Month: June 2014

The July Decluttering Challenge

The July Decluttering Challenge 3

The July Decluttering Challenge 2

The July Decluttering Challenge

Normally this would be the time of the month where I would talk about what’s currently on my beauty wish list but truthfully, there really hasn’t been anything. On the contrary, I feel a bit overwhelmed with all of the samples that I’ve been amassing through Birchbox, Glossybox, gifts with purchase, and my recent sample swaps.

At the beginning of the year I set myself the goal to reduce my beauty stash and while I did pretty well for a while, I’m now to the point where my drawers are just so full stuff that it’s hard to even figure out what to use next. Plus, I’m pretty happy with my routines and I like to stick to what works. But my stash is seriously getting out of hand and It’s causing me some major anxiety. It’s time to take charge of the problem.

With this issue looming in the back of my mind, I was pretty excited to stumble upon Kalyn Lord’s blog and read about her Sample Killah project. The goal is to use up as many samples as possible during the month of July. This is exactly what I need in order to declutter my stash and clear my mind. I’m in!

I went through all of my skin care, hair care, and bath & body items and selected the samples that I would like to use up. It’s A LOT as you can see from the pictures. There still are more samples in my stash but this is the majority of them and it is what I think I can reasonably use up over the next month (fingers crossed). Part of the challenge is to post about your progress once a week so look out for those posts in the future.

In addition, I plan on finally going through my makeup stash this month to weed out all of those products that I won’t use anymore or that are way past their expiration date. I plan on posting about this little side project as well.

If you would like to participate in this challenge, you can sign up over on Kalyn Lord’s blog until June 30st. Happy decluttering!

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Glossybox – June 2014

Glossybox - June 2014

Glossybox - June 2014 - contents

Perfectly timed for Independence Day Glossybox curated a “Stars & Stripes” themed box full of samples by US companies. The packaging is beautiful, as usual, matching the theme perfectly. It’s really hard to beat May’s amazing collaboration with Bergdorf Goodman but Glossybox did a pretty good job with this one.

StrangeBeautiful ColorBloc

Size: 2 x 0.15 fl oz, $18

Glossybox - June 2014 - Strange Beautiful ColorBloc

This is the first time I’ve heard of this brand and normally I would be excited to give them a try. However, I have so many nail polishes and these aren’t colors I’m particularly drawn to so I think I will trade this set.

RUSK Texture Dry Finishing Spray

Full Size: 8 oz, $18
Sample Size: 1.5 fl oz, $3.38 value

Glossybox - June 2014 - RUSK Texture Dry Finish Spray

I’m always on the lookout for hair products that can give some life and volume to my thin, straight hair. This one promises to “add texture, shape and grip to create instant volume and fullness” which sounds exactly like what my hair needs.

AYRES Body Butter

Scent: Patagonia (jasmine & rosemary)
Full Size: 6.75 oz, $28
Sample Size: 1 oz, $4.15

Glossybox - June 2014 - AYRES Body Butter

I had received a sample of this body butter in a different scent in my November Birchbox last year. I ended up trading that one because I didn’t care for the scent. I think receiving this body butter again might be a sign that I should give this brand a try.

Camille Beckman Platinumé Gold Imperial Repair Hand Therapy

Scent: Lemongrass Vert & Sparkling Grapefruit
Size:1.35 oz, $10

Glossybox - June 2014 - Camille Beckman Platinumé Gold Imperial Repair Hand Therapy

Another brand that I’ve sampled previously in a Birchbox. I really like the scent of this hand cream. It’s light and refreshing – perfect for summer.

Sumita Beauty Eye Shadow Pencil

Shade: Champagne
Size: 0.084 oz, $18

Glossybox - June 2014 - Sumita Beauty Eye Shadow Pencil

This eye shadow pencil is probably my favorite item in this box. I wouldn’t have called this color champagne. It’s more of a medium taupe with quite a bit of shimmer. It’s a great neutral that’s perfect for everyday wear. It can be applied allover the lid for a nice wash of color or used as a base for a more elaborate eye look. The best thing is that it stays put all day without smudging, creasing or fading. I just wish that this was the twist-up kind so it wouldn’t need sharpening.

Overall, I think that this was a great box. I’m very excited for the Sumita eye shadow pencil and the RUSK texture spray. I will swap the StrangeBeautiful nail polish and will definitely use the Ayres body butter and the Camille Beckman hand lotion. The value came in at just under $54 which is a smidgen lower than the promised $55 total box value.

This is the last Glossybox in my three-month subscription. While the April box was pretty lackluster I think the May and this June box were great. I’m still undecided of whether to renew my subscription because the price is a bit more than what I would like to spend. I might wait to see what the July box has in store and subscribe if any good offer codes pop up.

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The Influenster VowVoxBox

Influenster VowVoxBox

Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. I’m not being compensated for this post. The opinions expressed in this post are my own. I will always honestly review products I receive complimentary from Influenster.

A couple of months ago I decided to sign up for Influenster, an “exclusive community for trendsetters to share news, products, and reviews with the opportunity to be rewarded by brands.” Every once in while Influenster will send out a selection of products to some of their members for them to review. I was lucky enough to be chosen to receive their recent VowVoxBox with products for “brides, bridesmaids, mothers-of-the-bride, wedding guests, and wedding crashers.”

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in 360 Barracuda (0.5 fl oz, $7.99)

“Skip the salon, get the results. Don’t settle for just color when you can get a base coat, strengthener, growth treatment, salon-inspired color, top coat, chip-resistance and a gel finish all in 1 bottle. Featuring the unique precision brush for a flawless finish and patented Vita Care technology for advanced 10 day wear, more shine and nourishing care.”

As you all know, I usually stick to traditional and neutral colors when it comes to my manicure. It certainly never occurred to me to wear the ‘something blue’ on my nails. That being said, I think that this is a really pretty color. Barracuda is a sky blue with a slight mint tint. I think it works especially well now that I got a bit of a tan.

I really like the brush on this nail polish. It’s quite a bit bigger than standard nail polish brushes and the tip is curved. This makes it really easy to draw a perfect line around the cuticles. Since this is a very light color I needed three coats for full coverage. The first coats were a bit streaky and there was some dragging and balding but by the third coat everything evened out nicely.

I was hoping to take a picture of the finished manicure but unfortunately this polish chipped within the first few hours after application. It only got worse from there with several additional chips appearing the next day. I did use a base and top coat with this nail polish, even though it’s advertised to not need them and I wouldn’t expect that to have an adverse effect on the lasting power of this polish. Overall, I’m not impressed with this nail polish especially at this price point. I can get an OPI polish for almost the same price.

Olay Regenerist Luminous Tone Perfecting Cream (1.7 oz, $30.99)

“Fade the look of dark spots in 8 weeks with Luminous Tone Perfecting Cream. Its Brightening Complex delivers tone ingredients 10 layers deep into the skin’s surface to help reveal pearlescent skin that glows.”

I’m pretty happy with my current moisturizer but I’m always up for trying new skin care. This moisturizer has a consistency that’s a bit lighter than your average cream. I think it would be great to use at night during the summer when my skin doesn’t need that extra dose of nourishment. The smell is really pleasant as well.

Pure Silk Moisturizing Shave Cream in Raspberry Mist (5 oz, $1.49)

“A sweet, fruity fragrance that will remind you of summertime and all the reasons you need super-silky legs: swimsuits, shorts, sun dresses. Pure Silk’s special combination of ingredients creates a luxuriously rich lather that protects against nicks and cuts, leaving your skin as smooth as silk and ready for maximum exposure.”

I usually don’t use a shaving cream because my razor blades have a shaving cream bar built in. However, this one is raspberry scented and the foam has a really nice, creamy consistency so it will definitely get used.

EcoTools Pure Complexion Facial Sponge ($5.99)

“The new unique Pure Complexion Facial Sponge is handmade with 100 percent natural ingredients, including Konjac vegetable fiber, for a better clean that reveals smooth, refreshed skin. It is dermatologist tested for use both morning and night to wash away dirt, oil and makeup, leaving skin glowing without over-drying or causing redness.”

This facial sponge is pretty neat. It softens up when wet and is gentle enough for sensitive skin. I usually stick to chemical exfoliants but this sponge will be nice when my skin is a bit more congested than usual.

Tide to go Instant Stain Remover (0.338 fl oz, $2.94)

“Tide to Go is the #1 instant stain remover and helps remove some of your toughest fresh food and drink stains.”

I haven’t used this stain remover pen before but the very best boyfriend swears by it. Another item that will get used.

Overall, this wasn’t the most exciting VoxBox for me. The Pure Silk shaving cream and EcoTools facial sponge aren’t things I would usually use in my beauty routine but I’m excited to give them a try anyway. The Olay moisturizer and Tide stain remover pen will get used but aren’t the most thrilling products to receive. And while the Sally Hansen nail polish is a cute color the lasting power (or total lack thereof) makes this one a definite fail. I’m still very happy to have received these products and plan on posting more detailed reviews once I’ve had a chance to test them thoroughly.

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Birchbox – June 2014

Birchbox - June 2014 - contents

To find out more about what Birchbox is click here.

Birchbox is slowly but surely redeeming itself. Last month‘s shipping was really slow but the awesome box contents more than made up for it. This month I was pleasantly surprised at how fast my Birchbox arrived. It was kinda ironic, actually, because I was still out of town when my Birchbox landed in my mailbox about a week ago. I’m back from vacation and excited to review another awesome Birchbox.

This month Birchbox teamed up with Jet Blue to bring their subscribers travel-ready samples. They really hit the nail on the head with the selection in this box. There is a nice mix of everything and the sample sizes are perfect for vacation. Since I just came back from my trip to Florida I won’t be able to use them for that purpose but all of the products I received are great and will still get used in my everyday routines.

Birchbox - June 2014 - Benefit They're Real! Mascara

Benefit They’re Real! Mascara

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

I previously received a sample of this mascara as a gift with purchase. The first time I tried it, I wasn’t impressed but once the formula dried up a bit, it got much better and by now I’m really enjoying this mascara. I’m happy to have a backup.

Birchbox - June 2014 - Perlier Body Cream

Perlier Body Cream

Scent: Shea Butter with Sweet Almond Milk
Full Size: 6.7 oz, $28.45
Sample Size: 1.0 fl oz, $4.25

This body lotion smell really nice. It’s not the most exciting sample ever but it will definitely get used.

Birchbox - June 2014 - Davines Love Hair Products

Davines OI / All in One Milk

Full Size: 4.56 fl oz, $28
Sample Size: 0.13 fl oz, $0.80

I’m a huge fan of leave-in treatments for hair. This one claims to moisturize, detangle, prime, and protect against heat-damage. I’ve seen other people get a spray bottle of this product in their boxes so this foil sample is a bit disappointing. It’s going to be more difficult to apply and can’t be resealed. I’m still looking forward to giving this a try.

Davines Love Smoothing Shampoo

Full Size: 8 fl oz, $24
Sample Size: 2.5 fl oz, $7.50

This shampoo claims to “tame frizzed-out and tangle-prone hair.” My hair can definitely use some of that. It’s a very generous size so I was really excited to try it until I saw that it contains sulfates. Whomp, whomp. I might still give it a try in the hopes that the nourishing properties will offset the harshness of the sulfates. I do wish that Birchbox would send more sulfate-free hair shampoo samples.

Davines Love Smoothing Conditioner

Full Size: 8 fl oz, $27.50
Sample Size: 0.41 fl oz, $1.41

This is the matching conditioner to the above shampoo. I don’t quite get why they sent the conditioner as a foil sample since this contains much less product than the shampoo. I will still be able to get a few uses out of it, though. My dry ends definitely need some “Love.”

Birchbox - June 2014 - Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Anti-Wrinkle Defense Serum

Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Anti-Wrinkle Defense Serum

Full Size: 1 fl oz, $62
Sample Size: 0.06 fl oz, $3.72

I received a sample of this serum as a gift with purchase from Sephora. I’m really enjoying it and it’s become a staple in my skincare routine. I’m happy to have another one as it’s quite expensive.

Birchbox - June 2014 - Catherine Malandrino Style de Paris Fragrance

Catherine Malandrino Style de Paris Fragrance

Full Size: 3.4 fl oz, $110
Sample Size: unknown, $5 estimated value

This perfume smells really lovely – fruity with a hint of floral. I like it a lot.

After May’s awesome box, this month was another great one. I received an amazing seven samples and I’ll probably use all of them. The value of this box came in at just over $30 which is one of the highest-valued Birchboxes I received to date. Plus, I’ll receive 70 points for reviewing these products which are worth $7 in the Birchbox shop.

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What’s In My Skin Care Travel Bag?

What's in my skin care travel bag?

What's in my skin care travel bag? - cleansers and sunscreen

After talking about the contents of my travel makeup bag a few days ago I thought it would be fun to also share with you what skin care items I brought on my vacation to Florida. Here is where samples really come in handy, in my opinion, and I have enough of them thanks to Birchbox, Glossybox, and my recent sample swaps.

In terms of cleansers I packed my tried and true Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm (3.8 oz, $28.50) and REN Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk (5.1 fl oz, $28). The first does a great job at removing makeup. I don’t plan on using makeup very much during this trip but I will be using waterproof mascara and sunscreen which will be a breeze to remove with this cleansing balm. As a general cleanser the REN cleansing milk is great for everyday use because it’s gentle and nourishing so it won’t irritate my skin.

The second step in my routine is toning. On this trip I brought the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid (4 fl oz, $23) as an exfoliating toner and the Caudalie Beauty Elixir (3.4 fl oz, $49) for the hydrating toner step. I was a bit afraid that the Beauty Elixir would be too harsh for everyday use because it contains alcohol but this was the smallest container I had in my stash. So far so good.

I decided to pack two different eye creams on this trip: a lighter one for daytime use and a heavier one for nighttime. During the day I’ve been using the Clinique All About Eyes Serum (0.5 fl oz, $28). I like the the metal rollerball applicator which makes for a very refreshing application. I also packed the Lancer Eye Contour Lifting Cream (0.5 fl oz, $95) to use at night because its more nourishing than the Clinique eye serum.

For the mornings I brought the Paula’s Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum (1 fl oz, $30) and Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Anti-Wrinkle Defense Serum (1 fl oz, $62) to use together under my moisturizer. Both contain antioxidants to help my skin fight sun damage. For use in the evenings I packed the Fresh Seaberry Moisturizing Face Oil (1.7 fl oz, $50). I like to use a face oil in addition to my nighttime moisturizer for extra nourishment. This sample is tiny so it’s perfect for travel and I hope to use it up during this trip.

In terms of moisturizers I brought two: one for day and one for night. The Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet (1.3 fl oz, $39) has been my go-to daytime moisturizer and I didn’t want to be without it during this trip. For nighttime I like a moisturizer that’s bit heavier and more nourishing. The Lancôme Absolue L’Extrait Regenerating Ultimate Elixir (1.7 fl oz, $360) fits the bill perfectly and the sample I got in my last Glossybox is tiny which makes it perfect for vacations.

The last step is, of course, sunscreen. I packed the Clinique Super City Block Oil-Free Daily Face Protector SPF 40 (1.4 fl oz, $22) to use for most days, as well as a bunch of different samples I got in my subscription boxes and swaps. I wanted to have some smaller sizes on hand to pack in my purse for use on the go and reapplication during the day. The samples I have are by Supergoop, Coola, and Neutrogena and I’m curious to see how they perform. Who knows: I might find some new favorites.

What skin care items to your like to bring on a vacation?

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No-Fuss Vacation Makeup

Beach Makeup

As you read this post I’m probably sitting with my toes in the sand on a beautiful beach in Florida, relaxing and soaking up the sun. I thought you might be interested in seeing what makeup I decided to pack for this trip. Here is a peek into my beauty bag.

When it comes to face bases, I’m keeping it simple this vacation. A tinted sunscreen is perfect for giving protection while at the same time evening out y skin tone. I’m currently using the Clinique Super City Block Oil-Free Daily Face Protector SPF 40 (1.4 fl oz, $22) which does a pretty good job at both. It doesn’t have enough coverage to hide blemishes so I’m also bringing my trusted Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Concealer (0.25 fl oz, $23). To finish my base I plan on applying a light dusting of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light (0.35 oz, $45) to keep shine at bay in the hot weather.

I’m also bringing the NARS blush in Deep Throat (0.16 oz, $30) on this trip for whenever I’m looking for a nice flush of color on my cheeks. This peach shade is perfect for a beach vacation. It comes across as coral on my skin tone, especially once my face gets a bit of a tan, which makes this a great summer blush.

No makeup look is complete without mascara. The humid Florida weather calls for a water-resistant or waterproof formula like the Eyeko Black Magic Mascara (0.29 fl oz, $24). If your favorite mascara happens to not be waterproof the Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat (0.19 fl oz, $21) may be for you. Apply one swipe of this clear topcoat over dry mascara to make it waterproof. Brilliant.

To complete my look I’m packing the Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm SPF 20 in Petal Glow (0.15 oz, $8.99). It gives just a hint of color while also providing sun protection for your lips.

To finish off my makeup application I plan on using the Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray (1 fl oz, $14). A few spritzes of this setting spray and makeup won’t budge even in the Florida heat and humidity.

That’s it: a fast, easy, and no-fuss makeup look that works great in hotter temperatures while also ensuring sufficient sun protection.

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June Wish List

June Wish List

It’s June which means summer is here. With my beach vacation around the corner, most of my wish list has centered around sun protection and travel-friendly beauty items. On top of that there have been a couple of exciting new releases that have peeked my interest.

I’ve been using the Living Proof Prime Style Extender for a while now. It’s brilliant at keeping greasy roots at bay without weighing my hair down (you can read my full review here). Living Proof recently released a spray version, the Prime Style Extender Spray (3.4 fl oz, $20). I usually have an easier time distributing products in my hair when using a spray so I’m curious to give this  a try and see how well it works.

You all know how much I love anything and everything blueberry scented. Raspberry, though, is a very, very close second. The Body Shop recently launched their new line of raspberry scent bath and body products and I want them all. Number one on my list is the Early-Harvest Raspberry Body Wash (8.4 fl oz, $8). Yummy!

I never used to pay much attention to sunscreen in my everyday routine. I would wear it to the beach but not on a day-to-day basis. Ever since overhauling my skincare routine, though, I firmly incorporated a SPF into my regimen. In preparation for our upcoming vacation I’ve been doing some more research on this topic, especially about the importance of antioxidants to help your skin fight free-radical damage from the sun and, thus, fighting the signs of aging. My usual sunscreen does already contain antioxidants but in the more-is-more spirit I’m interested in also adding the  Paula’s Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum (1 fl oz, $30) and the Resist C15 Super Booster (0.67 fl oz, $45) to my routine. The Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum is a water-based serum that contains antioxidants, skin-repairing ingredients, and anti-irritants to fight signs of aging, sun damage and reduce inflammation. The C15 Super Booster is designed to be added to a serum to increase its efficacy. While I don’t expect to see any immediate results I believe that I’m at an age where adding these types of products to my routine can have some great preventative effects.

Lastly, lips are an often forgotten body part when it comes to sun protection. While searching for a good SPF lip balm I came across the Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm SPF 20 in Healthy Blush (0.15 oz, $8.99). This lip balm is great for traveling, pulling double duty as a lip color in addition to providing sun protection. Healthy Blush is a rosy tint, giving a really pretty flush of color to the lips.

What’s been on your wish list this month?

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May Favorites

May Favorites

Oh, hi June. Nice to see you! Thanks for stopping by.

This past May has been super busy for me and I’m honestly thankful that it’s over and June is here. The very best boyfriend has finished his spring semester at university so we’ve been spending a lot of time catching up on home improvements and giving the house a good spring cleaning. In addition, we’ve been in the final planning stage of our vacation in a few days. As a result, I have mostly stuck to my routines and haven’t experimented much with new beauty products. I still found a few bits and pieces that I have enjoyed using this month.

On my lips I’ve mostly been using the L’Oréal Colour Riche Lip Balm in Heavenly Berry (0.1 oz, $7.99). I love its emollient texture which makes my lips feel really smooth. I usually gravitate toward my-lips-but-better shades and this one is just a bit darker than my natural lip color so it’s a great shade for me.

I ran out of a few hair products this month but I got some samples in recent swaps that I started to use instead. First up is the Aveda Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair (3.4 fl oz, $28). It’s pretty similar to the Redken Extreme Anti-Snap Treatment in terms of texture and consistency. Both products contain proteins to strengthen the hair and prevent breakage and split-ends. However, the Aveda Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair costs about four times as much per ounce so while I like it I’m not sure that I would purchase the full size.

The other hair product I added to my routine is the Alterna Bamboo Volume Plumping Strand Expand (4 fl oz, $22) which I’ve been using in place of the Living Proof Full Thickening Cream. While it doesn’t work quite as well, I like that this one makes my hair feel softer and smoother. It’s also a bit more cost-effective, although not by much.

In regards to skin care, I added the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant (4 fl oz, $23) to my routine. I’ve been using exfoliating toners for a few months but haven’t had as great of results as I was hoping for. My skin’s texture has been more even but I still have been struggling with congested pores. While researching exfoliating toner options I came across this one and the advice to wait 10-15 minutes after application before continuing with your routine. This might seem obvious in hindsight but has just never really occurred to me before. Since using this toner at night and following this advice my congested pores have slowly disappeared and my skin is smoother than ever. I’m not sure whether the toner itself has made the difference or if waiting for it to do its job did the trick but it’s working so I’m not complaining.

Lastly, my favorite nail polish this month has been Julep’s Evie (0.27 fl oz, $14). I’ve been wearing it for weeks on end and I just got a pedicure with it in anticipation of our upcoming vacation and I’m still loving the color.

So we’ve come full circle and are back on the topic of vacations. I was hoping to prepare a few posts before my departure but, unfortunately, I’ve just been too busy to do so. While I can’t promise that my posting schedule will be very regular over the next few weeks I do have ton of great ideas for posts that I hope to publish soon so stay tuned for those in the near future.

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