Monday, June 20, 2016

Birchbox "Multifaceted and Mighty" June 2016 Review

This month rather than selecting a sample choice, I went for the curated box. After all, it has two of my absolute favorite brands in it - Nuxe and Davines - so why would I take a risk? It turned out to be a really nice variety of makeup, skincare, and haircare. Everything sort of had that natural, effortless feel to it. 

Davines Authentic Cleansing Nectar for Hair & Body (Full Size, $28.50)

Davines Authentic Replenishing Butter for Face, Hair, & Body (Full Size, $38.50)

Admittedly I haven't used either of these samples yet because I want to save them for when I really need a high-end travel size shampoo & conditioner for a trip. However, I have to say that the Italian haircare brand Davines is my absolute go-to for the most incredible hair days. I regularly use their OI and MOMO, and MINU collections. They are better than any other shampoo or conditioner I've ever used. The down side is that they are quite expensive. However, I have to say I think they might weigh down your hair a bit if you use them every single day. I try to rotate them into my haircare routine about 2-3 times each week to keep my hair looking fresh, shiny, and sleek. This set has a really nice light herbal scent.

LOC One & Done Shadow Stick in Haute Cocoa (Full Size, $10)

One application and I'm absolutely sold! This is a fantastic on-the-go eyeshadow. I was in a rush to get to a birthday this weekend and was able to steadily apply this on a moving train.

The crayon glides so smoothly but is very easy to control and doesn't smudge or get too blunt. This was the perfect shimmering shade of brown that works for both the summer (bronzed/golden look) and the autumn. It is long lasting and doesn't seem to easily melt or smudge. The concentration of pigment is relatively intense and the application is pretty exact, so I intentionally smudged it with my fingers just a little bit after applying it to avoid the crisp lines and to take away/lighten some of the pigment. 

Nuxe Reve de Miel Facial Cleansing and Make-up Removing Gel (Full Size, $19)

I am absolutely obsessed with French hair and skincare brand Nuxe. It is such a great, high-quality brand offered a reasonable mid-tier prices. It's also so easily accessible in the US now - available through Target, Birchbox, and their own site (which offers free shipping pretty frequently and lots of great gifts with purchase)!

Everything in their "Reve de Miel" line has the most heavenly scent of honey. I have been using their Reve de Miel Hand and Nail Cream for years. This product is also very impressive. It still has the lovely scent but comes out as a medium-thick translucent gel. It's really easy to apply to your whole face or just one particular spot. You just rub it in a circular motion to massage it into your skin a bit and rinse off. It removes all kinds of makeup really easily - even gel eyeliner and mascara. It's important to note though that this product is not recommended to use around your eyes - trust me, I had a bit of an oopsy trying to remove some eyeliner from near my tear duct, it will definitely sting! I would recommend putting some on a tissue and dabbing it on your lids and lashes keeping your eyes completely closed the whole time, if you plan to use it to remove eye makeup.

Air Repair Complexion Boosting Moisturizer (Full Size, $21)

I was pretty excited about receiving this product in my Birchbox because I have very dry skin and am always looking for effective moisturizers. The active ingredient in this one is Hyaluronic Acid which isn't something overly unusual. You can find it in a lot of drugstore brand moisturizers like Neutrogena. The texture was pretty average as well. It's not thick like a Nivea cream, in fact it's a bit runny. I found that my dry skin seeped it up right away. So, I needed to use about half of the sample just to cover my whole face. Even with that, my skin didn't feel particularly soft or dewy to the touch. It still felt very matte and dry. I will say that my complexion did look pretty even - perhaps it calmed some of the redness. However, I wouldn't count on this as a staple moisturizer for those with really dry skin.

The Beauty Crop PBJ Beauty Stick in Raisin the Roof (Full Size, $14.95)

The "Raisin the Roof" color is a nice sort of purplish light pink. It goes on relatively sheer, so if you want some real pigment, you will need to apply several layers. The product glides on really nicely and feels really moisturizing. Unfortunately, I found that the pigment kind of stuck to certain parts of my lips vs. others (i.e. especially to any chapped/dry parts) so the color looked uneven, kind of light purplish clumpy spots sitting on top of the majority - the natural color of my lips which is darker than this. It looked pretty awful and the color wouldn't blend at all. So, as much as I loved the slick moisturizing feel of this product, I definitely didn't like the look.

Here's a comparison of the Raisin the Roof PBJ Smoothie Stick (top) vs. Guava Nice Day PBJ Smoothie Stick (bottom). Since I received the Guava Nice Day one in my Rifle Paper Co Birchbox just two months ago, I thought I'd point out that they are two different colors - but not super distinct from one another. The Guava one is a bit more reddish pink rather than purple, and a bit more bold.

So long for now, BB!

Unfortunately since Birchbox changed their points system this month and I recently started the Sephora Play! subscription, this may be my last Birchbox monthly review for a little bit. I can't believe it's been so long. I bought my first Birchbox back in 2012! Sadly, my annual subscription ends this month. I may get a few more boxes on the monthly subscription basis at a later date, but I'm having trouble justifying the annual subscription again (between the change in the points system and my accummulation of so many sample products I haven't used up yet or need to swap/sell). It's nice to end this 33 box, 183 sample journey on a high note though! Of course, I'll still buy full-size products from their website and Soho store. They both have excellent selection and superb customer service!

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Influenster Bloom Voxbox Review

I was thrilled to get not one, but two Influenster Voxboxes this month! You may have already seen my review of the Influenster Procter & Gamble Voxbox. Well, the Bloom Voxbox was extra special too! It had a nice variety of product: nailcare, haircare, deodorant, bodycare, and food.

Sinful Colors Professional Nail Polish Enamel in Teal Midnight ($2.00)

From everything I've seen, Sinful Colors Nail Polishes are a real steal. If you're looking for a quick, cheap color to match a particular outfit, this is definitely your brand. I can't say I'm a huge fan of the color I received in this box. Being in my late 20s, I don't wear a lot of bright blue glitter on my nails anymore. I left that back in my Limited Too days. When I put it on it looked bluish-purple so I decided to nickname it "the mermaid manicure". It's definitely a lot lighter than it looks in the bottle. I see this color is no longer available on their website, so perhaps it wasn't too popular. However, the polish was quick drying and was relatively thick - only required 2 coats for a translucent look, 3 coats for an opaque look. Check out my Sinful Colors manicure here.

Cutex Advanced Revival Nail Polish Remover Pads ($1.49)

This sample was full-sized which includes three individually wrapped pads. What they advertise is absolutely true. Each one of these Nail Polish Remover Pads will remove regular nail polish (and top/base coat) from all 10 of your fingernails. It really worked like a charm and didn't require much scrubbing.

I then got a little greedy and tried to use the same one on my toes. Unfortunately it doesn't really work for more than 10 nails. I found that they weren't quite as effective on my toes. I don't know why. I really struggled to get the same polish off with them. So, I would definitely recommend these for your manicures but perhaps not for pedicures.
They are really perfect for travel. You can avoid bringing an extra liquid with you and they don't make a mess or have a particularly strong smell. I always forget to bring nail polish remover along with me on a trip. If I'm attending a wedding or another big event I always bring polish or get my nails done during the trip at a nail salon. It's important to bring along remover too just in case a nail chips and needs to be re-painted or you need to change your nail color to match a last-minute wardrobe change. Chipped nails never look great at a formal event.

Not Your Mother's Plump for Joy Thickening Hair Lifter ($5.99)

Admittedly volume isn't a major issue for me unless I haven't washed my hair in a while and haven't used any dry shampoo. My hair is marginally fine but there's a lot of it and while it's relatively straight, it's definitely got some waviness to it that gives it natural volume. So, I can't say I initially thought this product was really made for me. Thin, flat hair is never really my problem. Maybe the occasional cowlick instead when I get out of bed after sleeping on wet hair!

This spray can be used on either damp or dry hair. I opted for trying it on dry hair because I thought it would be easier to see the results that way. The product comes out as a sort of lotion spray which you spray into your palms and spread on your hands. When you apply it to your hair, you simply scrunch your hair with your hands from ends to roots. The product has a really nice peach or apricot scent. I didn't notice any added shine to be honest, but I did see some instant volume. I think this product would be more effective if I had more fine or thinner hair.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Purpose Dry Oil ($23.20)

Nuxe is one of my absolute favorite brands, so I was absolutely thrilled to see Influenster include it in this box. I first learned about the brand while traveling in Paris. It's a local favorite at the French chain store Monoprix (sort of an upscale Target equivalent). I definitely consider this more on the luxe side of skin and haircare. The quality definitely stacks up with premium brands. However, in addition to higher-end retailers like Ulta and Birchbox, you can also now buy a lot of Nuxe items at Target and Amazon.

The one thing I love about all Nuxe products is that they have subtle but very delightful scents. This is especially true of my favorite product in their line, the Reve de Miel Hand & Nail Cream, which smells deliciously of honey. This Dry Oil is no exception to the rule with its light, powdery botanic scent. If you use this product on a significant portion of your skin, there's really no need to wear a fragrance or use any other scented body lotion, spray, or cleanser.

What I really like about this product is that it is multi-purpose. It's great for moisturizing your face and body to make it silky-smooth AND it can help make your hair shiny and healthy. I like to use it as a "shower oil" right before I've toweled off to help lock in some moisture in some problem areas like my forearms and elbows. It absorbs quickly and doesn't leave any greasy residue - perhaps because of the 6 Precious Botanical Oils and Vitamin E in it. It's also a great way to add some shine to your hair if you have to skip a conditioner or use a cheap hotel one that leaves your hair squeaky clean. 

Secret Outlast Xtend Antiperspirant & Deodorant ($3.99)

I'll spare you the repeat review, as I also received this item in my Influenster Procter & Gamble Voxbox this month. You can read my previous review here.

Sunbelt Bakery Oats & Honey Chewy Granola Bar ($2.69)

This was a lot more moist and chewy than I expected. I was actually very pleasantly surprised by this. They just break apart like a rice krispy treat! I can see why they advertise it as having a "bakery-fresh taste". It's a lot more like the taste of the Quaker Chewy granola bars I had as a kid, but the size of a Nature Valley granola bar (1 piece of the 2-bar packs). It's sweet but not too sweet (contains 12 grams of sugar). The full size is a package of ten, so the price is an absolute steal. I will say that looking at the nutrition facts there's nothing super healthy about them as opposed to an average granola bar but they definitely serve as a nice breakfast item or snack to keep you full throughout the day.

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I received all of these products for free for review purposes via Influenster, but all opinions are my own.

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