Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Birchbox "Adventure" June 2015 Review

So, I cheated a little bit. I love to use Birchbox to explore products that are new-to-me, but I couldn't resist selecting this old favorite as my sample choice.

I started using these eye gels around Christmas last year - I remember because I asked for them as a gift. I've since ordered 2 or 3 more packs. I even found them on once for just $16.99! I literally jumped for joy. These are my special little luxury. They're not particularly cheap, so I don't use them every day. But, they are really nice to use on a day when you're feeling a little stressed - and your skin is showing it.

They are really easy to apply and come in nice little foil packets that you can bring on the airplane or pop in your purse for a pick-me-up. The gel is a little cool to the touch which is really nice on your skin. After 10 minutes you feel perfectly pampered and the skin under your eyes feels ultra-smooth. I cannot recommend these enough - or any other Skyn Iceland products I've tried!

I also learned to be a little patient this time around. There have been 1 or 2 times before when I've mentioned I haven't received my sample choice and contacted customer service so they'd send me a replacement item. This time, I saw in my box preview after my box had been shipped that this sample choice was missing. I let them know and they sent another, only for it to turn out that it was indeed included in my final box. So, I ended up with 2! Certainly not complaining, but now I've learned not to rely so much on the box preview next time.

Coola SPF 50 Sport - Mango (full-size, $32)

I received a Coola sunscreen in a previous Birchbox, so admittedly I wasn't all that excited about this one. You can always use sunscreen this time of year though and this time the sample was Mango scented rather than unscented so I thought that was a plus!

I love that it's SPF 50, organic, and not too thick. It dries just like a moisturizing lotion so it doesn't leave any sticky residue. I wouldn't say the scent smells purely of mango, maybe like more of a creamy mango - mango sorbet! It's nice. I don't think I would pay $32 for any sunscreen though, unless it was more of a multi-purpose beauty product.

Dr. Jart+ Dermaclear Micro Water (full-size, $32)

I just tried this product last night after reading that it not only removes impurities and tones and brightens skin, but also removes make-up. I really put it to the test. 

Ladies, if you've tried Benefit's They're Real! Mascara & Push Up Liner, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Those are my two favorite eye makeup products but they are notoriously difficult to remove (so far, I've had a lot of luck finding a variety of affordable products to remove them though - ask me!). 

With a simple cotton ball I found that this product was very effective in removing my eye makeup thoroughly and quickly. However, I did find that I needed to use a considerable amount of product to do it - perhaps my cotton ball was soaking up too much liquid too quickly?

The next day my skin did look pretty clear, but admittedly I have been using a lot of other skin care products this week so I can't say it is attributed to this one product I've only tried once so far. I also can't speak for the long-term effects because of this. Since the bottle isn't overly large and I had to use a lot of product, I'm not sure I'll have an answer for you before I use up this product entirely. I love Dr. Jart+ products in general but I'm not completely sold on the value of this one yet. 

There are tons of "micellar" water products on the market, especially if you travel internationally. They're a real trend at the moment. I picked up a very cheap and effective one at Monoprix in Paris (think: the Target of France). I've also found that some make-up removing wipes are more heavy-duty than others. I'm particularly fond of the Pond's ones, which are really thick and will remove all waterproof makeup.

You may have noticed this is the third item that I received in my box that was one of the sample choices (the Coola and Skyn Iceland ones were too). This has actually never happened to me before but I thought it was pretty nice. Sometimes the sample choices are tough decisions to make and I know this month I spent some time debating between old favorite Skyn Iceland and trying out this new Dr. Jart+ product.

Marcelle Mini Waterproof Eyeliner in Indigo (full-size set, $18)

I've read a lot of comments online that subscribers were generally really disappointed with this eyeliner. It's partly because Birchbox told everyone they were going to receive a Eyeko Fat Liquid Liner (looked to be full-size - a $16 value). 

We didn't end up getting the Eyeko liner apparently because it got held up in customs - it's a British brand. So, every subscriber received a Marcelle eyeliner instead. If you paid for a Birchbox this month on the sole basis that you were excited about the Eyeko liner, I can understand why you would be really disappointed.

Here's the message from the Birchbox Facebook page:

"We are sending every subscriber an email letting them know that we originally planned to include an Eyeko Fat Liner in every single box for June, but Customs is currently holding our eyeliners hostage (oh no!)! Good news! You are still going to get an amazing makeup sample by Marcelle (which we love!). We absolutely plan to have the Eyeko Fat Liners sent in a future box; so, hope you enjoy the Marcelle this month and the Eyeko later on."

A few bloggers also complained about the color they received too. I guess a lot of subscribers got the really bright sparkly aqua one from the set. I guess I was pretty lucky then, because I love the color I received. It's a really classic navy with just a slight hint of shimmer. It's definitely very mature and does't have much of a "glitter" effect.

Sienna Naturals Moisturizing Leave-in Conditioner (full-size, $19)

This was the only product in this month's box that I really wasn't all that pleased with after sampling it.

My hair often gets a bit tangled when it gets dry or when I've just taken a shower. So, leave-in conditioner is really necessary for me to keep it looking nice. I've already found a few I like - Edward Beale's Moroccan Gloss Argan Oil Leave-In Treatment in particular (which I can usually get at T.J. Maxx for half price, $7.99). 

So, I had pretty high hopes for this one. I would definitely be interested in mixing up my leave-in conditioners every so often. While this one smells nice and has a pretty comparable texture, I found that applying even a small amount left my hair looking kind of greasy. That's always a no-go for me. Who wants to put effort into taking care of their hair only for it to look unhygienic / not washed?

I was excited to get a Lifestyle Extra this month! It had been a while since I received one. While I don't think this Emi Jay tie is different from the Twistband ones I already have, I was still happy to receive it. I can always use another hair tie for the gym and I like to pull back my hair at night so it doesn't tangle while I'm sleeping. 

These types of ties are great for making sure you don't get a crimp in your hair like traditional hair ties used to do. I am slightly envious of the subscribers who received the lace Pura Vida Bracelet Headband this month instead though. Those look pretty and a bit more unique. Overall, very happy with this month's box though!

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sale of the Week: The Organic Pharmacy on Gilt City

The Organic Pharmacy

One of the best British beauty imports there is! The Organic Pharmacy is a luxurious treat in the heart of Greenwich Village. Don't let the small storefront deceive you, this shop is chock full of a wide variety of  remedies for all skincare woes and a friendly and attentive staff who will not only educate you but serve up some of the most relaxing treatments I've ever experienced. The boutique has all the cleanliness and class of a charming London spa.

Until Monday, Gilt City is offering a 30-Minute Express Power Facial for $40 (normally $65) and a 60-Minute Vitamin C & Papaya Enzyme Peel for $75 (normally $150). I got the facial last time and it was incredible. My face felt positively radiant for the entire week and it was more relaxing than most massages I've had!

Looking for an extra discount? Use code "GILTAPP15" for $15 off your Gilt City purchase of $50+ using their mobile app. You can also get 20% cash back on every purchase at Gilt City right now if you sign up for Ebates and access Gilt City via the Ebates site or mobile app. I did the Ebates option and got a few facials for essentially $32 each (you can purchase up to 3 per member!).

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Influenster Blossom VoxBox ~ Spring/Summer 2015

It's been a while since I've received a VoxBox from Influenster, but each time I discover some fantastic products! A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of receiving the Blossom VoxBox, full of some great food and beauty items provided for free for review purposes. If you're interested in learning more about the Influenster program and signing up yourself, click here.

Beanitos Chips in Chipotle BBQ & Original Black Bean

I've tried the Chipotle BBQ ones and they really do taste a lot like BBQ potato chips initially, with just a slight aftertaste that brings out the black bean flavor. They are gluten free, high in fiber, and contain 4g of protein. They are also: corn free, all natural, contain no trans fats or preservatives, and are certified kosher and vegan. So, they are the perfect snack for people with a lot of dietary restrictions. Personally, the Chipotle BBQ flavor was a bit too strong for my taste. I prefer the original which would be great for dipping - spinach dip, salsa, guacamole, etc.

I haven't tried the Coconut Almond Curry one yet (which sounds amazing!), but I have tried the Sea Salt Caramel and it is absolutely delicious! The dried fruit has a lot of flavor and it actually tasted like I was eating a treat rather than a granola bar or trail mix type product. I really enjoyed it and would definitely be interested in purchasing this in the future. The portion was pretty generous, so it would definitely be something nice to bring on a trip or stash in your desk to tide you over when you're in-between meals. 

Nasoya Pasta Zero in Shirataki Spaghetti

This product is unusual but actually really intriguing. It's a fresh pasta that comes in a vacuum sealed bag full of water. I like that the pasta comes home fresh and only needs to be cooked for 2-3 minutes (boil, microwave, or skillet) rather than dry pasta which often takes 5x as long to boil and prepare. This is a real on-the-go meal! It's also the perfect thing to bring out when you have any friends over with food allergies. It is egg, gluten, and dairy free and vegan & kosher. That'll pretty much cover all the bases.  Also, it's great for those minding their weight - fat free, low calorie (15 cal per serving), and low carb (4 grams per serving). With all these healthy stats, I'm usually skeptical. I would assume a product like this would have a lot of artificial ingredients and chemicals. However, I was pretty impressed when I saw this contains: water, konjac flour, chickpea flour, potato starch, calcium hydroxide, reduced iron, and folic acid.

A serving is 1/2 the package. To me, the bag looks like a decent amount for 2 people for lunch if served fairly plain, but would be less substantial for dinner - so you would likely want to add veggies or meat to it. I haven't tried mine yet but I got the Spaghetti one which actually looks fairly thin for spaghetti. I'm thinking I might make Vermicelli-style dish out of it with Chicken, crushed peanuts, and mint - yum! Or maybe this recipe for Pad Thai.....

NYC Cityproof Eyeshadow in Brooklyn Mocha

This is truly "foolproof" eyeshadow, the crayon makes it really easy to apply and it lasts 24 hours and is waterproof. As with all NYC (New York Color) make-up products, this one is really cheap - just $2.99. There's a whole lot of glitter in this product, so you have to be careful if you apply multiple layers. However, the color is really mature looking and I think it would be flattering on almost every skin tone. I actually really loved this product and have no doubt I will get a lot of use out of it. It's a good dash of instant glam!

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs in Medium

I like the idea of this product, that it will make your legs look smooth and sophisticated (as if you were wearing pantyhose). I also like that it's waterproof, so no embarrassing splotches on your legs if it rains! However, I think the color I got was a too dark for my skin tone. It went on looking like a really bad self tanner, and honestly had a lot of orange/yellow tones which didn't go well with my pale skin that has more pink/beige tones to it. I don't think this product is for me, but it is hard to judge since I don't think the Medium color is the one I would buy in the store. It also looks like it's mainly sold in a spray on version which might look more natural (i.e. less concentrated) than the sample I received, which is in a thick liquid form.

Australian Gold Lotion Sunscreen SPF 30

This sunscreen is pretty wonderful. It has a pleasant fairly powdery floral scent that doesn't smell at all like any other sunscreen I've used. It smells more like a body lotion. I tried it out on my face and it seemed to be safe - it didn't cause any breakouts or make my face shiny/oily. I hadn't heard much about this brand before, but I'm definitely a fan.

Clairol Hair Food Root Cleansing Shampoo
10.1 fluid ounces, $9.99 at Target

This shampoo was my favorite thing in the box (which otherwise was pretty awesome anyway). The branding is a bit hidden to emphasize the "Hair Food" range, but this is actually a Clairol product, which surprised me! It's such fabulous quality I thought it might have been a more expensive/premium brand. It's silicone, paragon, and mineral free so it is pretty safe to use on all types of hair. I have dry color treated hair and it worked wonders. If you're only interested in this shampoo because you think it will have a lovely strawberry scent, I hate to tell you the label and color are a bit misleading. While the shampoo does contain a number of natural ingredients, including strawberries, it actually has an entirely different fragrance. The label describes it as a "ginger fragrance" but I actually thought it smelled more like mint, eucalyptus, or some type of herb. It's certainly not an unpleasant smell by any means but it is not a sweet smell. 

The focus of the product is to revitalize your roots by deeply cleansing your hair to remove buildup. This isn't a huge problem for my hair but I find that any time I've been using any one type of shampoo for an extended period of time, it always looks a lot nicer when I switch to another for at least one wash. I think a part of that is definitely due to buildup and after using this shampoo I found that my hair was extremely silky, shiny, light. It's basically a facial for your hair. I'm not sure I plan on using this shampoo every single day because I have some that deeply moisturize my hair, but I definitely plan on using it once or twice a week to keep it looking fresh and vibrant.

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