Monday, March 30, 2015

BaubleBar NYC Sample Sale Returns!

The Baublebar Sample Sale returns this week in NYC!

Tuesday, March 31st | 1pm-8pm
Wednesday, April 1st | 10am-8pm
Thursday, April 2nd | 10am-8pm
Friday, April 3rd | 10am-7pm

260 Fifth Avenue
(Between 28th & 29th Streets)
New York, NY 10001

Jewelry starting at just $10! 
Cash & credit cards accepted.

Know before you go
Check out my review of the Baublebar Sample Sale in 2013 HERE.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Walmart Beauty Box Spring 2015 Review

I'm always surprised when I see the Walmart charge pop up on my credit card statement each quarter. The Walmart Beauty Box is the most subtle subscription box there is. I signed up once on their website and that was it. They have no e-mail newsletter, they don't send you any e-mail notifications when a new box is about to ship, and they don't send a receipt when they've charged your card. Nevertheless, this is my third box and so far I've found that each one is worth every penny of the $5 they charge (which includes tax and shipping). You can also see my reviews of the last two boxes, Fall (HERE) and Winter (HERE).

Rimmel Lash Accelerator Endless Mascara (full size, $7.97)

I haven't tried this mascara yet because I just bought the new Benefit Roller Lash Mascara. However, this may be a nice cheap alternative for daily use. The package says that the product contains a "grow-lash complex" that makes lashes look up to 126% longer in 30 days with a micro-fiber formula. My lashes are already pretty long but the faux lashes look is very in right now and you can always go longer. I think the trick is to make lashes look longer and perfectly curled. Given the shape of the mascara brush (completely flat, no curve), I wonder if this one is able to accomplish both or if you absolutely need to use an eyelash curler too. Regardless, I'm intrigued by the claim and am interested in seeing the growth effects.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Boosters Facial Cleanser (full size, $7.47)

This product claims to boost softness, evenness, and radiance without ever over-drying skin. It contains antioxidant white tea and moisturizing vitamin e. This product has a pleasant, natural herbal-like scent and comes out as a smooth clear liquid without any exfoliant particles. So, it would be ideal for sensitive skin. It works up into a nice white lather so it is easy to see when you've covered your entire face. When I first washed it off, my skin felt a little tightened/firm, but as it dried it became more relaxed and very soft. I wouldn't say it made my skin feel more moisturized though. However, it didn't make it feel any more dry either.

Schwarzkopf Essence Ultime Omega Repair & Moisture Shampoo & Conditioner (full size, $6.97 each)

Admittedly I haven't used either of these samples yet. I really love getting high quality shampoo and conditioner samples because they are perfect for packing on business trips. A lot of hotels do offer their own complimentary free shampoo and conditioner minis, but they are fairly standard and there's no guarantee they're especially good for your hair type. So, I love bringing samples like these along too. I like the scent of these products. It seems like they have notes of cherry or almond. They contain pearl essence, protein, and keratin. Not to mention they were developed with Claudia Schiffer. Supermodel hair? Why not?! I love that these products focus on repairing and hydrating damaged hair. I have color-treated hair and I think this should help tackle a lot of the problems women with my hair type face. I look forward to trying these out when I head to Dallas for a trip next month!

The packaging describes the scent as "tears of Belladonna, crushed hear of Tiger Orchidea, with a black veil of Incense, pulverized Apricot, and the combinative essences of Saffron and Honey Drops". It is made by the Haus Laboratories in Paris and has an innovative technology - it is black in the bottle but becomes invisible when airborne. To me, the scent smells quite peppery and full with some notes of orchid. It definitely seems like a Fall/Winter scent. So, I think this would have been better suited for one of the previous boxes, especially since the Fall one had a much lighter scent more fit for Spring (Nicki Minaj Pink Friday).

This sample is the Mandarin & Tiare Flower scent. However, it doesn't look like that particular scent is available on the Walmart website at the moment. It has a very soothing citrus smell that is softened by the Tiare flower element, which smells a bit like Vanilla. The body wash is extremely rich and generates a moisturizing lather, just like I've come to expect from all Dove products. Since I have very dry skin I really appreciate this brand. All of the products are affordable and very effective for people with my skin type.

Foil packets from:

Nivea Nourishing In-Shower Body Lotion (full size, $5.92)
I haven't tried this one yet because I'm saving it for my next business trip. It is a very generous size for a foil packet (.31 fl. oz). I love all other Nivea products I've tried. Like Dove, Nivea also has fantastic products for people with dry skin problems. The products also tend to be fairly odorless or at least have a very neutral scent, which is nice for daily use. This included a coupon for $1.00 OFF any one 13.5 fl.oz. In-Shower Body Lotion.

Garnier Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Cream (full size, $11.50)
This cream has a relaxing sort of Chamomile type scent and goes on quite thick. It contains Hyaluronic Acid like the Neutrogena Water Boost Hydro Gel I reviewed last week, so it should definitely help lock in moisture. The product also contains essential oil, Hydroxy Acid, and rare plant extracts. It claims to intensely hydrate, reduce signs of tired looking skin, and reduce wrinkles over time. This sample included a coupon for $2.00 OFF any Garner moisturizer.

I used this product right after trying the Neutrogena facial cleanser that was in this box and my cheeks got very red/irritated and warm. I don't know if that was a reaction to this product, the facial cleanser, or the combination of them. Since this was just a foil packet sample, I'm afraid I won't be able to try it again to find out. The reaction ended up being bad enough that I actually had to wash this cream off my face. It looked almost like I'd used a microdermabrasion face peel. My skin isn't particularly sensitive and I rarely have any negative reactions to skin care or cosmetic products, so this was a little bit surprising. I'll want to do some more investigating to figure out which product caused the irritation and what ingredient it may have been.

Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation (full size, $5.94)
This product comes in 16 shades. The one I received is Ivory, which is a little bit darker and warmer than what I would typically buy. I think my shade's more likely Porcelain or Natural Ivory. This was the first sample I tried from this box and I was very impressed. It really evens out your skin tone and hides imperfections, giving your complexion the airbrushed effect and minimizing the appearance of pores. It did seem to breathe unlike other products I've tried around this price point with similar claims. 

My only complaint is that it had no moisturizing features. In fact, it felt like it may have even dried out my skin a little bit. However, I did like the Matte look which might not be as easy to achieve with strong moisturizers. I see that the Fit Me collection comes in three lines: Matte + Poreless (for Normal to Oily skin), Dewy + Smooth (for Normal to Dry Skin), and Shine-Free + Balance for all skin types. So, it seems like the Dewy + Smooth collection is geared more towards my skin type, but I did still like the Matte + Poreless collection very much - maybe I can combine a little from each with a Beauty Blender? At this price, why not get both?! This sample card included a coupon for $2.00 OFF on Fit Me or any Maybelline face product.

Bonus coupons from: Covergirl + Olay ($2.00 OFF any 1 Covergirl + Olay Simply Ageless Foundation Product), L'Oreal ($2.00 OFF any L'oreal Paris Cosmetic Product Purchase), Schwarzkopf ($2.00 OFF any 1 Essence Ultime Hair Car or Styling Product, only at Walmart), another from Schwarzkopf ($3.00 OFF any 1 Color Ultime or Keratin Color Hair Coloring Product, only at Walmart), and an ad for Maybelline's new The Blushed Nudes palette that is available for pre-sale at Walmart starting 3/29/15.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Birchbox "Creativity" March 2015 Review

I was so excited after last month's late arrival that this month's box arrived promptly on the 10th of the month. I mean, Birchbox, how long can you keep us waiting in suspense?! Actually this month was the first time I didn't leave it up to surprise. Birchbox sent out a link in advance to take a sneak peek at your box's contents before it arrived - so I caved. I was actually quite pleased, so I knew I had something to look forward to!

This month's curated box wasn't so exciting to me so again I opted for the pick-1-sample option. So far, that strategy has worked out really well for me - even better than any of the curated boxes. I've found that both boxes that I used this strategy on had higher values or better brands than most of the others I've received. This month's sample choice selection for me was the "It's a 10" Miracle Leave-in Product. It wasn't new to me. I've purchased it before - but I knew that it was a really good product and it's quite expensive.

My box contained: It's a 10 Miracle Leave-in Product (Full-size, $18), Elite Therapeutics Rosemary Eucalyptus Body Creme (Full-size, $19), Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser (Full-size, $25.50), Jelly Pong Pong GLOW GETTER Highlighter (Full-size, $14), and Reloxin Lift Revitalizing Facial Masque Treatment (Set of 10, $110).

I've used this product a number of times before because my hair stylist highly recommends it. I know it doesn't come cheap at $18/bottle. I was excited to see that this sample is 2 oz which is 1/2 the size of the full-sized product. That's a $9 value in a Birchbox I paid $10 for (less actually since I have an annual subscription). I find this product is most effective when used on damp hair. Every time I use this product it detangles my hair and leaves it very soft, smooth, and shiny. It also has a really nice smell - I've gotten several compliments after I've used it. I really cannot say enough nice things about this spray. I've tried a lot of alternatives because even the full-size bottles are fairly small and pretty pricey, but I have yet to find another product that is quite as effective as this one. Some will come close, but this one is really tops.

Elite Therapeutics Rosemary Eucalyptus Body Creme

I've tried this creme a couple times now, but only on my hands. The first time I tried it was after cooking and washing my hands with kitchen soap, so admittedly my hands were probably unusually dry and irritated. I noticed that time that the creme didn't keep my hands moisturized for very long.  The second time I tried it was a little bit better. I like the idea of a rosemary eucalyptus scent but this smells a little more like lavender and soap. I like that the product has 70% certified organic ingredients, is paraben and cruelty free, and is physician formulated. However, there are so many other body cremes / lotions out on the market and I really didn't care too much for the scent of this one. It also seemed to me to be pretty overpriced for something that is really average.

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser

If you decide to purchase a full-size version of this product, be sure to keep the muslin cloth from this sample. The cloth alone is worth something ($7.50 for a set of 2). I've wanted to try popular British brand Liz Earle's products for a while and was so pleased to finally get this product in my box. It's a two step process - first you massage the cleanser onto your face in a circular motion from the center outwards, then you clean it off with hot water using the enclosed muslin cloth and add a final splash of cool water. The cloth is really great quality and will last you many, many uses if cleaned and cared for properly. All you have to do is throw it in the wash every 2-3 uses and let it air dry. 

I have to say after the very first use I fell in love with this product. This is one of those cleansers with all natural ingredients that really is very clearly composed of what's on the label - rosemary, chamomile, cocoa butter, and eucalyptus essential oil. The scent is so lovely - so soothing and distinctly eucalyptus. The texture is very smooth but deeply penetrating like a good moisturizer. It exfoliates but it doesn't have any rough particles that irritate sensitive skin. I loved the tingling cool sensation my skin had when I first took off the product. It felt so invigorating! As a result, my skin looked very firm, even-toned, and felt softer than it ever had before. It also looked delightfully healthy and well hydrated - a challenge for my very dry skin. I had already taken my make-up off so I'm afraid I can't judge it on its make-up removing capabilities yet, but it does claim to remove even the toughest mascaras. I absolutely love this cleanser and despite its high price, I might just save up my Birchbox points and treat myself to this and other Liz Earle products. I was simply blown away by the immediate and unique effects of this product on my skin type.

Jelly Pong Pong GLOW GETTER Highlighter

I have to admit that this is the one product I saw in my box preview that I knew just wasn't for me. I have very fair skin so any product like this is extremely noticeable and unnatural looking. The only real highlighter I use is Benefit's Watt's Up because it's pretty subtle, sort of like a shimmery concealer. I only use that under my eyes though, to hide dark circles and generally look more energized. I read some fellow subscribers' reviews of the Jelly Pong Pong product, all of which said this has a super glittery effect. Since, I'm in my late 20s, that's not exactly the look I usually go for anymore. I know there were a lot of other subscribers who were really excited about this product and disappointed they didn't get it in their boxes, so perhaps I'll make someone's day with a swap!

These 2 samples are full-sized masques which means the Reloxin product alone is worth $20 (the accompanying literature says $22)! That's twice the price of this month's entire Birchbox. What amazing value! I haven't used them yet because I want to save them for days when I feel like I really need them. I'm hoping they'll hide some of the light lines in my forehead and any signs of fatigue on my face. The effects are supposed to last up to 24 hours and be a risk-free alternative to Botox.

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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. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Review

Great minds think alike - a huge thank you to both Allure Magazine and Vogue Magazine for both sending me samples of Neutrogena's latest product, the Hydro Boost Water Gel

This product is gentle and light like a gel, but hydrates like a thick cream. The key ingredient is purified Hyaluronic Acid which is naturally found in skin. It moisturizes up to 1,000 times its weight in water.

There are a lot of things I like about this product. I have extremely dry skin so I'm definitely the target customer for it. I have used Nivea Cream and Cetaphil products that are safe for both face and body quite a bit. While those pack a strong burst of moisture, they are extremely thick. It can sometimes feel like you're putting a paste on your face. Although they don't leave any greasy residue, the thickness does sometimes make it feel like your pores could be blocked or your skin might not breathe as well with it on your face. 

Lately, I've been trying to take the "less is more" approach. This Neutrogena product by contrast is smooth and quickly absorbent. It felt like a nice fresh base to put on my face before applying makeup and I really felt like it actually helped my skin breathe rather than inhibit it. It is oil-free and non-comedogenic (doesn't clog pores). It does not have any noticeable scent and is very sensitive, suitable for all skin types. I did find that I had to use a decent amount of the product to get the full coverage I wanted on my face though. So, when you might only use 1 nickel-sized amount of Nivea Cream you would instead use a 2 nickel-sized amount of this product. I also found the results of the Neutrogena product to be more long-lasting than moisturizing creams I've used before. On the day after applying the product my skin still felt very moisturized, smooth, and supple!

This is a sponsored post. I received one full-size (1.7 oz) sample of Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel from Allure Magazine and another from Vogue Magazine. These samples were provided to me for review purposes.

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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 every 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 glamorous. 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 and blotchy.

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.

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