Friday, May 26, 2017

May 2017 Ipsy Glam Bag Review

What: Ipsy Glam Bag contains 5 deluxe samples and full sized beauty products 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.

Can you believe it's almost summer already?? Most of the schools in my area go on summer break this week, if they're not on it already. And pretty soon everyone and their grandma will be going on summer trips.

My husband and I were finally able to sync up our schedules and make reservations for a quick getaway to the Big Island because after three failed attempts over the past four years, I'm more determined than ever to finally witness the sunset atop the summit of Mauna Kea and to brave the 8 mile trek to see the lava flow into the ocean. I even convinced my parents to join us so we could use my dad's hookups to stay at a nice quaint cottage in Volcanoes National Park. But then life happened and we had to cancel our trip. And my parents, who had no intention of going in the first place, are going to enjoy our little vacation without us. But I won't let that get me down. There's always some good in life. Take this month's glam bag, for example. It came early! And by early, I mean before the last week of the month. Yay!

For Ipsy, summer starts in May and they have the ice cream bag to show it. I'm not sure if it's a design flaw or if my bag ran into a little trouble in the manufacturing process, but one end is a little smooshed up and folded over itself. But aside from a couple inches less of storage space, it's still a cute design. The clear plastic reminds me of the coin purses I used to rock in middle school. And since it's a vinyl bag it's totally waterproof. That means you can stuff your swimsuit in here so you don't get your car seat wet on the drive home. :)

Mellow Creamy Matte Lipstick in Nude (full size, 3.8g, $13) - When I think of nude shades, I picture peach-pinks. Something more along the lines of Mellow's lipstick in Posh. This is on the bolder end of the nude spectrum and looks more like a rosy mauve. But it's very creamy and moisturizing, though it doesn't have much staying power. One swipe of a napkin and most of it was gone. 

 Luxie Beauty Dreamcatcher Precision Foundation Brush ($23) - It's been a few months since I've gotten a makeup brush from Ipsy. I changed my profile to say that I didn't need anymore makeup tools and I guess they listened. But another one won't hurt, right? This foundation brush has a tapered head that allows for precision application. You could probably also use it for highlighting, too.

Urban Decay Afterglow 8-hour Powder Highlighter in Sin (2.4g, $9 value) - First of all, this highlighter does NOT look that white in real life. Sin is a lovely champagne color that even I'm tempted to try, and I tend to shy away from the dewy look of highlighters. The finely milled powder gives it a creamy, lightweight texture that will stay put all day.

Jelly Pong Pong Supercharged Super Intense Eyeshadow Duo in Electric (full size, 2g, $23) - This duo contains gold and rose gold tones and promises intense pigment. Almost all shimmery eyeshadows (including this one) also promise no fallout but almost every single one falls short of that promise when it comes to my unskilled hands. I will test the fallout theory later on tonight when I go out, but as far as pigmentation goes this is some pretty shiny stuff. See below for radiant swatches:
Jelly Pong Pong Supercharged Eyeshadow Duo in Electric

Adesse Gel Effect Nail Polish in Surfer Girl (full size, 11ml, $18) - If you recall my self-professed obsession with light blue and pink nail polishes from my last post, then you'll know that I just cannot let go of this one. I know for a fact that I have three other bottles of pastel blue nail polish in my drawer (one is even called Pool Boy, which sounds perfect with Surfer Girl), but I know that none of them have shimmer in them like this one is supposed to have. I really can't see any shimmer in the bottle but I'm hoping something will show up in my manicure...

Verdict: I am ridiculously happy with this month's glam bag. The colors are all "me" (okay the highlighter might take some getting used to, but champagne is a very pretty color) and very appropriate for the season. I'm still getting over the fact that it included four full-sized products which boosted it to an insane $86 value. The highlighter, eyeshadow, and lipstick all happen to match the outfit that I'm wearing out tonight (score!) and the nail polish will be perfect for our Memorial Day beach BBQ. I'm set for the long weekend!

Ipsy glam bag is just $10 a month and you can sign up by clicking here. Each month you'll get five items inside a cute makeup bag, plus if you sign into your account you'll have access to tons of online coupons for more goodies from the month's featured brands.

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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Spring 2017 "Me Moment" Walmart Beauty Box Unboxing

A couple of months ago Walmart Beauty reached out to some of their beauty box subscribers via email asking if they'd like to take advantage of a limited edition box in lieu of the normal Spring beauty box. This "Me Moment" box, a collaboration with Canada Dry and Southern Living magazine, is geared toward taking a break from life's busy schedules and responsibilities and giving yourself a little "Me" time. 

Boxes started shipping in April and mine finally arrived in mid-May. I was blown away by the amount of stuff in this box!  

What: Walmart Beauty Box contains samples of beauty products from major drugstore brands. This review is for the limited edition Me Moment 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

Schwarzkopf Gliss Hair Repair Ultra Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner - This shampoo/conditioner duo is made for dry, stressed hair prone to breakage. It's infused with a Liquid Keratin complex consisting of 19 ingredients to reduce hair breakage by up to 85%. To tell you the truth, I'm not very picky about my shampoos and conditioners at all; as long as it smells nice I'll use it. And this smells good. I'm game.

Soapbox Sea Minerals Body Wash - This also smells good, and I knew it before even opening the bottle. How? Because half of it had spilled in the box in transit. And it's really still a mystery how that happened because the bottle was capped tightly. Must be a pressure thing. Anyway, I must not be very observant because I had no idea Walmart carries Soapbox. I love their cause - every bottle you buy gives a bar of soap to a town in need - and you can track just what town you're helping out! This body wash contains sea minerals which is a natural detoxifier as well as a shea butter and aloe blend for maximum hydration.

Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturizer (for Fair to Medium Skin Tones) - I guess this can be called a self-tanner since it's supposed to give your skin a gradual glow with daily use. You use it when showering and apply it to wet skin to create gradual, subtle color. Bonus: it also doubles as a moisturizer. DHA, the primary coloring agent in tanners, is the sixth ingredient down on the list in here compared to it being second or third in other self-tanners. I've actually tried this before and it didn't work whatsoever even after two weeks' use, and my skin tone is on the medium side. Maybe it might work for lighter skin tones.

Colgate Optic White Beauty Radiant Toothpaste - *sigh* whitening toothpastes. I've given them lots of tries, but sorry I'm still not a believer. Three brands and five toothpastes later and my teeth aren't a single shade whiter than they were before. The whitening ingredient in here is hydrogen peroxide so if you have sensitive teeth or gums you may want to exercise caution when using this one.

John Frieda Frizz Ease Daily Nourishment Moisturizing Conditioner - I have mixed feelings about the Frizz Ease line. I have the 3-day straightening spray and the smoothing creme and sometimes they work, sometimes not. It really depends on how stubborn my hair is feeling that day. I live where it's humid so if there's a lot of moisture in the air the frizz will beat out anti-frizz products. But I am still on the hunt for a smoothing conditioner that actually works, so I'll give this a shot.

Ban Powder Fresh Roll-on Deodorant - Call me old school, but I've never owned a roll-on deodorant before. I do like roll-on perfumes because you avoid the perfume overload problem; maybe deodorants are the same way? Not that I've had a problem with applying too much deodorant or anything, but if it'll prevent the yucky white residue of solids or the alarming rate at which gels go down, I'll gladly jump on the roll-on wagon.

Sinful Colors Nail Polish in Mad Matter - Is it crazy that I have five bottles of light pink polish in almost this exact shade? They're all a teensy bit different, of course, but I'm so nit-picky with my light pinks and light blues that I have to keep all of them because WHAT IF I WANT ONE A QUARTER SHADE DARKER THE NEXT TIME??!

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Lip Shine in Radiant Rose - Is it also insane that the same problem I have with pink and blue nail polishes applies to pink lip glosses as well? Well, I don't have a bajillion shades of medium pink, but I can't give up ANY pink lip gloss. So that means my lip gloss collection spans the entire gamut of pinks. Welcome to your new home, Radiant Rose.

Soo Ae Purifying Black Charcoal Mask - It's not very often that you see Korean brands at Walmart (this one is distributed in the US), but if this is a hint at the direction that Walmart's beauty department is going in, I won't complain. This mask is formulated with Korean binchotan charcoal, green tea extract, and caviar extract and is designed to detoxify, brighten, and hydrate your skin.

Walmart beauty boxes usually also have a few sample foils as well. The Me Moment box has samples of Aveeno Positively Radiant face wash and moisturizer, and a singlue-use sample of Rimmel's Stay Matte liquid foundation.

Verdict: I've always had an overall positive opinion of Walmart's beauty boxes because I've found several budget-friendly favorites through this box. But over the last year or so I felt the Walmart beauty boxes had been making a steady decline in terms of product variation, and I had been seeing a lot of repeat products. To my surprise (and delight!) this was a box of redemption. I'm very impressed with the value (I didn't list them down in this post but I calculated a value of about $22 for this box) and variety. There's more than just shampoo, body wash, and lotion in here - there's also dental care, cosmetics, and even a deodorant. Not to mention three of them were full-sized products - something I haven't seen for a while in the Walmart boxes. So an a nutshell - Great Job, Walmart (and Southern Living and Canada Dry)!

Click here to get started on your own subscription to Walmart Beauty Box. I believe summer boxes may start shipping next month.

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

May 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 choose which category when you sign up). This review is for the Cute pack.
When: Ships on the 11th or 22nd of each month depending on your signup date
Cost: $10 per month (free shipping to US; $1.25 to Canada, $2.00 to anywhere else)

Stickii subscribers were in for a treat this month because STICKII CLUB TURNED ONE!! Yay! Each pack contained a bit extra to celebrate the occasion, and that bday announcement above? It's actually a bunch of little stickers that you can slap on anything you like to show your love for stickers and Stickii Club.

See what I mean by extras? There were seven full sized sheets of stickers along with a single and the usual bag of sticker flakes. April's Cute pack theme was Chubby Animals Party, which is perfect because who doesn't think chubby animals are cute??

It's pretty much a no-brainer to include pandas and piggies in a chubby package. That pig face sticker is going on my desk at work as a quick pick-me-up. There's no way you can look at that snout and not feel just a teensy bit happier.

As it turns out, chubby rabbits are where it's at! The folks at Stickii must think so because they included THREE sticker sheets of fat bunnies (not to mention a few on the sheet above this pic). I was a huge Cheery Chums fan growing up and after seeing My Melody and Little Twin Stars make a comeback in January's sticker pack I was hoping to see the cute bunnies appear in here. No such luck. I guess they weren't chubby enough to make the cut.

I may need to brush up on my Sanrio trivia, but ins't Cinnamoroll a rabbit-looking thing? Or does he have a sidekick? This guy looks part seal-part plant. He's cute, though.
And what birthday pack would be complete without some birthday stickers? These surprised-looking bears are full of good wishes for a happy birthday! Speaking of bears...

Stickii usually includes a bag of sticker flakes and I normally just scatter them around in the photos as fillers, but I loved these so much that they get their own picture this month! I've never seen this character before, but these are already my favorite flakes to date because look at all that color!  Evidently Kuma Shumaro is a bunch of colorful feel-good bears. It sort of reminds me of Care Bears minus the Care Bear Stare. Or maybe they do have a superpower, who knows. But I do know that I have 70 of them to do whatever I please. Whoever's birthday is coming up next, expect a bunch of Kuma Shumaro stickers in your card!

If you haven't been bitten by the sticker bug yet, Stickii Club is a great place to start. Each month you'll get really cute stickers, even if you aren't subscribed to the Cute pack. The Retro and Pop packs are cute too, just that "cute" isn't their centralized theme. Click here to get signed up and ready in time for next month's sticker pack. Or if you subscribe by May 21st, you may even make it in time for this month's stickers!

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

Friday, May 12, 2017

April 2017 Sticker Swaps Review

What: Sticker Swaps is a UK-based sticker subscription that sends you an envelope of at least 10 stickers from around the world
When: Ships monthly
Cost: $9.99 per month with free worldwide shipping (or as low as $8.99/month with longer plans)
Fun Extra: There's a reason these folks are called Sticker Swaps. If you send them an envelope of mixed stickers they'll send one right back to you! Talk about growing a cultured sticker collection!

This is my fourth Sticker Swaps pack and each month I'm impressed with the breadth of graphic artistry. Some stickers are cutesy, others are more geared toward street art. That's the great thing about Sticker Swaps - there's no themes or genres so anything goes as far as sticker styles.

I'd be lying if I said that the first thing that caught my attention wasn't the huge snail sticker. For one, snails and I really don't get along so of course I'm going to notice if one is staring up at me. Secondly, he's got sticks for eyes. Ouch! The Hustle Hard Stay Humble sticker from US graphic designer Taylor Cashdan also stood out because I think it's an awesome message: work hard but never forget where you came from. April's pack also featured two stickers from UK-based artist Cocorino - the Everest sticker up top and the crossbones. And I'll let you in on a little secret: the crossbones are featured on a hat that Cocorino just released on May 11 in extremely limited quantities - go get yours now! You might also recall that two of his stickers were included in March's Sticker Swaps.

Furry animals will always hold a place in my heart, especially if they resemble a dog, and a fox comes pretty darn close. This foxy guy is from Russian artist Klo. The cat on the bottom right is a creation from the mind of Julie Campbell in Ontario. Apologies for the bad glare in the photo, but kitty's jacket says Bad Puss. Very cute while also being a little edgy. I'm not sure who designed the others but the walrus guy is making me chuckle. >__<

If you love original sticker designs go pick up a subscription and use the code SHERI50 at checkout to get 50% off your first month. You'll love the originality that oozes from these stickers. Most are from up-and-coming designers striving to make a name for themselves through their art. If you're a sticker aficionado, you'll surely appreciate the value from this subscription. Most small-batch stickers sell for $2-3 each, and here you get about 10 per month. Or if you're a designer and would like your stickers to be featured in a future Sticker Swaps pack, let them know by dropping them a line!

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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

April 2017 Ipsy Glam Bag Review

What: Ipsy Glam Bag contains 5 deluxe samples and full sized beauty products 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 it comes to beauty and makeup, Ipsy is probably one of the most affordable subscriptions you can find. And because I rarely find the time to read up on the latest beauty trends, much less actually make it out to the store to pick up a few makeup items, I rely on Ipsy to keep me up to date (*ahem* I mean on fleek, is that the term they use nowadays?). April's glam bag was all about the sideshow. You know, the place where individuality is hot and status quo is not.

And here's my ticket to the show!
This is one of the more unique makeup bags from Ipsy (it's shaped like a ticket for goodness sake!), and while I probably won't be rocking it at the next concert I go to, I do like that the vinyl is stain resistant. And that means a lot for me, because I'm ALWAYS spilling things on my bags. And I'm not sure if you noticed, but the ticket number is the date April 1, but backward. Kinda cool.

ColourPop Cosmetics Creme Gel Pencil in Mr. Bing (full size, $4) - Remember how I said I don't go the store to buy makeup? It's true, and it's probably why I didn't have a decent brown eyeliner. I like gel liners because they're so creamy and stay put, but I only seem to receive black ones in subscriptions. All the browns I've gotten have been pencils which I don't care for because they tug and dig and the color payoff just isn't worth all the trouble. Then this creamy brown gel liner shows up and I'm at peace again. It doesn't stay put on my waterline as I'd hoped, but I can live with that.

Ciate London Mini Bamboo Bronzer in Palm Island (2.2g mini, $6) - At first I thought this was a foundation, but turns out it's a bronzer. It's made with amaranth and sunflower extracts to soothe skin as it contours. Subscribers got this in either Palm Island or Star Island. You can barely tell the difference between the two colors in pictures, but I think Palm Island is a smidge darker. I couldn't capture the true color in the photo above, but Palm Island has pink undertones which is better suited for cool complexions.

Hikari Cosmetics Cream Pigment Eyeshadow in Honey Dew (half size pan, 2g, $6) - Again my sub-par attempts at photography fail to catch the true color of this eyeshadow. Hikari describes Honey Dew as a shimmery peach but I think it looks more like a rose gold. Either way, it's a lot pinker than the above photo shows.

Adesse New York CupuaÇu Butter Lip Balm (full size, $24) - Holy cinnamon, Batman! Take off the cap and you're greeted with a whiff of it. Ipsy calls it ginger mint but I beg to differ. This lip balm contains a chunk of cold pressed CupuaÇu butter in the center of the stick which evidently is the hottest Amazonian ingredient on the market. CupuaÇu butter is an emollient that keeps skin soft and nourished due to its ability to absorb water. Although the balm looks barbie pink in the tube (again can't tell from the photo), it's actually very subtle. I'm wearing it now and you can barely see it. I just know because my lips feel unbelievably moisturized without being tacky. Below is a swatch of this stuff, and just to give you an idea of how subtle it is, I had to go over this swatch about 5 times just to get it to show up in a photo:

SKIN&CO Roma Truffle Therapy Face Toner (1oz size, $4) - If this toner did nothing more than wet my face I would still use it. Why? IT SMELLS SO GOOD. Like tropical fruits. But I'm sure it does what toners are supposed to do, which is balance out your skin's pH prior to the rest of your skin care regime. It contains lots of plant extracts (truffle, calendula, rose and rosemary to name a few) and no alcohol, so no drying out of your skin here. And it's made in Italy. I already feel so luxe, and I haven't even used it yet.

Verdict: I'm going to use everything non-pink in here. So that means the toner, lip balm and eyeliner have already found homes on my sink. But sadly, I can't pull off pink-y makeup very well. I kind of just end up looking like a Barbie gone wrong. I think my favorite find of the month is the lip balm. I'm not so crazy about the scent, but it made my lips feel so soft all the way until lunch. And since it hardly imparts any color, you can wear it under your favorite shade of lipstick and still get all the hydration goodness of CupuaÇu butter.

Sign up for Ipsy glam bag for just $10 a month by clicking here. Each bag comes with five items and if you sign into your account you'll have access to lots of online coupons for more goodies from the featured brands. Plus a little insider info: you'll likely receive one full sized item in each bag, and sometimes it's a whopper of a value! Now if you happen to like that item, you'll feel like the oceans parted and the birds sang and the planets lined up all at once. Kind of like how I feel about this month's lovely lip balm! :D

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

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

April 2017 Pooch Perks Review

What: Pooch Perks is a subscription box for dogs containing 2-5 treats and toys. There are three subscription options: Sample Pooch (2 past items), Popular Pooch (4-5 toys & treats) and Custom Pooch (choose just treats, just toys, heavy chewer, or no grains). Boxes are also curated according to your dog's size.  If your dog has allergies you can also note that down when you sign up. 
If you signed up before February 2017, you're grandfathered into the previous subscription options. For reference, this review is for the older plan's Popular Pooch box (4-5 items) for a medium-large dog (35+ lbs).
When: Choose between monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly deliveries
Cost: $12-$32 per month depending on which option you choose (+$5 shipping/box); ships anywhere in the US and US territories
Fun Fact: A portion of proceeds from each box goes to rescue groups. You can learn more about how Pooch Perks gives back here.

Have you ever gone to the pet store to restock on food only to realize once you're there that you need more training treats? And dog shampoo? And maybe another rawhide... Then before you know it you're walking out with $200 worth of dog accessories, including a pair of doggy sunglasses that your baby girl doesn't really need, but hey it was cute. Not to mention Spunky's brand new Darth Vader plush complete with functioning light saber. No? Is it just me? Oh well. Whatever the case, dog boxes, while they may seem pricey at face value, have actually saved me money in the long run. Now I'm in and out of the pet store without thinking twice about picking up additional treats and toys because I get everything I need from doggy subs.

Case in point: ever since I picked up a Pooch Perks subscription I haven't bought another toy (or treats) from the store. In fact, my dogs' toy box is full of toys they haven't even touched yet, partly because they have their tried and true favorites, but mostly because I have no need to open new ones since their old ones are still holding up well. In the past I've been generally very happy with the quality of toys that we've gotten from Pooch Perks since the majority are pretty durable and I'm confident that April's box won't disappoint, either.

Grandma Lucy's Freeze-Dried Starters: Pureformance Fish Recipe - If you ever wanted a healthy treat for your dog, this is it. This all-natural treat is made with chickpeas, Alaskan pollock, flax, carrots, and apples. It has all of the good stuff and none of the bad. The best part? My dogs think cardboard and grass is yummy and I'm certain that this fares well above that.

Healthy Dogma Jamaican Bacon Flavor Barkers (5oz size, $4) - We got this in container form a couple of boxes ago and between my two dogs, they were gone within three days. I'm not gonna lie, I tried a tiny piece to see if it tastes like bacon (it doesn't) but my dogs must think so. Not sure what kind of crack is in these all-natural biscuits but they love 'em and that's all that matters.

Spunky Pup Fetch & Glow (~$5) - Macho loves nothing more than a good game of fetch, so I was sad that he didn't care for this ball as much as I had hoped. I'm thinking that because it's not  as squishy as a tennis ball, it's not as forgiving when he catches it. He kind of just watches it fall then runs to his tennis ball instead.

Kong Dotz Triangle - Pebbles had her annual checkup last week and the vet told us she's starting to get plaque on her teeth. I'm rather pitiful when it comes to brushing my dogs' teeth and most of the toothpaste ends up in their tummies. Then Pooch Perks sent this and I think all is right in the world again. The nubs on this toy are textured and would probably help keep the plaque at bay when she gnaws on them.

Smokehouse Pet Prime Slice - I saved the best for last. I'm always excited to get any kind of rawhide or dog chew because it's a perfect reward AND it keeps the dogs preoccupied. This prime slice is made from roasted beef ligament and is completely natural - no synthetic or non-digestible parts that could get stuck in doggy bellies.

Verdict: I'm really happy with this box. It's almost impossible to go wrong with treats when it comes to my dogs so of course I'm happy with all of those. And while I'm kind of sad about the ball not working out, the Kong triangle makes up for it. The toys from the the last several boxes have mostly been from a single brand so it's nice to see a different one show up - and a tried and true brand at that. I'm sure Pebbles will get hours of enjoyment out of her Kong nubs and I'll be forever grateful that I don't have to waste more toothpaste trying to brush her teeth. Win-win!

Click here to sign up for Pooch Perks and don't forget to use the code FRIEND10 to get 10% off your first order!

Note: This review reflects my (and my pups'!) honest opinions. No referral links were used in this post.