Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February 2017 Ipsy Glam Bag Review

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 within the US)
Fun Extra: You can review your products each month to earn ipsyPoints which can be redeemed for bonus items.

Is it just me or was this past Valentine's Day a bigger deal than usual? Stores began carrying red and pink candy the day after New Years and my inbox was flooded with Love Day sales and promos. Call me the VDay grinch, but by the time February 14th rolled around I couldn't wait for it to be over. My husband and I were never big on celebrating the day so it was just another day for us (we had pizza for dinner).  When this month's "Much Love" glam bag arrived, I half expected to find pink hearts and frilly lace (I don't pay attention to the makeup bag reveals so I had no idea what to expect). To my relief, it was a simple denim bag. 
Yesss! A bag I won't mind keeping around the house.
But I guess it's what's in it that counts, so here goes...

Winky Lux Diamond Complexion Powder in Medium (small pan, ~$6) - It's face powder. With DIAMONDS. Okay so I really don't know if it's real or just mica, but the description says there are finely-crushed diamonds in this pressed powder that illuminate skin and blur imperfections. It didn't do much in the way of blurring my blemishes, but I do like the texture - smooth and velvety. Swatch below:
Winky Lux Diamond Complexion Powder in Medium

Luxie Rose Gold Blush Brush ($18) - My beauty profile is currently set to "I LOVE BRUSHES" so I've been getting one in almost every bag for the past year. So far they've all been blush, contour, or eye shadow brushes but I'd love a new concealer brush one of these days. I'm holding onto the hope that one will appear in a glam bag soon. :)

Elizabeth Mott Whatup Beaches Matte Bronzer - It seems like I'm forever on the hunt for the perfect bronzer that's not so light that it won't show up but not too orange-y, either. This brand is based here in Hawaii so I was hoping with a name like Whatup Beaches it'd be a shade that actually shows up on slightly tanned skin, as is the case with many women in the islands. But nope. The forearm swatch below is 5 swipes, and I'm not even that tanned.
Elizabeth Mott Whatup Beaches Matte Bronzer

MOR Rosa Noir Hand & Body Milk (30ml, $2) - This lotion is for the floral lovers: wild rose, carnation, and lily of the valley create a heady and slightly overpowering (to me) fragrance. I haven't even removed the seal and my nose is already starting to itch. But if you're a huge flower fan, this cream will keep your skin quenched with shea butter and macadamia and almond oils without all the greasiness.

Trust Fund Beauty Nail Polish in I Give Good Tweet ($15) - First of all, that name. Trust Fund has the best nail polish names - slightly naughty but entirely funny. Secondly, this color. This periwinkle blue is probably my favorite color in the whole world. And that goes for anything: clothes, pens, wallets, paper, you name it. If it's this color I'll probably want it. And that's why I currently have about 8 nail polish bottles of this shade. I just can't bring myself to give them away. This is no different. Tweet, you're going straight in my nail polish stash right now.

Verdict: This month's Ipsy was almost as good as January's bag. I'm not a fan of the hand cream scent and a little sad about how subtle the bronzer is, though I'll still at least use the bronzer. But I'm in love with the shade of nail polish I received which kind of overshadows this month's shortcomings. Time to go make my nails all pretty!

Click here to sign up for Ipsy for just $10 per month. That's cheaper than the cost of going to a movie. And with that extra night in, you can spend it trying out all your glam bag goodies. Win-win. :)

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

Friday, February 24, 2017

February 2017 Stickii Club Cute Sticker Pack Review

What: Stickii Club is a sticker subscription that sends an envelope full of Cute, Retro or Pop themed stickers every month (you get to choose the category). This review is for the Cute pack.
When: Ships on the 11th or 21st of each month depending on your signup date
Cost: $10 per month (free shipping)

Who like animals? Everyone, of course! This month Stickii Club is recognizing our friends with an entire sticker pack dedicated to Farm Animals. Actually, it encompasses all things furry, feathered, and in the case of fishies, scaly. I love color and these sheets have lots of it. Whoohooo!

Alright so owls, bunnies, cats and dogs are all normal things you'd find on a farm. Even geese. But then there were also these animals singles thrown in the envelope - alligators, polar bears, whales, eagles... Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

In fact, we may have traveled to Japan judging by the maneki neko, daruma and kadomatsu dotting the sheet on the left. These are all Japanese symbols related to good luck. These washi paper stickers are my favorite of the bunch :) Aaand back to the farm -- the sheet to the right is full of itty bitty piggies.

FAT OWLS. These epoxy stickers are colorful, shimmery and are my second fave. More piggies in school and piggies playing with boxes round out February's stickers. And those animal singles? There's LOTS of them. Eighty to be exact. Stickii is sending out loads of them in place of the washi samples they used to mail out (which they had to discontinue due to size restriction issues). Not that more stickers is a bad thing; I just need to figure out what to do with all of them.

March's stickers will ship out in a couple of weeks so pick up your favorite-sounding one (or all three!) before then! Click here to sign up.

Note: No referral links were used in this post. All opinions are my own.

February 2017 3B Box Review

 What: The 3B Box (short for Beyond Beauty Borders) contains 4-5 deluxe or full-sized beauty items from Korea, Japan, or Taiwan
When: Ships during the first week of each month
Cost: $15/month with free shipping to US (or as low as $12/month with longer commitments)

The first thing I thought when February's 3B Box came in was "OMG cleansing oil!!!" Ever since 3B first introduced me to this miracle worker over a year ago I was hooked. Then I saw the nose strips and I pretty much cartwheeled across my living room. February is the month of love, and so far I'm loving what I see.

DHC Care Deep Cleansing Oil (1oz, $3) - Cleansing oils are one thing that you'll never find me without. I'm willing to try any brand at least once, like this one with roots in Japan. What started as an educational translation company morphed into a huge beauty enterprise when researchers stumbled upon an exceptional grade of olive oil from Spain. Needless to say, this cleansing oil is built around that special olive oil. If you can get past the heavy olive oil scent, then you'll love how easily it spreads across your face. It rinses clean without any oily residue. I haven't tried removing makeup with it yet, but that's next on my to do list.

Wei Beauty Chinese Rose Foaming Cleanser (1oz, $5.50) - Ooh, this cleanser looks lovely. It's kind of pearlescent and foams nicely with just a tiny dab. Chinese Rose leaves skin nourished and vitamin C brightens up your complexion. The only thing I don't care for is the scent. It smells like rose (obviously) but not intolerably so. I guess I could just hold my breath while using this.

My Beauty Diary Squalene Restorative Mask ($2) - This mask contains plant squalene (more specifically from olive oil) to nourish dry, damaged skin and create a moisture-locking barrier that prevents further loss of moisture. Marine glycoprotein and vitamin E round out the key hydrating ingredients and leave your face soft and rejuvenated. Too much squalene can be comedogenic, though, so if you have oily or acne-prone skin (as I do), you might want to opt for something with (plant-derived) squalane instead.

SkinRX Madecera Cream (5ml, $3) - The main component in here, madecassoside, is a compound found in the plant Centella asiatica. It has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and can also stimulate collagen production. Last month 3B subscribers received a mask from this brand that contained the same restorative compound. I haven't gotten around to using that mask yet, so I'll try that first and if I like the results I'll have a whole mini tube of this stuff to use!

TheFaceShop Jeju Volcanic Lava Nose Strips ($4) - I know there are less invasive ways to remove blackheads and large sebaceous filaments but nose strips continue to be my favorite. Must be the feeling of accomplishment after seeing everything I pulled out. :-P So grossly intriguing, kind of like witnessing the aftermath of a foot peel. This 3-step pack contains 3 strips - 1) one to draw out sebum, 2) one to pull out the gunk, and 3) one soaked in essence. Each strip stays on between 10-20 minutes so it's a pretty lengthy process - longer than I'm willing to spend on a regular basis, especially since the results were the same as with any other charcoal nose strip I've tried. Within two days the bumpies were back and my short-lived euphoria was over.

Verdict: Oil cleansers will always be one of my favorites and so far I have no qualms about this DHC one. I just threw out a bottle out the other day because it actually made me break out more, even after I gave it a month; hopefully this one treats my skin better. The nose strips were fun but were more hassle than they're worth. I'd rather stick with the plain ol' Purederm ones (and they're cheap!).

Click here to sign up for 3B Box for $15/month (free shipping). They will ship to anywhere within the US. 

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

Friday, February 10, 2017

January 2017 Ipsy Glam Bag Review

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 within the US)
Fun Extra: You can review your products each month to earn ipsyPoints which can be redeemed for bonus items.

When Ipsy revealed the bag design for January I had mixed feelings. Loved the color, hated the design. It's a silvery blue with holes punched all in it. But once I had the bag in my hands the mesh look kind of grew on me and now I'm digging it. :D

Trust Fund Beauty Lipgasm Lipgloss in Method to the Madness (full size, 4ml, $22) - Lipglosses are one reason why I love beauty boxes. I have a slight lipgloss obsession but cringe at how quickly my wallet will go hungry at $20 a tube. So far I only have Trust Fund nail polishes and am happy to try something else from them. Method to the Madness is a sheer but buildable pint-beige shade that I'm hoping will match anything and everything!

Crown Brush Beaute Basics C405 Contour Blush Brush ($7.50) - Here is another reason why I love beauty subs. Makeup brushes can be expensive, but Ipsy solves that problem. I put in my profile that I love brushes and they've sent me nine over the past 12 months. I really don't need nine at once, but they're not like makeup where you'll have to toss it after a couple of years even if you've never used it. I just stash 'em away until I need a new brush, and voila! new brush on hand. This contouring brush is made with natural goat hair so it's ideal for powder makeup.

Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35 in Light Medium (0.25oz, $9 value) - I currently use Smashbox Photo Finish primer and love how it feels on my skin. I'm not really a BB cream kind of gal but am willing to try this one in hopes that I'm just as pleased with the results.

Pretty Woman Nail Polish in I'm Not A Ballerina (full size, 10ml, $8) - Oooh, what a pretty ballet slipper pink! I'm a sucker for pastels and am pretty sure I already have a pink veeery similar to this one but it's ok, I'm going to hoard them all because why not?!! Pretty Woman is brand new to me but it's quickly garnering my interest. Right now I'd really like to check out their ceramic pastels and chrome polishes

-417 Hand Moisturizer (1oz, $5 value) - I have a whole box at home filled with tubes of hand creams and yet I always want more. At the core of -417 hand moisturizer is their Vitamin Mineral Complex made up of moisture-balancing minerals from the Dead Sea. It's quick absorbing and enriched with primrose and olive oils, beeswax, and shea butter for soft, supple skin. 

Verdict: Win, win ,win! This is probably the first glam bag in over a year that I'm completely satisfied with, not to mention the insane value (over $50!) for a $10 subscription. I'm most excited about the nail polish because they have so many to choose from on the Pretty Woman website. Time to go window shopping!

You can sign up for Ipsy by clicking here and creating your beauty profile. It's just $10 per month - that's like buying that sample BB cream tube and getting the rest of this month's goodies for free!

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

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

January 2017 Serendipity Box Review

What: Serendipity by LLB is a box from the people behind Little Lace Box. It contains random treasures that weren't included in the main LLB but were too precious not to share.
When: Ships every other month
Cost: $12.99 (free shipping)
Good to Know: Serendipity by LLB ships during the off months of LLB. So if you subscribe to both, you'll get something each month!

Xtenex X200 Series Shoe Laces ($10) - If you've ever worn a compression shirt or shorts, these are similar but for your feet. Compression apparel supposedly improves blood flow and oxygen delivery to muscles for better athletic performance as well as aids in recovery. These funny-looking shoe laces "lock" into place and don't loosen over time so they keep your feet from swelling and getting sore throughout the day.

Doxen & Hue Exfoliating Face Wash in Watermint ($6) - Tiny exfoliating beads in this face wash help remove dead skin to reveal smooth, radiant skin while peppermint oil and menthol have a cooling effect. I like face washes that leave my face feeling cool and refreshed so I was all over this one. Unfortunately, it's not cooling or soothing at all. It does smell refreshing, though. I don't think these are ecofriendly microbeads as they don't really dissolve in water like some other exfoliating face washes I've tried; I think it's the plastic type that some states (mine included) are trying to ban because they end up in the oceans and rivers after wastewater treatment.

Beekman 1802 Jasmine & Heirloom Rose Hand Wash ($20) - This soap uses botanical- based ingredients to clean and moisturize your hands. Rose hip seed oil restores skin elasticity and goat milk is rich in vitamins and minerals to make your hands feel baby soft. I just wish it didn't smell so strongly of rose; it's giving me a headache.

Modgy Expandable Vase in BrickBrack  (single vase value $9) - I've seen these before and was kind of cuious about it. This is a plastic vase that puffs up when you put water in it. I'd call it disposable except it's not. Not really. Since it's plastic you can reuse it over again until it springs a leak, however long that may take. Plus it's collapsible so it saves space big time. Interesting concept. Love the idea, but I'm not really feeling this pattern for a vase. :-/

Verdict: I'm kind of torn on January's box. I can always use more shoe laces and I can't complain about the face wash because so far it hasn't made me break out worse than I already was, but neither really wowed me. And I love that a hand soap and vase were included but didn't care for the variety I got. But as always, everything was practical and the value of the items ($45!) far exceeded the cost of the box. Click here to sign up for the next Serendipity box which ships in March.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

January 2017 Stickii Club Cute Sticker Pack Review

What: Stickii Club is a sticker subscription that sends an envelope full of Cute, Retro or Pop themed stickers every month (you get to choose the category). This review is for the Cute pack.
When: Ships on the 11th or 21st of each month depending on your signup date
Cost: $10 per month (free shipping)

When it comes to stickers, I'm a hoarder. I hoarded them when I was a little kid, and when I grew older and started receiving Easter Seals and other stickers from organizations in the mail, I hoarded those as well. Then when I signed up for my first sticker subscription I told myself that I would stop hoarding and spread the joy. Nope. I tried, but just couldn't. So I did the next best thing and filled up my planner with random stickers, but even that fills up fast and I'm once again left with lots of stickers that I can't. let. go. of.

And then the January Stickii Club shows up with a Kawaii Character theme and it was over. These stickers are never leaving my grubby little hands. Ever.

Up first is Rilakkuma. He's everybody's favorite brown bear created just for you by kawaii character genius San-X. And what's not to love? He's cute and cuddly-looking. I just wish he smiled more. Or maybe he is? At least he's smiling more than his fellow Sumikko Gurashi critters, though I'm sure they would if they had mouths. On the other hand, poor Gudetama looks depressed as ever. Who ever thought an egg with a face could make me feel so guilty about eating breakfast?

In addition to the relatively new Gudetama, Sanrio classics My Melody and Little Twin Stars made an appearance in January's sticker pack. They along with Cheery Chums were among my first Sanrio favorites. I'm talking pre-Keroppi and Pochacco days. I can't believe they're still around! Now that's longevity.

Not too long after the December shipment went out, Stickii Club sent an email stating that they can no longer send washi tape samples in their envelope mailers and will instead make up for it by including extra sticker singles. They weren't kidding. Geez Louise I counted SIXTY Gudetama singles in here. The only thing that kept going through my mind was, Did someone actually sit there and cut out every single one of those stickers for ALL their subscribers??? I hope not, but if so that person deserves a reward...like a year's worth of Stickii Club sticker packs. ;-)

VerdictI'm so happy with January's stickers - and especially glad to see Kiki, Lala, and My Melody make a comeback. February's stickers are shipping soon, and the cute pack theme is Happy Farm. That means cute animals. :) The Retro pack theme is Journal Lover and the Pop pack is Foodie. Pick up your favorite-sounding one (or all three!) for just $10 each per month by clicking here to sign up.

Note: No referral links were used in this post. All opinions are my own.

Monday, February 6, 2017

December 2016 Sticker Swaps Review

What: Sticker Swaps is an England-based sticker subscription that sends an envelope packed with stickers from around the world
When: Ships monthly
Cost: $9.99 per month with free shipping worldwide (or as low as $9/month with longer plans)
Fun Extra: They're not called Sticker Swaps for nothing. If you send them an envelope of mixed stickers they'll send one right back to you!

Better late than never! Evidently this sticker pack decided to take the long way to my home, but the bottom line is it's here. In case you haven't heard of them, Sticker Swaps strives to give businesses exposure through stickers. Companies send them their branded stickers and Sticker Swaps sends it out to their subscribers.

The first sticker that popped out at me was a familiar one from one of the November artists, Stabby Gabby.  There was also one from Sili a British sunglasses company, and H&M. I'm still trying to find out who created the brain bomb and Pokemon stickers.

December's pack also contained a sealed baggie of the stickers pictured above. My favorite is the chocolate NES controller. :) The gamer girl is from graphic designer Sena Kaito. I don't know who the kawaii cloud is from but it's going on my planner right now. :D

As I mentioned earlier, Sticker Swaps helps designers get their name out through its subscription packs. Just think...how cool would it be to go on a road trip and see your sticker on a random street sign?! I just wish they provided some kind of info card explaining the great minds behind each sticker; I think that would help them out tremendously in terms of gaining publicity.

If you want to try Sticker Swaps, use code BLOG50 with any plan at checkout to get 50% off your first month! And if you're a designer and would like your stickers to be featured in a future Sticker Swaps pack, drop them a line.

Note: I received this sticker pack for free in exchange for my honest review.