Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Benefit Big Easy

I think I'm in love. 

I got a very small sample of this in one of my Birchboxes (I think February) but I wanted to pick a day to wear it because it was only enough for one use, maybe. I also went to the Benefit and Birchbox event and had them try it on me there. The girls told me it would be very good for my oily skin, but I wasn't convinced because it was 7pm when they put it on, and I washed it off about 9:30pm so I couldn't really tell. I also felt like they put too much on. I finally decided to try the sample on one of the days it was 100 degrees here in LA. And it held up! So I went to Sephora and bought it. 

"BIGGER than BB! Why? Two reasons. First, big easy balances moisture & controls oil. Second, the cushiony liquid-to- powder formula melts in like a cream, yet finishes lightweight & velvety like a powder.

This multi-balancing complexion perfector gives light-to-medium natural coverage to even out skintone and conceal imperfections. Even better, it contains ingredients known to soothe & comfort the skin and help fight free radicals. One & done…big easy saves the day! Non-comedogenic. Oil-free."
I had to make sure I was getting the right shade. I was sent 02-Light as my sample and it seemed to work well. The woman helping me agreed this would be the best since it says it's "self adjusting".
It's actually pretty thick right away. But it smooths out easily.
And it turns into a powder.

I decided to put it through a real test. I helped my friend move at noon, so I put on my makeup about 10:30am. I helped her move in Hollywood, which wasn't too hot but it was sunny and moving furniture still made me sweat a little bit. Then we went to lunch, went shopping, I helped her put her bed together, and finally went home about 8:30pm. This is what my face looked like when I got home: (note, I did NOT put any powder on over. That was a huge thing! With my oily face, I've never not put powder on)

Ok, so it's probably hard to tell from the photos, but my face was not greasy. It was a tiny bit shiny, but only slightly "dewy", not like it usually is. Yes, you can see all my fine lines around my eyes (still working on that) and it settled a tiny bit around my nose and on my laugh lines, but only if you looked closely. Even my friend said my face looked great! I love this so much!

I also got a sample when I was at the checkout. The woman just put this in my bag after I was all done paying. Funny thing is, I already own this powder and I love it. But I'm always happy to get a sample! This is great for oily skin! I've used it in the middle of the day for touch ups. The powder is very sheer but absorbs all your oil. My original review of the Porefessional Agent Zero Shine is right here.

I love that this sample comes with a brush!

Mini Ulta Haul

My first reason for going to Ulta again was to redeem my birthday gift. I wasn't getting emails for being a member, but my birthday was a month ago and one of the cashiers told me I could call to get a code. I couldn't miss out on a free full-size mascara! I emailed customer service and got a great reply saying they were sorry the emails weren't coming but here's the code. This year they were giving out CK One Mascara.

"Precision curved brush and patented lycra technology amplifies, shapes, and lifts every lash for maximum volume. Customized lash looks with a unique twist brush applicator. Select definition or volume with a twist of the cap in this all-in-one mascara. Delivers buildable full lashes that remain soft and supple stroke-by-stroke. Ophthalmologist tested. Dermatologist tested. Safe for contact lens wearers."
I love that the box is specifically for birthdays. Super cute!
But I had no idea it was one of the new(er) twist wand mascaras! (I didn't read the description before) That made me really excited!
I'm sorry the second picture is kinda fuzzy, but you can definitely see that the bristles squish together a little bit. I've discovered that it's better to start applying with the brush in it's squished form to coat all the lashes, then unscrew it to comb the lashes apart. I really like this formula. It does get a bit hard, but I'm ok with that. It's a nice dark black, and it doesn't seem to clump at all. The tube is also more of a matte soft material on the black part, which is different. It's originally $18 but if your birthday is still coming up, go sign up (for free) for Ulta's club card to get this for free and 1 point for every dollar you spend. 

I also decided to get the Mally Starlight Eyeliner in Midnight. 
"They glide on easily without a shadow base, yet last all day. These waterproof pencils are able to deliver a crisp line above, below, or inside the lashline for a perfect defined eye that lasts until you take it off."

I got the silver color in my Ipsy Glam Bag a few months ago and I really like how smooth it is. I wanted a new eyeliner that would last all day. Midnight is a very dark black that glides on smoothly. They say if you want to smudge it, to do it within 30 seconds before it sets. It's been great and doesn't move.

I finally decided to get the full-size Benefit Dr. Feelgood Balm.
I got the travel-size from and loved it so much I wanted the large size for every day use.
"Mattify shine with our invisible, weightless balm that leaves skin feeling silky-soft. Fabulous for mid-day touch-ups... this makeup artist fave can be worn alone, under or on top of makeup. Contains Vitamins A, C & E to help smooth away the appearance of fine lines. Pat and smooth over makeup with its accompanying sponge. Or, simply wear it alone. Reapply with a sponge for instant mid-day mattification that's better than blotting papers! Works best when pressed onto the skin in a patting motion."

You can read my original review of the travel-size here. Basically, this stuff is magic! If you have super oily skin like I do, please try this! It does work the best for 'blotting' throughout the day but it works as a primer too. It doesn't smooth pores as much as other primers, but your skin will feel soft. It's one of the best oil control products I've ever had. The best way to use it is over makeup, with the sponge. Simply rub the sponge across the product, but don't pick up too much, then pat gently over your makeup where the shine is. Somehow this balm will instantly mattify. You can use your fingers too, but I think part of the magic is the sponge. Yes, the sponge will get dirty. It washes up really well though. It's nice to have multiple sponges if you don't wash your tools every day or every other day. I have lots of little triangles to go with my travel balm, then I just wash a few at a time.

I picked up this Physicians Formula Correcting Powder on a whim. I have a little bit of redness on my cheeks and around my nose, and my under eye area is always very dark. I figured this might help.
The brush is terrible. It's not soft and it's too tiny for the bottom of the container so it moves around awkwardly.
The pan was attached to the container with only this one little strip of "glue". Very cheap.
I took the strip of "glue" that stuck the plastic to the cardboard box and put that inside. It helped a little bit.

"3-in-1 Corrector, Primer, Powder. Versatile powder color corrects the most common skin imperfections, smooths skin texture and evens out skin tone. All colors blend together to create a perfect canvas finish: Pink brightens, Green tones down redness and Yellow adds warmth. High-tech Japanese formula delivers a natural-looking finish that won't cake, crease, or settle into fine lines." 

I think it helps a little bit. It's very light, but my plan was to put this on then put my usual powder over top. I haven't used it very much and I'm actually thinking I might return it since I've since found a better powder.

DIY Brush Guards

I've finally started to understand the power of using brushes for all my makeup applications. I went a bought a bunch of different kinds at a store in Burbank, CA called Morphe Brushes. It's a wonderful little place with so many different choices and all for very cheap. I will definitely be going back. My plan was to also buy a brush roll there, but I didn't really like their choices. I may end up making my own (if I do, I'll try post a DIY of that.) But until then, I have a small bag for my brushes to travel in. I knew I needed a way to cover them so the bristles wouldn't get bent and they would stay clean. I ordered The Brush Guard's assorted pack from Birchbox to start with. This pack came with 6 guards in 4 different sizes. 

But I had more than 6 brushes by now, and most of them on the smaller side. I did try to cut a couple in half because they are very long. I figured I could just burn the edges and it wouldn't unravel. Wrong, mostly. I cut the large powder brush guard in half and burned the cut edges no problem. It did widen a bit, but was pretty successful. Then I cut one of the foundation sizes and burned one, that seemed to be fine. The second one kind of 'popped' when I was trying to burn the edges and just became unbraided. I used some gorilla glue to keep it from going any further but it looks awful. That's when I started to look into DIY versions. 

I admit, my version isn't really a "brush guard" in the sense like the ones above. The mesh is supposed to keep the bristles in shape and help with drying. My version is more for keeping them clean for travel. So, just another idea for you if you're looking for a quick fix. I still may buy more of the above guards, or make some like other bloggers from similar mesh, but I'm flying home in a week and needed something easy.
All of my brushes came in little plastic sleeves. I simply cut the sleeve about halfway down the brush, then put a piece of tape around to keep it tight. It's that easy! The tension of the tape will keep the plastic from sliding around while the brushes are all together in a makeup bag and keep them clean (enough). 

It's not the prettiest either, but it works! I'm pretty happy with it actually. They slide off for use and I just slide it back on the bottom half while they're being cleaned or drying so I don't mix them up. I hope this helps you, or at least inspires you to make your own!

thebalm "How 'Bout Them Apples?" Palette

In March, I received a sample of thebalm's "How 'Bout Them Apples?" cream for lips and cheeks. I had never used a cream blush before, but I found that I really liked it. I was hesitant to buy the full size because it's much larger than the sample and I didn't know if I had room for it. The more I used the sample, the more I really liked it. I had a bunch of Birchbox points to use so I finally decided to get the full palette. ($32)

"How 'Bout Them Apples?" is a multi-functioning lip and cheek cream palette. Each freshly picked color is formulated to have a smooth finish that won't streak or fade, so there are no bad apples in this bunch!

Here is my sample size on top of the full palette.

The name of the palette is in reference to putting the color on the 'apples of your cheeks' and each color is surrounded by a picture of an apple. The names are also references: the sample came in the color "Pie" (apple pie).

The palette also has these cowboys next to each color. Not sure why. It's definitely not a reason I got this product. A lot of people love these pictures... and sure they're attractive, but most of them are badly photoshopped and I could really do without them.

The top of the box has the colors Cider and Cobbler. Cider is a very pale pink that does not show up on my skin. It *may* work for darker skin tones, but I have no idea. Cobbler is a nice red color. Both are very creamy. (Excuse the fingernail mark in Cider. Didn't even notice until after I took these pictures)

The middle section has the colors Pie and Crisp. Pie was my sample color and it's a very nice coral pink color. It's a very natural flush on the cheeks but more on the coral side on the lips. Crisp is the only color that has a sparkle to it. This picture doesn't show very well, but it's a nice pink with gold flecks in it. It's really great on the lips and a nice highlighting color for the cheeks.
The bottom has the colors Candy and Caramel. Candy is a very bubblegum pink color but is very natural on cheeks. Caramel looks like a scary brown color but it's almost like a bronzer-type color. It looks like you've got a nice tan. Very neutral pink color and easy to wear.
Top to bottom on my arm the colors are: Caramel (the neutral, brownish color), Candy (bubblegum pink), Crisp (with the gold flecks - you can kind of tell in this photo), Pie (coral pink), Cobbler (red), and Cider (non-existent pink).
And here are the colors more blended. The Cider completely disappeared, even on my pale forearm. The colors are very pigmented so you don't need to use a lot on your cheeks but it's very buildable for lips. 

I personally love Cobbler (the red) for my lips. It's a very safe red. The formula seems to last a good amount of time on lips, but starts to get pretty dry. It's also very lasting on the cheeks, but I wouldn't call it a stain. 

Overall, I am so glad I bought this palette. It is very large and takes up a lot of room, but I love the color choices. I've been applying them with a brush, but for my sample I used my finger mostly. If you're a fan of cream blushes, or mutli-use products, you should definitely give thebalm's "How 'Bout Them Apples?" a try!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May 2014 Birchbox

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: Freewheeling

This month is all about spring. They also advertised an exclusive Kate Spade offer inside, so everything is themed around that: the outer shipping box was yellow (usually pink), yellow tissue paper this month (I'm glad they started changing it up. It was also always just pink before), and even the inside of the box has a different pattern. 

Here's what I got this month:

Number 4 High Performance Hair Care - Volumizing Shampoo: ($34 for 8.5oz) **Bonus: "We added in this volumizing condition for the ultimate in lightweight hydration. (Full size, $36 for 8.5oz)" It's so great that they included the conditioner, even if in a little packet. It smells really good. The full size packaging is different too: they're box shaped with pumps on the top. This brand is sulfate-free, which I've started using on my fine hair so that's good! The first time I used it, my hair was super soft! The next couple times, my hair almost felt like straw when I was rinsing it. I don't like that at all. Even with leaving the conditioner in a couple minutes. I guess it's soft when it's dry, but not any more than my normal sulfate-free shampoo. Guess I don't have to want this any longer, because I couldn't afford it anyway.

 CoTZ Face Natural Skin Tone SPF 40: ($20 for 1.5oz) Such a tiny tube, and only seems to be about half full. I didn't take a size reference picture but it says 2g on it. It's lightly tinted, oil-free, mineral sunscreen that is supposed to have a matte finish.

 Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream - Acai Grapefruit: ($20 for 150ml) This comes in 7 different scents and looks like a normal aerosol type can of shaving cream. I like this tube. It's a decent size at 22ml. I loved that it was even printed on the back that it is a Birchbox exclusive. But how can I express how much I don't like this product? First of all, it doesn't lather. It's like a lotion, which made me think I was using it wrong for the first couple minutes. Also, because of the lotion texture, it gunked up my razor (exactly how if you've ever tried to shave without water and just use lotion) and took longer to rinse each time. I hate the smell! I really don't like grapefruit smell so there's that. When I rinsed my hands, they felt super dry and almost like I had oil on my hands and trying to get it off with just water. My legs didn't feel very moisturized either, but I can't say for sure because I used my body wash after shaving and put lotion on when I got out of the shower like I usually do. Sure, my legs were smooth, but they are when I shave really quick under running water too... ick.

 LAQA & Co. Sheer Lip Lube Pencil - Purple: ($18) I don't know if I believe it, but it looks like this little stick is considered the full-size. The website says $18 for .07oz and the sticker on the back of this tube says .07oz. I knew they had smaller sizes but this doesn't seem like a great deal for the price. It's not quite that purple when applied to the lips since it's a sheer, buildable color and it goes over top the pink of your lips. Since Orchid is the color of the year, I understand why they sent this. It goes on smooth and light, but not as moisturizing as my Tarte Lipsurgence pencils. I wore this with a colorful dress yesterday and really liked it. It's not as scary as I thought. It is pretty drying though. The color lasts for a while (I can't say how long for sure since I wasn't paying attention, and reapplied for more moisture) but started to fade unevenly. It's nice to have for more fun makeup days.

SmartyPants All-in-One Gummy Vitamins for Adults: ($29.95 for 30-day supply) This was the "lifestyle extra" this month, which is something the staffers thought was amazing and threw in everyone's (or almost everyone's) box. I'm a little disappointed that there's only 2 in this packet, since the back says a full serving is 6 gummies per day. I'll have to compare it to the adult gummy vitamins I already take, but I think they're probably about the same, but my brand only requires 2 a day.

Overall, I'm happy with my box this month. I'm usually really happy with it and can't understand how people complain all the time about what they got. You know it's a mystery sample service, so why even pay for it if you're not going to at least try everything? I've found a lot of great products from Birchbox already that I never would've tried, or even known about otherwise. 

May 2014 Ipsy Glam Bag

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. If you would like to sign up, please consider using my referral link:

This month's theme: Fresh Picks

Here's the bag this month. It feels more like the recycled fabric texture, which is different than the more plastic/vinyl fabric of the bags we've been getting. It's a great size too. The bottom expands a little so it's a great size. 

Here's what I got this month:

Pur~lisse Pur~Moist Hydra Balance Moisturizer: I was just thinking I needed a new night moisturizer for my face. It's sort of like a gel/cream formula. There is a slight smell but barely noticeable and just clean smelling. Feels nice. Don't know if it's any better than what I have, but it's nice to try.

Hang Ten Classic Sport SPF 50: Just in time for our 100 degree days here in LA! I just noticed that the back has tiny print that says "provided by COOLA" (or powered, or presented, not quite sure because it's too tiny) which makes me excited because I love the Coola sunscreen I got from Birchbox in March, so much so that I bought the full size, then bought the same thing for my mom. It's very creamy and spreads really well. A little goes a long way, and has that sort of classic sunscreen smell - which I was always ok with. It's a great travel size and I just read that it is water resistant up to 80 minutes. I actually don't use an SPF this high usually, but I'm sure I'll get some use out of it.

Pacifica Mineral Eyeshadow Duo in Moonbeam & Unicorn: Apparently this mineral eyeshadow is coconut infused. The description also says "gorgeous color pay-off", but it took a few layers to get to the levels on that swatch. The white is pretty nice, but I'm hoping the purple will be more intense with some primer.

Crown Brush Pro Blending Fluff Brush: I was just thinking I needed a good eyeshadow brush. This isn't as soft as the name suggests though. Didn't seem to work too well with the Pacifica eyeshadow - not sure if it was the shadow or the brush.

Nailtini Straight Up Color Nail Lacquer in Champagne: The color is very neutral, but shiny. I put it next to my bare nails to show how light it is. I love it. I don't have any color like it. The formula is very smooth and creamy and the color is actually very opaque with one coat. Since I'm back to having longer nails again, I decided to just paint the tips with this color and it just adds a nice shine. 

I'm actually pretty happy with my bag this month. There is less actual makeup than usual, but a nice selection otherwise. So many people complain about everything in their bags - it seems pointless to pay for a service when you know it will be a mystery, just to complain about everything. Don't get the bag then. My makeup and skin care selection has grown so much from trying all these products. I don't always like everything, some I've used once and never again, but I'm so glad I get to try them!