Sunday, April 28, 2013

April PopSugar Must Have Review

April's PopSugar Must Have box was more like a "PopSugar Don't Wants" to me.  I signed up again because I had earned a free box from referring two people (thank you!), but I had to be an active member in order to claim it.  I paid for this box, but I'll receive May's for free.  I hope next month's is better, because this one was a total dud for me.

I received my first PopSugar Must have back in December, and that box was not great either (but it was better than April's).  I was excited to sign up because the previous months had been fantastic, but I think I just have bad timing.  I have looked at other peoples' reviews of the boxes in between, though, and I have to say I haven't been impressed.  PopSugar Must Have costs $35 a month, so it's more expensive than many of the other services out there, but it also will contain at least $100 worth of merchandise.

  • Alter Eco Dark Quinoa Organic Chocolate - I'm all for organic and fair trade, and if you like dark chocolate I bet you'd love this bar.  I, however, am not the biggest fan of dark chocolate so this was only so-so for me.  It has a great flavor, it's just not a flavor I particularly care for.  The quinoa was cool, though; it basically just tastes like little rice crunchies.
  • kai Perfume Oil - I hate this perfume because I don't like florals.  It's too strong and I don't care for it, but if florals are your thing you might like this.  The vial is so small though, which is why I feel like we got ripped off for this box (it doesn't matter to me that it retails for $48).
  • Shashi New Nugget Bracelet - My bracelet is cobalt, which is pretty, but my gripe with this one is that it doesn't lie smoothly.  You can see in the first photo that it's bent into a triangle.  I figured that it would smooth out when I put it on my wrist, but it doesn't, so you just end up with this weird, square-shaped type of thing.
  • Tatcha Aburatorigami Evening Blotting Papers - This is my favorite item in the box.  I've used these many times before, and I was glad that I didn't have to go buy another package of blotting papers.
  • The Green Garmento All-in-One Bag - I could see where this would be handy, but I have no use for it.  I suppose I might need it in the future if I travel or buy something that's actually nice enough to be dry cleaned.

A better picture of the kai perfume oil

The reason why I was so let down by this box was because even though the retail value did equal more than $100, it hardly seemed worth it.  The perfume oil is a tiny bottle (it'd be considered sample-sized for most other services) but supposedly has a retail value of $48.  I just felt like the items in April's box were really disappointing and I wasn't excited to receive any of them.  Based on the comments on the April reveal post on the Must Have blog, a lot of people feel the same way I do.

Bottom Line: I really hope that PopSugar Must Have steps it up for May, or else it will be my last box for a long time!  I think the idea is great, but their choice of items for the past few months has not been.

*Disclaimer: I purchased this box and was not asked to review it.  I received no compensation and the honest opinions here are entirely my own.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

April Daily Dose of Green Review and Unboxing

April's Daily Dose of Green was another great box.  I have been consistently impressed with this subscription, so I'm so glad that I found it -- or rather, they found me.  They send 8-10 eco-friendly lifestyle items for $15/month (shipping included), some of which are tailored to your interests via your user profile that you fill out once you become a member.

What I like best about this box is that they do a great job of sending a variety of products.  There's a good mixture of beauty and skincare, food, cleaning products, etc.  Here's what was in my April box:

  • Shaklee Basic H2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate
  • Eve Organics Beauty Bronzer/All Over Color in Beautiful
  • Moody Sisters Organic Skincare Hydrating Scrub
  • 22 Days Nutrition Cherry Chocolate Bliss Energy Bar
  • 22 Days Nutrition Plant Protein Powder in Chocolate
  • Essence of Vali (EOV) Massage Oil in Calm
  • Cleanwell Disinfectant Wipe
  • Poppy's Natural All Purpose Cleaning Powder in Peppermint
  • Rise Bar Breakfast Bar in Crunch Cashew Almond
  • Poppy's Natural Tub Teas in Camomile

Watch my unboxing video for my opinions on the products:

More photos after the "read more."

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Influenster Sugar 'N Spice Voxbox Review

I was chosen to receive the "Sugar 'N Spice" Voxbox from Influenster, which was the second of two campaigns that they've had so far this year.  I received my box in the beginning of March.  If you're unfamiliar with Influenster, please check out my previous reviews by clicking here.

Influenster definitely stepped up their packaging with this box.  Previous boxes had just been packaged in plain white boxes, so these orange ones were a fun change.  It made me feel more like I was part of a program as opposed to just receiving a random box of stuff.

I hope that in the future I'm able to receive one of the badge-specific boxes (especially the "Eco" one), because more often than not my experience with Influenster has been that they include a lot of brands that are not cruelty-free.  The reason I still choose to participate is because I'm hoping to receive the Eco box, and the more active you are within the community, the better your chances.  I don't love the idea of using products that aren't cruelty-free, and their status as such is included in my reviews.

The Sugar 'N Spice Voxbox contained seven items total, only two of which I really enjoyed using.

  • Splenda Nectresse - I have never tried an artificial sweetener that I liked, and this one was no different.  Apparently it's derived from Monk Fruit, but to me it just tasted exactly like Splenda.  I just don't like that artificial taste (whether it be Splenda, stevia, etc.), so I'll be sticking with sugar.
  • Colgate Optic White Mouthwash, Toothpaste, and Toothbrush - This trio is supposed to help whiten teeth.  I needed a new toothbrush so I was able to put that to good use, but I won't be using the mouthwash and toothpaste.  The mouthwash tasted horrible, I can't really compare it to anything, it just was not good.  I'm not using the toothpaste because I have sensitive teeth and whitening products are usually too harsh for them.  Colgate is also not a cruelty-free company.
  • Vaseline Spray & Go Total Moisture - I tried this, but I don't like it.  Aside from Vaseline being owned by Unilever (not cruelty-free), it was loaded with ingredients that I don't like to use (ammonium, parabens, and the like).  I have a spray body oil from Deep Steep that I currently use, and I won't be replacing it with this.  If natural ingredients aren't a concern for you, though, I do think that you would enjoy this product due to its ease of use.
  • Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel Oil Controlling Towelettes - This was my favorite product of the bunch.  I've used Dickinson's Witch Hazel before, and I love that these towelettes only have three ingredients (witch hazel, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, and sodium benzoate) and are cruelty-free.  I used these to remove my makeup after work and to relieve the oily feeling on my face, and they worked really well.  I'll definitely be purchasing more in the future.
  • belVita Breakfast Biscuits - These were the other product that I really enjoyed.  They were delicious and I'm going to see if I can grab some the next time I go grocery shopping.

Bottom Line: Overall this box had some hits and some misses, but I've come to expect that from Influenster.  I think they did a great job of including a variety of products for this box, and you can't argue with a 100% free assortment of items to try.

*Disclaimer: I received this box from Influenster for free as part of their product review program.  I was not monetarily compensated for my review and the honest opinions here are entirely my own.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Conscious Box Coupon - Get Your First Box for FREE!

Every time I write about Conscious Box I start out the entry the same way -- I love them!  Sorry to sound redundant, but they really are an amazing company and I love their subscription service.  I was a member for over a year (I only cancelled because I wanted to cut back on my spending) and thoroughly enjoyed my boxes.  You can view all of my reviews by clicking here.

Some of the loot from one of my previous boxes

If you want to give Conscious Box a try, they have generously created a coupon code that will allow you to get your first box for free!  You will have to pay shipping, but trust me--it's well worth it.  Use code "SECRETCODE" at checkout to score your free box.  They have three options available: a vegan box, a gluten-free box, and their original box.  The regular price for each subscription is $19.95 a month (shipping included).

If you can, please consider signing up through my affiliate link by clicking the banner below (thanks so much if you do)!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

RocksBox Review and Unboxing (Box #1)

I received a free six month membership to RocksBox from iFabbo (thanks iFabbo!) and I was super excited to get my first shipment.  I'm not great at accessorizing, so the ability to try unlimited pieces through a service like this was very intriguing.

RocksBox costs $19 a month, but it operates a bit differently than traditional subscription services.  With other subscriptions you pay the monthly fee in exchange for one box, but with RocksBox you can try as many jewelry pieces as you want!  They send you an initial box after your first payment that contains three pieces, and then you can either keep those for up to 60 days, purchase the pieces at a discounted member rate (20% off retail), or send them back for a new set.  I'm not so sure if I'll end up purchasing anything because a lot of the pieces are more expensive than what I prefer to spend on jewelry, but who knows.  The best part for me is that I can try lots of different styles during my six month membership.

I was anxious to see what my first box would contain, and even though I ended up wearing only one of the three pieces, it still was a really fun experience (and I can't wait to receive more boxes!).  The three pieces I received were:

  • Druzy Studs in Black by Margaret Elizabeth, $88
  • Bean Ring by Lucas Jack, $48
  • Cleo's Secret Necklace by Samantha Wills, $130

I loved the necklace, but the ring and earrings weren't my style.  For a more in-depth review of the items, check out my unboxing video below.

My main question after receiving my first box was whether or not RocksBox recycled their pieces from member to member.  In their FAQ I learned that yes, they do, but each piece is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before it's sent out to another person.  I also learned that the membership fees cover insurance on the items, so any minor wear and tear will not be counted against you.  If you severely damage or lose an item, though, you will be charged for it (completely understandable).

Bottom Line: I think RocksBox is so fun!  Even though my membership is free for the time being, I still would pay the $19 a month otherwise.  I love the idea of getting jewelry surprises, even if I don't get to keep them.  Use promo code FABB for 50% off of your first three months of RocksBox by clicking here.

See more up-close photos of my jewelry after the "read more."

Monday, April 15, 2013

Green Esthetics Argan Oil and Longer Lash Review

I prefer to purchase organic and natural (really natural, not greenwashed) products whenever possible, and it can be difficult at times to find beauty and skincare that fit the bill.  Green Esthetics offers plenty of options that are Leaping Bunny certified as cruelty-free.  I got the chance to review two of their products: Longer Lash and their Argan Oil.

I'll start with Longer Lash, which is an "eyelash growth conditioning solution."  I was interested in this product because I've always disliked my short, straight lashes.  They don't curl well and if I had to choose my most disliked feature on my face, it would probably be my eyelashes (I know, it sounds really weird!).  I have only been using this product for two days, so I can't comment on how well it works at the moment, but I plan to post before and after pictures after a month of use.  A full-sized tube is 5 ml and retails for $69.95, and it promises to grow longer, thicker lashes in 4-6 weeks.  To apply, you just brush it along the top of your lash line and let it dry before applying any makeup.

I think most people are familiar with Argan Oil, and this one from Green Esthetics is certified USDA Organic.  It contains only virgin, cold-pressed argan oil and can be used on the nails, hair, and skin.  I had previously only used argan oil on my hair, so I wanted to give it a try as a facial moisturizer.  I have used oils as moisturizers in the past, but I'm not sure I would continue to use this oil.  I applied very little but it still seemed to sit on my face a bit and didn't absorb entirely, so I will continue to use this on my hair instead.  I love using argan oil in my hair because I heat style every day, and this makes it feel so smooth and soft regardless of the damage I inflict on it!  A 15 ml bottle of this oil can be purchased from Green Esthetics for $16.95.

Bottom Line: If you're looking for a line of cruelty-free products that are organic and natural, Green Esthetics offers some great options.  Along with the two products I've reviewed here, they also have teeth whitening and hair growth products available.  The only downside to their website is that their home page is in English, but some of the sub pages are in Spanish, so it makes it a bit difficult to navigate if you aren't a Spanish speaker.

*Disclaimer: I received these products from Green Esthetics for free to facilitate my review.  I was not monetarily compensated for this review and the honest opinions here are entirely my own.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cargo Cosmetics The Mediterranean Kit Review and Swatches

I decided to finally use my $10 credit at Rue La La and treat myself to something I really love: new makeup! I had never used Cargo Cosmetics before, so when they had the Mediterranean Kit on sale for only $19 I had to snatch it up, and I'm really glad that I did!

This kit retails for $34, so the price I got it at was a steal.  I like getting kits like this, even though I don't really need them, because I like to try different types of products all at once (especially from a brand that's new to me).  Here's what the kit includes:

  • Blush - Mendocino, .31 oz
  • Eye Shadow Duo, .12 oz
  • Better-Than-Waterproof Mascara, .33 oz
  • Swimmables Waterproof Eye Pencil - Teal, .028 oz
  • Lip Gloss - Morocco, .105 oz

My favorite item is definitely the Eye Shadow Duo.  The shadows themselves don't have names, but it's a great brown and gold combination inside of the pan.  My everyday makeup for work consists of those colors, which is one of the main reasons why I decided on this kit (Rue La La had a few up for sale).

I also really enjoy the Swimmables eyeliner.  I've heard a lot of great things about them, so I was excited to finally try one out for myself.  It definitely didn't disappoint - the color glides on incredibly smoothly and is nice and vibrant.  I haven't actually worn it yet, though, so I can't comment on how long it stays on for.

The Mendocino Blush is absolutely gorgeous.  At first I wasn't sure if I would like it since it's darker than what I usually use (The Balm's "Hot Mama,"), but I think it looks really flattering.  I have medium skin with yellow undertones, and the little gold flecks in the blush really make it complimentary to my tone.  I have to apply it with a light hand, though, because it is very pigmented.

As far as the Better-Than-Waterproof Mascara and the Morocco Lip Gloss, I could take them or leave them.  The lip gloss is actually a really beautiful shade and I do enjoy it, I just don't get too excited about lip glosses in general.  This one has a nice formula and doesn't feel sticky at all, which is nice.  The mascara is probably my least favorite item.  I'm picky about my mascaras, and this one doesn't really do much for my lashes.  They're on the short side and tend to stick straight out, thanks to my Korean genes, so I need a mascara that adds more volume and length.

Bottom Line: I am so happy with this kit!  All of the color products are wonderfully pigmented and really great quality.  I would definitely recommend them to everyone.  The cosmetic bag it all came in is an added bonus, and I adore the little dolphin charm on the zipper (you can see it clearly in the first photo of this post).

Check out more photos of the packaging behind the "read more."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

700 Followers Giveaway! [CLOSED]

It's been a while since I hosted a non-sponsored giveaway, so I'm holding one now to celebrate reaching 700 followers on Google Friend Connect!  Thank you to everyone who visits my blog; I hope that you find my reviews helpful and entertaining.

Some of these prizes I purchased myself, others were received through sampling programs or were sent in exchange for posts.  Regardless of how I received them, they are all unopened and unused.  Not all of these brands are cruelty-free, but most of them are.  Those that aren't are noted with an asterisk below.  All of the retail values are approximate.  The prize package contains:

  • imPRESS Press-On Manicure by Broadway Nails, $8
  • Sal Black Olive Botanical Mineral Bath Salts by Verdura Botanica, $4
  • Organic Vanilla Mint Lip Moisture Balm by Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques, $1.40
  • *The Stuff That Cupid Dips His Arrows In by Not Soap Radio, $1.60
  • Paris Amour Travel-Sized Body Wash by Bath & Body Works, $5
  • Lift & Resculpt Serum XK by Dr. Lewinn by Kinerase, $35
  • *Liquid Lip Shine in Nude York City by NYC New York Color, $2.49
  • Lip Shimmer in Fig by Burt's Bees, $5
  • Blush X3 Mineral Color in Desert Rose by Ferro Cosmetics, $17
  • Rosette Necklace by Seek First, $15
  • Lemon Body Wash by Dr. Hauschka, $.96
  • Ultimate Hydration by Mustela, $24
  • RevitaShape Anti-Cellulite Cream, $89.95

I only have one mandatory entry for this giveaway, and that is to be a follower of this blog on Google Friend Connect (it is a follower giveaway, after all).  All other entries are optional.  Enter using the Rafflecopter form after the "read more."

Thursday, April 4, 2013

March Little Black Bag Review

Ah, I've been so lazy about posting recently!  Sorry about that.  I had filmed an unboxing video for this Little Black Bag but I didn't like how it turned out and I didn't end up filming another, so a regular blog post will have to do.

The items I received in my March bag were excellent and this has been my favorite bag yet.  Trading went really well and I was able to amass a total of five items, not including the two bonus products I got.  The above photo is of my smaller items; my main item was the Pink Cosmo Studded Barrel Satchel ($65).  It's the item that I opened with and I intended to break it down into a multi offer (which I did), but in the end I ended up trading for it again because it was really the only bag I wanted at the time.

I love this purse.  It's pretty big--I imagined it would be the same size as the Street Level Basic Satchel I had gotten in my second January bag, but it's wider and longer.  They had it available in a bunch of colors and I know the light blue one was pretty popular, but I love black bags and this one is perfect for me.  I'm not too big into the studs trend, but I liked this one because the studs aren't too crazy.  The faux leather is also really soft and I like how it's got those marks in it (I don't really know how to describe them, but you can see them best on the left side of the purse in the photo above) because it makes it look more like real leather.  Overall, the bag seems really well made.  I just hope none of the studs fall off, because I know that's been a problem with other Pink Cosmo bags.

The other items I received were:

  • 'ZAD Owl Stud Earrings ($16) - These are so cute!  I really like owls, and birds in general, but I wasn't sure if I was going to like these since they seem a bit more appropriate for a younger girl.  I think I can still pull them off, though, because they're nice and small.  My favorite part is that the eyes are made of pink rhinestones (you can see them better in the photos after the "read more").
  • Danielle Nicole Davina Mini Crossbody ($28) - This is the perfect little crossbody!  I was really excited to get two bags in one LBB because it was the first time I've been able to do so.  I know it only retailed for $28 and it isn't as big of a deal as getting two $80 purses, but I'm still really happy with it.  It's definitely small and not very wide, but I'm going to use it over the summer for when I go to festivals, the zoo, etc.  It's got enough room for my phone (iPhone), some chapstick, and my cards and cash (which I'll put in my Vera Bradley zip ID case).
  • Flea Market Girl Key Rope Bracelet ($12) - I love this bracelet!  It's cute and dainty, which is my favorite type of jewelry.  I got it on my last day of trading and was unsure about it because I was afraid the rope would be too thick, but it's perfect.  The rope is super soft and the charm is adorable.  It works well for layering.
  • All The Rage Stone Collar Drop Necklace ($22) - I stepped outside of my comfort zone with this one and I'm so glad I did.  I think this necklace is so pretty, and a good first foray into statement jewelry for a person like me.  I've only recently gotten into experimenting with accessories, and I like that this is versatile enough to wear to work or just out to lunch.  I know it kind of looks like a bra in the photo above, but when I'm wearing it I don't think it conjures up that imagery as much.
  • FusionBeauty Illumifill Line Filling Luminizer (bonus item) - Everyone who opened a bag in the beginning of March got one of these.  It's a full-sized item and retails for $49, but I can't imagine ever paying that much for it.  I tried it and I don't like it -- the applicator is clunky and it stinks as a luminizer.  I don't have any lines to worry about at the moment so I can't comment on how well it helps those, but it was barely visible as a highlighter.  I don't recommend this product at all.
  • Vosges Haut Chocolat Peppermint Bar (bonus item) - I do recommend this one!  I've always wanted to try Vosges, but I was never willing to pay $7 for a candy bar, so I was happy when I was offered this in a multi trade.  It's delicious, but still not worth $7.  You could definitely find a comparable chocolate for cheaper.

Bottom Line: I was so happy with this bag!  It was a $49.95 bag, but that doesn't really matter now because they have the new system in place.  But anyway, the overall retail value was $143, not including my bonus items, which is a pretty good haul I think.

More up-close photos of my items after the "read more."