Espionage Cosmetics Nexus February 2018

Another round of Espionage Cosmetics Nexus is here!  This month’s theme for both the standard and Literary Nexus was, “Voyages,” and having a husband who is a mariner, this was absolutely on point for me!  Above is the standard Nexus shipment which featured two nail wraps, both perfectly on theme.

  • Seashells & Starfish – It’s a pretty blue gradient background with pearlescent seashells and starfish printed on top.  It’s a really pretty design and will  be great for a vacation manicure.
  • That’s Nautical – A glossy nail wrap with ropes, anchors, and ships’ wheels, this features a pretty silver foil accent in the design.  Again, I think this one is going to be brought along on vacation this summer!

Nexus Literary this month on the same “Voyages” theme, featured two nail wraps that may be in my top 10 of all time.  I love that they include a bookmark every month with the Literary subscription too.  I’ve really been loving the Literary subscription – it’s such a great book nerdy addition to the Nexus lineup!

  • Odysseus’ Journey – Well I think it’s obvious this refers to the Odyssey by Home, the classic Greek epic poem.  I’m so in love with the color palette on this between the silver accented words and the wave design.
  • Voyages Extraordinaires – Another great fit to the theme, this design is based on the book of the same name by Jules Verne.  Tentacles frame the top of a few wraps with bronze accents on some of the words, and the accent wraps are blue waves with glitter.

Each shipment costs $15 per month on a month-to-month basis, plus shipping.  An online vote goes on to pick the winner of each shipment which then goes on to fame and glory for regular sale on the Espionage Cosmetics website.  The wraps individually cost $10-12 online, so the value of the shipment absolutely exceeds the cost, plus the ‘loser’ after voting each month is an exclusive that won’t be available to the general public.  There’s also a chance to add on a booster pack exclusive nail wrap that goes along with that month’s theme which I didn’t do this month (because I forgot, oops!).
In case you’re thinking about subscribing, check out the link below!

Benevolent Beauty Box March 2018

March’s Benevolent Beauty Box is here!  It’s another great box with a wide variety of products and I’m eager to try everything as usual.

  • Terre Mere Charcoal Blenders – 1 set / $44 – (Product is full size)  Probably one of the most high value products I’ve seen in the box yet, the set of two charcoal blenders in different sizes is pretty neat.  I’ll admit that I don’t use foundation ever really, but it looks like these also work well for primer and powders, so I’ll have to give them a try.  That little one looks like it might work really well for concealing my perpetually-exhausted under-eye circles.
  • Zuii Certified Organic Flora Lipstick – 4 g / $27.50 – (Product is full size)  I received the color “Charm” which is a really hard color to describe – almost a pinkish brick red?  The color is buildable, so it goes on sheer at first and works into a more opaque color with each extra coat.  The verdict is out on the color for me so far.. I think it might work better once my skin has had a little exposure to the spring and summer sun.  But, I do like the rich and moisturizing formula!
  • Luminate Vitamin C Serum – 30 mL / $19 – (Product is full size)  This is a super thick serum with hyaluronic acid, vitamin c, and jojoba oil which my dry skin loves!  For being such a thick, gel-like consistency out of the bottle, it disappears into my skin nearly instantly, leaving behind no oily residue.
  • LippyGirl Pipod Pressed Mineral Blush – 3 g / $25 – (Product is full size)  I received the color “Tangy” which is a really orange tone for a blush, so I doubt I’ll be able to use it as a blush.  But hey, any pressed powder also doubles as an eye shadow, and I really do like the color on my lids since the peachy tone brings up the greens in my hazel eyes.  It’s got a golden shimmer to it as well which will make it perfect for summer eye makeup.
  • Body Stuff Face Mask – 12 g / $7 – (Product is test-tube size)  This mask is packaged in a neat little test tube and arrives dry so you can add your favorite liquid to it (honey or yogurt for a real treat, or plain old tap water works fine too).  I haven’t tried this yet, so I can’t report about how it works, but I love the unique packaging and of course, a mud mask is something I’m always happy to see in boxes!

The total value of the box comes to $122.50 which is a great value for the cost of $29.99 on a month-to-month basis.  Even if the blush color doesn’t really work as a blush for me, it makes for a really great eye shadow color, so there’s really nothing in this box that I won’t use (one way or another).  I think the big winner for me is the serum because my skin is just perpetually a desert, and I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it sunk into my skin for being such a thick gel.  As always, looking forward to the next month!

Benevolent Beauty Box February 2018

February’s Benevolent Beauty Box did indeed arrive on time, but I got behind (again, I know, shocker).  I always love the variety in this subscription – that they cover a wide variety of products in each box, despite being makeup/skincare only, not to mention that every product in the box is cruelty free or even completely vegan.  Anyway, on to the contents of this box!

  • Honey Belle Flora Rosewater Toner – 2 oz / $22 – (Product is full size)  Only 5 ingredients and no alcohol make this a toner I can actually use!  The scent is rosy but not overly floral since the rosewood tones it down and makes it a little musky.  It dries up nicely matte with no grease or oil and feels really pleasant on the skin.  I can’t wait to use this regularly!
  • Jacq’s Nourishing Face Moisturizer – 2 oz / $28 – (Product is full size)  I’m going to have to give this a cautious try since the third ingredient is coconut oil, and coconut oil is known to clog pores and cause acne.  The scent is nice though – herbal and clean without being overpowering.
  • Kismet Lovely Liquid Illuminator – .33 oz / $16 – (Product is full size)  The color is “Rosy” and it’s a very sheer, pearlescent pink.  It’s not one of those glitter bomb highlighters, it’s definitely a more subtle, pearly illuminator which I actually rather like.  I’ll probably end up using this one which is great since I usually pass on illuminators/highlighters – they’re just not my thing.
  • Vapour Aura Multi Use Blush – .24 oz / $36 – (Product is full size)  The color is “Crush” which is described as a sheer, soft pink.  I’m not too big on blushes since I have pretty rosy cheeks naturally, but this stick can be used on the lips and lids as well, making it more than just a blush!  The sheer, cotton candy pink is a little too light/pale for my lips in particular, but I think this might work well as a eyeshadow base color or as a brow bone highlighter.
  • Katherine Eyeliner Solution – .35 g / $26 – (Product is full size)  The color is “Cessna Brown” which is a dark brown.  The eyeliner goes on super smooth and easily with plenty of pigment, and there’s even a brush on the other end if you want to smudge out your eyeliner for a smoky eye look.

The total value of February’s box is $128 for five full size products!  I keep saying it every month, but getting full size products for $29.99 per month on a month-to-month basis makes this my absolute favorite subscription box.  The value is always out of the park, plus you get to try some neat products from smaller indie brands who are all dedicated to being completely cruelty free.  March’s box is already here, so that’s going up on the blog soon.

Sephora Play! March 2018

Another Sephora Play! has arrived, and it’s a little on the late side this month.  The theme is, “Festival of Beauty,” but again, a pretty nebulous theme that doesn’t actually make sense for any of the products in the box.  This is box variant #364 and it arrived yesterday, March 21, 2018.  I saw the spoilers and wasn’t too pleased with what was going to show up, but again, for $10, I guess I don’t have a lot of room to complain, but!  Then I saw the bag.  Sephora, you’re better than this.  There’s a great article here that goes into the detail on the use of the term, “Spirit Animal,” and it’s really awful that Sephora chose to use it on the bag this month.  It’s a shame, because I love the bag fabric, color, and ribbon, but the use of a culturally insensitive term like that really ruins it for me.  They could’ve easily said, “Beauty is my life,” or, “Beauty is my passion” instead of using a term that’s garnered some controversy.  Anyway, rant aside, on to the contents.

  • Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner – .016 oz / $22 – (Product is .008 oz, value of $11 by volume)  I know I have a sample of this that I’m already using, but it must be from a gift-with-purchase or something.  I could’ve sworn it came in another Sephora Play! box, but I guess not since I didn’t find it in the blog archives (I missed posting a few months, so maybe it was in one of those?).  Anyway!  Waterproof black eyeliner from a cruelty free company?  Yeah I can use that!
  • IGK Mistress Hydrating Hair Balm – 5 oz / $29 – (Product is .5 oz, value of $2.90 by volume)  Well, sure, it’s paraben and sulfate free, but unfortunately the third and fourth ingredients are silicones, so it’s a hard pass for me.  If you’re using products without parabens and sulfates, then you’re not able to wash out the silicones in this product that build up on your hair, so it’s silly to be all “we’re good for curls!” when you’re not.  It’s also incredibly heavily perfumed and smells just awful to me.  I’ll stick to my natural hair products, thank you very much!
  • Supergoop Setting Mist – 3.4 oz / $28 – (Product is .5 oz, value of $4.11 by volume)  It’s got an SPF 50 rating, but it’s heavily alcohol based which is bad for dry skin, and it has peppermint and spearmint oil, so that pretty much makes it a nope for me (mints tend to irritate my skin, and they just smell awful to me – why would you want a face product to smell like toothpaste?!).  This goes traight to the trade/give-away pile.
  • Bobbi Brown Extra Illuminating Moisture Balm – 1 oz / $68 – (Product is .17 oz, value of $11.56 by volume)  It’s basically a moisturizer with a very, VERY subtle pearlescence.  It’s okay – nothing really amazing, definitely not $68 for an ounce amazing, plus it’s not cruelty free, so this wouldn’t end up in my skincare routine on the regular.
  • Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser – 5.07 oz / $26 – (Product is .68 oz, value of $3.49 by volume)  I haven’t yet tried this, but I love Korres products already.  Even though they started selling in mainland China, it’s only via internet sales, so they maintain their cruelty free status.  The cleanser smells light and fresh, and I love having these smaller sizes for travel.
  • Amika Soulfood Hair Mask – 2 oz / $12 – (Product is .7 oz, value of $4.20 by volume)  This is another product I haven’t tried yet since it’s going to be a single use foil packet tube.  Unfortunately, a quick glance at the ingredients means I won’t be trying this either since it contains silicones that don’t wash out without a shampoo containing SLS/ALS which I don’t use, so they just build up over time, and that’s no good.  It also contains Isopropyl alcohol (ie. Rubbing Alcohol) which is a heavy NO for dry and curly hair (SERIOUSLY?!).  I’d never EVER put rubbing alcohol on my hair and expect it to be nourished, so I can’t even believe it shows up in the ingredients here.  Hard pass.

The total value of this box comes to $37.26 which is pretty great for a cost of $10.60 per month including tax and shipping.  Unfortunately this box is mostly a miss for me since they included products that they thought were suited to my curly hair profile, but aren’t actually suitable for curly hair at all.  Super disappointing.  I will keep and use the eye liner, cleanser, and moisturizer which still make up for the cost of the box, but I’m bummed about the two hair products being absolute misses as well as the controversy over the bag.  Honestly, I’d be happy to go without the silly bag if we can get a full-sized product each month.  We’ll see what next month brings!