Makeup

Influenster #FrostyVoxBox

I’ve been with Influenster for about two years now, but haven’t received too many of their Vox Boxes. When I saw the email saying they wanted to send me the #FrostyVoxBox, I jumped at it because, hey, I like getting stuff in the mail. I actually got the email with the tracking number on the same day I received the box itself, so now here’s a look inside this lil’ box of joy.

Influenster #FrostyVoxBox - Pucks and Macarons

From the top:

McCormick Gourmet Thyme: I’m going to make a terrible pun here and say that it was…thyme for us to get more of this. Some of our spices have gone past their expiration date. So, this thyme was rather fortuitous. I don’t really have any need to cook anything with thyme right now, so I just dipped a fingertip in and nibbled a little loose thyme to see how it tastes. Verdict: good!

Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane Decaf Green Tea: The little wrapper for this tea packet is adorable, featuring a family of polar bears in green aprons, carrying candy canes. I’m actually very fond of tea, though I’ve fallen out of the habit of drinking it a lot like I used to, and I’m definitely fine with green tea–although ironically I don’t like candy canes. To test this tea’s claim of decaf-ness, I decided to make it at 10 at night on a weeknight. It smells and tastes pleasantly of mint, not too strong, not smacking you in the face with mint. Plus, I was able to get to sleep at my normal weeknight time.

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This is my mug. I got it from an Asian supermarket quite a few years ago!

Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eyeliner: Here’s the deal. I don’t use eyeliner. I don’t have a steady enough hand to apply it well and I’m such a perfectionist that any teenytiny difference between the two eyes’ lines would force me to clean off and give it another try until I either got it perfect (unlikely) or gave up altogether. I have a few eyeliner samples left over from Birchbox and I’m just like [shrugs in general not knowing what to do with them]. I bet this is a nice eyeliner, but I’m just the wrong person to ask.

NYC Expert Last Lip Color, Sugar Plum: Now, I do use lipstick, for sure! This one smelled nice as soon as I opened the tube. It’s kind of a sweet smell, one I can’t really place, but one that’s not unpleasant. It also goes on nice and smooth, isn’t sticky and the hue reminds me of one of my all-time favorites, MAC Viva Glam V. I am extremely fair-skinned and I liked how the shade looks on me. Oh, you want a picture? Well, go on then…

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#ChillinWithMyPJsAndLipstickOn #NeedingAHaircut #IDontLikeToGrinInPhotos

Fruit Vines Bites, Strawberry: My first impression of these? Remembering the line “Mr. Pibb and Red Vines equals crazy delicious” from the pioneering SNL Digital Short “Lazy Sunday.” Of course, that referred to using traditional Red Vines as a straw with which to drink Mr. Pibb, which isn’t what Fruit Vines Bites are about since they are a totally different shape! I’m glad I got strawberry since the little placard said cherry was another choice and I just have never liked anything cherry. These are really good! They’re extremely chewy and you can kind of tear them into tinier sections since each ‘bite’ is three little logs stuck together.

Boots No7 Protect & Perfect Advanced Sachet: I got the for-youngins version of the Protect & Perfect, according to the informative placard. Real talk time: I never sunbathe (because I don’t tan), I tend to always wear makeup with SPF and I don’t smoke. Both my parents have had growths removed from their heads and so I’m extremely fastidious about sun protection. Even with that, though, I’m in the second half of my twenties now (somehow lol) and as such, I’m starting to notice teenytiny lines around my eyes, or the ones already there are elongating a bit. I’ll start using this and see if it helps–if it does, there’s also a coupon for $2 off the full size.

EcoTools Hair Brush: When I felt the bristles of this brush, I thought it was just extremely abrasive and wouldn’t do anything but hurt my head. But then I just curiously waved it through a section of my hair. I was very, very wrong about my first impression. The brush made my hair soft and very touchable. Specifically, I got the Sleek and Shine Finisher brush, which is flat and kind of oval-shaped. There are 4 others in this range, each designed for a different type of hair I don’t have. My hair is very short and slightly wavy because when it was not very short, it was very, very wavy.

Rimmel Gentle Eye Makeup Remover: Previously on this blog (feel free to say that in the voice of the “previously on Lost” guy), I talked about this wonderful mascara topcoat that I still use daily. It is kind of hard to remove, though. I’ve found the only thing that really does it is a wee dab of coconut oil on the fingertip. I decided to try this eye makeup remover on mascara with the topcoat. It went fairly well, but I don’t think it got all the mascara off, plus I’m used to liquid makeup removers with a thicker consistency–or, in the case of coconut oil, liquid that solidifies because science. Oh, and it stung a little bit!

All in all, this was a great Vox Box. Thanks, Influenster! Hope to receive more in the future!

Please note: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

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Breaking Up with Birchbox

The straw that broke the camel's back: 1 product I bought already, 1 funny-smelling vanilla lotion, dry shampoo (already have some), the smallest eyeliner sample ever and one thing I am actually interested in using.

The straw that broke the camel’s back: 1 product I bought already, 1 funny-smelling vanilla lotion, dry shampoo (already have some), the smallest eyeliner sample ever and one thing I am actually interested in using.

Oh, Birchbox. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was bad. I can see the appeal of the box and it is really fun to get a box full of surprises in the mail (I never took the bait of looking at spoilers, even when given 900 opportunities to do so), but my October box was so underwhelming that I decided to pull the plug after being a member since May.

Now it’s time for a little postmortem.

The good:

  • It’s nice how reviews are incentivized. I was able to trade 300 points for $30 off some CC cream that I liked, therefore taking the price I needed to pay down to a mere $2.
  • I tried a lot of new things! Sometimes just that act of trying out is fun, right?
  • The size of most samples is less than 3 ounces, making them ideal for use while traveling–for those of us trying to circumvent baggage fees by going carry-on only.
  • Some of their customer service reps are amazing. When I complained about something (see full story below), a CSR sent me a small apology gift of a full-size nail polish and a cute small lip crayon. But the first one I dealt with in that situation seemed to not understand what I was talking about and felt very impersonal. So, your mileage may vary.
  • The monthly price isn’t awful, especially compared to some of the other boxes out there, and there’s no waiting list to join.
  • I made a nice container for corralling my makeup brushes by wrapping a Birchbox in pretty patterned paper from World Market (and still have enough to wrap at least one or two more of the empty boxes).

The bad:

  • Their system of allowing you to pick your own sample. What a mess. I was apparently in for the very first time they tried this and it was awful–I got the email one day, forgot to look at it that night, went to look the next day and had already missed the window of opportunity to choose. Seriously? A day is not nearly enough. Not everyone checks email obsessively and even people who do sometimes forget to act. This is what led me to complain and get good treatment from a CSR. Thing is, it’s never gotten better since then. I’d usually have to rely on a subreddit for subscription boxes to tell me when choose your own sample was available because the Aces (their VIP club, which you enter upon getting 500 points) would get first dibs. But what if I forgot to look at that subreddit? I tend to run very hot or cold on the very idea of checking Reddit and will leave it alone for a few days at times. By the time my email prompting me to select my sample arrived, they’d usually be down to 1 or 2 choices, often one I didn’t want.
  • Foil packets! I find this a wildly impractical way to use liquid products like shampoo. I have extremely short hair, so I don’t use much shampoo per wash. Open the packet, dole out a quarter-sized portion or so…then what? Stick it in a ziploc baggie near the shower? Foils are a big pet peeve among many beauty box subscribers.
  • I often tend to seek out beauty products myself. For example, the mascara topcoat or foundation primer I bought recently were researched on and selected by myself for qualities I needed. Even with trying to tailor your profile–the CSR mentioned above helped me with that because in my desire to get certain items, I apparently made my profile contradict itself–you can’t always guarantee that.
  • Getting items you don’t like or wear! I don’t wear eyeliner because I’m not good at applying it. I’ve received 2 different eyeliners, including a laughably tiny sample in October’s box.
  • Some of the items were massively underwhelming upon being used just one time. What do I do with them now? Perhaps I could donate them to a women’s shelter.
  • Box envy. It is too real.

The only good thing about breaking up is that they don’t immediately erase you from the system–you’re even able to use any Birchbox Points you’ve accumulated–and they do leave the option open to rejoin if you want to do that.

Besides, I just learned that Target has a beauty box for $7. It lets you see what’s inside first so you can decide whether or not to purchase it. The Fall 2014 one holds little interest to me, mainly because I don’t use hairspray and I have more than enough dry shampoo, but I’ll watch what happens in Winter.

I’ve been considering other beauty boxes, but because I tend to seek things out myself, beauty might not be a good fit for me in terms of boxes anyway. I have also looked into Rocksbox, which I like because it lets me choose what sorts of jewelry I want. Since my ears aren’t pierced and I don’t know my ring size (due to gaining weight in the fingers, weight I’d like to lose there and generally elsewhere, the one ring I’ve owned for nearly 10 years fits too tightly sometimes so we’re on hiatus right now), I can say not to send any earrings or rings.

Rocksbox is $19 a month, but you can keep the pieces as long as you want and even buy ones you really like at a 20% discount. I like to experiment with jewelry, so this may be a great fit for me. Looks like I might be reviewing something new in the future!

Anastasia Lash Genius Waterproof Mascara Topcoat Review: Pucks and Macarons

Problem Solvers: Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat

I like to buy things that solve problems. Really, who doesn’t? A problem I was noticing was that, before a workday had even ended, my mascara had inevitably navigated to the under-eye area and created a delightful raccoon eye effect that no one wants to have. This happened with pretty much any mascara save for L’Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes,  but that mascara is so dramatic that I wanted something more low-key for work or other times.

To find a solution to this issue, I went on a makeup-focused area of Reddit and asked, receiving one really glowing recommendation for Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat. I couldn’t find it on their official website, but Ulta and Sephora both have it.

Anastasia Lash Genius Waterproof Mascara Topcoat Review: Pucks and Macarons

Photo from makeupforlife.net

The topcoat costs $21, but it’s already paid for itself in keeping mascara looking fantastic for hours and hours at a time. Even during the 90-degree days we’ve had here recently (the joys of late summer in Georgia), even when being outside for quite a while, it stays put. It stayed put after a tough workout in which I sweated a lot (usually I take my makeup off before going to the gym, but I told myself not to so I could see how the topcoat responded, for science). This goes for both of the brands I’ve tried using it on, Maybelline Full ‘n Soft and Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes–really spanning both ends of the price spectrum there! It also softens the mascara so that your lashes aren’t so brittle.

It is hard to remove. I’m still trying to figure out what might be best for that because Lush 9 to 5 isn’t cutting it. Maybe I need to ask around again–unless you have this product and know a good way to get it off when the day is done!