Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June Birchbox: Say Yes!

June's Birchbox them was Say Yes! to adventure:  exploring the unknown, dreaming beyond the horizon, and letting go of the word "no".  Sounds good to me, although I have zero intention of scuba diving with sharks or anything like that. 
The contents of my June box have got me feeling pretty good though.  The first item, the Number 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect leave-in hair conditioner (sample value $4.80) is actually a favorite of mine and I had just finished the last bottle I had, also from Birchbox (I cancelled my original Birchbox subscription and resubscribed, hence the repeats).  I've enjoyed all the N4 hair products I've tried, really nice line.
Word on the street is that the travel-sized Marcelle eye pencils were last minute fill-ins for the detained by customs Eyeko Fat Liners that were supposed to be in June's box.  I received a stunning peacock blue called Electric Blue (sample value $7.33), and I'm liking both the color and the formula, as I had zero smudging/transfer on my upper lid
The Coola SPF50  sunscreen/moisturizer in Fresh Mango (sample value $3.20) does indeed have a nice tropical fruit scent that I'll be using on my hands.  I like the texture/consistency and the high SPF, and need something to protect my hands when I'm driving.  Love the organic/natural ingredient list.
I've received the Real Chemistry Luminous 3-minute Peel (sample value $4.80) before as well, but had only used it once.  I tried it again and am not really sure what to think at this point.  This acid-free peel does indeed form little balls when I rub it on my face, but I've always suspected products like this of doing that no matter what you rub them on.  I read somewhere (Unboxing Beauty's blog, I believe) that you can test it by rubbing it on a flat non-skin surface so I tried it on a plate and it did not ball up.  So, I'll keep using my two tubes for a more informed impression. 
I'm looking forward to trying the Shiseido Ibuki Gentle Cleanser (sample value $1.20), especially now that I've finished most of the cleansers I've been rotating (you can see those here). 
The red Emi Jay hair tie (sample value $3) is a nice little extra, and maybe my hair will be long enough again to wear it some day.  Also included in every box this month was a code to enter that could win you prizes or discount codes  Mine was a 20% discount code, which I used along with points to get the Juara Coffe & Creme Skin Smoothing Body Ritual set ($49) for free (review here). 

The total box value for June was $24.33, and I'm a happy Birchbox camper:-)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Delicate Hummingbird Long-Lasting Eye Shadow by Rouge Bunny Rouge

Now how's this as in intro to Rouge Bunny Rouge's Long-lasting Eyeshadow Refills?
The firefly festival is eagerly awaited all year in the Enchanted Garden. For then on this very special day, the best voices of the bird-world feed on tiny fireworks to embellish their voices and then gather to perform a single concert together. Their jubilant musical notes are inscribed in a syrup of figs and milk and preserved in tiny pots to be enjoyed all year round. Like this golden froth of musical syrup, WHEN BIRDS ARE SINGING... eye shadows are a time defying exotic enigma. This is plumage to adorn you in shades as deliciously mellow as soft silence that flows, or as brilliantly potent as jewelled notes. So addictive are these morsels that you’ll be causing your own kaleidoscopic ripples every time you wear them.
Gah, but I love me some over the top magical storytelling when it comes to cosmetics, perfumes, or beauty products in general.  I'd much rather apply defying exotic enigma plumage that flows as soft as silence than say, eyeshadow, to my eyes :-) I mean, one of the reasons I love makeup is because of how it makes me feels as I'm applying and wearing it, and storytelling is all part of that!
Enter Delicate Hummingbird, one of the shadow refills I picked up for $10 (regularly priced $19) from HauteLook a few months back.  I love that HauteLook has featured Rouge Bunny Rouge products several times now, and am eagerly awaiting for the blushes to show up at some point.
The shadow refills can be housed in RBR's two ($12) or three pan ($18) compacts called Eye Shadow Keepers (I paid $11 for the trio), and are easy to pop in or out of the magnetic pans.  Delicate Hummingbird is one of the more sheer colors in the line, described as "cool, dusky sugar-frosted plum, iridescent with pink shimmer". 
Here I'm wearing Delicate Hummingbird as a wash over ColourPop's coral hued Cheeky (review here). That glimmer you see along the lash line is Urban Decay's discontinued 24/7 pencil in 1999.  I don't know why they discontinued it, as it's LOVELY.
You can purchase singles of RBR's shadows for $25 or refills for $19 from Beautyhabit.com, but considering RBR is not the easiest brand to track down nor the cheapest, I'd keep an eye out for their next appearance on HauteLook.  I will be.

Friday, June 26, 2015

NOTD: My Signature is "DC" by OPI

Well if this wasn't a pleasant little surprise:  an easy one coater with no brush strokes to speak of.  Wasn't really expecting that, but considering I was feeling less than inspired with no desire to invest time/effort in a manicure, My Signature is "DC" hit the spot.  I can see a few bald spots on my ring finger, so two coats is probably the way to go for those that are not feeling lazy/uninspired, but hey, it didn't bother me. 
My Signature is "DC" is part of the Coca-Cola by OPI limited edition set of polishes, and this particular color is in homage to the silver canned Diet Coke.  I've drank a few of those in my day.  I was tempted to mattify this just to see what it looked like, but was mesmerized by the silver sparkle enough to just let it be.  Next time, next time....
This silver motivated me to select a gold for next week, and now I can't get this refrain from Tina Toledo's Street Walkin' Blues out of my mind.  Love me some Ryan Adams.
It ain't no easy life but it pays pretty good,
Keeps her out of the cold
It ain't no easy life
But it's silver and gold
Silver, silver, silver and gold

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Figuier Ardent Cologne Absolue Pure Perfume Spray by Atelier Cologne

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.

Top notes:
bergamot from Calabria, anise from Turkey, cardamom from Guatemala

Heart notes:
fig leaf from Provence, salty fig, black pepper from Madagascar

Base notes:
cedarwood from Virginia, iris from Tuscany, tonka bean from Brazil

Of all the scents I've tried in the last few years, two brands have captured both my imagination and loyalty the most:  Atelier Cologne and Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab.  Both do a great job with fragrance storytelling, creating both olfactory and imagery experiences to capture the feeling around the fragrance.  Today I'll be talking about Atelier Cologne's new Figuier Ardent, a fragrance built around salty figs dusted with pepper.

The opening notes are decidedly tart, dry and unisex in tone, yet seem about right for a summertime scent that is not going  to hit you over the head in the heat.   The tartness starts to soften almost immediately, and I can begin to detect both salty and peppery notes surrounding what I can only assume are the figs and fig leaf.

I say assume because I'm not really sure what a fig is supposed to smell like.   I can remember the fig preserves that my grandmother canned every year, and I can remember eating fresh figs right off the trees in her yard, but their smell?  That hasn't survived over the years.  Sweet it is not, nor would you assume it to be based on the notes listed.   If anything, I think the postcard image above convey Figuier Ardent quite well with it's figs, dry and weathered wood, and green glimpses of fern, moss, and evergeen sprigs.  

I can definitely see this working well on a guy and yet in no way do I think it's masculine to the point that women wouldn't want to reach for it as well.  Honestly my first impression was rather ambivalant, but Figuier Ardent is growing on me, much the way that Vanille Insensée did (review here).  The fragrance becomes more of a skin scent within an hour, yet it lingers for about 6 as it fades to a powdery softness.  I wouldn't say it's as long lasting as some of the other Atelier Cologne scents I've tried, which is disappointing, as I'm not one to reapply during the day.  I purchased the spray sized version from Sephora for $25.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Cleansers Currently in my Rotation

I'm a devoted user of cleansing oil, but almost always follow up with some type of (usually) foaming cleanser.  These are the travel sized cleansers I've been using for the past few months, which I've either just finished or am about to finish.

Vasanti's Detox Nutrient-Rich Purifying Facial Cleanser is designed to be a gentle foaming cleanser that can remove even silicone based and water resistant formulas.  It contains active ingredients including omega 3 and 6 and is supposed to leave skin balanced and hydrated.  I typically used it with my Clarisonic several times a week at night.  It's formulated without parabens, mineral oil, petrolatum, sulfates, GMO's, Triclosan, is cruelty-free, 100% vegan, and 85% natural.  At $24 for a full sized bottle, it's an effective cleanser that I would purchase based on the Birchbox sample I received.  Very nice.

First Aid Beauty's Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser with Red Clay may be the prettiest cleanser I've ever used.  I enjoyed looking at it every time I used it, and even better, I liked the formula and way it performed as well.  The target audience for this cleanser are those with combination to oily or problem prone skin, which would be me.  It is supposed to remove excess oils (don't most cleansers do this?), unclogs pores and purify the skin with a powerful combination of Red Clay, Rosemary Leaf Oil and botanical antioxidants.  I liked this cleanser and used it as my morning cleanser in the shower.   The full-sized version is $24 I and would purchase based on the sample size I just finished.  It does have a high pH level, although I'm not sure of the exact number and dermstore has this in it's description:  panthenol balances pH levels.  First Aid Beauty's other cleanser is slightly acidic at 6.5.
pur-lisse's pur-delicate was the big surprise for me out of these cleansers, in that I wasn't expecting much from this non-foaming cleanser.  Typically non-foaming cleansers just haven't done a good job for me and tend to leave my skin feeling coated or not quite clean, but that's definitely not the case with pur-delicate.  The gentle, non~irritating blend of Soy Milk, Soy Proteins, Whole Oat, White Tea and Blue Lotus did the job and left my skin feeling clean and soft (I saw reference to a pH level of about 7).  It's more of an investment at $36, but I was really impressed with it.

Last but not least is L'Occitane's Immortelle Precious Cleansing Foam, which contains immortelle floral water and citrus fruit peel to brighten the complexion.  I like the soft fragrance and the light foam and thought it does a good job of cleansing without stripping my skin.  The sample is lasting a surprisingly long time, which makes me think the full-sized version ($28) would last a loooong time.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Toucan Matte Lippie Stix by ColourPop

I recently picked up 3 lippie stix's in different finishes from ColourPop: the matte Toucan, the satin Topanga, and the glossy Tipsy.  Today I'm showing you the matte Toucan, described by ColourPop as:
"Two can tango in this bright pinky red coral in a Matte finish"
I love a good matte lipstick, and the texture of Toucan is dryer than both the satin or glossy finish of the lippie stix I have.  It tugs slightly against the lip when you apply, although the color goes on smoothly.  The initial finish has a slight sheen to it, which dissipates after an hour or so to a true matte finish.
I would not call this a particularly comfortable matte formula, as after 3 hours or so my lips felt quite dry, to the point where it was hard to rub them together.  Prepping your lips (exfoliating, moisturizing, and possible wearing a lip primer) will be important, which is typically the case with most matte finishes.  Toucan wore well for about 4 hours but did not survive dinner, which faded the color in the center of my lips.  I will say my lips did not feel worse for the wear the next day.

I think skin tone will determine how pink or red Toucan leans, and on my fair but warm tone complexion I see more pink than red.
To prep my lips I typically wear a very emollient lip balm (Julep's Strawberry-Min lip balm is my current balm of choice) while I'm applying my other makeup.  I then use a tissue to wipe off the balm and exfoliate my lips.  Afterwards, I apply a dryer lip balm, with my long term favorite being Mongo Kiss in Vanilla Honey.  I've been testing Urban Decay's Ultimate Ozone multipurpose primer pencil, which I applied over Mongo Kiss.  Considering my lips still felt dry once I applied Toucan, it's definitely not one of the more comfortable matte formulas I've tried.
Regardless, gorgeous color and at $5 a pop, a great budget matte lipstick option!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Soft Summer Skin with Juara's Coffee & Creme Smoothing Body Ritual

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.
I've been hoarding my Birchbox points and waiting for a discount code, so when my June Birchbox included a 20% discount, I treated myself to the Juara Coffee & Creme Smoothing Body Ritual set ($49).  This was a blind buy as I haven't received samples of this line to date from Birchbox, but the reviews were glowing and with it being shorts weather, I thought this set was the way to go.  So was it?
Oh, yeah. This stuff is all that and a box of chocolates, or more accurately coffee and cream.  The Invigorating Coffee Scrub is full of fresh roasted Indonesian coffee, walnut shell powder, and sulfate-free cleansing agents for a vigorous but gentle exfoliating scrub.  It definitely has that coffee grind smell that java lovers will appreciate. 
Taking my cue from the name of the set (Smoothing Body Ritual), I did not rush through the scrub but instead turned the shower off and took my time massaging the scrub in circular motions all over my body.  The recommendation is to use the scrub 2-3 times a week, which should give the exfoliating and enhanced circulation benefits without overworking my skin.  The downside of coffee scrubs is the mess, as coffee grinds covered the bottom of my shower afterwards.  I let them dry and then swept them up as opposed to rinsing them down the drain, as I'm leery of clogging my older home's plumbing. 
The second step in the Smoothing Body Ritual is the Candlenut Body Creme, which features the nourishing benefits of Candlenut oil as well as Illipe Butter,  Rice Bran Oil, and Avocado Oil.  The consistency of the body cream is thinner than a shea butter and does a great job of soaking into the skin without leaving a greasy residue.  What I get is extremely soft skin that I kept wanting to touch, it felt so good - even hours later.
The body cream does have a light fragrance that feels tropical without veering into coconut or suntan lotion territory.  If I had to guess I'd say it's based on white tropical flowers (I'm seeing Tiare and Jasmine featured in other Juara products), but I'm really just going with the tropical feel I get from it.  Whatever it is, I like it.
If you are as unfamiliar with Juara as I was, here's a bit of information from the Birchbox site:
The nature-based skincare line is rooted in an east-meets-west philosophy, pairing ancient Indonesian healing ingredients with modern technology and packaging. Inspired by the centuries-old medicinal tradition of Jamu (which is still used in spas in Bali today), the products rely on plants and botanicals to thoroughly nourish and improve your skin. Bonus: The 100 percent vegetarian line is also cruelty-free.
The Coffee & Creme Smoothing Ritual set ranks right up there with another luxury body care line I love (Pure Fiji, reviews here and here), so that's high praise indeed!