April Birchbox Review

Well, well, well Birchbox, funny seeing you here. Y’all know how I feel about Birchbox (overrated, under delivers), but every now and then they run a promo that is worth paying $10 for. I ended up getting one sample I have really been wanting to try, too, so it wasn’t a total wash. However, if I were you, I would wait until Birchbox is running a free gift with subscription deal that is worth it to you (like Lipstick Queen lipsticks or, in this case, the Smashbox mascara) and subscribe then. That way, you are getting a higher end beauty product for $10, plus samples. That’s the only situation that makes Birchbox “worth it” for me. That being said, here is my April Birchbox!


Total Value (excluding bonus): $22.85
The sample I am most looking forward to trying is the R+Co Dry Shampoo, but otherwise I am … unimpressed by this month’s box. The retail value, while double the cost of the box, is much lower than the retail value of my April Ipsy. However, I bought the box for the Smashbox mascara, so from that perspective, I got the mascara for $10 + some fun samples, which is much more worth it. 

Glossier Basics Review

Sorry to admit it, but I had no interest in Glossier. Once I decided to order from Glossier, I had no interest in liking anything I’d purchased. They catered to me too hard – milennial pink, minimal aesthetic, all these cool girls with their unbrushed hair and full brows and perfect skin … the vibe is a modern girl cookie cutter, and I didn’t want to fall for it. 
And yet, in my not-wanting-to-fall-for-it, I found myself spending $50+ on their website one dull day, you know, just to see. I knew I wouldn’t like it. It would break me out or look like nothing on my face. I was sure it was all hype – Glossier probably hired tons of pretty beauty bloggers to hawk their products and they can turn a profit strictly from appealing to a 20-something woman’s need to be in without actually putting in any effort. 
Effort is definitely not cool.
My package arrived significantly quicker than I expected, considering I chose free shipping. Like, three days? Maybe? And I’ve had a couple of weeks now to test out the three products I ordered, so here is my totally genuine, un-sponsored review of some Glossier basics. 

Item One: Glossier Boy Brow. I went with the shade “Brown”. At $16 for .11 oz, it’s cheaper than Benefit’s $24 Gimme Brow but about four times the cost of Nyx’s Tinted Brow Mascara. Inconveniently, I adore it. I recently realized I prefer the Nyx Brow Mascara to Benefit Gimme Brow, as Gimme Brow’s additional fibers are a little messy for me and I struggle with over-application. Glossier Boy Brow is, shockingly, so much better than either of them (in my opinion). The formula is light and doesn’t smudge against my skin, but still shapes and darkens my brows. I’m interested to see how quickly I go through it, but I’m planning to repurchase. (FYI, for a budget buy, I do recommend the Nyx Brow Mascara, but I do not recommend Benefit Gimme Brow based on quality vs. cost, even as a splurge. Definitely go with Glossier Boy Brow.)

Item Two: Glossier Priming Moisturizer. I mentioned in my current skincare favorites post last month that I was desperately searching for a daytime moisturizer, and I am starting to become pretty fond of this one. It’s $25 for 1.7 oz, which is reasonable in the skincare world. I think the item I would most closely compare it to is the Hello FAB Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer, which I also really like but which costs a few dollars more for the same amount. I don’t think you should consider either “priming moisturizer” as a replacement for using a separate moisturizer and primer, but rather as a lightweight, sensitive-skin-friendly daytime moisturizer that you can either pair with the Glossier Skin Tint (below) or follow with primer and foundation for a full makeup look. On Glossier’s website, they convey the same thing: “‘Priming’ means that it instantly brings out the best in your skin, so you have a fresh, glowing canvas,” which sounds conveniently like “Please god don’t expect this to function like an actual primer” to me. So, to recap: Primer, no. Daytime moisturizer, definitely, yes, highly recommended.

Item 3: Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint in shade “Light”. I kind of sort of think this is most controversial of Glossier’s products. Is it doing anything? Is it a bottle of $26 tinted water? Is this a placebo effect? Am I losing my mind? (Yes.) First of all, I like this product. I do. It is easy and quick and does combine well with the priming moisturizer. Could I ever use it on a bad skin day? No way. It doesn’t blur blemishes, so if you’re broken out, it won’t do a dang thing. Thankfully, my skin has been really #blessed lately and Glossier products haven’t flared up any bad behavior, so I do like it on already-pretty-ish skin. It softens my look and (when combined with concealer) helps me look bright and fresh. For going out, I’d still prefer an entire foundation, but since the loss of my beloved Lumene BB Cream, I’m genuinely happy with the look of the skin tint… you know, until that hormonal acne hits again.

So, ANNOYINGLY, I apparently like Glossier. It’s not full glam and it never will be, but it’s easy and functional for every day and it isn’t irritating to my infuriatingly sensitive skin. You can try it yourself, if you wanna, and get 20% off whenever you use my link here.

Airbnbs Around the World for Less Than $100 A Night

Clearly, I am not a travel blogger. Yet. It’s always been a dream of mine, but between work and school I can barely find the time to make the two hour trip to visit my family, let alone fly across the world. However, I do daydream a lot and I read travel blogs a lot and I plan future trip goals a lot and one thing I have noticed over the past few months of reading travel blogs is that when bloggers say “affordable” to describe boutique locations, they clearly mean a different kind of “affordable” than my student loan repayments can accommodate. It’s totally cool if you want to stay in a $400 per night treehouse in Bali, but I’m trying to avoid wallowing in debt until I’m in my grave. 
Through my own scouring of the interweb, I have found some of the coolest, most interesting places for super reasonable prices. I chose to focus specifically on Airbnb  (though Booking.com is also a great resource with helpful search tools) and I am only listing properties that are less than $100 per night to have the entire house (or apartment) to yourself.  They may not be the peak of luxury or they may be off the beaten path, but they are beautiful, inspiring, and within my puny budget! Ready? Happy daydreaming!  

1. Riad in Marrakesh, Morroco | $63 per night

 

2. Apartment in Hvar, Croatia | $43 per night

 

3. Cabana in  Armenia, Colombia | $49 per night

 

4. Villa in Ostuni, Italy | $67 per night

 

5. Apartment in Paris, France | $83 per night

 

6. Studio in Oia, Greece | $83 per night 

 

7. Cave in Granada, Spain | $56 per night

 

8. Beach House in Santa Catarina, Brazil | $81 per night

 

9. Apartment in Vienna, Austria | $77 per night

 

10. Studio in Perast, Montenegro | $44 per night

 

April Ipsy Glambag Review

april 2017 ipsy glambag reveal
The amount of beauty boxes I receive has decreased quite a bit over the past few months, but Ipsy has done a great job of satiating my desire for cute mail and new products without blowing my budget. April’s Ipsy Glambag was pretty on target for me. I even thought the kitschy little ticket bag was cute and different, though a lot of people have been complaining about it. Different strokes! 

mica beauty highlighter 3 skin and co truffle therapy face toner  tonymoly pantone liptone lip care stick lip balm honey moisture

This month, my Ipsy bag contained:

  • Mica Beauty Highlight #3 | RV $13.88, Though pretty and pigmented, I think the loose powder may be too difficult to use as a highlighter, and the shade is a little too rich of a gold to look right on my skintone. I considered keeping it as an eyeshadow, and I think it would work great as one, but I have enough gold shimmer eyeshadows, so I’ll be passing it on. 
  • Skin & Co Truffle Therapy Face Toner | RV $4.05, I could see how this would be the least exciting item to some, but I’ve been hoping to get a toner I could travel with for a few months now. It’s perfect for me! 
  • TonyMoly Liptone Lipcare Stick | RV $10, “Honey Moisture”, These TonyMoly balms are your ordinary lip balm, but I adore the Pantone-inspired packaging. 
  • Lisa Frank x Glamour Dolls Unicorn Angled Blush Brush | RV $5, I specifically requested this silly, nostalgic brush. It is beautiful and fluffy and I’m glad to have it. I have had good luck with Glamour Dolls brushes (specifically this sperm whale blending brush) in the past, in spite of their low prices. 
  • Defy & Inspire Nail Lacquer | RV $7.49, “Paradise”, I love nail polish pretty indiscriminately and am skipping Julep in May, so this was a happy filler polish. 
  • POINT REDEMPTION: Vintage by Jessica Liebeskind Illuminating Face Highlighter | RV $32, “Crystal Pink”, A gorgeous, full-sized, pink-toned highlighter that I received for free due to redeeming Ipsy points. Swatched below.  
Total Retail Value: $40.42
And that’s excluding the $32 bonus highlighter!

jessice liebeskind vintage highlighter crystal pink lisa frank glamour dolls unicorn blush brush defy & inspire nail polish paradise

Ipsy April Glambag Swatches MicaBeauty Highlighter Jessica Liebeskind Vintage Highlighter

Create Your Own Palette with Buxom Eyeshadow Bar

Buxom Customizable Eyeshadow Palette
Apparently I am way late to the game (I mean, years late) but did you know that you can create custom eyeshadow palettes with Buxom’s eyeshadow bar? For $40 you can choose six shades (each shade retails for $12) to put into an empty palette and voila! You can fill in any voids in your eyeshadow collection without having to buy a pre-curated palette full of the same neutral matte shades you own twenty of.

Buxom Eyeshadow Bar Singles in Silk Sheets, Gold Status, Party Girl, La-La Lavish, and Silver Screen
This was, of course, great news for me. I had been strongly considering the Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette, but I just do not need another slew of neutral mattes. I was able to dupe the shades I wanted most (Vermeer, Primavera, Love Letter, and a combination of Antique Bronze and Venetian Red) while also filling some holes in my collection. How have I, cool-toned pastel queen, gone this long without and iridescent lavender eyeshadow or a shimmery, highly pigmented silver? Only God can tell.
Buxom Eyeshadow Bar Singles in Silk Sheets, Gold Status, Party Girl, La-La Lavish, and Silver Screen Swatches
The shades I chose for my custom palette are as follows: 

  • Silver Screen | Buxom describes Silver Screen as a silver lilac, while Temptalia describes it as a “cool lavender”, but to me it reads true silver. Silver Screen is metallic and extremely pigmented with a creamy feel. 
  • La-La-Lavish | I’m sure part of the reason Silver Screen seems so un-lavender to me is because I’ve put it beside La-La-Lavish, a beautiful iridescent lavender. I am also looking forward to trying this as a highlighter! It looks like a shade that would fit perfectly into Anastasia Beverly Hills Moon Child or Aurora Glow Kits
  • Wild Nights | A “shimmering sugar plum”, Wild Nights is an interesting eyeshadow combining berry, orange, and pink shades all into one shimmer shadow. If Modern Renaissance could be duped by one shadow and one alone, this would be it. 
  • Party Girl | Party Girl is riding the wave of my newfound love for pink-toned eyeshadows and I am so excited to own it. I initially thought the bright fuchsia was a matte, but as I blended out the swatch I realized it has a pretty pearl finish, which I much prefer! I am ready to acknowledge that pink eyeshadow may be to 2017 what blue eyeshadow was to the 80’s, but I’m prepared to go down with this ship. 
  • Gold Status | I was initially concerned that Gold Status would be too similar to Urban Decay’s Half-Baked from my Naked 2 palette, but comparatively Half-Baked is more coppery an less vivid while Gold Status is a true metallic gold.  It’s highly pigmented and buttery to the touch.
  • Silk Sheets | Described by Buxom as a “chai luster”, whatever that means, I think Silk Sheets is going to be beautiful as a brow bone highlight and as a brightener in the inner corner of my eye. It’s soft and smooth and I chose it to replace Naked 2’s Bootycall, which never shows up on my fair skin no matter how heavily I pack it on. 
I am pleased as punch to have finally bitten the bullet on one of these Buxom Build Your Own Palettes, and I am already itching for more (don’t worry, don’t worry, I won’t break my no-buy for it). Other shades I’m interested in trying are It Girl, a glimmering cayenne, Twilight Tryst, an iridescent peacock, and Dusk Til Dawn, an iridescent olive. I highly recommend these shadows if, like me, you have enough matte creams and brown for a lifetime, but still prefer the cost-effectiveness of a palette.

Saturday Reading List

You Can’t Have Self-Love Without Self-Respect: “Self-respect is helping someone in need when no one is there to witness it. Self-respect is enjoying the acquisition of knowledge, without others having to know that you know it. Self-respect is leaving the party when you’re tired, instead of staying up for everyone else.”
A wonderfully (terribly?) relateable piece about the shame of not having money and the stupid things we do to avoid feeling it. 
Google’s former “happiness guru” (eyeball roll, I know) on observing thin slices of joy throughout the day as an exercise in becoming a happier person. 
Faux fur has been found to contain real fur (from mink, rabbits, and even cats). “This is a problem in two ways. Firstly it’s a problem for the animals who are suffering awful, deprived lives and excruciating deaths on fur farms and traps around the world to produce these products. And secondly, it’s a problem for consumers, who are not being protected from unfair trading, who want to shop ethically and avoid the fur trade.” 
In local news, Woodbine residents are protesting the planned tiny-home community for the homeless that will be located on the property of Glencliff United Methodist. It’s … unsurprising, but awfully sad to read the comments made by those who live in the area. 

April Check-In & Small Goals

Rifle Paper Co. Constellations Wall Calendar april 2017

It’s time again for my monthly check-in. You may notice that it’s two weeks late, but I’ve been putting off writing this post because frankly my goals were a bust. That’s hard to share! March was a rough month for balancing school and work, and then Mass Effect: Andromeda was released. I really tried to hone in and finish the game on my one week away from school, which put all my other interests to the wayside and yet I still haven’t finished the game.


Here were my sad & unfulfilled small goals for March:

  • Read a chapter a night | I fell off the wagon with this one. I began slipping because the book I was reading was just eerie enough to make me uncomfortable in the evenings, so I stopped wanting to read it before bed, but I also didn’t carve out time to read during the day. 
  • Practice French every morning with my coffee | I don’t know why I failed so miserably at this one. I started off really strong, zipping through my DuoLingo courses and getting excited about Montreal, and then one morning I simply didn’t do it. I rushed out the door (like, honestly, I do pretty often) and didn’t think about French again. With DuoLingo, every time you miss a day you lose some of your skills (which is good because it will refresh what you may need more practice with) but I started to get overwhelmed and didn’t pick it up again.
  • Go on a walk once a week | I did this zero times, even with the beautiful weather. 
  • Watch one video for school every day | I watched a few videos for school, but certainly not enough, and I didn’t do a single THING for school during my measly spring break, which was not ideal. 
  • Wait 24 hours before making any purchase | I actually did accomplish this, shockingly, and I feel great about it. I bought a few affordable Spring clothing items and I bought absolutely no makeup, so I’m pleased. I also thought this would be the most challenging of my small goals, but here I am. 
It’s disappointing to see so much left undone, but I also think maybe those were bigger goals then I thought they would be. Habit-making takes time and effort and it may be better to focus on one at a time, moving forward. 

Part of what helped me so much with reigning in my purchases was taking that inventory of all my products. I still don’t use everything I already have, so why am I compelled to go out and buy more? I know that I am a stress shopper, but things aren’t bringing me any comfort. I’d much rather save for big purchases (a nice camera, plane tickets, or heck, Sansa’s grooming). 

affordable fashion finds for spring hello sunshine straw hat blush bow mules ban.do passport floral denim flats guess marble statement sunglasses
For Spring, I’ve purchased a couple pairs of shoes, a kitschy sun hat, statement sunglasses (pictured above!), two off the shoulder dresses and a millenial pink windbreaker, so I feel good to go for warm weather wardrobe updates. I’ve started playing with eyeshadow shades I’ve been previously afraid of – like peaches and pinks – and have really liked the results. It’s possible, or likely, that changing my hair from various cool pastel shades to a rich brown has affected my entire color palette. 

So what are my April goals? It’s almost nerve-wracking to decide. 

April Small Goals
  • Work out 3 times | Three! Just three. ClassPass (use that link for $30 off your first month) is letting me take three classes for $10 in April … to keep me from cancelling … and I really want to take advantage of this, particularly since my favorite way to work out (Reformer Pilates) is exceptionally expensive. 
  • No buy of clothes/makeup | Self-explanatory. I don’t need it, it won’t fulfill me, and if I love it enough to still love it in May, maybe I can buy it. 
  • Watch my school videos | I pay $25 a month for Team Treehouse (which I highly recommend) as a supplement to what I’m learning in class, so I need to find the time to actually utilize them. 

And that’s it. Three goals for April, so that I can hone in on them and hopefully accomplish all three. 

currently watching: flipping between Bates Motel and Ripper Street
currently reading: also flipping between The Possessions and The Shadow Rising
currently listening: The Decemberists whole discography in preparation for their show at the Ryman