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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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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Birchbox February | Happy Anniversary

1-for atg-003

Happy Birchbox Anniversary to me!

It’s been one year since I started experimenting with the latest and greatest in beauty and lifestyle products (then started blogging about them!). It’s been quite a ride and I have to admit, while it’s been a hit or miss experience when it comes to the products themselves, I still love the monthly surprises in my mailbox. Birchbox has introduced me to some pretty amazing products that use I regularly, while also teaching me that just because something is considered “high-end” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any better than the stuff you can get at your local drugstore for half the cost.

(Shhh!) Between you and me, I’m considering the idea of exploring another monthly box service. Not that I’m dissatisfied with Birchbox, because I’m not, but given how the market is now flooding with new options and new approaches toward discovering beauty products, it might be time to try something different. I’ll dedicate a well-researched post in the near future to share my findings with a succinct listing of what’s out there, along with the pros and cons of each, where I’ll then announce my final decision.

Until then…here’s how February shaped up!

Product reviews are from left to right.

Agave Healing Oil Treatment  | Whenever a product uses the words “agave” and “healing” in the same sentence somehow I instantly feel like I’m doing something completely natural and completely right for myself. Perhaps I’ve been brainwashed by the marketing industry to “trust” a product more. I was admittedly excited about this hair oil. The hard part is that the sample wasn’t very generous, so I used the whole pack in one sitting and this may be a product where you see better results the more you use it. What I loved about this treatment was the sweet fragrance along with the smooth texture of the oil. I can’t say with conviction that this did anything other than make detangling my hair much easier, which is a huge compliment for my kinkier hair texture. And as I write this, my hair has a nice bounce to it (then again that could just be because it’s totally clean at moment). However, at $24 full-sized, I’m can’t say I’m convinced to experiment with this product any further.

Overall: I’m indifferent.

Smashbox Cosmetics Full Exposure Mascara  | officially became a mascara snob last fall when a friend recommended Benefit’s They’re Real Mascara to me when I was on the prowl for a new go-to mascara. Since then, my search for the perfect mascara was O.V.E.R. While anything with the name Smashbox associated with it on the beauty front is no joke – I was skeptical if this could top the instant “wow” impression that They’re Real did and still does. And I was right. While this paraben-free formula isn’t a terrible mascara by any means, I was instantly turned off by the brush which was so thick that it always left a total mess on my eyelids no matter how delicately I tried to apply it. The good news is that this isn’t a problem when you use an eyeliner, otherwise if you want simple mascara-only drama or to use it after you’ve already expertly applied eye shadow (sans liner), this was a disappointment. It always needed an extra eyelid clean-up after use. And even after applying several coats, I never quite got the volume that I do with Benefit’s mascara. Essentially, between the wand and the formula, this isn’t something I’d readily jump out and buy. I like control when applying mascara and didn’t feel like I had it here. I look forward to using the sample, but will stick with what’s working.

Overall: If you want the best mascara ever – Benefit’s They’re Real is your answer. I promise.

Smashbox Cosmetics Full Exposure Palette | Admittedly, I was bummed at how Smashbox chose to share their eye shadow palette sample by placing a not so generous amount of product on a card. I mean, come on! This is SMASHBOX COSMETICS – you guys can do better.  If cost was an issue, I would’ve preferred less shades options and more product in a sample-sized pot so that I could really explore application with the colors. Okay, now that that’s out of the way…What was unique about this sample was that they chose to share the same shades in both a matte and shimmer finish. I experimented with the shimmer finish for the most part to build a more dramatic eye and had a pretty positive experience overall. I will say that it felt like the shimmer lasted longer than the actual color pigment in some of the shades, which is not ideal. I recently used my Birchbox points to score this full-sized eye shadow palette from Coastal Scents and I’m very happy with it. I might have more to say if Smashbox gave us more to work with, but since I’m not in the market for a new palette – it’s a pass.

Overall: Pass. Go for the Coastal Scents Palette if you’re looking for as many as 88 options! FYI – it’s cheaper on their website. I was pissed to see Birchbox charge $40.00 for something that’s selling for $25.00 on their site. Granted, Coastal Scents does charge for shipping and Birchbox ships for free – it may not be too much of a difference. Given that I used my points, it lessened the sting, but didn’t make me happy at all when I first caught this.

Ruby Wing Color Changing Nail Polish | As hypocritical as it may sound since I’m a huge believer in “All That Glitters” – my experience with this glittery nail polish is bittersweet. On the one hand, I love the idea of a little sparkle on my nails, but on the other – it’s always so annoying to work with glitter anything. My first attempt at using this nail polish was a total fail. Take one: I polished my toes in Sexy Silhouette (don’t you just love the names of nail polishes now-a-days) and got creative and used this gold glitter nail polish over it for every single nail. TOTAL DISASTER. I don’t blame the polish, just a moment of poor judgement on my end. Take two: I polished my nails a very subtle gold color and used this gold glitter nail polish as an accent on one nail. MUCH better. My thoughts on this polish, however, are dual. I love the look (when done right) but HATE that it takes FOREVER to remove glitter nail polish. On top of that, this formula takes a few applications to look right and at that point becomes so thick it’s complicated to work with. As for the “changing” color aspect, I did notice the bottle change to a more reddish color when doing my outside photo shoot for the picture above, otherwise I can’t say I noticed it changing color in the sun too much (maybe I need to stare at my nails more outdoors). Either way, this is rather gimmicky to me and not really necessary. I’ll enjoy the sample on occasion, but don’t have any plans to make a full-sized purchase. The sample would last me awhile anyway (ahem, Smashbox!) when I am looking to add a bit of bling on my nails. In between those times, there are other ways to enjoy some sparkle in my life.

Overall: Eh. It’s fun, but I would want to experiment with a different brand to find something easier to work with.


{Sneak peek at “take two.”}

Camille Beckman Glycerine Hand Therapy | Holy awesome hand lotion! I feel like I’m always reviewing lotions in my Birchbox, but this one has to be, by far, the best yet. What I immediately noticed about Camille Beckman’s hand lotion in Morelia Monarch was its amazing texture – unbelievably smooth and creamy without a stitch of greasiness from the moment of application. You don’t have to wait a few minutes before any lingering residue absorbs into the skin as you might have to with many lotions on the market. I was also instantly struck by its subtle scent – notes of vanilla, amber, and green tea. Your hands feel incredibly moisturized and silky to the touch. At $15, it is an expense over what I’d normally grab just to keep in my pursue, but one that I’m willing to overlook in this case. Your hands are in for a treat.

Overall: Worth it…if you don’t mind the splurge.


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Birchbox Review | January

birchbox january ATG

How the latest and greatest in beauty made my January feel a little bit more gorgeous…or not so much.

Product reviews are from left to right.

Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Crème | I’m rather picky about what I use in my hair, and have found over the years to usually stick with what works for me. There have been very few new products that I’ve introduced to my hair care routine over the last 4 years – though I’m willing to experiment courtesy of my Birchbox subscription, of course. Not surprisingly, my philosophy to stick with what works applies here. In a nutshell, Fekkai’s Brilliant Glossing Crème did absolutely nothing for me. I found it to be unimpressive when I used the “pea-sized” amount as directed on damp hair. Nothing. The next time I increased the amount of product thinking perhaps my naturally drier and kinkier hair texture might require a higher dosage. That time it came out greasy. Add in that this is not at all pleasantly scented, is $20 full-sized, and my constant bafflement at specifically how this product did anything positive for my strands, and unfortunately, I was done.

Overall: It’s a pass.

Burt’s Bees® Intense Hydration Day Lotion with Clary Sage | My skin is naturally pretty dry and during the winter months can be so dehydrated that it cracks to the point that I channel the likes of a corpse.  So as I sat down to type this post, I slathered some on yet again, and feel confident that Burt’s Bees is on to something with their “Intense Hydration Day Lotion.” It has a thick, creamy texture that’s rather divine when you spread it over really dry skin, immediately providing much-needed moisture and relief. What I don’t particularly care for is the slight greasy feeling your hands submit to as the product works its way into your skin; and while I know that this means less chemicals in its 99% “natural formula,” I wish this had a more appealing scent. Either way, this product means business on the hydration front, and if you suffer from corpse-like skin during the dead of winter, here’s some serious help to bring it back to life.

Overall:  It’s a do.

Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips | It’s juvenile, I know – but couldn’t we have found a not so distracting name for our product here? Okay, so we discovered something that worked well for nursing mothers for multiple purposes, but there’s something somewhat comical when you’re out and about and need a chapped-lipped fix and your friend asks, “what’s that?” and you casually announce, “nipple balm.”  Bonus points for memorable branding, I suppose. The interesting thing is that this product is really great for chapped lips and has staying power. It has a slightly more liquid feel to it so it’s easier to apply, but in essence channels Vaseline if you ask me. I’ll enjoy the sample and all the perks of what a little nipple balm can do, but I’m not convinced it’s worth making a full-sized purchase. Perhaps as I make my way through the sample, I’ll have a change of heart though I’m not a fan of spending $14.50 on something like this. I’m still pretty content with the simple and much more affordable Chapstick sample Birchbox sent me a few months ago.

Overall: Use Vaseline…or Chapstick.

Nail Rock | I’m a huge fan of what’s happening in the mani/pedi world: playful colors, patterns, and super fun embellishments usually get me to break out my “Ooh, I LOVE it!” face. I just don’t think the textured nail movement is a trend that I can get behind. Nail Rock was my introduction. Let me explain. You polish your nails as you normally would and dip the wet nail bed into the nail velvet and let dry. I knew minutes after applying the texture that this wasn’t for me. The 3D-inspired pop of velvet looked like I’d smashed cotton balls on my nails beds. It was a bit ridiculous. I learned that Nail Rock uses glitter textures as well and I would’ve preferred a sample using that feature instead. The sad thing was that while I loved the deep purple color (perfect for winter), the consistency of the nail polish is lacking so I don’t think I could use it alone without experiencing mild frustration. You need like 4 coats before it finally starts to look like a solidly painted nail. This is likely because it’s designed for you to dip the polish into the velvet which would hide the “watery” look underneath acting more as a filler.

Overall: Velvet textured nails are too gimmicky. It’s a pass.

Juicy Couture – Viva La Juicy | One spritz of Juicy Couture’s “Viva La Juicy and you instantly feel a little more flirty. Its subtle mix of florals, fruits, and sweet undertones cultivate a vibe of playful femininity. It is an expense at $90 full-sized, so while I’ll certainly enjoy the sample, I don’t have any plans to purchase it. The fragrance market is flooded with a plethora of options at half the cost. It’s a shame because this is a winner. If you’re looking for an amazing everyday scent at a more resonable price point, I’d recommend Harvey Prince’s “Hello.” It’s officially my new favorite.

Overall: It’s a do…if you can afford it.

How did your first Birchbox of 2014 work for you? I’d love your feedback in the comments section below.

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Birchbox Review | December


How the latest and greatest in beauty made my December feel a little bit more gorgeous…or not so much.

Product reviews are from left to right, top to bottom.

Harvey Prince Hello Perfume | What an inspired and truly appropriate name for this new Harvey Prince fragrance. It’s light, refreshing, and with a spritz instantly channels pure sunshine. It’s like literally saying “hello” to those you come into contact with all day long without saying a word. By far, this was my favorite sample of the month. However, I would say its playful scent is better suited during warm, sunny seasons – perfect for spring and summer. I was a bit shocked to see such a citrus-y and floral scent in my box during the dead of winter. Certainly not anything to get too bent up over, but I wish Birchbox would curate their products to be more streamlined and thematic to the time of year. At $55 full-sized, it’s not incredibly expensive and is something I look forward to adding to my fragrance collection. So instead of saying “Hello” – let this perfume do if for you! It’s an A+.

Manna Kadar Sheer Glo Shimmer Lotion |  I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this product when I turned to this sample. So, I read the description and got clear quickly. It’s essentially a pink lotion that sparkles when applied to body and face. I rubbed a bit on my hands and was instantly thrown off that it had absolutely no scent. A body lotion, with no scent? Hmm. While the shimmer on my hands was nice, I thought this would be best served for its main purpose as a highlighter for your face. Now this aspect to the Manna Kadar’s Shimmer Lotion was great. I loved the subtle sparkle to my cheeks over Christmas dinner….and then I my skin broke out. Since I’ve been using the same products on my face without this problem in recent times, I can with some degree of certainty (outside of maybe one too many sugar cookies over Christmas?) blame this product. That means, no go for me. I won’t even risk trying it again to be certain that it caused the breakout (I’m that anal about my skin) – but let’s just say my cheeks were the main area of the breakout, which is exactly where I had applied this product.

Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré (24-Hour Miracle Cream)  | I don’t know if I’d call this a “miracle cream,” but it made my skin happy.  When my face had recovered from the Manna Kadar Shimmer Lotion disaster – I did try this cream and was impressed with the amount of moisture it supplied. My skin can get a bit drier during the winter and I need something a little stronger. This product is light with great coverage, yet doesn’t leave your skin greasy after application. I’ve been happily using the same Murad moisturizer for years now, and while I’ve been rethinking a new moisturizer due to cost, I don’t think this product would make the cut. It’s still quite expensive and you don’t get much of it in the full-sized version at 75ml. I’ll keep looking.

Number 4 Non-Aerosol Hairspray | Admittedly, this came in handy over my holiday travels! It was the perfect size sample to take on the road. And this hairspray was rather admirable in performance. It did a great job of maintaining my hairstyle without flakiness. The caveat is that this hairspray is also good for the environment, hence also the non-aerosol properties, along with being free of sulfates and parabens. This product would be nice for someone who dislikes aerosol sprays and harsh chemicals, while making the world a healthier place. Forgive me in advance, and not to offend my earth friendly readers; but at $30 full-sized, I’ll stick with my favorite L’Oreal Elnett Satin Hair Spray at half the cost and twice the amount of hairspray. I’ll find another way to contribute to a greener world.

Twistband™ Hair Tie | I don’t quite understand the”Twistband” trend. While I love that these are designed to give a supportive hold without leaving that annoying crease where your ponytail sat (they do work in this respect!) – these look rather cheaply made to me (i.e. the “knot” to close the band is near criminal). But for the sake of review – I did use this hair tie quite extensively over the holidays and after about 2 weeks of use on and off, it looks worn out already. $12 for pack? No thanks. 

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5 Reasons This Week Will Rock: Good-bye, LA. Hello, Santa Cruz!

Collage 3

Good-bye, LA. Hello, Santa Cruz!

Today begins my journey up North for the holidays and I couldn’t be more excited!! My to-do list is done, my bags are packed, and I’m ready for a holiday adventure. This Christmas, I’m spending some time with my boyfriend’s family – after which, we’re extending our Northern California vacay with a trip for two up to Half Moon Bay for little post-holiday R&R for a few days. If that wasn’t enough to look forward to, there are a few other sweet things going on right now that’s simply the icing on the cake.

Here are 5 reasons this week will rock:

1. I dropped off my car at the body shop this morning after smoothly working out the details with my neighbor for the recent damage to my car. My baby is being fixed and will look good as new when I get back into town next week.

2. My second ever full-sized Birchbox purchase, the Coastal Scents® Neutral Mirage Palette Set, (which was FREE thanks to my Birchbox points, hello!?!) arrived at my front door just before leaving town. I wasn’t even expecting it so soon! I’m now looking forward to experimenting with a more dramatic look for the holidays. With 88 shades to choose from, dressing up these brown eyes of mine will be tons of fun!

3. I adore road trips. Particularly, when I get to sit in the passenger’s seat, gaze out the window in the middle of nowhere, and zone out – not a work deadline or bill to think about. When I’m not in the mood to stare blindly out the window, I’ve got my Kindle full of new books to read and like 4 months worth of Glamour to get through. Even better, I get to talk to my favorite person for hours on end.

4. Nothing in the world makes me happier than when I’m traveling or exploring some place new. It’s when I feel the most alive. Our stay in Half Moon Bay where we’ll drive up to Sausalito, and perhaps into San Francisco, is a highlight to our trip that I’m excited about. I’ve never been to Half Moon Bay or Sausalito, but I’ve heard nothing but good things.

5. Duh, Christmas! All week long – you’re around great people, sharing gifts, good conversation, good food, lots of laughs, and too many sweets to count. What more could you ask for?

Oh, I do love this time of year. And unlike last year, I’m not taking a 2 week break from blogging. All That Glitters is going on the road! I hope to share some of my holiday adventures as they unfold. Happy Holidays to you! Have a great week!

love & light,


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Last Minute Gift Guide: For Her

Believe it or not, Christmas is exactly one week away from today. And while all of my holiday gift giving has been squared away this season – there was a time in my life not too long ago (read: last year) where I wasn’t quite so organized and would wait until the last minute to think about what to buy for particular people in my life. Admittedly, part of the pressure is off this year. Aside from a few small gifts to hand out on Christmas morning, my boyfriend and I made a conscious decision not to exchange presents this year. Instead, we decided to use the money to jointly fund a short vacation just after Christmas, which I’m very much looking forward to – more than anything under the tree.

However, I know there are those out there looking for a little inspiration for ideas on what to get the lady, sister, mother, or BFF in your life. I’m here to help. Here’s a last minute gift guide for her. If Santa dropped off any of these goodies under the tree for me, I’d be ecstatic. I know the gal in your life would be too. xx

last minute gift ideas for her

  1. Sugar Spots Apron – Anthropolgie, $38.00
  2. Floating Triangle Layered Necklaces – Etsy, $52.00
  3. Conair Waterfall Foot Spa – Amazon, $39.00 (as of posting time)
  4. Metal Floral 8×10 Picture Frame – Maison Midi, $42.95
  5. Etched Leaf Mirrored Jewelry Box – Urban Outfitters, $48.00
  6. Birchbox Gift Subscription – Birchbox, $30.00-$200.00
  7. Rainbow Moonstone Pearl Drop Earrings – Etsy, $32.00
  8. Keep Not Settling Print (8×10, Gold Foil) – The Everygirl, $30.00
  9. Voluspa Makassar Ebony & Peach Candle – Kitson, $18.00