2014 Beauty Advent Calendars Roundup

2014 Beauty Advent Calendars

November is here and with that the obligatory Christmas decorations and specials have hit the stores. This is the perfect time to think about your advent calendar for this year. I personally am a kid at heart and an advent calendar is the one thing that is a must for me each Christmas. Last year I discovered beauty advent calendars for myself and I’m hooked.

Beauty advent calendars are still a relatively new concept in the US. Benefit Cosmetics dipped their toe into the market last year with their Countdown to Love advent calendar. This year, other companies are following suit so there are quite a few choices out there for the 2014 holiday season.

Benefit Cosmetics – Candy-Coated Countdown – $99 ($150 value)

You might remember that I decided to get the Benefit advent calendar last year. I really liked it but I can’t really get behind this year’s edition. Benefit increased the price from $68 to $99, a whooping 45% increase. At the same time they reduced the number of beauty items – including getting rid of all the powder blushes and bronzer samples – and replaced them with knick-knacks. This might still make a great advent calendar for Benefit newbies but considering that this is the most expensive advent calendar of the bunch, I think there are better options out there.

Ciaté – Mini Mani Manor – $60 ($199 value)

This is the perfect advent calendar for nail polish lovers. It contains 22 mini nail polishes, one full size, and a nail transfer. I love the mix of colors but it might just be a bit much if you don’t wear nail polish on a daily basis.

QVC Beauty Christmas Advent Calendar – $87

This advent calendar contains a really nice selection of high-end beauty products, including skin care, hair care, makeup, and bath & body items. It’s on the higher end as far as price goes but it includes some great brands.

The Body Shop – Beauty Advent Calendar – $50 ($98 value)

I love The Body Shop’s bath & body products and this one is a great mix of different products in a nice range of scents, with a few skin care goodies thrown in for good measure. I personally could do without all of the bar soap but hey, you can’t have everything. It looks like this calendar is not for sale at the moment but the marketing emails are advertising it as ‘coming soon.’

Tarte – Petite Treats 12 Days of Tarte Deluxe Collection – $37 ($122 value)

The tarte Petite Treats calendar is technically not a full advent calendar since it only contains 12 products but it’s such a great selection of products that I just had to include it. This calendar includes samples of all of tarte’s bestsellers and it’s a great value.

Pourri & Co. Advent Calendar – $65

If you love perfume than this is the advent calendar for you. In addition to perfume samples it also contains a few breath mists, odor eliminators, and fabric deodorizers. This calendar probably doesn’t give you the best bang for your buck in comparison to the others in this list but if you enjoy trying new scents than this one might be worth it for you.

I’m still trying to decide which advent calendar to get for myself. I love the selection of products in the QVC Beauty Christmas Advent Calendar but it’s a bit above my price range. The products in the tarte Petite Treats calendar are great but I’ve already tried most of them so this one might not be as exciting as it would be for a tarte novice. Lastly, I also really like the selection in The Body Shop Beauty Advent Calendar so that one is definitely an option as well. Decisions, decisions.

Are you treating yourself to a beauty a advent calendar this year? Which one will it be?

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Birchbox- October 2014

Birchbox - October 2014

To find out more about the Birchbox subscription service, click here.

I’m really, really behind on all my subscription box reviews. I was hoping to get this one out the door in October, you know, the month were this box actually arrived – but no such luck. The good news is that the wedding planning craziness has slowed down a bit so hopefully I will have more time to catch up on my postings.

I don’t want to keep you waiting any longer so here is what I received in my Birchbox in October.

Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle

Full Size: 8 fl oz, $21.95
Sample Size: estimated 1 fl oz, $2.74 estimated value

Birchbox - October 2014 - Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle

I’m a huge fan of leave-in conditioners, especially since I’ve been growing out my hair and it’s been getting really long. They provide a nice added boost of nourishment for my consistently dry ends. I’m looking forward to giving this one a try.

Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream

Full Size: 0.58 fl oz, $38
Sample Size: 0.2 fl oz, $13.10 value

Birchbox - October 2014 - Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream

This eye cream couldn’t have come at a better time since I just finished up the eye creams I received in my July Glossybox. The consistency of this one is creamy and moisturizing which is perfect for the upcoming winter months.

ModelCo Party Proof Lipstick Trio

Shade: Kitty, a soft baby pink
Full Size: 3 x 0.13 oz, $24
Sample Size: 1 x 0.13 oz, $8 value

Birchbox - October 2014 - ModelCo Party Proof Lipstick Trio

This lipstick was the sample I got to pick in this month’s box. Kitty is a beautiful rose color that’s right up my alley.

Coastal Scents Revealed 2 Palette Set

Full Size: $34

Birchbox - October 2014 - Coastal Scents Revealed 2 Palette Set

I love my Naked 2 eye shadow palette but it’s a bit bulky for traveling. This sample is tiny, in a good way. I don’t wear eye shadow on a daily basis so most eye shadows last me for-ev-er. This one is just big enough to get a lot of use out of but small enough to fit comfortably in my travel makeup case. I will definitely take this one with me to Germany when I visit at the end of the month.

dr. brandt pores no more vacuum cleaner

Full Size: 1 oz, $45
Sample Size: 0.25 oz, $11.25 value

Birchbox - October 2014 - dr. brandt pores no more vacuum cleaner

This face mask promises to “loosen and extract blackheads . . . while absorbing oil and tightening pores.” I personally don’t care much for this types of masks since my skin is on the drier side and I always need to follow up with a hydrating mask after. However, this might be nice for whenever my skin is acting up.

This box was pretty great. I loved the mix of products and I will use everything except for maybe the face mask. The value of this box was great as well – close to $40. Well done, Birchbox.

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Glossybox – September 2014

Glossybox - September 2014

Glossybox - September 2014 - First Look

Glossybox - September 2014 - Contents

Hey look! It’s my September Glossybox. I actually had this one sitting on my desk for a month now but I guess better late than never, right? Sigh.

September’s box was a collaboration with Harper’s Bazaar magazine. The contents were curated by Harper’s Bazaar Digital Director, Joyann King. I usually love Glossybox’s collaborations but this one was pretty boring in comparison with others. But see for yourself.

Bulgari Eau Parfumée Au thé Blanc Conditioner

Full Size: 6.76. fl oz, $45
Sample Size: 2.5 fl oz, $16.64 value

Glossybox - September 2014 - Bulgari Eau Parfumée Au thé Blanc Conditioner

I don’t know how I feel about designers dabbling into the world of hair care (or skin care for that matter). Makeup I can understand to an extend but for hair care I don’t think a designer brings anything to the table aside from the brand name. Consequently, I bet that this is probably a perfectly average conditioner that is totally overpriced. I’m happy to be proven wrong but I’m not holding my breath. I’m still on the fence on whether to trade this or not.

Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Mascara

Full Size: 0.3  oz, $23
Sample Size: 0.1 oz, $7.67 value

Glossybox - September 2014 - Benefit Cosmetics They're Real! Mascara

I still very much like this mascara so I’m happy to have a backup.

Essie

Shade: Madison Ave-Hue
Size: 0.46 fl oz, $8.50

Glossybox - September 2014 - Essie

I was really hoping to get the other shade in the September Glossybox, She’s Pampered. This shade is a really bright bubble gum pink that isn’t really my style. Oh well.

Vichy Liftactive Night

Full Size: 1.69 fl oz, $50
Sample Size: 0.51 fl oz, $15.09 value

Glossybox - September 2014 - Vichy Liftactive Night

Yay, skin care! Moisturizers are always welcome in my subscription boxes.

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar Metallic

Shade: Authentic
Size: 0.33 fl oz, $18

Glossybox - September 2014 - Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar Metallic

I’ve been interested in trying the OCC lip tars for a while so I was excited about seeing this in a spoiler. I’m not too crazy about the color so I will probably trade this one which is disappointing.

Overall, this was a pretty average Glossybox. It didn’t knock me off my feet but I will definitely use the mascara and the night cream. I guess I just had higher expectations from a collaboration with Harper’s Bazaar.

This was also the last Glossybox in my 3-month subscription. So far I haven’t re-subscribed. I think Glossybox is a prefectly fine subscription but over the past three months it’s also been a bit boring and I just expect more from a subscription that costs $21 a month. I guess I’m a just glossied-out for the time being so I will give it a break for now. I would definitely consider subscribing again in the future if Glossybox were to do any exciting collaborations.

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September Favorites and an Announcement

Oh hi there. Will you look at the calendar? It’s October already – can you believe it?

It’s been a bit quiet around this little corner of the internet but for a very good reason. Are you sitting down? The very best boyfriend and I got engaged!!! It’s all very exciting and we couldn’t be happier.

Since the proposal we’ve been really busy with the wedding planning and so far we have a date set, our venue booked, and we hired our photographer. Naturally, I haven’t had as much time devote to this little blog and, unfortunately, I don’t really see that changing anytime soon. You always hear how stressful planning a wedding is but I didn’t really believe it until we now have to plan our own. There are just so many decisions to make – small and large. Sigh.

I do hope to still post at least a few times a months and I have a few posts lined up, including my September Glossybox and a couple of Memeboxes I received recently so keep an eye out for those. There might also be a few crafting-related posts in the future. The very best fiancé and I are thinking about DIYing a lot of our decorations so I hope to share a few of our projects with you. This blog was never supposed to be a straight-up beauty blog so I’m looking forward to broadening the scope a bit.

For now, let’s talk about my September favorites. Since my life has mostly been revolving around wedding planning as of recently, I decided to throw in a few non-beauty, wedding-related things into the mix as well. I hope you don’t mind.

September 2015 Favorites

  1. Living Proof Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Styling Treatment (4 fl oz, $26): This styling treatment is great if you’re looking for some oomph for fine hair without the frizziness that can be the result with other volumizing styling treatments. I tried a sample of this during July’s Sample Killah challenge and pretty much immediately went out and bought the full size.
  2. Caudalie Foot Beauty Cream (2.5 fl oz, $15): Foot cream isn’t something you would usually rave about but this one is a-mazing. And it smells so good, like grape juice. It’s a new staple in my beauty routine. Hey, who doesn’t like soft feet?
  3. A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration ($9.99): With the whole wedding industry pushing for a fairytale wedding it’s so easy to lose sight of what’s important. This book, and the related website, do a great job of bringing me back down to earth after any intense Pinterest session.
  4. The Body Shop Blueberry Shower Gel (Limited Edition, 8.4 fl oz, $8): This shower gel simply smells amazing. Enough said.
  5. Paper Flower Tutorials by Lia Griffith: As I had mentioned, we’re thinking about DIYing our wedding decorations, including the flowers. This website has amazing tutorials for paper and crepe paper flowers. They looks super realistic and are really fun to make.

What beauty (and non-beauty items) have you been loving this past September?

Birchbox – September 2014

Birchbox - September 2014

Birchbox - September 2014 - contents

To find out more about the Birchbox subscription service, click here.

Today will be a rather quick post as I just want to share my September Birchbox with you before heading off to bed.

September marks Birchbox’s 4th birthday and to honor the occasion the boxes came in a beautiful custom design. I love the box. Can we get more custom designs please?

Birchbox - September 2014 - Avène Cleanance Soap-Free Gel Cleanser

Avène Cleanance Gel Soap-Free Cleanser

Full Size: 6.76 fl oz, $20
Sample Size: 1.69 fl oz, $5 value

I love trying new cleansers but a lot of them are too harsh for my skin. This one is sulfate-free so I hope that it’s less drying than other cleansers.

Birchbox - September 2014 - Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum

Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum

Full Size: 1 fl oz, $79
Sample Size: 0.06 fl oz, $4.74 value

I previously received a larger sample of this serum in a pick-two from Birchbox. I didn’t really think it did much for my skin so I’m not sure that I will use this sample. However, this is such a tiny tube that it’s probably not worth the hassle of trying to trade it.

Birchbox - September 2014 - Davines

Davines OI – Absolute Beautifying Potion

Full Size: 4 fl oz, $41
Sample Size: 0.1 fl oz, $1.03 value

Davines OI – Absolute Beautifying Shampoo

Full Size: 9.5 fl oz, $26
Sample Size: 0.4 fl oz, $1.09 value

Davines OI – Absolute Beautifying Conditioner

Full Size: 8.5 fl oz, $32
Sample Size: 2.53 fl oz, $9.52 value

This was the pick-your-sample option I chose this month. More shampoo and conditioner! I like that this one is sulfate-free and the conditioner is a decent size to match the huge bottle of shampoo I got in June.

Birchbox - September 2014 - TEMPTU S:B Highlighter

TEMPTU S/B Highlighter

Shade: Champagne Shimmer
Full Size: 1 fl oz, $27.50
Sample Size: 0.1 fl oz, $2.75 value

I don’t use highlighter a whole lot and this one looks a bit too copper in the bottle for my taste so I’m not sure whether I will get much use out of it.

Birchbox - September 2014 - Juliette Has a Gun Anyway

Juliette Has a Gun Anyway

Full Size: 3.38 fl oz, $120
Sample Size: 0.06 fl oz, $2.13 value

I can’t decide whether I like this scent or not. It’s a bit more masculine than the scents I usually gravitate toward but not unpleasantly so.

Well, I’m not unhappy with this box but it wasn’t a very exciting one either since I had previously sampled the Caudalie serum and I probably won’t use the highlighter and the perfume. The value wasn’t too bad at just over $26 and I will definitely use the cleanser and the hair products.

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Operation ‘Every Last Drop’ – August Update

Operation 'Every Last Drop' - August Update

Since it’s mid-September by now, a progress report for Operation ‘Every Last Drop’ is way overdue. My efforts to use up all of those half-empty beauty products got off to a pretty good start. I was able to finish quite a few products that were near the end of their lifetime anyway. Here is what I used up during the month of August.

Julep Bare Body Milk (6.8 fl oz, $24): I actually ended up really liking this body lotion. It’s perfect for summer time because it’s non-greasy and has a light, refreshing scent. I just wish it wasn’t as expensive.

bliss Soapy Suds Body Wash + Bubbling Bath (16 fl oz, $18): This shower gel does not deserve the name “soapy suds.” It doesn’t foam well at all and it took about 8-10 squirts to get a halfway decent lather. Ridiculous. I did like the scent which is citrusy with a hint of spice. Very refreshing in the mornings.

AHAVA Mineral Foot Cream (3.4 fl oz, $20): For some reason I had it in my mind that I didn’t like this foot cream which is why it ended up in the back of my drawer. It actually works really well but I wish it had more of a scent to it.

Listerine Total Care Zero  Anticavity Mouthwash (33.8 fl oz, $5.99): Yay, it’s gone!

Murad Essential-C Cleanser (6.5 fl oz, $36): In the hopes of finishing this cleanser up faster I started using it twice a day which wasn’t a great idea. It’s actually much more drying than I remembered it being – especially when using it exclusively. I switched to using it once every two days and that worked well enough.

Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cream (1.7 fl oz, $65): This jar really only had about two uses left in it. I like this cream a lot and I already purchased a replacement but I have a lot of other creams in my drawer that I should use up first. I will definitely come back to this one though, especially once winter rolls around.

Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic (6.7 fl oz, $23.90): My skin didn’t really like this moisturizing toner very much. It was just too irritating.

TIGI Catwalk Session Series Transforming Dry Shampoo (5.2 oz, $19.95): This works well enough both as a dry shampoo and a texturizer but I’ve moved on to other products that work better.

Operation 'Every Last Drop' - August Update - Additions

After writing the original post I found a few more products in the back of my drawers and stashes that I would like to add to the list:

Anatomicals Spray Misty For Me Facial Spritz (3.4 fl oz, $9): Another moisturizing toner that doesn’t really do much for my skin. I just need to finally use this up.

Nivea Creme (2 oz, $1.97): This is a super-thick cream that is just too heavy to use all over my body. I like to use it for any rough spots like my elbows and I think I will start using it as a foot cream in order to be able to finish it off before the end of the year.

Benefit Cosmetics – ‘Hello Flawless!’ Oxygen Wow Liquid Foundation (1 fl oz, $36): I’ve had this foundation for almost a year so it’s about time to use it up. It’s a pretty good foundation and now that the temperatures aren’t as hot it works well enough in terms of staying power.

Overall Progress: 8 products out of 22 used, 3 products added, 17 products to go

Are you participating in Operation ‘Every Last Drop?’ You can find out more about it in my original post here. I would love to read about your progress so feel free to link up in the comments below.

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JULEP – Classic with a Twist Box September 2014

JULEP – Classic with a Twist Box September 2014

After the last couple of months of slow shipping, Julep is back on track with their shipping schedule and this month’s box arrived super fast at my doorstep. I’ve actually had this box for a week but my laptop has been giving me grief and I had to spend six hours at the Apple store to get it fixed. Long story. Anyway, everything it’s all better now so I finally get to review the September Classic With a Twist box.

The theme this month was ‘Art Walk’ and the whole collection was full of colors that I would describe as broody – dark and muted neutrals that are perfect for the transition into fall and right up my alley. This month also saw the return of the satin finish – Julep’s version of a matte. I personally prefer cremes over glitters, chromes, and metallics and the satin finish is a nice way to spice it up a bit.

The Classic With a Twist box included Quinn, a charcoal purple satin, and Luptia, a ripe rhubarb creme. Luptia reminds me of Evie – one of my favorites – albeit without the shimmer. Quinn is just a very interesting mix between gray and purple and I’m excited for the satin finish with that one.

JULEP – Classic with a Twist Box September 2014 - nail polishes

The product this month was the new Plush Pout lip crayon (0.07 oz, $20, $16 Maven price) in your choice of one of four colors. The Classic With a Twist box came with the Cardinal Red color pre-picked and against all odds I decided to stick with it. I’ve never thought that red lipstick would suit me but this one has some blue undertones and I really liked the way it looked in the swatches so I ran with it. I actually really like this color on me. I went to a Rockabilly show the other night and my friend did my hair into victory rolls so this color was a great way to pull the whole look together.

This lip crayon is super pigmented so you have to apply it carefully. It does wear off after a few hours but it leaves a nice, dark stain that will stick around until you remove it with makeup remover. The crayon contains a moisturizing lip balm core. It makes application a bit difficult but it also makes the lip color feel less drying. I like that this is the twist up kind and doesn’t need sharpening but I wish it came with a crayon tip instead of a rounded tip to allow for more precise application.

JULEP – Classic with a Twist Box September 2014 - Plush Pout

I paid $19.99 for this box and received $48 worth of items ($38.40 Maven price). Each Julep nail polish is 0.27 fl oz and costs $14 ($11.20 Maven price) if bought individually.

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