My First Boxycharm

march 2017 boxycharm unboxing spoiler reveal

This month I tried a new-to-me beauty box, BoxyCharm, which is $21 per month for primarily full-size items. There is a waitlist, but I was only on it for about 3 weeks before getting a notification that I’d be receiving a box. For a long time (i.e. since last May), BoxyCharm didn’t appeal to me. They send out a lot of indie brands, and I wasn’t sure that I cared to have that many full-sized products. However, now that I’m on a bit of sample overload & have unsubscribed to everything but Julep & Ipsy AND have come to find that I like the quality of quite a few of the regular beauty box indie brands, Boxy started to make more sense for me to try.

The March 2017 BoxyCharm box contained:

Total Paid: $21
Retail Value: $97.50

boxycharm march 2017 swatches naked cosmetics urban rustic trio realher
Swatches of the lip liner, matte liquid lip, and eyeshadows

The lip products are described as a “rose mauve”, which falls perfectly into my preference for pinky-nudes. They’re more dark & neutral than the pink RealHer set I received in the Spring FabFitFun
I was … well, nervous is a bit of a strong word, so maybe unsure … about the Naked Cosmetics palette when I saw spoilers. I have a rose gold pigment from Naked Cosmetics that I think is fantastic, but these shades were so deep and autumnal! However, I’ve been looking for a nice olive green shadow, and while burnt orange & burgundy don’t look wonderful on me, they’re on-trend & I’m willing to try them. I doubt I’ll ever wear the shades together, but I think each shade could be a fun pop of color with some neutral browns or taupes. Also, yes, that’s one single swipe of each shadow, so the pigment on the orangey shade is super impressive. 
Finally, the Smashbox primer is a classic, but I have multiple primers to use up so it won’t be opened anytime soon (and may be gifted). The brush is fat and fluffy and beautiful, and my first fan brush, so I’m looking forward to learning how to  using it! 
I don’t think BoxyCharm is for everyone. I completely understand wanting to subscribe to beauty boxes in order to sample new products (a la Sephora Play! and Ipsy) rather than build up a collection. For $21 a month, though, this is a great sub for affordably filling out a makeup stash. 

FabFitFun Spring 2017

I audibly squealed when I pulled into my driveway on Friday and saw my Spring FabFitFun box on my front porch. FabFitFun is a seasonal lifestyle & beauty box that arrives 4 times a year. The Fall 2016 box was my first of their seasonal boxes, and it was amazing, introducing me to the only scarf I would wear for the entire winter & to the sinfully frivolous but wonderful Spongelle body wash infused sponges. The Winter 2016 box didn’t have the same *wow factor* for me that the Fall box did, but I still received items that became favorites of mine (such as, somewhat unfortunately, pricey candles from DL & Co. and, less unfortunately, the incredible mineral peel from ORG). FabFitFun  is $50 per box, or $180 if you purchase the entire year of boxes at once.

The Spring 2017 FabFitFun box included: 
Total Paid: $45 (due to yearly subscription)
Retail Value: $376 
I struggled to take a good photo of the cuff on my arm, and almost went with a selfie that looked more like a serial killer was forcing me to tell my family that all’s well, So, I went with this one! The Joshua Tree Cuff Bracelet is gold-plated brass and I really like the minimalist design. There was a choice between this bracelet from Emerald Duv or a rose gold earring set from Luv AJ – I don’t have pierced ears, but I love this bracelet enough to have chosen it either way.

The Fit part of this month’s box is access to the brand new “FabFitFun TV“, which has a collection of work out videos from barre & pilates to bootcamp & cardio. I’ve been wretched at going to classes through ClassPass so I’m looking forward to these videos.

The Karuna Hydrating Face Mask set is a 4-pack of deep conditioning cloth sheet masks. I am thrilled to have a month’s supply of a nicer brand than I typically use (I waste money on plenty of things, but it’s hard for me to justify $8-$10 for a sheet mask). I’m SUPER excited about the silly Nature’s Valley gummy vitamins, which are only a sponsored item in the box and aren’t even meant to be factored into the total value. But I think they’re a perfectly good fitness-ish (y’know, FabFITFun) item. The Milly Zip Pouch is cute, though not necessarily something I would have picked out for myself. I’m worried that the white fabric will get destroyed quickly, especially since it’s advertised as a waterproof bikini bag (the beach & pool don’t seem like great places for white fabrics, but what do I know). “Slay All Day” is my favorite of the phrase variations that were sent out; others were “Life’s a Beach” and “Resting Beach Face”, etc. 
This was another item that yearly subscribers were able to choose between – the options were Neutral Pink, Deep Red, or Deep Nude. This is a pretty pink and, considering my absurd amount of lip colors, I don’t think I have anything like it! The Deep Red is also beautiful, and if this lip kit ends up working for me, I’d consider purchasing that shade on my own. 
Swatched above are the lip liner closest to my wrist, then the lip gloss, then the matte liquid lipstick. Please ignore my scraggly-as-heck fingernails. 
Briogeo Rosarco Milk Leave-In has extremely mixed reviews on Sephora, and I’ve had mixed experiences with the brand in general; I think Briogeo Blow Dry Perfection & Heat Protectant Spray is the best blow dry cream I have ever used, while the Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask didn’t do anything at all for my hair, & at best was like a lightweight daily conditioner. I’m open-minded about this leave-in, and it’s good timing because I’m getting low on my It’s A 10 Miracle Repair Leave-In. In contrast, I am super pleased to receive a full-size Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion Exfoliant because 1) It’s $80 and 2) I have sampled this product multiple times over the past year and I know that I love it. 
I sound like a broken record, but again I’m so excited about this Deborah Lippmann mini nail set. I’ve never tried Deborah Lippmann polish before (because they’re $20 a pop!) and these mini bottles are a little over half the size of the full-size bottle. There was an alternative set sent out that has “Like a Virgin” (the white shade) and a pale pink called “Shape of My Heart” – considering the pink Julep polish, “Reese”, I ordered with my March Julep Maven Box, I’m glad to have received the blue variation.
I feel a little conflicted about this item, the Roundie – a circular picnic blanket – from Gypsy 05. I was able to pick my variation, and I love this sunshiney retro print. However, I seriously can’t believe the company has named themselves “Gypsy 05” and uses taglines like “Become a Gypsy”. I feel like it is 2017 and there is no excuse for people to still use the slur “gypsy” to mean free-spirited or bohemian. For some thoughts on why or whether “gypsy” is a slur, check out this article or this one. I love the look of this roundie (above, it’s spread out on my queen-sized bed to show off the design) but it says “Gypsy” in large bold font & while I’d like to use it as a picnic or beach blanket, I think it’ll have to stay inside because of that.
Finally, with FabFitFun you are able to add on extra items to your order for extremely low prices. I added on the Luv AJ earrings for $10 (they retail for $85, a close up pic is below). I also added on three Spongelle sponges for about $7 each, which is way too much for a sponge, but they do retail for $20 or so and I really adore them. I added a foot peel because it was cheaper than the one I typically order on Amazon, and I added two Living Proof Dry Shampoos for $9 each vs. the usual $22 each & the Dry Volume Spray for $11 (typically $25). FabFitFun threw in the new Burt’s Bees Protein Shake sample, which I’ve already given to my roommate!
I know this is a longer post than usual, but I feel like a lifestyle box like FabFitFun deserves it. I highly recommend it, especially if you sign up for a year at once and gain access to Select options, to choose which color variations or whatever else you want. This is the one box I’d keep if I cancelled everything else. 

Lip Hoarder Part 2

I am slowly but surely progressing through my personal challenge to wear every lipstick I own (which is over seventy-five, by the way) without repeating them. I want to force myself to try colors outside of my comfort zone and remember why I hardly wear some shades, as well as re-discover old favorites. 

1. Colourpop Ultra Satin Lip in “Marshmallow” – Love, love, super love. I hate Colourpop’s Ultra Matte formula, but the Ultra Satins are wonderful. This cool lavender gray color is a new favorite. 
2. Clinique Chubby Stick in “Richer Raisin” – Sheer and a little warm for me, but I like the chubby stick formula. I’ve almost used it up completely, but that’s mostly because it’s easy to throw in my bag and apply without a mirror. Minimal effort products get used up more quickly! 
3. Lime Crime Velvetine in “Mercury” – Great formula in a shade I expected to love, but the metallic finish made me feel like a robot. I will absolutely try it again with a different lip liner/overall makeup look.
4. Julep It’s Balm Lip Crayon in “Dusty Orchid Shimmer” – I really like the formula of this – it’s moisturizing and relatively long-lasting, considering the chubby-stick-style applicator. I like the color of the balm crayon, but I’m not crazy about the shimmer. I just don’t think shimmer on my lips is a look I can get into for awhile after wearing glittery glosses all through middle school. 
5. Urban Decay Vice Liquid Lipstick in “Amulet” – I thought I’d hate this – the color was all wrong for me in the tube: a slight shimmery terracotta red. However, once I applied it, I really liked the way the color dried. It had a semi-matte finish with no semblance of shimmer, and it wasn’t nearly as warm as I expected it to be. The formula itself was really nice for a liquid lipstick, non-drying, long-lasting, and it didn’t make my lips look like creepy prunes. The Vice Liquid Lipstick line may be my favorite liquid lipstick formula.

6. Nyx High Voltage Lipstick in “Flutter Kisses” – Like “Twisted” from my first Lip Hoarder post, “Flutter Kisses” has been re-branded as Nyx Turnt Up! Lipstick, which is so tacky, but nevertheless, this is one of my top 3 favorite lip products in my collection. It’s a great neutral nude for me with a satiny finish & I could wear it daily. 
7. Julep Lip Butter in “Dahlia” – This sheer, bright fuchsia was a little controversial when it was released. Julep Lip Butter was released last summer as a “yay, SPF, sun protection!” product, but the SPF 30 expired only a month after they were released. Frankly, I don’t care so much about that, but I get why it pissed people off. Personally, I love the formula for a light wash of color – it’s exceptionally moisturizing.  
8. Lipstick Queen “Frog Prince” – Frog Prince is Lipstick Queen’s most popular lipstick, primarily because it’s green in the tube and turns to a sheer pink on your lips. It’s fine, the packaging is beautiful, the formula is moisturizing, but I just don’t think it’s a $25 lipstick.
9. LAQA & Co. Avocado Lip Butter in “Ninza” – This is moisturizing and such a pretty, rich berry shade. However, it faded quickly. It’s worth keeping but I’d be more likely to wear it to a play than to an entire day at work or something. 
10. Tat2u Lipstick in “New Generation” – A really beautiful light plum-brown matte that I love for Fall. Tat2u makeup is always cruelty-free & vegan. I pair “New Generation” with their “Hyper” Lip Pencil for a slight color contrast that looks grrrrreat. 
FYI, the numbered photos & the second, brighter set of swatches were both taken in natural light – the second set was right in front of an open window, while the primary set wasn’t in direct light. As you can see, I’m still easing into my less conventional colors. And holy cow… could I have more variations of a neutral nude my-lips-but-better shade? One thing this project has made me realize is that I will never be one of those people who has 3 lipsticks they rotate through and that’s it. I love too many different colors and too many different finishes. However, nearly 100 lipsticks is ridiculous, sample-size or not, so I’m hoping this process will help me at least eliminate some of the formulas I dislike. 

March Julep Maven

As you probably already know, I am a big fan of Julep. Initially, their “Julep Maven” subscription didn’t appeal to me – I wasn’t a huge nail polish wearer and $25 per month seemed a little steep. However, the 3 month sign-up makes each month $20 per month, and the ability to customize every single item has been so worthwhile for me. Plus, you can skip as many boxes as you want without having to officially unsubscribe. 

Of course, I always end up adding on items. If you add on 3 items, you have a freebie added to your box, and I’m a sucker for that. So each box ends up being about $35 or so for me. Would it be worth it for everyone? No, definitely not, but if you are interested in choosing each item for yourself from skin care, nail polish, and makeup categories, then I really recommend it. 

The primary products in my March Julep Maven box were:
I chose the following as add-ons: 
And Julep included the “Jenna” Nail Polish ($14) and a couple of Clean Slate Nail Polish Remover Wipes (value of $2.80) for free!

The eyeshadow stick is a lovely pale champagne shade that I’ll use on the inner corner of my eye, and maybe on my waterline. The blush looks so dark and autumnal in its tube, but as you can see in the swatch below, it blends out to a bright, pretty berry. 

Above are the eyeshadow & blush sticks swatched on the inner swatches, and blendded out on the outer swatches.

The three nail polish colors are a tangerine orange, bubblegum pink, and pale gray with gold microshimmer. I’ve added the photo below so you can see how Ainsley’s color shifts to a more neutral gray, depending on how the light hits it. 

So, Julep is an expensive box for me, but I have only had the best experience with them. Though this box cost me about $40 (the eyeshadow was a $9.99 add-on, while the two polishes were $4.99 each), the retail value was a whopping $122.80

And finally, my favorite pic of the day — a happy blooper of Sansa-Bear’s nose. She needs some rosehip seed oil moisture, too! 

March BeautyFIX by Dermstore

If you can spare the $25 per month and are primarily interested in skincare, hair products, and beauty tools rather than makeup, I seriously cannot recommend DermStore’s Beauty Fix box highly enough. Two items in this box are worth more than $25 on their own, and if you don’t like them? That’s fine, because all of the samples still add up to more than $25 as well!

The March box had zero spoilers for the end of the month, but I decided to stick around just in case and I’m so glad I did. There’s only one item that I’m indifferent about (the SunBum Sunless Tanning Sheet) and everything else is so exciting to a beauty dork like me.

The BeautyFix March box contained:

Total Paid: $25
Total Value: About $116.12

10 Skincare Favorites (Right Now!)

I love skincare. I love trying new moisturizers and serums and anxiously awaiting the product that will allow me to wake up to a face radiant enough to blind my peers. I receive new samples and pick up new products constantly, and am not nearly as responsible as I should be about waiting a decent amount of time to 1) see if a product really truly works on its own and 2) make sure it doesn’t break me out. I get too excited and I don’t have the fortitude to type out a spreadsheet of sample trial dates. That being said, this is my current official routine of tried & true products I use consistently and recommend. 

  • SimySkin Micro Exfoliating Toner ($30) – I received this toner last August in a BeautyDNA box (no longer accepting subscriptions). I don’t entirely buy into the “toning” step of a skincare routine, but this toner is so worth the money. I use it twice a day most days, or only in the morning if I feel like my skin is extra sensitive. It contains 10% glycolic acid along with lactic acid & salicylic acid. I’ve been using the SimySkin toner for 8 months now and I’m only halfway through the bottle! 
  • Pearlessence Cucumber Water Hydrating Face Mist ($20, or $7 at TJ Maxx!) – I impulsively grabbed this at TJ Maxx here in Nashville after noticing the beautiful glass bottle & packaging that looks astonishingly like the Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Coconut Water Hydrating Face Mist, but for a fraction of the price! The ingredients aren’t exactly the same, but they both are alcohol-free and contain coconut water, aloe leaf juice, and witch hazel. I especially love keeping these sprays in the refrigerator during the summer for an extra refreshing burst of moisture. 
  • Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate ($46) – I have been using this serum for almost a year now and it has consistently saved my skin. I try so many serums in search for something “better”, whatever that means. But if I sleep in my makeup, or have a hormonal acne flare up, or try a product that breaks me out or turns my cheeks red, this is the serum I always come back to to calm things down and bring my skin back to normal. However, like with all skincare, your mileage may vary – the Midnight Recovery Concentrate gives my mom a rash, which is a great reminder to ~always patch test your skincare~. 

  • Philosophy Anti-Wrinkle Miracle Worker Retinoid Eye Repair ($68) –  Another skincare product I don’t really believe in is eye cream, so I certainly wouldn’t have paid $68 for one, but through a serendipitous event over the holidays, this full-sized eye cream came by mistake in a package I ordered from Sephora. The consistency is my favorite of any of the eye creams I’ve tried and it absorbs quickly. I don’t have crow’s feet yet but by the grace of this Philosophy eye cream, hopefully they’ll be kept away for a few more years. 
  • By Terry Baume de Rose Lip Balm ($60) – I am savoring every last drop of this deluxe sample I received in February’s BeautyFix. It is luxe and makes my lips feel moist and full for hours. I love the soft rose scent and frosted glass packaging. The weak, easily manipulated girl in me desperately wants to shell out the $60 for the full size, but I know better. The one aspect keeping me away is that I don’t like my skin care products packaged in tubs or jars – I feel like it’s less hygienic than tubes or pumps. This lip balm really is incredible, though. 
  • Julep No Excuses Invisible Sunscreen Gel ($28) – This product is aptly named, as it is the first facial sunscreen I’ve found that invalidates any of my excuses for not wearing sunscreen responsibly (which means every single day, rain or shine). The gel is clear and applies smoothly, like primer. It leaves no white cast whatsoever and has only a faint scent. I have always hated sunscreen on my face and avoided it when I can, but Julep’s No Excuses is the best I’ve found. The only con is the need to reapply every couple of hours (but I think that’s the case with every sunscreen). 

  • Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Cleanser ($22) – This cleanser came at the perfect time in my Dermstore BeautyFix box last November. I had been using Kiehl’s Oil-Free Ultra Facial Cleanser, but the “oil free” aspect was stripping my skin & making it a little too squeaky clean. This cleanser from Juice Beauty is for oily/combination/blemish-prone skin, but it’s gentle & doesn’t leave a raw sensation after use. It’s also cruelty-free, organic, and Gwyneth Paltrow is the company’s Creative Director, so I’m into it. 
  • Julep Love Your Bare Face Hydrating Cleansing Oil ($28) – I don’t use traditional makeup remover (like, ever) so double cleansing is a necessity for me. For those who may be unfamiliar: first you apply an oil cleanser to dry skin and massage it in for 30 seconds or so, then rinse with warm water and follow with your usual cleanser. If you struggle with dry skin, an oil cleanser may be exactly what you need. I’ve tried quite a few cleansing oils, and while I also really love the oils from Shiseido , Tatcha, and Erno Laszlo, I think Julep’s is great (it smells like oranges!) and I will use up the bottle before purchasing a new brand (which will probably be the Shiseido – it’s the most affordable of my options and still offers good results).  
  • First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream ($12) – If you only buy one moisturizer for the rest of your life, make it this one. I have bottles and tubs of body lotions & butters, I have an entire drawer (small drawer!) full of facial moisturizer samples, but nothing for either compares to First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream. I’m a huge First Aid Beauty fan anyway – they’re cruelty-free, budget-friendly, and all of their products are great for people with sensitive skin. My favorite thing about this specific moisturizer is that it works just as well on my face as it does on my arms and legs, so realistically I could throw out all of my other lotions (but I’m too weak for that). The only (seriously, only) downside is that I always buy the travel-size tube because the full size comes in a tub. 
  • ORG Skincare Organic Mineral Peel for Face ($44) – Last but certainly not least is the O.R.G. Mineral Peel I received in my Winter FabFitFun box. I had been using Boscia Exfoliating Peel Gel, but it stuck like glue to all my teeny facial hairs and I’d rub my face raw trying to scrub it off. The ORG Peel is a spray on exfoliator and it couldn’t be more user-friendly. After cleansing, you spray it onto dry skin and wait three seconds before rubbing it in in circular motions. You’ll immediately feel your dead skin coming off in little granules beneath your fingers (gross but cool). When you feel nice and scrubbed, splash your face with warm water (it should come off easily!) and voila! You have silky smooth skin. 
So that’s what I’m using right now! I have day serums and morning moisturizers and various other products I’m incorporating, but I don’t know that any of those are making enough of a difference to write home about. These 10 products really do live up to the hype & really do save my poor skin from all the product-sampling and accidental-makeup-sleeping I put it through. 

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. **