Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Birchbox "Friendship" February 2015 Review

February's review is coming to you a little late because I was in Europe the last couple weeks (some fun posts to come on that!). My box didn't arrive until after February 12th this month - so, a little later than usual regardless. For once, the box selection was easy. I really wasn't wild about the curated box this time, so I just went with the picking a single item option and selected something very practical, the Marcelle eye make-up remover. This worked out really well for me this time because I ended up getting make-up from two of my favorite brands (Benefit and theBalm). I also really like all the Juicy perfumes I've tried before, so I had no reason to doubt this new one would be pleasant too.

My box contained: Benefit Roller Lash (Full-size, $24), Juicy Couture Hollywood Royal (Full-size, $72), Marcelle Gentle Make-up Remover for Sensitive Eyes (Full-size, $15), theBalm Cosmetics Read My Lips Lip Gloss in BAM! (Full-size, $15), and Toni & Guy Classic Shine Gloss Serum (Full-size, $15).

Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash Mascara

I actually ended up trying out a sample of this mascara before I got back from Europe, because it came free with the purchase of my ELLE UK Magazine. This is a really wonderful mascara. It's so easy to apply and you definitely don't need to use more than two coats. I'm already a huge fan of They're Real, but this one gives more of a lighter natural look that still makes your eyes pop. It doesn't clump. Instead it makes ever individual lash show and it curls really nicely. I've actually already ordered the full size because I had a 25% discount for the Birchbox shop after my 16th box and enough Birchbox points saved to get it for free.

Juicy Couture Hollywood Royal Perfume

This perfume has a really invigorating citrus scent that still has the femininity of the other Juicy scents but less of the powdery floral notes the others do. This is definitely a great scent for fall/winter because it is quite full and glamours. I'm not sure I like it as well as the original, Viva La Juicy, or Couture La La scents, but it is a fun way to mix it up once in a while.

Marcelle Gentle Make-up Remover for Sensitive Eyes

I really haven't had any experience with the Marcelle brand outside of a couple samples from Birchbox. However, it seems like a pretty high quality brand with good ingredients. This gentle, hypoallergenic make-up remover takes off the toughest of eye make-up - even Benefit They're Real Mascara and Push-Up Liner! I have to admit, I'm a bit lazy so I usually just go for the make-up remover wipes, but this is a good option when my skin's looking a little sensitive.

theBalm Cosmetics Read My Lips Lip Gloss in BAM!

As any regular readers of my blog would know, I'm a huge fan of theBalm Cosmetics! I have to admit, I have about a bajillion lip glosses right now, so I certainly didn't need another. However, this one's pretty great. I'm really impressed with the sample size. This one would likely last me nearly 3-4 weeks at least if I used it every day. The gloss is infused with ginseng, and provides a powerful punch of shine and a rich color. It has a pretty sweet smell (like strawberry frozen fruit ice pops!) and keeps my lips feeling moisturized. I'm not completely sold because I got a beautiful set of mini Nars glosses for Christmas, but I am still a firm believer in theBalm's brand and have yet to find a single product they offer that disappoints.

Toni & Guy Classic Shine Gloss Serum

Admittedly, I was least excited about the Toni & Guy product. I'm definitely on a hair product kick because my hair gets really dry and tangled in the cold winter weather. However, Toni & Guy isn't as much of a "luxury" brand as many of the other ones I've received through Birchbox - although it is very easily accessible at Target stores. I have to say I'm glad I gave this product a chance though. It has such a vibrant scent - reminds me of cardamom and anise seeds. The texture is nice, similar to a lot of other hair treatment oils. I found that I had to use quite a bit of product to really view any results, but it is nice to know that there is a more affordable hair serum out there vs. a lot of Toni & Guy's significantly more expensive competitors. I'm not so sure the results were as striking as they've been with the more expensive versions but it is noticeable and at this price point, it may be just what you're looking for!

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Disclaimer: I am currently employed by UK Trade & Investment. However, all written content and opinions expressed on this blog (including and especially those regarding British brands) are my own. This is a personal blog that is in no way affiliated with my place of employment. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Evian Facial Spray Giveaway

If you liked my evian® Brumisateur®  Natural Mineral Water Facial Spray review in January, then you will love this competition! Enter below to get TWO of your own 5oz sprays - a prize package worth $25. The contest closes on 16 March 2015 and 20 winners will be randomly selected by evian®.

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This is a sponsored post. evian® provided me with a 5 oz spray for review purposes via Brandbacker.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Glossybox January 2015 Review

After the fabulous December 2014 Glossybox, I knew January would be have a tough act to follow. I've also stocked up on so many beauty products over the last year through subscription boxes and Black Friday sales that I knew I didn't need any more. So, I decided to cancel Glossybox after December. I must have made a mistake and cancelled a day or two too late because even though my account showed I cancelled, I was still charged for one final box - the January Glossybox.

Under normal circumstances I would be really upset, would call up the customer service line, and would try to get a refund / get the box returned. However, I was actually really pleasantly surprised by this box and to be honest the December box was such an incredible deal that the $20 or so for this box didn't really feel like a big commitment.

Skin & Co Truffle Therapy Serum (Full-size 1fl.oz., $80)

I was really excited to see this product include because I'd wanted to try it out for a long time. I have a number of other Skin & Co products I actually found at TK Maxx in Brighton, England for a significant discount. However, I very seldom see discounted Skin & Co products anywhere in the USA. This item also rarely comes up for swaps on eDivv and when it does the swappers always ask for a lot more than I feel like it's worth. This Italian serum is made from truffle mushrooms and works to brighten and firm skin, fade dine lines, soften rough patches, and leaves behind moist, smooth skin. It has sort of an almond-like scent (don't expect it to smell like your truffle ravioli!) and really does calm your complexion and leave your skin baby soft. You do have to use a decent amount of the product to cover your face and neck, so I know this .17 fl.oz. sample won't last long!

Kueshi Revitalizing Face Toner (Full-size 6.76 fl.oz, $13.30)

This Spanish brand was completely new to me when I received this box. The sample included actually is the full size product! I like the calming ingredients - aloe vera, chamomile, and calendula. This one also does a good job and calming your complexion and fighting blotchiness/redness. It is good for all skin types because it controls shine in oily skin and softens dry spots. It has a sweet fruity-floral scent that sort of reminds me of my favorite Vitamin Water flavor, Dragonfruit.

Vichy Purete Thermale 3-in-1 One Step Cleanser (Full-size 6.7 fl.oz., $19.50)

I've definitely seen the Vichy brand around a lot, both on travels to Paris and in my local CVS, but I've never tried it before. This 1 fl.oz. sample doesn't seem like an overly generous sample size for Glossybox, especially since the full size isn't all that expensive. I do really like that the product is multifunctional since I travel a lot for work and am always on the go. This cleanser also works as a toner and make-up remover. You can also use it for all three purposes without water, so it's perfect for the airplane! It doesn't really have much of a scent - perhaps a subtle milk and honey one? I think I'll have to use it a few more times to decide what my final verdict is on it, but so far it seems to do the trick for travel but might not be as high-powered of a make-up remover as what I'd usually use at home.

Lollipops Eye Pencil in Goodbye Moon (Full-size .02 oz, $17.70)

Lollipops is also a new brand to me. It appears to be a French brand but the product is made in Italy. I like that this pencil replenishes itself by rotating the bottom rather than requiring a pencil sharpener. It also glides on very smoothly. I did find the black to be a bit translucent though and I had to apply several layers to achieve the opaque look I usually like from an eyeliner. The color is long-lasting and is enriched with vitamin E which is nice and gentle on the eyelids.

Tarte Undercover Lover Bamboo Concealer Brush (Full-size, $20)

Aside from the Skin & Co product, I was also pretty excited to see this brush. I own a few other Tarte brushes that I've purchased during the Tarte Friends & Family Sale and that I've gotten for free in a cosmetics bundle from QVC.com. They are some of the best quality brushes around and the only ones I use (aside from that fabulous Matis one I received in my French Box). I don't have a concealer brush and was excited to receive this one because the size and shape is extremely useful. Overall, this rounded out the box nicely and alone paid for the cost of the entire box!

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Try The World "Paris Box" Review

I purchased my first Try The World box during their Black Friday promotion. That deal offered the "Holiday Box" + 1 Regular Box (the "Paris Box") for just $40. That's half off the regular price. I was really intrigued by the idea of trying out a gourmet food subscription box after trying so many beauty ones. My beauty product collection's getting a little saturated, but you can always use new food items!

You may wonder why I'm posting about a box I ordered in November in February. Well, it's a long story...Try the World is a relatively new box and it turns out the massive orders they received during Black Friday absolutely overwhelmed them. I ended up receiving the "Holiday Box" right before Christmas, but didn't get the "Paris Box" until late January. After weeks and weeks of trying to reach out to Try the World via email and phone, I finally got my "Paris Box" and was also awarded one $30 and one $10 gift certificate to their store as an apology. I'm still not sure I want to continue with the subscription - $40 is really steep! Regardless, I really liked the contents of this box.

Maison D'Armorine Salted Butter Caramels, 50g
Retail: $19.95 for 200g (7.05oz)

I'm not a big caramel person but these seem like the best of the best. They're made with Breton butter and fleur de sell from Brittany. I love that the brand has a rich history and that the product is produced by a cooperative of local artisans. There were 6 caramels in my sample box and I have to say it was hard to limit myself to just one! They are so rich and smooth - not as sticky and chewy as other caramels. You can definitely taste the luxurious sea salt flavor too. 

Charles Antona Minna Organic Jam in Black Cherry & Thyme, 110g
Retail:$6.95 for 250g (8.8oz)

I have yet to try this item but I am a huge fan of French jams and preserves. I like the unique combination of black cherry and thyme - that's something I've never seen before! This brand is from Corsica and is 100% natural. I think I need to go out and buy some freshly baked croissants to enjoy with this one.

Flagrants Desirs Dark Chocolate Bar with Raspberry, 100g
Retail: $4 for 100g (3.5oz)

This seriously dark chocolate bar contains 72% cocoa. The brand only uses real cocoa butter rather than the vegetable fats some brands that mass produce chocolates use. I have not heard of this brand before but the contents and packaging look impressive. I also like the large 3.5oz size! I have a family member who is a huge dark chocolate fan, so admittedly I haven't tried this one yet. I plan to give it as a gift (if it will last that long!).

Domaine des Vignes Whole Grain Mustard, 200g
Retail: ? does not appear to be sold online in the US yet

This must be a full size jar at 7 oz. The mustard looks like 100% whole grains up close which I think is fantastic - I love a spicy mustard! The brand uses vinegar produced from its own grapes as a base for all its mustards. I haven't tried this yet because I'm still working on the last mustard I purchased, but I was pretty excited to receive it. Mustard is something you always need in your fridge and it usually has a very long shelf life. I look forward to bring this out with my next fancy charcuterie plate.

Le Palais des Thes Fine Tea Bags in Fleur de Geisha, The des Lords, & The des Sables
Retail: $13 for 20 sachets

I was pretty excited to see these tea bags included. For starters, I love tea! My family has English roots so that's pretty much a given. However, I've just recently started to explore some nicer and more unusual teas. I found a Palais des Thes box of cold brew iced tea sachets on the clearance shelf at HomeGoods recently and absolutely fell in love with them. So, I'm excited to give the brand another try! The Fleur de Geisha is a Japanese cherry blossom green tea. The The des Lords is an Earl Grey black tea with bergamot. Finally, the des Sables is a green tea with notes of rose and various fruits. I think the The des Lords will be my favorite since I love a good Earl Grey, but I'm excited to try all three!

Le Saunier de Camargue Fleur de Sel, 125g
Retail: $11.95 for 125g (4.4oz)

Like the mustard and the chocolate bar, this appears to be another full size product. The packaging is absolutely beautiful. This would make a lovely hostess gift. I did try this one out - albeit unceremoniously on some freshly cooked edamame. The crystals are incredibly lovely and flavorful. Just a little bit goes a long way, so I imagine this pot will last me a while. The brand harvests this natural sea salt by hand using centuries-old methods. Who knew salt could be so labor intensive? This is such a nice little luxury, potentially my favorite item in the box!

Francois Doucet Pates de Fruits de Provence in Raspberry and Apricot
Retail: ~$22.50 for 32 bars

Each box comes with an extra bonus surprise item. Mine were these 2 pates de fruits bars. I actually really love these and buy them from time to time when I see them in specialty shops. The last time I was in Paris I had a look at them in Fauchon but didn't end up buying them because I couldn't justify the price. I was excited to see that this brand is quite reasonable. I'll definitely look out for it next time I'm abroad. It looks like I could really stock up since they have a very long shelf life - they don't expire for over a year! I'm saving these as a special treat for a tough day because they're not easy to find. It looks like they're currently only available online through the brand's website and you have to pay in euros.

Verdict: Overall this was a pretty great box. I have a particular affinity for French culture and food so I'd probably be more excited about this box than a lot of other ones Try the World might offer (check out my review of French Box if you love French products too!). Again, the $40 price tag also concerns me. If you add up everything I got, keeping in mind I didn't know the prices of some things, maybe this was around a $50 box in value? That's not really what I'd call significant savings. Regardless, I got this box during the holiday deal so I did basically get it for half the price and I will use everything in it. So, overall I'm extremely pleased! Better late than never.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sugar & Spice ~ The Valentines Day Edit

Girlfriends, you may want to share this post with your special someone! All my single ladies? Treat yo'self! These sassy and sophisticated finds will make you feel like the Queen of Hearts all year 'round.

Now, gimme some sugar!

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Disclaimer: I am currently employed by UK Trade & Investment. However, all written content and opinions expressed on this blog (including and especially those regarding British brands) are my own. This is a personal blog that is in no way affiliated with my place of employment.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Birchbox "Relax + Recharge" January 2015 Review

I was pretty excited to receive my first Birchbox of the new year! This month there were multiple sample choices. The individual items to choose from were: Tocca Hand Cream, Naobay Body Radiance Lotion, or an Essential Elements Body Lotion.  You could also go for one of the two curated boxes, the "Gym Bag Beauty Essentials" guest editor box with Tone It Up or the "Relax + Recharge" featured box. The latter had a few items I had already tried or was eager to try (and who doesn't want to relax??), so I went for that one.

My box contained: Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream (Full-size, $38), Briogeo Don't Despair! Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask (Full-size, $26), Manna Kadar Lip Locked in All of Me (Full-size, $24), Perlier Intensive Nurturing Body Balm in Shea Lavender (Full-size, $28.45), When Travelmate Sheet Mask (Set of 4 Masks, $28), Teapigs Tea Temples in Chamomile Flowers and Licorice & Peppermint (Full-size, $10)

Briogeo Don't Despair! Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask

I've heard of this product before and was actually very excited to receive it in my box. It was definitely one of the deciding factors in my selecting the "Relax + Recharge" box. I've been trying out a lot of new products on my hair lately because the harsh winter weather has been making it extra dry and tangled. This hydrating mask could be just the thing I'm looking for! You apply it right after shampooing, leave it in for 3-5 minutes (or up to 20), and then rinse it out of your hair. It's got some great natural ingredients like avocado, sweet almond, argan oils, and rosehip oil - all of which make it smell delightful! It's safe for chemically-treated hair and works to enhance hair elasticity and shine.

Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream

I was pretty excited about this sample. I feel like my under eye area usually looks a little haggard by the end of the week. Getting more sleep is absolutely a new year's resolution of mine, but unfortunately sometimes I just can't fit in as many winks as I'd like into my schedule. Most other products I've used under my eyes have had a cooling effect. However, this one's got more of a room-temperature aromatherapy muscle soothing effect. I think it smells like Chamomile tea with a slice of lemon. I hadn't heard of the Balance Me brand before, but it's actually from the UK! I always love trying new products from other countries.

Manna Kadar Lip Locked in All of Me

This itty bitty sample is so cute! It's got a really cute, girly gem on the cap. Admittedly, I had my doubts about this product because there are so many other great lip color brands out there. However, this one was a fairly pleasant surprise. The color is very vibrant but not unnatural looking. You could definitely wear it day or night. It also has a nice matte finish with just a touch of shine. It's definitely long lasting too. I tried to take it off before bed and it actually wasn't all that easy. After a little while it did sink into my lips a bit more and make them feel dry again, so I would definitely still combine it with a lip moisturizer.

Perlier Intensive Nurturing Body Balm in Shea Lavender

Perlier is another brand that's new to me. This one's from Italy. It contains 25% shea butter (that is 100% certified organic) and lavender extract. I'm so excited I got the lavender scent because I think that's just about the most relaxing smell there is! The balm penetrates deep into your skin and provides long-lasting moisture. I'll definitely be using this one a lot in the winter!

Teapigs Tea Temples in Chamomile Flowers and Liquorice & Peppermint

I was pretty over the moon to see Teapigs included in this box! I've bought their products several times when I've been in the UK and recently got their Spiced Winter Red Tea for Christmas which was absolutely outstanding. I'm not quite sure where they're sold yet in the US besides some specialty shops, and am excited to learn that there are a few varieties available through Birchbox.com. I've had the Chamomile Flowers tea before and really loved it. I can't wait to try the Liquorice and Peppermint one too! I hadn't gotten a lifestyle item in a Birchbox in a very long time, so it was nice to be able to select a box that definitely had one it.

I haven't opened this mask yet because there's just one included and I want to save it for a special time when I want to relax. It's made by a Korean company, which is pretty cool. I haven't tried many products from Korea yet, but I know that it produces some of the best skincare products in the world. You apply this mask for 30 minutes and the advanced bio-cellulose sheet helps deliver nutrients to your skin. It's made from coconuts, Swiss Alpine Herb extracts, and Sodium Hyaluronate and "boasts a high fluid retention capacity". Since my skin's constantly dry, I'm excited to see how it will fight the effects of winter's harsh elements - especially dry air and wind. Overall, I think this is a pretty fabulous box! I love all the variety and am excited to try so many new-to-me brands.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year, New Skin with evian!

Improving the condition of my skin is very high on my New Year's resolution list. I first tried evian® facial spray way back in high school, long before I knew much about it except that it could keep my skin hydrated on a hot summer day. This winter I was really pleased to get a chance to revisit the product and learn some more about it. It really is something that can be used to improve skin all year round!

evian® Brumisateur® (Brew-meez-ah-tour) Natural Mineral Water Facial Spray is bottled at the source in Evian-Les-Bains, France, which eliminates any chance of getting nasties in there like bacteria or contaminants that can cause irritation. No other water has the same mineral content as evian® and it has been a trusted name by retailers and health professionals alike since 1962. The product hydrates, tones, and soothes skin of all types. It's easy to incorporate as the final step in your skincare routine because it helps wash away residue from tap water and cleansers while also toning and hydrating. It's great to use before you apply your usual moisturizer.

The thing I didn't know before was that the spray also enhances any cosmetic products you already use. After you apply your desired make-up, just hold the canister 9-12 inches from your face and apply a light mist in a circular motion over your makeup. This helps your make-up blend with your skin and generally look more natural. Ta-da! No more foundation lines and no more powder getting stuck on flaky skin! This refreshes your makeup throughout the day but doesn't mess up your original look. Make-up artists also use this product to lightly moisten brushes for easier blending and precise application. It can also be used to dilute make-up.

The product is available in 4 leak-proof spray bottle sizes: 1.7 oz travel size (MSRP $7.00), trio of travel sizes (MSRP $19.50), 5 oz size perfect for a purse or gym bag and pictured in this post (MSRP $12.00), and a 10 oz economy/professional size perfect to keep at home (MSRP $17.50). You can learn more about this product at: http://www.evianspray.com

Add this French tradition to your routine in 2015!

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This is a sponsored post. evian® provided me with a 5 oz spray for review purposes via Brandbacker.

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