October Ipsy

Ipsy’s glam bag theme for October is “Alter Ego”, which is kind of interesting, but also made me nervous for what to expect. I wasn’t totally thrilled with the items I received last month, as there were 2 items that didn’t work for me at all, so I was hoping they would up their game just a little bit. Here’s what I received:
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  1. Ayres Pampas Sunrise Hand Cream: My initial impression was that this product had an herbal-y smell, and that the consistency wasn’t thick enough. However, the smell grew on me, and the formula wasn’t greasy, so it quickly went in my purse!
  2. Leeanni Eco “Go Away Gloomy Day” Serum: I haven’t had a chance to try this yet, but it’s an “all natural” product that you use after washing your face. I’ve really been loving the Pixi Glow Tonic that I raved about a couple week ago (read about it here) so I probably won’t be trying anything new for awhile.
  3. Coastal Scents Xpress Line Cosmetics Pencil: Ok…this product is extremely disappointing. It has like a retail value of $3 and when I tested this pencil on my hand, the consistency was really dry and I had to press really hard to get any pigmentation. I can’t imagine using this on my eyelid!
  4. Aurora Gel Effects Nail Polish: I’m excited to try this formula, but…I have like 2 other polishes in this exact shade already, so that’s kind of a bummer.
  5. theBalm Liquid Lipstick: This was one of the initial spoilers they released, and I was pleasantly surprised by this product…it applied well and dries matte. The shade is also less dramatic so I could see myself wearing it in the daytime. The one drawback is that it does emphasize any dryness on my lips, so I have to make sure to prep them beforehand.

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Besides the eyeliner, the items were all pretty good and at least relevant to the profile I filled out. Also, I love the bag and that it has an opening at the top instead of on the side. I definitely wouldn’t say this was my best bag ever, but it was better than last month’s!

If you’re a subscriber, what did you think of this month’s glam bag? As always, thank you for reading!

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Fall Shoes From DSW

It’s almost mid-October and the weather in the Midwest has been unseasonably mild, and even warm. With no snow (or even much rain, for that matter), I’m happy to report I’ve been able to wear whatever type of shoe I’d like without worrying about them getting ruined by water or salt stains. Today I’ll be sharing 3 of my most-worn pairs of shoes in the last couple of months, purchased from DSW and largely still available on their website.

  1. Crown Vintage “Sandy” Bootie: I’m confessing right now that I’ve owned these for a year now, but the fact that they’re STILL sold at DSW totally speaks to how amazing they are. For $69.95, this is a steal for a pair of leather ankle boots in a classic yet versatile style. For most of my shoes, style and comfort are equally as important, and this 2 1/2 inch stacked heel is insanely comfy. They do run slightly long, but I purchased them in my normal size that I could wear them with thicker socks in the Winter.
  2. Crown Vintage “Tabatha” Bootie: Another amazing Crown Vintage find. Grey is a good alternative to black for me, but unfortunately this color is only available in sizes 5.5 and 6 at the time of this post, so I linked to the black and taupe, which are fully-stocked. I don’t own many pairs of shoes that are suede, but I love the texture that it adds to Fall outfits! I was able to pick these up for less than $50 since they were in such low-stock, but even for retail of $69.95, these shoes are worth it. My only complaint about these is that the sole isn’t rubber, so it’s quite clicky for no reason. But, I still love em.
  3. Aldo “Mcinteer” Flats: Aldo is a brand that is so hit-or-miss for me, but in this case, the style is on-fleek and the shoes are quite comfy. The t-strap can be a great look, but often times I hate the hassle of getting the shoes on and off, especially if they involve any sort of tying. No issue with these, since they have a back zipper. The hardware also adds just the right amount of “take me seriously” without going over the top 🙂 Also, my picture doesn’t show this, but the flats have a 3/4 inch block heel that has matching hardware too, so it makes these shoes totally appropriate for a fancier occasion when there might be dancing involved and you don’t want to be limping around in heels. The one slight complain about these flats is that the t-strap slides around on my left foot (and only my left), and the strap around my left ankle feels slightly tight when I’m walking around…but it might just be a “me” problem. For $59.95, these shoes are such a steal and are totally appropriate in any season, and any environment.

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Perhaps it was payday for you today…or yesterday…but purchasing a pair of these shoes above definitely wouldn’t be the worse decision ever 😉 I would love to see links to any Fall styles that you guys have been loving, and as always, thank you for reading!

October Birchbox Unboxing

I just received September’s box (read about it here) a few days ago, so my sub boxes have been keeping me busy! Remind me not to log onto my BB account prior to receiving my items…they list all the stuff in your box for the month, so it wasn’t much of a surprise for me. We all know October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and this month’s box design continues to be gorgeous, and a full reflection of the theme.

One aspect about BB that really wins over Ipsy is that you receive 10 points for every product you review, and after these two months of boxes, I already have 100 points, which equates to $10 to spend on their website. Birchbox seems to follow the “one product type per box” quite closely, so even though I don’t have much interest in hair or lip products, I always receive one of each in every box. Keep scrolling to see what I received!

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  1. amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo: I’ve heard a lot of great things about this brand of dry shampoo, but a 5.3 oz can is $22, which is super steep compared to the brand Batiste which I received in Ipsy and really liked. I probably wouldn’t repurchase this no matter how well it worked, but I’m still happy I got a sample!
  2. Eyeko Black Magic Mascara: This was the reason I opted for a surprise Birchbox this month…I’ve really wanted to try this mascara after hearing how long-wearing it is, to the point where it’s a pain to remove and is almost like it’s waterproof. I’ll report back on this mascara later, since I’m still trying to use up some other samples before I open another tube.
  3. ModelCo Ultra Long-Lasting Lipstick: I’ve received a lot of darker shades in the last couple of months because of Fall, so I was actually quite pleased that this one is a middle-of-the-road, peachy shade that’s still highly wearable this season. The formula isn’t the creamiest, but it’s alright for something that retails for about $6-$7.
  4. Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre: Talk about over-packaging…this little tube of product came in a box, with a full ingredients list folded up inside. The actual product is supposed to act as a 24-hour moisturizer and it’ll probably last me about a week.
  5. Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gel: This product is a nice change of pace! These eye gels are supposed to reduce puffiness as well as brighten and firm the undereye area. I would really like to visit Iceland someday and go to Blue Lagoon, but this will do for now 🙂

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Overall, I’m pleased with the items this month, as I’ll definitely try to use them all. The “value” isn’t super high, but I would rather have low-value items that I would definitely use, over a couple full-sized, high-value items such as hair serums or brow products, which basically go straight to the “give away” box at this point. I also appreciate that the eye gels are a “one time use” product, so it won’t contribute to my pile of skincare items that I still need to use up. Let me know if you received any of the same items as me this month, or if you opted for one of the two pre-selected boxes that looked pretty awesome. As always, thank you for reading!

Review of Pixi Glow Tonic

The only reason this brand was on my mind was because I received the brow palette that was too light for me in my September Ipsy, and ended up giving it to a friend. Target had this product in its weekly ad a couple weeks ago, and then I saw a few bloggers mention it in their recent posts. When I asked one of the bloggers how she liked the Glow Tonic, she responded that it helped fade her acne scars, and I was completely on board! I made sure to pick it up a few days ago and put it on my highest priority of products to use. My face has already been getting more dry with the change in weather, to the point where I had to switch to my “dry skin” foundation, and it has been 5 days since I’ve been using this toner in the morning and evening.

Just to give some facts about the product — It’s $15 for 3.4 oz (perfectly acceptable carry-on size), so it isn’t exactly on the drug-store cheap side, especially for a product sold at a discount retailer. They also sell a larger size on Pixi’s website for $29, although it didn’t specify for how much product. My initial impression was that it was getting used pretty quickly, but maybe I just need to learn how to use products like this sparingly again, as it’s been awhile since I’ve used toner on a regular basis.

The product claims to brighten your complexion and remove dead skin cells, all while being alcohol free! I’ve been using it after a gentle cleanser, and the first couple of days of using it, I noticed that my skin was not as red as it usually tends to be after I wash my face. Another plus about the product is the smell, which is actually quite pleasant despite it containing Glycolic.

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So…what’s the verdict after 5 days? I really think that it has done a great job of smoothing my face’s surface. Even though I try to exfoliate every 2-3 days, I still always have some patches of dryness along my jawline. The Glow Tonic hasn’t completely relieved these areas, but I’ve noticed a huge difference in how soft my face feels in the morning and evening, and how much more receptive it is to moisturizers and even my foundation. I’m not sure if I’ll see more dramatic results the longer I use it, but usually the first week’s impression is really important for a product, and I’m really happy to report this has lived up to my expectations.

I highly recommend checking this product out if you’ve never really used toners or saw a purpose for them. This completely changed my mind, and I think it’s because in the past I used some toners from Shiseido that didn’t work for me, which completely turned me off. Please let me know if you’ve tried or are currently using this product, and what your thoughts are.

Thank you so much for reading!

First Birchbox – September.

I finally jumped on the Birchbox bandwagon, and just received my September box today! I’ll probably be receiving the October box soon, so I wanted to write about this as soon as possible. What convinced me to finally subscribe was this lipgloss freebie from MAKE beauty, which I received in the shade Azalea. It has a mint flavor to it, and the color looks bright pink in the tube but is actually quite wearable. I didn’t include it in the review below, since I considered it a one-time thing, and not really indicative of the actual box. Now let’s get to reviewing:

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  1. Tocca Giulietta Nourishing Body Scrub: I started to like Tocca after receiving a sample of their Cleopatra scent, so I was happy to see this brand as a completely different product. Although the scent for this body scrub is described as having apple and tulip notes, I wouldn’t say it smells that great. Pretty hard to describe, but hopefully it’s highly effective at exfoliating and moisturizing!
  2. Number 4 Fluoro5 Elixir – Restore & Repair Oil: I have enough hair oils and serums to last me a lifetime, but this one has pretty great reviews on Birchbox so I’m excited to give it a try. The full-size is 2 oz and sells for $26 — This sample is 0.5 oz. so not too shabby!
  3. Air Repair Complexion-Boosting Moisturizer: I really wish the sample of this was a tad bit larger…The 2 oz retails for $20, and the sample I received was 0.25 oz…so the value is only $2.50. The product has a super strong scent, but it’s quite pleasant..I’ll probably use it tonight!
  4. Cynthia Rowley Creamy Lip Stain in Poppy: This is a pretty tiny sample, but the color is great and looks really natural when applied.
  5. Catherine Malandrino Style de Paris perfume sample: I like trying different perfumes, but I have so many scents I’m loving right now and would prefer to wear. Also, I think most people feel the same way as me about this — but I don’t think these perfume vials should count as a sample in a subscription box! But…the scent is really complex, kind of earthy and sweet, so I’m a fan. At least the vial is made of glass, lol.

I have to admit, these products really grew on me as I started looking into them more while writing this post. Initially when I opened my box, I figured since I was probably one of the last September subscriptions they sent out, they only had crappy products left on-hand, lol. The overall un-boxing experience, though, compared to Ipsy, is a tad classier in my opinion. No bubble wrap used to protect any of the products…just boxes and tissue paper.

024 - Birchbox Sept 02 - ResizedI know I’m super late in asking this, but what did you guys who subscribe to BB think of September’s box? I know a lot of people opted for the non-surprise, Customer Favorites box, so I’d love to hear if you decided to go for a surprise 🙂 Stayed tuned for October’s box!

New Discovery – Simple Skincare

Just wanted to write a quick post after trying a couple of great items from the Simple skincare line. These products have been around for awhile and claim to be designed for generally sensitive skin, and their price point is pretty similar to Neutrogena’s and Almay — often times you can even often find them at BOGO 50% off at Ulta, which is where I decided I wanted to give these a try.

If you’ve been following my blog these last few months, you probably know my skin has gotten a little more sensitive, and while I appreciate a deep-cleaning product that I can feel, generally I know it’s probably not the greatest for my skin type anymore. I’m so happy that this brand seems to be effective and is gentle on my skin!

Simple Skincare Cleansing Facial Wipes: These are sold at Ulta for $8.99 for a 2-pack with 20 each, and you can also buy them for $4.99 for 1 pack. I’ve always thought that all facial wipes inevitably leave some type of residue because they need to contain ingredients that are able to remove whatever is on your face, without the need for water. I didn’t think the perfect cleansing wipes existed, so it was always a matter of balancing price, effectiveness, scent.

The first time I opened the packaging, I was surprised that there was NO smell, and was concerned that the wipes wouldn’t remove anything! However, I wiped it around my face and eye makeup, and my eyeliner and mascara was definitely removed, along with my foundation. My face also didn’t tingle at all, and after I was done, it literally felt like I had just washed my face with cleanser and water.

Simple Skincare Cleansing Micellar Water: This was $7.99 at Ulta, which I think is slightly more expensive than stores like Target and CVS, but Ulta had the BOGO 50% off deal so I knew it was still cheaper to buy it there. The only other Micellar water I had used prior to trying this was the Sephora one that I bought on a whim while I was at the VIB Rouge shopping event. I used it a couple times but didn’t really like it, and for $12, I didn’t think it was worth keeping.

In this item’s case, I’ve read a lot of great reviews so I decided to give it a try. After I applied it on a cotton pad and wiped it all over my face, I could tell it did a great job of removing my makeup. I also didn’t feel any tingling while using it, and of course, no smell either 🙂

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As I’m wrapping up this post, I realized these would be wonderful products if you’re going on a camping trip or exploring in areas where running water isn’t so easy to come by. They don’t need to be used for solely makeup removal — just cleaning yourself after a long day of being outside would be just as good of a reason. Both the products left my face feeling truly clean and non-drying, but I tend to use facial wipes all the time, so I would choose that over the micellar water if I had to.

Feel free to comment about your experiences with these products, and as always, thank you for reading!

September’s Ipsy Glam Bag

Time to review my September glam bag from Ipsy! I feel like it arrived a bit later than it had in previous months, and of course I couldn’t keep myself from reading what other people had received. I must admit, I wasn’t very excited about this month, so going into it I was just hoping not everything was a complete dud.

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  1. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream: Something that I’ve recently realized about my skincare sample collection…I have way too many cleansers and not enough moisturizers, for both my face and body. So imagine how happy I was to receive this! It’s a 1 oz sample, and the 2 oz retails at Sephora for $12.
  2. Acure Brightening Facial Scrub: Love the idea of combining brightening effects in a scrub, and it’s even better that it’s sulfate and paraben free, among a lot of other “frees”. After using this a couple evenings ago, I think it’s wonderfully gentle and the smell is somewhere along the lines of minty and herbal-y. The full-size for this product retails for $9.99 so it’s highly affordable and I would definitely consider repurchasing.
  3. Trestique Mini Matte Lip Crayon in Nantucket Nude: I’m pretty sure when I filled out my Ipsy profile, I selected that I was least interested in lip products. But… in the last 3 months I’ve received at least 1 lip product in each bag. The packaging of this is pretty cute, but the shade just isn’t for me. Also, I noticed the product had a strange smell after I applied it to my lips. So… not a win.
  4. Pixi Mini Brow Trio: An item that I was seriously hoping I wouldn’t receive was this one. I simply have zero use for it, so…next step is to pawn it off on one of my friends.
  5. NYX & Ipsy Eyeshadow Palette: I didn’t want to end this post on an item that was a complete dud, and this one falls somewhere in the middle. It’s probably bad karma to complain about receiving brands like NYX since they’re what I’ve expected to receive from Ipsy, but they’ve spoiled me way too much in the last couple of months. On the bright side, I have a ton of eye shadow that I will never get close to hitting pan on, but do I have any that are small and packable like this one? Nope. So, I’m good.

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Overall, I had 3 out of 5 products that I would definitely use, and 2 complete fails. The pouch design this month is great, though! I think the value wasn’t up there like it was in the last couple of months (for example, last month, a full-size eyeliner I received retailed for like $18), but all the products would have been highly usable if they were sent to someone with fair skin tone.

I’m curious to hear if you guys received similar items as me and what you thought of September’s glam bag as a whole. As always, thanks for reading!