The Great Box Off- July 2017

Three boxes/bags.  Different success rates.

Detailed reviews forthcoming.


Ipsy June Bag

Another one that is not a box.  Ipsy comes with a little makeup bag.  This one looks like it was created for a teenager….   It’s pretty small.  Would work well for throwing a few items in your purse.   The bags aren’t as good quality as the free clinique makeup bags you get with their bonus promotions, which literally last forever, as far as I can tell.

I wasn’t ever completely sold on this subscription, as their website is clearly geared towards a much younger crowd, but a friend really wanted me to give it a try.

So- my box/bag!



NYX Professional Makeup Whipped Lip & Cheek Souffle- Tried it.  Didn’t like it at all.

sky ICELAND Glacial Face Wash with White Willow Bark- Tried it.  It was fine.  I will certainly use up the sample.

theBalm Cosmetics Balm Springs Blush- This was pretty decent blush.  It works well for my skin tone and was easy to put on without being too pigmented.  I will keep using it.  I don’t use a lot of blush, but I like this option.

Trust Fund Beauty Nail Polish- didn’t like the color and just found the polish to be okay.  I prefer neutral pink for nails so not sure what one would be expected to do with turquoise.

Luna by Luna Cosmetics Eyeshadow in Jace- this was pretty decent eyeshadow.  It was very pigmented.  The color is much warmer than I prefer, but I’ve used it a couple times with a few others.  It’s a nice matte shadow and it stays well.
Overall, not sure about this bag.  A few decent products but the colors are off.  I reviewed everything and they do include color as part of the review process, so I will be interested to see how that plays out.

Play! by Sephora June 2017

Okay, first Sephora box is here.  Not a box, though!  More on that in a minute.  Items were removed from packaging and a card placed by them for scale as several tiny items had deceptively large packaging.  It seemed like these samples were pretty small, which wasn’t great- how am I supposed to know if I like a product if I can only try it twice?

A benefit of Play! is it comes in a little bag.  I can definitely see myself reusing these- they are smaller than a usual makeup bag and will be great when traveling or throwing a few items in my purse.

Another benefit of Play! is that it comes with a card to use in Sephora stores for 50 bonus Beauty Insider points.  You have to use with by the end of July with a purchase, but if you shop at Sephora a ton, it’s an easy way to rack up points.


Okay.  So.  Play!, like everything else, comes with five items and sometimes, a free ‘scent’.  I got a scent this time as a bonus.  Let’s run down what I got, left to right.

  • Ouai Rose Hair and Body Oil.
    • I’m not sure what this is.  The instructions say I am supposed to put 1-3 drops through wet hair or after blowdrying to calm frizz.  What does that even mean?  One drop on my whole head or per strand or… what?  You can also put it on dry skin, daily.
  • Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick- bold fuschia
    • This went on nicely, but the color… NO.  I am looking for something to use in a professional setting.  Just.  NO.  Dumping it.
  • The POREfessional Face Primer
    • It is so tiny I fear one use will kill it, but I will give it a try.
    • Update:  I used it.  It was fine, but I don’t think a primer I would buy.  
  • Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel
    • Hey there clearly half full sample.  This is supposed to go on my hair before I air dry it.  I will check it out…
    • Update:  This worked really well and didn’t leave my hair feeling crunchy or an odor.  And, even better, no scent.  Wish it had been a full sample…
  • First Aid Beauty:  Hello FAB Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer
    • The name makes me not want to try this, but I will.
    • Update- This was actually a really good primer.  It was very smooth and my foundations seemed to hold well.  I liked it.  There was also a lot in the sample so I  can use it for a while.  
  • Bonus:  Black Opium YvesSaintLaurent perfume
    • Okay, this was a surprise!  I usually HATE perfume.  This one, I actually didn’t mind. Of course it is just a teeny tiny sample but given that I never wear perfume, if I wore it only to special occasions it might last me for years!


Major negative:

There doesn’t seem to be a way to review and rate the samples!  So…. I assume that means there is no way to adjust for feedback.  I took the quiz again and they didn’t ask for color preferences, so how will they know not to give me that horrendous shade of lipstick again?  I’m concerned about this.


Glossier Phase 2 set

Shaking things up a minute from the subscription boxes…

Frankly, a facebook ad caught my eye because I was interested in their brow brush.  It turned out that if I bought a set, I could get lipstick and concealer too, plus free shipping and returns, and I managed to find a 20% off discount.  So okay.  I’m in.

It took a while, but the box arrived.  Now.  Seriously.  Let’s talk about packaging.

A shipping box, with a large box inside, with a large bubble wrap ziplock, with three tiny items.

People.  Come.  On.  I will not order from you again if you insist on destroying the environment with every order.  This entire order could have fit in one tiny bubble mailer or small box.



Colors of my items:

Concealer (light)

Boy brow (brown)

Lipstick (like)


You get to choose the appropriate shades for all three items, which is definitely a must!


First, I don’t love the concealer.  It does not go on well and is pretty obvious.  I got the light shade because it’s supposed to be buildable, but it’s just not working at all.  I’m considering returning it and seeing if they will send me the medium shade, but I’m not sure that will help.  A tiny bit under the eyes does work okay, but only the smallest amount.

Second, the lipstick.  I chose “Like”, which shows as a very light pink on their website.  It’s actual color is slightly darker, but I do like it.  It’s a very subtle shade but when you apply a few layers it looked really nice.  It have to reapply it every few hours but since I am not using much I think that’s to be expected?  Anyway, I like it.  It’s very appropriate for a business or professional setting.


Third, the boy brow.  What a terrible name!  This was purely for experimentation purposes.  If I do anything with my eyebrows I just use a pencil.  They are very light so any change is pretty drastic.  This is my first time using a liquid type brush.  It does fill it in pretty well.  It’s important to put it on very lightly the first few strokes because it can clump a little.  I’m struggling a little to apply it perfectly, but overall it seems fine.

The pencil is way easier to use, though.

My Second Box- Birchbox June 2017

Not only were they the first and only May box, Birchbox was the first to get their June box to me.   So, what does June bring forth?



I like the polka dots but… seriously, what am I supposed to do with all these boxes?

Something different about this month- instead of 5 random samples, I chose one of three samples.  I decided to try the Smashbox primer.  Aside from that sample, the other four were sent by Birchbox.  I’ve had a week or so to try most of them out at least once, so… without further ado….  June.

[As soon as I typed that, I got the song June Hymn stuck in my head… so here’s my attempt to remove it.]


Now that the song is out of my head, my samples…

  • amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo
    • Like all dry shampoos, it seems fine.  I only used it once so far, because I don’t use them that often.  It’s not better nor worse than any others I’ve tried, and the fact that I am using a dry shampoo means I didn’t have time to wash my hair and I am grumpy, anyway…  Another great size for travel.
  • COOLA Mineral Face SPF 30 Rosilliance
    • Terrible.  Why?  There was literally one single drop in the container.  Who sends out an empty container?  I have no idea if I liked it because they didn’t send me an actual sample.  I am not happy about this.  I can see from their website from reviews of other similar products I am not the only person with this experience.  If I get another empty sample I am done with this subscription.
  • Mellow Cosmetics Liquid Lip Paint- Tehran
    • I did not care for this color at ALL.  I prefer natural or slightly pink or slightly red lipgloss/lipstick, so brown is not going to work for me.  I didn’t love the texture especially, but I hated how it looks so much I took it off immediately.  I therefore cannot vouch for whether it lasts long or not.
  • Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer
    • I don’t wear a whole lot of foundation, but I did like this primer.  It felt light and was very smooth.  My foundation went on smoothly underneath.    The lack of SPF might make it a better winter primer.
  • Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator
    • I’m a bit nervous to try this as my skin is pretty sensitive.  I unfortunately got a lot of sun this week and didn’t feel like it was a good time to try it, so I’m going to wait a few days.  I will update this post once I try it out.


So… a mixed box.  I felt I liked the first box better, maybe just because I was really disappointed with two of the products here, including the product that didn’t exist.  We’ll see if they improve or if Birchbox isn’t for me…

Coming up soon, two new subscription boxes (bags), some new eyeshadow I bought recently, and more….

My First Box- Birchbox May 2017

So, in terms of quickly providing me a box, Birchbox definitely wins as the only one who sent one off for May. I signed up in mid-May and received it at the end of the month.  Observe below:




Important notes:

  • It came in box form.  The box is cute.  There is foam on the bottom, which does not seem environmentally sound.  Also, what am I going do with these boxes?
  • I received five items, which is, in fact, the allotted amount.  Four of them were interesting on their face and one was definitely not for me.
  • I could choose to see what items I was getting in advance, or wait and be surprised.
  • I could choose to follow the tracking, but it was way off for this box.
  • You can usually choose either a pre-arranged box, a single product out of a small pre-chosen selection, or just be surprised.  I did not have an option other than pure surprise for this box, since I chose so late.
  • They send a little card with descriptions and the price of every same in full size.


The items!  And, were they appropriate?  Any good?

1. Coola Mineral SPF 30 Daydream Makeup Primer

Am I interested in trying new primers?  Yes.  So this seemed like a good pick.  Also, nothing feels more like dumping money down the drain than buying a primer. This one was okay.  It only worked for me to use very very lightly- it made my face feel… well… a little sticky and if I wasn’t careful it didn’t spread well.  When used lightly with light foundation, it seemed fine.  I wore it one day when I was outside a lot and didn’t burn much, so that’s nice for us folks who are genetically prone to turn bright red.

2. Living Proof Perfect hair Day (PhD) In-Shower Styler

I have wavy hair, so I was excited about this one.  It took a little trial and error.  The first time it didn’t spread evenly, but it did keep my hair from becoming a frizzy mess, so that was cool.  I accidentally applied too much to the roots, so they were stiff, despite rinsing.  It lasted most of the work day, which is better than my usual half day.

The second time I put on too little and it didn’t keep my curls and waves as nice.

The third time was just right.

I really like this one.

3. R+Co DEATH VALLEY Dry Shampoo

I’ve never met a dry shampoo I really liked.  I hate having unwashed hair.  This seemed just as good/bad as other dry shampoos I’ve used.  It’s in a sample size, which is perfect for me.  I travel for work all the time, so it’s great to keep in my bag in case I need dry shampoo.

4. The Beauty Crop Fabulous Flocking Lashes Mascara

Mascara is one of my favorites.  My only good feature are my eyes, so if I choose one product, it’s mascara.  A second would be eyeshadow.  This mascara was sadly disappointing.  It didn’t really help my lashes at all and came off very oddly.  I tossed it.

5. Vita Liberata Fabulous Self Tanning Gradual Lotion

I have zero interest in self-tanning, so I didn’t even touch this one.

So, end verdict:

Good:  1

Meh:  2

Crappy product:  1

I will never use this:  1

I reviewed everything, which is supposed to help with future batches.  We shall see….

Subscription Boxes- The Great Box-off of 2017

So, as someone who does not really have much make-up skills beyond the basics, but likes to check out new things at times, I decided the most economical way to do so was to choose a subscription box. Of course, this was inspired by seeing a Facebook friend do a video review, and I thought it sounded fun. During my search into the world of subscriptions boxes, I discovered there are many. And they don’t all come in box form. And they are of widely varying prices and difficulties to subscribe to.

I decide to sign up for three $10 subscriptions and see how they fared over a few months. A trial period, if you will. At the end, I can decide which one is best for me. $10 a month seemed reasonable- $30 a month, less so.

My choices were:

Sephora Play

I signed up for all three in mid-May. Only one, Ipsy, claimed a ‘waitlist,’ but you could get off it by spamming the world through twitter and Facebook messages. Also, probably the one I am least likely to stick with- only chosen because a friend nagged me about them. Birchbox was the only one who sent me a box in May, so that will be my first review. Then we can delve into- when do the boxes ship? What order do they arrive? Are boxes even involved? (SPOILER ALERT: ONLY ONE COMES IN A BOX.) What am I supposed to do with the packaging? How does my feedback and reviews change future subscriptions? Will I even use any of the products? Am I just destroying the environment? And more…