Saturday, March 16, 2013

Yes to Tomatoes Daily Pore Scrub- February Beauty Army

Sample- dinky foil packet
Full-sized- $9.99 for 4 oz





I’ve used several things from the Yes to Tomatoes line and liked them all so I was excited to get this. I’ve actually been meaning to try it so it was nice to get to try a sample without having to buy the full-sized thing. The whole Yes to Tomatoes line is mostly natural products. They use salicylic acid that’s naturally derived from tomatoes (hence the name). This particular product also has ginger root and bisabolol (whatever that is) to help reduce redness. This scrub is also sulfate free and paraben free which I have been into lately.

Even though this says it’s a daily scrub, I didn’t use it every day.  I use my Olay Pro-X cleansing brush (which exfoliates gently) every other day so I really don’t feel the need to use an exfoliating scrub more than once a week. This scrub uses ground up bamboo to exfoliate. I don’t know how I feel about that. I feel like this is kind of along the same lines as the St. Ives Apricot Scrub with the ground up apricot pit that rips your face apart. Okay not literally but those types of irregular, rough granules are not good for your skin. If I exfoliate I would rather use little microbeads that have a smooth surface and are gentler on my skin. Besides the fact that the exfoliants are harsh, they are also quite highly concentrated, which adds up to a super harsh scrub that is way too much for my sensitive skin. Besides that, the scrub only lasted two uses so I really couldn’t tell you if it did anything for my skin. My skin certainly felt quite soft and clean, it didn’t make my face tight or anything. It doesn’t have any smell that I could discern.

So overall, this was to harsh for my skin, even once a week. If your skin is super non-sensitive and hearty then this might be a good weekly or bi-weekly exfoliator to try but I can’t imagine anyone being able to use this every day. Its just to harsh for that.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sebastian Professional Potion 9 Styling Treatment- January Glossybox

Sample was 1.7 oz
Full-sized is $19 for 5.1 oz through Sebastian Professional Salons (or Ulta)




This styling cream is a very unique orange color. It’s a cream gel that smells like coconuts and tropical breezes. This is a pump applicator so I just used the amount that came out with a pump. It seemed just right for my hair but someone with shorter or longer hair would need to adjust accordingly. The directions say to work into damp hair blow dry or air dry for conditioned smooth hair. I used this in my damp hair and let it air dry. I was impressed with how smooth and shiny it was. The next morning it was still very soft and shiny and it didn’t make it any more greasy than normal. After using it every day for a couple weeks I still really like it. It’s a good leave-in conditioner/smoothing serum/shine serum. Just an FYI, if you have super fine hair and this is too heavy for it they do have a Potion 9 Lite as well that you could try.


Unfortunately it doesn’t matter how much I liked this stuff because I’m not sure I’m going to be able to buy it. It’s a salon brand so you have to get it through the salon. There are no salons anywhere near me. After doing some more online research I did find it at Ulta. You can’t buy it online but if you’re lucky enough to live near an Ulta that carries this you can buy it there. I have an Ulta about an hour and a half from me so next time I’m in that direction I plan to check it out and see if they carry it. I did find some on Ebay and Amazon so if you’re interested check that out but just a warning, most of them are way more expensive than the regular price. 


Thursday, March 14, 2013

GG Gatsby Raise Volume Shampoo- February Beauty Army

Sample- dinky packet
Full-sized- $14.99 for 8.4 oz


Pic from www.gggatsby.com


I was excited to try this because I have been doing some research about sulfates and how bad they actually are for your hair and why you shouldn’t use them. Basically sulfates are the things in most shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand soap, and basically everything that lather up and clean you. What they do though, is strip your hair and body and whatever else of its natural oil and moisture. So in the long run they are bad for your hair and skin and whatever else. Unfortunately, my experience with sulfate-free shampoos have been less than stellar. I haven’t yet been able to find one that actually cleans my hair. This one might be an option.

This was quite a small sample and I only got two uses out of it (although I could probably have gotten three out if I’d been more frugal. . .I feel like I say that about everything) so I can’t really 100% say that its wonderful but from the amount that I used it, I loved it. It’s a clear non-lathering shampoo (although it does actually lather a little) that smells wonderful. As I was washing my hair with it today I was trying to think of how I would describe the smell of it but I really just can’t. The best I can say is that it’s a nice fruity smell but also a little flowery. I can’t really get any more descriptive than that. I don’t know that its added any volume to my hair and it doesn’t give my hair “mirror-like shine” as it claims but it definitely leaves my hair very clean, which is more than I can say from any other sulfate-free shampoo that I’ve ever used. So that’s saying something right there. I have a large back stash of shampoo and conditioner right now but I feel like I might want to try this more long term next time I need shampoo.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fresh Umbrian Clay Mattifying Serum- January Glossybox

Sample was .17 oz
Full-sized is $35 for 1 oz

Pic from sephora.com


First of all, what is Umbrian clay? It apparently is an ultra-fine clay that comes exclusively from Nocera Umbra, Italy. So there you go. The Umbrian clay in this serum is supposes to neutralize acid on the face, purify and clarify. Ginger root and meadowsweet extract control oil and minimize pores. If this actually does all of the things it claims. . .I will be in love.

This serum doesn’t really strike me as a serum. It seems more like a light moisturizer. It’s a sort of tannish colored cream that smells weird. It doesn’t really smell bad, just weird. It smells sort of like cucumbers but not like a refreshing cucumber, like a bitter cucumber. Its hard to describe but it doesn’t hang around after it dries. It’s a very light moisturizer. It smoothes on really nicely and was enough moisture for me but someone with dry or normal skin might need an extra moisturizer. But then again someone with dry or normal skin probably doesn’t need a mattifying serum. Now, you know I have oily skin. Not horrendously oily this time of year but I do still have to blot at least once throughout the day. This serum didn’t change that. I still had to blot at about the same time I usually do. And I didn’t notice my pores were minimized at all.

So overall, it was a nice light moisturizer but it didn’t control my oil and it’s a little more than I would spend on just a day moisturizer.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Yu-Be Lip Balm

$5 at www.sephora.com


Pic from www.sephora.com



I really don’t like lip balms that have beeswax in them. They tend to be waxy (duh), don’t smooth on my lips well, and don’t moisturize that well. As far as lip balms that contain beeswax this lip balm is better than most I’ve tried. It smoothes on fairly well and moisturizes decently. It does have a rather unpleasant herby smell and taste. It comes from the rosemary in it. Its not horrendous but I don’t particularly like it either. I like rosemary in my food and sprinkled on top of my focaccia bread but I don’t like it in my beauty products.

This moisturizes pretty well and isn’t horrendously waxy in texture. It’s a decent lip balm but I don’t think its worth the money. $5 may not seem like much but its twice as much as my normal lip balm and at the rate I use lip balm it only lasts me a couple weeks. I’ll stick with my Blistex.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Le Metier De Beaute Replenishing Daily Solution- January Glossybox

Sample was a dinky foil packet
Full-sized- $225 for 1.7 oz exclusively at Neiman Marcus


Pic from www.neimanmarcus.com

Its obvious to see why Glossybox only sprung for a dinky foil packet of this stuff. This crap is expensive. This rich cream promises to hydrate, nourish, and detoxify the skin. It says it uses Syntoc Actif which apparently is some breakthrough technology that delivers the ingredients to your skin more efficiently. This says it can be used along with moisturizer but for my oily skin I am using this alone as a night moisturizer. Even though this has SPF 30, I feel like its too rich to use during the day. The cream is one of the richest creams I have ever felt. I would liken it with some of the eye creams I have used. It’s a pretty peachy pink color. It has more of a chemical, sunscreen-y smell than I thought it would. From such an expensive cream I was expecting a more pleasant scent. It does smooth on well though and my skin feels fabulously smooth after just the first time using it. As far as the moisture level goes it seems pretty similar to my Simple Night Moisturizer but when I woke up the next morning my face was way smoother and softer than its ever been with any other night moisturizer. And I haven’t noticed any extra blemishes. I was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked. Using just a thin layer of this at night, the packet will last me a good two weeks. I should say though that I only used this about a week and a half, rather than the whole month I usually like to take to test skin care products because I received a trial of another skin care brand that’s kind of time sensitive so I had to start using that. But based on the length of time I used this I loved it. Unfortunately Its way too expensive for me to ever actually buy it.

Monday, February 11, 2013

GoClear Clarifying Cleanser AM/PM

$25 for 4.4 oz (where? I don’t know)

pic from http://goclear.com

This cleanser claims to be a gel but the stuff I got was a very thick white cream with green beads. The beads don’t actually add any exfoliating qualities. They burst and I’m not really sure what’s in them. It does not lather up at all (the directions say it does). So right then and there I was a little weirded out because two things that it is supposed to be are not true. Plus it was on sale so maybe this is some faulty batch? Or an old batch? Anyway, the cleanser doesn’t lather up but oh well, its just a cream cleanser. It has a very light herbal smell. I usually don’t like herbal smells but this just kind of smells like a cup of chamomile tea or something so I’m okay with it. It felt like it left a bit of a film on my face. Not a greasy residue but just like there was some weird stuff left behind on my face. A good toner takes care of that though. The GoClear website claims that this cleanser uses powerful antioxidants such as acai berry and green and white tea extracts to fight free radicals. It also says it has shea butter in it to hydrate. I find that very interesting. I’ve never heard of a facial cleanser having shea butter in it. I’m surprised it didn’t make my skin super greasy. But that aside, I used this cleanser twice a day for about two weeks and then I started only using it at night and using another cleanser in the morning. I haven’t noticed that its done anything for my skin. It’s a fairly good cleanser and I feel like it does clean well and didn’t dry my skin  out or make it too oily but it certainly didn’t do anything for my acne. 

The GoClear line also has an acne treatment and a moisturizing sunscreen. There is no toner in this regimen and the description of the cleanser says that it has gentle exfoliating granules (which I guess is the green beads) that dissolve into skin and time-release vitamin E & C so maybe that’s the residue and maybe its supposed to be there? Maybe I’m taking off the stuff that’s supposed to help my skin and maybe that’s why it hasn’t done anything? I don’t know but maybe I’ll try it again with no toner and see what happens. Keep an eye out for this in an empties video and I’ll tell you how it worked with no toner.


(BTW this is way too much to actually use
 but I wanted to show the  green beads)
Does this look like a lather to you?
Actually it kind of does in this picture but its not I promise.
I got this when it was on sale at Sephora (they no longer carry it) but I am at a loss as to how to buy it now. The website has a “buy it” link but it just goes to the Sephora website. When I first got it I looked on amazon and ebay and I thought I found some of the three piece regimen kits but I can’t find them now. I didn’t love this anyway so I guess it doesn’t really matter but I would have liked to try the whole set and see how the whole kit works.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Yes To Blueberries Age Refresh Firming Eye Treatment- Beauty Army January

Sample- foil packet
Full-sized- $19.99 for 0.5 oz at most drugstores (and WalMart)


I am in the process of trying to settle on a good eye cream I love so I was really happy to get this. And I’m okay with the foil packet because I’ll get plenty of uses out of it. I have super puffy eyes and dark circles so I need some help. If I can find an affordable eye cream that works I will be so happy.

 To start of with this company has several full lines of beauty products that are tailored to specific things. The Yes to Tomatoes (which you have seen all over my blog) line if for acne, Yes to Cucumbers is a refreshing and soothing line for sensitive skin, Yes to Carrots is hydrating, Yes to Blueberries is anti-aging, and the new Yes to Grapefruit is for brightening. All their products use naturally derived active ingredients. I was pretty excited to try this cream. . .but ended up being a little disappointed. The one thing I can say is this is a very healthy sample of eye cream. I compared it to some of my other eye cream foil packets I’ve gotten and this sample was 30% to even 60% larger than some of my other samples. This will probably last me a good month or so. Right there that is a plus. Next, lets talk about the smell. For a “natural” product, this has a very chemical smell. It does have a little fruitiness (not necessarily blueberry though) but it’s pretty chemical. I thought that was strange. The formula seems like a pretty standard eye cream. It’s a pretty thick white cream that does feel a little greasy to me. It doesn’t really absorb very well. My under eye area still feels kind of greasy and it doesn’t get that smooth, dry feeling that my L’Occitane Precious Eye Balm gives me. After using it for about two weeks (which should be plenty of time to test an eye cream) I can’t say I see any difference in my eye area. It hasn’t helped at all with the puffiness or dark circles and the fine lines under my eyes are still there. Plus, I got it in my eye by accident a few days ago and it burns! That is never a good thing. So overall, I will use up the rest of the sample but I don’t recommend this eye cream.


Friday, February 8, 2013

OPI Liquid Sand Nail Lacquer in Can't Let Go- Glossybox January

Sample was full-sized- $9 at your Salon


O.P.I.’s Liquid Sand Line is a brand spankin’ new line. It was developed in conjunction with Mariah Carey although her name is not anywhere on the packaging. I found information online that said it was launching in January of 2013 so it should be in salon’s now. I also found a lot of bottles on Amazon for $5. The whole line is matte polishes that have glitter in them and dry in a bumpy texture. There are 8 shades.

Can’t Let Go is a matte purple with lighter purple glitter in it. I used a topcoat, just because I always automatically do, before I read online that you aren’t supposed to use a topcoat because it will effect the matte-ness. Oh well. It is more shiny than it normally would be but I like the look. As far as the quality of the polish, its OPI so if you’ve used that before, you know what to expect. It went opaque in two coats.

So, what do I think of this? I really didn’t know at first. Its very different and I didn’t know what to think of it. I couldn’t quite decide whether or not I liked it. I definitely liked the color but I wasn’t sure if I liked the texture or not. But after wearing it for a while, and getting several compliments on it, I’ve decided that I like it. It wears fairly well too. I’ve been wearing it for four or five days now with only minimal chipping on the tips. That’s pretty good for me. I’m hard on nails. 



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Revlon Nail Enamel in Scandalous & Stunning

$4.99 at most drugstores

I bought these both on sale from drugstore.com and was actually planning to make a fantastic New Year’s look but I never got around to it. I finally dug them out of my nail polish box and used them a week or so ago. 

I’ll start with Scandalous. When I bought it I thought it was purple glitter in a clear base but its actually purple glitter (both fine glitter and larger chunks) in a clear black base. I’m a little disappointed in that but I still love it. The black isn’t quite as clear as I thought it was actually. It only took three coats to be opaque. I do like the effect, although I would prefer to be able to have just purple glitter without the black. 


Scandalous is on the accent nail
Stunning was everything I imagined it would be. Its silver glitter (both small and large chunks) with some fine blue and green glitter in there too. I didn’t test how many layers it would take to make just opaque glitter but I would imagine its four or five. Its great as an effect over another color though. I used it over Sally Hansen’s Diamond Strength in Black Diamond (not a true black, more a really dark smoky gray with superfine silver glitter) and I love the effect.
Stunning over Black Diamond
These last above average for nail enamel. I had some miniscule chipping on the tips at two or three days and finally took it off after about a week but I could have left it on longer. My Sally Hansen Diamond Strength is about the longest lasting nail polish I have and the nail I had painted with just the Revlon Nail Enamel lasted as long as the rest of them. Overall I really like this nail enamel and would try other colors.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

January Glossybox First Impressions!

If you don't want to read this click here to watch my video. Otherwise here's a summary of my January box.

First of all this is super late because its curated by The Man Repeller and her fans went crazy over this box and Glossybox was overwhelmed. Second of all, I got four boxes for some bizarre reason. Here's what was in my box:


Estee Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Mascara in Extreme Black
Sample was a small tube (about half-sized)
Full-sized- $25 at esteelauder.com
I'm excited to try this but I hope I don't like it. I don't want to fall in love with it and then miss it after its gone because I'm not going to spend that much on mascara.


Fresh Umbrian Clay Mattifying Serum
Sample was 1.7 oz
Full-sized is $35 for 1 oz
This is something I'm also excited to try. I've never tried any of the Fresh skin care products so we'll see how this works. I have oily skin so if this works this will be good.


Sebastian Professional Potion 9
Sample was 1.7 oz
Full-sized is $19 for 5.1 oz through Sebastian Professional Salons
From what I pumped out of the bottle already, this is an orange cream-gel that smells like coconuts. Its supposed to be a pre-styling lotion that conditions and smooths hair and helps hold your style.


Le Metier de Beaute Daily Replenishing Daily Solution
Sample was a dinky foil packet
Full-sized- $225 for 1.7 oz exclusively at Neiman Marcus
This is something else I hope I don't like because its ridiculously expensive and is not something I'm going to ever buy.

Tarte Glamazon Pure Performance Lipstick in Fierce
Sample is full-sized-$26
This lipstick is very smooth and creamy and I really wish it was a better color but unfortunately its a bright, orange-y red. It doesn't look good on my skin tone and makes my blemishes more obvious. Its just a little bright for my tastes.

O.P.I. Liquid Sand Nail Lacquer in Can't Let Go
Sample is full-sized- $9
This nail polish has a unique texture. It dries matte with glitter in it. Its a pretty purple color. I'm very happy with this.

Narciso Rodriguez for Her Eau de Toilette
Sample is a small spritzer
Full-sized is $25 for a rollerball, $52 for 1 oz, $77 for 1.6 oz, or $104 for 3.3 oz
I don't love this smell but its not awful. It is floral, musky, and has a touch of powder. It smells kind of grandma-y but not the worst I've ever smelled.

The total value of this is $77.21. Well times four because I have four boxes. I can't say for sure because I haven't actually tried most of it yet but I feel like this might be worth it. I really wish the lipstick was a different color. If it was more wearable I definitely would say this is so worth it. But I'm gonna try everything and review everything individually and I'll get back to you.





Monday, February 4, 2013

Whip Hand Cosmetics Special Forces Loose Pigment Eyeshadow- Beauty Army January



Sample- 0.03 oz
Full-sized- $14 for 0.1 oz

Special Forces is the third installment of Beauty Army’s exclusive collection with Whip Hand Cosmetics. Before I say anything about the actual color of the eye shadow, a word on the packaging. This is in a teensy weensy cute little bottle. The directions on beautyarmy.com say to use the shadow out of the lid. I can see why because I ignored them and dipped my brush right in the bottle (it barely fits) and out came the brush, along with a puff of shadow that went everywhere. I also had to just shake off the excess powder in the sink because there was no way to really tap it off into little bottle. With such a small amount anyway, I felt like this was kind of a waste but oh well. Okay so for the color. It’s a nice peachy color with a touch of orange and a little bit of gold shimmer. Once it goes on the lids the shimmer really wasn’t that noticeable. It wasn’t that pigmented either. It was okay but for a limited edition color I didn’t think it was spectacular. The touch of orange really doesn’t do much for my skin tone but I used this as a lid color with a shimmery, chocolatey brown on the outer lid into the crease and a lighter shimmery pink on the inner corner and it turned out alright. I tried it again with a cool taupe-y color and it really didn’t work out. It needs a warm, deep color to make it look decent on me.


It's swatching darker than it looks in real life just FYI.

So bottom line, not that unique of a color, crappy packaging, lasts decently but not that pigmented. So its okay but not something I’d buy.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

First Video!-Glossybox November and December- Was It Worth It?

So this is my first video attempt! I apologize for the crappy awkwardness of it. For all you Negative Nancy's out there, yes I know I said um and like way too many times and I played with my hair too much and the angle is weird but I will try to get better about my videos. Here it is!

Okay so I couldn't get it to upload but I uploaded it to YouTube so here's the link. Ugh. I just watched it again and its really just awful so I apologize but I promise I will try to get better at this.

And just a update on my January Glossybox. . .I checked the tracking today and my box is currently two states away. I'm hoping to get it Monday or Tuesday. If anyone cares.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Biore Pore Unclogging Scrub


$7 for 5 oz at walmart.com

Before I get into how this product works, let me tell you about my weird 8 day skin care schedule. For the first two days I use a gentle cleanser morning and night (I use a more moisturizing one in the morning, which is actually my night because I work at night), then I replace my regular cleanser with an exfoliating scrub with my wake-up routine, then use my regular bedtime cleanser. Then I use my regular cleansers for another two days and then use my exfoliating cleanser again. Then I use my regular cleansers for another two days and on the last day I use my regular cleansers but with my wake-up routine I follow my cleanser with a clay mask. Then I start the whole thing over again. I’ve been doing this for quite a while and it seems to work best for me.

I bought a travel-sized tube of this exfoliating scrub to see if I like it better than the normal exfoliating scrub I use currently (Olay) which I don’t really like very much. This scrub claims to “target what clogs pores.” I’m not exactly sure how it would do that but okay. Its a very thick, almost lotiony consistency with little blue exfoliating beads. In addition to the exfoliating beads it also has salicylic acid for chemical exfoliation. This is a surprisingly gentle scrub. The beads don’t irritate my face like other exfoliating beads I have used. It has a rather unpleasant minty, chemical smell but its bearable for the few minutes you are exfoliating. There also is a cooling tingly sensation once you start moving the beads around, which was actually rather alarming since I hadn’t read the ingredients and didn’t realize there was menthol in it. It is bordering on stinging but fades to a pleasant refreshing coolness once you rinse it and goes away completely after about 10 minutes. I did find a website (www.natural-homeremedies.com) that says menthol can be used to help prevent breakouts and sanitize the breakouts you have. I don’t know if that’s true or not but I know that the menthol in this scrub is wonderful. It is so refreshing and it makes you feel like your pores are just breathing in cool, icy, fresh air. I’m sure this is all part of their gimmick but I bought it. I was sure when I inspected my skin in the mirror that all of my blackheads would be magically gone just from one wash. Well, that didn’t happen. There was no visible difference but my face wasn’t red and irritated which is a good thing. It felt smooth and soft and much less tight and dry than my other exfoliating cleanser. In fact it didn’t feel tight and dry at all. It felt soft and moisturized. After a month of using it twice a week my skin is definitely smoother and I have less flaking (except for around my nose) but I haven’t seem much difference in the blackheads on my nose and chin. Despite that, once I use up my store of my Olay exfoliating scrub I will be buying this scrub.

Friday, February 1, 2013

January Empties


I completely stole this idea from Bailey at Making Up the Midwest. Just getting that out there. She has posted a couple videos she calls “My Beauty Graveyard” where she showcases some products that she has used up and gives a little mini-review of how she liked it and whether or not she would buy it again. I think this is a great idea and I’m stealing it. At the beginning of every month I’m going to do an Empties post of everything I used up last month.

There’s a couple reasons I want to do this. One, it gives me a chance to tell you about something that I might have forgotten or just not gotten around to reviewing and two, even if its something I’ve reviewed before, I can do a little mini-refresher review and plus sometimes after I’ve totally used something up I might feel differently about it then I did after just using it for a couple weeks or however long I’d been using it before I reviewed it the first time. So here goes. These are all things I used up completely and they are all full-sized products (or in some cases a deluxe sample if it lasted me a long time). I’m not gonna write one of these every time I use up a foil packet.

Yes to Tomatoes Clear Skin Blemish Clearing Facial Towelettes

You can get these at most drugstores (I think I got mine at Walmart) and they run from $7 to $8. I like to keep cleansing towelettes around just for those mornings when I get home from work and can’t be bothered to take the time to wash my face fully or for those times when my fiance randomly decides we’re going out to dinner or that he’s made plans with friends and forgot to tell me and I have 15 minutes to make myself beautiful. These towelettes smell faintly of vanilla and they clean off light makeup really well (some eye make-up and foundation as long as there wasn’t any primer or setting spray) but they leave behind a bit of a residue. Its not awful but its not really good either. On the plus side they do have salicylic acid so they treat my breakouts. Its definitely better than not washing your face at all. These are okay but I won’t buy them again.

Camille Beckman White Lilac Glycerin Hand Therapy

I know I said I wasn’t going to include samples but I wanted to mention this. I got a tiny tub of this for Christmas last year from a coworker (like Christmas over a year ago, not this past Christmas). I never really used it and it got lost in my bottomless purse until I found it again this fall and decided to start using it. My hands get super dry in the winter time so I always have hand lotion around. I love the light smell of this and it moisturizes very well without being greasy. I’m not sure if its as good as my beloved L’Occitane but its almost as good and is much more affordable. They have a whole line of lotions, bath products, soaps, and perfumes in a bunch of different yummy sounding smells. And everything is made in the US! You can find them at www.camillebeckman.com. I think at some point I may buy some other products and see how I like them.

Johnson Parker Lavender Hand Soap

This isn’t technically a beauty product but its still an empty. I got this as a gift from a co-worker. I think I got it around Thanksgiving or before. I don’t usually like a lot of lavender but this didn’t actually smell at all like lavender. It had sort of a subtle floral scent which was very pleasant. It sudses up well (if that’s a word) and cleans well without drying out my hands. As far as I can tell from looking online this is a fairly low-end brand. She said she got it at Bath & Body Works. I couldn’t find it online but I might peruse Bath & Body Works next time I’m at the mall to see if I can find it for cheap enough. I don’t like to spend a whole lot of money on hand soap but I loved this.

Yves Saint Laurent Effet Faux Cils Shocking Mascara

This was a deluxe sample gift with purchase as a beauty insider from Sephora (I love that program). This was a small tube and it didn’t last me very long and I’ve already reviewed it but I wanted to mention it again because I feel differently about it than I did when I first reviewed it. You know that saying that sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone? I’m feeling that way about this mascara. While I was using it I was like “oh this is nice” and came to the conclusion it was a good mascara but not worth the $30 a tube. Since I had to throw it away a week or so ago I’ve been using another mascara (fine I’ll say it, CoverGirl LashBlast) and I’m not super thrilled with it. Everyone else (okay not everyone) goes on about how great the LashBlast line is but I am not loving it. I miss my YSL. It was lightly perfumed with a lovely scent and made my lashes long, lush and beautiful, plus it was conditioning and made my lashes longer and fuller even if I wasn’t wearing mascara. I’ve searched around and found some of this mascara for $16.50 on a website (and I should have written down the website because now I can’t find it). I’m hoping I can find some cheaper mascara that I’m happy with but I have a sinking feeling nothing is going to measure up to my $30 YSL.

Next month I’m going to try to do this in video form so stay tuned for that!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser


$10 for 12 oz at Walmart








This is a gentle cleanser for normal to oily skin that says it uses hyaluronic acid and ceramides to help skin retain moisture. It comes in a pump bottle and is clear and quite liquidy in consistency. It smells faintly like kids bubbles (glycerin), which some people may find unpleasant but it reminds me of my childhood and is very faint so it doesn’t bother me. This is definitely a gentle cleanser. For someone who has very oily skin this may not even do much but my skin is only a little oily to combination skin depending on how its feeling at the time, so it was good for me. It doesn’t leave even the slightest bit of tightness. My face actually felt softer and smoother than with my other cleanser. However after using it for about two weeks I noticed I was slowly getting more breakouts. It was pretty close to my period and I have been using a new sunscreen but I switched back to my regular cleanser for a few days and immediately noticed that they were fading and drying up. I've used it off and on since then and have experienced similar results. It just doesn't quite clean off my skin well enough. I still would recommend this cleanser to someone who isn’t prone to acne but for me it just didn’t quite work.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lash Card Mascara Shields- Beauty Army January


Sample- 2 shields
Full-sized- $13.98 for 20 shields



When I first picked this for my box I thought it was the best idea ever. I am always getting mascara on my eyelids. These are really just little pieces of card paper. They are about the thickness of a business card. They have two different edges, one for small eyes, and one for larger eyes. I do like that. However, I found these horribly awkward to use. To hold it in place with one hand, then try to put the mascara on, all while holding your hands and arms out of the way so you can actually see what you are doing in the mirror, is nearly impossible. Or at least it was for me. I looked around online and found other people had similar results. If you can put your mascara on without having to look in the mirror you could probably use these but I found it incredibly difficult. They would also be okay for your bottom lashes because your arm wouldn’t be in your own way but I don’t put mascara on my bottom lashes so these went in the trash. 


I did think it was cute that all the writing is backwards so you can see it in a mirror. And people really, if you really feel like you need these don't pay $14 for them. Cut a curve in the side of a business card or something. Because that's really all it is.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Oscar Blandi Dry Styling Heat Protectant Spray- Glossybox December

Sample size- .75 oz (a good travel size)
Full-sized- $23 for 4 oz at www.oscarblandi.com or sephora.com (I also found this as low as $19 on ebay)


(Pic from Glossybox.com)

Oscar Blandi is a very popular high end brand of hair products that I have been wanting to try. This spray uses a “patented polymer complex” to protect hair from heat and keratin to make hair shiny. To be fair, my hair is pretty shiny to start with but I didn’t notice much difference using this. I washed my hair and used my normal argan oil, let my hair air dry (my hair doesn’t like being blow dried) and then used this spray with my flat iron. I didn’t notice that much more shine and I didn’t notice that my hair was any softer or more protected feeling. It has kind of an obnoxious chemical smell and the second time I used it I used a little too much and my hair got all tacky feeling. Its just an average protectant spray and definitely does not live up to the hype. I’ll use the rest of this but I won’t buy it.

Monday, January 28, 2013

mark. Scanda-Lash Mascara in Brown- Beauty Army January

Sample was full-sized (although still tiny)- $6.50
Look how teensy!
From what I’ve experienced of the mark. line, which has just been this and a couple lip glosses, all of their products seem to be tiny. That’s not a big deal for me with the lip gloss because I don’t wear it everyday but with a mascara I don’t really like it. I’ve gotten mascaras this size as a gift with purchase from Sephora before. And they only lasted me a couple weeks. Okay my second complaint is the color but that’s my own fault. I got this in brown to try something different but I’d forgotten that I’d ordered some CoverGirl LashBlast in brown-black from drugstore.com. I tried that brown (which is very dark brown but still brown) and decided I like black mascara better. The blacker the better. So I should have just stuck with the black mascara. But like I said, that’s my own fault. Anyway, here goes.


The first thing I noticed when I pulled out the wand is that the applicator is super long. Here it is compared to the CoverGirl LashBlast wand.

Okay so its not THAT long but still.
Other than that it’s the standard brush applicator. Then when I went to put on the mascara, I was a little taken aback by how thick the mascara actually is. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing but if you‘re not used to a thick formula it does feel a little heavy on the lashes. This did lengthen and volumize but I did experience some clumping. I was able to get everything the way I wanted it after using a lash comb though. Going back to the length of the wand. I found it a little hard to get the lashes on the outer corner of my eyelids but I managed. After using it for a few days I did get used to the wand, the thickness of the formula and all of that but it never felt like it really fully dried on my lashes. It seemed a little tacky and my lashes would kind of stick together when I blinked. The mascara washes off well but it burns like an SOB if you get it in your eye at all. Not good. Overall, this is not the best mascara I have ever used and I wouldn’t buy it. 



Saturday, January 26, 2013

TJMaxx Haul


Love high-end beauty products but don’t have the paycheck for it? You are not alone. I spend way more money than I should on beauty products but there are ways to cut down on your spending and still have all of the things that you love. One of them is TJMaxx! I have always loved shopping for clothes and purses at TJMaxx but I never really looked much at their cosmetics until a few weeks ago. They have some great skin care and hair care products for crazy on sale (sometime half off!). The catch is you have to look through everything and you have to go often because you never know what they are going to have. I plan on going in every few weeks to stock up on stuff. I didn’t find anything I’d already used and knew worked but I found a few things I’ve been wanting to try or at least were by brands I respected. Last time I went shopping this is what I got:

Sephora by OPI Blasted nail laquer in Turquoise
Elizabeth Arden Good Morning Eye Treatment
Elizabeth Arden Clear the Way Mask
DermOrganic Skin Care Sampler (which included facial cleanser, facial moisturizer, and hand and body lotion)
and a 2 pack of Bella Beauty satin sleep masks (in hot pink and neon green with pink polka dots).

I was most excited about the DermOrganic skin care sampler because I have been hearing a lot of good things about them and I’ve been wanting to try some of their products. I also was super excited about the sleep masks because I work at night, therefore sleep during the day and these colorful ones are much prettier than my boring black sleep mask I have now.

Now if I bought all of these products at their full retail price it would cost me $63.50. At TJMaxx I only paid $43.95. That’s like 30% off. That’s pretty good if I do say so myself.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bath & Body Works Shower Gel in Paris Amour- Beauty Army January Box



(pic from beautyarmy.com)



Sample- 3 oz
Full-sized- $11 for 10 oz

I love Bath & Body Works. I love all of their products. This is a great addition to my Beauty Army box. I had never smelled this particular smell but it is wonderful and fruity. Like I said in my initial blog, I wouldn’t normally use this shower gel in the winter because my skin is so dry but this says its shea-enriched so I decided to try it anyway.

I love this body wash! First of all the smell. Its fruity which at first I didn’t think really should have been called Paris Amour but once I actually used it in the shower it’s a wonderfully sexy and warm fruitiness that strangely is reminiscent of something French. The smell definitely isn’t overwhelming and it doesn’t seem to stay on my skin (which is a good thing since I like to pick my own perfume). It lathers up like a dream. I actually found I had to use less of it than I usually do. The little bottle lasted me a good week which is impressive considering most body washes of that size would last about three days. And as far as the moisturizing capabilities its actually not that much less moisturizing than my Dove with Nutrium Moisture so I was pretty happy with that. Overall I am super happy with this body wash and will buy some after my current body wash runs out. Beauty Army win!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Popsugar Must Have Box January

This box is a little more expensive (okay a lot more) at $35 a month but it’s also a better deal (supposedly). It sends you all full-sized products and is guaranteed to be worth at least $100. They also have a luxury edition which is $100. Popsugar’s must haves are not just beauty products. They are home décor items, jewelry, food items, and beauty items. For example, Novembers box included a bracelet, a yoga dvd, a set of three gourmet spices, a set of thank-you cards, a box of donut mix, a lip balm, and a free credit for style mint (which is a clothing website). Based on reviews I’ve seen for other months it seems like sometimes they send more beauty products than anything else and sometimes its more homey type items. I have mixed feelings about this kind of box because usually with beauty items I will at least try everything I get and unless I really super hate it I will probably use it up (for example I’m using up a moisturizer that is way too hydrating for my oily face right now by only using it once every other day and that seems to be not bothering my skin too much), but if I get a bracelet that I think is horribly ugly, I’m gonna feel bad just throwing it away. I suppose I could always give it to somebody. Anyway I signed up for this to see what it was all about and I’ll give it a couple months before I decide anything. When I first signed up I was told I would have to wait until February but then I got told that I got bumped up to January (I guess someone must have cancelled their subscription or something) so I got mine a little early. Yay!

This was a happy surprise today on my doorstep. When Popsugar had first sent me the email saying they had shipped my Must Have box I checked the tracking a couple times and it was just moving up the west coast. California, another city in Northern California, Oregon, Washington. That doesn’t make any sense to me because I live on the east coast so I just figured it would be a while before I actually got my box and stopped tracking it. So when I see this big white box on my doorstep I thought, “What could that be? I haven’t ordered anything that big.” Lo and behold, its my Must Have box! 

Pink!
This box is pretty big. Its about four times the size of any Glossybox or Beauty Army box I’ve gotten. Inside it, wrapped up in pretty pink paper was. . .




Look at all the food! Okay in this picture there is a Think Thin Crunch Caramel Chocolate Dipped Mixed Nut Bar (which is broken but still perfectly edible), a Think thin Creamy Peanut Butter High Protein Bar, a Think Thin Divine Dark Chocolate Coconut Bar (all $1.99 each), two Pop Bar Hot Chocolates on a Stick (one in milk chocolate and one in dark chocolate and $2.99) and a shaker jar of Jet-Puffed Mallow-Bits ($2.59)! I am excited about all of it! I’ve never tried any of the Think Thin bars but they sound good and who doesn’t love chocolate! Its interesting that they sent me the mini-marshallows too because I actually have already bought these a couple times and think they’re a fabulous invention. A little explanation about the Hot Chocolate on a Stick, I thought it was just like a chocolate lollipop but the back of it says to heat up some milk and stir the chocolate into it until it melts. Literally Hot Chocolate on a Stick! I think that’s fabulous. I’ll tell you all how everything was after I eat it! Oh plus there’s a coupon for $1 off two Think Thin bars.



The next thing is this watch. Its made my Remix, its called the Timebomb and it retails for $44.95 (although this particular one is a Popsugar exclusive and the ones on Remixes website do not look exactly the same). I do have to wear a watch at work but I have several of them and this would not be something I would have bought for myself. It claims it comes in a variety of “fun” colors, but as you can see mine is boring white. The watch face is also HUGE! Its kind of ridiculous. It does have super soft silicone straps but its so heavy and uncomfortable that I don’t think I’ll be wearing it often. Or at all. So lose there Popsugar. 


Look how tiny and cute it is!

Next, is a lip balm from Epicuren. Its SPF 15 and contains tea tree oil and aloe vera. Apparently this is some sort of exclusive brand that you have to have special privileges to buy and sell. One website I found said you have to be a authorized buyer but I didn't look into what exactly it takes to be authorized. Anyway, I found this little pot on Amazon for $9.50. They also have it in stick form (which I would really prefer). I don’t know if any of you have ever smelled tea tree oil but that’s what this smells (and tastes) like). It a quite obnoxious earthy, herbal smell that actually smells like someone left their rosemary too long in the fridge and it got all moldy. I’m not kidding. On the plus side, this seems to moisturize well and has a pleasant tingliness on the lips that’s quite refreshing. I don’t usually like lip balm in pots though. I prefer tubes or sticks that I can just put on my lips without having to get my fingers all greasy. I really haven’t decided if I like this or not. I’ll let you know. 




Last but not least (well actually, maybe least) is a Merrithew Stability Ball (with air pump included). This retails for $38.99 at www.merrithew.com. Now, in theory this is great and all but I already have a stability ball that has been thrown in storage because I never use it. Although actually now that I think about it I think part of the reason that I never used the one I have its because it was a little too big and awkward to sit on. I’m gonna give this a shot and see what happens but I’m not holding my breath. They do give you a nice little card with some exercises to do with the stability ball. 



There also is a $15 off voucher for Casetagram to make your own phone or tablet cover using your photos. I’m definitely not gonna use that.

Overall I was disappointed with this box. Reviews of previous boxes I’ve seen have had a lot more stuff in them and stuff I would use. The Hot Chocolate on a stick is pretty fantastic but the Think Thin bars are not expensive and I could buy those at any grocery store. the watch was something I will not wear, the lip balm smells horrendous and I already have a stability ball I don’t use. Not including the coupon and voucher the box has a value of $107.98 but I'm probably not going to use most of the stuff. So big flop and not worth my money. For a fairly expensive sample box I was expecting more. But I’ll give them a couple more chances to redeem themselves. Three strikes and you’re out Popsugar!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

More Sample Boxes!


If you don’t like any of the ones I have mentioned already, or just want to try out some other sample beauty boxes, here are some other options.

Beauty Fix- http://beautyfix.com

This is an expensive box, at $49.99 but its only every season (which I assume means 4 times a year). You get 8 products, which you get to pick out of a selection that their “expert” (whoever that is) picks for you.
Just looking over some of the products it seems like they have a good selection of decent sized samples (and some full-sized things) covering make-up, skin care, hair care, and even some beauty tools. I’m not sure how many they give you to pick from but if its as many as they show for sample products than seems like it would be worth it.

TestTube- http://testtube.newbeauty.com

This is another quarterly one but its only $29.99 (although it isn’t free shipping which is unusual). This promises to be a $250 value and includes a magazine (which looks bigger than the little Glossymag), deluxe sample and full-sized products (it looks like 9 or 10), gift cards and special offers for spalook.com, and they email you video tutorials for how to use the products (which I actually think is pretty cool). Some of the brands they have given out before (such as Philosphy, Dr. Brandt, and CellCeuticals are certainly things that I have been wanting to try. I will probably try this at some point (I can only spend so much money a month on beauty products! Gosh!).

Julep Maven Sample Box- http://www.julep.com/quiz/default

This box is nail based and only contains one brand. Julep Maven. Apparently its some famous nail salon in Washington. For $19.99 a month they send you two full-sized nail polishes and one full-sized product (related to mani/pedis) as well as some special extras occasionally. Occasionally they have specials where for the first month you receive four full-sized nail polishes (and get to choose two of them). I’m not sure how often they do this but they were having this special in November or December. This certainly would be appealing for anyone who is addicted to having their nails painted. I for one, am not so big on the nail painting, and if I was to sign up for something like this I would want to be able to pick my colors. Because I’m picky about what I have on my nails. This would not be worth it to me but I thought I’d tell you about it.

Laquerous- http://www.laquerous.com

This one isn’t exactly a sample box per say. Its more like Netflix. Or Gamefly. Or Rent the Runway. Except with nail polish. Every month, for $18, you receive 3 bottles of nail polish (that you have added to a lust list). You paint your nails with them or take them to your manicurist to have her do it, then when you are done with it you mail it back and get more. Now maybe to some people this may sound like a great idea. But it doesn’t make much sense to me. First of all, doesn’t your manicurist have a zillion nail colors anyway? Second of all, if I’m spending $18 on nail polish (I’m sorry but that’s kind of a lot) I’m using up the bottle. I’m not painting my nails three times and then sending it back. And second of all, I think its kind of icky to use nail polish that who know how many other people have used. I don’t know where their hands have been. What if they have some nail fungus or whatever? I would never sign up for this in a million years. But there you go. If it sounds like your thing go for it.

So there you are. Some other sample beauty box options. I think the TestTube sounds like the only one I will try. Beautyfix is too expensive. For that much everything would have to be full-sized to make that worth my while. But if I run out of sample boxes to try, maybe I’ll look into it further. I suppose I could just make sure as much as possible in my box was full-sized.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Forest Essentials Luxurious Ayurveda Madurai Jasmine & Mogra Bath & Shower Oil- Glossybox December


Sample was about half-size
Full-sized is $22 for 6.8 oz

(pic from glossybox.com)

Like I said in my original Glossybox December post, I’m not quite sure how Glossybox came up with this price. I searched for this product online and the only place I could find it was an Indian site where they didn’t list a price in USD. I didn’t actually try to buy it so I’m not sure if you can or not. I did find some on Amazon but they were $55. Anyway price aside. I’m not sure what to think of this body oil.

It’s a very thin yellow colored oil (that is actually mostly sunflower oil) that has a very nice jasmine smell. I like jasmine a lot. It says to put this oil onto still wet skin after the shower and it uses essential oils to lock moisture into skin. Not to mention making you smell lovely. I tried various combinations of wetness and amounts of oil. Even with the smallest amount of oil that I could pour out on my skin (which was still sopping, dripping wet so the oil would distribute over as much skin as possible) it still ended up feeling oily and greasy and like I needed to take another shower. However I did notice after using it a couple times that my skin was very soft and moisturized. And I didn’t even need to use any perfume. I used it a few times more and figured out it seems to work best if you rub it on your still wet skin after taking a shower, let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse it off (while being careful not to slip on the slippery oil that’s all over your shower). It gets rid of the smell but your skin still gets the moisturizing benefits. It still leaves my skin a little oily but it soaks in after a little while. It does also work well as a bath oil (if you like that sort of thing).

I don’t think this is something I would ever buy. I love myself a relaxing bath but I prefer bubble bath or bath salts to bath oil. I actually wasn’t sure I wanted to use up the rest of the bottle just because of the oiliness but I compelled myself and realized it was like throwing away $11 if I don’t. However, after using it for about a week and half straight the moisturizing properties sort of stopped working and my skin actually ended up being drier than it was before.

So bottom line, I don't think I would recommend this. Maybe other people have had more success with it (I found some very positive reviews on beauty blogs) but I just didn't like the greasiness and it didn't really moisturize that well at all. Plus it seems super expensive for being mostly sunflower oil. Maybe the jasmine they use in there is expensive or something but you can buy sunflower oil at any grocery store. For much less than this stuff. Just food for thought.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Holy Skincare Samples Batman!

Ugh just when I decide I'm going to use up the samples I have and not order anything else Sephora foils my plans. For those of you who are Beauty Insiders at Sephora, log on to your account right now. For real. Right now (I don’t know for how long), Beauty Insiders can enter the code “skinsampler” at checkout with your $25 order and get a free skincare sampler with 12 samples. This is only available online. If you aren’t a Beauty Insider become one! What is a Beauty Insider? Its free to sign up and it simply means that you get special offers and opportunities to try products before they are for sale. For every dollar you spend at Sephora (or online) you get a point (they have specials with extra points available too) and you can trade your points in for deluxe samples. In addition, when you spend $350 (I believe in a year) you become a VIB and get even more offers. So it’s a great offer. Anyway here’s what’s in the sample bag: a foil packet of Boscia’s Detoxifying Black Cleanser, a foil packet of Ole Henriken Truth Is In The Eyes (a concentrated eye peel), a foil packet of Murad Essential-C Eye Cream, a small tube of something from Caudalie’s Vinexpert line (I can’t quite tell what it is), a foil packet of Algenist Targeted Deep Wrinkle Minimizer, a sample (it looks like a good-sized bottle) of Lancome Visionnaire Advanced Serum Corrector, a foil packet of Nude Progenius Treatment Oil, a sample of Korres Wild Rose & Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial, a one-time use packet of Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel, a foil packet of Amorepacific Future Response Age Defense Crème, a foil packet of Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Eye Gel, and a foil packet of Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment. Whew. That’s some great stuff (although I apologize if I have anything wrong because there wasn't really a list of everything in there, just pictures)! These are some of Sephora’s best-selling and most loved products. I have really been wanting to try the ExfoliKate, the Dr. Dennis Gross peel, and the Bliss eye gel so I’m super excited about those ones. Most of the rest of them I have at least heard of the brand and heard good things. Now, some people may be turned off by the extensive amount of foil packets (almost all of them are) but if you think about it, this is still a good deal. A lot of these are either things that you don’t use a whole lot of (like the eye treatments) or are things that you wouldn’t use on a daily basis (like the overnight facial) so I still think its worth it. Plus if you are buying $25 worth of something you would normally be buying anyway, it’s a no-brainer. I’m not gonna do the math and figure out the value of this but some of these brands are pricey so you can imagine. I have already ordered mine and will review all of it when I get it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Apple Cider Vinegar & Green Tea Toner


You’ll notice I didn’t write a brand on this toner. Well that because I didn’t buy it. I made it. That’s right, this an all natural, homemade toner. I was checking my email the other day and I always browse through Yahoo’s top stories stream thing they have going on, just to see what’s going on, and I stumbled across an article about natural treatments for acne. They listed such things as honey, tea tree oil, and lemon juice as good antibacterials and exfoliators, all while being gentle and natural. Not to mention cheap. They had various recipes for how to dilute them and told you exactly how they worked and recommended how to use them (such as whether to rinse it off or just to leave it on) and all of that stuff. The one that I decided to try was the apple cider vinegar as a toner. Just a word on toner before I go on. I have not had good luck with toner. I’ve used several different kinds and it inevitably stings, makes my face horribly red, and sometimes makes my acne worse. Even the non-alcohol containing ones that I’ve used haven’t turned out well. So I just don’t use it. But I’ve heard that it is good for getting whatever your face wash didn’t and preparing your skin for moisturizer so I have considered trying some different ones that have received good reviews. Back to the apple cider vinegar. So, I check my cupboard and I have white vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar but not apple cider vinegar. Then I go to recheck the article I read to make sure I have the dilution right (I thought it was equal parts apple cider vinegar to water but wasn’t sure) and I couldn’t find the article. So I did a google search and found a recipe I decided to go with. According to the experts on About.com, you should use equal parts apple cider vinegar (the organic unfiltered kind) and water (I actually considered using distilled but I settle for filtered water out of my Brita pitcher). There was also an added tip to add green tea for extra antioxidants and to dial down the vinegary smell. It also said that vinegar obviously is very acidic so if you have sensitive skin to dilute the vinegar more. So I decided to add one part green tea as well (I made it regular strength). I did add a little bit less of the vinegar than the other two things just because I was afraid of it irritating my skin too much.

A few tips when you are mixing up your toner. The recipe I found said to use a glass bottle. I just washed out a glass juice bottle that I had and ripped the label off of it. I used organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar, filtered water, and organic green tea (make sure its just green tea with nothing else mixed in). Unfiltered apple cider vinegar settles so shake it up before you measure it out. I would also recommend making a very small amount at a time because it will last you a while and you don’t want anything to spoil or anything. I also keep mine in the refrigerator. It didn’t say anything about that but I figured it would be safest so I didn’t get any bacteria growing or anything.

So how is this supposed to actually work? Vinegar is a natural antibacterial to kill the bacteria that causes acne and apple cider vinegar contains natural alpha hydroxy and amino acids (ingredients that are in a lot of skin care products) that help remove the gross dead skin layer and reveal your lovely healthy skin underneath. It also increases blood circulation to make your complexion a lovely pink. This is all according to About.com.

In the interest of testing the acne fighting properties of this toner, I didn’t use any other acne treatments while testing this out. I just washed my face with my normal cleanser and used my normal moisturizer after toning. I shook the bottle again before dipping my cotton ball just to make sure nothing had settled. Then I just put some on a cotton ball and used it like a normal toner. It has a rather obnoxious vinegar smell (the green tea helped a little but not much) but it didn’t carry over once it had dried on my face (trust me, I made my fiance smell my face). It did sting a little on the actual pimples but didn’t make my face red and I didn’t notice any dryness. Later on I did notice a bit of a tingly, subtle itchiness, but my face didn’t feel dry or tight, and it wasn’t red or sore. I assume maybe its just the alpha hydroxy and amino acids doing their thing? I have no idea. Since I was afraid of this stuff irritating my skin I opted to try only using it once a day for the first two weeks. Just to be on the safe side. I figured I’d see how that did then maybe increase to twice a day depending on how it worked. After just a few days I noticed a difference in my skin. The little, almost microscopic red bumps that have always covered my face (I was actually starting to think I might have rosacea or something) are slowly disappearing. My face feels softer and smoother. I notice less of those little dry patches of skin that I usually pick at. It has not irritated my skin at all and actually after the first couple times it doesn’t sting even the pimples. I think it may have dried my skin out just a touch but not enough to make me stop using it. It also has been about two weeks and while this toner hasn’t done much to get rid of my pimples that were already there but it must be doing something because I haven’t noticed any new pimples since I started using it.

So bottom line, would I recommend this? Well, yes. But I would make super small batches. Like super small. I have noticed a big difference in the smoothness and evenness of my skin. It seems to have prevented new pimples from forming. It has dried my skin out (which is not necessarily a bad thing because it was horribly oily before) but I started using a more moisturizing cleanser with my bed time routine which helped a lot. I never used this more than once a day and if you have normal or dry skin I’m not sure I would recommend this at all but if you really want to try it I would start with every other day to see how your skin reacts. A HUGE thing this toner has going for it is the price. Its ingredients you can get at any grocery store and they are relatively inexpensive for the amount you use. I got my green tea for $4 for 20 bags. I only used one bag in my first batch and this toner will last me forever. The unfiltered apple cider vinegar was $3.59 for 16 oz. So you can do the math on that. I kept this toner in the refrigerator to keep bacteria from forming (although apple cider vinegar is an antibacterial but still) but after a couple weeks weird black sediment started forming it in. I think it was fine gratings from the inside of the metal lid. I don’t know if it would hurt anything but it grossed me out so I dumped it out. Since then I started just making a super small batch of two teaspoons of water and one tea spoon of apple cider vinegar. If I drank green tea I might at a tea spoon of that too but I don’t want to waste it. This small of a batch lasts me a few days and I feel better about the storage of it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Beauty Army January- First Impressions


I don’t usually post twice in one day but I just got my January Beauty Army box! Yay! This month is Beauty Army’s birthday so we get an extra 7th pick! I was much happier overall with my picks this month than I was last month. I read somewhere that if you keep retaking the beauty profile quiz your choices will change until you get a mix you are happy with. I did that this time but honestly most of the things I ended up picking were in my first mix so I really didn’t need to. My one complaint is that every time I took quiz I continued to say I had oily skin and in every group of samples to pick from there were two moisturizers for dry skin. That doesn’t make much sense but whatever. Here are my choices.

Mark. Scanda-Lash Brown Mascara
Sample- full-sized- $6.50

This was the extra pick. You had a choice of black or brown. I chose brown for something different. I’ve always used black mascara but I figured the brown might be a little subtler. This is small for a full-sized mascara (actually really small) but mascara is always welcome. I’ve tried some other mark. products but not the mascara. I’ll write a full review after I’ve worn it for a full day.

Bath & Body Works Paris Amour Shower Gel
Sample- 3 oz
Full-sized- $11 for 10 oz

I wouldn’t really consider Bath & Body Works to be really high-end but I love their products. This is a decent sample sized shower gel. I use a lot of shower gel though so it will probably last me less than a week. We’ll see. I’ve never smelled this particular smell but its wonderful. Its kind of fruity which doesn’t really spring to mind Paris for me but oh well. I normally wouldn’t use this in the winter because my hair is super dry and my past experience with Bath & Body Works has been that the shower gels are not moisturizing but this says it is shea-enriched so I’m hoping it will be moisturizing.  A full-review will follow.

Ineke Hothouse Flower Perfume
Sample- 0.05 oz
Full-sized- $95 for 2.5 oz

I was not going to pick this because I have so much perfume already but I read gardenia and had to pick it. I love gardenia. This is a wonderfully bright and fresh gardenia. I love it. I know some people complain about getting little perfume samples in their boxes but I am not going to complain. I actually read a review of a sample box somewhere (I can’t remember where it was now or which box it was) where the person who was writing it said she used up a sample vial in two or three days. Two or three days! I would have to take a bath in the stuff for it to last me that long! I spray one spritz on one wrist and then dab my other wrist (not rub, dab) on it, then spray down my shirt. It sounds weird but I read it in a fashion magazine or something somewhere. The heat from the core of your body makes the perfume waft up to your face throughout the day. Plus if it gets on my bra it last longer because perfume sticks to cloth better than skin. Shut up it works for me! Okay anyway so one of these little vials lasts me for a few weeks. Which is worth it to me.  Alright that’s it for my tangent. Moving on.

Mark. Hook Up Lip Gloss in Blow Kisses
Sample- Full-sized- $6.50

I got one of these lip glosses in Honey last month and I love it. Blow Kisses is a bold red. it’s a little bold for my tastes but I decided to try it because I already know I love Mark. lip glosses. This red, once I’ve put it on, actually isn’t that bold. Its pretty sheer, which is good for me but for someone else who likes the bold red look, maybe not so much. I also have a lot of blemishes around my mouth right now and the red just makes them more obvious. So. . I don’t know if I like this. I’ll have to think on it or try it with some foundation and a lot of concealer.

Yes to Blueberries Firming Eye Treatment
Sample- foil packet
Full-sized- $19.99 for 0.5 oz

Another product I don’t really consider high-end but I am excited to try it. I’ve used some products from the Yes to Tomatoes line with mostly good results and I’m always looking for a good eye cream so I’m excited to use this. I’m not thrilled about the foil packet but an eye treatment will probably last me a while so I’ll overlook it.

Lash Card Mascara Shields
Sample- 2 shields
Full-sized- $13.98 for 20 shields

This is a brilliant idea. I don’t know how many times I’ve blinked a little or pushed the mascara back a little too far and gotten it on my eyelid. If I’ve already done my eye shadow I have to wipe it off and start all over. Its kind of frustrating. These shields are curved to fit your eye lid to protect your eye lid from the mascara. I’ll use these tomorrow so expect a review pretty quickly.

Whip Hand Cosmetics Special Forces Loose Pigment Eyeshadow
Sample- 0.03 oz
Full-sized- $14 for 0.1 oz

This is an exclusive color created for Beauty Army. It’s a peachy color with a little bit of shimmer. It looks like it would make an excellent lid color. I’ll review it fully after I’ve seen how it lasts.

Overall I’m thinking I’ll be much happier this month then I was last month. According to my calculations this box is worth $27.80. Even without the extra gift its worth a little more than last month so I am happy. We’ll see after I try all of my products though. And just an added note, the box everything came in was pink this month (last month it was white). I had been using last months box to store small samples in but I’ve transferred everything into the pretty pink one!

Beauty Army December Box- Was It Worth It?


To recap all the things I got from this box:

Fiafini Delicate Cleansing Emulsion- $28 for 4 oz at beatuyarmy.com (I found this as low as $11 at amazon.com)- A good cleanser from what I can tell. I would be interested to try it for a longer period of time but I have quite a back up stock of facial cleansers right now.

Mark Hook Up Lip Gloss in Honey- $6.50 at beautyarmy.com ($5 at amazon.com)- A nice neutral lip gloss that I will use plenty of. And full-sized!

Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque- $33 for 8.5 oz at beautyarmy.com ($11.99 at cosmeu.com)- I really couldn’t judge it from just one use but seemed to condition my hair well. A little expensive for my budget though.

Nelson J Argan Oil 7 Non-Foaming Shampoo- $36 for two 8 oz bottles at beautyarmy.com- Left my hair shiny and smooth but greasy and not particularly soft. I had to wash out the residue after using it. I don’t think I will be purchasing this.

Emani Minerals Foundation Primer and Hydrating Serum- $28 for 0.84 oz at beautyarmy.com- I loved this. This was the one thing I wasn’t even sure I was going to use and I ended up buying some for when I run out. It controls oil and feels like a baby angels bottom.

Ruddy Water Blushed Towelette- $22 for 24 towelettes at beautyarmy.com  (roller ball of unknown size $16.50 and blooming mist of unknown size $12 at shop.ruddywater.com)- The smell was okay but my towelette was dried out. And I would never use perfume towelettes.

So was it worth it? Hmm. I don’t know. I tally up two thumbs up, one thumbs down, two neutrals and one somewhere in between neutral and thumbs down. I do have a full-sized lip gloss to show for it and found a oil-controlling serum I love but other than that I wasn’t thrilled. However I have already picked my January box out and I am much happier with that (there’s only one foil packet!). Overall this box was barely worth my $12 but I’m hopeful things will improve.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Nelson J Argan Oil 7 Non-Foaming Shampoo- December Beauty Army


 $36 for two 8 oz bottles at beautyarmy.com

When I first got this in my Beauty Army box I was a little bummed I didn’t get the conditioner that goes with this but then as I was researching it, I found out there is no conditioner. This shampoo is supposedly shampoo, conditioner, detangler, shine serum, color protection, smoothing serum, and pre-styling lotion all in one. Its also sulfate and paraben free. IF it actually worked like it claims to it would be awesome. It would probably be my new holy grail hair product. I hate layering stuff in my hair because I feel like it weighs it down and makes it a little greasy sometimes. If one product could do all of the stuff this is supposed to in one application that would be amazing. But its not that amazing.

This shampoo is a white cream with little blue beads in it. I’m not really sure what the blue beads are supposed to do. Besides get stuck in my hair. Yeah, I was picking them out for hours after I shampooed. Maybe their supposed to exfoliate your scalp? I really don’t know. Anyway, the shampoo has a lovely sweet minty smell that’s reminiscent of candy canes. The directions say to work it through damp hair, starting at the roots. It says to comb it through with a wide-toothed comb and then rinse it out. It doesn’t foam up at all (obviously since its called non-foaming shampoo). I was a little skeptical because to me foaming up equates to cleaning (I have been brainwashed by the sulfates of modern beauty care) but I was pleasantly surprised by how clean and soft my hair felt as I was rinsing it out. Once it dried my hair certainly was shiny and soft but it also was a little limp and not as clean as it usually is. With the next few washes it got progressively more greasy. Either it left build up I my hair or it just didn’t shampoo out the oil or both. I finally got tired of looking like a grease monkey and broke out my regular shampoo. I did use the Argan Oil 7 as a conditioner of sorts and it worked really well for that. My hair was probably shinier and smoother than its ever been without using a flat iron. Despite that I will probably not be buying this. I read some reviews of it online that seemed positive so I’m not sure what my problem was. Either my hair is super oily or I was using too much of it.

So bottom line, it smells delicious and as long as I used another shampoo it works well to make my hair super shiny and smooth but does not work alone as a shampoo. It does not clean well and leaves a greasy residue. Plus the annoying little beads. So I'm not buying it.