Under the Influence(r)

Last week I was delighted to get an invitation to a new product launch party. Sunday Riley is coming out with a foundation, and I got an invitation to their “Influencer” Launch Party?? You BET i was excited!

Sounds so FANCY

The site told me to RSVP, so I quickly did so, noting that I could have a +1, which I accepted, so that I could bring my sister along – obviously something like this is way more fun when you bring a friend.

Oh Good! I AM going the right way, thank you sidewalk!

When we arrived, there was already a fairly long line, but since I had gotten confirmation of my RSVP, I wasn’t too concerned. Eventually the line started to move and when we got closer, we saw some staff moving through the line with wrist bands. We then discovered they were merely checking ages (there were free drinks to be had!), and everyone got a wrist band. So…not checking anyone in. This concerns me a little, mostly because huge crowds aren’t my favorite thing. But we were nearly in by that point, so we got excited again. As we got through the main door, we spotted a cute display with what I found out is the total range, twenty colors:

Not a bad range!

We passed into another room with a glitter confetti booth in one corner, a bathtub full of white balls, and opposite that, a giant rubber duck. I also realized about this point that the NAME of the foundation was Influencer, and the implication that this was any sort of exclusive launch party was apparently unfounded. Lots of people seemed to be stopping here in order to get a cute picture, but I was focused on checking out the products so we continued into the main event.

Wow.

When I said I wanted to rub shoulders with other beauty enthusiasts, this isn’t what I meant!

It was SO Crowded. I realize the foreground doesn’t look too bad here, but this is right near the exit. I didn’t take any photos in all of the rest of the rooms because I could barely raise my arms while we were inside, for fear of hitting other party goers. I took this as we were leaving later, but it was about the same:

Barely room to move!

See that pink sign on the right? That is the vending machine that was supposed to dispense your shade of foundation for you, with its door hanging open. More on that later. Just under the slide on the left there was a table where you could get one of a few different signature cocktails. We made our way over on arrival, and the drink wasn’t bad, but it was too crowded to try and get back for seconds. Just above the pink sign on the right led to another room, where we quickly identified two makeup artists who were providing sample applications of the foundation and expert shade matches. There was also a long table with mostly empty clear plastic bins. We found that these were meant to be holding both candy and samples of other Sunday Riley products – which I will note, the staff fought to keep stocked the entire time we were there, to little success. We found the free tote bags in some cute pink cans, and picked one of the long lines for the shade matching. While we were waiting, they replenished the samples, so I braved the sample counter while my sister kept our place in line – and we managed to get one each of all the samples available:

Tote bag and samples!

Honestly, it was not easy to get these. As I mentioned, the bins kept getting cleared out. This was likely due to the many people I saw grabbing handfuls of each one. This really bummed me out. I know what it is to be excited about samples, but I always try to be considerate. Would I have loved to get ten sample bottles of Good Genes? Of course! That’s a very expensive product and it would be awesome to have a large supply of it for free; but I also knew everyone else there would like to get a sample of it, so I got one. It’s not so uncool to be considerate of your fellow enthusiasts is it? So much of the online beauty community I’ve experienced is so welcoming, positive and friendly. Everyone is always ready to share a tip or alert others to an amazing sale, I always find the best comment sections are the ones where people are talking beauty & skincare! I guess I was really expecting that “we’re all friends here” sort of feel to translate, and seeing this everyone-for-themself sort of behavior was a real let down for me.

I was actually pretty excited to get these samples! I have actually already tried the orange tube, that is the CEO Vitamin C Brightening Serum, because I got a full size sample from Allure Beauty Box. (Seriously, isn’t that awesome? I think the Allure box is very underrated, but this is a tangent). I love it and having a little travel size of it is great. The U.F.O. oil is a clarifying treatment that helps clear pores and acne, which is a very welcome item- nothing like fighting wrinkles and acne at the same time am I right? Finally is the Good Genes Lactic Acid treatment, which seems to be quite the workhorse; according to its label it’s exfoliating, clarifying, brightens dark spots and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles. I can’t wait to see if these all live up to the hype they’ve been getting.

After our continued wait (which was rather uncomfortable – our line was blocking the caterer’s exit door, so the poor wait staff kept having to fight their way in and out), we finally got to the makeup artist. This woman was incredible, super friendly and knowledgeable. Despite the crazy conditions, she didn’t make us feel rushed, and she practically guessed our correct color on sight. (She did swatches and some partial application to confirm.) She gave us little slips with our foundation shade numbers on them and let us know we could get a tube from the pink vending machine by the exit.

There were supposedly a few more fun areas in the back, but after waiting nearly an hour for our shade match, we looked at the densely packed crowd in that direction and gave up. We decided to pick up our foundation and leave more space in the tiny venue for other hopeful fans. By the time we got to the vending machine, the front of it was swung open, and several (rather harried looking) staff members were manually handing out bottles, I told them our shade (my sister and I are the same shade in most foundations) and was promptly informed they were out of our shade, 130.

My sister gestured for me to make the call, and I accepted the next shade lighter, 120 for us. We finally had the new foundation, and after a brief conference, we decided to get out.

TA DA! The packaging is nice, a soft tube with a pump(1.08oz), and a swatch of #120

Overall, I am excited to have this new foundation to try, it has a lovely texture and it really does seem to cover redness well. However, I hope most launch events are better organized than this one.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love Sunday Riley, I think their products are beautifully designed, and the things I’ve tried so far have been wonderful. But the layout of this event was very frustrating, and the lack of crowd control made us feel very disregarded. There wasn’t any sense of structure, not much in the way of a formal welcome- even some sort of floor plan indicating all the areas could have proved helpful. I think a lot of people used the vending machine as soon as they arrived, without receiving a shade consultation, since there were no signs or other instructions. We found the tote bags by luck, and pretty much had to figure things out for ourselves. Not what I expected from a luxury brand’s launch party.

All in all, my favorite part of the evening was probably spending time with my sister, because ultimately when you’re going to any sort of crowded event you should bring someone who can make standing in line fun.

A FAB Moisturizer!

Honestly I’m not sure how I didn’t write about this  sooner.  I’m not even going to keep you guessing. This isn’t so much a review as me extolling the virtues of a fantastic product. And yes, this is skincare, not makeup, but the first step to making your makeup look good is taking good care of your skin.

I found this product as a result of research, believe it or not.  A few years back, during a rather brutal winter, both my husband and I were suffering some skin trauma from the bitter wind, particularly on our faces. The moisturizer I’d been using at the time (long since forgotten!) simply wasn’t enough to protect either of us, and we were not only uncomfortably dry, but our cheeks were getting very red, and neither of us really cared for that look.

At this point in my life, my knowledge of skin care was fairly basic; Wash face, moisturize face, exfoliate face sometimes, use face masks to feel…fancy?  So I started reading up on skincare. Looking into the whats and hows of what makes a moisturizer effective, learning about emollients and moisture barriers; learning about ceramides and Hyaluronic acid. Then I looked for information on relieving persistent redness, and found marshmallow root and Feverfew. So armed with a list of ingredients I started googling, and one of the first ones I found contained all the best things I was seeking out! Initially I was a little put off by the price tag – a 6oz tub for $30!

However, to my delight, it was also available in a travel size (a nice 2 ounce tube) for only $12. Having only purchased drugstore skin care prior to this, I was a little wary of stepping up to the higher end level, and being able to start with a smaller size took some sting out of the process.

The difference this stuff made nearly had me singing. My face actually still felt moisturized when I woke up the next morning. And no dryness during the day either! Over a week or two I was pleased to note that the redness in my cheeks started to fade as well. My husband and I noted some other welcome ingredients, such as tea tree oil, and we were quite pleased to have found something chock full of useful ingredients.

Just this month, I discovered another thing this moisturizer could do for me. I was only just starting to feel better from a cold, and I’d run out of lotion tissues (which is how i normally avoid red  & chapped “sick person” nose). I noticed my nose was just starting to chap; something that always frustrates me. It takes forever to heal and you end up looking sick long after you’re feeling better! I looked at some of my various skin products and considered what to do, before picking up the FAB repair cream and applying it to the area.

For a few minutes? Thought I’d made a GRAVE, GRAVE mistake. It tingled….no, it STUNG. I thought to myself – Oh NO, I thought: I have gravely irritated my skin, it will look awful! – But soon after, the sting died right out. I took a look in the mirror, and it wasn’t red. I gingerly touched the area that had felt chapped earlier to see how it was, and i found SMOOTH skin.  Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend this if the skin is already broken, but if you can get yourself to remember to treat your skin while tending to a cold, the recovery process can be less frustrating. 

Since that first purchase of this stuff, in the 2oz tube, I now happily hand over $36 for the value sized 8oz tube. (I also prefer the tube format to a tub, less opportunity for contamination) While that might seem like a lot for some moisturizer, this is hard working stuff that we use on any stubborn dry skin, not just our faces, and that 8oz tube lasts for months and months.

The glorious 8oz tube!

Is there a never-fail product in your arsenal that you always keep in stock? So dependable you might forget about it sometimes? Tell me about it in the comments!

Scary Skincare? The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask

Nothing like dull, cold winter to make me look for face masks with words like “glow” and “purifying” in their names.  It made this one feel like a no-brainer: The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask.

And I’ve hit my word count on just the title. Kidding! (also, no one’s paying me for this, why would I have a word count minimum?)

Sometimes I want to treat my skin but I don’t have a lot of time, so I’ll check the wear times of various masks in my stash. This one (which I received as a bonus in-store sample when I made a purchase) boasted a 5-10 minute wear-time, so I picked it out on a weeknight when my skin felt a bit rough and looked a bit dull.

Le Package

This packaging, while it made getting this picture simple,and reading the directions easy enough, made accessing the actual mask rather difficult. This is a thin, grainy mask, and it was very hard to squeeze out of the packet, so it took awhile to put on. By the time I was done, it had already started drying, feeling tight and yet also lumpy somehow? And I was wondering if I’d made a terrible mistake.

What have i DONE?

But, since I already had it on, and it washed off of my fingers easily enough,  I figured I may as well finish it out. The directions indicated that for removal you should apply some warm water, and scrub in circular motions before rinsing it off. That sounded like it could get messy, so I opted to take this off while showering. I got my shower ready while I waited for it to finish drying.  Once it dried, it seemed to be more like other masks, which was reassuring.

Calmer…but still skeptical!

Once I got it wet and started scrubbing (gently! please don’t ever exfoliate roughly, your face just wants to be loved!) it broke down pretty quickly, and then it rinsed away very easily, without feeling overly dried out.

While I didn’t feel like there was any special sort of visual result or “glow” after I dried off, my face did feel very smooth, and applying my usual skin care afterward went very easily, and my face did definitely feel refreshed. The lumpy, grainy texture that alarmed me initially was probably mostly due to the exfoliating ingredients in the mask, and I probably should have thought of that at the time,  but…yeah. I could probably write an entire post about scaring myself with beauty product mishaps. Please leave a comment if you want to see that!

Overall this mask definitely works, and I imagine the full size product (which comes in a jar) would be far easier to apply, which was the biggest problem I encountered with this sample.  I think this is a perfectly good mask, but it wasn’t anything ground-breaking for me. The Body Shop sells this mask for $28.00, and that is honestly not a bad price considering you get a 3 ounce jar for that. I’ve had 1oz masks that have lasted me four or more uses, so the per-mask usage would probably work out fairly reasonable.  If I was looking for a small splurge and felt like my face needed a treat, I might buy the full size of this one.

What kind of face masks do you like best? Is there a weird face mask you want to see me try? Let me know in the comments!

 

The Secret to Lashes??

One thing that I have found mystifying in my time, is false lashes, and if my observations from friends and the internet are correct, I am not alone at ALL.  But some people swear by these little accessories, and as someone who is always trying to make my lashes longer and curlier and just overall BIGGER, I have always been curious.  Could there be a secret to applying these tiny treasures? I had to know!

So, last October I attended a False Lashes class at a Sephora store near my office.  I’d been trying to find a convenient session of this class, and this one happened to fall on a Friday, half an hour after my workday ended, when I had nothing going on. Clearly, I was meant to be there! I was ready. PUMPED even. I was going to uncover the secrets of these baffling little things!!

I…am not very cool. But I am ENTHUSIASTIC!

I never attended one of these before, but signing up is fairly easy. You get an email confirmation from their website, but no reminders of any sort were sent, so its on you to remember to get over there.

I arrived a few minutes early, and found I was the first. The employees running the class were an absolute delight. They clearly love what they do and were stoked to have an early arrival. One brought over a basket of lashes for me to choose from (to purchase, which is a totally reasonable expense for a class like this, and the only expense incidentally) and asked me questions about what I wanted out of them to help me make a good selection. I wound up with this nice pair from the Sephora Collection, in the style “Quill”:

Sephora Collection lashes – Quills

Then I chose a seat. The class area is well suited, each station has a chair, a lighted mirror, a hand mirror, a small cup for the appropriate tools for the session, and a recessed well in front of the mirror where the necessary products for the class had already been placed.

Once everyone had selected their lashes, the demo began. One attendee volunteered to have a lash put on her as a demo, and they walked us through the basic steps and tips, and once it was on, it was our turn to try and do them.

First step was to measure the lash against your eye, to see if you need to trim it; I determined I should take a small portion off, and one of the instructors handled the trimming for us (Maybe scissors are an insurance liability? or maybe they knew it would be nerve wracking for us noobs.)

Next, I curled my lashes and applied mascara (recommended for people with straight lashes such as myself), and applied some eyeliner just along the lash line, which serves to hide any glue and give you a clearer target for the lash.

We were each provided with a lash applicator tool, which is basically a specialized tweezer, but the instructors noted that some people prefer to just use their hands to apply the lash to the lid, and then use the applicator to finish up and make small adjustments; and this is what wound up working best for me.

I got in as close as i could to the provided mirrors (since my glasses had to be off, I needed to zoom in!)  and focused on the task, repeating the steps to myself and reviewing the recommended motions from the instructors in my head.  Even applying the glue, I found myself feeling very anxious and worried about it  – and I think this must be common, because those instructors were on it, checking on each of us constantly and telling us how great we were doing or offering advice to help us along.

So, lids & real lashes prepped, fake lashes trimmed, I applied glue to the first one and used the drying time to try and remind myself this is just for fun and to stop being nervous.  Once the lash glue changed color, I went in.

And? the first time? I totally borked it. It was a full on miss. So, I laughed it off and tried again, and then? It looked like it might be ok? So i grabbed the applicator to go in and fix the edges more precisely, and sat back a little to check my work. And one of the instructors looks over right then and goes “WOW! you nailed it girl! You’re a natural!!”

So naturally I try to figure out who she’s actually talking to.  But no, looking directly at me! I thanked her and set about the second lash, and honestly I had that same false start, which had me a little worried, but I kept on going. Once I got them on and fixed the edges? The instructors were back  – “You GOT this girl!?!!” “You really never wear lashes? You did awesome!” So I sat back and had a look at the results:

Dem Lashes Tho!

And a close up, just for fun:

Would an “I, Claudius” joke be too obscure?

Just for comparison’s sake – here’s a picture with me in roughly the same makeup, but without false lashes:

TINY LASHES

Then I realized everyone else in the class was still struggling, some even still on their first lash- I was the first one done.  Honestly, this was a mind-blowing moment for me.  And that moment helped me realized I HAD found the secret to using false lashes!

Despite the amount of my friends who think I’m a genius with makeup (some of whom have actually HIRED me to do their makeup. I am baffled but DELIGHTED), I tend to think of myself as, at best, an enthusiastic novice.  But in attending this class, I had the realization that, hey, I may not be a professional Makeup  artist or know everything there is to know about makeup, but I definitely know a lot, and I should be confident in my skills and knowledge. (So if my posts start to sound a little more confident? You’ll know why.)

So by the end, I realized that the secret to figuring out fake lashes is? Not giving up. They take a little time to figure out, even with help.  Forgive the somewhat cliched answer but its the truth.  Sorry to disappoint anyone looking for the ultimate secret trick, but sometimes there IS no trick except rolling your sleeves up and doing the work.

Overall, I have to say, the Sephora class was excellent.  The instructors were really encouraging and supportive, and genuinely want you to succeed. If I see another topic that interests me I would definitely attend another!

Do fake lashes terrify you? Is there another beauty item you have never figured out but  want to? Something else you’ve conquered?? I want to know about it! Tell me in the comments!

Amazing skin treatment for $2?

Is that headline a little gimmicky? Maybe. But honestly? I am too excited about this find to care. ARE YOU READY?

Actual images of me right now.

So an awesome friend of mine sent me a little care package recently and among the other goodies were two packets of face mask. This one here:

I’ve passed masks like these in the drugstore plenty of times, haven’t you?

Looks pretty unassuming right? But we always send each other fun little items so I figured I’d give it a shot.

But its a face mask so you know what that means….

GLAMOUR SHOT!

Shiny yet terrifying!

(i’m probably the only person that is amused by those…and yet i continue to post them…)

So when i was younger (just after the earth’s crust cooled) peel-off masks were around, but I don’t think they were terribly popular. I tried them, but I stopped buying them because they always seemed damn near impossible to remove, and i’d wind up scratching up my face trying to remove them. So honestly I was a little nervous going in, and definitely made sure to apply this generously.

The removal process was so simple it was even kind of fun! This mask peeled off quick and easy and nearly stayed in a complete piece! I would have tried to take a picture of it but I managed to destroy it almost immediately after removal, because I am so graceful.

After I peeled it off, i put on my usual nighttime moisturizer and went to bed, noting that my skin was not at all irritated, so I was happy enough. In the morning, when I washed up, I noticed my skin was SUPER soft, and in fact, looked clearer too.  Since my friend was awesome enough to send me two packets of this mask, I tried it again about a week later and found that my skin was amazingly soft and clear again.

Finding that I was a little sad that I had no more packets of this mask, I ventured onto the internet to see if I was able to order it and what the damage would be.  So imagine my DELIGHT when I found it at Ulta for $1.99 each!

I may have celebrated like this in front of others. I think I take this stuff too personally.

So I have to say, this is a fantastic mask. I have tried a lot of face masks in recent history, and this one gave me such great results, for it to be so cheap I am definitely excited. Especially since this line apparently has a TON of different masks, and yes, some more peel-off ones! So I’m calling this a total rave, because for such quality results and low price, where could the downside possibly be?

Do you get overly excited about bargain products that work well too? Do you have a face mask that you think beats this one? Let me know in the comments!

 

Review it! Colourpop Blotted Lip

When summer approaches, natural makeup looks become a more common topic, for good reason.  A full face of makeup on a hot humid day is generally not long for this world, so why put in the effort?

When I’m going for a more natural look, I don’t usually like wearing bright opaque lip colors.  In fact if I’m not wearing anything else,  I like having at least a little tint on my lips. So when I spotted Colourpop’s new lip products, the Blotted Lip and the Ultra Blotted Lip I was very excited to try them out!

Colourpop Blotted Lipstick in Bee’s Knees

The Colourpop Blotted Lip is a 1 ounce lipstick that comes in a matte white tube that clicks shut (very satisfyingly!). The product itself is matte and incredibly lightweight, and yet highly pigmented.  Here’s a comparison of my bare lips with one coat of the shade Bee’s Knees:

Ready for a date with Two-Face! 😉

I found it dryer than I expected, most tinted products are some sort of balm or gloss, but despite that, it applies very smoothly. And you can build it up for a richer payoff, if you want, easily:

This is about 3 coats.

While this isn’t as long lasting as a liquid lipstick that dries down, it has some pretty good staying power. it took quite a long day of eating & drinking to wear it out, and even then it faded pretty evenly.

I think these are an excellent product. They come in 11 colors, and are only $5 each! in fact, right now a few of them are on sale for $4.  (Incidentally, if you were ever a fan of the Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, you might want to check out the shade Lolly – I’m planning to get one myself!)

Is this your kind of lip color?  Do you already have a color you like, but the finish isn’t the look you want right now? If so, my next post is for you – I’m going to be talking about the versatility of the good old fashioned classic lipstick. You can even follow me on Facebook, InstagramTwitter  or Tumblr to make sure you don’t miss my next post.

 

Disclaimer: I have no arrangements with Colourpop, I purchased this product with my own money.

Subscription Showdown: February!

Yes I know its March, but whats my favorite thing to do while I wait for this month’s subscriptions to arrive? Compare last month’s subscription boxes!

Exciting!

Lets open them up and see who made the best February box. First up: Ipsy!

This month has a cute denim bag with a lip shaped zipper tab.

In this month’s Ipsy glam bag I got:

Not a bad haul! The thing that immediately caught my eye was the NYX lipstick. I already am a big fan of the brand, and this lipstick definitely didn’t let me down:

love the color coordinated packaging!

This lipstick is lightweight and goes on creamy and smooth. There’s no shimmer to it, but its a moisturizing formula so the finish has a nice shine to it.

The Bellapierre mascara looks promising as well:

This mascara has a full, straight bristle brush, dense enough that I think it will easily get every lash. The formula doesn’t seem too wet either, which I like because it makes it a little harder to accidentally smudge some on your skin.  Since my eyes are a bit oily, I prefer waterproof mascaras in general, as they are less likely to transfer during the day, so I think this will be a good one for me.

The makeup brush is either the second or third I’ve gotten from Luxie, and I was happy to see it. Their brushes are super soft, dense, and well constructed; this will definitely be well used. The finishing powder from Naked Cosmetics is very nice, finely milled and smooth, and will do fine job setting foundation & concealer. I have a number of setting powders, maybe I should do a comparison breakdown sometime, see if these higher end ones are worth the money – comment below if that is of interest to you! The final item, the face mask, looks interesting. It promises to exfoliate and hydrate, so I’ll definitely have to test this out and see how their promises hold up.

Next up: Allure Beauty Box!

Six items!

This month, Allure sent:

First off, the Cargo color stick, which is a cream color you can apply to eyes, cheeks or lips. The color we got is Champagne, which is a highlighting shade (a pretty soft pink) and gives a beautiful, not glittery sheen when applied:

This is a full size sample!

The mascara in this box is from Beauty Counter:

A skinny brush and tube

According to Beauty Counter, this is a lengthening mascara that will condition lashes when you wear it. The brush is very tiny, so it will be easy to get to every lash without getting mascara smudges all over while applying, which I appreciate.  I’m concerned that the oils and hydration in it will make it more likely to transfer, but maybe I’ll be surprised!

This month also included a lip plumper from GrandeLips. I myself have found many lip plumpers to be rather uncomfortable, with overpowering mint or cinnamon scents and strong tingling sensations. This one has a softer vanilla scent, and contains hylauronic acid to maintain moisture, so I’m optimistic that this one will prove to be more comfortable than some I have previously tried.

Also this month, we got a trial packet of First Aid beauty “radiance” pads, which promise to exfoliate, tone & brighten. I’ve tried this sort of product before, and while I found them effective, they do cause some sharp stinging right after use. Since First Aid beauty always has sensitive skin-friendly products, I am hoping these will be a bit gentler.

Next up, we got a tube of Olay Pro-Retinol Eye Treatment. They make some great skin care products, and I have some fine lines around my eyes, so I was quite happy to receive this, I believe its a full size sample, which is pretty great too! The final product was a tea-light size candle from Red Flower. I’m not really big on scented candles so this is kind of a take it or leave it product for me, but it does have a nice rose scent.

There was one final item included in the Allure box, a card indicating a code that would provide subscribers a free month with a custom prescription skin care company called Curology. I did not include it in the photo because both sides of the card include the code. Since the box already had six items without this, its not a bad bonus.

Last but never least, we have Sephora Play!

This month’s selection came in this cute pink satin bag- very nice!

This box contains:

This month’s sephora box included a mascara- their own brand, and i believe this is a new one:

Note the unusual paddle-shaped brush

As you can see, this mascara has an atypical brush, it is a little similar to the Lorac Cobra mascara brush, only that one is also curved. I have found that this paddle-style brush offers a surprisingly good amount of control in application, so I look forward to trying this one out.

This month also included the tinted lip balm from tarte, a very light, basic color:

Tiny but cute packaging!

Its very sheer,  lacking in fragrance, and feels very moisturizing.  This looks to be a great one to throw in my bag for quick touch ups when I just want a bit of color and need some moisture.

Next, this box also included a plumping lip gloss, this one from Too Faced:

Pretty packaging, a glass tube and brushed goldtone cap!

This is a creamy, glossy lip gloss, a bit stickier than I generally go for, and the color is kind of pale too, but it might be fun to layer with a brighter lipstick. This also didn’t remind me of some of the harsher plumping lip glosses I remember, which were very uncomfortable, so its nice that plumping can be achieved more comfortably.

Sephora’s box always includes a perfume, and this month’s is Prada Candy. I was not excited about this, because I’m picky about cologne, and honestly I expected this to be a very sweet, light & flowery young fragrance. And i was genuinely surprised! This has deeper, vanilla and caramel scents to it, and was a stronger, more mature scent that I think I may actually wear. Fun surprise!

The last two products, an eye cream and a moisturizer, I’m happy to get. I don’t really have a favorite of either right now, so i like trying new ones. The clinique moisturizer is apparently also something of a primer, and I love products that can do multiple things, so this i may keep with my makeup to use when I need a more hydrating primer.  The “refreshing” eye cream sounds great for the morning, so I will be trying that out soon.

It was fun to discover that for February, all these boxes had some things in common!  Each box had at least one lip product, and each had a mascara.  All three boxes had some great stuff this month, and I’m pretty happy with all three. I feel like both Sephora and Allure had a focus on skin care, or a natural look, whereas my ipsy bag was decidedly more makeup focused. So for that alone, i’m hailing Ipsy as my February winner Being more of a makeup lover,  Ipsy had the stuff i was most excited about this month.

What were your favorites? Did I get anything you want a more in-depth review of?  Let me know in the comments, or drop me a line on my Facebook page, I’d love to hear from you!

Anniversary Face Mask Mega-review!

Today marks one year of my blog’s existence, and though the anniversary caught me by surprise, I still want to commemorate the occasion, so I’m bringing you FOUR face masks reviews at once!

Face Mask Bonanza!

Here’s the masks we’re looking at today:

Lets look at the Sephora Honey Mask. These are sold individually, so I purchased one to try at Sephora. According to their site, this mask “nourishes and balances to soothe and refresh dry or sensitive skin.” This one’s a sheet mask so you know what that means:

Creepy Sheet Mask!

Obviously sheet masks are fairly quick to apply, but this one particularly made me feel like I have a tiny(!) face. here’s an even better shot of the excess material:

SUCH Glamour

Obviously these masks need to be able to fit everyone, so the excess fabric I get, but the mask itself slid around a lot, I spent most of the 15 minutes I wore it trying to make it stay out of my eyes.  These masks can also be a bit drippy, so I’m glad I was just wearing pjs when I tried it.

When time was up, I easily pulled the mask off and discarded it, and proceeded to try and rub the remaining serum into my skin as the packaging directs (and there was quite a lot on me). I found it took at least ten minutes for all the product to finally be absorbed, and my skin to no longer feel tacky.  Once it was finally done though? My face felt wonderfully soft and smooth.

Next we have the Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask to clear pores. (Quite a long name!)  No sheet for this one, its just directly applied to the face:

Like my sassy hair towel?

This one went on fairly easily, and didn’t run or drip, despite having a thinner texture. It did dry, but didn’t get very tight.  I also found that it was a bit stubborn to remove – it took a couple minutes at least to get all traces off.  I didn’t feel like I saw or felt a huge difference in my skin, but I did note in the directions for the full size that they want you to use this twice a week in conjunction with daily use of their “cleansing powder” to see improvement. Since I only had a sample packet with enough for one use, I can’t really gauge if their claims are accurate. Once I finally got it all off, I felt the need to apply my usual moisturizers, and my skin felt ok afterward, but nothing unique.

The First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal mask seems focused on convenience to me. Its light texture allowed it to be applied fast, it only needs to stay on for ten minutes to be effective, and it rinses away very easily.

So light, but oat-filled!

This mask’s claim is that it  ” calms, nourishes, and smooths distressed skin.” And it may not be dramatic, but I think it gets the job done. It contains colloidal oatmeal and feverfew – both of which are great for soothing and reducing redness. My skin felt nourished and looked calmer after I rinsed this one off. This mask also recommends use two to three times a week as needed, but the sample pack I received of this mask contained enough for at least 3 applications, and I felt I saw improvement after only one use.

Last but not least, we have the Glamglow Supermud Clearing Treatment. Given the large amount of positive press/reviews this line has received and its high price tag, I was very excited to receive a sample tube of this to try out.  This mask’s goal is clearing your complexion of  blemishes, redness, scars, razor bumps, and in-grown hair, as well as softening and brightening your complexion.  A tall order!  This mask was not as creamy as I expected, so it took a bit longer to apply, and already felt a bit dry when first applied:

Fancy time?!

The instructions also note that as this mask dries, you will see dots appear where the mask is extracting from your pores and/or blemishes, which it refers to as “Pore-Matrix Technology”.  I can’t speak to the science of that, but I can show you how the mask looks after 15 minutes:

Do forgive the closeup, I wanted to show how the pores became visible as the product did its work. The darker spots do correspond to where I had some small blemishes.  As this mask dried, it got extremely tight, almost to an uncomfortable degree. However, I was surprised to find that this mask rinsed away very easily for a mask that dried down so much.  I also have to say that I felt like my skin felt tighter and brighter after using it; and blemishes seemed reduced as well. The sample I received was small, but I suspect I can get another use, possibly two out of it.

Overall, I enjoying using face masks, its nice to take a little time just for pampering your skin. While these masks don’t all do the same things, these all serve a purpose. The Sephora sheet mask was nice except for the long absorption time, but from what I have read, this may be unique to the honey variety, so I will likely try other versions of this one, as sheet masks can be quite convenient, even when they don’t fit perfectly. The First Aid Beauty Oatmeal mask is a great quick soother, and I’ll definitely use the rest of it up. My favorite  of this group was probably the Glamglow, because of the easy removal and the visible results in one use. My least favorite was the Origins mask, because of its lackluster result and difficult removal.

Is there a facemask out there that you think I just HAVE to try? Do you disagree with my assessment of any of these? Let me know in the comments!

December 2016 Subscription Box Showdown

Happy New Year everyone!  With a new year, I’m hoping to do a lot more posting, so lets get right back into the goods!

Even though it is already January, and new boxes are making their way to our homes, I though I would take some time and see which box ended the year with the biggest bang. Subscription Box Showdown Time- Sephora Play vs Ipsy Vs Allure Beauty Box!

Boxes...assemble? :)
Boxes…assemble? 🙂

First box: Ipsy! 

While it is technically a bag not a box, Ipsy was one of the first, and for $10/month, they seldom disappoint – and the bag is part of the subscription, every month we get a cute new design. This month’s is intended for party time, and to my surprise? Its fuzzy!  And whats inside?

And the bag is FUZZY!
Its so FUZZY!! 😀
  • Ouai Wave spray – I actually have a bottle of this in my bathroom right now! I received it from another subscription box a few months back. It has a lovely smell and when spritzed on damp hair, I find it does help encourage more waviness in my  hair, especially if i let it dry in a bun or braid. So even though this isn’t new for me, I’m definitely happy to get another bottle.
  • Nyx prismatic shadow in Punk Heart – I am no stranger to Nyx cosmetics, but I had not yet tried the prismatic line, and after this quick swatch I’m delighted to have it! This shadow is a rich amethyst with a gorgeous sheen, and the powder is a soft, smooth texture that was easy to swatch and I’m sure will be easy to apply and blend.
Nyx shadows have a cute bow detail on the package.
Nyx shadows have a cute bow detail on the package.
  • Ciate London Liquid Velvet Matte Lipstick in Pin Up – While I’ve heard of Ciate London, this product is totally new to me in all but reputation. I’ve heard excellent things about this company’s matte lipstick, and this is a generous sample in a pretty warm berry shade that I’m looking forward to trying out.
dries down to a matte finish more quickly on the lips
Swatchy!
  • Jersey Shore Cosmetics Peppermint Moisture Rich Hydrating Balm – I think I’ve gotten a hand cream or possibly another balm from this company in the past, but clearly not that memorable. Still, I like mint lip balms, and especially in winter its nice to have some extra on hand.
  • tarte cosmetics deluxe maracuja oil – i’ve heard loads about tarte’s oil, mostly about how versatile it is – face, skin, nails, hair etc can apparently all benefit – but what i was pleased with when I opened this up is that its nearly scent-free and absorbs quickly, but not so quickly that you can’t spread it out evenly. I use a serum or face oil as a part of my skin care routine, so I may try subbing this in to see how it compares.

All in all, this was a pretty good box. While I did get some familiar items, everything here is good colors, good quality, and products with strong reputations. Good variety of items too, hair & skin care as well as cosmetics; December was definitely a good month for Ipsy.

 

Next up: The Allure Beauty Box. This one comes in an actual box, every month you get the same bright red box, but they are very well constructed and could be useful for storage, or as gift boxes. One thing unique to this box is the “mini-magazine”, which is simply a booklet with an entry for each item in the box. I really like this because they often provide advice on how to best use the product, and they give thorough explanations of what each item is. While it’s always a simple task to look things up online, I rather enjoy the experience of sitting down with a new Allure box and opening each product and reading about them without having to hunt down information on the products one by one.  So what did I get?

allure

  • Coastal Salt & Soul Heavenly Hand cream in Mediterranean Citrus – they are not kidding about the citrus! When I opened the seal on this lotion, a wonderful bright citrus scent hit me instantly. I am always in need of hand cream in the winter, and a bright cheerful scent like this is ideal for the dreary winter days ahead.
  • European Wax Center Oh My Brow brow highlighter – This product is new to me and honestly already quite nifty. Its a chubby pencil highlight that goes on very easily, it has a smooth even texture, and a flattering champagne sheen. Whats especially nice about this is that on the other end of the pencil, there is a smudger tip! Hidden under a smaller cap is a soft black sponge tip that makes quick work of blending. I love that kind of convenience in a product, makes it ideal for on-the-go!
This has a nice soft glow without being too obvious or glittery
This has a nice soft glow without being too obvious or glittery
  • Tula Advanced Neck Cream – Honestly this item surprised me, it never occurred to me to have a separate cream just for your neck, I usually just use my face moisturizer on it. But what the heck, its fun to try new stuff.
  • Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre –  I thought this was just a moisturizer, but apparently you can use it as a cleanser or shave cream, so I may save this for travel!
  • Beautyblender Liquid Blendercleanser – As a long time beauty blender user, i’m delighted to have a good sized sample of this to try out. I have a small solid version of their cleanser I got in a beauty blender multipack, and it works very well, so i’m curious to see how it compares to the liquid
  • Skinceuticals Blemish & Age Defense serum – This I am definitely excited to try, its a skin oil that helps with breakouts AND signs of aging. I have a serum right now that is supposed to work on various skin problems like breakouts, but it does not address aging, so it will be cool to compare to this one.

This month’s Allure box is full of things that are new to me! The cleanser is the only thing I was previously familiar with, so its great to learn about some new stuff I might not have found otherwise.

Last and certainly not least, its the Sephora Play! Box.

Sephora’s Play! box is relatively new to the scene, but it is already popular thanks to their name recognition. The subscription is $10/month, and arrives in a black & white striped box; inside of which there is a cloth, drawstring pouch (each month with a new design) holding all your samples:

sephora-play

  • Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Always Red – A long wearing, matte finish lip color, Sephora recently released a “vault” of 40 colors of this product, so I’m not surprised to receive this.  Its lightweight, and its a nice color that would probably work on most people.
Swatch: this is a nice bright red
Swatch: this is a nice bright red
The brush - you can see how its somewhat flat but curves at the end
The brush!
  • Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo – I don’t know much about Drybar’s products, but I love getting trial size dry shampoos. This one seems to have a strong smell, but I’ll still try it out.

This month’s Sephora box is exciting! The majority of the stuff in here I may have heard of, but its almost entirely composed of things I wanted to try, which is awesome.

All in all, December was a good month subscription-wise. Since I didn’t really feel like any of the items I received were failures this month, choosing a favorite simply comes down to which box I am the most happy about, and I think this month that would have to be Sephora Play!  Even though I do not particularly care for the perfume from that box, everything else I received was either something I knew of and wanted to try or something that I am now looking forward to trying.

Do you disagree with my ruling? Do you have a favorite subscription box I’ve never mentioned? Tell me about it in the comments!

Subscription showdown tally: Sephora: 1, Ipsy 1, Allure 0*

* Allure has been my favorite before, but that was prior to my 3 box showdown format, so I did not include it in this tally.

 

Disclaimer: I pay for these subscriptions with my own money.

Mask Me Monday: Leaders Coconut Gel Mask with Orange

Its Monday again, so its time to review a face mask! Here’s this week’s selection:

IMG_20160821_214133311

The Leaders Coconut Gel Mask with Orange, which I received from Allure Beauty Box in June.

What they say about it:This natural coconut gel mask with orange extract brightens the skin and improves skin texture by cleansing and tightening the pores. Orange extract is abundant in Vitamin C which boosts collagen and brightens skin, while AHA improves texture by exfoliating.

Recommended For: Dull/Uneven Skin Tones + Blemishes

Though this mask says it is made of coconut gel, it applies in one piece, which is generally referred to as a sheet mask. These have gotten very popular lately, but I often have trouble positioning them, and keeping them in place. This one was just as awkward to open and place as other I’ve tried,  but, unlike some masks I’ve tried in the past, this one was not constantly dripping the whole time, and I didn’t have trouble keeping it on my face, so those factors definitely raise my opinion of this mask.  But, if we’re going to talk sheet masks we have to address this one fact:

Hello from Nightmare Town!
Can you stand the glamour on this blog?

Yeah, Sheet masks can look freaky and weird when you’re wearing them. But honestly, covering your face with colored goo doesn’t look totally normal either, so  I guess its just a question of whats comfortable for you.

This mask recommends you leave it on for 10-20 minutes, and once I had it in place, it was actually comfortable enough that I easily let 20 minutes pass before removing it.  With this mask, you’re directed to “gently pat your face until all serum is absorbed” after removing it.   This didn’t take too long, maybe 15 seconds at most, but it left my face feeling a little tacky, even five minutes later. I did notice a nice sheen to my skin though, and it looked brighter and fresher.  It wasn’t until I washed my face to get ready for bed that the tackiness subsided, but at that point I noticed that my skin did feel a bit softer and smoother.

Overall, this is a decent mask. It was a little difficult to apply, but it was comfortable to wear and easy to remove, and I did feel it provided some improvement to the skin. It was nice, but I didn’t find the experience or result all that noteworthy, so its not likely I will go out of my way to repurchase.

Disclaimer: I received this mask in my Allure Beauty Box, which I pay for. I have received no compensation from Allure or Leaders for this review.