Benevolent Beauty Box September 2016

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HOOBOY!  I always get a little excited for this box because it’s been so consistently on point, but this month?  MINDBLOWING.  Oh man.  I can barely even put words together to put up this blog post, I am that blown away.  All the products are cruelty-free, some vegan, but they’re all rather ingredient-conscious and tend to be things that are right up my alley.

  • Gypsy Soul Organics Sister Wind Aromatherapy Spray – 2 oz / $19.99 – (Product is Full Size)  Okay, so I like the idea, but the scent is completely not me – spearmint and eucalyptus are near the top of my least-favorite scent list and honestly make me a little nauseous (I find those eucalyptus flavored cough drops are an instant upset stomach too, FWIW).  It’s not the product’s fault, it’s my picky nose/palate not liking the scents.  I’m going to pass this off to a friend, but there is a promo code included in the box and it looks like their “Family Tree” scent is right up my alley.  I could see this being a nice treat after a post-yoga shower since they’re all essential oil based.  The originals come in a glass bottle and the one included in the box is plastic so the value may be a little off, but it’s such a generous size to include in the box.
  • St. Tropica Coconut Hot Oil Hair Mask – 6 pack / $27 – (Single size, value of $4.50)  It’s like they were listening to me when I rant about hair products in subscription boxes – I don’t want parabens, sulfates, or silicones.  This?  Fits that bill in spades and the ingredient list is beyond perfect.  My hair is super curly and dry, so I pretty regularly use all kinds of oils to help keep it moisturized and bouncy, so this is SO BEYOND PERFECT.  The first two ingredients are coconut oil and coconut butter, so yes and yes.  It is in a foil packet, but it’s meant to be that way so that you can heat up an individual packet as a single-serving so to speak, and there’s enough in there to generously coat down my long hair.  I’ll probably give this a whirl next week, but I promise to report back with my results.  There’s also a card included for 20% off your order.
  • Tat2 Lash Mascara – .25 oz / $16 – (Product is Full Size)  There’s beeswax, so this isn’t vegan, but as a beekeeper myself, I don’t mind.  LOVE the packaging!  The brush is a bristle tip, not one of those spiky plastic numbers, and it works fairly well considering the formula is on the thicker side.  I tend to like my mascaras a little thicker, so that’s perfect for me.  I did get a perfect application on one lash and then the next was clumpy which I figure is user error, but it does go on rather richly in one coat, no second coat needed.  Dries fairly quickly and the ingredient list is spectacular – no bad ingredients that may irritate my eyes.  So far, I’m loving this!  Better yet, there’s a card enclosed with a coupon code for 40% off your first order.
  • Ecco Bella FlowerColor Lipstick – .13 oz / $19.95 – (Product is Full Size)  I received the color, “Primrose,” which is a shimmery mulberry spice type shade.  The ingredient list is really amazing, no parabens or petroleum-based ingredients.  It goes on a thick and semi-matte, but it stays put as a result of the waxes and still feels moisturizing thanks to the Vitamin E.  The color is spot on perfect for fall and I rather like the thickness of the product.  I figure some people may not like the waxiness, but I found that thicker products mean I’m not constantly moving my lips around together to redistribute the product and they end up staying put longer.
  • Bellapierre Eyeliner Duo – .14 oz each / $25 as a set – (Product is Full Size)  The product card from Bellapierre goes into detail that the clear one can be used to pick up a little color from one of their eyeshadows and used as a colored liner which is a super fun idea!  I have PLENTY of mineral eyeshadows and this extends those to a whole new usage and it’s much easier than trying to mix pigments with water and hoping they’ll stay.  Both the black and clear are waterproof.  The black has a felt tip and the clear is a brush.  I found the black a little watery and tough to apply evenly, but I’m also a little clumsy and shaky-handed when it comes to eyeliner, so it’s probably user error again.  It does go on nice and dark though and the ingredient list on both is great.
  • Bellapierre Shimmer Powder – 2.35 g / $15 – (Product is Full Size)  The color I received is, “Jadoo,” described as a burgundy with gold shimmer.  I’d probably call it more of a Merlot sort of color – it’s more purple than red I think, but it is very heavily pigmented and yet again, the perfect color for fall.  Remember the vanilla lip balm from last month?  Yeah, this pigment will mix with that and create a really pretty lip color.  Or you use it with the clear eyeliner and make a gorgeous eyeliner color.  So many possibilities and I love the tie in to the last box.

Overall we have 7 products or 6 if you count the eyeliner duo as a set with a total value of $100.44!  The box costs $29.95 per month for a month-to-month subscription, so the value is over 3 times the cost of even the month-to-month subscription!  This is the first time we’ve had non-makeup products in the box, the hair oil and the aromatherapy spray, but honestly, I’m completely okay with that since the hair oil is absolutely perfect and while I didn’t like the scent of the aromatherapy oil, I do like the idea.  Well done, Benevolent Beauty, this month is phenomenal and somehow the boxes keep getting better and better.  Excited to see what you come up with for next month!

Espionage Cosmetics Nexus – October 2016

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The theme for October’s Espionage Cosmetics Nexus shipment was, “Clever Girl,” which promised, “designs perfect for the adventurer gearing up for the ride of their lives through the age of the dinosaurs!”  I’d say they absolutely nailed it this month, and while the designs both feature a nod to the Jurassic period, they’re completely different which is going to make deciding which is my favorite this month pretty hard.

  • Hatchlings – With a subtitle of, “Not The Mama!” from a show I remember and love, these glossy wraps feature lizard eyes and claws breaking out of a brown eggshell base.  The details are fantastic from the crack lines to the colors of what lies inside.  Really a fun way to show off the theme!
  • This Land – Another glossy nail wrap with a variety of flora and fauna, and a play on a scene from Firefly.  I love the bonus subtle nerd content that goes beyond the actual dinosaurs on the wrap!  Little Tyrannosaurus Rex and Stegosauruses march across the nail wraps with an accent wrap of green and purple leaves and flowers.

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I’d say the EC team proved themselves as the ultimate Clever Girls this month – the tie in to Firefly was phenomenal and I didn’t see that one coming at all (though, DUH).  The nail wraps cost $10 each on the Espionage Cosmetics website, so the value far exceeds the cost of the $15 month-to-month subscription.  Subscribers then vote on their favorite of the two and the victor goes into regular sale on the website.  That means that the other nail wrap ends up being a Nexus exclusive, never to be produced again!  In case you’re thinking about subscribing and want to send me some love, hit up my referral link!

Sephora Play! September 2016

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September’s Sephora Play! is here!  The theme this month was, “The Unbasic Basics,” which is a little nebulous of a theme, so I had no idea what they were going to include or what one would even consider an unbasic basic.  Clear brow gel is pretty basic, black eyeliner is pretty basic.. I don’t know.  Still, it’s fun to get this box, and it’s a great value for the price point.

  • Kat Von D Tattoo Liner – .7 mL / $20 – (Product is .2 mL, value of $5.71)  Okay, so I’ve heard great things about Kat Von D cosmetics and I’ve been itching to try this liner for a while.  The color I received is “Trooper,” a satin black.  The formula goes on smooth with a very fine point and dries nearly instantly – doesn’t transfer and really seems to stay put for a long time.  I’m SO clumsy and shaky-handed when it comes to liner, but this just goes on so easily, it’s like I can’t mess it up.  I just may have to spring for the full size eventually, I like it that much.  It’s vegan and cruelty free, but it does contain parabens unfortunately.
  • Anastasia Brow Gel – 8.5 mL / $22 – (Product is 2.5 mL, value of $6.47)  I use a tinted brow product that adds fullness to eyebrows since I have super thin brows and prefer that over a pencil and brow gel combo.  I really need the product that has little fibers in it that stick to your hairs and create fullness since I really don’t like the look of pencilled in brows.  I’ve used samples of this before, and it’s okay, but I probably would’ve preferred the tinted version since it saves time, and I only need one product instead of two.
  • Living Proof Night Cap – 4 oz / $28 – (Product is 1 oz, value of $7)  This is the only product I have absolutely no interest in.  I have curly hair and do a low to no shampoo routine.  The product sheet advertises that this is effective for up to 5 shampoos, even if you use a clarifying shampoo which means it builds up in your hair deliberately.  This is really bad for a no/low shampoo regimen since you’ll probably never be able to get it out of your hair without using harsh, sulfated shampoos (a no-no for dry, curly hair).  The ingredient list shows an acrylate at ingredient # 2, two sulfates, and a bunch of petroleum-based ingredients.  Basically, this is a HARD PASS for me and my curly hair.
  • Dr. Jart Water Drop Moisturizer – 3.3 oz / $36 – (Product is 1 oz, value of $10.91)  I had to try this right away since any product meant to hydrate dry skin is exactly what I’m interested in!  The formula is really unique – it squeezes out like a matte silicone-based makeup primer, but the second you start rubbing it into your skin, it changes texture and turns into a liquid.  It’s really interesting!  Not what I expected at all.  Immediately after application, it feels a little sticky but then dries and nearly disappears, leaving behind no discernible residue or oil, and there’s no scent to it either.  This would probably be great for under makeup since it feels a lot like a makeup primer.  My face did feel a little dry/tight after using it, but not as bad as just doing soap/water and not putting on a moisturizer.  I’d probably still have to follow up with an overnight heavy-duty face serum to keep my skin hydrated enough, but honestly, this is a great product to put under makeup since it finishes so nice and matte.
  • Sephora Rouge Shine Lipstick – .13 oz / $12.50 – (Product is .035 oz, value of $3.37)  I received the color, “Love Spell,” which is a pale warm pink.  There’s a whopping 5/8ths of an inch of product in there which, okay Sephora, I know this is a sample box, but this is your own store-brand line and we couldn’t get a full-sized lipstick here?  The color goes on rather sheer which is actually alright considering how pale of a shade this is – it’s far too light for my skin tone (pale on pale is just SO attractively corpse-like) – so it ends up that a sheer pinky nude isn’t that terrible since my natural lip color comes out more than the lipstick color.  The formula is also pretty glossy and shiny for a lipstick, and it almost feels more gloss-like than lipstick-like, but wants to clump up on any dry spots and just stick in patches where it feels like it.  Fun to try, and at the end of the day, I’m almost glad this was a teensy little sample because I’m just not that wowed by it.
  • Tory Burch Jolie Fleur Verte Eau de Parfum – 1.7 oz / $95 – (Product is .05 oz, value of $2.79)  The card backing for the sample says this is, “A Tomboy and Easygoing Mix.”  No.  Just no.  The first scents that come to your brain when you think tomboy aren’t going to be Jasmine or Lily of the Valley.  This smells more like a flower shop exploded than like a tomboy who’s been playing football, rock climbing, or having whisky and a cigar with the guys.  It’s just not evocative at all of anything tomboyish – it’s really rather girly and light.  I absolutely loathe jasmine and floral scents in general so this really doesn’t do it for me.  The citrus twist is refreshing, but the overpowering note is the lily of the valley, and it’s just too much for me.  Yet again though, I like getting these samples even if they’ve all been misses because they’re fun to try, and maybe one of them will eventually be one I like!

Overall the value comes to $36.25, and for a box that costs $10.60 per month (including tax), that’s a really good cost to value ratio!  The only thing I won’t be using at all is the Living Proof product, but everything else is alright.  My stand-out product is definitely the Kat Von D liner and I’m SO glad I got to try that, and between the liner and the moisturizer, my box value is well covered.  Looking forward to next month!

Sepia Saturday 343-c

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Yet another week of Sepia Saturday on the same theme, “Work and Play,” so for this week, I have a series of photos of my grandfather, Leon Kitko.  Leon was born in 1933, so he’s probably somewhere around 2 years old in this photo, or maybe just shy of 2 – he was born in March of 1933, so if this was taken late summer, he’d probably just be walking which looks about right.  I’m not quite sure where this fits into the theme, whether it’s work or play since I can’t quite tell what Leon is holding.  It may be a brush as if they had set the child to work to wash the car, or a toy, or just a random piece of metal.. it’s hard to tell.  The back of the photos say, “L J Kitko on Dad’s Truck,” and I know that truck shows up in a lot of photos, so it’s something his father, Joseph Kitko, was rather proud of.  Even if these weren’t labelled, I’d probably be able to tell that was my grandfather just from the child’s face – the eyes and cheeks are features I’d be able to recognize at any age!  It’s great to have all three photos taken in succession like this – usually we pick out the best photo and toss the rest – and to have all three together is a real treasure!

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Glossybox September 2016

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I know!  I said I was unsubscribing after last month, but I guess I forgot and well, here we are, and I’m kicking myself.  The box design by Antonio Soares is pretty, but the contents?  They clearly spent more time on the design.  There’s a repeat product from another box, January 2016, that I received as a bonus box, and the C-Vit looks like it leaked since the bottle is under 1/4th full.  This box just feels small overall – the items are physically small, but it feels like something is missing, even though it’s not.

  • Vince Camuto Capri – 3.4 oz / $85 – (Product is .25 oz, value of $6.25 by volume)  The base of florals completely ruins this for me – I think it’s the violet that does it since the other notes are musk, peach blossom and vanilla, but all I get is a super stinky floral.  I tend to like essential oil perfumes better, so it’s not surprising that I don’t like this, but it was so bad that I actually had to go wash it off.
  • Sensyses Cleaner – 6.8 oz / $19.90 – (Product is .5 oz, value of $1.46 by volume)  A trial size make-up remover.  Yay?  I’ll use it, but it’s nothing exciting, and I can get better makeup removers for a FAR better price.
  • C-Vit Liposomal Serum – 1 oz / $52 – (Product is .1 oz, value of $5.20 by volume)  The back of the packaging actually says, “Not for Sale, Free Sample,” so I’m having a hard time justifying the $5.20 value when this is something usually given out for free.  Not to mention, the bottle arrived less than 1/4th full, so I’m not even getting my full free sample.
  • MeMeMe Lip Glide – 1 stick / $12.50 – (Full size product)  The color I received is, “Playful Peach,” and it doesn’t work at all for my skin tone – it’s way too coral/yellow and those shades don’t look good on me at all.  I gave the last one away, so this one is going to someone else I guess.
  • Korres Twist Eyeshadow – 1.4 g / $18 – (Full size product)  I’m going by the price on the product card because it doesn’t seem to exist as a single item anymore online, not even on the Korres website, so this is likely discontinued.  There were some multi packs on HSN and Korres, but that doesn’t count if I can’t purchase one single stick.  I HATE it when subscription boxes do this – if I like it, there’s no way I can purchase another color, and it feels like cheating.  They’re taking dead stock from a manufacturer to pad their box value when there’s basically no value left since the product is discontinued.  Anyway, the color I received is apparently, “Metallic Black,” though it doesn’t say that anywhere on the packaging.  They were probably originally packaged in a box of some sort, with some kind of seal, but that didn’t make it into the Glossybox.  A little more Googling tells me these sticks were a limited edition in Spring/Summer of 2014.  I do love Korres products though, and while the color is too dark to be an eyeshadow, it’ll work great as an eyeliner.
  • Model Launcher Eyebrow Pencil – 1 stick / $12 – (Full size product)  I received the color, “Taupe,” which matches my eyebrows pretty well.  There’s a stick end with an eyebrow pencil and a spoolie end to shape up your eyebrows.  I found the pencil to be a really firm formula – it takes a good bit of pressure to get even the faintest line to show up.  I like the idea, but the formula isn’t great.

Overall, the value comes to $55.41.  However, taking out the one free product and discounting the Korres product by half (no one in their right mind would pay for a product that’s two years old), it drops to $41.21.  I do like the Korres eyeshadow even though it’s two years old and will use that and everything except the perfume and Lip Glide, so my personal value is $36.66, still more than I paid for the box which costs $21 per month.  However, the shady practice of putting in discontinued items and repeat items is really distasteful, and it looks like I missed the cancellation window for the next box, so I’m in for one more, then that’s it.