Monday, August 31, 2015

Birchbox Unboxing - July 2015 my box's adventure

What: Birchbox contains 4-6 samples of high-end beauty and lifestyle products
When: Ships on the 10th of each month
Cost: $10/month or $110/year upfront
Fun fact: Birchbox has an awesome points system where you can review products or make purchases from the Birchbox shop to earn points. Every 100 points gets you $10 credit in the BB shop.

Wait what? July Birchbox? But it's August - almost September! Yes and yes. You see, there was this mix up. I've been a loyal subscriber for the past two years but for some reason I got an email in mid-July saying that although I had reserved a box, there wasn't enough stock to fulfill my order so I wouldn't be getting anything for July. Since I had already been charged for July the email said I wouldn't get charged for August's box. Sounds fair enough. (Then for some reason I didn't get a sample choice email for August...and this happened to be one of the very few months I actually wanted a particular sample! *sad face*) Well August rolls along and I get charged again. Whaaat? When I asked why, customer service told me that they had indeed sent out a July box on 7/31 after all. Okay sure. Since I can probably swim across the ocean faster than the time it takes Birchbox to cross the good ol' Pacific, it took about 3 1/2 weeks to arrive. Believe it or not, that's actually normal. When it did arrive this is what it looked like:
What the heck??! I've seen roadkill that looked more intact than that. I can only guess that it got caught in a conveyor belt along the way. The box reeked heavily of perfume so I guessed something must have leaked. I was right as you'll see in a bit.

Since I'm pretty sure you're all July Birchbox'ed out, the rest of this review will be quick. (Also because August's box just arrived and I have to get to that one soon)

July Birchbox info card
Amika Un.Done Texture Spray (0.75oz travel size value: $3.40) - I jump at anything made to tame the frizzies but when it comes to dry shampoo and styling sprays I'm kinda unenthused. But I do know lots of people who do love and appreciate these things so I'll pass this along to one of them. I hear it smells good though :)
Update 10/2017: So despite my initial hesitation, this dry shampoo may be worth a shot after all! It made it to's Top 5 list of Best dry shampoos of 2017! Apparently I missed out on an opportunity to try the best of the best, but I'm glad the friend I handed it off to got the chance! If you've tried this dry shampoo leave a comment and let me know how you liked it!

Macadamia Professional Weightless Moisture Leave-In Conditioning Mist (3.3oz value: $8.50) - This is almost half-size and the only thing in the box I was actually excited to try. It was also the only thing that had leaked. I mean this bottle was totally empty. That's over 3 oz of liquid all over the box, which was quite sticky. The Benefit Cosmetics coupon card that came with the samples is still sealed shut with conditioning spray. I'm not a huge fan of the scent (it's a bit too perfumey for me) but I am willing to try leave-in conditioners if it'll help to tame the frizz. Plus I've had positive experiences with everything I've tried from this brand. Birchbox said they're sending a replacement my way...I hope it gets here before the September box does.

theBalm Cosmetics Balm Desert Bronzer (0.8g value: $2.50) - I'm kind of obsessed with theBalm's sample packaging...those magnetic closures! I can just sit there forever and open and close and open and close this thing. It's therapeutic. This is a pressed powder bronzer with mica for a bit of luminosity. It's pretty and looks like a perfect shade for my skin tone, but I'm neck deep in bronzers and it's not something I go through very quickly. Maybe I can save it for when I get bored of my current bronzer? Because that does happen for me a lot when it comes to makeup.

Coola SPF30 Organic Makeup Setting Spray (0.34oz value: $7.20) - Confession time: I've never used a setting spray before. Is it really as easy as it sounds?...a couple of spritzes and you're all set? I'm hesitant only because all those hydrating facial mists never seem to actually absorb into my skin or even evaporate from it - it just kind of sits there for hours until I wash it off. I wonder if this will just sit there too and make makeup application really messy and gross. Anybody tried it before?

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick - Venizia (0.05oz tube value: $12) - Venizia is a bright coral and I'm not quite sure I'm ready to rock the "bright" part of that name. It looks more like a cross between hot pink and red in the tube, but we all know that looks can be deceiving when it comes to makeup. Still deciding whether to add this to my already-too-big lip collection.

So I was kind of sad about the empty leave-in conditioner since it was the only thing I was actually interested in trying at first, but after a closer look I'm pretty satisfied with this (last?) month's selection. Plus this box had a pretty high value of about $28 :) The only no-way item in here is the styling spray but I'm sure I can find someone who wants it.

Like what you see? Get your own monthly box of samples by subscribing here. Happy discovering!

Note: Post contains referral links. All opinions contained within this post are my own.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

BarkBox "Block Party" Unboxing - August 2015

What: BarkBox is a subscription box for dogs filled with 4-6 treat, toy, and hygiene items. Boxes are curated according to your dog's size. This review is for a medium-dog box.
When: Ships monthly on the 15th
Cost: $18-$29 per month depending on the length of your subscription
Fun Fact: 10% of proceeds from each BarkBox goes to rescue groups!

I don't know about you, but my dogs have an uncanny ability to sniff out Barkboxes. We're always getting all sorts of deliveries thanks to my bf and my lack of restraint - he gets car parts, I get sub boxes and crafty stuff. The dogs show a whole lot of indifference UNTIL A BARKBOX ARRIVES. Then they're all over it like flies on cow pies.
For ME? You shouldn't have.
Summer's almost over (or already over for some folks...*crycry*) so it's a great time to send summer off with a bang by having one last kickass party. I'm talking about a block party. The folks over at BarkBox are totally on it and sent our pups a box chock full of goodies perfect for a (doggy) social gathering.

August BarkBox info card
Delca Corp Melon Collie Watermelon (Value: $11) - Every box comes with at least one toy produced exclusively for BarkBox and for some reason it's always a plushie. I love these BarkMade exclusives because they're so darn cute; unfortunately, my dogs also love plush toys. Like way too much. Pebbles will be sure to love every single plush toy until its insides are gloriously scattered all over the carpet. Then Macho takes over and ensures that the squeaker is successfully torn in half and proceeds to chew on the little squeaker tube and I end up chasing him around like a madwoman until I can steal it back from him to avoid having a real-life squeaky dog. It's a very chaotic scene. Another repeat is not at the top of my list of things to do this month so I must relinquish the fragile squeaky.

Harry Barker Rope Fire Hydrant (Value: $12) - Did you ever wonder how dogs just seem to know to pee on hydrants? Kind of like how fish just know how to swim. Well Macho will pee on anything sticking out of the ground, including hydrants. Even weeds. I love that he kills our weeds. Then Pebbles will go on a mission to find where he peed and mark it. She'll even lift her leg like a boy dog. The stuffing and the fur on the back of this toy will litter my house within minutes but I do like that there is a rope. Rope toys are always welcome in my house because the dogs will play tug of war forever which leaves me to do anything I want without having a tail following me around, i.e. I CAN FINALLY USE THE TOILET!! Seriously, my dogs have no respect for privacy:
The bigger question is: why do I have a camera at the ready?
Treat Planet Crunchy Deer Chew ([Inflated] Value: $3) - Etta Says is a brand owned by Treat Planet and it's become a BarkBox staple, kind of like how Barkworthies bully sticks used to be found in every box last year. Personally I prefer the bully sticks since they last longer but my dogs love it either way. The pups have gotten to try tons of protein sources thanks to BarkBox and I'm glad to say they don't discriminate; chicken, beef, lamb, buffalo, rabbit - you name it, they'll eat it. I've even gone as far as to buy them venison dog food and they inhaled that to the last kibble. This deer chew will be loved by whoever doesn't ruin my DIY wedding decor. It's pretty crumbly but trust me, your dog will leave no mess at all after he's done with it.

Bocce's Bakery Chicken Biscuits (Value: $10) - When Macho was an only pup he preferred meaty treats over biscuits. Now that he has a little sister (who actually has more alpha male qualities than he does), he takes whatever he can get because Pebbles will stop at nothing to get every. single. treat. I already know they love chicken and I know they love Bocce's Bakery. This is a guaranteed win with my fluffbutts.

No Grainers Jerky Chews - Hickory Bacon Flavor (Value: $10) - Pebbles does anything for this treat. In fact, we have a bag of this exact one open at the moment. These are great because they're 2" long sticks, perfect to either break in half for a bedtime snack or to stuff inside treat bones. They smell pretty good too so I don't mind stuffing them into my pocket when we go on walks.

So, I'd say this was another pretty successful month. I'm glad at least one of the toys can finally go to the dogs. I've either been hoarding them because they're too cute or putting them up for swap because they deserve to stay intact for at least a week. The treats are always a hit with the furballs so that's never an issue. If you're not a Barkbox subscriber yet you definitely should be. It was one of the first dog sub boxes out there and is still super popular (they even have their own commercials!). You can get a BarkBox for as low as $18/month -- plus get a free box tacked on to your subscription just for using my link! Much mahalos if you do use it!

Note: Post contains referral links. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Ipsy Unbagging - August 2015

What: Ipsy Glam Bags contain 5 deluxe samples and full sized beauty products (mostly makeup) in an exclusive makeup bag.
When: Glam Bags ship monthly on the 10th
Cost: $10/month
Fun Extra: You can review your products each month to earn ipsyPoints which can be redeemed for monthly bonus items.

I've been kind of meh about Ipsy lately (with the exception of June's bag) - I've been getting lots of decent products but in the wrong shade, scent, etc. I kind of figured August would be something back-to-school related (is it just me or does it seem like schools are starting earlier every year?...lots of elementary schools start in July now...whaaat??) so I was expecting them to roll out some beauty finds for fresh new looks, aka trendy stuff. 

BellaPierre Mineral Lipstick - P.I.N.K. (3.5g full size value: $20) - I do like BellaPierre products though I think they tend to be a bit overpriced. When I buy lipsticks I prefer the first number in the cost to be a one, with an exception for single digit pricing. Well technically this retails for $19.99 but to me that's the same as $20.  P.I.N.K. is color. It looks like a berry pink to me but the description says it's hot pink. Smells yummy (like vanilla!) but my lips aren't exactly feeling hot pink at the moment. Or ever, really. They're kind of conservative when it comes to dressing up. Maybe I'll trade this for Catwalk; that one looks mauvey and pretty. Baby steps.

Lord & Berry Ultimate Lipliner - Nude (0.03oz approx sample value: $9) - Yesss! A lipliner! One of the main reasons why I don't wear lipstick is because I never got around to purchasing a decent lipliner. Why? Because I am THAT lazy and don't venture to the mall or the drugstore's makeup section unless I have a good reason having a 20% off coupon that expires tomorrow (15% won't cut it for my cheap self). No such coupon has crossed my path so my makeup stash continues to grow only thanks to Ipsy and Birchbox. Come to think of it, I did have a lipliner many moons ago but that one has long since been lost, most likely while I was still dorming in college. And now HELLO LIPLINER! we meet again. And in nude! So happy right now.

La Fresh Group Good Night. Night Cream (0.5oz sample value: $11) - I tried the Good Day day moisturizer before and it works just fine but I wasn't too fond of the scent - it smelled like wasabi to me. I like to eat wasabi, not smear it all over my face. I have no clue if the night cream has a similar fragrance, but I'm not gonna find out. I only had to use the tiniest bit of day moisturizer to keep my face nice and plump all day so the 0.5oz foil lasted close to a month; I expect the night cream to last quite a while too. This is probably the first foil that I would say actually has some value to it  (after all, it has more product in it than some sample tubes), though I'm not sure it's worth the price point - $40 for 1.7oz?!! Why??

Marc Anthony Nourishing Argan Oil of Morocco (0.7oz approx sample value: $4) - Super win! I have lots of hair and it tends to get wild at times so I'm always on the lookout for anything to tame the frizzies. This treatment oil was the first thing I used out of the Bag because it smells so freakin good! Have you ever tried Beauty & Protect products from Birchbox? This comes pretty close to that scent. I rubbed some on my hair 20 minutes ago and I'm still sniffing my hands. Does it work? Yes, I think so. I haven't had any frizzy days since opening this bottle so I can't test the anti-frizz claim, but my hair does feel slicker after applying it. The instructions say to apply from roots to ends but if your scalp is on the oily side like mine is, I'd stay away from the roots and apply to the ends only.

Doll 10 HydraGel Cream Blush - Flirt (0.11oz approx sample value: $6) - I haven't really jumped on the cream blush wagon because every one I've tried makes my cheeks feel oily and/or sticky even after warming it up a bit. I'm probably just applying it wrong but I think I'll stick to powders. Flirt is a peachy pink shade - very pretty and probably worth trying if I was any good at applying cream blush. The smell however, thumbs down. Chalky. Kind of like some lipsticks. Not yummy vanilla like BellaPierre above.

So August is looking like another semi-win/lose month for me, depending on how you look at it. I'm only super happy about the lipliner and hair oil, but those two alone make up for the cost of the bag. I want to love the lipstick, but I'll need to see more swatches before I decide whether to keep it. Lots of folks are saying it's not a "hot pink" kind of bright, and others are saying it's bolder than it looks in the tube. Hmm...

Regarding curation, I must commend Ipsy on the back to school theme and encouraging me to try new looks by sending items that push me out of my comfort zone. Technically this was a great bag that met my expectations; it's just me being reluctant to try them. Why am I such a stubborn ass? :-/ To get your own Ipsy glam bag, click here. From what I understand there hasn't been a wait list lately but if there is, you can skip the wait by posting to Facebook and having someone subscribe from your link.

Note: Post contains referral links. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Fortune Cookie Soap Fall 2015 Box "Old Hollywood: What Lies Behind the Silver Screen"

What: Fortune Cookie Soap Company specializes in bath and body products in unique exclusive scents. The Soap box contains 8 pre-release FCS bath product samples
When: Ships quarterly (Feb/May/Aug/Nov)
Cost: $19.99 (US), $28.00 (CAN), $34.00 (Int'l)
Fun fact: Each box comes with a $10 code to use in the FCS shop!

Wow, has it been three months already since the last Fortune Cookie Soap box? Time seems to be flying by faster and faster these days. Here we have the fall box and it smelled like fall before I even opened it. And by that I mean there was lots of of spiciness emanating from it. I have a love-hate relationship with autumn fragrances. I love the marshmallow and (some) apple pie scents but not so much the cinnamon/clove/cider ones so I'm excited to see what's in store this season...

A Hollywood theme! I would have never seen this one coming. I see some new-to-FCS products on the info card - pomade and bath powder? Sure, sounds fun! I haven't actually tried any of these yet so I'll mostly be commenting on the different scents because I'm pretty scent-driven and anything that smells good is guaranteed a spot in my drawer - even if it's totally an edible toothbrush.
Image result for edible toothbrush
At least my dog will love me
..not that these smell good or anything
Famous Wax Tart - warm amber, wild orchid, fluttering white cotton, sundried herbs. <<That's the description, but all I can smell is orchid through the packaging. I do think orchids are pretty, but I'm not a fan of ochid-scented things - or anything that smells like flowers for that matter. I don't use or own a warmer anyway, so someone else can enjoy the cozy floral aroma that this will give off.

American Royalty Pomade - rose milk, thick honey and warming tobacco blossom wrapped with caramel and notes of mandarin. FCS' newest addition to their product line, pomade is like lip balm for your hair. It contains beeswax, shea buter, argan oil, jojoba, oil, castor oil, and vitamin E, so basically it's moisturizing TO DA MAX. This is a tiny little container about the size of a lip balm tin, but considering all you need is a veeery tiny amount to make all of your locks shine with flexible hold, I think it's a generous sample. This kinda screams greasy! to me, but only because I have an oily scalp to begin with. I'm really not sure what this smells like since the tin is sealed, but seeing as there's rose and tobacco notes I'm guessing I wouldn't be a huge fan. Has anybody actually tried (and sniffed) it? What do you think?

This one has a nice smooth, creamy texture
Tommy Guns & Baseball Hates Whipped Cream - Grandma's hot apple pie, dusted with freshly shaved cinnamon, nutmeg and warm brown sugar, topped with rich, creamy, marshmallow fluff. Mmm...I love things scents containing the word "marshmallow." I also like the word "apple." Looks promising...and it is!!! I've gotten a whipped soap in every box so far but this is the first one I will be keeping. In fact I think it's my favorite thing in the box. It smells more creamy than spicy - thank you, marshmallow! I love the balance of apple, nutmeg, and brown sugar. It's not overpowering either so I can use it without the bf grumbling about my "girly soaps" :D

Dressed to Kill Fortune Cookie Soap - dribbles of muddled, red wine, swirled with dark, rich vanilla and cut apples, and a dusting of spice. The description sounds decadent but sadly I'm not loving this particular apple scent. It smells like cinnamon apples, and although I love to eat them, I'm not a huge fan of the scent. But if it's of any consolation, out of all the fortune cookie soaps I've gotten this is probably the one I'd reach for first.

Scandal Bath Powder - creaking woods, wind blown leaves, and twisted rose thorns. I'm expecting something earthy and perhaps a bit musky. Aaand... Okay it's not so much musk, but it does smell a bit outdoorsy. Like trail running on a crisp morning. But not too masculine either. Not my typical fruity/creamy scent of choice, but definitely not bad. I think this can grow on me.

Glitz & Glamour OCD Hand Sanitizer - wet moss, polished woods, creamy vanilla. Now this one smells so feminine it's almost masculine. Does that make sense? At first I was thinking Old Spice. Now I'm thinking scented pantyliners. I know, wth is wrong with my nose? In any case it's very strong and overpowering in my opinion.

Hollywood Dreams Shampoo Bar - brown sugar dusted graham crackers, fresh churned apple butter, sprinkled with nuts and a hint of maple. I would use this in a heartbeat if it were a hand soap, but I'm not so sure I want my hair smelling like breakfast. Although it does smell like my dream breakfast. I can definitely pick out the graham crackers and I kind of want to eat this bar now. Time to put it away.

Pearls & Girls Perfume Oil - crushed and distilled vanilla creeping with wild jasmine and a splash of juicy pear. This is a pretty sizable atomizer for a sample and I'd totally keep it if it weren't for the note of jasmine (which happens to be the only thing I can actually smell through the nozzle). Oh wait, there's the hint of pear. No vanilla though. Maybe you'd have to actually spray it to smell it. I'm still working on the dram of perfume oil from the Spring Wonderland box *it's my favorite perfume ever!* and I'm considering picking up more of that one when it's gone...if it's ever gone. All I use is the tiniest dab and it's enough to cover all the pulse points. I love when a little goes a long way. Perfume oils rock my world.

The verdict? I'd say this was a very seasonally appropriate box. Lots of warm spices consistent with autumn harvests. I kind of wish there was a pumpkin-something in here but maybe pumpkin's not as well received as apples, vanilla and brown sugar? My favorite scent is definitely Tommy Guns & Baseball Bats; if they make this in a perfume oil I'm totally picking it up. I'm also a little sad that I have yet to receive a fortune cookie soap that I want to keep. I'll keep looking though, there's gotta be one out there that I'll like.

I'm keeping my sub through winter and hoping for some piney goodness! Fall's box is gone already, but click here to sign up for the winter box so you can enjoy the evergreen smells too!! :)

Note: I pay for this subscription and all opinions expressed in this post are mine...and my nose's.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Berrisom Oops My Lip Tint Review

Ever since Memebox's huge overhaul in which they stopped selling their boxes for ridiculously cheap, I haven't been able to fit one in my budget with these wedding $$$$$ looming over my head and all. Hopefully once that's over I can start indulging again. :) Fortunately, I do have something Memebox-related to share with you today - it's Berrisom's Oops My Lip Tint Pack! I have two of the colors right now: Chic Purple and Bubble Pink. I'm about 90% sure I won't love the purple so I haven't gotten around to trying that one yet, but I'll be sharing my thoughts on the pink one with you.

In K-beauty, a "pack" usually  means something that's washed or peeled off after a designated amount of time. In the case of Berrisom's lip tints, it's a peel-off type of thing. I'm kind of obsessed with peeling things. It all started with a peeling foot mask and it was so disturbingly exhilarating that now I can't say no to a peel. Like, ever. These little lip tints peel off to reveal tinted lips. Lots of people prefer lip tints over typical lipstick or gloss because of its awesome staying power. You can usually eat a meal without worrying about reapplying afterward.
These Berrisom tints actually come in 8 colors, but you can get a 6-pack from the Memebox store (well, it's sold out right now but they should be restocking soon enough). The only colors missing from this set are Chic Purple and Candy Orange.
They're supposedly scented, but don't take my word for it (missing Virgin Red and Vivid Scarlet from the chart below):
Each lip tint comes in a 15g tube. Here are the key ingredients and their purposes:
It looks like this product shouldn't be incredibly drying since most of the ingredients are conducive to skin conditioning and moisturizing. Now let's take a look at how to use this thing. I personally have never used a lip tint pack so this is all new to me. Time to learn!
Okay so basically you apply it, let it dry, then peel. And voila! You have beautifully tinted lips. Let's see how real life compares:

The applicator tip looks like that of lots of lip glosses. Skinny with an angled tip that the product oozes out from. This tint also smells. Not like cookies like the description says. No no no. More like glue, which is more understandable since this thing is tacky as heck. Since the photo example above shows application sans lip brush I decided to try it that way too.
Berrisom My Lip Tint applicator
My lips before application are in the top photo, and below that show the rest of the process.

The aftermath
Not as pretty as the example but whatever. I was terrible at coloring in the lines as a kid and evidently I'm still horrible at it :-/ I didn't see a drastic difference in lip color after leaving it on for 10 minutes so maybe I'll keep it on longer next time. It's pretty tacky while it's drying so I don't suggest pressing your lips together unless you want to start peeling it prematurely. Peeling it was a piece of cake. I was worried that I might rip off some skin but nope, I barely even felt it. As for staying power, most of the color was gone several hours later after I ate dinner. But on the bright side, I didn't notice any color transfer whatsoever. It didn't dry out my lips either, but I'd still recommend putting some balm over it just in case. One thing I didn't do that I probably should have was exfoliate prior to using this tint. Of course it won't stick if your lips are dry and peeling and although mine weren't, I think the color would have stuck on a lot better if I had a clean canvas to work with.

So let's recap the Berrisom Oops My Lip Tint Pack:

Easy to peel; didn't pull off any skin
No color transfer
Not drying
Potentially long-lasting if you exfoliate first

Unpleasant smell
Subtle color payoff, but that can be changed with longer waiting time
Must wait for tint to completely dry before removing
Cannot touch your lips together while waiting

Does this sound like something you'd like to try? It's a unique product that I'd use just because it's so fun! I should mention that Memebox recently had a sale in which select My Lip Tint Pack shades were selling for only $3 apiece (down from the regular $10 price tag), so their stock is pretty skimpy at the moment. I believe the only ones still available from Memebox are Lovely Peach, Pure Pink, and Virgin Red, but none of them are currently on sale. I think the peach is supposed to be the subtlest in the collection and I wouldn't mind trying that one next. :)

Update 8/7/15: Okay I think the lip tints are on sale for $10 now. So if you want one...GO GO GO!!!

Note: I received Berrisom Oops My Lip Tint from Memebox for review purposes. I did not pay for these items, but I promise these are my honest opinions :)