Unboxing the Allure Beauty Box for April 2022

Last month was my first Allure Beauty box in a while. It was a little different because they had so many gifts for signing up that it was hard to look past them to the regular box. This month is the regular beauty box, no new member add ons or extra perks. Allure costs $23 per month and has six to seven products, three of which are suppose to be full size. So shall we see how Allure did for April?

The first item was an item that I honestly didn’t think i would get. Allure leaked it as a spoiler, but then had so much response to new sign ups that they thought they were going to run out. So they added that if you signed up for the box before March 18th you would get it. I signed up on March 20th. Still I received the full size OSEA essential hydrating oil. OSEA as a brand is very hit or miss with me. What I like from them, I absolutely love. What i don’t like, is still good, just not my favorite. Which is not a bad place to fall. It means I will either adore this oil or just think its okay. I’m good with that. I also like that it is in a glass bottle and has a pump. I have this awful tendency to spill oils, or drop them with wet and sometimes oily hands, so that actually saves me from myself.

The second Item I have tried before although I think the sample I tried was much smaller. This is a deluxe sample I believe (it isn’t mentioned in the booklet.). It is the Elta MD Skincare UV Sheer Broad Spectrum SPF50+ It is water resistant, which my other sunscreens aren’t, so I am happy to have this one to add to my summer stockpile.

The sample sized Amika dry shampoo is a good dry shampoo. And while i did order my favorite dry shampoo as a summer essential I didn’t order a travel size. I like to keep one in my purse (mostly because even with clean hair, sometimes in the summer my bangs need a quick pick me up even if the rest of my hair looks fine). So this is perfect to add to the purse for summertime use. And I have used and like it so there will be no surprises with it.

The UVE makeup sponge is fine. I prefer sponges with a slanted edge but a makeup sponge is always useful. I’m sure it will come in handy at some point and an extra is never a bad thing to have. It isn’t all that exciting (unless there is something magical I don’t know about it) but it is nice to have.

for some reason it looks gold in the pic but pink in real life

I like the Saint Luxe Liquid glow. I think it might be a full size. At least it looks like it is. If it isn’t then i can’t imagine the full size being much bigger. I like the pink tint to it. The booklet suggests wearing it under a tinted moisturizer for a nice glow and the pink tinted highlighters are really good for that (at least with my skin tone.) and it is something I like putting under full matte products to help lighten them for summer. I can’t wait to see how this one performs.

Next there is a primer from The Beauty Crop. Specifically it is the Melon Jelly Dewy Primer XXL. I know, I love primers so you are expecting full excitement. The beauty Crop and I don’t always have the best relationship though. A few of their products I am allergic to and a couple I just plain don’t like. I will give this a shot though, however i will be reading through the label first and trying it out on my arm before it goes anywhere near my face. So we’ll go with cautiously optimistic to have a primer in this beauty box. I am unsure about the Beauty Crops sizes, but I think this might be a full sized primer.

And now we come to the final product. it is the Scratch Nail wraps. I have tried nail wraps before and they always end in tears. I like the thought of them, I like the idea of them and think they are a fabulous way to get fabulous nails. However I make less of a mess if I take out six nail polishes and a set of tiny brushes to do my own design. I know they are just stickers, but they are really strong stickers and I just never seem to get them to work for me. They are pretty, and I know someone who uses and loves them. So they will be making their way into someone’s Easter basket. The nail wraps are just not a product for me. I wish they were and I’m sure there is something simple that I am completely missing, but I think it best to pass them along. And maybe I’ll get my niece to show me how she gets them to look perfect. there will be eyerolling, but who knows, I just might learn something.

In the end I am pretty happy with this box and I think it was worth the $23. A few of the products I have qualified hopes for, but there are several I am looking forward to trying out. Was there anything that sent me over the moon? No, but it was a good solid box. If the OSEA proves fabulous I might be over the moon, but we will see. In the end I can say that I am pleased with the mix of products and the value and look forward to seeing what next month brings.

Cruelty-Free Beauty Box

Unboxing the Allure Beauty Box for March 2022

Back in the day Allure was one of my favorite beauty boxes. It always went above and beyond what I expected in a $15 box. Then they increased the price to $23 but it didn’t seem as though they made the box better, so I let the subscription go. I am still on the e-mail newsletter list though and really enjoy reading the articles they sent. And in these e-mails they sent a deal there was a discount code as well as a new member gift. The new member gift was something I couldn’t resist so I decided perhaps now was the time to try out the Allure Beauty box again.

new box on the bottom, old on the top

The first thing I noticed is that the box itself is much larger. There is the possibility that it is just due to the new member items, but the box is substantially bigger. I actually reused one of the old boxes and you can see the size difference. I know it is just about perception, but the new box does feel more like a $23 box.

Let’s go over the three full sized new member items. If you sign up for this box before March is officially over I think you will still get these. After March 31st there might be different ones for April.) The first of these three items was a full sized Sunday Riley Light Hearted Sunscreen.

I tried a sample of this and really loved it. So I am very happy to have a full sized to kick off the spring and summer. (I’ve been using the last of the spray Neutrogena sunscreen that I had on hand, but i is almost out and I haven’t restocked my Volition sunscreen yet. so this is perfect timing.)

The second Item is also from Sunday Riley and it is a full sized tube of the 5 Stars Retinoid + Niacinamide Eye Serum. I saw this a while back and it has been on my list of products to try out so I was very excited to get it as part of my new member gift items.

The third item was the Pixi By Petra Lip Glow. I have tried out eyeshadow from Pixi by Petra but most of the items I’ve used from the brand have been in the realm of skincare. I am actually finishing up the last of a Pixi toner sample at the moment. and you know i love lip products.

Those were the three full sized items in the new member welcome. I think they are only available in March. They might carry over to April, but I just don’t know. So with those complete, let’s look at the actual box. As a reminder this is a $23 box and each month you should receive six or more items with at least three being full sized. There are Seven items in this month’s box and three of them are full sized. Let’s look at those first.

The first item I was thrilled about. it is the Blinc Ultra Volume Tubing Mascara. I love the Blinc tubing mascara. It is fantastic for making your lashes look really long and full. The mascara actually wraps a tube or product around your lashes to give them stable length. It is kind of an awesome product. I haven’t tried the new Ultra Volume version yet though so I am thrilled to get to try it out and see how it compares to the original. I am also thrilled it is one of the full sized items.

The second full sized item is a makeup product. It is from Eyeko. I love their mascara and eyeliner but this is something I have never tried from the brand. It is the Eyeko Double Act dual ended shadow stick with it’s own sharpener. Which is kind of nice because the shadow stick is too large to fit into the sharpener I have.

and yes my hands are incredibly dry. I had three hand sanitizer hits and forgot the moisturizer. I washed off the swatch and immediately moisturized

One end is a dark brown and the other is a shimmery coppery brown. I am going to have a lot of fun playing with that. Incidentally Eyeko is having a massive sale right now, this and all of the other shadow stick shades are half off. (most everything else is on sale tool) Plus you can get an additional 25% off if it is your first order from the website, plus a free sample. Which is kind of an amazing deal.

The third item is the Alpha H Liquid Gold with Glycolic Acid. It is essentially a toner that dissolves dead skin cells and brightens the complexion. At least according to the pamphlet enclosed in the box. The only reason I have heard anything about this is because it is also in the Glossy Box Easter Egg. (Which I managed to remember to order before it was sold out this year, So I will shortly have a second one arriving. I’ve managed to miss it for three years running so I was just glad I remembered before it was too late this year. Thank you post it notes!)

Also I am almost finished with the sample sized Pixi toner so it is time to roll in a new toner, so this is quite timely as well. Lovely Skin has a smaller size of this currently on sale for $20. They too have a large sale going on with most everything on their website at least 20% off. It is one of my favorite places to stock up on skincare.

The other four items in the box are sample sixed. The first of these samples is the Perfect Shine Clarifying Scalp Scrub from NatureLab Tokyo. I have used this before and it is utterly fabulous. It has a fresh clean scent and small enough particles so it can work it’s way through the thickest hair to properly clean the scalp. It is one of those products I am happy to have in any size. I will probably end up using it this weekend as part of my extra Saturday hair care. I try to do a scalp scub about once a month to prevent build up of products on my scalp. I can’t recall if i reviewed it or not but, I’ll look. If I haven’t then I’ll get it scheduled. It is quite fantastic.

The other three items i haven’t tried. The first of these is the Shani Darden Retinol Reform, It is a retinol, but it is what they call a jellied serum. I’m guessing that means a thicker formula, probably with a gel like formula. I have never heard of the brand or tried a jellified retinol so I may be rotating this in soon just because I want to give it a go. Plus I don’t currently have a retinol in my routine so I’ll have to introduce it at the right time. I always find this part exciting.

Next up we have the Augustinus Bader, the Rich Cream. I have heard of the brand before but I have never tried anything from the, I know they are quite pricy (a full size of this moisturizer is $280). I love getting sample sizes of pricy items. I have been known to spend extra on skincare but I like knowing that it is an item that suits my skin before I do spend the money. Because let’s face it, just because something costs a lot and other people rave about it, doesn’t mean it will work for you.

Come to think of it just because something is inexpensive and people rave about it doesn’t mean that it is going to be for you. Skincare can be so subjective. For example my mother has almost the exact opposite of my skin. Which is kind of fun because anything that doesn’t work for me, she generally loves and visa versa so we periodically have an exchange and fewer products are wasted.

And finally we have the cetaphil gentle skin cleanser. If you have sensitive skin this is a cleanser you will probably love. My babydoll uses their products and this sample size will probably end up in his shaving kit. It is for dry to normal skin which is kind of his target zone. so I know he will love it. I’m sure I would love it too as I’ve liked all the other products I’ve tried from the brand, but I will probably still be passing it along to him. Which I am okay with as I have so many other delightful products to play with.

I will admit, The Sunday Riley Products drew me in. However even setting the new member gifts aside, this was a pretty good box this month. The three full sized items; Alphah Liquid Gold (retail $54), Blinc Mascara (retail $26) and Eyeko dual ended shadow stick (retail $25) more than pay for the cost of the box. Each box is supposed to have more than $100 worth of product in it and they have achieved that as well. Hopefully April’s box will be just as good. If it is, I may be keeping this Allure Beauty Box around for a while.

LovelySkin

The December 2020 Allure Beauty Box, is it worth the increased price?

My Allure Beauty Box arrived and if you’ve been reading my posts, you know that this is the last box I am contracted to receive.  Initially, the Allure Beauty Box was a $15 per month subscription box. As a $15 subscription this box hit it out of the park every month.  In October however, they decided to adjust the box and turn it into a $23 per month subscription.  With tax it boils down to $24.27 if you want the full cost.

The problem is that with the October and November boxes, nothing really changed about the box except the price. There was nothing substantially different from when it was a $15 box and so I went from really loving the subscription to being very hesitant to keep it.  So this is the third month after the switch in cost and I am trying to decide whether or not to keep it with me in the new year.

So let’s get into it shall we?

First off the subscription box itself changed.  It was once sent in a solid and sturdy (and reusable) cardboard box.  The box changed and it is now a disposable mailing box.  I do cut it up for my compost bin, but it isn’t my favorite change.  Plus the items remained the same size and all of them fit in the old boxes so even though I’m sure they changed the box for the new subscription, I’m not a fan.

I’m also not a huge fan of the booklet that comes with the box.  While it is a substantial booklet and should have a plethora of information in it, sadly it rarely does.  There is a blurb from one of the editors about how much they like the product, the price of the product should you wish to purchase the full size and (if available) a promo code. There is no real product information. 

This month that wasn’t a big deal as everything was more or less straightforward, but last month there was an essence in the box that I had no idea how to use.  It would have been nice if the large glossy brochure they took so much care to put together had some information about it.  Do I put it on after toner?  Do I use it in place of toner? Do I replace a serum with the essence? All of that I had to look up on my own before trying the sample they sent.  I know, not a major deal breaker, but something that always sort of bothered me about their booklet.

To the Items!

The first item out of the box was a winner for me.  It was a nine pan Ciate London Trend Edit Eyeshadow Palette.  I liked the last Ciate London eyeshadows I tried and I am happy to have another palette from them.  The colors look good and I look forward to trying it out.  The palette is also one of the three full sized items promised each month.

I believe the second item I took out of the box was full sized as well.  I’m not entirely certain because it isn’t listed anywhere, but I believe it is. This product is the MudMasky Leave-me-on Winter Mask. I’m guessing it is a mask that you leave on. (Not my brilliant deductive skills.)  I’ll have to look up the details before I use it though. It sounds interesting and Mudmasky is one of those brands I’ve seen around but not tried.

My third item was a sample size of the Caudalie Vinosource S.O.S. Thirst Quenching Serum.  I really like Caudalie products. I tend to hoard their sorbet moisturizer.  I’ve tried several of their serums before as well and really liked liked them.  I actually received a tube not that long ago from Look Fantastic in their subscription box. I am always happy to have another Caudalie product on hand and this one I don’t think I’ve actually tried which is always nice to see.

The third full sized item in the December box is an eyeliner from By Me x My Beauty Brand. I’ve not heard of the brand before but I do like that this box is a mix of things I’ve heard about and things I haven’t.  Honestly though, I’m not going to get all that excited about another black eyeliner.  Even when the black eyeliner is my absolute favorite brand (Eyeko actually) I’m still not hugely excited by it. But I will give it a try.

Next up is a sample size of an item I actually have in my shopping cart elsewhere.  It is the La Roche Posay Retinol B3 Serum.  I recently tried Retinol for the first time and really liked the way it worked on my skin so I started looking into trying more retinols.  As La Roche Posay is one of those brands that is really good for sensitive skin, I figured they would be a good place to start.  I’ve used their cleanser routinely as well as their moisturizer and had no problems so I thought the retinol might be good for me as well.  I am happy I now get to try it before I buy the full size.

The last official item in my box this month was the Cetaphil Healthy Glow Daily Cream.  I have friends who swear by Cetaphil and have used it for years.  I remember trying a sample a long time ago and not being terribly impressed.  However it was a long time ago and my skin has changed so what I look for in a moisturizer has changed as well.  Plus this looks as though it is a new product in their skin care line so perhaps I will like this better.

I know some of you have looked at the picture above, seen the small black bag and have spent the entire post waiting to see what is inside. Well wait no longer.  Inside the bag is a little card that thanks me for being a member and then gives what has to be the smallest sample of liquid lipstick I have ever seen.  It is from Giorgio Armani. 

I’ve tried their perfumes but never their makeup.  I’m sure the sample is so small because it is so expensive. But oh my darlings it is tiny.  Adorable.  But tiny. From the swatch it looks to be a fantastic color and perfectly suited to the holiday season.

I’ll have to see how it wears before I decide whether or not it is worth picking up in a full size. I do appreciate the sample actually, even though it is comically tiny. It is a nice, thoughtful thing to add.

But am I going to remain an Allure beauty box customer?

While this box is markedly better than the last two months, I am going to take a break from the Allure Beauty box for a while.  I adored it as a $15 subscription.  Then it offered two to three full sized items each month, usually three and occasionally more.  Now at the higher price they promise three or more full sized items, and have exactly three. Which is what they promised. 

It is however, what they were already providing before the change. So while I like all of the products within the box and I think they are getting better, I don’t think they are quite there yet.  I will be watching the Allure beauty Box every month, checking out the products they offer and seeing how the box changes moving forward.  I hope that in a few months there will be enough change that I can re-subscribe and feel good about the $23 price of the box.  But that time is not now.  For now, I will be letting the subscription lapse. I am not completely closing the door though and will continue to pay attention to them and perhaps return in the future.


La Roche-Posay- ACD

Allure Beauty Box November 2020 unboxing

Recently the Allure Beauty box got a make over.  The spectacular $15 per month box became $23.  As it was a pretty reliably good box at $15 I along with many others were very excited.  The October box was the first box at the new price and it was somewhat disappointing.  The main reason being that the only thing that really changed about the box was the price.  It stayed the same, but just cost more. At a higher price, the spectacular box, became less spectacular.

I decided I was just going to cancel.  When I went to cancel Allure offered me two months at the original price (of $15 instead of $23) to see if they could entice me to stay.  I figured why not. Essentially that is a long winded way of saying that even though this was a $23 box, I only paied $15 for it.  I will also get the December box for $15 and then decide after three months of the new box if it is worth keeping at the new $23 price. So this is the second month of the newly priced box and month two of my three month trial. 

So let’s see how they did this month.

The first item in my November Allure Beauty Box was the Dermelect Self-esteem Beauty Serum. It is full size and retails for $42.  I have tried this serum before and it is very much worth it’s price tag.  This is one of those serums that is suggested for face and neck, but I really just used it on my neck.  I have many other serums for my face, this one, really helped tighten the skin on my neck and I really loved using it. I actually had it on my list of things to pick up during the holiday sales, so I am very happy to have a bottle sent to me in my box. Incidentally if you are looking at sales, they have a 20% with any $50 order with code BFE20, 25% off any $100 order with the code BFE25, and (you guessed it), 35 % off with any $150 order using code BFE35.

The next item I pulled from the box was the Josephine Cosmetics Eye Dazzle liquid eyeshadow in the shade Leona. (retail $30).  I believe this is the second of the three full sized items in the box.  It is a nice bronzy shade on the skin when I tested it out and it seems like it would apply well.  I’ve seen the brand when poking around on the Petit Vour website, but I have never tried it. Which is fine, I like trying out new to me brands. If I like this I will look more into the brand, especially since I know Petit Vour specializes in clean beauty. I think the packaging looks sleek and pretty.

I am not a huge fan of liquid shadows, but I will use them occasionally and I like the ones with square bottoms as they stand up easily which seems to keep them longer or at least not to spill in the drawer.  I have a few from different brands at this point.  The Stila ones I have I generally use to finish out a look generally for parties. But I have several others I’ve gotten in subscription boxes that I never reach for.  I may have to pull them all out and do a liquid eyeshadow test.  I think that all of them are on the metallic scale as this one is, which is why I just consider them toppers.  Nevertheless I will try it out.  Who knows, It may prove to be a favorite.

The third item out if the box was also a full sized item and it was the Manna Kadar Lip Bliss Moisturizing lip mask. Retail is listed at $22 however on the Mana Kadar Site it is listed as $19. That could also be because this is the week the Black Friday sales start.  I’ve tried Manna Kadar products before and some I liked others I didn’t (which is standard with most brands).  I haven’t actually tried their lip mask before, but I am always down to try a new lip mask. As I apply a lip mask everytime I put on a face mask, I tend to use them a lot so I am always happy to see a new one come my way. well if they work I am happy to see them. I’ll have to try this and see.

I am also always happy to see eye masks and there was an eye mask set in this months box as well.  It is the Skinmedica Instant Eye mask.  I have never tried anything from Skinmedica so there is nothing I can compare them to.  I’ve not actually heard of the brand actually.  But I am willing to give them a try. 

This summer I fell in love with eye masks as a way to refresh tired eyes and reduce puffiness quickly during allergy season so I am happy to test out as many brands as possible to find the best brands for me before next allergy season hits.  Thus far Grace and Stella’s energy drink for your eyes eye masks and the Erno Laszlo eye masks are in the lead of that particular race. I look forward to seeing where the Skinmedica Instant Bright Eye Mask places.

Next out of the box is a travel sized bottle of Neogen Dermalogy Real Ferment Micro essence.  I know the spoiler from the Look Fantastic November box featured a product from Neogen but other than that I hadn’t heard of the brand before.  And the November Look Fantastic box is still making it’s way through the postal system to me at the moment. I am interested to know what effects the rice and yeast ferments have on the skin.  I am just starting to incorporate essences into my skin care routine and look forward to giving this one a test. Like everyone else Neogen is having a sale right now, Free shipping with any $30 order plus a free gift when you spend $30. There is also a trial kit of some sort offered when you spend $50. I just ran across it when pulling the site up for this post and thought I’d pass it on. And while I’m at it Look Fantastic is having their pre Black Friday sale with up to 50% off a whole host of brands and products. At the moment they also have a limited edition Black Friday Beauty box for sale. It costs $45 and is worth over $195.

Baut to return to the Allure Beauty Box, the next item inside is one I have used before and absolutely love.  It is the Nature lab Perfect Shine Clarifying Scalp Scrub.  It is a really good scalp scrub.  I tend to use dry shampoo a lot between washes (my favorite being from Klorane in case you were wondering) and I find that a once a week scalp scrub really helps remove all of the residue the dry shampoo can leave behind.  And it sounds silly, but a healthy scalp help creates healthy hair.  This is one of my favorite scalp masks at the moment.  As it also makes my hair super shiny and soft. So I am happy to see it. 

There is a sheet mask in this box and it is from When.  It is the Last Choice sheet mask. (Oddly enough this mask wasn’t on the When site so the link will just take you to their selection of sheet masks) Every Allure beauty box I’ve gotten has had a sheet mask so seeing one isn’t a surprise.  I think I have seen this brand before from them.  I can’t remember what I thought of the mask though, which usually isn’t a good sign.  Still I will give the mask a go and see how I like it. 

Finally there is a moisturizer sample in the box.  It is the Acure Ultra Hydrating 12 hour facial Moisturizer. I like that it comes in a pouch with a spout so it is clearly a step above a foil packet and a lot easier to use.  Especially, since there is enough in the pouch for multiple uses.  Acure and I don’t have the best of relationships. I had a very bad experience with their shampoo and conditioner and have not been impressed by some of their other products.  Perhaps this one will be different.  I will certainly try it and see, perhaps this will be a fantastic product. And trying things you might not pick up on your own is part of the fun of subscription boxes at least for me.

So that was my November Allure Beauty box.  Now there are some very good products in here.  The Dermelect Serum and Naturelab scalp scrub are both in my top tier of products listed for repurchase. And there are several items that I am looking forward to trying.  But in evaluating the box I need to look at it as a whole if I am to decide if I want to keep the box or not. 

The difficulty I am having is that this box is not really substantially different from what it was before the price increase.  I will say it is better than the October box. But it still feels like a really good $15 beauty box and not like a $23 beauty box. I can’t exactly pin point why I feel that way.  Maybe it is because it doesn’t feel like they upgraded the box when they increased the price.  I will say that while I like the mix of products, November’s box isn’t rally convincing me to continue my Allure Beauty Subscription. I will see what arrives in December before I make my final decision, but unless December shows that this is clearly a new and improved box, I don’t think this subscription will be going forward with me into 2021.

Shop Annmarie Gianni Today.

Allure Beauty Box October 2020 Unboxing

The October 2020 Allure Beauty Box

Okay my darlings, buckle up this is going to be an interesting unboxing. The highly anticipated October Allure box has arrived. As you can see above, the box itself has changed. No longer is it the reusable box of yore but a cardboard mailer.

This was the first month of the NEW Allure Beauty Box if you will remember.  Originally It was a $15 subscription box which put it into competition with both Birchbox ($15)  and the Regular IPSY Glam Bag ($12). In October the price of the Allure Beauty Box went up to $23 per month.  With the price increase you are guaranteed six or more products valued at $100 or more (previously 5 products with a $70+ value) and at least three full sized items (previously 2).

While both Boxy Charm and IPSY have $25 boxes, those boxes are all full sized items (5 full sized items).  By contrast, Look Fantastic ($19/ month) has a mix of full and deluxe sample sized items as does GlossyBox ($21/ month).  Since I get BoxyCharm Premium and IPSY Ultimate instead of the regular boxes (and because of the sample and full sized mix) I am going to be comparing the new Allure Box to this month’s Look Fantastic and Glossy Box as they are its closest competitors. Just remember they are both slightly less in cost.

So let’s talk about what arrived this month.

Item number one is the The Nue Co Topical C (full size) (Retail $70). It is a vitamin C powder that you add to a moisturizer or mix with a little water.  According to the little write up in the magazine the powder is supposed to help prevent it from being too heavy on the skin. 

I can’t say I’ve ever had issues with serums being too heavy.  Moisturizers and occasionally oils, yes, but not really serums, but I can see the logic.  If you add it to your moisturizer, it is like you are only layering one product (sort of) onto your skin. I’m game to try it as I do like Vitamin C serums and I have never tried it in powder form. I am just going to have to look it up on the brands website to get more information when I do.  The Allure booklet tells you only what one of their beauty editors thought of it and doesn’t give you a lot of product information.

The next item in the box is the Verso Super Eye Serum (full size) (retail $65).  I like Verso products in general.  I’ve used several before and find it to be a really good brand. I pick them up now and again from Alyaka when they have sales. As far as eye cream goes, it is a good size and one that would take me quite a while to get through.  I have no complaints about that. Speaking of Alyaka, they too have an Advent Calendar out (and I forgot to add it to my advent post yesterday. I knew as soon as I posted I would find more, anyway you can click on the link to see it. It looks kind of amazing and Alyaka specializes in vegan and cruelty free beauty products. The advert with the photo of products is posted at the bottom of this post if you want to get a look at the goodies offered)

Alyaka Beauty Advent Calendar Luxe 2020

The third full sized item is the Static Nails Liquid Glass Lacquer in Irene (full size) (retail $16). It looks to be a nice color and one I will use.  I like nail polishes. As I recently purged several no longer usable nail polishes from my collection I have plenty of space for it. 

However, it does not look full sized.  It may be full sized, but if it is I would take issue with Static Nails.  Since it is hard to get a visual on it by itself, I put it with two other nail polishes.  The Smith and Cult which retails for $18 and which came in a $15 Birch Box and a Nails Inc which came in a Glossy Box. It may be a pretty color, but it does not look full sized. Of course I haven’t tried it. It could be the best nail polish I’ve ever tried where one coat performs unexpected feats of magic. I don’t know and won’t until I try it. Yhis is however an unboxing. I sometimes forget to report back about nail polishes, but this one, I will be remembering to review. As you can tell in some of thes photos, I really need to take off my old polish and repaint them so a review may be coming fairly soon.

Moving on we come to the La Roche-Posay Lipikar Balm AP + Body Cream. It’s a sample so there is no price given for it, but the full 400 mL size is $19.99 and the sample is 15 mL so basic math gives us a value of $0.75. 

Now, I like La Roche-Posay products.  Their sunscreen is really good and very lightweight on the face and their cleanser is amazing for anyone with sensitive skin.  Well, it is good in general, even if you don’t have sensitive skin. (Incidentally their 20% off sale starts tomorrow, I’ll post reminders, but on 10/21 use the code EXCLUSIVE20, on 10/22-23 use code HURRY, and on 10/24 use the code SURPRISE to get 20% plus two deluxe samples.)

Enjoy 4 deluxe samples of your choice on orders $65+ Bonus! Free makeup pouch with orders $95+. Valid: 10/15-10/20.

Since you can now pick up an array of the brand’s products in Walgreens I tend to run out and pick it up when I find myself low on cleansers and don’t have another one lined up.  It is consistently good. I have even used this moisturizer before. 

This exact same size was given out as a free sample from Walgreens when the brand first started being sold there. It is a good moisturizer.  I prefer it on my body rather than my face as I find it a little heavy on the face, but it is a good product. As Allure claims that they are the box that sends products you can’t find anywhere else,  I can’t say I am wowed by its presence.

in this box

The same goes for the Dr Jartt Ceramidin Cream sample (again basic math $48 for full sized 50 ml Tube, sample size is10 mL with a value of $9.60) .  It’s a nice cream.  I’ve tried it before.  I’ve even had a sample of it from Allure before.

compared to previous sample

Admittedly the previous sample was a bit smaller in size.  But I have had so many samples of this cream from so many different sources that I have lost count of the number of times I’ve used or passed on these tubes of cream. Because it has been repeated so many times by so many different boxes, it doesn’t feel all that special.  And quite frankly it is an okay cream that I will probably not be picking up in the full sized versions any time soon. As this was their first higher priced box, I would have expected them to try to make it a little more special.

I will say that the Sigma Liquid Lipstick in Venom did feel special (full size $20, sample $4).  It is a beautiful color and I can not wait to try out the formula. I’m okay with it being a sample size. 

Would I have preferred the full size?  Of course.  If given the chance I would have made the lippie a full sized and the nail polish a travel sized.  As the nail polish already looks travel sized it probably would have looked ridiculous any smaller though.

My next items was the Wilma Schumann Hydrating Collagen Eye Pads (1 pair)($18 for 5 sets, 1 pair is $3.60).  I like eye masks and I am always willing to have another pair to try.  I have no complaints about this product. I look forward to using it and hope it turns out to be something I enjoy using.

The Rusk PUREMIX Native Fig Replenishing Shampoo & Conditioner I sort of have an issue with (at Ulta it is $26 for the set – here the math gets fun, 12 ounces is 354.882 mL the shampoo and conditioner are both 12 ounces so combined for $26 you get 709.762 mL. There is 10 Ml of shampoo and another 10 of conditioner in the foil packet which means the foil packet is valued at $0.73).

Again this is nothing against the brand.  I have used many Rusk Products before and I enjoy almost anything fig so that’s not the problem.  The problem is that it is a foil packet. 

First, of all I hate foil packets of shampoo and conditioner in general.  For me there is no middle line with that. There is no ‘well it is a really pricey product and this is a cost effective way to try it.’ No, I’ll let you get away with that for serums and well most any other product really, just not shampoo and conditioner.

I don’t care how good the dotted line is, opening them in the shower with wet hands is always a pain so if you don’t remember to cut them open before you get in the shower it just becomes a struggle.  And you have to separate the shampoo and conditioner first, otherwise you end up squirting both into your hand at the same time.  However, when you separate them, sometimes the packets tear weirdly and you end up with shampoo dribbling out of the side of the packet.  And then you have too much product to use in one sitting and if you try to keep it for your next shower so you don’t waste it then sometimes the edges dry out and get nasty so you just throw it away, or someone else uses the shower, ends up setting their shampoo on top of your semi flat foil packet thinking you just accidentally left the empty in the shower, thus causing a spluge of product on the wall.

No, no shampoo and conditioner foil packets.

I can tolerate foil packets for other products, but absolutely hate them for shampoo and conditioner.

But pet peeve aside, when you get a foil packet, it always feels like an extra.  Something they threw in as a bonus item. Now, it is the eight product in the box and technically could be considered as an addition.  It is listed as an item on the site and advertised as such not as a bonus.  It is even listed as a sponsored item. 

While the value is there, the included products having a value of $169.68, and there were more than the six promised items and technically three were full sized, it still felt like a $15 box and not a $23 one. 

By contrast Look Fantastic had six items this month and Glossy Box had five. These links will take you to my reviews of the boxes if you want to do a more indepth comparison of items. The value of the $21 Glossy Box was $91.44 and the $19 Look Fantastic Box had a value of $76.11. Despite this, both Glossy Box and Look Fantastic felt far more lux than this upgraded $23 box.

It isn’t one major thing, but a lot of little things that make me feel this way.  To be honest, once I received the box, I went ahead and called to cancel before the next box.  They did offer me a deal.  For the next two months I would get the old price.  So November and December I would receive the same box for $15 instead of the upgraded fee.  I suppose they are planning to get better and hope to convince me to stay when the deal is over.

I accepted the terms and they charged November’s box right away so I have prepaid ($15) for November.  I will then pay December regularly (still at $15).  That will give me two more boxes to decide if it is worth keeping around. As I was planning to reassess my subscriptions in December/January, I am fine with that. If they step up in the next two months, I may keep the subscription, if they don’t then I may cancel.

However, an interesting thing happened shortly after I had my conversation with Allure about my subscription.  I received an e-mail saying that the new price of $23 will take effect December 1st.  I don’t know if this means that enough people cancelled that they had to rethink the box or what.  I know that anyone else I talked to about their box this month was not happy so I imagine there was a lot of push back.

Personally, if I was increasing the price of a subscription I would make sure to knock it out of the park the first few months so people would get comfortable with the new price increase. Mostly because there are a lot of people who can justify a $15 box but who might be skeptical of something over $20.  This was not an out of the park hit.  There was no home run. And I will spend the next two months with a very critical eye to the box to see if it will be worth the price increase or if this box will not be following me into the new year.

Alyaka Beauty Advent Calendar Luxe 2020

Allure Beauty Box September 2020 Unboxing

This was an interesting beauty box to open this month. The entire time I was opening it and taking items out I couldn’t help but remember that this is the last of its kind. Currently the Allure Beauty Box is $15 ($16.80 with tax). In October they will start costing $23 (I’m guessing between $24 and $25 with tax). I find this really interesting. $20 seems to be some sort of threshold in beauty boxes. Under twenty is one category, over twenty is something else. It should be an interesting change to watch. They will be going from the realm of Birchbox to costing more than Glossy Box and Look Fantastic but slightly less than Boxycharm and IPSY Plus. I have no doubt the cost was carefully chosen. It will be interesting to see how they compare as they move forward.

But what does the last $15 Allure Beauty Box hold?

Seven items this month as it turns out.

The first item is a full sized Wander Beauty mascara called unlashed. It retails for $24. While I like a lot of Wander Beauty Products (Foundation and Eyeshadow) the last mascara I tried from them was kind of average. It wasn’t noticeably spectacular. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good mascara. It didn’t flake or smear. It was a good working mascara. It just wasn’t noticeable for lengthening or volume or curling. It wasn’t a stand out, just a good solid chorus member. I don’t object to having a good solid chorus member on my team. And if this proves to be another good trustworthy stalwart product, I have no objections welcoming it into my collection. The other Wander Mascara I have is currently on its way out so I can compare them before it goes.

One of the amusing things about this box is that two of the items it contains are also currently in my empties bin. The first is the La Roche Posay Anthelios 50 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid. I had a tube exactly this size before I started trying out the Polaar sunscreen. It was enough to cover my face for two or three days actually before the tube ran out. I was going to review it when I did my August empties bin but I forgot to write that post so next week there will be an August and September Empties bin post. Incidentally, today is the last day of their fall sale if you are interested in their products. I’ll past the code below.

Fall Sale: Enjoy 20% Off all Orders + 2 Deluxe Sample with Orders $65+. Use Code: FALLSALE. Valid: 9/18- 9/22.

I really liked this sunscreen. It was light enough that I didn’t mind applying it to my face. It sat well under my makeup as well. Interestingly it is recommended that you shake the product before applying. Even though it is a tube, you need to squeeze it a little and mix it up before applying as it does tend to separate in the tube. I honestly don’t mind having another tube of this sun screen to keep on hand. It will probably end up in my purse though.

The second product that is also in my empties bin is the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm. It is the travel size. That is exactly the same size I had before and I was more than happy to see it reappear. It is one of my favorite cleansing balms. It makes my skin fantastically soft and delightfully clean. And it takes so little to remove an entire day’s makeup that it will last a while. So I am thrilled to see it. Also this is the last day of an Elemis Promotion as well in case you are interested. Get a Free 3-Piece Pro-Collagen PM set with orders of $150+ with code DREAM1 or Size up with $250+ and code DREAM2 at Elemis. (Valid 9/19 – 9/22)

This month I received an ELF Highlighting Brush in my box (full sixe $4). The options were between Elf and NYX (the NYX was the Pro Contour Brush). I have to say I was very impressed by the quality of the brush.

It actually felt like a better quality brush than the $24 brush I received in the Boxyluxe box this month. Admittedly I haven’t tried either out so that test is still to come. But for a $4 brush I was floored by the quality feel of it. I’ll be testing it out this week and letting you know with my makeup bag this week how it performed.

Receive 10% off when you place your order through the e.l.f. app and redeem code ELFAPP at checkout

Next there was an eyeliner from Cleo Noir. The full size costs $18. I am not sure if this is a full sized or not. While it seems a little short for a full sized eyeliner, it is a twist up and they always seem to be a little short. There is a lot of product in it so it will last a while even if it isn’t full sized. And if you are wondering why I’m not doing my usual ‘sigh, its an eyeliner’ it is because it is not another black eyeliner.

Those I seem to be stockpiling incase there is an eyeliner emergency. Like several punk bands losing their luggage on the way to a festival. This is a purple eyeliner. I haven’t tried the brand before and I am am looking forward to giving a purple eyeliner a go. This week’s shadow palette is a bit more on the neutral side, but next week I may choose a more colorful one just so I can give this a trial run.

There was a sheet mask in my Allure Beauty box this month as well. I think most month’s there is some sort of sheet mask. This month I received the Glam up Revitalizing Japanese Sake Sheet Mask. (it costs $9.98 for a ten pack). It was one of two masks I could have received. The other was a Soothing Aloe from the same brand. As I’ve tried soothing aloe masks before (and in face hace one in my masking drawer) but never tried a Sake based mask, I am okay with my option. And I am always willing to try out a new sheet mask.

Finally we come to item number seven. It is the Waterless Dry Conditioner. Now me and dry shampoo are pretty tight. Once again I am almost out of my favorite Klorane and need to reorder. I have however never used dry conditioner.

NEW! Klorane’s Award Winning Dry Shampoo NOW in Jumbo Size!

Part of me is interested, and part of me thinks this might be a bad idea. Dry shampoo takes the greasy look out of unwashed hair by absorbing the excess oils. Conditioner in general provides shine and body to hair. I’m not so sure about adding shine on a no wash day. It might undo the anti grease factor the dry shampoo achieved.

Or it could be a fabulous new product I decide to add to my hair care collection. I don’t know. I do know it is going to be interesting to try out. It is a little odd though that in the pamphlet provided it shows both the waterless dry shampoo and the conditioner and labels them step one and step two. I think you have to use a dry shampoo before using a dry conditioner. At least that is my take away. I’ll have to visit the website before spritzing away.

Over all I am pretty pleased with this box. I know that the travel size of the Elemis Cleansing balm is around $15. (It may be $16). Which means that I paid for the Elemis and got everything else for free on top of it. At least that’s how my brain sorts it, because I would have just ordered it for the Elemis and be happy with whatever came with it if I am being truly honest. However, this month it also came with several other fun new things to try out so I am really happy with this as a $15 subscription box. But as I said at the beginning, this is the last time this box will be $15. October 1st it becomes a $23 Beauty box. Expectations will shift and things could get very interesting.It should be fun to see.

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Trying out the Akar Skin Balance Toning Mist

I’ll be honest, most of my thoughts involving toner include things like ‘I really need to pick up some reusable cotton rounds instead of using the disposable ones’ or ‘I don’t like the scent of this toner.’ And of course there is the, ‘wow my makeup remover really left a lot behind if that is what’s coming off on the toner cotton round.’

It is the skin care product that in the past I have not given a lot of thought to. Which is strange really when I think about it.  There have been times where I have skipped moisturizer or serums, but I never skip toner.  I have been washing my face and then using toner since middle school. Admittedly then it was mostly an acne fighting toner, but it still counts.

Perhaps it is that I now have more acne from wearing a mask in the heat than I have had since my teen years that has caused me to think about this.  Either way, think about this I have and I am starting to pay more attention to toners.

Now for those of you wondering why bother with toners at all, I was always taught that they remove the last traces of the day from your face.  They take away whatever dirt, excess oils or even any residue left behind by your face wash. It is essentially the tag team partner for the face wash. When used in the morning it gives you a clean canvas for whatever you put on during the day and at night it takes everything off so that you can sleep without whatever life put on your face sinking in over night. (or clear the path for your night time products).  Then of course there are the ingredients included in the mix that are supposed to do something other than just take off the day.  Each product is different. 

According to the product page for the Akar Balance Toning mist

Deemed as the “Holy Water” by Allure, spray your way to glowing, healthy skin. This non-sticky Rose and Neroli scented mist sets gently into the skin, providing deep hydration, improving overall elasticity, while simultaneously keeping the pH value of the skin’s acid mantle layer at the optimum level. Salicylic acid from White Willow Bark is both anti-microbial and exfoliating, helping prevent build-up in pores as well as acne-related issues. Stem cell extracts from the rare Saffron flower contain antioxidants and carotenoids which aids the epidermis in repair and regeneration. Last but not least, Balance enables greater absorption of nutrients by lowering the skin’s surface tension, which means that all the good stuff – in this toner, and everything you apply next – will be fully absorbed, right into your skin.

That seems like a lot for this toner and to be honest, I am not entirely certain how to actually test many of those claims.  But let’s go through what I am capable of testing at home.

First of all, it is a spray.  To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of spray toners. I’ve used them before, but it isn’t my preferred method.  I really do prefer that I dispense it onto the cotton round and then apply it to my face rather than spritzing my face first and then wiping it around. I will say that it is a very fine mist and sprays out nicely. And the spray is not a deal breaker.

The rose and neroli scent was interesting. For me I think it was a little odd mostly because I tend to like perfumes with neroli in them.  It is a scent that I like.  (For those not familiar with it, the scent is slightly orang-y – like the fruit not the color – but not overly sweet, more of a tart orange). It does blend well with the rose and it is a lovely scent.  However combined with the spray application it made me feel as though I was spraying perfume on my face. I knew I wasn’t, but it sort of felt like I was.

Also, it is a sticky spray.  Not oh my goodness I’m coated in honey sticky but tacky to the touch. I didn’t mind this all that much, especially since the description listed it. It was relatively easy to get used to thought.

But it is really all about the effect on the skin.  Now I have been getting more break outs recently.  I did find that with this spray, the blemishes that erupted weren’t as red and painful and tended to heal more quickly with less scarring. With the exception of the places where the mask connected to my face (where I tend to get an outline of clogged pores if I wear it in the heat) I did notice I had less clogged pores appearing on my face as I used this toner.

To be honest, it was a very good toner.  My skin did like it and it did really keep the irritation down on my break outs.  Personally I’m attributing that to the willow bark. And despite my early qualms I did enjoy using it. 

Would I enjoy using it again?  Absolutely. 

Do I think that it works so much better than my regular toners that I would be willing to pay the $55 price tag on a regular basis? No. I do not.

I understand that some of the ingredients, like saffron are quite expensive.  I have a family recipe that calls for saffron that I make once a year and I am always stunned by its price when I have to buy it. So I understand why this toner is so expensive.  My regular toners are between $5 and $10 (generally speaking Thayers and Pixi products).  Occasionally I will splurge and try out a toner in a higher price range, there are several that I really do like that are higher priced. However, for me to pay $55 for a toner on a regular basis, it has to be a lot better than my standard toners.  While I am willing to admit that it is a bit better than my other toners, it is not far enough above them in function to justify the price.

Will I keep this on my list of products to look out for if there is a skin care sale?  Absolutely.  If there is a sale that knocks $10-$15 off the price I would scoop this up in a heartbeat. I would then use every drop. It is a great product.  It is just slightly over priced for what I feel I get out of it.

Would I feel differently if it weren’t a spray? I don’t believe so.  I really think that it comes down to a benefits versus price scale.  Truthfully if it were $15 less I would be willing to forget about the spray (and slightly perfume-y scent) and purchase this anyway. Perhaps if I did buy a full sized and saw benefits over a longer period of time, I would feel differently.  This sample sized toner spray that came in my August Allure Box lasted two weeks. It contained 1.5 mL worth of product. The full size is 70 mL.  So there is the full size would last a little over a year and a half.

There is something to be said for that, however the little expiration jar on the back of the sample sized Akar bottle claims the product expires in 6 months.  I don’t know if the larger bottle has the same expiration date.  If it does, I don’t know if I could use the product completely before it became expired.  I think I would have to look into that before making a purchase.  If it didn’t expire in under 12 to 18 months than I could almost see the price being justified.

While my thrifty soul will still be holding out for a sale, I will be looking into the expiration date as well.  Meanwhile it was a lovely glass bottle that I enjoyed seeing in my skin care line up and enjoyed using.  I was glad it came in my subscription box and I am now adding it to my empties bin.  Perhaps it will return, perhaps it won’t, but it was a very good product to receive in my Allure Beauty box.




Allure Beauty Box August 2020 Unboxing

August 2020 Allure Beauty Box

Okay, I’ll admit.  I caved.  I kept hearing from friends and family how good the Allure Beauty box was that I had to try it.  It didn’t help that last month BoxyCharm was disappointing. And when people start comparing a $15 box to a $25 one, I tend to take notice, even if they don’t have the same parameters (Boxy Charm is supposed to contain all full sized items, Allure does not).

So I signed up for the Allure Beauty Box.  It is currently $15 per month ($16.46 with tax when all is said and done).  In the box you receive 5-7 Allure-approved products curated by our beauty editors, discount codes for up to 35% off beauty products, and a mini magazine filled with editor tips on how to use the products.  This month there were two full sized products in my box. The mini-mag is mostly a pamphlet with a testimonial about the products in the box from the Allure staff.

The price and products will be changing soon though.  In October they are giving their box a shake up.  The price will increase to $23 (I’m guessing a little over $24 with tax). The improved box will feature at least six products each month, valued at $100+, with three or more full-size items in every box, exclusive opportunities to get your favorite luxury and indie brands at members-only prices,  Special offers for our limited-edition boxes,  and access to members-only events with Allure editors and beauty experts.

The $23 price will put them just below the Boxy Charm Base Box and IPSY Glam Bag Plus in price. While both of those boxes feature five full sized items, this promises at least three full sized items out of the six.  I have to say rather than be concerned about the slight price increase, I am intrigued to see what happens.  It’s a bit like watching a sneak attack and I have to say if Allure keeps the quality of their products when they increase price and sizing, they might just be able to take a bite out of Boxy.

In fact, two of the items offered this month are the main reason that I decided to try out Allure.  The first is the Erno Laszlo Sea Mud Deep Cleansing bar.  It is one of their classic products and I admit, I have tried it before and really enjoyed it.  Even though it is smaller than the full sized bar, it is not a small hotel sized throw away sample either. It is a good sized bar.  In addition Allure Subscribers get a 20% off code should I decide I need to purchase a full sized bar.  (or anything really as the code is just 20% off an order from the erno laszlo site).

The second item that I decided me on the box was the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum.  I received a couple of foil packets from Sulwhasoo before.  I know one was a moisturizer and the other a serum.  It was a while back (like several years) and I don’t think it was this serum.  I do remember thinking it was amazing and lamenting that at the time my finances were still recovering from a move and I couldn’t afford to pick up a full sized product.  Now of course I can’t remember which of the products I liked so much.  This is why notes are important. And one of the reasons I really wanted this box.

The third item in my Allure box this moth was a full sized Pixi Rose Oil Blend. I have to say I have really been liking oils recently.  I can only use them at night because of the summer sweat factor but I have been using the Malin+Goetz Facial oil for a while now at night and absolutely adore it.  As the weather cools I might expand my use of oils. 

I routinely use Pixi’s various toners (and eyeshadows, seriously nice eyeshadows), but I haven’t tried many of their other skin care products so I am very happy to have not only a Pixi oil to try but a full size so I can give it a full month long trial to see how my skin reacts over time.

The second full sized item is a highlighter from the brand Floss.  I’ve tried their lip glosses and found them nice, but I’ve never tried anything else from the brand.  According to the editor’s blurb in the mini-mag it is supposed to provide a shimmery glow rather than looking like you put glitter on your face.  Since the light glow is kind of my goal with highlighters, I am happy to give it a try.

There was also an H2O+ Hydration Sensitive Gel Cream Moisturizer in this month’s box.  I’ve heard good things about the brand H2O and I generally find that Gel Cream Moisturizers really work well in the warmer months as something about that formula just seems to work with the heat and humidity.  Well at least the good ones do.  I’ll have to schedule this for a trial to see how it works.

The sixth item in my box is a primer, so you know I was happy to see it.  It is the Whish Botanical Primer to be exact.  While not a full sized product it is large enough that I can definitely get a feel for the product and decide if a full sized version needs to be added to my dressing table.  I’ve tried Whish hand lotion before and found it was absolutely gorgeous on the skin.  I didn’t realize they made makeup products, but I look forward to trying it out.

Finally there was a seventh item in my box and it was a sheet mask from Looks & Melli.  It is a brightening mask and as I have never met a mask I am not willing to try out, I am happy to have it.  I’ve never heard of the brand before so it is completely new to me. 

I have to say there were some really good products in my Allure Beauty Box this month.  And I know I mentioned it with the Erno Laszlo cleansing bar, but each of the products came with a discount code as well ranging from 15% to 20% off of a purchase. Given that many of the items in this month’s box are pretty pricy, I really appreciate the extra discount. And as always I appreciate the ability to try products before committing to a rather pricy purchase.

And yes I am also deliciously anticipating watching what happens as Allure goes up in price and expands their range, leaving the Birchbox territory and edging into Boxy Charm’s realm.  Not completely of course, but given the price range, comparisons will be inevitable.  Given the recent disappointing Boxy Charm boxes it will be interesting to see what changes and what stays the same in the subscription box world.  Quite frankly I was already thinking about canceling either my base or premium, I just hadn’t decided which.  A decent Allure box, could make that decision much easier.


Hint