Thursday, February 25, 2016

Birchbox VS Ipsy: February 2016

Let me tell you two things that I love: getting mail and trying new products. So, it's kind of a give-in that I am all about subscription boxes; especially Birchbox and Ipsy. I often get picked on by the girls at work for getting both, but at only ten dollars each per month, how could I not? I love comparing the two each month, and seeing the value of both brands. Oftentimes, you're sent full-size products or an extra item. I've found them especially helpful over the last few months that my skin has gone from oily and acne-prone to dry and dull. Since you create a custom profile including your skincare and beauty needs/concerns, it's a great way to discover the perfect products for your routine. Both brands have a rewards system in place which helps earn points towards full-sized products by writing reviews or referring friends, so you can really save on your favorites. Here's what I scored in my February box and bag!
Let's start with Ipsy! I was very pleased with this month's "Pretty in Pink" themed bag. I received two hydrating skincare products, the Promise Organic argan oil moisturizer and the Smashbox Cosmetics primer oil; both of which are amazing.  The Promise Organic moisturizer is light weight and perfect for everyday use. It's 100% natural and dermatologist tested for sensitive skin. I found out that it's available through CVS, too, making it an amazing budget option.The primer oil is supposed to create a smooth base for makeup, but I find that it works best mixed into a moisturizer (especially at night) for added hydration. It has ingredients like jojoba oil and chamomile to sooth and balance your complexion.
Another winner for me this month was the Oliva Palermo for Ciate London nail polish in "My Off Duty Nude". This polish is the most beautiful pinky-nude tone, that goes with absolutely everything. The formula applies evenly and goes opaque after two coats. I don't get to paint my nails often since I work as a barista, but I know this will be the one I reach to most often. Unfortunately, the last two products that I received this month were duds for me. The Paula Dorf  Baby Eyes Enhancer pencil is a nude-colored liner meant to brighten your waterline. I love pencils like this, but this one applied uneven and the color was too peachy. I would highly recommend similar products from NYX or Rimmel over this one. Finally, we have this gloss by Jessica Leibeskind. I HATED this gloss. I don't generally feel such strong animosity towards makeup, but this was just awful. I was so sticky, and so full of glitter. I imagine you could get similar results by applying roll-on glitter glue. I find it totally offensive that the full size version retails for $22. But, three out of five isn't bad. Rock on, Ipsy.
Now on to Birchbox, who went full on Valentine's-inspired for their February box. There was a little bit of everything in this box, from hair care to nails, which I really enjoyed. First up is the Whish Three Whishes body butter in lavender. I've received other lovely samples by Whish through Birchbox, so I had high hopes for this one, and was not disappointed in the end. I find lavender to be so calming, and this formula was quick-absorbing and very hydrating. I tossed mine in my purse, and it's been my go-to hand cream ever since. Next is the Neuma Beauty Reneu Scalp Therapy scrub. I had never heard of an exfoliate for your hair, so I was intrigued and eager to try this out. It has a really refreshing, minty scent that's cooling/slightly tingly, and the gritty texture did feel nice on my scalp. I could really tell that it broke down product build-up, and left my hair clean. This would be really effective for people with dandruff or oily hair.The Clarifying Clay Mask by Malin and Goetz was another win for me. This mask doubles as an exfoliate, and leaves your skin feeling completely refreshed. I've been using it once or twice a week for a pick-me up for my dry, Winter skin. 
I was equally pleased with Birchbox's nail polish selection this month. "That's my Jam" by Color Club is the perfect burgundy, red tone which is a color that I tend to gravitate towards in the colder months. The formula went on smooth and was long-lasting; just what you want in a polish! Last, but most certainly not least is this Metallic Lip Tar by Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics. I have heard such amazing reviews on this product, all of which are well-deserved. I received mine in the shade Black Metal Dahlia, which is a deep berry, red; much like the aforementioned nail polish. You need only the tiniest amount to achieve an opaque coverage, and the finish is beautiful. Even more note-worthy is the fact that it is vegan and cruelty-free!
 So, there you have it: my February Ipsy Bag and Birchbox. Did you receive any products that were different? I'd love to hear which one you prefer, or just your thoughts on subscription boxes in general.  Personally, it's a total pick-me-up to see mine in the mail each month; just something fun to get yourself and test out. I'm already loving the previews for next months' goodies from both brands. I'll be sure to report back on those, as well. 
Until next time,

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Suede Skirt

     I've been avoiding this "suede" trend like the plague since seeing it go to new extremes on Pinterest and in magazines. I'm good with it on my boots and bags(faux-suede, course), and that's where it generally ends for me. But, I fell for this Old Navy skirt; or rather it's price. I scored this little number for $7.99 on clearance!  Forever late to the trend party because BARGAINS. The color and shape are both really beautiful, and it's quality is impeccable. I like that it's structured rather than flouncy, making it perfect for windy days. I know I will get even more use out of it come summertime. I somehow managed to score tickets for the Brand New and Modest Mouse tour, so Andy and I will be Chicago-bound come July. I'm already thinking of pairing this skirt with loose t-shirts and ankle boots. I've been really trying to find new ways to wear my clothes all-year round. I think skirts are a staple for that, since you can easily throw a pair of warm tights, boots, and a sweater on with them. All-in-all, an eight bucks well spent! Which is great because those aforementioned tickets cost an arm and a leg, and maybe even a slice of my soul. WORTH IT. 
Have a great weekend, everyone!

Outfit Details:
Coat- Gabriel Brothers
Teddy sweater- Kensie (thrifted!)
Black turtleneck- vintage
Skirt & loafers- Old Navy

Monday, February 1, 2016

When Dry Skin's Got You Down...

     Oh, skincare. The ever-present issue in my life. I've been oily, acne-ridden, sensitive, and everything in between. My skin has recently changed pretty drastically due to being on a dermatologist-prescribed Tretinoin cream(along with the use of natural cleansers/treatments), which aims to improve the look of roughness and uneven tone. I have a lot of deep scarring and hyper-pigmentation left over from my days of having cystic acne. And, while I've been loving my results in terms of no longer having active breakouts or redness, using this product in the Winter has DEMOLISHED my poor face. I have had patches of dry, textured skin on my cheeks and down my neck, as well as flaky areas that basically reject anything I put over top of it. I noticed it was getting out of hand when my make-up was "chipping" off before I had even finished applying it because it was soaking up product. So, I decided to intervene with a handful of products and practices to get my skin hydrated again. I know Winter can be rough on anyone's skin, even without having the added burden of being on a topical treatment, so I hope the items listed below will come in handy for anyone looking to put a little moisture back into their lives this season.
A good way to turn over dry skin, and get fresh cells to produce is to exfoliate. But, sometimes dry skin also means sensitive skin, so harsh exfoliates can end up causing more damage than positive results. To have the best of both worlds, I have been using the Batty's Bath Mild Jojoba Oil Scrub everyday, as a part of my evening routine. This scrub is gentle, fragrance-free, and cleanses the skin without leaving it stripped of moisture. After cleansing and exfoliating my skin, I've been reaching for the Mario Badescu Facial Spray. This stuff is like a spa in a bottle. The mild rose scent is so calming, and I really notice it toning down any redness or inflammation. I also love using this as a setting spray for make-up, or just to throw in my bag and use as a little refresher throughout the day. If my skin has reached a severe level of dryness, I like to incorporate a facial oil, like this one from Bio Oil. I either put a thin layer on patches of dryness, or just add a couple drops into my moisturizer. Bio Oil is a good multi-tasker because is fights dehydration while evening any discoloration.
A good moisturizer should be apart of everyone's daily routine, but especially so if you're struggling with dryness. If you're looking for a simple, but effective moisturizer for daily use I would go with the Facial Primer Moisturizer from Batty's Bath. It is fragrance-free, and absorbs quickly without feeling heavy. I buy mine apart of the Detox Kit that is available on the brand's site. However, since Batty's is based in Canada, shipping can get pricey, and I always run out of my moisturizer before any other product in my kit. Which is why I like to have a trusty back-up on stand-by. This is where my Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Moisturizer comes into play. This stuff is amazing. It's a thicker consistency, and but manages to feel light on the skin. I find that it's best as a night cream, but it also wears nicely during the day under make-up. It's targeted for anti-aging, so it packs major hydration to make the skin appear more supple and firm. I find myself reaching for it basically everyday. I also started incorporating the facial mask from the same range two or three times a week to really beef up my dry skin defense. 
Since applying make-up became pretty tasking over dehydrated, flaky skin, I sought out a few products that would help. Enter the Too Faced Hangover Primer. This primer is lightweight and creamy, as opposed to the rubbery, silicone-based primers you may be used to. I find that it locks in moisture and makes your foundation stay put all day long, while providing a fresh/subtle glow to the skin. I've also been reaching for the It Cosmetics CC+ Cream for the added SPF and skin-protecting/perfecting benefits. This wears like a full-coverage foundation, but feels like a tinted moisturizer with the added plus of color correction and hydrating serum all in one. It's basically a gift from the beauty gods themselves. I've also been loving this lip balm that I received in my Ipsy bag this past month from Lasting Smiles. It's organic and packed with healing peppermint oils that make your chapped lips look like new again. Part of the profits go toward cleft surgeries for children, as well, which will make you feel even better about using it.
Your skin can often be a direct reflection of what is happening inside of your body. So, if you're experiencing dryness, try really upping your water intake. I always notice a difference in my skin, as well as my overall well-being, when I'm getting adequate amounts of water. Herbal and green teas also have amazing skin-detoxing and healing benefits. I've been drinking this herbal infusion from Yogi in the evenings, mostly to unwind and relax from the day, but also as part of my skincare regimen.
     I certainly hope you find these products and tips to be helpful during these dry, blustering Winter months. What products are your must-haves this season?
Until next time,

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