Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November Birchbox Unboxing and Review

Hello there,

I continue to be absolutely swamped at work, with barely any time to sleep, much less time to blog.  But I thought I'd take a break and put together a quick one about my November Birchbox just because I loved it and want to share (even though I'm about 100 posts behind...) So you'll have to excuse the lack of good pictures, which tends to delay my reviews because I never have time to set up the whole thing.  So without further ado, here's my November box:
Birchbox November 2014 Review Unboxing

For those of you who aren't aware, Birchbox is an awesome service that costs $10 a month, and you get a fun monthly box of beauty products to sample delivered to your door.  If you review each of the things you get to try (usually 4-5), you get $1 in credit for each review to use in their store, making the net cost of the box about $5-6.  You can check it out here if you're interested (if you sign up through the link, we each get an extra 50 points, or $5).

Birchbox November 2014 Review Unboxing amika Nourishing Hair Mask 20 ml sampleAnyway, the first product in the box is the amika Nourishing Mask (20 ml, $4 value).  This is a paraben-free treatment that conditions and repairs hair with superfruit sea buckthorn berry.  I'll be honest, I have no idea what sea buckthorn berry does, but I actually already have and use this regularly, and I can say that I'm a fan because it smells nice and makes my hair soft.  Although the directions on the card say to use this once a week and to leave it on for 5-10 minutes, you can (and I do) use this more regularly, and I don't have any issues with build up.  Anyway, glad to have a convenient travel size!

The second product is the derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Cleanser (1 oz, approximately $2.60 value).  This face wash contains green tea and vitamins B3 and C, among other things, and is supposed to help brighten skin.  It's also pH balanced so it shouldn't dry out your skin, leaving it in worse shape long term than it started. I was just running out of my cleanser, and am always looking for products to brighten my complexion, so I'm excited to try this out.
Birchbox November 2014 Review Unboxing derma e dermae Evenly Radiant Brightening Cleanser 1 oz sample
The next sample is of Harvey Prince's Petaly Noir, a new "lush floral scent that evokes a midnight stroll among blossoming orchids."  According to Birchbox, this has notes of jasmine, orchid, lily of the valley and vanilla.  I love Harvey Prince (my go-to perfumes are by HP) despite a somewhat strange interaction with the president/CEO (I can't remember which), so I was excited to try this.  Unfortunately this is just way too heavy and musky for me, as I prefer light, sweet scents (admittedly, I am ok with smelling like a 15 year old girl.)

The next item is the Royal Apothic Cuppa Cuppa Firming Tea Treatment Mask (.33 oz, $9 value - full size is made up of 6 of these tubes).  This was the sample I picked out this month (Birchbox lets you choose one of your samples out of a selection. The other choices this month were a body wash, a facial peel that I've already tried, and the amika mask, which I incidentally got anyway).  Being that I love masks, and I love tea (especially as a cosmetic ingredient - how could tea ever be bad for my skin?), I couldn't say no to this, so I'm super excited to try it!  This is made with anti-oxidant rich tea and is supposed to firm and brighten skin.  I don't need any firming yet, but I'll take all the brightening I can get.

The next product is the theBalm cosmetics Cindy-Lou Manizer (.57 grams, $1.6 but honestly a fantastic sample size - this will literally last me months, at the very least).  I love theBalm products so was thrilled to get this one to try.  Their packaging is always super cute and their products (so far) are reliable and good quality.  I haven't really figured out how to use highlighter yet, but this is a pretty pink or peach/gold highlighter that I am more than happy to experiment with, and after brushing some on my cheekbones, I can at least say it's not too shimmery or sparkly that I have to be careful about application.  It would probably show up better on someone with slightly darker skin than me, but I thought it did give a nice glow!

Birchbox November 2014 Review Unboxing theBalm Cosmetics Cindy-Lou Manizer Sample
The final item in the box is a bonus and not a beauty sample, but I am certainly not complaining.  It's a piece of Vosges' Pink Himalayan Crystal Salt Caramel 70% cacao dark chocolate ($20 for a box of 12 chocolates, with three delicious sounding flavors of caramel).  Not much to say here - I know some people don't like getting food in their boxes, but feel free to throw chocolate my way any day.  Throw in some burnt sugar caramel and sea salt?  YES PLEASE (speaking of which, I just got a copy of Amy Poehler's Yes Please, courtesy of Birchbloggers and the Birchbox book of the month club, which I am super excited to read!)
Birchbox November 2014 Review Unboxing Vosges Pink Himalayan Crystal Salt Caramel

Anyway, that's my November Birchbox for you - overall I thought it was a very successful month.  Hope everyone else enjoyed their boxes as much as I did!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Memebox Special #42: OMG 3

Well, it's been a while since my last post, and while I've been way too overwhelmed at work to have any time to post anything, the boxes just keep piling up (I have a serious problem).  So I'm now officially way behind, but instead of embarking on a never-ending journey to try to catch up while still posting everything in chronological order, I'm just going to jump to the here and now.  So today I present to you Memebox Special #42: OMG 3.  OMG is the series of beauty/skin/hair care products that are (supposed to be) funky and unusual and surprising.  This is my weakness, so I'm guaranteed to continue buying them all (see the first one in the series here, and the second one... some time in the future).  Anyway, onto the main event, the box contents!

1.  First up is the On the Body Makgeolli Soap (full size - $12).  I'm not really a big soap person, at least when it comes to my face, but this one apparently contains (or is made of, or somehow related to) makgeolli, which is a sweet, alcohol drink made of rice, wheat and water that contains lactic acid, which helps smooth out the skin, amino acids which are thought (by some, at least) to help keep skin taut, and certain types of vitamin B which are good for brightening the skin.  Now, whether or not this soap accomplishes any of those things is beyond me.  Unfortunately, once lathered up, this soap has a pH of about 10 which will probably be fairly drying, so I won't be using it long term to test its claims (I'm not chemist so won't go into the details here, but as I understand it, in rough, layman's terms, our skin is happy and healthy at a pH of around 5.5, ish, and using cleansers with too high of a pH will break down the oils that keep our skin moist and protected to a greater extent than is necessary).
Memebox Special #42 OMG Unboxing Review On the Body Makgeolli Soap

Next up is what Memebox released a spoiler about, the Cleomee Three-Layer Perfume Donkey Oil Mist (full size - $59? Hard to tell as it doesn't seem to be available elsewhere).  This is a "fragrant triple layer milk and oil body mist" that hydrates your skin with donkey oil (I can't tell if this is really an ingredient, and can find much evidence of any use of donkey oil in skincare, except for a few references to Armenians using it to help wounds heal. It does have it's own facebook page though!) and donkey milk (same comment as above, although it does appear on donkeymilkbeauty.com (which may or may not be biased) that donkey milk may have good moisturizing properties).  You're supposed to shake this to get the layers to mix together just before spraying.  I'm not sure what the layers are made up of, but they combine into this lovely, natural looking green color.  This feels like most other oil mists that I've tried, but I don't have dry skin so I'm not the best judge.  I'm not sure how to describe the scent, but it's not bad.  It's not something I would buy as a perfume, but it thankfully does not smell like donkey.
Memebox Special #42 OMG Unboxing Review Cleomee Three-Layer Perfume Donkey Oil Mist

Memebox Special #42 OMG Unboxing Review Migabee Bee Venom Honey Propolis Royal Jelly CreamThe third item is the Migabee Bee Venom & Honey Cream (full size - $54?).  True to the brand name, this is a bee-centric moisturizer, containing bee venom, royal jelly, propolis and honey.  I know honey is a super popular skin care ingredient in Korea (based on Memebox offerings - this may be true of other countries as well), and bee venom is, I suppose, the "omg" aspect of this, and the theory is that it will trick your skin into thinking it's been stung (without the pain and inflammation, I hope), so that blood flow to the area is increased, stimulating collagen and elastin production.  I thankfully don't have wrinkles yet, so won't be able to test out those claims, but based on short term use, it at least seems to not make my face any oilier and it seems relatively moisturizing.  That being said, is it just the way gravity took effect, or does it look like half my jar is already gone?

Memebox Special #42 OMG Unboxing Review Migabee Bee Venom Honey Propolis Royal Jelly Cream

Memebox Special #42 OMG Unboxing Review Tonymoly Delight Tint Crayon 06 Neon Pink Blacklight Glow in the DarkAnyway, the next product is the Tonymoly Delight Tint Crayon in 06 Neon Pink ($8).  What's special about this?  It's supposed to glow in the dark!  I think what they meant though is maybe that it glows under blacklight, because it most certainly was not visible in the dark.  Unfortunately, I do not own a blacklight with which to try this out... In any case, as a regular old pencil, I definitely expected this to be way too bright for me to wear, considering it's called neon pink.  In reality, it is pretty bright, but it's actually more wearable than I thought, and you can apply a light layer to get a wearable (for a mildly conservative environment) but definitely noticeable color.  Also, it smells deliciously fruity - just like the Tonymoly delight lip tint/stain that was in some earlier boxes.

Memebox Special #42 OMG Unboxing Review Tonymoly Delight Tint Crayon 06 Neon Pink Blacklight Glow in the Dark

The last thing in the box is the Tosowoong Platinum Total Solution Miracle Skin Pore Tightening Pack (full size - $19).  This pack (a.k.a. mask) contains platinum gold powder (unclear what that is) and tea tree oil, and is supposed to control oil, tighten pores and remove blackheads.  I'm not sure why but I was very skeptical of this.  I don't know if it was the packaging, the ingredients (I don't expect much skin care benefit from so-called platinum gold powder) or the smell (the box smelled a bit... minerally/coppery when I opened it, and I assumed it was this), but for some reason I just did not expect to like this at all.  But I tried it on just my nose for review purposes, and it seems ok, even worth trying again on my whole face.  The mask itself is a brownish/reddish cream that looks a bit like red clay, and it's surprisingly gentle. I was expecting it to not be kind on my skin and for it to burn or at least tingle, but it felt fine the entire time, and when I washed it off, while my pores did not look noticeably tighter, my skin did feel softer, so I definitely plan on this out over my whole face to see how it performs.
Memebox Special #42 OMG Unboxing Review Tosowoong Platinum Total Solution Miracle Skin Pore Tightening Pack

Anyway, that's the whole box for you.  The first two were fun, but kind of hit or miss on the "OMG" aspect of it, and I felt this one was equally tame, despite Memebox's promises that they would really bring on the weird stuff.  To give credit where credit is due, I suppose each product has some element that is new for me (soap made of an alcoholic drink (though I'm not particularly eager to use alcohol on my face), donkey oil and donkey milk (assuming they are actually in the product), bee venom, blacklight lip color and some unknown powder called "platinum gold").  I think for me the problem is that I can't really discern the difference each of those ingredients actually makes.  But I still enjoyed it and will continue getting these boxes, even if they're not the most shocking products ever.  Would love to hear anyone else's thoughts about these!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September Birchbox Review

It's been a busy few weeks, so this is a little late, (ok maybe more than a little late, given that it's October...) but better late than never!  At this point I'm sure no one is really interested in unboxings so I'll just get straight to the point! September was Birchbox's anniversary (see my post about their Customer Appreciation Day) which was the occasion for the extra special boxes (literally, the box itself).
September 2014 Birchbox Unboxing Review Design

But I know what really matters is what's on the inside (or so I'm told), so I suppose I'll share that too:
September 2014 Birchbox Unboxing Macadamia Treatment Healing Oil Spray Acure Organics Day Cream gotu kola stem cells CGF chlorella growth factor brandt vacuum cleaner temptu highlighter champagne shimmer ruffian nail lacquer naked dressing room

From left to right:
1.  Macadamia Professional Healing Oil Spray (at 2 oz., this extremely generous "sample" (generous for a hair oil, at least) is actually sold as a standalone product for $14.5 so if nothing else I certainly got my money's worth, given that a Birchbox costs $10 and you get $4-5 back in points!)  This is supposed to be like a hair oil lite.  In spray form it's much easier to distribute evenly, and the risk of instantly taking your hair from freshly washed to oily mess is much smaller.  It's also supposed to reduce frizz, boost shine, and protect your hair against UV rays.  I think it's a nice spray, and it did seem to make my hair a bit softer.  I thankfully don't really suffer from frizz, and I rarely notice any difference in shine (no matter what I use), so I can't really speak as to those qualities.  I won't even try to get into how well it protected my hair from the sun.  In any case, my hair felt pretty nice, but I already have other products I love too much and make my hair crazy soft that it's hard to compete.  Also, for some reason the smell of the Macadamia Oil spray reminds me of summer camp.  Mind you, it has been quite some time since I was anywhere near a camp-attending age.  But it's a sweet, earthy smell, which smells nice (but not as nice as my trusty Beauty Protector).

2.  Moving on, this month's box also contained the Acure Organics Day Dream - Gotu Kola Stem Cell + 1% Chlorella Growth Factor (1 oz., which is apparently worth about $10 because the $19 full size is only 1.75 oz?)  Anyway, this highly scientifically-sounding anti-aging moisturizer is supposed protect collagen and elastin fibers, which keep skin elastic and firm.  Obviously, this is due to the chlorella growth factor ("CGF") (everyone knew that, right?).  Research indicates that CGF promotes the rapid growth of chlorella (during which each cell multiplies into four new cells every 20 hours - this is faster than any other plant on Earth. That's a lot of new cells.)  It's also been shown to enhance RNA/DNA functions responsible for producing protein, enzymes and energy, stimulating tissue repair and providing protection against certain toxins (source).  So if you're going for anti-aging, this sounds like a decent bet.  But wait, there's more!  The day cream also has gotu kola stem cells, and gotu kola has been used for thousands of years to treat wounds and conditions including psoriasis.  The wound healing properties come from something called triterpanoid which some studies have suggested strengthens skin, boosts antioxidants in wounds and increases blood flow to the area (source - it's a .edu link therefore must be legit).  So overall, sounds pretty great, no?  Well, looking at the ingredients list, there seem to be a whole lot of things that come before either the gotu kola or the CGF (the CGF in particular is almost at the end of the list).  But I can't honestly say I can fairly interpret that - just pointing it out.  As for my experience, this moisturizer has a citrus-y scent but for some reason I don't love it, though I can't pinpoint the reason.  It actually seems to be keeping my oiliness at bay a bit, which I love, but for some reason I'm just not loving the product.  The texture is fine, though not as soothing or refreshing as some other moisturizers.  It works fine with my makeup, as well - no balling up, which I often get.  So why don't I like this?  It's kind of irrational, really, but I think the not-so-refreshing scent, the fact that it just feels ok when I put it on, and the packaging will prevent me from really getting into this.  It's kind of silly, but the packaging just reminds me of a random drug store product.  It doesn't scream "groundbreaking skincare developed by actual scientists" but it also doesn't look especially nice.  So who knows, maybe that's making me biased, but oh well.

Anyway, the third (and fourth) products are the Ruffian Nail Lacquer in Ruffian Naked  and the Ruffian Acetone-Free Dressing Room Perfumed Nail Lacquer Remover Towelette (that name needs to be cut down).  I really like nude nails for work, so I was excited about this one, but I'm feeling kind of meh about it overall.  The hue isn't great for my skintone, and as you can see the formula ended up kind of uneven, so sadly this will have to get used by someone else.  I haven't tried the nail polish remover wipe, which I hear is black, has vitamin E and has a lily scent, but I can't imagine having anything revolutionary to say about it anyway.

September 2014 Birchbox Unboxing ruffian nail lacquer naked dressing room swatch

5.  Next up is the TEMPTU S/B Highlighter in Champagne Shimmer.  In case you're not knowledgeable about these things (like me), S/B means silicone based, which gives it a nice, smooth texture.  That being said, this is called a highlighter, but given the shade, it would be more appropriately called a bronzer ,at least for me.  I put a bit on my cheeks one day and it seriously made me look more tan (and I mean darker, not just a nice glow).  I wear blush every day but with this on, there was no room for blush.  So I think the name is a bit misleading, but otherwise it's a fine product, except that I don't really use highlighter or bronzer.  I do like the texture though.
September 2014 Birchbox Unboxing Temptu S/B Highlighter Champagne Shimmer
Do I look like a highlighter to you?
The final product I got to try this month was the dr. brandt pores no more vacuum cleaner (and I will respect dr. brandt's apparent disdain for proper capitalization).  This is described as a "blackhead extractor mask" that degunks pores for fewer blackheads and smoother skin. It's a light blue gel that turns into a pale blue, crumbly substance when it dries.  After rinsing, I really so no difference in my pores, but I have noticed that if I use a pore strip immediately after, it seems to get out much more gunk than usual, so I think it does help to loosen stuff up, even if it doesn't actually remove anything on its own.  So I do like it for that.  Unfortunately it also seems mildly irritating, at least to the inner corners where my nose and cheek meet (unfortunately also where I get the most gunky stuff).  This may be because the second ingredient is benzyl alcohol, which is a preservative, a solvent (i.e., it dissolves stuff) and the main ingredient in head lice treatment and above all, a potential skin irritant (see here and here).  Or it could be the fifth ingredient, denatured alcohol (i.e., ethanol) or the sixth ingredient, methyl lactate, which is probably responsible for the cooling effect the gel has, since it's a derivative of menthol, but is also classified as a skin irritant (source).  One morning when I used this + a pore strip, the edges of my nose were slightly raw feeling all day.  Nothing painful or even that bad, but still mildly uncomfortable.  So while it does seem to be effective, I probably won't continue using it (or at least, I'll only put it on tougher spots on my face).

Oh and one last thing - Birchbox has a system where each month (for the past few months, at least) you can choose one of your samples out of a select group.  This month, I chose the Davines Oi Conditioner, which came with the Oi Shampoo and Oi Absolute Beautifying Potion, but was very sad when I got my box and that wasn't included.  (Instead, I got the Macadamia Oil, which was another one of the options).  But, I emailed Birchbox about it (they have great customer service, by the way) and they promptly sent me the Davines samples separately.  Unfortunately I rushed too quickly to try them that I forgot to take a picture, but the conditioner was a big, generously sized tub, while they included only a foil packet of the shampoo.  Technically the conditioner was the sample and the shampoo and oil were just bonuses, but come on, why would you give someone one use of shampoo to go with their 15 uses of conditioner??  But I digress.  Overall, using the combination of the three products worked well for my hair, and it made it very soft and light.  Unfortunately, I really don't like the smell - it reminds me a bit of baby powder, which some people are fine with, but it's just not up my alley.  So that's kind of a bummer.  But even if I won't be using the shampoo/conditioner, the Davies Oi Absolute Beautifying Potion seems to make my hair super soft and the scent is pretty faint and doesn't linger, so I may consider buying the full size, but we'll see.

Anyway, that's my September Birchbox for you.  In my opinion, totally worth my $4 (since I got $6 back in points for reviewing each of these on the Birchbox website).  Now, onto October's box!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Birchbox Customer Appreciation Day

Birchbox Soho Store Customer Appreciation Day
Inside the Birchbox store

Yesterday, in honor of its fourth anniversary, Birchbox held its first Customer Appreciation Day.  What does that mean, you ask?  It was actually pretty sweet.  Birchbox made in-person deliveries across the country to people who were "nominated" (i.e. entered into the contest).  I sadly was not one of the lucky recipients, but judging from their Facebook pictures, it looks like Birchbox showed up to deliver tote bags (not sure what, if anything, was inside), flowers and balloons, which I think is super sweet.  They also notified a bunch of people that they would be receiving Birchbox treats in the mail - yet again, I was not one of the lucky ones.  Thankfully, for those of us who were not lucky enough to get treats delivered to us but who are lucky enough to live in or near NYC, anyone who stopped into the Birchbox Soho store got to put together a free Birchbox to take home.  How could I say no to that?
Birchbox Build Your Own Birchbox Box Soho Store Customer Appreciation Day
BYOB: Build Your Own Birchbox!

So I pushed out of my mind the fact that I would have to be late to work (the store doesn't normally open until 10:00 am, and today they didn't let people in until around 10:15 am) and made my way over to Soho, and thought I'd share a bit of it with you guys who couldn't make it.

This was the first time I've made it to th Borchbox store, but it's really nice! It's a very clean, modern looking space and they had it decorated with balloons and gold confetti on the floor.
Birchbox Soho Store Customer Appreciation Day

There are little stations with vanity mirrors in the middle where products are laid out to try, and then there are also products lining the walls and organized by category and need, like this skincare wall which has a section for oily and acne prone skin, among others.
Birchbox Soho Store Customer Appreciation Day

Sadly since I was already late for work I didn't really get to stick around and explore the offerings, so I made a beeline for the build your own Birchbox station (as did everyone else).
Birchbox Soho Store Customer Appreciation Day Build Your Own Birchbox Box
So many Birchboxes!
The first thing you do here is pick your box color, then you get to the really fun part - picking your samples! One rule, though, you're only allowed to pick one thing from each category (I think the categories were body, face (skincare), hair, fragrance and makeup).  Sometimes I think Birchbox forgets it's own rule when curating our boxes - ahem. But I digress.  Sadly the selection and process were not nearly as extensive as it was when I went to their NYFW pop up shop, but I guess I shouldn't be.  Rather than just browsing and picking out your samples out of giant, candy-store tubes lining the walls, you just move down the line of cases that display the sample choices, and an employee fills your box with your choice in each category. There were roughly 3-5 choices for each one, which basically like your typical pick-your-own-sample, but for your entire box!  Unfortunately a lot of the samples offers I had already tried or wasn't interested in, but I still found a few I'm excited about and they change every month so the options will always be different.

What I ended up choosing:
Body: Color Club nail polish in Peace, Love and Polish. I don't know why but I am seriously loving this polish right now.  Not usually into bright hot pink nails, but  this one is not only a great shade of pink (which would look great with a tan, btw) but it has a gorgeous gold sheen that makes it 100x more appealing to me. In the picture below, you can't really see it on my nails because I put a coat of Sephora/OPI's It's Real 18K Gold on top, but you can see the sheen in the bottle. So pretty!
Other options: I think there was a Whish body scrub, but I can't remember anything else... 

Birchbox Color Club Nail Polish Peace Love Polish Swatch

Face: I chose the Supergoop Advanced Anti-Aging Eye Cream with SPF 37. I've never noticed any difference from using eye cream (I don't yet have wrinkles or dark circles) but I try to use it on the off chance it may actually be effective in preventing wrinkles. But since I don't see any immediate effects I have no real way to distinguish between eye creams, so one easy way for me is to get eye creams with SPF, which is rarer than it should be! I figure no matter what, it has to be good to protect that delicate skin from the sun, right? 
Other options: Suki exfoliating foaming cleanser, a Marcelle 8-in-1 serum (I think) and I can't remember what else.

Fragrance: they had about four fragrances (of which I only remember two - Harvey Prince Ageless, which I chose, and Folle de Jolie, which I've already gotten in my Birchcbox). They had tester strips for each fragrance so you could smell it before choosing, which is nice, though they only had one of each that was reused. While this is economical and makes sense as long as you can still smell it, some people might want one that hasn't been held up to other people's noses all day. I didn't care though. 

Hair: Macadamia Healing Oil Treatment. While I just got the spray version of this in this month's Birchbox (and since I rarely use leave in hair products I have way more than I need), the other two options were a curl cream (I have straight hair) and Fekkai's glossing shampoo and conditioner (good sizes! They were bottles and not foil packets) which I have tried and don't love. And the Macadamia oil spray has seemed nice so far, so I'm ok with having another formulation of it.

Makeup: this one was kind of a bust for me. I chose the Laura Geller GlamLASH Dramatic Volumizing Mascara (which is .2 oz, almost 3/4 of the full size!) even though I'm up to my ears in mascara and I rarely use it, because the other options were the Cynthia Rowley eyeliner in silver (which I already have two of, thanks to Birchbox), the Manna Kadar sheer glo shimmer lotion (which I also have two of, thanks to Birchbox), the Anastasia clear brow gel (which I have at least one of from Birchbox) and I think there was one other option but I can't remember what it was. 
Birchbox Soho Store Customer Appreciation Day Build Your Own Birchbox Box Harvey Prince Ageless Macadamia Healing Oil Treatment Supergoop Eye Cream SPF Anti-Aging Laura Geller GlamLASH Mascara

All in all, not as thrilling as the NYFW box I made (with the amazing variety of samples there, it was impossible to choose just five of the ones I wanted to try) but it's still definitely nice to be able to pick your own samples. (And let's not forget that Birchbox was giving these away for free, so I really have nothing to complain about!)  One thing I do wish they retained from NYFW is a card that describes all the possible samples and includes brief instructions on how to use it, and the employee helping you can check off the ones you chose.  Not that I need instructions for these particular products, but it would be helpful in general. 

That's pretty much it, aside from the cute bag they put the box in (though walking into work with a bright pink bag that says BYOB at 11 am is maybe not ideal) and the jars of delicious candy they had out.  It was a total coincidence that I only got pink candy! 
Birchbox Soho Store Customer Appreciation Day Build Your Own Birchbox Box
Birchbox Soho Store Customer Appreciation Day

Anyway, I thought it was a nice event and certainly wouldn't mind if they did this every year! Happy anniversary Birchbox!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Memebox Scentbox #6: Sweet Shop + Coupon

Sweet Shop is the final scent theme in the latest series of Scentboxes from Memebox (check out my reviews of the Floral box and the Tropical Fruits box!) and it was also the one I was looking forward to the most, as I suffer from a serious sweet tooth.  That being said, it did not really turn out as I expected.  Maybe it's because I have a sweet tooth for baked goods and also love baking, but when I hear "sweet shop" I think of a bakery, so I was expecting something more along the lines of chocolate and cupcakes, particularly since the box was described as leaving you smelling "like yummy sugar crystals and sprinkles" - classic baking decorations!  Instead, the box seemed more directed at sweet things in general, including fruity scents that made up 50% of the box.  Given that I already had a separate tropical fruits box, I wish they had had more different scents in this box, but oh well.

Anyway, this is box in full:

Memebox Scentbox #6 Sweet Shop Unboxing Review

The first product is the Pure Smile Jewelry Scrub Glitter Sugar Scrub in Amethyst (full size, $8).  I'm honestly not sure why this was included in the box, except for the fact that it smells vaguely sweet?  But even then I can barely smell anything.
Memebox Scentbox #6 Sweet Shop Unboxing Review Pure Smile Jewelry Scrub Glitter Sugar Amethyst

Also, there is this exceedingly helpful diagram on the back (sorry about the poor quality - I decided to take a picture after putting away my camera), which I interpret to mean that this scrub will make sure to get all the precious gems and hearts from out of your pores so that you can be a sparkly naked dancer who likes to shower on tip toe while standing on one foot.  So there you have it!
Memebox Scentbox #6 Sweet Shop Unboxing Review Pure Smile Jewelry Scrub Glitter Sugar Amethyst

The second product is the Hello Everybody SPA Vita Berry Shampoo (full size, the full set is ~$29 on Wishtrend).  Unlike the scrub, this smells very sweet - kind of like the smell of artificial strawberry jam - probably because it's made with 10 berry "complexes".  It's not bad, but it does seem a little bit like something a 12 year old would want to smell like.  I don't mind it though, and I will keep using it since it seems like a perfectly good shampoo that's just as good as what I was using before.  I do wish they had included the conditioner, because I generally like to use shampoo and conditioner that go together, but right now I use this with Amika's nourishing hair mask, and my hair seems relatively soft. (Also I had used this a few times before taking the picture, so there was more to start with, in case anyone is wondering).
Memebox Scentbox #6 Sweet Shop Unboxing Review Hello Everybody SPA Vita Berry Shampoo

The third product is the Hope Girl Tinted Lip Balm in Strawberry (full size, $12).  Again, with the fruity scents!  This may as well have been the "not tropical fruits" box.  But oh well.  I do love tinted lip balms, although this one's not my favorite.  It's not as moisturizing as I'd like, and I would have preferred one of the other colors (Love Peach or Hot Cherry, both of which looked like deeper pink/red/orange).

Memebox Scentbox #6 Sweet Shop Unboxing Review Hope Girl Tinted Lip Balm Strawberry

Memebox Scentbox #6 Sweet Shop Unboxing Review Hope Girl Tinted Lip Balm Strawberry Swatch

Finally, the last product(s): Pure Smile Choosy Lip Pack Shining (in White Pearl and Pink Pearl).  Finally, something truly "sweets"-related!  Sort of.  At least, they have a picture of candy on them... I'm not sure what White Pearl and Pink Pearl have to do with anything though.  I've gotten these before, in my first ever Scentbox actually (Grapefruit).  They're odd-looking lip masks (see the packing below to get an idea) that are enriched with collagen, vitamin E, hyaluronic acid and honey to deliver intense moisture and nutrition to your lips.  You're supposed to apply it after toner (do you put toner on your lips??) and leave it on for 5-30 minutes (depending on how long you can go without talking, I guess?) then pat any remaining essence on your lips.  I was saving the first two for a special occasion (i.e. severely dry lips or, you know, a hot date...) so I haven't actually used them yet, but now that I have four I suppose I can be a little less choosy (pun intended...sorry, it just came to me!) about when I use them.  As long as they work decently, I'm happy to have multiples.
Memebox Scentbox #6 Sweet Shop Unboxing Review Pure Smile Choosy Lip Pack Shining White Pink Pearl

Anyway, that's the Sweet Shop box for you.  As I said earlier, I was expecting a different kind of sweet, and I still wish it had been more "bake shop" themed, but I'll use most of it. I may avoid future scentboxes though unless it's a specific scent I really love.

If you're interested in trying out Memebox (they have some fun boxes right now, like the Wine and Cheese box, which has the famed Bounce Cheese Cream in full size - this is not a recommendation! I bought it but have no idea if it will be a good box or not), you can use the code O4UP for $5 off your purchase.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Memebox Scentbox #5 Tropical Fruits Unboxing and Review + Coupon

As I mentioned in my last post, I bought the latest three Scentboxes from Memebox (see my review of the Floral box here).  The second box was themed around tropical fruits, and without further ado, here it is!

Memebox Scentbox #5 Tropical Fruits Unboxing Review

This round of scentboxes was advertised (I believe) as having at least 3 full sized products, so it's nice to get a couple extra products in there.

Memebox Scentbox #5 Tropical Fruits Unboxing Review Boutique Bebe Coconut Pack SoapThe first item is the Boutique Bebe Coconut Pack (Memebox says $20, but I see it for about $9 on Gmarket).  Memebox says this pack (i.e. mask) is made "entirely" from all-natural extra virgin coconut oil, though the packaging itself lists quite a few other ingredients, including olive oil, argan oil, shea butter, vitamin E, rice bran oil, snail extract, propolis and salicylic acid.  This looks like soap, but Memebox calls it a "soap-like pack" and it's only meant to be used 1-2 a week, for deep cleansing, treating enlarged pores and improving skin elasticity and firmness.  Per the instructions, I lathered this up, massaged on my face for 2 minutes, and then rinsed off.  I didn't notice much difference in my pores, although some of the little sebum plugs seemed very close to the surface (if that was the work of the pack, I would still need a nose strip or something to actually get them out).  Although my face felt pretty clean, I tested the ph of the foam afterwards, and it's pretty alkaline, at a ph level of about 9.  This would dry out my (or anyone's) skin, so I don't think I will keep using this, sadly.  On the plus side, I always see the silver lining in unusable products in that I don't feel so bad wasting them, and I can take them out of the loong line up of things I have to use up!

Anyway, the second item is the Ladykin Twinklight Soft Foam Cleansing in Kiwi (full size, $10).  Unfortunately this was also more alkaline that I'd like in a face cleanser (less so than the coconut pack, but higher than 6, though I don't remember the exact number).  It's unfortunate, because this one smelled nice, and seemed to cleanse my face just fine.  It's supposed to be rich in anti-oxidants and vitamin C, but the high ph and drying effects mean I won't be using this long enough to test out those claims.  Sigh.
Memebox Scentbox #5 Tropical Fruits Unboxing Review Ladykin Twinklight Soft Foam Cleansing Kiwi

The third product is the KONAD niju Mango Moisture Hand Cream ($6).  This hand cream is enriched with argan oil, shea butter, olive oil and vitamin E and smells pretty much like mango.  I wouldn't say it's the most wonderful, real mango smell ever, but it's pretty decent.  The lotion itself leaves a slightly waxy feeling on my hands though, so it's not my favorite out there, but it will get used.
Memebox Scentbox #5 Tropical Fruits Unboxing Review KONAD niju Mango Moisture Hand Cream

The next item is interesting in theory - it's the KONAD Scented Nail Polish in Orange.  The name pretty much says it all, but this is nail polish that, when dried, is supposed to smell like oranges for up to 7 days after application.  Unfortunately, I don't really wear orange nail polish, so I don't have much use for this, though the color was actually nicer than I expected from looking at the bottle.  As for scent, it did smell kind of like oranges right after I applied it, but it faded away very quickly that same day.  It most definitely did not last 7 days!  Interestingly, Memebox says that if you want to scent to last longer, you should apply top coat after the scent wears off.  I'm not sure if this is just a bad translation, but I'm not sure how applying top coat after the scent is gone would make it last longer...I'm also not sure why it's a desirable thing to have your nails smell like fruit, but hey, to each his own.
Memebox Scentbox #5 Tropical Fruits Unboxing Review KONAD Scented Polish Orange

Swatched on one nail because I didn't need a full hand of mini oranges:

Memebox Scentbox #5 Tropical Fruits Unboxing Review Konad Scented Polish Orange Swatch

Finally, the last item is the Evasa Vitamin Body Wash in Papaya ($6).  I never really loved vitamin water that much, but I'll drink it if it's there and I'm thirsty.  I feel pretty much the same way about this uncannily familiar-looking body wash.  I would have preferred most of the other scents (pomegranate, lemon, strawberry and grape, which I would not have wanted).  Papaya isn't a fruit I love, and I don't love the scent of this.  It's not unpleasant and it's fairly mild, it just isn't necessarily something I would get excited about bathing in, so I will probably give it away.
Memebox Scentbox #5 Tropical Fruits Unboxing Review Evas Vitamin Body Wash Papaya

Overall, this box ended up being a bit disappointing for me, with two face products I can't use, a waxy lotion, a nail polish I won't use and a body wash I have no desire to use, but I guess you win some you lose some.  At least they generally stayed within the theme of tropical fruits, so I can't complain too much.

If you're interested in trying out Memebox, you can use the code O4UP for $5 off your purchase.  Enjoy!

Memebox Scentbox #4: Floral Unboxing and Review + Coupon

As you may know, Memebox (the Korean skincare/beauty product curated box service) has launched a series of Scentboxes, or small boxes ($15 each, with at least 3 full sized products, so far they have always included more, though not all full sized) that revolve around a particular scent as its theme (check out my review of the Grapefruit scentbox here).  I most recently bought a bundle pack of their three latest scentboxes: Floral, Tropical Fruits and Sweet Shop, which was $30 total, or buy 2 get 1 free.  I wasn't really interested in the Floral, but since I liked the sound of the other two, I figured it couldn't hurt to get the bundle and get that one free.  On that note, today I'm reviewing the Floral box:

Memebox Scentbox #4 Floral Unboxing Review

The first thing in this box is Sally's Box Friendly Cherry Blossom Hand Mask ($2).  This is a glove-shaped hand mask that has cherry blossom extracts and shea butter, which is supposed to intensely hydrate and nourish dry, rough hands.  I look forward to using this when my hands get dry, though I probably won't need it for a while.

Memebox Scentbox #4 Floral Unboxing Review Sally's Box Friendly Cherry Blossom Hand Mask

Memebox Scentbox #4 Floral Unboxing Review ESTHE Shower Cologne Body Perfume Spray Floral DreamThe second product is the ESTHE Shower Cologne (full size, $26?) in Floral Dream, which is a "refreshingly fruity and citrus floral scent".  The other possibilities were Rosy Glow (a soft, lovely rose bouquet scent) and White Musk (a delicately sensual white musk scent).  Name aside, this is essentially a body spray.  It smells fine, though nothing I would go out and repurchase again. I don't know a lot about perfume, but this smells like the kind of body spray you would get from Bath and Body Works - kind of sweet and pleasant, but not sophisticated (not that I'm complaining).  Not overly floral either.  The scent doesn't seem to last very long though.  In any event, I'm kind of meh about this.

Memebox Scentbox #4 Floral Unboxing Review L'OCEAN Feromonika Perfume Spray Ios FreshConsidering floral scents are my least favorite of the three, I'm slightly disappointed that half of this box is straight up perfume, rather than floral scented beauty/skin products that I would otherwise use.  But I guess that's not exactly unexpected for a box dedicated to a particular scent.  In any case, the third product is L'OCEAN Feromonika Perfume in 05 Ios Fresh (10ml, $12).  The description of this is a bit odd.  First, it says the Feromonika Perfume series is known as "pocket perfume" due to its small, easy to carry packaging, but I'm not sure how this is any different from, well, every other travel sized perfume spray or rollerball.  Second, it says L'OCEAN infused internationally popular high-end fragrances and infused them into this series.  In other words, this is a knock off perfume?  Kind of an odd thing to put in a curated box...Lastly, the name suggests some connection to pheromones but nothing is mentioned in the description.  The box, however, states that it contains l-muscone, which is the synthetic replica of the primary component of musky scents, and is supposed to make this scent "elegant yet seductive".  While I'm not typically a brand name snob, it seems a little odd to include a product that is so clearly meant to be a cheap, knock off version of something else.  I feel like that would be like Birchbox going to CVS and picking up those "If you liked Dior J'adore, you'll love this!" perfumes.  In any case, this also smells fine but not mindblowingly amazing.  It does smell fresh, so I guess that's good?

Memebox Scentbox #4 Floral Unboxing Review Secret Key Perfume Hand Cream Petit No. 2 Orange Basil JasmineAnyway, the fourth and final product in this box is the Secret Key Perfume Hand Cream (30g, listed as $10, but Memebox itself sells it for $5).  This hand cream comes in 6 different fragrances, which are supposed to last on your hands while the cream itself keeps them moisturized. The fragrances aren't listed (only numbers 1-6, or technically "petit no. 1-6").  I got number 2, which, according to a list I found online, is Orange Basil Jasmine.  I don't really pick up any orange or basil, unfortunately, and it smells mostly powdery.  I would have preferred most of the other scents, but oh well.  It works decently well as a lotion, but again, nothing special.

No. 1 is Jasmine Orange Peach
No. 2 is Orange Basil Jasmine
No. 3 is Orange Citrus Rose
No. 4 is Bergamot Peach Rose
No.5 is Bergamot Lily Musk
No. 6 is Lemon Orange Apple

In short, I didn't love this box (but wasn't expecting to, as someone who doesn't love floral scents) so I'm glad I didn't buy it separately.  I do wish it hadn't been 50% perfume though, because if you don't like the scent of the perfume, there's nothing else you can do with it, whereas I'm totally willing to use other products that incidentally have a floral scent.  But what can I do.  Thankfully I enjoyed the other two scentboxes more, and will post those shortly!

If you're interested in trying out Memebox, you can use the code O4UP for $5 off your purchase.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Memebox Traveller's Beauty Kit Unboxing and Review + Coupon

[So I know I just posted a Memebox unboxing, but in the interest of catching up on my reviews... I'm trying to crank these out].

Ah, the Traveller's Beauty Kit.  This kit contains travel friendly beauty and skincare goodies so you can look your best without lugging around your entire bathroom.  I suppose it would have been too much to ask to get this in time for me to actually use it on my one and only vacation, eh?  This is the one box I wanted by a certain time that was comfortably in the estimated delivery date, and it was the one box that took forever to get here.  It took the longest time getting to the US of all the boxes I've ordered, and then when it finally got here, it was delivered the very afternoon I left on vacation.  Of course, it got here after I had left for the airport.  So frustrating, given that so many of the things in this box would have come in handy on my trip... but I guess it was not meant to be.

I threw out the box already, but here are the contents of the Traveller's Beauty Kit (and also the pouch that came with it, though the pouch was nothing to write home about for me):
Memebox #25 Traveller's Traveler's Beauty Kit Unboxing Review
Memebox #25 Traveller's Traveler's Beauty Kit Unboxing Review

Memebox #25 Traveller's Traveler's Beauty Kit Unboxing Review Amini Traveller Kit Moisturizing Body Cleanser EmulsionThe first product (or two) is the Amini Traveller Kit, with Moisturizing Body Cleanser and Emulsion (30 ml each).  Memebox says these are "full sized", but I suppose it's a full-sized travel duo?  In any case, it's a pretty standard body wash + moisturizer set, with a mildly citrus scent. The body wash was pretty ordinary, but I do like the body emulsion.  I felt like it really does moisturize my skin rather than just covering it with a layer of lotion.  Although it's not the most chic packaging, I actually wish I had more of this (which is unusual for me - body lotions tend to all be one and the same to me).

The second product is one I really wish I had had on my trip.  It's the T.P.O. No-Wash Toner Sheet (full size, $10), which is a cleansing wipe.  Although I have plenty of these at home, vacation would have been the ideal time to use them.  After running around all day, I would go out at night but wouldn't want to wash my face three times in one day, so these cleansing wipes would have been perfect, whereas I don't have as much reason to use them at home.  I'm also curious if these are any different in that they're called Toner Sheets - I can't tell if they're supposed to also tone in addition to remove makeup and cleanse.  In any case, I already have an open package at home, so will wait until I finish that up before opening these.  One thing I found interesting is that the outer packaging, which markets this as a travel product, seems to have no connection to the product inside, as far as design goes.  That being said, T.P.O. apparently stands for Time, Place and Occasion, so maybe the entire brand/line revolves around products that can be used on the go?
Memebox #25 Traveller's Traveler's Beauty Kit Unboxing Review T.P.O. TPO No-Wash No Wash Toner Sheet Cleansing Wipe

Memebox #25 Traveller's Traveler's Beauty Kit Unboxing Review Easydew EX Active Smoothing SerumThe next item is a small (5 ml) sample of Easydew EX Active Soothing Serum.  This serum is made from Swiss glacier water (sounds nice, but I'm not sure what the benefits are... most google search results lead to product pages, which I am wary of) and it's supposed to cool and refresh dry, irritated skin.  It also has monk's pepper berries (sidenote: apparently the plant is known as Chaste Tree because it was believed to be an anaphrodisiac.  So, you know...  if your face is feeling a bit too lusty, you know what to use) which is supposed to sooth and repair damaged skin. I haven't used this yet, as my skin is neither dry nor damaged, but it feels like a pretty typical serum.

The next piece of the beauty kit is the ideeB Sweet Jelish Eyeliner ($11).  This came in two colors (Ultra Fine Pearl Black and Champagne Gold Brown) and I received the Pearl Black.  This is described as both an eyeliner and eyeshadow in an easy-to-apply product.  I'm not sure what makes this an eyeshadow, except for the fact that you can smudge it, and it doesn't smudge so easily that I would actually use this as an eyeshadow.  At most, I might smudge my liner a bit to make it smokier, but I think that's true of most pencil liners.  I'm also not sure why this is a traveler's item, except for the fact that it's waterproof.  I guess that's helpful if you're swimming or sweating while on vacation, but the connections seems tenuous to me.  In addition, this seems to be one of those annoying products that is made of plastic but has no internal mechanism to push the liner out, so you have to use a pencil sharpener on plastic, which I hate, and which is not as travel friendly as a twist up liner.  Also, I have about 100 black eyeliners to use up, which may put a damper on my enthusiasm for this.
Memebox #25 Traveller's Traveler's Beauty Kit Unboxing Review ideeB Sweet Jelish Eyeliner Ultra Fine Pearl Black

As for application, the liner goes on smoothly enough.  It's not as easy as kohl pencils for my waterline, which is primarily where I wear eyeliner, but it does show up, and doesn't seem like it would smudge.  The color is black but not deep, jet black, and has a bit of shimmer which is (thankfully) not too noticeable.
Memebox #25 Traveller's Traveler's Beauty Kit Unboxing Review ideeB Sweet Jelish Eyeliner Ultra Fine Pearl Black Swatch

The next product is another I really would have liked to have on my trip, and which is less useful now.  It's the Pure Smile Powder in refresh Sheets (sorry about the bad quality... I decided to retake the photo and was too lazy to break out the real camera).  This is a set of 10 deodorant sheets with a powder-infused formula to clean and refresh yourself.  Again, these would have been great at the end of a long day of sightseeing when I don't have time to shower before dinner or going out, especially since it comes in a cute little package that would easily fit into any bag.
Memebox #25 Traveller's Traveler's Beauty Kit Unboxing Review Pure Smile Powder in Refresh Sheets Deodorant

Memebox #25 Traveller's Traveler's Beauty Kit Unboxing Review S&B Aqua Tint OrangeOh well.  The next item is a fun one, and it's the S&B Aqua Tint in Orange ($4).  These are cotton swabs that are filled with lip stain liquid.  You twist the plastic on one end, and the liquid very quickly seeps into the other end, leaving you with one disposable cotton swap with enough lip tint for one application on your lips.  I think this is a cool idea, but maybe not the most practical.  It is definitely convenient to have disposable, one-time use make up products, but to carry this case around, I may as well just carry a lip tint, since there are plenty that are smaller than this case.  That being said, it's still a fun product to use, and there's no doubt I will use them up.  I've only tried one (I would have swatched again for a photo, but since there are limited uses, I decided to save them) but the color was much less intense than I expected from the name and the look of the swabs.  It's possible I was just wearing lip balm at the time and that interfered with the lip stain absorbing on my lips, but I prefer the natural look anyway, so I like that it was a tint but not a full on lip color or bright stain.

Memebox #25 Traveller's Traveler's Beauty Kit Unboxing Review S&B Aqua Tint Orange

The second to last product, again, would haven useful on a vacation... It's the NoTS UV Protection Sun Cream SPF 50+ PA +++, and it came in a box with 10 foil packets.  Normally I wouldn't be a fan of getting 10 foil packets instead of just a small container, but it would be convenient to have on vacation (for example, if I want to bring one packet to the beach and not bring the whole container just to leave it sitting out in the sun).  Now that I'm home and spending no more than 10 minutes in the sun on the average day, I don't have much use for SPF 50+, so I'm not sure when I'll use these.
Memebox #25 Traveller's Traveler's Beauty Kit Unboxing Review NoTS Protection Sun Cream

The final item is (spoiler alert) yet another product that would have been more useful to have on vacation than it is to have it at home.  It's the Pure Smile Hand Gel - Maldives Dancing Waters, in a 30 ml bottle ($2).  This cute little bottle of hand sanitizer contains collagen extracts, jojoba extracts and ascorbyl palmitate (an antioxidant and... food additive?).  I don't have much to say about this, except that it's cuter than Purell and, as far as I can tell, works just fine.
Memebox #25 Traveller's Traveler's Beauty Kit Unboxing Review Pure Smile Hand Gel Maldives Dancing Waters

So that's the Memebox Traveller's Beauty Box.  Overall I thought it was good box that I would have gotten a lot of use out of if I had had it on vacation.  What do you guys think?

If you're interested in trying out Memebox, you can use the code O4UP for $5 off your purchase.  Enjoy!
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