Sephora Play! February 2018

I thought I’d get back to posting the only other makeup subscription I still receive, Sephora Play!  This is box #144 for February 2018.  The bag is a plain cotton bag with a little cartoon face on it and, “Feel The Love,” printed all in red with a pink drawstring ribbon.  I just don’t like these cartoon designs and would rather see something with just a fun font or design I guess?  I mean, it works for February and Valentine’s Day and all, but it’s not really my style.  Anyway, on to the contents!

  • Farmacy Green Clean – 3.2 oz / $34 – (Product is .4 oz, value of $4.25 by volume)  It’s a pretty solid product, more like a solid perfume, and it’s meant to help remove makeup and clean your skin, so you give your face a good rub down with the stuff and then rinse it off.  The scent is lightly “green”(fresh and grassy sort of?), but not at all overwhelming.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I do love oil-based makeup removers.  Bonus, Farmacy is cruelty free.
  • Belif Moisturizing Eye Bomb – 25 mL / $48 – (Product is 5 mL, value of $9.60 by volume)  I don’t really use a lot of eye creams since my eyes tend to be a little sensitive, and, let’s face it, I tend to just use one product for my whole face instead of separate creams/serums for different areas.  Lazy lady is lazy.  The formula is mostly silicone based with a bunch of natural ingredients including comfrey and pennywort.  I tried it out and it doesn’t seem to bother my eyes, plus, the company is cruelty free!
  • Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Color – 1.64 g / $29 – (Product is 1g, value of $17.68 by volume)  The color is “Rose Gold” which is a warm pinky gold color.  It goes on velvety smooth and blends easily, and it’s an easy to use color that goes well with my skin tone.  It’s also almost full size which is nice to see!  The company is owned by Shiseido, so while Laura Mercier claims to not engage in animal testing, their parent company does.
  • Chloe Eau de Parfum – 4.2 oz / $180 – (Product is .04 oz, value of $1.71 by volume)  I generally don’t like these crazy expensive perfumes, but this one really isn’t that bad!  It’s a musky rose sort of scent and the musky notes come out more on my skin which I rather like.  The floral side of it is much more subtle and this is a sample I’ll actually use up!  This company is not cruelty free.
  • Sephora Rouge Matte Lipstick – .10 oz / $12.50 – (Product is .035 oz, value of $4.38 by volume)  The color I received is “Rebel Chic” which is a deep raspberry red color.  This is exactly the sort of shade I like to wear, so I’m super pleased the random color choice was perfect!  The formula goes on like a creamy matte lipstick without feeling drying.  Unfortunately, this was on sale and is sold out on the website, so I think my chances of getting a full size one are slim.  Bummer.  Sephora is not a cruelty free brand either.
  • Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment – .15 oz / $24 – (Product is .07 oz, value of $11.20 by volume)  I received the color “Rose” which is a sheer rose pink color, but I find that there’s very little to no color payoff with this.  It’s also got SPF 15 so that’s great for the wind up to spring/summer, and this is a product I’ve used before, so it’s nothing new, but I don’t mind seeing it again.  Fresh is not cruelty free despite saying they are – they sell in mainland China, so while they don’t do the testing themselves, their products are tested on animals before being available for sale in China.  It’s wording trickery since the company doesn’t exactly test on animals, but they choose to sell in a market that requires it, so they’re complicit in the continuation of this barbaric practice.  /soapbox

So, anyway!  The value of this box comes to $48.82 which is pretty phenomenal when you consider that the cost is only $10.60 including tax and shipping!  I’ll use everything in this box for sure, but the big winner for me was the lipstick.  Looking forward to see what next month brings!

Benevolent Beauty Box January 2018

The first Benevolent Beauty Box of the new year!  Hey, I’m late on posting this, but I’m sure that’s no shocker at this point given how I haven’t had much time to post to the blog at all the last few months.  I keep saying I’m going to get better at it again since I had been really regular at posting things, but it just keeps falling off my radar.  Anyway!  In an effort to actually catch up, here goes.

  • True Moringa Simplicity Facial Oil – 30 mL / $26 – (Sample size is 5 mL, value of $4.33 by volume – listed as $17 on product card)  The applicator inside is a roller ball and I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of roller balls since they tend to clog or stick and never actually apply the product any better than you could with your fingertips.  However, the roller ball bit is easy to remove, leaving me with an awesome oil that has just one ingredient!  My face has been a dry wreck all winter, so this will be a huge help on the dry patches.
  • Seraphine Fig Butter Lip & Cheek Stain – 4 g / $24 – (Product is full size)  There’s no scent or flavor to the product and while I only tried it out as a lip stain, it goes on much like a rich, creamy lipstick without being sticky.  It’s kind of the best of both lipstick and lip balm.  The color is mostly like a brick red and the color payoff is enough to see it there, but not quite as much as a fully opaque lipstick making it perfect for everyday use to moisturize lips and add a pop of color.  I didn’t feel like it really stained my lips, but it did look really nice on.  I really love this!
  • Lippy Girl Vegotastic Vegan Lip Gloss – 2.5 mL / $22 – (Product is full size)  The color I received is “Plum Perfect” which is a dark burgundy/purple color.  The color payoff is surprisingly good for a gloss, and it doesn’t feel sticky.  Unfortunately, the color is just a little bit too dark for me, so I’ll try experimenting layering it over/under other colors, but this might be a miss for me.
  • Lauren B Beauty Nail Polish – .5 oz / $18 – (Product is full size)  The color I received is “House of Blues” which is a super dark navy blue color with just the slightest shimmer.  This is a color that’s absolutely perfect for me since I LOVE blue nail polish!  This brand is also a proven favorite, so I’m happy to see their polish in this box.
  • BioRepublic Pomegranate Crush Sheet Mask – 1 mask / $4.99 – (Product is full size)  I haven’t yet tried the mask, but anything pomegranate sounds good to me!  The mask claims to brighten skin tone, and even and smooth complexion, but any time I get to spend 15 minutes relaxing with a sheet mask is absolutely worth it, even if the mask doesn’t live up to its wild claims.  I’m always happy to see sheet masks!

Overall, the total value of the box came to either $73.32 or $85.99 depending on how you count the Moringa Oil.  Either way, for a box that costs $29.99 on a month-to-month basis, that’s still more than double the cost!  I’m always pretty pleased with these boxes, and in this one, my two favorites have to be the nail polish and lip stain.  Looking forward to see what February’s box has in store!

Stitch Fix February 2017

After last month’s bad box, I expected yet another new stylist.  I’ve lost count of how many I’ve been through, but apparently, unless you super-love a box and keep most of the items, they switch you to a new stylist.  It’s both good and bad – you don’t get stuck with a stylist who may not ‘get’ your style, but constantly flipping through stylists means a lack of consistency and boxes that are ALL over the map.  This is Fix #12, and here’s the note from my stylist.

Happy Fix Day, Melissa!  It’s a pleasure to welcome you back to what now makes Fix #12.  I’m am so sorry to see that you’ve been disappointed in your past few boxes.  It’s my mission to ensure that you LOVE this experience, so I am all ears!  I fully intend to wow you, so I went through prior feedback & your Pinterest board to get a great handle on what makes you tick.  I love your retro vibe, so I included this 41Hawthorn black & white knit dress.  The bold pop of green looks fabulous layered over top when you wear the Skies are Blue cardigan.  You can add a chunky belt to help create that hourglass silhouette.  For some patterns play, try the KFTK skinny jeans with the striped Colette knit top & then rock this funky Dear John bomber jacket over top.  Do these styles feel more like you?  Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!  xo-Jess

Well, it was closer to the right idea this time, but unfortunately most of the items had fit issues.  I keep saying it, and I know I’m a tough shape/size to fit, but they’ve gotten it right before, I’m not sure why/how this was all so off.  I’ll get into that in each item though.  The box basically made two complete stand-alone outfits, and I love it when the stylists do that so it takes a bit of the pairing guess-work out of the equation for me.

Item: Colette Chaves Pop Color Cuff Knit Top
Paired With: Jeans and jacket (this Fix), Shoes (mine)
First up is the striped top with green accents.  I actually got a very similar top a few fixes back (I didn’t post that Fix – I had given the husband the camera to help, but he ended up focusing on the background, so ZERO of the photos came out), but it had skinnier stripes and red accents on the cuffs and collar.  This top is much too long for my short torso, and you can see it’s nearing dress length, hitting at my fingertips – the waistband of the jeans is about where the cuffs are.  The fabric was nice, and if it had been 5 or 6 stripes shorter, I might have kept it, even though it would be a bit of a duplicate piece.

Item: Kut from the Kloth Connie Frayed Hem Skinny Jean
Paired With: Top & Jacket (this Fix), Shoes (mine)
The jeans were really comfortable, but again with the fit problems.  They were too long and bunched up around my ankles.  Also, I just don’t like the whole frayed hem trend.  I guess I prefer my clothes to be more classic silhouettes with trendy/fun prints instead of trendy cuts that won’t be wearable within a year.  I have jeans from almost 10 years ago, and while I probably could’ve hemmed the frayed end off to make the length right and put on a proper hem, that’s a lot of time that I just don’t have, and no doubt they’d have ended up sitting on the sewing machine for months.  Plus, if I’m already paying $88 for jeans, they should fit without having to spend extra time/money on alterations.

Item: Dear John Casco Bomber Jacket
Paired With: Top & Jeans (this Fix), Shoes (mine)
If Jess had scanned through my Pinterest Stitch Fix board, she’d have seen there was zero camouflage in there.  Solid olive, yes, but no camo.  I just don’t like camo print clothing.  The fabric of the jacket was nice, and it fit well (maybe a smidge too big), but I just can’t with the camo.  If it were a solid olive color, I’d probably have kept it.  It’s also a wee bit too cold to wear this in southeastern PA right now too – it’s about two months too early.

Item: 41 Hawthorn Bella Knit Dress
Paired With: Green Cardigan (this Fix), belt (mine), shoes (mine), red cardigan (mine)
I wanted to show this dress two ways to show what a poor fit it was.  The bust had SO much extra fabric and was fit for someone with .. huge tracts of land.  I’m not that person.  I think nearly every dress I’ve gotten from Stitch Fix has had this same problem (I had that one winner in the beginning, but even that was a little loose up top).  It’s funny because every dress I get from Torrid, an actual plus size clothing company, their clothes fit like they were custom made for me, but Stitch Fix keeps trying to assume HUGE BOOBS, and I don’t understand who their fit model is because it’s really absurd.  Annyyywayy, on the right, that’s with my own cardigan and the top of my hand is where my waist actually is – you can see the waist of the dress is hanging 3 or 4 inches lower since my lack of *cough* material *cough* to fill in the bust means extra fabric that droops down.  On the left, I added a belt, but you can still see the fabric bunched up over the belt.  The dress fit well through the hips and all, but the bust was just massive.  Then the fabric was that awful cheap, bouncy polyester with no structure to it, and it just doesn’t lay nicely over plus sized gals – it clings to every last lump and bump and there’s nothing flattering about it.  My favorite dresses are nearly always 100% cotton or cotton blends, so this was just a huge miss all around.  It’s a shame, because the idea is right, but the execution between fit and fabric, was WAY off.

Item: Skies are Blue Abela Cotton Blend Cardigan
Paired With: Dress (this Fix), shoes (mine), belt (mine)
Well, this is the only piece I kept out of the whole fix.  I wear cardigans like this all the time and they’re easy to throw over a silly, nerdy t-shirt with jeans and look more put-together than yoga pants and a hoodie.  The fabric is nice (cotton blend FTW!), it fits well, hangs nice, and I love the bright green color.

So, overall, this was another miss, but as I mentioned in my notes on Stitch Fix, the idea was right, but the fit issues made me return more than I normally would have.  I said last month that if this box was a huge miss again, I’d be cancelling, but this had the right idea, so I’m going to do one more.  I also made myself another 3 years younger in my profile in hopes of getting more fun prints.  Polka dots and stripes are great, but there are so many missed opportunities for prints, and I feel like, again, it’s because of my age that I’m getting more sedate pieces.  For pete’s sake, I just bought a dress with an all-over book print, so I’m not afraid of bold prints!  Go wild!  Give me prints or give me death!  (Unless it’s camo or animal print, I mean, I have my limits).

Stitch Fix January 2017

Another month, another Stitch Fix!  Looking back, I’m now on my fourth stylist – the one from last month didn’t do this month’s box, so I got another new stylist.  This is Fix #11 for me, and I had a note from the stylist for this box, Laura.

Hello Melissa!  Happy 11th Fix day!  How were your holidays?!  After reviewing your profile, I selected a few items that’ll make getting dressed effortless as the days have become shorter and the to-do lists have gotten longer.  Reverse those winter blues with this mood-lifting flannel knit back top by Q&A.  It’ll look terrific with the jeans from your previous Fix.  Look forward to Valentine’s Day with this modern asymmetrical sweater by RD Style.  Pair it with jeans, leggings, or trousers.  Slip into these on-trend jogger pants by Rune for a rendezvous at the local farmer’s market and treat yourself to a fragrant artisanal bouquet!  Update your look with this with this chambray top by Skies Are Blend made of 100% comfortable cotton.  I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on everything.  Until next time, have fun and enjoy!  Warmest wishes, Laura.

I um.. Well, the week this arrived, it was about 15 degrees F, and there haven’t been artisanal bouquets at the farmers market since about September.  My farmers market is a real, honest to goodness FARMERS market, with real farmers, selling meat, vegetables, freshly baked bread, and we huddle together in the winter, cheering each other on for being badasses and braving the cold to support local, hardworking producers.  My farmers market is more (real) flannel, jeans, and work boots than joggers.  The husband is gone for Valentine’s Day, so there’s another miss (not that Laura would’ve known, but still, he’s gone for work so much that it’s better to err on the side that he’s not home).  I leaned pretty heavily on my Instagram friends to get opinions since I very nearly sent everything back on sight, I was that disappointed with what was sent.  Unfortunately (fortunately?) they agreed with me.  Well, before I go too far, let’s get into the items.


Item: Q&A Romane Knit Back Top
Paired With: Jeans (prior fix), boots (mine)
This was ENORMOUS on me.  You can see that my fingers just barely show out of the arms which were too long.  The bust was huge, the shoulder seams are off my shoulders, and I have to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of the knit back.  And again, I have to complain about plus size clothing and how I loathe the shapeless sack rut designers fall into.  Yes, I may want to minimize my belly, but it doesn’t mean I have to wear a tent like this!  The fabric is also pretty light and not at all suitable for our winters in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Item: RD Style Juily Asymmetric Hem Pullover
Paired With: Jeans, boots, tank top (all mine)
I know I told Lana to please not send dolman sleeves since I find them unflattering and uncomfortable, but I guess since I’ve been through two more new stylists, that got lost in the notes.  This makes me look like a marshmallow in the middle since the dolman sleeves add so much bulk to the body of the sweater.  The fabric was a heavy knit, so the price was right for such nice fabric, but every time I moved, the sweater would ride up and I spent half the time prepping for this photo pulling the damn thing back into place.  It’s just completely impractical to wear – I’d be futzing with it all day long.

Item: Skies are Blue Talar Cotton Blend Chambray Top
Paired With: Jeans (prior fix), boots (mine)
I really had no idea how to style this.  The card that shows styling tips showed it paired with white jeans (LOL I could never own white jeans since I’m kind of a disaster) and with regular jeans and a long cardigan.  I’m just not into chambray on denim since it just looks a little too Canadian Tuxedo to me.  It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the chambray had this washed out polka dot print on it that I really liked, just, not in chambray.  If it had been a navy color or red, and maybe a full button down?  It just did nothing for me, and again, it was a box with sleeves and no shaping through the middle at all.

Item: Rune Luciana Jogger Pant
Paired With: Sneakers, Jordandené tee, cardigan (all mine)
Okay, so here’s the thing.. These were SUPER DUPER comfortable, but it’s $68 for a pair of polyester/spandex blend jogger pants.  Also, I end up spending a lot of time at home since, as a photographer, I tend to spend a lot of time on the computer doing editing.  If I’m leaving the house, even for grocery shopping, I feel like as a minimum effort I can throw on jeans.  I’m totally down with it if you feel like joggers are meant to be worn in public, but.. I’m not that person.  So  I can’t justify spending $68 on pants that would essentially be pajama and dog-walking pants.

Item: Absolutely Maxx Cutout Detail Pullover
Paired With: Jeans (prior fix), boots and tank (mine)
Well, this was the only piece that my Instagram commenters suggested I keep, if anything.  I don’t like the cutout detail at the shoulders and would be CONSTANTLY tugging at it to keep it from showing my bra or sliding down and they just felt awkward.  It was also MUCH too big in the bust, but it had a slight high-low hem and fell nicely over my hips.  The knit is an open knit, so I definitely need to wear something underneath, but it also means I can use this beyond winter as a cool-summer-evening sweater.  I did end up keeping this, but I have to sew the cutouts closed or I’ll go absolutely crazy.  I have to admit that the only reason I kept this is that I didn’t want to lose my $20 styling fee, and it only cost an additional $24 on top of the styling fee.  It still almost went back with everything because I was that upset about this Fix.

So, final thoughts.. I kept one piece begrudgingly because I didn’t want to lose my $20 styling fee (they taken the styling fee off your kept items purchase, but if you send everything back, you lose the $20).  I still have to modify the sweater to sew up those stupid cutouts and make it something I’ll actually wear, but I’m not incredibly thrilled with it, and absolutely nothing in this box jumped out at me.  I mean, I like to have fun with my wardrobe – I wear nerdy, funny t-shirts and jeans most days, and having pieces to wear that stand out (my cherry print swing dress!) are super fun.  These were all boring, shapeless sacks, and there was no structure, no fun, no life to any of them.  I see other plus size gals on Instagram getting fun prints and fun pieces, but they’re also younger than me, so, I adjusted my age down by three years.  It feels SO wrong to do that, lying about my age, but I feel like I’m getting boring pieces because of my age – that the computer algorithm is going, “OOOHH she’s past 35, muted colors and shapeless clothes for her!”  I know Stitch Fix has detailed how their algorithm works, but I feel like it’s failing me here, and that the failure isn’t necessarily the stylist, but that the stylist gets a garbage set of options to choose from for me.  I don’t know how else to fix this other than make myself look younger.  So, one more box .. if it’s another complete failure, I’m going to have to call it quits with Stitch Fix which is a shame since I did have a few boxes that I kept everything, and I have enjoyed trying some new things (skinny jeans!) and have gotten a bunch of great pieces I wear all the time.