November Ipsy Bag 2014

When I opened my GlamRoom this month, I was a touch disappointed. I just wasn’t that excited about many of my products in my November ipsy bag.  Some of these products were able to change my mind a bit, but others were total failures. After trying these products for a few weeks, here are my first impressions.

Do all girls like glitter? Highly debatable.

Do all girls like glitter? Highly debatable.

Not that big of a fan of the bag this month. It looks like the kind of thing that I used to receive as a young girl that would be filled with lip smackers. Not that those were bad days, but it’s not my style anymore. Oddly enough this bag was designed by Forever 21, which makes the disappointment more intense since I generally enjoy Forever 21 as a brand.

Be a Bombshell Eye Base in Submissive (*full size* $14)

This is one of the products I wasn’t excited about, but was sort of able to change my mind. Ipsy seems to have a Be a Bombshell product in their bags every month. I don’t always get the featured item, but some brand variety would be nice, which is part of why I wasn’t excited.

The color of the eye base is pretty: a light shimmery brown that builds up slightly. Submissive is a good one-shade look or a nice base for a brown-toned eye look, but it is not necessarily doing its job as a base. The formula is similar to Maybelline’s Color Tattoos or elf’s smudge pots, but Submissive does not have the staying power of either of these products. You need primer for this product to stay put, otherwise it will crease or smear. So while I can make it work for me, I would not purchase this again based on my sample experience.

Wonder Lip Paint by J. Cat Beauty in the shade Red Potion (*full size* $4.99)

Each of these little lip paints has a Wonderland theme. And on the J Cat website there seem to be a wide variety of colors. They definitely look like the famed OCC Lip Tars, but this product does not come with a lip brush. I’m lukewarm about this product. I enjoy the minty smell of the lip paint, unfortunately it’s not a smell that stays around. Red Potion is a really dark shade in the tube and can be built up to a deep berry or can read lighter depending on your application: I found this out the hard way.

My first attempt at using this was a disaster. I put a stain on underneath thinking that if the lip paint faded poorly, at least I’d have the stain, which turned out to be very useful. I applied a thick coat Red Potion with a lip brush and the color looked like crusted blood caked onto my lips. On top of that it faded patchy and stuck to any rough spots on my lips. I decided to be brave and give it a second go and the results were a bit better.

Attempt number two.

Attempt number two.

First of all, I used Laura Gellar’s Lip Spackle as a base, which seemed to make a big difference. Then, more importantly I applied the product with my finger and only used a dot of product as big as a grain of rice. This fully covered my lips and the shade came off more like a deep pink. There was less slipping and sliding with less product too. After a few hours there was fading but it looked much less patchy. I’m still not enamoured with this product, but I’m less mad at it. If you’d like to give the lip paints a shot you can get 25% off with code 25JCAT at checkout on their website.

Oil of Morocco Argan Oil Volume Shine Hairspray by Marc Anthony (sample value $1.38)

If someone were to use hairspray regularly, this product would be very exciting to receive and would likely be an ideal travel size item. I, however, do not typically use hairspray and have not cracked this thing open. I’m sure it’s lovely, but this does nothing for me. My hair is very fine and I tend not to do much to it, so there’s no call to use a lot of hairspray in my life. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just not for me. So it’s a bit of a letdown. A full size of this product (9 fl oz.) should run you about $8.29 at Walgreens. There was also no discount code for this product.

Starlooks Gem Eye pencil in Ultra Orchid (*full size* $17.00)

This was honestly the worst product in my bag. Which is surprising because Starlooks is a well-respected brand in the beauty world. When I went to swatch this product on my hand, the tip crumbled and fell off. When I went to use this product on my lid, the eyeliner crumbled further. I appreciate creaminess in my beauty products but not the point where they become unusable.

When I got this product onto my lids I was further disappointed. The beautiful, sparkly purple is so freaking creamy that it fails completely as an eyeliner. It smudges and slips even with primed lids. So all its prettiness is wasted. This is easily one of the most maddening products I’ve ever received in a subscription service. I certainly won’t be using this code, but if you’d like 20% off Starlooks use the code IPSY at checkout on their website.

TEMPTU Highlighter in Pink Pearl (sample value $2.75)

Of all the products in my ipsy bag this month, I would say this is the single product that fully won me over. I had never heard of TEMPTU before, but apparently their highlighters are well rated by makeup artists. I don’t use highlighters overmuch, but I think they’re fun to play with now and again. The Pink Pearl shade has a mother of pearl quality to it–the shifting accents of yellow, blue, pink, etc. The formula is slightly watery, which translates to a very subtle look on the sheeks. It’s not shimmery in the usual sense, but it catches the light in a way that makes your skin seem like it glows natuarally. A full size highlighter would run you $27.50 for 1 fl oz, so I don’t think I’ll be purchasing this one. But since it doesn’t take much to give my cheeks a pearlescent glow, I’ll still enjoy this product for a while. If you’d like a TEMPTU highlighter of your very own, use code IPSY at checkout for 25%.

From the top down: TEMPTU highlighter in Pink Pearl, Starlooks Ultra Orchid, Be a Bombshell in Submissive, and J Cat Red Potion.

From the top down: TEMPTU highlighter in Pink Pearl, Starlooks Ultra Orchid, Be a Bombshell in Submissive, and J Cat Red Potion.

You can see with this picture how easily the Starlooks liner smears as well as what a difference it makes blending out Red Potion.

On paper, I should have adored this bag: three full size products from reliable brands with a total November bag value of $40.12. But the quality of the products and how they work for me was just not present in this month’s bag.

I’m really disappointed in this month’s ipsy, and am hoping for a better bag next month.

Thanks for popping in!

November PopSugar Must Have Box 2014

I am beyond excited to show you this month’s PopSugar Must Have Box!

Quite possibly the best box yet. Or at the very least tied with April’s box. I just desperately want PopSugar to add more books to their rotation. Not every month, because I realize that’s not for everyone, but more often than once every six months. Maybe if I say it enough times the box editors will hear my plea!

Look at that beautiful box full of stuff!

Look at that beautiful box full of stuff!

PopSugar is the most expensive of my subscription boxes at $39.95 a month, but I have never felt an individual box fell under value. In a Must Have Box, you’ll get a wide array of items that have to do with different areas of your life. Certain things vary, but there is always a food item and there is always some kind of beauty product. The remaining items could fall under the categories of entertainment, lifestyle, wellness, fashion, etc.  If you’d like to give PopSugar a shot, here is my referral link.

Whale lotion! (Except not)

Whale lotion! (Except not)

No. 72 Ambergris Shea Butter Cream by K. Hall Designs ($22.00)

This is kind of an interesting product. The packaging emphasizes how much Queen Elizabeth I was known to adore ambergris, which is all well and good until you know what ambergris is. Ambergris is a solid, waxy substance that is a bi-product of a sperm whale’s digestive system. As it ages, ambergris is supposed to take on a sweet, musky scent. However the packaging also states that there are no animal components in this cream, so the ambergris scent is synthetic and not from the bowels of a whale. Phew! No parabens in this cream either.

For the past week or so, I’ve been using this as a hand cream. The texture is thick and rich, and it melts into the skin well. No greasy residue here. The scent is unlike anything I’ve worn in the past and every time I put this cream on, I debate whether I like it or not. There’s something slightly earthy and sensual about the ambergris scent but also sweet. I probably would not buy a $22 hand cream though, so I’m glad it got sent to me instead.

Cant wait to draw on a wine glass this holiday season!

Cant wait to draw on a wine glass this holiday season!

Wine Glass Writers  ($9.95)

This product is perfect for the approaching holiday season! The three shades in the kit are a silver, blue-green, and golden-khaki. These markers allow you to write on your wine glass for the duration of a party, but the nontoxic ink will come right off with some warm, soapy water. Love the concept! Haven’t tested them out yet though.

A feminine touch to my letters.

A feminine touch to my letters.

PopSugar Exclusive Stationary Set from Tiny Prints ($21.60)

If you want to really fall down a rabbit hole of personalized stationary, might I suggest tinyprints.com? Their products are a bit pricey but rather adorable. I’ve mentioned it in passing a few times before, But I’m trying to be a more active friend by sending out postcards and little notes. So these blank cards are a great addition to that effort! If I had one complaint, it’s that these specific cards are rather girly and have XOXO on the top, which is normally fine. But I also send cards out to plenty of male friends, so maybe something more gender neutral would have been appreciated. Nit-picky, I know, but I think about these things now.

Such a cute little bag!

Such a cute little bag!

Sorial Wallet on a Chain (*$48.00*)

Holy Cow! I cannot fathom paying that much for a little bag. That being said, this bag from Sorial is adorable and perfect for my needs of late. When I go out in the evening, sometimes I just don’t want to carry a purse or grasp at a clutch all night. So this little crossbody bag is lovely. PopSugar read my mind this moth! I really like the bright blue color and the inside has a leopard print liner, which will make it easier to find items. Does anyone else lose things in their bags with dark liners? I know I do every time! This little bag justifies the entire box based on its value.

What did I just eat???

What did I just eat???

G.H. Cretors Chicago Mix Popped Corn ($3.49)

At this moment I am full of regret because I scarfed this whole bag down in a matter of days. Oh, but it was good! So very good. If your wallet is so full that you can indulge, grab a bag of this. Specifically, the Chicago mix. For those of you not in the know (don’t worry I didn’t know this existed until a few months ago either) Chicago mix popcorn is caramel corn and cheddar cheese popcorn mixed to the delight of your taste buds. Sounds weird, but is delicious.*Originally I thought this popcorn was much more expensive and the price I had listed was from a 12 pack. Thanks to Laura A for helping me correct this error*

Books are always worth the box value.

Books are always worth the box value.

The Secret Recipes by Dominique Ansel ($35.00)

I saved the best for last. This is the latest cookbook from the man who made the cronut famous. Ansel also happens to be a multi-award winning pastry chef. His cookbook is beautiful. The heavy paper and glossy photos make this book something you would happily place out on the coffee table for guests to admire. But there is practical knowledge inside as well. Ansel has divided his book into beginner, intermediate, and advanced recipes, something this beginner greatly appreciates.

Again, I wish PopSugar would send more books. Not every month but maybe once every three or four months for variety’s sake. The last one they included was back in April and had a hardcover of Emily Giffin’s The One and Only, which I adored. So I’m very happy to see another book here! Especially because it’s a different type of book.

*I should note that usually PopSugar includes a card with the value of all the box products, but for some reason this month I did not get a card. All the values listed in this post are taken from retailers websites, or as in the case of the Sorial bag, estimated from the retailer’s website if the exact product couldn’t be found.*

The total value for my November PopSugar Must Have Box is $139.84. My calculations might be a bit off because I didn’t have a card to guide me, but they’re not going to be so off that the value of a $39.99 box isn’t obvious! I am very impressed with this month’s box and cannot wait to see what PopSugar does next!

Thanks for popping in!

September Must Have Box

Quite by accident I ended up getting flooded by unboxings so I’m going to try to catch up before a new month starts and the cycle begins again. The PopSugar Must Have Box is one of my favorites because of the variety of items you get. There are always some inspiring surprises tucked inside these boxes.

Every month the card with product information tells you what inspired the box. This month it was autumn leaves, long walks, new tunes, back to school, fashion week, and football. All of my favorite things and some central reasons why fall is my favorite season.

So let’s get into the review!

An explosion of goodies!

An explosion of goodies!

Modal Gradation Scarf in Raisin by Tilo Scarves (full size $125)

This scarf is so fancy it has its own long-winded name. And would you look at that price tag? I would never purchase something this extravagant for myself. Ever. But that is why I have PopSugar in my life. This scarf is so soft and ideal for transitioning into fall–not too heavy not too light. I also love the ombre effect and the transition from a dove grey to a rich maroon. This one item covers the price of the box two times over.

Letter C Design Gold Foil Arrow Pencils (full size $5.00)

I only got excited about these pencils when I realized they came with a sharpener. Otherwise I would have been at a loss. I live in a world of pens and mechanical pencils, so these are strangely exciting and slightly nostalgic. I’m particularly looking forward to using them along with this next item…

Rifle Paper Co.’s Garance Dore Assorted Girls Set of Blank Cards (full size $18)

I have come to the realization that I am a proximity friend. Which means I’m great if we’re in the same city but I’m not great at distance. Even in the age of technology when it should be so easy to reach out and say “hi,” I struggle. My Popsugar box has now given me the best excuse to fix that with these little cards. The idea of writing notes and letters appeals to me more than texting does: I’ve saved cards and letters in the past but I rarely go through my old texts and save them. So I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. We’ll see how that goes.

Nicole Miller Stereo Earbuds (full size $20)

I mangled the box trying to get a closer look at these. But I’m kind of disappointed in them. Love the blue color but I am not an earbud person; they make me so uncomfortable. However, I’d like to do a giveaway when I reach my next blogging milestone so I’d like to hold on to these for that. Would that be the kind of thing you’d like to see included in a giveaway?

Oribe’s Superfine Purse Size Hair Spray (full size value $21.50)

Technically this product is full size because it’s marketed as a purse size spray, and that price tag is certainly a full size price. Personally, I don’t have much call for hair spray in my day-to-day life but it’s nice to have a small canister on hand that would work well for travel. Oribe is also a highly respected brand for hair products so I’m dutifully impressed.

Urban Remedy Almond Brownie (full size $6.00) 

I have been hoarding this brownie for when I need a chocolate-y treat. I should probably eat it soon because it would be tragic if I waited too long and wasted a good brownie. Love that it’s got almonds in it and the info card says that it is 100% organic. Cindy Crawford is a brand ambassador, which probably means it’s really good for you because that woman is stunning. There was also a little gift card for $10 off a $50 purchase, which was nice but I’d have to think it was a life changing brownie to go explore that site for $50 worth of merchandise.

There were two special extras in our box this month as well…

Ghiradelli Milk Chocolate Sea Salt & Almond Minis (full size $5.95)

Chocolate heaven. The perfect size Ghirardelli chocolates. One is enough to satisfy a craving without creating an indulgence problem. And the sea salt, almond combo is my new favorite. I would absolutely repurchase these and could not be happier to have them delivered to my freaking door.

Nike $20 Gift Card

If you sign up for a Nike account using the individualized code they give you, you can get a $20 gift card. Cool perk!

Overall, another great box from PopSugar Must Have. I’m always happy with this service, though some months are typically better than others. This September box is one of my favorites, but the #1 spot still belongs to my June box for giving me Emily Giffin’s The One & Only (more books please, PopSugar!).

PopSugar Must Have Boxes cost $39.95 a piece, which is a great value considering that this box’s contents are valued at $221.45.

If you’d like to give this subscription a shot, here is my PopSugar referral link.

September Ipsy Bag 2014

It’s ipsy time again! This month’s theme is Street Style in honor of the glamorous and edgy looks created by fashion week and ipsters everywhere.

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I like the square design and faux silver leather look with its little rivets. It’s a great piece for fall and winter. I could see myself using this as a clutch for an evening out. One of my favorite physical bags in several months.

Infinity Shadow/Crease Duet Brush by Crown Brushes (full size $6.99)

Synthetic fibers, so yay for cruelty-free brushes! Double ended brushes have always mystified me a bit because of the difficulty in storage. This one is much the same. Soft bristles and blends well though.  30 % off any purchase of $25 or more with code CROWNIPSY30.

NYX Hot Singles Eye Shadow in Velvet (full size $4.50)

One of my all time favorite drugstore brands. I will always be happy to see NYX in my ipsy bag. The warm brown shade I received is the ideal crease shade and blends beautifully. Perfect for fall and I think it brings out my blue eyes well too. The coupon for this one was for 30% off their waterproof shadow primer: FALLPROOF.

Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask from Briogeo (sample value $4.95)

I wasn’t very excited about this when I saw this in my bag, but the results have changed my mind. First of all, the smell is so light but creates a nice scent cloud. The top note is the sweet almond, which I love. But there’s also some great, nourishing ingredients in this mask like avocado, argon oil, aloe, and essential vitamins. Oh, and its cruelty and gluten-free.

It’s been three days since I last used this and my hair still feels soft and clean. A full size tub of this (5.25 oz) will set you back $26.00, but you don’t need much of it to get the full effects so it would be a good value. I’m considering purchasing but I also have a few other hair products that need to get used up first. So maybe in the future. Just a free shipping code with this one, I probably would have purchased if the code had been better.

Cailyn Art Touch Tinted Lip Gloss in Basic Instinct (full size $19.00)

I wanted to love this product. The name alone made me want to love this gloss. And I’d had luck with Cailyn lippies in past ipsy bags. But at best I find this lip gloss wearable. I won’t be reaching for it regularly. In the tube it looks like a pinky nude but on my lips it reads more like terra-cotta. I do like the applicator which is an oblong sponge instead of a traditional doe foot. This gloss has a very chemical smell to it which is off putting. And the wear-time is poor, maybe 40 minutes max. I’m not giving up on the brand but I’m disappointed with this Cailyn product.

Pacifica 7 Free Nail Polish in Red Red Wine (full size $9.00)

My favorite product this month. Holy cow! I put this on my nails a few days ago and can’t stop staring at them. There has been some chipping but I’m so in love with this color that I’m not even mad at needing to do touch ups. Gorgeous Merlot colored polish that was already quite glossy without a top-coat. I would love to check out more of the Pacifica polishes in the future. Really impressed. For 20% off of any Pacifica purchase use the code FallBeauty at checkout.

Even though I wasn’t happy with the Cailyn lip gloss, this ended up being one of my favorite ipsy bags in months. There were some quality products in here and four out of the five items were full-sized. This month’s $10 bag had a value of $44.44. Very nice!

Here’s my referral link if you’d like to try ipsy.