Monday, December 28, 2015

Birchbox Unboxing - December 2015

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

My Birchbox arrived on Christmas Eve which felt pretty darn awesome because it was another present I could put under the tree. :) I didn't peek ahead of time so it really did feel like I was opening a gift. I must also comment on the cozy sweater feeling this month's box pattern gave me. Yay for winter!

Amika Nourishing Hair Mask (0.7oz value: $3) - Based on other products I've gotten containing sea berries, I think I'm going to love how this hair mask smells. Aaand yup, I can smell it through the foil seal. Yum yum yum! I might be able to squeeze two uses out of this tube if I'm lucky, but if it'll make my hair smell this yummy then I'm definitely going to use up every last dollop. 

Coastal Scents styleEYES Eyeshadow Palette - glamourEYES (shadow duo value: ~$3) - There are three variations of the styleEYES palette: Formal Eyes (nudes and pinks), Glamour Eyes (bold colors), and Social Eyes (deep neutrals). Each has eight complimentary colors to suit the occasion. The Glamour Eyes sampler has two colors - silver and a shimmery black. I have shimmery versions of almost any color you can imagine, but no shimmery black. I need to keep this.
Coastal Scents glamourEYES palette swatches
Marcelle BB Cream Golden Glow - (0.24oz value: $4) - I don't use BB creams, but this one has the benefit of being made for golden tones like mine. However, this also contains mica and I'm not a huge fan of foundations/highlighters/BB creams that impart a "luminous and dewy" look. In real life it just makes me look sweaty. I'm sure there's a secret to it that I'm just not aware of, and when I find out what that secret is I'll come back and revisit this.

Kate Spade Live Colorfully Eau de Parfum - I got my first Kate Spade merchandise last Christmas after dropping MAJOR hints to C (i.e. *while walking around the Kate Spade outlet store* C: "What do you want for Christmas?" S:"How about this Kate Spade wallet?" *picks up wallet*). If that wasn't obvious enough I don't know what is. I looove my wallet, by the way. :) I hoped I would also love this scent but I just don't. It's fun and flirty but not fruity. I'm a fruity scent kind of gal. 
In case you're curious about the scent, Live Colorfully has notes of Hawaiian blooms like gardenia, pink water lily, and tiare flower, along with coconut water, Tahitian vanilla, and mandarin with musk and sheer amber base notes.

Soap & Paper Factory Shea Butter Hand Cream - Green Tea (0.5oz value: $4) - I might be just a liiittle obsessed with collecting hand creams, which would be fine if I actually used them. But I don't. Not really, anyway. I'll use it when my hands start cracking, but I'm really bad at using it regularly. I keep collecting them though because they smell soooo good. Unfortunately, this particular one is a bit too floral for me, and I can't smell anything green tea about it :(

Well, this box started off good for me then kinda went downhill from there. But at least I'm pretty excited about the hair mask and shimmery black eye shadow. Next month Birchbox is teaming up with K-beauty shop Soko Glam co-founder Charlotte Cho to bring you the "Korean Beauty" curated box. So if you love K-beauty or are just curious what all the buzz is about, be sure to grab one for yourself! Click here to sign up!

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

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Walmart Beauty Box Unboxing - Winter 2015

  What: Walmart Beauty Box contains samples of beauty products from major drugstore brands
When: Ships once a season (March, June, September, and December)
Cost: The box itself is free, but there is a $5 flat shipping fee

Merry Christmas Eve, everybody! Look what decided to show up just in time for Xmas. This is going to be quick because I've still got a whole lot of wrapping of presents to do, but I just wanted to share what came in the latest Walmart Beauty Box. I think they send out two versions each time; for reference this box is for a 30-year-old.

Pantene Pro-V Anti-Humidity Hairspray - Holy cheeseballs, I didn't know Pantene made so many hairsprays. This particular one is great for high humidity environments (like here) which would be awesome if I used hairspray. It seems the more I try to avoid hairsprays, the more they gravitate toward me. *sigh*

Goody SlideProof Silicone Elastics - Hm. These are fun and also a little creepy. The underside of each of these elastics is full of soft spiky silicone feet. It kind of reminds me of the belly of a caterpillar. You know those fat juicy ones, like Heimlich from A Bug's Life. I like non-metal elastics, but these types always snap at the seam when I try to tie my hair. I usually end up buying the ones that come in a long strand that you cut/tie yourself. Still it's worth a shot because mines always slides off my hair.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Boosters Facial Cleanser - I think there's been a Neutrogena item in almost every Walmart box so far. In fact, I think this exact cleanser made an appearance in the spring box, but I'm pretty sure it's buried somewhere in my piles of samples at the moment. This particular facial cleanser is infused with white tea and Vitamin E to boost softness, evenness, and radiance.

Dial 7-Day Moisturizing Lotion Omega Moisture - No Walmart Box would be complete without a travel sized lotion or body wash. For winter they're sending us moisturizing lotion. Good call. The Omega Moisture line is packed with sea berries for deep hydration. This smells soooo good and it absorbs quickly without being greasy. Love this one! Who says winners have to cost an arm and a leg?

NSPA Exotically Creamy Coconut Rich Body Butter - This is the first time I've heard of this brand. NSPA is England-based Nirvana Spa's product line, and it seems like Walmart is the only one who carries their products in the US. Sadly, the ones near me don't. This body butter does indeed look and smell very rich, but we are talking about coconut so I'd expect nothing less. There's also mango, vanilla, and raspberry fragrances to choose from. And it's not only body butter - there's also shower scrub, shower gel, and body mist available as well.

Pure Silk Raspberry Mist Shave Cream - I've tried this before and it's alright. It does its job, but there's nothing spectacular about it. But it does smell good. And it's in a rust-proof can so that's a huge plus for me. I'm kind of obsessed with keeping a clean bathroom so when I see a rust ring appear my brain just about explodes. Thank goodness that won't happen with this one.

Also included were a bunch of sample foils and coupons. Some shampoo/conditioner, multivitamins, moisturizer, perfume, but the one that really caught my eye is that one on the bottom left. STAR WARS. I'm still waiting for the crowds to die down before seeing the movie, but in the meantime I will enjoy my $3 off a Star Wars limited edition lipstick, thankyouverymuch. And! This mini booklet even tells you how to get their look. Halloween 2016, I'm ready for you.

This was a really fun box (thanks, Star Wars). Some moisturizers, some hair products, cleanser, and shave cream to round it out. And you wanna know something weird? I think the boring-est thing in here is my favorite thing. Yup, I'm kind of in love with the Dial lotion because it smells like the Eater Bunny just pooped candy onto my hands. The most interesting is definitely the hair elastics. I'm still trying to get over images of fat caterpillars in my head.

Walmart Beauty box continues to be one of my favorites because it introduces you to so many affordable brands. It's pretty much a godsend, especially if you're ballin' on a budget like I am. Sign up here to get a box shipped to you every quarter!

Note: All opinions contained within this post are my own.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Ipsy Review - December 2015

What: Ipsy Glam Bag contains 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 (free shipping)
Fun Extra: You can review your products each month to earn ipsyPoints which can be redeemed for monthly bonus items.
I was a bit disappointed after getting last month's Ipsy because most were things I wouldn't use. So I changed up my profile a bit and crossed my fingers for December. And guess what?? It looks like Christmas came a couple days early. I feel like a kid on Xmas morning because I've finally hit the jackpot. :D

Pacifica Power of Love Natural Lipstick - Sweet One (0.07oz full size value: $10) - I've spent the past two years hunting down bold and pastel pinks for my lips not realizing that pink doesn't even suit me well. Nudes and mauve are the way to go for this girl. That's why I'm so happy to get this shade. Sweet One is a deep pinky-mauve that's highly pigmented and creamy on the lips. I think I've found a new favorite lipstick :) EcoBonus: the plastic tube is fully recyclable!
Power of Love lipstick swatch in Sweet One
Befine Exfoliating Cleanser (1oz value: $6) - This is a facial cleanser that uses brown sugar, crushed almonds, and oats to slough off dead skin cells and rejuvenate your complexion. It actually feels more like a sugar scrub to me, and that's perfectly fine because I love sugar scrubs! It smells like brown sugar, too. Mmmmm.......

Elizabeth Mott Thank Me Later Eye Shadow Primer (0.17oz value: $10) - Eye shadow primers are one of those things that I was always skeptical about and only recently started using when people told me that (duh) they actually do work to preserve your eye makeup. But each one I've tried is either tinted or doesn't apply smoothly. Thankfully, this one does. AND it's not tinted. AND they're based in my hometown about five miles from where I work. How did I not know this???

Crown Brush C413 Brow Duo Brush (Value: $3) - It wasn't until I got my makeup done for my wedding that I realized how great brow brushes were. I thought just tweezing gave them a nice enough shape, and I never felt the need to fill in my brows since they're pretty dense to begin with. But once I saw how much better they looked groomed and filled in a bit I was sold. I always wondered why people loved those brow gels so much; I think I'll pick one of those up next.

Formula X Nail Polish by Sephora - Revved Up (0.13oz value: $3.40) - Yay, nail polish! I'm pretty sure I already have a rose gold somewhere in my collection, but it's such a pretty color so why not have another? I'll definitely be using this to make New Years nails.

The Bag - Quilted patterns aren't my style, but the rest of the Glam Bag was so great that it doesn't even matter if I don't care for the makeup bag itself. They could have sent everything in a Ziploc bag and I'd still be happy.

In case it wasn't already obvious, I thoroughly enjoyed this month's Ipsy offerings. For once I'll be using everything they sent my way (well, except for the bag) and may have even found a new favorite lipstick. :) Click here to get your own Ipsy glam bag. I don't think there's wait list right now so hurry up and take a spot before there's a line!

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

BarkBox Review - December 2015 + Get A Free Box!

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 (plus $5 shipping per box outside the contiguous 48 states)
Fun Fact: 10% of proceeds from each BarkBox goes to rescue groups! Check out their BarkGood program to get involved.

If you've been following my blog for a while, it's no secret that I love my dogs. Some might even say I'm a tad obsessed. Because srsly, what normal person would buy a Cricut machine just so that she can make some corgi-shaped stickers to slap on random objects around the house? *this girl* 

I would be lying if I said that BarkBox day is like any other day. Because it isn't. It's like having Christmas every month. In fact, I think I get more excited about my dogs' sub boxes than my own. It's fun to see what new toys and treats will preoccupy my troublemakers during the upcoming weeks. 

Barkmade Pixel the Penguin (Value: $16) - I'm going to start with my favorite thing in here. This cute penguin is squeaky and crinkly, two of my dogs' requirements for a worthy toy. And so far we're two for two in the durable toy department - two months ago I asked if we could get heavy chewer toys and since then our Barkbox toys have been tougher than the usual plushies they send out. Pixel has a plush outer layer, but just in case your dogs are a bit chew-happy like mine are and shred that layer to pieces (*sniff*...such a cute penguin, too), there's a rope and tennis ball hiding inside for them to play with.

Dogzilla Penguin Egg (Value: $17) - Okay, am I the only one who thought this was a football? In my defense, the only time I've seen a penguin egg was on March of the Penguins. I'm always glad to receive rubber toys because they take Pebbles a little longer to destroy. This egg is made of flexible rubber so stuffing it with any sized treat should be a piece of cake. That also means they're easier for the pups to remove, so be prepared to stuff a lot of them in there! I'll save this for when if Pebbles makes Santa's nice list.

Barkmade Treat Tin (Value: $5?) - This is a thoughtful inclusion to the box. It's a great size for Xmas treat gifting to your dog's favorite playmate. Since it's a plain tin it isn't airtight so I wouldn't recommend storing meaty treats in here, but go ahead and stuff it with all the biscuits your pup-friend's belly desires.

Sojos Simply Turkey (Value: $11) - Freeze-dried meat will always be on my furballs' Top 5 list of all-time favorites. It's what Macho was trained with. He valued freeze-dried-anything higher than his squeaky toys (until he discovered bully sticks, but that's another story). Now Pebbles does anything for a piece of that lyophilized goodness. What's great about freeze-dried food is that you can rehydrate it by adding a bit of water and your dog will think he's getting a can of Cesar's gourmet dog food! Christmas turkey dinner for all!

Bixbi Pocket Trainers - Chicken (Value: $8) - I'm always going to love getting training treats in boxes because it's one of those things that you can never have enough of. I use them all the time even though the dogs are already trained (though I sometimes wonder about one of them...*ahem* Macho). It's good to reinforce their training with a treat every now and then so they continue to follow your commands. And since these training treats are tiny (only 4 calories apiece) you don't have to feel as guilty for giving a jackpot of several treats if your dog does something totally awesome like pee in the toilet bowl...and flush.

Etta Says Savory Yumm Sticks (Value: $3?) - This month's chew looks exactly like a beef stick, the kind that people eat. It's so convincing that if I left it on my counter I am 90% sure C would eat it thinking it's for him. In fact, based on the ingredients list I think a human could actually consume this and get away with it. There's nothing too foreign-sounding in here. Of course, since food-processing sanitation regs differ for animals and humans, you miiight want to think twice about trying it for real.

I think my dogs will indeed have a very merry Christmas this month. The toys weren't as Christmas-y as past years, but they still stuck to the winter theme and you know what? Honestly the dogs don't care what the toys look like. If it has a squeaker, crinkles, a ball, and a rope it automatically gets pushed to the front of the queue. Yup, I actually have a line of backup toys for them just in case they get too nuts with one. I really wasn't kidding when I said I'm a bit of an obsessed dog mom :)

Have a dog in need of spoiling? Sadly, it might be too late to give your dog a Barkboxin' Christmas, but it's never too late to show your pup how much you love him. :) Give Fido his own stash of all things dog by becoming a Barkboxer here! You'll get lots of unique toys and treats for your BFF that you can't find anywhere else - over half of the toys you get are Barkbox exclusives. Use referral code DOGSYAY to get a box for as low as $18/month -- plus get a free box tacked on to your subscription just for using my code! There's no expiration date and this offer is open to all new subscribers.

Happy Pawlidays!

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

3B Unboxing & Review - December 2015

What: The 3b Box (short for Beyond Beauty Borders) contains 4-5 deluxe or full-sized beauty samples that are new or popular in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan
When: Ships during the first week of each month
Cost: $12 per month (free shipping!)

The 3B Box is a pretty awesome box that sends out some pretty awesome stuff that are great for both beauty noobs as well as the experienced folks. This is the sub that finally broke down my walls and got me to try oil cleansing on my oily face. And guess what? I love it!! It's been a whole month and not a single breakout. That's unheard of for me.

Oh December, what will you bring?

TonyMoly I'm Real Tea Tree Sheet Mask (Value: $3) - Tea tree oil has antiseptic properties and can help clear mild acne while soothing your skin. I'm not sure what concentration is in this sheet mask, but any is better than none, right? 

Etude House Wonder Pore Freshner (25ml value: $1) - I'm pretty sure this is a toner, possibly an astringent because it says it contains Astringentlex whatever that is. This is supposed to clean pores with peppermint extract and tighten them up. It does have alcohol listed as the second ingredient so if you have dry skin or are sensitive to products containing alcohol, you may want to spot test this one first. 

Boutique Bebe Hair Salon Vita Clinic Ampoule (24ml value: $2) - I remember getting something similar to this in a past Memebox. This is a conditioning treatment that contains bean flour, olive oil, red beans, cnidium, and Korean honey locust. I may just be naive, but when I first read honey locust I cringed and thought of fat juicy ground up bugs. But no, this one's a plant guys...just in case you're in the same uneducated boat as me. I can't say I noticed my hair looking shinier and happier and healthier after using this just one time, but I can't say my hair was incredibly damaged beforehand either. Perhaps with continued use I would have seen a difference. But it did leave my hair smelling good the whole day :)
It's Skin Prestige Creme D'Escargot BB (10ml value: $4) - Ah, BB cream. I might be the only one who doesn't care for them. I think I just don't like the sunscreen-y scent a lot of them have. Based on the context, I'm fairly certain this has snail mucin extract in it. Add that to the long list of things BB cream does for you and it's like you have a one-step skincare routine!

Secret Key Lemon D-Toc Peeling Gel (120ml value: $10) - I have a weird fascination with peels. I love seeing the before/after difference, and the actual peeling is a fun bonus. This one isn't an actual mask that you peel off your face, but rather it pills up to remove dead skin and reveals the new skin underneath, while lemon extract brightens up your complexion. It's gotten some pretty good reviews and I'm excited to try it out. Sadly, it doesn't smell like lemons :(

What a fun box! 3B consistently puts out great curations that are great for skincare lovers of all experience levels. It's great for beginners because they send out products for all the steps in a typical K-beauty skincare routine, and the quality brands they send out would satisfy even the most advanced beauty gurus. I have high hopes for the peeling gel in here and am looking forward to trying it tonight! I'm pretty sure there's still a wait list for this box so click here to get on it! It took a few months for me to get off, but I definitely think it was worth the wait.

Note: All opinions expressed in this review are my own. Post does not contain any referral links.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Purina® Beyond All Natural Dog Food: Four Paws Up!

We all have that one friend who loooves to post pictures of her children on social media, and after a while all those pictures start looking the same. Well guess what? I'm that person, but with dogs. This is him shaking hands with his left paw...And omg this one's with his right! I'm pretty sure my friends don't ever want to see another corgi again. But when you love someone or something that much, who cares what others think, amirite?? Since I don't have my own tiny humans yet, the furries are my children. I mean, they're kind of like kids. They don't like baths. They got the sibling rivalry thing down. And of course, they need to be fed.
You should see his Blue Steel pose
When it comes to food, I think I'm more careful about what goes into my dogs' bodies than my own. When Macho was a puppy his favorite treat was made in China and I didn't think much of it until the FDA announced that it contained a toxin that was suspected of causing disease in hundreds of dogs. At that time we were planning on getting him neutered, but when he went in for his pre-op exam they told us his liver enzymes were elevated so they couldn't do the procedure. Suspecting it was because of the treat, we stopped giving it to him and a couple of weeks later when he got re-tested, everything was a-ok. Since then I've stayed away from treats made in China and eventually that led to making sure he gets quality dog food as well. 
Picking A Dog Food
So what do I consider to be "good quality" when it comes to dry dog food? Unless your dog has specific diet restrictions, you'll probably want to put him on a protein-rich diet. 

First of all, I make sure my dogs' food has meat in it. In that regard, I avoid anything with grains as the first ingredient. Then I look at the meat-to-grains ratio to make sure the meat outweighs the grains. That means even if the first ingredient is chicken, if it's followed by five different grains before the next meat product, I probably won't buy it because the grains likely outweigh the meat. 

I should also mention that I'm not too picky when it comes to real meat vs meat meal. Meat meal gets a bad rap because it's not pure meat (there's skin and bone in there as well), but it's helpful to keep in mind that pure meat is mostly water which evaporates during the dehydration process, so in reality the meat that you saw at the top of the ingredients list (which uses pre-dehydration weights) should really be several spots lower. On the other hand, meat meals are powders to begin with so they're not affected by dehydration as much. That being said, it's nice to see real meat as a first ingredient, but it should directly be followed by a chicken/salmon/duck/specific-animal meal -- plain ol' "meat meal" on the bag doesn't cut it; I like to know what protein source it's coming from. Finally, one thing I try to avoid is meat byproduct meal. This is almost like a meat meal but with heads, feet, and guts thrown in the mix. That's probably where most of the nastiness associated with meat meals come from so I try to avoid it altogether.

What About This Dog Food?
Purina markets several brands of dog food, a few which my dogs have tried before, and yet somehow I never knew Purina Beyond existed. It's probably because no store in my area carries it except for Target, and I'd never thought of looking for dog food at Target before. Armed with my basic knowledge of how to pick out dog food, I immediately jumped to the ingredients list when I got my hands on a bag of Beyond. 

Purina Beyond prides itself on selling "grain-free dog food that has real meat, fish or poultry as the #1 ingredient." In addition, they don't add any artificial colors/flavors/preservatives or use poultry byproduct meal. Here's the ingredient list for the White Meat Chicken & Egg recipe pictured above:
Purina Beyond White Meat Chicken & Egg ingredients.
Meat as the top ingredient? Check. Followed by a specific-meat meal? Check. High meat:grain ratio? Check. Any mystery meats or byproducts? Nope. So far this looks promising, but the real test is whether the dogs will approve.

Beyond dog food kibbles
Macho used to be weird with food; he'd get bored of a food brand after a week, especially if the kibbles were uniform as in the case of Beyond. When he'd get bored of a dog food, he would eat a few kibbles then walk away. Taking his bowl away after 10 minutes regardless how much kibble was left helped some, but what REALLY helped was getting another dog who was willing to eat his food for him (thanks, Pebbles). Now Macho loves his food no matter what it looks like. That's why I wasn't too worried about whether they'd like this one. I KNEW they would. Macho eats everything so that Pebbles can't get to it, and Pebbles just eats everything. Period. 

My big guy is really bad at posing for photos so I entrusted his always-hungry sister to be my model. The good thing about Pebbles is that she listens and will hold a stay for as long as I need her to. The funny thing is that the longer she holds it, the more desperate her eyes get. This is her face of desperation after the fourth photo:
Those EYES.
What's even funnier is that when Macho finally does strike a pose, he looks more pathetic than his sister - especially if it's something he really wants. Here they are by their bones after about the sixth shot:
Silly dog. But back to the dog food. Unfortunately, poor Pebbles didn't get rewarded with that bowl of dog food as soon as she finished modeling for me. I'm sure she was mad a me for a while, but she has a bad habit of eating way too fast so I usually put her food in a Kong wobbler. But when she finally got that wobbler she was in heaven. Macho was no different. He continued licking his bowl long after it was empty hoping something would reappear.

The Verdict
I think Purina Beyond dry dog food won a big fat seal of approval from us. I'm satisfied that the fluffies are getting nutritious, high-protein food. As far as the dogs are concerned, well, it's food. They're happy. However, like many better quality dog foods, Beyond is on the pricey side. My local Target only sells the 3-pound bag and it's about $10. My pups will go through that in about a week. I'd hate to see how quickly a large dog would finish it. I think I want to get the Tuna & Egg recipe next. I like to change up the variety every so often and I don't remember ever giving them kibble with tuna in it. I'm sure the dogs would appreciate the change, too.
She'll appreciate any food as long as it's in her mouth and not on her head

Note: I received Purina Beyond dry dog food complimentary from BzzAgent for testing purposes. All opinions expressed in this post are my own mostly my dogs'.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Product Review: Memebox I'm Brush and Nooni Snowflake Cleanser

If you're familiar with K-beauty then you know it's on the leading edge of skincare. There's always something new to try from Korean skin care brands, and lots of them are really fun to boot. Memebox's very own I'm Series line of makeup and tools has rapidly expanded over the past year and I got the chance to try try out their new I'm Dual Pore Brush over the past couple of weeks. Instead of using your fingers to massage in your cleanser, use this brush to reach deep into pores.
The brush head is double-sided; one side contains 550,000 microfiber bristles to deeply clean pores without irritating skin, and the other side features silicone bristles to massage skin and remove blackheads while also restoring good circulation to the area.
So I got the brush, but what about a cleanser? Memebox recommends using the dual pore brush with a foam cleanser, which I did -- but first! I want to do a quick plug about two step cleansing. Step One is to use an oil or cream cleanser and Step Two is to follow up with a foaming cleanser. I was always hesitant to use oil cleansers because my face is on the oily side. Then I remembered high school chemistry and the rule that "like dissolves like." So basically that means an oil-based cleanser should dissolve sebum and other oily impurities (ever wonder why oil-based makeup removers work so well?). And a water-based foaming cleanser should remove water-based impurities like dead skin and sweat. So I tried it and sure enough, after a few weeks of using two step cleansing, I hadn't had a single breakout which is pretty rare for me.

For the purposes of this review I started with Nooni Snowflake Cleanser as Step One. This is an oil-based cleanser formulated with Jeju water to promote elasticity and shea butter to moisturize your skin. Under normal circumstances oil and water don't mix so you'd see a definite layer between the two, but this cleanser is anything but normal when it comes to consistency. Why? It's a balm, oil, and milk all in one. I'm not sure how, but it's definitely pretty cool. Remember how I mentioned earlier that lots of Korean skincare products are fun? This is one of those.
The cleanser is a solid in the container (sorry for the terrible photo quality), kind of like sherbet. Put it on your skin and it melts into an oil to remove residual makeup and sebum. Massage it in a little more and it turns into a milky consistency to lift away water-based impurities. More detailed instructions in the screenshot below.

Not as pretty as Memebox's pictures, but it really does melt in three phases!
Here's proof that like dissolves like. This photo shows Nooni Snowflake cleanser on makeup. No water used here, just the cleanser and about 15 seconds of massaging:
Nooni Snowflake Cleanser on lipstick and eyeliner
At this point your skin is still pretty oily even after rinsing it off despite the instructions claiming otherwise, so I'd follow up with a foam cleanser to really get at the sweat and dirt. This is where the dual pore brush comes in! This is also where I forgot to take photos so here are Membox photos and instructions for your viewing pleasure:
The brush is unbelievably soft and admittedly I found it a bit weird and creepy how much I wanted to just massage my face forever with it. The silicone side is also oddly satisfying. After all this you end up with a super clean face and a huge smile. The only downside to the brush (or any microfiber brush) is that the bristles take soooooo long to dry. You definitely want it to dry between uses to prevent mold so you probably shouldn't leave it in your steamy bathroom. I tried leaving it by a window but it still wasn't completely dry the next day. It actually took two days. Perhaps blow drying it will help? But I'd imagine that'd get a bit annoying after a few days. I guess you could always buy a few brushes and cycle through them but that's expensive. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Note: I received I'm Dual Pore Brush and Nooni Snowflake Cleanser from Memebox for review purposes. I did not pay for these items, but I can assure you these are my honest opinions :) This post does not contain any referral links.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ipsy Glam Bag Unboxing - November 2015

What: Ipsy Glam Bag contains 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 (free shipping)
Fun Extra: You can review your products each month to earn ipsyPoints which can be redeemed for monthly bonus items.

This month Ipsy was a Black Friday surprise. It used take only a week to arrive, but the past few months it's been taking three. Not sure what happened there. But at least its arrival helped ease the pain of emptying my wallet on Black Friday specials. For the first time all day I was the one receiving the goodies :) As always, I avoided peeking earlier in the month so I had no idea what to expect. Read on to find out if this Glam Bag contained any new faves!

Luxie Beauty Matte Eye Shadow No. 290 (0.05oz single pan value: $6) - This is a very pretty rosy mauve shadow that's dermatologist tested and non-comedogenic and great for sensitive skin. You actually buy these little pans individually then purchase the empty palette separately to create your own customized eye shadow palette combo. How fun!

Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara - Jet Black (0.14oz value: $8.75) - My faith in mascaras has dwindled to almost non-existent. I've been on a years-long search for the perfect one that will lengthen and hold a curl. So far every single one I've tried uncurled my lashes if anything. And as far as lengthening, forget it. Even the lady who did my wedding makeup told me I'm better off with falsies than trying to play up my lashes with mascara. *sob* Moving along.

Trestique Mini Matte Lip Crayon - Chile Red (0.02oz value: $10.50) - I think the last time I got one of these was back in a summer Ipsy bag, and it was in a shadow instead of a lip crayon. But they sure look alike, see?
Imagine getting them mixed up and putting lipstick on your eyelids. Yowza. I do like collecting lippies (though for some reason I rarely remember to wear them), but chile red is a bit out of my comfort zone. I think C would freak out if he saw me wearing bright red lipstick.

Coolway Strong Hold Hairspray (0.5oz value: $3) - Get the volume minus the frizz. Strong Hold hairspray with humidity control keeps your hair in place without it getting frazzled as the day wears on. I personally have used hairspray about twice in the past two years so I think it's safe to say I'm boring because I don't style my hair. Like, ever. It's either down or in a ponytail. Or if I'm feeling particularly adventurous I'll do a half pony. I think it's because I can't stand getting the stiff tangles from hairspray out of my hair when I shower *shiver*

Mai Couture Travel Blush Paper - Montecito (10 half-sheets value: $1.75) - Oily midday face, disappearing makeup by lunchtime, you know how it goes. But the smart guys at Mai Couture have concocted an all-in-one solution: makeup paper! It's a blotting paper AND makeup in one. Pat to remove oil, then rub the paper on your face, applying more pressure for more intense color. Aside from blush paper there's also bronzing paper, foundation paper, and highlighter paper, and all come in different shades. Montecito is the darkest pink, but it's really not that dark in real life. I did an arm swatch below using firm pressure and about five swipes, and that's all the color payoff I got. I'm not huge on blush, but I'll probably be checking out their foundation papers because these papers are so easy to use and just toss.

I forgot to take a picture of November's bag but it's pretty stellar. Literally. It's got stars and galaxies on it. It's also rather pink. If there was a black/blue universe on there I'd be all over it, but a pink/blue cosmos, mmm not so much. 

*Sigh* I am sad, Ipsy. The only things I would use are the eye shadow (but I already have a similar color) and the blush paper because it's such a fun concept. Everything else though, sad face. I think it's time to revisit my profile. Oh and look, no wonder I got a mascara - it was still checked in my profile. There; I changed a few things. Hopefully that'll help out with future bags. Click here if you want to get your own Ipsy glam bag too. I heard there's no wait list right now so hurry up and jump on a spot before there's a line!

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

Birchbox Unboxing - November 2015

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.

Oh my, where has all the time gone? It's December already and I barely had a chance to go through November sub goodies yet. First up is Birchbox. My box came in just in time for Thanksgiving and the first thing I thought was, ooo such a pretty box. I don't even like roses but this rose design works for two reasons: (a) I like teal and (b) I like black. The theme also sounds fun - making time for yourself before the hectic holiday season, whether it's learning a new makeup trick or getting glammed up for a date with your girlfriends. I didn't actually open this box until after Black Friday; so much for pre-holiday indulgence. But! I did take a few days off from work to catch the sales so I guess that counts as indulgence...especially because most of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping I did was for me ;)

November Birchbox info card
Obliphica Professional Seaberry Serum (0.5oz value: $8.75) - I think this might be my first hair serum with sea buckthorn oil as the main reparative ingredient. Seaberry oil is full of antioxidants and can be used to treat and prevent sunburn as well as do double duty as a cough expectorant. Yup, it's got a pretty impressive resume, but will it work on my hair? Guess I gotta find soon as I run out of my Marc Anthony Moroccan Oil.

Temple Spa La La Lagoon Aromatic Bath & Shower Gel (0.84oz value: $1) - If you like minty and herbal-smelling things, this is for you. This shower gel is infused with ylang ylang, eucalyptus & patchouli to soothe your skin as well as your mind. I like stress relief, but I'm not particularly fond of this scent. Smells a tad masculine to me but that's because I like fruity- and sugary-scented stuff. Cotton candy shower gel? Gimme all of it :D

LOC Vibrant Matte Lipstick - Glam Life (0.02oz full size value: $8) - Meet LOC, Birchbox's new brand. Every subscriber received one of the lipstick shades curated by YouTube sensation Tati Westbrook. We had a chance to choose which shade we'd get and I was hoping to snag First Kiss (pinky beige), but by the time I opened the email the only choice left was Glam Life which is a purplish berry plum. Of course it didn't occur to me until later that if I left my choice blank, there could have still been a chance that I'd end up with the pinky mauve color. Oh well. Plum is a nice fall color, now's as good a time as ever to get used to it!

Harvey Prince Sincerely Perfume - Has anybody been keeping track of how many fragrances Harvey Prince has pumped out? It seems like every few months I'm getting a new one in my Birchbox. Sincerely has delicate notes of South African freesia, Japanese orange flower, Moroccan rose, Turkish cyclamen, and Indian tuberose. Hints of spicy Indonesian clove bud trickle in with fresh Spanish mandarin and French bergamot while deep and intriguing Lebanese cedarwood and Australian sandalwood transport you to faraway lands. It's seriously a trip around the world in a single whiff.

theBalm Cosmetics FratBoy Shadow/Blush (0.02oz value: $1.50) - FratBoy is a peach-pink blush that can also double as an eye shadow. I'm always going to love theBalm's cute magnetic cases, but blush is one thing I don't go through quickly enough to keep extras on hand.

I'm a bit ho hum about this box because the only thing I'd actually keep is the hair serum and maaaybe the lipstick if I'm daring enough to rock dark purple. I thought changing my profile up might give me more things I'd like but I guess I haven't found the right answer combo yet. *sigh*

If you're interested in Birchboxing (yup, my word), click here to start your subscription. Even if you don't like your first few boxes, you can change up your profile at any time to tweak future box curations. That usually works for most people, though it may take a few attempts like it is for me. To give you more incentive to stay, Birchbox also has the best points system out there where you can earn points like crazy and redeem them by shopping around their huge online store.

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