Birchbox February 2021 Unboxing

I know some of you are reading this and thinking, wait didn’t you just do a Birchbox unboxing?  I did, and thank you for remembering. The January Birchbox was delayed so I reviewed it quite late.  This month’s Birchbox came in on time.  Typically they are sent very early in the month.  For those that don’t know Birchbox is a $15 per month subscription.  If you purchase a six month subscription the price drops to $14 and if you agree to a full year of Birchbox then the cost drops to $13.  While I had this box a while ago and cancelled, I am currently signed up for the full year and this is my fourth month of the subscription.  In previous months I have to say I am happy with this being a $13 per month subscription.  I think I might be less happy if I was paying the full $15.

Each month on the 27th subscribers can log in and choose from several options.  You can choose one of two curated boxes, you can choose one item in your box and let them choose the others based on your beauty profile, you can choose to exchange your box for the one full sized item they offer or if you don’t like any of the options you can pay your subscription box price and just  put it toward a purchase in their store. While that sounds like a lot, for the first three months, when I logged in to make my selection the full sized item was always sold out as was at least one of the box choices which was somewhat frustrating.

This month there was no offered full sized item and surprisingly both box options were available.  So this month I chose their Clean Beauty Curated box.

I’ll be honest, the reason I chose it was because of the Bare Minerals Bounce and Blur Blush in Mauve Sunrise. I saw it, clicked the button and then thought, “I should probably look at what else was in the box.” I did and I liked the other items so I kept the selection. 


This blush feels like a cream when you touch it but applies like a powder on the face and is fantastic color.  I love Bareminerals blushes and am so happy to have one regardless of the size. They are just a great makeup brand. So I was thrilled.

I was also pleased with the Naturelab Tokyo Perfect Repair leave In treatment. I used up a full size of this during the summer actually and found it was excellent.  It was light weight and never got sticky in the hair no matter how high the heat and humidity rose.  It was an excellent product and I am happy to have a travel sized bottle of it. 

I have gone through an entire large size of the Australian Pink Clay Porerefining face mask before as well and really enjoy the mask.  It is one of those clay masks that is so fabulous in the summer time because it cools as it dries so you feel very refreshed after wearing it – along with all of the skin benefits as well. This is always a mask I am happy to see, but I may hold off on using it for a while as I work through other open products.

While I have tried many Balance Me products, I have not tried the Congested Skin Serum.  Balance me and I have a strange relationship.  I like the products and I enjoy using them, except for the scent.  It is almost always the scent of them that gets me.  The last two products I tried I really liked and they worked excellently well, but I just couldn’t get past the scent to use them on a daily basis.  I haven’t opened this serum yet, but I am sure it will work just as well as every other product in their line.  I just have my fingers crossed that this one has a scent I like.

My final item was the Too Cool For School Egg Mellow Cream.  Now I have seen this cream flit in and out of subscription boxes yet somehow it has never landed in one of mine.  After seeing it around for so long I am happy that I finally managed to get a tube to try out. Hopefully it will perform well and end up on my list of moisturizers to try in the full size.  Here’s hoping.

So that was my February Birchbox.  I have to say that thus far it has been the best one I have received this far.  I don’t know if supply systems have had their issues worked out or if somehow the fates aligned or what, but I really enjoyed this box. I like the items in it and I was not frustrated by my lack of options when I went to make my selection. It is a nice mix with a mask, a serum, a moisturizer one makeup item and a hair care product. While technically that does mean there are three skin care items in the box, they are all from different categories so I don’t mind it. All in all, this, my darlings, was an excellent month.

If you are looking to stock up on skin care, either for you or someone else, then you might want to look into Lovely Skin. They carry hundreds of brands and are currently having a Valentine’s day sale from now through February 15th. I love ordering from them as I have never had issues with their shipping and they have a great selection of products.

20% Off Valentine’s Day Sale + Free $30 Dermalogica Travel-Size Multivitamin Power Firm with $125 Site Purchase


Underclub February 2021 Unboxing

Just in time for Valentine’s day

I think the Underclub is very quickly becoming one of my favorite subscriptions.  For those that don’t know Underclub is an underwear subscription.  They have several options in their subscriptions depending on if you want one set each month or two and if you want their regular subscription or their premium one.  I am in the regular subscription and I receive one item each month.  My subscription price is $15 per month and the underwear is mailed out at the first of the month. 

I love the double bagging of the product

This is my second month of this subscription.  The first month was a lovely black set of underwear that had a subtle detail.  While I was impressed with the quality of the undergarment when it arrived, I have now washed and worn it several times and I have to say the quality still remains.  There are no loose strings or coming apart at the seams. I was very impressed.

So how does my second month stack up to the first?

Very well actually.  This month I received a pair called Celeste from Peche.  When I looked the company up, and managed to convince the computer that I did not in fact mean peach, I found the company offered a pair almost identical to the set I received (different color) for $30. Which is of course double what I paid in my subscription.

package rumpled pre washing

Before I wear any new underwear, I wash them.  I know they come sealed not only in the outer packaging, but inside an inner plastic package as well, but I still always wash underwear before putting them on.  Before washing these looked very nice, if a bit rumbled from shipping. 

There were no loose strings, all the seams were straight and correct and there was no damage to the underwear.  I know that sounds like a lot of inspection, but I wanted to make certain they were in good condition before they went into the wash.

lace and stitching detail

Both the material of the garment, as well as the lace decoration are soft material that will wear well against the skin.  According to the label the body of the underwear is 76% nylon and 24 % spandex and the lace is 82 % nylon and 18% spandex. It is also a lovely lavender color. (The camera tended to wash it out to a pale pink, but id you look in the top photo you can see it is lavender).

I was actually pleasantly surprised actually.  Usually I expect everything in February to be geared towards pinks and reds.  The pastel lavender was a very pleasant surprise.  Not that I don’t like pinks and reds, but it was nice to see something different. Although they do have valentine’s day packs avaialble.

Valentines Day Sale: Toast Pink / Red set both Bikini & Thong, Electric U thong 3-pack, Monique Morin packs – both Black & Infinite and Strappy Black 3-Pack


When looking in the member store I spotted the celeste in both the Curvy Weekender Three Pack and in the Best Week Ever Seven Pack. Both sets looked really nice actually. One of the reasons that I chose this underwear subscription out of the multitude of underwear subscriptions available is because of the size selection.  For many of the subscriptions I was simply just not within their size range.  For the Underclub I looked at their size chart, realized I fit into it and joined.  I still expected the underwear to end up being cut a little small, but it is not.  Both last month and this month fit perfectly. 

For me if I know I am wearing pretty underwear I feel pretty all day.  In fact, underwear and perfume are the only two things that can do that for me. If those two items make me feel good then it doesn’t matter if the wind swirled through my hair and the wings of my eyeliner are lopsided, I feel pretty. 

Given that I love subscriptions, an underwear subscription is a no brainer. I had ‘an underwear subscription’ on my list of rewards for weight loss from the very beginning, figuring that at some point I would lose enough weight to be in range for one of the subscriptions and then I could feel pretty on a monthly basis.

I love the fact that Underclub’s sizing lets me do that now.  I may be losing weight for my health, but I like feeling good about myself at whatever weight I am.  I shouldn’t have to be thin to enjoy either my body or pretty underwear and I love that Underclub’s front page tag line: Designer Underwear for Every Body, Every Month, makes me feel included instead of like an afterthought. I also love that the women modeling the underwear also come in a variety of sizes as well and don’t all fit into the ‘standard underwear model’ category of woman.

A good pair of underwear makes me feel pretty, being included instead of feeling like an afterthought makes it feel fun. Add in the fact that I like the underwear I’ve received, and I can see myself keeping this subscription for a long time to come. Personally, I can’t wait to see what they send my way next month.

Add a FREE bralette to any new subscription with code FREEBRA

Oh La La Cherie

The Makeup Bag: January 29th, 2021

The Makeup bag used January 23rd – 29th, 2021

This week’s makeup bag was a very interesting one.  Upon first glance it looks like I went minimalist, which I sort of did.  Mostly it was a minimalism dictated by the Ofra Face Palette since most of my products came from it this week. But we’ll get to that in a bit.  We are going to start from the primer and work our way out today. 

The primer I used this week was one of my long time favorites.  It was the Urban Decay Optical Illusion Primer.  I tend to use it in the spots where I really want my pores filled and my coverage flawless. 

On me it works like a dream, and because I tend to use it only on my nose and cheeks where I have the most noticeable pores, One pump is all it takes for me. I really like the argan oil in the product as it makes my skin feel soft and nourished.   I especially like using this primer under lighter foundation products as it means that the light coverage products don’t have to work as hard to look fabulous. 

Bare freshly washed face on the left, primer only on the skin on the right

This week’s foundation product was the wet ‘n wild barefocus Tinted hydrator. It is a tinted moisturizer that gives sheer to medium coverage.  I was very impressed by t’s performance and look forward to using this product repeatedly.  Most of my tinted hydrators are tinted for my skin when it is in the summer and autumn.  I deliberately picked this one up because I wanted to have a shade that was more for my skin color in the winter.  I wasn’t certain if this would be the correct shade but I really liked how it worked out on my skin this week.  The link will take you to the full review of the barefocus, but the end result is that I really liked it.

Just the primer on the left and the foundation over primer on the right

This of course moves us into the Ofra Good to Go Mini’s palette. This palette provided my bronzer, blush highlight and eyeshadow this week. While I have used Ofra’s Blush and highlight before, the bronzer and eyeshadows were new to me. It was kind of a mixed bag for me actually.  The link will take you to the full review but here are the basics. The blush and highlighter performed well.  As I’ve used those before I quite frankly expected them to be good products.  The bronzer too performed really well.  It was when we got to the shadows that things became a little iffy.  With the mattes the formulas were nice but the colors weren’t my favorites.  The shimmers I fell in love with.  I absolutely adore the old gold shade called Ambition. 

I really like the fact that the pans can all be taken out and replaced.  Quite frankly I would replace all of the mattes.  The formula was good, the colors weren’t.  I did like having so many of my products in one place though.  I think that if I were traveling, this would be a good face kit to travel with because of the face products. I would just need to replace the mattes prior to traveling or add a second shadow palette into the travel kit.


The Ofra Palette came in this month’s Boxy Charm premium as did the two Fenty Products that I used this week.  The Setting powder I used was Fenty Beauty Pro Filter.  I used the shade Cashew.  The tone of the powder is really good on my, however it is a little darker than I need right now.  I looked very tan this week.  I think that I will put this powder back in my makeup drawer and take it out in the spring.  I think it’s darker shade would help deepen some of my winter foundations as my skin starts to tan for spring and I think that in the summer time it will be the absolutely perfect setting powder shade for me.  Right now it is a hair too dark.  The undertones however suit my skin perfectly so I am pleased to have this around.


The mascara I used this week was also a Fenty Product (the Full Frontal lifting and curling mascara to be precise) and also from January’s Boxycharm Premium.  I have to admit I pulled the wand out of the tube and I was not all that impressed.  Then I used the mascara and I was very impressed with the product’s performance.  Fenty is one of those brands that is very hit or miss for me.  Both the powder and the mascara were definite hits for me. I know the pictures below make me feel a little crosseyed to look at but the with mascara and without mascara pics are quite dramatic. I really look forward to getting a lot out of this mascara.  It lengthened beautifully and didn’t flake out at all through the day.  It was definitely a winner.

This week I kept my RealHer eyebrow pencil in the bag and again enjoyed using it.  I figured I had so many new products to try that I ought to keep a couple of my excellently performing ones in the bag to balance it out.  Hence why the RealHer Eyebrow pencil remained and I added the Urban decay Optical Illusion.  Some days, you need to keep a few trusted friends close.

This week I also went with a tried and true for my lip product.  I chose it not only because I love the formula and the color, but because it was an Ofra Liquid lip.  I figured if I was going Ofra-tastic with the face palette, I might as well add in the lips as well. So I did.  As always this liquid lip performed beautifully.  I always enjoy using it.  This shade is Pasadena and is one that I will be repurchasing (along with several of it’s friends) once I am finished with it.

And that is it.  I know short and sweet this week.  Also it was a pretty good week.  Most of my products were new to me items. And I believe the wet ‘n Wild product is actually just new to the market as well as new to me.  With the exception of the eyeshadow shades there was very little disappointment this week and a whole lot of cheering. Let’s hope next week is just as fabulous.

Good to Go with Ofra Cosmetics

The Ofra Cosmetics Good to Go Palette

This week I used the Ofra Good to Go Mini Palette in my makeup bag.  It contains a blush, a bronzer a large pan with four highlighters and six eyeshadows.  Of the eyeshadows three are mattes and three are shimmers. 

We’ll start with the highlighters.  Highlighters are what I automatically think of when I think of Ofra and these did not disappoint.  Because there are four you could go as soft and natural glow as you wanted or you could go for a really stunning highlight. 

Ofra Names

The four colors were well chosen and I really enjoyed mixing and matching with a little blending a well.  It is a really nice pan to have and four shades well chosen.

Highlighters, to swatch I started with the darker gold at the top and went clockwise around the circle

I have also used OFRA’s blush before and this blush in the shade Intentions was just like the others I have in my collection (although a different shade)  It is a very buildable formula.  I did not have clown cheeks with this blush as long as I went in with a soft hand.

I found myself tapping off the brush before applying it to my cheeks mostly because the shade is a bit bright on me at this time of year. There was little fall out even when I did this with this blush. while not my favorite shade for this time of year, it ended up working really well for me.

Blush and bronze

Oddly the bronzer was the right shade for this time of year.  I would advise going lightly into the pan as it is highly pigmented, however it does blend out well so you don’t end up with one dark stripe across your face.  It was a very nice product and one I really enjoyed using this week.  It also made me want to look into more Ofra Bronzers.  While this shade was nice, I would like to try one with a slightly warmer tone.

And now we reach the eyeshadows.  Let’s start with the mattes.  They are Clean Slate, Reset and Ready. The shadows all went on smoothly and without any problems to be honest.  They were buttery soft and while they kicked up powder in the pan one tap and they applied well to the eye with no real fall out.   There was no patchiness that I noticed. 

the Mattes: L to R: Clean Slate, Reset and Ready

My issues were all about color with the mattes.  Clean Slate and Reset both disappeared on me with Reset only leaving a slightly orangey jaundiced look behind.  They both make wonderful bases for other colors to sit on top of, but on their own both colors more or less blended right into my skin and disappeared.  The big difference is that one looks a little lighter than the other. The red tones of Ready showed up, but it was a reddish shade that had a bit too much orange in it to suit my skin tones.  The mattes were simply not colors I would have chosen.  The formula of the mattes was quite lovely though so I probably will pick up some Ofra matte eyeshadows in the future.  Just not these shades.

Shimmers: L to R: Fresh, Ambition, Goals

The three shimmers however are a different story.  With a brush, they don’ show up at all. Just don’t bother with the brush.  Applied with your finger, they are stunning. The old gold bronze shade called Ambition may be my favorite eyeshadow. Not just of this palette, but in general. It was amazing and I am going to have a hard time not reaching for it to pair with other palettes in the future. I can already see it coming. 

When applied with the finger it was spectacular and stayed in place all day.  And the color is just fantastic. The reddish shimmer called Goals was also nice when applied by hand and did help to tame down the orange tinge of Ready. The green shimmer Fresh was a delight as well.  I was nervous because it is so bright but I have to say it is going into my spring must haves’ list. It is a lovely shade and unlike any other shadow I have.  At the moment I have an IBY pastel toned Enlighten palette that I like to use in the spring and I have to say I will be pairing Fresh with it once the weather is a little warmer. I can wear it now, but it feels a little to spring like for me to want to reach for it. Especially as today snow flakes are swirling down from a gunmetal sky.

The end review: three shimmers were fabulous colors and performed magnificently.

To be fair, everything in this palette performed well, I just didn’t like the matte shades so reaching for them was just sort of hard for me this week.  But even if I didn’t care for the shades, the formula was fantastic and knowing I like the formula goes a long way towards helping me decide what shadows I actually want to buy.  These may not have been my colors, but they did convince me to buy Ofra Shadows in the future.  Despite the shadows, I suspect I will get a lot of use out of this palette in the future.

The Underclub has two new bundles available. The first is the Best Week Ever Seven Pack and features:

  • Make It Happen Monday – Titov String Micro Bikini in Red
  • Tushy Tuesday – Toast Luna Thong in Eclipse
  • Humpday Wednesday – Toast Inga Tanga in Baked Clay
  • Thong Thursday – Toast Angela Seamless & Lace Thong in Blackberry Wine
  • Flirty Friday – Toast Hope Polka Dot Bikini in French Blue
  • Sexy Saturday – Clo Intimo Ginebra Brazilian in Black
  • Stay Chill Sunday – Peche Celeste Bikini in Lilac

They also have a Curvy Weekender Three pack if you don’t want the whole week. (I really like the look of the Lilac although that French Blue polka dot is adorable too). It features:

  • Flirty Friday: Toast Hope Polka Dot Mesh Bikini in French Blue
  • Sexy Saturday: Playful Promises Gemma Bikini in Black
  • Stay Chill Sunday: Peche Celeste Bikini in Lilac

It is available from now until the end of February and looks quite frankly amazing. I love the quality and look of their products (which is why I have a subscription with them). Just thought you’d like to know they were now on sale ig you are looking for a little something to refresh your drawer. Personally new underwear always makes me feel extra fabulous. The link below shows the items in the seven pack (or you could click to get a closer look on their site.)

Perfume Review: Oscar de la Renta: Bella Blanca

This Bella Blanca Perfume by Oscar de la Renta was sent to me by Influenster for the purpose of review and I couldn’t be happier. In the past they have sent sample sized perfumes, which turned out to be okay as they were not perfumes I enjoyed enough to work through a full bottle there was no disappointment in the sample size. This was a little different.

When I received the bottle I thought the name sounded familiar. Okay, my first thought was, what a beautiful bottle. My second was that it sounded familiar. It turned out that I reviewed a sample of the Oscar de la Renta Bella Rosa a while back. The sample size was used up and when I checked my list of perfumes to pick up, it did make the list. I also went back and checked the full review I made of the Bella Rosa (This link will take you to it). Clearly, I liked it enough to put it on the list to purchase for my collection, but had not yet gotten around to picking up the full sized bottle.

It turned out that I did like it but I found it didn’t last long. the review made me want to try the Bella Blanca a lot more. But as you know, I enjoy perfume descriptions as much (and in some cases more than) the scents they describe. So let’s see how Bella Blanca is described.





Okay I’ll admit the Hazmat restriction notice amused me. I’m also remembering why I wasn’t too enthused by their descriptions. Most perfumes tend to offer you some sort of descriptive vision that makes you believe your life will be transformed by the scent. Timeless and feminine is an extremely straight forward claim.

So what about the perfume?

I spritzed, I sniffed and I wore the perfume for a week. The Jasmine is certainly present as is a bit of the mandarin. I’m guessing that the slight fruity note comes from the combination of mandarin and Peach Skin Musk, listed in the Dry category.

It is a floral perfume with fruity notes. Even though white roses are listed, it is not a rosy scent. It is lightly sweet, but not cloying. It is also sweet in an adult way instead of a young girl way, if that makes sense. I can close my eyes and see someone in their twenties and thirties (on up) wearing it, but I couldn’t see it being worn by a teenager. It is adults only, but not older adult. It is a scent I would buy for me, but not for my grandmother.

In fact, I liked it quite a bit and will definitely add it to my repurchase list.

Whereas the Bella Rosa seemed to thrive in the spring, I could almost see this as a year round scent. The scent of it doesn’t transport me to a specific season. It is a day time friendly perfume, but I could also see spritzing it on before leaving the house for an evening out. It is a very versatile scent. While I tend to have almost a library of scents based on seasonal and time of day appropriateness, I don’t have a lot of scents that transition from one to the other. This is one I could see wearing during the day and then refreshing just before going out.

When sprayed, the scent comes on strong. If you give it a moment, it settles back down. The scent clings to you and once it settles against your skin, it is a very personal scent. It is not one that projects into the space of others. It does fade down throughout the day and by the end of the work day is only a bare whisper of a memory. Like Bella Rosa it lasts longer as a personal scent if you spray cloth rather than skin. But it does last a bit longer than the Bella Rosa on the skin which I think is an improvement.

If wearing it from day to night, add a second application for the night. Because it sticks so close to the skin, it can be worn in a restaurant without interfering with the scent of the meal. I know that sounds strange to say, but i have some perfumes that I would wear out to a club, but wouldn’t wear out to dinner because they might clash with the meal. But then again I feel that half of the meal is in enjoyment and anticipation of the scents wafting from kitchen and plate, so that may be more of a personal taste.

Bottle detail

I am very happy with this perfume. I really enjoyed the scent and love that it is a year round one that can transition from day to night as the category is a very big gap in my collection, now much smaller. The bottle is also beautiful as part of my perfume display. I am very happy to have and wear this perfume and I am so pleased that Influenster decided to send it to me. I will happily use every drop.

If you are in the market for perfumes Sobelia has a sale going on for Valentines day. from now until February 8th, 2021 you can take an extra 10% off their already discounted prices using the code LOVE. (and yes they do stock Bella Blanc, I checked)

Shop Sobelia Perfumes Today!

Going Beyond the Veil with an Illamasqua Primer

As we all know, I love primers.  While a lot of my primers are silicone based, this Illamasqua Hydra Veil is water based, which means that I tend to use it with a different sort of foundation.  This week’s foundation was the Pretty Vulgar Cool AF Lava Water foundation.  I adore the foundation and this primer works really well with it. 

According to the product page…

Part hydrator, part primer, Hydra Veil instantly hydrates and smooths skin through a self-levelling, futuristic clear gel. Microalgae, Vitamin C and B3 work together to help maintain skins hydration levels, creating a healthy looking, balanced finish. Plant extracts also provide a calming and refreshing feeling, leaving skin fully prepped to apply your chosen foundation.

Prior to foundation application, use the spoon provided to apply one scoop of Hydra Veil to the palm of your hand. Using the Foundation or Highlighter Brush, gently brush the product from your hand and apply all over the face, right up to the lash line until the product is fully absorbed

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Peg-240/Hdi Copolymer Bis-Decyltetradeceth-20 Ether, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Niacinamide, Ethylhexylglycerin, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Alcohol, 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Disodium Edta, Parfum (Fragrance), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Phosphate, Acmella Oleracea Extract, Potassium Laurate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Bht, Haematococcus Pluvialis Extract, Tocopherol, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Limonene


I’ll admit, it took me a while to figure out that was a spoon attached to the inner lid.  I thought it was a decorative handle.  It does work as a decorative handle though, but really, you need to use it to scoop the primer out. 

When you scoop it out it looks like clear jelly. But almost instantly it starts to liquefy in your palm.  When it does, a flat foundation brush is your best bet for applying it where you want.  It goes on smoothly and while it is clear it does smooth out pores. 

Just remember to use a clean foundation brush and to use a different foundation brush from the one you intend to use to apply your foundation.  The primer does liquefy so the brush (and your face) take a moment to dry down. If you use a previously used foundation brush, you will end up with old foundation on streaking your face as the primer moistens it and the brush releases it. Even if clean the brush will be all wet and needs to dry before using it to apply foundation.  If you don’t have a spare flat foundation brush, then just use your hands to apply.

I tend not to use this under tinted moisturizers, but more under actual foundations.  The illamasqua smooths things out, but it is clear and doesn’t cover anything as it is clear. 

A little goes a long way and despite its pore filling tendencies and excellent performance, I tend to only reach for this primer in the cooler months when my skin is dry.  When my skin is dry, this foundation is fantastic.  It keeps other products from looking dry on my face and extends the length of my foundation.  Just remember the golden rule with primer, like goes with like. 

If you use a water based primer, go with a water based foundation.  Likewise if going with a silicone based primer go with a silicone based foundation. There are exceptions of course, but this matchy matchy combo prevents a lot of compatibility issues and products work better if they aren’t in a cage fight with each other at the same time you want them to look good on your skin

There are two things to remember when using this primer. The first is that it is more or less a liquid once your body heat touches it, so you need to take a moment and let the primer dry down on your face.  I know you should always give your primer a moment to settle in and lock into place before adding foundation, but it is even more imperative that you give this primer it’s moment to settle. If you don’t it will mix a bit wth your foundation and while it will still work it won’t be as pore filling and smoothing as it could be. 

The second thing to remember is not to use too much.  This is definitely a product where less is more. The picture of it in my hand is about double, if not more, than what you should apply.  I always forget how little I need the first time I go back to this primer and then end up wasting half of the product I took out.

Needs to take a moment to dry down (the sun was at a strange angle so I was trying to avoid glare)

I know it is strange to say but, I love the fact that I can use this primer for a long time and each time I dip in, the product looks untouched because the gel melts back together to form a smooth surface.  Generally it melts back together by the time I’ve finished applying it on my face and have rinsed the spoon off.

It’s also why I only use the spoon to get it out because any inclusions don’t remain just on the surface but can sink within and contaminate the whole thing. In addition it is a beautiful jar that I kind of like having on display.  If you are a member of Look Fantastic and receive their Beauty Box each month I believe this is the primer that is going to be in the box. 

It is a sample size whereas this is the full sized version, but you end up using so little of this primer that even the travel size will last a surprisingly long time. I’ve had the sample size before, which is why I picked up the full sized version and it seemed like it was never going to run out.  I think part of that is the fact that it always looks smooth and brand new when you open it, so it is the bottomless pit of primer. Personally I am glad that it lasts so long and this winter I will be reaching for this Illamasqua primer more often.

Incidentally Pretty Vulgar is having a Mystery Box Deal going on right now 5 products for $55 (retail value of $138). Just click on the banner ad and it will take you right to it. Their Cool AF Lava Water Foundation and Feathers Mascara are two of my favorites.

Pretty Vulgar Make up

Tool Talk: Afterspa Reusable Rounds

Each week I give posting space to a variety of products and talk about their benefits and uses, but I don’t often talk about the tools I use with them.  I am trying to correct that with these tool talk posts. Some weeks it will be makeup brushes and other weeks flat irons. This week I decided to go with the reusable cotton rounds from Afterspa.

The Afterspa reusable rounds came in my January Glossy Box and I for one was very happy to see them.  It was actually a really good box this month. You can check out my unboxing here if you’d like to see the whole thing.

A while back I took a look at the waste in my house and I have been trying to reduce the amount of it.  In the back yard, we purchased a composter and a lot of our kitchen waste makes it back there, from coffee grounds to egg shells.  It keeps it out of our trash bin and gives us some really good compost each year. Actually many of the subscription boxes that I get make their way there, the shipping boxes getting torn up and used as dry material in the composter. I just have to peel off any tape. The ones with the wax coating take a little longer to deteriorate so often times I’ll use them to line the bottom of a raised flower bed to keep the weeds down. It smothers the weeds and eventually disintegrates into the dirt.

In the bathroom I use a Makeup Eraser and some kind of makeup removing produce (balm, oil, micellar water) to remove my makeup instead of the makeup wipes.  Occasionally, I will use a makeup wipe, but I don’t buy them regularly any more.  It took a while to break the habit, but I did.

At the moment I have a sample pack that I received in a subscription box that I have been slowly working through.  I also signed up for a trial Refreshments box from IPSY and will be getting a pack in that.  I wanted to try the subscription and if I like the scents I will trade out the wipes for another product if possible as I suspect a full sized pack of wipes will either be something I use up right away simply because they are there and I go makeup wipe crazy while I have them or I will parcel them out miserly for an extended period. I don’t know which it will be as I haven’t used them routinely in a while.

But I no longer use them routinely so it won’t be a reorder for the subscription if i end up keeping it. (My first shipment is in February so I’ll keep you posted on that.

Empty containers usually make their way into my greenhouse where they are repurposed.  Moisturizer jars are used to hold sprouting seeds, serum droppers are used to dose out liquid fertilizer mostly to orchids, spray bottles are turned into misters for plants that like water through their leaves instead of at their roots.

This means that at the moment cotton rounds are my biggest waste product in my bathroom.  The two things I use them for the most are toner and eye makeup remover.  I know, I can use the Makeup Eraser for eye makeup removal, however at the moment I have a single Makeup Eraser that I use all week and then throw into the wash at the end of the week. (I used different spots and rotate around so I’m always using a clean section of cloth.)

I really need to look into getting a pack of smaller Makeup Erasers.  They now have small square ones that let you use a different Makeup Eraser each day so that you can put them in the wash after one use. I had planned to get a pack of the Sponge Bob Square pants ones, but they sold out and then I got distracted. I know they have a Goodnight Moon Set that I really like the look of, but it is one of the full sized ones instead of the smaller cloths so I need to talk myself out of it. Or find out if they have it in smaller sizes.

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I don’t mind using the one Makeup Eraser all week, I just shift to different spots on the cloth to take down my face makeup each day of use. I am just a little more hesitant to do so around my eyes.  Not only is there more product around my eyes, some of which is harder to remove – like mascara-, but I just don’t like the thought of potentially putting germs near my eyes.  So I tend to remove my eye makeup with disposable cotton rounds so that I know they are fresh each day.

In theory, the reusable rounds from Afterspa are the perfect solution. 

The pack sent to me in Glossy Box contained two rounds, which is quite perfect as far as testing goes. I can use them and see how I feel about them before committing to a box of them, because realistically I would need a minimum of three per day: two for my daily toner and one for eye makeup removal. Or so I thought.

it was a brown eyeshadow day, but some of that is foundation

I took out the After Spa reusable rounds to try and my first recommendation is to wash them before you use them.  While I am certain they are hygienic right out of the pack, if you use them without washing you will end up with a lot of white fuzz on your face.

The reusable rounds are soft and floppy.  The feel good against the skin.  However with toner, they felt a little too big.  I generally hold my cotton round against my face with the use of two fingers and occasional assistance by my thumb.  This required the whole hand.  There were maneuverability issues and the reusable round kept rolling up on me so that one application accidentally used both sides of the round.  I wasn’t certain if I could use one side and then have the other side available of  a second use, but it was something I planned to test. However even if the toner hadn’t leaked through and the side away from my face remained sanitary under traditional use circumstances, the round kept rolling up so there was no way that the other side could be used as it was already partially used during the first pass.

The rolling was a bit annoying actually and that was only partially due to size.  The round is really too big to be used for a product like a toner. The other issue was the material.  It is very soft and almost too soft for use in applying toner. If the material was a little thicker or the edge was a little stiffer, this would be an entirely different review. I did not care for them when using it to apply products like toner.

But there is also eye makeup removal.

To remove my eye makeup: mascara, liner and shadow, I had to use both cotton rounds, both sides.  The problem is, again, that the thin cloth is too soft.  It feels good against the skin, but it doesn’t have the thickness that is needed for makeup removal.  The Makeup eraser is still soft material but it is sturdier as well and does a much better job. It also has a stiffer edging which really helps it. I don’t think these rounds need a large border, but because of the super soft material it really needs a stiffer edging to help it lay flat.

I will say that when I tossed them in the wash after use, they came out spotlessly clean.  They were white and even the eyeliner and mascara washed out. I am not certain how long they will last under weekly use and washing conditions.  I will continue using them to see if I might find some tricks to getting them to perform the way I want them to as well as seeing how long they hold up, but I don’t think these particular reusable rounds are for me.

I still have high hopes that I will find some reusable rounds that are.  Because I would love to continue to eliminate as much waste as possible, but for now, I will use my makeup eraser and in the near future order a set of smaller makeup erasers for eye makeup removal if nothing else.  I will still use the cotton rounds for applications of things like toners though and I will keep searching for reusable rounds to eventually take their place.

I know this was a post about the Afterspa Reusable rounds, and you got to hear a lot more about the Makeup eraser, but to be honest, using the After Spa Rounds made me appreciate the Makeup Eraser more. And when introducing a new tool to your repertoire it is good to fit it into the context of already used products and to see how it stacks up. At least that is my thought.

Makeup Eraser

Trying out the Hyaluronic Acid 62% Hydrating Serum from Herbal Dynamics Beauty

Recently I was sent a bottle of Herbal Dynamics Hyaluronic Acid 62% Hydrating Serum.  As anyone who reads my skin care reviews knows, I am a huge fan of Hyaluronic Acid (HA) in my skin care products. My skin reacts really well to it.  

I know I have often gone on at length about the benefits of Hyaluronic acid, but as a quick recap, hyaluronic acid plumps skin and helps to erase fine lines.  For me it has also helped reduce the depth and distinction of the line across my forehead that I usually refer to as The Stress Crack. This year has seen it grow quite a bit and I am using every means at my disposal to reduce it.  I doubt anything that is noninvasive will ever actually erase it, but I can work towards making it look more like a surface crack and less like the grand canyon.

Truthfully, The Stress Crack doesn’t bother me all that much, but I do find it is the place where I see the most change in products.  If they work, then it is going to show there first.  So while I may need several months to see a serums effectiveness on the fine lines around my eyes and mouth, if a product is going to do something I can see the start of results on The Stress Crack in only a few weeks. It makes it the perfect litmus test for line shrinking skincare.

For those of you who have never heard of Herbal Dynamics they are, according to their website: Where nature meets science: Paring the finest botanical ingredients with cutting-edge science. Their products are also sulfate free, paraben free, cruelty free and phthalate free.

I recently tried their Cacao and Chamomile Detoxifying Clay mask and absolutely loved it.  The mask pulled deeply buried clogged pores to the surface that I was pretty sure a vacuum couldn’t touch. The link will take you to my full review of that mask actually, if you are interested. It is going to be one I will use for quite some time to come. So you will be hearing about it anytime my skin needs a detox.

But beyond the products they offer, they have their blog.  Oh my darlings, if you are interested in skincare, finding out more about how your skin works, what sorts of foods to eat for your type of skin’s optimal health or about layering different types of serums, I highly recommend checking out The Botanical Blog. It has some amazing information that will really help you make good choices for your skin.

But back to the Hyaluronic Acid 62% Hydrating Serum. I’m sure many of you are thinking, hydrating serum, hmmm, not just Hyaluronic acid then? Good Catch. This isn’t purely Hyaluronic Acid, but before we look into the ingredients, let’s find out what we should expect from the product.

According to the website…

Powerful, proven ingredients in the HD Beauty Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum are carefully combined to promote plump, youthful-looking skin and minimize fine lines. Hyaluronic acid, aloe and botanical extracts hydrate skin on a cellular level and aid the skin’s natural moisture retention process, promoting a healthy glow and elasticity.

Hydrates and plumps to soften fine lines, Soothes and calms irritation, Antioxidants repair and restore, Fights inflammation and redness and Supports radiant, smooth complexion.

Apply to face and neck after cleansing and toner, before moisturizing. Use morning and night.

Full Ingredients List: Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera) gel*, Hyaluronic acid, Vegetable glycerin, Fucus vesiculosus (Bladderwrack) extract*, Sodium PCA, Anthemis nobilis (Chamomile) flower seed extract*, and Vitis vinifera (Grape) seed extract*.  

*Organic/ All natural / paraben free. Not tested on animals. Made in the U.S.A.

Herbal Dynamics Beauty

Okay so let’s take a deeper look at that ingredient list.  As you can see Hyaluronic acid is the second ingredient listed. I am perfectly fine with that and as we’ve already discussed it is the ingredient that plumps skin and targets fine lines. I’m glad it is so high on the list as it means that it really is included in a high concentration.

So first, up is Aloe Barbadensis or good old Aloe Vera Gel. Aloe Vera and I are long time pals.  Growing up there were always aloe plants around the house and we used them on everything from sunburns to minor skin irritations and even bug bites.  I still keep an aloe plant in my house and have ever since I left home.  Last spring when I got a really bad burn on my legs I used it to slather the burns.  It helped when few other things did. It is a plant that has a boatload of vitamins and minerals and does a fantastic job soothing skin. It is not greasy in the slightest and can generally be used by pretty much all skin types. Clearly if you have an allergy to aloe you can’t use it but anyone else, no matter how sensitive their skin usually can. It is a great plant to have around and a great ingredient to see kick off a skincare product.

Right after the Hyaluronic Acid is listed vegetable glycerin.  As I was not as familiar with it as I am with Aloe I had to look it up.  According to Heathline:

Vegetable glycerin may lead to better skin health by helping soothe skin irritation, protect against infection and promote wound healing. Studies show that applying glycerin-containing products may protect your skin against irritants and microbes, as well as soothe inflamed or wounded skin.


I can definitely see the point of having that in this serum

Bladderwrack extract was something I had never even heard of and so I again had to go in search of details. Again I found myself on the Healthline Website.  I’ll be honest it is one of my favorite websites for searches on ingredients.

Early research has shown that the antioxidants in bladderwrack, namely fucoidan, promote collagen synthesis in the skin, which may help improve the look of cellulite, increase skin healing, and delay premature skin aging.


Sodium PCA is naturally occurring humectant that boosts the effectiveness of Hyaluronic Acid by pulling in moisture. It actually holds several times its weight in water, and binds moisture to cells. Its kind of like a turbo boost for the hyaluronic acid.

Chamomile flower is something that routinely crops up in skin care as well as my mother’s collection of herbal teas.  At the first sign of a sore throat she broke out the chamomile tea and added a slice of lemon and a drizzle of honey. It was actually quite effective in making a sore throat less sore. It is actually a tie between chamomile and peppermint as the scent of winter in my family house growing up ad both were grown and dried in large batches for use when winter colds hit. While this serum doesn’t use the honey or the lemon, it has chamomile aplenty. Chamomile sooths irritation and calms inflammation and redness. It is what makes it good for both skin and sore throats.

And that brings us to the final ingredient in the list, Vitis vinifera (Grape) seed extract.  Grapeseed extract is another item that crops up in a lot of skincare, especially items designed to target aging. It is a potent antioxidant and is chock a block full of naturally occurring AHAs for a gentle exfoliation and toning.

And that is the ingredients list.  I know, take a second and count it up.  It is only seven ingredients.  However in their own way each of them is quite the powerhouse. It’s like hyaluronic acid joined some sort of skincare gang.  Admittedly, I don’t think it would be a violent gang. It seems like a gang that would encourage a dance off with its rivals and then offer a cleanser and fluffy towels to its opponents at the end of the dance battle.

Leaving skincare gangs aside, I have been using this serum every morning and evening since its arrival which was almost exactly thirty days ago (I think it might be 28).It is an interesting product.

two pumps worth

First, it comes in a clear plastic spray bottle and is a clear liquid serum.  I was surprised that the bottle was clear plastic as I would have thought it needed to be kept away from direct sunlight.  I hid the bottle behind my toner so it wasn’t in direct light.  I have no idea if it needs to be kept away from the light but I will say that I really like that I can see the amount of product left in the bottle. That is usually not the case with serums and they often come in dark colored bottles. 

After a month of twice a day use, I am about a third of the way through the bottle. So one of these small $20 bottles will last for three months. That breaks down to about $6.67 per month of use. It is a spray bottle which I really like as it does keep the air away from the product and it makes it easy to dispense. 

I really like the control this srt of pump gives for dispensing as well as keeping product away from the air.

I generally found that I needed two pumps for my face each time I used the serum.  So four pumps per day. You can, if you want push the pump down slowly and pump a smaller amount of product instead of pumping all the way down.  So if you found you needed one and a half pumps, for example, that is easy to do with this pump.  It sounds silly to say but I really like being able to decide exactly how much product I want to use.

And you know I sniffed the product as soon as it came out of the pump.  It has no discernable scent. So for all those who dislike scent in their skincare, this might be something to try.  There is no scent at all. 

In the hand, the serum feels like Aloe.  If you have ever used an aloe based product, you know the feeling, it is like a gel that quickly melts into liquid.   When applied to the face at first the two pumps feels like too much product.  However it sinks in fast and leaves your face feeling oddly dry.  Not like it has dried out but like your skin got greedy and cleared out the all you can eat buffet. I thought at first that I needed more and I applied a third pump but the third pump just sat on the skin as my skin was full.  I also thought I might get away with less so I tried one pump and it didn’t feel like enough so I then applied the second pump and my skin was happy again. Your skin might be a little different, but my skin wanted exactly two pumps of product.

I will say that in addition to the semi melting gel feeling, this serum has something else in common with aloe. If you have ever rubbed aloe on damp skin then you are familiar with the way it can momentarily look soapy. This serum does the same thing.  I generally wash my face, dowel it dry and then brush my teeth. That way my skin has time to dry completely.  If there was water on my face (or hands) when I applied the serum then my hands or face would get slightly sudsy before the serum meted in.  That is just the action of water meeting aloe and it fades away quickly.

So what was the result of using the serum twice a day for a month?

Start of month long trial left, end of trial right

I have noticed my skin feels pumper and more hydrated.  Since I am still walking outside for much of my exercise, I am constantly getting slapped around by the winter wind and I really think this serum helped to calm the redness from wind burn. As for The Stress Crack, I can see a lessening in its depth.  It is a minor topographical gorge rather than the Grand Canyon.  Is it gone?  No, but it really wasn’t going to be gone, especially not in a month’s time. 

However after a month of continued use, I can see definite improvement in both it and my fine lines.  I appreciate that. Feel free to zoom in if you want a closer look. I also appreciate the improved hydration and the calming of the redness that this product provides as well. Is it a miracle in a bottle? No, but it is a really good product and one I will continue using because I am sure I will see continued improvement in my skins texture the longer I do use the Herbal Dynamics Beauty Hyaluronic Acid 62% hydrating Serum. It may not cause time to go into full retreat, but it is slowly pushing back the line.

While they have a new orders discount as you can see in the ad below, at the moment they also have a deeper discount going on. I’ll link that one right above the banner ad below if you are interested.

Take 25% off site wide + free shipping on orders over $35

Herbal Dynamics Beauty

Look Fantastic January 2021 Unboxing

I am always happy to see my Look Fantastic Beauty Box arrive on my doorstep.  It always has products I will use and usually at least one item that I get super excited about. Look Fantastic is a UK based subscription box so these days I just feel like cheering when it manages to leave one country and enter another one.  At the moment that feels like a magical effort all on its own. And this month it made the journey with what appears to be a little less difficulty than December.

I am so happy it is here.

So Look Fantastic is a Beauty box that has 5-6 products for $19 per month.  The items are mostly deluxe sample sized products with a few full sized ones thrown in on occasion. I really like that they include a large number of high end luxury brands in the box.  I am a big believer in the try before you buy, especially when it comes to pricy items and I have found many items in this box that I might have passed over because I didn’t want to commit to a full size until I knew I liked the product. There have also been high end brands that I saw and thought I wanted but after I tried it, decided it wasn’t for me.  There is a benefit in that as well.  In addition, because this is a UK based subscription box often the products are not ones I am extremely familiar with.

And now that we all now what this box is about, lets dive in and see what came in the January box.

The first item I pulled out of my box looked like a face mask.  However it is not.  It is the StarSkin Hollywood Hand Model Hand Mask Gloves. I have used Star Skin before.  I currently have a couple of their masks sitting in my masking drawer. 

I have tried many sheet masks and even a few foot masks, but I have never tried a hand mask.   I have to say I am kind of excited by this.  I’ve been using cuticle oil and hand cream to combat the effects of extra washing and near compulsive hand sanitizer usage, but a hand mask sounds like it could really help. 

I may add this to my Face mask Friday this week. This week I am going hard on the Vichy Mineral Face mask because I used a cleanser that dried out my skin badly and I am doing damage control and this is one of the best hydrating masks I’ve tried.  It might be nice to add a little hand mask to hydrate my hands as I repair my dried out skin.

But that is for Friday. 

The second item I took out of my January Look Fantastic box was actually the spoiler for last month.  Each month they put the spoiler for one of the following month’s products in the booklet that comes with it. 

The booklet, incidentally, is like a mini magazine and I always find some piece of useful information inside. The item in this box was the SVR Hydraliane Intense Moisturizing Cream. I’ll admit, I have never heard of the brand before so it will be a completely new experience to try it out.  But it is a really large size to try out so that is nice. I’m actually deliberately not looking anything up about it at the moment so that I have no bias when I start to use it. I don’t want my expectations tempered by what I might read online.  I like going in with a blank slate with a brand whenever possible so other people’s opinions won’t affect my own.

The next product out of the box comes from a brand I have heard of and not gotten around to trying out. The Brand is Grow Gorgeous and the product is the Balance Overnight Mask. I am always happy to try a new night mask.  I have a lot of moisturizers that fall into the gel and water cream category and I find that while nice in the day time, my skin craves deeper moisture at night. I am currently finishing up a night cream at the moment but as soon as it is done I will rotate this into the mix.

In this box there was a Verso Eye Cream.  Eye cream seems to be a popular item at the moment.  I have actually tried this eye cream before.  It is quite pricy and while it works okay, it isn’t my favorite eye cream.  It isn’t a bad eye cream, but there are several products I’ve tried that I like better. So I am going to put this in a care package to my mother so she can try the brand and see if it suits her.

The next two items are makeup related.  The first is the SO ECO  complexion sponge.  I have to say this comes at a really good time for me.  I am currently using the Huda Beauty Basic B makeup sponge.  It has one flat side that I have really come to love, as well as being composed of  a density I like.  It is however showing a bit of wear.  Trading it out now and again with another sponge will hopefully make it last longer. 

The density of this one is very similar to the Huda Beauty one, but it doesn’t have that flat edge I like.  I know other makeup sponges have the flat edge but the ones I tried had a different density. And as it turns out the feel of the sponge as a whole outweighs my love of the flat edge.  So I will use this, even as I reorder my Huda Beauty.

And finally the last item is a lipstick.  A Matte Me liquid lipstick from Sleek to be exact. There were multiple shades available and the one I was sent was Hellacious which is kind of a burnt umber shade. I actually really like the shade. The swatch (below) shows up a bit more orange than the product does in real life. I have one other Matte Me Lippie but it is a very bright pink that doesn’t suit me at all (In fact it looks like my lips lost a fight with a vacuum when i wear it.) so I haven’t gotten around to trying it.  With a shade I would wear I can do more of a test to see if I like the feel and use of the product.  As anyone who reads my posts on a regular basis knows, I am always willing to try a new lip product.

All in all I am really happy with this month’s box.  Everything in it is a product I will use, some I’ve heard of but never gotten around to trying, others are a complete mystery.  It is a nice mix of items.  Look Fantastic usually leans more to the skin care side of things, but I am happy there were two makeup related items included as well.  Speaking of which, the spoiler for next month is a makeup item.  It is the Illamasqua Beyond the Veil Primer. It is a mini one.  I’ve used the minis of this product before and actually have a full size in my dressing table.  Actually, I chose it as my primer for this week’s makeup bag.  So I will be talking about it this Friday when I do the weekly Makeup Bag Post if you are interested in hearing more about my opinions of it.

I really enjoy this box and I really enjoy the Look Fantastic Online shop.  They have new deals running every month and I find it is a great way to pick up some of my favorite things for just a little bit less. They have a few really great sales on now actually. I’ll list them down below so you can click on the ones that might appeal to you.

These Look Fantastic sales run from January 19th – 25th

Sitewide 15% off with the code EXCLUSIVE15.

25% off French Skincare Favorites with code FRENCH25 (Brands included: Filorga, NUXE, Embryolisse, Talika, Darphin, & Bioderma)

25% off Retinol (no code needed: Brands included: NIP + FAB, Zelens, Pixi, Elizabeth Arden, REN, Skin Doctors, SVR Laboratories, PCA SKIN, NEOSTRATA, Jurlique & more!)

25% off TriPollar products with the code TRI25

25% off Perricone MD with the code PMD25

25% off Sarah Chapman with the code SC25

25% off Shea Moisture with the code Shea15

25% off Candles and Diffusers with the code CALM25 (Brands included: NEOM, this works, Rituals, Sanctuary, OSKIA, Aromatherapy, Cowshed & more!)

Ipsy Glam Bag Plus January Unboxing

January Ipsy Glam Bag Plus

Welcome to Monday morning my darlings. I hope all went fabulously well for your weekend and you are ready to go for a new week.  This weekend my IPSY Glam Bag Plus arrived.  As you might remember, I was a part of the IPSY Ultimate subscription tier.  That tier ended in January and I signed up for the IPSY Glam Bag X. What that means is that the Glam Bag X will arrive quarterly (the first month is February) and the non X months I will be receiving the Glam Bag Plus.

The Glam Bag Plus is a $25 per month subscription and in the plus you receive five full sized items.  Two of the items are chosen for you and on the 2nd of the month, you get to go in for choice and pick three items. While I really like the idea of being able to choose so many items in the bag, I have to say that this month’s selection was not exactly exciting.  As shipping was a huge issue in December I am willing to grant that the supply chain might be a little wonky at the moment.  I will hope that upcoming choices get better.

Now all of IPSY’s tiers come with some sort of bag.  The Ultimate and the regular glam bag each came with makeup bags.  For some reason the Plus tier comes with a drawstring bag. The Theme this month was Dream It and the bag does reflect that.  It is a sort of blue hombre drawstring with fabric printed with the word dream. It’s fine, but it is really just a cheap drawstring bag.  To be honest I will chuck it into a drawer and the next time I travel I’ll use it to put underwear in.  Otherwise it will live in the bottom of a drawer. I wouldn’t really put anything heavier than underwear in it because I would worry that a heavy object would just drop through the bottom.

I know I had the Vella Box subscription for a while (GREAT Candle subscription by the way) and their candles came in canvas drawstring bags and I was always happy to get them because there are many uses I could put them to.  They were however made of heavy canvas with double stitching to reinforce the seams. This is not the same thing. So the bag is cute but of limited use and really adds nothing to the subscription, whereas the makeup bags added a little value.  In fact I signed up for the regular ($12) Ipsy Glam Bag as well because I like the makeup bags.  The small ones are excellent to use inside a large purse to keep things organized as well as useful for makeup bags. While I signed up this month and the January bag will be coming in later, I really did it because the February Glam bag pouch just looks so adorable.  How long I keep the subscription will really depend, but I will be getting the regular IPSY bag both this month and next, at least in part because of the bags.

But enough about the bags, let’s look at the products. All five are full sized items. I’ll go over the two items chosen for me first and then go over the items that I chose. The first item that was chosen for me was the Farsali Unicorn Essence (retail $54).  I have tried the Farsali setting spray before, and in fact it is still in my dressing table.  It is not my favorite setting spray due to the scent.  It is however beautiful to look at.  I remember the unicorn essence getting a lot of rave reviews a few years ago, but haven’t heard anything about it since.  In the description the product is described as being a protective treatment before moisturizer and a skin smoothing primer before makeup.  It looks like a serum.  I haven’t opened it because once you open a serum the clock starts ticking on it.  I am finishing up a skin care trial right now (in fact I will be posting on the Herbal Dynamics Hyaluronic Acid serum later this week, Wednesday actually if all goes to schedule).  It will be interesting to see if it falls into the serum or primer category once I begin using it.

The second item chosen for me was the Thrive Causemetics Brilliant eye opener in Aurora. (retail $24). I’m not terribly certain what an eye opener is, however this is a shadow stick.  I like Thrive Causemetics in general, their lip gloss is one of my go to products and I used up one of their mascaras and have a second unopened tube waiting in my dressing table for me to use. 

It was a good formula, good enough for me to repurchase.  So I am glad to have something else to try from the brand. Swatched on the hands the formula feels creamy and gives a nice silver tinted shimmer.  I will have to see how it performs on the eyes before I make a determination, but from the swatch I am cautiously optimistic.

And now we get to the three items I chose. The first of my choice items was the Laura Geller Quench and Tint Hydrating Foundation ($34). I know more foundation, but I couldn’t resist.  I’ve heard good things about the foundation and wanted to try it out.  Also the selection was limited and I thought I might actually get some use out of the foundation.

The second item I chose was the Item Beauty Cheek Money Duo in Mood Vibez (retail $18) which is a compact containing two shades of bronzer, one warm toned and one cool toned.  I’m pretty sure the cool toned is meant for contouring not bronzing, but I don’t really do a lot of contouring.  To be honest I chose it because I was curious about the brand. It is a brand that has come out of Tik Tok and has gotten both positive and negative comments about its origins.  That basically sums up what I kno0w about Item Beauty. So since I use bronzer, I thought I’d give this one a try to see what my thoughts are on it.  While there are some products and companies I tend to avoid because of personal choices, I tend not to judge a product until I’ve tried it, regardless of its origins.  So, we will see how it works out. 

The third product I chose this month was the Vitabrid C12  Daily C vitamin foaming cleanser (retail $32). It is infused with vitamin C and kaolin clay, both items I like and routinely use. And surprisingly considering how much skincare subscription boxes have been leaning towards in the past few months, I have less cleanser than I have any other category.  I suppose I also use that category more than any other so cleansers tend to clear out pretty fast, but it doesn’t seem to be a popular category to add to subscription boxes.  At least I get less of it. So I added it to the box.  In my line up of items to choose from this month there were several items from this brand.  It is the only place I’ve heard of it.  Perhaps it is a newer brand or perhaps it is one that just flew under my radar.  Either way, I am always on the lookout for a good cleanser.

So in the end my retail value was $162 for the $25 beauty box. This makes it a pretty good value.  I received several items that I am interested in trying and one that I had not even heard of previously.  I like the mix of the familiar and the unknown because part of the subscription box appeal, for me anyway, is discovering something I might not have found on my own.  I like the slightly out of my comfort zone feel of having brands I am familiar with as well as newer ones. The selection of items wasn’t the greatest and I’m hoping that improves as shipping improves, it is annoying but I am willing to give them a pass on that.  The bag… well I said all I feel like saying on the bag and while the bags that come with future boxes will be in the pictures unless they are substantially more special than this one, they won’t be mentioned further. I am sure I will use the products I received so the value is definitely there for me.  It feels a little less because I am coming to the Glam Bag Plus from the Ultimate, but I’ll get over that, because all in all it was a good bag.

I am also excited to see what comes in the very first Glam Bag X next month. I think they are planning to have a different person curate it each quarter.  This first one is being Curated by Patrick Ta and it is supposed to have a value up to $428.  IPSY has been talking up this new subscription level since November so it will be interesting to see if it holds up to the hype.  I’m trying not to look at too many spoilers since I don’t want to get too focused on specific products in case they are variations. That way if I don’t get that specific variation I won’t be instantly disappointed. Plus, I kind of like the surprise of it all. Lets just hope that the Glam Bag X starts off better than the IPSY Ultimate did.  While the Ultimate finally became a really good bag, it had a really rough start.  Hopefully IPSY has worked out their system and this new X level starts off with a bang.  Fingers crossed.

Nuxe is having a Blue Monday sale: Blue Monday Free 30ml HP WYS $50 & Winter sales – Save up to 30% on selected products The sale is only for January 18th. I personally love their Insta Masque line and will be swinging by to pick up a jar of the exfoliating Instamasque.And possibly the soothing one. They are excellent three minute face masks that do wonders for the skin.