Lotsa New Stuff & Mini Reviews: Sephora, Birchbox, Influenster, Ulta & Target

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I had recently gone on a bit of a shopping rampage in Target, Sephora, Birchbox, Ulta and then came my Influenster box in the mail. Here’s small mini-reviews on the products I’ve been testing out for a few weeks!

1. Benefit The Porefessional: Everyone knows this product and I am also loving it for filling in the pores on my cheeks. I tap it in before any foundation. I’ve tried applying it over foundation like the packaging says you can during those instances I forget to do it first but I don’t like the result as much or how my foundation seems to have moved. I’ll just try to remember to apply it first.

2. OCC Nail Polish in Vapid: I saw this color everywhere after IMATS this year and fell in love. The color is amazing and unique, the formula creamy and opaque. Love it!!!

3. Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade in Blonde: I feel like everyone & their mother have been getting this new product. I love it because it’s waterproof and easy to apply for a more dramatic OR every day brow, provided you use a lighter touch. I will definitely be using this during vacation and pool days.

4. Boscia Oil-Free Nightly Hydration Moisturizer: I love that this is lightweight for the summer and it also has antibacterial properties, great for humid and hot temperatures as well as my congested, oily skin. I’m almost at a HG status with this little tube of wonder.

5. Caldrea Essentials Collection lotion in Apple Mint: I got this body lotion as a sample in my May Birchbox and fell in love. Serious love. The light lotion is perfect for summer and it leaves a unique smoothness to the skin that made me hunt it down. I found mine at Target which also carried wonderful scents like this Apple Mint, one that I never would have purchased otherwise. I love unique smelling things and this is perfect.

6. Bite Beauty Luminous Creme Lipstick in Fig: I got this on recommendation of Makeup By TiffanyD. Let me say that everything people say about Bite Beauty formulation…. is true. It’s smooth, pigmented, and doesn’t feel heavy on the lips. I love how moisturized my lips feel when I wear it and if not for the price, I’d already have more in my possession.

 

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Next up is the stuff Influenster graciously provided me with to try out (Again, no, I’m not paid to post this nor do they know I am posting this. I did explain the whole program in another post you can read here). I received my Surf’s Up VoxBox and as the name suggests, it includes lots of summer products which is great as I’m preparing to go away.

1. Sinful Colors Nail Polish in Aqua: I normally do not like this brand of polish as it’s chipped more than too easily in my experience but I’m always willing to give it another shot. Oh, and it’s like $2. I have heard the Sinful Shine version is actually really great and lasts better, but it’s hard to find near me. This duo-chromey blue color reminds me of a mermaid 🙂

2. First Aid Shot Therapy: This is marketed as a hangover cure in liquid form. It has a painkiller and replenishing vitamins and minerals your body is lacking the morning after. I’m honestly really skeptical this product will last very long on the market as it’s kind of strange. If your stomach is already upset, why would you want to drink a liquid pain reliever? However… as much as I don’t like feeling gross, this product will be rather interesting to test out regardless of how gimmicky it comes off.

3. Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration After Sun Lotion: I already have and love this stuff. It’s aloe + lotion so it’s not going to leave you utterly sticky like pure aloe tends to (hate that feeling). It’s only miiiildy sticky and I can deal with that. I do love that I now have a travel size for my trip since I’m sure it will come in handy.

4. Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Sulfate Free Texturizing shampoo + conditioner: I actually never tried anything by this brand but I hear a lot about it. I’m going to try this out on my vacation since I’ll already be in the beach vibe and they’re the perfect size. If I like these, I may branch out in the line and try some more. If there’s anyone reading this who has a favorite product by them, please let me know!

 

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Finally, here’s some stuff I got at Target, Birchbox & Ulta. I wish I could move into Target’s dressing rooms. Anyway.

1. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge: I somehow “lost” both my Beauty Blenders a while ago and can’t find it in me to spend another $20 on one when I’m sure I’ll find them. In the meantime, I’ve been reading up on the dupe sponges which have all gotten terrible reviews… except this one. I tried it a few times and I do love the finish it gives. My makeup looked flawless and lasted forever each time I used it. While it may not be *as soft* as the BB, I’m ok with that. It’s $6 and honestly, you can’t beat that. (P.S. I linked the best BB deal I found and was considering buying… 2 for $23 on Amazon!)

2. Jouer Matte Moisture Tint in Linen: I got a sample of this product in my Birchbox but in the illuminating/regular variety. It was really nice but just didn’t seem to be a match made in heaven with the dewey finish plus my oily skin. In between my pale and tan self, I’ve been mixing this with the IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream in Fair for a perfect match. It has light to medium coverage and I could certainly build it up in the areas I need.

3. Tangle Teezer brush: I heard so so so much about this goofy little brush for months. I have super long hair and have used a pick to comb it out for just about as long as I can remember. Let’s just say… I immediately felt like I should tell everyone I know about this thing. My first experience with it was taking my hair down from a knotty little bun it had been in all day and the Tangle Teezer breezed through the hair, making it super soft without as much as a tug. I was amazed. It’s a little more noticeably tugging on your hair when it’s wet, but still just as good. I am in love.

4. IT Cosmetics Celebration Foundation Illumination in Fair: I heard Grav3yardGirl/Bunny talking about this product and since I already love so many of their items, I figured I needed to try this. It’s simply a pressed powder foundation with medium to full coverage.  It was a little cakey a few hours after the very first application using a powder brush. I don’t know if it is user error or the brush I used… or even using a primer would help, but I’m not giving up yet. I have an upcoming review of a bunch of IT Cosmetics products so while I’m not in love with this illuminating version right now, I do like it and have to continue to play with it. It may be excellent to use to set a light coverage foundation for an extra boost where you need it.

 

Phew. If you’re still reading this, I owe you a drink. Thank you 🙂

– SF

Note: Beauty Organizer Drawers in photographs purchased from HomeDecorators.com 

Trial & Review: NEW GlamGlow PowerMud Dualcleanse Treatment Mask

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If there’s a facial mask out there, you better believe I’m gonna be getting my hands on it. My problem (read: congested) skin requires me to try any and all masks on planet earth (or could just my OCD). SO my all-time & cult favorite mask company, GlamGlow, recently released another brand new all-star product called PowerMud Dualcleanse Treatment. It’s a special clay mask that turns into an oil cleanser when you wet it, A.K.A. GENIUS. I never tried oil cleansers but have been seriously investigating them for a few weeks now and then saw this mask and figured it would be a perfect introduction to the whole concept. And boy, was it.

I have oily, clogged pores without much dryness at all so I thought this would be the perfect middle ground between their Supermud (detoxifying) and Thirstymud (hydrating) masks. I have used it about 4 times so far and I absolutely love it. I spread a thin layer on my skin and let it try about 20 minutes even though the container recommends 5-10. The smell if it is just plain incredible which GlamGlow describes as pear, I believe. The mask is mostly smooth in consistency but has a very small amount of exfoliating bits.  I wouldn’t even consider them really doing much exfoliating on my skin but they do feel nice when you wet your skin and start massaging around the ‘oil’ before rinsing. I follow up with my usual evening moisturizer, Boscia’s Oil-Free Nightly Hydration.

The next morning, I noticed that it was quite hydrated. I never notice that in my skin because I’m always using more of a drying product (and yes, I do moisturize twice daily) but my face just felt a bit plumper. I think this is an excellent gentle-yet-detoxifying addition as my skin is slowly becoming a bit more combo (thank god). It’s honestly just perfect for combo skin but would recommend everyone giving it a try. Even if you have dry skin, the detoxifying clay is followed by the gentle oils which would provide the moisture those types of skin require. I even use it as a spot-treatment if I don’t feel like doing a full face. 😛

I will absoluttttely be using this weekly instead of my other GlamGlow masks because it’s the best of both worlds. I give it a huge thumbs up, even though it’s rather pricey – I got mine online at Sephora for $69 for the 1.7oz, which is the same size as my other GlamGlows. Please let me know if you give it a try and your experiences!

– SF

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OH HAY GIEZ

Julep – a nail polish subscription


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I recently signed up for Julep Maven Nail Polish box and received my (FREE! – code is FREEBOX) Welcome Box this morning. If you’re not familiar with Julep, they are a nail polish subscription service, similar to that of a Birchbox or Ipsy however they focus on nail products. It is $24.99/mo, unless you pay in advance and you get a slight discount. You can choose to get other body care products in the box like cuticle oils, blushes and lip glosses as they also have an entire line of beauty products outside their trademark nail polish line. Personally, I’ve never tried any Julep products but have been interested in their polishes for some time so I bought a few more than just the three in the welcome box.

I first took the quiz to determine my “style profile” and got the It Girl, which is what I ended up ordering (you can change your box to one of the 5 other choices if you wanted to but this one has all nail polish, i.e. if you prefer the colors or products in another “style profile,” you may choose to receive that one instead). I received a very pretty muted blue called Margaret (at first glance seems very similar to Essie’s Bikini So Teeny but without shimmer), a soft green called Kam, and a muted orange polish called Princess Grace.  Bonus: Customers rate each color separately online so you have a pretty good idea if you’ll like something before you buy it based on reviews! Love that.

During the ordering process, you also have the option of including an ‘Extra’ which is simply adding one of their selected add on products, but for a discounted price. I chose the bright purple polish shade for $5 (usually $11-15 each, depending if you’re a member or not) that’s called Flora. It has a subtle blue sparkly shimmer which is barely visible in the bottle but very pretty. Julep describes it as an “…Exotic dragonfruit with blue shimmer.” How sub-equator of them.

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The last polish I got was called Abigail. I mean, it’s my name and I’m a sucker for those kinds of things as most girls probably are. They had an “Abbie” yellow shade but my name isn’t spelled that way so I passed on it. 😛  Not to mention yellow isn’t exactly a color I wear often. Abigail, though, is the most gorgeous highly shimmery champagne shade which Julep describes as “Light peony pink silk.” So since peonies are my favorite flower, this was literally made for me.

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Julep’s Abigail

I also got those two little square orange nail buffers in my box which definitely look like middle school erasers I’d keep in my Lisa Frank pencil box. They’re a perfect size for my purse though. Isn’t that something you never thought you’d need – a purse nail buffer.

All in all, my order came to a grand total of $19! Your first Maven box is free (value of $24.99) plus just one polish retails for $11-15, like I said, so I am very happy with my purchase overall. I just hope the quality is as good as the deal. If you feel like trying it out for yourself like I did, here’s my invite link; I think I just get “points” of some kind so it’s not like I get paid if you click it 😉    Join Julep via SFB Here


*Duh, a disclaimer: I am in not sponsored by brands in this post or was asked, compensated, or whathaveyous to write this. My opinions are definitely my own because I’m too stubborn to allow anyone to tell me what to say or do anyway.

Top Nail Polishes of All Time

Herro!

Ok. NO secret here: I am a nail polish-aholic. In the hoarding type of way. It’s probably the most girly thing I publicly admit to doing. It’s also probably the prettiest “problem” to have.

I thought it would be helpful to post my HG nail polish colors/formulas and get others opinions on their favorites. Maybe you are here because you were all like, “Hey I need new nail colors but have no idea what are the good ones.” I am here to save the day!! Maybe not. Maybe I just try to pretend I’m a superhero. We all want to be one. I can be Mystique! Anyway…


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(Pictured are listed below, L-R)

1. Essie – Set in Stones. This gawgeous silver/gold glitter goes well and livens up any boring manicure. Sometimes I lust after nail art but my brain is waaay more ambitious than my body is willing to put up with. This nail polish somehow satisfies my nail art craving by just doing an accent nail. Crisis averted.

2. Essie – Mint Candy Apple. This cult fave is seriously the most beautiful shade of mint that it makes every Pinterest pinner like, die. Like, they can’t even. It’s what I’m currently wearing and what more testimony could you possibly need? P.S. It is definitely brighter than it seems in the bottle.

3. Essie – Bikini So Teeny. When this periwinkle blue shade came out about 2ish years ago, I wore it for 3 months straight – NO LIE. Anyone and everyone I knew had gotten addicted to this color (I like to think I had something to do with it). It’s my favorite to wear in the Summer. and Winter. and Spring. and on the beach. and at the park. and dog walking. I’ll stop.

4. Sally Hansen, Xtreme Wear – Pacific Blue. Let’s talk about my favorite shade of blue. Then make it a nail polish. Ok, here you go. ::grins::    The brush on this wittle baby is wide so you can coat the nail faster and the formula is creamy and opaque (which is apparently the adjectives that are going to seemingly apply to every single polish I mention in this post. Sorry but I’m not). Anyway, SH Pacific Blue is kind of a dupe for Essie’s Butler Please but I think Sally’s is a touch more pastel. I love it. ::cue singing “I don’t care, I love it” by Icona Pop::

5. Essie – Fiji. Easily my absolute favorite. It’s creamy, opaque, and an almost white-pink shade. It makes you look extra tan in the summer which is great because I’m see-through and it also looks good on absolutely everyone, even if you’re dark as the night. And therefore you make me jealous.

6. OPI – My Chihuahua Bites. This is an intense red-orange that is deep enough for the cold months and bright enough for the warm ones. It works on all skin tones and I was happily swayed at first to buy it due to the name. 🙂  If they marketed anything to me with Chihuahua in the name, I can’t say I wouldn’t buy it. I’m a marketer’s dream. I know.

7. Essie – Wicked. (not pictured) A deep, blood dripping down the neck red. Black-red. It’s sexy. Like you. You are the vampire with this color on your nails. Be the vampire. Add some Essie Set in Stones and you’ll be a sparkly vampire. [See wut I did thur?] Note: A color dupe for this color is L’Oreal Haute Couture Red which I blogged about here.

Honorable Mention: Essie – Dive Bar. This polish is a dark, black blue-green shade that looks freakin’ COOL on your nails. If you don’t like wearing black nail polish but like the look of dark nails, try this guy out. It reminds me of a mermaid or ocean. Mah brayn haz probz.

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Set in Stones, Mint Candy Apple, & Bikini So Teeny

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My Chihuahua Bites & Dive Bar

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Ok. I swear I’m not sponsored by anyone and especially not Essie although you really may be questioning me by all these mentions. I honestly just love Essie stuff/formulas/colors. I’m actually heading out to buy some of their Summer Neon line today. 😉

Also, my shopping tip! I usually order Essie & China Glaze nail polishes from Amazon. The prices are about $2+ cheaper than the stores and I love getting packages in the mail! 🙂

Thanks for reading/hanging out/bein’ a pal.

-SF

Brand OCD: Tarte

I’ve liked Tarte products for a number of years. After many months of BB, CC, CC+, -12%, wait… lets just say I’ve had my fill of fancy tinted moisturizers. I wanted to give another mineral foundation a try since my skin is oily and seems to do well with those types of products. I heard Arden (arose186 on YT) talk about how much she loves the Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush Foundation so I zeroed in on my next target. I settled on the lightest shade (fair honey) which has peach undertones. I thought I could get to work for my skin but it’s very sadly a little dark for me still. Once I get a bit more color during the summer I think it will work perfectly.

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The formula is definitely full coverage which surprised me. It doesn’t feel heavy on the skin though. I apply it using the Tarte Airbuki Bamboo Powder Foundation Brush. It’s so dense, stubby and ermegerrd cute; it feels nice in the hand while working the product into your skin. I guess I didn’t need this brush but I really wanted to try the foundation with a super dense kabuki and it matched. So. You know how that goes.

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The wear of the foundation is pretty good. I still need to try it in the warmer summer months (a true test on my skin).  Overall, I’d give this product a 7.9/10.

 

I purchased the Tarte Maracuja C-Brighter Eye Treatment. I needed a new eye cream and heard good things about this one. I really am always looking for a good preventative eye cream and one that brightens a bit. I remember loving a Vitamin-C product I got from Whole Foods a number of years back so I figured this one would fit my needs nicely, as the name suggests it’s vit-c infused. I also love love love that Tarte is paraben, sulfate and phthalate -free. That’s like, half it’s selling point in my opinion.

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The eye cream feels fresh, gentle, absorbs quickly and nicely into the skin. It’s thick enough so you feel like it’s definitely hydrating, doesn’t feel silicon-y and doesn’t burn my eyes/eye area. I’ve been using it nightly for about a month and just started using it in the day as well. I’ve never been the type to wear day eye cream but thought it might be a good habit to start forming. So far, I love it. I read some reviews on Sephora’s website that were glowing and then some that said they didn’t feel like this product did anything for their eyes. I guess I will wait to go through it to determine which side of the fence I finally fall on.

What’s your favorite Tarte product? I’m looking into trying the Lights Camera Lashes mascara possibly next!

Sketchfactor: Free Beauty Samples. Influenster. Free Stuffz.

Free stuff is nice but fake recommendations are uncool. You-can’t-sit-with-me-at-lunch uncool. I guess I need to state in this post that any product I say I like anywhere at all, I like it’s not because it was free or expensive but because it’s just friggin sweet.

That said, I’ve found this company called Influenster. It’s a website you sign up for membership or be invited by a friend. This company then periodically sends boxes of beauty & lifestyle sample(s) for you to try. You do not get products all the time nor are any promised at sign-up; they have specific rules about who gets what, based on your personal profile and lifestyle. I’ve actually gotten emails from them asking for further information regarding a potential sample and been turned down to participate due to my responses. I guess I can’t blame them. If the sample was chili pepper flavored lip gloss and I despise chilis, I’m not the right gal.

About a year ago when I had become a “member” of Influenster after a friends’ recommendation, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Truly, I get as excited when I receive an Influenster box in the mail the same as I do as if I ordered from Sephora. I just like getting packages. I am most pleasantly surprised by full sized, name brand products. Some are awesome new things, some things I don’t keep (i.e. nail polish in a terrible color). I happily fill out the -unrequired- little survey and hope that my testing helps improve the product {fyi, to date I have gotten 3 boxes in said time}. I love filling out forms and surveys. I am lame. Anyway. If the tester choses to share the product on social media, Influenster kindly reminds sample recipients to lawfully disclose that the product was provided by Influenster for sampling purposes, in case the person has forgotten how to be a decent human being.

There are products I’ve never even mentioned here (…or on my other internetz) that I absolutely love or even hate that I’ve gotten for free, and Influenster does not “punish” you or specifically praise you for doing either; I would never sign up to be a member of a sample company that made or guilted me into giving false positive reviews and I quite like that. I’m not one to tell my friends I like something when I really don’t, for the sake of getting a $3 eyeliner for free; it’s never worth it. And I’m a terrible liar.

I read/watch beauty bloggers and YouTubers who receive free samples to review and while I can appreciate the fact these beauty gurus promise the reviews are honest, I still wonder what the contractual obligations are, if any. I’m new to all of this beauty blogging and so I suppose I’m just inexperienced as far as samples and sponsorships go, but it weirds me out a bit. Usually viewers can figure out if the post/video is sponsored anyway so my opinion is just be upfront – don’t insult me and take your viewing audience for stupid. I love trying new stuff as much as the next product junkie, but I’m not interested in being dishonest for money. For some reason that makes me think of mobsters. I’d be a beauty mobster. I’d have a tv documentary after my stint in jail. I’d smuggle in lip balm… I think this is where I should stop.

So that’s my minimal experience with free stuffz. Thoughts, advice, or opinions on sponsorships or free products?