Birchbox – June 2016

Birchbox - June 2016

Birchbox is a $10 (USD)/month subscription service (shipping included).  Each month, subscribers receive at least five beauty, grooming, and/or lifestyle samples.  Birchbox is also available in France, Spain, and the UK.

If you want to sign up using my referral link, you can click here.  If you want to sign up sans referral, this link’s for you.

Keep reading to see what I received this month!

Birchbox - June 2016

Jane Iredale Smooth Affair Facial Primer & Brightener (full size 1.7oz/$48, sample size 0.24oz/~$7) – I have used this a couple of times and found it to be a fairly average primer. One of the things it is meant to do is minimize the look of pores, which I could use, but I didn’t see any improvement.  Also, it didn’t extend the wear of my makeup any more than most drugstore primers, which is a shame given the price.

Evologie Intensive Blemish Serum (full size 15ml/$35, sample size 10ml/$23) – Wow, I didn’t expect this sample to be so close to the full size!  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I haven’t had the opportunity to try it.  I wanted to put it to the test on an actual blemish, but none have made an appearance.  The serum is also supposed to handle discoloration and surface scars… quite the multi-tasker. A quick Google shows that it reviews well, so there’s that.

Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel in 3 Medium (full size 0.1oz/$24, sample size 0.03oz/~$7) – For Birchbox’s sample choice this month, I was able to choose which shade of Gimme Brow I wanted.  Of course, I wanted/needed/picked the new Medium shade.  It’s the same formula as before, albeit in new packaging, so I get the that great application and performance in a more flattering color.

Birchbox - June 2016

Davines SU Hair & Body Wash (full size 250ml/$22.50, sample size 75ml/~$7) – This is an after-sun wash for hair and body, meant to “prevent sun damage” to hair and “prolong the life of your tan”.  Does it do those things?  I have no idea.  Perhaps I’ll have a more informed opinion after my vacation, but for now…  eh.  It does smell nice; a delicate, clean, fruity floral scent with camellia, mimosa, and apple.

By Rosie Jane Leila Lou (full size $39-49, sample size $1) – I know there are people out there who hate receiving perfume samples, but I am not one of them.  I just ordered two fragrance sample sets from Sephora – that’s how into perfume samples I am.  Something else I’m into?  Leila Lou.  It’s just… lovely.  Fresh. Clean. Springtime in a vial.

Top Notes: Nectarine + Fresh Cut Grass

Middle Notes: Pear Blossom + Jasmine

Base Notes: Vanilla + Cotton Musk

The card has little descriptors on it – “lazy mornings in bed”, “the perfect white t-shirt and great jeans” – pretty accurate.  Now that I think about it, I could see this ‘pairing’ well with the hair & body wash from this Birchbox.  That’s a thing that will definitely happen soon!

Box Value: ~$45

Ipsy – May 2016

Ipsy May 2016

If you’re not familiar with it, Ipsy is a $10 (USD)/month subscription service (shipping included for the US; with an additional shipping fee for Canada).  Each month, subscribers receive 4-5 deluxe sample or full-size beauty and skincare products.  You also get a (sometimes) cute makeup bag containing all of the samples.

If you find yourself interested and want to sign up using my referral link, you can click here.  If you want to sign up sans referral, this link’s for you.

I’m late on this, but figured it was still worth posting.  Here’s what I received:

Ipsy May 2016

Hikari Shimmer Bronzer in Radiate (full size, $17) – I know I’m not likely to use this, so I haven’t even swatched it.  The bronzer looks lovely, but I’d rather pass it along to someone than have it sitting around, not seeing any use.  The packaging does feel pretty cheap though, which is a bummer.

Pacifica Natural Mineral Coconut Eye Shadow Trio (nearly full size, 0.07 vs 0.10oz, ~$10) – This trio has three shades: Skinny Dip, Crush, and Lovely.  They don’t look particularly shimmery in the image above, but they all have some degree of shimmer… the lightest shade has the least amount (barely any) and the darkest shade has the most.  They’re all decently pigmented and apply well.

Ipsy May 2016

Hanalei Lip Treatment (full size $25/15g, sample size $8.33/5g) – Hanalei says this lip treatment “uses pure kukui oil, which is known to moisturize and rejuvenate dry lips. Agave and grape seed oil provide high levels of anti-oxidants that help sooth and protect lips from harmful radicals. Shea butter delivers intense moisture and silkiness to lips without leaving any residue.”  My verdict?  I agree that it soothes and protects lips.  I like to use this before bed to moisturize, and I’ve been pleased with the results.  The feel/consistency is similar to any other lanolin-based lip product.

Smashbox X-Rated Mascara (full size $22, sample size ~$10) – Yet another product I have yet to try.  I just don’t want to open it before I’m done with the ones I’m currently working my way through.  I am excited to try it; this mascara is designed to be buildable so you can go from an everyday look to something super thick and dramatic.

Eva NYC Hungry Hair Oil Treatment (full size $20/100ml; sample size $2/10ml) – I love a good hair oil, even on my thin, fine hair.  As long as I stick to the ends of my hair and take care with the amount I apply,  I’m often happy with the results.  Eva NYC’s treatment is no exception.  It contains Argan oil and Keravis protein to increases strength and flexibility.  It also acts as a heat shield and is free of sulfates, parabens, and artificial colors.  Aaaaand it smells great!

 

Bag Value: ~$47

Birchbox – May 2016

Birchbox May 2016

Birchbox is a $10 (USD)/month subscription service (shipping included).  Each month, subscribers receive at least five beauty, grooming, and/or lifestyle samples.  Birchbox is also available in France, Spain, and the UK.

If you want to sign up using my referral link, you can click here.  If you want to sign up sans referral, this link’s for you.

This month’s box is very summery… a bronzer (and blush), two sunscreens, a hair oil, and coconut body scrub!

Birchbox May 2016

Cargo Blush and Bronzer Duo in Catalina and Medium (full size blush is 0.31 oz for $26, full size bronzer is 0.31 oz for $29; sample size duo is 0.105 oz with a value of around $9) –  I don’t plan to use this duo, so I simply swatched it for a quick review before passing it along.   Though the shades aren’t for me, I did like how they applied.  One swipe of the bronzer put down enough color to blend out, while the blush was faint on first swipe, but could be built up (I almost prefer it that way).  The bronzer is shimmery, but the blush is matte despite looking a bit shimmery in the tin.  Also worth noting is the sample packaging; it’s a pain to use a typical blush or bronzer brush to pick up just one side alone.

Cotz Face Natural Skin Tone SPF 40 (full size 1.5 oz, $20; sample size 0.18 oz, ~$2) –  I was super worried when I first squeezed this sunscreen out of the tube; it looked way too dark for my skin.  Imagine my surprise when I rubbed it in and it it not only matched my skin’s tone, it left a non-greasy, matte finish!  It’s an amazing primer, and also great for days without makeup.  Cotz just needs to step up their packaging game.  So boring. haha

Birchbox May 2016

Obliphica Professional Seaberry Hair Serum (full size 65 ml, $38; sample 15 ml, ~$9) – This hair oil contains sea buckthorn, an antioxidant-rich berry, to help treat and repair dry, damaged fine/medium hair.  I like to use it on the ends of my hair, but a little goes a long way.  I have a feeling it would be too heavy to use near my roots or in liberal amounts.  I don’t know whether it is actually repairing anything, but it does make the ends appear healthier.  And the scent? SO GOOD.

Kopari Coconut Crush Scrub (full size 6.8 oz, $28; sample 1.7 oz, $7) –  I haven’t used this yet because I’m almost done with a body scrub and want to finish it before moving on to something new.  However, I did try a bit on the back of my hand just to see what was what.  And let me say – squeezing the scrub out of the tube was a chore.  It’s super thick, and the tube’s opening is rather narrow.  Not a good combination.  The scrub itself contains coconut oil, brown sugar, and crushed coconut shell.  Due to the crushed shell the scrub is almost too abrasive, so I’ll need to be careful when I use it.  But, man, it smells amazing.  Coconut and brown sugar goodness.

Supergoop! Sun Defying Sunscreen Oil (full size 5 fl oz, $34; travel size 0.34 fl oz, $8 on site) –  This was my sample choice for May, mostly because the other options were totally unappealing.  I usually stick with Sun Bum sunscreen, but switching it up with Supergoop’s oil could be a good idea.  I like that it absorbs into the skin quickly and doesn’t leave behind a greasy, sticky mess (which is what I assumed before application).  No one wants to be a sand magnet.  Oh, and to mention scent for the third product in a row… this sunscreen also smells great.  It’s a combination of citrus and that typical sunscreen scent.

 

May’s Box Value: ~$35

Gillette Venus Swirl Review #ChooseToSmooth

Gillette Venus Swirl

I recently qualified for the Gillette Venus Swirl box from Influenster, and while I’ve used various Gillette women’s razors over the years, I hadn’t ever tried the Swirl.

I’m always on the lookout for a razor that gives me a quick, close shave and smooth skin, so I was excited to receive the Swirl.

Gillette Venus Swirl

First things first, let me say how much I appreciate the packaging.  The plastic shell had a perforated seam which made opening it nearly effortless.  Certainly a step up from the razor packaging I typically see.  That may seem like such a small detail, but it was so helpful.

Anyway, on with my thoughts on the razor itself!

Gillette Venus Swirl

The handle has a nice curve and soft sides for maximum grip, though I feel that’s fairly standard for razors of this type.  There’s also a soft spot near the Flexiball where your finger goes to give you more control over the movement.

Speaking of the Flexiball… Upon seeing the razor, I assumed the ball would move in all four directions (up, down, left, and right).  Instead, it simply has a slight side-to-side movement to help contour to the body.  I don’t feel as though it’s able to “reach spots other razors may miss”, as the packaging suggests, but I do find that the extra movement makes it easier to get spots in one pass.  The Flexiball also helped the razor glide over trouble spots, such as the knees and underarms.

Gillette Venus Swirl

The head of the razor has five blades along with a MicroFine comb which guides hair to the blades.  I’m not sure the comb actually made a difference, but I can’t discount it either.  The cartridge also contains a water-activated MoistureGlide serum to help the blades glide over the skin for a smoother shave.  The serum certainly did just that.

Overall, I was pleased with the Gillette Venus Swirl.  I felt that it met most of my expectations and gave me the close, smooth shave I desire.  I look forward to using it again, and would definitely recommend it if you’ve been searching for a better razor.

 

Disclosure:  I received this item courtesy of Influenster for testing and review purposes.

Birchbox – April 2016

Birchbox April 2016

Birchbox is a $10 (USD)/month subscription service (shipping included).  Each month, subscribers receive at least five beauty, grooming, and/or lifestyle samples.  Birchbox is also available in France, Spain, and the UK.

If you want to sign up using my referral link, you can click here.  If you want to sign up sans referral, this link’s for you.

April’s box was designed by Rifle Paper Co., as was last year’s April box.  I love the prints/designs from RPC, so I’m pleased Birchbox teamed up with them again.

But how were the items inside the box?

Birchbox April 2016

REN Keep Young and Beautiful Instant Firming Beauty Shot (full size: $54, 30ml; sample size: $18, 10ml) – I’ve only used this a couple of times, so I’m not sure I’ve given it a proper test.  It’s a clear gel that is meant to “create firmer, more lifted” skin with a “plumper look”.  I’ve put it on before my moisturizer, per the directions, and didn’t see much of a difference.  Perhaps my skin was a bit smoother, but it wasn’t terribly noticeable. The directions also say you can apply it over makeup, but I haven’t tried that.

Marcelle 3-in-1 Micellar Solution (full size: $19.95, 300ml; sample size:$3.33, 50ml) – Sorry, this toner + makeup remover is staying sealed until my vacation.  Really excited to try it!

Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask (full size: $36, 8oz; sample size: $4.50, 1oz) – I’ve sampled this before, from Ipsy.  This deep conditioning mask is meant to hydrate and strengthen without parabens, silicones, or phthalates.  It’s designed for dry, damaged hair and while I don’t have dry hair, I do color treat and use a straightener frequently.  Overall, I think it works well.  The mask leaves my hair soft and feeling ‘healthy’.  There is a subtle scent from the botanical ingredients, but I didn’t find that it lingered after use.

Birchbox April 2016

The Beauty Crop PBJ Smoothie Stick in Guava Nice Day (full size $14.95) – To be honest, I wasn’t terribly excited to receive this product.  I have so many lip crayons and this isn’t a shade I wear often, but I did give it a swatch out of curiosity.  From that swatch, I can say the crayon is soft and applies smoothly.  It has a very generic, synthetic fruity scent.  I’ll be dating myself a bit here, but it reminds me of the scented Strawberry Shortcake dolls from the 80s.

My Daughter Fragrances in Bloom 23 (full size: $85; sample size: $1) – This all-natural perfume has notes of gardenia, jasmine, ylang ylang, vanilla, and sandalwood.  On my skin, I pick up the white florals immediately.  The perfume is subtle and light, but also ‘mature’ (what some might classify as a ‘grandma’ scent).  The cons? It doesn’t last more than a few hours and the sample had one of those annoying pull tops.  Can we just make it a rule that perfume samples should have spray tops?  I’ve tried this sample once and because I don’t want to battle with the cap again, I’ve not tried it since.

 

Total Box Value: ~$41

Ipsy – April 2016

Ipsy April 2016

If you’re not familiar with it, Ipsy is a $10 (USD)/month subscription service (shipping included for the US; with an additional shipping fee for Canada).  Each month, subscribers receive 4-5 deluxe sample or full-size beauty and skincare products.  You also get a (sometimes) cute makeup bag containing all of the samples.

If you find yourself interested and want to sign up using my referral link, you can click here.  If you want to sign up sans referral, this link’s for you.

This month I received:

Ipsy April 2016

Pūr-lisse Blue Lotus + Seaweed and Blue Lotus + White Tea Sheet Masks ($8 each) – I haven’t used these yet, but I always like trying new sheet masks.  The lotus + white tea mask is meant to brighten, firm, and improve skin texture.  The lotus + seaweed mask is meant to soothe and moisturize.

Luxie 522 Tapered Highlighter Brush (~$24, based on similar Luxie brushes) – This brush has soft synthetic bristles that are tapered to give you more control when applying highlighter.  It’ll certainly get used again and again.

Ipsy April 2016

Starlooks “Jet” Luxe Longwear Eye Pencil ($16, full size) – I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to open this pencil…  I have so many black liners.  However, I’m glad I did.  It’s soft, applies smoothly, and is well-pigmented.

Trust Fund Beauty That Glo Tho Highlighter ($20, full size) – I’ve only swatched this highlighter, so I can’t speak to longevity or wear.  What I can say is that it’s fairly sheer and blends out well.  It does have a bit of glitter, which is unfortunate (for me).

Tarte LipSurgence Lip Creme in Wonder (full size: 3g, $24; sample size: 1.6g, $12.80) – As with the highlighter, I’ve only swatched this one.  But I have a few of these already so I’m familiar with the formula.  It’s a medium pink creme that is pigmented and applies smoothly.  It also has the same peppermint flavor as the other LipSurgence products.

 

Total Bag Value: ~88 (WOW!)

A few from the Sinful Colors King Kylie Collection + Comparisons

King Kylie Collection

Swatches of polishes from the Sinful Colors King Kylie collection are everywhere, but what’s the harm in a few more, right?

I picked up Slay Grey, Karamel, and On Fyre; they happen to be the three in the collection that have a gorgeous gold shimmer.  I like what I like, I suppose!

All of the swatches below were photographed in natural light with no top coat.

Karamel

First up is Karamel, a pink-nude with the aforementioned gold shimmer.  It applied streaky on the first coat, but was smooth and opaque by the second coat.

It’s maybe not the best nude, color-wise, that I’ve tried… but I think it works.

Slay Grey

Next up is my favorite of the trio, Slay Grey.  On me, this grey has a slightly green tint.  And though I didn’t encounter the streakiness I did with Karamel, the first coat left me with a bit of the ol’ visible nail line.  The second coat took care of that issue, no problem.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by my love for Slay Grey; it’s quite similar to my all-time favorite from the Sinful Shine line, Prosecco.  Both are fairly muted shades… both have that gold shimmer… Prosecco just leans more taupe/greige. See:

Prosecco

Prosecco is still on top, between the two.  I have a ‘thing’ for taupey greige polishes.  Perhaps that’s another post for another day.

 

On Fyre

Finally, I picked up On Fyre.  When I saw it on the display, I knew it was coming home with me.  That vibrant red and strong gold shimmer reminded me of Inferno, one of the polishes from the CoverGirl Capitol Collection (part of the Hunger Games collaboration).  Those Glosstini bottles are so tiny (3.5ml), and I figured On Fyre would be a decent backup, should the need arise.

The application for On Fyre was surprisingly good.  I assumed it would take two coats like the previous polishes, but I was able to get decent coverage with the first coat alone.  I went back and did a second coat for consistency’s sake, but unless you prefer thin coats you should be able to get away with just one.

On Fyre vs Inferno

So how did On Fyre stack up against Inferno?  They’re similar, though not dead-on dupes.  Inferno is on my ring and index fingers above, and you can see that it’s more warm.

 

Have you grabbed a polish from any of Kylie’s new Sinful Colors collections?