Sephora Haul

Yikes, I have been seriously slacking on posting lately. I’m sorry about that. Things just get busy and I’m excellent at procrastinating! But anyway, here I am and I thought I’d show you guys my Sephora order that arrived this week.

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Not the best picture, but my battery was dying so I took this quickly. I’ll try to remember to add in some more pictures later. First thing that I got was the Soap And Glory Peaches And Clean Deep Cleansing Milk. I’ve been looking for a new cleanser for a while now and was trying to find one without parabens and such. Not all of this brands’ products are paraben free, so if that matters to you be sure to read the ingredients.This particular product specifically states that it’s paraben, sulfate, and phthaylate free. This one got good reviews, came in a large size, and was limited edition. I like that it’s a pump bottle because I don’t have to fumble with a cap while holding my Clarisonic in the other hand (a little thing, I know, but still handy). The bottle itself is actually clear, so it’s obviously filled all the way up which I like too. The pump locked into place so nothing leaked during shipping. The price was a bit steep, I think it was about $28, but I was previously using Kiehl’s which was less product for around that price range. I’ve used this cleanser once so far and it seemed nice. It was creamy and worked well with my Clarisonic Mia, and it seems like you don’t need to use alot. I like it so far, as long as it doesn’t cause any breakouts. I’m still iffy on it’s “melt away makeup” claims.

The other thing I wanted to get was Josie Maran Argan Oil. I got the light version in one of the limited edition Birchboxes and started using 3-4 drops of it on my face at night. It made my skin feel very soft and even better, it seems to clear up my acne and any product-related breakouts heal much faster. The light argan oil has been sold out alot in the smaller sizes, so I’ve looked at alot of kits lately. Sephora finally had this smaller sized bottle for $16, but then I found the set that contained the light version and the regular version in the same size for $22. That was a no brainer so I’m excited to try out the full strength kind as well. You can also use this on your cuticles and hair, and I believe it’s recommended for all skin types. If you got the mini light oil from Birchbox, these bottles are about 3 times the size of that. These bottles came in an envelope style packaging which didn’t have the same visual appeal as far as gift giving is concerned, but that was fine with me since they were for myself and arrived undamaged. The envelope also had a little color coded guide showing which oil is best for which occasion (daytime wear, going to bed, under makeup, that sorta thing) which was a nice touch.

I had a really hard time deciding what to get in this order. I’m still drooling over this Tarte Tartiest Clay Paint Liner, has anyone out there tried it? I would love to see pics. I definitely think it’s going to be my next Sephora purchase. Anyway the cleanser and oil are the only parts of this order I actually bought. That brings us to the samples. The three that I picked are Soap and Glory Sugar Crush Moisture Extreme Body Buttercream (What a long name… doesn’t matter, they had me at buttercream), BareMinerals Lash Domination Volumizing Mascara, and the Eve Lom cleanser. The cleanser is a little foil pack but it also came with a cloth, which is cool and reminds me of the Liz Earle sample I’ve been using. Although, the Liz Earle deluxe sample is the greatest sample packaging ever, and that stuff has lasted me ages and I love the cloth. We’ll see how Eve Lom measures up as far as the actual product goes. I also picked the Bare Minerals mascara because I love to try different mascaras and it’s something I rarely splurge on.

Next I checked out the coupon codes because everyone knows, or should know, that you do not place a Sephora order without a coupon code! They had one for a free year of Vogue that I was planning to use, but honestly, I rarely read magazines anymore and I decided I’d rather try a beauty product than read about them! So I picked up the Josie Maran cleansing oil deluxe sample. Since I already like the brand I thought it might be nice to use something else in the same line, and I’ve never tried a cleansing oil before unless you count oily eyemakeup remover.

But wait, there’s more! I also had a couple hundred points rolling around in my beauty bank, so I figured now was as good a time as any to cash those suckers in. I went for the Bumble & Bumble repair blowdry because it had good reviews, and I have very long hair that could use some repairing. I’ve used it twice now and I think I like it. The last thing is Korres Black Pine Firming, Lifting, and Antiwrinkle night cream. This is another product I would never try without a sample, but it has good reviews and who doesn’t love firming, lifting, and antiwrinkling? I have no idea what black pine is but it sounds fancy! Or like something you pick up off the ground after a forest fire. Either way, I’m looking forward to trying it and magically looking much hotter.

Okay, that’s all for now. I will update with reviews on some of these things once I have a chance to use them more. I have some more posts to catch up on soon including my December Birchbox. See you then, cupcakes.

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Buying Clothes

I decided to do a little shopping last night and went to check out American Eagle and see what they had on sale. I ended up getting a black and white bodycon dress on clearance for $11.99. Not bad, right? Then I picked up a bra that was marked down and then discounted again in the cart, that ended up being $8.99. That’s what I love about AE, you can find bras that started out as 40 bucks a few weeks ago that are suddenly drastically discounted. Since their bras ship free, I didn’t have to worry about shipping either. I buy too much lingerie, but who can resist a $9 bra with great reviews? I mean come on!

While we’re on the subject, where do you guys stand on the whole lingerie matching thing? I read some quote the other night from one of the Williams’ sisters that said for a good marriage always wear matching lingerie, or something like that. Does anyone actually do that on a regular basis? I do occasionally, but usually I just buy things individually, not in sets. I do like stuff that coordinates, if not necessarily matches. Maybe this is why I’m not married yet. D’oh.

A while back I mentioned that I won some Dr. Brandt skincare from Birchbox during a Twitter chat. I emailed them my info and never heard back and it had been a few weeks. Since they are nice, they contacted me on Twitter again and let me know that they never got my email. I checked my outbox and it had never sent for some reason. It was my fault but they still wanted to get my prize to me, aw. So anyway, they sent my prize out and here’s a look at the kit I got.

Processed with MoldivIt came in a little silver bag with a cute Birchbox logo on the zipper pull. The no filter thing is a mirror, and there is an eye cream, wrinkle cream, pores no more, and a tube of microdermabrasion stuff. (Thats a big word huh?). I haven’t used any of it yet but maybe I’ll do a review later. In case you’re curious, the zebra print is just a pillow I had the stuff sitting on for the pics.  🙂 This kit sells on Birchbox.com for around $40 I think. So yay for winning things!

That’s all for now. My Birchbox review for March is definitely going to be late because…. well, it’s April… and I still haven’t used all of the stuff. Sorry about that! My April box has been shipped so I’ll post a preview when it gets here.

Review: Birchbox Salma Hayak Nuance Box

I meant to review this ages ago but I just haven’t gotten around to it. Sorry about that! But without further delay, here’s my review of the Salma Hayak Nuance Birchbox. (I received this box and these products absolutely free for being a Birchbox subscriber).

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AM/PM Anti Aging Super Cream – This sample came in a small clear jar, packaged in a little box (center of image). I love the little jar because it actually clicks and locks the lid into place. I really liked the idea of a morning and night cream and I was hoping that this would work well for me. Unfortunately, my acne prone skin didn’t take very well to it, and after one use I seemed to break out more, so I stopped using it. It seemed like a nice product and I would’ve liked to continue using it, maybe I’ll try it again one of these days. The full size of this is $19.99.

Super Secret Moisturizing Body Cream – This was a FULL sized bottle of lotion ($15 value) and I was really excited about that. Initially, I wasn’t crazy about the smell but I did get used to it, and it doesn’t linger too much on your skin. It does a great job of moisturizing and my skin continued to stay soft for a long time after each use. I don’t use it everyday, but I do use it on a regular basis and I think it’s a great product that’s worth the price. I will probably buy more when I run out.

Mamey Fruit Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner – I love that both the shampoo and conditioner were included in this box, to let you see how they work together. The samples were a decent size and I got several uses out of them. The shampoo and conditioner had an overall pleasant scent which other people seemed to like even more than I did. I wouldn’t say they were spectacular, but they were definitely good and I did end up purchasing the full size of both. The only thing I dislike is that the slim bottles of the full size, while nice to look at, don’t hold alot of product. They are $7.99 each so just take a look at the fl oz compared to what you usually use, before you make up your mind about trying them.

Lights, Camera, Action Eye Trio – This was the product that I was most looking forward to trying, because I love eye makeup. The stick design is fantastic for throwing in your purse yet still giving you a good amount of product. One end has liquid eyeshadow, the other end has eyeliner, and the middle is a highlighter. Again I just have to point out how much I love the packaging. I’ve seen products like Mark that have different things on each end, but this was really well done. The end cap that has the eyeliner was especially nice, because it’s still a twist up, soft eyeliner. The highlighter is like a white lipstick with a rounded end, and the shadow has a little doefoot applicator. I naturally assumed that the packaging was the gimmick, and that the products themselves would.. quite frankly, suck. I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t the case at all. The trio I recieved had a nice shimmery brown shadow, that went on easily and looked quite pretty when dry. The only trick to this is to not over apply it, otherwise it can look too thick and a little creased. Just put it on quickly, let it dry and then blend a little if you want. The black eyeliner twists up easily, goes on smoothly and fast, and lasts a long time. It’s difficult to get a winged edge with it, but you can use a brush and blend it out into one. I actually like this liner better than my Mally eyeliner.  The highlighter goes on soft and is super easy to blend with your fingers for a little shimmer on the browbone and inner corners, etc. I love this product for when I’m in a hurry and it’s a great item to take with you. I probably wouldn’t leave it anywhere where it might get too hot, as the highlighter is already soft and could potentially melt, but otherwise it’s awesome. For travel or unexpected overnight stays this is ideal. All you need is a mini mascara and you’ve got an entire eye look in two little tubes. I would guess that the eye trio is around 6-8 inches long, but that’s just off the top of my head. Full size is $8.79 and worth every penny in my opinion.

Nuance products are sold exclusively at CVS. This box was provided for free to certain Birchbox subscribers whose profile showed that they might be interested in trying it. (Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Birchbox?) To get your own Birchbox, click here!

Review: Kiehls Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser

kiehls_ultrafacialoilfreecleanser_300x300Recently, I decided it was time for me to cash in some of my Birchbox points (which are awesome, by the way, and the best reward system of any of the monthly boxes). I knew I wanted to buy another Eyeko liquid eyeliner, which is now my favorite eyeliner, and I picked up a bottle of Zoya Remove as well. For my last item I wanted to get a new face cleanser because I was running out of Real Purity by Philosophy. To be honest, Purity is okay, but I’ve never been THAT impressed by it. I continued to use it because it worked well with my Clarisonic and I was able to get deluxe samples of it a few times with other purchases.

I knew that I wanted to try something different this time, and I was looking for a cleanser without alot of chemicals and gunk in it. Browsing around the Birchbox shop, I found the Kiehls cleanser and read the reviews. I checked out the reviews of it from other sites as well, and read alot of positive things about it. It’s sulfate free, paraben free, silicone free, oil free, and fragrance free so it sounded like exactly what I was looking for.

When I got this in the mail, things in my life were pretty crazy. I started using it sporadically without putting any thought into it at all. I noticed that it lathered really nicely and felt alot like washing my face with some kind of nice soap. After I had been using this for a while, I was putting on my makeup one day and thought, “wow, my skin looks clear… why does it look so good?” I started trying to think of what I was doing differently, and then I remembered that I had been occasionally using this cleanser, and it was the only new thing in my routine. I started to use it more often and continued to notice that when I use it my skin looks clearer, feels softer, more even, and overall just looks better. The best part is that you only need a tiny amount to get your whole face clean, and the lather is really soothing.

The only downside I’ve found so far to this cleanser, if it can even be called a downside, is that it can be a little drying if you use it alot. My skin gets pretty dry anyway though, so this might not be a problem for everyone. I feel like if I could use it more often, my skin would be even clearer, but I don’t want to overdo it so I often only use it at night or even skip a day or two from it. I’m hoping to try some of the other Kiehl’s products which might help with that. Birchbox, if you’re reading this, send me some more Kiehl’s items in my box! ; )

The Kiehl’s cleanser is available from the Birchbox shop for $19.50, and is also available on several other websites. I feel like this is a good value for the money since it’s a good size and you only need such a tiny amount, it will last a long time. This has on occasion burned my eyes a little, but I had the same issue with Purity – just be careful to keep it away from your eye area. Because of that, and the slight tendency to dry out my skin a bit, I would give it four and a half out of five stars. So far I think it’s the best cleanser I’ve ever used.

Desert Island Beauty Product

Sorry for the lack of updates lately, things have been a bit busy. I’ll have the review of my June Birchbox up soon. Until then, I’m going to tell you about one of my favorite multitasking beauty products. If you asked me one of those hypothetical questions like “what one beauty product would you take to a desert island?” this is it: L’Occitane Shea Butter

Shea butter has been a popular ingredient in beauty products for a while now, and there are all kinds of lotions, shampoos, etc. that contain small amounts of it. You may think that all shea butter is created equally, and that lotion containing shea butter is the same as the pure form. Actually, shea butter is more complicated than that. It comes in different grades, which tell you the quality. Pure shea has alot of healing properties for your skin, and has a ton of uses. The shea butter found in lotion has been processed, and it loses those properties, therefore doesn’t have the same result.

Shea butter comes from a nut found in the fruit from shea/karite trees. (If you’re allergic to nuts, use caution and ask your doctor). These nuts are turned into shea butter by the local women in Africa, and L’Occitane’s shea butter is certified fair trade as well as certified organic. There are alot of other brands out there, but if you want it to have all of the good properties, you want the unrefined, and purest kind you can get.

The consistency takes some getting used to, it’s a little like Crisco. You warm a small amount in your hands and rub it in. I like to use it after a shower, right before bed as an all over moisturizer, and I wake up with super soft skin. It has a distinctive smell, but it doesn’t really linger too long and you do get used to it. It can feel a bit heavy or greasy on your skin when you first put it on. That’s why I like to use it at night, so that it has a chance to absorb really well while I sleep. If you use it on your hair and scalp, use it very sparingly and it’s best to do it at night and wash your hair when you wake up, although you can use a TINY amount for flyaways.

The best thing about shea butter, besides being natural, is that is makes a great multitasking product to keep on hand. You can use it on your skin, your hair, scalp, bug bites, dry heels, cuticles, scars, elbows, stretch marks, as wrinkle prevention, and many, many other things. This site lists a few of it’s uses, but there are even more you can find online. I’ve been buying these tins of shea butter for several years now and consider it a staple in my beauty routine. A full sized tin of L’Occitane shea butter costs around $40, but will most likely last you anywhere from several months up to a year or so, depending on how often you roll around in it once you’re addicted to having silky skin. If you’re not ready to plunk down that much cash, amazon sells small tins of it for about $10. These tins are more like lip balm sized, and are handy to throw in your purse – although keep in mind, this stuff will melt. I haven’t tried many other brands of shea butter, just do your research and make sure you know the quality of what you’re buying. I just happen to be a fan of L’Occitane anyway, – and besides, it’s awfully fun to say. 😉 That’s all for now, mainly because one of my lovely dachshunds apparently has a list of demands and is standing nearby grumbling at me. Have a wonderful weekend!

Mini Review: StriVectin, First Aid Beauty, Eos

I wanted to quickly make a mini review of a few products I’ve either bought, or tried samples of lately and liked.

StriVectin-SH Age Protect SPF 30 – This is an oil free moisturizer for your face that comes complete with spf 30 (obviously, since it’s in the title). It’s formulated without parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances/dyes, or petrochemicals. Yay. I originally got this product as a mistake, actually. I redeemed my Sephora points for a deluxe sample of one of the other StriVectin products, but they were sold out and sent me this instead. At first I was a little bummed, but once I started using this stuff I loved it. It’s not too thick, absorbs quickly, and makes a great base to start your makeup with. I use mineral foundation and this has been my favorite moisturizer to use before makeup. Best of all, I never noticed any breakouts or problems associated with this. My only complaint is that a full sized bottle is $49, which is a little too steep to pay for lotion, in my humble opinion. But if you’re looking for a good moisturizer with spf, this is the best that I’ve found so far. A little goes a long way too, I managed to stretch my sample out for quite some time.

First Aid Beauty Ulta Repair Cream – This is another product that I received as a sample and ended up loving. This is a cream containing Colloidal Oatmeal, made for severely dry skin (and even things like Eczema, Keratosis Pilaris, etc. Just read the description on Sephora for the specifics). The product is also free of parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances/dyes, phthalates, and more. Their results claim that 98% of people noticed an instant relief from dry skin, with 100% reporting a lasting improvement in skin dryness. Sounds too good to be true, right? I often have dry, flaky skin and over the past several months I developed a few patches of dry skin that were noticeably darker and itchy. (Ew, I know, that’s probably TMI). One of them was on my leg and would itch like crazy. I put the sample on each of the dry patches, and just like they promised – instant relief. The patches started clearing up from the very first use! I used the sample packet very sparingly, and before it was finished all of the dry patches had completely cleared up. I was so impressed with this cream, especially considering I had tried many other lotions that did little, if anything for the dryness or itching. I also love knowing that this has fewer chemicals and no parabens, so I will most likely be buying a larger size soon.

Eos Sweet Mint Lip Balm – 95% natural and 100% organic, not bad for a lip balm, right? Paraben free, not tested on animals, and no animal byproducts either. I added this to my cart recently when I was shopping at Walmart.com. You can pick up these little spheres for around $3-$5. I love that the sphere has a little flat circle on the bottom, so it can stand up, but also a flat oval on the side to help you open it and keep it from rolling off your desk. The cap clicks on very securely, and because of the shape of the lip balm, its easy to find in your purse. Next time I would probably choose another flavor, but as a lip balm addict this one is high on my list. Is it the best lip balm I’ve ever used? Probably not, it’s good but I find myself reapplying it alot. But for the price, and knowing you’re using something organic and natural? This is definitely a product worth trying.

Lastly, Sephora currently has Stila eyeshadow palettes on sale for $12! They claim it’s a $54 value, and the colors definitely look pretty. I know some of you received a little card of Stila shadows in your Birchboxes this month, so if you were looking to buy them, I doubt you’ll find a better deal. They don’t however, have the smokey colors from the Birchboxes. That’s all for now, enjoy your weekend!

Clarisonic Diary: Week 3

Hi everyone, I just wanted to make an update about my progress with the Clarisonic Mia 2. Last week I mentioned that I had been really slacking and not using it twice per day the way you’re supposed to. Because of this, let’s just consider this update to be what should have happened during week two.

Since the Purpose soap was becoming too drying for me to use twice per day, I decided to go ahead and start using the Philosophy Purity that came with the Clarisonic. I had used Purity several years ago, but thought that I remembered being unimpressed by it. So this past week I’ve been using my Clarisonic twice per day (although I still missed a time or two) with the Purity soap exclusively. I’m no longer using Purpose bar soap at all. I have to say, it’s made a big difference. After using the Purity with the Mia, my skin feels so soft and clean. The flakiness is gone and my skin overall looks better. I’ve had one small breakout, but I don’t think it was from the Purity.

I’m really happy with my Clarisonic. I feel like my skin is cleaner, the dryness has improved, and the overall tone and texture is a bit better. It’s not a huge difference so far, but I feel like I’m making progress toward healthier looking skin. The redness that I often have has toned down and my face and neck feel soft. The downside to that is that I keep touching my face! Luckily I’m somewhat of a compulsive hand washer, so maybe that’s not too bad. 😉

My impression of the Mia 2 is very favorable. It’s easy to hold, extremely fast to use, and I love having the light on the handle to flash when it needs to be charged. Charging is a little slower than I expected, but luckily it doesn’t need to be done that often. I charge it overnight about once a week, after using it twice a day with two 1 minute cycles each use (one for face, a second cycle for my neck and little ‘touch ups’). If you only did the one minute cycle, you would charge it even less. It’s easy to remove the brush head for cleaning or to change it, they snap on and off like a child proof cap. I still haven’t used my deep pore brush head, but will probably start using it a few times per week. After using the Clarisonic, the brush stays very wet. If you put the cap back on (which does have air holes) it probably won’t be dry by the next use. I generally try to dry it off on a towel before replacing the cap. I think I read somewhere that you can dry it by rubbing it on a towel while it’s on, but I’m not sure if that’s recommended to do every time. The only other little quirk is that while you can pause it, there doesn’t seem to be a way to turn it off. Once on, it has to run it’s complete one minute cycle before it turns off. This isn’t a huge deal since it’s only a minute, but still kind of odd. Overall I am very happy with my Mia 2 and have not experienced any ‘purging’ breakouts that people sometimes mention, and if I had it to do over again I would definitely still get it.