Sephora Play! October 2016


October’s Sephora PLAY! theme was, “The Cool Cut,” and was hinted to feature indie brands and new, stand-out products.  Well, I definitely got a bit of that, though some brands are very mainstream and not new at all, neither are the products, so again the theme is sort of nebulous and some things fit, some don’t.  This month also featured the most number of variations I think we’ve seen for this box yet, so it’s more likely that the samples picked are going to fit your beauty profile.  It’s still fun to get these samples, so, on to the contents!  For the record, my box was the variant with item # 1850106.

  • Farmacy Skin Dew – 3.3 oz / $44 – (Product is .68 oz, value of $9.07 by volume)  I’m not sure I’d use this on top of makeup as it says it can be used since it seems like spraying a glycerin based product over makeup would be a recipe for disaster.  I did give this a quick try and I don’t like the scent at all.  Mint is meant for toothpaste, not something you spray on your face and it just.. ugh.  It also feels sticky even after giving it a few minutes to dry or sink in, so I can’t say I like this from the scent to the formula.  I have been wanting to try a Farmacy product for a while though, so this was great to try, and good to know that this definitely isn’t for me.  The brand is cruelty free though, so I love that!
  • The Estee Edit Flash Photo Gloss – .27 oz / $20 – (Product is .1 oz, value of $7.41 by volume)  The color is, “01 White Flash,” and is a pearlescent colorless cool-toned gloss.  It’s rather sticky and thick for a gloss, and doesn’t pass the hair-stick test (my hair totally stuck to my lips in the gloss when I shook my head around).  There’s no discernible color payoff, so the pearlescence doesn’t even show up, nor is there any discernible scent/flavor (it’s supposed to be vanilla fragranced).  Estee Lauder isn’t an indie brand and this isn’t a new, stand-out product, so this feels weird to be in the box for this theme.
  • Naked Elephant T.L.C Framboos Glycolic Night Serum – 30 mL / $90 – (Product is 5 mL, value of $15 by volume)  Another cruelty-free brand I’ve been wanting to try.  This sounds like a good choice for my skin profile as it claims to be a solution for dullness, blemishes, and dark spots.  It can be used all over the face or as a spot treatment, and one drop was plenty to cover my whole face.  There’s no real scent to the product that dispenses as a clear gel.  The 5 mL sample size should be enough to see if it makes a difference or not since 5 mL should go a fairly long way.  The product is pricey, but at a 30 mL size, that should last an average person months and months.
  • Derek Lam 10 Crosby Silent St. – 1.7 oz / $95 – (Product is .05 oz, value of $2.79 by volume)  I think this might be the first perfume sample I’ve liked!  The base is white musk so it’s a musk, but lighter, with the faintest soapy, sweet floral notes.  It’s ok!  Nothing I’d go out and buy, but this is a sample I’ll actually keep and use.
  • Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick – .13 oz / $24 – (Product is .07 oz approx, value of $12.92 by volume)  The color I received is, “Driver’s Seat,” which is described as a warm pink.  I’ll admit that I was skeptical of the color at first since it seemed a little yellow-toned and anything that tips over to yellow or a coral type shade just doesn’t work with my skin tone.  On first application I thought well, maybe this is just a somewhat darker neutral, and it’s not so bad.  But I’m torn – this trends over to look a little orangey on me and.. I’m not sure.  I think “Shockaholic” is a shade better suited to my skin tone.  It may take a few extra wears to sell me on the color.  The formula goes on rich and creamy and dries very matte and does. not. budge.  I’m impressed with the product and the formula, but not as much with the color, but it may grow on me.
  • Madam C.J. Walker Scent & Shine Coconut Oil – 1.7 oz / $26 – (Product is .15 oz, value of $2.29 by volume)  This is RIGHT up my curly hair alley.  The ingredients are coconut oil and fragrance, so it seems like a lot to pay for what is essentially perfumed coconut oil, so I’m not sure I’d buy this on my own.  The scent is delightful – coconut and vanilla with a bit of woodsy musk.  Since my curls are always parched, I tried this right away.  Five drops were enough to give my ends a good coating and left a little behind to smooth into my hands as a little bonus treatment.  The scent is really delightful, and if it wasn’t just scented coconut oil, I may be interested in buying this again, but since it’s just coconut oil, and I can get that pretty cheap at the grocery store, I have a hard time justifying the price for just the fragrance (but I do REALLY REALLY like it).  I love that I got to try this though, and it’s absolutely perfect for my profile.

So, all together, the value of the box is $49.48 which is great for the monthly cost of $10.60 including tax and shipping.  I think the product I like the most is the Madam C.J. Walker Scent & Shine Coconut Oil since it’s just the perfect fit for me.  My least favorite is the Estee Edit Flash Photo Gloss since it’s just way too thick and sticky, even for a gloss.  Overall though, I got to try a bunch of products I’ve been eyeing up for quite a while, so that’s great, even if some of them didn’t wow me as much as I had hoped.  Having a trial size to test out before going all-in on the full size is fantastic, and not having to go fight through the mall and parking to get to a Sephora store and ask for a sample is even better.  The theme for November is, “Best in Glow,” so I’m looking forward to what they pick for my profile for next month!

Sepia Saturday 344-c

Another week in our, “From Here to There,” theme for Sepia Saturday!  This week, I thought I’d feature a car and my great grandmother, Olga (Powis) Kitko.  The back of this is labelled, “Me & Joe’s Car,” which, from a previous post, helped lead me to identify a photo of my great grandfather as well.  That car is featured in a number of photos with either Olga or Olga and a friend sitting in or on it, and it seems to have been quite the prize for Joe to have.  I assume this is around 1930, possibly plus or minus about 2 years.  Olga is wearing a rather pretty outfit between the shoes and dress and I have to wonder if possibly this was taken to commemorate their wedding.  I haven’t yet been able to find a marriage certificate for Olga Powis and Joseph Kitko despite a lot of searching.  My suspicion was that they stayed together under a common-law marriage, but now that I sit here and think about this image, it’s entirely possible they did get married out of state or somewhere I didn’t think to look yet.  So, I’m left with more questions than when I started this post, but it gives me a few more things to think about!

Glossybox October 2016

My Glossybox for October 2016 has arrived!  This is the final one of my subscription that I kept forgetting to cancel, and at least the box was better this time, a vast improvement over last month’s box.  The largest product in the box is a drugstore brand hair product.  I thought Glossybox was supposed to be a luxury-brands sort of box and there’s nothing luxury about a product you can find in every drug store and grocery store.  Oh well, not going to miss this subscription, and the next time I think about signing up for Glossybox?  Someone take away my internet.

  • Masque Bar Brightening Sheet Mask – 3 pack / $16.99 – (Product is one mask, value of $5.66)  I took the lowest price I found online via – Target was advertising $42.99 for a three-pack which seems really absurd when Amazon is offering the same for less than half the price.  The product card advertises it as 3 sheets for $10, but I was only able to find it two places online and none of them at $10.  Sheet masks are always fun to try, so this is an okay item for me.  The only thing I’m a little bothered by is that the manufacturing date stamped on mine is from over a year ago (18 Sep 2015).  I’m not sure that these have any true expiration, and it does have preservatives to keep the product fresh longer, but the idea that this has been sitting around for over a year generally doesn’t mean good things.
  • Decleor Aromessence Neroli – .5 oz / $31.49 – (Product is .17 oz, value of $10.71)  Again, the value is all over the map – some sites list it for $73, but I found a lot in the mid to low $30 range for the same size.  It contains a blend of oils and is a lot like another product I already use so this is right up my dry skin alley.  There are no outrageous claims that it will make you look younger or erase dark spots, it’s just an awesome moisturizing serum that smells amazing.  The scent is sort of musky (Sandalwood, my favorite, is in the ingredient list!!) with a hint of citrus and honestly really pleasing, plus the product moisturizes well and makes my skin feel soft.  This is honestly something I’d purchase a full size of, I actually like it that much!
  • Emite Lip & Cheek Tint – 6 mL / $19 – (Product is full size)  It’s basically a lip and cheek stain, much like Benetint, although maybe a little bit thicker than that.  The color is a bit darker though and the formula seems to be a bit more like gel and it stains rather well.  This may be one of the best stains I’ve used before and I’ll definitely be using this regularly!
  • Unani Il-Lluminate Milk Cleanser – 200 mL / $18 – (Product is full size)  A quick check of the ingredient list shows it’s an aloe and water based cleanser with no ALS/SLS or parabens, so this sounds like it’s another product right up my dry skin alley!  The formula is a thick cream that smells light and fresh like aloe and cucumbers.  It cleanses well with no foam and rinses off cleanly.  It’s probably going to be my go-to during winter since it’s a gentle cleanser that won’t dry out my skin.  One small gripe though, the label was printed on the seam of the bottle, so I have to imagine these were offloaded to Glossybox because they were misprinted bottles.  The product inside is still the same, but they clearly couldn’t never be sold as-is in a retail setting which makes me feel a little cheated.
  • OGX Bamboo Fiber-Full Thickening Root Booster – 6 oz / $7.99 – (Product is full size)  This is an automatic nope based on the ingredients (polymers and acrylates tend to be build-up ingredients and are a no-go for a no/low shampoo routine) and the fact that my curly hair does NOT need volume or thickening.  Glossybox, are you drunk?!  Also, it’s a basic drugstore/grocery store sort of brand and isn’t at all anything I’d consider “Luxury” like Glossybox claims to be.  I’d expect to see this in the Target or Walmart beauty boxes, but in Glossybox?  It just doesn’t fit and isn’t what subscribers consider luxury at all.

Overall, by my calculations, the box is worth $61.36.  If we were going by the product sheet, it would be $73.14, but that’s due to the really wide variation in value on the Decleor oil.  If a product is available for half the price from another retailer, I’m going to buy from that retailer.  I do like the Decleor oil though, sheet masks are always fun to try, and really, I’ll use everything but the OGX product, so it’s not a bad box, BUT Glossybox is still being deceptive and misleading about the products they’re including.  One is clearly a misprint, and the OGX is just ridiculous for the supposed luxury status of this box.  The box costs $21 per month, so no matter which way you calculate it, the value is still great, especially since I’m keeping all but one item, but their practices as of late have left a really bad taste in my mouth, and I have no desire to continue to give my money to a business that doesn’t value my business and thinks it’s okay to offload clearance and discontinued items to be under the guise of a “Luxury” subscription box.  That’s NOT okay.  If this is going to be a clearance box for discontinued cast-offs and misprinted items, say so.  Price it accordingly.  Continuing to charge $21 a box for items that can’t be sold on store shelves is absurd.

Espionage Cosmetics BOOM!Box October 2016

October’s Espionage Cosmetics BOOM!Box has arrived!  It’s right on time and is full of goodies related to this month’s theme, “Haunted,” from spooky nail wraps to a nightmarish print and sparkly bats and even mysterious gems for your ears.  It’s yet another amazing box and perfect with Halloween coming up this month!

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Let’s start with the two nail wraps!  On the left is Graveyard with a nod to Thriller in the subtitle.  In my head, I could actually hear Vincent Price reading that line (also hey, earworm!).  These are glossy nail wraps showing a graveyard scene against a dusky sky with glow in the dark ghosts swirling around the wraps.  On the right is REDRUM, with a glossy print of the carpet from The Shining, and REDRUM scrawled on the wraps in glow in the dark ink.  It’s so hard to pick a favorite between the two, but I know I’m going to be wearing one or the other this month for sure.

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This was a big surprise this month!  Two full serums, two everything shadows and two mixing pots to go wild creating custom lip colors.  Everyone got something a little different according to the product card.  I received the serums in Soulless and Fatality and shadows in Shiny and Headshot.  I’ll have to give these a try with the mixing pots to see what I come up with!

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Two super fun items that fit the theme and round out the box.  On the left is a set of bejeweled bat clips, Glittering Acro-Bats.  There’s a card included that says they’re more than just hair clips and can be used to add a bit of bling to your handbag, as a necklace, on shoes, or anywhere else they can clip to.  On the right are a set of earrings from Sparks Emporium.  They’re red with an iridescent blue sparkly glow.  Included along with the earrings is a 15% off coupon for any purchase from Sparks Emporium which is a nice bonus!

And finally, a print from Nerdy Post that reads, “Sometimes Nightmares are Real.”  This is gorgeous between the lettering and lacy design around the edges and I just love it.  It’s a departure from the character sort of artwork we’ve had in previous boxes, but it fits in SO well with the theme, plus it’s fun to get something completely different!  I guess I really need to get on that whole finding frames thing, huh?!

As far as value goes, it’s definitely above and beyond the cost which is between $25 and $30 depending on the length of the subscription.  Just with the serums and shadows alone, we’re already at $33, so then add in everything else and the value is way above the cost!  This is another big hit, and honestly, those two nail wraps are AMAZING.  Have I mentioned how incredibly bright the glow in the dark magic on the nail wraps is?  Because it glows for hours after exposure, so much so that sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and startle a little seeing something glowing on my hands (and then remember it’s my kickass nail wraps and laugh at myself).  I’m so thrilled with this box and cannot wait for the next one already!  In case you’re thinking about subscribing and want to send me some love, hit up my referral link!

Sepia Saturday 344-b


Late again, and Sepia Monday doesn’t quite have the same ring, but here it is!  In another week of our, “From Here to There,” monthly theme, I have a ship coming into port.  These were taken by a member of the Jaarsma family, and if I have my dates lined up right, they were sending a visitor, Fokke Brander, back home on the Nieuw Amsterdam on the Holland America Line at Hoboken, New Jersey.  I’ve had these photos on the side and had been doing a little work to sort out who this man labelled as “Brander” on the back of the photos was.  I finally fit him to a man named Fokke Brander, born 18 Jun 1900 in Obergum, Groningen, Netherlands and died 8 Oct 1961 in Uithuizen, Groningen, Netherlands.  He likely knew my husband’s grandparents since he lived near them when they lived in Holland, and came over to visit once they emigrated to the USA.scan00959
In the photo above, you can just barely make out the ship’s name behind the tugboat’s big “M” stack.  At first I thought I wouldn’t be able to identify this ship, but looking closely enough, I could make out a “N_EW AM” which led me to the Nieuw Amsterdam.  I knew the port had to be the Hoboken New Holland Line terminal just like all the other arrivals they captured, so this helped narrow things down.  Eventually, I found the departure manifest for the Nieuw Amsterdam which listed Fokke Brander as having left the USA on 8 Sep 1953 ( link), so the summer clothes in the photo make sense – it can still be quite warm in early September in the New York City area.

scan00896And here’s the man himself, Fokke Brander, standing on the right side with his luggage, shaking the hand of a man only identified as “Dijkhuis” in other photos.  The back of this photo is labelled, “Goed bye to Brander,” so I can safely assume this is the day he departed.  I haven’t yet been able to identify all the other people in the photo, but Mr. Brander shows up in a number of other photos with the other folks in this picture, so I assume he was making the rounds visiting everyone.  It’s pretty neat to have this sequence of photos to line up together and tell a story about Fokke and his visit to the USA!