Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 2016 K-Beauty Birchbox

I know this review seems really late (I can't believe its the end of January already!), but I have a really good reason for being so delayed. This isn't actually my original box. My original box got lost somewhere between the Birchbox Warehouse and the first shipping checkpoint. After contacting customer service when it became obvious my box was super lost, they sent me out a new one ASAP. But it did mean my box has only been here for a little bit and I've only now finished testing everything out. So let's jump right in before any more time passes by.

This month I chose to just get the guest editor box, which was a k-beauty themed box! For those unfamiliar with that term, k-beauty stands for Korean beauty and typically is more skincare and natural looking makeup based. I've been wanting to try some k-beauty stuff for a while now but was unsure of where to start so this was a perfect introduction sort of box.

Technically there are seven items in the box, but two are bonus items so they don't really count. Only one real makeup item, everything else is basically skincare stuff. No hair items at all, which was a little strange. Don't know if I've ever gotten a box without at least one hair item in it.

This is the only item I haven't tried yet, and that's because I'm testing out another primer right now. While I've heard of this brand before, I've never used anything from them before so I have no idea if they are a good brand or not. This is the 3D effect Flash Cream Radian Primer by IPKN NEWYORK. My understanding is that it's a face primer with SPF 15 and illuminating properties for that glowing, natural face k-beauty products are known for. I'll let you know on Instagram when I use this and what I thought of it, but for right now it'll go into my stash.

I'm a HUGE fan of face masks, I do one probably 4-5 times a week. Clay masks are my usual fare just because I own so many of them (so so many, I may have a problem), so I was really excited to get a new to me brand of clay mask. This is the re:p (real elemental practice) Bio Fresh Mask with Real Calming Herb. There are no parabens, mineral oils, alcohol, animal ingredients, or other nasty for your skin products in this, which is awesome. It left my skin feeling nice without that tight feeling you sometimes get from clay masks. According to the packaging it should help soothe and hydrate your skin, which I'd have to agree with for the most part. I'll continue using this one for sure.

The other mask in the box is actually one of the reasons why I picked this instead of the regular Birchbox. I always see sheet masks on Instagram or at my local Asian store and I've been really wanting to try one. These are basically like one of those no stick gauze pads that has been soaked in skincare goo and cut into the vague shape of a face. You put in on and leave it there till the sheet dries out. These aren't washed off like a clay mask, any residue left on your skin once you remove the sheet should be patted into you skin.

So I said vaguely like your face for a reason. This mask at least fit horribly. I don't know if I just have to skinny/small of a face or what but it felt about 2 sizes too big and none of the holes really matched where my eyes or mouth was. I will admit that I really liked how my skin looked and felt once I took the sheet off but it wasn't a particularly comfortable experience. I'll give sheet masks another try just to see if it was a brand specific issue, but I probably won't become a sheet mask collector anytime soon.

One of the major differences between k-beauty and the skincare stuff you see here in the states is a difference on the focus. Take toners for example, most of the ones you buy here are for oil control or to help get rid of acne. Korean toners seem to focus more on hydrating the skin and giving it a boost of ingredients to help it look plump and radiant. This Waterest First Essence by Goodal is the perfect example of that. This is a toner (I think) that you are suppose to pat into your skin instead of wiping with a cotton ball like my usual toner. I'd call this almost a gel moisturizer it was that hydrating. I really liked this, it may be my favorite item out of the whole box. My skin always feels amazing after I use this, I need to pick up a full sized bottle for sure.

The bonus items were also from Goodal and both are a facial cleanser mostly. I say mostly because one of them is kind of halfway between a treatment and a cleanser. K-beauty seems to blur the lines between categories I've noticed. The pack on the left is the Yerba Mate Cleansing Foam and I'm not the biggest fan of it. It goes on like that old Noxzema cream stuff we all used as teens to combat our acne, but once you add water to wash it off it foams...and foams...and foams. I swear it took me longer to wash it all off my face than it took to open the pack with my teeth, squeeze some out, and rub it into my face. I spent so much time bent over my sink trying to wash all the foam away that my husband actually checked in on me.

The other pack is the Yerba Mate Bubble Peeling stuff. None of the instructions were in English so I had to look them up online, which was a bit annoying. You'd think Birchbox would have included some. This is a slightly gritty gel you rub onto your face, let sit for a bit, them rinse off. The gel foams up (think baking soda when you put vinegar on it) and is suppose to remove all your dead/dry skin. I don't think this is anywhere near what we call a peel here in the states, but the bubbling was pretty fun and made my 4 year old laugh so I guess it wasn't a total bust. I won't be getting either of these items, really not worth the price tag.

The last item is also another reason I got this box. Tony Moly products seem to be taking the beauty world by storm with their adorable packaging and I've been dying to get some of their items. This is your basic red lip/cheek tint, which I'm a total sucker for. I already own a giant bottle of red tint so I really didn't need this, but I wanted anyways.

See what I mean about cute packaging? The cap is in the shape of a little heart! I didn't even notice it at first, my kiddo pointed it out to me.

 Blended out this will give your cheeks a nice flush, or you can apply it to your lips for that "just ate a cherry Popsicle" look. It actually does smell like cherry candy, and taste like every other red lip tint I've tried. Honestly, there's nothing special about it at all, but I like it anyways. I'll probably keep it in my makeup bag since it's such a cute little size.

This box overall didn't really do it for me. I'm glad I got it and got to try everything in it, but none of the products minus the essence wowed me enough to want to get more. I think these products would be awesome for other people, but I have different skincare needs than what most k-beauty items focus on so I may just skip that trend. If you adore k-beauty and think there's something I need to try ASAP or know of a sheet mask that will fit my little face please let me know down below in the comments.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

Wow, it feels like forever since I've done a Thursday Thoughts. Let's get back into doing these regularly shall we? For my new readers out there, this is my weekly link up with Jen of Ramblings of a Suburban Mom where I talk about what's going on behind the screen.

Let's start off with some good news, the 6 months of Lupron (a type of chemotherapy) was super successful! Just got my result in the other day from my last ultrasound and everything looked super clean, my remaining ovary looks teenie and healthy, and all the fibroids inside my uterus have shrunk down to practically nothing. Fingers crossed that I get to spend a few years in peace before I'm back to square one and needing to do some sort of treatment again.

I went browsing at my local Marshall's the other day and I found a ton of awesome stuff that I didn't buy unfortunately. My Marshall's is hit or miss on good deals but I found Glamglow, H2O+, Estee Lauder, and the most amazing purse ever! Seriously, is this not the best bag? And it was only $10! I keep debating going back and getting it. If it was bigger I'd buy it in a heartbeat for sure.

My Pan that Palette project is going really well so far. I finished an eyeshadow (bringing my total to 20% of the palette done) and hit pan on 3 different shades this month. That's some pretty serious progress! I'd like to finish 2 more shades and hit pan on 2 other shades during the month of February, which may be a bit ambitious but I think I can do it. If I can finish 30 more shadows my the end of the year I'll have reached my goal on this palette, so I really need to try and finish as many pans a month as possible. Anybody else doing a Project Pan or Pan that Palette this year/month? Tag me on Instagram, I'd love to see your progress!

I have so many reviews in the works right now, so don't be surprised if there are a few double post days for the next week or so. But I'll go ahead and go a quick mini review of everything from my last Ulta haul minus the Micellar water (that review is next week). The H2O+ body wash set was on super sale and clearance so I only paid like $4 for it. They all smell amazing and the one I'm currently using lathers really well. I'm pretty impressed with them and I may go buy those H2O+ body washes from Marshall's I found the other day ($3 each!). The Soap and Glory lotions are amazing oh my gosh, I am in love! My hands are so soft from the Hand Food lotion and the Righteous Butter has really helped with my son's dry skin. The pink tube is a mascara by Essence and is my absolute favorite, I really need to do a full review on it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Goodbye Dry Skin, Hello Gorgeous!

*I received this item free for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own*

I don't know about where you live, but here it is dead of winter and my skin is beginning to remind me of a crocodile. There isn't enough lotion in the world to help with that winter time dryness, which is why loofahs were invented. The good folks over at Thermalabs were kind enough to send me their Eco Friendly Skin Exfoliators set to test out and review for you guys.

So this set comes with three mitts and a fingertip exfoliator. Each mitt is made out of different material for varying levels of scrubbiness. The whole set comes with a decent sized booklet explaining the different types of materials and when to use one over the other.

The first one, and the one I've been using lately, is the loofah one with the bamboo fiber second half. So one side is the scrubby side, the loofah, and the other side, the bamboo fiber side, is soft and absorbent so you can use it with your body wash. I really love this one and have been using it non-stop since it arrived. Since it fits on my hand I can scrub those harder to reach spots like on my back.

The second mitt is a sisal one. I had no clue what sisal was, so kudos to the company for including the booklet on information. Sisal it turns out is a type of Agave plant native to Mexico, and is well known for it's fibers starting out course and stiff but eventually becoming polished and smoother with constant use. This means that this glove will start out super scrubby and slowly transition to a nice body polishing glove. Winter makes my skin a bit sensitive so I haven't tried this one out yet, but once the loofah one wears out I'll be switching to this one next.

The last glove is made from Jute, which has long and soft fibers. This makes it the ideal material for a gentler scrubbing glove that's designed to polish your skin rather than sand it down. I can see this being my go to glove come spring time for sure.

The finger exfoliator is a bonus item so it isn't in the booklet, but it feels just like a cotton type of thicker thread. I haven't tried this yet, I'm super picky about what I use to scrub my face so I probably won't use this at all. But I really like the design concept and materials used to construct it.

I really like this set, I think it is incredibly well thought out and the price is right for me. You can purchase your own set for $15.99 with free Prime shipping. I think even with constant use this set will last you quite a while, I imagine I'll be using them for the next year so long as my 4 year old doesn't destroy them.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Dot&Dot Packing Cube: Bigger and Better

*I received this item free for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own*

If you've been reading my blog for a while you probably know that I am a bit obsessed with being really organized during travel, whether I'm traveling out of the country or just traveling to work. Dot&Dot is by far my favorite travel accessory company and the small packing cube is a personal favorite that I use practically every day to keep my bag organized for work. Well guess who just upgraded to the next size up?

Like all my other products from Dot&Dot, I got the red shade (although there are a TON of different colors) so they would all match. There's a nice handle on one end for easy carrying and a mesh front so you can see what's in the cube. The medium is quite a bit larger than the small, and is 13.5" x 9.75" x 3". This is big enough to hold an entire outfit in it, or all of one type of item for your trip.

These are really well constructed, like I mentioned earlier I use my small one almost everyday and it is still in great shape. In fact, I don't think I've had a single Dot&Dot product fall apart or break even with constant daily use. The medium sized cubes are only $12 with free Prime shipping, which is a steal! I cannot recommend these and this brand enough, if you travel at all then these are a must have item you will wish you bought earlier.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Super Secret Not Out In Stores Yet Vaseline Lip Balm

*I received this item free from Influencer for testing purposes. All opinions are my own*

I think I can finally talk about this, if not...oops. Vaseline has reformulated AND repackaged their Lip Therapy lip balms and I was lucky enough to get one a few months ago to test out. I believe these will be available in stores soon, but as of Monday this week I have not seen them in any of my local stores. There are several different types, I received the cocoa butter one. Let's see what's going on with these shall we?

First, can we talk about the cute vintage tins? Gone are the cute but hard to use little mini Vaseline tubs for lip balm, and in come these large tins inspired by designs for way back when. The tin is just under two inches across and there is 0.6 oz of product in here, so you are getting quite a bit more than in the old packaging. The color of the tin will depend on what type of balm is in it, I know the Aloe one is like greenish and I believe the Rosy Lips one is pink.

Inside is the lip balm most of you are familiar with, but I guess they've reformulated it. The back only lists three ingredients; petroleum, cocoa butter, and some flavor/aroma. There's no coloring in this at all, as you can see, and while there is a nice cocoa butter scent I wouldn't really call if flavored like a chapstick is. The balm itself has a really nice slip to it without being overly greasy and I'm loving how hydrating it is. I've been using this as my purse lip balm since I got it and I'm really happy with it. Even my 4 year old loves it.

I have no idea how much these are going to be. Since they are bigger than the old tubs I imagine they'll be a bit more than those but I can't imagine them being over $10. Once they come out I will probably pick up the other varieties and give them a test, but for now I'm really happy with the one I received and I will continue to use it till I finish it in 50 years.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Valentia Mask Duo

*I received these items free for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own*

I love facial masks, there is just something so luxurious about them. They typically have great skincare benefits and are just so relaxing for some reason. I was given the opportunity to try out two different facial masks from Valentia, which is a company I wasn't super impressed with before. Have these masks changed my opinion of the company? Let's see shall we.

First up we have the Eternal Youth Exfoliating Scrub. This is suppose to remove dead/dry skin, hydrate, and tighten up your skin.

It is super jiggly and I might have just jiggled it for a while giggling before I actually used it. There are little scrubby bits in it, but I wouldn't call this an exfoliating scrub at all. It does however leave your skin feeling really hydrated and looking nice. The scent is a little strong, very herbal. Some people may really like it, I didn't hate it but I could do without the heavy scent for sure. While I liked how my skin felt afterwards I expect something labelled as a scrub to do that, scrub my skin of all the gross winter dry bits I'm dealing with right now. And for $25 a tub this just didn't wow me enough.

Next up we have the Skin Detoxifying Clay Mask. This is your standard clay mask, you put it on, leave it alone till it dried, then wash it off. Clay masks are my favorite type of mask, they are awesome at sucking all the oils and stuff out of my pores.

This was thinner than most clay masks I've used and there was a little bit of separation when I first opened it, but nothing a quick stir didn't fix. There are plant fibers in it to gently exfoliate your skin as you wash it off and it smells divine. Slightly medicinal but very cherry scented too, like those cherry throat drops I use to buy all the time in the 90's. I actually really liked this mask, I though it did a great job clearing up some acne problems I was having and my skin felt great afterwards. The thinner consistency threw me at first but it didn't seem to effect the performance at all. This one is also $25, which is a bit much for me (Freeman masks are my jam and are under $5 each) but I do really like it.

Both of these masks can be found on Amazon using the above links and as of right now have free Prime shipping. I'm interested in exploring the brand a bit more now that I know they do have some good items, even if they are a bit overpriced.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Real Techniques Deluxe Gift Set

If you are as obsessed with beauty products as I am then you probably have quite the collection of brushes. I have so many brushes my husband is threatening to hold an intervention. But because I'm always on the hunt for the perfect brush I of course picked up one of the holiday sets that was released in December. These were actually my first Real Techniques brushes ever, which is hard to believe. But I can tell you these won't be my last brushes from them, I am in love!

This set has 5 brushes and a little silver clutch, and retails for around $15 depending on where you pick it up. I got mine on sale at Kohl's for like $12, so this was a steal for sure. Two of the brushes are exclusive to this set as well.

The clutch is just your basic padded faux leather little clutch. The box says you can store your brushes in it but I'd worry about messing them up so I'm using this to hold pens in my purse.

Real Techniques color codes their brushes, which is a feature I LOVE! Purple are eye brushes, gold is for face (like foundation and concealer), and pink is for powders (like highlighter, blush, and setting powder). The bottom are flat so you can stand them up if you wanted too. I believe all the brushes are synthetic as well, so vegan friendly.

This is the Multi Task Brush, and it is for applying whatever powder you want. I personally use this for baking my under eyes and to set all my makeup, but you can use it for bronzer, blush, whatever you want.

The bristles are so soft, it's like a cloud on your face. I really like the domed shape, it's perfect to sweep away my powder when I'm baking and really gives my skin a flawless look. And did I mention it is sooooo soft? So so soft.

The Tapered Foundation brush is exclusive to this set, and is my current foundation applicator of choice.

The bristles are incredibly dense and tapered, making it a really great foundation brush. Sometimes it can be a little pokey just because of the unique cut, but after a bit of use the whole thing seems to even out and I haven't noticed any poking lately. I love how my makeup looks when I use this, this is well worth the price of the kit.

The other exclusive brush to this set is the Angled Highlighter brush. You can also use this for contouring, but I have a different brush I prefer for that.

I adore this brush and I use it every single day no joke. It is the best brush for highlighting I've ever used. The super soft bristles feel great on my skin and it is just the right size and shape for applying highlight to my cheek bones. The two exclusive brushes in this set make the whole kit worth it to me, so all the other brushes are an awesome bonus.

This is the Base Shadow brush, and if you buy their eye brush kit it comes in that one as well.

Again, super soft like all the other brushes from Real Techniques. The shape is just right for applying a transition color or an all over color. I'm actually tempted to get the eye brush kit so I can have a second one of these.

And the last brush is the Fine Liner brush. This also comes in the eye brush kit as well.

I actually haven't used this one at all yet, I'm currently out of cream/gel liner and just haven't gotten around to buying more. But I think this would preform really well. There's just the right amount of stiffness to it and the point is nice and fine. I will update you guys on what I think after I get more gel liner.

This is a really great set, well worth the price and I use all of them (minus the liner for reasons I just stated) daily. I'm really interested in trying out more Real Techniques brushes and seeing how well those perform. They are currently on sale (buy one get one free) at Ulta this month so now is a great time to pick them up. What's your favorite Real Techniques brush?

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Worst Makeup Removing Pads I've Ever Tried

*I received these free for reviewing purposes. All opinions are 100% my own*

I ask very little of my makeup and skincare products. I want them to work well and not break me out. That's it. A pretty simple list of needs I think, and most things don't fail my list. But man, whenever I have an item fail it seems to fail spectacularly. I had such high hopes for the MoMoUP Makeup Removing Finger Pads, they have such a unique design that I could not wait to test them out. But let's back up a bit before we get to why I hate these so much.

These are makeup removing pads you put on your finger (see pictures below), which is a neat concept. There are two in each pack, and their are 25 packs total in the box.

Each set is individually wrapped, another concept I liked quite a bit. I really need to find makeup removing wipes I like that come in individual packs like this.

The back has a "How To Use" guide, but the light pink on white color scheme can be harder to see if you have vision problems like I do. While is is annoying it isn't why I think this product is awful.

They do fit nicely on my fingers, but if you had bigger/thicker fingers I doubt you'd be able to comfortable place this on your fingers like so. And they are really saturated, so they can be a bit hard to pull apart and feel a bit....gross on your fingers. First reason I don't like these is the smell. They smell exactly like the gallon sized bottles of bubble mix I buy my son. Very strong and overpowering and not even a good scent. I'm actually pretty sure there is bubble mix on these because when you use them it makes your skin feel like there's a thick soapy residue leftover. I actually had to wash my face completely after using this the first time. So that's another reason not to like it.

One of the biggest reasons I didn't like these is they burned my eyes so bad it felt like I had touched them with peppers. How is a eye makeup removing wipe suppose to work if it burns your eyes?!? And I even double checked the packaging to see if they were maybe just face and not eyes, but nope. Totally ok to use on your eyes. I have no idea what made them burn so bad but even if these worked awesomely I wouldn't use them again. And since I had to do a full washing of my face just to get the residue off, I'm not counting these as working at all.

And the last reason I hate these is they broke me out something fierce. I only used them the one time and my skin took a time machine back to my teenage years. It was awful! Took a full week of babying and treating my skin just to get it back to normal. A cleaner shouldn't break you out so badly you basically live in concealer, that's not how it should work.

I think these are a total piece of crap and a waste of money. I would never ever recommend these to anybody, even people I don't like. The rest of the box is going straight into the trash.