13 December 2015

November Birchbox

Last month I opted to try the Glamlife Guru guest editor box. As a subscriber to Tati Westbooks Youtube Channel, I was interested in her recommendations from Birchbox. Unfortunately my desire to like these products did not out-weigh their perfomance for me.

With the air dryer and cooler, I have started the search for super-hydrating skincare products. Avene Hydrance Optimale Hydrating Serum  is the first product I tried. As a serum, this is light, smooth, pleasant smelling and effective everyday moisturizer. I would consider repurchasing in the summer/ spring months when I did not need as much hydration.

As a fan of Jouer, I anticipated loving the Jouer Lip Enhancer Lip Balm. This balm goes on clear with a non-greasy formula. I really like the way it slightly enhanced my lips without burning or tingling. The downside is that it doesn't seem to last nor is the formula very moisturizing. Another con-the smell, too rosey for my preference.

In November every Birchbox subscriber received a LOC One & Done Shadow Stick as the featured item. Monthly subscribers that did not choose this box were able to choose between the three colors available. This box came with the gold metallic shade "Day Trip." Tati mentioned in her reveal of the LOC brand, that these shadow sticks were long lasting and she was right. The shadow feels slightly sticky once applied, then dries smooth and does not come off until removed with makeup remover. With my skin tone this color is an unflattering yellow shade. I'll be using this mostly for my inner eye corners or mixed with other neutrals for additional shimmer. I will definitely be trying other colors!

To be honest, I haven't gotten the hang of using Shisedo Ultimune Eye Concentrate. This may work for those with dark circles and wrinkles, but I did not seem to notice a difference to my under eye area after application. Occasionally I will have puffy under eyes and there are the beginings of a wrinkle or two that did not seem altered after application. Could this be from inconsistent use? Probably. At $65 for the full-sized verson, my budget says pass.

I saved the best for last! Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo is living up to all it's hype for me. Not only does this dry shampoo smell great, but it actually works. There is a white residue that disapears with oil absorption. This dry shampoo also adds the perfect amount of texture to aid in styling. This does not return hair to "just washed" state, which I think makes it better.

This month Birchbox is offering $10 to use in their shop for new subscribers. Interested? Follow this link!

22 November 2015

October Birchbox Review

Last month was another great box from Birchbox! Each product is something I would have picked to try myself, which is not always the case when it comes to subscription boxes. Even though a couple of the items didn't work out for me, I was very pleased with the selection.

The first item I tried was the R & Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo. Is it just me or is dry shampoo an overwhelmingly popular item in the beauty community? Don't get me wrong, any day that my hair looks great without the need to wash it, is a good day. I find this dry shampoo works very well on my blond hair and the smell is great. This dry shampoo adds a light amount of buildable texture making second (and third) hair days easier to style. Bonus for our dark-haired friends, no white residue! 

When I was given the option to customize this box during sample choice (a window of opportunity when subscribers are able to choose one of their box items while supplies last), I chose the Stila huge extreme mascara

The wand of this mascara has an hourglass shape with short bristles. Even after one application, there is a noticeable difference in the volume of my lashes. I would give it a medium(5) clump factor on a scale of  no clumps (0) to one wide eye lash (10). The turn off for me was the complete lack of curl. Even with the assistance of an eye lash curler, the lashes looked volumized, yet short and straight. After a couple hours I also noticed slight redness and irritation in both eyes. For my lashes and preference, I will probably not purchase this mascara in the future. 

Seeing a face mask in my Birchbox is like winning a prize. I LOVE trying new face masks here and there on a night when I am also painting my nails and drinking wine. There are a few I put off to the side for use when the specific need is applicable (travel, exfoliating, etc.). With only one to sample, I tried the BioRepublic Skincare Pomegranite Crush fiber mask one morning after work, shower, and facial cleanse. This mask is a little different because it is saturated with product. At one point I thought it was dripping down my face. The mask fits large, but can be manipulated to overlap with even coverage. On application, the mask feels wonderfully cool and warms slightly during wear. After removal, my skin did feel well moisturized with added elasticity. I would try this mask again!

As a frequent hand washer, I was eager to try the Jane Iredale HandDrink Hand Cream. The description claims to "hydrate, renew, and even skin tone" while providing SPF 15. Though I do really like the idea of an SPF hand cream, this did not live up to my expectations. The formula was thin and dried quickly. This made repeat and heavier applications necessary. The biggest drawback for me, the smell. I enjoy light flower and sweet fruit fragrances, but the smell is nauseatingly strong. 

The last product was already a favorite of mine. I had previously received a sample of the Vasanti BrightenUp Enzymatic face rejuvenator and loved it. The novelty with this exfoliator is the micro crystals. Many scrubs and exfoliants use larger crystals or beads that can be diluted in cleanser with a loss in effectiveness. 

Not unlike the grittiness of fine grained sandpaper, no surface is untouched with physical exfoliation. I also love that these micro crystals can reach the harder to reach areas such as creases in the chin and sides of the nose. it also has a pleasant clean smell and warming tingle as it works. I prefer to use this two to three times a week and follow with a very hydrating moisturizer or mask. Will definitely be purchasing this in the full-size. 

Overall, I have really enjoyed trying the products I received in my October Birchbox. There are a lot of new value sets and limited edition boxes for the holidays coming up. Stick around, I will be reviewing some of them! Interested in trying Birchbox for yourself or sending the perfect gift? Follow this link

09 November 2015

Everyday Glamour Birchbox

Of all the Limited Edition Birchboxes I have purchased over the last couple of years, this Everyday Glamour box is my new favorite. Even the box is stunning purple and gold, filled with the perfect products for transitioning to fall.

Each box includes the same products though some vary in color. Since I am reviewing these products after I have taken them all out of the box, I will discuss them in the order in which I opened them. 

The first of them being, the gorgeous polish Paparazzi from Ciate. The color is a rich dark maroon that glides smoothly on to each nail. The brush is wide and thin making it easy to reach the edge of each nail. The sad but unfortunate truth, it chips easily. I have been trying different top coats (Essie three-way glaze and Essie gel top coat) in hopes to salvage this beautiful fall polish with no luck yet. 

Having already been a fan of Jouer products, I was eager to try their powder eyeshadow. The compact that contains the shadow was created to fit together with other shadows, bronzers, or blushes for a custom pallate option. The color I received in my box is a rich dark brown, Espresso, ideal for a smokey-eye or crease color. The shadow has slight shimmer to it between a matte and a metallic. 

I am constantly accumulating and trying new mascaras and was excited to try TexasLash by Cargo. At first I thought it was "Just another mascara", until I tried it. The first coat gave my lashes length and the second, volume. I like that the brush is thick and evenly coats the lashes. I don't usually use black mascara for day to day wear, but will for date night, special occasions, and days needed a little extra "glamour."

The next two products will come in handy during the cooler and drier months. Starting with skin, Michael Todd Concentrated C antioxidant Moisurizing Serum created to protect the skin from harmful UV rays using Vitamin C. A little goes a long way with this serum claiming only 2-3 drops needed to face and neck. As a vegan and organic product, the smell is mild and sweet, like oatmeal. The serum dries quickly which is helpful on the go. I have several dry patches on my face to concentrate on with this serum and have really liked the results. The areas are improving and my skin is starting to have more elasticity. 

I have tried many facial oils without much luck. Most of them too heavy or oily for my skin. Having previous luck with other products from Caudalie, I was ready to try the Divine Oil in this box. I am already a fan of using oil on my hair once styled before hair spray. The scent is rosey and clean, similar to bath beads. The travel size of 15ml is more than enough to last as only a few drops are needed at a time. 

NER:D skin repair master mask- I can never get enough face masks. At the time of this posting, I haven't tried this one yet. I am a face-mask hoarder if you will. This particular mask claims to repair and rejuvenate skin cells. I may use this mask or gift it to a friend during the holiday season. 

Smith & Cult Shining Lip Lacquer in Life in Photographs in the shade Life in Photographs is a beautifully neutral light pink. The gloss is smooth and not sticky or tacky. The fragrance is very sweet, like sugar cookies. Swatched as a clear gloss with a hint of pink to be worn alone or over a lipstick for added shine.

Stephanie Johnson pouch in Tinseltown Gunmetal- this soft, glittery pouch is the perfect accessory to any holiday gathering. Large enough for the essentials but small enough to carry to events. This is one of my favorite pieces in this box. The color is a pinkish lavender with a silvery sheen. 

If you are on the fence about this box, I highly recommend it. I have found a use for every product and have even considered ordering a second box.

The opinions and reviews of this box are entirely my own with no company affiliation.

04 November 2015

September Birchbox Review

Is it just me or are the monthly Birchboxes getting better and better? I honestly dont know where all these curated, limited edition boxes, sample choices, and Birchbox plus items are coming from, but it is exactly where all my money is going..

Lately, I have been selecting one of my samples during sample choice time and waiting patiently for my box as it arrives the third or sometimes forth week in the month. This month Birchbox had a little Faux Pas when they sent me a repeated sample. I was rewarded with 50 Birchbox points as their apology, which of course I used almost immediately (I can hardly ever save them). 

Even with the repeat, September was a great batch of products. My first and favorite product is my new POP Beauty eye shadow trio. In the past I prefer to stick with neutral eye shadow colors in the warm brown/ gold catagory. One application and I was in love. The colors range from a deep purple to a silver, that look amazing together. 

Paired with my IT Cosmetics brow powder, my eyebrows are filled and set with Benefits Gimme Brow in medium/dark (which was WAY too dark for my skin tone and hair color). I prefer to keep my eyebrows neat with moderate volume. I would hardly say they are anywhere close to "#fleek". But with the addition of a small amount of this gel, I can acheive my desired shape and volume in a way that also lasts through my day. I will definitely be purchasing the full sized version, however it will be in light/medium.

Seriously can anyone get enough of the smell of amika products? The Shield- style extending spay is no exception. This spray is very light-weight and dries quickly. As the weather has been changing, I haven't tested it's ability on humidity yet, but I will keep using it for heat protection when blow drying or curling.

Pores no more! was my repeat sample this month. As a product I have enjoyed in the past, it was nice to have another sample. My pores look smaller, skin feels tighter and deeply cleansed after using this cleanser. This product does have a tendency to dry out my skin, so added moisture after drying is a must for me. Overall, I really enjoy this cleanser from Dr. Brandt.

As a subscriber, I opted to receive six or fewer fragrance samples during the year because I am very picky about my perfumes. I only wear one of the two perfumes I own on special occasions, so I am hardly ever in the market for more. Eau So Divine by Harvey Prince found its way into my Birchbox I was pleasantly surprised by it's scent. It is a sweet, but not too sweet scent with a hint of floral and woods. I would very seriously consider this if I was to make a third participant in my fragrance party of two.

Overall I really enjoyed September's Birchbox. Receiving these boxes half-way or at the end of the month makes reviews during the month difficult, therefore I apologize for the delay. I do have most of October's review almost complete so stay tuned in the next day or two for that as well!

Want to try Birchbox? Heres a link to your customized box of delux samples for only $10/month.

01 September 2015

Sally Hansen Airbrush Perfect Legs

As a blond hair, green-eyed girl, it can be difficult to achieve and obtain a glowing tan. Advancement in skincare and makeup containing SPF have been raising awareness to maintaining healthy skin. There have been a rise in products that produce tanned skin gradually and that last over days/ weeks. Sometimes, there isn't time to schedule a spray tan or attempt multiple day applications in 8 hours. Who else has been a prisoner of the over applied knees, elbows and hand tan? Exfoliation one hour prior to the event can only help so much..Enter Sally Hansen Airbrush legs.

I received a sample of this from Influenster. Influenster is a company that sends products for free to members for review. I'll be honest with you guys, I did not think I was going to like this product when I received it. Airbrush Perfect Legs boasts to give a glow like tan after application that is easy to remove with soap and water. My first thought was.."Why would I want to wash it off??" My second thought was what about the rest of my body? Then I tried it. As per directions I applied to my shins and thighs then sparingly at the feet, ankles, and knees. I used the shade "Light" which seemed to be dark before application. The formula was very smooth, almost velvety. The directions stated to use a quarter size amount which seemed accurate. Typical with tanning applications, my hands were a mess, but luckily it washed off with a little rubbing. After only 2 minutes it was dry and I dressed as usual. As I looked at my legs I was pleased. It wasn't a "I've been on South Beach for two weeks" tan, but a healthy glow. After a whole day of wear and a swim in the pool, it was gone. But my impression remained. This would be perfect for a date night or special occasion. I can't wait to try the aerosol version!

04 August 2015

July Favorites

July was no exception to how fast the summer has been flying by. Throughout July I tried a lot of new products and found some new favorites.

1. Bombshell Lip Balm 2. Albiet Lipstick 3. LAQA & Co lip/cheek stain

To jump in, I'll start with last months go-to lip products. I am limited to the range of colors that are work appropriate. Fortunately, I found three great options including bombshell lip balmAlbiet Lipstick, and LAQA & Co Lip Cheek Stain. The Bombshell lip balm in French Kiss has been a great every day balm with a hint of pink while also maintaining subtlety at work. It feels moisturizing like a balm, and the color seems to make my skin look more that a thing? It is awesome!

I have been waiting years to buy the Albiet Lipstick in Peony ever since I heard it here. I LOVE this color, a neutral coral pink that is perfect for fair/light skin and seems like every hair color. It comes in a luxurious gold tube that looks great out on a vanity or to take out. It is pricey for a lipstick I'll admit, but after I finally made the purchase I couldn't be happier that I did. 

I first heard about LAQA & Co on Birchbox and immediately liked it. This color Humble Brag comes in the new Candidly Nicole guest editor box for August. It is a darker pink that can be worn as a lip or cheek stain. I have been using this primarily as a lip stain that LASTS and feels hydrating not greasy. 

Stila Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush in Water Poppy

Speaking of hydrating, Stila Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush in Water Poppy is my next product. After reading Lauren's Birthday Haul post (a fellow Birchblogger) I ran out and got this blush. The color is a bright orange/pink perfect for summer. The formula for this blush is gel and word to the wise, a little goes a long way with this. Of course, the first time I tried it I took a nice sized dab and even that was too much. As a gel blush, it goes on cool and has a glowing affect. As hot as it has been outside, I like to dab a little of this on with some mascara and start my day.

Marcelle BB Cream is another Birchbox favorite of mine. I have received several Marcelle products in my Birchbox and decided to try this out. I feel like I am always running behind and when it comes to makeup in a hurry, this is my current solution. As much as I like to spend 30 min on my makeup, I just can't seem to find that, especially before work. That being said, BB cream to the rescue. The shade is fair/ light and it seems to match well. The coverage is light/medium and build-able using my fingers to apply. Unfortunately, this BB cream does not contain SPF...enter my next product, COOLA SPF organic makeup setting spray. I reviewed this spray here. After purchasing the full-sized, it quickly became a monthly favorite.

Too Faced Born This Way Foundation in Vanilla and LAQA & Co Humble Brag

After all the hype, I had to try Too Faced Born This Way Foundation. Formulated with coconut oil and claiming to provide undetectable, yet full coverage...seemed too good to be true. I used my 20% off coupon at Ulta ($38 seems medium to high in price) and went for it. Having dry skin in the summer is no joke. Increasing water in take, a nightly moisturizer, and around the clock SPF wasn't helping. Sometimes putting any sort of product or foundation on my face, just seemed to accentuate the dryness and highlight any peeling. Gross. When I first went to color match this foundation I tried applying a small amount of Vanilla on one side of my jaw and Nude on the other. For fear of being helped by an associate and lack of time, I hauled out of there. (Do you ever just want to shop alone?) I realize they could have helped match my shade, but times before and even the Color IQ at Sephora was a fail. So I got in my car to see which shade looked best in natural light and I couldn't remember which was which; they both looked great. Later that night I took a closer look and could even feel the difference. Where there had been foundation was smooth and the surrounding areas dry and peeling. I went back and got the lighter shade knowing my summer tan (if you can call it that) would fade in to the paleness I have grown to appreciate. The first day I took the time to apply this foundation, I took it for a test drive in New Orleans heat walking thru the French Quarter. After sweating and walking around for a few hours it still looked great without feeling heavy or melting. Even under to fluorescent lights at work this foundation looks great. If you are on the fence about this one, I highly recommend trying it.

L'Oreal Paris Infallible 2-step nail polish
Last months impulse purchase was L'Oreal Parish Infallible nail polish. A friend of mine at work recommended this 2-step polish to me claiming that it "lasts days even with all the hand washing." Earlier in July I tried Revlon's Gel Envy polish that lasted me approx 3 days...hmm. I am especially critical of nail polish because I pick it off at the first sign of chipping. Call it a nervous habit or OCD, but few things look as bad as chipped up nail polish. So after the first chip, I'll removed it all. But when one nurse tells you something works thru work, it peaked my interest. I found Forever Candy and a few other shades at CVS. I was taken by surprise at how pricey they are ($10), but it does come with two polishes a base and special formulated shade specific top coat. I like the packaging because both polishes can be easily transported together or separated. The color comes out as a bright red vs a pink and the brush is fantastic. It fans wide but coats an even thin layer, easily tackling the corners of the nail without buildup. After two coats of base and one of the top coat, the dry time is only a few minutes. When dry, the shine is so great that they look wet. I managed to keep this on for 7 days before chipping, including cleaning the house and three 12 hour shifts of constant hand washing!

July was an awesome month for new and loved products. I have already started accumulating new products for Augusts favorites. Check back for more reviews and favorites! Have a product you think I should try? I'd love to hear from you!

29 July 2015

July Birchbox Review

My Birchbox this month was AMAZING. This box most likely falls in the top three boxes I have ever received in my 2+ years as a Birchbox subscriber. The first product I reached for when I opened this box was the stila stay all day liquid lipstick in Venezia. I put this on immediately and loved the color, a mix of bright orange and pink. Within seconds the lipstick was dry and stayed put for a few hours. In fact, I accidentally fell asleep before taking this off and to my surprise (6 hours later) it didn't come off all over my pillow and the color was mostly intact.

I have previously received other Macadamia products in my Birchbox and enjoyed them. I was excited to try the Macadamia Professional leave-in conditioner. The description states that this light-weight conditioner is both a protector and detangler. It seemed to work well as a protectant from my curling iron without adding weight. When it came to detangling- they weren't lying when the directions state "Spray liberally." I may be impartial to other types of detangling/conditioning products because I have found THE ONE here. This does come as a close second with smell, consistency, and performance. Until they discontinue my Beauty Protector Detangler, this one will have to wait.

theBalm Desert Bronzer- Lets start with the sample size on this one. I actually laughed out loud when I read that this was a bronzer. I don't have it pictured on here, but think tiny. The color itself is a nice chocolate brown that would look great as either a bronzer or eye shadow. It was a little dark for my fair/light skin tone. It goes on easy and blends nicely, with a little going a long way. Overall I would recommend to Birchbox or theBalm to issue a shallow but wider sample packaging vs eye shadow size. Overall I would consider purchasing this brand of bronzer, in a lighter shade.

Do you ever fill a cart online in hopes that your financial situation will allow you to purchase all the items, but sadly it doesn't? When it is available, the amika Un.Done Texture Spray has been sitting in my Birchbox cart on and off for months. Then it arrived. I savored the cute little can for a week before trying it. Like all amika products I have tried, this one did not disappoint. It smells wonderful without being overpowering, it sprays evenly, is light, and effective. Back in my cart it will go (on backorder right now) to be purchased indefinitely!

It's hard to rate the items in this box because they are all great, but if I had to pick one favorite it would be the COOLA SPF 30 Organic Makeup Setting Spray. Before I opened my birchbox this month, I would say the amount of times I used a makeup setting spray was twice. Honestly, I am usually running behind and opt for simple products that can be applied quickly. To me, a setting spray seemed like a "special occasion" product. Then I tried this. I won't lie to you, I got a little in my eyes the first time (mistake) it burns. BUT it works, is organic and has SPF 30! The trifecta! Having fair/ light skin and a strong family history of Melanoma, I am so glad to have this. I am not one to wear lots of makeup to the beach or pool, usually a few waterproof things and a full-thickness sunscreen. I am getting the hang of spraying my face without flinching because the end result is worth it. I already bought the full-sized version and will continue to wear this daily and re-apply when out in the sun.

Birchbox Plus item-
As a bonus upgrade to my box, I added the Sunski Headlands Sunglasses in Pink. These UV400 polaroized sunglasses are adorable. I have taken them to the pool and wear them frequently without scratches or any issues. Would I purchase them for the full retail amount of $48? No, but for a bonus I enjoy wearing them.

Overall this was a huge win of a box for me. I apologize I haven't been posting more reviews, life has been crazy to say the least. I am getting back on schedule and have been trying lots more products so expect more reviews soon!

As always if you would like more information on Birchbox follow the link here for a referral.

16 February 2015

February Birchbox Review

I have been a Birchbox subscriber for over a year and a half and LOVE it! For me its more than the monthly box of samples selected based on my personality, it's all the extras. Not only can you purchase the full sized version of each sample through their website, but you can review them for points that can add up to free or discounted products. My weakness- limited edition boxes. My addiction to kits and boxes full of goodies led me to Birchbox. Then the combination of samples, full sized items at a discount or free, and even more products has been dangerous to my bank account, but well worth it. And lets not even get in to the Birchbox plus items. 

The Birchbox I'll review first is my February Rent The Runway box that was this month's guest editor curated box. 

I can't get enough dry shampoo's right now so this was a great product for my box. Winter is upon us and it is too cold to have wet hair all the time. I also color treat my hair so skipping the occasional washing helps maintain the color and moisture. This dry shampoo smells fresh without heavy perfume, its light, and works well for adding texture and minimizing oil. I didn't find it to be overly volumizing as per the product claimed, but would definitely buy the full size version. 
Exfoliation is something I cannot live without during the colder months. I am enjoying this sample for its size, texture, and efficiency. Unlike some scrubs, a little bit will actually work its way all over your face and neck. Some scrubs stay put in the area they are applied, but this spreads easily without feeling greasy. The smell is not over powering, a clean, almost bubble-bath smell. 

Body wash- not my favorite thing to get in my Birchbox, but I am trying to broaden my bathing product horizons. This is an interesting product for Birchbox. The back of the bottle states " Love live not going according to plan." Suggesting that this particular body wash (or use in a bath), aids in seduction...(crickets). I thought what the heck I'll try it for its cleaning properties and go from there. Right from the start the smell is very strong and fruity, not for me. I filled a bath with it and the bubbles were nice. A line of men weren't waiting outside my bathroom door when I got out so who's to say it does or doesn't work in a sensual way. My boyfriend did say I smelled nice, but that was all that was said about that. I would not purchase this product in full size, but it was an interesting experiment.

For a slight pop of color this eyeliner is great. It is also a beast to remove. If you are looking for a long lasting dark navy eyeliner that glides on easily and smoothly, this is my recommendation. I prefer gel and kohl liners over pencil and liquid for their workability, which this one has. As a nurse, I wont be wearing this every day, but may try it on occasion for a hint of color. 

This sample is the perfect size for any purse, it smells great and the color is a neutral pink. The consistency was moderately sticky and didn't last long. Also this color was not flattering for my skin tone and hair color. 

In all, I really liked my February Birchbox and can't wait for next month!

10 February 2015

Starting Over

Hi! My name is Abby. I was born, raised, and educated in Florida where my family still resides. I recently moved from the sketchy parts of New Orleans LA to a nice area called "The Northshore." I am a registered nurse working in the ER at one of the local hospitals. I have an amazing boyfriend, one sweet dog, and a lazy cat. 

I have seen and continue to encounter many things in this life. I try hard to help anyone and everyone I can. I am an avid believer in retail therapy, wine, and forgiveness. I am truly thankful for the things I have.

I believe that life is mysterious, magical, wonderful, difficult, rewarding, depressing, unsettling, fun, and more than anything, unpredictable. So we try to make the best of it. This blog will be my tiny shred of insight and hope. It will be my life written down and ways I make it more enjoyable and simpler. Things I love, dislike, am learning from, trying out, and sharing. Hopefully the majority of things I post will educate and entertain.

If you ever have questions or a topic you would like my opinion on, I am always more than happy to assist. Positive constructive criticism is also welcome. All of my reviews are my own honest opinions and sources of gifted products will be disclosed. Enjoy!