Category Archives: subscriptions

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!

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.

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.

IMG_20160730_173857

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!

IMG_20160730_173952
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.

 

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.

PhotoGrid_1467337567311

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.

 

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.

2016-05-25-22-19-29
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.