All posts by Laura

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.

Review it: Smashbox X-rated mascara

I love mascara samples, because they are one of the samples that really allow you to get a feel for the product.

I received the Smashbox X-rated mascara in my May Ipsy bag.  To refresh your memory, here’s a shot of the tube and brush:

Ta da!!
Ta da!!

So what is this mascara about? In Smashbox’s own words:

Smashbox’s Triple Threat brush was designed with 3 deep channels to hold the perfect amount of formula for mega-coating lashes plus 3 rows of bristles to isolate and extend lashes while Tripod fibers wrap around each lash for amplified volume. Maximize all 3 sides by rolling brush up and out as you work from base to tip of lashes, taking lashes from PG to X-Rated.

I happen to really like the rolling method for applying mascara, so that appealed to me right away. I find rolling the brush up and out through the lashes really helps not only get a good thorough application, but helps avoid clumps. ( If you’ve never tried it, I would warn you to try it when you’re not in a rush, it can take a few tries to get the hang of the movement and not smudge mascara on yourself. )

Personally, I have kind of short lashes that are rather straight on their own. So I had a little trouble getting you a before shot where you could even see my lashes, but I persevered:

[insert obvious eye pun here]
[insert obvious eye pun here]
As you can see, I do have lashes, but they don’t go terribly far. However. After curling my lashes and applying this mascara:

Pow! Hello there!
Pow! Hello there!

And this is only one coat. This mascara dries pretty quickly, so if you like building up multiple coats, I think this would work well for that. I tend to keep it light, as i’m usually wearing my makeup to work.

The next thing i always consider with mascara is how it wears. I have trouble keeping eye makeup in place, and mascara is definitely one of the culprits there.  I often get smudges below the bottom lash line, even when I’m only wearing mascara on the top lashes. I’m happy to report this mascara was NOT guilty of that dreaded smudge! After a full 12 hour day where I even got sweaty (this is August people, it happens) this mascara happily stayed where it belonged!

For a mascara that does not list itself as waterproof, I am super impressed. Usually to avoid that smudge and keep the curl in my lashes, I have to reach for waterproof mascaras, but this one holds its own beautifully. This is a mascara I would not only buy again, but recommend to friends!

 

Disclaimer: I received this mascara in my Ipsy glam bag, which I pay for. I have received no compensation from Ipsy or Smashbox for this review.

Mask Me Monday: Dead Sea Wash-off Mask

Face masks have become quite popular recently. However,  face masks have been around a long time, even Cleopatra was known for using one made with egg whites to keep her face looking youthful. The search for the best skin care has caused some crazy ingredients to be used in facials; in the 1500-1600s there was lead, in the 1900’s there was raw meat and radium being utilized, and even today, there are facials being done with bird poop and snail mucus. (yes, those are real.) But many of us would prefer to keep things a little bit simpler than that.  (I much prefer to leave snails & birds out of my beauty routine, but hey, do what you like.)

If you prefer the less exciting route like myself, all sorts of face masks can be found in pretty much any drugstore, department store, and of course specialty spots like Sephora.  Since I receive a few beauty box subscriptions (face masks are a popular sample!), and I am always on the lookout for that Amazing Product that will give me insanely perfect skin; I find myself with a hearty supply of masks ready and waiting to be used. So, as a way to push myself to use them more often, and post more often, I am introducing Mask Me Monday! Today’s mask is the Global Beauty Care Dead Sea Wash-Off Mask.  I received this in my March Ipsy Glam bag. So lets check it out!

This sample is a full ounce of product!
ooooh, muddy!

According to their own description, this mask is “formulated with a unique blend of salts & minerals from the Dead Sea in Israel. This gentle mud treatment draws out dirt and impurities from your skin and peels away dead skin cells.”

This mask claims to:

  • Helps to restore elasticity and fortify the skin with essential moisturizers
  • Stimulates and beautifies your skin and body
  • Deep cleansing formula is good for all skin types

The ingredients are: aqua (water), diatomaceous earth, polyvinyl alcohol, maris sal (dead sea salt), algin, dimethicone, glycoproteins, beta-glucan, cetyl alcohol, betaine, l-ascorbic acid, carbomer, triethanolamine, dmdm hydantoin, parfum, carbon black.

I have heard about diatomaceous earth (or DE) before, so I did a little looking, and found some information about it. DE  is made up of fossilized, hard-shelled algae called Diatoms, and has a very high Silica content. This makes a lot of sense as an ingredient to me, given that this is a Dead Sea mask.  DE has an abrasive quality which is good for exfoliating, but the particles are fine enough that they are not likely to cause skin irritation, and the silica content is able to sort of “sweep” the dirt that may be clogging the pores.  At least that is what I was able to learn after I did some digging.  Since it was the second ingredient listed (after water), I wanted to know what its purpose was.  I was also curious about the polyvinyl alcohol, since it came before the actual Dead Sea Salt in the ingredients list. A quick search informed me that this is a thickener and/or binding product often used in cosmetics; given how much I liked the texture of this mask, I’m ok with that.

The very first thing I noticed is the color, a deep grey, almost blue color. Also, despite being a “mud” treatment, this has a very fresh scent, it actually reminded me of body lotion or soap, something with a soft, clean scent that wasn’t at all overwhelming.  Also, for the sake of truly showing you what this mask is like….

Such GLAMOUR!
GLAMOUR!

I really enjoyed this mask. Not only was the mask easy to apply and comfortable to wear the entire time (does not dry up and get tight, nor did the mask drip or run in any way), but it rinsed of very quickly and easily. And my skin felt smooth and soft and refreshed after using it. This sample pack was a full ounce, one application only used about one third to half of the packet, so I’ll be able to get at least one more use out of it, which is always nice in a sample.  When I looked it up to see what the purchase price would be, I found out the full size of this mask is five ounces, so you would get quite a lot of uses from it. While its price seemed to vary from site to site, all of the sites I found had it for under $20. So i’d call this mask a pretty good value. 

For me, the most important aspects of a face mask are ease of application & wear, comfort, and skin results.  With those factors in mind, this mask gets top marks from me. It was easy to apply, easy to wear, easy to remove, and left my skin feeling much better than before I used it.  So, I would call this is an Easy mask: low effort with solid results.

Does this mask sound good to you? Do you have a favorite face mask you think I should try out? Let me know in the comments!

Subscription Box Showdown! Ipsy vs Allure Beauty Box vs Sephora Play!

This month, I thought it would be fun to compare all three of the subscriptions I got, head to head (to head?) and declare a best of the month.  Lets just dive in and have a look!

To start off, here’s Ipsy:

Dig that shiny bag! :)
Dig that shiny bag! 🙂

This month I received:

theBalm Cosmetics Meet Matt(e) Trimony eyeshadow in Matt Kumar – a small version of one of the eyeshadows from this palette, this is a generous sample and I know from experience, a good quality shadow. I own a handful of the Balm products, and they never disappoint.

bareminerals Gen Nude Matte Liquid Lipcolor in Swag – this is a liquid lipstick that dries down to a matte finish for that long wearing style that has been very popular lately.

Sedona Lace Synthetic Blender, EB13 – I’ve only heard of the Sedona Lace brand from some makeup artists online, so its neat to get one to try out. The brush feels solidly constructed and the bristles are soft but not too flimsy or sparse, overall the quality seems very good.

Not Soap, Radio When life gives you one too many lemons (and you’ve misplaced your happy place) joy inducing hand/body lotion – and yes, that is the actual name of the product! I love getting hand cream in these boxes! The sample sizes are always great to throw in my bag, and this one has an especially nice texture, absorbing very quickly, and it has a great lemon scent to it, so that was a big favorite for me this month.

Bellapierre Cosmetics Banana Setting Powder –  I’ve gotten products from Bellapierre from Ipsy before. One was a loose powder blush that I quite like, so I am looking forward to trying out their setting powder, its quite soft and blended very smoothly when I swatched it. (see the swatch below with other swatches from this bag.)

I’m a big fan of the Balm, and do not have this palette, so getting a color from it was pretty cool. Its a nice, warm shade:

Nice smooth texture and blends easily!
Nice smooth texture and blends easily!

I’m only loosely familiar with bareminerals, but everything I’ve tried from them has been very nice quality. This liquid lipstick seems to be no exception. It has no noticeable scent, and the color is a soft, neutral pink I am sure to get plenty of wear from:

A decent sized sample, and very nice packaging!
A decent sized sample, and very nice packaging!

And of course, the setting powder:

Banana powder!
Banana powder! (named for its yellowish tint- does not contain banana!)

This month from Ipsy I also redeemed points for a bonus – a very nice one too!

Yay Bonus!
Yay Bonus!

With the Ipsy subscription you have the opportunity to earn points by answering short surveys about each item you get. The points are not the only benefit, your selections each month are also affected by your survey responses, so if you like a brand (like I mentioned Bellapierre), its likely they’ll send you other samples from it, or send you similar products to ones you like.  You can also earn points from sharing your bag on social media, or referring friends to sign up. (I get most of my points from the review surveys.) I was lucky enough to have enough points saved up when they announced they were offering the TooFaced Born this Way concealer as a bonus for July, before it was even available for sale.

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I guessed at my color – its always hard to tell online isn’t it? – and it looks like i guessed well.(Obviously it doesn’t match my hand, but it matched my face very well) This concealer is very pigmented but super thin and lightweight, and I haven’t noticed any creasing so far. As you can see it came in a glass tube with a doe-foot applicator. A full-sized, high-end concealer is pretty sweet bonus item in my book.

Overall the Ipsy selection this month was pretty fun. It was a mix of brands I was familiar with and brands that I’m not as familiar with, and none of the items were a repeat.  The bag was also a mix of useful and fun items, which I always like.

Next up, Sephora Play!

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Loving that popsicle totebag – so cute!

This month included:

beautyblender – blotterazi: This is a flat sponge designed to replace blotting papers. I actually already own the full size of this, which is a compact with mirror and two sponges, so its nice to have an extra sponge for my compact! This is a cool sample to send out, because it is exactly what you get in the full size product, simply without the compact and the backup sponge, so you can really get an idea of whether this product is for you.

First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser:  I have used some really fantastic moisturizers from this brand so I’m happy to get one of their cleansers. This has a nice creamy feel to it, and the scent reminds me of ivory soap. A travel size of a mild cleanser good for all skin types.

Ouai Wave Spray: a texture mist for hair, for those low-maintenance, soft wavy looks often referred to as “beachy waves”. I love doing this sort of easy-going hair style, so I am looking forward to testing this one out. This has a light, clean scent to it; many sprays of this style tend to have beachy scents like coconut, this one feels a little more versatile to me.

Smashbox Photofinish Primer: a foundation primer, and  its one I’ve gotten samples of a number of times before, it is very welcome, as it is a fantastic primer! It smooths the skin texture and helps your foundation last.

Nest Fragrances in Citrine: Every Play box includes a fragrance sample. This one claims that it layers fresh lotus flower, freesia, bright citrus with a base of “precious” woods. This is a clean, bright floral scent without being overly cloying. I don’t usually like floral perfumes but this one I could actually see myself wearing. The vial has a sprayer on top, which I also really appreciate.

Benefit Cosmetics Dew the Hoola soft matte liquid bronzer: This is a light cream that gives a soft bronze tone to the skin without any shimmer or sheen.  I’ve never done much with bronzers, so I’m pleased to get a sample to play with and try the look.

The only product with color to it in this box, so here’s a quick swatch:

Some blended in and some straight out of the tube.
Some blended in and some straight out of the tube.

This is a pretty nice selection of products, and in my opinion, seasonally appropriate. The cosmetic related items are all things I would use in warmer weather, the blotter, the primer and the bronzer. The hair product is designed for giving your hair that “beach day” look, ideal for weather where its too hot to heat-style. The fragrance is bright, clean and not too heavy, definitely a good choice for summer. And the skin product, a gentle face wash in a convenient size, is perfect for a season when you might not only need something gentle for your face, but something portable!

And finally, Allure Beauty Box!

Lots to see here!
Lots to see here!

This month’s items:

Smashbox Photofinish Primer: No, I didn’t accidentally type it twice, I actually got this sample in two of my subscriptions this month! As I said above, this is a wonderful product, and I know I’m definitely not the first or last person on the internet to talk about liking this primer. Since I became a fan of this primer through a sample, I am never surprised to see it pop up, and never disappointed with it either.

Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Color Balm in Super Strawberry: I have tried this line of lip crayons before, but I’ve never had this shade. These are very moisturizing, sheer lip color with no noticeable fragrance or taste, but very comfortable to wear.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II : a nighttime skin serum that claims to reduce signs of aging. I like using serums, especially in summer, since they absorb quickly and you can layer them with other products more easily. This serum is no exception. It has a very light consistency and absorbs very fast; there is a subtle scent when you first apply but it seems to fade quickly as the product sinks in.  I’ve received some other items from this line before, so I’m curious to try this one out.

GlamGlow SuperMud Clearing Treatment: a facial mask for oily or combination skin that claims to clear up skin imperfections. I have been hearing about how amazing the products from this brand are for ages now, but their high prices have kept me away. I was legitimately excited to receive this, and  can’t wait to use it!

La Mer The Moisturizing Soft Cream:  This is a luxury skin cream, which claims to provide intense moisturization and restore radiance to the skin.  The sample is small, but given its high prices ($170 for one ounce!); that is not too surprising. The cream is rich but spreads easily and absorbs nice and quick. I think I will be able to get a decent couple of uses from it, and I can come back to you guys with a full review and let you all know if I think this cream is worth the hype (and price)!

In my hand for scale, look at the tiny cute jar!
In my hand for scale, look at the tiny cute jar!
A quick peek at this mask also revealed that it smells great, like tea!
A quick peek at this mask treatment also revealed that it smells great, like tea!
A lovely sheer berry color, perfect for summertime
A lovely sheer berry color, perfect for summertime

Not going to lie, Allure’s box impressed me this month. All the products are things I’m happy to receive, and frankly, fancier than I expect from these subscriptions, which is pretty cool. This box is pretty heavy on skin care, so the variety is not as exciting as the other boxes, but despite that I was still very pleased with this month’s selections. When I reviewed the mini magazine however, my opinion of the box this month dropped. It turns out there was another item available this month, but it had to be redeemed in person at a Nordstrom’s. There is no Nordstrom’s convenient to my home, so I was never able to pick it up. For me, one of the major benefits of these subscriptions is to arrive home from work and have a happy little parcel of new things to try waiting for me. Discovering I missed out on an item because I wasn’t prepared to go on a road trip to track it down is rather disappointing.

Deciding on a winner this month actually took me quite a while, but when I really thought about it, I realized that this month’s winner is definitely Ipsy!  This month’s bag was full of interesting and fun products I was excited to try when I opened it up, and that excitement definitely put this subscription above the other two boxes.  The Sephora Play! had some great products this month, and definitely kept my interest, but just didn’t have the same “wow” factor as Ipsy. Allure nearly had it, as I’m definitely looking forward to trying those samples; but my disappointment in the in-store item I missed out on really drove my opinion of the box down for the month.

All in all, I still enjoy all three subscriptions, but right now, Ipsy, I am totally playing favorites for you!

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

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

 

Review time: Covergirl Oh Sugar! lip balms

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When I initially saw these, I dismissed them as a regular lip balm with a cute advertising gimmick. When I received one in a sample box in the very neutral Caramel shade, I was surprised. The moisturizing effect was a decent,lasting one, and though it was very subtle I could see that it left a bit of color on the lip. And I was pleasantly surprised by the scent, very sweet, not quite cake or fruity, but absolutely making the “Oh Sugar!” name make sense.

So, when I forgot my makeup bag one day and was in dire need of something for my lips, I got  2 more shades; Jelly and Gumdrop. I’ve been using them non stop. They provide a beautiful sheer color that manages to remain natural looking, never too bright or too glossy.  Jelly is more of a pink, while Gumdrop is a sheer berry. This makes them a quick favorite for summer, when I tend to wear less makeup and want sheer, easy to maintain lip colors.  The type you can reapply without a mirror and feel confident that it looks fine.

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from left to right, Caramel, Jelly and Gumdrop

Overall, a great lipbalm that I highly recommend!

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Do you have a favorite tinted balm? Or a go-to summer lip product? Tell me about it!