Ipsy Bag: July 2015 Review.

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To round up my July subscription box/bag reviews, I wanted to end with Ipsy. Over the past few months, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with the company- who I’ve been subscribed to for roughly two years now. For every decent product I receive, I tend to get double the amount in disappointing or poor-quality samples. I’ve mentioned in the past (more than once, I’m sure,) that for $10 a month, I do not expect to be blown away over and over again- but I like diversity in brands and in the types of products/samples I’m given- and despite the fact that I re-take the preferences quiz and satisfaction review surveys fairly often in an attempt to mix it up a little- I still get the same products by the same brands and with the same results.

Last month, after another disappointing bag- I had said I would give Ipsy one more chance to keep me interested before I opted to continue with my subscription or try something else. This was a similar “three strike” rule I had adhered to back when I was subscribed to BeautyArmy, and I never regretted canceling that subscription after giving them multiple chances to get it right.

July’s bag, a multi-colored and pretty Summery pattern, contained one full-sized product and four decently sized samples. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best as I tried each of them!

What I Received:

Eau Thermale Avène Cleanance Gel Soapless Cleanser

tarte deluxe Amazonian clay waterproof bronzer

Be A Bombshell Cosmetics Lip Balm in “French Kiss” (*Full Size!*)

Octavio Molina Hair La Playa Salt Spray

City Color Cosmetics HD Powder

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Product # 1: Eau Thermale Avène Cleanance Gel Soapless Cleanser ($20)

I had to do a little research online before I tried this cleanser since there wasn’t a lot of information written on the small bottle or on Ipsy’s website. When I think “soapless cleanser,” I think of cleansing oils- which can be hit or miss for me and my sensitive skin. Fortunately, this product worked just like a regular face wash- including lathering up nicely- but without the parabens. I did like the way this cleanser made my skin feel, and any tightness following my rinsing it off my face was quickly resolved with a lightweight moisturizer and daily SPF. I think the only downside to this cleanser is the fragrance. This wash smells really, really strong- like straight-up perfume- and can be overpowering and worrisome to those like me who are prone to bad reactions or break-outs, especially when it comes to added or artificial fragrances.

Would I Purchase?: Maybe. So far, I haven’t experienced any horrific reactions or painful blemishes with this cleanser- despite it’s potent scent- and it does make my skin feel clean (although a little tight/dry) after each use, but I’m not 100% sold on it yet and I don’t know if this is something I would necessarily re-purchase right away when I already use cleansers that not only thoroughly clean my face, but condition it, too.

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Product # 2: tarte deluxe Amazonian clay waterproof bronzer ($30)

I’ve said it before and I will happily say it again- I love tarte Cosmetics. I love their products, their pigmentation, and their packaging. Although applying bronzer on my skin type (see: pasty) is like playing “will it turn me orange?” Russian roulette- this product went on smoothly and gave me a subtle hint of natural-looking sun-kissed color without appearing like it was caked on. It was easy to blend with the golden-hued blush I’ve been using as of late to give me a healthy glow, and a little goes a long way- so I know this sample will carry me through the end of the Summer!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! tarte has done it again. I really love this bronzer. It’s light, easy to apply, even easier to blend- and stays in place all day without making me look like an Oompa Loompa. While this sample will last me quite a while, I would definitely consider re-purchasing a full-sized compact next Spring/Summer when I want to look like a golden goddess without having to actually tan!

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Product # 3: Be A Bombshell Cosmetics Lip Balm in “French Kiss” ($14)

Ipsy, we need to have a heart-to-heart about your somewhat excessive use of ‘Be A Bombshell Cosmetics’ products. I’m not saying that it’s a terrible brand or that all of their products are bad. I’ve received a few that I’ve enjoyed in the past, and their price points are pretty reasonable- but not everything I’ve tried has been particularly high in quality, and I’d like to get through just one month (or two) without finding another lipstick or eye shadow from them in my bag when I open it. Part of the reason I signed up with Ipsy to begin with was to try new brands and new products- so to continually receive things from ‘Be A Bombshell’ over and over is a bit frustrating.

This balm unfortunately falls under the aforementioned “not particularly high in quality” category. The color, a baby pink- was not flattering with my complexion at all- and the formula was more waxy in texture than it was softening and hydrating. I noticed small, thin flakes of balm after each application that just sort of rested on top of my lips (similar to pieces of dry skin for lack of a better example) rather than rubbing in smoothly. Overall, it was a let down.

Would I Purchase?: No. I’m better off just using regular or tinted chap stick than I am using this balm. The not-pale-friendly-at-all color aside, this product didn’t moisturize or even stay on my lips for a long time before it all but slid off- and is definitely not worth the $14.

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Product # 4: Octavio Molina Hair La Playa Salt Spray ($15.50)

When it comes to sea salt sprays, I pay special attention to the ingredients. There are certain brands that, while drying (when used without proper conditioners or other hydrating styling products,) are color-safe for my red curls- and vice versa. This spray, with an unusual fragrance that isn’t “beachy” like other brands- has pretty much every ingredient possible in it to fade my red to orange in no time at all- which is why I waited to try this product until I was just a few days shy of getting a color touch-up at my salon to see how it made my hair look and feel.

This spray, while already being harmful to my color- is also extremely drying. I tried this product in my hair both on it’s own, as well as with a rich curl-cream- and my hair was left dry, frizzy, and crunchy both times. I think I’ll scrap this product and stick to the sea salt sprays that I’ve grown accustomed to over the years, instead.

Would I Purchase?: No. Between the color-compromising ingredients, the overly drying finish, and the fragrance I wasn’t really keen on- this product was a dud for me. It might work better for those who have virgin hair, but steer clear if your hair is color-treated or highlighted (or if it’s prone to frizz or split ends!)

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Product # 5: City Color Cosmetics HD Powder ($5.99)

I’ve been using a Laura Mercier finishing powder for a really long time now. It’s lightweight, keeps my makeup in place, and helps hide blemishes and imperfections. I’ve been running low on my current jar as of late, so this sample of transparent powder arrived at a good time so that I could try it for a few days and compare it with what I’ve been used to.

I don’t know if it’s just the style or size of the sample, but this product was kind of difficult to shake loose. Even though it’s advertised as a “high definition” powder- it isn’t ground as fine as my Laura Mercier one, which made the application process a bit difficult in terms of getting the product on my brush and applied evenly to my skin.

The powder doesn’t discolor my fair skin and hasn’t caused any kind of breakouts or reaction- which is nice- but it didn’t do much in regards to keeping my makeup in place. After a few hours, I noticed that my pores were still visible and that some of my foundation had started to run- which never happens with my LM powder. This powder was, unfortunately, another bust in the bag.

Would I Purchase?: No. At $5.99 for a full-sized tub, this powder would seem like a steal to most- but it’s a pain to get the product out of the container and only holds makeup in place for a short amount of time before it all but vanishes and shine returns to more oily areas. I’ll be sticking with my Laura Mercier powder and re-purchasing another full-sized container of that, instead.

With one of the products out of the five I received being a big win for me, and another still having me on the fence as to whether or not I’d commit to re-purchasing a full-sized bottle- that leaves three unsatisfactory samples/products.

Ipsy, it’s been a lot of fun- it really, really has- but I think I need a break. I can’t go through another month of Be A Bombshell or hair care/styling products that I simply can’t use.

I’m going to be canceling my subscription over the next day or so. That’s not to say I won’t return to Ipsy eventually, but like BeautyArmy’s downfall way back when- the company needs to really focus more on the quality of what they’re sending subscribers as opposed to arranging samples for pretty photos on Instagram and hoping we won’t notice it’s the same products every month.

I’ve got another subscription service I’ll be checking out for August- so I’m hoping that’s a more fun review to write!

xx

GLOSSYBOX: July 2015 Review.

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The second of my three monthly subscription service reviews goes to GlossyBox (my Ipsy review will be up on the blog tomorrow morning!) which included four full-sized products and one deluxe sample, which exceeded the $21 per month fee for the service. That by itself was enough to impress me- but of course- I had to review each product at length to determine whether or not July 2015’s GlossyBox was up to par with the fun red, white and blue/patriotic-inspired box I had received around this time last year!

WHAT I RECEIVED:

Naked Lips Organic Lip Balm (*Full Size!*)

Hey Honey “I Peel Good” Biomimetic Creamy Honey Peel Cream

Kueshi Anticellulite Booster (*Full Size!*)

Face Stockholm Lip Liner in “Fall” (*Full Size!*)

SESHA Skin Therapy Rejuvenating Anti-Wrinkle Mask (*Full Size!*)

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Product # 1: Naked Lips Organic Lip Balm ($5.50)

There are certain products that are so simple and self-explanatory that it’s hard to write a thorough review of them that extends beyond just a couple of sentences. Chap stick is one of those products- and I’m not going to waste anyone’s time, including my own- by attempting to write a long-winded and whimsical review of this. It’s not necessary, because we all know what it does and how it works.

Here’s all  you need to know about this clear Naked Lips balm: it’s organic, it smells like peppermint, and it keeps your lips soft and smooth for a long time. That’s about it.

Would I Purchase?: Maybe. The other problem with reviewing chap stick is that there’s never really been anything “wow!” worthy about it that would make me want to run out and re-purchase it immediately or order it online in bulk. This product works well enough, is reasonably priced considering it’s natural and organic ingredients- and can/will come in handy for someone like me who tends to misplace tubes of this stuff on a regular basis. If I saw this product while I was out and about- I’d probably pick one up just to keep in my purse as a backup.

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Product # 2: Hey Honey “I Peel Good” Biomimetic Creamy Honey Peel Cream ($59)

July’s GlossyBox included what was my second sample of a “Hey Honey!” product, and unlike the silk serum I had received back in April’s Ipsy Bag– I actually saw and felt noticeable results with this peel. I’ve been using a small amount of this product every few days, continuously massaging it into my skin for about 3-5 minutes before I rinse it off- and my skin looks smoother, feels softer, and blemishes/pores are noticeably diminished. There’s been no weird reactions or irritation since I implemented this into my weekly skincare regimen- and best of all? It actually smells like honey!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I’ve really been enjoying this product, from it’s thin consistency, to it’s sweet fragrance- and most importantly- to the results I’ve been seeing when I use it. Although the $59 price tag is slightly intimidating at first glance, a little goes a long way with this peel and it’s not something that has to (or should be) used every day- so one full-sized tube should last for quite a while!

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Product # 3: Kueshi Anticellulite Booster ($22)

Alright, ladies and gentlemen- let me just cut straight through the B.S. right now. Most people- if not all- have cellulite and/or stretch marks. The visibility of said cellulite varies from person to person, but it’s there and it’s nothing to be ashamed of and shouldn’t serve as some sort of indication as to whether someone is “in shape” or not. Skinny people get cellulite. Fitness buffs get cellulite. It happens- and I’ve always been skeptical of creams, lotions, or washes that boldly (and falsely) state that they can get rid of cellulite just with daily applications. No. That’s not how it works.

A healthy diet and fitness regimen can help tone and tighten the body, and regular exfoliation and moisturizing can help hydrate and replenish the skin- but there is no miracle cure for cellulite and stretch marks. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, everyone.

I used this lotion knowing fully well that I wouldn’t see any mind-blowing results, which helped prevent any major disappointment. It was lightweight, absorbed quickly into my skin, and didn’t really have a strong fragrance. It softened my skin- but that’s pretty much it. Exactly what I expected.

Would I Purchase?: No.  Don’t be scammed by the “anti-cellulite” aspect of this lotion. Is it a good moisturizer? Sure. Are there cheaper ones out there that do the exact same thing as this one? Yep. Will it diminish the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks? Not at all. Save your money and invest in a regular daily moisturizer to slather all over yourself. This one just isn’t worth the money.

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Product # 4: Face Stockholm Lip Liner in “Fall” ($17)

I feel like a bit of a broken record when I say how much I dislike “hard” pencils, be it eyeliner or lip liner, because I really do say it all the time. I’m a fan of softer pencils or gel liners, since they don’t feel quite like a Medieval torture device when I use them. I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I saw this hard penciled lip liner- both because of it’s texture and because of it’s darker brown shade (called “Fall”, which of course is more suitable for the Autumn months.) Regardless, I decided to try this product- paired with a clear lip gloss to diffuse the color a bit- to see if it was worth a re-purchase.

Like most hard pencil liners- this product was a pain (literally) to apply. It didn’t go on smoothly and required multiple do-overs in certain areas to get the color to show a bit more. Once I had my lips lined, filled, and sealed with my gloss- I went about my daily activities (including drinking a coffee!) and was pleased that it didn’t smudge or come off on everything. It actually lasted for quite some time before I needed to do a touch-up, which was impressive- but the hassle of the application process by itself was enough to keep me away.

Would I Purchase?: No. While the longevity of this liner was nice and the bolder, brown color would look lovely in the chillier months when my darker, heavier clothes re-emerge from the back of my closet- I did NOT like the way it applied at all. If this came in a softer formula, perhaps in a twist-up tube with a crayon-like consistency- I’d be sold- but this is yet another hard pencil that I’ll be passing on.

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Product # 5: SESHA Skin Therapy Rejuvenating Anti-Wrinkle Mask ($9 per mask)

In October of last year, I had received a different mask from SESHA that I had really liked despite the fact that it’s proportions were twice the size of my head. SESHA apparently didn’t read my review, because this mask- with an anti-wrinkle formula this time around- was still pretty big when I tried to rest it on my face. The consistency of the gel that coated this product was similar to the brightening one I’d previously received, so I had an idea of what to expect when I went to lay down to hold the mask in place for 15-30 minutes (45 minutes since I ended up falling asleep with it on!)

When I peeled the mask off, my skin was soft, smooth and felt a bit tighter overall. Fine lines and wrinkles aren’t really a concern for me right now since my skin hasn’t reached the “mature” stage just yet- but I did like the way it looked and felt long after I’d used this mask!

Would I Purchase?: Maybe. With my age and skin type, I think I’ll stick to SESHA’s skin brightening masks for the time being- but this will definitely be something I’d look towards when I feel it’s time for me to switch from preventative skin care products to repairing/anti-aging ones!

Oh dear. With only one product out of the five I received in July’s GlossyBox being a definitive “yes!” to re-purchasing, I have to say I was a bit disappointed with this month’s assortment of items. The mask and the lip balm, while nice- didn’t “wow!” me the way the honey peel did- and the liner and lotion were beyond underwhelming.

Given GlossyBox’s track record of quality, especially in recent months as they’ve re-vamped their brand and drastically improved their shipping methods- July’s blasé box was surprising.

I’m hoping there’s a better selection of products in August!

xx

Ipsy Bag: June 2015 Review.

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The last of June’s subscription services to arrive was this month’s Ipsy bag. The theme, “Swim Into Beauty,” was a nod to the hot Summer months. Everything came packaged in a black, waterproof bag that felt as though it was made from bathing suit material. As someone who spends a significant amount of time at the beach during the Summer, it’s nice to have something I can carry my keys and my phone in when I head to the water and not have to worry about things getting splashed and ruined!

The products, which were a mix of long-lasting makeup and skin care, were tied into the beach/poolside-ready theme.

What I Received:

LAVANILA LABORATORIES The Healthy Body Butter in “Pure Vanilla”

tre’StiQue Mini Shadow Crayon in “Kona Coffee”

J. Cat Beauty Liptitude Hydrating Lip Stain in “Blow Your Mind” (*Full Size!*)

Smashbox Cosmetics Photo Finish Foundation Primer

IT Cosmetics Brow Power Universal Eyebrow Pencil (*Full Size!*)

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Product # 1: LAVANILA LABORATORIES The Healthy Body Butter in “Pure Vanilla” ($19)

I’m not quite sure how it happened, but upon going to use this sample for the first time- it seems that there was only a small amount of product in the tube. It wasn’t even half full (and believe me, I shook and squeezed it in every conceivable way to be 100% positive!) I could only get enough body butter to cover one of my legs and that was it. Needless to say, I was disappointed, since I had hoped to write a more thorough review. All I can really say about the amount of product I was able to use is that it smells strongly of vanilla, and the scent lingered on my skin overnight- and that while it did not absorb easily by any means- once it did, it left my skin (including dryer areas around my knee) very, very soft. There was no greasy residue or sticky feeling left behind.

Would I Purchase?: Maybe. I won’t let the aforementioned packaging issue push me away entirely from this body butter. It smells really nice and it hydrated the skin I was able to apply it to, which is really all I ask from a product like this. The only thing I’m on the fence about is the amount of time it took to absorb into my skin. I like lightweight lotions and creams that don’t require a lot of effort to apply since I’m usually rushing between work and home, etc.- so this might be better reserved for those days where I’m able to relax and pamper myself without being in a hurry.

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Product # 2: tre’StiQue Mini Shadow Crayon in “Kona Coffee” ($26)

Because it’s Summer, I’ve been wearing a lot of golds, aqua tones, and corals on my eyes and lips. When I first saw this shadow stick, I was a bit concerned about how dark the color looked but still intrigued at how it applied. The pencil- soft to the touch and highly pigmented- did appear very dark on my lids, and did NOT blend easily- which was a bit frustrating. The photo above shows the “Kona Coffee” shade on my eyes after I blended it to the best of my ability. As you can probably see, it looks a bit uneven and patchy. The only upside to this product was it’s longevity. The shadow didn’t budge, crease, or flake all day and well into the evening.

Would I Purchase?: No. As much as I appreciated the pigmentation and how long this shadow lasted on my lids, applying it was nothing short of a hassle. Once it was on, it was on- and it couldn’t be evened out or blended without using other products and utilizing a lot of time. For that reason alone, I’ll have to pass and stick with the shadows I’ve been using regularly that are much easier to apply and last just as long.

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Product # 3: J. Cat Beauty Liptitude Hydrating Lip Stain in “Blow Your Mind” ($5.99)

At first glance of the bottle, this lip stain seemed bright, fun, and perfect for the Summer. Although the applicator was an odd shape, which made working the product around my lips to achieve an even look a little awkward- the stain itself was VERY rich and pigmented. A little goes a long way, and it didn’t take much to make my mouth pop with a vibrant pink/peach color. Like it’s name indicates- this stain was in no way drying, and it lasted a very, very long time before it required a touch-up.

All of those perks are great, but the one downside to this stain was how messy it was. Because of the rich/thick consistency of this product, it came off on pretty much everything- my coffee mug, my breakfast/lunch,  my fingertips when I accidentally grazed my lips, my teeth, etc. and it seemed that whatever it touched- it would NOT come off of. If you wear this stain, you have to be extremely careful not to transfer any of it onto your skin or clothes!

Would I Purchase?: No. Don’t get me wrong, the pigmentation, the bright color, and the longevity are all great- but this product was entirely too messy for my tastes. I like my lip stains to be lightweight, and this one was heavy and came off in thick globs on anything and everything it came in contact with. It was almost like having wet paint on my mouth. I’ll just continue using my Summer stand-bys of balms and glosses.

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Product # 4: Smashbox Cosmetics Photo Finish Foundation Primer ($36)

In my skincare and makeup regimen, I’ve never really had a need for a foundation primer. In the Summer I use BB creams, and when I require more coverage- the long-wear foundation I use has a primer already added to it- so I typically gloss over this additional step. Even still, I’ve heard great things about this oil-free Smashbox primer from multiple sources, and decided to give it a try to see if it made any difference in how long it could hold my makeup in place and keep me looking fresh.

Firstly, I really liked the texture of this foundation primer. It was lightweight, almost “fluffy” feeling (if that makes sense) and it absorbed very quickly into my skin without making me look shiny. It also kept my foundation in place all day. No touch-ups were necessary at all. That’s a great thing.

The bad news is that this primer- despite being oil-free- made me break out really bad all over my face. After using a deep cleansing mask and a harsher facial scrub for a couple of days- my skin returned to normal. I wanted to be absolutely sure the bad reaction was the result of this product, so I applied it- and only the primer- to my face again. Sure enough, the same thing happened- and I had to scrap what was left in the tube while I cleared my skin up from the painful blemishes once more.

Would I Purchase?: No. While this may be an excellent foundation primer to those looking for all-day wear, I can’t use it. I don’t know exactly what it is that is causing such an adverse reaction, but I have to stay away from it. If anyone has any recommendations for other, similar primers- but won’t cause such bad breakouts- please let me know!

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Product # 5: IT Cosmetics Brow Power Universal Eyebrow Pencil ($12)

Eyebrow products are tricky for me, because I’m fortunate enough to have brows that never seem to get too bushy and have a natural and noticeable arch to them. Even when I let them grow out for a few weeks, they sustain the arch and require a minimum amount of waxing/plucking around the edges. I rarely use pencils on them and only swipe a clear gel formula over a couple of stray hairs now and then until I can find the time to visit the spa. That’s really all I do for brow maintenance.

I decided to go for a darker brow look using this taupe twist-up pencil, which was thin enough to be very precise but not too thin where it would crumble or snap on contact. A little bit went a long way, and my brows looked fuller and darker with only a couple of light sweeps. I liked that a lot- and the other half of the pencil served as a mascara-like wand to comb everything into place. I liked that, too. While I don’t think I’d use this product every day, it’s a good thing to have on hand!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! This is definitely a product I would keep in my makeup bag for those days between waxings where my brows require just a little touching up or when I want them to look a darker and more defined. The pencil isn’t flimsy and the brush is very helpful at keeping hairs in place. The color is universal, too. It’s not too light and not too dark- so it’s perfect on me.

Oh dear. June’s Ipsy bag has found itself in the same territory as last month’s bag. I wasn’t impressed. At all. Sure, the bag itself is great and I liked the full-sized eyebrow pencil very much- but the lip stain was a mess (literally), the shadow stick was a pain, the primer broke me out- and then there was the issue with the barely filled body butter tube.

I don’t want to complain about a $10 a month service, because things could be a lot worse in terms of quality and quantity- but Ipsy has found itself in a slump as of late. They continue to stick with the same brands (some of which just aren’t good no matter what they send out,) the same type of products, or samples that are just poor quality overall. I understand I’m not paying a fortune for the bag every month- and that there are services that are FAR more expensive out there- but I’d like just a little more effort to keep me interested. Please!

I’m going to see how July’s bag compares to the last couple I’ve received and go from there. Here’s hoping it’s an improvement.

xx

GLOSSYBOX: June 2015 Review.

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I’ve been a little lax with my subscription box reviews this month, and with posting in general. I’ve been putting in some overtime at work before everyone in my office takes some vacation time, helping a couple of people close to me move into a new home, and preparing plans for the coming weeks that will see me spending some time out of town. I also recently came back from a Tour de Force around NYC that has left me recovering from a touch of fatigue (I’ll be sharing that story and the photos that accompany it soon!)

I most certainly have received my usual assortment of monthly beauty products and geeky goodies- and I’ll be reviewing them in the order in which they arrived- starting with June’s GlossyBox! May’s box, which garnered a mostly positive review, had consisted of a nice arrangement of makeup, skin care, hair care, and nail polish- and June’s box was very similar to that. There was a nice mix of different things to try and the items that weren’t full-sized were still deluxe samples- so right off the bat I was pretty pleased!

What I Received:

Too Faced Cosmetics “Better Than Sex” Mascara

être belle Cosmetics Aloe Vera Ultra Moisturizing Gel (*Full Size!*)

NEXXUS New York Color Assure Restoring Conditioner

City Cosmetics City Lips Gloss – Clear Formula (*Full Size!*)

ORLY Nail Lacquer in “Red Flare”

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Product # 1: Too Faced Cosmetics “Better Than Sex” Mascara ($23)

I’ve actually purchased “Better Than Sex” mascara in the past, and I’ve loved it- so receiving a travel sized tube in June’s GlossyBox was a treat (I’ve already stored it in my overnight bag for the next time I hit the road for a weekend.) This formula makes my lashes look longer, darker, fuller and more dramatic overall with just a couple of swipes of the hourglass shaped wand- and it doesn’t flake, clump, or smudge all day long.

The only downside I’ve encountered with the full-sized tube I owned was that the handle/wand somehow broke- coming loose and making it impossible to get excess mascara off of the brush. That was a bit upsetting, especially considering the product is $23 a pop- but other than that- I really like this mascara and I recommend it for those who love a good dramatic eyelash look without having to apply falsies.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I don’t think I’d be opposed to re-purchasing another full-sized tube of “Better Than Sex” (I love the name, by the way,) although I plan on using up this travel-sized one first just to see if I have a similar issue with the handle. If I don’t, then I’ll know it was just bad luck with my first tube- but if this handle comes loose, too- then Too Faced seriously needs to fix their packaging. We’ll see how it goes.

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Product # 2: être belle Cosmetics Aloe Vera Ultra Moisturizing Gel ($24.95)

When I was little and took dance classes, aloe vera gel became a lifesaver to my dance troupe and I- especially around recital and competition season. My teacher at the time- bless her heart- seemed to have a penchant for putting us in the scratchiest, most uncomfortable sequined and glitter-covered costumes imaginable.  By the end of the day- our skin would be red, raw, sore and splotchy (and our faces wouldn’t look much better, since we’d be crying a lot because of it.) After years of suffering this same fate over and over- our moms FINALLY began bringing aloe vera gel to every class, every rehearsal, and every competition leading up to the final recital in the Summer. Before and after each performance, we’d line up and get some of the cooling gel rubbed onto our skin to soothe us and keep us from itching.

Since then, I’ve rarely used aloe vera gel (maybe because it gives me flashbacks to those agonizing days?) only rubbing some on after I’ve been out in the sun for a while to keep my face from looking and feeling dry- but I liked the way this product smelled (very clean and refreshing,) and felt compelled to use it on my face and neck for a few days just to try it out. Sure enough, my skin felt softer and looked more supple almost instantaneously. Even with makeup applied over it- my complexion stayed bright and youthful- and my skin felt tight but hydrated all day.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I think I’m finally over my trauma of past uses of aloe vera gel, and it’s all thanks to this product. This is a great moisturizer to keep on hand when you need a boost of hydration (especially in the Summer months when the sun is beating down) or just some fast relief when your skin gets dry or irritated. I also think that every little girl currently suffering through dance recitals in uncomfortable costumes would love this- so take notice, parents out there reading this post!

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Product # 3: NEXXUS New York Color Assure Restoring Conditioner ($16.99)

I haven’t used NEXXUS shampoo or conditioner in a long time- not since my platinum blonde days, anyway- when my stylist at the time swore by them and convinced me to purchase full-sized bottles of their shampoo and conditioner set. After repeated usage, I came to the conclusion that the shampoo dried out my already-damaged hair a bit too much and that the conditioner was overpriced considering how much of it I’d use to hydrate and untangle my thick, unruly curls. I’ve steered clear since then. I always see their products at the pharmacy or at the grocery store- but I tend to skip right over them and go straight for my usual hair care arsenal that hasn’t failed me over the years.

I was surprised to see such a large sized bottle of their “Color Assure” conditioner in June’s GlossyBox, and having recently touched up the red in my hair- I figured what better time to see if this product worked better for me than the NEXXUS conditioner I’d tried in the past?

This product smelled pretty strong, and I wasn’t a fan of how overpowering it was as I worked it through my hair- but thankfully the fragrance didn’t linger for too long once I’d combed it through (with difficulty) and rinsed it out. The other downfall to this conditioner was that it didn’t really soften my hair. I still had a hard time working my comb through my curls while it was wet and my fingers through as it dried.

The perks of the “Color Assure” conditioner was that it didn’t weigh my hair down or make it feel greasy- and my color hasn’t faded since I’ve been using it- which is nice to know when I’m going over products that are safe for my hair and won’t make my red run orange.

Would I Purchase?: No. Like my first try with NEXXUS, I just wasn’t really impressed with this product. It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever used in my hair by any means, but it just didn’t give me the softness and manageability I would expect from something that costs close to $20 per bottle. I like that it didn’t fade my color (seriously- I’m always so happy when I find something that doesn’t!) but I can achieve similar, if not better results with what I use on a regular basis for a fraction of the price.

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Product # 4: City Cosmetics City Lips Gloss – Clear Formula ($35)

There was a time- long before I settled on the good ‘ol lip liner and gloss method- where I was on the prowl for a certified “miracle in a tube” lip gloss that would give me fuller, almost cartoon-like lips in one quick, easy step. I’m not stranger to “Lip Venom” or any of it’s competitors/imitators- and I’ve toughed it through enough of the warming, tingling sensations the ingredients in plumping formulas provide, so I had no problem giving City Cosmetics’ clear formula a shot.

First, the good: the formula didn’t burn, and it also didn’t feel sticky or tacky on my lips. Because this particular color was clear, it was hard to really get an idea of it’s longevity, but I felt the gloss on my lips for quite some time after I’d first applied it- even after eating and drinking- so I think it’s safe to assume that it stays in place.

BUT (here comes the bad,) this gloss didn’t plump my lips. At all. Not even a little. You can see no difference whatsoever in the above comparative photos I took- or at least I can’t. I essentially applied clear gloss and that was it. For $35 dollars for a relatively small tube, I expected SOMETHING noticeable.

Would I Purchase?: No. This product was a let-down. While I appreciate a non-sticky gloss as much as the next person, that alone is not enough to convince me to throw away money for another tube of this. There were no results. My lips didn’t look any plumper- and I could achieve the same look and feel this gloss gave me with a significantly less expensive balm, instead.

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Product # 5: ORLY Nail Lacquer in “Red Flare” ($8.50)

First, I must apologize for the state of my nails. I’m long overdue for a proper manicure and my last attempt at a DIY-job left them little more short and rounded than what I’m used to. I wanted desperately to show off this lovely shade I received in June’s GlossyBox, however- and snapped a quick photo of the color in natural lighting. Although “Red Flare” looks like a bright cherry tone, there’s a bit of purple in there too, which may be hard to notice at first glance. I’m really liking this formula so far, which has been pretty resilient. There hasn’t been any chipping or peeling or anything in the days since I’ve applied it- which is always a good thing if you don’t like doing or can’t find the time to retouch your nails every other day (which I absolutely don’t/can’t.)

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I don’t know if I’d re-purchase “Red Flare” again, not because I don’t think it’s lovely but because I already own a lot of red shades- but I’d love to try some of the different colors ORLY has available. It applies smoothly, dries quickly, and stays on strong- and for $8.50 a bottle- you can’t really go wrong!

With three out of five products being very much to my liking, June’s box- like May’s- wasn’t half bad. As noted above, the assortment of items was good and the sizes of the samples were even better. While I wasn’t a fan of the conditioner or the lip gloss- the other products I received made up for it.

I’m looking forward to seeing what GlossyBox has in store for July. I’m hoping it’s another themed box to commemorate Independence Day!

xx

Ipsy Bag: May 2015 Review.

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While nearly all of the Ipsy bags I receive are cute and fun with their designs and colors- every once in a while I get one that just wins me over before I even see what’s inside. May’s bag did just that. I thought the simple and clever lipstick logo printed on the side of the bag was fun (and yes, I’ve since stored my now minimized lipstick collection in it!) and a nice change from the usual floral prints I receive this time of year.

What I Received:

Briogeo Rosarco Milk Reparative Leave-In Conditioning Spray

AMIE Morning Dew Matte-Finish Moisturizer

BelláPierre Cosmetics Waterproof Mineral Gel Eyeliner Pencil in “Ebony” (*Full Size!*)

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide on Lip Pencil

Products I Didn’t Use:

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Product # 1: Luxie Beauty Tapered Blending Eye Brush 205 ($12)

Why Not?: I say this pretty much any time I receive a brush in a beauty subscription service- but I have so many makeup brushes as is, that using this one seemed unnecessary! Sure, the handle is a pretty pastel pink and the bristles felt super soft when I grazed them with my fingertips as I removed the brush from my bag- but I’d much rather give this away- brand new- to a friend than use it on myself just for the sake of writing a quick review about it! If anyone is really curious about the quality of this brush, and any of Luxie’s other brushes- I’m sure there are plenty of reviews floating around YouTube and the Blog-o-sphere!

Onto what I did try, though.

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Product # 2: Briogeo Rosarco Milk Reparative Leave-In Conditioning Spray ($20)

First things first, if you have curly and unruly hair like I do- this lightweight but VERY strongly scented spray is not going to be enough to simply style-and-go. It’s not very effective at taming frizz or giving the hair any type of texture or definition- and you will need to use another product/products to get your desired look.

That small set-back aside, I liked how soft and shiny my curls felt and looked each time I spritzed some of this product from my roots to my ends while my hair was damp after the shower. There was no crunchiness, no greasy residue, no scalp irritation and no flakes. The product helps mend split strands and protects the hair from UV damage and free-radicals- which is especially great in the Summer when I spend a lot of time outdoors in the city.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! While the floral fragrance can be a little overpowering at first, it doesn’t last long- but the results from this spray certainly do. This is a quick and easy addition to any post-shower styling routine, and I’d definitely purchase a full-sized bottle in the future to have on hand.

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Product # 3: AMIE Morning Dew Matte-Finish Moisturizer ($9.40)

Until now, I wasn’t familiar with the brand Amie- but I was intrigued by it’s natural ingredients and was quick to try this moisturizer. The yellow color, the light texture, and the fragrance sort of reminded me of Clinique’s ‘Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion,’ but once I applied this product- I noticed my skin felt a bit tighter once it had fully absorbed. It wasn’t uncomfortable by any means, but it was unexpected- and it would probably please those who are looking for something with firming benefits.

The downside to this moisturizer, though- is that it made me break out. After a few days of use, I had painful blemishes along my chin, the bridge of my nose, and my forehead- all of which cleared up once I stopped using this product. That was a bit of a let down.

Would I Purchase?: No, for obvious bad reaction reasons. This moisturizer might be great for someone with less sensitive skin and who is looking for something lightweight that will hydrate and firm- but for me- it just didn’t work out.

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Product # 4: BelláPierre Cosmetics Waterproof Mineral Gel Eyeliner Pencil in “Ebony” ($14.99)

And now, for my least favorite product in May’s Ipsy bag- this black eyeliner from BellaPierre. I typically post a picture of how the liner looks on my lids after I apply it, but this time there is no such photo- because the second I gently pressed this pencil to my lid- the tip completely broke off. Thinking maybe it had just dried out a bit while in transport, I attempted to sharpen the pencil down to a point- only to have it continually crumble over and over (and over.) Considering this was the only other full-sized product I received- I was really disappointed that I couldn’t even use it.

Would I Purchase?: No. This product was a mess from start to finish. I can’t describe it’s pigmentation or staying power- because I couldn’t apply it! I’ll skip over this liner in the future and stick to my tried and true, instead.

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Product # 5: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide on Lip Pencil ($20)

Oh, Urban Decay- how I love you. Your shadows. Your liners. Your lipsticks. You are a bright, shimmering, and highly pigmented beacon of light in the cosmetics world. I’ve been meaning to try UD’s new Revolution Lip Glosses for a while now, but haven’t had the chance to head to Sephora just yet- so I was pretty excited to receive two different samples of the gloss alongside an *almost* full-sized version of their lip liner in the clear formula, called “O-Zone.” Now, it was kind of hard to determine whether or not the liner stayed in place- what with it being colorless and all- but it didn’t feel drying and it didn’t feel greasy after I’d applied it to the best of my ability.

Now, the glosses. Out of the two, “Bittersweet,” the purple color shown above- was my favorite- but both glosses went on easily and stayed in place for hours before they began to fade. I loved how pigmented they were, and really the only downside to the formula was that they felt a little sticky for a while after they were first applied- but that’s only a minor setback in what was otherwise great gloss.

Would I Purchase?: Maybe on the pencil- but yes to the glosses! I’d like to try the lip liner in a subtle but more noticeable shade to get a better idea of it’s staying power since “O-Zone” was a little difficult to gauge- but I am head over heels in love with the Revolution Glosses and will be stocking up when I finally get to Sephora to replenish some of my skin care next month!

May’s bag was more like the “Meh” bag (I’m so clever,) because while I loved the Urban Decay products and the leave-in conditioner sample- the moisturizer caused a bad reaction, the eyeliner was a crumbling, dried-out mess- and I didn’t use the brush at all. I just wasn’t all that impressed this month.

I think it’s great that Ipsy occasionally ventures away from the usual brands they collaborate with and mix it up a little with new companies- but I’d like more of a variety in terms of products. No more black eyeliners or oily moisturizers- and PLEASE– no more brushes! I’ve altered my profile on their site countless times but I still get brushes every other month. I have plenty!

Here’s hoping June features a better selection.

GLOSSYBOX: May 2015 Review.

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The first GlossyBox that arrives after receiving an impressive curated/themed box (like the one from this past April, for example,) always has big shoes to fill- and it can be easy to get one’s hopes up that it will be equally, if not more of an incredible assortment of products- which is why I make it a point to approach each box with an open mind so I’m not left disappointed. Although May’s GlossyBox arrived in the usual (and slightly bland by comparison) pink and black box, packed with the expected ribbon and confetti- and didn’t have a particularly specific theme for the month- I did receive two full-sized products and three deluxe samples to try- meaning it’s total value surpassed the monthly $21 cost I pay for the service- which is always nice!

What I Received:

GLAMGLOW POWERMUD Dualcleanse Treatment

Doucce Mineral Matt Lipstick in “Cherry Blossom” (*Full Size!*)

Sebastian StylBrid 9 Hair Spray

teeez Head over Heels Nail Lacquer Top Coat (*Full Size!*)

Clearista Retexturizing Gel

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Product # 1: GLAMGLOW POWERMUD Dualcleanse Treatment ($69)

I’ll never say no to receiving GLAMGLOW samples, since I have yet to try a product of theirs that I haven’t liked. The POWERMUD Dualcleanse is one of the newest additions to their line, and acts as a pore-refining mask when applied to clean, dry skin. After ten minutes, once the mask has set and dried- it turns into a deep-cleansing oil when met with water that doesn’t leave behind any kind of greasy residue and won’t make my skin look shiny.

I’ve used this a couple of times, spacing out the applications about 2-3 times a week, and I’ve been really happy with the results so far. My skin feels so clean and soft after I use this product- NOT dried out. It’s really refreshing and comes in handy on those days where I feel like my face just needs a little something extra in terms of deep-cleansing. GLAMGLOW has done it again!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! Is it any surprise? I love how quick and easy this product is to use, and how it gives such great results in such a short amount of time. I’ll definitely be picking up a full-sized tub of this mask/cleanser combo- especially before the hotter months when I’ll need that deeper clean to rid my pores of sweat, dirt, oil, and makeup that my daily cleanser may not get rid of entirely.

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Product # 2: Doucce Mineral Matt Lipstick in “Cherry Blossom” ($20)

I was ecstatic when I saw another rose-hued lipstick sitting in May’s GlossyBox and couldn’t wait to try it!

Just kidding. I was actually pretty disappointed, and not even the slick shape of the tube, the SPF it contains, or the matte finish the product’s description promised me could get me excited about it. I digress, I went ahead and tried this lipstick to see/feel the formula and longevity for reviewing purposes. The first thing I noticed was that this lipstick does not apply easily. It took multiple swipes to get the color to show up on my lips and even more swipes to get the product to look even and not patchy. The second thing I noticed was that even though the finish was matte- this lipstick didn’t feel heavy or drying (always a plus!)

Finally, this lipstick lasted a really, really, really long time before it faded. I got nearly a full day’s worth of wear with just one application and didn’t require one touch-up! That’s pretty impressive- and definitely won me over.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I might have been quick to pass judgment on this product, mainly because I’m so sick of rose tones and have been for a while now- and even though the initial application process is a bit tedious- once the lipstick is on, it’s comfortable and long-lasting. I don’t think I’d re-purchase “Cherry Blossom” again after I run out of the one I received, but I’d love to try some of the other colors Doucce has available!

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Product # 3: Sebastian StylBrid 9 Hair Spray ($14)

I’ve tried some Sebastian products in the past that I’ve really enjoyed, and despite the fact that I’m not a fan of aerosol sprays that shoot out of the bottle unnecessarily  hard and feel like a sucker punch to the head- I was eager to give this multi-purpose hairspray a try to see if it met the standards set by the samples that came before it.

On damp hair, this spray held my curls in place and gave me a nice boost of volume as I let it air dry- and on already dry hair- it tamed my frizz and gave my ends a little bit of a bounce. That’s all well and good, of course- but like most aerosol sprays- this product also made my hair feel crunchy and hard in certain spots around my scalp. I can’t stand that, and sadly had to shelf this bottle for the time being and stick to my usual styling products,

Would I Purchase?: No. I have yet to find an aerosol spray that gives me fantastic results without the crunchy finish or without making my hair look/feel greasy. It’s always one or the other and for that reason, I stick to mists, creams, and/or oils. I’m still fond of my other Sebastian samples- but I’ll be skipping over this one in the future.

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Product # 4: teeez Head over Heels Nail Lacquer Top Coat ($14)

It’s hard to write more than a couple of sentences about a top coat nail lacquer. I mean, what can be said that isn’t stating the obvious? It’s clear. It makes my nails shiny. It protects the polish underneath from chipping or peeling. It’s all pretty standard, really. This lacquer did it’s job- which is appreciated- and came in some bright, colorful, and cute packaging. Other than that, it wasn’t anything groundbreaking or memorable.

Would I Purchase?: Maybe. I think if I were ordering any other polishes from teeez, I’d probably add another bottle of this just to have in my collection where it’d be easily available for whenever I needed it- but for $5 I can buy a top coat in almost any other brand and it’d do the exact same thing as this top coat. It’s not awful by any means, but it’s not something I absolutely need to have.

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Product # 5: Clearista Retexturizing Gel ($79.99)

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this sample- although it being called a “gel” made me think that it was possibly a spot-treatment for blemishes. In actuality, it’s a non-abrasive scrub that is to be used twice daily- once in the morning and then again at night- to clear pores, smooth and soften the skin, and brighten the complexion. I’ve been using this for a few days now (and a little goes a long way,) and have noticed an improvement in my skin’s overall tone and texture. My face looks brighter, clearer, and feels really soft- but I’ve also achieved similar results with similar and less-expensive scrubs, which makes the $80 price tag a little disheartening.

Would I Purchase?: Maybe. I think I’d splurge on this product if I had some extra cash I didn’t mind putting towards it, because it is good quality and gives very nice results- but in an attempt to be more mindful with my money- I’ll be sticking to the aforementioned similar and more affordable scrubs until that day comes.

May’s box, while not as awesome as April’s Pop Art-inspired one- wasn’t a complete disappointment. I really liked two of the products I received (one being full-sized,) and was left on the fence about another two- which leaves one sample that was underwhelming. That’s not bad at all!

I recently received my May Ipsy Bag, which is the only other beauty subscription service I’m currently subscribed to- so we’ll see how that one is. The post will be up soon!

Ipsy Bag: April 2015 Review.

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I started this review while I took a break from packing my bag for a weekend away in beautiful Bethel, New York- where I channeled my inner flower child and embraced nature and the very rustic culture in the Catskills for a couple of days. It seemed fitting, then, that April’s Ipsy Bag was themed “Beautifully Bohemian” and came in a bright, hippie-esque woven pouch. Consisting mostly of makeup, I ended up packing some of the items to take with me on my trip to try out on the road.

My post-Bethel write-up (with plenty of photos!) is coming up shortly- but first- let’s get to the products!

What I Received:

theBalm Cosmetics NUDE Dude Eyeshadow Single in “Fit”

Gallany Cosmetics Lipstick in “Petal”

Hey Honey Good Morning – Honey Silk Facial Serum

JulieG Nail Color in “Damsel” (*Full Size!*)

Mullein & Sparrow Mini Lip & Cheek Tint

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Product # 1: theBalm Cosmetics NUDE Dude Eyeshadow Single in “Fit” ($36 for palette)

I’m a sucker for clever and cute packaging (which is partly why I love “Soap & Glory” products so much,) so when I saw the half-naked cartoon male models used in theBalm’s “NUDE Dude” palette, I was amused and nearly sold. There are twelve colors total in the palette- two per dude- and I received the shade “Fit,” which is a shimmery gold tone. Of course, as funny as the packaging was/is- I’m all about quality- so I gave this shadow a test run to see if it held up.

“Fit” applied smoothly and with very little fallout, and was pigmented enough where just a couple of sweeps over my lids gave me a bold, noticeable pop of color that I think will look really great come Summertime when I pair it with some bronzer and brighter lipsticks and glosses. Best of all? The shadow didn’t budge. It stayed in place all day and well into the evening without flaking, smudging, or creasing. I was thrilled!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! If the other shades in the “NUDE Dude” palette are half as great as the shade “Fit” was, I’ll happily splurge on it in a heartbeat. I’ve already gushed about the packaging, but the product itself was great in quality, coverage, and longevity. I was so pleased with this sample and grateful I got to try it out!

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Product # 2: Gallany Cosmetics Lipstick in “Petal” ($21.50)

After I got done angrily screaming into a pillow at the fact that I received another rose-hued lipstick from Ipsy, I sucked up my frustration and tried this creamy and highly pigmented formula for the sake of reviewing purposes. The bland and boring color aside, which applied as a deep mauve- this product was comfortable and non-drying on my lips, and didn’t require a touch-up or reapplication for hours- even after eating and drinking. Those perks alone were enough to convince me to explore more of what Gallany has to offer.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I don’t think I’d re-purchase “Petal” again, since I’m so over this type of color and have been for months now- but I really liked the formula of this lipstick and I’m not opposed to trying some of the other available shades. I’d personally like something a little more coral-toned for the Summer.

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Product # 3: Hey Honey Good Morning – Honey Silk Facial Serum ($41)

For something with the word “honey” in it’s name more than once, I have to admit I was a little disappointed with the lack of honey-like fragrance in this product (especially because I love the scent so much!) I digress, this lightweight serum- which really only shares the same color as it’s namesake- absorbed into my skin quickly and left it feeling soft and hydrated prior to my makeup application. Overall, however- I wasn’t really all that impressed with this product. Even after days of continuous and diligent use- my skin’s texture and tone didn’t particularly look and feel much different or improved. This serum was a nice way to start the day’s skincare, and acted as a great primer for my foundation and blush- but for $41 for a full-sized container- I’d like visible and long-lasting results.

Would I Purchase?: No. It’s not that this serum was awful or anything, but it lacked the “wow!” factor that would make me want to rush out and purchase more of it.  I liked the consistency, I liked that there were no adverse reactions after I applied it, but it wasn’t an extraordinary product for me- and I’ve achieved similar, if not better results with my every day skincare regimen and other samples I’ve received in past bags and through other subscription services. This product was just “okay.”

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Product # 4: JulieG Nail Color in “Damsel” ($3.99)

I feel like I need to apologize- profusely- for how ghastly my nails look in the above photo. I haven’t had time to sit down for a proper manicure in a couple of weeks now, so the above D.I.Y. job is pretty offensive to look at. I’m so sorry!

Anyway, I really loved this bright pink polish when I first saw it. I thought it would be perfect for the Spring/Summer, and it was a nice change from the usual pale pinks I receive in subscription services. I was especially pleased with how rich the cream formula was. I got full coverage with just one coat (as depicted above,) and a beautiful shine- even before I applied a top coat! I’ve been sporting “Damsel” for a few days now, and there hasn’t been any chipping or peeling yet. For $3.99 a bottle- that’s pretty impressive!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! This brand/formula is actually available in a chain of local drugstores in my area. I really loved this color, the long-lasting and strong formula- and of course, the price- so I fully plan on repurchasing “Damsel” once I run out- as well as a bunch of the other available colors, too!

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Product # 5: Mullein & Sparrow Mini Lip & Cheek Tint ($10)

I did a double-take when I first laid eyes on this deep plum cheek and lip tint from Mullein & Sparrow. I’m pale- super pale- and I was worried this product would look really, really harsh on my skin if I tried to use it as a blush. I ran my finger across the top just to get an idea of the texture (which felt like a balm) and pigmentation- and was a little surprised when the color barely showed up on my fingertip. It took multiple swabs to get the product to be even the slightest bit visible on my skin- and the results didn’t vary much when I worked up the nerve to apply it to the apples of my cheeks as a comparison. This tint just did NOT show up on me.

I tried using it on my lips, as well- and while it softened my pout- I encountered the same problem in terms of color. This product was pretty much transparent on me. I was a bit disappointed. I didn’t want something that was too bold to wear- but I wasn’t expecting something that was practically invisible, either.

Would I Purchase?: No. I will use the remainder of this tin (which is cute, by the way,) as a clear-ish balm on my lips for quick hydration- but this product was pretty much a dud in terms of it’s intended purpose. I’ll stick with my more pigmented powder blushers, thanks!

With three out of the five products I received being hits- April’s “Beautifully Bohemian” bag was a good one for me! The serum and the cheek and lip tint were forgettable- although not outright awful- but I am completely smitten with the eye shadow, the nail lacquer, and the lipstick formula. While I love a nice assortment of products that cover skin care, makeup, hair care, etc.- I thought this bag was a nice way to introduce me to some makeup products and brands I otherwise may not have known about! Especially since I’m always refreshing my collection for the coming seasons.

Bring on May’s bag!

xx

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!

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.

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