Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Beauty Army Kit

After the angst that was my August Birchbox Fail, I started considering other subscription services I hadn't really thought about before. Beauty Army is $12 monthly. You take a quiz and then get a selection of products. You can choose six from your selection. You can also go back and retake the quiz to try to get different items.  Not only do you get to choose your own samples but you can skip months as well. So I decided to give it a try. I'd have no one to blame if it sucked but myself. It didn't take that long for my kit to ship after I made my selection. Shipping was a bit weird though. It went from Ontario,CA up to Reno and then back down to Las Vegas.

August Beauty Army Kit
I only took the quiz a few times before I got six items I was interested in. One of my items leaked a little. Not horrible just enough to make the box a little gooey. I emailed customer service on a Friday afternoon and got a response that evening. They offered to add a seventh item in my kit next month. I'm cool with that. I've had a chance to use most of these and I have to pat myself on the back. Pretty much love everything.
  • Bath and Body Works Twilight Woods Shower 3 oz sample (Full Size Retail 10 oz $11) Bath & Body Works' exclusive formula is now enriched with Shea Butter for softer, cleaner skin in their bubbliest lather ever! Moisturizing Aloe Vera and skin-loving Vitamin E combine with the seductive scent of Twilight Woods to provide a lather that bursts with fragrance. Twilight Woods is a hypnotic fragrance inspired by a romantic walk in enchanted woods. Top Notes: Juicy Berry, Sparkling Mandarin, hint of Coconut. Mid Notes: Creamy Frangipani, Soft Mimosa, Wet Honeysuckle, Wild Freesia, Apricot Nectar.  I was out of shower gel so this was well timed. I like the scent. Other than that it does what a shower gel should.
  • Youngblood Mineral Primer Deluxe Sample (Full Size Retail 1 fl oz $41) Youngblood’s Mineral Primer is the perfect all-over primer for flawless make-up application and skin rejuvenation. The light-weight, silky formula is packed with vitamins and minerals that smooth the appearance of fine lines and pores creating an even surface for foundation. This colourless base helps enhance the performance of makeup through the day while providing intense skin protection. Perfect for any skin type, with added benefits for mature skin, Youngblood’s Mineral Primer contains Youngblood’s signature mineral blend of Rhodolite, Zincite, Malachite and Hematite combined with Vitamins A & E for skin rejuvenation and antioxidant protection. The Primer is also free from talc, perfumes and chemical dyes while being non-comodogenic and cruelty free. I'm always interested in trying new primers. This is a silicone based primer and I find it comparable to others in that category like Smashbox or Palladio. It has no discernible scent which is always a plus in my book. This didn't feel oily or heavy on my skin and did extend the wear of my foundation. 
  • ATZEN Protective Day Cream Deluxe Sample (Full Size Retail 1.7 fl oz $79) Protection from pollutants for radiant & supple skin. Reverses signs of aging & sensitivity; provides 24 hours of hydration. I haven't had a chance to try this product yet. At $79 for the full size I hope I don't fall in love!
  • Macadamia Natural Oil Healing Oil Treatment Deluxe Sample (Full Size Retail 4.2oz $39.95) M
  • acadamia Natural Oil's Healing Oil Treatment is a therapeutic hair oil perfect for all hair types and is especially beneficial to dry, damaged hair.
  • Intense nourishment for tangle & frizz free hair. H
  • air that is ultra-smooth, manageable & shiny.
  • Natural UV protection extends the life of color treatments.
  • Reduced drying time by an amazing 40-50%.
  • Alcohol-free. Speaking of love. I LOVE this hair oil. It smells divine and my hair was soft and shiny after using it. I live in the desert so increased drying time is not so much an issue. I'm debating whether to buy this or the Phyto Oil from my August Sample Society box. Right now I think this is in the lead. The sample size is a generous 1oz. I should have enough for even my mass of hair for awhile. The 1oz sample sells on the Macadamia Hair website for $13.50. So in one item I've already recouped my kit cost.
  • Besame Cosmetics Crimson Cream Rouge Deluxe Sample (Full Size Retail .26oz $22) 
  •  For instant rosy cheeks and lips there is nothing more timeless than our vintage inspired cream rouge. Just a touch of this concentrated cream will give you a natural flush, just like the very first time you were kissed! Feels weightless and blends beautifully with any skin tone. I haven't had a chance to really try this out yet either. I'm a fan of cream blushes in general though. I'll be performing a 1940s Golden Era belly dance piece in a few weeks. I think I'll be using this blush for that vintage look. Update: Tried this last night i my 1940s test run. It's a bit dry but definitely gives that vintage glow.
  • Delizioso Skincare Mangosteen & Acai Super Anti-Aging Facial Cream Deluxe Sample (Full Size Retail 1 oz $58) 100% Natural Mangosteen & Acai extracts along with Alpha Hydroxy Acids use a potent anti-aging system of antioxidants to perfect dull skin. Organic oils nourish while aloe and pure juices of cucumber and blueberry rehydrate. As you apply the moisturizer Vita Burst Beads infused with a potent dose of Vitamin E, Acai, and Mangosteen pop and start to act immediately. This technology helps keep the potent ingredients at their very peak of action. This was the leaky culprit in my kit. I've been using this as my night time moisturizer and I love it. My skin looks so bright and refreshed in the morning. Normally, I don't like products with a heavy scent but this smells like Duncan Hines Confetti Cake mix. Yum!
So I'm really happy with my first Beauty Army kit and I'm really looking forward to next month!

*grumble I keep fixing the formatting of this post and it keeps reverting back.*

Sunday, August 26, 2012

August Sample Society

August Sample Society
Phyto Oil, Mail+Goetz, Jane Iredale Mascara,  Deborah Lippmann, Elemental Herbology, Arcona
  • Phyto Phtyonectar Oil Deluxe Sample (Full Size Retail $30) The formula, rich in proteins, lipids, and vitamins from egg yolk, restructures ultra-dry hair while preventing oxidation with sunflower extract. Hair feels immediately replenished and its original softness and shine are restored.  My hair is not that dry but it hasn't been as soft as I would like it lately. You work this into your hair prior to shampooing and leave it in for 15 minutes. My hair was definitely softer and more vibrant after using this. I would consider buying the full size.
  • Jane Iredale Longest Lash Mascara, Black Ice Deluxe Sample (Full Size Retail $33) Get come-hither eyes with Jane Iredale Longest Lash Mascara featuring a dual-purpose formula that conditions lashes while coating them for a look that is glamorous, rich and full. An extra large, tapered brush makes application easy, separating lashes with ease. This mascara didn't really add that much length to my lashes (they're fairly long to start) but it did give me more volume. Nicely pigmented. I did get slight raccoon-ing by the end of the day. This is common problem for me and mascaras. I think my bottom lashes are too long. :( This mascara was nice but I'm not sold on it.
  • Deborah Lippmann Nail Lacquer in Private Dancer (Full Size $18) Long-lasting nail lacquer created by celebrity manicurist to the stars. A variety of colors inspired by pop music. Fortified with biotin, okoume, and green tea. Free of: Toluene, formaldehyde, DBP, animal testing. I try to avoid spoilers for Sample Society since we all get the same box. I couldn't avoid hearing about this though. I'm not really into nail polish or nail art. I would certainly never spend $18 for one nail polish. This is a really interesting color.  I thought the formula was a bit thin. It took me three coats to get it really opaque. I've heard this applies better over a coat of black.

deborah Lippmann Private Dancer Swatch
Private Dancer

  • Elemental Herbology Skin Care Deluxe Sample (Full Size Retail $46) Stimulates skin's metabolism to reveal a glowing complexion. Helps lessen unwanted pigmentation and balance skin tone. Purifies pores and helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Exfoliates dead surface cells to promote new cell renewal. Orange peel, Tangerine and Papaya slough away dead skin cells. Sea salt and Kelp purify the pores and resolve congested areas. Macadamia, Olive and Argan oils infuse the skin with essential fatty acids and reduce inflammation.  I usually use the Ren Glycolactic Peel (also a Sample Society find) once a week but this week I gave this one a try. My skin felt great and really looked brighter the next morning. I should have enough left to get one more use out of it. I would consider purchasing this after I run out of the Ren.
  • Arcona Cranberry Toner Deluxe Sample (Full Size Retail $32) This three-in-one formula tones and hydrates, while also infusing skin with protective antioxidants to leave your complexion looking and feeling refreshed. Antimicrobial cranberry, containing vitamins, phyto-nutrients and essential fatty acids, clarifies and protects. Removes dirt, oil and makeup. Cleanses and clarifies. Refreshes skin. Protects against free radical damage.  I only used this once. I did like the way it may my skin feel afterwards. However, this has a strong smell. It's definitely a love it or hate it smell too. I hated it and I could still smell it on my skin.
  • Malin + Goetz Vitamin E Face Moisturizer Foil pack. Bonus item (Full Size Retail 4 fl. oz $45) A 
    superb blend of antioxidants, absorbent fatty acids and soothing chamomile. 
    Hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic. 
    Nourishes and hydrates. 
    Absorbs quickly.  This was an extra in this box not one of the five monthly items so I don't mind that it's a foil pack. I only got one use out of it but I did like the way my face felt afterwards. It is indeed light and absorbs quickly. I don't recall any strong fragrance either. I typically prefer a moisturizer with some SPF protection though.
Overall, I really like this box. Sample Society is still my current favorite. Since I did a run down on Birchbox, I thought it only fair that I do the same thing for Sample Society. I've been with Sample Society since they started in March. That's also the same length of time I've had Birchbox. 31 items over six months total cost $90.

I've liked or loved the majority of the items I've gotten from Sample Society. Sure it's more expensive but I seem to be getting more value out of it. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

DIY: Sample Society Box Lippie Organizer

I use products more if I can see them. Otherwise they get banished to the makeup drawer and who knows if they'll ever be seen again. So I have quite a few lip products on my counter. I was keeping them in a small round cardboard container but they kept falling over. I was also running out of room. I was in the process of upgrading them from their round container to a Sample Society box when I was inspired to make dividers.

I opted for a Sample Society box because it's deeper than the Birchbox boxes and I wanted the lip glosses to have more support. It's not that prettiest craft project ever but I took the sides off the lid and made dividers. I just glued these down with a hot glue gun.

OK so the aren't exactly straight either but it gets the job done. I made the lipstick sections a little wider than the gloss sections. I lucked out and had a slot for shorter pencils and tubes that won't stand up.

There's also plenty of  space left if I were to ever clean out my purse! This was a quick and easy project. I didn't measure anything. I just eyeballed the length to cut the dividers. Perhaps, one day I'll get inspired to redo this and clean it up a bit. For now though, it's a vast improvement.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My First MUA Haul!!

I always thought that MUA products were something that I would just have to admire on the pages of the UK beauty bloggers. Late in July when I was deep into my No-Buy, I told myself it wouldn't hurt to see if they shipped internationally. They do! I put a ton of stuff in my cart but didn't checkout. A few weeks later (and in August after my No-Buy was over), MUA hit 25,000 likes on Facebook and released a 25% off coupon with free international shipping. I was all over it!

Heaven & Earth Palette, Starry Night Palette, Nail Polish #1, Lipstick #13, LipBoom LMK, Liquid Liner in Black, 3 in 1 Contour in Smoked Plum, Blush in #4

Everything arrived safely from across the pond! I am so excited I had to make a quick haul post. Full reviews will be upcoming. I got the Heaven & Earth and Starry Night palettes, Nail Polish in Shade #1 which is a dark sparkly blue, Lipstick #13 red!, LipBoom LMK Deep Vampy and sparkly pink gloss, Liquid Liner in Black, 3 in 1 Contour Pen in Smoked Plum, and finally Blush in #4. All of this was a little over £12 with the exchange rate it was a little over $19.

I did this swatches really quickly while I was sitting in my chair catching up on episodes of What Not to Wear.

Liquid Liner, Smoked Plum, LipBoom LMK Pink Gloss, LipBoom LMK Lipstick Side, Lipstick #13
I really can't decide which of these products to try out first! I'm so excited. I plan on doing full reviews with better swatches and all that soon. I have a back log of reviews but these might move to the front of the line.

What are your favorite MUA products? It's never too early to start putting together my next shopping list.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Inside My Head Tag

This is an adaptation of the 10 Day Challenge done by one of my favorite bloggers, Aly over at Wonderland Beauty

10 Secrets- Tough I'm usually pretty open. So I'll go with the random bits my readers might not know about me. 1. I get car sick easily. Let me drive or I have to ride shotgun. 2. I used to be tall then everyone else grew and I topped out at 5'3". 3.  I'm originally from a small town in VA. 4. My hair has only been cut short twice in my entire life 5. I practice belly dance moves in the kitchen at work while my lunch is heating up. Usually no one walks in on me. 6. I have a lot of texture issues with different foods. The list of foods I won't eat because they have bad texture is pretty long and varied . 7. I'm not into shoes or purses. 8. I want to learn Arabic 9. I don't get Pintrest. 10. I collect vintage rhinestone jewelry from the 1940s and '50s.

9 Loves- 1.  My Mom 2. My sister. 3. Mia 4. belly dance 5. green tea 6. cosmetics 7. dark chocolate 8. blogging 9. Music (Goth/rock, New wave, Arabic)

8 Fears 1. Heights 2. Birds 3. Not being able to belly dance 4. sunburns 5. health issues 6. Being so far away from my family (not really a fear but I don't LIKE it either) 7. Losing a fingernail or a toenail 8. Something bad happening to my family or Mia.

7  Wants 1. A nap! 2. To be a better belly dancer 3. Good health 4. More time to blog 5. More belly dance costumes 6. More time to visit my family 7. the new 69 Eyes album to come already.

6 Places 1. Home (back to VA) 2. Egypt 3. Japan 4. Italy 5. Savannah 6. New Orleans

5 Foods 1.  Pad Woon Sen 2. Tiramisu 3. Anything my Mom cooks 4. Omelettes 5. Popcorn

4 Books  1. Dune Series by Frank Herbert 2. Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite 3. The Count of Monte Cristo 4. Sherrilyn Kenyon Dark Hunter's Series

3 Movies 1. Real Genius 2. Dangerous Liasions 3. A&E Pride & Prejudice mini series

2 Songs 1. Perfect Skin the 69 Eyes (listening to this a lot lately 2. Lama Bada

1 Picture of Yourself  (If you don't want to show your face or don't have a good picture, just show  a pic of anything you love!)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

August Birchbox FAIL!

After having a fairly decent Birchbox last month, this month's box is absolute failure. This month's theme was Back To school and I'm not really sure how my box relates to that. Birchbox also partnered up with Pencils of Promise to donate 15% of the proceeds from the Birchbox shop. Pencils of Promise builds schools in Central America (and I don't mean Kansas). That's nice and all but I'm sure there are school districts here in the US that could use that donation as well. I live in county where the school district has pretty much been gutted by budget cuts. Anyhoo, enough politics, I received the dreaded Box #6.

August Birchbox
August Birchbox

  • Viva La Juicy Le Fleur Perfume sample 0.05fl oz. (Full Size Retail 2.25oz $70) The uplifting scent opens with a sparkling cascade of mandarin and wild berries. Next, sweet notes of honeysuckle, gardenia petals, and jasmine peek through, followed by a lingering trace of waterlily. This was in all the boxes this month. I don't hate it but I don't particularly love it either. This will probably go in the trade pile. 
  • Beauty Fixation Make Up Remover 3 QTips (Full Size Retail 20ct $5) Each swab is soaked with an aloe vera rich formula to nourish your skin, while gently breaking up long-wear makeup. The thin swab applicator fixes minor beauty blunders in a pinch and can be tossed when you’re done. Touch up and go! Please try to hold your applause until the end. That's a whole 3 Qtips with makeup remover in them. I have a pack of these from Almay. I haven't tried these yet but really nothing to get excited about. *Added: I have learned that the boxes with the other varieties of these Qtips (nail polish remover, lip conditioner, etc) all received the full size version. What's up with that?*
  • Schick Hyrdo Silk Razor (Lifestyle Extra) Oh yay a razor! Never tried one of those before. There are some coupons on the back as well. I can throw this in my bag when travelling I suppose. Again, nothing to get excited about.
  • Comodynes Self-Tanning Intensive Wipes  2 ct (Full Size 8 ct $ 14.99) Made of natural viscose fibers, these napkin-sized towelettes come pre-soaked with a paraben-free, moisturizing formula that works with the natural proteins in your skin to give you a convincing tan.  I got these in my Beauty Box 5 way back in March. I am proud to be pale. I do not tan naturally. I burn to a crisp. I avoid sunlight as much as possible. People also mistakenly take me for someone much younger by about 6-8yrs. (I'm not saying this to be immodest. It just happens a lot). You can connect the dots on your own. I wish more women would accept who they are and give up this fake tan nonsense. If you can't tan naturally you look ridiculous. I find naturally darker or tan skin quite beautiful. I have to admit that every now and then I get jealous that I can't pull off some bold colors but it's all part of accepting who you are. 
  • Comodynes Hydra-Tanning Face Moisturizing Summer Glow 2x Foil packs 0.10 fl oz (Full Size retail 1.35 fl oz. $20.98) Rich in vitamins E and F, this quick-absorbing lotion provides skin with continuous hydration. It gives you a buildable tan—if you use it every day, the color will progressively get more noticeable over time. Yay more self-tanner. See previous rant. This is second month in a row I've received foil packets. Foil packets are not deluxe samples. 
  • DDF Brightening Cleanser 2 fl oz. (Full Size Retail 8oz $38) A cocktail of potent active ingredients works to fade the look of brown spots, scars, and redness while also leaving skin fresh and smooth. In addition to naturally brightening botanicals like mulberry bark, licorice root, and peach leaf, the formula has exfoliating glycolic and salicylic acids to refine skin’s texture and stave off blemishes. I don't have dark spots or any noticeable redness. So while this product isn't geared toward me specifically, I'll still use it. I used it last night and didn't notice anything special. I'll put it in line with the others. I have at least 7 more face wash samples from subscription boxes. *Added: Two different sizes of this were sent out as well. 2.0z and 4.0z. What's up with sending two different sizes of the same product?*
I typically keep an open mind and at least try my samples but I'm really disappointed with Birchbox this month. I'm not sure why I put up with so much disappointment from Birchbox. Maybe it's the points? I cut MyGlam off for far less. After my No-Buy, I really analyze all my purchases. Birchbox has a new feature where you can see all of your past boxes. So I decided to tally up how many products I loved and hated over the last six months to see if I'm really getting my money's worth out of Birchbox. I'm not one to do math for fun, so this should clue you in on how upset I was about this month's box. Here are the results for 32 products over six months at a total of $60. 

I used a handy online pie chart generator for this.

As you can see, products I didn't like or traded make up the majority at a combined 56% or $33.60. Products I loved came in at 16% or $9.60. So no, Birchbox, is not giving me enough value for my money. I should just cash out my points this month when I get six month 20% off coupon. Part of me wants to stick around for another month because it's Birchbox and was the pioneer in the field of beauty boxes and it should be the best. I can't really argue with the numbers though. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Question Wednesday: All About Blogging

1} How long have you been blogging?
I just started blogging in mid-January of this year!

2} Why did you start blogging?
I started reading Makeup Geek and Temptalia a lot and getting more into makeup. My friends and family started to ask me for more makeup advice. So I thought it'd start putting things in one easily accessible place. Plus it gave me something to do when I couldn't belly dance before and after my gall bladder surgery.

3} What is the best thing about blogging?
I love connecting to other bloggers. Blogging also pushes me to learn more about techniques, brands, and products. 

4} If you didn't have a beauty blog, what type of blog would you have?
I would probably blog about....belly dance!

5} Lastly, what's the toughest thing about blogging?
For me it's finding the time to blog. When I write reviews, I want good photos and swatches along with a well written review. These things take time. Between working full time (sometimes more) and going to dance class and troupe rehearsal, I tend to run out of daylight hours for taking good pictures. I've been trying to do a few smaller posts lately.

Want to join in on Question Wednesday? Details are here. Question Wednesday is hosted by Aly @ Wonderland Beauty.

Update on my July No-Buy: Success!

So back in July I vowed to go on a No-Buy. I'm happy to report that it was a success! I didn't buy any makeup, skin care, or hair care throughout the entire month. I also managed to use up quite a few things from my stash.  I did make a few trades over on MUT so that helped as well. It's all the fun of getting new stuff without really spending much $$. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

In August, I'm not on a strict No-Buy but I am trying to adhere to a Low-Buy. I used to be so good at justifying any purchase to myself. Now I've gotten really good at justifying to myself why I don't need to buy something.  I was going to buy myself a bottle of Balenciaga perfume as a reward for making it through my No-Buy. I keep putting it in my cart but I keep talking myself out of it. I have taken advantage of awesome sales at MUA and e.l.f but those products are so low priced anyway. I should have some pretty nice hauls and I've still managed to spend less than $40. I also signed up for Beauty Army but since I just dropped Conscious Box, I should be even as far as my sub allowance goes. I skipped LBB again this month. I can't wait for Fall and Winter styles to start showing up. Those usually are closer to my personal preferences.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July Favorites

My day to day makeup routine hasn't changed much since June. I'm still wearing minimal makeup because it's hot.  So this month  thought I'd share a few products that I use every day that are sort of my unsung heroes.

Estee Lauder Powder Brush I got this from my mom years ago who got it as a GWP.  I love this brush for  applying powder. The bristles are soft and don't shed. I've been using this for years.

MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Light. This is a little pricey at $29.  I've had this for a couple of years but didn't start using it every day until this year. So it should last for a while. I use this to set my foundation or BB.

Smith's Rosebud Salve I keep this beside my bed and apply to my lips before going to bed. It does a great job of keeping my lips hydrated throughout the night. I sometimes use this on my elbow as well. I have a tendency to prop my left elbow up on my desk and rest my chin in my hand. This makes the skin on my elbow rough. :(  I need to start using this for my cuticles more.

NYX Pin Up Tease Mascara This is my new favorite mascara. If you haven't read my review you can check it out here.

Day of the Dead Hot/Cold Soothing Pad My sister made this for me when I was having my gall bladder removed. Then I would microwave it for a few minutes and put it on my shoulders to alleviate the pain of the gases from the laproscopic surgery leaving my body. I rolled my ankle really bad a few weeks ago and I've been keeping this in the freezer so I can prop up and ice my ankle. Thanks Weaz!

Question Wednesday: Summer Vacation

1} Have you been on vacation yet this summer? Will you be going anywhere?
I haven't and I don't have plans to go anywhere until I go back to the East Coast to visit my family in the Fall.   It's one of the drawbacks of living 2000 miles away from my family. I did take a real vacation last year and met up with them at  Hilton Head, SC and spent quite a bit of time in Savannah, GA (LOVE!).

2} What is the best vacation you have ever been on?
I don't get actual vacations very often. When I was younger we didn't take a whole lot of vacations other than to visit my grandmother who lived at a beach in NC.  I might have to go with last year's vacation. I absolutely loved Savannah.

I just had a staycation in May at Lake Las Vegas for a belly dance festival. That was a pretty good time.

3} If you could take one vacation anywhere, where would you go?
Even with all the turmoil, I still want to go to Egypt. I was always really into ancient Egyptian culture. Now there's the bellydance multiplier.

4} If you were going on a vacation for one week, what makeup products would you bring?
I suppose it would depend on where I was going. I try to pack light.
Face:  Benefit Porefessional, Revlon Colorstay Foundation, Holika Holika BB, MAC Minearlize Skinfinish, Milani Luminoso blush
Eyes: UD PP,  my two Inglot palettes, UD 24/7 in Whiskey & Perversion, NYX Pin Up Tease Mascara.
Lips: EOS Lipbalm, NYX Xtreme Lip Cream in Absolute Red & Buttery Red, UD Lipgloss in Wallflower (probably more lippies)
Not sure what I'd pack skincare wise.

5} If you could get any souvenir from your vacation, what would it be?
 If it were a trip to Egypt, a custom made belly dance costume. :)

Want to join in on Question Wednesday? Details are here. Question Wednesday is hosted by Aly @ Wonderland Beauty.
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