All posts by Laura

Battle of the Beauty Boxes! Allure vs. Sephora

The June beauty box from Allure and the Sephora Play! box arrived within days of each other, so I thought, rather than just review them, why not compare them?

Who will win the month?
Who will win the month?

What Allure sent me:

What Sephora sent me:

First comparison is dead even: both boxes sent six items. One might argue that the Allure box has a lesser value because it includes a drugstore bronzer and a one-use sheet mask.  However, Sephora’s fragrance sample is unfortunately the same simple vial you would get for free if you requested a sample in-store, and the mascara sample is even smaller than the travel version of the same mascara they sell in store, which goes for a nearly drugstore level price.

In variety of items, I would have to say the boxes are pretty close there as well. Even though Allure sent two products from the same skincare line, they have different purposes; and the remaining items are varied enough to keep the box interesting. Sephora also did well on variety, sending three different makeup related products, a skin care product, a hair care product and a fragrance.

Lets take a closer look at the products:

Kardashian Cabana Bronzer
Kardashian Cabana Bronzer-as you can see, there’s a nice hint of shimmer!

This bronzer from the Allure box is a standard powder bronzer. The powder is silky and goes on smoothly, and the three stripes of color in the compact allow for a lot of control – you can adjust how light or dark it goes on by controlling which colors you put your brush into.

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Here we have the serum bronzer from the Sephora box. As you can see this is a lightweight liquid that you blend into the skin. I included several shots because I realized you can control how dark this appears as well, it starts out dark, and the more you blend it, the lighter it gets. I also noted that, given how thin the product is, you could probably use this to deepen a liquid foundation, to compensate for a change of skin tone due to sun exposure. This product is extremely lightweight and had the barest hint of a sheen to it, definitely not as much shimmer as the powder bronzer.

Both boxes also included a hair product. Here I initially gave the advantage to Sephora, because they had provided me with a sample size (indeed, handy purse size of 1oz) of a product I already use often. This is a simple cream product that you apply when hair is still damp, and it helps the hair to air dry into a smoother state, more like what you normally need a blow dryer to achieve (at least with my fine hair!).  As you can imagine, this stuff is very welcome to receive as the warm weather comes in, because I am not using my heat styling tools much at all.

Don't Blow it by Bumble & Bumble
Don’t Blow it by Bumble & Bumble

However, the Allure product is not to be dismissed. First of all, this shampoo smells EXCELLENT, and I say that as someone that doesn’t even like mangoes! I’d point out that its not just scent, this shampoo is made with actual mango butter as one of the moisturizers.  The other point is simply quantity. I can say without a doubt, this is the largest shampoo sample I have ever gotten, at 3.36oz! As someone with long hair, I appreciate a shampoo sample that can last beyond 2 hair washings.

I CAN have the mango! (if you get that reference, bless you.)
I CAN have the mango! (if you get that reference, thank you.) 😉

Lets look at the rest of the Sephora items. The Sephora box provided a perfume sample. While I did point out this is the sort of sample you can get for free in store, this happens to be a particularly lovely fragrance, so I don’t mind as much. The notes of the cologne are: Italian Bergamot, Grapefruit Leaves, Green Pear, Apple, Ivory Gardenia, Crushed Violet Petals, Jasmine, Tuberose, Blue Iris, Blonde Wood, and White Musk.

Tocca's packaging is very pretty, even for samples.
Tocca’s packaging is very pretty, even for samples.

Next in the Sephora box, Benefit’s They’re Real! mascara. While this is a small sample, I would point out that this is a high end mascara, and an extremely popular one. With good reason! I have used it myself, and this mascara provides excellent length with minimal clumping issues. While I have experienced a bit of smudging with this mascara, my eyes are particularly hard on non-waterproof mascaras, and most people I’ve heard from about this mascara do not experience that issue.

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This brush is great at picking out every lash!

The penultimate product from the Sephora box is a a facial sunscreen, the tarte Tarteguard. I have heard a lot of people rave about this product, so I am curious to see how it matches up to my go-to facial sunscreen – perhaps a drugstore vs. high end comparison will be coming soon.  In tarte’s own words, “Tarteguard is tarte’s first sunscreen lotion to deliver the powerful protection of a non-chemical SPF 30 sunscreen, but that feels like a luxurious moisturizer that can be applied in the morning or before sun exposure. Ultra-lightweight and breathable with a signature fresh, ocean’s lily scent that feels like a day at the spa”.

Regardless of anything else, the packaging is a great color!
Regardless of anything else, the packaging is a great color!

Finally from Sephora, we have the Becca backlighting primer. Becca is a brand that’s quickly become famous for having high quality products, in particular their highlighting products. So I am looking forward to trying their take on an illuminating primer. In their own words, “Backlighting acts as an instant filter, creating a diffused, soft-focused radiance that allows your complexion to catch light for a glowing look. Infused with Becca’s proprietary blend of crushed pearls, this primer achieves a lit-from-within, healthy-looking effect. ” While I think you can quite clearly see sheen on my hand in this picture, I do not think it adequately captures the serious punch of shimmer that it gave off in person!

Shine on you crazy diamond!
Shine on you crazy diamond!

The Allure box still has a few things to share as well. There’s the Pur-lisse Blue Lotus moisturizer and eye cream. According to their website, “Blue Lotus extract is a powerhouse antioxidant with anti-inflammatory benefits known to combat against free radical damage.” Of course, the claims sound good, but I won’t know until I try it out. I kind of like getting complementary products like this, and the samples are generous enough to give the products a good trial run, so you can see if they benefit your skin or not.IMG_20160622_235415859 IMG_20160622_235429356

Next in the beauty box, a sheet mask by Leaders 7. Honestly, their website explains it best: “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.” Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? While I have tried a number of sheet masks, and still have a handful in my collection to use, this one stands out to me because it indicates one of the longest wait times I’ve seen: 30-40 minutes. I do not know if this is a good or a bad thing, but i am certainly curious if this proves more effective than a mask that directs you to leave it on for 10 minutes.

I also suspect this will smell great, like oranges!
I also suspect this will smell great, like oranges!

And finally, from the Allure box, the most colorful item out of this whole post. a polish from Julep. While I initally considered this a standard item to be included (meaning, just a nail polish), when I looked it up, I was surprised at the description: “Breakthrough Oxygen Technology powers this fast-drying, long-lasting nail polish to get nails healthy and more beautiful at the same time. Our proprietary 5-free, vegan-friendly formula also includes strengthening Hexanal and antioxidant green coffee extract.” Pretty big claims for a little bottle of polish. I am looking forward to testing this out, and the bright, pretty metallic purple color definitely is part of that!

"Orchid Irridescent Chrome" apparently - I just say its pretty!
“Orchid Irridescent Chrome” apparently – I just say its pretty!

And now, as in every battle, a winner must be declared. These are both pretty great boxes, and initially I had some trouble trying to determine who would be the June winner here. In considering the pros and cons of each, I asked myself why I signed up for these subscriptions in the first place. The main reason I like getting these boxes is I love trying out new products; whether its a new type of product altogether or simply a brand I haven’t used before.

And when I look at it from that perspective, the June winner of this Battle of the Boxes is: The Allure Beauty Box. 

While they are both excellent boxes, this month Allure simply delivered more unique things I haven’t seen or tried before.  While I do like the items I received from Sephora, I was already quite familiar with 3 out of the 6 items sent.

I hope you enjoyed this breakdown, and if you disagree with my winner, please tell me why in the comments below, I’d love to hear your perspective!

Disclaimer: I pay for these subscriptions myself.

June Ipsy Bag!

This month’s bag had some serious winners!

Some new discoveries and even an old favorite!
Some new discoveries and even an old favorite!

To start off, the item I was most excited about, this eyeshadow from Urban Decay, in the shade Lounge. This is a duo-chrome style shadow that is reddish-brown topped with teal-green shimmer.  The shimmer and shift of this shadow is absolutely gorgeous, but it is incredibly hard to capture with a standard phone’s camera. So, like in my last post, I got some much needed help from Stats Kravetz Photography. All the photos of this eyeshadow are by Stas Kravetz Photography.

reflective green copy

these are both the same eyeshadow!
these are both the same eyeshadow!

Urban Decay really does some great eye-shadows, so I’m quite happy to receive this little beauty.As you can see, depending on the light and the angle you look at it from, this shadow’s appearance can totally change. And just to help show that these colors do exist together,here’s a swatch:

reflective 2 copy
So pretty!

Next up, is the cutest little bottle of nail polish. Formula X nail polish in the shade Wing woman to be exact:

Tiny polish bottle!
Tiny polish bottle!

I know some people would not be happy to get a mini polish, but as someone that does not wear a lot of nail polish, I’m sort of hoping this is one I might actually use up before it goes bad. I’m glad its such a fun bright color, perfect for summer!

Next, we have this nice little blush/bronzer/highlighter compact from Crown Brush. This is a sample size, and the standard product is slightly different in appearance. 

definitely sample sized, but plenty of product to use!
definitely sample sized, but plenty of product to use!

They do make of point of explaining how you can use the three shades separately,but in a compact this small I think its a bit easier to just swirl them together, and that produces a very pretty shade that works very well for summer.

The three combine to make a very pretty, soft, shimmery color
The three combine to make a very pretty, soft, shimmery color

Then we have this little compact of cream lip color from Liptini, in the color Pinktini. (Maybe over using that naming convention a wee bit?) This is a satin-finish lip color, in a nice neutral mauve-y pink. According to their site, it can be used on the cheeks as well, and the color would definitely work well for both.

a great every day color!
a great every day color!

The final item is another one I was happy to get, but not because I wanted to try it, but because I was happy to have more of it! This is Marc Anthony Dream Waves Beach Spray.

This stuff smells AMAZING
This stuff smells AMAZING

This product is also great for summer because you can spray it into your hair after a shower, and it helps the hair air dry in good condition, and encourages any natural curl your hair has (my hair is a bit wavy, so this works out very well for me).

Overall I am quite happy with this month. While nothing was full sized, the samples are all quite ample, and good quality products. Nice one Ipsy. 🙂

If you enjoy my ipsy posts and think you’d like it too, you can sign up here – I will get some bonus points if you do! (This is a standard customer feature, I have no special arrangement with them.)

DIsclaimer: I purchased this subscription myself.

 

Review! Jesse’s Girl Liquid Liners

Well this is exciting; I not only have a review for you today, but it is the first time I was sent products for review purposes! Today we’re talking about liquid liner. I know a lot of people that are not comfortable with makeup find liquid liner too scary, as it seems so bold and permanent. I am here to tell you that liquid liner is totally usable, and in fact, can be pretty awesome and fun.

So today, we have Jesse’s Girl liquid liner, but not just one, we’ve got their FULL LINE of colors!

Lovely packing on these, and not hard to open either!

I have actually used the black liner from this line (the center one) before. I received it in an Ipsy bag a while back and became a fast fan, so when the opportunity to receive these to review came up, I was DELIGHTED! But the reason for the review came about because of the three colors to the right – they are brand new to the line – and they are gorgeous!

out of the package and ready to party!
out of the package and ready to party!
Swatch time!
Swatch time!

From left to right, these are Snow White, Violet, and Blue Hawaii. As you can see from the swatches, despite being very light colors, these have excellent opacity. I had been a little concerned when I opened the box, but these swatches instantly put my concerns to rest. They are opaque in one swipe, and the brush is SUPER fine, doing detail work with these is a breeze! From their website: “With the ability to create lines as fine as 1mm… our Super Fine Applicator makes it possible to apply the most precise lines for your desired looks.” I must agree with their copy. The brush tip is very well constructed, the fine tip shows no hint of bending or fraying.  The colors go on smooth and evenly, and once they dry (which does not take long!) they stay in place very well.

This doesn’t just apply to the new colors by any means.

Seriously, these go on so nicely!
Seriously, these go on so nicely!

The other colors in the line are Olive, Dark Brown, Blue and Black. They all go on just as beautifully. These have a slightly different tip than the new shades, but they are all super easy to control and apply. These shades here have a bit of a sheen, like a satin finish, where the new colors appear to all dry down to a matte finish.

I’ve always said the pen style liquid liner was the easiest to use, and these certainly help my case. They go on super easy, no excess pressure is needed, the pen never drags, or drips, or splays out.

All the colors together
All the colors together!

Another major benefit of these really nice liners is that they are very affordable, according to the website, $6.99, and the line can also be found at Rite-Aid.  These liners really seems to have everything in my eyes. Good colors, good application, good staying power and affordability! I plan to make these a staple in my collection.

I would like to point out that the high quality photos in this  post are all thanks to Stas Kravetz Photography, and I’m very grateful for his efforts!

Disclaimer: Jessie’s Girl sent me these liners for review purposes.

Review time: L’oreal True Match Lumi Cushion Compact

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I’ve been hearing about cushion compacts for a while now, first from Korean beauty brands, and now brands more local to me are joining in. Now that they’re hitting my local stores, I thought I would try one out.

This comes in a large plastic compact, when first open it you see a nice, large mirror, and a thin, soft applicator sponge with a ribbon on the back (makes it  much easier to hold and control.)

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And here’s the famous cushion! The tray where this sponge sits opens with an audible snap, revealing the actual product. Its nice when dealing with a liquid product to see that it seals so well.

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There are brief directions printed on the back, with images.

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The first time I used this, I was a little confused. The process seemed too short, surely I missed something? But no, one of the major benefits of this format is how quickly you can apply it.  This is a light coverage foundation for sure, but it still is able to smooth out the appearance of the skin for a more perfected look.

The thinner, less absorbent applicator is actually quite nice to use, and make blending the foundation into the skin very quick and easy.  This is a great foundation for when you don’t want a lot of coverage and/or you need to get your face done quickly.

Even though it is a liquid, this foundation does not require much setting. If you have oily skin you will probably want to set it with powder to help it last longer. I have combination skin, so I generally only need to set my T-zone when using this foundation.

Overall, I find this a very easy to use and likable product, and one I will likely repurchase when I finish it.

Have you tried this product? Tell me what you think! Is there a better cushion foundation I should try? Let me know in the comments!

Disclosure: I purchased this product myself.

Whats in my May Ipsy bag?

Destination: MY FACE (my jokes need work)
Destination: MY FACE (my jokes need work)

This month’s ipsy doesn’t have the most colorful items, but its still a solid selection, one made even better by the fun and unique bag we got this month. Not only is the pattern great, but the envelope style opening is unique (especially among ipsy bags, most have a top zipper) and a fun way to change things up.

What did I get this month?

First up, the Organic Pharmacy antioxidant lip balm. This is a basic, clear lip balm with a thin texture. Its packaging is a familiar plastic tube with angle tip applicator. Its fine, and its handy to have, but not ground-breaking. I will probably throw it in one of my bags for use on the go.

Nice, but likely forgettable
Nice, but likely forgettable

Next, the Bella Pierre lipliner. I feel like lip liner is something incredibly useful that I am always forgetting to add to my collection, so I like receiving neutral ones in these subscriptions (Sephora Play! helped me out with this too!) This is a nice neutral pinky-brown, and goes on very creamy and smooth. Unlike the sephora sample (from tarte), this is a full-size pencil, which is nice, because I don’t have to wonder if I will run out of product mid-application.

A nice simple lip pencil, the gel texture is very nice.
Its a nice pencil, no drag at all when applying.

I feel like hair oil can be a sort of polarizing product. Some people can’t live without it, some people won’t touch it! I haven’t really formed an opinion about the stuff myself, so I’m glad to have a small sample of this oil from Eva NYC to try out and play with. The oil has a very light, clean, almost powdery scent.

Will I like it? The SUSPENSE!
Will I like it? The SUSPENSE!

I was actually excited to get this next item, because its something I’m familiar with. I have gotten a single of these shadows before, and I’m happy to say the texture of these is just like the single I have. The Pacifica Natural Mineral eye shadow trio is not only a good sized sample, but its also a good trio! I plan on wearing these soon, these shadows have a lovely, creamy, rich texture, and a beautiful sheen.

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So pretty!

Final product, we have a Smashbox mascara. I have never tried the X-rated one before, so I will give it a try. In addition to having very wispy bristles, as you will see below, the brush is also triangular (so there are three sets of bristles positioned around the wand), which is interesting.  I am curious, but many mascaras that are not waterproof smudge on me, so I tend to be skeptical of new mascaras.

Do you have what it takes, little mascara?
Do you have what it takes, little mascara?

But WAIT. That is not all i received this month! One thing that is cool about Ipsy is that you can give them feedback on each item you receive, and for doing so you accumulate points. The points section of the site has a selection of rewards that is constantly being updated, so I decided to get myself a bonus, the Folium Medica Healing Oil

Who doesn't like a bonus?
Who doesn’t like a bonus?

From the website, this oil is supposed to

  • Helps diminish blemishes and scaring
  • Reduces hyper-pigmentation and sebum production
  • Repairs damaged skin cells, anti-inflammatory

These are all things that appealed to me, since I do still have to deal with breakouts. (Adult acne sucks, its true.)  So i’m hopeful trying this as well. Its a fairly large bottle for a free bonus,5 ounces, so I definitely feel like I got a good value. It has a fairly strong scent, an herbal, almost medicinal smell, but it seems to fade fairly quickly.

All in all, this may not be the most exciting bag I’ve ever gotten, but its definitely a good haul, I feel I’ve gotten a good value and some interesting new stuff to try, which is all I ever really want out of a subscription sample box.

Like the sound of Ipsy? If you are interested in signing up, this is my referral link. I get points for anyone that signs up using it, which I could redeem for more bonus items! You can just go to ipsy.com if you would prefer not to use my link.

Disclosure: I pay for my ipsy subscription myself.

Sephora Play! for May

I’ve been wanting to try the Sephora Play! box since it was announced, and just a few weeks ago, I finally got the opportunity to sign up.

Let's take a look inside!
Let’s take a look inside!

It ships in a sturdy cardboard box, and all the samples are tucked inside a cute cloth drawstring bag. When the box arrived, all the items seemed very tightly secured, so it traveled well. And whats in it?

First, there’s the Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! deep conditioning mask. This is a hair mask (no parabens, silicones or phthalates) that claims to repair, enhance shine, and reduce breakage by up to 81%. It smells absolutely wonderful, which is always a bonus. The sample is a full 1oz,  so I feel confident I’ll be able to get a full use out of the sample, possibly more than one, depending on how easily it disperses into the hair.

Came in a nice handy tube, something easy to open with wet hands!
A nice handy tube, something easy to open with wet hands!

Next I have the Korres Wild Rose Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial. Its an intensive moisturizer you apply before sleep that is supposed to improve your skin while you sleep, but this one claims to be a lightweight souffle that will “melt” into the skin. Night masks have become quite popular lately, and I have a few favorites, so after testing this out I may do a write-up of all the different ones I’ve tried.  This also has a definite scent of rose to it, so anyone sensitive to fragrance might not appreciate that.  But some night masks can leave an odd feel on the skin, so that’s something I’ll be looking for when I try this out. I do appreciate that in a box going out to a wide-range of subscribers, they chose a product that specifically states it is good for all skin types.

Also a tube, this one is .34 oz of product
Also a tube, this one is .34 oz of product

Next up, there’s a tarte tarteist lip crayon in latergram. I have a few tarte products, and even a lip product or two, so I was looking forward to this. It is a nice, neutral pinky brown tone, and I’m sure I can put it to use. However, it is very tiny, at .04g of product! I am not sure how many uses I will get, but I’m still looking forward to trying it.

Small! but pretty
Small! but pretty

Next up is a brand new product from Origins. Maskimizer skin optimizing mask primer. This is apparently a spray you put on your face before using a facial mask, which claims to make it easier to apply and remove masks, and make them more effective. The description notes it is not for use with peel-off masks. What I like about this sample the most is that they included samples of TWO of their own masks to try with the product, which I think is a fairly thoughtful inclusion.One is a charcoal pore cleansing mask, and one is an overnight hydration mask (see? overnight treatments ARE everywhere!), so I look forward to getting a good couple of tests out of this sample.

Masks are foil packets, the spray treatment is a tiny spray bottle
Masks are foil packets, the pre-treatment is a tiny spray vial.

Next up we have a cologne sample from Atelier Cologne, Orange Sanguine.  I’m a big fan of citrus smells, so even though I don’t wear a lot of fragrance, I was looking forward to this one. From the website, the notes of this cologne are : Blood Orange, Bitter Orange, Jasmine, Geranium, Amber Woods, Tonka Beans, Sandalwood.  The scent of this is rich and bright, anyone that likes orange would enjoy it. The only downside is that this is a plain vial with a plug, which I always find messy to use. I prefer sample vials with a sprayer.

Mmmmm, blood orange.
Mmmmm, blood orange.

I saved my favorite sample for last. Its a Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche lipstick in Kimchi. I have several Bite Beauty lipsticks, though none from the Amuse Bouche line, and I was excited to try this style. Their lipsticks are known for excellent pigmentation and moisture, and also known for being made with food grade ingredients.  The packaging is a mini version of their normal packaging, and there is a subtle sweet scent to the product, but it seems to fade quickly. The color is a lovely, bright pink and I cannot wait to wear it.

I love mini-lipsticks, so cute!
I love mini-lipsticks, so cute!

Also included in the box is a short booklet with a few details about the products, which was nice, but even better was the included Play Pass. This is a card I can bring into Sephora next time I make a purchase, and I will get an additional 50 Beauty Insider points on my account! (Beauty Insider is a loyalty reward program where you get points for purchases which you can redeem for bonus products)

Overall I am pretty happy with this subscription. The samples seem generous and I felt like I got a nice mix of makeup, hair and skin-care.  For $10 a month, I feel like I got good value for my money, and some very fun new things to try.

Do you get the Sephora Play!? What do you think? Do you want to know more about it? Want to tell me about a subscription you think I’d love? Please comment below and let me know!

Wonder Woman Makeup!

I was honestly too excited about this collection to think of a clever title. This collection, from what I’ve been able to gather, is a Walgreens exclusive, but also available via drugstore.com (Thank goodness!) I first heard about it when this flyer hit the internet, and I immediately started watching out for it. None of the Walgreens around me seemed to receive the collection (aside from a few pieces, more on that later), so once I heard it had hit drugstore.com, I placed an order.

WOOO! (me when i opened the shipment)
WOOO! -me when i opened the shipment

If you compare this to the flyer,  I was not able to get everything. I have not be able to find the lip balm tins anywhere, which was disappointing. I saw the brush kit at a store, but frankly, it looked fairly cheap and the brushes didn’t seem very useful or unique so I passed on it. I haven’t seen the bronzer & brush set for sale anywhere, so that was not an option either.  But lets focus on what I DID get!

Liquid liners!
Liquid liners!

As you can see, they are pretty standard liquid liners with a fine brush applicator. The bottles feel like hard plastic, and the caps are bright red with the logo in gold foil, pretty!

The names are on the bottoms, Warrior Black, Golden Lasso and Superhero
The names are on the bottoms, Warrior Black, Golden Lasso and Superhero

I found these liners to be inconsistent. If you are looking for a deep, glossy black liner that’s fully opaque in one pass, you WILL be happy with Warrior Black, but if you want that result from the other two, you will be disappointed.  Golden Lasso is gold glitter in a clear base, so like any other glitter liner, requires several passes to even begin to show up as a solid line.  Superhero was a bit of a let down. It is a satin finish bright blue, and was rather watery on one pass, I had to go over it several times for it to finally resemble the color in the tube, and while it looks pretty opaque in the photo, it did not look quite as rich in person.

the black is one pass, the blue and the gold were each 3-4passes with the brush
the black is one pass, the blue and the gold were each 3-4 passes with the applicator

Next up I have the solo eye palette (Paradise Eye-land). This is a small red plastic case with mirror (the Wonder Woman design is a plastic overlay that feels removable), and contains 8 eyeshadows.

Colors are Olympia, Wisdom, Strength, Heroic Beauty, Spitfire, Spirit of Truth, Victorious and Freedom Fighter
Colors are Olympia, Wisdom, Strength, Heroic Beauty, Spitfire, Spirit of Truth, Victorious and Freedom Fighter

As you can see, the palette is very sleek, not much excess packaging at all. I found the eyeshadows in this set to be very creamy and smooth, the texture is lovely. I was actually surprised at how wearable I found the shades, since Wonder Woman tends to be associated with fairly bold colors.  Despite that, this is a pretty, neutral palette.

Swatchy!
Swatchy!

I would point out that the first few shades there do look sheer, but its actually just that they are pale, they were just as smooth to use as the other colors.  That shiny blue (Spirit of Truth!) is clearly the standout of the palette, and I plan to feature it in a look soon.

Next up, the lipgloss set. I almost didn’t buy these, as I don’t wear a ton of lip gloss, but I am SO glad I did. These really surprised me! This comes as a set of three squeezy tubes with an angled tip applicator; with red caps and gold foil logo and star accents. They also have a hard-to-pin-down scent, somewhere between cake and candy, but I find it very pleasant, and not too strong.  As you will see below, these actually have a good amount of pigment to them! The sheerest of the set is the darkest one, which actually works out well, as it makes it a very flattering and wearable color. They are also very smooth feeling on the lips, and not at all sticky, which is nice.

Colors are Athena's Kiss, Mighty Aphrodite and Wonder Woman
Colors are Athena’s Kiss,Mighty Aphrodite and Wonder Woman (order of the swatches)

Of course, the collection had to include a red lipstick. Unlike the glosses, I noticed no discernible scent from it, and the finish seemed fairly matte, and very nicely opaque in just one pass. The packaging is very lightweight, but the red plastic case features a very nice illustration of Wonder Woman, making this an awesome piece of the collection.

The color is Heroine- take that Mac! ;)
The color is Heroine- take that Mac! 😉

Finally, the biggest piece of the collection, and frankly my favorite, the Beauty Book.

The cover flips open to show two different look suggestions
The cover flips open to show two different look suggestions

This really is my favorite piece of the collection. It contains 9 eyeshadows, one blush/bronzer, one liquid eyeliner, one tube of eyeshadow primer, a small lipstick and a sponge eyeshadow applicator.  I’ll start by answering the first two questions I had:  Is that the same lipstick, and is that eyeliner from the other set?  The lipstick is not the same color. The one is this set is called Amazonian Red and its definitely a different shade of red from the standalone lipstick. The standalone is more of a berry red and matte, while the one from the set is a deeper, more true-red color, and has a more satin finish:

Top color is Heroine, bottom color is Amazonian Red
Top color is Heroine, bottom color is Amazonian Red

As for the liner, it is the same. It is also called Warrior Black, and the formula feels exactly the same. Though the packaging is different(and smaller), it is the same sort of fine brush applicator.

Dig that cute eyeliner bottle!
Dig that cute eyeliner bottle!

The set also includes an eyeshadow primer. While the packaging only references Walgreens as the distributor, some of my reading about the collection revealed that the company Markwins was involved in the production. They are responsible for Wet & Wild and Black Radiance, among other drugstore brands. I mention this now, because they are responsible for my BFF eye primer, the Wet & Wild Fergie Take On The Day primer (this is no longer available, but I believe their new Photofocus one is the same formula-I’ll be testing that soon).  Having only given this a quick look (and test on my arm) I suspect this might also be the same formula. It looks and feels the same so far, but I haven’t tested the durability yet.

The tube is all red with gold foil logo and says "Bulletproof"
The tube is all red with gold foil logo and says “Bulletproof”

That leaves the ten powder products: one blush/bronzer and nine eyeshadows. The blush is Grace and Power, the eye-shadows are Golden Age, Legendary Pink, Modern Age, Golden Tiara, Amazon Princess, Marine Ultra, Secret Identity, Emancipation and Valiant. Happily, I found that these shadows have the same texture as the Paradise Eye-land palette, smooth and almost creamy feeling. But even better, none of the colors are the same, so you aren’t doubling up any colors if you get both items. The bronzer/blush has a slighty firmer texture, but it was still smooth and easy to work with.

I love the color names.
I love the color names.

And I was quite happy with the color payoff on them. Just like in the other palette, the lightest shades are a bit weak, but those deeper colors are just fabulous.

SHINY!!
SHINY!!

The sheen on Golden Tiara and Amazon Princess was even prettier in person.  Honestly these are great shadows and i’m excited to try them out, maybe I’ll test out the looks in the foldout cover too.

Overall, I’m happy with the collection. I think the packaging is gorgeous and really fun, and the products are ones I think I will happily use repeatedly. One of the most amazing parts of the collection is its affordability. The most expensive item here, the Beauty Book, only cost $11.99, and I thought the pricing on everything was more than reasonable. In fact, the lipstick, at $2.99, almost feels like a steal!

I’m glad to see a collection like this come out, I like the recognition that girls like being heroes too! I did notice something on the spine of the Beauty Book while putting this post together, and I have to wonder, does Walgreens have more up their sleeve? I for one would be quite excited!

 

V.1? like, Volume 1? MORE SUPERHERO KITS YES PLEASE!
V.1? like, Volume 1????

Could it be? Well, in my opinion: MORE SUPERHERO COLLECTIONS YES PLEASE!

April Ipsy Bag

Ipsy sends everything in a cute bag each month!
Ipsy sends everything in a cute bag each month!

If you are not familiar, Ipsy is a monthly beauty sample subscription service. Unlike the Allure box, this one is much more customized; with ipsy, you can compare bags with friends, and its possible that you all got different items! I always look forward to discussing the items with other subscribers.

You take a quiz when you sign up, and you select preferences on the types of items you like (for example, if you’re more into nail polish than lip gloss), they select your samples based on that. Another way you inform them of your preferences is by reviewing your samples every month.

Something else I enjoy about Ipsy is that each month you get your samples in a new makeup bag. The styles are always different, if one isn’t your taste, it’s likely you’ll get one you love in another month.  I do like this one, but there have been a few major favorites in past months.

The products this month are pretty awesome too!

I’ve had tarte Lipsurgence products before, and this one is a very pretty warm pink. I’ve always found that while these lip colors don’t have a lot of staying power, they are very comfortable on the lips and easy to apply quickly.

I’ve never tried Pretty Woman nail polish before, but this purpley-pink (almost orchid?) color is really fun and I will definitely use it- possibly for a pedicure.

I’ve gotten products from City Color before, in fact, I got those from Ipsy too! This highlighter set is very nicely made, and the powders are nice and smooth. I don’t use a ton of highlighter, but these make me want to play around with highlighting more!

This bag feels very well put together, receiving a highlight palette and a highlight brush in the same bag is very handy! The brush is full and soft, and I think will work quite well for its intended use.

This last item kind of surprised me, I don’t often get fancy skincare items from Ipsy, but I certainly don’t mind- I wouldn’t subscribe if I didn’t like trying new things!  “Resurfacing” pads are essentially a chemically-soaked exfoliant disc, which can seem scary but its just another way to slough away dead skin cells to make the skin smoother and more radiant. Some exfoliants can be very hard on the skin, so whether it’s primarily physical or chemical, its important to be gentle when exfoliating!  When I haven’t tried a new exfoliant, I prefer to test them first. I will likely to test one of these pads on one of my arms and then wait a day to make sure there is no reaction before using it on my face.

I have been getting Ipsy for about 3 years now, and I always look forward to that puffy pink mailer arriving ; I have discovered some great products through it, but I also have learned what I don’t like in different beauty products, which is very helpful to figure out.

Do you get Ipsy? What  do you think of my bag this month? Do you get an entirely different subscription? Tell me about it, I would love to hear from you!

Allure Beauty Box for April!

The Allure Beauty Box comes with a handy booklet!
The Allure Beauty Box comes with a handy booklet!

I have been getting the Allure Beauty Box for a while now, and I’m a fan. I get to try a lot of products I might not have tried before, some because they are pricier than I would buy untested, and some because they are so new I haven’t heard of them yet! The box also comes with a booklet or “mini-mag” each month, giving a rundown of what each product is, and often, recommendations on how best to use it, which can be quite helpful when you get something you’re unfamiliar with. Also I’ve found that even on expensive items, the samples in this box are always generous, you can really use something for a while and form an opinion.
This month I’m very excited about the L’Occitane shower oil – it smells great and I’ve heard lots of good things about this, especially that its great for shaving!  I’m also quite excited to try the Fekkai glossing cream – I love a good styling cream, especially going into summer when I try to avoid heat styling at all costs.

I’ve never heard of DDF, but if the serum does as promised it I should be very happy with it. I noticed that the full size of this is fairly pricey, and the sample, especially for a serum, is quite generous!

The Mally lip pencil is nice,it seems smooth and creamy. I’m familiar with the brand (I have a great eyeshadow stick from Mally), but this pencil is a bit of an orangey red for me, so finding a way I like wearing it should be fun. (I find strange things fun…) And the L’Oreal mascara, while its not a new product, is actually one I’ve never gotten around to trying, so I’m pleased to receive a full size of it.

I don’t wear a lot of perfume, but I have to say I love that the sample of Bvgari Goldea is a tiny version of the bottle (pretty!) instead of just one of those hard-to-use vials. The scent is rather strong, but its not cloying or overly sharp or musky, so I’m going to give it a try.

Do you get this box? What do you think of this month? Do you want it?  If you’re interested in getting it, you can try it for $5 off the first month!  (I don’t get anything from that link, thats just their standard signup page)

 

I pay for this subscription myself, I have no relationship with Allure Beauty Box or any of the brands in this post. 

Playing (with) Favorites Part 2: Beauty Tools

When I started writing about my BFFs (not sure what I mean? Check out part 1!) I quickly realized I would have to devote some time to tools. Beauty tools are a fascinating topic for me. I love hearing about new innovations and new techniques, because sometimes the way you apply can completely change a product. The right brush can change an eye shadow from ‘eh’ to eye-popping! As much focus as there is on products in the beauty field, I find what tools I am using can seriously make a huge difference, so I definitely have accumulated some serious BFF’s in beauty tools too. Lets take a look!

The group!
The group!

To start, lets talk about the  E.L.F. Flawless concealer brush – because this was one of the first items I thought of when I decided to write about favorites. When I first got it and tried it, I was so excited about it I immediately planned to get an additional one. Its just the right size and shape to get right into the under eye area and blend concealer or corrector all the way up to the lash line, and it is soft and dense enough to blend gently instead of wiping product away. I have definitely seen brushes like it in other collections, but I have a serious love for e.l.f. Brushes. Their brushes are soft and well made, I find they remain reliable through multiple washings. (Do you wash your brushes? Look for that post coming soon!) Lets get a closer look:

See how its fluffy but not too big? Perfect!
See how its fluffy but not too big? Perfect!

While I do love my e.l.f. brushes, they are not the only good yet inexpensive ones out there. My next BFF is also a brush, but this one is the Sonia Kashuk Small eye shadow brush (#106) I constantly reach for this brush when it’s time to apply shadow to my lids. (I went into more detail about using this brush here!) I like it because the shape is good for getting the inner corner, and sweeping the shadow up to the crease line, and it holds a good amount of product. Honestly I think with eye shadow brushes the shape of your eye and personal preference are really what make a brush good or bad for you, and this one fits my needs very well.

A great little brush!
A great little brush!

Next up, I must devote some time to one of the more well-known -and sometimes feared!- Beauty tools out there. The eyelash curler. I just have a regular Revlon curler from the drugstore, and I honestly reach for it every time I put on makeup. I have lashes that tend to point out straight, (maybe even slightly downward) which makes them not show up very much on their own. When I curl my lashes before applying mascara, I have a much easier time achieving a pretty fanned out effect (like those mascara ads are always promising). When I’m wearing hardly any makeup, odds are I have still used this tool, because eyelashes are the original eye definer! Making them stand up helps make your eyes stand out.

curler
Yes lash curlers can be scary, and yes I HAVE pinched myself using it before, but mastering this little tool well worth it!

Some people might think this next BFF should have been included in my products, not with tools. However, I think of setting spray as a tool to increasing staying power and perfect my final look, so I’m including it here. I love finishing my makeup with a quick spritz of setting spray. As someone with combo skin, I prefer to set most of my face with powder, so following that step up with a light misting of setting spray can help make the finish a little more natural. My BFF is the NYX dewy finish setting spray. It gives the skin just a little bit of that natural sheen that powder tends to takes away, but it also helps your makeup last longer. If lasting longer is the more important part for you, you might prefer something like the Loreal Infallible setting spray. I like this one too, but I just prefer the look I get with the NYX spray, so I consider this my backup option.

nyxspray
It smells nice too! 🙂

The final item I consider a top BFF tool is not only well known but has spawned MANY copycats of varying prices. The Beauty Blender. This is one of those famous tools that actually lives up to its hype, in my opinion. This tear drop shaped sponge makes blending into the various curves and planes of the face a breeze. Anyone who has ever had trouble getting a natural looking finish from liquid foundation would do well to try one of these!  It is important to use it dampened though. It’s recommended by the creator, and it not only makes the sponge softer, it helps prevent the sponge from soaking up your product instead of blending it onto your face.  You can use these for blending any liquid or cream products – foundation, concealer, corrector, even contour & highlights- and you can even use them to apply powder!

On the left it is dry, on the right I have wet it (and squeezed out the excess water)-ready to use!
On the left it is dry, on the right it is dampened (excess water squeezed out) and ready to use!

Once I took all of these out, I couldn’t resist putting them to work for my look today, which I posted on my instagram -(come follow me!)

I think its important that makeup be fun, and I think having BFFs or favorites or whatever you prefer to call them is a big part of that. Knowing that you will get the result you want definitely helps make applying makeup a more enjoyable experience.  I hope my list introduced you to a potential new BFF of your own, or maybe reminded you of an old favorite you haven’t reached for in a while.  Tell me about some of your favorites,  or please, ask me more about mine!