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 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:

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.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Glossybox December 2014 Review

It had been quite some time since I ordered a Glossybox - May 2014's Bergdorf Goodman collaboration I believe. At $21/month, it's definitely a subscription I pick and choose based on the preview items rather than one that I just let run for months on end. If you use Ebates then you can get $2.75 cash back for each box every time you place a new order, so it does pay to cancel and re-subscribe based on which boxes you want! This time, the preview items were a Nuxe product worth $32 alone, a Ciate mini nail polish, and a Toni & Guy conditioner. I was pretty sold on those and planned to get the box anyway. Then, I saw an amazing offer on RueLaLa to get the box for just $15, so I hit the bid!

The packaging for December was another major selling point. It made the box the absolute perfect Christmas gift! I loved the hunter green motif with the bright red bows both inside and outside of the box. 

Now, let's get on with the month's awesome selection of products!

Ciate Mini Paint Pot in All Aglow (Full-size, $10)

This polish was part of the holiday tree trinket collection of limited edition colors for 2014. This is the full sized product from that collection (they are all mini paint pots). This color has both gold and rose gold glitter flecks in it. 

I tried it above with two coats and it is still translucent.  It's a tricky one to photograph but you can definitely still see through my nail in most places. So, I think it would likely look best when used over another polish in a solid color like gold or red rather than just on its own. I love the Ciate brand and recently even tried one of its "Caviar" manicures. It's long lasting and good quality. I wasn't wild about this particular color on its own but do think it would look nice combined with another.

Bellapierre Cosmetics Mineral Lipstick in Burlesque (Full-size, $19.99)

This product also appears to be the full size. This product is only sold online via Bellapierre's website. Admittedly this was the product I was most skeptical about because I hadn't heard much about it and it isn't available in a major retailer to get check out in-person. I admit the the ultra-bold Burlesque color is really attractive. I like bright pinky reds.

However, I did find that this lipstick is one of those that gets all over your teeth for the first several minutes you're wearing it and that the pigment didn't distribute evenly on my lips, so some parts appeared to be a much more intense pink than others. It was very silky and moisturizing but overall I was not a fan of the look. I think I'll be gifting or swapping this one. I have too many other nice lip colors that don't have these problems. The packaging is also made of a really flimsy plastic which is nice because it's lightweight but does make the product feel a bit cheap (and $19.99 isn't all that cheap!).

Nuxe Paris Masque Creme Fraiche de Beaute (Full-size, $32)

Again, this is another full size product! I recently read an article that said this brand will soon be available at Target stores nationwide and it does appear that many of the products are already sold on Target's website. I think that's absolutely fantastic because it is one of my favorite French brands! It's sold in all the major beauty stores over there. There was a particularly large selection at the Monoprix I went to in La Defense in October. I'm so excited to see that the brand is becoming more readily available in America.

All Nuxe products smell so nice, and this one's no exception! It reminds me of wild flowers and herbs you'd find in a country kitchen. It's got some great natural ingredients (composed of 90% to be exact) like 8 plant milks, aloe vera sap, almond, and orange white flowers. I have some of the driest skin there is and the mask left it feeling refreshed and not greasy at all. My skin also has a lot of redness in it and the natural ingredients noticeably help calm that down and balance out my skin tone. I love that the product keeps working for 24 hours and that it's a mask you leave on / absorb into the skin rather than one you wash off. I already use the Nuxe Hand & Nail Cream and the Lip Moisturizing Stick, and I'll definitely be adding this mask to my routine too!

Rituals Cosmetics Miracle Scrub in Ginseng & Ginko Biloba (Full-size, $17)

Another full size product! Rituals is a very zen inspired Dutch company with one stand-alone US store in Soho NYC. I recently shopped in their Amsterdam store at Schiphol Airport during a flight layover and got some great bargains (photo below!). I first heard about the brand when I got a sample with a magazine when I was in the UK and again in the US when Birchbox hosted a blogger breakfast with them and then started to feature them in some sample boxes. This is a very popular brand and the product is currently Out of Stock on Birchbox's website, but will hopefully soon return.

I currently have a pretty good hand exfoliator from Mary Kay that comes in a liquid hand soap type dispenser. Hand exfoliators are generally not that easy to find and I'm not a big fan of the Mary Kay beauty rep purchase model, so I like that Rituals offers a similar product that can be purchased either independently from a store or on their website without the sales pitch or pressure from a brand rep.  This scrub is extremely thick. At first I thought there might be a foil seal, but nope, the cap doesn't come off. You just have to push the white product through. You don't need much at all to get the desired impact. Afterwards my hands felt absolutely divine! They were so silky you'd think I remembered to moisturize them every single day. They also had the nice elasticity that usually only essential oils can provide. The scent was very pleasant but extremely subtle. So, you can use it whenever you'd like around people with fragrance sensitivity and it shouldn't be a concern. I am so pleased this particular product was included because I only have Rituals body oils and cleansers but had never even seen that they have a hand scrub, something that is such a fantastic fit for my dry skin!

Toni & Guy Leave In Conditioner (Full-size, $16.99)

This last produce was also full size! Despite the pricing above that Glossybox quoted, this product is sold at Target for just $9.19 and Walmart for $10.93 without any discounts applied. It's also on sale at for $11.06. Just a little bit of this product will go a long way. I think that using too much would make your hair look a little greasy. It's got an absolutely lovely scent - a lush floral with a  touch of spice. It left my hair completely tangle-free (which is quite a feat when wet), silky, and maybe even a bit sun-kissed - the lighter blonde tones in my hair definitely appeared to be more noticeable.

This is quite honestly the most stellar beauty box I have ever received! The value and the quality of the brands is just spot-on what I'm looking for at all times. It was also composed entirely of full size products - when does that ever happen? I loved it so much that I ordered a dupe box - something I've never done before with any subscription box! I opened a new account and used a special code on the second one so that I could get a free full-sized Tarte LipSurgence Power Pigment in Flush too (worth $24) - what a steal! It arrived inside my second box with the same samples as the first box. In case you didn't catch it, that means I got 2 of these boxes for just $36 plus a $24 bonus product and not counting the Ebates cash back. The value of these boxes was approximately $88 each!!! All I have to say is Glossybox, you gave this blogger a very Merry Christmas!

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