Wednesday, April 25, 2012

theBalm Eyeshadow Swatches

Yesterday I posted a giveaway for a Hot Ticket nail polish and Balm Shelter lip gloss that were a part of my Black Tie Kit that I recently bought, and today I bring you swatches of the other items.

  • Shady Lady Eyeshadow in Caught in the Act Courtney and Shameless Shana
  • Overshadow Shimmery Mineral Shadow in No Money, No Honey
  • Hot Mama! Shadow and Blush

I've been wearing all of these for the past few days and I love them all.  I've only used Hot Mama! as a blush, but it's a gorgeous pink/peach color that would look great on the eyes as well.  Just a light dusting along my cheekbones is enough; the color payoff is quite nice.

I'm really loving the Overshadow Mineral Shadow because it's so glittery and gorgeous.  It's definitely a "fun" shade, a light gold. I like to use it along my brow bone and in the inner corners of my eyes.  It's in one of those jars that has the three small holes inside, though, which I think are messy and kind of annoying.  I'd prefer the pressed format, but I guess most mineral products aren't packaged that way.

Lastly, the Shady Lady shadows.  Caught in the Act Courtney (top) is a deep, warm brown with flecks of gold glitter, and Shameless Shana (bottom) is a rust-brown/gold shimmer.  I like both of them because they're appropriate enough for work, but they're still really fun to wear.  Since they came in a set that was meant to be used all together, they obviously layer perfectly over each other.

Bottom Line: I'm so glad I was able to snag this kit for only $13 (at Marshalls), because I think theBalm products are excellent.  I'm happy with the color payoff on the shadows, and they have pretty good staying power -- although I've only worn them with eyeshadow primer, so I'm not sure how long they last without.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

TheBalm Giveaway! [CLOSED]

I bought a Black Tie Kit by TheBalm at Marshalls the other day because I wanted the blush and eyeshadows that were included, but two things I definitely don't need more of are lip gloss and red nail polish.  Therefore, I'm giving them away to one lucky reader!

If you've never heard of TheBalm, they're an awesome cruelty-free company.  I really like every product I've ever tried by them; I feel that they're very high-quality.  The two prizes pictured above are Balm Shelter Lip Gloss in "Pin-Up Girl" and Hot Ticket Nail Polish in "Better Off Red."

Entering is simple, just use the Rafflecopter form.  There are no mandatory entries, but the more you do the better your chances of winning.  This giveaway is open to US residents aged 18+ and will end on Thursday, May 31st.  Winners will be contacted via email.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Urban Decay Book of Shadows IV Review and Swatches

My BOS IV is here!  There probably isn't a soul in the world (who is interested in makeup, that is) that hasn't already seen a million swatches of the Urban Decay Book of Shadows IV, but I can at least give my opinion and insight on the palette.

I snagged the palette for only $24 ($31 after tax and shipping) from Hautelook, which made me really happy because it retailed for $63 when it was first released.  The Hautelook sale is long over, but you can find these in the sale section of for only $29 right now.

I read a few reviews before deciding to get the BOS IV, and they were pretty mixed.  Some loved it, some felt that it didn't live up to previous palettes.  My opinion lies somewhere in between -- I've never owned any Urban Decay shadows before, so I like it a little better than some others may simply because it's my first experience with the brand and I'm excited about it.  I really like Urban Decay because they're cruelty-free.  But I can see where some others who have more experience with the brand might feel that it was less-than-stellar, because the color payoff on some of the shadows isn't as nice as I was hoping for.

Here are all of the shades.  As you can see, my "Midnight Cowgirl" shade is chipped; the palette arrived damaged like that.  I could have returned it for a refund, but I don't think I could have gotten an exchange so I figured I would just keep it.  What I liked most about this palette is the variety of colors.  There are some gorgeous neutrals, as well as some fun and bright shades.  For only $30, I couldn't pass it up.  The palette also comes with travel-sized Supercurl Curling Mascara and Eyeshadow Primer Potion, and a full-sized 24/7 Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner.  Oh and it came with a mini-speaker and a card with QR codes on it that had tutorials.  I don't have a smartphone (I know, I'm practically prehistoric!), so I can't access the tutorials, and the speaker is nothing special (sound quality kind of sucks).

Check out my swatches and more info behind the read more.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April Conscious Box Review

It's that time of the month again, the time when I tell you how much I loooove Conscious Box!  If you've never heard of this service, it costs $19 a month ($12 for the box, $7 for shipping) to have a box packed full of eco-friendly and socially conscious products delivered to your door.  And it is the greatest box EVER.

The theme for April was "Earth Day," as you can tell from the card on the top.  One thing I like is that each month features a different nature photo on an index card, which I remove and use as decorations in my cube at work.  On the reverse side of the picture is a paragraph or two describing the month's theme.

Opening these boxes each month always brightens up my day.  I check the tracking information every day, and when I know it's been delivered I'm in a weird sort of anticipation all the way home from work.  Maybe it's a little weird to get so excited about a package, but I just really enjoy getting mail and opening up something fun.

This box was the greatest one yet (since December, when I started receiving boxes).  It was packed with stuff--it weighed 1.8 lbs!  Last month's box was pretty much all edible things, so I liked that the products this month spanned a broad range of categories.  I've listed the items and have more up-close photos behind the "read more."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tips for Starting a Blog

I know I'm fairly new to the blogsphere (I started this blog last November), but ShannonRByrd812 tweeted me a few days ago and asked for advice on how to get started in blogging.  I figured that writing up a quick post with how I got started might be helpful to some, so here goes!

1. Know your niche
Figure out what your interests are, and what you would really like to blog about.  For me the choice was easy, because I love trying out new cosmetics and skincare.  I decided to start a beauty product review blog so that I could share my insights with others.

2. Choose your platform
I chose Blogger because I liked the tie-ins with Google Friend Connect and Google Analytics.  But there are some drawbacks; a few months ago my Google account was temporarily suspended and I had a mini panic attack when I thought I was going to lose my blog forever!  I think that the other most popular service is Wordpress, which I've heard allows for more customization.  Play around with a few sites and see what fits you best.  You can also always host your own domain if you have web knowledge.

3. Don't start a blog just to get free stuff
Yes, sponsored posts are definitely a great perk of blogging!  But if your only motivation is to get free stuff, then I have a feeling that you won't be as successful as you'd like to be.  I love writing as much as I love shopping, which was a second motivator for me.  I won't lie, I love trying products for free, but companies are looking for genuine, honest reviews from invested bloggers, not just someone who wants a free bottle of lotion.

4. Be honest!
If you choose to start a review blog, it's imperative that you provide completely honest reviews.  You aren't doing anyone any good -- not for your readers nor for the companies you may be reviewing for -- by providing dishonest information.  I've read a few posts where bloggers write only one or two paragraphs saying "This is great, I love this!," which leaves me thinking, okay, but I still have no idea whether or not I would want to buy this product!  Be detailed, but not overly-so (no one wants to read posts that are 3 pages long, either), and provide the pros and cons that you see fit.

A few other miscellaneous things:

  • Giveaways definitely help develop your readership.  People love to win free stuff, myself included!  You might need to front the cost for some prizes on your own in the beginning to build up your followership (companies like to sponsor blogs with lots of followers and high statistics), but that's not always a big deal.  I was involved in a $650 cash giveaway that only cost me $5 to participate in!
  • Get to know other bloggers!  Having affiliates and friends in the blogosphere goes a long way.  You want people to read your blog, right?  So wouldn't it only make sense for you to return the favor by reading someone else's?
  • Utilize social media.  Tweet, post on Facebook, use Pinterest, Google+ ... there are so many social media outlets these days!  Take the time to learn how to use them to your best advantage.
  • And most importantly...have fun!  Blogging should be a fun hobby, not a chore.
I hope this post was helpful, feel free to leave questions here or on Facebook as well!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sindulge Review

I decided to try out Sindulge because I found a coupon for a box for a penny.  I fully intended to cancel after that one box, because I'm not really interested in signing up for any more subscription services for the long run, but I do like trying out new ones that I find.

I didn't find anything special with this service that would convince me to stay subscribed.  It's not bad, but nothing spectacular.  One thing I did like is the cute packaging; the box that the samples come in looks like a mini purse.

So here's the Sindulge breakdown: for $12 a month, you get "hand picked luxury samples" and your very own beauty consultant.  I didn't utilize the consultant part of the service because I cancelled, but apparently you can work with that person to customize your samples even further.  I'm not really sure how much of that I believe.  One thing that really turned me off from Sindulge is that their "beauty profile" is a complete rip-off of Birchbox's.  The questions are virtually the same.  With so many beauty subscription companies out there, I found it very off-putting that they couldn't come up with something original for themselves and instead just copied the Birchbox survey.

The samples themselves aren't terrible.  The main reason why I don't stay subscribed to these services is because they all send too much skincare and not enough cosmetics.  I want colors!  I want eyeshadows, lip glosses, lipsticks, blushes...not more eye creams.  But anyway, here is what was in my box:

  • Indie Lee The Body Wash in Lemongrass Citrus - This smells really nice, and I'm going to enjoy using it.  I'm up to my ears in body washes already, though.
  • Youngblood Eye Impact - The last thing I want or need is an eye cream.
  • Youngblood Mineral Primer - This seems promising.  I've just recently started using primers, so I'm curious to see how well this works.  I like that Youngblood is cruelty-free, as well.
  • Youngblood Translucent Powder - Honestly, I'm not really sure what to do with this.  The sample is too small to really be worth using, and I feel like the "translucent" look is going to look terrible on my tan skin.
  • Pencil Me In Eye Accent Pencil in Denim - I've never used an eyeliner that was any color other than black, so this will be really fun to try.
Bottom Line: Overall, I would wait for Sindulge to acquire more brands before subscribing.  For the price, you're better off going with Birchbox (it's only $10, as compared to Sindulge's $12) and you'll get higher-end samples.

*Disclaimer: I purchased this box with my own money and was not asked to review it. I was not compensated in any way and the honest opinions here are entirely my own.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The All Natural Face Mineral Eyeshadow Review and Swatches

My favorite item from my March Eco-Emi box was hands-down the two vegan mineral eyeshadows from The All Natural Face!  The samples were tiny, but they have excellent color payoff so a little went a long way.

The shadows I received are swatched above.  On the left is Rose Gold and on the right is Peach Ice.  I feel like I really lucked out with the random selection I received because they go beautifully together!  Rose Gold has a bit more of a purple-ish tint than the photo shows, but the swatch of Peach Ice is pretty much spot-on.  I applied Peach Ice all over my lid up to my browbone, and then used Rose Gold to define in my crease and eyelid.

I love these eyeshadows!  The Eco-Emi box also came with a 15% off coupon, which is awesome because I will definitely be buying more shadows once my samples run out.  A 5 gram jar (approx 2 g. of powder) costs $3.50 and 10 gram jar (approx 5 g. of powder) will cost you $6.50.  Can't really argue with those prices, even without a discount!  They are available in a variety of shades, both shimmery and matte.  The two I tried are both in the shimmer collection.  The All Natural Face has a multitude of cosmetics to choose from, ranging from lip gloss to mascara, and they even have a line of body care products.

Bottom Line: The All Natural Face has found a new fan in me.  Based on these two samples, I highly recommend these eyeshadows to anyone and everyone.  The quality is superb, as are the prices.  Best yet, they're vegan and cruelty free!

*Disclaimer: I received these two eyeshadow samples in my March Eco-Emi box, which I paid for with my own money.  I was not asked to review these shadows by The All Natural Face and was not compensated in any way.  The honest opinions here are entirely my own.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Kiss Nails Giveaway! [CLOSED]

I received a package of Kiss Nails products from Influenster for completing the brand challenge from the Holiday VoxBox, but I won't be using them.  I'm going to give them away to (hopefully) increase my social media presence, so to enter just use the Rafflecopter form at the end of the post.

Here are the prizes, from left to right in the photo above (more photos after the cut):
  • imPRESS Press-On Manicure in Totally Busted
  • Kiss Nail Dress in Halter
  • imPRESS Press-On Manicure in Vamp It Up

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

March Eco-Emi Review

I'm a little late with this post, but I had some other sponsored things I had to get to first.  Anyway, here is what was in my March Eco-Emi box!

As always, the box came beautifully packaged.  The little bag this month is especially pretty!  I love how they individually wrap some of the items, it really makes you feel like you're opening a special present made just for you.

I thought there was a great assortment of products this month.  Here's what was included:

  • Vitacare Whitening Gum in Pomegranate Mint
  • Badger Lip Tint & Shimmer in Red Jasper
  • Bella Bar Raw Bar in Cinnamon Nut
  • Old Post Road Oils Pear Tree Specialty Hand Soap
  • Vitacare Toothbrush
  • Auromere Ayurvedic Incense in Patchouli
  • GreenBody GreenPlanet Revitalizing Shampoo and Conditioner
  • The All Natural Face Vegan Eyeliner in "That Black"
  • The All Natural Face Vegan Mineral Eyeshadow in "Rose Gold" and "Peach Ice"
Eco-Emi is a lifestyle box, so (as you can see) there are a variety of items that are all natural, vegan, and/or eco-friendly.  My favorite item in this month's box was the Badger Lip Tint!  I was so excited to see the shimmer in this month's box, especially since I also received one in a previous Conscious Box.  The colors were random, and I love the one I got.  The color payoff is excellent and they're great for moisturizing--and you all know about my obsession with Badger Balm by now!  I also really enjoyed the mineral eyeshadows.  They have great color payoff, too, and I think I'm going to end up purchasing some full-sized ones.  They're very reasonably priced and there was a coupon for 15% off in the box.

Unfortunately, I cancelled my Eco-Emi subscription today.  It's not for a lack of love for this company, because I've been so happy with each and every box I've ever received.  I just have too many samples right now and am running out of space, so I stopped my subscription for a while so I could use the products I already have.  I definitely plan on resubscribing in the future.
Bottom Line: Eco-Emi is an amazing service for anyone who wants to receive a package in the mail each month that's full of eco-friendly products!  It costs $15 a month.  Subscriptions are currently waitlisted, but just email to be put on the list.

*Disclaimer: I purchased my Eco-Emi subscription with my own money and was not asked by Eco-Emi to write this review. I was not compensated in any way and the honest opinions here are entirely my own.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Lush Cupcake Fresh Face Mask Review

I only recently delved into the wonderful world of all things Lush, and I am officially obsessed!  I had wanted to try their products before, but there weren't any stores near me (or so I thought) and I never got around to ordering from their website because I hate paying shipping charges.

Luckily for me, I started a new job and my office is located right across from a mall that has a Lush store inside! I was so excited to spend my new paycheck on some bath bombs and more, haha.  This past week I picked up one of their Fresh Face masks, which I chose after consulting with the associate about my oily skin problems.  I ultimately chose the "Cupcake" mask because it smells like heaven and it made my skin feel really smooth.

The mask comes in a 2.1 oz jar, which may not seem like a lot, but the associate told me that it should last for about three weeks, with 2-3 uses per week.  It's going to last much longer than that for me because I only plan on using it once a week.  It's also pretty concentrated, so a little goes a long way.  What I like about Lush is that they use natural ingredients that are highly effective.  This mask contains Rhassoul mud to clean and soothe; and cocoa butter, linseed, and cocoa powder to soften the skin (along with other ingredients).

I applied it on my face and left it there for about 10 minutes, per the usage instructions (the swatch above is on my hand, though, obviously).  It dries on the skin, which I prefer over masks that just stay sticky until you wash them off.  After rinsing, my skin just felt so smooth and amazing!  I also just really love the chocolate scent.  These masks contain no preservatives, so you have to keep them refrigerated.
  • Learn more about Lush and browse their full line of products
  • Connect with them on Facebook and Twitter
Bottom Line: I love the Cupcake Fresh Face Mask!  It's delectable and effective, and moderately priced at $7.95.  The package says that if I bring back 5 empty pots I'll get a mask for free.  I plan on continuing to purchase these, so that's a fun perk.

*Disclaimer: I purchased this product with my own money. I was not asked by Lush to write a review and was not compensated in any way. The honest opinions here are entirely my own.