Sunday, September 29, 2013

Indie Gift Box - Singin' The Blues

I've been watching Indie Gift Box for some time now. For those of you not in the know, Indie Gift Box is probably one of the coolest monthly box concepts out there. From their website: Indie Gift Box curates unique, high-quality items from independent artists and small businesses every month and organizes them into themed boxes available for purchase and delivery to your door. You won't find cookie cutter cosmetics or home products here - instead, customers have the opportunity to be discover fun items not available at the corner box store.

As most of my readers know, I had to cut back on subscription/monthly boxes a while back, and Indie Gift Box, being one of the more pricey ones out there, is one I cannot purchase on a regular basis. However every once in a while they have leftover boxes. This month, they had some leftover items from previous boxes and put it together with the theme Singin' The Blues.

I jumped right on that offer! I had seen these products in reviews, and had to get them in my grubby little hands. Without further ado, here's what I received in my Singin' The Blues package:



Heart Still Beats the Same album on CD by Leslie Lowe: I'll admit it, it's not the type of music I normally listen to. It's described as "bluesy" - but that's not how I'd describe it - it's more like the Indigo Girls, only with one girl. I'm not sure I'm in love with it, but at the same time, I found the music to be pleasant and upbeat. I put it on while cleaning the house, and it served as the perfect background.
Retail price: $10


“What will you create today?” notebook by Make My Notebook: I have a weakness for blank books. I love them, and whenever I find one at a bargain price, I have to buy it. Have. To. I am so happy with this book - it's fun, bold, and encourages me to write down the projects I have in mind to create.
Retail price: $14

“create” necklace by Sebastian Designs: This item really lured me into purchasing this package - I'd seen the necklace on other bloggers' reviews, and fell in love with it. I kicked myself for not purchasing the box - and lo and behold, I got another chance! I love it - copper is my favorite metal, and this necklace is fun, cool, and a conversation starter.
Retail price: $19

Blueberry-scented candle by Candlelit Desserts: Blueberry is not my favorite scent in a candle. But... this one is really pretty, and goes well with my decor. I will definitely burn it - I'm a candle fiend in the winter. It was packaged really nicely, and the holder is sturdy glass.
Retail price: $4

Nitpicks: Wow - I have none - except that this wasn't delivered in a box, but a padded envelope. And that's really reaching for a nitpick!

Lasting impression: Beautifully packaged, fantastic theme, and inspiring products! The necklace is beautiful, and compliments my wardrobe. The notebook is definitely going to get used. I am so happy with this purchase - and with their customer service as well. Go get yourself an Indie Gift Box - you won't be sorry!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Birchbox - September 2013

It's time for me to review the subscription box I love to hate: Birchbox. I feel as though I must include a disclaimer here: This month I don't hate Birchbox, because I had a wonderful and trouble-free interaction with BB Customer Service about a week ago. The CC rep was friendly, helpful, and a joy to work with. This is probably one of the reasons I haven't cancelled yet this time around. I've said it before and I'll say it again: BB has the best CC Reps out there. They seem to go the extra mile - and that's a major accomplishment in this "I'd rather be texting" world of commerce we're in these days.
 
The other thing that pleases me about Birchbox - and I'm pretty sure I haven't said it before in a review - is that they treat customer orders the same as they do the Birchbox monthly subscription. "What does that mean?" you might be asking. It means that they take great care in wrapping up the product so that the customer feels as if they received a gift. A gift from themselves, sure... but a gift nonetheless. The last time I ordered from BB, my hair product was wrapped up so nicely I felt as if I had received a very special gift, instead of just a product order.
 
That said, my Heritage box (this month's theme) was a bit underwhelming - although there was at least one product in the mix that I loved. Without further ado, take a peek into my September Birchbox:

 
RUFFIAN Nail Lacquer in Fox Hunt: Man, Ruffian must have had some fun with that name. Not sure if the color is supposed to indicate the color of blood that's poured on the ground after a particularly grisely fox hunt... or reminiscent instead of the jacket color of those on a fox hunt. I must say here: I don't paint my nails. I used to - but they chip within the day and it's just something I don't want to waste my time on (painting and repainting my nails). I do enjoy the occasional pedicure, and this color will compliment my old lady feet. Bonus: Made in the USA!
Retail price: $10.00
 
Yes To™ Blueberries Cleansing Facial Towelettes: Just in time! I go to California at least once a month to visit my dad, and I've taken to bringing these types of towelettes with me. They work great - and I'm so excited to have my first "Yes to..." product in my grubby little hands. This is the product I am most excited about receiving. I can throw it in my suitcase for my next trip - my other packet (Josie Maran Bear Naked) just about ran out! Made in Germany.
Retail price: $7.99 at Birchbox; $5.99 at Yes To's website.
 
amika Blow Up Spray: Oh no - not another hair product! This one is a fairly decent size, compared to other amika products I've received (which have all been those most despised little foil packs). I am on the fence - do I give this away or do I try it? I really wanted the Sea Salt spray that was one of this month's offerings - but it might be fun to revisit the 80's and give myself some big hair. Made in the USA!
Retail price: $24.00
 
Racinne Ultimate Youth Power Eye Serum: BB really likes to give me old lady eye products! On the bright side, by the end of the year after using each one of these eye products I've received, I'm going to look like I'm 20 again. Watch out, MILFs – this cougar is about to roar!
Retail price: $32.00
 
Yes To™ Grapefruit CC Cream: Grrrrrrr.... two little foil packs. In this case, though, there seems to be a reason behind the madness that is the foil pack. There are two samples: light and light/medium. This way, I can determine which shade is really more "me." I haven't tried it yet, but I agree with the blogger masses on this type of product: I don't see the sense in using it, unless one's skin is already pretty much perfect. All the other CC creams I've tried haven't provided any type of coverage or correction. I am happy to try this, though, and will reveal the verdict in an upcoming blog.
Retail price: $15.99
 
Nitpicks: The ubiquitous foil pack! The box also seemed late to me - but on the other hand, that's not BB's fault. For some reason my box always gets stuck in Michigan for about three to four days. It's there... I can see it on the tracking... but they're not touching it! Maybe the postal workers in Michigan take a lot of beer and cheese breaks.
 
Lasting Impression: While this box is in no way, shape, or form a "Wow" box, I am truly happy to get to try the Yes To™ Blueberries Cleansing Facial Towelettes. In fact, just seeing them in the box gave me a case of the happies. I was also happy to see a decent nail polish shade in the box - I was afraid I was going to end up with purple or green or some other hideous color that isn't flattering to an old lady like me!

Additionally, I was heartened to see so many products made in the USA! Birchbox, you stole my heart with that added bonus! Thank you!

Ipsy - September 2013

I know, I know – I haven’t blogged in a while. What can I say? Quite frankly I was tired of complaining about receiving crap. My mom used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I took her advice, but then realized it was no fun, so here I am again – complaining about crap for your reading pleasure.
 
Thing is, Ipsy rarely disappoints – and even though there are two products in this month’s bag I will never use, I was pretty much pleased with what I got for my $10 investment. The theme was Classic Beauty, and I would say that the products in the bag live up to that theme. So without too much complaining, here’s my recap of September’s Ipsy bag and what it means to me, in the order of worst to best:
 
NYX Eye Shadow: I received the color purple, which I love. What I don’t love is that the product is made in China. What, says you? BLRB, you are outta your mind! It says right there on the label: Made in P.R.C. Well homies, have I got news for you – P.R.C. is China. Where in the world have you been? Obviously not in school. I digress… needless to say, this product will not be going on my face.
Retail price: $4.50
 
J.Cat Beauty Fantabulous Lipstick – The shade is Nude, and I love it. However, before I went to put it on, I checked the label. Uh oh – it’s made in China. Blerg. Another throw away product.
Retail price: $2.49
 
Elizabeth Mott "It's So Big" Volumizing Mascara: Yay – finally something not made in China (of course, I’m not convinced Korea is much better, but at least they haven’t killed any animals yet with their pet food – at least to my knowledge). I tried the product, and it's good, not great. If I'm going to spend big bucks on a masacara, I'd rather get per-f├ękt Beauty Lash Perfection Gel.
Retail price: $19.99

Jesse's Girl Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner: Before you even ask, it's made in Taiwan. Not sure if that's better than China, but I'm gonna pretend it is. I'm so excited - eyeliner is one of my all-time favorite products. Everyone makes passes at girls who wear glasses - at least when they have eyeliner on! Make those babies pop, girls!
Retail price: 6.99 
 
Cailyn Tinted Lip Balm: While I would have preferred a more subtle color, I can’t argue that Big Apple Red is indeed a classic color. Best of all, this little classic baby is made in the good old U.S. of A!
Retail price: $19

I should probably also mention that subscribers also received a sample card of Michelle Phan's new cosmetic line, em. For those of you not in the know, Michelle Phan is the founder of Ipsy. Her cosmetic line is high priced - and many think over-priced. 

I emailed and asked where the cosmetics were made and did not receive a response. This leaves me feeling as if the cosmetics might be made in China - something they are probably not proud of. But I'm only speculating here - however no response usually indicates a marketing savvy response has not yet been drafted.

The card of samples doesn't even provide enough for one application. Apparently they're just "swatches" - lame!

Still, I admit I have a little love affair going with Ipsy, because they send the best stuff. Heck even the stuff made in China seems to be good to use for swapping and gifts. And for $10, this is a much, much better deal than it's main competitor: Birchbox.

Ipsy, I love you. Don't ever leave me.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Trader Joe's Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels

I'm in love with salt. And chocolate. So whenever these two ingredients appear together in the same product, I feel an overwhelming need to try it. This winter I discovered I like sea salt caramels, and went a little crazy after this discovery. Everywhere I turned, there seemed to be some sort of sea salt caramel available. I think I bought them all.

Then I was broke.

Again.

Imagine my wallet's delight when I happened upon these babies at my local Trader Joe's. Only $3.49 for a 7 oz. package. Ah, yes, my wallet smiled but would I?

I looked around the store to see if anyone saw me, and when I realized I was in the clear, I threw those babies into my cart. Why the secrecy? Because I was supposed to be on the Smash Diet with my co-workers. And try as I might, I could not find a way these tempting little morsels fit into the allowable foods in any way, shape, or form.

I got them home safely, cooked dinner, and didn't enjoy my little bit of protein and plateful of vegetables. What could make it better? That's right... a serving of baby sized chocolate covered sea salt butterscotch caramels. 

I grabbed about five, and tried a couple. YUM! They are the perfect blend of rich dark chocolate, buttery caramel, and sea salt. Neither taste outshines the other, and all the ingredients work together to deliver a delicious, delightful and delectable treat.

I've had some sea salt caramels that have too much salt. I've had some sea salt caramels in which the caramel was just too hard. And I've had others in which the caramel and the salt overpowered the chocolate. 

This is not the case with Trader Joe's Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels. These taste better than some high end sea salt caramels I've tried. And for $3.49, they are an affordable treat. I can buy one for me, and one for a friend. I'd hate to be one of my friends, though, because even though I have every intention of giving one of them a package, it rarely ever makes it out of  my house.

I say get thee down to your nearest Trader Joe's and grab a package or two of these. As with anything at Trader Joe's, you never really know how long they'll stock it, so don't waste any time. Go now. Grab a cartful and enjoy.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Eco-Emi May 2013

Eco-Emi and Ipsy tie for my favorite subscription boxes. Eco-Emi speaks to my hippie side, and Ipsy speaks to my inner glamor girl. 

This month's Eco-Emi box is a "kick off to summer" theme. The intro card went on to say that in June we'll see some originals - all I can say is it's about time. Don't get me wrong - I loves me some Eco-Emi, but lately all the boxes have been filled with companies and products that we've seen before - just in different incarnations (i.e. pink eye shadow from Lauren Brookes instead of gray).

And just how does Eco-Emi kick off summer? Like this:




Assorted Nailpolish by Suncoat Girl: The color I received is a mystery - according to the card: "You will receive one surprise shade!" And it truly is a surprise, because there is no label on the polish - so I had to give it my best guess, based on what is available on the website. I am fairly certain I received Apricot. It's not a color just anyone can wear - and homey certainly can't. It will make me look like a pale face. 
Retail price: $7.99 a bottle

Lauren Brooke Pink Champagne Powder Eyeshadow: Oh my. This is a lovely shade - it goes great on my pale face! It lasts all day, and I've even received compliments on it. Go ahead, you can give me one, too. I don't mind.
Retail price: $9.00

Mongo Kiss Vanilla Honey Lip Balm by Eco Lips: Eh... you know how much homey is getting sick of receiving lip balm. Still, they often make good gifts. This one has Mongongo oil - yeah, I know. I hadn't heard of it, either. Apparently it's the oil from some sort of African nut. Oh, and all you African males out there reading this: I don't want your nut oil. Keep it in your pants, mister.
Retail price: $1.99 for a .25 oz. tube

AquaSport SPF 30 Sunscreen by All Terrain: I don't go into the water (unless I'm bathing with African nut oil - kidding), so I don't know if this holds up to it's promise to be effective even after 80 minutes in the water. But it's non-greasy and won't cause eye sting. (I didn't think I was supposed to put it in my eyes... what do I know? I'm an indoor kind of girl.)
Retail price: $12.99 for 3 oz.

Seaweed Powder Bath with Hawaiian Kukui Oil: Land sakes, how many different kinds of oil are there? At least two, right? I'm so glad this came with a warning: "Bath water will turn a greenish brown color from the seaweed." Yeah... I didn't think I was THAT dirty.
Retail price: $2.89 or 2.o oz.

Pomegranate bar by Athena Bars: Eh... see what I mean? This is a repeat product, but not really. We've received Pumpkin Spice and some sort of blueberry monstrosity... now this. Aren't there other delicious bars out there from different brands? By the by, the blueberry sucked the big red one, but the pumpkin spice one was quite alright. I haven't been brave enough to try this one yet.
Retail price: $22.68 for 12 bars

Vegan Natural Mascara by Suncoat: The card said "you will receive one surprise color!" Guess what my color was? Black... just like my heart. Seriously? Black? I was disappointed until I went to the website and saw that there are only three colors: black, brown, and blue. Now I feel better. (By the by, this is "sugar based." Not sure what that means, but don't try to eat my eyes, okay?)
Retail price: $14.99 for 10ml

Herbal Armor Insect Repellent by All Terrain: I haven't tried this yet - I live in Nevada, so not a lot of insects around. Well... tons of ants and spiders, but they don't seem to be repelled by anything, not even my coffee breath.
Retail price: $8.99 for 4 oz

Aromatherapy Hair Care Rosemary Mint Tea Tree Shampoo by Beauty Without Cruelty: Per the card, it appears that people either received a lotion, shampoo, or conditioner. I got the shampoo. It smells good and doesn't have alcohol in it - but I was unexcited. I'm picky about my hair products. I might give it a go, though, to see how it works. Who knows? It could become a favorite...
Retail price: $10.95 for 16 oz.

Nitpicks: Recycled products - the Athena bar isn't that good to begin with, and this is my third bar in about six months. Blerg. On the other hand, I liked the first Seaweed company product I tried, and was excited to see a different product to try this month. But... homey wants variety, so I'm really looking forward to next month's box.

Lasting Impressions: Three things really stood out this month: The variety of products really got me excited about summer. The packaging as always was beautiful, but this month seemed especially eye catching. Lastly, they were EARLY this month! I was so excited to get my box early that I almost wet myself.

Birchbox May 2013

Oh yay! It's time (okay, past time) to review my May Birchbox. I can sum it up in two words: Pissed Off.

Apparently BB decided only a few of their subscribers were cool enough to receive the extra special Salma Hayak box. I believe it was an extra box on top of their regular box - at least, that's what one blogger indicated. BB sent out an email to their subscribers asking if they'd be interested. Guess what? Homey did NOT get the email. And this after many assurances from BB that I was on their email list.

Oh BB - you guys never fail to give me the shaft, do you?

So, I missed out on the super cool box, and this is what I got instead:



Okay, okay, that's not all I got. But it sure set the tone for the rest of the box - take a look to see what I mean:




amika Obliphica Nourishing Mask: Oh lookie here, my favorite: a foil pack! Plus it's supposed to be great for colored hair, but the second ingredient is alcohol. I don't understand what these hair people are thinking - alcohol strips color. Ugh. Guess they don't know how to do their homework.
Retail price: $40 for 500ml


Marvis Toothpaste in Classic Strong Mint: At least they didn't give me licorice - that's a plus. Look, the link is going to take you to beautyhabit.com to check the product out - you are my beloved readers, and I could not subject you to the painfully slow loading and gosh awful Marvis website. It took approx. two minutes for the picture to load in - and they played all this hookey music - as if their toothpaste brought forth a symphony. Blerg.
Retail price: $10.50 for 75ml (seriously - $10.50 for toothpaste? Go to Grocery Outlet and get yourself some Crest.)


Suman Contrast Eye Pencil - Black: Man, not even an exciting color - just black. And small. However, I was very happy to receive at least one cosmetic item, so this did give me a case of the happies. (The pencil I received does not look like the one in the link - that one looks self-sharpening and mine needs some manual labor.)
Retail price: $11


Coola Cucumber Classic Sunscreen SPF 30: Win, win, win. This is NOT an exciting product - but it's one of the first organic facial sunscreens I've received that actually blends in easily. Holy cow - most of 'em kind of are sticky and difficult for the skin to absorb. This one is wonderful - and it smells like cucumber!
Retail price: $32.00 for 1.7 oz/50ml


Isaac Mizrahi Fabulous perfume sample: Finally, Birchbox is sending me fragrance. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I've only been ragging you about it for two years now. How much longer do I have to rag you now for some Salma Hayek love? I digress... this stuff smells good. I'm not sure if it's totally me, but I'll have fun finishing off the sample while I figure it out. The scent is soft and slightly citrusy with an undertone of baby powder.
Retail price: $69 for 1.7 fl oz & 0.34 Rollerball


Oh... and let's not forget the Acroball pen. That was my Lifestyle extra. Alright, I admit it: I actually like the pen. It's pink and white on the outside, but actually writes with a purple tone. Still... it's no Salma Hayak. (Maybe that's a good thing - she has an awful accent, and when this thing writes, it sounds like me.)

May... hit or miss? Mostly miss. Love the Fabulous perfume, but let's face it, homey could never afford it. Not unless you introduce me to your rich uncle or hunky, fat-walleted single dad. They will love me - I smell Fabulous!

Nitpicks: The fact that I didn't get the Salma Hayak email really ticked me off - and seems like a huge oversight on their part. It put a great big spotlight on the fact that I don't receive any emails from them - even though they told me they fixed the problem. Grrrrrrr! 

They also recently updated the beauty profile questions, and I didn't get notification of that, either. I found out by accident and updated my profile - they really need to get on the ball about notifying their subscribers of changes that affect the subscription.

Lasting Impression: It looks like Birchbox FINALLY is sending me fragrance samples on a regular basis - yay! Thank you.



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Eco-Emi April 2013

Eco-Emi had a little insert in this month's box stating that they were late. Uh... what? You're late every month. It's a good thing you're a subscription box and not a girl, otherwise you'd be buying pregnancy tests by the bushel.

But I digress... The theme of this box was Spring. I think. It wasn't clear - but the card said that this time of year I will feel a weight lifting off of me if I remember to put myself first. And you know me, this homegirl always puts herself first, so this box is right up my alley!

Here's what was inside:



Oluv Care by OluvSkin: This brand doesn't really excite me - I received an Oluv soap in a prior box. But, this is one of those "amazing" salves that does all kinds of good things, from preventing diaper rash (who's gonna change mine?) and repairs minor cuts and burns. I have several different kinds of similar salves - I think I'll take this one to work in case I get a papercut or shank a co-worker.
Retail price: $5.36 for .25 oz.

Moisturizing Hair Milk by Shea Radiance: This stuff smells DELICIOUS. But don't eat it - put it on your hair instead. It's a vegan moisturizing hair milk - unfortunately it does have alcohol in it, so I'm not sure that I'll use it. It just smells so dang good... I might have to try it and hope it doesn't strip my color.
Retail price: $16 for 8.5 oz.

Unscented Deodorant Towelettes by Crystal Essence: Oh boy. My favorite: foil packs. But, I guess since these are towelettes, they really couldn't give a different kind of sample. I admit to being curious about these - but homegirl likes fragrance. Still, with all the damn hot flashes I get, I think it would be wise to stick these in my purse in case I need to freshen up before a meeting.
Retail price: $2.99 for a 6-pack

Dahlia Creme Eye Shadow by Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques: This is a beautiful color. And unlike other Lauren Brooke samples I've received, this one is actually generous. Weirdly, it's infused with an "organic vanilla" scent. I wonder what an un-organic (inorganic?) vanilla scent is like? And do my eyelids really need to smell like vanilla?
Retail price: $9

Organic Gluten Free Guacamole Dip by Simply Organic: Oh what fun! This is why I love Eco-Emi. Not only can I make myself beautiful with my Dahlia eye shadow, but I can eat my way to happiness, too.
Retail price: $1.69 for an 0.8 oz packet

Organic Hemp Shine Lipstick by Colorganics: I would have been more excited if this had color to it - basically, it's a glorified lip balm. *yawn* But it is a full size product - yay! 
Retail price: $17.95

Dead Sea Mud Facial Mask by Rainwater Botanicals: This will be fun to try. I know - I usually hate masks. But this one is ready made! I don't have to do a thing except to slap it on and drink some wine while it dries. Or doesn't. Bonus: it's from an etsy shop - support independent business!
Retail price: $12 for a 3 oz. jar

Comforting Geranium Mineral Bath Salts by Aura Cacia: I LOVE this brand - and I love bath salts (the real kind... not the druggie kind). This is a scent I haven't tried yet - and I'm waiting for that perfect day and the perfect wine to try this. I think it'll be tomorrow - we'll have stormy weather - what better time to soak in a hot bath with a glass of wine and a book?
Retail price: $3.29 for a 2.5 oz packet.

Nitpicks: The colorless Colororganics lipstick. How can one call a lipstick colorless? Isn't it a lip balm then? Plus, what is a company with the name "color" in their name doing with a colorless lipstick? It makes no sense.

At the same time, I know that Eco-Emi sends out what the company gives them. And Colororganics probably had a buttload of these to offload - I mean what woman in her right mind buys a seventeen dollar and ninety-five cent lip balm?

Another nitpick: the little card that announces all the goodies in the box had numerous misspellings. Not such a big thing, that is until one realizes that the names of some of the companies and products were misspelled.

Lasting Impression: Lots of good products: Lauren Brooke eyeshadow. Aura Cacia bath salts. And Guacamole dip - ole! Plus, Eco-Emi really makes these boxes up like a huge present - lots of things to unwrap, and always a nice little bag inside. This time it was a pink satin bag - so pretty!

Ipsy April 2013

Ah, Ipsy - you are like a new love: I feel giddy every time I see you in my mailbox. I dream about you all month, and can't wait to see you again.

I couldn't WAIT to get April's Ipsy bag. I heard a rumor that it was pink-themed. Homey loves Pink. Well, and pink. But.... it took forever to get here. And I don't know what Ipsy's problem is, but they NEVER send me tracking info, unless I hunt them down and threaten to bear their firstborn. But get here it did - here's what was inside:


Sation Nail Lacquer Love at First Byte: Full size product, and is DBP, Toluene and Formaldehyde free. Also it's made in my favorite place: The Good Old U.S. of A.
Retail price: $4.45 for .50 fl. oz.

Be a...Bombshell in Sweet Cheeks: Okay - this is a full size product (yay) but it's made in China (boo). I won't be using it because of that. I mean, if the Chinese kill our cats and dogs with their poisoned pet food, can you imagine what they will do to our skin? I wonder how much lead is hidden in this product...
Retail price: $16

Mica Beauty Cosmetics Shimmer Powder in Earth: Ipsy sent me a Mica Beauty eyeliner a few bags back - and it's become my favorite eyeliner ever. I was so happy to see this new-to-me Mica product in my bag - it's a beautiful light pink. And full size! Score!
Retail price: $14.95

Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Renewal: The only "blah" product in the bunch. Plus it's got alcohol in it, so I won't be using it - but I can see how some people would be happy to get it. It's a good brand, and it's made on American soil! 
Retail price: $21.95 for 4.2 fl. oz.

Nitpicks: The wait. It wouldn't have been so bad, except I was reading other people's blogs about their great bag, and mine hadn't even been shipped yet. Customer service did get back to me and send me a tracking number - and yet it still took about another week for it to arrive after that. And while this isn't their fault, exactly, the bag was at the San Leandro post office for almost four days - just sitting there. Holy cow - what the what was up with that?

Lasting Impression: Another great bag - the product I love the most, though, is the Mica Beauty Shimmer Powder. It's lovely! And look: three full-size products - wow! Suck on that, Birchbox!

Birchbox April 2013

I know what you're gonna say before you even open your mouth. "Homegirl, why are you reviewing Birchbox? You said you cancelled your subscription!" Yes, yes I did. Was I a liar? Nope. But when I saw that they were hootin' and hollerin' about what a great box they were going to send out in April, I had to get in. Why? Because it was a partnership with Women's Health magazine.

Way back when I was healthy, Women's Health magazine arrived in my mailbox every month. I loved it. And, homey so wants to be healthy again, so I signed up for this "great" box. For $10, how could I lose?

Um. Easily, it turns out.

Okay, this time I do lie - but not by much. I don't want to keep you in suspense any longer - here's what was inside my April "Tiny Tweaks, Big Results" box:



Caudalie Divine Oil: Seriously? Another oil? One month Birchbox says the best oil ever is Orofluido. The next, NUXE. In April the best oil ever was this Caudalie offering. Birchbox, please make up your mind. Which one is the best? Tell me. I really want to know. In the meantime, stop sending me oil. I've got enough for a thousand orgies.
Retail price: $49 for 3.4 fl. oz. (say what?)

Nexxus Youth Renewal Rejuvenating Elixir: Okay, this homegirl gets it: she's older. But do I really need a rejuvenating elixir AND a divine oil? Couldn't you mix it up a bit? Well... apparently not. And I guess since this one is for hair, it's different. Only it's not. And it's Nexxus. Not very exciting. Blerg.
Retail price: $20.00 for .94 fl. oz. (Found it at Target for $15.99 - aren't I special? No, I didn't buy it - I still have some Orofluido - "the best hair oil ever" according to Birchbox in 1992 or two months ago - I can't remember which.)

StriVectin-SD Eye Concentrate for Wrinkles: Okay, Birchbox - I get it now. You think I'm old. I think you hammered that point in very nicely with the above products - no need to get personal with this one. But since I'm tired of complaining, I'll use it - maybe then you'll stop sending me this crap.
Retail price: $65 for 1 oz. (Holy crap - am I made of money? I'm old, remember - I need my moolah for retirement!)

Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics Anti-Shine Mattifier: At last, something good - although it came in a super tiny little sample. I mean, after telling me three times I was old ya think the least they could have done was super-sized this Barbie-sized sample.
Retail price: $35 for .25 oz.

Now, here's the moment you've all been waiting for - did I get a Lifestyle extra or a Beauty extra? If you guessed Beauty Extra, you were right!

Weleda Body Lotion: Oh my - a little foil packet. Thank you, Birchbox. You know how much I love these (insert sarcastic smirk here). Weleda... eh... not exciting. Don't get me wrong, I love Weleda products. Lately, though, they're popping up in almost every subscription box out there - *yawn* 

The best part of the box was a free subscription to Women's Health magazine. I can't wait to get my first issue - it'll be like the good old days. Only this time instead of reading an issue and then jogging five miles and doing 100 situps, I'll probably eat a bon-bon and balance a beer on my belly.

Nitpicks: I was really excited about this box - teaming up with Women's Health could have meant really great things. Maybe a workout DVD. Or supplements. Or heck, even sunscreen - I mean, that's kind of healthy, eh? But a bunch of oil products and some anti-shine mattifier does not say "health" to me. 

Look, I'm not dumb - I get how the products fit into their "Little Tweaks, Big Results" theme - but it wasn't what most subscribers thought when they first heard BB had worked with WH on this box.

Lasting Impression: Women's Health - I'll get a magazine every month. Who knows? Maybe I'll even go for a walk. You never know... a renewed healthy lifestyle might be an issue away.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Birchbox March 2013

I know what you're saying - "Homey, I thought you unsubscribed to Birchbox." And I did... but then I saw that they were offering a great box for April and I wanted it - so I signed up for the April box. Or so I thought. 

You see, homegirl's timing is never very good, and so instead of signing up in enough time for April, it turns out I made the March cutoff as well. Uh... yay?

March's them is March Madness. I know. Not very original. Here's what I got this month:


Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair CC Cream: This is supposed to improve skin tone. Will it? I doubt it. However, I love Juice Beauty products and will continue to use it until it's empty. Who knows? I might just end up looking like a million bucks. (Hey! A girl can dream, can't she?)
Retail price: $39 for 1.7 oz.

Nick Chavez Beverly Hills Color-Saver Sulfate-Free Shampoo: Here we go again: a shampoo without the accompanying conditioner - which you know is this girl's big complaint. I won't know how well a product works if I can't use it with its partner. However, this product does not contain alcohol, so I will use it on my color-treated hair to see how it does. 
Retail price: $22 for 8 fl. oz.

Stella Cadente Miss Me Discrete? Eau de Toilette: Oh boy, was I excited to see a fragrance sample in my box - it was the first thing I opened up. Imagine my displeasure when I found the fragrance sample to be EMPTY! What? No good stuff? Birchbox punked me! 
Retail price: $49 for 30 ml

Vasanti Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator: This is an exfoliating cleanser, and it smells pretty darn good. It contains papaya enzymes to brighten up dull skin. While not an exciting product, I do enjoy trying to new cleansers, so this is a win in my book.
Retail price: $34 for 4.23 oz.

Beauty Extra: Emery Board by Madewell - Kind of cute - but I don't use these little papery kinds of emery boards. This is one area in which I'm faithful - I always buy Revlon Emeryl Files - I don't stray. However, I knew a French girl who swore by the kind of emery boards this Madewell board is made from - she said any other kind was harsh on nails. Maybe so... but I love my Revlon Emeryl File!
Retail price: $5.00

Nitpicks: I was actually a little angry when I discovered my fragrance sample was empty. I wrote Birchbox, and they had no samples left to send me - so they credited my account with 100 points. That was really nice - and it's one thing I've always said about Birchbox: they have great customer service. 

Lasting Impression: The customer service, of course! The items in the box were not that exciting - but the nice email I received from BB's customer service rep put a smile on my face.


Ipsy March 2013

This particular Ipsy bag might not have been my favorite so far - however, that is not to say that it wasn't good. It simply didn't excite me as much as the others - yet.... it still gave me a case of the happies.

The theme was Great Escape - and it was filled with travel sized products to take on a trip to... somewhere. Here is what was inside my jaunty sailor print make-up bag:

LA Fresh - Travel Lite Makeup Remover Wipes: I love these makeup remover wipes - I visit my dad at least once a month, and they're great to take along with me. They fit in my make-up bag, and do a fabulous job of removing all the make-up I have left on my face after a good night's sleep. 
Retail price: 1.99 for 8 wipes

Juice Beauty - Hydrating Mist: I absolutely love Juice Beauty products. That said, although I was excited to try this, it's not really my thing. I don't spray this type of thing on my face - if I did, my makeup would drip and make me look like I was in a zombie movie. However, I discovered something kind of cool - it is a great little thing to have at hand when I'm having a hot flash. I sprayed some of this on the back of my neck when I was mid-flash, and it helped to cool me off.
Retail price: $22 for 6.75 oz.

GlamRx Mini Freestyle Palette: I gotta admit, this was the least exciting thing in the bag for me - and yet, it is a much loved product by others. I wasn't sure what its purpose was - after investigating (i.e. using Google), I discovered it is a container to put eye shadows, bronzer, etc. in. This was an Ipsy exclusive, so it can't be bought (although apparently Zpallete is similar).

Yaby - Eyeshadow Refill in Seashell & Azalea Petal: I have TWO items to put inside my GlamRx Palette. These colors are nice - although very similar to the Coastal Scent eyeshadow colors I received last month.
Retail price: $3.99 for 3 grams (sample received is not full size - even though it might look like that in the picture)

Nitpicks: First, once again I did not receive tracking information. I emailed Ipsy, and to their credit, they got back to me within 24 hours with a tracking notice. The bag itself is kind of blah - but then again, I sincerely doubt I will keep any of these makeup bags. I usually put them in my donation bag every month. Still, the bag itself went along with the theme (somewhat), and it didn't smell bad like last month's bag did.

Lasting impression: Blerg. This bag wasn't exciting - but I guess they all won't be. However, I was impressed with customer service, and I look forward to next month's bag.



Monday, March 4, 2013

Eco-Emi February 2013

First things first: I love Eco-Emi. I really, truly do. And so it pains me to write my first "meh" review of one of their boxes.

Now had this been a regular box, I might not have been disappointed. But it was their anniversary box - and I expected great things. Not necessarily full sizes... but I did expect a lot of the cool items that has made Eco-Emi what it is today - a unique, eco-friendly, and much coveted monthly subscription box.

The box was also late, and there was some sort of screw up and tracking notices did not go out. I can forgive the lateness: they were hit with a snow storm. And things DO get screwed up once in a while - Mercury is in Retrograde after all - still, those two issues PLUS the underwhelming anniversary box really lent this month a blah flavor.

Without further ado, here is the box:

Serenity Vegan Hair Gel by ily: I haven't tried this yet, but it's supposed to be good for both curly and straight hair. I don't need to use it here in Nevada - the air is dry, so my hair doesn't get frizzy. But I will use it when I go to the Bay Area, which wreaks havoc on my hair. This stuff smells like Jello (that's not necessarily a bad thing!).
Retail price: $16 for 8 oz.

Exfoliate foaming vegan cleanser by Suki: It's a small sample, and I'll use it - but it's not exciting. However, it does smell good - well, like Jello. (Strange how the hair gel and the cleanser smell almost exactly alike, yet are from two different companies.)
Retail price: $32.95 for 4 oz.

Berry Red lip gloss by Purely You Minerals: The one thing in this box that got me excited. It's a nice color that I think wold look good on a majority of women. It's kind of gooey, though, and messy to put on (it came in a pot, but the retail product comes in a wand with an applicator). It tastes like peppermint and contains botanical essential oils and vitamin E.
Retail price: $7.99

Pumpkin Spice Bars by Athena Bars: This is a repeat item - kind of. They sent a blueberry flavor in November. Personally I didn't think it tasted very good, but apparently it was so popular that they repeated the item with a different flavor to for us to try. I'm hoping this one is better - and I do tend to like pumpkin-flavored goodies.
Retail price: $22.68 for 12 bars

Key Lime and Mint Gum by Vitacare: This is another repeat item in a different flavor. Last March, I received the Pomegranate Gum. Personally it wasn't my thing: the flavor didn't last long, and as soon as the flavor went away, my mouth felt dry. 
Retail price: $1.99 for a 12-piece packet

Collagen & Almond enriching moisturizing lotion by Aubrey: What is it with people? Can't they captailize their products anymore? But I digress... this is - say it with me now - A LITTLE FOIL PACKET. And you know how homey hates those. 
Retail price: $9.99 for 12 oz

Peppermint Spice Lip Balm by Moody Sisters: This is the third Moody Sisters product I've received. I love that Eco-Emi supports their etsy shop. I also wish that Eco-Emi would find some other etsy products to promote. Don't get me wrong: I love Moody Sisters. It would be nice, however, to try something new from a different company.
Retail price: $3.95

The Amazing Trio packet of grass. Okay. It wasn't really a packet of grass... it's a "whole food drink powder" and it's raw and gluten free. It's also kind of nasty - and it seems like the "good for you" grass products always are. But it IS full of nutrients that are good for your health, so suck up a little nasty to feel good.
Retail price: $21.99 for 15 packets

Nitpicks: As I mentioned before, an anniversary box evokes excitement and surprise - this box had very little - if any - surprise. Repeat products. Repeat companies. Additionally, there was not even one item that could be classified in the "wow" department.

Lasting Impression: This particular box was packed up beautifully. All the products were contained in a lovely silver tin with a see-through top. Eco-Emi really does put care into their packaging, and it shows.

Despite this less than stellar review, I still love Eco-Emi. I do hope they can get through this slump and revisit their roots - which is what an anniversary is about. I want to challenge them to remember to keep surprising their subscribers with new and innovative green products - to seek out new companies and new products. Happy Anniversary, Eco-Emi - may you have many more.


Ipsy February 2013

Ipsy is doing everything it can to win my heart… and let me tell you, it’s working. This month’s Ipsy bag was nothing but fun for me to receive. The theme was “Get Red Carpet Ready” and it was chock-full of cosmetics – one of my favorite things to receive! Here’s what was inside:

 

POP Beauty Mascara: You know, way back when I used to be sick of getting little mascara samples – WTF was wrong with me? Now I love getting them. They really are all different. This one separates my lashes like none other before it. Admittedly, it doesn’t do much to make my lashes look longer – but I love the non-clumpy separation it delivers.

Retail price: $18.50 for 0.25 oz  (The sample size included in this bag is worth $12.58)

 

The Lash Card: Birchbox handed these out awhile back – I didn’t get one then. And, I didn’t use this one, either… but I will. I’m curious to see if it does what it claims it will: “making it easy to get those hard-to-reach lashes.” I don’t know about you, but I have the darndest time with my corner lashes. I am curious to see if these lash cards will make a difference.

Retail price: $6.99 for a pack of 10. (Sample of four cards worth $2.80.)

 

Pixi Flawless & Poreless Primer: Let me say, finding this product in my bag gave me a major case of the happies. I have seen it at Target, and wanted to try it – but this product is too rich for homey’s wallet. I admit: I still haven’t tried it, mostly because I’m currently using up a Smashbox primer sample (which I love!). Still, I was quite tickled to receive a product that was on my wish list.

Retail price: $29 for 30ml (Sample size is worth $14.50.)

 

Coastal Scents Shadow Palette Sample Quad: The name Coastal Scents evokes a fragrance, not an eye shadow. Unfortunate name aside, these shadows are LOVELY shades – and all within my color palette. I got another case of the happies when I saw this in my bag!

Retail price: $1.99 per 1 inch metal pan (must buy containers separately)

 

MicaBeauty Gel Eyeliner: This has become my favorite eye liner to date. It doesn’t flake during the day, and it also doesn’t aggravate my eyeliner sensitivity problem (certain eyeliners tend to make my eyes water during the day). I know I shouldn’t do this, but often I fall asleep with my eye make-up still on. Surprisingly this looks as good in the morning after a sound sleep as it did when I went to bed.

Retail price: $35 for .18 oz

 

Nitpicks: The MicaBeauty Gel Eyeliner did not have a label on it – so it took some investigating to figure out what it was. Because of the color, I assumed it was an eyeliner… but it would have been nice if the product came with a label. Additionally, the product needs an applicator brush. Thankfully I had one, but if I didn’t, I would have had to go out and buy one just to sample the product.

 

Lasting Impressions: This bag was everything I ever hoped a Birchbox sub box would be –and more. The value of the items in this box came to at least $64. While I know it’s not always going to be the case, this particular bag contained products that I either have already used or will use – there was not one dud in this bag. Ipsy made me one very happy girl this month!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Ipsy January 2013

When I gave up on Birchbox, I decided to resubscribe to Ipsy. I was a subscriber when it was called MyGlam, but unsubscribed because the items sent to me were not exciting and smelled bad. I have since discovered that they switched warehouses (which apparently was the cause of the stench attached to all their products), and retooled their service. I’ve been keeping an eye out on the monthly Ipsy reviews, and decided to give them another try.

I’m glad I did.

Their signature item is a cosmetic case – there is one in every shipment. I forgot to take a picture of this month’s case before I tossed it out – basically, it was navy blue and with no distinct markings –but the inside was kind of cute. It had an Ipsy logo stitched inside.

The items in the bag put Birchbox to shame – for the same price, Ipsy did a much better job in curating products in sizes that are considered deluxe and full. Here’s what I got:

1) Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange Mini Body Butter: I learned something new about myself this year: I love Pacifica products. I am fairly familiar with their candles, but was recently introduced to their lip balm/tint – which is lovely. I was ecstatic to receive this body butter to try.
Retail price: $7 for 2.5 oz.

2) Big Sexy Hair Travel Spray & Play Volumizing Hairspray: I don’t use hairspray on a regular basis – but every once in a while I use some on my bangs to keep my cowlick inline. I tried this baby this morning, and it worked wonders - plus kept my hair soft.
Retail price: $17.50

3) 100% Pure Argan Oil by Josie Maran: Argan Oil is all the rage now, and I’ve received various samples from various companies through various subscription services. In other words, another one? Ugh. Still, this is a good sized sample and I am eager to try a product by Josie Maran.
Retail price: $48 for 1.7 fl. oz.

4) Nailtini Nail Polish in Frappe: This is a full size product, so Yay! on that! But, the color is really plain – and not a color I would use. I’ve seen it described as pink, but it’s really more of a neutral cream with a warm undertone. (The color shown in the pic the link takes you to is NOT at all like the color I received.)
Retail price: $13

5) SOHO Crease Brush: I discovered that Ipsy sent out three different styles of brushes. This is not one I will use – I think I would have preferred the eyeliner brush. Still, this is another full size product, so to speak. The bad thing: It's made in China. Boo!
Retail price: $8.99

Nitpicks: It’s really difficult to nitpick anything in this bag – except maybe the bag itself. The inside was really cute, but the outside was plain and ordinary. Oh and of course the brush made in China - I really do everything I can to avoid using products from China.

Lasting Impression: Wow – I got all that for $10 – including shipping. And while I might not like every single product in the bag, I can easily gift at least two of the products (the polish and the Argan Oil) – and still feel like a winner!


Ispy really turned themselves around from the first time I was a subscriber - I'm so impressed!