Birchbox Review | November 2014

Birchbox November 2014 ATG FINAL (2)

A breakdown of how the latest and greatest in beauty and lifestyle products made a gal feel a bit more gorgeous…or not so much. Let’s step back to last month and get the skinny on November’s Birchbox…

#1. Gilchrist & Soames Spa Therapy Body Wash | This Gilchrist & Soames Body Wash was a total treat from my daily Caress-inspired bathing experiences. I absolutely loved the subtle marine and citrus scent. It instantly restores you, while equally making you feel fresh and clean. I certainly also welcome products that are crafted with care. I’m not one to personally go out of my way to use only organic and/or chemical-free formulas, but I don’t mind the added benefit. This body wash seems to make an effort to remove certain chemicals that tend to get a bad wrap. That being said, I realize the hypocrisy when I say that what usually drives my decisions when using products in general, is not only performance, but cost. It’s hard to get behind a $15 bottle of body wash when I get something for twice the size, 3 times less in cost. But I’m not a party-pooper either. I can see the benefit if you like to have something more luxurious and high-end in your shower too. I might splurge on a more expensive body wash to compliment those days when you just want a little something more. I’m a fan of this one from Gilchrist and Soames, as well as this great find from Essentiel Elements just a few months ago.

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

#2. Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Sensitive  |  I respect what Juice Beauty products aim to do, but once again I’m unimpressed when it comes to performance. I think the first two things that made me realize I wouldn’t care for this product before I even applied it to my face was the strange water-y consistency, and that I felt duped by the fact that this had no resemblance in scent to “green apples”…or anything. Ultimately, what I couldn’t get into was that I didn’t feel like it was strong enough to really make an impact on my skin. I’m not blaming this product entirely, because I can’t say for sure whether it was the cause – but it also didn’t help that I would notice a blemish or 2 after using it.

 Overall: Pass.

#3. theBalm Cosmetics Cindy Lou-Manizer | I might lose cool points for this but it took me a minute to figure out what this was! I thought it was just a simple peach-hued eye shadow sample. I had to physically read the instructions on it before I understood that the cleverly packaged powder pot is an all-in-one highlighter: for cheekbones, eyelids, or all over face application. I’ve used it mostly as that aforementioned eye shadow, which gives a subtle hint of color that brightens the eye area, but have experimented with it more loosely as a facial luminizer. Lo and behold it does add a very gentle glow to my face that’s appealing! And I have to say, I just love the packaging.

Overall: A do.

#4. Eslor Firming Collagen Day Cream | One of the things that I totally appreciate learning from my mom at a very early age, was taking care of my skin. This is not to brag, but I’m in a happy place at the moment, where I’m not too concerned or deal with wrinkles. Then I got to thinking as I first opened the jar to Eslor’s cream, that this probably means that in order to maintain that good skin care habit I’ve had since I was a teenager, that I probably should pay more attention to products designed to help keep my skin firm. Though it helps that I’m African-American (and the saying “black don’t crack” is true…to an extent), being in my early 30s is probably the right time to start using firming products to help keep me in my happy place as long as humanly possible. I realize it’s better to start early and prevent, rather than spend all of this time (and money) trying to correct and repair once those fine lines start to appear. Admittedly, I had a hard time gauging if this product was working for me since I’m in my wrinkle-free happy place and I’m sure I’d need prolonged use of it to see a noticeable difference. I will say that I can get behind the scent and the rich luxurious feel of this cream. It’s no joke at $85, but I suppose this is much more realistic (and healthier given it’s paraben-free formula) than a $10,000+ face-lift. However, I’m not a fan of the cost. Personally, I would find a more reasonable alternative.

Overall: Too soon to say, but I like it so far. Too expensive.

#5. Chuao Chocolatier | I’m not usually one to bash chocolate, but I’ll have to here. There aren’t too many ways to ruin chocolate, but Chuao Chocolatier certainly found a way. This treat is offered in a variety of flavors leading to me believe that perhaps it was just the flavor that I received that missed the mark. The Firecracker flavor, described as a “chipotle caramel fudge dotted with popping candy and salt in dark chocolate,” was so disturbing, I didn’t even finish it. At first bite, a rich dark chocolate taste hits your tongue in such a way that makes you smile, then the spiciness of the chipotle along with the tang of the salt complicate things immediately. Add in that the chocholate then starts to physically pop in your mouth (channeling Pop Rocks candy circa 30 years ago) and I was completely turned off. I like my chocolate rather simple: rich, sweet, perhaps with a bit of crunch from a nut or something – but never spicy, salty, or popping in my mouth. Yuck!

Overall: Pass.

#6. Harvey Prince Petaly Noir | Harvey Prince is quickly becoming my favorite fragrance line. They consistently do no wrong as far as I’m concerned. Their Hello scent is my signature go-to when I want to smell fun and flirty. Essentially, before you even open your mouth to speak, the fragrance does it for you. It aptly says, “Hello! I’m here.” Petaly Noir couldn’t be the opposite of traits. Reserved for when a gal wants to channel her inner seductress, this fragrance is bold and dark and demands the personality of a woman who can handle it. Its combination of jasmine, vanilla, orchid, and lily of the valley make it an intense statement fragrance. It might not be for everyone, but I adore it.

Overall: A do.

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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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(I’m not affiliated with Birchbox outside of just being a fan…with an opinion.)

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