February Sephora Play! Box #591

In case you don’t know, Sephora has a monthly subscription box for $10 per month. There is a waitlist, but it seems to open up near the end of every month. February’s Sephora Play! box had three variations – mine included the Tarte lip balm, while the other two included either a Nars or Bite Beauty lipstick.

The bag the items came in was silky and blush – I’d likely have reused it as a lingerie travel bag if I hadn’t lost the pull ties into the depths of the bag already! The box always contains 5 makeup or skincare samples and 1 “bonus” perfume sample. February’s Play! bag included:

Total Paid: $10
Total Value: $31.36

I didn’t end up swatching the two lip products in this box, but I’ve heard particularly negative reviews about the Too Faced plumping gloss. Apparently it has cayenne in it, which has caused some pretty bad reactions with some people. I’m still going to try it because I’m a glutton for punishment, but it’s worth noting. The Tarte lip balm is completely sheer, but moisturizing – the absolute best part about it is the beautiful packaging.

** Update about the Too Faced plumping gloss: I tried it, it tingled to the point of slightly burning, but it wasn’t too bad and it did result in temporarily fuller lips. I eat a lot of spicy food, so maybe that’s why it didn’t affect me as badly as others. I like it and would even consider buying the full-size. **

Saturday Reading List

I’ve been slowly reading through The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but most recently I’m drooling over this space-saving style of folding clothes. The only issue is that I think I’d have to set aside an entire day to get it done!

The fact that I’m in my mid-20’s is started to make me aware of the passing of time in a way I hadn’t noticed before. I enjoy making lists and goals (big & small) and I think this list of 25 Things Before I Turn 30 (& Why It’s Okay That I Didn’t) is great.

I’m starting to plan international travel for the first time since 2009, and in the midst of our current political climate, this post from Adventurous Kate, “For the Love of God, Don’t Sew A Canadian Flag on Your Backpack“, couldn’t have come at a better time.

Jess & I went to a networking event called Girl Geek Dinner this week and left feeling empowered and inspired and ready to ….. kick some metaphorical career butt, or whatever. While the topics are familiar, this list of 3 Things Women Can Make for Career Success is a good reminder.

This article on habit building is a few years old, but it has really inspired me to start deliberately crafting healthy habits. One of my February small goals was to finish a book, which I’ve done!, so the habit of reading before bed vs. playing on my phone before bed is well underway. I’ve also picked Duolingo back up to practice my French before my trip to Montreal this summer. Now if only I can force myself into a fitness habit …..

February Ipsy Bag

February’s Ipsy bag was a little lackluster compared to other months. The bag was u-g-l-y, in my opinion, but better-constructed than others I’ve received. I see how most of the items in my bag match my profile & preferences – aside from the bronzer – but there was nothing that I was just super excited to try out. Everything is similar to products I already own – is this a sign that I should cut back on beauty boxes? Probably. Definitely not. 

February’s Glam Bag is denim (like, actual denim, not just denim print) with neon orange trim. It’s … not my style, but it’s well-made. This month I received:

  • Japonesque Solid Brush Cleanser ($4.95) – I currently use this cleanser for my brushes, so I’m familiar with solid brush cleaners and am glad to try this one. 
  • Luxie Rose Gold Blush Brush ($18) – I love getting brushes in my beauty boxes (which I believe I’ve said more than once…) and I’m even more excited to receive a full size rather than a travel brush. This is my third Luxie brush and I think they’re wonderful. 
  • Elizabeth Mott “Whatup Beaches” Bronzer ($2.19) – What the heck is this tiny thing?? This is the one item that makes me scratch my head. I’ve told Ipsy that I don’t like bronzer/contour, so I’m not sure why – out of all this month’s options – I ended up with this sample. Now, little does Ipsy know, but I was actually happy to receive this sample because 1) I’m dabbling in contouring and 2) the name is so silly & cute to me. However, it is the SMALLEST sample ever, smaller than eyeshadow samples I’ve received.
  • Briogeo Rosarco Blow Dry Perfection Heat Protectant Creme ($4.50) – What a mouthful! Boring but useful, especially since I’m blow drying my hair daily now that I have bangs. 
  • Nyx Butter Lipstick in “Ripe Berry” ($6) – I just spent $40-ish at Nyx during their lipstick sale (I don’t have a problem) so while I may be on self-induced lipstick overload, I’m glad about this shade and that it’s a full-sized product. 
Total Paid: $10
Total Retail Value: $35.64

Look how tiny this bronzer sample is. The head of my blush brush is much too large for it. I suppose I could use it as eyeshadow to avoid having tiger stripes on my cheeks?
 Swatches of Nyx Butter Lipstick & Elizabeth Mott Bronzer

The retail value this month wasn’t as high as January’s, but at more than triple the cost of the bag, I’m still more than getting my money’s worth. My favorite item, the blush brush, is worth $18 on its own. I’m looking forward to seeing how my bag works out next month, having reminded them that I really, really truly do not want contour products.

Lip Hoarder

I recently went through my makeup collection and was simultaneously horrified/impressed to discover that I have about 70 lip products. Do you know how many lipsticks I’ve used up since I started using makeup in high school? Zero. Now, none of these are that old by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve been pretty good about doing a seasonal (ok, yearly) sweep of my cosmetics and tossing whatever is expired or that I don’t like anymore, but if I’m never using up all my lip colors, why the heck do I keep buying more? New formulas, new colors, new trends? Sure, but how many my-lips-but-better nude shades can a girl have? Or more appropriately, how many should a girl have? 
One of my 2017 goals is to wear every one of my lip products without repeating until I’ve used them all up. The lip colors pictured above are the ones I’ve worked through so far! Click through the break for swatches and reviews.

1. Crazy Rumors Hibiskiss in “Coral” – I wish I liked this sweet little tinted lip balm. The color is an almost metallic, sheer coral that is just not pretty on me. However, it is really moisturizing & affordable, so I could see it working well on someone with a different skintone. 
2. Colourpop Ultra Satin in “Wink” – I really love this liquid lip & hate that it was limited edition. Wink is a full coverage, satin finish, cool-toned wine shade that applies easily and lasts at least half the work day before needing a touch up.
3. Nyx Matte Lipstick in “Up the Bass” – “Up the Bass” is right up my alley, color-wise. It’s not so matte that it highlights every tiny detail of your lip lines and on my skin it looks like a perfect purpley-gray. It is not long-lasting and it seemed impossible to get the color to stick over the inner portion of my lips, but I also didn’t apply a lip primer before wear. 
4. Ciate London Liquid Velvet in “Pin Up” – One of my favorite new liquid lipstick formulas. It applies smoothly, doesn’t dry my lips out, and is full of color. Highly recommended. 
5. Nyx High Voltage Lipstick in “Twisted”  – I love the vivid, cool purple color of this lipstick, but Nyx’s High Voltage lipsticks (now rebranded as Turnt Up! lipsticks – yuck) have a lot of pigmentation, a satin finish, and not a long wear time. I don’t mind reapplying, but don’t count on these babies to last you a couple cups of coffee or a bagel. 
6. Nyx Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in “Kitten Heels” – Nyx’s Liquid Suedes are the best drugstore liquid matte lipsticks in the business, imo. Kitten Heels is a bit more of an orange-red than I’m comfortable with, but the pigmentation and application are great. 
7. Colourpop Ultra Satin in “Bijou” – This is another holiday limited edition release from Colourpop. I love Colourpop’s Ultra Satin formula, but this shade was much darker than I’d expected. Bijou was advertised as a “dusty orchid” and while the swatch looks spot on, on my lips it looks much darker – like a grape juice colored lipstick, maybe. I still like it, I’ll still wear it, it just wasn’t what I expected.
8. Trust Fund Beauty Lip Gloss in “Blame Game” – Current favorite lip gloss. I’m not a lip gloss girl, but Trust Fund Beauty’s isn’t sticky and applies relatively sheer, in case I need to breathe a little life into a matte shade (I wouldn’t try to use it over a pale pink or lavender, though). 

9. Nyx Liquid Suede Cream in “Soft-Spoken” – Is there anyone on the planet that doesn’t think “Soft-Spoken” is the be all, end all affordable nude lip? I haven’t seen it look bad on anyone, ever, the formula is perfect, and if I could only have one lipstick for the next year, this is the one I’d choose. 
10. Clinique Almost Lipstick in “Black Honey” – I like Black Honey for everyday. It’s a sheer warm berry that you can apply without a mirror, and I’ve almost used up this deluxe sample (which is rare!). However, it’s recently been replaced for me by Lipstick Queen’s Hello Sailor. 
11. Lipstick Queen “Hello Sailor” – Now this is my new favorite every day, no frills moisturizing sheer berry lip color. It’s cooler than Black Honey and therefore will probably work on less skintones, but it’s perfect for me. Worth $25? Maybe, maybe not, but it is more wearable than almost any other lipstick I own, so it’s worth it for me. 
12. glominerals Suede Matte Crayon in “Demure” – I received this matte lip crayon in a New Beauty Test Tube Best of New Beauty 2016 box. And it IS wonderful. It’s easy to apply, truly matte without being drying, and fully-pigmented. There’s also a sharpener built into the packaging!
13. Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in “Firebird” – I really like the formula for UD Vice lipsticks. Firebird is a hot pink with a blue shift when it hits the light. It’s not an every day lipstick, but I love it nonetheless.
14. Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Lip Satin in “Cashmere” – This is a great product that feels like I’m wearing absolutely nothing on my lips. It’s a great nude shade with a semi-matte finish that feels amazing. Worth almost $50? No, but I can’t imagine a lipstick that would be. 
15. Colourpop Ultra Matte in “Embellish” – Sadly, this is my least favorite product I’ve worn so far. I think it’s possible that Colourpop’s Ultra Matte formulas just aren’t for me. Embellish applied patchy and faded in a way that made me look like a zombie – but that could just be deep brown/almost black shades in general. 
16. Nars Satin Lip Pencil in “Rikugien” – Ah yes, the lip pencil that all Sephora customers have received a hundred times over (hence my picturing two deluxe samples here, and I gave away another two last year!). It’s a pale pink with slight shimmer that is easy to apply and wear, but it’s not very exciting and there are pinks I prefer on my skin tone. 
And below are all the pretty baby lip products I have left to wear … and with more on the way, I’m afraid! This self-imposed challenge has been easy so far, but I’m a little nervous about when I get down to only navy and grays and purples! 

February Allure Beauty Box

This is my third Allure Beauty Box and I think it may be my favorite. I paid $10 with a promo they ran over the holidays, but the products they include are, in my opinion, well-worth the usual $15 per month. Allure includes a good combination of full-size & deluxe sample sizes and the retail value is really satisfying. 

The February 2017 Allure Beauty Box included…

  • First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads ($5) – I’m a big advocate of the First Aid Beauty brand for anyone’s first step into skincare, or for anyone with sensitive skin. I’ve never tried the Radiance Pads, but I did buy them for my sister last Christmas! 
  • GrandeLips Hydrating Lip Plumper (~$10) – I received a full size of this through another subscription box last Fall, but unfortunately I’ve never tried it in the daytime. Therefore, I’m not sure it works as a primer for lips or to plump lips for 4+ hours, like it claims. I did think it made my lips look a little fuller when I applied before bed consistently, though.
  • Beautycounter Lengthening Mascara ($29) – Full-size, I can’t get enough mascara so I’m happy for a full size.
  • Cargo ColorStick in Champagne ($20) – I also can’t get enough highlighter, and I love stick application best of all.
  • Red Flower Tea Light Candle in Moroccan Rose ($2.50) – I’m a little disappointed this was just a teeny tea light, but considering the overall value & shipping constraints, I understand not getting a huge candle. 
  • Olay Pro-Retinol Eye Treatment ($11.50) – Thanks to subscription boxes, I have enough eye cream to last me until my 80s! I’m never excited to try drugstore products in boxes because 1. I’m a brat and 2. I can afford to buy them myself, but I’m sure this will get used (or gifted!). 
  • BONUS: Free month membership @ Curology
Total Paid: $10
Total Value: $78
Swatch of the Cargo highlighter
I did end up cancelling Allure for March, but in my brief experience it seems to be consistently worth the money. The high retail values for Ipsy and Allure and wide array of products they send out make the tiny, low-value samples Birchbox sends out stand in stark contrast. 

No-Buy Failure


I’m sure this comes as a surprise to no one but my no-buy lasted all of …. oh, ten days? Then suddenly NastyGal is being acquired and marking all of their inventory down, and my poor hair desperately needs a new heat protectant, and I find the perfect striped tee AND I find the dream Madewell sweater dress for <$60 ….. you get the picture. Here are the items I broke my (very brief, very futile) fast on…

  • Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Primer – My hair is color-treated and damaged, so I constantly use oils and heat protectants and smoothers on it. However, I don’t have any products that are fine with being applied to dry hair, and my hair is never going to be wet/damp as often as my products want them to be. This oil primer will be my primary heat protectant. It was $28, but the bottle is humongous for a hair product. 
  • Madewell Split-Neck Whisper Tee – I’d been searching for a black & white striped tee, and I love this one. I think the red embroidered “mwah” accent is cute & different. I ordered a Medium & it’s a fairly relaxed fit. 
  • Sephora Collection Make Up Remover Wipes – FYI, I actually ordered the yellow Yuzu wipes (which is what the link should direct to!), and they have been gentle and effective on my skin. If I’m home & just being lazy, I still splash my face with water after using them, but the leave a clean enough finish to use them after the gym without fear of lingering residue. 
  • Nasty Gal Hungry Like the Wolf Dress – Full disclosure: I have no idea how this will fit, or what it will look like or feel like. It hasn’t come in yet & I’ve never ordered from Nasty Gal before. However, with their 40% off all inventory sales and a desperate desire to restock the dress section of my closet, I ordered two. This one ended up being $20, so I think it’s a fair gamble to potentially end up with a semiformal maxi for Summer that will show off one of the only body parts I’m not self-conscious about! 
  • Madewell Button-back Sweater Dress – I caved on the dress I posted last week. I was in-store and they ordered it for me with an additional 30% off.
  • Nasty Gal Wrap Battle Floral Dress – Same disclosure as the previous Nasty Gal dress. It feels bohemain and flowy – I just hope to god it fits.
On Saturday I was finally able to see my girlfriends again for the first time in a couple of months (thanks, school & a full-time job!) and we played at Sephora before gorging ourselves on burgers and beer. I tried a few (a lot of) products and these are a few of my absolute, desperate omg must-buys for the future:
  • Maison Margiela ‘Replica’ Roller Ball in Lazy Sunday Morning ($28) – This is such a fresh, clean scent. The description is nothing I ever thought I’d like: “This floral fragrance combines notes of lily of the valley, patchouli, iris, and white musk to evoke a familiar but forgotten moment—a sun-drenched morning of relaxation.” I hate patchouli and musk, but I can’t smell those at all on my skin. I love it!
  • Urban Decay Naked Color Correcting Fluid ($28) – I have been using a teeny sample of the green color corrector & I love it. Redness is my main skin concern these days and I’ll dab this on the corners of my nose and over any healing blemishes before applying foundation and it truly helps neutralize my skin tone. 
  • Milk Makeup Holographic Stick ($28) – THIS IS THE BEST PRODUCT THAT HAS EVER TOUCHED MY FACE. I swiped this stick across my cheeks in store the other day, and I have never felt more like an angel alien sent from the galaxy (my main beauty aesthetic) than I did with the Milk Holographic Stick. It’s shimmery and lavender and catches the light super well and flattered my cool skintone and is truly my top priority purchase right now. Infuriatingly, it’s sold out online, but there were plenty in-store. 
Is everything at Sephora $28? Yes.
Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you. 

February Birchbox

Good morning and happy Sunday! Sunday is my favorite day of the week these days; it’s also the only day where I don’t have to go to work or school. I usually spend Sunday catching up on housework or working on job projects or doing homework, but for the first few hours, while I’m having my morning coffee, I can just relax. Sitting in my smooshy bed with my smooshy dog, drinking coffee and listening to the Gentle Classical playlist while working on this silly blog is one of my favorite ways to decompress. 

The first two weeks of the month are always full to the brim with subscription boxes – especially when you have a weak month, like my January, and sign up for way too many while good promos are running. The first and most obvious example of this is that I ordered a February Birchbox. I don’t even like Birchbox! Though one of the first beauty subscription boxes, BB has really taken a turn for the worst over the past year. I think they’re affordable and fun for a few months, but they repeat brands and products regularly so the novelty wears off quickly. With $10/month competitors like Ipsy & Sephora Play!, I just don’t think Birchbox measures up. However, if you do want to test it out, you can get your first box for only $5 with this link, and there’s no commitment.

So, all of that to say … I did order a February Birchbox. They were running a promo where I could receive a free full-size Lipstick Queen “Hello Sailor” lipstick (normally $25) with purchase of the box, so I bit. To me, I ordered “Hello Sailor” for $10 and happened to get a box of samples along the way! Just like placing orders at Sephora đŸ˜‰

My February Birchbox contained:

Total Paid: $10
Total Value: $27.22 (excluding the Lipstick Queen)

 Swatches of Supergoop CC Cream, Laqa & Co. Lipstick, and Hello Sailor

My box had a few items that are considered Birchbox staples – if you’ve subscribed to BB long enough, you’ve absolutely received them once or twice. Examples are the Vasanti scrub, Klorane dry shampoo, and anything from Supergoop. Thankfully, I’ve never tried any of them before, so I feel like my BB experience is finally complete. 
I’m happy with my lip products this month. The balm is thick and moisturizing for overnight use, and I’ve seen it get good reviews for prepping lips & filling in fine lines before applying matte lipsticks. I haven’t worn the Laqa & Co. yet but I love the shade and pigment and every review talks about how nourishing it is. 
However, my real, deep, true love is the reason I bought the box – Lipstick Queen Hello Sailor. I’ve used Lipstick Queen Frog Prince, but it’s a little too sheer hot pink for me to use daily. Hello Sailor turns into the most wonderful sheer cool berry. It reminds me of Clinique’s famous Black Honey Almost Lipstick, but I think it’s even better. I could see Hello Sailor looking not so great on warmer toned skin, but it has become an absolute staple for my no-makeup-makeup days.