January Birchbox: Tone it Up

In the last couple months, I have discovered that being on Birchbox’s email list also means you have a certain say about your upcoming Birchbox! How, you may ask? There’s one of two ways!

  1. Sample choice – Birchbox picks several different samples for you to choose from, and you can select one of these samples to guarantee it in your upcoming box.
  2. Special boxes – Birchbox will arrange a one-time themed box with specific samples that you can pick to replace your randomly-curated box.

In January, they actually offered two different special boxes: the Relax & Recharge box, or the Tone it Up box. While I typically enjoy the surprise of not knowing what I’m getting each month, I found the listed samples in the Tone it Up box were exactly right for me!

January Birchbox: Tone it Up – Gym Bag Essentials

IMG_1204 IMG_1205 IMG_1206Whish Body Butter in Lavender

This sample almost single-handedly sold me on the entire box. I received Whish’s body butter in pomegranate in one of my very first Birchboxes after subscribing last year, and it is one of my favorite samples to date. I purchased the full-size of pomegranate not long after. It smells amazing, without being overly sweet. It’s also not greasy, which is one of my most disliked qualities in a lotion/body-butter. The lilac has been just as promising, with its silky-smooth formula and universally-flattering scent.

IMG_1207Coola Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion

This was another winning product. I first got this sample in one of my CEW insider boxes, and I swear by it. I used it after two separate severe burns–one after my half-marathon and one in Cancun. I immediately noticed a cooling feeling, and an immediate relief from the pain, even better than aloe vera. The formula has a slight bit of tackiness to it, and the smell is similar to citronella in my opinion, but if you can overlook these qualities (or if you like citronella like me haha), it is definitely worth the hype. The price tag is a bit hefty at $32, so I guess it just depends on how quickly you need relief from sun-exposure!

IMG_1208Aqua Reveal Satin Bright Soft Water Peel

Unfortunately, I have not tried this product yet. But I am always curious to try new face treatments!

IMG_1210Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk

Make this number 1,345,864 of dry shampoo samples I have to go through. I haven’t found one I don’t like yet, and am currently finishing up my Amika sample! This particular dry shampoo took Allure’s best of beauty award, so it’ll probably hit the fast lane and be the next one I try ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_1213Coastal Scents Revealed Palette Sampler

As the proud owner of the Revealed I and Revealed II palettes, this is a sample I don’t need. Helloooo giveaway ๐Ÿ™‚

If you are interested in signing up for Birchbox, please click HERE. If you are already signed up, what was your favorite sample from January?!

XO Ali

Glossybox Roundup

Well, this will be my first and last post about Glossybox. Not because they are bad (oh VERY much so the opposite), but because I’m going on a spending freeze for the first quarter of 2015. I have canceled all … Continue reading

Boxycharm Roundup

November 2014 Boxycharm: Sparkle and Shine

IMG_2301MicaBeauty Eye Primer ($44.95) – this eye primer (I’m pretty sure this is the deluxe sied item in the box?) is creamy and smooth, but I could never justify paying $45 for a full-priced eye primer when Urban Decay and Too Faced (my favorite!) offer comparable products at/around $20.
Kevin.Murphy Color.Bug ($20) – this rub-in hair color is a really pretty bronze (in the package). I have yet to see if it’ll even show up against my already light hair!
OFRA Cosmetics Pressed Blush in Paradise Pink ($24.95)
Bellapierre Eyeshadow in Hurly Burly ($14.99) – this is a gorgeous purple shimmer loose eyeshadow. I have yet to decide whether I want to keep it–it’s so pretty!–or give it away since I rarely use loose eyeshadows.
Tarina Tarantino Eyelicity Glitter Liner in Glitter Mist ($16) – When I saw this pink-pearescent liquid eyeliner, I was really excited to try something unlike anything else I owned. Unfortunately, it left very little to be desired. The formula was extremely liquidy, despite having mixed it for a while with the brush. In addition, the actual sparkle flecks were few and far between on application. The ones that did apply either flaked off on my cheeks or in my eyes as the day went on. Ouch!

December 2014 Boxycharm: Jingle Belles

IMG_0846Mistura Kabuki Brush ($19.99) – I’m a big fan of retractable brushes. They maintain their shape, while being the perfect travel companion! Pulling the tube up covers the bristles before replacing the cap, which maintains the integrity and working power of the bristles.
Coastal Scents Revealed Palette ($19.95) – I just got the Revealed 2 palette, and I am so happy to now own the original Revealed palette as well (boy would I have been bummed if they sent me something I just bought!) As the 2 is supposed to be a dupe of the Naked 3 palette by Urban Decay, I’ve heard the original Revealed is supposed to be a dupe of Naked 1 AND Naked 2. I can’t wait to play and compare ๐Ÿ™‚
Eva NYC Clean It Up Shampoo – I just used this shampoo for the first time yesterday, and I immediately noticed how much it smelled like my Beauty Protector products. Unfortunately, at least after the first use, I’m not wowed by the formula–didn’t notice much difference from an “ordinary” shampoo.

IMG_0850Lina Lashes 100% Cruelty Free Lashes ($30) – agh why do faux lashes look so bad on me?! These are really gorgeous lashes, but they are a little over the top. The only time I have tried false lashes is the “natural” looking ones that do more lengthening than anything. These are super volumous and will clash too much with my light features. Giveaway!
Be a Bombshell Lip Crayon in Trophy Wife ($14)

One more to go…sigh. Sorry for all these back-to-back haul posts. I swear I’m not made of money or crazy or anything…a little compulsive, but that can be curbed, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

XO Ali

Ipsy Roundup

More subscription reviews! This edition: Ipsy! I have listed the prices next to products that were actually full-size. Ipsy is a great value–you get several full-size (when not deluxe) items for just $10/month, plus a cute little collectors bag that the products come in. In addition, it’s a company launched by the ever-so-talented Michelle Phan. I’ve already stated that I canceled all my subscriptions for the beginning of 2015, but this one I think I will miss most.

October 2014 Ipsy: Beauty Candy

IMG_2067Isn’t this bag so cute?! I love the quilting!

รฉpicรฉ Purifying Exfoliant
Skone Cosmetics Tattooed Eyeliner ($15) in Blackย (I accidentally photographed the wrong liner. The actual liner is here) – Felt-tipped liners are my FAVORITE. This has been my go-to eyeliner since receiving it! I’m not sure how liners last when they don’t have twist functions or spring loads, but it has yet to run out! The color is very controlled when applying, without bleeding all over the place. This is a great first liner to try if you’re just starting out with liquid liners.
Noyah Lipstick in Deeply in Mauve – this lipstick is all color. It goes on very dark and very thick, but at least its moisturizing! The color payoff is exactly what you see on the stick, rubbing off the deep mauve-brown color right onto your lips. I’ve been getting a lot of mauves for the fall, and I love it!
Figs and Rouge Hand Cream in Mango Mandarin – what hand cream? I loved this cream so much I used it up in just a couple weeks. It smelled almost exactly like Kool-Aid, without the overly sweet factor. Seriously, amazing. I would totally buy the full size if I didn’t already have so many hand creams to go through ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
Cirque Colors Nail Polish in XX – a gorgeous rainbow confetti made with over 20 different types of glitter. Best layered over other colors. You can see it on my Instagram here (I should have cleaned up my nails before posting this…)

November 2014 Ipsy: Girl Meets Glitter

IMG_2278I love this bag! With a plastic overlaying the sparkles, you don’t end up with flecks of silver everywhere. It’s a Forever 21 x Ipsy bag, and it has the perfect girly touch with the pink zipper. I like to store my simple manicure supplies in it–base coat, top coat, q-tips, mini bottle of nail polish remover, and whatever color I’m feeling like at the moment. This way, I can fix my nails on the go or just carry my supplies from room to room in my apt.

J.Cat Wonder Lip Paint in Red Potion ($4.99)
Be A Bombshell Eye Base inย Submissive ($14) – a creamy bronze eye color with gold shimmer. Labeled as an “eye base” I expected it to be a primer, but it is actually just a color! It’s got buildable coverage so you can apply as much as you want to get your desired look.
Starlooks Eye Pencil in Velvet Violet ($13) – as stated in a previous review, the color literally melts onto your skin. I love the colors and the ease of application, but with such a creamy formula, it doesn’t have much staying power throughout the day. Bummer.
Temptu S/B Highlighter in White Shimmer – after trying the same product received in a Birchbox, except in Champagne Shimmer (wayyy too dark for my skin tone), I was worried this product would be a bust. It’s actually just a very basic pearlescent highlighter, except I find it a little on the watery/runny side.
Marc Anthony Morocco Argan Oil Hairspray

December 2014 Ipsy: Thinking of You

IMG_0818This month’s bag was a sateen black with a cute little heart charm making the zipper more accessible.

Beauty Without Cruelty Facial Cleanser – I haven’t tried this product yet but I always look forward to trying a cruelty-free product! I love furry critters and should really be better about researching brands that don’t do animal testing.
Crown Brush Infinity Shadow/Crease Duet Brush ($6.99) – While I enjoy trying new brushes, I don’t like double-ended brushes as I like to store mine upright, which will ultimately ruin one or both sides of the brush.
NYX Butter Lip Balm in Red Velvet ($4) – I already have a NYX Lip Balm in Panna Cotta and I love it. I was excited to try it in the red shade and it was not a let down! It’s super moisturizing, long-lasting, and provides the right amount of color for a balm–nothing too intense, but definitely noticeably different than your natural shade.
Pixi by Petra Fair Dust Eye Shadow in Brightening Bare ($10) – I have recently falled in love with Pixi’s products, and am excited to add another product to my collection. It’s got a foam-tipped applicator, but I will still use a brush to apply to control fallout (it’s going to happen with a loose pigment eyeshadow).
Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara – I wasn’t very excited about this, because I already own it. But you should be! Hello giveaway ๐Ÿ™‚

Birchbox Roundup

I’ve argued a considerable amount with myself–no joke–about whether or not I want to publish this slew of posts regarding my subscription boxes over the last few months (I’ve drafted Birchbox, Ipsy, Boxycharm, and Glossybox reviews). Quite honestly, I’m no longer proud of these “haul” posts, as they just seem to glamorize something I’m embarrassed about: i.e. the amount of “stuff” aka beauty products that I’ve collected over the last few year.

My goal in 2015 is to minimize the amount of “stuff” I accumulate. I’ve already taken steps towards fulfilling this by canceling all of my subscription boxes (except for Birchbox which I paid a lump sum for 1 years worth earlier in 2014), but the backlog of posts and pictures just makes me feel even more guilty, as if I collected all of this overnight. For reasons of simply just getting it off my mind, I’ve decided to publish these posts and will be more upfront and honest in my 2015 resolutions post in the coming days.

November 2014 Birchbox: Giving

IMG_2303Bain de Terre Argan Oil & Passion Flower Color Therapy Styling Oil
Eslor Firming Collagen Day Cream – a nongreasy cream I have started using as a daily moisturizer. A little goes a long way, so it’ll be a while before this makes it onto an “empties” post.
Not Soap, Radio Body Wash in Joy Inducing – I picked this sample from their monthly sample choice, since lemon is one of my favorite all time scents! It’s a bit sweeter than I hoped, but doesn’t dry out my sensitive skin and leaves me feeling refreshed and ready to start my day!
theBalm Cindy-Lou Manizer
Folle de Joie eau de parfum

December 2014 Birchbox: Decked Out

IMG_0813Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox BB Beauty Balm
RUSK Texture Spray
SeaRX Anti-Wrinkle Facial Life Treatment Serum
Acure Organics Lip Lush
Vasanti Kajal Extreme Intense Eye Pencil in Rose Gold – the only product I have tried so far (and another choice from their monthly sample choice options). This creamy liner glides on smoothly, and the rose gold color instantly brightens up tired eyes. When I’m not going for a more dramatic look, I like to apply this right on the corners of my inner eye to make me look more naturally alert.

2014 Vanity Affairs Holiday Box

I also splurged and got the coveted Limited Edition: Vanity Affair holiday box ($98). I used a 20% off coupon and 100 Birchbox points (worth $10) to get it down to $68.40. This box is probably my favorite receipt of the season! In addition, they accidentally sent/switched up my order with someone elses and gave me another 100 Birchbox points for their error.

Chantecaille Luminous Gloss in Lychee ($34)
SHU UEMURA Art of Hair Essence Absolue Oil-in-Cream
Rosanna Alhambra Medium Vessel ($22) – My favorite! This is the new statement piece on my bathroom vanity. The light blue porcelain container, outlined with gold gives my bathroom an instant makeover. It’s big enough to fit cotton pads in to gently remove my makeup at night. I have seriously considered buying the sister large vessel, but can’t bring myself to paying $30 for a jar. I think I’ll end up spray-painting a mason jar gold to compliment the colors and store my makeup brushes in.
Sunday Riley Good Genes Treatment – I was skeptical that this treatment would prove all its claims (plumping, brightening, moisturizing), but I was instantly rebuffed. I applied this sticky serum as a primer to my BB cream, and after letting it absorb into my skin for 10 minutes, instantly noticed a brighter face staring back at me in the mirror. In addition, I’ve never applied BB cream (or any facial tinted cream) to my face so effortlessly. My skin had a bounce to it that it hasn’t had for over 10 years. I am absolutely in love with this product and can’t wait to use it again and again. However, at $105/ounce (GUHHHH), I will never ever own the full size. I’m okay with that…
BY TERRY Baume de Rose – this product reminds me oh so much of Christian Dior’s Rose Lip Balm. I used this baby religiously over the last week when the hot Mexican sun burnt my lips so bad they blistered in spots (PSA: don’t forget to protect your lips when going out in the sun!). It softened and smoothed the calluses until they completely healed. However, I have so much of CD’s product leftover that after this product is out, I won’t be repurchasing for a while.
Maison Caulieres Perfumed Bath Oil
JINsoon Nail Lacquer in Coquette and Nostalgiaย  ($18 ea)
TOCCA Eau de Parfum in Margaux – I am very particular about perfumes, and was somewhat surprised with how much I enjoyed the scent. It is described as “not overly sweet…with notes of blood orange and gardenia and holds it with lasting violet, light vanilla and heliotrope.”
MAKE Calypso Palette ($40) – while the darks instantly provide color payoff, I’m happy with the ability to build up color using the gray and beige tones. This palette is a mix of matte, satin, and shimmer finishes, and with 8 complimentary colors, there’s quite a variety of combinations and liners to experiment with.
Tata Harper Volumizing Lip & Cheek Tint
Serge Normant Dream Big Instant Volumizing Spray
Stephanie Johnson Tinseltown Gold Jewelry Tray ($30–not pictured) – I use this tray to hold my weekly beauty samples I want to try, while also complimenting the Alhambra vessel also included with the holiday box. It’s the perfect size to toss in some jewelry pieces as well.

Have you bought/received any holiday sets you are excited to try? Let me know in the comments below!

XO Ali

Vegan Beauty: Vegan Cuts Beauty Box vs. Petit Vour

Welp, it’s officially November! That means that I am now getting up at 5:00 a.m. every weekday until the month is over. My dog woke me up at 4:40 this morning as if to jump-start the process, so I didn’t have much of a choice ๐Ÿ™‚ It was a pretty productive morning at least: I paid bills, cashed in some Birchbox points, and made a purchase for the first time ever from NewLook with some items that have been hanging out in my cart for over a week.

Vegan Cuts and Petit Vour are both subscription boxes that send out monthly beauty goodies, but in this case, they’re both vegan! What did I think of both boxes? Keep reading to find out ๐Ÿ™‚

Vegan Cuts Beauty Box
The box: monthly box with 4-7 100% cruelty-free products “ranging from unique cosmetics to luxurious skincare.” It consists of mostly organic and natural products, ranging from sample-size to full-size products.
Brand sample: Pangea Organics, LVX, John Masters Organics, Sevi, Goddess Garden Organics, Lauren Brooke, Skinagain
Extras: one-time themed boxes available for purchase in their Beauty Shop

IMG_1886 IMG_1898Floss Gloss nail lacquer ($8) in Picnic is a 3-free “weathered cranberry creme” color. When I saw they were including one of three colors in every Vegan Cuts beauty box for October, I was actually hoping for Donatella, a pretty pumpkin-color with a lot of gold shimmer, since I already have so many burgundy/reds in my polish collection. Despite the brightness of the bottle, it actually goes on a gorgeous dark, dark burgundy, much darker than the rest of my reds. I would show you a picture of my feet, but I’m not all about putting that on my blog ๐Ÿ˜› I’ve been wearing it over a week with zero chipping!

coffeebeanscrubThis coffee bean-illa scrub by Lovinah is exactly what it sounds like. I haven’t figured out the best use for it yet, though I did apply it to the back of my hands in the shower. It feels exactly like wiping damp coffee grounds on your skin. With a scent as strong as coffee, it may work best as an occasional facial exfoliator. Overall, I’m not quite sure what to do with this product as the sample size is plenty big and I’m not going to use it all that often.

IMG_1891This pure energy serum by Lotus Wei ($10) is another favorite from the box. They’ve got an entire line of serums and elixirs designed to do everything from quiet your mind, to give you energy, to inspire action. My only wish was that the scent was slightly stronger. I have an addiction to lemon and orange-scented products, and this is so light you almost can’t even smell it (which is maybe the point…). I like to do one pump on my wrists and dab some on my cheekbones for a dewy glow!

IMG_1904This deluxe travel set from Hylunia ($35) makes up a whole line of their paraben and phosphate-free skincare. The collection is designed to “fight aging, acne, redness, and dryness without clogging your pores.”

IMG_1900I’m not a big fan of bar soaps (because they make such a mess on the counter to clean up!), so when I received this watermelon hand soap from South Side Soaps as an extra in my box, I wasn’t overly impressed, though the skull was appropriate for Halloween’s timing.

Overall, the box’s contents (over a $60 value) were pretty impressive. I was happy not to receive any foil packets or single-use samples, as you can never really gauge a product’s qualities with just one use. However at $20/month, and with 6 subscription boxes for October (6? 7? I can’t even keep track), this one will not be making the November cut. Were money not a factor, I would continue my subscription because I think the value is absolutely worth it, and come on, cruelty-free? All the time if I could.

Petite Vour
The box: monthly box with 4-5 luxurious and vegan beauty products. Goodies range from sample size to full products.
Brand sample: Ellovi, Forager, Harvey Prince, Lotus Wei, Pacifica, LVX, California Naturel, Everyday Minerals
Extras: earn points for reviewing, purchasing, and friend recommendations; redeem points for $ off in their shop
IMG_1981lipstickThis Pacifica Devocean natural lipstick in Firebird ($14) is a vibrant orange-red, that goes on much more like a balm than a lipstick. It’s not heavy at all and lasted for over 4 hours w/o reapplication. The container is also 100% recyclable! ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_1959Body butters are tricky. This wild mint body butter from flo+theo (sample size; full-size is $28) is no exception. My main problem is that I have a really hard time sitting still. I’m constantly touching things, which leaves a greasy residue behind after application. The smell is perfectly paired with the butter without being too strong. I found the best time to apply is right before going to bed.

IMG_1972This natural eau de parfum from Forager Botanicals in Heaven Scent (sample size; full size is $98) has notes of “succulent florals, citrus and honey” (though there is no honey in the formation of the perfume), though to me it just smells kind of woodsy. Not bad, but I think I’ll stick to my Molecule 01. I’m pretty picky in my choice of perfume.

IMG_1970My initial thought was “another day, another argan oil.” However, upon closer inspection, this argan oil from Lavina (sample size; full-size is $20) is actually sourced from a woman’s cooperative in Morocco to help support economic and social welfare! How cool is that?

IMG_1962Unfortunately, this natural deodorant from Schmidt’s in Bergamot + Lime (sample size; full-size is $10) is just not doing it for me. The instructions: “[u]sing the fingertips, apply a pea-size amount to each underarm.” Sounds simple, right? The problem is, its packed into the jar like a balm and you have to dig it out to get it to work, try to rub it around on your underarms, and then use a nail utensil to scrape out the gunk under your nails. It’s just way too much work, and I didn’t find the deo to be particularly effective.

Overall, the box had a decent selection of products to sample, and its on the lower price range of Vegan beauty boxes. That being said, I think I still preferred VeganCuts over Petit Vour. Too bad I was only sampling these boxes in October and have since canceled my subscriptions. I may pick back up the VeganCuts BB subscription at some point, but for now I’ll be sticking with Ipsy (tomorrow’s post!) and Birchbox.

XO Ali

Boxycharm October 2014 Bewitched Box

I love fall, and I’m loving these Halloween-themed beauty boxes even more! Boxycharm $21/month The box: monthly box filled with full-size and luxury-size beauty samples Brand sample: Tarte, Coastal Scents, Tarina Tarantino, Essie, Revlon, Be a Bombshell Extras: earn “charms” … Continue reading

Sunset 45 October 2014: South by Southwestern

Sunset 45 is probably the most unique of my subscription boxes, as they usually send a variety of both fashion and beauty items. This makes the box extra risky, but where would the fun be if you knew exactly what … Continue reading

Birchbox October 2014: Fanfare

My subscription box addiction continues! I experimented with several new subscription boxes this month, but as always, Birchbox was the first of many to land on my doorstep!

IMG_9937The contents of this month’s box include:

  • Ellovi Butter in Vanilla – this butter can spread on a little greasy, which is common for a lot of butter balms. In addition, I wasn’t a fan of the smell. I like vanilla, but it smelled a bit flat and stale to me. Many of the reviews on Birchbox’s website rave about the smell, so I wonder if I just got a bad batch?
  • Benefit’s The POREfessional – I’ve got a million of these mini tubes so it wasn’t super exciting to me to get another one. They make great little add on gifts though ๐Ÿ™‚
  • amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo – first of all, amika has the cutest packaging! This was my favorite product from the box, as it smells super fresh and also didn’t leave a white residue behind like several other dry shampoos I have tried!
  • dr. Brandt Pores No More Vacuum Cleanser – shame on me! In writing this review, I assumed this was another primer like the POREfessional. But at looking at it more on the website, this is actually a treatment mask you let dry on your affected blackhead areas for 5-10 minutes, and then rinse off!
  • Lord and Berry Paillettes Eye Pencil – wasn’t a huge fan of this pencil. The color is a deep charcoal color with glitter embedded. First of all, the glitter made rubbing the pencil on somewhat painful, and then in reviewing my application, there was only one fleck of glitter that actually made it off the pencil. Definitely not worth the full-price ($16).

Overall, this month’s box was mostly a bust. It’s not that they didn’t give me good products, they’re just not suited for my tastes (which is bound to happen when you’re sampling so many new products). I like the dry shampoo and will try the pore vacuum cleanser, but the other products will either be given away (POREfessional) or go to the trash (eye pencil).

As always, if you would like to subscribe to Birchbox for $10/month, feel free to use my referral link by clicking HERE!

XO Ali