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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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

Makeup Monday: Winter Butterfly (Vice 3 Palette)

Hello lovelies πŸ™‚ It’s the first Monday after the New Year, which for many of us, means it’s the first full-week back to work since mid-December. Never fear though, Makeup Monday is here to get us kicked off with an … Continue reading

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 NostalgiaΒ  ($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

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 πŸ™‚
  • 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

Birchbox Madness

This month it has been raining Birchbox at my doorstep, which isn’t the worse problem in the world (except that it’s not exactly free haha). Following the heels of the CEW Awards, Birchbox released two special edition boxes featuring some of the year’s most raved-about products at an absolutely terrific value! I had to snatch them both up before they were sold out. You can also get $5 off if you buy them both at the same time!

2014 Mass Appeal Box ($15)

IMG_1727The mass appeals box is full of products that you can find at your local drugstore:

  • Dove Go Fresh Body Wash in Blue Fig & Orange Blossom – I’ve used this body wash about 10 times already and it is still half-full. I normally use Dove’s body wash in the shower so the only difference was really the scent. It’s got a sweet clean smell to it, but I can’t really pick out orange (nor do I know what fig smells like).
  • Simple Protecting Light Moisturizer w/ SPF 15 – I tried this on my face and shoulders last week on a practice run and it works as well as any other sunscreens.
  • L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Mascara – I am a mascara snob, I really have a hard time finding one I like, but this one was alright in my book (which is better than the negative rating I give 75% of mascaras I try!). It lengthened my lashes without clumping, but I’ve got an irresistible love for my D&G Passion Eyes mascara, which is still my #1.
  • Vaseline Lip Therapy Rosy Lips – this stuff is amazing! I bought the original lip therapy a few years ago and forgot about it when I ran out. Now, they make this pink tinted one, which is amazing at hydrating and protecting lips from the elements.
  • Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lip Gloss in Spring Splendor – I have not tried this yet, but if it’s worth reviewing, you will see it on a monthly favorites list πŸ™‚
  • TRESemme Keratin Smooth Keratin Infusing Serum – I use a lot of TRESemme’s heat protecting products, so even though I haven’t tried this one yet, I have high expectations that it will be just as good.

2014 Prestige Headliners ($18)

IMG_1746The Prestige Headliners Box is full of luxury-oriented items:

  • Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Creme – can we just talk about the amazing smell of this hair product for a second? It is pure bliss–a refreshing parfum scent which makes the hair feel silky and look shiny.
  • Josie Maran Cosmetics 100% Pure Argan Oil Light – confession: I have not tried any oils on my face yet. I know it is supposed to be really healthy for skin. From what I’ve been told by friends, it is best to apply and let sit a short time before you wash your face, to keep your skin from drying out (though you can really use it at any time).
  • 100% Pure Creamy Nail Polish (my color was in Velveteen) – colors will vary in this box. Mine was a soft mauvey-nude color which goes on much lighter than it photographed in the above picture. I put on two coats and it went on very smooth and evenly.
  • Philosophy Miracle Worker Overnight – I haven’t tried this moisturizer yet, which is surprising since I use the Purity facewash by Philosophy. Regardless, this is a cult favorite and my expectations are high πŸ™‚
  • COOLA Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion – unfortunately, I had to use this yesterday do to an intense sunburn from my half-marathon. Fortunately, however, this stuff works! I put it on multiple times throughout the day (mostly because of how burnt my skin was), and it was cooling and not-sticky. My sunburn felt much better this morning after applying an additional slab of it before bed last night.
  • Extras: Pocket Mirror & Toe Separators

August 2014 Birchbox

IMG_1866Signing back up for Birchbox was completely worth it. I don’t know if it’s because they consider me a “new” subscriber or what, but they have completely stepped up their game compared to prior boxes. Three of my last four boxes prior to canceling had foil packets of shampoo and conditioner or bodywash. Because I resubscribed mid-month, they sent me August’s and September’s box about 2 days apart.

  • Neil George Shampoo & Neil George Conditioner – I give this a “meh” rating. It really wasn’t anything that special, but I’m astounded by the sample size! It’s clear in color and reminds me of a Paul Mitchell clean smell. I wouldn’t pay for it.
  • Paula’s Choice Intensive Wrinkle Repair Retinol Serum – I’ve been applying this serum around my eyes and my cheek-smile lines. I haven’t noticed a huge difference yet, but it’s easy enough to apply. It twists up into a press-and-squirt bottle, which unfortunately makes it hard to control the amount it squeezes out and I always have way more than I need. It’s very oil-based, so may not be the greatest for oily-skin types.
  • Laura Gellar Cool Lids Cream Eyeshadow in Silver Sands – wahhh this was an awesome surprise. I got a beautiful silver color that glides on effortlessly. It doesn’t take much to apply, so this “sample” will last me a longgg time. Make sure to put an eyeshadow base-coat on first to keep from sweating off the cream!
  • Whish CC Body Cream in Coconut – adore this brand. Hate the smell. Not a fan of coconut-smell at all, so this will likely be given away. I got the body lotion in “Pomegranate” in one of my first Birchboxes, and I literally squeezed every last drop out before I threw it away. So so so good.

September 2014 Birchbox

IMG_1873

Note: I haven’t tried any of my September products so far.

  • Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator
  • Harvey Prince Ageless Liquid Loofa
  • Temptu S/B Highlighter
  • Macadamia Professional Flawless Cleansing Conditioner (huge sample!)
  • Pixi by Petra Lip Balm inΒ Honey Nectar

If you would like to subscribe to Birchbox, I would LOVE it if you could use my referral link! πŸ™‚ You can subscribe HERE

New Photography Equipment

Hello everyone!

I purchased some equipment from Amazon this week (that will be delivered today!) to assist with taking pictures for the blog πŸ™‚ I got a cheap light tent for about $30 and some velvet jewelry display stands.

I’m pretty excited to try it out with my new Limited Edition Birchboxes for CEW (Prestige Headliners and Mass Appeal) that have arrived! Hopefully my turnaround time between receiving product and posting about it will decrease. I probably could have made one for cheaper, but sometimes paying for convenience (and quality) is more attractive…

Don’t forget to enter my massive beauty giveaway by clicking on the image below!

img_1671-3XO Ali

Beauty GIVEAWAY!

IMG_1646I’ve been wanting to do a beauty giveaway for the last several months, and I’ve finally collected a fair range of products, brands and sizes that I think anyone would want to try πŸ™‚ This is a Rafflecopter giveaway, so you’ll have to follow any of the links on this page, or the image at the bottom of the page, to enter!

One lucky winner will receive ALL of the following products:

IMG_1671-PΓΌr Minerals Mineral Glow ($23.50)
-Murad Oil-Control Mattifier (deluxe size)
-Dr. Brandt BB Matte Cream w/ Signature Shinerase in Light to Medium ($39)
-Ulta Hydra Quench Foaming Oil Cleanser (deluxe size)
-Sample packets for Philosphy Hope in a Jar, Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer, and GlamGlow Youth-Mud
-Ulta Eyeshadow Quad in Bone, Ice Queen, Truffle, and Gunmetal
-Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (sample size)
-Ardell Natural Lash Starter Kit in 101 Demi Black ($6)
-Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara (deluxe size)
-Ulta Eyeshadow Quad in Sahara Sand, Sunkissed, Mosaic, and Glittering Sand
-Ulta Dual Ended Eye Liner in Black and Deep Brown
-Dolce and Gabbana Desire Perfume (sample size)
-Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream Perfume (sample size)
-Ulta Beauty Smoothie in Buttercream Cupcake (3 oz. travel size) ($4)
-Pink Beauty Travel Bag
-Cynthia Rowley Creamy Lip Stain in Valentine (mini size)
-It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in Product for Hair (2 oz. travel size) ($12)

Rules for the Giveaway

1. You must submit your entries through Rafflecopter.
2. This giveaway is open worldwide!
3. You must leave a valid email address so that I can contact you if you won to get your mailing address (no P.O. boxes please).
4. I am not paid/endorsing any of these products. Users should read ingredients/instructions carefully to avoid any allergies.
5. One (1) winner will receive (1) beauty bag filled with multiple products by myclosetisfull.net.
6. Winner will be contacted following the close of the giveaway. Winner must respond by email within 48 hours, or a new winner will be chosen.

Since I can’t embed Rafflecopter into my blog, you can click here or the image below, and it’ll take you to the entry page. Good luck!

img_1671-3XO Ali

August Subscription Boxes

They’re here! The best part about coming back from vacation was that little pile of boxes patiently waiting at my doorstep to be fawned over. Since I canceled Birchbox last month (a decision I’ve since regretted…more on that below), I only have 3 subscriptions currently: Sunset 45, BarkBox, and I sampled LoveWithFood this month for only $2. What did I think about what I got? Keep reading to find out πŸ™‚

Sunset 45 Little Luxuries Box

August’s theme was Into the Woods. After a disappointing month last month, I was weighing my decision to keep it or cancel on this month’s box. I’m happy to say that I really loved it! Despite how much I love it, for $35/month, I’m not sure I can keep up with a love-hate relationship…not when there’s other boxes out there I want to sample. I’ll be “allowed” to buy my own accessories again in just a few weeks, and I know they’ll be ones I love (and probably at less cost). I’m going to wait until after September’s box to confirm this decision. There were five pieces in this collection:

  • “Leafcutter” bracelet ($26) – easily my favorite piece in the collection! The pretty emerald green set against the gold leaves makes it really pop out and elegantly define an outfit.
  • MIENN fragrance oil no. 54 rollerball ($15) – my second favorite item. “The no. 54 is a delicate musk with sweet floral top notes.” I was put off by the description at first, because I am not at all a musk-type girl. However, it’s got a sweet, subdued aroma that to me, is almost pheromone-like. MIENN is a Korean fragrance company.
  • “Autumn Feather” necklace ($24) – a super cute silver collar-necklace perfect for date night. I like that it is unique, but not a statement piece. I will be able to get more wear out of it this way.
  • “Apoidea” statement ring ($30) – I LOVE the actual statement portion of the ring, but I think I may deconstruct it and use it as a pendant on a necklace instead. It is a little too big on my hand.
  • Earrings (bonus) – I’m suprised how much I like these rhinestone earrings. The rhinestone portion has subtle pink undertones that show off when they catch the light. I don’t think I would have liked the rhinestones in the earrings if they didn’t have that pink hue.

Barkbox

I ruv Barkbox, seriously. When you love your four-legged friend as much as I do, all you want to do is shower them with new toys and treats. Okay, it’s probably a little more for me than him, but we have found some great healthy treats, and he loves the new toys every month! But the best part is that Barkbox donates 10% of the proceeds from every box to a dog in need. Paws up!

IMG_1628This month’s box had a nautical theme. It includes the following items:

  • Jax and Bones Nautical Wheel Rope Toy
  • Feel Good Treat Co. Seafood Chowder
  • Wadoba Fetch
  • Grandma Bowser’s Cheddar Biscuits

I won’t be opening the treats until he’s finished his other couple packs, but I do want to comment on the Wadoba Fetch ball. It’s pretty cool, it’s made so that when you throw it, it will skid-jump across the water and float. It’s meant to be a catch-and-retrieve toy, not a chew toy, and I’m excited to try it out with Yoshi once we break his fear of water…

Love With Food Tasting Box

I’ve been doing a little research on some food subscription boxes, and decided to try this Love With Food Tasting Box because I found a code where you could get your first box for free, just pay $2 shipping. They have 3 types of boxes: the Tasting Box ($10/mo), the Deluxe Box ($17/mo), and the Gluten-Free Box ($25/mo). What attracted me to the company was that all their snacks are either all-natural, organic, GMO-free, gluten-free or free of artificial ingredients. In addition, for every box you buy, they donate one meal to a hungry child in America.

This month’s theme was Fun at the County Fair and came with:

  • Back to Nature crispy cheddar crackers
  • Salty Road caramel apple salt water taffies (2)
  • Skeeter Snacks nut-free cinnamon graham crackers
  • Covered Bridge steak spice seasoned potato chips
  • Smooze! pineapple and coconut fruit ice
  • 180 Snacks nutty rice bites with blueberries
  • YumEarth lollipops (2)
  • Love With Food kettle sweet peanuts

I don’t really know what I was expecting for $10, but I immediately knew this was a box I wouldn’t continue with. The snacks have so far been delicious, but they’re such a small amount it leaves you kind of unsatisfied. I just can’t justify paying $10 for what was received. Don’t let me dissuade you, however, as you can get your first box for free by clicking this link:

Love With Food - Snack Smart. Do Good.

I am trying the Vegan Cuts snack box next πŸ™‚

In addition, after just one month off, I have decided to renew my Birchbox subscription. Ironically, when you sign up, they send you the current months box as well, so technically I didn’t really take any time off. I was so disappointed when I saw some incredible August boxes…I’m really hoping I get one that’s just as good! I also ordered the two limited edition CEW Insiders boxes. Those reviews will be up after they get delivered!

What are your subscription addictions? Are there any new ones out there that you’re interested in trying? Let me know in the comments below!

XO

Cynthia Rowley Beauty Review

When the gorgeous Jacqueline from A Vibrant Day announced she was having a Cynthia Rowley beauty giveaway a couple weeks ago, I knew it was fate πŸ™‚ Man, I have been lusting after this set for months, especially after falling in love with my silver eyeliner I received in one of my spring Birchbox boxes. Somehow, I managed to win!!! AHHH

IMG_1382 IMG_1384The Cynthia Rowley set included:

  • Eye Shadow Palette – No. 2
  • Mini Creamy Lip Stain in Valentine
  • Mini Eyeliner in Black
  • Neoprene Confetti Bag
  • Full-size Eyeliner in Sky Blue (extra!)

IMG_1387 IMG_1389 IMG_1393She also threw in some fun extras!

  • A 5×7 in. painting by Terrance Wright
  • Benefit mini-Porefessional primer
  • Besame Sweetheart Balm
  • A sweet little thank you note for entering her giveaway

She’s seriously the best. Go show her some love on her page πŸ™‚

IMG_1396Color swatch from L-R: Cotton Candy, Licorice, Confetti, Cloud, Marshmallow, Black Eyeliner, Sky Blue Eyeliner, Valentine Lip Stain

IMG_1402I used Marshmallow all over as a base coat, then applied Confetti on the lid, blending in Cotton Candy into the outer corner. I used Licorice in both the crease and as a lower-lash liner, finishing with Sky Blue eyeliner on the top lid πŸ™‚

Happy Monday, everyone!

And thanks again to Jacqueline and A Vibrant Day!