Friday, July 22, 2016

July Birchbox: Let's Do This!

As most are probably aware, Birchbox announced that their points system will be changing, and sadly not for the better.  Apparently money is tight and Birchbox has yet to turn a profit, so the points for reviews will be limited to 5 products for the life of your subscription as opposed to the 5 reviews per box (1 point = $1 in the Birchbox shop). Yep, and accrued point will only be good for 6 months. You can earn points through purchases and referrals, but the points for reviews were what set Birchbox apart in a good way.
I've definitely enjoyed Birchbox over the 3+ years I've subscribed, but it looks like troubled times ahead for the company that started the whole subscription box craze.  I've read more than one article speculating on what the future holds for Birchbox (here is a good one from racked.com), but I decided it was time to cash out my points and cancel my auto-renew yearly subscription, which ends in December.  I'll enjoy my last four months of boxes, however, and July's was a pretty solid box. I'm all about facial sprays right now, so the above Avene Thermal Spring Water was a welcome sight.
Coola has been a staple brand in Birchboxes for while, and Daydream Mineral Primer is a new product from them.  The tube contained a surprisingly small amount of primer, about enough for 2 uses.  I know people complain about receiving foils, but putting the amount of 2 foils in a tube isn't exactly the solution, IMO.  For reference, a Smashbox primer foil contains .05 oz, and this has .10 oz.
Beyond that, the primer has the slick yet velvety feel I associate with silicone, and it did a good job of mattifying my skin and smoothing/filling in pores.  I don't know if my makeup wore any longer, as it's the dog days of summer in Mobile right now, with temps and humidity that make you regret walking outside.  Bottom line, nice but not something I'm motivated to pay $42 for.
The sample choice this month was between mascaras, but I decided to go with the luck of the draw and received this Smashbox X-Rated volumizing mascara.  I really like it. 
I didn't take a picture of the brush but I'm finding it does a nice job of coating my lashes without too much transfer to my lids (my bane - I always get mascara on my upper lash line), and it has minimal smudging on my lower lash line.  Good stuff.
I know people talk about how Birchbox didn't pay attention to subscriber profiles, but they usually did a pretty good job with me.  Or I'm just really easy going about stuff like that.  Regarding, I've got blond hair so this Klorane Blond Highlights shampoo makes me happy.  I like saving items like this for travel, and I've got another work related writing weekend planned for September, so I'll take this  and the conditioner with me. 
Overall, a solid month and all items I will use. I'm sad Birchbox seems to be floundering, but hopefully they will find their niche again.  Cancelling this and not resubscribing to Le Metier de Beaute's VIP program has left quite the void in my subscription box world.  Hmmm.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Culling My Collection: 2016 Blush Declutter

I love watching makeup decluttering videos, which is what I've been doing to get me ready for the Cull the Collection series I've been wanting to do. "To cull" means to control or reduce the size of by removal. While I do periodically go through and weed out items that have gone bad, I wanted to take a more KonMari approach to downsizing and decluttering my makeup.  I started with my powder blushes, as I own an inordinate amount.  So, here we go with Part 1 of my collection cull, and be aware this is picture heavy.
Powder blush collection
These two drawers contain my powder blushes.  For those not familiar with the KonMari method, you are supposed to hold everything in your hands and ask yourself "does this spark joy?" or essentially bring happiness into your life.  If it doesn't, then it is time to thank the item for it's service and send it to a better home, even if that's the trash bin.

I started this process at about 7 am on a Saturday morning and finished at 11 am, so it took 4 hours.  I tried to arrange the blushes by color family so that I could distinguish similar colors. For some of my favorite blush brands, I also looked at all of a certain brand together.  I tried not to be sentimental or let the price of a particular item influence me, with varying levels of success. While this did take a while, I actually enjoyed the process quite a bit!
I started with the Makeup Geek pan blushes, which I recently took out of my Z palette in order to make room for depotted Le Metier de Beaute eye shadows. I put the Makeup Geek pans back into the empty kaleidoscopes, although I'd like to get another Z palette to keep them in. These are the original Makeup Geek blushes that I was able to purchase 9 of for $45 prior to the new blush formula release.  It was a great bundle deal but some of the colors were not quite right for me, either too light to show up on my skin, too cool toned, or too pink :-)
Smitten does not show up on me at all, plus it is a bit yellow toned.  Bliss is a better shade for me, although it is also a light shade that barely shows on my skin.  Head Over Heels is another barely there color on me, although it's very pretty.
Secret Admirer is a lovely lilac shade that I totally cannot pull off.  It's not  as lavender as it appears in this photo (inside natural light), but definitely leans in that direction.  Summer Fling is another that I have not reached for often, as it's intense orange shade scares me a bit.
Hanky Panky is a lovely medium pink, but I just don't wear blush colors like this. So, my original cull looked like this, plus a LMdB blush from the 2015 VIP palette.  Tally:  10 blushes, culled 6.  Not bad.
Smitten, Secret Admirer, Head Over Heels, Summer Fling, Hanky Panky, LMdB single
Next, I pulled out my peach/coral/peachy pink blushes, which I have a ridiculous amount of.  This is clearly the color family I'm most drawn to and wear the most, as I'm counting 21 blushes here..
Out of all these blushes, I decided to part with 4: bareMineral's The Natural High, Lancome's Peachy Keen, theBalm's Hot Mama, and Chantecaille's Fun.  I'm not a huge fan of blushes with a heavy gold shimmer, which characterizes both The Natural High and Hot Mama.  Fun by Chantecaille barely registers on my skin, and while I've used it quite a bit, I'm ready to part company.  I've hardly used the Lancome palette at all and it's gone bad, based on smell. So, out it goes.
I kept Estee Lauder's Peach Passion, Wild Sunset, and Bronze Goddess palette, Tarte's Achiote, Thankful and Magic, NYX's Apricot, Rose Garden and Wanderlust, Laura Geller's Dreamsicle, BECCA's Flowerchild, ColourPop's Tasty, Too Faced's Love Hangover, Clinique's Peach Pop, and MAKE Beauty's Geisha and Czarina.  Tally:  21 peach/coral peachy pink bluses, 4 culled.  Total 31 blushes, 10 culled.
Next are my pink blushes, with a total of 13 items. The cull results indicate I can be more cut throat in this category.
Culled were two Lancome GWP blushes, Rose Romantique and Shimmer Pink Pool, the Tarina Tarintino Dollskin cheek palette, an Estee Lauder GWP face palette, Tarte's Fantastic Amazonian Clay blush, stila's Lyric Countless Color Pigment, and DHC's Poppy Face Color Palette.  A recent "Loving Your Unloved" concentration on the Dollskin palette showed me I really only used the first peachy shade, and let's face it I've got plenty of those. The Estee Lauder face palette with Pink Kiss as the blush color did see some use, but the bronze pan has hardened and it's seen better days.  The DHC Poppy palette is too light for my complexion and I just don't reach for the others, so out they go.
Tally:  13 pink blush items, 7 culled.  Total 44 blushes, 17 culled.
Kept: Cargo Bali, Sue Devitt Solomon Islands, Too Faced Justify My Love, Clinique Plum Pop, theBalm Toile
Next is another favorite blush color family, the beige/tan category.  Apparently I love every beige/tan blush I own, as I did not want to part with any of the 7 blushes.
Blushes kept are Estee Lauder's Sensuous Rose, True Cosmetic's Blushing Beige, Sue Devitt Tralee, Nvey Eco 957, Rouge Bunny Rouge Starina, Tarte Peaceful, NYX Chiffon.  Tally:  7 Beige/tan blush items, 0 culled.  Total 51 blushes, 17 culled.
Berrie and mauves blushes as next, and I have only 5 blushes in this color family. I ended up keeping four and culling one.  I kept Flush by Tarte, Your Love is King by Too Faced, Rapture by Urban Decay, and Houndstooth by theBalm.
I culled Nvey Eco's Blushing Bliss 958.  Tally:  5 berry/mauve blushes, 1 culled. Total 56 blushes, 18 culled.
Nvey Echo 958
Next are 3 similar items:Tarte's Park Avenue Prince Pink Bronze, Clarin's Graphic Expressions, and Covergirl's Roses Clean Glow Blusher.
Covergirl's Roses did not make the cut. It's quite nice but almost identical in color to Graphic Expressions. The Park Avenue Princess is similar in color but has a soft shimmer that kept it in my collection. Total blushes 59 blushes, 19 culled.
I love my Hourglass blushes, as they are skin flattering and wear exceptionally well on my oily skin. However, I don't reach for Radiant Magenta often at all. Mood Exposure is probably my favorite, followed by the peachy Incandescent Electra. It was painful, but I decided to cull Radiant Magenta. Or at least I thought I did. Total blushes 62 blushes, 20 culled.
Next are what I'm calling my orange blushes, although Sephora's Let's Dance and Benefit's Sugarbomb are not orange. But they do have an orange segment, so let's pretend. They are also very similar in color. Surratt's Canteloupe is a straight up light orange, and completely unique to my collection. It's a difficult color to wear on it's own for my skintone, but the formula keeps it in my collection and I use it as a color adjuster. I also think it's really pretty layered under the other two in this picture. So which one of those did I cull?
Benefit's Sugarbomb got culled. The huge Let's Dance is more versatile as I can use different strips separately if I like, and the quality is on par.
Total 65 blushes, 21 culled.
Last are some some palettes and the ColourPop Monster highlighter that is kept with my blushes, so it got included. Shown are Estee Lauder's Lover's Blush/Rebel Rose, LMdB's Cheeky Chic kaleidoscope, and the Urban Decay Gwen Stenfani blush palette.
I kept Monster, Lover's Blush/Rebel Rose, and the Gwen Stefani blush palette. I've hit pan on Lo-Fi, which has become a favorite bronzer/contour shade.
The Cheeky Chic kaleidoscope was culled, as I never reached for it and was not overly impressed with the blush formula. Also, the contour shade has hardened and you can not pick up ANY pigment. I've noticed that with a few of my LMdB shadows as well, although I fixed those,  More on that in a later post. Total 69 blush items, 22 culled.
After going through every item and collecting all the blushes culled from my collection, it was time to take another once over to see if there were any items that I wanted to reconsider.
Blushes culled from collection
There were a few that were tugging at the corners of my mind, namely Radiant Magenta by Hourglass and the Makeup Geek blushes Head Over Heels and Summer Fling.  I ended up returning them to my collection.  If they don't see some use gong forward, I'll re-evaluate.
Now my powder blushes fit into one drawer. I've reacquited myself with what I own, which reinforces that I have quite enough and can be content "shopping" my own collection.
Final tally:  69 blush items, 19 culled from collection = 50 blushes. I purged almost 28% of my collection!  My next foray will be into my cream blushes, so stay tuned for that :-)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Le Métier de Beauté 2015-16 VIP Program Wrap Up and Overview

Disclaimer: I purchased this.
The final month's offering from the Le Métier de Beauté (LMdB) 2015-16 VIP subscription program was 2 of their Revitalizing Hydro Red Algae & Collagen masks, which retail for $15 each.  Here is how they are described:
"The ultimate care your skin craves. The Revitalizing Hydro Red Algae & Collagen Mask is imbued with red algae and collagen extracts that nourish with advanced nutrients and boost skin's long term firmness and texture. The luxurious formula simply melts into skin and works its magic. The natural technology smooths, softens and improves the skin in as little as one application. Take a nap and wake up with time on your side."
Ingredients: Water/Aqua, Butylene Glycol, Cetyle Ethylhexanoate, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan), Niacinamide, Polysorbate 80, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Ceratonia Siliqua Gum, Sucrose, Cetylpyridinium Chloride, Caprylyl Glyceryl Ether, Glyceryl Caprylate, Cetrimonium Chloride, Hexylene Glycol, Betaine, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Disodium EDTA, Adenosine, Citric Acid, Agar, Xantham Gum, Sodium Polyacrylate, Dipentaerythrityl Hexa C5-9 Acid Esters, Ceteth-10, Ceteth-20, Glyceryl Stearate, Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance/Perfume, ACID RED 18 (CI 16255).
I enjoy using face masks and am looking forward to trying these out.  I do admit to feeling a bit underwhelmed considering this was the last month of my subscription  This year was a mixed bag for the VIP program, although there were definitely some stellar products along with some definite missteps on LMdB's part - at least in my opinion. Below is a picture of everything I received this year:
The missteps were a few products that did not seem to fit the LMdB product line in looks (leopard print bronzer?) or quality (baked eyeshadow?). I didn't even post about the Whirlwind baked eyeshadow after someone on MakeupTalk pointed out that LMdB was clearly just putting their name on a shadow available from other brands.  For example:
The exact shadow, name and all, currently on sale for $10.95 can be seen here.
I get that it's a struggle to consistently delivery high quality products at the bargain basement price point of a subscription service ($29/month, although the VIP program requires payment upfront for the year, $348) and I've always questioned how LMdB would be able to even approach making a profit with this service.  Whirlwind definitely eroded good will amongst subscribers, however. To LMdB's credit, we also got an eyeshadow ($40) brush that month, and you can't go wrong with a a good quality brush.
There were also a few perplexing months where we received lipstick after lipstick after lipstick, including a pink (Emerge) and metallic bronze (Burnished) in December. Not exactly seasonal colors, although I've been enjoying Burnished as a topper over other colors this summer.
Trompe l'Oeil
However, LMdB did seem to correct course in the last half of the program, where we received the award winning Peau Vierge Anti-Aging Complex ($125) plus a foundation brush ($50), a gorgeous powder highlighter called Trompe l'Oeil, the Bohemia eye kaleidoscope ($95), a powder brow quad, and a body moisturizer ($125).
Even with just determining value based on products in LMdB's catalog and not factoring in items made exclusively for the VIP program, the value is definitely there.  I come up with over $500 worth of standard catalog items, which I paid $348 for.  Hard to beat, especially if you consider everything else along the lines of a GWP.
Plus, I'm really enjoying that the 2015 VIP palette we received in the first month is a metallic palette.  It inspired me to depot my eye kaleidoscopes and single LMdB shadows to make some stunning palettes.  More on that later.

So, while I did not resubscribe for year 4 of the VIP subscription program, I've got to admit that LMdB is still my favorite luxury brand.  Yes, there were a few misses, but hits outweighed them for me, and I've discovered more than a few favorites from this brand over the last 3 years. I'll have to admire year 4 items from afar :-)