Blogging Hiatus

Hello, all!

Unfortunately, I have some lame news: I need to take a hiatus from blogging.

Classes have started for me this week and I have been so disgustingly busy. With my workload and my classwork, I just haven’t had time to do any writing or had any motivation to create new posts. I planned to write back to school posts, August favorites, free sample reviews, and even start a giveaway in just a few days… but I just haven’t had the time or energy to do any of that. Even though this sounds depressing, I’m actually very happy with my busy life. I am loving my classes, I’m in love with my job, and I’m looking forward to finishing my undergraduate degree this year. I simply don’t have time for all of my passions, so blogging must take a backseat.

For right now, this blog will be on hold for the sake of my sanity. I don’t know how long this hiatus will last; it could be a few weeks, or maybe more than a few months. I also have not decided whether or not I want to make occasional posts or just hold off totally. In the past, I have tried to commit myself to three posts per week. However, from now on, it’s possible that I will only share select subscription box reviews during my hiatus. Hopefully I will come back soon, but for right now my life is too busy to commit to three posts per week.

I’m still as addicted to free samples, living frugally, and devouring make-up products as I ever was, so hopefully I’ll have time to come back soon.

I’m sending pleasant vibes to my fellow bloggers and readers in the meantime. I hope you are doing what you love, too. Don’t hesitate to reach out via email if you ever need anything! My blog is not going anywhere, it’s just taking a little nap. ;)

Hunt for the Perfect Drugstore Facial Cleanser (Part IV)

Hey, ladies. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m officially on the quest for the perfect drugstore (AKA inexpensive and accessible) facial cleanser (or perhaps scrub) for my skin.* I have a combo/dry skin, which means that my overall face is dry (my cheeks and temples especially), but my chin/nose/t-zone can get oily; I also battle clogged pores on my nose on a daily basis. For the longest time, I bought the wrong products for my skin needs but now I’m trying to fix my errored ways. So, this post will continue my chronicle of the search the best inexpensive facial cleanser for my skin, with the addition of my most recently tested.

Previously tested:

1. CVS Oil Free Acne Cream Cleanser ($4.29) with total average score of 3.75/5. Check out my review full here.

2. Clean & Clear Deep Action Cream Cleanser ($6.49) with total average score of 4/5. Check out my full review here.

3. St. Ives Apricot Scrub Blemish Control ($3.99) with total average score of 4.4/5. Check out my full review here.

Most recently tested:

4. Walgreens Oil-Free Acne Wash (Dupe for Neutrogena)         Price: $5.49

IMG_2894

I purchased this face wash on a total whim while I was at Walgreens. I knew that I needed a new liquid cleanser and I was in a serious hurry, so I picked one of the cheapest products that I could find.

IMG_2895

This acne wash is comparable to Neutrogena’s very popular Oil-Free Acne Wash, but much cheaper. This cleanser has a very thin consistency and a very mild scent, which I liked. It is perfect for using with my precision pore cleansing pad. It lathers up very quickly and creates lots of suds, which is oddly satisfying for me. Overall, I feel like this cleanser is very effective at cleaning my face, getting all of the grime/sweat/oil off, and keeping my breakouts to a minimum. Unfortunately, this cleanser is VERY drying and always leaves my cheeks tight and dry. So, I’ve been trying not to use this every day. Honestly, this cleanser would be pretty perfect if it weren’t so drying. I wonder if the Neutrogena version is the same…

Texture: 5/5

Smell: 4/5

Exfoliation: N/A

Cleanliness: 5/5

Overall Effectiveness: 4/5

Total Average Score: 4.5/5

At this point, I think I am still on the hunt for the perfect cream/liquid cleanser. I’m perfectly satisfied with the St. Ives Apricot Scrub as an occasional exfoliator, but I still need the perfect daily liquid cleanser.

I assume this quest will be a long one since I don’t go through face washes particularly quickly, but please feel free to give me suggestions for new products to try at any time!

* As you read my reviews for these products, please remember that my ratings are completely based on my personal experience with this product. If this product wasn’t right for my skin type, then it won’t score very well, even if it is a great product for someone else.

Product Throwdown: Lip and Cheek Tint (Benetint vs. Model Co.)

Ladies, today I bring you an intense product battle in which only brand can emerge victorious: the battle of the lip and cheek tint.

VS

In the left hand corner, we’ve got a new, emerging competitor: Model Co.’s Cheek + Lips in Rosy Red. In the right hand corner, we’ve got a tried and true, cult classic: Benetint by Benefit.

Both of these products claim to be the best rosy cheek and lip tint on the block, but which one is the better buy? The longest lasting? The most flattering shade? The best texture? Let’s break it down and find out. After testing these products extensively, I think I am ready to declare a winner. *

Model Co’s Cheek + Lips

IMG_2896_2

This dual purpose product claims to be lightweight, sheer, and fast-drying. It promises a perfectly flushed cheek and a lightly stained lip: ideal for the “no makeup” look.

IMG_2903IMG_2909

Pros:

-       Lovely, dark rose color (akin to red wine or a pinkish burgundy)

-       Great fall/winter color

-       Long-lasting staining power, even after drinking and eating

-       Great color for both cheeks and lips (universally flattering)

-       Light formula, not greasy

-       Relatively inexpensive (especially on eBay)

IMG_2920

Cons:

-       A little sticky on the lips until fully dry (within a few minutes)

-       Can have a slight numbing effect on lips (could just be me?)

-       Stains fingers for a long time (the stain really works)

-       Clings to dark parts of lips

IMG_2915

The photo above demonstrates how the color translates onto my face. Please take note that I am naturally very pale, with cool undertones.

Full-size product price: $22.00 for 10ml

IMG_2902

The swatch above shows the Model Co. on bottom (the darker stain) with the brighter Benetint above.

Benetint by Benefit

IMG_2896

This original rose-tinted stain claims to be kiss-proof, sheer, and long-lasting. Originally created in the 1970s, this product has been used and loved for decades. It’s timeless!

IMG_2950IMG_2953

Pros:

-       Bright, pink color

-       Great summer color

-       Adds a very natural glow to cheeks

-       Very sheer and natural-looking

-       Washes off of fingers very easily

-       Handy applicator built-in to packaging

IMG_2951

Cons:

-       Not highly pigmented, takes multiple layers to intensify color

-       Clings dramatically to driest portions of lips (more drastically than Model Co.)

-       Not long-lasting on lips, does not last through drinking or eating

-       Not an effective “stain” (not really dark enough to stain)

-       Very watery consistency

-       Feathers around edges of lips

-       Strong floral perfume on the lips, can tingle a bit at first application

-       Expensive (not cheap on eBay, either)

IMG_2955

Above is my facing wearing nothing but the Benetint on my cheeks and lips. Please excuse my crazy hair, I had just finished swimming. :P

Full-size product price: $30.00 for 12.5 ml

Winner: Model Co. Cheek + Lips

My conclusion, ladies, is that the Model Co. Cheek + Lips tint offers the best bang for your buck when it comes down to these two products. Not only is Model Co. more cost effective (especially if you purchase on eBay), it is also a more noticeable lip color, a longer lasting stain, and the perfect flush for your cheeks. It does not have a fragrance, nor does it feather around the lips. Benetint has been great and beloved for a long time, but there is a new and bolder stain in town. As we head into autumn, you’ve gotta get your hands on this Model Co. stain!

* Please remember that these results are personal and based on my own experience as a fair-skinned, brunette. These results may not be the same for all complexions and colorings. Take my review with a grain of salt!

Back To School: Nerves and Stage Fright

Ah, August… the month of back to school shopping, a new semester, and lots of awkward introductions. Well, ladies and gentleman, this is only the beginning of the semester and it will get worse from here… there will be group projects and there will be public speaking and there will be presentations, so it’s time to prepare yourself now.

Personally, I consider myself to be an introvert. I don’t really enjoy big crowds, I like to be at home most of the time, and I don’t have a large network of friends because more than 1-2 close friends exhausts me. However, school frequently forces me to be an extrovert, especially as the president of a student organization and an honors student. I’ve spoken in front of many different sizes and types of groups, from scholars to strangers, and from large groups (over 50 people) to small groups (under 15 people). Unfortunately, it does not get easier, but it can be more bearable. I am pretty sure everyone gets nervous and everyone gets stage fright, but here are some of my best tips for easing those nerves and making the experience a little less awkward.

1. Be Confident

Confidence Guy

But seriously, having real confidence or faking confidence is one of my best suggestions to managing stage fright. When meeting a stranger or speaking in front of a group, assertive confidence is necessary.  If you aren’t someone lucky enough to be naturally confident in yourself, then you’ve gotta fake it. Be happy with what you are wearing, with how your makeup or hair turned out, or how great your project turned out. Be proud of yourself and it will radiate when you are speaking. You don’t need to yell like the Sham Wow guy, but you also should project your voice and stand up straight. These symbols of body language are generally perceived as confidence. Even if you project your shaky voice, it is better than whispering. Many people are naturally quiet, but if someone cannot hear you speaking, they will probably not have a lot of faith in what you are saying. Confidence is not always inherent, but it is something that can be learned and honed.

For some quick confidence boosting tips, you NEED to watch the video below by “beauty guru” Jessica Harlow. I find that her motivational videos are very spot on and very helpful. Everyone has these nerve and confidence issues, but if you can channel the right mindset and think good thoughts about yourself, then you can embody confidence.

Honestly, if you can really hone the outward appearance of confidence, then you can talk to anyone or any group about anything.

Tip: If you are particularly nervous about a big event, whether it be a date or a presentation or an orientation, then wear whatever you are most comfortable and confident in. Everyone has their go-to jeans or their go-to tops, so stick to those tried and true outfits. A nerve-wrecking event is not the best time to try out a new skirt or daring heels because they might distract you or make you self-conscious. As far as makeup goes, again stick to what you are comfortable with. Don’t wear a bright lipstick if you are going to turn red every time someone looks at your lips.

2. Be Prepared and Well Practiced

Preppers

When it comes to presentations, preparation is very important. This might seem like an obvious tenant, but it is also one of the first tips that people ignore. Many people put off their project until the last minute, completely wing their presentation, and in turn they sweat like pigs because they are so stressed and unprepared. Don’t make yourself more miserable than you already will be.

Talking Points

Use your time wisely and prepare adequately! When I host an event that involves giving an introduction, I write the entire introduction down even though it will only be one paragraph long. This helps me avoid bumbling and forgetting half of my talking points. Sure, I might end up tripping over my words, but at least I haven’t forgotten to introduce a guest speaker. When it comes to long presentations, preparation becomes even more important. Last semester I had to give a 15 minute on a 25-page research paper and it required days of preparation. Even though I had been living and breathing that research for 16 weeks, I still had 4 pages of talking points and I ran through that presentation countless times. My thorough amount of preparation not only gave me confidence in my topic, but also confidence in myself. If you know your topic inside and out, then you will be comfortable presenting and answering questions about said presentation. Prepare in whatever way you are most comfortable: notecards, memorization, or scribbled pages of notes; but make sure to actually prepare.

Tip: Embrace your nervous habits before big events like presentations. Personally, I get very sleepy and lethargic when I am very nervous/stressed, so I usually try to take a nap before a presentation (if possible). If you are someone who gets antsy and energized, try to exercise or do some running in place to get the fidgeting out of your system. At the very least, it will distract you.

As far as events like orientations, meet ‘n’ greets, and other unpredictable venues, make sure to think ahead about what to expect conversationally. Will you be meeting anyone important? Will you be expected to have thoughtful questions? Try to think about smalltalk topics that go beyond the usual, “Wow the weather is so crazy lately” and “What’s your major?.” Ask questions about peoples lives (where they live, work, etc), career/school goals, or even if they have any nearby restaurant recommendations. If you have a few go-to questions in mind, you’ll be much less nervous when someone approaches you.

Tip: If you want to make a good impression, give a genuine compliment. Recently, I complimented a waitress on her beautiful, straight white teeth and she gave us a free appetizer. Make sure it’s a genuine compliment, though! She actually did have beautiful teeth.

3. When In Doubt, Be a Comedian

Now, this advice isn’t always appropriate, but if you are anything like me, then you can employ it in many different situations. When I am nervous or when there is a lot of attention on me, I like to crack jokes. For example, if I am having technical difficulties setting up a projector, I will gladly claim that I am an 84 year old woman stuck in a 20 year old’s body. Not only will this get a chuckle from the group, it will also make me feel a little less incompetent.

In general, if anything goes wrong or becomes awkward, try to make a joke out of it. If you shake someone’s hand but your hand is noticeably sweaty then make a joke about the thumb strengthening exercises that you were just doing. Or, if you trip over your words, jokingly claim that is exactly what you meant to say and it was seriously not intended for anyone to understand. Making light of slightly embarrassing situations can completely redeem you. Instead of feeling embarrassed over something silly, you’ll feel clever for making everyone laugh. And believe me, people laugh pretty easily… it doesn’t even have to be that funny. If they think it was supposed to be funny, they will probably laugh. Human condition right there.

4. When All Else Fails, Cop to Being Nervous

Over the years, I’ve become pretty shameless. One of my best icebreakers for nerves has slowly become just simply stating that I’m nervous.

Before a presentation: “Jeez, I’m really nervous, I hope that I remembered to put deodorant on this morning.”     (Like I said, shameless).

Meeting a new group of people in a casual setting: “I’m pretty nervous right now, so I hope this is over soon! In the meantime, where is the food?”    (Food is a universal topic that will always bring strangers together).

On a first date: “I’m not going to lie, I’m really nervous right now. It will probably go away, but please excuse my behavior for the next ten minutes.”

This tactic combines both extreme honesty and the comedian tactics of step #3. When you are in a particularly stressful or new situation, it is likely that everyone in the room in nervous, as well. However, if you are the first one to cop to being nervous, you automatically become the funny, straight-shooting hero of the group. You just said what all parties involved were feeling. Everyone gets nervous and sometimes you just need to cop to it. It will take an extra weight off of your shoulders and you will probably meet someone else who feels exactly the same. Once again, human condition. We were created to have babies and be nervous all the time. It’s a weird existence, I know.

Those are all of my tips! Let me know if any of these will help you get back in the swing of school and all of the nervousness that comes with it. If you have any equally great tips, share them in the comments. 

P.S. If you need some more help getting in the mood for the impending chaos of school, check out some of my favorite tools for organizing your life.

Free Stuff Saturday

Today is usually my compilation of all the recent free beauty samples, but this last week has been particularly dry when it comes to samples. Instead, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite aggregate sites for finding free samples, sweepstakes, and giveaways. Unlike free samples, sweepstakes and giveaways are not guarantees, but sometimes the reward is well worth the effort. I’ve personally won a few great giveaways and sweepstakes, so I always enter just in case. This list is by no means exhaustive but these are sites that I figured were worthwhile enough to share with you. Good luck!

Mommy Saves Big - In my eyes, this is one of the best sites for the most popular free samples. It’s updated very frequently, it doesn’t re-route you to spam pages, and it is quite comprehensive. It definitely does not have some of the lesser-known free samples by smaller companies, but it is a good starting place.

About.com’s Contest Page - This site is a great aggregate of all big, corporation sweepstakes (like Pepsi or Ford) and it lists pretty much every high value sweepstakes known to man. Is it likely you’ll win one of these? Probably not, but you might as well try!

Contest Blogger is a forum that lists many contests hosted in the blogosphere. These are generally much smaller prize values, but they also have much less competition. “A Contest Blog” is very similar. I would definitely recommend bookmarking both.

Only Giveaways is a great way to find blog giveaways from moderately popular bloggers. Again, these giveaways may not be the highest value, but they do have much less competition.

Tip: Follow your favorite blogs religiously because you can bet than many of those blogs host the occasional giveaway (like yours truly).

Well, those are all of my go-to sites, but I am sure many more exist. Do you have any favorites? Share them in the comments! And, if you missed the last sample round up, read it here so that you can grab more freebies that are still available.

Review: Ipsy Glambag (August 2013)

IMG_2553

Hello, ladies! Another month and another amazing Ipsy bag. Ah, can life get any better?

This is my personal favorite of many beauty subscriptions that I’ve tried and I just can’t get enough. In case you don’t know, Ipsy is a monthly subscription of 4-5 deluxe and full size beauty products that costs $10 per month (with free shipping). These samples also come in an exclusive travel-sized cosmetics bag! Ipsy consistently has generous product sizes and great values. Unlike other beauty subscriptions, they focus almost solely on makeup (and sometimes skincare or hair) products instead of lifestyle. This means that their bags are loaded with long-lasting products. Personally, I really love services like Ipsy because they allow me to build my makeup collection without spending too much money in one sitting. Thanks to these subscriptions, I will never need to buy blush, lip-gloss, or eyeliner ever again. If you are interested in subscribing after reading my review (or past reviews), then please reach out to me for my referral link so that I can get credit for introducing you to your new soul mate.

IMG_2788

This month’s theme is “Glamour Academy” in honor of August being back-to-school month. After seeing the spoilers for this bag, I was dying to know which variation I would receive. Ipsy uses an in-depth beauty quiz to determine which products get sent to subscribers and I always have my fingers crossed for makeup, makeup, makeup. Ipsy also now has a feature that allows its subscribers to review the items in their bags, much like other subscription services. Hopefully those reviews will also help personalize subscriptions in the future. So, let’s see what the ladies at Ipsy sent this month!

IMG_2790

Of course, Ipsy also sent out their signature monthly cosmetics bag.

IMG_2789

Surprisingly, I find this bag absolutely adorable. In the photos, it looks a little cheap and the design seems like it would be tacky… but it is lovely in person! I love the gold/purple combination. Unfortunately, I don’t really have a use for this bag right now, so I might just end up giving it away… Now, onto the goodies!

1. Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick (Anarchy)

IMG_2804

Well, let’s start with the most sought-after product this month: a brand new Urban Decay lipstick!

IMG_2806

This lipstick only came out a few weeks ago (maybe more than a month by now) and it is already the talk of the blogosphere. Highly pigmented, lots of fabulous colors, and a super creamy texture from the makers of other great cosmetics. Understandably, a lot of Ipsy subscribers were upset that this was not guaranteed to every member. Unfortunately, Ipsy was only able to secure a certain amount of samples from Urban Decay so this had to be an “either/or” item, which resulted in some subscribers receiving a lip balm. Honestly, I don’t use lip balm and I LOVE bold, bright lipsticks, so I am very happy that Ipsy personalized my bag so successfully. The color that I received is called “Anarchy” and it is a very bright pink (almost fuchsia).

IMG_2808

After only one swipe, this lipstick is completely opaque. This is one of the most pigmented lipsticks I have ever used! It is seriously unbelievable. At first, I was a little intimidated by the color, but that didn’t stop me from trying it on and falling in love.

IMG_2812

IMG_2814

This color is so bright, yet it is also very flattering on my skin. It’s a fun color that will be great all year. Even though the sample seems small, a little goes a long way with this lipstick. I expect to get dozens and dozens of uses out of this tiny tube. Ahhhhhhh, so in love. Even my boyfriend gave it the seal of approval (who am I kidding, he likes anything).

Full-size product price: $22.00        Sample value: $7.33

2. Pixi Lash Booster Mascara (Blackest Black)

IMG_2797 IMG_2799

Every subscriber received this mascara in their glam bag this month. Mascara is not the most exciting product to receive in a subscription, but it is always very appreciated and needed. And, this mascara came at a perfect time because I just threw away one of my used up tubes. I’m happy to have a new mascara in the mix now! As for effectiveness, this mascara honestly does not blow me away. It has an intensely black and waterproof formula (which is great) and a brush with tons of tiny bristles (which is great in theory), but it seems to be a little clumpy. Below are my lashes before and after.

IMG_2863 IMG_2868

As you can see, my lashes are definitely longer, but they are also a bit clumped at the top. Ideally, I like my mascara to separate all of my lashes and leave them clumpless (cue the Covergirl Clump Crusher), but this does not do that. However, this mascara does do a great job of holding a curl and it looks decent from a distance. Unfortunately, this waterproof mascara is VERY difficult to remove. So, I’ll use up this tube to save my wallet the pain of buying a new mascara for a few months, but I wouldn’t repurchase.

Full-size product price: $17.00        Sample value: $7.14

3. Chella Dazzling Dark Brown Eyebrow Pencil

IMG_2793IMG_2794

I’m a big fan of filling in my brows. I have pretty thick and well-maintained eyebrows, so I don’t fill them in everyday, but when I am spending the extra time to put on a full face of makeup, I definitely don’t neglect my brows. I love how bold brows pull my face together. I usually just use brow powder and I don’t actually own a brow pencil, so I’m really happy that Ipsy sent me this full-size brow pencil! Building my collection, one brow product at a time.

IMG_2795

As far as quality is concerned, this brow pencil is lovely. Honestly, the packing feels very dainty and cheap, but the pencil itself is quite versatile. I wouldn’t say that “Dark Brown” is the ideal brow pencil color for me, but this pencil can be used very lightly to have a lighter effect. I’ll definitely work this into my brow routine from now on. It will be great to define the shape of my brows while I use powder to fill them in.

Full-size product price: $18.00

4. Mica Beauty Mineral Eyeshadow (Bronze)

IMG_2800 IMG_2801

Ipsy sent out a light pink mineral eyeshadow (“Earth”) by this same brand back in April, and I really loved it. I am a huge fan of mineral eyeshadows and I also love metallic colors, so this full-size bronze shadow is perfect for me. Mica Beauty seems to have great pigmentation with all of their products and this eyeshadow is no different.

IMG_2802

From top to bottom: “Earth” dry with no primer, “Bronze” wet with no primer, “Bronze” dry with primer, “Bronze” dry with no primer.

I believe the swatch above really demonstrates how easily this shadow can be manipulated and how good it looks even without primer. To be honest, I think that the only benefit of primer with this mineral eyeshadow is to bring out some of the brown undertones. Obviously, this shadow becomes super intense and foiled when used wet, so that is probably how I will use it for the most part. These swatches were created with only a few wipes, so it is very easy to build them up.

IMG_2870 IMG_2883

On the eyes, this shadow is beautiful. I just used a little bit of a matte brown shadow in my outer corner to create a bit of darkness and blended it into the wet shadow. This was so long-lasting! I already own another bronze mineral eyeshadow by a different brand, but it is much more orange-y, while this bronze is brown/gold based. They are perfectly for totally different things! Again, this is another wonderful addition to my bag. So far, so good, Ipsy.

Full-size product price: $14.95

IMG_2846

Here is my sleepy face wearing all four of the above products: the yummy bright lipstick, the delicate brow pencil, the slightly clumpy mascara, and the bold bronze shadow.

5. Michael Todd Jojoba Charcoal Gentle Exfoliating Scrub

picstitch

I had never heard of Michael Todd’s organic skincare line before Ipsy sent it out this month, but the blogosphere has informed me that these products are highly beloved and coveted. Even though I am a little overwhelmed by scrub and mask samples right now, I was stoked to see this product in my bag. Other subscribers received a pumpkin mask instead of this charcoal scrub, but I think this scrub is much more suited towards my needs. I love a good purifying treatment! After one use, I can tell that this is a great exfoliator. It left my skin a bit dry and dehydrated, so a moisturizer is absolutely essential. Honestly, I haven’t used this enough to find out if it is a miracle worker, but I’m going to use this up eventually… after I’m done with all of my other samples. :P

Full-size product price: $18.00        Sample value: $5.29

So, my total Ipsy Glambag value was $52.71 (not including the makeup bag or shipping), which is more than five what I paid ($10). Can you say “steal”?!?! There were other products sent out this month, including a repeat nail polish (thank goodness I didn’t receive that!), a cheek stain, repeat blushes, a BB cream, and a foundation primer, but I could not be happier with my bag variation. It was perfect for me! I loved the balance of makeup and a skincare product; it was a perfect ratio. There was not a single product that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy and I cannot tell you how rare that is with subscription boxes. Ipsy is worth every penny that I throw at them.

Ladies, what do you think of Ipsy? If you’re a subscriber: how did you like your bag this month? Did you get the variation that you wanted?

Review: Birchbox (August 2013)

IMG_2534

Hey, ladies! I just received my August Birchbox in the mail and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my Birchboxes lately, so I was really excited to get my hands on these samples.

IMG_2535

In case you don’t know, Birchbox is a monthly subscription box of 4-5 beauty and lifestyle samples that costs $10 per month (with free shipping). Birchbox allows its subscribers to complete a personal beauty profile so that they can receive samples tailored to their needs, which also allows them to send out dozens of box variations. Birchbox samples usually are not full size, but they do tend to be quite high-end products that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to try otherwise.

IMG_2773

Personally, I really love subscription boxes because they allow me to build up my beauty collection without spending too much money in one sitting. Thanks to subscriptions like Birchbox, I’ll never need to buy eyeliner, eye cream, or blush ever again. Of all subscription boxes, I think most people would agree that Birchbox easily has the best points/rewards program available and that is one of the biggest reasons that I keep it around. You can earn $10 worth of credit to spend in their store just by reviewing 10 samples (2 boxes). This is probably the biggest selling point for a girl who likes to sample products but can rarely afford to buy them without a serious discount (AKA me). If you are interested in subscribing after reading my review (or my past reviews), then please reach out to me so that I can send you a personalized invite.

IMG_2770

This month’s box theme was “Finishing School” which is all about the finishing touches to a great look. I couldn’t care less about the themes, and I don’t even know why Birchbox bothers with them since the products never seem to be related to the theme at all. Seriously, how random is the meaning behind “Finishing School”? The theme this month could have been ANYTHING and the products would have fit the theme.

IMG_2774

This month Birchbox also teamed up with Ann Taylor to offer discounts on her clothing for Birchbox members. The discount code is BIRCHBOX to receive 20% off one item and 30% on two or more items. I’m super broke right now, so I won’t be using this discount. Even if I weren’t super broke, I probably would not use the discount.

IMG_2775

IMG_2771

This month there were five products in my box.

1. Model Co. Party Proof Lipstick (Disco Fever)

picstitch

I was absolutely ecstatic to receive this lipstick. After seeing spoilers at the beginning of the month, I had my fingers crossed so hard for this lipstick. I have been loving Model Co. products lately (their eyeliner and cheek/lip stain, specifically), so I was so happy to see this in my box. As soon as I opened the lipstick, a lovely strawberry scent wafted into my nose. Yum! Honestly, this lipstick is highlight of my box. Unfortunately, this orangy-coral color will NOT work with my skin tone. I’m not even going to swatch this or try it on because I can just tell from that color that it will not work with my pale skin. I’m really disappointed that Birchbox sent me such a mismatched color, but luckily I’ve found another subscriber to trade colors with! There is light at the end of the tunnel!

Full-size product price: $24.00 (set of three)         Sample value: $8.00

2. Dr. Jart + Premium BB Cream (SPF 45)

IMG_2782

Ugh, I have so many problems with this product being included in my box. Birchbox has sent me a Dr. Jart+ BB cream before (the Black Label version) and it was too dark for my pale skin. Yes, I’m very pale. I made it clear in my review/rating for the product that it did not work for me, but they have still sent me another. Luckily, this product is a little less dark than the previous BB cream and it works for my complexion when mixed with a little bit of lotion to bring the color down. I really wish Birchbox didn’t send nearly identical repeat products, especially when it didn’t work the first time around, but I am glad that I got to try a better version of the first product. Nonetheless, I’ll still be sticking to my Missha BB Cream that perfectly matches my pale skin.

Full-size product price: $39.00       Sample value: $4.42

3. Violet Oasis Organic Pure Argan Oil

IMG_2778

I’ve mentioned my love for Argan Oil before, so this product was nothing new to me. In fact, I’ve come to discover that all “100% pure argan oils” are exactly the same. I love using argan oil as a daily moisturizer, but there is no difference in quality between authentic brands, besides packaging. So, I just poured these 4ml into my bigger 30ml bottle. Great. I definitely like having more of my favorite products, but this is a sampling service I’ve subscribed to because I want to try new things. C’mon, Birchbox. I’ve even purchased argan oil from their shop before. Uh. Another disappointing sample.

Full-size product price: $39.95        Sample value: $2.66

4. Tan Towel

IMG_2776

I’ve mentioned it many times on this blog, but I just don’t use artificial tanning products. I have learned to embrace my pale skin. I cannot wait for summer to be over so that subscription services will stop sending me this stuff. I also received a Tan Towel in the HauteLook Summer Beauty Bag, so now I’ve got two Tan Towels awaiting a new owner.

Full-size product price: $24.00       Sample value: $2.40

5. Jasmine Seven Fresh Feet Wipes

IMG_2781

Yes, these are minty antibacterial wipes for dirty feet. Definitely a genius idea for sandal season, and I’m sure I’ll get use out of these at some point. For now, I’ve put them in my purse to save for the moment when my feet are just so grimy that I can’t stand it anymore. I’m sure this will happen when my classes start back up in a few weeks. Even though I can see the usefulness of these wipes, they aren’t necessarily something I want to find in a sampling subscription. Maybe I would enjoy these more if they had been an “Extra” on top of other, better samples, but they just don’t make me particularly happy in this box. I can’t believe that these feet wipes and the argan oil are the only samples in the entire box that I can actually use for myself.

Full-size product price: $9.95 (3 packs)          Sample value: $0.66

So, my total Birchbox value was $18.14 (not including shipping), which is more than what the box costs ($10), but I’ve definitely had better valued boxes. Honestly, I wouldn’t even care about the value being high or low if the subscription sends me personalized, usable products, which Birchbox did not do this month.

As you can tell, this box was a total dud for me. I didn’t discover any new products, one of the color choices were totally inappropriate for my complexion, and the usability of my products was almost non-existent for me. I’m totally disappointed. There were 65 box variations this month and I would say that at least 60 of them would have been better than this variation. The ONLY redeeming quality of this box comes from that fact that I will receive 50 Birchbox points for reviewing these craptastic products.

If you’re a subscriber: what did you get this month? Did you love it or did you have any frustrations with BB this month?