Subscription Box/Bag Showdown

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again. I’m a subscription service junkie.  I can’t stop.  I don’t want to stop.  I just canceled one, so I’m not going to mention it, but I have several to show you today. We’ll go in order of when they came in, I guess. I’ll go ahead and give the disclaimer now.  Each link I provide to the services will be my personal referral links.  I do not get paid for referrals, but with each service, I will receive points if you sign up using my link.  With most subscription services, points are redeemable for products on the sites.

Which starts us at Boxycharm! Boxycharm is $21 each month.  Boxycharm has been around since 2013, and I have been a subscriber since May 2015.  In your Boxycharm box, you will get 5 full sized products every month. There is no personalization to Boxycharm at this time.  However, I’ve noticed a trend of more and more boxes being different, so I wonder if that will change in the future?  We shall see!  Now that we know what Boxycharm is, let’s see what I got this month!

This box came with a gorge I’ll Make You Radiant Sponge, a Vintage by Jessica Liebskind Highlight duo, a PUR Cosmetics bronzer, a So Susan! Fan brush, and an English Laundry perfume.
I’m not going to talk a lot about the products today because there’s a lot.  If there’s something really significant about any of them, I’ll mention it either here or in a separate post.

Next up will be Ipsy!  Ipsy is $10/month and generally sends 5 sample products.  Once in a while, they will send full sized products, but that’s not often. There’s a survey when you sign up for Ipsy during which you’ll create a beauty profile.  This profile is taken into consideration when a subscriber’s samples are selected.  Here’s what the bag looks like and what I got:

This month’s Ipsy bag is ok. I like it, but it’s not my favorite. However, it already lives in my purse.  It came with a Trust Fund Beauty lip gloss, a Jelly Pong Pong Lip Scrub, a Naked Cosmetics Eye Shadow Pigment, a Pretty Woman nail polish in I’m Not a Ballerina,and a Manna Kadar Paradise Blush.

Next up, Sephora Play! Play! by Sephora is $10/month, but I think taxes are different for each area.  I pay $11.05 a month.  In your Play! box, you will receive 5 beauty samples plus a bonus fragrance sample each month.  There is no personalization to this subscription.

I really love the bag that came with Sephora Play! this month.  It’s a mini athletic bag! Inside it was a Ouai Treatment Masque, Tory Burch Love Relentlessly Fragrance sample, Tarte Frxxxtion Stick, Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream, and It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream. I will say, the Tarte Frxxxtion Stick quickly became a must have for me, and I will purchase it in a full size when this sample is gone.  However, I have used it daily since it came, and I still have probably half of the sample left, so I think that will be a while.

Birchbox is $10 a month, as well.  Like Play! by Sephora and Ipsy, Birchbox generally sends 5 sample sized beauty related products.  As you can see, there’s usually a good mix of skin care, makeup, and hair care.  They do, however, have a personalization quiz for you to take, which is supposed to affect your samples each month.  Also, they’ve been giving sample choices each month, as well, in which you are offered the choice between 3 different samples (so, you’ll get to choose one of your samples for the month), a special curated box, or being completely surprised.

This month in Birchbox, I got:

Matrix Biolage R.A.W. Nourish Shampoo and Conditioner samples, Arrow (Birchbox’s own brand) Endure Water Resistant Mascara, Pixi by Petra Glow Tonic To-Go, and a Shiseido Perfect Cleansing Oil.  The brushes were an extra thing… because I had canceled Birchbox a couple of months ago, and that’s how they lured me back.  They’re decent brushes, actually.  But, I think the star of this box (Note: I have not tried the mascara or the hair care items, yet) for me is the cleansing oil.  This is another product I’ll purchase in the future.  It melts the makeup right off at the end of the day and leaves my dry skin feeling great.  I struggle with finding cleansers that don’t leave my already dry skin feeling completely moisture-depleted.

Last AND Newest one!  This is my very first month receiving Lip Monthlyso I don’t really know much about it.  I paid $5 for my first bag, and I think it’s $10 monthly.  I think 4 products is normal, and I was able to choose shades for 2 products, though I didn’t know what the products were, I was just offered 2 shade choices, one for a lip stick and one for a gloss, if I remember correctly, and the same goes for February.

This month, Lip Monthly came with four products: Hola Neon Velvet Liquid Lip, Jelly Pong Pong Lip gloss, a Lord & Berry Lip Pencil, and a Manna Kadar Lipstick.  They all seem really nice, so I’ve decided to see what February brings!

I realize there’s not a lot of information about the boxes/bags in this blog, but I found that I ran out of time (It’s wrestling season, Y’all, sorry…) and the month is over (today! What?!).  Next month, I’ll likely separate them, but I’m not yet sure how.  If you have any questions about any of the services or the products, you can comment below, or tweet me at @girlybyforty.

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It’s Time to Move on.

Since my passion for makeup began with that first Ipsy bag in February of 2014, I have accumulated a lot of stuff.  I tried to make a point to use up all of the samples that I received when I received them, but that just became an unrealistic goal.  Now, my collection has grown exponentially, and it’s time to get some stuff gone.

I decluttered quite a bit over the weekend, and it feels great to know that what I have, I love. But there’s still a lot of it.  A lot. So, I’m going to dip my toes in the waters of the Project Panning world. I have watched a lot of videos concerning panning projects.  Many have timelines, some have themes. I’m going to call this project Movin’ on Out.  Because I don’t necessarily want to get rid of these items, but they do desperately need used.  I have multiples of these items waiting in the wings. Once I complete this, I may join in on one of those timed, themed projects.  But I want to see if I can do this, first.

I haven’t measured, marked, or labeled any of my products.  I know they’re all older in my collection and most are probably at least half empty already, anyway.  All of them need to get used up and be gone. So, let me show you what I plan on using up, just as quickly as I can use it all up.

wp-1484082384078.jpgEyeshadow Primers:
Elizabeth Mott Thank Me Later – This one came to me in a subscription box a while back.  Without looking, I couldn’t even tell you when or which one.  It’s a cruelty free primer, but honestly, I haven’t used it enough to know how well it works.  I’ll update on all of the products, maybe in a week or so, and let you know how I feel.  Mine is a sample.  The full size is $20 on the Elizabeth Mott website.
Lorac Behind the Scenes – This is another sample size that came with the Pro palette, which means I have had this sample for going on two years.  It’s time to get it out of my collection.  If I remember correctly, it works okay, but it accentuates the dryness of my lids and sometimes the shadows don’t look the prettiest going on on top of it.  Again, if I don’t remember correctly, I’ll update. The full size is $21, wherever Lorac products are sold (I got mine at Ulta).

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Foundation Primers:
Smashbox Photo Finish – Both of them.  They both came in subscription boxes.  They have that silicone slip to them, and I guess they make my pores and fine lines less obvious.  To be honest, once foundation is on, I don’t notice that much difference.  I have very dry skin, so they haven’t proven to be the best for me.
Benefit the Porefessional – This one is almost empty already.  I keep thinking it’s done, but then, it lives on.  It’s not much different than the Smashbox primer, except it’s slightly tinted.  I do notice a slight difference in the appearance of my pores before foundation, but again, I don’t know that it makes that much difference after.  I’ll do more in depth testing and report back.
Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Oil – I do really like this one and will eventually purchase it in the full size.  It works great with the Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation and others that are similarly matte foundations.  Like I said, I have very dry skin, and this creates a nice surface for foundation and keeps me from looking too cakey and dry throughout the day. I have even added a couple of drops to foundations and used it that way, and I like that, too. This little sample has lived far longer than I ever dreamed it would, so I think a full size may last a lifetime.
L’Oreal Magic Perfecting Base – This little guy may just be a little sketchy.  Remember when I said I used to have a total of 5 makeup products?  Yeah, I think this may be one of them.  I am honestly not sure how long I have had it.  It’s been a few years.  It’s almost all gone, but still performs fine – fills in pores and fine lines like spackle. I wouldn’t be opposed to repurchasing this one, but I really want to try the primer from Tarte, first. I think once I get all of these moved out of my collection, I’m going to try the HangoveRx from Too Faced and the Timeless Smoothing Primer from Tarte.

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Concealers
it Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye – Again, another sample that just won’t die.  I told myself two years ago that once I used all of this up, I was going to buy it in the full size.  I’ve yet to use it up.  I’m almost afraid to buy this in a full size for fear my grandchildren will still be using it.  Honestly, though, it’s good stuff.  It plays nicely with my dry under eyes.  A tiny bit goes a long, long way.  It definitely has to be set with a good setting powder, though. Once you set it, it will stay there until you coax it off at the end of the night.
Maybelline Fit Me – Not my favorite.  There’s nothing wrong with it, really, but how can you follow such complete coverage with crazy staying power?  I use this mostly for brightening, and it works well for that. I doubt I’ll ever repurchase it.
Femme Couture Undereye Concealer – This is the first concealer I ever purchased, back when I didn’t even know what to do with a concealer.  I just recently found it because, because I didn’t know how to use it, I just shoved it away in a box. A quick gander on Sally Beauty Supply’s website reveals that they don’t even sell this anymore.  I’m going to give it a go.  If it doesn’t work, I’m going to throw it away.  If I like it, I’m going to cry, because it could be the last of it’s kind.

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Contour Sticks
NYX Wonder Stick – I don’t use the highlighter side, at all. The contour side is nice and creamy, and blends well, but makes a better bronzer than a contour on my skin tone.  It’s just a bit too warm to use for contour.
Wet n Wild megaglow Dual Ended Contour Stick – I use this daily, and unless I find something different, I’ll repurchase it.  Again, I don’t use the highlight side, which is why I’m on the hunt for something different.  I like a cream contour, but I don’t want to waste product.

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Eyebrow Products
Chella Eyebrow Defining Gel – This gel mostly just works like hair spray to hold the brows in place. I could take it or leave it.  I truly don’t notice much difference when I use it. Not like the Benefit Gimme Brow, which I have discovered that I love.
Ofra Eyebrow Pencil – I really like this pencil a lot. It came in a Boxycharm, I think.  I am not sure if I will repurchase it, though, because I have two others that I’m currently using that I really like, and another on the way…
Anastasia Brow Pencil – Honestly, I don’t even know which one this is.  It’s just a tiny guy that came in another subscription box.  It’s only maybe 2 inches long, if that, so I’ll use what I can of it, just so it’s not wasted.  I don’t really have an opinion either way about it.

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e.l.f. Lip Exfoliator – For something so inexpensive, it works fantastic.  I would recommend, though, to apply some type of lip balm before going in with this.  It helps to prevent scratching your lip.  I will likely repurchase this product once this one is gone, but I’ll order it online rather that purchase in-store, since there’s now more flavor choices on the e.l.f. website.

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Powders:
Maybelline Fit Me! – I think this is my favorite powder to use as a finishing powder.  It’s got just a little bit of something to it… I can’t put my finger on it.  It’s not a completely matte finish, and I really like the look when I use it to blend my cheek products.  It will probably be a permanent fixture in my collection unless something better comes along.
e.l.f. HD Undereye setting powder – Not my favorite.  It’s a bit glittery, and I prefer my Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder and RCMA No Color Setting Powder. But, it’s not a bad product, either.
Revlon Colorstay – Hm. The OG?  Maybe. I have no idea when it was purchased, how long I’ve had it, or if it was even originally mine, or donated to me by someone who desperately wished that I would wear makeup.  True story.  It works.  It mattifies.  It doesn’t leave as pretty a finish as the Fit Me.  I don’t imagine I’d repurchase.  But I will use it up. Also, I just noticed it’s a bit darker than the Fit Me, too.  How did I not notice that before?

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I’m not even sure what to say here. They’re mascaras.  They’re all my favorites.  Except the Wet n Wild purple one.  I will probably ALWAYS have Perversion in my collection.  It’s maybe my HG. But, I really, really love the Stila Huge Extreme Lash, too.  And I love to top them off with the Super Sizer waterproof.  But, I have 20 (twenty!) unopened mascaras waiting to be tried, so… Out with the old!

 ***A day later, I realize that I didn’t mention the foundations. They’re pictured at the top of the blog.                                                                                          Rimmel Lasting Finish – While I don’t think this is a dupe for the Revlon Colorstay, as I’ve heard others say, I do still think it’s a good foundation. I can for the most part get all day wear out of it. All three of these are just oldest in my collection and need used up before they go bad.                                    Hard Candy Glamoflauge – This one is probably my least favorite of the three, but I do still think it’s a good foundation. I think the wear time may be just a little weaker on this one, but the coverage really is great. I had to go all the way to Pennsylvania to find this guy!                                          Dr. Jart+ BBalm – with SPF 45, this one is an absolute favorite in the summer, especially, but terrific year round. When I wear this, my skin doesn’t feel heavy or clogged or makeup-y, and I really like that a lot. This was my very first high end foundation purchase, though, so I need to use up what little is left before it goes bad.  This one is the only definite repurchase of the three. 

Crunch Time

Y’all! It’s 2017! Two Thousand Seventeen! Wow, did that happen fast!?

This is it. This is the year!  In 282 days, I will officially be 40 years old. Forty. Years. Old.
If you’re a young woman, let me just take this minute to encourage you. I am not old!  Hear me out!  I know what you’re thinking: Yes, you are old. Forty is ancient.  I can’t imagine being forty! Forty. Years. Old.
Well, guess what!?  I am thinking the same. thing. How can I be forty?  I don’t feel old!  I don’t have it all together!  I still pay bills late and forget to buy milk and run my fuel tank completely dry. I still love to laugh and tell jokes and play pranks on people (having kids is great – permanent victims that can’t get away!).

Now that that’s out of the way… Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.  No, I do not know when my last blog post was.  I’m afraid to look.  It’s been Far. Too. Long.  I have once again neglected this blog.  And the website that I purchased – I haven’t seen it since the day I purchased the domain. See?  Like I said, I still don’t have it all together. I don’t have any resolutions for the new year, but I would really like to dedicate time to my blog and actually do something with it.

Since I started this blog, I have changed, tremendously.  I said to someone the other day that if they’d known me three years ago, and saw me with makeup on, it was because my mom or my friend forced me to wear it.  She didn’t believe it.  It’s true.  I hated makeup. Until the spring of 2014, I probably owned a total of 5 makeup products.  Then, someone invited me (I still don’t know why – major hint, I guess?) to subscribe to Ipsy.  The rest is history.  It was gradual at first.  I’d try out some of the products that I got in my bag that month.  I’d get stuff I’d never heard of, and I’d turn to the interwebs to learn what it was and how to use it.  I had NO idea that there were different ‘classes’ of makeup – drugstore vs. high-end.  I had never been in Sephora – I didn’t even know it existed.  I’d seen Ultas, and just thought it was a swanky hair salon. I thought Avon and Merle Norman and Mary Kay were super fancy, expensive,  makeup brands.

Fast forward to today –  I have, well, let’s call it a great passion, for beauty, now. So much so that I had to declutter my collection this weekend.  It was way out of hand!  I am going back and forth between putting myself on a no buy or a low buy.  I’ll probably do a mixture of the two for 2017, but I think I’ll save all of that for my next blog post in which we’ll talk about my first ever project pan, or product use up, I’m not sure what I’m going to call it.  I just know that I have several products that really need to get gone before they expire, but I love them and couldn’t see myself getting rid of them.  I’ve never before been interested in any sort of project pan/product use up before because my mindset was a little different.  I love all of my products.  If I use them all up, they’ll be gone, and I won’t have them any more.  The problem is, I have more now than I will maybe ever be able to use, so it’s time to start moving some out. So, that’s where my next blog post will pick up!

Here’s to 2017, turning 40, breaking the hoarding cycle, and committing to my blog!  See you next time!

Subscription Decisions: Bag or Box? We explore.

Since I found them both in my mailbox this afternoon, I decided to post about both my Ipsy Glam Bag and my Birchbox today. And since they’re both $10 / month subscriptions, we’ll do some comparisons and I’ll offer my opinions.  If you’re considering a beauty subscription, maybe I can help you decide if Ipsy,  Birchbox, or both or neither are right for you.

I’ve been a subscriber to both for over 2 years, now, and I can’t see myself giving either up any time soon.  I’ve been able to try out so many products and brands that I never would have tried thanks to Ipsy and Birchbox.  Some of them I’ve learned I couldn’t live without, but mostly, it’s just fun to try new things! I could go on and on about why I love them both, so why don’t we just get into this month’s subs, eh?

Let’s begin with Ipsy Glam Bag:

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Pacifica Natural Minerals Coconut Eye Shadow Trio

Here’s what Ipsy has to say about this product (taken directly from the Ipsy website):

“WHY WE ❤ THIS BRAND: Pacifica creator, Brook Harvey Taylor, pioneered the sustainable, natural beauty space bringing quality products to the masses – without compromising quality ingredients. Everything from their skincare to nail polish is gluten-free, 100% vegan and cruelty-free.

WHY THIS PRODUCT’S FAB: This shimmering trio of ipsy-curated shades includes Crush (beige), Skinny Dip (copper) and Lovely (brown). These richly pigmented, velvety-smooth eye shadows complement each other for a subtle yet glitzy everyday eye look.”

   ~Ipsy

My initial thoughts:  I think the packaging is pretty. I appreciate that each pan is separated which helps prevent the shadows from mixing, and I think it’s a nice sample size.  A full size trio is .10 oz, or 3 g and is on the Target website for $9.99.  This sample is .07 oz or 2.1 g, which would make it’s value approximately $6.99 (If you’re counting, that’s over halfway there in covering the cost of the Glam Bag!).  I really had to dig in to get these finger swatches.  The shadows feel soft, but without really getting in them, I’m not optimistic for pigmentation / color payoff.  I haven’t touched them with a brush, so I could be way off. I’d like to hope so!

Next, we have the Hanalei Lip Treatment.

Again, here’s what Ipsy says about the product:

“WHY WE ❤ THIS BRAND: Bringing you the benefits of Hawaii’s rare Kukui Nut, Hanalei creates one-of-a-kind products to heal and protect against dryness.

WHY THIS PRODUCT’S FAB: This rejuvenating Lip Treatment will make your chapped lips a thing of the past. Using Kukui Nut oil, antioxidants, agave and grapeseed oil, your lips will be smooth and moisturized in no time!”
 ~Ipsy

My first impressions: it feels really nice on the lips. In fact, I think I really like it a lot.  It’s not sticky at all. It just feels super soft and moisturizing.  I detected a very, very slight sweet scent, but I really stressed my olfactory senses to find it. Now that it’s on my lips, I really can’t smell it at all. The sample size of 5 ml is one-third the full size (15 g), so quite a decent sample amount.  A full sized Hanalei Lip Treatment will set you back $25.00, making this sample worth approximately $8.33 (If you’re counting, that just covered the cost of the bag and then some.)

Eva NYC Hungry Hair

Ipsy says:

“WHY WE ❤ THIS BRAND: They take care of your hair, in style. Eva NYC’s formulas pass the test of NYC’s harsh winters and humid summers – meaning if they work there, they’ll work anywhere.

WHY THIS PRODUCT’S FAB: One Oil treatment that works three ways! This killer formula nourishes your locks with Argan Oil – that’s packed with vitamins A & E, plus omegas 3, 6 and 9. Not to mention its super strengthening effects, thanks to Keravis Protein, which is clinically proven to strengthen hair up to 3X and shields your hair from heat damage.”
~Ipsy

My thoughts:  The sample size is fairly generous. Eva NYC offers two sizes: 1 oz and 3.38 oz, for $8 and $20 respectively.  The sample contains 0.4 oz, so nearly half an ounce, worth $3.20.  The packaging is considerate – there’s a stopper in the bottle to help keep your bag safe from the great oil spill of 2016.  I appreciate that!  It smells like a typical argan oil for hair.  It’s not a super strong, revolting scent.  And that’s about as far as my opinions go for now.  I’ll use it this week and report back.

Hikari Shimmer Bronzer in Radiate

What Ipsy says:

“WHY WE ❤ THIS BRAND: Hikari serves up quality cosmetics to enhance your favorite features without breaking the bank.

WHY THIS PRODUCT’S FAB: We love a good faux glow! Not only can you get a glowing complexion, this bronzer can be used as eye shadows or highlighter. The coral and copper pigments glide on smooth with just a hint of shimmer.”
~Ipsy

My thoughts: First of all, this is a full size product, as far as I can tell, which makes it worth $17 (Remember that we paid $10 for this bag!). It’s in nice, sturdy packaging with no mirror. However, it’s a clear acrylic type packaging, so you can see the product, which is nice. I think the swatches tell more than I could. They are finger swatches, but I didn’t have to dig in much to get pigment.  Also, I think they’re going to blend really nicely. As soon as I saw the bronzer, my first thought was I could perhaps get an entire look with it – eyes, blush, highlight, and bronze.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll probably post a photo on Instagram when I do.

And lastly! Smashbox X-Rated Mascara

What Ipsy says:

“WHY WE ❤ THIS BRAND: Created by pros for pros! Their innovative products leave you looking and feeling flawless, whether you’re on-the-go or on set.

WHY THIS PRODUCT’S FAB: Smashbox is back at it again! This triple threat brush isolates and magnifies each lash, while applying its fiber-loaded formula. The result? Sky-high and defined lashes in just one swipe. Bonus: the formula is clump, flake and smudge-proof!”
~Ipsy

My take:  The packaging is typical of a mascara.  The sample is 1/3 the full size – 0.10 vs 0.30 fl oz. A full size X-Rated Mascara will cost you $22, making this sample worth $7.33.  I have several opened mascaras, so I’m not even going to open this one until I finish at least 2 that I already have opened.  I’m sorry I can’t give even a first impression on this one, yet.

Every month with Ipsy, Ipsters receive a makeup bag housing the products. The bags are generally fair to really nice quality.  Rarely do I not like a bag altogether.  This month, it certainly did not disappoint.  For the first time in 2 years, this bag does not zip closed.  It has a button flap, mimicking the look of an envelope.  The button seems to be nice and sturdy, and I really like this bag.  It’s very cute, and good quality material.

The tally:  The actual value of this bag (Not including the bag itself) is $42.50.  And I paid $10.  I am even happy with all of the samples this month, too!  Which means it’s truly worth that to me.  That’s a win-win!

On to Birchbox!

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Generally, Birchbox sends 4 to 5 sample products. This month, I chose the curated box and there are 6 in my box.  Of course, one is a packet, but I don’t mind that. So, let’s dig in!

Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Matte Bronzer

Birchbox tells us that:
“If you’re not using bronzer, you’re missing out. Whether you use it to give your face a little definition or sweep it all over to warm up your skin, bronzer is a year-round must. Get on board with Hoola, Benefit’s bestselling pressed bronzer. The silky powder that comes in a cute mirrored compact, and can be used all over or as a contouring shade. We love how the chestnut color glides on without any prom-style glitter and blends in easily.”
~Birchbox

My thoughts:  The sample size is plenty sufficient at 3.0 grams since the full size is 8.0. A full size Hoola is $29, bringing the value of this sample to $10.88. Box paid for, already! I’ve seen products come in very cheap packaging when sampled, so I am happy to see the packaging for this Hoola sample is so nice. I’ve seen this for the last year and debated buying it several times, but honestly, I had no idea why!  I was not at all comfortable enough with makeup application to try to mess with applying bronzer.  However, I’ve worn this twice, now (Due to technical difficulties, it is now Sunday and I started this on Friday) and it’s already my favorite.  It’s the bottom of the two swatches above.

ModelCo Lip Lacquer – Creme Brulee

Birchbox says:
“This trio of vibrant hues is proof that good things come in threes. Each lacquer (in ModelCo’s Crème Brulee, Morocco, and Viva shades) provides rich, high-pigment color—plus major shine—in just one swipe. Another plus? The nonsticky, moisturizing formula equals totally fuss-free wear (and totally hydrated lips).”
~Birchbox

I think the packaging is typical of a gloss. The doe foot applicator is nice, though not precise, if that’s what you’re looking for. The sample size is 1.5 ml or 0.05 fl oz. which is apparently half the full size which sells on ModelCo’s website for $24, making this sample worth $12. There’s a trio of the sample sizes on Birchbox’s website for $16, so going by that, this sample would be worth $5.33.  I’m just very confused by this, so I went to Sephora’s website for some comparisons.  My go-to lipgloss is Buxom Full On Lip Polish, but since this formula seemed so much more like the Full on Lip Cream, that’s what we’ll compare it to.  Buxom’s formula is the one I’d reach for every single time, and a full size of it is .14 fl oz, selling for $20. That’s .04 oz MORE for $4 LESS.  That said, I have had a chance to try it out. I wore it Saturday during a 5k. It felt nice, sticky, but not too sticky, with a pleasant berry scent.  It’s a nice nude glossy, high shine, low pigment color. It lasted through most of the 5k, and while after the race was over, I couldn’t see any traces of the gloss, my lips did still feel moisturized even after running in very windy conditions.  I’ll enjoy the sample that I have, but I won’t be purchasing any full sized ModelCo gloss any time in the near future.

COOLA SPF 30 Organic Makeup Setting Spray

The Birchbox Blurb:
“We’re never ones to skip a skincare step, but when we can combine them and streamline our routine, well then, all the better. Thanks to the sun protection smarties from COOLA, this weightless, matte-finish mist is changing the sunscreen game. It protects our skin with broad spectrum SPF 30 while it also sets our makeup—so contoured cheeks and perfectly executed eye shadow look just as fresh at the end of the day.”
~Birchbox

My thoughts and experience:  The sample size is .34 fl oz and it’s in a tiny spray bottle.  A full size product is 1.7 fl oz and sells for $36 on Birchbox.  So, this tiny sample was worth $7.20 (WOW).  The middle photo above was taken on our way to run the Wildflower Run.  The last photo was right before I washed my face, so a 5k, a good long nap, and 12 hours later.  I was very pleased with the performance of the combination of this setting spray and the makeup I wore yesterday.  Pleased enough to spend $36 on it?  Nah. Probably not. Especially since the smell nearly knocked me down when I first sprayed my face.  Part of that is my fault.  I definitely should have given it a sniff before I went ham on my face with it.  It wasn’t a particularly fowl odor, it was just a very strong alcohol smell.  Thankfully, being alcohol, it didn’t linger.  Over all, I’m happy to have the opportunity to try it, and I enjoyed it, but I also really enjoy Wet N Wild setting spray, and I always wear a really good sunscreen underneath my foundation, anyway.
Davines LOVE Smoothing Shampoo and Conditioner

Birchbox claims:
Shampoo:  “As a last-minute defense against frizz, we’ve been known to sport a topknot and be done with it, but sometimes we just want to let our hair down. Luckily, this gentle shampoo is specially formulated to tame frizzed-out and tangle-prone hair. An infusion of olive extract—from Minuta olives grown in Messina, Italy—nourishes and enriches the hair with fatty acids, vitamin E, and polyphenols. That leaves our strands smooth for a style that’s more manageable, which helps get us dressed up and out the door faster.”
Conditioner:  “Nip frizzy hair in the bud (and simplify your morning routine) by using a specialized smoothing conditioner in the shower. This creamy concoction from Davines calms frizz and loosens tangles, making your whole hairstyling process a lot simpler. It’s formulated with olive extract (from Minuta olives grown on a family farm in Messina, Italy), which infuses strands with fatty acids, vitamin E, and antioxidants for a softer, smoother style. As an added plus, it imbues your strands with a high-shine look, perfect for when you don’t have time to apply product before rushing out the door”
~Birchbox

What I think: First of all, the shampoo and conditioner full sizes are 8.45 fl oz.  The shampoo is $25, conditioner $29.  We received .40 fl oz of the conditioner, making it worth $1.37, and 2.5 fl oz of the shampoo worth $7.40.  I kinda wish they did send more to sample of the conditioner, because (don’t we all?) I always use far more conditioner than I do shampoo.  However, I did use the duo Saturday morning, and my hair did not frizz all day.  But, it claims it’s for dry, coarse hair, so I’m going to have my daughter who has thick, over processed hair, try it out.

CLEAN Blossom
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Birchbox says:
“We took one whiff of this fresh fragrance and couldn’t help but wonder how the master perfumers at CLEAN managed to bottle the very essence of spring. Inspired by delicate flower petals falling from the sky and dancing on water, the scent embodies a strong, feminine woman with notes of Tunisian neroli, orange blossom, and sensual sandalwood.”
~Birchbox
And finally, the sample is a tiny spray bottle.  It’s 0.05 fl oz of a 2.14 fl oz full size product.  The full sized bottle of perfume is $72, making this sample worth $1.68.  I always enjoy the tiny spray bottles.  And of course, I’m a sucker for a good floral scent, so I do very much enjoy this perfume.  I honestly can’t tell you how long it lasted on me.  I didn’t think to try to notice.

Birchbox always comes in… You guessed it… a box.  When I first subscribed, the boxes were just plain brown boxes.  Since January of 2015, they come with designs on them and are very colorful and pretty.  Maybe I’ll do a blog post on all of the useful things I do with my empty Birchboxes.

The tally: This Birchbox nets us $33.86 in products, making it well worth the $10 spent.

Like I said in the beginning, I can’t tell you which one I recommend for you.  I love them both equally.  Generally, I find Birchbox’s points system to be more beneficial than Ipsy’s.  You can use your Birchbox points on any product in the Birchbox store, while with Ipsy, there’s only a few products available for purchase with points at any given time.  I’m curious. Which would you choose?  Do you already subscribe?  Comment below, I want to hear from you!

Disclosure: The links in this post to Birchbox and Ipsy will take you to my referral page. If you sign up with these links, I will get points, but I will not receive monetary payment.

#gettinghealthyin2016

I realize that it’s a new year and I haven’t posted anything in ages. I plan to change that this year. Do you have a new year’s resolution? Do you believe in them?
I don’t, generally. So, while I don’t have a new year’s resolution, I do have a new year’s plan.
All my life I was thin. Or at least thin-ish.

Then Lupus. And Prednisone. Blimp status.

I may exaggerate just a little. But not much. I’ve gained and I’ve lost and gained again. This year, I’m determined to lose. But, more than that – I’m determined to get healthy.
Actually, it was my husband’s idea. He’s always said that once he hit (enter his magic number here), he’d go on a diet. He hasn’t hit it. He just got very close to it, so he decided it was time he got healthy and in shape. He wants to try out for our local indoor football league. Honestly, I don’t know if he’s serious or not, but he’s really working on eating healthier (that’s huge, Y’all) and getting fit. I know he’s planning on running the local 5k in May and beating his time last year.
Let me step aside here for a moment and say that on a spur of the moment decision, my husband decided to run his first ever 5k last May. In his steel-toed work boots (He never wears any shoes other than boots).
Back to my ramblings (let’s face it, there’s really not a collected thought here…).

My first order of business was to stop drinking, or at least cut way down on the amount of, Dr Pepper. I was drinking a minimum of one entire 2 liter of Dr Pepper every single day. By. My. Self. That’s a lot of Dr Pepper. It’s at least 844 calories, 225 GRAMS of sugar, and a ton of sodium. And I wasn’t eating. I mean, I ate dinner, usually, but I didn’t eat during the day. And if I did, it was with no regard to fueling my body, it was whatever I was craving: chocolate, pasta, bread, muffins, nothing healthy.

So, I began forcing myself to eat 3 meals a day, and I’m trying to force down 3 snacks a day as well. Most days, I eat 6 times a day. I count every single calorie and I keep track of them on 2 separate apps on my phone. I measure and weigh my food. I’m diligent. Three weeks in, and I’ve lost 6 pounds so far.

This morning, I really SAW it. I swear, I lost all 6 of those pounds from my shoulders up! And I’m completely okay with that. My face had gotten so…. plump, thanks to prednisone. Cushing syndrome is no joke. I finally looked in the mirror this morning and saw myself.
That’s what motivated me to write this post. I know it’s been radio silence here for months. I am going to do better. I have a couple of posts rattling around in my head. I was going to blog about my subscription boxes, but my Birchbox is lost in the mail. It’s been at my home post office twice, and they’ve sent it back out, and now, I don’t know where it is. So, I may just blog about them separately. Also, I have a Vox Box that I need to blog about, and I’ve been using the products long enough that I feel comfortable giving an opinion, now. And, maybe most exciting to me, I’m starting an online makeup artist class this week, and I’ll try to blog about it as well, and probably post my assignment photos here, too.

I’ll try to blog about my #gettinghealthyin2016 process and progress at least weekly.

Until then, be well!

Gifts that keep on giving: A short look into the subscription service world

If you follow me on social media, you know that I’m a bit of a subscription box junkie.  I subscribe to Ipsy, Birchbox, Boxycharm, and Nadine West, currently.  There are several other subscription services out there, tailored to just about anyone.  It just occurred to me, hopefully not too late, that a subscription would make an excellent gift. So that’s my focus today.  Let’s talk about gifts that keep on giving!

I’ll start with the ones to which I currently subscribe, and we’ll talk about a few that are on my wish list!

 

 

Beginning in the order of my subscribing, we’ll start with Ipsy.  Ipsy sends monthly Glam Bags.  The cool thing about that is that you will receive a cosmetic bag filled with goodies every month.  These bags are great for a multitude of purposes.  At any given time, there’s usually half a dozen or so in my bag.  Two or 3 in my car, they’re lying all over my house.  They house everything from cosmetics to medications to hair ties to, well, who knows.  Like I said, they’re handy.  And they’re cute.  And I’m getting off topic.  Inside these bags, you’ll find, generally, 5 sample sized beauty related items: cosmetics, skin care, scents, and hair care.  They run the gamut in brands, as well: Marc Anthony, Tarte Cosmetics, Elizabeth Mott, and Pacifica, are the brands in my Glam Bag this month (Yes, I peeked, for the blog).  An Ipsy subscription will set you back $10 a month, billed the 1st of every month.  Ipsy doesn’t currently have a gifting program, but you can purchase a subscription for someone else.  When you sign up, you answer a series of questions, to create your style profile.  Your samples are selected for you based upon your profile.  If you’re unhappy with the samples that you’ve been receiving, you may change those answers as often as you’d like, to change the types of samples you find in your bags each month.  I’ve been a subscriber for coming on 2 full years, now, and I have yet to be completely disappointed by a Glam Bag.  That’s not to say that I have been absolutely in love with every one, either.  There’s hits and misses, but that’s to be expected with anything, right?  Once you have had your products and tried them out, you have the opportunity to review them on Ipsy’s site and earn points! You may use these points to get even more products!  Each review gets you 5 points, sharing your Glam Bag on social media earns 10, you get the point.  The points add up and then you can spend them on the site.  It’s free stuff!

My next subscription, which followed Ipsy by just a couple of months, is Birchbox.  Birchbox comes to you in just that – a box.  For the first year that I was subscribed, they were brown boxes.  Cute, handy for storage of small items.  Brown boxes.  In 2015, they changed to pretty designed boxes, and, you guessed it!  They’re all over my house.  They are actually very useful for storing makeup, hair ties, pens and pencils, candy bars underneath the bed… Wait, what?  Forget I said that… Birchbox is very similar to Ipsy – 5 deluxe sample sized products: skin care, hair care, beauty, cosmetics.  The brands are generally different than the ones you’ll find from Ipsy.  There are some cross-overs, but I don’t generally find many.  Birchbox is also $10/month.  This is where it gets better.  I love Birchbox for the Birchbox Store.  Yes, that sets it above Ipsy just a notch. Birchbox has a points system that works like Ipsy’s.  You earn points by reviewing products and sharing your box.  The difference is, you earn more points with Birchbox, and you can spend them like money in the store, which is stocked with a plethora of products, and not just beauty related products.  Birchbox also caters to men!  The men’s monthly subscription is $15/month, but I think they have more products, or a full sized life-style product added to their monthly box.

So, if you’re keeping score:  I really love Ipsy and Birchbox, but Birchbox’s point system and store are far superior to Ipsy’s.  However, I seem to get more cosmetics from Ipsy and more skin care from Birchbox.

Next up is Boxycharm.  It’s not really fair to compare Boxycharm to either Ipsy or Birchbox.  It is a monthly beauty subscription, but Boxycharms have 4 to 5 full sized beauty related products in them every month, with maybe one deluxe sample sized product.  And since the products are full sized, the price tag is a little higher, coming in at $21/month.  As with the previous 2 subs, though, I have not yet been completely disappointed.  Every box has been worth WELL over the $21 price tag, usually at least $100 over.  Yes, you read that right.  I’ve gotten full sized eye shadow palettes, perfumes, brushes, hair care products, hair styling products, lipsticks, nail polishes, you name it.  It’s fantastic.  Boxycharm is a newer sub service than Ipsy and Birchbox, so they’re continually growing.  I think they’re really working on a point system and store now, too.

I almost forgot!  Walmart also has a subscription service.  It’s a quarterly service, so they’ll forgive me for not remembering right away.  It’s $5 a quarter, and the products we’ve gotten so far have been useful.  I’m still on the fence about it, but for $20 a year, I doubt I’ll cancel.  I’ll link it below, too… The Walmart Beauty Box.

 

Now, let’s move on to fashion!  Like I have said before, I am a jeans and T-shirt kind of gal.  I didn’t accessorize unless I was forced to.  Until Nadine West.  Nadine West is a clothing subscription.  Like Ipsy and Birchbox, you fill out a style profile.  They send you clothing and accessories based upon your answers.  I’ve gotten shirts with necklaces and earrings in every package so far, and I’ve loved them all.  Only once did I receive a blouse that didn’t fit, so I gifted it.  The beautiful thing about a Nadine West subscription is that it’s totally commitment free!  If you don’t like what they send, if it doesn’t fit, or just doesn’t work, you send it back!  They provide you with the shipping label.  Absolutely hassle free.  If you love it, which you will, they’ll notify you by e-mail the day before they charge your account for your merchandise.  You can keep what you like and send back what you don’t. You’re only charged for what you keep!  It’s fantastic.

And, this was far wordier than I expected it to be, so my wishlist of subscriptions services will be a separate post.  I’m leaving links at the bottom of this post for each of these services.  These links will be my personal referral links, so if you use them to sign up, I will earn points.  I won’t, however, earn any money or any other type of compensation.  Except for the Nadine West link- I do earn a commission if you sign up.

 My Ipsy referral link

My Birchbox referral link

My Boxycharm referral link

Walmart Beauty Box – NOT a referral or affiliate link

Nadine West – affiliate link

 

Beauty and the TomBoy

Hello and Welcome!  Now… Where to start?

First of all, it’s important to note that I have no idea what I am doing.  I don’t really blog, I haven’t ever been consistent in keeping a journal, and I’m not great with photographs.  I don’t even follow any blogs!  But, I’d love to, so if you have one, please shout at me so I can take a look!

However, I’m very active on social media and have plenty to say, so I decided to give this blog the ole college try.

I suppose we should start with information about myself:  I am 38 years old.  I’ve lived my entire life in jeans and t-shirts and pony tails and ball caps.  I put a little bit of make up on for special occasions and when my Mom hounded me enough about it.  Even then, and even now, I had and have NO idea how to style my own hair beyond scrunching it, straightening it, pony tail and messy bun.  I’ve decided this year that I’d really like to turn that around. Or at least find a happy balance between TomBoy and femininity – before I turn 40.

I have been learning a little more about makeup, and wear it often – with my jeans and t-shirts (fashion is just one more thing I’m beginning to learn more about and attempting to apply).  Also, I’m absolutely obsessed with nail polish and have learned there’s an entire Indy arena in polishland that’s simply amazing, and I haven’t even began to scratch its surface.

So, here’s my vision for this blog:  I want to chronicle my transition.  Along the way, I’ll be reviewing products, posting unboxing blogs, and hauls, documenting my progress – each step I learn: new eye shadow techniques, foundation secrets, style breaches, all of it.

I’ll start with a couple of nail polish blogs, because I have an order placed and a haul planned for later this week, so tune in for those.  There will be other random posts here and there, too.  I have yet to decide on any sort of post schedule, so it will be sporadic until I have one in place.

I’m excited about this journey, and I’m excited to take you with me! Please join me in the comments!  I want to hear from you!