I was a kid- so this was a nice little piece of nostalgia to receive this month. Back then, my friends and I would fill in the blanks with some questionable and often highly inappropriate nouns/verbs/adjectives, etc. so I can only imagine how much worse it’s going to be the next time we’re all together and I whip this book out to play.

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Loot Crate completely won me over with the “COVERT” box with this awesome “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. lanyard replica (with certificate of authenticity.) I had received a modified version of this item during the “Agent Carter/Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” panel at San Diego Comic-Con last Summer that granted me access to exclusive online content- but this is more decorative and looks just like the one from the show- and is being added to my collection of Marvel memorabilia!

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I was admittedly never really big on 007 movies (until Daniel Craig took the helm as James Bond,) but even I think this shirt is one of the cutest things! Printed on soft and breathable fabric, I’ll be wearing a lot of this tee out and about now that the warmer weather is on it’s way! I love it!

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This month’s Digital Loot came courtesy of ComiXology- and was a code for a free digital download of the first issue of the “NINJAK” series. I’ve never heard of it before, but at a glance it looks like a ninja/spy mash-up- which might be interesting. I’ll keep it in mind!

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I feel like I say it every month, but Loot Crate is truly a lot of fun- and March’s box proved that point again. I loved the “COVERT” theme, and each item I received was carefully selected to follow the theme without being redundant or predictable. While I’ll be gifting a couple of the things I received to my friends- I’m keeping most of it for myself!

Bidding Farewell to Don Draper.

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Long before AMC ruined my life (and shattered ratings records over and over again,) with “The Walking Dead,” I was- and still am- infatuated with “Mad Men.” My biased love of 1960s fashion and music aside, it’s been a tremendous several seasons of scandal, heartache, history, great one-liners and memorable, touching moments as viewers watched the rise (and multiple downfalls) of the show’s main protagonist- Donald Draper. With clever and compelling writing and an immensely talented, stunning cast- saying goodbye to the show after all this time as it concludes it’s final season over the next couple of months won’t be easy.

This past weekend, after heading into NYC for a few hours, I made a point to stop by the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria to check out their recently unveiled “Mad Men” exhibit, which is open to the public for viewing now through June 14th of this year. Featuring replicas of some of the most famous sets, costumes, props, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at how the show was first conceived by Matthew Weiner and how it was/is written- it’s a must see for any die-hard fans who are planning on spending any time in New York this Spring.

My one gripe with the Museum of the Moving Image is that while most of the other exhibits in the building, some featuring impressive antiques- could be photographed freely (and some could even be touched!)– the “Mad Men” exhibit was strictly off limits to any type of photography at all. Now, I understand why flash photography is prohibited in many places, since it can damage pieces in an exhibit over time and is just distracting to the staff and other visitors in general- but you mean to tell me I can’t snap a cell phone picture of Betty’s stylish kitchen even though I paid the price of admission? Come on. That’s a little ridiculous.

Now, if there’s some sort of logical explanation for this rule that I’m somehow overlooking and anyone wants to enlighten me- feel free, because I’m always open to learning new things. It was just slightly off-putting to go from taking pictures around the museum with no consequence to suddenly getting screamed at as I took an innocent and flash-free photo of Don’s office at the agency (and I had completely missed the very small “NO CAMERAS” sign nearby- I swear!)

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I digress, other than that hiccup- I enjoyed myself. The museum is filled with a lot of really great pieces of cinematic, television, and gaming history. It’s fascinating to see how far we’ve come in terms of technology and entertainment. Even more fascinating is that I can remember playing some of the arcade games that were on display when I was a kid and thought they could never be topped!

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After I stepped out of the museum and grabbed a quick dinner, I started back towards Grand Central Station to catch my train home. Along the way, I ended up at Bryant Park just as the sun was setting and was treated to a spectacular view of the Empire State Building. I ended up staying and just marveling at how beautiful the scenery and the weather was long after the sun had gone down. The flowers may not have started blooming yet, and the trees still look more than bare around the city- but you can definitely tell Spring is in the air.

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Ipsy Bag: March 2015 Review.

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Nothing brightens up my day like opening up the first of my monthly subscription services and immediately being greeted by beautiful packaging. Such was the case with March’s Ipsy bag, which came in a lovely floral-printed pouch (the month’s theme was “Floral Fantasy.”) chock-full of Springtime skin care and bright, beautiful makeup. Yesterday marked the first official day of Spring, and although we saw plenty of snow- again- I’ve been using the bag to keep some of my cosmetics secure inside my purse, and I feel a little happier every time I catch a glimpse of it’s pretty blues, pinks, and yellows.

What I Received:

NYX Cosmetics Butter Lipstick in “Hunk” (*Full Size!*)

Pūr~lisse Beauty Pūr~Delicate Gentle Soymilk Cleanser & Makeup Remover

Boo-Boo Cover-Up: Medium Shade

Dr. Brandt Skincare “Pores No More” Anti-Aging Mattifying Lotion

VINTAGE by Jessica Liebeskind Illuminating Face Highlighter

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Product # 1: NYX Cosmetics Butter Lipstick in “Hunk” ($6)

Last March, while visiting SoHo, I had stopped by the Bite Beauty Lip Lab to concoct what I considered to be the perfect purple lipstick, Since then, I’ve been trying to conserve what’s left of my tube before I can head back and replenish (and maybe create another color while I’m there,) and holding out hope for finding a suitable shade to hold me over ’til then. Enter “Hunk” from NYX Cosmetics’ Butter Lipstick line- a formula I’ve heard a lot of really great things about.

While the color of the lipstick in the tube appears to be a very dark, very deep and true violet- it actually looked a bit more fuchsia on my lips- although it was still pretty and very pigmented. Like the name suggests, this lipstick glided on my lips smoothly- like butter- leaving them soft and smooth. Even more impressive was how long-lasting this formula was. Touch-ups and re-applications were far and few between- even after eating, drinking, lip-licking, etc. The color stayed in place for hours- which was one of the most important selling points. That, and it’s $6 price tag. I think I’ve found a winner!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! Not only would I re-purchase “Hunk” in the future, but I think I’d also collect quite a few of the other available shades in this collection, too. These are richly pigmented, non-drying, and long-lasting lipsticks that are incredibly affordable considering their quality. Nicely done, NYX! I still adore my Bite Beauty lipstick more than words can say, but this was a really great find for me!

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Product # 2: Pūr~lisse Beauty Pūr~Delicate Gentle Soymilk Cleanser & Makeup Remover ($36)

Hello Pur~lisse Beauty. We meet again- this time in the form of a sample size of your cleanser/makeup remover. Last Summer, I had fallen head over heels in love with the company’s lightweight moisturizer with sunscreen- so when I received a different product from their line in March’s Ipsy bag, I was excited and eager to give it a try.

At the moment, I’ve been using exfoliating (but gentle) makeup remover pads at night to buff away any dead skin cells made more visible by a brutal winter- and following it up with an extra mild cleanser to prevent my face from drying out. It’s been working well, but I recently swapped my Clinique formula for this cleaning milk sample to see how it measured up. The results have been fairly similar. This cleanser smells nice, doesn’t lather up- but deeply cleanses my skin and removes any makeup I may have missed without leaving my face feeling tight or dry. I like the formula, but to date I haven’t really been “blown away” by it.

Would I Purchase?: Maybe. This is a nice cleanser, don’t get me wrong- but it’s missing the “WOW!” factor that would allow me to justify splurging on a $36 full-sized bottle of it. I’ve seen good results, sure- but they match the ones I was getting with a cleansing milk that is half the price of this one. I like Pur~lisse, and the products I’ve seen from them so far have been of fantastic quality and have given me great results- but I’m still on the fence when it comes to this one.

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Product # 3: Boo-Boo Cover-Up: Medium Shade ($20)

By now we are all aware that I am paler than pale. I’m practically translucent- which makes being matched for foundations and concealers a tad difficult since it’s easy for formulas to turn me various shades of yellow, orange, or in some cases- unnaturally bronzed. I typically purchase the lightest shades imaginable with neutral undertones and hope for the best. Sometimes it works, other times- not so much- but over the years I’ve found a handful of products that work well with my skin tone and that I’ve rarely strayed from for long periods of time.

I received this tube of liquid cover-up just in time to try it on some pre-PMS blemishes that recently emerged along my cheek and the side of my nose. Despite the “medium” shade pretty much acting as the brightest of bright red flags that this wasn’t going to work out- I gave it a shot anyway.

So, here’s the good things about this concealer/cover-up: it’s not heavy, it’s not oily, it didn’t make my skin shiny, and it didn’t make my blemishes worse.

The bad thing? It didn’t match my skin tone. At all. Even after trying every possible technique under the sun to blend it- it was still very clearly visible against my pasty New Englander skin.

Would I Purchase?: Maybe. I mean, I definitely would NOT purchase the “medium” shade ever again- but after checking Boo-Boo’s official website, it looks like the formula comes in a lighter color that might better closely match my skin tone. Overall, I liked the feel and finish of the product (apart from the color, obviously,) and after doing some research it looks like the ingredients in the cover-up/concealer are natural and promote the healing of the blemishes it’s applied to- which is awesome- so I might take a chance and try the lightest shade sometime in the future to see if it’s a better match for me.

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Product # 4: Dr. Brandt Skincare “Pores No More” Anti-Aging Mattifying Lotion ($60)

Like “Be A Bombshell” Cosmetics, Ipsy seems to be loyal to the Dr. Brandt skincare line- this is the third one I’ve received from them. The brand itself, a bit on the pricier side, has been hit or miss with me so far. I really liked a scrub I had received from them last Spring, but a pore refiner that arrived a couple of months later didn’t quite win me over. Once again, I find myself on the fence when it comes to this medicinal-smelling facial lotion- formulated with apple stem cells to slow down the signs of aging. It felt nice on my skin, spreading evenly and absorbing quickly without leaving behind any residue- but even with daily uses, morning and night, and nearly being out of my sample- I haven’t really noticed or felt any results. My skin still looks and feels exactly the same as it does when I use my usual skin care products.

Would I Purchase?: No. Maybe I need to use this lotion a little longer to start noticing results, but I’m basing my opinion on what I saw (or in this case, didn’t see,) with the limited amount I was provided with in March’s Ipsy bag. While I enjoyed the clean fragrance and how mess-free it was to apply, this product didn’t really impress me- and I don’t think I would hand over $60 in the hopes that having more product on hand would allow me to see whatever mattifying, anti-aging benefits this lotion was advertising.

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Product # 5: VINTAGE by Jessica Liebeskind Illuminating Face Highlighter ($26)

When I saw that I was getting yet another highlighter in a beauty subscription service this month, I was admittedly a little frustrated. I have more nude-toned highlighters from Ipsy and Glossybox combined than I know what to do with- and I couldn’t imagine adding one more to the collection. The difference between the ones I’ve already received in past boxes/bags and this soft, pressed powder from Jessica Liebeskind is that this product has a beautiful and subtle pop of pink. I’ve been wearing it on the apples of my cheeks and along my brow bone seemingly non-stop as of late, and I’ve completely fallen in love with the healthy, natural glow it gives my skin without making me look shiny or like I’m really wearing any kind of blush at all. It’s a gorgeous shade to wear in the warmer months when I tend to lean more towards lightweight and natural looking makeup.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! This was probably the product I was most pleasantly surprised with in this month’s Ipsy bag. I love the subtle shimmer of this highlighter. It really makes me skin look radiant without appearing overdone or too garish against my fair complexion. I would definitely re-purchase another full-sized compact of this powder in the future- no questions about it!

March’s Ipsy bag may have not been my favorite, what with only two of the products winning me over (and another two I’m still undecided on,) but I really loved the floral bag everything came packaged in, which made up for the one sample I received- the mattifying lotion- that I didn’t really like that much.

I’ll continue to use and enjoy my highlighter and full-sized NYX lipstick, but I’m hoping I have better luck with the products I receive in April’s bag!

xx