Thursday, June 27, 2013

Escape Monthly Giveaway [CLOSED]

There's a new subscription service on the block, and it's called Escape Monthly.  I've been hearing a lot about this service, so when they approached me to host a giveaway for my readers I jumped at the chance!  Escape Monthly features destination-inspired themes and luxury products for $49.95 a month (shipping included).

Escape Monthly is brand new, so they haven't released a box yet, but I have a feeling they're going to include lots of fantastic items (I'm assuming the preview image above is of their first box!).  Their website lists full-sized luxury products, from bath and beauty to gourmet snacks to gift certificates!  They'll also include travel guides and entertainment to escape into, and one lucky member will even win the luxury escape (Escape Monthly will pay for the winner's airfare and accommodations, up to $2000).

The first box ships in August with a Napa Valley theme, and I can't wait to see what's inside!  If you want to win one for yourself, enter using the Rafflecopter form below.  If you'd rather just sign up right now, use coupon code YOURESCAPE for 20% off of your boxes for life (open to first 100 redeemers)!  This giveaway is open to US residents and will end on Saturday, July 13th at 12:00 AM EST.  For official rules, read the terms and conditions on the Rafflecopter form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Escape Monthly.

Monday, June 24, 2013

June Little Black Bag Review and Unboxing

My June Little Black Bag was the first one I ever purchased that didn't have a handbag in it!  I opened with the Sicura Italian Designs Parisian Love Jewelry Holder for $23.90, and then added an item to bring my total to $39.64 for five items and a beauty bonus.

My jewelry stand is not pictured above because it was too large to fit into the frame with the other items without looking awkward (keep scrolling for pictures of it).  I was very happy with this bag, and I think I got a pretty good deal for just under $40.  I probably could have traded for the owl votive holder, but I just really wanted it and the add-to-bag price was low enough that I didn't mind.

  • Sicura Italian Designs Parisian Love Jewelry Holder ($25) - I love it and I'm so glad I opened with it!  I knew I wasn't going to trade it away for anything, so I just kept passing on offer after offer.  When it was first released it was trading pretty high, too.  I think the highest offer I got was somewhere around $50.
  • skyn ICELAND Glacial Cleansing Cloths ($15) - I needed more cleansing cloths and I was stuck with some jewelry that I didn't want, so I traded them for these.  I'm glad I got them because they're wonderful.  They smell fantastic and they do a good job of removing my makeup, and they're also cruelty-free.
  • Raj Imports Two Tone Animal Scarf ($28) - I over-offered like crazy for this because I just wanted a scarf instead of three jewelry pieces I didn't like.  When it arrived it smelled kind of funny, like it had been left out in the rain or in the washing machine for too long.  Overall, though, it's light and airy and a cute print (I got the pink version).
  • Geranium Stone Bow Necklace ($19) - This necklace is really cute and semi-dainty, which I like.  Normally it isn't a style that I would wear, but for some reason it caught my eye.  I'm going to wear it with a peplum top tomorrow.
  • Two's Company Vintage Owl Votive Holder ($23) - I love, love, love(!) this!  I love owls and anything bird-themed, so I knew I had to have this to add to my bird collection.  I already have a Scentsy warmer and another votive holder in the shape of an owl, so this guy fits right in.  It's nice and heavy and good quality, and my little mini-candles fit perfectly inside.
  • First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser ($4) - I didn't really want this, but I ended up with it because I couldn't trade it away.  At one point I had three FAB items in my bag, but I was able to trade up two.  I like that this brand is cruelty-free, but I already have a ton of skin care and this face cleanser contains a few semi-synthetic ingredients that I'd rather avoid.

Here's the jewelry stand!  Most of my necklaces are too long to hang on it, so I got it with the intent of using it as a bracelet holder.  I think it looks so pretty on my dresser (I moved it away from where I display it for the purposes of a clearer photo here), and I love the bird detail.

Bottom Line: I'm very happy with this Little Black Bag and I'm not as sad as I thought I would be at not having a handbag.  The items are all great quality and I would definitely recommend them!

Check out more photos of my items after the "read more!"

June Birchbox Review

My June Birchbox was the best one I've ever gotten!  I've been a subscriber on-and-off since October of 2011, with last year's August box being my last.  I decided to re-subscribe after seeing the previews for this month because they all looked wonderful.  I kept my fingers crossed that I would at least receive some of them, since in the past I've seen enticing products previewed and received none of them.

The theme for June was "Wanderlust," which is spot-on for me right now because I'm itching to take a trip.  I have my heart set on Yosemite National Park (I know, it seems strange since most people want to go somewhere tropical, but I love wilderness and wildlife).  I actually loved every single item in this month's box, which has never happened to me before with Birchbox!  I also really liked their redesign, both of the website and the boxes themselves.  I really appreciated the new questions on the style profile, especially the one where I could say that perfume samples were not my favorite and to only send me no more than six per year.

My box contained four samples and one "beauty extra," so basically I received five beauty samples total.  I was hoping to get one of the Laqa & Co. Lil' Lip Duo balms, but I didn't.  I did get a Mirenesse lip product, though, which I felt was just as good.

They also included cute destination-themed post cards in the box, which I thought was a nice touch.

  • Birchbox + Color Club Wanderlust Collection - I received the shade "Reign in Spain," which is a neon orange/coral that I adore.  I'm really into bright nails for the summer, so I can't wait to try this on.  All four shades were created exclusively for Birchbox.
  • Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk - I've used a lot of dry shampoos and this one was definitely much better than all of them.  The sample is a pretty good size, so I'll get a good amount of use out of this.  I would consider purchasing a full-sized one in the future.
  • Mireness Glossy Kiss Lipstick - I think this is full-sized.  I received the shade "First Kiss," which is a coral/red combo.  I like lip crayons and this one is great quality.  I prefer to wear it more sheer with only one or two coats, but you can definitely layer it to be more bold.
  • suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser - This is my favorite item for the month!  It smells amazing (nice and lemon-y) and works really well.  It supposedly can be used daily, but it's gritty and I will probably only use it twice a week at most.  I would like to purchase a full-sized jar of this, but it's a little bit more expensive than what I usually spend on skincare.  It might be worth it, though since they're a cruelty-free and free of synthetic ingredients.
  • 100% Pure Nourishing Body Cream - I've used these before and I love them.  The packets were small, maybe ketchup-packet sized, so I think that's why Birchbox considered them an "extra."  The scents I got were coconut and vanilla, both of which smelled heavenly.  I actually thought that the coconut smelled more like vanilla than the vanilla one did.  I would highly recommend these creams--they're super-nourishing and the texture is so creamy.

Bottom Line: If all of my Birchboxes could be like this I would be one happy camper!  I hope that with the new and improved user profile they'll send me things that are more appropriate for my interests and lifestyle.  I also like that they're featuring more organic and natural brands.  Sign up to receive your own Birchbox here.

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.  Links in post are referral links.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June Loot Crate Unboxing

My boyfriend signed up for a three month subscription to Loot Crate and he sent over some pictures today (we're long distance at the moment) of his June box for me to post.  This box is out of my area of expertise, but it's a box I've heard a lot about so I wanted to share it with everyone.

Loot Crate sends "Epic Geek and Gamer Gear" to your doorstep once a month.  The monthly plan costs $19.37 per box, the three month option is $55.11, and the six month option is $105.99 ($6 for shipping is included in each of these prices, per box).  You can view the payment options, along with the items in past boxes, at their subscription page.

The theme for June was "Mashup."  Overall, Pete said that this box was just okay to him.  He felt that the t-shirt was obviously the big item of the box, so therefore the other items were of lesser value.  From looking at the past boxes, I agree that they usually send one "bigger" item along with some smaller trinkets.  Since I'm not a gamer I can't really comment on these items, but I think it looks like a nice spread for $18.37 a month.

Here's what was included in the box:

  • BIC Tech Stylus 2 in 1 Pen - This is actually a pretty neat item, I think, but I wouldn't use it because BIC is not cruelty-free.
  • 8-Bit Glasses by Loot Crate Labs - I think these are really funny and I hope Pete can get some use out of them!  He isn't really into the whole kitschy thing, though, so he probably won't.
  • Dead Pool-Aid T-Shirt by GraphicLab - I didn't get the reference, so today I learned that Deadpool is a Marvel character.  This shirt definitely fits the theme of the box.
  • Loot Crate Bot Sticker by Danger Brain - Well, a sticker is a sticker.
  • Help a Brother Out by Hairbrained Design - This is also a sticker.  I like the design and think it's pretty clever.
  • Loot Crate Wall Tangrams by Walls360 - I think these are pretty neat, too.  I'm not sure where Pete might use them, but you could make a fun design with them.
  • Warheads Candies - The flavors he got were Black Cherry and Lemon.  I used to love Warheads when I was younger!
  • Stan Lee's Comikaze Golden Ticket - This is the one item that leaves me scratching my head, because I have no clue what it is.  I'll have to touch base with Pete again to find out (I can't right now because he's working).  I tried to Google it but came up short.  I'm wondering if it gains you entrance to an event?  Please excuse my n00bism!

Bottom Line: I think Loot Crate is really interesting and I'm glad a subscription service is out there targeting people with these interests.  There are a plethora of beauty boxes out there, so finding one like this that is more unique is exciting to me.  I'm curious to see what he gets for the next two months!

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

June Petit Vour Review

June's Petit Vour box was not as good as May's, and I think more than a few members were disgruntled with the product selection.  It was not my favorite assortment of items, but I'm willing to give Petit Vour more of a chance because this was only their second box ever, and I appreciate that they only feature cruelty-free and vegan brands.

This month's box contained six items total and had a value of over $60 (according to Petit Vour, I don't really bother to add up values for my items because it doesn't really bother me), but the complaints came from the fact that the samples were so small, and the gift certificate we got didn't include shipping.  Here are my thoughts on the items:

  • Mineral Hygienics Gift Certificate - I've received two of these from other boxes and I've never used them.  It's good for $15 toward any item, but some people were getting upset because it didn't cover shipping costs.  I already knew that from having gotten them in other boxes, and honestly I don't understand why there was such an uproar this time.  The cheapest shipping option is $5.25, which to me does not seem like a big deal at all.  Furthermore, this is the fault of Mineral Hygienics, not Petit Vour.  I understand that people may feel that they shouldn't have to spend more money to get the item, but in that case I say, just don't use the certificate!  But to each their own, I suppose.  Oh and Petit Vour even went above and beyond after hearing customers' complaints and will be providing everyone with Petit Vour points to use in their shop equivalent in value to your shipping cost.
  • Baudelaire Acorelle Perfume - I don't like perfume samples.  Of all the boxes I've received them in, I've only ever liked one.  I hope that Petit Vour doesn't include them often.  The scent is described as "lotus bamboo," and I didn't love it.  It's not bad, but I prefer scents that are have warmer notes than this.  I did like that it was an atomizer and not just a vial with a stopper.
  • (Skingen)x (Anti-Wrinkle Comple)x, (Eye Comple)x, and x(Foliator) - Petit Vour included these samples because they wanted to send us a high-end brand, which I can appreciate, but the foil packets were so small that I don't think I could ever truly judge their performance off of such a small sample size.  The wrinkle cream is a much more substantial sample, but I don't have wrinkles.  I know it can easily be used for preventative care, but I am currently inundated with skin creams.  I'm going to offer this to a friend or family member.
  • Barre Pirouette Cinnamon Pecan Bar - This was so yummy!  I like bars like this because I eat them for breakfast most mornings, and this one kept me feeling full and satisfied.  It had the perfect mix of cinnamon and nuts in it, and I would definitely purchase them in the future.

Bottom Line: This was not my favorite box, but as I said at the beginning of my review, I'm definitely willing to give Petit Vour more of a chance.  I think they learned a lot from customer feedback this month, and their responses were amazingly kind.  I wouldn't be surprised if July's box blows us all away!

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Starlooks Cosmetics Review

I was recently asked by Starlooks if I would be interested in reviewing some samples, and I eagerly said yes because I've heard a lot of good things about their Starboxes and cosmetics in general.  I also knew that they were a cruelty-free brand.  I was expecting a few small samples, but to my surprise, they sent me a full Starbox!

I received the May Starbox, which is obviously an old box, but I didn't mind because it had some really great items in it.  The Starlooks Starbox costs $15 a month and contains only Starlooks products, so if you're someone who likes a variety of brands this might not seem like a good fit for you.  I urge you to try it anyway, though, because even though it's all the same brand the variety of cosmetics seems really great!

This box contained thee products, with a bonus mini nail file in a cute zebra print.  When I first opened the box I noticed the crystal, and I thought, "What's this?  A crystal?"  I guess they include one in every box, because my informational card said: "And, as always, you received a crystal.  Add this ultimate symbol of energy and beauty to your brush jar or share your creative use ideas with us..."

Pigment Luster swatch

  • Eyebrow Shader Compact (BS443), $21 - This compact is perfect for me because I'm a victim of over-plucking my eyebrows.  I thinned them out to much at the ends, and I'm convinced that they're never going to fully grow back in.  I was using an eyebrow pencil prior to this, but this works really well to shade in the sparse areas and came with the perfect little brush to do so.  I use the dark brown shade, because even though I have black hair the black shade is just too dark.
  • Pigment Luster in Cinnamon Toss, $17 - This pigment is gorgeous!  It's the perfect shimmery brown and I absolutely love it.  I'm going to work it into my everyday eye look as a shadow along my crease.
  • Cream Blush in Emphasize, $17 - This blush looked too dark for me at first, and the informational card even noted that.  But they promised that, when applied, it would add a natural hue to any skin tone.  They were right, because I found that this blended beautifully and gave me just enough definition.

Bottom Line: I had a really great time trying these Starlooks products and it was a pleasant surprise to receive a Starbox!  My favorite was the Pigment Luster, but all three of them are products that I'll definitely use in my daily routine.  I think the Starbox is a great deal, and Starlooks products are a fantastic cruelty-free option!  One small note, these products do contain parabens.

*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Starlooks.  All opinions are my own.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

June Daily Dose of Green Review

June's Daily Dose of Green box was another great one!  I have consistently been impressed with the variety and quality of items that they've sent me each month, so it probably doesn't make sense to anyone reading this that I cancelled my subscription after this box.  I did so because I want to try some other services for a little while, and unfortunately I can't afford to stay subscribed to the myriad of boxes that I've come to love.  I have a feeling I'll end up going back to Daily Dose of Green at some point, though!

My box came with eight items total, including two profile products.  These are extras that Daily Dose of Green picked out for me based on my informational profile that I filled out at the start of my membership.  I really like this feature because they've always sent me awesome profile picks!

Here's the rundown of what was inside of my box:

  • Love Thyself Skincare 100% All Natural Stretch Mark/Scar Formula - I received two little jars of this unscented cream (they're inside of the black pouch in the photo above).  I will probably pass these along to someone else because I don't have a use for them at the moment.
  • Cousin Mary Jane Toasted Hemp Seeds with Sea Salt - I haven't tried these yet but I'm really intrigued by them.  I like salty snacks, so I'm going to take these to work and munch on them when I get hungry before lunch.  They can be eaten alone or in salads, oatmeal, etc.  They sound pretty good, so hopefully I'll enjoy them.
  • Cousin Mary Jane Hemp Hearts - These are described as a "delicate, nutty tasting food" with a softer consistency than the hemp seeds.  I just opened up the pack and ate a few and they definitely remind me of peanuts.  I like them!
  • 22 Days Nutrition Plant Protein Power in Vanilla - I have received these in other boxes before and I don't use protein powders, so I'll give these to someone else.
  • Homefree Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies - These were so delicious!  I absolutely loved them.  Sometimes gluten-free products can taste a little off, but I would have never known these were gluten-free if the package hadn't said so.  I highly recommend these cookies to everyone!
  • Homefree Gluten Free Double Chocolate Chip Cookes - Originally Daily Dose of Green was going to send us a Vanilla flavor instead, but decided to send the double chocolate chip because the weather was cool enough to ship chocolate.  I liked these a lot, too.
  • Blissoma Refine Clay Mask - This was one of my profile products and it is perfect for me!  I love beauty products, and I use clay masks often for my combination skin.  This one is excellent for acne, hyperpigmentation, and dry skin.
  • Be Natural Organics Hyaluronic Serum - This is a repeat product for me, but I think I received my first vial of it in my first Daily Dose of Green box, which was sent to me to review.  They didn't have a user profile for me at the time, so technically this wouldn't have been a repeat if I hadn't gotten that first box to review.

Bottom Line: Overall I have loved my Daily Dose of Green boxes and I definitely recommend it as an affordable option for anyone who is interested in eco-friendly products.  It costs $15 a month and shipping is free; you can sign up here.  My favorite items in this month's box were the cookies and the Blissoma mask.

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

May Little Black Bag

My May Little Black Bag was a let down; the purse I got was defective.  I've only gotten one other item that I suppose could be classified as damaged, my Olivia and Joy Swanky Structured Satchel in my October bag, but those were more minor damages and I ended up keeping the bag.  This time, I loved the purse I got but I had no choice but to send it back.

I got four items this time around, and I think it cost me something like $35.  I opened with the Raj Imports striped blue scarf and also had a referral credit, but the referral items are always crap.  It helps for trading though because you obviously start out with one more item you can trade or combine into a multi.  I also used the "add to bag" feature for the first time ever with this bag.  Overall, I'm disappointed with this bag because I had to send the purse back.  If it wasn't defective, I think I would have been pretty happy with it all considering what it cost.

I'll start with the Lionel Francis Satchel.  This became available during the Memorial Day sale they had, and I really wanted to get a purse in this bag.  I had six or seven items in my bag, and they were all jewelry and things that I had no interest in keeping, so I made a whole bunch of multi offers.  No one was biting, though, and I was getting bummed because I didn't want to get stuck with a bunch of items that I didn't want.  Finally, on my second-to-last day of trading, someone accepted my offer for this satchel.  Even though it was a sale item, I really liked it and was happy to get it.  I didn't have any white purses, so I figured it would be good for summer.  Unfortunately, it arrived with a defective zipper so I had to send it back.  As you can see in the photo above, it did that thing that zippers sometimes do where it doesn't actually connect the two sides, therefore rendering it useless.  LBB's customer service team sent me a pre-paid label to ship it back and promised me an exchange value of $98.  Normally a sale item exchange would give you the sale price (to keep people from adding sale items for $10 to their bags, sending them back, and unfairly getting to exchange it for a $50 retail item, etc), but they promised me the full $98 due to the fact that this bag was defective and that was out of my control.

I added the Hello Kitty I Love Nerds Composition Coin Bag to my bag because I didn't want to mess around with trying to trade for it and I just really wanted it.  The retail value was only $20, and the add-to-bag price was $12.95 or something like that.  I know that a lot of people on LBB and in general think Hello Kitty is juvenile, but I really like her and I think this is so cute.  I got it because it's actually a pretty functional wallet and a good size for when I use smaller crossbody purses.  I have more photos of what it looks like on the inside at the end of this post.

My final item is this pair of Robert Rose Stone Burst Earrings.  I like them, but I haven't worn them yet because I don't really know what to wear them with.  They're more vibrant than anything else I own, so I'm not sure what color to pair them with.  Their retail price was $22.

I also received a Pixi Nail Polish in Evening Emerald in this bag, which was considered a bonus item.  I love nail polish, though, so it's a more substantial item than a 1 oz. shampoo bonus or whatever.  The shade is pretty and it applies nicely, but I don't have any photos of it to share (other than the first one in this post).

Bottom Line: I really wish the Lionel satchel wasn't defective because it was such a perfect bag!  It was just the right size for me and the detailing was really pretty.  Hopefully LBB will provide me with some good bags in the exchange gallery once my exchange is processed, because I don't want to end up with some ugly bags that no one actually wants.  My experience thus far with the exchange gallery is that they only put items that don't trade well in there because they want to get rid of them.  But oh well, I guess I'll find out!

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

See more photos of my items after the "read more."

Friday, June 14, 2013

Introducing thePinkPanel!

I decided to make my blog a product review blog because I love trying new things, especially beauty products.  When I heard about thePinkPanel through Brand Backer, I knew it would be a perfect fit for my blog!  My participation in this campaign afforded me some product samples, of which I'm reviewing in this post.

But first, if you've never heard of thePinkPanel, they're "a community of beauty-obsessed women who share an undying passion for skincare, makeup, and all things beautiful!"  Currently they do not have a website, but you can join the community at their Facebook page.  All members have the opportunity to voice their opinions on beauty products through testing and reviewing, and compensation opportunities are also available.  Right now they are running a contest where you can win a $250 Sephora gift card just by signing up for thePinkPanel during the month of June--three members will win!  Here are the instructions to enter, straight from thePinkPanel:

1. Head over to our PinkPanel Facebook page: 
2. Click the “JOIN” icon
3. Tell us a little bit about yourself (don't forget to include which beauty blogger sent you! - Danielle from "See, Shop, Love!")
4. And *BAM*…you have instant eligibility to be one of THREE $250 Sephora gift card winners!

Joining thePinkPanel is super easy and will afford you the opportunity to test new products before they hit the market, earn rewards including Amazon gift cards and deluxe beauty samples, and interact with thousands of women who have a passion for beauty!  Be sure to check them out at

*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Brand Backer and thePinkPanel.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Simple Skincare Review

About a month or so ago Birchbox tweeted that they were looking for Birchbloggers to review some products from Simple Skincare, so I entered their random drawing to receive samples and I was picked!  I was excited to try Simple because I'd heard a lot about them, and I knew that they were a cruelty-free brand from the UK that specialized in skincare for sensitive skin.

Unfortunately, upon receiving the products I realized that they are owned by Unilever, which is a parent company that is not cruelty-free.  If you're interested in reading Unilever's official statement on their animal testing policy, you can do so by clicking here.  I'll save the debate for another time, but needless to say I prefer to purchase from companies that are entirely cruelty-free and not owned by parent companies that test, so I will not be using Simple Skincare in the future.

The first product I received was this pack of 30 Eye Make-Up Remover Pads.  They were just okay.  They're smaller than the average makeup remover wipes by a lot, which I guess is the only thing that really designates them as specifically for the eyes.  I used these as full facial wipes anyway, though, with one side for my eye makeup and the other for my face makeup.  They didn't do a very good job of removing all of my eye makeup (especially my mascara), so I wouldn't recommend these.

The Soothing Eye Balm is your standard eye cream.  I have so many eye creams, I don't know what to do with all of them.  I used this for a few days, but since I use eye creams for preventative care and not treatment of current issues, I can't really comment on whether or not it worked to improve the appearance of that area.  I can say that the consistency is very smooth, which makes it easy to apply, and a little went a long way.  I will probably give this away to my mom now because I have no use for it.

The third and final product I received was the Protecting Light Moisturizer.  It has SPF 15 in it, which is great, and is also oil-free.  Like the eye cream, it was pretty standard in comparison to other products like it. I'm picky about my moisturizers because my skin is combination and my T-zone gets so grossly oily throughout the day, so I aim for a moisturizer that's not too heavy.  This one wasn't heavy, but I did notice that my skin didn't feel as fresh throughout the day as it does when I use my regular moisturizer.  This is probably best for someone with normal to dry skin.

Bottom Line: I am really bummed that Simple Skincare is owned by Unilever, because I know that they were previously entirely cruelty-free.  Their products are also not natural by any means.  But if neither of those things are on your list of must-haves for skincare, then this line would probably be good for someone with sensitive skin because of its affordability.  I can't say that I'll ever use these products again, though.  I kind of feel terrible for even trying them in the first place.

*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Birchbox and the Birchbloggers program.  All opinions are my own.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

June FAIR Treasure Review and Unboxing

I'm back with another unboxing!  This one is for a fairly new service (launched in March of this year) called FAIR Treasure, and it is quickly becoming one of my favorites.  For $30 per month they will send you handmade treasures from across the globe that are all ethically sourced.  There is also a three month option that costs $90.

I loved June's box!  All of the items were so perfect for me, so I was so glad I got this month's box.  It contained three items total -- two jewelry pieces and a candle.  It also contained index cards with information about the products and the artisans who made them.


The box itself was smaller than I was expecting, but that's not a criticism.  The packaging was nicely done, with recyclable fillers to keep the items from getting jostled around too much during shipping.  The first thing I noticed when I opened it was the scent of the candle.

This Soul Sunrise Necklace from TARA Projects was the item inside of the smaller box with the ribbon.  When I opened it up I was so excited because I think this necklace is beautiful!  I recently got a similar beaded necklace (also fair trade) in turquoise, so now I have one in warmer colors.  I think it's perfect for summertime!  The TARA in TARA Projects stands for "Trade Alternative Reform Action," and they work in and around Delhi, India to promote community development and business.

Next up are the Summer Shimmer Earrings from Noah's Ark International Exports.  I absolutely loooove these earrings!  They're perfectly suited for my style and I just can't get over how beautiful they are.  I wore them the night I received this box to a graduation ceremony for my younger brother.  I like that they're appropriate for dressier wear as well as an easy summer dress.  These are also from India; Noah's Ark provides benefits such as medical assistance and education for the artisans and their families.

Lastly, I received this pretty Firefly Candle from Candelas La Luciernaga in Honduras.  It smells wonderful, like a mix of vanilla and caramel.  Candelas La Luciernaga ("Firefly Candles") is a that is a part of Actions for Popular Development, which is an organization dedicated to providing empowerment for women and their children.  They offer shelter for abused women, a home for pregnant women, and a microlending program.  The candle cooperative helps to support ADP financially while also providing income for the women in the program.

Bottom Line: How can you not love this box?  I think that $30 is a steal for these gorgeous, handcrafted items.  It might seem a bit expensive at first, but consider that you're helping to support fair trade organizations that are working to better the lives of people across the globe.  I know that I'm definitely loving this box!

*Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by FAIRtreasure.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Perlier Deluxe Travel Kit Review

I received the Perlier Deluxe Travel Kit through the iFabbo shop to review, and I have to say that these little guys are perfectly sized for travel!  It contained eight products total, four body washes and four lotions.  Perlier is an Italian company that has been making cosmetics for 80 years, and they specialize in deriving active ingredients from medical plants.

Perlier's products are entirely cruelty-free, proof of which I found on their website (fifth paragraph from the top).  They also advertise as having natural ingredients, which I feel is half-true.  They do use organic honey, white almond oils, and various other ingredients derived from nature, but they also contain ingredients such as parabens and sodium laureth sulfate, so if truly organic products are your preference these may not be for you.

The kit contained four shower creams (1.6 fl oz), one in each of the following: Honey Miel, Olivarium, White Almond, and Shea Butter.  They all lathered well and are lightly scented.  I don't have much to say about these other than that, unfortunately, because they were pretty standard as far as shower creams go.  My favorite was the Honey Miel due to its light honey scent.  Unfortunately these contain quite a few synthetic lathering agents and preservatives, which I prefer to stay away from.

The kit also contained four hand creams (1 fl oz.) matching each variety that the shower creams came in.  I liked that these were very lightly scented, because I don't like to use hand creams that are too fragrant.  The creams were thicker in consistency and absorbed quickly into my skin.  The first ingredient, like with most lotions and creams, is water, and these also contain quite a few synthetic ingredients.

  • If these Perlier products interest you, click here and use code "ifabbo5" to receive $5 off any Perlier product purchased through HSN.
  • Visit the Perlier website to learn more and browse their full line of products

Bottom Line: I appreciate that Perlier is cruelty-free, but I can't say that these would be my top choice in skin care due to the amount of synthetic ingredients they contain.  It's tough for me because I do like that they contain organic honey, olive oil, and the like, but that is almost cancelled out by the fact that they also contain parabens and more.  Overall, I'll let you decide what's right for you!

*Disclaimer: I received this travel kit through the iFabbo shop.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, June 3, 2013

b.liv Skincare Review

I've been using a line of products from b.liv by cellnique for the past three weeks and I've achieved some pretty successful results.  This line is cruelty-free, but they are not made with natural ingredients (nor are they paraben free).  I wanted to give that information up-front and let you as readers decide whether or not that is important when deciding to try b.liv.

I received five products total to try.  When b.liv contacted me to see if I was interested in hosting a review, they asked me questions about my skin so that they could tailor products to meet my needs.  I let them know that I had oily/combination skin and my main concern was balancing sebum production.  I definitely noticed a reduction in the oil production on my skin at the midday point.  I always use oil blotting papers at work after lunch and the amount of oil was much less while I was using these b.liv products.  I'm not posting before and after pictures of my skin because it didn't look any different after using these products, but it definitely felt different.

I enjoyed using the Sqeaky Clean Beads Cleansing Gel ($25 for 4.4 fl oz) cleanser the most.  It had a slightly tingly feeling and smelled like peppermint.  The gel contains little microbeads for daily exfoliation, and they felt extremely gentle.  I wasn't worried that the cleanser was too abrasive for daily use.  I used this once in the morning and once at night.  It has a pump dispenser, so one pump was the perfect dime-sized amount.  It lathered well with a little bit of water, and rinsed off just as easily.

The Got Oil Relief Oil Controlling Toner ($21 for 4.4 fl oz.) came next.  The bottle has a spray cap, so I would just spray a light mist onto my face after cleansing.  I didn't care for the scent of this product--it contains witch hazel and chamomile, so I think it was a mixture of the two of those ingredients.  I don't mind each of them on their own, but for some reason all of the ingredients combined didn't equal a great scent to me.  It sprays on nice and lightly, though, and refreshes the skin throughout the day as well.

After the toner comes the Soothe and Splash Anti-Sensitive and Anti-Dryness Moisturizer ($39 for 1.5 fl oz).  This dispenses from an air-tight pump, and only two or three drops were necessary for me to cover my entire face and neck.  It has a lightweight formula and didn't feel heavy on my skin at all.  It also absorbed nice and quickly.  The cream felt very smooth.  I like this because my skin is oily but also sensitive, and this works to combat both.

The final two products I received were the Off With Those Heads Blackheads Sebum Gel ($39 for .5 fl oz) and the Leach Me Moisturizing Mask ($32 for box of seven).  I think the Off With Those Heads gel was the most effective product in balancing my sebum production.  I really loved using this product!  It works for blackheads and whiteheads, and even though the bottle is small it will last a long time because you only need a few drops.  I applied this to my T-zone in the morning and it significantly reduced my oil production throughout the day.

The Leach Me mask was my least favorite product.  I normally love using masks of all types, but this one is a paper mask and those aren't my favorite.  I received three to try, and I wasn't able to fully use the first one.  I ended up throwing it out before being able to really try it because it was so soaked in liquid that it dripped into my eyes and all over my lips--not a pleasant experience.  On my second try I wised up and squeezed out the excess liquid before applying the mask.  I let the paper sit on my skin for about five minutes, but then I removed it and just let the liquid left over sit for 20 more; I found that this application was the most comfortable for me.  Although it wasn't my favorite type of mask, it did make my skin feel super smooth and hydrated after use.

  • Visit b.liv's website to learn more and see their entire line of products
  • Connect with them on Facebook

Bottom Line: b.liv's products were very effective for me and I would highly recommend the ones I've reviewed here for anyone with oily/combination skin.  Based on their effectiveness, I would say that their products for other skin types are probably very effective as well!

Vine Vera Resveratrol Skincare

Have you heard of resveratrol?  Previous to learning about Vine Vera Resveratrol Skin Care, I was only slightly familiar with it.  I knew it could be found in wine, but other than that I wasn’t too familiar with what it was or what it did for your body.

Vine Vera

I now know that resveratrol is an antioxidant found in red wine and the outer layer of grapes that has been an anti-aging secret for centuries.  The use of resveratrol is believed “to help slow the aging process and retain a timeless youthful appearance,” according to Vine Vera.  Since it is a naturally occurring antibiotic, resveratrol also works to cleanse the body of impurities.  All of these benefits work to maintain skin’s health and elasticity while also preventing new wrinkles from forming.  The antioxidants in resveratrol reduce existing wrinkles and prevent new ones from forming because they eliminate the free radicals responsible for them.

Vine Vera cosmetics is committed to rejuvenating your skin, which is why resveratrol is the key ingredient in all of their products.  They have a fantastic collection with a variety of products.  Their lines include: Merlot, Eyes, Mens, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Chianti, Cabernet, Shiraz Instalift, Pinot Noir, and Malbec DNA.

Vine Vera CosmeticsThe Merlot Cleansing Kit is one product that was especially interesting to me.  It retails for $126 and is made up of the Resveratrol Milk Cleanser and the Resveratrol Balance Toner.  The “How To Use” for the cleanser instructs the user to apply a generous amount to the face and neck using a cotton ball, which is new to me.  Most cleansers are just applied with the hands and lathered with water, so this technique is definitely new and interesting.  You keep applying until you have a clean cotton ball.  The toner’s application is similar; the user soaks a cotton ball in the toner and applies to the face and neck areas to remove impurities and hydrate the skin.  Both of these products are formulated for daily use.  They also pair well with the Resveratrol Merlot Facial Serum, Resveratrol Merlot Refining Peeling, and the Resveratrol Merlot Reformative Mask.

I am pleased that Vine Vera is also a cruelty-free company.  Their stance on animal testing is listed below, taken from the “Contact Us” page on their website:

Vine Vera does not test on animals. The company believes in providing high-quality products as well as high-quality service. You can be ensured that all Vine Vera products are formulated with ingredients that are universally used by the cosmetic industry. All of our products are thoroughly tested for safety and must pass very stringent requirements.

If you have any concern about products' ingredients, please e-mail us with specific information such as name of product and a detailed explanation. We will gladly report back to you within a timely manner.

The prices of the Vine Vera products place them on the higher-end of the skin care spectrum, but if you’re more interested in a bit of luxury and indulgences than I think, these products are a great choice.  I have not tested them myself, but I’m sure that the resveratrol is a potent ingredient for the management and prevention of the signs of aging.

Follow Vine Vera on Twitter.

*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by XVIO.  All opinions are my own.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

April Little Black Bag (Bag 2 of 2)

I opened two Little Black Bags in April, and I'm finally posting what I received in my second bag.  I think the trading for this bag went pretty well and I was happy with all of the items I got.  To see what I got in my first April bag, click here.

I received five items total in this bag and I think it cost me around $34 after tax and shipping.  I'm so glad that LBB is no longer charging sales tax for NYS customers, so now my bags will be a little bit cheaper!

  • MMS Design Studio Striped Crossbody ($30) - I love this little bag!  I opened with it and traded it away, but then I decided I wanted it back so I offered the same multi I had taken on it and was able to get it back again.  There was also a blue and white version that I think was more popular, but I liked the colors on this one better.  It's the perfect summer crossbody.
  • Melie Bianco Eyeglasses Wristlet ($14) - These debuted in the gallery the day I was closing my bag and I was luckily able to grab one.  There was also a pink key and a green key design, but I like the glasses one.  The retail on this was only $14, and it's a pretty big wristlet considering that price.
  • Mata Traders Macrame Necklace ($26) - I love this necklace!  I wasn't sure if I was going to like it in person, but it's beautiful.  It's handmade and fair-trade, which is even better.  I originally had the pink/coral one but someone accepted my trade for the turquoise one on my last day of trading.
  • All The Rage Triangle Necklace ($16) - I like that this necklace is a little bit edgy but dainty at the same time.  There was a blue/turquoise version but I liked this pink and red one better.
  • Carol Dauplaise Fringe Hoop Earrings ($18) - I had been wanting these earrings for a while but I ended up returning them for an exchange credit because the stones were too big.  The design was really interesting and I liked the colors, they were just too clunky for my personal tastes.  Plus I wanted to see how the new exchange system worked.

The total retail value of my bag was $104, and $86 after I returned the earrings.  I'm happy with that, considering I only paid $34 for it all!  I have a May bag on its way, so keep an eye out for a review for that, too.

For more photos of my items, click the "read more."