Month: April 2014

Nails Inc – Brook Street

Nails Inc - Brook Street

Now that the temperatures are warming up I’ve been getting into the mood for summery shades on my nails. I recently received a sample of the Brook Street nail polish from Nails Inc in a swap. This is my first Nails Inc polish and I’ve been very excited to give this British cult company a try.

Brook Street is described as a “soft pink coral shade.” It leans more pink than OPI’s My Chihuahua Bites! and Butter London’s MacBeth while at the same time being somewhat lighter and appearing a bit washed out. While Brook Street is not an exact dupe, it’s pretty similar to the above shades so if you own any of them it’s safe to skip this one.

I had a hard time applying thin, even coats with this nail polish. While the consistency is not particularly thick, there was a lot of drag during application, requiring more polish on the brush than I usually like to use. I applied two coats in the above pictures and the result turned out a bit uneven.

Wear time with this nail polish hasn’t been all that great either. I had the first minor chips within 24 hours. On the upside, I’ve now worn this polish for four days and while more chips have appeared the manicure overall is still passable. There also hasn’t been a lot of tip wear which is pretty impressive since I type on a keyboard all day.

Overall, I’m not blown away by this nail polish. I love the color but I wish application was a bit easier. I’m excited that I finally got to try a Nails Inc polish but at the same time I’m happy that I didn’t pay for this one out of my own pocket.

Nails Inc polishes are 0.33 fl oz and retail for $9.50.

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Subscription Boxes In The Spotlight: Petit Vour

I was recently searching for birthday gift ideas for a relative of mine. She’s a teenager and since those can be a bit hard to shop for I’ve stuck to makeup in the past. I decided to look for a subscription box that would match her interests because those always make awesome gifts.

During my research I stumbled upon Petit Vour, a subscription box service for cruelty-free and vegan beauty products. Said relative also happens to be a vegetarian so I decided that this subscription service would be perfect for her.

The price point is really affordable. For $15 a month you receive 4-5 deluxe and full-size beauty products that are all cruelty-free and vegan. Petit Vour does ship worldwide although there is an up-charge. The price for Canada is $25 a month and for the rest of the world is $30 per month. They also offer 3-month and 6-month gift subscriptions although there is no discount on those.

The signup process was a bit confusing. I was asked for the email address of the recipient which I set to my own email because I wanted everything to be a surprise. I received multiple emails about the gift subscription purchase and account setup and a lot of them were poorly worded. I can’t tell apart which one of them were supposed to go to the gift giver, myself, and which one were supposed to go to the gift recipient since the email addresses I provided were identical. However, all of the emails were worded to address the gift recipient, even the invoice which clearly stated the price paid for the subscription. Not cool. In none of the emails did it explain that this was a gift subscription which was already paid for, nor did it say who had gifted it. If I had received emails like that, not knowing that I was the recipient of a gift subscription, I would’ve been concerned about identity theft. This is definitely something that needs improving.

During signup I provided my home address so that the first box would be shipped to me because I wanted to gift it in person. It just arrived the other day and since I’m a curious person I decided to do some snooping on the internet about what would be in the box. I was pleasantly surprised. The April box contains a full-size Lily Lulu Eye Shadow Quad in Smoky Rose (4 x 0.05 oz, £18.99, circa $32), a deluxe size of the Kimberly Parry Creamy Cleanser (0.5 fl oz, $23.70 value), a Harvey Prince Yogini Eau de Parfum Rollerball (0.3 fl oz, $21), and a small sample vial of one of eight Jane Scrivner skin care products ($5 estimated value). I haven’t gifted the box yet so I can’t speak to how my relative likes these products but for me this box hits it out of the park. The value is amazing and I would definitely use all of the products in it. I’m a bit sad that I didn’t subscribe to Petit Vour myself and missed out on this amazing box but I will definitely keep this subscription service on my radar and plan signing up in the future.

The REN Hydra-Calm & Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milks – A Comparison

REN Hydra-Calm Cleansing Milk and Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk

A few weeks ago I reviewed the REN Hydra-Calm Cleansing Milk and official gave it the holy-grail seal of approval. I’ve since finished my first bottle and purchased another one. As I mentioned in my initial review, this cleanser has recently been repackaged and renamed and is now called the Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk. I’ve tested this new version over the past couple of weeks and wanted to share my impressions with you.

First, let’s talk about the bottle design. The Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk still contains the same amount of product, 5.1 fl oz, and the price of $28 also stayed the same. That being said, the redesigned bottle is quite a bit shorter meaning that it uses a lot less plastic which translates into less waste. REN also got rid of the inner pouch that used to contain the product. The bottle now utilizes a  more conventional airless pump design that uses a plastic disk at the bottom to keep the product in a vacuum.

During the redesign the pump received a face-lift as well and now looks more modern and sleek. The new pump dispenses a smaller amount of product which is great because it makes the cleanser last longer, saving me money. On the downside, one pump of the Evercalm Gently Cleansing Milk just isn’t quite enough for a full application while the old pump used to dispense the perfect amount of cleanser. I’m able to make it work but I wish the new pump would dispense just a tad bit more product.

In terms of ingredients the two products are exactly the same, yet the texture of the Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk seems a bit less creamy than the Hydra-Calm Cleansing Milk. When dispensed it’s more like a sorbet than a cream and it looks a bit gritty. However, once applied to the skin I can’t tell a difference between the two. The Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk feels just as smooth and hydrating on the skin as its predecessor.

Overall, I think that the changes to this cleanser have been positive. I really like the new bottle design since it uses less plastic and looks more modern. I hope that REN will improve the pump in the future to dispense a bit more product. What really surprises me is the change in texture of the cleanser, given that the ingredients stayed the same. I haven’t noticed a change in the effectiveness so the texture difference might just be due to it being a different batch. I still think that this is an awesome cleanser and it remains a firm staple in my skin care routine.

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Love It Or Leave It? Empties #5

My empties bag has been getting a bit full lately which means that it’s time to show you all what beauty products I’ve used up over the past month.

Skin Care

Empties #5 - Skin Care

REN Hydra-Calm Cleansing Milk

Full Size: 5.1 fl oz, $28
Verdict: Love It

This has been my go-to cleanser in the mornings and I wouldn’t want to be without it. Of course I already bought a new bottle. You can read my full review here.

Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet

Full Size: 1.3 fl oz, $39
Verdict: Love It

Another staple in my morning skin care routine. I love how light-weight, yet hydrating this moisturizer is. I didn’t waste any time to purchase the full size when I ran out of this sample.

Caudalie Grape Water

Full Size: 6.7 fl oz, $18
Verdict: Like It

This is a nice hydrating toner but I prefer something that contains a higher amount of beneficial ingredients. I like that it comes in an aerosol can that sprays a very fine mist. I might buy this again in the future to use throughout the day for a refreshing boost of hydration.

H2O+ Aquafirm+ Eye Lift Concentrate

Full Size: 0.5 fl oz, $38
Verdict: Like It

I haven’t had much success with eye creams in the past and this one is no exception. It certainly doesn’t work any miracles on my dark circles but it has a slight shimmer to it that helps to brighten the eye area.

Makeup

Empties #5 - Makeup

Too Faced Size Queen Mascara

Full Size: 0.5 fl oz, $21
Verdict: Like It

This used to be my go-to mascara for a long time but I’ve since found others that I like a bit better. This is by no means a bad mascara, though. I still have a couple of these that I will gladly use up but I’m not sure if I would purchase any additional ones.

Guerlain Maxi Lash Mascara

Full Size: 0.28 fl oz, $30
Verdict: Leave It

This mascara does a pretty decent job but it also smudges very easily and I end up with raccoon eyes by lunch time. Not cute. At this price range I was expecting much more. Don’t waste your money.

Eyeko Black Magic Mascara

Full Size: 0.29 fl oz, $24
Verdict: Love It

One of my new favorite mascaras. I was really sad when this sample ran dry so I purchased the full size when Birchbox sent me an offer code recently.

Hair Care

Empties #5 - Hair Care

Batiste Dry Shampoo

Full Size: 6.73 fl oz, $7.99
Verdict: Love It

I love Batiste dry shampoos. They’re hands-down the best dry shampoos I’ve ever used. Unfortunately, I go through them crazy fast – about a bottle every two to three weeks. Luckily they’re not too expensive.

Redken Extreme Anti-Snap Leave-In Treatment

Full Size: 8.5 fl oz, $17.50
Verdict: Love It

This is a really nice leave-in treatment that is supposed to prevent and seal split-ends. I love the scent and it does a great job at fighting dry and frizzy ends. The price might seem a bit steep but you only need about one pump per application. This bottle has lasted me well over a year and I used it pretty much after every hair wash. Well worth the initial investment.

Nails

Empties #5 - Nails

Up & Up Strengthening Nail Polish Remover

Full Size: 6 fl oz, $0.97
Verdict: Like It

There isn’t much to say about nail polish remover. This one does the job and is super cheap. I’d buy it again.

OPI Start To Finish

Full Size: 0.5 fl oz, $12.50
Verdict: Love It

I use this as my base coat and it does a great job. It goes on very smoothly in a thin, even layer and dries very fast. I purchased a new bottle a while back when this one started to run low.

OPI RapiDry Quick-Dry Top Coat

Full Size: 0.5 fl oz, $12.95
Verdict: Like It

This top coat dries super fast which makes at-home manicures a breeze. My only complaint is that it can dry a bit streaky. I recently purchased my second bottle when BeautyBrands had a deal on OPI nail polishes. You can read my full review here.

Body Source Simple Luxuries Crème Vanille Smoothing Hand Cream

Verdict: Leave It

This hand cream was part of a gift set I got a few Christmases ago. I think that this is a Kohl’s store brand and isn’t a permanent offering. At least I can’t find anything about this brand online. It doesn’t really matter because this hand cream isn’t anything special. It smells nice and isn’t too greasy but it doesn’t moisturizer at all.

Bath & Body

Empties #5 - Bath & Body

Bath & Body Works Gentle Foaming Hand Soap

Full Size: 8.75 fl oz, $6s.50
Verdict: Love It

Virtually all of my hand soaps come from Bath & Body Works. I love their scent range. This one was limited edition for last winter and was one of their lighter scents – fresh but still a bit sweet. I liked it a lot.

Philosophy Pink Grapefruit Shampoo, Bath, and Shower Gel

Verdict: Like It

This bottle was part of a set I got last fall. The pink grapefruit scent smells really nice but, unfortunately, isn’t part of the permanent range. I’d consider buying this again in the future if Philosophy ever brings back the scent.

Dove – Go Fresh Restore Anti-Perspirant and Deodorant

Full Size: 2.6 oz, $4.19
Verdict: Love It

Dove Go Fresh is my go-to deodorant and I love their new Restore line with blue fig and orange blossom scent. I plan on purchasing this one again in the future.

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JULEP – Joanna

Julep - Joanna - sunlight

JULEP Joanna in bright sunlight

In the spirit of Easter I wanted to show you one of my favorite nail polish colors for this spring – Julep’s Joanna.

Joanna is a lilac frost with blue undertones. The shimmer is especially visible in bright sunlight which makes the color more vibrant. When looking at the bottle in direct sunlight the shimmer also shows a red shift but that doesn’t translate to the nail.

The swatches below were shot in the shade which makes the color appear a bit more subdued, warmer, and less shimmery.

Julep - Joanna - shade

JULEP Joanna in the shade

The consistency of this color is perfect, neither too thin nor too thick. It makes application a breeze. I didn’t have any difficulty with streaking which can be a problem with some shimmers. The color was opaque in two thin coats.

I also didn’t have any issues with chipping with this polish. I wore it for four days until I got a bit tired of the color and tip-wear was minimal.

Overall, I think that this is a great color for spring. It’s a beautiful pastel and the frost finish gives it that bit of an edge that I love.

Julep nail polishes are 0.27 fl oz and retail at $14 ($11.20 Maven price).

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Beauty Hauls: Sephora 15% Off Spring Sale and Birthday Freebies

Sephora 15% Off Sale

A few weeks ago Sephora had their big 15% off spring sale. I decided to pick up a few odds and ends that I’ve been holding off purchasing. Most of these items have been on my wish list for a while but they’re a bit pricey so I’ve been waiting for a good sale to scoop them up.

First up is the Deborah Lippmann Nail Laquer in Harem Silks From Bombay (0.5 fl oz, $20) that I previously mentioned on my March wish list. This is my first Deborah Lippmann nail polish because I just can’t justify the hefty price tag. I really love the color and silk finish of this polish, though, and I’m happy to have gotten it on sale.

Another product I’ve been lusting after for months is the Hourglass – Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light (0.35 oz, $45). It’s a cult product among beauty addicts and I must say, it absolutely lives up to the hype. It gives my skin a radiant, lit-from-within glow that warms up my complexion and gives me a sun-kissed look.

I probably already own too many blushes but the Clinique Cheek Pop in Berry Pop (0.12 oz, $21) has been on my wish list for a while. Berry Pop is a bit warmer-toned than it’s sister, Plum Pop, which works really well with the yellow undertones of my skin. I haven’t had a chance yet to thoroughly test this blush because I’ve been too busy marveling at the cute daisy design but I plan on doing a review of this blush in the future.

Lastly, I decided to pick up the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard (0.22 fl oz, $29). It hasn’t formally been on any of my wish lists but my current Estée Lauder concealer has been running low so I decided to add this to my cart. This is considered by many beauty bloggers to be the holy grail of concealers. For my part, I haven’t really been able to use this concealer much because it’s too dark for my current skin tone. I wish I had gotten this in a shade or two lighter but I might be able to make it work once I have a bit of a tan.

Birthday Freebies

I also picked up my birthday freebies from Sephora and Ulta since it’s my birthday month. The Sephora gift is a Make Up For Ever set containing samples of their Smoky Extravagant Mascara (0.13 fl oz, $13.57 value) and Rouge Artist Natural lipstick in N9 Copper Pink (0.05 oz, $8.57 value). This is a pretty neat set. The samples look tiny but they’re actually about half of the full size which makes them great for travel. The Ulta birthday gift this year is a full size the the CK One Mascara (0.31 fl oz, $18). This mascara has an interesting brush. In the default setting it’s supposed to be used for lengthening and definition. Twisting the cap changes the shape of the brush, making it more dense which makes it great for volumizing. I’m really happy about these birthday gifts. Thank you Sephora and Ulta!

What beauty products did you pick up during the 15% off spring sale at Sephora?

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Birchbox – April 2014

Birchbox - April 2014 - Rainy Days

Birchbox - April 2014 - Contents

To find out more about what Birchbox is click here.

This month’s Birchbox has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. On the surface this is a really great box that I really wanted to love but for some reason or another every single item in it fell a bit short for me. But let me explain.

theBalm Cosmetics – How ‘Bout Them Apples? Cheek & Lip Cream Palette

Shade: Pie
Full Size: 0.7 oz, $32
Sample Size: unknown, $2 estimated value

Birchbox - April 2014 - How 'Bout Them Apples?

Remember how I desperately wished for this sample in my last Birchbox and was so disappointed that I didn’t get it that I ended up swapping for it? Yeah, of course it would be in my April Birchbox. Sigh. Even though I really love this blush I can’t help but be disappointed that I got a second one. I’m still trying to decide whether I will keep it as a backup or put it up for swap.

Cynthia Rowley Beauty Eye Pencil

Shade: Silver
Full Size: 0.4 oz, $16
Sample Size: 0.3 oz, $12 value

Birchbox - April 2014 - Cynthia Rowley Eyeliner

The day before I received my Birchbox, I found out that there apparently was an option to pick which color eyeliner to receive. I must’ve missed the email in the slough of spam I get every day. It’s a bit disappointing because I would’ve preferred to get this in black. I’m a bit too old for silver eyeliner so I think I will put it up for trade.

Fekkai Advanced – Salon Technician Color Care Shampoo

Full Size: 8 fl oz, $20
Sample Size, 2 fl oz, $5 value

Birchbox - April 2014 - Fekkai Shampoo

It’s mind-boggling to me how supposed salon brands can produce shampoo for color-treated hair that contains sulfates. It’s known to be drying and actually makes hair color fade faster. SMH. I received a sample of this shampoo before and ended up swapping it because I only use sulfate-free shampoo. I plan on doing the same with this one.

Color Club Gala’s Gems Collection

Shade: Heirloom Pearl, an opulent off-white
Full Size: 4 x 0.25 fl oz, $13
Sample Size: 1 x 0.25 fl oz, $3.25 value

Birchbox - April 2014 - Color Club Heirloom Pearl

I’m not a huge fan of white nail polish and I wish I had gotten one of the other colors in the collection. However, this color has a nice pearly sheen to it so I think I’m gonna give it a try to see how I like it. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up loving it.

KIND Healthy Grain Bars

Flavor: Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt
Full Size: 15 ct (1.2 oz each), $11.88
Sample Size: 1 ct, $0.79 value

Birchbox - April 2014 - Kind Bar

This was the lifestyle extra in this month’s box. I’m not a huge granola-bar eater but I would’ve been all over this had it been one of the varieties with chocolate in it. I’m sure the very best boyfriend will love it, though.

As you can see, this has been a somewhat frustrating box for me. I can’t complain about the total value though which came in at just over $23. I hope I can swap some of these items for things that I’d like a bit better.

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