Tag Archives: review

Esqido Lashes: Made to Lash

This post is rather special to me.  Why is that? Because this is the first time I was independently contacted by a company to be sent their product to review. While I have been sent a product to review before (and they are STILL a favorite, believe me!), I got connected to that company through a supportive friend.  So unless someone at this other company is secretly a friend of mine, this is solely based on my online presence.

 

What was I sent to review?

Ta Da!

Esqido lashes – and they were kind enough to include a full size tube of their lash glue! I was given my option of their various styles of lashes, and after trying the guide on their site, I opted for the style, “Starlet”*.

As you may recall, I’ve only just gotten into lashes,  so you can imagine how pleased I was at the timing on this. I just figure out how to wear the darn things, and here comes a high end pair for me to try!

They arrived packed neatly and compactly in a padded mailer – no excess shipping material- and the packaging is quite nice. the lash container has a magnetic closure. They also included their lash glue, which comes in a hard tube with a brush applicator.

These lashes have a nice cotton band, and while I know for many, the preference tends to be for a thinner and less detectable band, as someone newer to false lashes I quite like the band. It helps a great deal not only with have a solid place to put the glue, but with positioning them on the eye. They were very comfortable to wear too. I didn’t find the  band cumbersome at all, and once I got them in place I didn’t find it that obvious either, as you can see.

That volume though! <3

 

The glue that they sent was so easy to use, I nearly forgot to include it when I was making notes for this article! Lash glue is one of those things where, if it works well, you barely think about it. The brush was super easy to work with, and the formula was a nice even consistency that was easy to get exactly where you want it without making a mess. Their formula is latex and formaldehyde free, and is $10, not unreasonable for the 5.5ml you get in the tube. It also doesn’t take forever to dry, and held until I used remover to take the lashes off at the end of my day.

One thing I’m getting used to is how dramatic a difference false lashes makes on my appearance.  The difference is quite striking, and I felt it was worthy of a side-by-side comparison:

yes I know the lighting is weird.

If you are trying to make your eyes stand out, I have to say false lashes are a great way to help you get there. I think anything that makes my smaller eyes look bigger and pop is a marvel.  And don’t think glasses are a barrier to them either! I was a little concerned, given how bold these lashes seemed when I got them, but they don’t touch my glasses at all, and look totally fine with them:

After another look at Esqido’s line, I discovered that these are considered a “medium volume” lash. They also have light and full volume, so they really have a wide variety of styles to choose from.

While these are great, they are definitely a higher end item, at $29.00 a pair for the Starlett style I am wearing.  So if you’re looking to spend a little bit of money, and want something high quality, these are definitely worth it, they are soft and lush, but also very well constructed and comfortable to wear, and they will definitely hold up through multiple wearings. The packaging is nice as well, so you can hold onto it and store your lashes in it for as long as you have them.

*at the time when I was selecting my option for review, they had not yet released their synthetic line, Unisyn, which is now available on their site. The lashes I received and tested are mink hair. 

 

Disclosure: This product was sent to me by the manufacturer for review purposes.

A FAB Moisturizer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The glorious 8oz tube!

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

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!

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.

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!

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!

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.