Thursday, March 20, 2014

Benefit+Birchbox Event!

I'm really trying to take advantage of living in LA now, and this was the perfect opportunity! Birchbox and Benefit Cosmetics got together for an event on Tuesday, March 18 all around the country, mine was at the Montana Ave Boutique in Santa Monica. Basically, you bought a ticket and for a "free" brow wax or tint, a "free" Birchbox, and $35 of Benefit product credit. You also got a makeover to try their products, Sprinkles cupcakes, and champagne! What's not to love?

I wasn't sure if I could make it to the event, since it was 7-9pm and I work all kinds of crazy hours. When I found out I could leave at 6 on Tuesday, I was a little torn. Do I go spend $45 on a ticket, when I'll be all alone, and I don't even know if they'll still let me go since I didn't buy a ticket in advance, but it's not that far away (3 miles from my office actually)... But finally I decided to go and it was totally worth it!

Cute gift bag from the event
And my "free" (=included in ticket price) Birchbox
Great makeover. I never use liquid eyeliner and I love the winged edges!
I'm going to try do this on my own some time so I had to take pictures!
Here are the items I decided to buy. A little expensive, but the $35 credit helped a lot.

Benefit Erase Paste: ($26) Still deciding on this one. I have super dark circles under my eyes and I asked someone there about this. When she put it on, it looked great, just like when I put it on in the morning. I've started noticing, however that later in the afternoon, it almost looks cakey. I put powder on it, of course, but maybe that's the problem? I also haven't used my Stay Don't Stray sample I got (see below) on my under-eye area yet to see if that helps. I also noticed today that my cheeks are naturally pinker and this is very yellow, so there's a definite line where I put this stuff. But I'm still experimenting. I do love the coverage though! It's really thick, but also creamy and it came with that little "spatula" for scooping product out. I don't think it's necessary. The pot looks small, because it is, but when I say you don't need that much product, believe me! I just touch my finger to the top and what comes with on my finger is what I use. I've also been layering this product on, instead of starting with a lot of product first.

Benefit Fine One One: ($30) This was one product I was so happy to be able to try. I swear I had it in my Birchbox cart 3 different times but never bought it because I had never used cream blush before. My biggest question was how it would look with the powder I use everyday. Most reviews said you can't put powder on top of it because it will diminish the color, and I wasn't sure how a cream would work on top of a powder, so I asked someone at the Benefit Boutique and she said "Oh of course you can put it on top of powder!" So I finally bought it. And I love it!!! This product has 3 shades: The top champagne color (the whitish one on the right), a watermelon color in the middle, and a coral color on the 'bottom' when you apply. Then you blend together to have the highlight on the top and the darker coral in the hollow of your cheeks. You can also use it on your lips for some color and shine (this didn't work well for me the first time I tried it, since my lips were a bit dry, but I will try again). Again, I love this product! So smooth and great color. I put about 2 swipes on, then blend, then swipe a couple more times on the apples of my cheeks and blend some more. Great at layering color.

Benefit Gimme Brow: ($22) The price is a bit ridiculous for such a tiny thing, but I imagine it will last a long time. I had never really paid attention to my eyebrows before last Tuesday, save for tweezing. One woman suggested I get a brow tint when I was trying to decide between a tint and a wax. My first thought was that they'd lighten them to match my hair a little more - nope. Darker, but just a tiny. Basically evened the color out. Then when I was getting my makeup done, the woman used this product. She said it basically fills in brows just like you'd do with a pencil, plus it is like a gel so your brows stay in place all day. I have to admit, it does help. Having my brows "filled" and "gelled" just makes them frame my face better. I don't know why such a small thing impressed me so much. And this product is super easy. It's like mascara for your eyebrows. The wand/brush part is less than half the size of a mascara brush tip so it's easy to turn whatever way you need. This is now a staple in my makeup bag.

You might have noticed that all of those products above have little instruction booklets with them. I think that's awesome. It gives you tips on how to use the product and all the ingredients. Every full-size Benefit product I've bought has this and I think it's a nice little addition.

Now for my "free" box. It was Benefit products! Yay time to try more things!

Benefit BADgal Mascara: (deluxe sample $8, full size $19) This tiny sample has a HUGE brush on it, and I'm not sure how I like that. The formula was really smooth and went on really well. I didn't notice much volumizing or lengthening, but they looked natural. They were also very soft. But throughout the day when I would grab at my eyelashes because my eye itched, I noticed that the mascara would just come right off in my fingers. Not like I was pulling that hard, but it seemed like it never fully dried. So there's that.

Benefit Stay Don't Stray Eye Primer: (deluxe sample $8, full size $26) Used this under the eyeshadow sample, which says it doesn't crease anyway, but the two together worked very nicely. Next I will try this under my eyes under the Erase Paste to see if that helps.

Benefit It's Potent! Eye Cream: (deluxe sample $8, full size $34) I love this. The website says it's a "brightening cream to fade dark circles" and help smooth lines. Very soft, thick, moisturizing. The teeny tiny jar is really cute and sadly, I may have to spend the money on this as well. We'll see after a while if it really does fade my dark circles. The jar will be perfect for traveling too.

Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in 'No Pressure': (deluxe sample $8, full size $20) I think that's the name of the color... I'll have to look again. I used the 'Stay Don't Stray' sample under this and it really did last all day with no creasing! I have never seen a cream shadow do that. Even some of my powder shadows crease after a long day. Could be the primer? Could be that this shadow is awesome? I like the color too. I was a little sad it wasn't more of a color, but I like gold and bronzes for my green eyes. I used a brush to apply this the first time, but I'm going to try this without a brush, and without the primer, maybe on separate occasions just to see how well it lasts.

twistband Hair Tie: ($10-$24 on depending on size of pack and design) Unfortunately, I won't be able to use this. If it was a headband I could, but since it's just a hair tie, nope. Not enough hair to tie up. I did notice that the knot could come undone very easily when I was pulling the sides apart. But it feels soft and I'm sure is great for some people.

This is the picture I shared on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #BenefitXBirchbox to try win $500 in Benefit products. I wish I would've taken more pictures at the event. They even had a "selfie booth" but I was leaving right when someone brought it up.

March 2014 Birchbox Review

Birchbox is a monthly subscription box service. For $10 a month, they will send you 4-5 'Beauty and Lifestyle' samples. 
They also have a points system, which is the best I've seen. 100 points = $10 to spend in the Birchbox shop. Earn 1 point for every dollar you spend (monthly boxes don't count, except for the first one) and they offer a lot of promo codes to get extra points. You can also earn 10 points for each review of your monthly samples. That's like getting $4-5 back each month! You also get 50 points for each person who signs up through your referral. If you would like to try Birchbox, please consider using my link:
This month's theme: Spring Forward

I was so excited to try everything in my box this month! Yay Birchbox! I even thought I might want to buy all of these full-sized products before I even tried them. My disappointment came when I realized the Air Repair and Coola only had about one use in their actually decent sized tubes. I like trying things more than once before I decide to spend something like $30 on sunscreen!

Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle: ($21.95 for 8oz) For the blogger that wrote "If anyone has received this item in their boxes and cannot get the sprayer to work, untwist the cap and slightly lift the sprayer. Give it a few pumps while unscrewed, but still in the liquid. It should start to work." Thank you Harlot Beauty! It worked for me! The smell is really subtle - boyfriend said it just smelled like hair product. I have really short hair and don't need a detangler, but my stylist recommended I use a leave-in conditioner. I can't tell much of a difference right now, but I guess it felt nice.

Had to angle the camera to get rid of shadows
theBalm Cosmetics How 'Bout Them Apples?: ($32 for all 6 shades) First of all, the packaging is so cute! I didn't do a size comparison but it's super tiny. Some Birchboxers have said they should sell the samples in the shop because they're the perfect size for a pocket or purse. I love the color! I don't use cream blushes but I may end up buying this full-size and start. I'm not sure how well it works under the powder I wear daily for my oily face, but I guess it's buildable. It worked perfectly for a little color when I went to the beach and didn't want to wear a lot of makeup. It's so smooth on the lips too. One thing I've started to get into since moving to LA is lip color. I've bought way more lipstick and lip tint in the past 6 months than I think I have since high school. I don't know about justifying $32 for this... but I think I'll save my points and get it.

Air Repair Rescue Balm All-Purpose Skin Salve and Lip Balm: ($12 for .9oz) I was so excited for this, but sadly, my first squeeze only gave me a tiny dollop - not even a pea-sized amount. When I pushed from the back all the way to the front, one more dollop, same size and I'm pretty sure there isn't any left. I put the first drop on my lips and it felt nice but tasted really bad. The second drop I put on my cuticles since I have a habit of peeling dry skin around my nails. Then I went to bed. Didn't notice anything amazing. I wish I had more product to try again.

COOLA Tinted Matte SPF 30 for Face: ($36 for 1.7oz) SO excited for this. I'm planning on going to the beach a lot, and be outside at my lake place when I visit home again so this would be perfect. It's also supposed to mattify. There's barely any product in this tube either, but I did get one full face worth yesterday before I went to Santa Monica beach (and I'm pretty sure there's still some in there.) WOW! I loved it. To be honest, it really didn't have as much tint as I would've liked for a "BB Cream" but it went on very powdery and smooth. After 3 1/2 hours sitting in the sun and sweating, I felt like my face was less oily than it is sitting in my office during the week. I wish had more product in the tube to try it during the week as an experiment but I feel like the next time I use it might be my last. I think I may have gotten a little sunburnt on my nose, but maybe I should've known to reapply after a couple hours? Eh, not too worried. I usually only have SPF 15 in my moisturizer. Speaking of, people are referring to this as a tinted moisturizer? Did I miss something? I thought it was tinted sunscreen... I'm also a little on the fence about ordering a full size now, since I've read how terribly customers have been treated by the company when they try to ask why such a large tube with only a finger full of product in it? I'll probably break down and buy it anyway... it seems like the perfect product for me.
(BTW: wore this with theBalm's cheek tint and some under-eye concealer to the beach yesterday and still felt pretty put together. Even went shopping after and wasn't afraid to show my naked face :P)

Jergens BB Body Perfecting Skin Cream: This was a "find" this month, meaning it's a drugstore-type brand that Birchbox really liked and wanted to share with others. Haven't tried this yet but I am pretty excited to!

My First StitchFix Review

What is Stitch Fix?

Stitch Fix is a personal styling service. You tell us your style, size, and budget preferences, and we send you a package of stylish goodies to try on at home. Each Fix is unique and hand-picked just for you.

^From the website^

Here's how I explain it to people: You fill out a profile with your sizes and tell them what your style is. Then for $20, a stylist will pick out 5 different items, clothing and accessories, to send to you based on your choices. (You can also tell them if you only want dresses one month because you're going to a wedding, or like I did and told them I didn't want accessories my first time.) You choose when you want it sent to you - I had to wait a month from when I signed up, but that month went fast! And you don't have to get it every month, just whenever you tell them. So you try on your 5 items at home, with your own jewelry and other stuff from your closet, then decide which ones you like. Whatever you don't like, send back in the pre-paid mailer they send in your box. You have 3 days to do this. Whatever you decide to keep, they will then charge your credit card for the amount of the item, BUT that $20 you spent goes toward that cost! Plus, if you like all 5 items, you get 25% off.

I figured I'd try it. I had a friend who said she really liked it. I guess the more you get from them and tell them which items you liked or didn't, the better they get at picking stuff out for you. Makes sense but I don't know how much money I want to put into this. The clothes are kind of expensive. But I figure if I like one item out of the box, it's worth it.

Here's what I got:

41Hawthorn Asha Chevron Print Ininity Scarf: $28
Very soft. Not entirely sure what the fabric is but it's very thin and smooth. I really like mint clothes lately and even more, love infinity scarves.
The Verdict: Keeping it!

Sweet Rain Alan Cowl Neck Asymmetrical Cardigan: $58
I always love greys. I like things that match everything. I also like asymmetrical sweatshirts, as my stylist saw on my Pinterest page (and said so in my personalized letter.) I kind of wish I got a small instead of an extra small, but it will be great for cooler summer nights.
The Verdict: Keeping it!

Ezra Colorado Chevron Printed Raglan Blouse: $44
Not too bad. I like the colors and the v-neck. Don't mind the fabric too much either, nice and light. But I don't know what's going on with the shoulders... It looks like it's been sitting on a hanger too long, but it seems to be sewn like that.
The Verdict: Sending back.

41Hawthorn Colibri Solid Tab Sleeve Blouse: $48
You can tell by my face what I think of this. Totally not my style (granted, I'm trying to open myself up) but no. I like the color. But I'm not even sure what to do with it.
The Verdict: Sending back.

Just Black Jake Slim Boot Cut Jean: $88
These are actually navy I guess. First of all, the sizing options on your profile aren't very specific for pants. I had to put that I was a size 4, and when I saw this was a '27' I got scared. My natural waist may be a 27 but my hips sure are not. They are very stretchy so I figured I'd try. They actually fit... mostly. The waist definitely gives my barely-any-fat gut a very obvious muffin top. They are super soft and actually really comfy but you can also see that they are about 4 inches too long. I think the I seem said 33"? I'm only 5'4". I also did not want to pay $88 for jeans. That's still too much for me. 
The Verdict: Sending back.

Overall: I was pleasantly surprised. I had no idea what they would send me. It does help that your profile asks if you would like to link a board on Pinterest so they can see what kind of stuff you like. That's how I got that awesome cardigan! I also love that you get a personalized card (I didn't take a picture of it, but maybe I'll add it later) from your stylist to explain some of the choices. You get styling cards too, but I don't think they helped too much, I already kind of knew what to do and the one for the purple blouse didn't make sense. Well, I decided to order another StitchFix and it should be coming April 30th!

Monday, March 17, 2014

My first earthquake!

The Los Angeles area had a 4.4 earthquake this morning - St. Patrick's Day. It happened at 6:26am so it woke most people up, including me. Usually I wake up about that time, but as per my habit, I was in the middle of my snooze between alarms.

The first thing I noticed was the sound. It sounded like really loud, really close thunder. The kind that shakes your windows and possibly your room, depending on where you are. Another thought that went through my head was a really big loud truck driving past? I grew up on a farm, it happens... Once I was fully awake and realized that it had not stopped after a second, I realized what it was. (Mind you, all of those thoughts went through my head in a matter of micro-seconds.)

I try to pretend I'm not, but I was actually pretty scared. This was my first earthquake. I didn't know what the feeling of the room, of the ground, shaking would be. The sounds of the windows and cupboards rattling didn't help either. Boyfriend was still in bed (being lazy like me and not getting up with his alarm) and my first reaction was to grab onto him. We basically just laid there until the rumbling stopped. I'm not sure how long it was, I've heard reports of anywhere from 7-15 seconds. It was probably on the longer side for us because the epicenter, they discovered, was near Encino. The point given on maps is about 8.1 miles driving distance from our apartment, or roughly 5.7 miles directly to our apartment (I estimated based on the mile marker on the map, just like in geography classes.)

I've heard friends talk about earthquakes and how one in Hollywood isn't felt anywhere in the Valley and one friend said it just "feels like you're lightheaded. You don't realize it's the ground moving. You just feel funny." Bull. Although, reports say this is one of the larger quakes in recent history.

I'm also pretty sure I felt an aftershock. Reports say one happened at 7:23am and was a 2.7. I was running late as usual and I heard the windows rattle a little again, right around that time, but didn't feel much. I probably would've noticed since I was up and walking around. Kind of glad I was running late. I didn't want to be in my car, though I may not have noticed then.

Good news is, no reports of injury and no damage found. I did hear sirens wailing past when I finally got in the shower, about 6:45am. I think I read that pretty much all fire and rescue teams were dispatched to check for damage on power lines, water pipes, and bridges. I'm sure they have a whole training session on stuff like that.

 Good Morning! Happy St. Patrick's Day! Welcome to LA, here's an earthquake.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

March 2014 Ipsy Glam Bag Review

I figured I should probably start putting what these monthly subscriptions are all about. Here's what the Ipsy website says:

Each month, subscribers will receive a beautiful Glam Bag with deluxe samples and full-sized beauty products. Members can watch and play along with the stylists with the same products that they are using. All for only $10 a month. 

When you sign up, you take a "beauty quiz" to let them know what you like. I guess Ipsy is kind of a social network-type beauty website, but I don't do all of that. There's also some sort of points system that I haven't quite figured out. You get 10 points for each review, but you usually need 1000 points to get some kind of bonus product, of which they only have 3 to choose from at a time. There are points for referrals too, but I don't badger my friends into signing up. Most are still in that "post-college, I'm broke" phase. If YOU want to sign up through me, here is my referral link:

So this month, I got my bag the day after I received my tracking info. I also finally got to be the one to take it out of the mailbox myself! Even though it was dark, I was excited to see it.

 This is my 3rd month and I originally told myself I would give ipsy 3 months to see if it's worth it. Well right now, my opinion is: definitely! Everything was pretty much full-size this month! And I think with my past reviews, ipsy finally has me figured out.

This month's theme was Destination Beauty

The bag is (as you can see on the tag) designed by the artist Klari Reis. I love that it has a front zipper too. I might be able to get away with this as a clutch sometime!

With the light in my kitchen.
With natural light out in my car.
Nicole by OPI Roughles: Love it! Goes on smooth, for having a lot of texture. Dries fairly quickly (quick? quickly?) and it's a great color. The texture is there, but it's not so much that it catches on fabric like some glitter polishes I've had. This stuff lasts too! I usually have problems with nail polish chipping off the next day (darn my soft nails) but this stuff held on for days. After a little bit of chipping, the touch-ups were super easy. Because of the texture, everything blended together and you couldn't even tell I had to apply a new coat in some areas.

bareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipgloss: (Rebel) It's a little lighter than I'd hoped. But it smells great and tastes like mint! Makes my lips look very wet but it'd probably work great over a darker lipstick.

Be A Bombshell Bora Bora Eyeshadow Quad: Yay! I love eyeshadows! Especially shimmery ones in great colors for my green eyes. I first tried the orangey-coppery colored one and it goes on really nice. I'm still checking the lasting power.

Nail polish for size comparison.

Pacifica Body Butter: This "sample" is huge! It didn't even come inside my makeup bag, but rather at the bottom of the pink envelope! It has a coconut and vanilla scent and felt really nice on my hands when I first tried it. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that the top was covered with foil so it wouldn't squish and leak all over. I finally tried it after a day at the beach and it was very soft and moisturizing. The smell seems (to me) to have a bit of a plastic-y smell on top of the coconut and vanilla? It's weird but not too overpowering.

Monday, March 10, 2014

DIY Crayon Lipstick

I stumbled upon this idea a few days ago and my first thought was: "Yay! Something else I can do with my coconut oil!" And it was just as easy as everyone said!

What you need: 
-Crayola Crayons
-Coconut oil
-Containers: I used contact lens cases
-1/2 teaspoon 
-Small knife
-Small pot or skillet with about an inch of water
-Metal or glass bowl or measuring cup
-Toothpick/something to stir with
-Paper towels for various messiness

Most blogs said you have to use Crayola because they're non-toxic and have better color or something. 

I bought this coconut oil after I read a blog that claimed 160 things to do with coconut oil... Or something like that. I'm still getting used to the smell, since I never really liked coconut.

I used 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil per 1/2 crayon. Next time I would probably use less oil to more crayon to get more opaque colors.

I just happened to have this tiny skillet and metal measuring cups. I filled the skillet with water, just enough to cover the bottom without any fear of it boiling over. Then I held the measuring cup in the water, while wearing an oven mitt of course, to create a double-boiler like situation. You can't melt the stuff over direct heat or it will just burn. Others have used a pot of water with a glass jar but I liked this because of the handle - easy for pouring. 

I scribbled my colors to decide which ones to use. This should've made me realize which colors would be lighter and used less oil accordingly, but oh well.
These are the colors I decided to use. 

Easiest way to remove the paper: cut a slit down the side with a knife and it should come right off.

Cut or break crayons in half. 

Measure 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil. Use a toothpick for stirring while heating.

Sorry this picture is blurry, I was trying not to let the water boil so I took it fast. But you can kind of see what the crayons look like while melting. Breaking up your half of the crayon makes it melt faster.

Fully melted.

I used contact lens cases to hold my colors. My 1/2 coconut oil to 1/2 crayon mixture was the perfect amount for a contact case. There was a tiny bit left over, but not enough to worry about. 

I put them in the fridge for about 5 minutes to solidify. My biggest problem now is that my apartment stays pretty warm, and coconut oil starts to turn liquid at 76*F. So that means I have to keep my creations in the fridge :( I'm not sure what would happen if the oil got really warm, if the color would separate or anything? I was hoping these would be more portable. Maybe next time I'll use shea butter like other people keep talking about.

Cleaning out the measuring cup between colors was as easy as wiping. But be careful because the sides will still be hot! I just gathered up the paper towel enough that my hand wouldn't touch the sides or bottom.

For my last color, I mixed red-orange and red-violet because the red-violet was too purpley for me. So I used 1/4 of each. This is a comparison to a half left over from my other colors. I didn't count the tip in the full size amount, just estimated what it would equal.

Finished product! The red has a marbled effect after cooling in the fridge. Goes on just fine though.

Bare lips




Pink- doesn't look like anything, but it will be a nice plain moisturizing color.


And my favorite: Red-orange + Red-violet

You can also use it as a blush! I think this was violet-red? Or scarlet?

And this was maybe the red-orange + red-violet? I already forgot.

Overall: I love it. It was so easy and fun and you can create your own colors. They also dry matte and stain a bit so they seem to last longer. And the coconut oil makes them very hydrating. 

**Crayons are non-toxic and little kids eat them all the time with no problems, and you can definitely eat coconut oil - so I'm assuming this is all pretty safe. Don't complain to me if you think it's not. I've been wearing it the last 3 days and I'm fine :)