Birchbox December

Been a while since I was able to do a post like this! Man I love this phone. I’d rather post more with phone pictures, right? Especially since my camera blows.

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Please ignore my messy living room and just focus on the prettied-up box. I love reusing my boxen, so I’m super excited and I haven’t even opened the box!

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Look, a full size lip gloss! With a little mirror! It’s Berry Pink by ModelCo, and it smells like strawberries. Very nice indeed.

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The fragrance this month is Mad Madame by Juliette Has A Gun. (I am dying for the day that Birchbox gets some BPAL.) This scent is rich and sophisticated. Definitely a fan of this one.

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TWO packets of Pillow Soft Curls by Miss Jessie’s. (Come to think of it, I have some other MJ samples around here somewhere.) I don’t really like to do my hair curly but this should still be fun. :)

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Chocolate! This is a salted chocolate crunch bar by Chuao.

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Om nom nom. And only 50 calories! It seems to have a fruity undertone. Very nice indeed.

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This is a two-in-one cleanser and makeup remover by Nuxe. It’s a medium-thick gel and smells a lot like honey. Maybe I didn’t use it right (instructions might be nice) but it had trouble taking off my plain eye crayon and blinc mascara (which is designed to remove easily with just water soooooo).

Finally, here’s a little bonus: I’ve got a promo code for 50$ off a dress rental at Renttherunway.com. I’m hoping to find an excuse to use it. :)

Man, I just love the monthly excuse to pamper myself. :)

August Birchbox!

I was again lucky enough to get a late-shipping box, and it didn’t actually arrive until last Friday, when I was away on vacation. So I had a nice surprise waiting for me when I got home!
This is a great month to buy from Birchbox if you’ve had your eye on something. They’ve partnered up with Pencils of Promise, to donate 15% of their shop proceeds to build a school in Central America. So go ahead and pamper yourself!
I’m not particularly in love with anything in this month’s box – none of it was bad, but none of it was particularly great either. Let’s get to the goods! (Mediocres?)

This month’s theme was “Beauty School” and included this nice fold out booklet with lots of nifty beauty tips. It details types of makeup brushes, how to read a product label, tips for shaving, quick fixes for makeup mistakes, and a 3-minute plan for morning skin care.

This month’s perfume is Viva La Juicy ‘s La Fleur. It smells nice, very floral obviously. I like it and I’ll probably use it, but I have to be honest – it just smells… typical. Nothing really to distinguish it from any other floral perfume.

This is a teeny tiny sample of Jouer Moisturizing Lip Gloss in “Birchbox Pink.” It feels very soft and … moisturizing … on my lips. Haha. :) I am not a fan of this kind of lippy container (it’s got the fluffy applicator on the end of a stick attached to the lid) because there is SO MUCH wasted in the bottle. This tiny bottle makes it even harder to get any use out of it.

The bonus extra this month is this Schick Hydro Silk 5 blade razor. I haven’t tried it yet because I just shaved the other day and my hair grows really slowly. I’m sure it’s good though. The part I like about it is that it has a coupon on the back for 4$ off a refill pack, and 55c off Skintimate Shave Gel. I love coupons. Unless this razor completely stinks, I’ll be using that coupon, not gonna lie. Razors are expensive.

This is Apothederm’s stretch mark cream. I have a ton of “tiger stripes” on my tummy from pregnancy and I’ve tried several other things. None of them did a damn thing. I’ll be honest again – not expecting anything from this one, and I don’t really even mind. I earned those stripes, dammit. This was different from other stretch mark things I’ve tried, though – this was a cream, while others tend to be oils or gels. It had the old-lady smell though, and not in a good way.

The final items in this month’s box (it’s two items but it was packaged as one which totally feels like a ripoff) are these Shu Uemura Full Shimmer products for color-treated hair. The shampoo was much more liquid-y than most shampoos, but it smelled *excellent.* The “treatment,” which I basically used as conditioner, also smelled good. It wasn’t the texture that I generally need conditioner to be (I have very thick hair and this stuff just didn’t spread well). I don’t really notice any magical difference in my hair, but I did love the smell. I’m not paying what they want for it though, omg. I also want to register my dislike of the packaging. Aside from the 2-for-1 switcheroo, there were no instructions on the packaging! It’s obvious how to use shampoo, but I didn’t know what to do with the “treatment” and had to look it up on Birchbox’s site. Most uncool. (/Sweet Clyde)

So that’s it for this month!

If you don’t know about Birchbox, you may not know that they have a cool points program. I earned a bunch of points for my one-year subscription, and earn 10 points for each item that I leave feedback for each month. (If anybody signs up from this referral link, I get 50 points.) These points can be redeemed in the Birchbox shop – you get 10$ for every 100 points. I’ve been hoarding points and soon I’ll cash them in. What do you think I should cash in for?

Target Summer Beauty Bag

I’m a delinquent. Haha. I received this wayyy back in the beginning of June and am just now getting around to posting it. I’ve been entering lots of sample giveaways lately so if you readers are interested I can try to blog them more.

Apparently this is a regular thing they do over at the Target Style facebook page. My bestie got a spring bag, and we both got a summer bag! I definitely recommend that you “like” them and keep your eyes peeled if you want to score one!

This is the bag that came with it. It’s just my style. I switched it out almost immediately to carry in my purse. It’s a little padded to protect the contents, and a good size – not too big and not too small.

Let me start with my *favorite* part of the bag – a pair of Tresemme Split Remedy samples (shampoo and conditioner). I *really* loved the shampoo – it was nice and thick and foamy and luxurious, just like the kind they use at the salon. I can’t attest to whether it healed my split ends, but I did LOVE this stuff. I already bought a full-size!

Here’s the other shampoo/conditioner – Garnier Fructis Color Shield. I’ve tried and liked Garnier in the past, but I haven’t actually tried this sample yet – I’m waiting until next month when I dye my hair. :)

I’ve had this stuff in my shower for weeks but I feel like I’m still unfamiliar with it. This Aveeno Smart Balance scrub smells nice but … I guess it just doesn’t stand out? I can’t really think of anything else to say about it.

On the other hand, this Neutrogena sunscreen, I have a lot to say about it! I kept it in my crafting box for a week for outdoor crafting excursions. It was smooth and easy to apply and very effective. No burns here! I actually used all of it and threw the bottle out and now I can’t recall the full name of it! (Stupid too-bright photo…)

The last product I got was this sample of Revlon ColorBurt lip gloss. This specific color wasn’t exactly my style (it was a bit too pink for me), but I liked the texture, smell, and even taste of it (it wasn’t waxy like some others). There was about 2 applications in here.

And the best part? COUPONS. Excellent coupons, including this one for 3$ off a Revlon product. They don’t expire until the end of August, and they’re all pretty high value. There were a lot in there, one for each of the products in the bag and several others as well. And best of ALL – Target’s coupon policy lets you pair up one Target coupon and one manufacturer’s coupon on any item you buy. There is one in here for 3$ off 2 Cover Girl products, which I am pairing next time I go shopping with a 2$ off 2 Cover Girl products coupon from the manufacturer (obtained from the P&G BrandSaver) to score a whopping 5$ off.

I’m not being compensated in any way for this post. I’m just sharing my thoughts. Hope you enjoyed them!

Do you like free samples? Do you use coupons? Let’s talk about freebies!

July Birchbox

I didn’t forget about this! I got another of the last-day-of-shipping boxes, and I am pretty satisfied this month. Let’s get right into it!

The standout item this month is probably these awesome headphones. They came at a good time, since my hubby just lost his. Neither of us has tried these yet, but I have every reason to think they’ll be great. If you’re looking for new ones, these are only 10$!

Next up, blinc mascara. I liked the cool outer tube because I can re-use it, but I must register my dislike of extra and unnecessary packaging. In any case, I really liked the product. I have very sparse eyelashes, very short and very light – in other words, barely there. I have had a hard time finding a mascara that didn’t clump and didn’t goop up while still being effective. This stuff worked really well! The black shade is currently sold out on the shop, so I’m not the only one who liked it!

Another scent! I like getting a perfume in each box. It’s nice. This month’s selection – Hello by Harvey Prince –  was right up my alley. Bright and citrusy, very light and not overpowering at all. Long lasting as well – I’ve been wearing it on one wrist for about 2 hours and can still smell it.

Skin products are another of my favorites. Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint was the skinstuff this month, and I like it. It’s very subtle. I have a blotchiness to my skin so if I’m bothering to put something on, it’s going to be more than this (I like BB creams), but this might be nice for adding a bit of color on top! It was light and not cakey at all, and I can feel a difference in where I put it versus where I didn’t. It comes in multiple shades to suit different skin tones.

Now for a hair product – Alterna Bamboo UV+ color protection fade-proof fluide. It’s designed to help protect color-treated hair, but can also be used to moisturize and strengthen dry or brittle hair. My hair isn’t colored at the moment, but I am saving it for next month when I am coloring it for the Faire, so maybe I’ll remember to get back to you on that. I put a bit of it on my skin to test the texture and I can tell you it’s light and smooth – not oily at all.

Last but not least, a tin of Minteas in Reboot Cocoa Mate flavor. These are little leaf-shaped mints, made with Fair Trade organic white tea (yay!), yerba mate tea, and cocoa (sure wish that the cocoa was FT). They had an interesting taste. There is a mintiness to them, but it’s mild. The cocoa and tea combined to make an interesting flavor, like hot chocolate made with a tea base. (Might try that sometime.) Overall, I liked them! They come in 3 other varieties and I am interested in trying them.

If you like what you see here, consider signing up for your own Birchbox! It comes once a month, packed with great things. I’ve been receiving them for a few months now; you can check out my reviews right here on my blog.

I’ve been crazybusy for the last few weeks, and I’m sorry I haven’t been posting. I have several posts up that I just HAVE to post this week (they’re on a deadline) so hang tight!

Have you tried any new products lately? What’s your favorite beauty product?

June Birchbox

Better a little late than never, right?

I noticed something. Last month, the month that I found so disappointing, my box came very early, before I noticed anybody saying they’d gotten it on Pinterest or Twitter. This month was much better, and it was also one of the last ones – it shipped on the 10th, the last day of shipping. I wonder if that’s relevant, or just coincidence.

Oh, speaking of last month, remember that Dr Jart’s BB cream? IT IS AMAZING. I actually got like 5 uses out of that tiny bottle, and very seriously considered purchasing full size. I decided to try some other brands before I committed to that brand, so now I’ve got a tube of the Garnier offering. Love it too.

So… what did I get this month, you ask?

This is an Eyeko London Skinny Liquid Eyeliner. It actually seems to be full-size, which is straight-up awesome. I am usually a gel-pencil eyeliner girl, personally. I tried liquid liner back when I was a teenager and didn’t like it much – I don’t have very steady hands. I really like this one though! I like the look of the liquid liner, and the style of the tip of this one is easy to control. It’s got a paintbrushy feel to it (but it’s not a brush, it’s a tapered foam tip). Mine is black, but the Shop only seems to have it in Olive and Turquoise right now (both of which look pretty cool too). Definitely will consider buying this.

Apparently there’s a scented product every month, and this time it’s Melvita Floral Water in Rose. I really love the scent – it really does smell exactly like a rose. However, the scent is very light when you put it on; it doesn’t seem to linger at all like a perfume does. I suppose this is meant to be more of a “body spray”? Those are nice too, but I don’t buy body sprays in this price range. It’s lovely, just more than I’d spend on the product. It’s also available in Lavender and Orange Blossom (I’d really like to try that one).

The lifestyle extra this month is “fancy bandaids” (as my daughter is calling them). This is a box of 20 Band-Aids designed by Cynthia Rowley. They’ve all got cool designs on them. I’ve not injured myself since receiving the box, so I haven’t been able to test them out, but I’m sure they’re of good quality. The Shop is selling a package of 40 (20 of these and 20 in a sport pack) for 11$, which seems pretty much like what the plain old beige bandages sell for, so this is a pretty good deal. I’d purchase these.

I’ll admit I was a little dubious about this one – Stainiac by theBalm. It’s a stain designed to be used as lip or cheek color, which seems just a bit weird to me. I got the Beauty Queen color; they have two other color choices. I never ever use cheek color (my cheeks have plenty of natural color – too much, in fact), so I haven’t tried it that way. It was pretty nice on my lips though. I was expecting a dark red color, but it was actually quite pink. It went on smoothly and was not sticky. I don’t think it lasted very long though. I’m a big fan of Cover Girl Outlast lip stain and I don’t think that this measured up to that. I liked the product, but it’s not for me.

Yu-Be moisturizing skin cream has been a top-selling product in Japan for over half a century, so it must be awesome, right? Right. It has no added fragrances or colors and no petrolatum – just a light moisturizing cream. It rubs completely into the skin and doesn’t leave a greasy residue like some creams. I tried it on a patch of dry skin on my hand and saw instant results. The price is excellent as well – I may give this a try the next time I’m in the market for lotion.

Last but not least, I’ve got a cologne sample from the new Birchbox Men service! John Varvatos Star USA is (at this writing) sold out on the Birchbox shop, so I guess we weren’t the only ones that liked it! As a woman, I loved this smell for my husband, and he liked it a lot as well. It’s expensive, like all perfumes and colognes, but not exorbitantly so. We’ll enjoy this sample for date nights and maybe get some in the future.

If you like what you see here, consider trying out a Birchbox subscription of your own! They’re only ten dollars a month, and it’s always fun to see what surprises are in store. I’ve not been compensated in any way for this post, although the link earlier in this paragraph is a referrer link that will earn me some points if you subscribe using it. All opinions are my own. Check out my Health and Beauty category here on the blog to see more Birchbox reviews and other similar things.

Do you have a Birchbox subscription? How did you like it this month? If you’ve tried any of these products, what did you think of them? Did you find any amazing new products this month?

Achievement Unlocked: Break a Bad Habit

Holy guacamole, has it been a week or what. This week has been super rough for me. I hope you’re having it better out there. Just popping in to share for a while again.

I took this photo for a Pin contest that Birchbox is doing because why not. The photo is supposed to show your favorite manicure and a Bandaid, for reasons unknown to me because I don’t really care. Lol.

I’m sharing here so I can explain it. My nails are bare. “That’s odd,” you say, perhaps thinking of the giant stash of fancy polishes I own. But, you see, my nails didn’t always look like this. Six months ago they were NUBS. I’d been a nail biter my entire life. I am not quite sure why I abruptly decided to quit, but I did.

My fellow biters out there are yelling, I can hear them. HOW? They ask. HOW do you stop biting your nails?! It’s an impossible nervous habit. Let me assure you, this was not the first time I’d tried it. And here’s how I did it.

First, I invested a lot of money in them. Haha. I dropped some bank on fancy polishes in colors that I liked (but that may scandalize my mom). I splurged on NerdLaqcuer and Butter London, and went wild with OPI and Zoya and China Glaze (Hunger Games shades, zomg). I had nubs of course, so I also got a big box of falsies and some glue (in fact you can see some in the background – I used it this morning to fix my glasses because I’m an idiot and stepped on them and broke the bridge of them, but I digress), along with all the other stuff – files and remover and cotton pads and who knows what else. I tried out some trends, too. I got some matte polish (love it) and some magnetic polish (love it, but it’s a bit tricky).

Then I invested TIME in them. I spent HOURS doing my nails – most nights, for weeks, I’d be filing or painting or gluing or whatever. Plastic nails are not impossible to chew through (done that), but they are more difficult. Painting them in ways that made me happy made me not want to mess them up, and if all else failed I could remind myself how expensive this experiment was if I quit, and that my husband would make fun of me if I gave up.

I soon found myself admiring rather than biting. It took a few months, but I finally got brave enough to go without the protective falsies. Underneath, my natural nails were thin and weak. I painted them with dozens of extra coats to beef them up a bit. They grew out, much stronger and thicker than I ever knew they could be. I haven’t worn plastic nails in months, and probably never will again.

A tip: getting professional manicures isn’t a fix that worked for me, although I’ve heard people recommend it. It’s definitely a financial investment, but there’s not a whole lot of time invested. And there won’t be bottles of lacquer all over your house laughing at you if you slip up. And I think the “weaning off” period may be harder that way. Your mileage may vary, of course.

My fingers now look like human fingers. Before the tips of my fingers were always red and weird looking, with gross jagged nails. Now, they’re all the same color, and I actually have the problem of needing to file them MORE often. The last few weeks, as you know, I’ve been insanely swamped and haven’t had much time for maintenance, much less polishing, which is a several-hour period where you can’t touch anything, lol. So my fingers have been bare. But that’s okay. Because I worked damn hard for these nails, and I am SO proud of them.

(Yes that’s Hello Kitty on the bandaid. My daughter calls her Baa-bo head in her adorable accent because she first met the Kitty as a bobblehead toy. It’s too adorable to correct. Also, fun fact – there actually is a small wound under there. I scratched my finger on something while doing dishes the other day. Just a glimpse into the glamourous life of a blogger.)

Do you have any bad habits? Ever manage to break one? We’re pretty good at that here – my husband quit smoking last year. Let’s chat about healthy habits and adorable preschooler accents.

May Birchbox – Gossip Girl Edition

I’m going to be totally upfront with you this month – I’m kinda disappointed. My first Birchbox was exciting and awesome and I loved every bit of it. Last month was a bit lackluster, and I definitely found myself wishing I’d gotten the Teen Vogue box (even though I’m definitely not a teen). This month… well, I enjoyed the products, but I have some suggestions for improvement (at the end of the post).

Okay, enough complaining. To the box!

This month, there was a theme: Gossip Girl. I don’t watch the show so that was rather irrelevant. I had (ultimately unfulfilled) hopes that this would mean blingy stuff, inspired by on-the-town young’uns. Honestly, not seeing the connection, other than in the color of the nail polish I got.
Dang, okay, seriously no more complaining.

And here are the contents of my box! There on the left you can see a card with 4 trivia questions about the GG finale that aired earlier this week. It sounds like a very *drama* show. The trivia questions were the basis for a contest they ran over on their facebook page for a shopping spree in the Birchbox shop. I may or may not have googled for the answers (unsuccessfully), eventually made up some answers up, and entered. ;-) Also, you can see this month’s “lifestyle extra” – a little postcard. I think I’ll include it with the prize for my Giveaway Week winner next week.

This perfume sample is Arquiste L’Etrog. I assume from the price of the fullsize product that it is quite fancy indeed. This is how it describes itself: “A bright blend of citrus and other fruity notes, L’Etrog captures the aromas of a family harvest celebration in medieval Calabria, Italy.”
My thoughts: I like it! I usually find floral scents overpowering, and gravitate to earthy scents like this one. It’s got a richness to it. I am not a professional and have no idea what a harvest smells like in Calabria, but I can see the medieval connection – it smells very “natural,” more like the sort of scent that an ancient princess would procure, instead of the overly chemical perfumes of our time.

Allow me to introduce you to Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Beauty Balm SPF 25+. It’s a real multitasker: “A moisturizer, sunscreen, and treatment serum all-in-one, this tinted balm even helps hide imperfections—so there’s no need for foundation or cover-up. Think of it as the Swiss Army Knife of your beauty cabinet.”
My thoughts: Well, first of all – maybe next time they ought to put a bit more in the bottle. I had a bit of trouble getting some out! Maybe it just settled weirdly. It’s tinted a light brownish color and has a very faint scent, similar to most sunscreens (I like that scent so that’s a plus). It was smooth and went on easy; my skin felt smoother and looked a little more even afterwards. I think I’ll cut open this little bottle to dig it all out and apply all over my face when I go out tomorrow, and see what I think. Overall, I’m pretty positive about this.

You may know that I am a nail polish fiend, so I was quite happy to find this sample of Color Club Foils in Disco Nap in my box. It’s a really shiny metallic gold polish. (There’s also a gorgeous purple in this collection.)
My thoughts: New favorite gold! The previous incumbent was Bling Dynasty by OPI, but this one easily beat it out. I’ve always loved the texture of Color Club lacquers (bonus: they’re cheap!), and this was no exception. The color was solid with one coat, and it really does earn the title “foil” – it was almost as if I’d applied gold leaf to my nails. I am picturing using it with stamping plates to create some gorgeous blingy designs for fancy occasions. Definitely highly recommend this one if you’re in the market.

This is a bottle of beautyblender blendercleanser – a special cleanser for your cosmetic brushes and makeup sponges and the like. It’s scented with lavender, earth-friendly, and apparently designed to remove oils and deposits from any implement that touches your skin.
My thoughts: First, I have to register a dislike of the scent. When I was a child, I got a horrrrrible Poison Ivy rash, and had to bathe with this special soap to remove the Ivy oils from my body. This cleanser smells EXACTLY like that soap. Which I suppose makes sense, since they’re both designed to remove unwanted oils. Scent aside, though, this stuff worked really well! I tried it on an eyeliner brush (just dipped it right into the bottle, and rubbed the brush in my fingers). The cleanser sudsed up and then rinsed away clean. Then I gave it a real test and tried it on an eyeshadow applicator. I have a really dark blue Ulta eyeshadow (their applicators are the same texture as those sponge wedges you can buy). To my complete surprise, this stuff cleaned the applicator to like-new condition! Not a trace of color on the sponge!

Last but not least, this here is a Twistband Skinny headband, sold in a 6-pack at Birchbox. Mine is brown, but they come in many colors. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like – an elastic headband to hold your hair.
My thoughts: I actually wear elastic headbands a lot. My hair is fluffy and frizzy and I hate when it gets in my face. I always choose headbands that are MUCH wider than this though – this width is just not enough to control my thick hair. It’d work well for lighter, thinner hair, or if it’s just being used as an accessory, not for functionality. Also, I’m kinda ambivalent about the “knot” in it – it gives it a too-casual feel to me, and I’d only want to wear it around the house or to the gym.

This month wasn’t as much fun as I am hoping for from my Birchboxes, but it still contained some great products. I still recommend to any of you readers out there to give it a try (it’s 10$ a month). However, I want to take this opportunity to make some suggestions to Birchbox (I’m submitting this post to their Birchbloggers program, so hopefully someone will read it):
Firstly, the boxes feel just a little bit bare. My first box, in March, felt like it was overflowing, while April and May just felt empty. I’m sure you’ve got budgets to consider, but please, just throw in one or two more things?
Second, more FUN please! That was my primary reason for joining Birchbox – I want to try fun new products! The cleanser worked great but it’s not anybody’s definition of fun.
Third, I think it’d help all of us be happier if there were a way for your subscribers to tell you what kinds of products they’re interested in. For example: I would like lip glosses, eye liners or eye shadows, lotions, body washes, nail polishes, and maybe the occasional hair product (that will actually match my hair type). Perfumes are okay too, but I rarely wear it to be honest.
(Oh, and fourth: can we get a “maybe” option on the “are you planning to purchase this item” question when we’re leaving feedback?)

Are you a Birchbox subscriber? What did you think of your box this month?
Do you have any suggestions or ideas you’d like to share? Or, are you thinking of subscribing? I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have, if I know the answers.

(In the interests of transparency, I’d like you to know that the two links at the beginning and end are my personal referrer links to Birchbox. If you click on them and then sign up, I will receive Birchbox Points. The other links go to the Birchbox shop, but I will not be compensated if you purchase from those links. There are also two links to my previous Birchbox reviews.)

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