Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Birchbox Review: February 2014

A little late to the game, but I figure as long as I haven’t received my March Birchbox, it’s still okay to post my February Birchbox review. I like to thoroughly use each product before forming an opinion; but next month (or rather this month) I will ensure a more timely post... onto the review!


Birchbox is a monthly beauty subscription service that provides 4 – 5 upscale samples (sometimes 6 – which is usually a well-known / affordable “Birchbox Find”). You will occasionally receive a full size product here and there, but they typically provide generous sample sizes. The subscription is only $10 a month and has a phenomenal points system. Each $10 monthly box you receive, you earn 10 points and each monthly sample you review on their website earns you an additional 10 points. If you buy full size products from their online Birchbox store, every dollar you spend earns you one point. Once you’ve accumulated 100 points (which happens in the blink of an eye), you receive $10 to spend in their online store.

Hello Perfume by Harvey Prince
Retail Price: $55.00 (50 ml)

 

[Birchbox Breakdown]
The brother duo behind Harvey Prince decided to mimic the joy of waking up to a warm day with the sun shining and the flowers blooming. The resulting blend is an energizing mix of citrus and floral notes that will keep you optimistic even when you get up on the wrong side of the bed.

Made with eco-friendly ingredients, this scent has all-day staying power. A top note of Meyer lemon captures the scent of fresh-squeezed lemonade, while Satsuma mandarin adds a double fruity note. Next up, summer forsythia and pink plumeria—traditionally found in Hawaiian leis—give the scent its heady floral layer.
[My Thoughts]

I have a difficult time detecting any scents. If I am able to detect a smell, it’s either on this magical spectrum of Ashly detectable scents, or extremely strong. I was able to grasp a hint of citrus and floral notes from Hello, but they were extremely faint. I will continue to use this sample as I always wear perfume; regardless if I can smell it or not. Although I may not be able to smell the perfume, I want to ensure that I always smell delicious to others around me. My mom and sister both loved this fragrance and described it as a perfect step into spring. I especially loved the adorable packaging and the fact that the perfume bottle was an actual “sprayer” and not the typical cheap dauber.

Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Shampoo
Retail Price: $19.99 (8 fl. oz.)
 
[Birchbox Breakown]

Dull strands? Heat styling, one too many hair coloring sessions, a not-so-great diet, and even aging could be to blame. Get the glow back in your mane with this luxurious shampoo from Fekkai. Natural olive oils encapsulate each strand to soften, hydrate, and add megawatt shine. Added bonus: This creamy rinse is totally safe for color-treated hair.
Most hair products that promise “extra shine” contain silicones, which weigh hair down and cause (gasp!) major frizz. Not the case here. Lightweight olive oil creates shine from the inside out, strengthening hair and repairing past damage.

[My Thoughts]
I was a little apprehensive with this shampoo as it stated its “scent” was olive oil, but was pleasantly surprised. It had a light floral / clean scent and was a great detangler. It provided my hair with a deep clean, gave it a slight shine, and did not strip it of its natural nutrients. I was not blown away with this product and will most likely not purchase a full size version, but enjoyed the sample while it lasted.

Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Conditioner
 
Retail Price: $19.99 (8 fl. oz.)
 

 [Birchbox Breakdown]
Ready to get your shine on? This creamy conditioner from Fekkai strengthens strands and adds a gorgeous gloss —all without weighing hair down. Best of all? It’s perfect for all hair types: curly, straight, color-treated, and, more importantly—yours. Brilliant, indeed.

Fekkai’s award-winning olive oil formula coats strands in lightweight moisture, so hair looks healthier, shinier, and decidedly frizz-free. A special encapsulated shine-release complex renews shine all day long.
[My Thoughts]
I thought that I would be more impressed with the conditioner than the shampoo, but was sadly mistaken. The shampoo seemed to provide more moisture and shine to my hair than the conditioner. Using the duo did leave my hair shiny (not oily) but I’ve had similar experiences with less expensive hair products. As stated with the shampoo, I enjoyed the sample while it lasted, but was not impressed enough to purchase a full size version.

32 Oral Care Effervescent Breath Crystals with IsoVoxy
 
Retail Price: $14.75 (30 count)
 


[Birchbox Breakdown]

If you miss spending your summer days with nothing but time to kill and a packet of Pop Rocks, then you’ll be happy to find these Effervescent Breath Crystals, which attack halitosis with the ferocity of that sweet, crackling candy. The science rests on a mix of bacteria-fighting ingredients that, when in contact with germ-filled teeth and gums, erases the effects of embarrassing odors caused by things like coffee, onions, and garlic with a series of mini-mouth explosions.
Unlike gum and breath mints, which only mask bad breath, these teeth-cleaning crystals pack zinc and IsoVoxy to kill odor-causing bacteria. Once dissolved, they leave a fresh scent courtesy of natural peppermint flavors.

How to Use

Pour the contents of an individual pack into your mouth and swish the crystals around, rubbing them against teeth and tongue. Let them dissolve or swallow and enjoy peppermint-fresh breath!
[My Thoughts]

I received two individual breath mint packets; one was Lemon Mint and the other was Spearmint. The company also offers Peppermint and Honey Mint. If you’ve ever had Pop Rock candy as a kid, then get ready to be launched back into your childhood! These breath mints were not only effective, but fun to use! I normally cannot tolerate most breath mints or gum for too long as they seem to always be overpowering. These little crystals packed a great minty punch, left my breath fresh for hours, and dissolved quickly. They were tolerable and not at all overpowering like most mints. These are perfect for on-the-go and great for last minute breath-freshening!

Revealed Palette Set by Coastal Scents®
Retail Price: $34.00 (contains: 1 Revealed Eye Shadow Pallet with 20 pots of eye shadow, 1 Elite Large Shadow brush, 1 Elite Dome Shadow brush, and 1 Elite Doefoot Blender brush)
 
 
Without Flash
 
With Flash
 

[Birchbox Breakdown]
Coastal Scents®… [created] this bevy of go-with-anything nude and metallic hues in one convenient palette. With 20 neutral shades ranging from a light beige to a deep black, this palette has you covered from day to night, even on the go. The smooth, powdered shadows glide on and blend easily.
 
[My Thoughts]
OMGosh these shades are amazing! When I first saw what four colors I received I was a little disheartened at how dark they were; I’m typically a much lighter / natural colored girl, when it comes to eye shadow. However, the moment I swatched this quad, I was blown away! The pigmentation of each shade is beyond this world, they are easily blendable, and are actually quite natural looking when applied. I wish that the quad detailed the names of each shade, but at least I received four colors that work beautifully together. I do not own many pallets and am looking forward to snagging this one in the near future. For only $34.00, you receive 20 amazing colors and three brushes; you cannot beat that value!


What did you receive in your February Birchbox? Have you tried any of these products in the past?

Interested in trying Birchbox yourself? Feel free to use my referral link here!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

February 2014 Favorites

Hello my lovelies!

Although it’s a little over a week into March, I wanted to start featuring monthly favorite posts; beginning with February. I did not necessarily receive these products in February, but I started using them on a regular basis during the “month of love”.



I received three foil packet samples of this lotion in a previous Birchbox and although I truly dislike foil packet samples, I was blown away by the scent and quality of this lotion. I immediately ordered a full size tube of this wonderful concoction from the Birchbox shop. I have always loved tropical scents, but have recently developed an intense addiction to anything coconut-y; possibly wishing for a tropical paradise vacation.

This is one of the most luxurious body lotions that I have ever used and I LOVE that it is 100% natural and 100% vegan. I normally don’t care if a product is “natural,” but I have lately developed a penchant for all things wholesome. I use this almost every day and will soon need to restock. Even though this lotion has a scent, I am able to apply it to extremely sensitive areas that are prone to dryness and cracking; and it not only seems to “cure” that area, but the scent does not at all cause irritation.

 

I received this generous sample size of mascara in a previous Birchbox and although I was immediately drawn to the unique packaging and curved wand, I tossed it aside as I was not “into” wearing makeup at that time. I picked it up about a month ago and decided to start experimenting. I have a handful of different mascaras, but find myself constantly using the Eyeko tube. It provides length, separation and definition, volume, and gives your lashes a great curl! It is extremely easy to use and the perfect size to stash in my purse if I didn’t have enough time to apply my makeup before running out the door!

 

This fun find was in a previous Ipsy Bag and although the application process is not ideal, I love the formula, the scent, and how hydrating it is for my lips. I only use this product at night before bed and lather it on like there’s no tomorrow! Even if my lips are cracked, after one night of using this lip balm, I wake up to nourished and silky smooth lips. The mojito scent is fun and provides a nice tingling sensation. The only downside to this product is that the ingredient list is about a mile long; but as stated above, that doesn’t currently deter me from using products.

Smooth Minerals Lip Gloss in “Crystal Coral” by Avon
 
 

As a previous second job, I was an Avon Representative; and because of that, I have gobs and gobs of lip gloss tubes. Although most are nearing their expiration and will soon be tossed, I recently rediscovered this gem and love, love, love it! I keep this baby in the glove box of my car and apply it EVERY time I buckle-up. It’s a beautiful natural looking color, but still provides a nice pinky petal touch to my lips. It adds gloss, shine, and just enough color to really make my lips pop! You never know when you’re going to run into Prince Charming (or Princess Aurora) at a stop light.

***You can no longer buy this from Avon, but it can be found on eBay :(

 

I was lucky enough to be introduced to this company via my January Ipsy bag. This jar of heaven is beyond moisturizing. It is not something that I would use at the office, as it does not immediately absorb and can be slightly greasy, but oh my goodness is it phenomenal! I love anything and everything that provides moisture and this body balm is certified organic to boot! It has an enticingly sweet and tangy scent and provides long lasting moisture. Just like the Malin + Goetz lip balm, I apply this body balm at night before bed. I use it on my hands, elbows, knees, feet, etc. The essentials contained in this formula are: Cocoa Butter, Babassu Oil, Shea Butter, Sweet Orange, Lime, and Mandarin. From the picture, you can see that I’ve almost licked the jar clean. I plan on purchasing a full size jar in the near future.

 
 

I’m almost embarrassed to say how long I’ve had this product and have only recently started using it. I was fortunate enough to score this Body Scrub (along with a gorgeous green loofah and Body Lotion) in a previous giveaway by extraordinary beauty blogger, Michelle from Beautiful Goodies. I’ve tried countless body / sugar scrubs, even extremely expensive brands, but have never come across one as superb as Tree Hut’s formula. It is extremely thick, not at all watery, and has a uniform consistency; even to the last drop of the container. This was my first introduction to Tree Hut and I couldn’t be more pleased. It provides an excellent exfoliation, the scent is divine, and it doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin. I have a ridiculous addiction to baths (bubble baths, oil baths, milk baths, baths with fizzies, etc.) and have found myself constantly using this Sugar Scrub near the end of my evening baths. Once this jar is empty, which is bound to be any day now, I will be on the hunt for another jar!
 
Have you tried any of these products? What were your February Favorites?

Monday, March 10, 2014

FIRST Mani Monday!

YAY! My first ever Mani Monday!


When it comes to applying nail polish, I’m still very much a newb. If I want a new set of color on my nails, I typically apply it on a Friday or Saturday night; allowing the excess / smudges enough time to vanish before I return to work on Monday.

Sadly, I was in a bit of a dark place Saturday night and decided to use a mood-fitting color. I’m struggling with a few things in life right now and am just trying to “keep calm and carry on”. Perhaps I’ll touch on this more in a future post… onto the mani!

For this week’s manicure, I decided to feature a dark purple; almost plum color as the base and regardless of my mood, I can never say no to sparkles. As a top coat, I used a glitter polish that has several different sized glitter flakes and appear slightly green / turquoise after application. Then finally, I used a recent purchase from Sally Beauty Supply (future mini-haul post in the works) to speed up the drying time of my polish.

Base Polish: “Midnight Plum” by Avon (Nailwear Pro Nail Enamel)


 
Top Polish: “Kristal” by Nubar
 

 
Top Coat: “RapiDry Quick Drying Top Coat” by O.P.I.
 

 
What do ya’ll think about this color combination?
 
 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Road Trip Beauty Essentials: Blog Hop


Good afternoon my lovelies! It’s time for another fun-filled blog hop! March’s theme is “Road Trip Beauty Essentials;” where you pick only 5 beauty items that you would grab for a last minute road trip. You read correctly my dears, FIVE ITEMS ONLY! I only recently started getting into makeup and even I found this limit nearly impossible! But nevertheless, I accepted the challenge!

Luckily, the 5 items are in addition to the necessitates (toothpaste, cleanser, moisturizer, deodorant, shampoo, condition, body wash, etc.). My skincare regime alone takes up its own suitcase!

This was technically due two days ago (shame on me), but I had an interesting weekend, to say the least, and am finally getting around to posting my response. To make things interesting, my road trip destination will be Portland, OR. And to be perfectly honest, the main reason why I want to visit Portland is to check out Voodoo Doughnut!


 
How utterly delicious does that look?!
 
Granted I may gain about 400lbs indulging in their creative creations, but it would totally be worth it! And with my 5 must-have beauty items, I’ll be a stylin’ doughnut hungry fiend! Voodoo Doughnut is only a 3 hour drive away from where I live and could be done as a last minute weekend get away!

To help ensure that I am one gorgeous diva, I would elect to bring the following 5 must-have items:

 
Black Magic Mascara by Eyeko – This baby is a MUST HAVE for gorgeously defined, long, and curvaceous lashes!



m.Powerment Lipclick Luxe Lipstick by mark – I bought this lipstick as a duo in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It was introduced by mark (a company associated with Avon) and it came with the lipstick, which is in a shade called “m.Powerment Petal,” and a bedazzled compact mirror. Unfortunately, you can no longer buy this shade or set; at least I cannot find it. This lipstick is perfect for elevating your natural lip color, while simultaneously adding a pop of color. It goes on smooth and has a nice magnetic closure with the lid to ensure the cap doesn’t come off. It’s definitely my go-to lip color!



Great Lash Clear Mascara by Maybelline – This is a MUST HAVE and is actually my number one item. I cannot STAND having fussy and unruly brows. This puppy keeps my Amazonian brows under control and I would be utterly lost without it.


 
Peek-a-Bright Eyes by Benefit – This is an amazing eye illuminating kit that not only highlights and contours, but I use the warm chocolate contouring shadow to shape and define my brows. It includes: a buff base shadow, a warm chocolate contour shadow, a pearly pink highlight shadow (my favorite) and eye bright (a creamy brightener). The added benefit of this pallet is that it also includes two brushes, but one is double-ended; concealer brush, contour brush, and liner brush.




My brushes are not depicted in this picture because I was actually cleaning them (first time ever!)

Fine-One-One by Benefit – This is my FAVORITE blush ever! It’s actually a sheer brightening cheek and lip color, but it looks gosh-awful on my lips. The three different shades included are: pink champagne, sheer watermelon, and soft coral. You can make it extremely subtle, or build it up for a big pop of color!






Swatches!
From Left to Right
(Peek-a-Bright Eyes) Eye Bright, Buff Base, Warm Chocolate, Pearly Pink Highlighter, (Fine-One-One), (m.Powerment Petal Lipclick)

If you were limited to only 5 beauty items for a weekend getaway, which 5 items would you choose? What could you ABSOLTUELY not live without?
 

Want to check out other amazing Road Trip Beauty Essential Blog Posts? Take a gander at these lovely ladies:
 
Michelle at Pretty in the East
Brittany at The Beauty Deputy
Kristina from The Feminine Files
Christine from Simply Stine
Anna Belle from http://theannabelleblog.com/
Jeni at Gracious Luck
Karen at Unpack the Box
Kimberly From Socially Awkward Fashionista
Lisa from Subscription Therapy
Jenn at A Little Bit of Girl Geekery
Jen at Jen Likes Polish
Heather from Coconut & Cotton
Sammi at College Beauty Buff
Nancy at Jumping Mouse 9
Angela at The Makeup / Photography Whisperer