Benevolent Beauty Box May 2017

May’s Benevolent Beauty Box arrived on Monday (today is Thursday, lazy blogger is lazy this week).  Do you see how well-rounded that box is?  A lip gloss, eyeshadow, eyeliner, sheet mask, bath product, and an aromatherapy spray.  I swear they go out of their way to really make these boxes amazing every month and it absolutely shows.  And Hello Kitty eyeshadow?  I’m so here for this.

  • Armour Beauty Lip Gloss – 6.5 mL / $24 – (Full size product)  I received the color, “Nina,” which is described as a bright opaque coral.  Corals don’t work with my skin tone at all, so the color is a big miss for me.  There were other color possibilities, and I think “Barracuda” would’ve been a better fit, but this was just luck of the draw (or not, as the case may be).  The formula is thick and sticky, but highly pigmented and smells like a cupcake.  Unfortunately, it looks like the company Armour has closed.  There’s still stock available from other retailers, but probably not for long.
  • Franklin & Whitman Mineral Soak – 4 oz / $24.95 – (2 oz, I think, size isn’t marked, value of $12.48)  I already love this company thanks to this box, but I’m not too big on baths and we have this tiny, useless bathtub, so I’ll stack this away for a future vacation that comes with a fancy spa tub.  I know these soaks are good for sore muscles which is great after a day of snowshoeing or hiking.
  • ColourPop Super Shock Shadow – 2.1 g / $6 – (Full size product)  The color I received is, “Small Gift,” a shimmery pink.  I grew up with Hello Kitty, so this was neat to see in the box!  Somehow I missed when this line launched from ColourPop in November of 2016, but I’m glad I got this in the box now since they’re no longer available through ColourPop.  The shadow is super velvety and highly pigmented and goes on so smoothly.
  • Gypsy Soul Organics Aromatherapy Spray – 2 oz / $19.99 – (Full size product)  The scent is, “Son Rain,” and this is right up my alley.  It’s a musky and grassy spray that can be used on linens, pillows, as a room spray, or even as a body spray.  I absolutely LOVE this scent and will probably use it as a body spray.  Bonus that it has citronella as part of the scent, so it may help keep mosquitoes away too!
  • Seoul Mamas Revitalizing Mask – 1 mask / $8 – (Full size product)  Sheet masks are a nice treat for a pamper-yourself day, so I’m always happy to see these show up in subscription boxes.  The fabric in this one is 100% bamboo, and the ingredient list has a bunch of wonderful extracts.  I haven’t tried it yet since I’m saving it for a day when I need a little time-out to relax, so I’ll have to update once I do!
  • Ardency Inn Modster Easy Ride Supercharged Liquid Liner – 1.7 mL / $20 – (Full size product)  In the color, “Deep Black,” this liquid eyeliner has a really neat applicator tip that’s a lot like a flexible felt-tip pen.  The line comes out nice and even (even with my complete lack of finesse with drawing fine lines), but you can also add a little pressure to bend the tip down and draw nice, wide lines easily.  The color applies crazy dark black and dries pretty quickly.  I haven’t tried it out on my eyes yet, but the ingredients are all ones I’ve used before with no problem.

There was a bonus freebie included this time (not pictured), Viter Energy Mints.  I tried one, but unfortunately, they’re artificially sweetened with sucralose, so they’re a pass for me.  I find the flavor of artificial sweeteners really gross – I couldn’t even make it longer than 5 seconds with the mint in my mouth.  Fun to try, but please, just use regular sugar!  I’d gladly have a few calories than that nasty chemical taste.

Overall, the total value this month is $90.47 which I think is on the lower end for the box, but it’s still three times the cost which is $29.95 on a month-to-month basis.  It’s hard to pick a favorite this month, but I’d say it’s probably a three-way tie between the eye shadow, liner, and aromatheraphy spray.  I do really love the scent of that spray – it’s just the right blend of scents.  As always, looking forward to next month’s box!

Kloverbox May 2017

The May Kloverbox arrived yesterday!  This is my last Kloverbox, and it’s a pretty awesome one.  I cancelled my subscription after getting two in a row that weren’t a good fit, but this one is pretty well spot on.  The Yarok product is a huge favorite of mine, cuticle cream is always welcome, and the Sari scarf is such a pretty color and pattern!  Okay, before I go on too much, let’s get into the details.

  • Meadowlark Botanicals Cuticle Cream – 1.5 oz / $7 – (Full size product) This orange-scented cuticle cream is right up my alley.  I use stuff like this right before bed usually because my hands end up a dry, parched mess by the end of the day.  This smells a lot like a creamsicle, and the consistency is that goldilocks zone of just solid enough, but not too solid that it’s a pain to dig out of the pot.  I really like this!
  • Yarok Feed Your Ends – 2 oz / $13.20 – (Travel size product)  I mentioned it above, but I’ve gotten this in boxes before, but it’s become a regular staple in my curly girl arsenal.  No alcohol, parabens, sulfates or silicones, and it smells lightly herbal and lemongrassy.  The ingredient list contains a blend of great oils that are perfect for dry ends, and a great second-day-hair treatment to tame down the frizzies.  Very happy to see this in this box!
  • Ballerina Botanicals Green Beauty Barre – 1 bar / $8.99 – (Product is a sample, value on product card is $4.50, but it looks to be about 1/4th of a bar [no weight listed for the bar on the manufacturer’s website], so it’s probably more like $2.25 by size/weight)  If only this didn’t have peppermint oil!  My skin seems to be a little sensitive to peppermint oil so this is going to be a pass for me.  Peppermint oil can be a skin irritant, so I’m not even going to try this out and risk being itchy.  It’s pretty pungent too, and I don’t like the smell of peppermint at all.  I’d have much preferred this without the extra scent!
  • I Was A Sari Loop Scarf – 1 scarf / $25 – (Full size product)  I couldn’t find this on the manufacturer’s website, so I’m just using the value off the product card.  What a gorgeous color and print!  The fabric feels like a rayon, and it’s got a nice sheen and drape to it.  The scarf measures 32″ square when laid flat.  The fabric doesn’t show any signs of wear, so if someone did actually wear this fabric as part of a Sari before, it was very lightly or gently worn.  I’d love to hear more about the process, where the Saris come from, etc, but there’s no information on the website just yet.  Still, the idea of giving jobs to women and reusing fabric definitely appeals to me, and that makes this so much more than just a scarf.
  • New Chapter Perfect Hair, Skin, and Nails Supplement – 60 capsules / $34.17 – (Sample is 15 capsules, value of $8.54)  This was added in as a free sample along with a coupon code for $3 off a purchase at the manufacturer’s website that apparently, you can’t actually shop through.  The site just directs you to local retailers or Amazon, so I’m not sure how a coupon at newchapter.com is worth anything when they don’t even have a way to purchase directly through them.  Beyond that, supplements like this have proven to be useless or downright dangerous by actual scientific studies, so these are going straight to the trash.  I won’t even put these in the trade box since I feel pretty strongly about how much money people waste buying into the supplement industry every year – an industry that isn’t subject to regulation or testing but is allowed to make wild claims about their ingredients with no scientific proof of those claims.  (Of course, I’ll recycle the glass bottle, but the pills?  Garbage.)

Overall, the value of the box without the vitamins comes to about $49 depending on how you count the soap.  This is a little on the lower end for the box, but not by a whole lot, and considering the box costs $25 on a month-to-month basis, the value of the scarf alone takes care of the cost!  I do really love getting the Yarok spray and the cuticle cream though, so I’m pretty well happy with this month overall.  I’m glad my subscription is ending on a pretty good note with this box!

Stitch Fix May 2017

My third stitch fix arrived today, styled again by Lana.  In case you missed it, my write up of last month’s fix was featured on the StitchFixReviews.com website, so that was pretty exciting!  It’s funny because I thought maybe I could skate by posting full-length photos of myself online and maybe no one would see it, so no big deal.  I was a little worried with the increased publicity that internet bullies would jump in, but, much to my surprise and delight, I got a bunch of wonderful, positive comments.  I can’t even begin to express how great it is to have people be so kind and supportive.

So, this month’s fix arrived today while it was pouring rain outside, so I found a little space inside for photos this time.  Lana wrote me a little note on my item card again:

Hi Melissa!  I was so happy to see you enjoyed your last Fix – the dress looks amazing on you with that red cardigan.  To keep that 50’s style going, I chose the Loveappella off the shoulder knit dress for you.  It’s on trend for the season and will look great with some red lipstick.  The Laila Jayde cold shoulder top is perfect for a night out paired with the Makers skinny jeans.  I see you like to typically wear a bootcut style, but I thought these would look amazing on you, and they are super comfy.  I also included the Gilli Morgen skirt which will be a chic piece to wear to your next wedding with the black top in your last Fix or for a night out with your husband paired with some black boots.  Enjoy and I look forward to your feedback and requests next time.  PS: Happy belated Anniversary!  XO Lana

Is she not the bestest ever?!  I giggled the whole way through because she totally gets me.   I basically get this awesome internet pen-pal who stalks me sifts through my social media posts and blog and then sends me amazing clothes.  It’s a pretty awesome arrangement!  The anniversary wishes were really sweet too! (13 years!  ACK, how has it been 13 years already?!)  Alright, so let’s go through the box, one item at a time.  I did a few different outfits with some of the items since I knew I had something in my closet that would work perfectly.  It was sort of funny – as I was taking photos, I’d go review the photos I just took and then go OH HEY and run off to the closet to dig for just the right top, shoes, etc.

Item: Laila Jayde Barret Cold Shoulder Knit Top
Cost:
$54
Paired With: 
Makers Lianne Skinny Jean (this month’s Fix), yellow flats (mine), necklace (mine)
I LOVE the color.  Unfortunately, it’s much too small even though it’s the same size as the rest of my Fix – instead of having enough room to hang over my tush, it clung to my backside and just felt odd.  It’s about mid-thigh length, so for a tunic length,  I feel like it should have enough room to fit over the hips and butt instead of being quite so form fitting.  I’m also not into the whole cold shoulder trend even though I know it’s really in right now.  I kind of have wide, linebacker shoulders and thick upper arms, so I feel like adding extra emphasis on my shoulders with a cutout in the fabric there makes them look extra wide/thick, and it draws attention to an area I like to minimize and hide.  The fabric is a polyester/rayon/spandex knit, made in the USA, and it’s a nice weight for spring or fall.  However, this just didn’t wow me.  It’s definitely going back.

Item: Market & Spruce Sawyer Space Dye Dolman Sleeve Knit Top
Cost:
$58
Paired With: 
Makers Lianne Skinny Jean (this month’s Fix), yellow flats (mine), necklace (mine)
This is another top that just wasn’t a hit with me.  Dolman sleeves are another sort of “in” thing right now that I just don’t like – they add extra fabric and bulk when plus size gals generally don’t need extra fabric and bulk.  I mean, you can see how wide this makes me look in comparison to the photo above.  I think it may be a size too big too, and the sleeve length is awkward – it’s between 3/4 length and full length and it’s just.. odd.  The fabric is a rayon/acrylic/spandex blend and is made in the USA with imported yarn.  The drape is nice, and the fabric is a lighter, open sort of knit that would work well to throw on for a cool summer evening, but the fit and style is just not working for me.  This one is definitely going back.

Item: Makers Lianne Skinny Jean
Cost:
$48
Paired With: 
Black heels, necklace, top, cardigan (all mine)
Okay, it’s like Lana read my mind.  See, I’ve always been anti-skinny-jean.  I’ve got big thighs and despite having tried jeans that are more fitted before, I just never liked the way my legs looked – I’ve got thinner ankles but plenty of junk in the trunk, so from the side, I just didn’t like what I saw (something about showing off the way my legs get wider and wider up to my butt just.. ehh).  I was all BOOTCUT4LYFE because they make a nice, straight line from my tush to my shoes, and it’s totally my jean-shape-comfort-zone.  I was thinking just a few weeks ago that maybe I should give skinny jeans another try since there’s no commitment in just trying on clothes at a store, and who knows, maybe I’ll find a pair that will actually work.  Somehow Lana knew!  I love that she gave me a little extra nudge in her notes, saying that they’re super comfy, because wow are they ever.  The length is even just about right!  Maybe an inch too long, but with the stretch, the little bit of extra length is really no problem at all.  The fabric is a cotton/polyester/spandex blend (made in China), so they’re stretchy, but still have enough weight to them that they’re definitely jeans, albeit super nice jeans that I’d even wear to photography jobs.  I definitely like these with a shorter top as in the photo above but with a longer cardigan.  That way I can wear skinny jeans, but still give a little coverage to my thighs and tush if I’m having one of those super-self-conscious kind of days.  These are definitely a keeper.

Item: Loveappella Tonia Knit Dress
Cost:
$48
Paired With: 
Heels, belt, cardigan (all mine)
I swear to you, this dress is magic.  The illusion of the lines means the horizontal lines on the top make my bust look bigger (scroll up to the prior photos, because it’s really not – that’s all optical illusion), while the vertical lines on the skirt seem to make me look taller.  MAGIC, I TELL YOU.  Lana picked this specifically for my love of retro 1950’s style, and then went and suggested it should go with red lipstick, so I was happy to comply and add some more pops of red, because RED.  I think the dress might be a teensy little bit too big, but going down a size might make the skirt not hang as well over my hips.  The belt brings in the waist, making the fit pretty close to perfect.  The top of the dress is an off-the-shoulder sort of design, but I found that it didn’t want to stay put on my arms, so I just let it slide up into a wide scoop neck shape.  The ruffle around the top is really cute too.  The fabric is a rayon/spandex jersey knit, made in the USA, and it’s super soft and drapes just perfectly.  I don’t think I even need to say it, but YAAAS KEEPER.

Item: Gilli Morgen Skirt
Cost:
$58
Paired With: 
On Left – Top and necklace (last month’s fix), belt and heels (mine).  On Right – shoes, necklace, tank, and shirt (mine)
I’ll admit that when I saw this skirt, I knew that it had to have been inspired by a pin I put on my Stitch Fix Pinterest board.  Lana suggested I pair it with the black top from last month’s fix, so I added the necklace from last month too for the photo on the left, and it looks really dressy for a nice night out.  I added that belt since it helps give me a little more of a shape through the middle, though I’m not completely sold on that belt with the outfit (maybe a thinner belt?).  I figured if I had the skirt that matched the Pinterest pin, I might as well try and style it that way too, hence the photo on the right.  It’s a more casual look, but it really gives the skirt a whole new life, paired with flats and a denim top.  The fabric is a polyester/spandex knit with a viscose/spandex lining and is made in the USA.  It feels a little like swimsuit fabric, but it’s got a nice drape and swing to it, and the lining gives it enough oomph and shape to keep it from being too clingy.  The print is a black, grey, and yellow oversize floral design which is just abstract enough to be a little edgy and fun without looking like grandma’s couch.  This probably isn’t a skirt I would’ve ever picked up for myself, but now that I have it here and had the chance to pair it with things from my own closet, I really, really like it, and can see SO many more things I already have that will go perfectly with it.  Totally a keeper.

The bill for the whole fix comes to $266.  If I kept the whole fix, the Buy 5, 25% discount would bring the total down to $199.50.  I’m definitely sending back the first two tops, so that means my total is $154, minus the $20 styling fee brings it down to $134 for the dress, skirt, and jeans.  They’re all pieces I feel like I can wear a bunch of different ways, are quality fabrics, and they’re new staples to my wardrobe instead of being cheap, trendy pieces that I’ll only wear for one season.  Plus, for every new piece I keep from Stitch Fix, I make myself remove something from the closet that just doesn’t work anymore.

Final thoughts:  I like being given little nudges outside of my style comfort zone.  I have a pretty good idea of what silhouettes/shapes/cuts work best on my body, but it’s great to have someone give me a poke and say, “Hey, I have this idea for something I think will work for you, let’s try it, and if it doesn’t work out, no big deal, just send it back.”  This is great because I don’t have to fight traffic and parking and then dig through racks to find the right size – it all comes straight to my door.  The callbacks to previous fixes in the styling notes are helpful too, and make the best use of items I already have in my wardrobe.  I do think I need to tweak my style profile a little since I’m getting all items with sleeves even though we’re rolling into summer.  I think the mighty Stitch Fix computer algorithm is only giving Lana so much to choose from and changing the “arms” preference from “keep them covered” to “sometimes I’ll flaunt them” will give her more options to choose from.  I may not like to show off my arms, but I can always throw a cardigan or jacket over something sleeveless.  I may have two items going back in this fix, but there was absolutely no doubt on the three keepers!  In case you’re thinking about trying Stitch Fix and want to give me a little love, here’s my referral link!

Espionage Cosmetics Nexus – May 2017

Another month of Espionage Cosmetics Nexus has arrived!  This month’s theme was, “Keeping Track,” and I honestly had no idea where that was going.  The spoiler image teased a set of tally marks on a chalkboard, but you really never know until the shiny black mailer shows up in the mailbox.  Both wraps are definitely right on track with the theme though and make for awesome designs, and I’m going to have a hard time picking a favorite for voting this month!

  • Tally Marks – These feature a clear background on glossy nail wraps so you can layer your favorite color nail polish underneath.  They also have a glow in the dark feature beyond the black tick marks, and as usual, these glow crazy bright.
  • Abacus – This is a glossy nail wrap with a foil accent on the abacus bars.  I just love the bright colors on these and how the foil accent makes them really stand out.

I like the black and white simplicity of the tally marks, but the colorful abacus is so neat.  I’m still torn!  The month-to-month subscription cost is $15, and since each wrap goes for $10 on the website, the value definitely exceeds the cost, plus, subscribers get first crack at new designs.  Subscribers then vote on their favorite design, and the winner of the Nail Wrap Battle Royale goes on to be sold on the Espionage Cosmetics website while the loser gets locked in the vault.  Next month’s theme has already been released, and it’s, “They See Me Trollin'” which you know is just going to be amazing, coming from the geniuses at the EC team.

I have one extra note since today is a big day at Espionage Cosmetics for makeup.  Preorders have launched for the anticipated Colovaria Collection and RPG Collection! The company started with loose mineral shadows and now they are releasing pressed eyeshadow palettes. This is huge for the world of #NerdMakeup.

If you’re a fan of Harry Potter or The Magicians (or anything magical), definitely check out the Colovaria Collection. If you’re more on the gamer side (World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Dungeons and Dragons, etc.) you’ll definitely be partial to the RPG Collection which is packed with super pigmented colors.  Or, you know, grab both of them because they’re both made of awesome.

You can check out the preorder launch and find out more information on the palettes at espionagecosmetics.com/nerdmakeup.

FanMail Box April 2017

I subscribed to the FanMail Box a few cycles ago, but finally decided to add it to the blog this time around!  It’s a little hit or miss for me since it’s kind of heavy on the Harry Potter, a fandom I’m really not into.  I’ve never read the books or seen the movies, and it’s just not my thing (my least favorite genre is fantasy – I’d take zombies and space explorers over wizards any day of the week!).  This month did feature one Harry Potter item, but the rest were from other fandoms, and it’s great to have a box that caters to lady geeks!  This month’s theme was, “The Gang’s All Here,” and was teased as featuring items from, “the teams that right the wrongs, solve the mysteries, and have one another’s backs as they fight the good fight.”  Lots of possibilities to choose from!  The front of the product card is even a coloring page featuring Buffy and her gang.  This box arrived just yesterday, right on time with their usual shipping schedule.

  • Rogue One “I Rebel” Beanie – It’s a really heavy, thick beanie hat in a grey knit with a bit of embroidery on the front that says, “I Rebel,” over the rebel logo.  I’m definitely more into Star Trek than Star Wars, but even so, this is a great hat and will definitely come in handy this winter!
  • Charmed Triquetra Scarf – It’s a light chiffon infinity scarf in a purple ombre with the Triquetra or Trinity Knot printed in white all over the scarf.  The Triquetra is obviously from Charmed, but it’s also such a well-known Celtic symbol that it ends up being a little subtle nerd content that you wouldn’t necessarily know referred to Charmed unless you were part of the secret FanMail nerd club.
  • Spirit in the Sky Bath Bomb – From NerdieNifties comes this pretty lavender-scented bath bomb inspired by the Guardians of the Galaxy that has a mystery charm inside.  We have a teeny little bathtub at home, so I’m going to save this for a future vacation to a fancy place with a big old jacuzzi tub.
  • Harlequin Nail Wraps – From Espionage Cosmetics, these nail wraps feature a pretty design from a famous partner in crime to the Joker, Harley Quinn.  I already have this one in my nail wrap stash, but you can never go wrong with more nail wraps!
  • Rejected Princesses Enamel Pin – A nice little enamel pin marking the publishing of the book by the same name, Rejected Princesses.  I took a look at the book, and I want to know where was this when I was a kid?!  The book features real stories about, “women too awesome, awful, or offbeat for kids’ movies.”  Take that, Disney Princesses!
  • Rejected Princesses Trading Cards Set – Going along with the above pin is a set of four trading cards featuring different rejected princesses.
  • Harry Potter Golden Trio Postcard – Well, again, Harry Potter is just not my thing, but I know enough friends who love Harry Potter, so someone is going to get a just-because postcard in the near future.

There was no t-shirt this time, so in lieu of the t-shirt, they included a bonus item (mine is the Orphan Black comic book) and a discount code for their website.  There were also a bunch of promotional materials – A Quirk Books double chaplet of Geekerella and The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen, The Legend of Korra preview edition, a leaflet about ConTessa and a “Nevertheless She Persisted” bookmark from them as well, and two stickers for The Werewolf Diaries.

The subscription costs $21.99-$23.99 depending on your shirt size on a bimonthly basis.  I know the nail wraps retail for $10, the bath bomb is around $6, and with the scarf and beanie, the value easily exceeds the cost.  I think they worked the theme through the products really well this time and I really liked this box as a whole.  Plus, I got to learn about the Rejected Princesses project and it’s just so perfectly up my alley!