Birchbox Review | July 2014

How the latest and greatest in beauty and lifestyle products made me feel a little bit more gorgeous this month…or not so much. Here’s the skinny…

Birchbox Review July ATG FINAL

#1.  Harvey Prince Hello Body Cream | It’s no secret that thanks to Birchbox, I’m a fan of Harvey Prince. If I had to pick my signature scent right now, Hello is my near daily go-to perfume choice (which I’ve gushed about before here and here.). In a nutshell, the Hello Body Cream is the icing on the cake! The formula is infused with my beloved Hello perfume, along with sweet almond oil, citrus botanicals, and shea butter to give it a bright scent, and light moisturizing feel. The texture is silky and the product blends into the skin almost instantly. Your hands (which is where I opted to use this product) feel saturated and soft, without a greasy residue. As much as I love the cream, I’ll stick to their perfume as my Harvey Prince indulgence of choice. Though I do adore this product, I can’t see myself spending $22 on a 12 ounce bottle of lotion at this time. I’d rather save up and invest in the fragrance.

Overall: A do…if you can get behind the cost.

#2.  Ruffian Nail Lacquer – Ambrosia | I’ve received a Ruffian nail polish sample from Birchbox before. I won’t go into much further detail from my previous review last September, but I will say that I loved this color much better than the one I got last year. I do think this was largely why I was so unimpressed at the time. There’s nothing worse than a “blah” shade in any beauty product. The Ambrosia color has a unique metallic lavender finish that sparkles subtly in the sunshine. And even better, you really only need one coat. Where Ruffian does excel is in the design of the bottle. I do appreciate the ball shape on the cap. It allows for a good grip and gives you more control during application.

 Overall: Perhaps I misjudged Ruffian the first time around. Relationship status, pending.

#3.  Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Moisturizer  | Like most skin care products designed to help with fine lines and wrinkles, this gel serum from Juice Beauty (cool name!) would take time and repeated usage to see any real results. I’ve only used this product a few times and would need to continue use for a while to form an opinion (and I don’t know if the size of the sample would give me enough product to form one anyway!). I don’t really have anything to say other than I wasn’t a fan of how it made my skin feel pretty dry after application. I was always desperate to get to my moisturizer after using it. Admittedly, I happen to be in the category right now of not really having aging concerns when it comes to my skin. This likely due to my age, my race (African-Americans tend to age well), and the fact that my mom looks more like my sister (so I have good genes!). That being said, I’ve always been one for good skin care (also thanks to my mom) and probably do need to start thinking more seriously about using something like this product on a more regular basis to get an early start at warding off signs of aging. Unfortunately, I don’t think it would be with this product anyway.

Overall: Eh.

#4.  Ruffian Dressing Room Nail Lacquer Remover Towelettes | I have a confession to make and I may lose cool points for it. I typically resort to maximum strength acetone-based nail polish remover when it’s time for a polish change. And while I know this stuff is known to wreak havoc on nails, I like the ease of a quick swipe, swipe, swipe, and the polish is gone. Though I think these towelettes are a pretty genius idea, I wasn’t thrilled that it took 3 times as long for me to remove my polish. It’s not like I was in any big rush or anything, I just hate rubbing the same nail over…and over…and over…times 10 (it’s my A.D.D. nature, I’m sure). However, these perfume scented towelettes are winners in and of themselves. Each wipe is enough to remove the polish of an entire mani or pedi. They are acetone-free, and therefore, naturally much less harsh on nails. Add in the fact that they smell wonderful, and are infused with vitamin E – which leaves the nail bed area all the more moisturized – and this is something I could buy into, despite the longer removal time. Where these fall short is being able to really reach toward the sides of the nail bed nearest the skin in the deeper crevices. You’ll still need the aid of a Q-tip, which is slightly disappointing given that a box of 10 towelettes costs $12.

Overall: A do…if you don’t mind a longer removal time…and the cost.

#5.  100% Pure Gingerade Shower Gel (Honey Cream Wash) | This was a case of I just couldn’t tell. I couldn’t tell if this all-natural (a plus!) ginger-inspired body wash was a scent I could get behind because I didn’t hate it, but I couldn’t say I loved it either. I really couldn’t tell much about its performance from the pathetic-sized samples I got where one packet barely did anything on my loofah. I actually had to add my go-to Caress body wash to it to finish my shower. This has all the ingredients for a terrible first impression. It might help if Birchbox sent a larger sample to really get a sense of the product, but this was disappointing. I just gave up and denounced this altogether. There are too many products on the market to experiment with. Neeeext!

Overall: Pass.

#6. Ofra Universal Eyebrow Pencil | I don’t personally use eyebrow pencils. If I ever feel the need to define them on a rare given day, I usually just add a few swipes over my brow bone using a brown eyeliner pencil applied with a light hand. That said, this eyebrow pencil by Ofra is a good option if you don’t like the all-in-one convenience of just using your eyeliner. What makes this particular pencil stand-out, is that it’s designed to work on any gals brows, from blondes to brunettes. Obviously, I can’t speak to its universality, but as a brunette with a darker (honey) complexion this pencil works well. You really only need just a few strokes and you’re set. The pencil is long-lasting and fills nicely.

Overall:  A do… if you’d rather not just use an eyeliner.

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Birchbox Review | June

Birchbox June ATG FINAL

Happy July! Let’s take a quick step back and explore last month’s Birchbox.

Here’s how the latest and greatest in beauty and lifestyle products made June feel a little bit more gorgeous…or not so much.

#1. Evologie® Stay Clear Cleanser  | The good news: I used this sample a few times and didn’t have an adverse reaction to it. It didn’t dry out my skin and produced a nice lather. Naturally, these are good qualities in skin care. The bad news: I just didn’t connect to this product. Perhaps it’s because I’m happy with my skin care regimen at the moment.  As I read up more on Evologie’s Stay Clear Cleanser, I learned that this product is really meant for acne prone skin – something that I don’t personally suffer from. I also just didn’t care for the smell (nor the $32.00 price tag). If I’m at all honest, this cleanser will make a good travel-sized face wash for future over-night bags, but I don’t intend to continue with this product once I finish the sample.

Overall: Indifferent.

#2. Benefit They’re Real! Mascara  |  I recall walking into Sephora one Friday afternoon last year determined to find the ultimate do-it-all mascara. After about 5 minutes in, I was so overwhelmed by all the options that I promptly walked out the store as I updated my Facebook status asking my girlfriends for advice. After researching their suggestions, I found one where nearly every review I read was consistently positive. Thus, I was introduced to Benefit’s They’re Real! Mascara and I haven’t looked back since. Instantly, I fell in love. I’ve gushed about this mascara before, so I won’t bore you about it again. You can read about what I think is hands down, the BEST mascara out there, here. Thanks for the spare Birchbox!

 Overall: Do it. You’ll love this mascara. Trust me.

#3. Cynthia Rowley Beauty Creamy Lip Stain | At first, I questioned why this is even called a “lip stain.” Nothing about this product left much of a trace of anything on my lips as far I experienced. It went on nicely, with a subtle sheen. Moments later, it looked as if I hadn’t applied anything at all. I’d just assumed the shade I’d gotten was too light for my skin tone. It barely showed up on my lips, which made it difficult being able to tell if it was “staining.” Rather than completely writing it off, I tried again. This time, using multiple coats and that’s when I noticed that this might actually be working…sort of. Again, it was still very subtle after more than coat, which isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes subtle is what you’re going for. Unfortunately, this wasn’t something I got excited about. Even after multiple coats it didn’t impress me when it came to staying power. Perhaps this may have been more effective for me in a darker color. Needless to say, this was a disappointment.

Overall: Pass.

#4. Number 4™ Super Comb Prep & Protect | Call it luck, but I had a pretty amazing hair week after using Number 4’s conditioning spray. While I’m sure this “amazing-ness” was likely attributed to having clean hair (that alone often does wonders), I noticed more volume and bounce to my tresses. It seemed like my blowout and straightening efforts lasted slightly longer than usual as well. Add in the fact that I’m a fan of its sulfate-free and natural ingredient formula; its protection against heat damage and sun-exposure; while also hydrating strands – and it seems we may have a winner. Admittedly, I’ve only used this product once because I wash my hair weekly. I want to continue using the spray a few more times to see if it’s luck or, in fact, Number 4’s Prep & Protect spray. I’ll share off the bat, that the cost of this product would be a huge deterrent toward continued use; particularly, because I use a leave-in conditioner that gets the job done at a fraction of the cost.

Overall: Too soon to say.

#5. English Laundry Signature for Her | Since I already had a huge crush on Benefit’s They’re Real! Mascara, I’m going to call this the star of my June Birchbox. This floral perfume from English Laundry is a total winner. It epitomizes the perfect light summer scent. This lasting fragrance combines florals with white chocolate (hello!) and woodsy notes. At $90 full-sized, this is no joke when it comes to price point, but if you’re in the market for a soft scent, that you can still smell when wrapping-up a long day, this is an excellent option.

Overall: A do. If you can get behind the cost.

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Birchbox Review | May

2014-05-24 10 Ryan Suggestion

An account of how the latest and greatest in beauty and lifestyle products made my May feel a little bit more gorgeous…or not so much.

Here’s the breakdown…

#1. Perlier Body Cream | Isn’t there a saying that goes something to the effect of “Italians do it better?” Here’s living proof. Despite its nearly $30 price tag (yikes!), I very much enjoyed Perlier’s Body Cream. It gives more than adequate moisture, smells divine, and absorbs quickly without too much of that post-application greasiness that I’ve come to loathe about many lotions. You can tell much thought and care went into the development of this lotion, hence the steep price tag. Alas, unless I get a huge pay increase between now and then (or just hit the lottery), I can’t personally justify spending $30 on a 7 ounce full-sized product right now, particularly as a go-to that I’d have to constantly replenish due to its small size versus how much skin is on the human body. I’m also not thrilled that the full-sized version of this product comes in a pot – meaning it’s not quite as easy to tote around and I just generally don’t like sticking my fingers into a product anyway. I much prefer a pump or something I can squeeze. I intend to enjoy the heck out of my sample though. This stuff is great.

 Overall: A do…if you can get behind the cost and the whole pot factor.

#2. Supergoop! Sunscreen  | I’m officially a fan of Supergoop! This is the second product of theirs that I’ve received and it’s a brand that I continue to have a positive experience with. While I’m not a fan of the name (because who wants to say they use “goop” on their body?),  it does get cool bonus points for originality. My biggest complaint with most sunscreens, particularly for the entire body, is that you feel like you’re wearing sunscreen. In other words, my skin often feels sticky after application and just makes me want to immediately wash it off. Given the fact that you have to re-apply after a few hours, mixed in with all that not so glamorous sweat because it’s 98° out – I often find sunscreen unpleasant to use (though necessary, of course). Interestingly, I don’t have this complaint with face moisturizers that have SPF in it and use these religiously. Admittedly, I’m only anal about sunscreen (for the body) when I’m going to the beach or know that I’ll be outdoors all day. Shame on me, I know I should be more anal about sunscreen application other than the face. And this would be the product I’d grab. It’s lightweight, not greasy, not sticky, has an SPF 30 factor, doesn’t smell bad, and comes in a very well-designed large bottle. It’s quite pricey, but given its size and how often I’d personally use it during those sunny days ahead – I can easily justify the cost here. It would totally inspire me to use an everyday sunscreen more often because I don’t actually feel like I’m wearing any. It’s time to cash out my Birchbox points girls, I think I’ve found a sunscreen winner.

Overall: A do.

#3. Noya Lip Gloss Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m too stoked about Noya’s lip gloss. Where I will give it mad kudos is in the formula. The texture isn’t sticky and feels great on the lips  – you can definitely feel the effects of the shea butter, jojoba and coconut oils working together for good. However, I didn’t care for the shade I received, summertime peach. It barely shows up on my lips and even adding a few extra coats (for impact) makes it look like I don’t have lips at all because it comes up so nude. It also doesn’t seem to stay put very long. Perhaps I’d feel more inspired by this product if I’d gotten it in another shade, but I’m okay not pursuing a full-time relationship with this lip gloss.

Overall: Eh. 

#4. Cynthia Rowley Beauty Eyeliner |  A case of an eyeliner done right. Its color is vibrant. The application is smooth. And it’s long-lasting. I received the silver liner, and though it’s not an everyday shade, it’s perfect for those days I just want to punch up my look. And even better, I can get behind the $16.00 price tag.

Overall: It’s a do.

#5. Kérastase Shampoo & Conditioner | Seriously, I just want to copy almost verbatim everything I said about another shampoo I reviewed in March, Keims Cleanshine Energizing Shampoo. So I will. Please see #2 and basically apply what I said there to here, minus a generous sample size (because this certainly wasn’t) and the lack of smell (because this did smell great).  And don’t even get me started on the conditioner. Total disappointment.

Overall: Pass.

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Crushing on Coral

Crushing on Coral ATG FINAL

It took nearly three decades, but I finally deduced that my favorite color is purple. For years, whenever someone would ask me what my favorite color is, I’d say, “I don’t really have a favorite color.” And though it’s not rocket science to figure it out, I started paying more attention to myself, putting two and two together when it seemed my eye was always drawn to any hue in the purple family.

Case and point: when I moved into my apartment, the first thing I did was decidedly paint my walls a soft lilac, with one big accent wall coated in a deep heather purple for dramatic effect. Many of the dishes in the kitchen are purple. My bedspread is lavender and the lampshades on my nightstand are orchid. The iPod I bought years ago (when you might call me more “color fickle” ) is purple. And the color of choice when it came time to purchase a case for my new Kindle is…you guessed it…purple. Let me preface that my apartment doesn’t look like Barney the Dinosaur’s crib, I do try to balance out all that purple love with lots of golds and browns to keep things from becoming too overwhelming.

Though I think I’ll stick with purple as my official favorite color (since it took so long to make up my mind), I’m currently crushing on corals as we gear up for summer at the moment. Last year, mint green was all the rage in the fashion world and though it has staying power, there’s something about coral that I find to be an equal competitor, if not taking a slight advantage. It’s a shade that looks uniformly amazing on the palest of skin tones, to the darkest of complexions. It represents all the things that I love about this time of year. Coral is fresh, bright and unbashfully playful.

Unlike those early days when I had a crush on a boy but could never quite bring myself to tell him so, I’m telling the world all about my new crush. I just hope my currently relationship with “the color purple” (pun intended) doesn’t get too jealous.


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Birchbox Review | April

1-Birchbox April 2014

An account of how the latest and greatest in beauty and lifestyle products made my April feel a little bit more gorgeous…or not so much.

Here’s the breakdown…

#1. GUYandGIRL Shower Gel | Admittedly, I like the concept here. Essentially, it’s a comprise between the battle of the sexes…in the shower! This paraben-free body wash is designed to appeal to those of either gender persuasion. No longer will guys staying at their girlfriend’s place smell like strawberries, and girls staying at their boyfriend’s smell like Old Spice. And yet, GUYandGIRL Shower Gel isn’t quite the answer in my book. I found the supposed gender neutral scent to still resonate a more masculine aura, not balancing enough for the feminine. Add in the $25 price tag and this is a no-go. I look forward to finishing the sample and might even share with it my boyfriend, but that would be the end of my relationship with this particular product. Perhaps I’m a girl who just likes to smell like a girl…and doesn’t want to compromise.

 Overall: Love the idea. Not a fan of the scent. Hate the cost. Pass.

#2. Color Club Gala’s Gems Collection  | I can remember a time when a red nail polish was simply labeled “Red.” Nowadays, it’s “Sexy Vixen.” I think I get more of a kick out of the naming of nail polish, more than the actual shade. It just sounds more fun to say “I’m wearing ‘Two Hour Lunch'” when someone asks what color your pink nails are. Luckily, Color Club Gala’s Gem Collection in “Gold Struck” was more than just a fancy name. The soft gold shade is rather opaque, settling into a nice pearl-like metallic finish. What is nice about this particular product is that I found you really only need one coat for it completely fill your nails, but best practice is always two. Oftentimes, lighter shades take multiple coats to really look right and this simply wasn’t the case here. My one criticism, likely due to the opaque quality of such a light shade, was that the polish itself was really thick and not the easiest of applications. My advice (and what I intend to do) would be to add just a tiny drop of nail polish remover to thin out the formula some. This is a great shade for open-toed shoe weather!

Overall: Love the shade. Would find something similar in another brand, with a smoother application.

#3. Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel | This a case of “Ooh! I’m feeling a little VIP” when I saw this Anastasia of Beverly Hills-branded brow gel. Anyone that follows the beauty circuit knows that Anastasia is THE go-to gal for getting your brows done in Hollywood. As such, this was a great opportunity to see what all the hype is about for us little people to get a taste of how the other side lives, minus the actual brow shaping appointment. Currently, I use Maybelline’s Great Lash Clear Mascara to tame and shape my eyebrows, which costs under $5 for a well-sized .44oz tube. Anastasia’s is a little more than half the size of the Maybelline, at .28oz for $22. But gosh darn it, I really did like this brow gel. What often bugs me about the Maybelline formula is that if you’re not careful to remove the excess before application, there’s often too much product on the wand and it goops in your eyebrows. The design of Anastasia’s wand seems to come out with just the right amount of product to be applied quickly and effectively. It’s also formulated with conditioners and oils keeping your brows in place without harsh chemicals.

Overall: Do. If you can get behind the cost.

#4. KIND Healthy Grain Bars | Typically, I’m a huge fan of Kind Bars. Their philosophy of using all-natural ingredients promoting the “kind thing” not only for your body, but for the planet is definite a plus. They’re a great on-the-go snack, convenient to carry in your bag, and you somehow just feel great about eating something not only healthy, but simply “kind.” Unfortunately, the flavor I sampled wouldn’t be something I would ever purchase. The Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt bar had a great taste at first bite, then the saltiness would hit and completely ruin the flavor. I cringed while eating it because it was too salty for my taste. This is not for me.

Overall: Pass (on this flavor).

#5. Davines OI / Shampoo & Conditioner | I’m already a Davines fan when it comes to hair care, recently listing their Love Smoothing shampoo and conditioner as one of my all-time favorite Birchbox products! However, I’m on the fence, simply not as crazy about their “OI” line. I loved the texture and how my hair felt as I worked the product into my hair. It instantly made my hair feel soft and hydrated. And not to brag, I’ve been having a really good hair week. Where the OI line loses me is with the scent. It’s just not at all feminine or pleasant in my opinion. Suffice to say, I’m a huge fan of smelling nice. Somehow, it makes me feel even cleaner and more refreshed. The only reason I’m on the fence about this product is because I’ve been mulling over this question: should one focus on effectiveness /results over scent? I think I just might be stingy and require both.

Overall: A great product, if you can get past the scent (and the price tag). I’d suggest their  Love Smoothing Shampoo & Smoothing Conditioner instead.

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Birchbox All-Stars

Birchbox All-Stars Final

I’ve reviewed over 70 beauty and lifestyle products since joining the Birchbox family just over a year ago. Aside from the alluring monthly surprise to myself – I really have discovered and incorporated many new finds into my routine because of Birchbox’s rather genius, yet simple idea: sending high-quality samples, from high-profile brands to experiment with before taking your next big beauty plunge.

Like anything, Birchbox can be a total hit or a total miss (case and point: last month’s box), but I can’t help but look back and smile at my experience in general.

I received my most recent box just this past weekend, and I can already tell April is going to be all the more glamorous for it. It got me to thinking about what my favorite products have been since joining the Birchbox family 14 months ago.

And so, I’m feeling a little nostalgic today. It’s a good time to pause and reflect on my favorite discoveries, my top 10 out of them all. These are products that I now use with regularity, with a couple that I will be adding to my routine in the very near future. These are my Birchbox all-stars.

  1. Lancôme’s La Base Pro Primer – Full review here and here.
  2. Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser  – Full review here.
  3. Color Club® Harlem Lights Collection in “Baldwin Blues” – Full review here. (Available for purchase here.)
  4. ChapStick® Hydration Lock – Full review here.
  5. Davines Love Smoothing Shampoo &  Davines Love Smoothing Conditioner – Full review here.
  6. Harvey Prince Hello Perfume – Full review here.
  7. Serious Skincare® Glycolic Gommage Extreme Renewal – Full review – here.
  8. Mally Beauty Evercolor Starlight Watercolor Eye Liner in “Sailor (Blue)” – Full review here.
  9. Camille Beckman Glycerine Hand Therapy – Full review here.
  10. Coastal Scents® Neutral Mirage Palette Set – Full review here. (Cheaper here!)

Stay tuned for the full review of April’s products coming at the end of this month! Happy primping, ladies!

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Birchbox Review | March


Heads up, we’re heading into slightly darker territory today on All That Glitters. My Birchbox review for March won’t be so positive. In fact, I can describe it in three words: pretty darn disappointing. I think this is one of the worst Birchboxes I’ve ever gotten. While there are products that rate well individually (and really only 2), the fact that I’m seeing near duplicate samples month after month, where the only distinction is that it is from a different brand, is quite frustrating. Let me preface that I understand we only have one face and one body. Realistically, there’s only so much cream, liner, and color you can apply to yourself on any given day. There are tons of products targeting only a select few areas on the human body. As such, it’s expected to see similar products…under certain circumstances. For example, I expect to see things like lipsticks and nail polishes more often than not, but I also expect not to get them in the exact same shade every month. I mean, do you know how many colors there are in the world?

So outside this contention, underwhelming products overall, and terrible sample sizes – March was a total miss, unfortunately.

Here’s the breakdown…

#1. Gilchrist & Soames London Collection Body Lotion | This Gilchrist & Soames lotion epitomizes luxury. It has a subtly refreshing scent that pleasantly melts into the skin, leaving it thoroughly moisturized. On a personal level, I quite like it. On a larger level, this is the 3rd month in a row that I’ve received a lotion-type sample in my Birchbox. While the skin is the largest organ and needs much attention when it comes to hydration – it’s slightly disappointing and uninspiring to start seeing near similar products arrive months in a row. I only have so much skin. However, I shouldn’t hold this against the review of the actual product either. In the name of objectivity, this lotion is impressive. It’s a bit pricey (saying “a bit” is a stretch) at $16.00 for a mere 8 ounces. Given that this is a body lotion, one would get through it much faster than, say, a bottle of St. Ives (which does the trick just as nicely at 75% less in cost and almost 3 times the amount of product). This is clearly a case where you’re paying for the brand and the experience of having that brand’s name on your bathroom counter at home. Gilchrist & Soames is used widely in exclusive spas and hotels around the world. Admittedly, it also uses high-quality ingredients, while supporting an eco-friendly footprint for the environment, reasonable reasons for its higher price point as well.

Overall: A nice choice if you can get behind the cost. I’m going to pass.

(And P.S.: If I keep receiving lotions month-after-month, consecutively, this may be grounds for cancellation. Get it together, Birchbox. I still love you though.)

#2. Keims Cleanshine Energizing Shampoo  | The most disappointing product of the month was this “energizing” shampoo from Keims. Let’s just say, I felt anything but energized after using it. Perhaps I’m a sucker for chemical-induced lathering because I’ve been brainwashed by the hair industry to believe that just because something lathers, it’s doing its job more effectively. What was the most generous-sized sample of the month was also half gone after just one use. I couldn’t get this shampoo to really lather, no matter how much I tried. I didn’t feel it was doing anything much despite the lack of soapiness, and was hugely bothered by the fact that it had a non-discerning scent. You’d think something as playfully (and deliciously) labeled “peppermint & macadamia” would at the very least make a splash on the scent front in the shower. Furthermore, I didn’t like the way my hair felt as I worked the product into my scalp. Naturally, I have very dry hair (being of American American descent) and it’s of the utmost importance that I feel hydration when using a shampoo. Simply put – I used this product, rinsed it out for said reasons mentioned, and promptly re-washed my hair with my go-to Aussie Moist Shampoo. Problem solved.

Overall: Pass.

#3. Jurlique Purely Bright Radiance Serum | I just love saying the name, “Jurlique.” It reeks of elegance and class and rolls off the tongue in such a sexy manner. Unfortunately, I can’t say it did much else for me. I very much enjoyed the scent and the texture of this light serum, but didn’t necessarily see a drastic improvement in my skin. I wouldn’t say it was very moisturizing either. The caveat when using skin products that tout “radiance” often take weeks before physically seeing results, if there are any. As such, I can’t say that I was at all impressed. Perhaps this product would work better applying just before another more potent moisturizer in my situation. At $58 full-sized, I’m not inspired to go any further with the serum at this time. And though I’ll finish the sample, my skin should always feel well-hydrated after use. I don’t care how much it costs. I’d suggest using a back-up form of moisturizer if you have drier skin while using this product.

Overall: Pass.

#4. INIKA Certified Organic Eye Liner | The first word that came to mind when I unearthed this pencil out of the box was, “genius!” It’s not much, but to have an actual pencil sharpener conveniently located on the liner in cap form is not only practical, but clever. Never again will you have to dig through your make-up bag to find a sharpener when your eyeliner needs to be sharpened. I can’t be the only one who grunts in frustration the moment you need a pencil sharpener and can’t readily find it? (Bueller?) Aside from this nifty function, the liner itself is not too shabby. I received the eclectic “Green Lagoon” color and found the iridescent factor gave it a unique glow.  The color is not something I would have naturally gone for, but it brought a pop to my eyes as well as a change of pace. I liked it! Where this liner is on the weaker side is in longevity. Sure, the color was still there, but not nearly as strongly as when I’d first applied. Points for it still showing up though. And bonus points for the essential oil and plant-based ingredients making this liner natural and easy to apply.

Overall: Is it wrong to like this more for the gimmick of the sharpener attachment, than for the liner itself? It’s not a bad liner and the whole organic aspect helps. I’d spend $20 on this liner, but in a more everyday wearable shade. Bright green eyeliner works, just not daily.

#5. Ghirardelli Intense Dark Cherry Tango | Hey, it’s chocolate. What more is there to say!?!

Overall: Win. Win.

#6. Jurlique Purely Bright Cleanser | Complaint #3 this month (outside similar and under-performing products) is sample sizes. Look, I get that Birchbox is designed to introduce you to, then sell you high-end beauty products. However, I have a huge problem when receiving sample sizes so small that I can’t get a real read or feel for them. This Jurlique sample might as well not have come at all. I barely got 1.5 uses out of this cleanser and the sad thing is that I liked what I did use. It had a luxurious, creamy texture, an enticing scent, and the fine exfoliating beads were a pleasant addition when washing my face. Again, I surely won’t be detecting any “radiance” or new-found “brightness” after 1.5 uses so I can’t comment on that aspect. I must admit that even after such a pitiful excuse for a sample, my skin felt clean and rejuvenated at the very least. However, this stuff is $28 full-sized. In an ideal world, I would like to use it at minimum 3-5 days before committing to spending this much money on a cleanser. This is pretty crucial in such a competitive section of the beauty market. Do you know how many facial cleansers there are in the world?

Overall: Pitiful sample size = not happy. A pretty positive experience despite said pitiful sample size. I’ll pass on principle alone.


Many month’s are fantastic, some not-so-much. This was a not-so-much month.

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