Friday, November 29, 2013

Birchbox Review - November 2013

My November Birchbox

It's finally here! I got the email on the 6th saying my box was shipped out and it arrived 20 days later. I do wish it would get here before Birchbox sends me emails each month showing me exactly what's in the box I should've already received, but oh well, at least it's here. For the first time I made a conscious effort not to peek in my account and to immediately delete the emails that show what items I'm getting before getting a close look at them. Didn't work though; with all the reviews I've been reading, I kind of already figured out what I got based on what I did glimpse in those emails. Aarghh! Well on to the November box.

This month's theme is "More Good" and focuses on ways to bring more good into your life through more giving, more thoughtfulness, and more thanks. In addition, Birchbox is donating a portion of proceeds to No Kid Hungry, a nationwide charity working to end childhood hunger. Brownie points to them for helping out fellow Americans who aren't as fortunate!

Here's what this month's box contained:

Tocca Crema da Mano - Cleopatra scent
Although I already have a million tiny bottles of hand cream and lotion, I still love trying out new fragrances and formulas. I thought the grapefruit and cucumber scent combo was sweet yet subtle-- no getting a headache from this one. I also thought it moisturized without making my hands feel too greasy.

Chella Ivory Lace Highlighter Pencil
Apparently there are 10 ways this little guy can be used! I read the tutorial and my favorite uses will probably be to highlight high areas by blending with foundation, and to apply it to the waterline to widen eyes. I'm a fan of multi-purpose products so I'm excited to incorporate this into my makeup routine (if you can call wearing makeup 3x a month a routine). This pencil blends really nicely and matches my skin tone perfectly. Bonus: I hear this doodad lasts forever!

Color Club in Top Shelf
I received a nail polish in my first Birchbox, and to be honest I wasn't too thrilled about receiving another one. As much as I want to enjoy wearing nail polish and getting manicured like the rest of my friends, I don't want anyone looking at my ugly nails. And with a golden hue sporting a name like Top Shelf, come on, that just screams high class. So not what my nails are worthy of. 
TOP Shelf? Sounds very classy.
Besides, I normally wince at gold clothes and accessories (yes, even yellow gold jewelry. I'm more of a white gold fan). HOWEVER, I decided to try this out just because I was bored, and guess what? I love this color. A single coat of this bad boy is perfect for my liking. It's very neutral and looks subtle, so I can enjoy looking at my nails without anyone else noticing them. I applied a second coat and decided that was too much for me; after two coats it starts to look like the color in the bottle. As far as texture goes, it goes on kind of thick, even after wiping the excess off the brush. It also looks streaky when applied, maybe because it's so thick, but since I'm not a nail polish aficionado I don't mind at all.

Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator
This concoction combines papaya enzymes with microderm crystals to dissolve the nasties keeping dead skin cells intact and then sloughs off that dead skin. I've never tried a microdermabrasion scrub before (unless the exfoliating beads found in some face washes count), so I was surprised at how gently abrasive (does that even make sense?) this was! I could immediately feel the crystals scrubbing away at my face, but it wasn't harsh at all. Although I didn't notice any immediate change, C did. I know, seriously?..a guy?! For some reason my nose has always had huge pores and C likes to make fun of how rough it gets as a result (very loving relationship, yeah I know). Anyway, the first thing C said when he rubbed my nose for my daily dose of teasing was, "Hey!..Your nose is smooth...You're pretty!" (Again, our dysfunctional love at work.) I guess it did work. And if it'll keep him off my back, I'm gonna keep using it!

Chuao Chocolate - in Pop Corn Pop
I love chocolate and consider myself rather well-versed in trying different chocolate flavors -- strawberry, banana, orange, jalapeno, habanero, bacon, sea salt, etc. But this one was definitely a surprise. The description says that it has a surprising POP...what's that, right? Well, imagine eating milk chocolate and Pop Rocks at the same time. Very interesting. I'm not sure if I'd like to eat a full-size bar of it, but it definitely is something worth trying.

Overall I thought this month's box was excellent! I will use every single product (well, the chocolate's gone already), which is a first. I am especially happy with the microdermabrasion scrub and nail polish and am excited to try out the highlighter pencil. Also, I calculated the value to be about three times what I paid for the box, so that's also a plus. If you are interested in signing up for your own Birchbox, please use my link! Happy sampling!

Note: Post contains referral links. I purchased this box with my own money and did not receive any compensation in exchange for a review.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Barkbox Review - November 2013

November Barkbox (and Macho's eager nose)

Yesterday we got our Barkbox in the mail. Yay! I'm always so excited for Barkbox time of the month because I love being surprised at the quality products I find in my mailbox just as much as my dog loves eating and playing with his new finds. This month's box was all about feasting - Macho's favorite! He was so excited to dig in that I barely had time to take pictures of his goodies, so I apologize in advance for the blurred, hurried photos.

The unboxing. Obviously, Pups is not the gentlest unboxer.

PetSafe Busy Buddy Pogo Plush Slap Happy Toy-Small Size
This stuffingless toy contains a plastic caging with a free-floating squeaker inside. The caging bounces back when compressed and is supposed to bring out the animal instinct in dogs by simulating a rib cage being crushed. It's a pretty graphic description, but it promises to be a dog's new favorite toy. That part was definitely true, as Macho would not leave the toy alone once he got a hold of it. I am pretty disappointed that the squeaker didn't last long at all - a whole 5 seconds - but Fluffypants was still getting a kick out of it long after it stopped making noise. I'm thinking the bouncy cage feel must have something to do with that. After all, Mr. Fluff is an avid chewer - the harder it is to chomp down on something, the more he wants to chew it.
Enjoying his toy long after he broke the squeaker (plus the remains of the Barkbox packaging)

Nootie YumZies Duck Jerky Chews
I've heard lots of good things about this brand so I'm excited to try these. Bunnybottom's never had duck before so it'll be interesting to see how he'll take to it. But if the past is any indication, he doesn't discriminate when it comes to meat. Also, the chews are shaped so that they can be broken into smaller pieces for smaller dogs. I'll be giving small pieces to Macho not because he's small, but because I know he'll get greedy if I give him a whole piece and he'll start expecting the whole thing each time. He's such a piggy.

Bocce's Bakery Truffle Mac & Cheese Biscuits
Before Barkbox, I'd never heard of this NY-based brand, but this is the third product we've received from them and I've grown very fond of their treats. These are the only guys who could make Macho eat mint (referring to Bocce's Green Juice biscuits we received in our first box as part of a Barkbox Facebook promo) and actually like it. They mixed it with kale, spinach (both are probably an "eh" in Macho's book), and APPLES (a definite "heck yeah" for him). Anyway, I digress. After he broke his squeaky toy and finally realized there were other things in the box, this was the first bag he picked up snatched. Once I got his jaws of life to release the bag he would not leave me alone until I opened it and gave him one - after he earned it, of course:
"Aww guys, why do you always have to humiliate me?"

Twistix Vanilla Mint Dental Chews-Large Size 
These chews are wheat- and corn-free, which is good for dogs with allergies. So far the furball has lucked out and doesn't have any allergies that I'm aware of, but as I mentioned before, he isn't a fan of mint so I don't have very high hopes for these. But we'll see, maybe the vanilla can balance it out. Or maybe he'll view it as another chewing challenge and go to town on it.

Overall this month's box was pretty good. Not as great as the last couple of months - he's still intrigued by September's iQ Ball and October's Bumi - but I appreciate the continued high quality and value of the products this month (I blame the broken squeaker on bad luck and sharp teeth rather than low quality. I guess Macho just doesn't get along with free-floating squeakers).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Smiley360 Mission - Carefree Liners

A couple of months ago I joined the Smiley360 online review community. Basically you take surveys to qualify for free product trials from various companies. If you qualify for and accept a mission, Smiley will send you the product free of charge (from what I've seen they're usually full-sized products), which you then review via face-to-face interactions, blogs, and social media. Although not everyone gets to take every survey that Smiley sends out, I've been getting about one a week - just enough to keep me on the edge of my seat hoping to qualify for a mission.

About a month ago I accepted my very first actual mission to review Carefree Acti-fresh liners. (If you click on my link you can get a coupon for your very own pack!) The site said the product will ship in about 2-3 weeks, and I got mine after about a month. About what I expected, considering it's probably shipped by ground across the country/ocean.

Carefree Acti-fresh liners and info card
I received two 20-packs for free in the mail in exchange for my honest opinion. One pack is to try out and the other is to pass on to a friend to try. I've always been a fan of Carefree because their liners are very absorbent considering how thin they are. According to the packaging these are supposed to conform more to your body so that you don't notice it, but I'm pretty brain dead when it comes to noticing things. Honestly, these feel pretty much the same as other Carefree liners I've tried. They're discreet, absorbent, and you forget it's there. Sure, I don't notice it, but when do I ever? Unless it's like a pillow or something. Not too sure what makes this one different from other Carefree liners, but it does its job and it does it well. And that's what matters the most, right?