Bye October!

I can’t believe that 1) October is OVER and 2) November has started off in 80’s. I’m a child of winter. Give me cold weather and numb noses and biting winds and fireplaces and cozy sweaters. I am sick to death of heat, and I cannot believe it persisted through (I’ll say it again, folks) my favorite month of the year! I’m still holding out hope for Winter, but it’s been screwing with my “Capsule Wardrobe” aspirations to still be wearing all of my Summer clothes.

I spent the Halloween weekend in Chattanooga with my family. It’s especially magical because my mom is super devoted to getting in the spooky spirit. Check out some of her sweet, sweet decorations in this post … and then imagine the entire house, every room, being filled with similar decor.

I have been … a little weak in my spending lately. I cancelled Sephora Play!, which may come as a surprise to … well, just Alex. Since I’m VIB and trying to rack up points for rewards, I order regularly enough to receive cool deluxe samples as often as I want. The Play! box wasn’t as fun for me, personally, as its equally cheap competitor Ipsy. However, plenty of people dislike Ipsy (though I’ve only had fun & positive experiences and quick responses from customer service), so your mileage may vary! In Play’s absence, I’ve picked up the BeautyFix box from Dermstore because I love skincare, and BeautyFix focuses on skincare with haircare and makeup mixed in. I just got the October box and it’s wonderful. Post to follow. I also signed up for the PopSugar Must Have sub, which is a $40/month lifestyle blog.

Though I’m on a clothing no-buy … or I’m supposed to be … I caved and purchased two pairs of leggings from Yogasmoga, an ethical, USA-made activewear brand. I never buy nice activewear, but they are currently having a 50% off full-priced styles sales and I’ve been wanting to try the brand for awhile. I’m weak, okay?

++ Current Wishlist ++

It is time to retire the blush & gray Saucony sneakers I picked up from Madewell last year. I am set on booties for the rest of the year, but I am terribly tempted by these babies. I’m torn between what I want & what I need, what will last a long time & what will be on-trend for the season. 
+ Vans Weatherized Suede Slip-Ons with Sherpa Lining, $55 | Black, white, AND fuzzy inside? They’d go with anything, but I wonder how quickly I’d destroy them. 
+ Allbirds Wool Runners, $95 | I’m a sucker for the trendy-yet-ethical shops that keep popping up over social media. These merino wool sneakers from New Zealand fit the bill of fashionable & functional and honestly I just want to feel them. How cool was this rose quartz pair
+ Adidas AlphaBOUNCE, unreleased | Everyone knows I love subscription boxes, and my mouth has been watering over the Adidas box since it’s release this Spring. The Winter box is a collaboration between Rita Ora & Adidas and will include these beauties. It’s $150 so it’s a little pricey, but they’re already promising that another pair of shoes will be included, too, along with the usual activewear pieces. 
+ Old Navy Jersey-Knit Shift Dress in Charcoal, $29.94 | I realized lately that I’ve become a denim brat & only consider buying from Madewell & J. Crew for jeans, since I know they work for me. However, I’m in need of a dark wash pair with no distressing & don’t feel like dropping $100+ on a single pair, so I hit up Old Navy just to see what it was like…. and it was awful. I tried four pairs and though they fit, the stitching was so crooked and wobbly that I couldn’t stop noticing it. They even made my butt look bad, and that’s the one body part I feel confident about!!! So, that was a failed experiment, but I did find this shift dress. It isn’t necessarily flattering, but it’s got a cool girl vibe while also being a throw-on-and-go piece.
+ H&M Ribbed Sweater in Black & White Melange, 14.99 |  Um, hello… It’s a $14.99 basic sweater. Priya posted about wearing it in London and now I can’t stop thinking about it. 
+ Uniqlo Ultra Stretch High Rise Ankle Jeans, $29.90 | Since I’m still on my dark-wash-no-distressing denim search, I’m considering these. They have great reviews (everyone seems to be a Uniqlo fan) but I’m just so scared of thrifty denim. 

October Benevolent Beauty Box

Benevolent Beauty VIP Box October 2016 Tat2u Modish Polish LaRitzy Ardency Inn Maracuja Oil

Imo, Benevolent Beauty Box is the best makeup box on the market, and it’s definitely the best cruelty-free box I’ve ever seen. That being said, this is my favorite Benevolent Beauty Box yet. It’s the last box of my 6 month purchase, and though I’m having to cancel for now, I really hate to do so after such a seasonally perfect box. This is a $30 monthly box and is the VIP version. Benevolent Beauty also offers a mini box with 2 or 3 items for $15(?) a month.


  • Ardency Inn Eyes Like Fire Shadow in Punker, RV $21. It has a brush applicator that takes quite awhile to click up, so I may have overdone it a bit. I find the black cream too pigmented and thick to feel comfortable with, but I still think it’s cool and good quality. Reviews on Sephora say it’s great for creating a smoky eye, but I’m way too intimidated to try. Maybe for Halloween? 
  • LaRitzy Eyeshadow in shade Iced Malted, RV $16. In contrast to the Ardency Inn eyeshadow, I think this one is perfectly wearable and had decent payoff in one swipe. I wore it to work today and it never creased or smudged. I’m glad to receive a LaRitzy product; they used to curate a monthly cruelty-free beauty box, but recently switched to sending out only their own products. This makes me less afraid of giving that a try 🙂
  • Medusa’s Makeup Maracuja Oil, RV $14. I’ve used tarte’s maracuja oil & liked it on my skin, so I’m happy to receive this. It can be used as a moisturizer or as a hair oil. 
  • Modish Polish Nail Polish in shade “No Time for Bullshit”, RV $12. This is a 5 free polish in my ideal neutral shade with a title that I think is really fun – the tagline reads “No time for bullshit when you’re building an empire.” Love.
  • Tat2u Makeup Matte Lipstick in shade “New Generation”, RV $16. This is the Fall plummy wine shade I wanted the tre’Stique Belize Bordeaux to be (from this month’s Ipsy).
  • Tat2u Makeup Lip Pencil in shade “Hyper”, RV $14. Not a perfect match for the lipstick, but I like the slightly 90’s contrast. Super happy to receive richer/darker lip shades this time of year rather than the the pink or orange-reds subscription boxes seem to love. 

Thoughts of the day

  • Dogs (probably) dream about their owners when they sleep, which makes Sansa’s snoozes so much sweeter than they already were. 
  • My mom, sisters, & I have been working through this list of horror shorts in honor of the Halloween season. We can only get through a few at a time due to the super tension condensed into every few minutes. 
  • Even though my “capsule wardrobe” has ~50 pieces, it has truly helped my mindset as I go into Autumn and see all the beautiful cool-weather clothes coming out. I’m still trimming as time passes – realizing that I don’t need a turquoise tee in October (though you better believe I’m eyeing the navy) or that the black platform clogs I thought about getting rid of are the shoes I reach for most often. It’s a learning process, but I’ve been so much better about not wanting to go clothes shopping! Now, as James brought up, if I could just “capsule” my skincare and makeup… 
  • I’m also committing (as of today) to start a slow process into (potential) vegetarianism. For the next 30 days, I am going to try cutting red meat & pork out of my diet. I’ll still eat poultry, because … baby steps. This also led me to cancel HelloFresh (options are too limited) but keep HomeChef. HomeChef always has at least 2 vegetarian options, and while I am continuing to eat poultry, this will be a great choice in figuring out creative ways to make meals without beef or pork or whatever else. 
  • Roxane Gay lists 13 Rules for Female Friendships – full of helpful truths like “If a friend sends you like 30 crazy emails needing reassurance about the same damn shit, be patient because one day that’s going to be you tearing up Gmail with your drama.”
  • This election has brought out the absolute worst in so many people. I’m starting to worry that whether Hillary wins or loses, there will be ensuing violence, especially against POC & LGBTQ communities. 

Ipsy GlamBag – October

There’s something about Ipsy I just can’t quit. I love the process of picking which spoilers I could receive and anxiously awaiting GlamBag reveals. This month’s bag was SO FREAKING CUTE; it’s the cutest bag design I’ve gotten from Ipsy (though I’m sure my obsession with Halloween plays into that).

Ipsy Glambag October 2016 Halloween tatcha essence eyeliner kokie nail polish tre'stique belize bordeaux purlisse
This month, my bag contents were almost perfect, too. My October GlamBag contained: 
  • Tatcha One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil – I love double cleansing anytime I wear makeup, and I already know I like other Tatcha products. I’m always happy to get a sample of a $40+ cleanser so I don’t have to waste that chunk of money if it doesn’t work out. 
  • Essence Waterproof Eyeliner Pen – I am overloaded on eyeliner pens right now, but I was fine with this one because it’s waterproof. However, the pen tip is so long I think it’s going to be hard to manipulate. 
  • Kokie Cosmetics Nail Polish in Heavenly – I’m happy to receive nail polish if it’s a new shade for my collection, and this fits the bill! It’s a pretty, pale periwinkle.
  • tre’Stique Matte Lip Crayon in Belize Bordeaux – I was skeptical of tre’Stique due to their name and packaging, but I’ve had good luck with their products so far & I am so glad I got the berry shade. It’s bright and fun and great for Fall. 
  • Pur~Lisse Daily Lip Nourisher  -This has the slightest hint of mango scent and isn’t sticky in the slightest. I’m wearing it right now & it feels great on – considering the rave reviews, I have pretty high expectations for this little guy. We’ll see how it goes.  

Look at the sweet baby ghost zipper on the makeup bag! I love him. 

October BeautyDNA & other early-month treats

October is the best hecking month of the year. Autumn starts to kick in, the days get cooler, the leaves get crunchier, and people are wearing all of my favorite colors. Food and beer just start to taste better in the fall. I’ve been looking forward to this season’s beauty boxes, to see if we can finally stop receiving bronzers, self-tanners, and summery coral makeup shades (the least flattering of all products on this cool-toned girl). The first box I received this month was from BeautyDNA. They always ship promptly at the beginning of the month. After a weird September product (a hip & abdomen cellulite gel), I was happy to receive the Paula’s Choice Resist BHA 9. It’s a salicylic acid spot treatment that you use after cleansing & tonight and before serums & moisturizers. It’ll fit perfectly into my skincare routine and I look forward to trying it! 
beautydna october 2016 paula's choice skincare resist bha treatment
I love BeautyDNA’s thorough quiz & the way they match the details of each product to my preferences. BeautyDNA is typically $25/month, but I signed up during a special promo & received 6 months for $80-something. I’m not sure I would pay the full $25 for the service, but I do enjoy treating myself with it. 

I also ordered a fun Halloween nail polish set from Julep (which is pretty consistently my favorite subscription box – once I realized how awesome Julep’s makeup & skincare lines are, I’ve loved being able to curate my own boxes … & have spent way too much money doing so). 
julep 2016 halloween nail polish set sam scout brigitte tatiana cameron
For just $15, I got four polishes – Sam, Scout, Brigitte, and Tatiana. I used a promo code (FALLCOLOR) to add-on a polish for free – Cameron, that pale lilac shade, which dries to a textured, “stardust” finish, and then topped off my order by adding the cuticle oil in the middle for $9. I justified it by saying that since I skipped my Julep box this month, I might as well spent the normal monthly fee to get these great goodies.
Finally, because I am an absolute SUCKER, I fell for one of Sephora’s promos. They were giving samples of Sunday Riley Good Genes with any purchase of $25 or more. That’s a pretty big deal since Good Genes is, oh, a mere $105 per oz. 
sephora favorites beauty sleep kit 2016
I ended up ordering the Sephora Favorites Beauty Sleep kit, & I’m so glad I did. The teeny extra sample of Good Genes was worth $18, so $12 for everything else feels like a steal. As a side note, I can’t recommend the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer enough …. and I especially recommend ordering it as a free add-on sample when you can. The sample is a separate packet of each type of eyeshadow primer that UD offers, and each packet lasts me about a month, so that’s four months of primer from each free sample. I’ll take it! 

Considering a capsule

Lately I have been really intrigued by the Unfancy Capsule Experiment. As you may have noticed (I know, you’ve noticed), I have a real issue with impulse buying. Ever since I got my first job, taking myself shopping has been my stress reliever. I’ll wake up early, get to the mall before it opens, and spend hours trying on clothes and shoes and swatching makeup. It’s a whole event  for me – my favorite way to decompress. However, it also adds its own layer of stress because I spend too much. Like, way too much. And I still online shop. And I still have buyer’s remorse.

I have been cutting my wardrobe down significantly over the past year. I want to be honest about colors and cuts that feel like me rather than what feels on-trend. I’ve also gained a lot of weight this year, so I am trying to get rid of pieces I’ve been holding onto for when I drop “that last 10 lbs.” I want to be able to go into my closet and pick something out & know I’ll be comfortable in it rather than try on 15 outfits every morning & feel a little too chubby for each of them.

So my seasonal capsule wardrobe is partially being formed by admitting that I simply don’t wear chartreuse & fuchsia, but also by admitting that crop tops might not be something I feel comfortable in for a good long while. There’s no point in blowing money on goal clothes. If I don’t love the fit & color, I pass it down to my sisters – and I sure as hell don’t buy it in hopes that it’ll suit me someday. I don’t know how many pieces I’ll limit myself to per season, but I’ll update as I figure out what works best for me.

In other news, I have found my favorite Halloween nail polish, called “Becky” from Julep. The online swatch really doesn’t capture it, but no pictures I am taking do either. It’s a duochrome with a satin finish that alternates between a rich wine purple and emerald green, depending on the angle. I’m wearing it now, but I wish I’d waited for Halloween week! I love it.

I have’t received any October boxes yet, but I’ll update again when I do!


My super late August subscription box master post, kind of

First of all, I’d like to apologize for not being a photographer … at all. Most of these box photos were taken in the shade or at night and I’ve tried to manipulate them to make the labels somewhat legible. Frankly, I can’t believe I subscribed to EIGHT subscription boxes last month, excluding food boxes (like Home Chef and HelloFresh) and clothing boxes (like Le Tote). So without further ado, I present ….. My August Boxes.

BeautyDNA is a unique subscription for me in that it costs $25 per month to receive only one product (or try your first month for $15 by using that link!). However, the products are always full-size and are always worth more than the cost of the box. There is an incredibly detailed personalization quiz to define your beauty profile & skincare concerns. This month I receive the SimySkin Micro Exfoliating Toner (RV $40) and I have absolutely loved it. I use it every night before bed and am working up to using it morning and night (you have to ease into it because it’s 10% glycolic acid!). Check out the note they send explaining why they send each product: 
I also want to mention that the first product I ever received from them (a daily facial moisturizer) broke me out. I emailed to cancel and also let customer service know the issue – I loved the idea and the surprise every month, but wasn’t willing to gamble $25 on one product that may be a complete miss. Not only did they cancel without asking any questions, they also sent me a completely new product (a vitamin-c serum) free of charge and an apology that their algorithm didn’t work the first time around. I was so impressed that I resubscribed, and I really enjoy the little surprise treat every month. 

Benevolent Beauty VIP Box August 2016

Benevolent Beauty Box was one of the first subscription boxes I ever signed up for. I bought a six month plan during their Mother’s Day Sale, so each box averages to about $15. The VIP boxes are $30 a month (this is what I have now) and include 4-7 full-size cruelty-free beauty products. The monthly mini boxes contain 2-3 full-size cruelty-free beauty products for $15-ish a month. Benevolent Beauty donates $1 per box sold to Humane Society International to help the fight against animal testing & cruelty. 

Admittedly, I ended up gifting away almost the entire box this month. That’s because I’m on full-sized product overload, though, not due to lack of quality or value. This month’s box contained: 
  • Manna Kadar Liplocked Priming Gloss Stain in Lucky (RV $24) which I love but unfortunately already own, so I’ll be gifting it.
  • yourMinerals Transparent Veil Setting Powder (RV $26) I have two other setting powders I’m working through, from Innisfree & BareMinerals, so I’ll be gifting this as well
  • Cougar Cosmetics Mineral Blush in Punch (RV ~$20) I love Cougar Cosmetics packaging, but this shade was too warm for my skintone … another gift.
  • Bellapierre Vanilla Bean Lip Balm (RV $10) I’ve had good luck with Bellapierre, but own too many lip balms as it is, so anything that’s packaged in a pot or tub rather than a stick or tube is getting gifted away. 
  • Nvey Eco Eyeshadow in Rose Quartz (RV $18) You could receive either Rose Quartz, Mahogany, or Mystique, and while I probably would’ve preferred either of those shades, I KEPT THIS! Lol. This was the one item I kept from this month’s box. 
While August’s Benevolent Beauty Box was clearly not a hit for me personally, I still think the variety of product’s was great and that the items I can’t keep will make wonderful gifts. The lip stain is one of my go-to lip products, so there’s still a chance I’ll keep it for myself as a backup.

Birchbox August 2016 Avene Cleanance Gel ProfilePRO Ultra Nourishing Oil Manna Kadar Fantasy 3 in 1 Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil Oribe Apres Beach Wave and Shine Spray

This was my last, probably ever, Birchbox. I cancel and resubscribe to plenty of boxes as my mood or budget or needs change each month, but I would say that Birchbox is one that is truly unimpressive. What does it have going for it? Well, it’s classic & it’s cheap. For $10 a month you get samples of makeup, skincare, and hair products. What does it have going against it? Sample sizes are tiny, they’ve eliminated the wonderful points system that made each box essentially $5, and the CEO has released multiple statements about how boring the subscription box industry is. I’ve cancelled my subscription and haven’t looked back. Here’s what my parting box contained:

  • Avene Cleanance Cleansing Gel for Face & Body (RV $2.49) Haven’t tried yet
  • ProfilePro Ultra Nourishing Oil (RV $2.30) Haven’t tried yet
  • MannaKadar Fantasy 3-in-1 Blush Highlighter Eyeshadow (RV $19?) I’m not sure about the retail value of this. The packaging is different than the one on the MannaKadar site, but it seems like it could be full-sized. As you can see, mine arrived completely shattered. I repaired it with rubbing alcohol, but it shattered again the next day. To their credit, Birchbox sent me a replacement. I love the color as a blush and eyeshadow, but have to be so, so careful because it wants to break. 
  • Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray (RV $4.60) I love Oribe and am happy to try anything they put out. Though beachy wave sprays never work for me, this one’s added shine was nice & it didn’t make my hair feel filthy.
  • Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil (RV $2.40) This sample size was a joke. The shade was too warm for me but honestly I wouldn’t have cared about that if it had been easy to hold or use in any way. The pencil was too light and small and the amount of product made me nervous that it would only cover one eyebrow. I’ve never received a smaller sample of something in my life.
I also cashed in all of my points and used my birthday gift ($10 off any purchase of $50+) to really say “Adios!” to BB. I “purchased” (for free though, because of my points & discount) a new S’well bottle & clear Anastasia brow gel. I used the free mystery sample gift (with any $35+ purchase) and they sent me a teeny tiny Paula’s Choice Vitamin C Skin Booster sample. I’ve mixed it with my night cream & I like it, but I won’t get more than 3 uses out of it. My other free “sample” was a full-sized Mirenesse mascara. It has awful reviews, but I’m more than willing to try a new mascara for free. Also, you can see the replacement MannaKadar eyeshadow Birchbox sent me, which was unbroken. 🙂
Essence Beauty Box 

The next box is Essence Beauty Box which, for the measly two months I subscribed to it, was wonderful. Essence Beauty Box was created and curated by Essence magazine for women of color, but it ended up being my favorite for beauty staples (like shaving gel and makeup remover) with a splash of fun beauty products. Unfortunately, Essence is discontinuing their beauty box, and the last box will be September’s.

Essence Beauty Box August 2016

  • Nudestix Lip & Cheek Dual Pencil in Mystic/Whisper (RV $24) Love the nude shades and the formula. I’ve used them as lipstick and cream blush & prefer them as lipstick. 
  • Skin & Co Hand Cream in Umbrian Truffle and Citrus Amaro (RV $7.92) Haven’t opened these yet but I’m really looking forward to having them as the weather gets cooler. 
  • SweetSpot On the Go Wipettes (RV $1.28) I LOVED THESE. Their ph-balanced feminine wipes which sounds so… not fun, but I keep them in my gym bag to use as an all-over wipe if I have to head straight to the office after a mild workout. Each scent was awesome and I definitely want to keep buying them. 
  • Hi-Pro-Pac Keratin Replenish Masque (RV $1.75) I wasn’t excited about a foil sample at first, but this lasted for four conditioning masks on my hair & I ended up really loving it. My dry, bleach-damaged hair needed it. 
  • Oyin Hair Dew (RV $1.67) I haven’t tried this leave-in conditioner yet, but plan on packing on my upcoming trip. It gets great reviews & I’m excited to try it. 

Glossybox markets themselves as a luxury beauty box for $21 a month. They send 5 niche, high-end, or emerging brands in the form of deluxe samples or full-sized products. I received a buy one, get two free promotion so I haven’t come close to trying all of these products yet. I will list them out, but really can’t give item by item reviews yet.
August 2016 Glossybox
This was my official August Glossybox. I think it had a decent variety of products that I wouldn’t normally get to try, so I’m satisfied – the two bonus boxes are a heck of an add-on, though! I received: 
If you want to try Glossybox out, click that link and use code SUNSET at checkout to receive a free mystery box along with your first box! Here are my two bonus boxes, the first from May 2016 and the second from December 2015. 

Finally, I have a couple more $10 subscriptions that I think are much more worth the money than Birchbox. 
Ipsy really runs the gamut with its offerings, from drugstore to high-end and everything in between. It’s customizable, and every month your selections will (arguably) become more & more accurate as you review the products & brands you like vs. dislike. In August I received an extra item, the Pixi Glow Tonic, as a points reward. I also received: 
Look at this cutesy packaging! Sephora Play can be frustrating because there’s a waitlist with no real end. I was on it for months and never received notification that the sign ups were open, but I heard on Reddit that people were able to sign up and gave it a whirl — it worked! You kind of just have to hope for the best and hurry to try to sign up when you hear that it’s open again. August’s focus was all about eyes. 
Sephora Play August 2016 Make Up For Ever Pink Granite Eyeshadow Clean Reserve Blonde Rose Sephora Collection Eyeliner Flirting Game Urban Decay Perversion Mascara Caudalie Eye Cream Lancome Energie de Vie
So, that’s it! Those are all of the regularly scheduled beauty boxes. I have others, like FabFitFun (which is seasonal) and Julep (which may well be my favorite box of all, but I happened to skip August), and I’ll be sure to post whenever they arrive. But I hope this covers everything you could possibly hope to know about my August boxes.