Thursday, March 31, 2016

Walmart Beauty Box Review - Spring 2016

  What: Walmart Beauty Box contains samples of beauty products from major drugstore brands. Multiple versions are available for different age groups - this review is for the Trendsetter box.
When: Ships once a season (March, June, September, and December)
Cost: The box itself is free, but there is a $5 flat shipping fee

The Walmart Beauty Box is one of my favorite boxes because you can find some great AFFORDABLE stuff in here. That word makes me happy. Even better, when you run out of your sample all you have to do is head to your nearest Walmart (hopefully there's one not too far away) and pick up a full size. No online ordering, no shipping fees, no waiting. The Walmart box is similar to the Target beauty box in that you'll be introduced to stuff that won't empty out your wallet, but unlike the Target one, the Walmart box's contents remain a mystery until it arrives at your doorstep. That's part of what I love about it :)

CurĂ©l Itch Defense Body Wash (1oz value: $1) - Curel is known for their dermatologist-recommended lotions. This is a gentle soap-free cleanser formulated for dry skin. The second ingredient in here is sodium laureth sulfate which is what makes the suds that give you that clean feeling, but it can also be an irritant and is actually what I consider "soap" in my mind. If you or someone in your household suffers from chronic dry itchy skin/eczema you know how tough it can be to find a body wash that cleans yet doesn't irritate skin. It seems you can either have the clean OR you can have the gentle, not both.

Jergen's Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer - Fair to Medium Skin Tones (2oz value: $2) - Sometime last year I got a Walmart box with foil packets of this tanning lotion. Those packets are still in my To Use pile. I like a good tan, and I have the worst shorts tan ever so you'd think I'd be all over this thing. I'm not. I wish I could be more enthusiastic about this but I've never met a self-tanner that has made the slightest difference. I've tried creams, oils, lotions, wipes, body washes, and sprays all to no avail. Maybe tanners don't work on medium skin tones after all? *sigh* I'm sure the stuff in it isn't too good for your skin, anyway.

Biore Baking Soda Pore Cleanser (1oz value: $1) - So here's my thought process on this one: A while back I heard that you shouldn't use baking soda cleansers on your face. I remembered from spending my college days in the lab that sodium bicarbonate a.k.a. baking soda has a pH of about 8.5, whereas your skin's pH is acidic (pH 5ish). Then I dug deeper, into my college bacteriology course nuggets, and recalled that Propionibacteria (the acne bacteria) like to grow at about pH 6-6.5. Naturally, if you put something basic on your acidic skin, your skin's pH will rise a bit, possibly to that P. acnes sweet spot, and you'll break out. I was curious just how basic this cleanser was so I found some plain ol' pH paper lying around (I don't have those nifty accurate pH strips) to get a general idea of what I'd be putting on my face. Turns out it has a pH of around 4, which isn't too far from your skin's natural acidity. So my question now - since I'm not a skincare guru or anything - is this safe to put on my face after all? Did anyone else take a pH of this? Cause I'm not sure how much I should trust my 10-year-old test paper...

John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Subtle Lightening Shampoo (2oz value: $2) - Hmm, shampoo that uses honey and marigold flower extract to infuse golden tones and illuminate brunette hair. One would think that you'd need ammonia to help strip the hair cuticle but I don't see ammonia-based anything on the ingredients list. Is there another way to color hair? Or does this just make your hair really shiny so that it reflects a gazillion times more light and makes you hair appear lighter? Sure, I'll give this a shot just for kicks. Not gonna hold my breath, though. At worst this thing will turn my hair into a desert but eh, hair grows.

Colgate Optic White Platinum Express White Toothpaste (1.45oz value: $2) - My feelings toward whitening toothpastes mirror that of self-tanners. They don't work. After using four types of whitening toothpastes and two brands of strips my teeth aren't any whiter. I haven't used this particular one, though. Oh well what matters most is clean teeth so I can always use more toothpaste, whitening or not. And if you really want to whiten your teeth without wasting $$$ on stuff that might not work, Colgate offers recipes for making your own whitening toothpaste using things you can find around the house. That way you can make a little bit at a time, and if it doesn't work just toss it without the guilt.

Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick (0.08oz value: $5) - Pink Grapefruit (a doll pink) is one of eight brand new lip colors Neutrogena released for the spring. While I prefer my pinks a bit more on the nude side, this one's sheer enough that it won't be attracting the wrong kind of attention at work. Plus it goes on smoothly and smells yummy which more than makes up for not being my favorite shade. The scent sort of reminds me of my peach body mist. If they named this shade after a dessert I'd probably eat it. Wait, what?
Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick in Pink Grapefruit
CeraVe Healing Ointment (0.085oz value: $0.10) - We're no strangers to this brand at home. My husband uses CeraVe cream to help with dry skin, but we've never tried the ointment before. Ointments generally tend to be on the greasier side so we usually stay away from them if possible, but this one claims to have a "non-greasy feel." Does that mean it's still greasy but you just don't notice it? I guess we'll find out.

Vera Wang Embrace Periwinkle & Iris Eau de Toilette Spray - A floral gourmand fragrance blending sparkling notes of violet petals with the comfort of whipped sugar and a tender touch of Periwinkle and Iris. I was never a floral fragrance kind of gal, but the vanilla and sugar base notes saves this from getting tossed into the trash. It's floral but sweet and reminds me of one of the lotions from B&BW. Warm vanilla sugar? Twilight woods? I can't remember. It's not my top scent pick, but I can see myself wearing it once in a while.

Each box also comes with lots of foil packets and coupons and usually a couple of them catch my eye. Not this time, though. Okay well maybe one, but not because I'm interested in the product. There's a Loreal foundation shade finder with stickers you can put all over your face to see what shade suits you best. It's a fun concept and as I guessed I'm medium warm. According to this card I look best in gold jewelry. Too bad I like silver better.

The stand outs of this box for me are the two least expected ones - I'm loving the yummy scent and creaminess of the color stick and the Vera Wang perfume is growing on me. Just about everything else will probably get used at some point, although I'm still on the fence about the baking soda cleanser and tanning lotion.

Did you get a Walmart Beauty box? It's great if you're looking for affordable beauty that won't break the bank. If you want full size products you probably won't find that here (unless it's a lipstick or mascara), but considering all you do is pay for shipping, I think it's still a great deal. Click here to sign up; the Spring box is still available!

Note: All opinions contained within this post are my own. Post does not contain any referral links.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter! (with the pups)

Hello friends! I hope you all had an enjoyable (relaxing?) Easter weekend full of love, cheer, and everything fluffy and cute. While everybody and their sister was busy dressing up their kids and/or pets as bunnies, over at my house we tried something a little different because their natural ears are sort of like a bunny's anyway. We turned our dogs into Easter yodas. 
 Pebbles played along nicely. She even agreed to pose with some easter eggs.
Don't mind her tongue. When you hold a treat in front of her it likes to chill outside of her mouth.
But Macho wanted none of it. All he wanted to do was kill the ears.
I like my own ears better, thankyouverymuch.
I was able to make him sit still only after bribing him with a Petco creme cookie. It's his favorite treat in the world so we reserve those exclusively for times like these when nothing else works.
A pitiful looking Yoda, he is.
The poor guy looked like he wanted to cry. As a reward for being (semi-)good sports we sent the pups on an egg hunt throughout the house. To my surprise they found every single treat-filled egg. And then they kept revisiting all the hiding places for the rest of the day hoping another egg would magically appear. Silly dogs, your humans aren't that nice to you.

Since the dogs were getting most of the attention I didn't want my husband to feel left out so I whipped up a batch of homemade pizza biscuits for him. It's the perfect brunchtime snack. I think it worked because he didn't seem to care that I spent the rest of the day cruising by the dogs. Food is definitely the way to a man's heart.
Treats for humans, treats for dogs. Everybody wins.
How was your Easter? I hope better than this guy's:
So. Humiliating.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ipsy Review - March 2016

 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 bonus items.

Ipsy is one of few beauty subscriptions out there where a $10 bill can get you a bag stuffed with at least three times that in value. Each glam bag is supposedly curated according to your beauty profile, which in all honesty I don't think is very accurate, but it's still fun to see what will pop up each month. March's theme is Hello Spring, and the postal service has impeccable timing as mine arrived on *gasp* the first day of spring! I'm hoping this bag will take us away from subdued winter tones and introduce us to the colorful sunshiny cheerfulness that is spring!

Marc Anthony Argan Oil 3 Day Smooth Perfect Blow Dry Cream (1.69oz value: $2) - Time to ditch those beanies and let the world see your beautiful hair! I'm a huge fan of Marc Anthony argan oil products and the nourishing treatment is my HG at the moment. This smoothing cream will tame the frizzies as you blow dry PLUS straighten out your waves for up to three days.

NYX Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick - Pink Lust/Passion Rose (0.13oz full size! value: $7) - Now this screams spring. Or maybe summer. This is a hot hot hot pink color that I wish I had around as a kid to put on my Barbies. This is just too much out of my comfort zone so unfortunately I didn't do a swatch. But lucky for us, somebody did:
Essence Make Me Brow Eyebrow Gel Mascara - Browny Brows (0.12oz full size! value: $3) - Essence is a cruelty-free European cosmetics brand. This is my first time trying something from them and I'm glad it's an eyebrow gel because it's just what I needed. :) This gel not only tames and shapes eyebrows, but it also fills in the gaps to make them appear even fuller. Good to know - the gel color is the same color as the packaging. Also good to know is that this baby stays put once it dries. I swatched some on my hand and not even my nails can scratch it off. Buuut it's not waterproof. At all. One drop of water is all it takes to make your eyebrows cry.

Beau Gachis Eyeshadow Brush (Value: $12) - Yesssss. I can never have too many eyeshadow brushes. This one is made with natural and synthetic hair and will fit in nicely with its three cousins. I really don't wear makeup often enough to justify keeping so many brushes and pots and palettes around, but it's nice to have lots of colors and tools at my disposal and they're so fun to collect!

Temptu WarmGlow Bronzer - One thing that bothers me about this sample is that since Temptu specializes in airbrush application, it's hard to get a true feel of the product without the sprayer. I can pat and blend this bronzer in all I want, but the texture and overall look will still be different than if I airbrushed it on (unless I'm just that good at makeup application, which I'm not). Gripes aside, believe it or not, this tiny 7.5ml bottle is just half a ml shy of the full size airpod, sans the pod itself.

Makeup Bag - This month's bag has a rose pattern and it's okay, though not my favorite. I do like that it's only two colors, though. There are actually two (maybe more?) variations of the makeup bag this month, but I'd prefer this orange-on-blue variation any day. 

This month's verdict: it's another mediocre one for Ipsy. You know it's not a great bag when your favorite thing in it is a makeup brush. And not a fancy brush, either. Well, the eyebrow gel is okay too I guess. And the hair cream, except I don't blow dry my hair. Sad, the two spring-y things in here are the two I won't be using. Meh.

Click here to get your own Ipsy glam bag for only $10 a month. It's easily one of the most affordable beauty subscriptions and the value always exceeds the cost.

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

Monday, March 21, 2016

3B Box Unboxing - March 2016

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

I've been getting 3B Box for just over half a year now and I can honestly say that I'm so glad I signed up. It's true that I haven't loved everything from the boxes, but you do get a chance to try lots of fun stuff (one of them is in this month's bag!) and I've found several new favorites through this subscription.

Skinfood My Shortcake Setting Mascara (7g approx value: $3) - Mascara. Meh. I like the Skin Food brand but I'm trying to thin out my mascara drawer. Yep, I have an entire mini-drawer of them. I don't even use it regularly so why do I have so many? The world (and I) may never know.

CosRx Blackhead Silk Finger Balls (12ct value: $5) - I heard of these a while back and thought they were the coolest weird things ever. And I'm SO happy to finally have my own silkworm cocoon pods to use at my disposal. Even if it turns out they don't remove my blackheads (nothing short of a good ol' nose strip has ever worked for me) I hear they leave your skin suuuper smooth. Can't wait to try!

Dermal Dream Sea Cucumber Supreme Mask (Value: $1) - Well this is new. I've never put sea cucumber on my face before. To tell you the truth, I'm kinda freaking out about it as much as when I first heard that you can put snail on your face. Because sea cucumbers are so squishy just like snails. I'd probably hug a sea cucumber before I'd touch a snail, though. This sheet mask is rich in collagen, arginine, alanine, taurine, and a slew of minerals that fight aging and brighten up skin. And of course it also has refined sea cucumber serum. Is that the stringy white goo they shoot out?

Secret Key Witch Hazel Pore Clear Toner (248ml full size value: $10) - Witch hazel is a terrific astringent and works well for acne-prone skin. It's also an anti-inflammatory and might help soothe those blemishes. Some people (i.e.those who suffer from rosacea) might be sensitive to witch hazel but I personally have had no issues with it. And this is a huge full size bottle that I'm looking forward to using up!

Yay! Two things I'm excited about and one that's undeniably intriguing...sea cucumber??? Yup, I'd say 3B nailed it this month with the Asian beauty novelty factor. I'm giggling just picturing the look on my husband's face when he finds out I just wiped my face with cocoons and sea cucumbers.

Click here to sign up now for the wait list! The sooner you get on, the sooner you can get off and join the fun :) You won't get charged for your first box until you move off the list.

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

Thursday, March 17, 2016

BarkBox Review - March 2016 + Free Box for New Subscribers!!

 What: BarkBox is a subscription box for dogs filled with 4-6 treat, toy, and sometimes hygiene items. Boxes are curated according to your dog's size. For dogs with strong jaws, you can also opt for a box with durable toys; just send BarkBox an email to let them know you'd like the heavy chewer option. For reference, this review is for a heavy chewer medium-dog box. Allergy-conscious boxes are also available. 
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.

When it comes to dogs, my husband and I are the corniest dog parents out there. And Barkbox knows how to do corny. It's why we get along so well. Every month has a theme and March is Sherlock Bones. Cute, Barkbox, very cute.
The first thing I noticed was how adorable the packing paper is. And points to the artist for making it loosely accurate. I especially appreciated seeing one of the Queen's corgis guarding the palace :)

Think Pet Innovations Telephone Booth Toy (Value: $14) - Ahh, the iconic red phone box symbolic of Sherlock's fake demise. This is a sturdy canvas toy and the description hints that there's something hidden inside the puncture resistant squeaker (which feels more like a rigid box). For once I think we have a toy that will take the dogs a few days to break through because there aren't any flappy parts or strings for them to tug at. And I'm not gonna lie; I'm pretty curious to see if this phone booth holds any secrets. I need to send Macho to investigate ASAP.
Mom, you gave me a defective toy. This one won't open.
Outward Hound Treat Maze - Small 7" size (Value: $14) - Thiiis. This is the exact type of toy I was hoping Barkbox would start sending. Brain-stimulating toys that my doggie detectives have to figure out in order to get their treats. Macho will go at it for hours until he finally gets the treats out - and I'll get rewarded with an hour of peace and quiet when he knocks out from mental exhaustion. Pebbles isn't as persistent; her brain gets tired after about 30 minutes. But either way, I'm glad both dogs enjoy a good brain workout. So here's how this UFO-looking thing works: you drop a treat in the top and it has to go through an internal maze before it comes out at the edges. However, it doesn't open so I have no idea what the maze looks like. Also, I'm not sure how you'd wash this since it's glued shut and there aren't any helpful cleaning instructions. I also don't think it's dishwasher safe because there's a thin plastic sheet going through the middle. It's the kind of plastic that some portfolios are made out of - not too heat-resistant. 

Red Fox Naturals Victorian Venison Treats (5oz value: $7) - These go with the Treat Maze. They're bite-sized morsels of venison and are grain, wheat, corn and soy free. These are totally corgi treats. What makes me so sure, you ask? They're red fox-approved, and a fox looks sort of like a corgi, soo...doesn't it? Both pups will definitely approve. I'm pretty sure they've tried venison and liked it. In fact I'm pretty sure they've loved every protein they've eaten. That includes crickets and grub. Dogs are such disgusting interesting creatures.

Sojos Good Dog Sheperd's Pie Treats (5oz value: $6) - I always say that Macho prefers the soft meaty treats, but he won't turn down a biscuit. Pebbles is a honey badger, she doesn't discriminate because she doesn't give a sh*t. We've been getting so many soft treats lately that we've actually run out of the biscuit ones so I'm really glad to see these. Plus they're tiny so I don't have to feel bad about giving one or ten to the dogs at bedtime. Like a dessert reward for not burning down the house during the day. Doesn't shepherd's pie count as a dessert? I mean, it does say pie...

Smoking Gun Smoke Sticks (3-pk value: ) - I think this is the first time that I've seen Bark & Co. put out a dog chew. These are smoked all-natural pork and sweet potato sticks. They're on the brittle side and will probably be eaten faster than an Etta Says chew.

Barkbox consistently puts out quality treats and I've never been disappointed in one, but I think the stars of this box are the toys. I want to say that the treat maze is my favorite thing in the box because the concept is freaking pawsome, but not being able to wash it is a total buzzkill. I can be fussy when it comes to cleaning things, and an eternally slimy slobbery toy that can't air out doesn't sound like something I'd keep around for long. On the other hand, the phone booth is a total win. It's probably the most rigid canvas toy we've ever had and I think it should last a good week before the dogs rip through it.

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.

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

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Ipsy Review - February 2016

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 points which can be redeemed for bonus items.
Ipsy glam bag is one of those perfect subscriptions for everybody: beauty noobs love it because you get a little of everything to try out and the experienced gals can discover new brands to love. Plus each month you'll get an exclusive makeup bag that I've been using for everything but makeup - pencils, first aid/time of the month supplies, travel kits, even to hold little snacks in my purse. This month my February bag arrived several days into March. It's been arriving later and later each month for some reason :-/

Jor'el Parker Eau So Divine Perfume Rollerball (8.8ml value: ~$20??) - What a cute name :) The Jor'el Parker brand was acquired by Harvey Prince and their fragrances can be found on the Harvey Prince website. However, I can't access the site because for some reason my antivirus software keeps alerting me of phishing activities on it. So I'm going based off of Amazon pricing and the Ipsy description: this perfume contains notes of sandalwood, lily of the valley, Egyptian myrrh and Madagascar vanilla. It's a refreshing scent and generous size but just not for me. I'm more of a dessert/sweets kind of gal. Always was. Always will be. Some things just don't change.

Perfect Formula Pink Gel Coat (5ml value: $8.50) - This is a nail strengthener that I think is meant to be worn alone, but I'm going to try it as a base coat. The pink tint masks any yellow tinge and makes your nail beds look rosy pink and your nail tips white. Kind of like a French manicure minus the hard work. Plus it's fast-drying.

Tre'StiQue Baby Blush Stick - Bora Bora Coral (0.04oz value: $6.50) - This is such a pretty color and I'd love it if it were in lipstick form. This is a buildable cream-gel blush ideal for dry skin types since it's infused with coconut oil. Unfortunately, blush sticks make my oily face feel like I just spent 10 hours in front of a deep fryer :(

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer - Neutral Medium (0.11oz value: $9.50) - I think I received something similar to this last year from the same brand. A CC cream. It was a really tiny tube, but I rarely use CC creams so it's still pretty full. This one is made especially for dark under eye circles. Fortunately, I rarely get those even after a restless night. Under eye bags maybe, but nothing that a dab of my regular concealer can't handle. However, I did have a black eye a couple of weeks ago from wrestling practice and I really could have benefited from having this on hand then...

MOR Emporium Classics Hand & Body Lotion - Candied Vanilla (1oz value: $3) - Remember when I said I gravitate toward sweets and dessert-scented things? This is what I was talking about. Candied vanilla smells like you're covering your hands with marshmallows. This lotion is a tad greasier than I'd like, but that soaks in within a few minutes and you're just left with hands that you'd like to eat. But don't do it. 

I usually don't care for the Ipsy bags with pictures on them but I have to make an exception for this one. It reminds me of an 8-bit love letter. It screams CUTE and I just want to take it with me everywhere and fool people into thinking that hopeless romantics do exist and that they write sappy love notes. 

It's another so-so month for Ipsy. I'm kind of sad that I won't be using the two most expensive items in this glam bag, but it's nothing to cry about. I'm happy as long as the stuff that I will use adds up to how much I paid, which it does. The lotion already has a place on my desk alongside my peach hand cream and strawberry lotion. And as soon as the embellies I have on my mani falls off, I'm going to try out the nail treatment and see if it really does give me the easiest French manicure in the world.

Click here to get your own Ipsy glam bag for just $10 a month. It's one of the most affordable beauty subscriptions and the value always exceeds the cost. Plus you'll never know when you'll get what others may think is a love letter from the Mario Bros ;)

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