Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Pool Party Essentials: evian® Facial Spray

It's gonna be a long hot summer and this weekend the pools and beaches have just started to open up! When I'm poolside or out at the beach, I want to be sure I'm protecting my skin and keeping hydrated.

The travel size evian® Brumisateur®  Natural Mineral Water Facial Spray is perfect for a pool party. It slips easily into a beach bag or clutch and packs some powerful minerals to keep your skin looking healthy and radiant - while also soothing it after exposure to the summer sun and harsh pool chemicals. It's also safe to use over your makeup and helps blend make-up into your skin for a more natural look. So, you can still look glamorous in your cabana!

Enter below for your chance to win a prize pack!

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This is a sponsored post. The Wilkes Group / Evian Facial Spray and Brandbacker
provided me with a travel size facial spray for review purposes.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The 6 Best Memorial Day Sales

These are the six best deals I've found this long weekend:

Last Call by Neiman Marcus | Extra 40% Off Everything
Mark & Graham | 25% Off Sale Items w/ code EXTRA25
Elizabeth McKay | 30% Off Everything w/ code MDW30
Links of London | Up to 70% Off Select Items
Jack Rogers | Up to 50% Off Select Items
Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale | Up to 40% Off Select Items

This weekend is a wonderful opportunity to get a Links of London Friendship Bracelet for under $100, a personalized gift for Father's Day from Mark & Graham, an elegant Scotland Wrap Dress form Elizabeth McKay, or some 2016 sandals by Jack Rogers for your recent grad

There are also tons of gorgeous swimsuits, jewelry, and shoes on sale at Nordstrom and Last Call by Neiman Marcus from some of my favorite designers like...Kate Spade, Clover Canyon, Kendra Scott, Tory Burch, Barbour, Astley Clarke, Kenzo, Hunter, and Rebecca Minkoff

Top it all off with a luxurious collection of perfumes by French darling Annick Goutal or indulge your inner jetsetter with the latest Bose headphones (trust me, these are worth every penny!).
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Play! by Sephora May 2016 Review

This month I was just absolutely beyond thrilled to finally get off the waitlist for the Play! by Sephora beauty subscription box. It's pretty much just like Birchbox - once per month, $10 each + tax, and at least 5 samples. I think the main difference is that it appears everyone gets the same Play! box. I don't believe they are varied or customized at all. That being said, this was one of the most incredible subscription boxes I've ever received. 

I absolutely adored everything in it and was psyched to see a few premium brand names I already love! I struggle with that a bit with my Birchbox subscription because I feel like I'm frequently unlucky - other subscribers are always randomly getting products from the brand names I already know and love like Benefit, The Organic Pharmacy, theBalm, Dr. Jart+, Ciate and Caudalie. I almost never get them.

I also loved the decorative cloth pouch that came with the products. It was so cute, good quality, and will be a great place to stash some of my samples on-the-go. I know Birchbox delivers its samples with a little pouch in the UK (where it charges more than $10/box) but I've never gotten something like this in a Birchbox here. It's a really nice touch.

Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair!™ Deep Conditioning Mask ($36)

I got this exact same sample just last month in my Birchbox. However, that really wasn't a bad thing at all. I really like Briogeo products and the full size versions are quite expensive. So, I was super happy to get a dupe! I have dry, color-treated hair so deep conditioning masks really help repair my hair and make it look shiny, healthy, and strong. This product has a really nice subtle floral/herbal scent and leaves your hair feeling thick and moisturized but not at all greasy.

Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine Cologne Absolue Pure Perfume ($25-195) 

I've received a few Atelier Cologne samples in Birchboxes before. They're really good quality and the scents are always highly concentrated, so a bottle would last you a long time! I've definitely received this sample before. I thought it would be a bit floral with a subtle orange scent; however, it's really dominated by the citrus notes. It smells a bit more sour then I would think a typical orange would smell. It actually reminds me of the scent left on your hands after you eat a bunch of tangerines. It's pretty powerful but not unpleasant at all. 

With my personal taste though, I think I prefer some of Atelier's other scents that smell more subtle like their Rose Anonyme. Most of their scents come in four different sizes (0.25 oz, 1 oz, 3.3 oz, 6.7 oz) which is great for travel or if you haven't yet decided to invest in the large bottle.

Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Kimchi ($26.00)

I've never tried any Bite Beauty products before so I was excited to receive this one in my box. The sample is a really nice size that will last quite a long time. Kimchi is a super bright pink which might turn off a lot of people, but I actually really like the color. I also really liked how the lipstick was moisturizing on my dry lips and the color blended quite naturally - or as natural as hot pink can! 

I'm now really interested in visiting the Bite Beauty Lip Lab here in NYC where you can customize your own lip color for $36 (tip: be sure to book about 2 weeks in advance).

Tarte Tarteist™ Lip Crayon in Latergram ($18)

This liner has a pretty fine point which makes it a bit delicate. Although the sample is smaller than the full size, I think it is still relatively close to the full size and has the same type of mechanics/packaging. The liner glides really easily as you twist it. The color is really nice - a sort of mauve mixed with beige or "pinky nude". I wouldn't use this to fill in my lips, as it's not moisturizing like a lipstick, but it makes a nice standard liner that blends well with a variety of different colored lipsticks, like my Olivia Palermo x Ciate Satin Kiss Lipstick in Praline and my Nars Lipstick in Dolce Vita.

This photo should give you an idea of sample size. I'm holding up both lip products in front of a standard sized business card. They were both actually pretty substantial sizes that will last months.

Origins Maskimizer™ Skin-Optimizing Mask primer ($22.00)

The primer feels a bit like a misting spray. I found that I had to use quite a few sprays to cover my face. So, with the first use I used a bit more than half of the sample vial. It smelled a bit like mint to me but the packet says it has a Marine Algae Complex. It kind of reminded me of the Caudalie Beauty Elixir or Farmacy Skin Dew.

Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask ($4-26)

Since the main purpose of this mask is to clear pores and I've recently used quite a few masks and cleansers, I've decided to hold off on testing this one until a time when I really need it. I'll be sure to update this post once I have.

Origins Drink Up™ Intensive Overnight Mask ($4-26)

After applying the primer this nighttime mask gives you two options. You can either apply it for 10 minutes and then tissue it off or you can leave it on overnight. This mask is yellowish-cream in color and has a really pleasant tropical scent - sort of like a mixture of guava, passionfruit, and orange. I think the scent comes from all the lovely flower extracts listed in the ingredients. I've never used a mask with such a fruity smell, but it was pretty nice. The mask has a thick texture like a sunscreen, and absorbs into your skin in a similar way. It still felt a bit sticky on my skin when I woke up the next morning so I had to wash it off then. I can't say my skin felt especially moisturized in the morning, but to be fair I have very dry skin and it was an especially hot day.

Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial ($19-48)

Korres is a brand with such a great reputation, so I was excited to try out a new product by them. Since I have dry skin with some red splotchiness, skincare products with rose are absolutely perfect for me. They calm the skin in a nice natural way.

This facial is really easy to use - simply apply before bed right after your cleansing routine and leave it on overnight, no need to wash it off. The scent of this product is absolutely divine! If you love anything rose scented, you will adore this. The texture, much like the moisturizing Origins mask, was of the same sort of consistency as sunscreen. I was a bit surprised by the texture and color (white). I was expecting this one to be more like Fresh's Rose Face Mask which is a petal-infused clear gel. 

I used this product the night after I got an eyebrow wax, which is always a little tough on my skin the first couple days - irritation, redness / bumpiness, extra dry skin. It definitely worked to calm my skin and stopped it from itching. I can't say I noticed a massive difference in the morning, but the product absorbed completely and didn't leave any sticky residue. I'm curious if I'll see more results after multiple uses.

Each month the Play! box comes with a Play! card. If you bring your card into the store you can get a "free one-to-one tutorial" and a bonus 50 Beauty Insider points with any purchase. I bought a travel size Bumble & Bumble Pret-a-Powder for just $12 and got to walk away with 62 points after my visit! 

I also presented my card to a staff member to see if I could get the advertised tutorial. The staff in the store I went to (Princeton, NJ) said that I was the first customer to ever bring in a Play! card. They assumed the "tutorial" meant one of the "mini makeovers" that are available to all customers any time they come into the store. That sounded fine with me, but I was wondering if anyone else has had a different experience? Did they do a tutorial with the products in our box? Anyway, I went ahead with the "Mask & Moisturize" mini makeover which was really great and taught me about some very high quality Peter Thomas Roth products to combat my dry skin. I even got to take home a little sample they made up for me of one of the products they used!

It turns out each month they have "Play! Dates" at a few select stores where they event Play! subscribers in for a special night of advice and treatments. Unfortunately when I tried to RSVP for the one at my local store (NYC Upper East Side) right away, it had already filled up. Hopefully I can go next time. It would be fun to meet some other subscribers in my area.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Birchbox "Out of Doors" May 2016 Review

This month's Birchbox was all about the basics. My box contained a pretty natural shade of lip gloss, a concealer, a sunscreen, a moisturizing hair spray, and a body peel. Sample choice this time around was really hard because the curated box had Davines haircare products - my absolute favorite - but I didn't like much else that was included in it. 

So, I took a gamble and went with the single sample choice option. I picked the Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Body Peel because I really liked the Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Peel for face that I received in a previous box. I ended up liking everything well enough in this box. Nothing had the same "wow factor" that the Davines products would have, but everything was relatively effective and interesting to try. 

One of the reasons this sample choice looked so attractive was because of how large it is. The pouch is bigger than an index card, and since it's for body, I figured I'd have enough product to try it out on multiple parts of my body a few times. As you can see in the photo below, the pouch was unfortunately mostly air. The actual amount of product in the pouch starts at the top and ends at the bottom of the word "Chemistry", where the horizontal crease is in the photo.

Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Body Peel ($34.00)

Reading the packaging it was interesting to see how many ways this product could be used: to soften feet, smooth calves and thighs, exfoliate the bikini area for better shaving, soften hands, smoothen rough elbows, and create glowing upper arms and shoulders. I tried out this product on one of the most challenging places of my body. I have one elbow that's always been a lot more rough than the other and seems to continue to have dry, flaky skin no matter how much lotion I apply to it. 

After taking a shower, I applied a small amount of the product to my elbow and massaged it around until, as the pouch describes, it started to form small solids. I assumed those solids were the sand particles in the formula. Actually they are the combination of gel and your dry skin. It was incredible how in just three minutes most of the pesky dry skin that had been irritating me for ages just flaked right off, without a mess, easily, and painlessly. 

Because this is a problem area, I'm sure I will need to repeat the process every couple weeks or so to maintain these results. However, I have to say that after just one use I could see how this product could really be life changing for some. I cannot count the number of different types of lotion I'd tried to help this one small problem patch of skin. I'm sure for others who have even larger patches of concern, this would easily become their favorite product in their medicine cabinet. I am so incredibly glad I picked this sample! When I selected it, I never even thought about using it on my elbow.

Supergoop Everyday Sunscreen ($48.00)

This sunscreen has great SPF 50 coverage and is long-lasting. I've gotten this sample several times before. I have to admit, while I love the packaging, I don't really understand what makes the Supergoop brand unique, as compared to some of the nicer sunscreens you can get in the pharmacy for a fraction of the price. 

Since you also have to be very careful with the expiry dates of sunscreen, I don't think I would splurge on the full sizer version of this product which is a full 18 oz. I don't think I'd ever use it all up before it expired. Maybe it would be a good value for someone who lives in a beach town and spend long periods of time out in the sun every day. I will say that it isn't oily and doesn't leave any greasy residue. It has a texture just like a thick body lotion and is safe to use on your face.

Parlor Moisturizing Seasalt Spray ($24.00)

I tried out this product with extremely low expectations. I've received Parlor samples in my Birchbox about three times already. I tried the Parlor Smoothing Blowout Spray before an important professional event just a few weeks ago and was absolutely horrified to find that it left my hair looking extremely greasy. I had to run off and buy some last minute dry shampoo to reverse the damage!

This product was a pleasant surprise. It didn't do anything to help detangle my hair, but once my hair dried it looked shiny and a bit lighter (seemed to counteract brassy tones). Mind you, I used my absolute best conditioner and shampoo (Davines OI line) before applying this spray. So, it's likely a good part of the result is related to those products and not just this spray. However, it seems like it definitely did contribute to the overall shiny, healthy look.

Well People Bio Correct Concealer in Fair ($22.50)

This is a very effective concealer that blends really well to match a number of skin tones. I do think it might blend a little better for someone with yellow undertones than pink undertones though. It's good for covering up acne, dark circles, or other dark marks. However, it doesn't really cover up freckles or red spots. A little bit goes a long way, so I think even this tiny sample tube will last quite a while. I also like that it's by Well People because that means it has lots of natural, good-for-you ingredients.

I've received some ModelCo products before - a full sized lip gloss/lipstick combo in a Popsugar Must Have Box I think and a sample size lipstick in a previous Birchbox. One thing I've noticed is that no matter the color they always have the same scent - kind of like a super sweet artificial strawberry candy. Despite my description, I don't really think that's a bad thing. They are also all extremely moisturizing. 

Since I have very dry lips, I love keeping a ModelCo gloss or lipstick in my bag. They have a really nice glossy shine as well. The only things I didn't really like about this particular sample were the applicator, which didn't apply the product as smoothly as I'd like and the color, which isn't a particularly great match for my very fair skin. I would have preferred a shade of pink, red, or purple.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Influenster Procter & Gamble VoxBox Review

It's that time again! Influenster sent me another great box to review. This time all of the products are from Procter & Gamble. I was really excited to get this box because all of the products included are staples in my daily routine - haircare, deodorant, and skincare. All of these products are really easy to find at a variety of major retailers and offered at extremely accessible price points. 

While there are some really great premium brands out there, we all have to have some reliable everyday basics too. However, basics don't have to be "basic". You should still make sure you're getting the best value and using the products on the market that are best for your needs. After all, these are the products you rely on every day. Trying these out definitely convinced me to switch up some of the products I use in my own routine.

Secret Outlast Xtend Antiperspirant & Deodorant ($3.99)

I've used several Secret deodorants before and admittedly have always been a fan of the brand. I have noticed that some of the regular stick and aerosol deodorants do need to be re-applied once during the day to ensure 24-hour protection though. This deodorant got tested out on one of the hottest days of the year so far - it got up to 88 degrees! It went on clear and stayed clear, provided long-lasting protection, and had a really fresh pleasant scent. It definitely help up to the heat too and kept me dry. If you're paying up for a clinical strength deodorant right now, you might want to give this budget one a spin. It might just work for you too and will save you a few bucks.

Clairol Nice n' Easy CC+ ColorSeal Conditioner ($3.97)

I have color-treated blonde hair so I was so pleased to receive a product so specific to my needs in this box. I probably get my roots touched up every 2-3 months. However, the roots start to appear pretty quickly after each coloring and it's hard to keep the ashy blonde look I love without some unfortunate brassy tones appearing. Admittedly I've only used this product a couple times so far since it requires you to leave it on for a few minutes before washing it off (kind of like a hair mask). So far, I've noticed that it left my hair feeling a bit more healthy - strong, silky, and shiny. I think I'd need to give it more time to see how it helps protect my color, but I think making sure my hair looks healthy is a good start!

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream with Sunscreen ($21.55)

Again, I tested this product out on one of the hottest (and sunniest) days so far this year. Since I have a very fair complexion, my face - especially my cheeks and nose - burn very easily. This SPF 30 cream was safe to use on my face, seeping in almost immediately upon application without leaving any residue. I spent about 2 hours out in the sun and it protected my skin completely. I look forward to continuing to use it throughout the summer. It has a nice light-weight texture which is easy to wear under makeup or to apply before or after your favorite moisturizer.

I was a little skeptical about this shampoo when I first tried it. I used Herbal Essences a lot when I was a kid - yes, that good old original formula which was bright green with the retro cartoon of Mother Earth on the bottle. In my 20s am I already outdating some of you? Needless to say, I have a history with the brand but always saw it as a sort of everyday product without anything particularly unique about it.

When I applied this shampoo the first thing I noticed was how squeaky clean it made my hair feel. In the shower while I rinsed out the product, I felt like my hair was a bit dry and stringy. That was a good thing in a way because I felt like this shampoo was doing its job of clarifying my hair of any buildup, but perhaps bad because I worried it might end up feeling dry and not looking shiny when I got out of the shower.

Here's the secret - these two products pack a mean 1-2 punch! I would highly recommend using both of these products together. The conditioner breathed in the moisture and brought my hair back to life. It left it looking shiny and feeling glossy and smooth. So, not only was it extra clean but it ended up looking polished and healthy too! Both products have a very subtle scent and were pretty gentle, so I think just about anyone should be able to use them. If there's one thing about Herbal Essences, it seems like they are always reliable. 

I would recommend using these products for everyday use but rotating in a moisturizing mask or salon brand conditioner about two times a week to retain additional moisture and keep hair looking fresh.

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Influenster and Procter & Gamble supplied me with these products for free for testing purposes.

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