Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Birchbox July 2014

Birchbox July 2014: Women's Health Collaboration

I'm trying really hard to get my backlog of July boxes published while it is still July!  Hopefully now that I'm caught up, I can get back to timely reviews.

Like last year, Birchbox has once again teamed up with Women's Health.  They included a coupon for a free year of Women's Health magazine, or you could opt for a $9.99 refund for it.  So, this box was basically all profit when you take into account the magazine or refund, plus the points you earn for reviewing all the items!  

Birchbox and Women's Health, July 2014

I have been loving all of the cute custom designs BB has been rolling out for the collaboration boxes.  Good thing I save them to use for gift boxes!

My box came rather late this month, so I had time to peek at the items online.

Birchbox July 2014 First Look

Birchbox has also implemented a new feature, where you can choose one of the samples that will be included in your upcoming box!  More on that later.

BB included a little booklet of challenges, I've featured some of them in the background of my pictures.

Naobay Body Radiance Lotion

This is a nice lotion.  It smells like lemons, and is not too heavy.  I like it.  That's all I have to say about that.

Full size (250 mL) is $24, making this 50 mL sample worth $4.80

Like I mentioned, BB let you pick this month from 3 different Ruffian polish colors, OR from 3 different lip gloss colors.  I chose this rose-gold color called Rosary, from their Rapture collection.  I talked myself out of a metallic silver or a metallic lavender because I'm a sucker for anything rose-gold.

I have one other Ruffian polish that I like, because it goes on evenly and lasts for a long time without chipping.  However, these are only 5 mL (normal polishes are usually 15 mL) and a single polish retails on Birchbox for $11!  As a set of three, you only pay $26.50 which brings the individual cost down to $8.33/polish.

Ruffian Rosary
No watermark because I'm lazy
Go ahead, steal my picture of my streaky nails.  See if I care.

This polish, being a metallic finish, was definitely streaky.  That's hard to avoid in metallics, but I've definitely encountered worse.  Do you remember the really old (late 90s) Sally Hansen Chrome polishes? That's what this reminds me of, but less streaky.  Man, I loved those! I had one in this color, it makes me feel really nostalgic which I look at my nails.

Nostalgia aside, this polish shows every nail imperfection you have, and also doesn't last more than a day without chipping.  Too bad.


Beauty Protector Protect & Treat Hair Mask

After getting the Joico reconstructor in #NGQ03, anything else seems like a let-down, including my beloved Beauty Protector brand.  This mask was light pink, smelled like all the other products from this brand, and did a decent job at deep conditioning my hair.  My hair is to the point where the 0.5 fl.oz. container was just barely enough for it! So, at least I received two uses in this box.

Now that I calculated it out, about $3.25 is kinda pricy for a single deep conditioning session!  I think I'll save my BB points for more bottles of the Protect & Detangle spray.

$25.95 for 4 fl.oz., 2 x 0.5 fl.oz. samples worth $6.49

benefit Posie Balm

I was super excited to receive a product from benefit this month!  I love their posie tint, and I had high hopes for the lip-balm form, posie balm.  It mostly has mango butter, and leaves a sheer wash of color.  I untwisted it fully for the picture above... that's a tiny sliver of lip balm! Holy crap! If you're going to spend all that effort on fancy packaging, you would think there would be a little more of the product inside!

Full size, 0.1 oz, is $18.  The sample is worth $1.80 because it is 0.01 oz of product.

Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Overnight Detox Oil

I've tried some Caudalie products in the past, and have generally liked them.  It's a little too expensive of a skin-care/ antiaging line for me, but I normally appreciate getting the products.  This oil is supposed to promote overnight cellturnover and skin purification.  Sure.  It will keep your face nice and hydrated though!  My skin looks nice and smooth and youthful in the mornings after I use this.  However, that comes with a price.  This smells awful.  Seriously.  It's like a terrible herbal smell I would expect from Juice Beauty, and not from Caudalie.  Ugh.  Fortunately, the smell only lingers for a minute or two.

30 mL is $52, so the 1 mL sample is worth $1.73.  I hate those little trial vials, but since I've been careful when I open this up, I have been able to get quite a few uses out of it.  A little goes a long way (especially when it smells this badly!)

Ruffian Dressing Room Perfumed Nail Lacquer Remover Towelette

This was a little bonus in the box, since (almost) everyone got a Ruffian nail polish.  I like these little travel packets a lot, and I will bring it with me on my upcoming vacation.  They aren't really cost effective, but they sure are convenient!

Set of 10 retails for $12, making a single wipe worth $1.20

Birchbox July 2014

I was pretty pleased  with this box.  I can get past the tiny sample size for the posie balm, and the smell of the Caudalie oil, so everything worked out pretty well for me.  Nothing went into my giveaway stash!

All together, this month's box had a value of $23.35.  Factor in the free year of Women's Health (or the $9.99 rebate) and the 60 points I received for reviewing the items (10 points per item, each 100 points = $10 to spend in the BB shop, so 60 points = $6), and I would say this was a great month overall.

Birchbox costs $10 per month and you get 4-6 sample (and occasionally full sized) items.  You can review each item you receive for 10 BB points, and every 100 points can be redeemed for $10 to spend in their online shop.  This is a great deal!  If you want to try Birchbox, please use my link here.  I'll get some extra BB points for each referral.

No special consideration or compensation was received for this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own. All items mentioned within were paid for by me. This post contains referral links.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Julep July 2014

Julep July 2014 Review

Now that Julep is in its second month of "customize your own box" boxes, I have to say, I am just as happy fully customizing my box as I was when the colors were set in pairs already.  Also, I apparently have boring polish color choices.

Julep July 2014

The beauty item this month was the Bare Body Milk lotion.

Bare Body Milk lotion and bonus Tootsie Rolls.  Because 'Mur'ca.

This lotion is light and smells very, very faintly like something tropical.  Other than that, it is pretty unremarkable.  I like it, and I needed a new bottle of lotion, so this is working out nicely.

The Chosen Ones

This month, Julep released the Poolside collection.  It was filled with brightly colored creme polishes, with a stardust (matte textured glitter) thrown in as an add-on option.  Bright chartreuse! Bright fuchsia! Bright cerulean!  ...And the colors I chose.

Lorenzana and Kelsey

I think I picked the two colors closest to neutrals in the collection.  This is why I can't be left up to my own polish-making decisions.  I'd just pick neutrals, every time!

They are pretty, though.
Lorenzana, top, and Kelsey, bottom

Lorenzana is more greige than purple (like it looks above).  Julep calls it a "shiitake creme" to sound fancy.  It is a nice understated color, and it is on the unusual side for a neutral, therefore I like it.  I've been more into demure nail looks in the past few months, and this will be a nice polish to wear year-round.  Julep does cream finishes really, really well.  They barely need two coats, never are streaky, and last for almost a week without chipping on me.

Kelsey is a pale peach creme (yeah, like I need another one of those), and it made my skin look a little redder than I would like.  I think this would look fantastic on someone with a darker skin tone than me.

I decided to use them both at once in a Ruffian-style manicure that I wore for a full week.  Yup.  A whole week.  That's how busy I have been! I don't even have time to do my nails any day other than Sunday!

Julep Lorenzana over Julep Kelsey
Julep is now a minimum of $19.99 per month if you prepay for 3 months at a time.  New customers also only get to skip twice per year.  If you want to sign up, you can try a starter kit with the code FREEBOX and you only pay shipping!  Julep polishes last almost a week on me without chipping (and that's without a base or top coat) and are some of my favorites.  I think the quality is worth the price.

To try it, please use my link here.  I'll get a discount on my next box for each referral.

No special consideration or compensation was received for this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own. All items mentioned within were paid for by me.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Nina Garcia Quarterly NG03 Review

Nina Garcia Quarterly #03 (NGQ03)

I can't tell you how excited I was to get this subscription!  Because I signed up too late to get the spring box, I had to wait allllll the way until the end of June to get the summer one!  This is the third box curated by designer and fashion expert Nina Garcia.  You may know her as one of the judges from the Bravo TV show, Project Runway, or because she is the creative director of Marie Claire.

The previous two boxes looked beyond amazing, so at $100 per quarter, I decided to go for it.  The price is a little steep, but I consoled myself with the fact that instead of paying $120+ for PSMH during the same time-frame, I could get this PLUS something else.  That something else was Fabfitfun, so I did go a little over budget with the two combined, but it was worth it.

First Look, Nina Garcia Quarterly #03

This box was packed perfectly.  There was a 6 page letter from Nina explaining why she chose the items she did, her own tissue paper individually wrapping each item, a bonus offer from Surya Brasil and a code for a free limited-edition Otterbox phone case ($50 retail value!).

I do not have a phone compatible with the Otterbox offer, so I gave it to a friend who does.  The brightly colored print is what the case itself will look like.  It was designed by Nina for Otterbox in the spirit of the 2014 World Cup held in Rio.

Print All Over Me Palm Tree Canvas Clutch

I think this was designed specially for this box.  I'm not sure, though.  It fits a bathing suit, small cover-up, a bottle of sunscreen, and a hair brush.  It's one of the bigger canvas bags I own, and it is great!  I love the palm tree print, the gold zipper, and how roomy it is.  I'm going to Florida for vacation in a few weeks, and I will definitely bring this with me.

Value, $20?

In my FFF review, I said this was the summer of canvas clutches... and I meant it!  There was ANOTHER one in the NGQ03 box.

Myrto Clutch by Koku

This retailed for about $110, but it is currently on sale.  It is a canvas zippered pouch, with a plexiglass shark and raffia fringe.  I immediately pulled off all the raffia and am MUCH happier with it.  I love the shark!  There were some other designs sent out, including a fish skeleton, but I am so glad I got this version.

Spenglish Muito Cool Hat

I didn't mention it, but this box had a Brazillian theme.  Muito means "very" in Portuguese, and there is a Brazillian flag behind the letters.  It is so far out of my comfort range, it's not even funny!

However, I am going to a white elephant party tomorrow (where you bring a quirky gift to yankee-swap that someone might love and others might hate) and I think it would be perfect!  Someone who loves soccer, the World Cup, Brasil, or hats might like this.

This is selling for $55 on the Spenglish site right now.  Woah.

Formula X for Sephora Nail Color in Push the Limits

I was pretty excited to see Sephora's new nail polish (Formula X) included in this box!  It is more expensive than Essie or OPI, so I haven't yet tried it out.  The color is a beautiful red-orange and is perfect for a summer pedi.  This went on so smoothly and evenly, and dried relatively quickly.  I am super happy with this polish, and it is among my favorites in my extensive collection!  I will definitely have to keep my eye out for sales on this stuff. 

Sephora Formula X, $10.50

Ok, so here things get a little weird.  Everyone was sent a little shoe.  There were a few different styles, and both left and right shoes were sent out.

Melissa Shoe Desk Ornament
This brand apparently started in Brazil? I may be wrong.  They make rubber, vegan shoes (like the jelly shoes of the 90s) that are scented like something vaguely fruity.  The shoe I got was designed by Zaha Hadid.  Eh.  It's a little shoe?  What am I going to do with it?

Value, $5?

Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray

To me, this is a combination of dry shampoo and hair spray.  It is weird.  I know people swear by it, but I wasn't really impressed.  Maybe if I give it another try, I will change my mind.

This travel size, 2.2 oz, sells for $21.50 (WHAT?!)

ck One Pure Color Lipstick by Calvin Klein in DollFace 

What is it about applying a fancy lipstick that makes you feel so grown up?  This looks classy with the two-toned case, and is a beautiful medium rose color that looks gorgeous when applied.  It stays put, glides on, and feels super hydrating.  There is a slight vanilla scent to it.  I love it!  

lipstick, $16

Wow, there sure are a lot of things in this box!

Keep on reviewing...

Surya Brasil Sapien Women Shave Gel

If for nothing else, this shaving gel makes the NGQ03 box worth it!  This smells like Smarties (the candy) and is the best shaving gel/cream/anything I've used, by far.  Even with a cheap 2-blade disposable Bic razor, my legs were perfectly smooth.  I will be so sad when I run out of this!  I can't tell you how awesome it is.

Value, about $20.

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration SPF 30 Sunscreen

This stuff smells so good!  Plus, it is SPF 30, and not one of their wimpy SPF 4 products.  Excellent.  This isn't the most luxurious sunscreen brand out there, but I can always use more, and it saves me from having to go to the store.

Value, ~$10

Red Flower Refreshing Hand and Face Towelette in Italian Blood Orange

I am saving this for my upcoming travels, but I'm sure it's nice.  I was laughing at the single packet included in this box!  A pack of 7 is only $5, and alongside all the super fancy items a single face towelette seems so out of place!


Nest Fragrances Grapefruit Votive Candle

There is a little etched pinstripe design in the glass votive holder, which I think is adorable.  The scent itself is amazing, and I am really happy with this variation!  Although, it did look like a number of equally delicious scents were sent out (Orange Blossom, Bamboo, Moss + Mint) and I probably would have been just as thrilled with any one of them.

Value $14.

Joico K-Pak Intense Hydrator

Wow.  Just, wow.  How did I not know about this stuff?  This "Intesnse Hydrator" is really just a super-duper conditioner.  It made my hair so soft, shiny, and healthy-looking! I had like three days of spectacular hair after using this, which in the middle of a humid summer is really saying something.

At $16, I will definitely be re-purchasing this.  It is by far the best deep conditioner I've ever used!  I had the BEST SHOWER EVER using this and the shaving gel at the same time.  Wow.  I was like a new person.

Finally, we have the "big ticket" item.

Frends Ella In-Ear Headphones

These pretty little gold-accented headphones sell for $99.  Yes.  That is correct.  They come with a little case, and they have a mic so you can use them to make calls, and they have a life-time warranty.  But they are ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS.  For headphones.  Earbud headphones.  What?!  Maybe this is why my science is going so well lately.  I work with gold, and I've been wearing these in lab.  Maybe they have magical alchemic powers that give me control over the rest of the gold in my nearby surroundings.  Or maybe they just make me look fancy.  Same thing.


Whew! That was a lot of reviewing! All together, this box had a value of about $447.71.  That is absolutely bonkers.  I have to say, I am super impressed with this box!  Sure, there was a miss or two, but with so many home runs, it was worth it.

The Nina Garcia Quarterly box is $100 per quarter and ships next in September.  I already can't wait to see what is in #NGQ04!

No special consideration or compensation was received for this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own. All items mentioned within were paid for by me.

FabFitFun Summer 2014 Review

Fabfitfun Summer 2014

Yes, yes, I know this is a month late.  But, I figured that since it is a quarterly subscription, and the next one won't be out until September, posting it at the tail end of July is acceptable.

My life has been pretty chaotic this month! I think I mentioned it in the previous post, but in addition to moving, attending a week-long conference, and visiting my niece, my actual science work has been going REALLY well, so I've been putting in a lot of lab hours trying to push this project as far as I can before I have to start teaching again.

The upside to posting late reviews, is that I have had a chance to thoroughly test out all the products!

Fabfitfun Summer 2014

This was my second Fabfitfun VIP box, and I subscribed to this and the Nina Garcia quarterly to take the place of PopSugar Must Have.  I must say, looking at the boxes that have come out since I cancelled PSMH, I am very happy I put that $40/month toward something else!

Fabfitfun tries to send products from various categories- beauty, food, fitness, etc.

PopChips Sea Salt and Vinegar Potato Popped Chip Snack

I like Popchips.  I've received them before, and even those these arrived smushed (more on the smushed box in a moment) they were tasty.  I love me some salt and vinegar in the summer!  I'm not really a snacker, but if I've been working hard and sweating up a tsunami, I crave sour salty things.

One bag, approximately $1.30

Balanced Guru No Frizz Oil
Organic Sesame and Lemongrass Balancing Oil

I was pleased to see that this hair oil survived the arduous journey to my new house in MiddleOfNowhere, RI, safely.  I was also please to see that it is a full-sized product! I was not that pleased at all with the scent.  Normally, I love lemongrass scents, but there was something else in this (the sesame carrier oil, maybe?) that made me wrinkle my nose.  Fortunately, I already have a hair oil that I love (Orofluido).  I had a friend over for dinner and made her (yes, I totally forced her to) take a bunch of my extra products and samples home, and this was one of the things she went home with.  I haven't heard back if she likes it or not!

Full size, $13

It seems like the summer boxes across a lot of brands all included canvas clutches!  I'm not complaining, I have a million things in my purse but I justify having them all because everything is organized into 5 or 6 little pouches like this.  More variety just means I can rotate them more... or stuff more clutches into my bag....

Thursday Friday Away Mini Clutch in Jeweled, Turquoise

I probably would have chosen a different print from them, but this also isn't the worst variety that was sent out.  

$35, and they included a coupon for the site

Up next is one of the big-ticked spoiled items for this quarter.

Sonya Dakar NutraSphere Flash Facial

This is a facial treatment that applies exactly like white school glue would.  Seriously.  You spread it on clean, dry skin, and let it sit for a few minutes.  When you gently rub it off with water, it balls up just like Elmer's glue would.  They say that is your skin being exfoliated away, but it probably is just the dried product.  I am still convinced this is glue.  Whatever it is, it makes my face feel very nice and smooth after I use it.

This is full-sized and retails for about $95!  Woah. My face is so fancy.

Continuing the trend of Overpriced Spoiled Items That You Rub On Your Face...

Pur~lisse Pur~Protect Essential Daily Moisturizer SPF 30

I have finally embraced how pale I am, and so I have given up on trying to change that.  Therefore, I slather myself in sunscreen every morning.  This includes my face.  Normally, I use Supergoop, but that is more of a sunscreen than a face lotion.  This Pur~lisse has the benefit of being more of a face lotion, with a bonus of SPF.  It absorbs fast, has very little scent, and I can apply my makeup with minimal lag time.  It's pretty solid.  I wouldn't pay full price for it, though!  It's only 50 mL!

You can see my tube was banged up in transit and has some smudge marks on it from other things in the box.

Full size, $55.  Now my face is REALLY fancy.

Moving to the "fit" portion of this quarter...

Fabfitfun branded Water Infuser Bottle

These water bottles have been popping up in sub boxes all over the place in the last year!  It took until NOW for me to get one, though!  Everything here unscrews, so you can load fruits and whatever else into the middle portion, which has holes in it, to flavor your water.  The top screws onto the whole thing so the edge you drink from isn't exposed to the world.

I have really been enjoying this.  I have tried a number of combinations, but I think my favorite was raspberries, mint, cucumber, and lime.  I just put a wedge (or 2 berries, or 2 leaves) into the infuser part and add water.  It has definitely upped my fluid intake, which is always a good thing.

Estimated retail $15

Ok, so I lied when I said I had tried everything.  I did NOT try these Kisstixx lip balms.  Firstly, the package arrived totally open in my shipping box.  Secondly, I do NOT like chocolate, and I dislike chocolate flavorings even more.

Kisstixxs SPF 15 Lip Balms in Chocolate and Strawberry

The idea behind these is that you apply one flavor, your kissing partner applies the other, and then you kiss and make a nice combo flavor between the two of you.  Sure.  Ok.  It sounds like this would have been a cute idea if I were still a teenager, but alas, I have not been one for almost a decade.

I might use the strawberry one if I somehow lose all my currently open SPF chapsticks.  Until then, they will sit in my box of items to gift.  If I had gotten the pina colada/ strawberry daiquiri version, or the raspberry/lemonade version, I would have been a little more excited.  I could put one flavor on my top lip and the other on the bottom lip and smush.  But, that is not to be.

Full size (featured on the show, Shark Tank) $5.99

Oh, coral nail polish!  How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Zoya Nail Polish in Maya

This is a nice summery color, and Zoya is a great brand.  The polish is on the sheer-er side, and I would almost call it a jelly... but not quite.  It is half-way between a cream and a jelly (a crelly).  It's pretty!  I like it a lot, and I'm glad they sent this nice tropical color.

Zoya polish, $8

There was a little bit of drama online because of the next three items.  FFF included them as "sponsored" items, so technically they shouldn't be included in the value of the box.  If they hadn't been included, everyone would have been happy.  Because they were, however, people tend to say it makes the box look like it is "cheaper" and "lower quality."  Whatevs.  "Free" stuff is free stuff.

Always Liners, Skintimate Shave Gel in Raspberry Rain, and Slim Fast Have Your Cake (Vanilla) Bar

Side note, that SlimFast bar wasn't that bad.  Melted from shipping, but not bad.

Fabfitfun Summer 2014

All together, this box had a value of $228.29.  More importantly, I like it way more than I thought I would when I peeked at the full box spoilers.

Fabfitfun VIP is $49.99 per season, but they usually have $5 off coupon codes floating around for your first month.  Many thanks to the person who signed up using my link! I got a few dollars off of this quarter's box, and I hope you liked it as much as I did!

No special consideration or compensation was received for this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own. All items mentioned within were paid for by me.  This post contains referral links.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ipsy June 2014

Ipsy June 2014

Continuing the back-log of June subscriptions, here is my Ipsy bag.

Rebecca Minkoff for Ipsy
I love the bag!  This is probably my favorite Ipsy bag to date, and I've been carrying it around ever since it arrived.  My one complaint is that the zipper is not on the top, but it's a minor detail.  The print makes up for it.

Carol's Daughter Sacred Tiare Styling Cream

I haven't tried this yet, and to be honest, I totally forgot about it.  Anti-breakage and anti-frizz sounds good though, I could use some of that (provided it is effective) on humid days like today.  If it works, I wouldn't be against picking up a tube of it, as it is relatively inexpensive for a hair product and you can find it at Target.

90 mL full size is $12, 15 mL sample worth $2

Realtree for her

Ugh, another perfume.  Great.  What happened to sending makeup, Ipsy?  This smells soft and powdery on me- like Love's Baby Soft, but without the nostalgia. It's pretty inoffensive, so I don't think I will have a problem wearing this to work.... if I remember it.  It's pretty boring.

$20 for 100 mL, making this (3 mL? it's about twice the normal size) sample worth $0.60

Nicka K Shimmer Eyeliner in Blue

This has a felt tip that is pretty flexible, so you can draw thinner or thicker lines depending on your mood.  The eyeliner itself is metallic and has a pretty thin consistency, with chunks of glitter in it.  You definitely need two coats of this, minimum, to really pack a punch.

Full size, $4.99


I was really excited to get another NYX Butter Gloss in this month's bag! I have a few already, and they are among my favorite lip glosses.

NYX Butter gloss in Eclair

This color is a little on the pale side for me, but makes for a nice nude lip.  In a weird twist, I got this bag a week before my niece was born... and we have been calling her baby Eclair because her name is Emerson Claire!  Weird.

The gloss itself is not sticky, very shiny, and smells and tastes like a dessert.

This is full sized, $5.

Ofra Universal Eyebrow Pencil

This eyebrow pencil isn't much different from any of the others that I have.  If you press hard, you get a dark brown line.  If you use a lighter touch, the color is softer.  However, this is definitely NOT a universal pencil.  It works for me, but probably wouldn't if you have any other brow color besides medium brown.  I think I like the Chella version better, because it is self-sharpening!

This is full sized, $13.

Ipsy June 2014

All in all, it was not the worst bag, but not the best either.  If the perfume and hair samples had been swapped out for makeup, I would have enjoyed it more.  Ipsy has sent a lot of skin and hair care products recently, and I would like to get back to makeup-only bags!

All together, my bag had a value of $25.59

Ipsy is $10 per month and sends you 4-6 deluxe and full-sized (mostly makeup) items in a reusable makeup bag.  You can review each item on their site for 10 points each, and every 1000 Ipsy points will get you a bonus item.  If you want to try it out, please use my link here.  I'll get some extra Ipsy points for each referral.

Revlon Colorburst Lip Balm, Balm Stain, and Matte Balms

I also picked up a set of these three Revlon products as an Ipsy deal!  I got them for $18, which is saving about 33% each.  They came loose in a pink Ipsy mailer... weird.  I guess I was expecting them to be wrapped or something?


It was a little off-topic, but I did want to show that Ipsy does one deal per week where you can get a discount on a featured product from that month's bag.

No special consideration or compensation was received for this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own. All items mentioned within were paid for by me. This post contains a referral link.