Thursday, August 25, 2016

August Birchbox: Last Gasp of Summer

Disclaimer: I purchased this.
I chose the curated box option for my August Birchbox, as it seemed like a pretty solid group of products.  I think the stila liquid lipstick in Patina is what tipped the scales for me, but I'm actually feeling positive about every item in the box. But first, a mini-rant. Regardless of the enclosed card's "who says summer has to end?" sentiment, I'm completely over it.  Here's why: I get swarmed by mosquitoes and my camera fogs up immediately when I'm outside taking pictures, plus it's a 90+ degree sauna/swamp every_single_day. I'm over it. Bring on autumn!
I believe all Birchboxes received two hair items this month, and the Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle Leave-in-Conditioner is a tried and true favorite. I like the smell and it works, nuff said.
The No Frizz Living Proof Nourishing Oil is new to me, so I'm looking forward to trying it out.  This can be used on wet or dry hair and is supposed to help with flyaways while it smooths and hydrates.
The HUM Raw Beauty Green Superfood Powder is a bonus item featuring organic greens, enzymes, and probiotics to help support healthy skin. I drink a green smoothie almost every morning, and I will add this to my next one.
Wearing Julep's Tatiana on my nails
I know liquid lipsticks are having their moment in the sun, so I was excited to try out Patina.  It's a wearable mauve rose that dries down to a flat matte, which seems to be uber fashionable these days.  After feeling a bit alarmed at my somewhat pruney lips, I decided I liked it well enough and went about my day, which included a lunchtime meeting with food and everything. A good test, I thought.
My anxiety level did rise a bit again when I noticed I was wiping Patina off my chin after a few bites of my chicken sandwich. So yes, there was some color transfer and the color wore away on the middle of my lips, but considering the forgiving color, it was not as obvious as if I'd be wearing a bright red or pink.
I'll wear it again and try to avoid eating. Perhaps I should have brought the Acure Organics Coconut & Argan Oil Cleansing Towelettes in my purse for a quick cleanup after lunch. Note to self.
I've received the Marcelle BB Cream in Golden Glow in a previous Birchbox subscription but never really tested it out. I'm liking it with the few times I've worn it this week, primarily as a base under a very light application of whatever cream foundation I'm wearing for the day.
It gives a soft glow to the skin with just a touch of color and is actually very nice for this time of year, as I'm loath to have anything heavy on my face.
So, no complaints from me this month regarding Birchbox. I did cancel my yearly subscription, so only 4 more boxes to go before my Birchbox goodness ends!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Can the Essence I Love Colour and I Love Stage Eye Primers Best My Oily Lids?

Disclaimer: I purchased this.
I did a mini-haul of Essence products recently, including two eye primers.  The I Love Colour Eye Intensifying Base is lighter in color and is supposed to give your shadows more intensity, whereas the I Love Stage is a primer for either concealers or your shadows and is supposed to prolong wear without creasing.  At $3.49 each, I figured "what have I got to lose?"
Both primers had good reviews on ulta.com, and I liked the idea of I Love Colour's pale rose-white base color for intensifying shadows, as NYX's Milk pencil never worked for me (creased immediately).  The consistency of I Love Colour is quite rich and creamy and it does blend out nicely. I can only get a few hours wear before my oily lids make mincemeat out of it, and the result at the end of the day was a hot mess. So sad.
I still had hopes that I Love Stage would work, hope springs eternal and all that. Again, the consistency is quite creamymore so than any Sother eye primer I've tried. The color definitely leans yellow, but it blends out nicely so that I didn't look particularly jaundiced.

Sadly, I didn't not see much of an improvement and my lids were again a hot mess at the end of the day. Granted, my oily lids are like the ultimate extreme test climate for eye primers, but both of these failed miserably for me.  Fortunately, I'm only out $7, which lessens the sting a bit. I'm still on the hunt for an inexpensive eye primer and will try the Wet 'n Wild one next, having read good reviews on it.
Begining of day (natural light)
End of day (flash)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Whole Shebang: Julep Mystery Polish Boxes in Metallics, Brights, and Glitter/Shimmers

Disclaimer: I purchased this.
I ordered all 3 of the Julep August mystery boxes, as I had a $50 gift code due to the No Excuses sunscreen not being included in my August Maven order. I admit that it was burning a hole in my pocket and when I ordered these, I actually didn't notice these were polish only boxes. Whoops. The boxes arrived Saturday and fortunately there were only two polishes that I already own, so I lucked out. Let's start with the metallics.
The boxes were said to include at least $100 worth of product, and the inclusion in each box of nail stickers made that claim true.  Each box had 7 polishes, so 7 x $14 = $98, so the stickers round it up to meet the $100 claim. Considering I paid only $10 for all the boxes using my gift code, my price per polish is 47 cents, a total steal. I do already own Missy, so repeat #1.
  • Penny: burnished bronze metallic (Muse Montreal, August 2015)
  • Marika: stone matte metallic (New Year, Fresh Look, January 2016)
  • Rachael: graphite shimmer (Kisses, London, September 2015
  • Sawyer: copper patina molten (Friendsgiving, November 2014)
  • Joss: ripe fig duochrome (New Year, Fresh Look, January 2016)
  • Missy: titanium metallic (The Rebel Set, October 2013)
  • Mia: greenish silver metallic (Glitterati, December 2013)
Next are the visually pleasing brights. Repeat #2 is the scarlet with gold shimmer Suzanne.
  • Danica: blue violet iridescent chrome (Paradise, April 2015)
  • Lee: spitfire red creme (Set Sail, May 2015)
  • Suzanne: scarlet with gold microshimmer (The Switchup, November 2015)
  • Sam: limeade creme (Into the Sea back from the vault, July 2016)
  • Jenna: tangerine burst creme (Paradise, April 2015)
  • Connie: hot magenta plum creme (Paradise, April 2015)
  • Ari: extreme fuschia vivid sheer (Shine On, April 2016)
The last box is a mixtures of shimmers and glitters.
  • Queen Anne: lilac glitter (3 year commemorative color, August 2014)
  • Judy: moonbeam iridescent chrome (All Night Long, December 2015)
  • Roxanne: black and gold jagged glitter (Dancing in the Night, November 2015)
  • Oscar: 3-D gold glitter (Oscar, February 2012)
  • Tish: silver bell microglitter (All Night Long, December 2015)
  • Pepper: cornflower multidimensional shimmer (Rainbow Bright, May 2016)
  • Neely: sparkling cranberry glitter (Raindeer Games Duo, November 2014)
By the way, if you are ever looking for a site with a comprehensive listing (month/year, collection, color, finish) and pictures of all 784 Julep polishes, go to http://julep.ariaevans.org/.  So nicely done! 

Did anyone else get any of the August mystery boxes, and if so, what did you think?

Monday, August 22, 2016

August Julep: Endless Summer (No, Please No)

The thought of an endless summer makes me want to curl up in a ball, preferably in a cool, dark room. August is an oppressive sauna like experience in Mobile, and I've reached the end of wanting anything to do with it. That does not mean Julep's August box was a bust, however, even though they did experience a product glitch that led to a bit of a windfall for me. Let's explore.
I decided to customize my box and pick up some staples I've had my eye on, like the bronzer brush, cuticle vanishing drops, cuticle pusher, and the charcoal konjac sponge. I also selected the uber gorgeous holographic Eliza from the new August polishes, and the vintage gold chrome Spencer was my bonus for selecting 3 add ons.  The product missing, however, is Julep's new to market No Excuses - Invisible Suncreen Gel. Julep did let me know that it was being delayed and that they would ship it out separately.
On August 8th I received this in an email:

Thank you for your patience with No Excuses - Invisible Sunscreen Gel. We know you wanted this product, and you've been waiting. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we won't be able to release No Excuses any time soon. (Yes, we're really bummed about it, too.) We want to make it up to you. Here is a special promo code for $50 of product on Julep.com. Use it to replenish your favorite Julep products or find some new ones. 

Kudos to Julep for communicating clearly with their customers and being so generous with promo dollars! I ended up getting all 3 of the August polish mystery boxes and with the code only payed $10. Now for some closeups of the August items.
Eliza: Infinite Ocean Halographic
I like Julep's brushes! The tulip shaped bronzer brush has a weighted handle and soft, duo fiber bristles. I would imagine this brush could be used with any powder product, but I have been using it with Julep's bronzer to good effect.
Sigh, my cuticles need all the help they can get. I've used the Vanish Cuticle Softener & Remover twice since I received it, and it does make it easier to push back and remove excess cuticle.
Apparently the Vanish drops and Cuticle Pusher are used in the Julep salons, and while I was a bit skepticle of the Cuticle Pusher at first, I've decided I like it, as it does work well.
You know, last year I bought a Foreo Luna Mini to cleanse my face with. It's nice and all, but I reach for the It's Fun to Exfoliate konjac sponge 4 out of 5 times. Sometimes technology doesn't win out.
September 2016 Maven Cheers to Five Years (Source: Julep)
The September Maven Reveal for the "Cheers for Five Years" collection opened on Saturday and closes the 24th. I've selected the mini gel pencil set, as Julep's gel pencils are good. Really good.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Ciracle Vitamin Source C-20 Serum Review

Disclaimer: I purchased this.
Way back in December I purchased a vitamin C serum from Memebox - Ciracle's Vitamin Source C-20. I had been reading about all the good things vitamin C can do for the skin, and I thought to myself "I want me some of that."  I just finished the bottle today, so I guess it's time for a review :-)
First off, a little about vitamin C for the skin: it's a temperamental little beast. Maybe temperamental is not the right word I'm looking for. Delicate perhaps? You see, it has to be formulated at the right pH level (less than 3) to be effective yet not too low (above 2.5?) or it can irritate the skin.

Vitamin C is also notoriously unstable and starts to degrade when exposed to heat, light, and air. So whatever vitamin C product you go with should be in an air tight, dark bottle that gets stored in the refrigerator.  Based on all this, I'm sticking with temperamental and delicate as adjectives.
Yet an effective vitamin C serum can do such good things for the skin! Vitamins C and E paired together protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays and scavenges for damaging free radicals. Vitamin C can reverse the chemical compound that causes skin discolorations for a more even complexion. Vitamin C is also thought to aid in collagen production, which means tighter, firmer skin. It's a skincare powerhouse, pure and simple. For reference, I've got super oily skin with under the skin bumps caused by sebaceous hyperplasia, sun damage from years of not wearing sun screen and living on the Gulf Coast, and I'm old :-)
Source FutureDerm: The Science of Beauty 
Ciracle's C-20 is a thin, slightly viscous pale yellow liquid.  I used about half a dropper's worth for my face, neck, and back of my hands.  It stings (tingles?) slightly after applying, and has a somewhat sticky finish. When I did wear it during the day I did not notice it interfering with my makeup in the least, and that slight stickiness could work as foundation primer, I suppose. This did not irritate my skin nor did it cause breakouts.
Ingredients: Water, Ascorbic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Rosa Davurica Bud Extract, Alcohol, Sodium Lactate, Glucose, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Flower Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Sodium Bicarbonate, Diethoxyethyl Succinate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Beta-Glucan, Xanthan Gum, PEG-180, Gluconolactone, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Lecthin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ubiquinone, Diisopropyl Adipate, Glycerin, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil, Panthenol, Niacinamide, Zinc PCA, Phenoxyethanol, Methyparaben

Here is something I just learned a few weeks ago: vitamin C's effects on the skin last 72 hours, which means you really don't need to apply it daily. I felt pressured to use up my bottle ASAP due to the limited shelf life (1 year from opening, but then there are those pesky oxidation issues nipping at your heels), so I'm not sure knowing about the 72 hour lasting effects would have slowed me down any.  The bottle I purchased from Memebox ($25) had an expiration date of 1/28/16, but it worked well right up to the last drops. It still took me a good 8 months to finish off this bottle using it 3-4 times a week, as I would sometimes forget because it was in the refrigerator. Out of sight, out of mind, you know.
So did I see any difference in my skin? Yes, I believe this did make a difference. The dark spots on the left side of my face are slightly lighter and the overall tone and clarity of my skin seems better. I liked using a vitamin C serum enough that I want to keep one in my skin care routine, although I'm not sure it will be Ciracle's C-20. Memebox no longer carries it, but I do see it on amazon.com for about $35 and at the official Ciracle site for $39.30. I just purchased a reasonably priced vitamin C serum from a US brand called Simply Radiant, so I'll have something to compare. I've also heard good things about Drunk Elephants C-Firma Day Serum, but I'm not quite ready to spend $80 to try it out :-)