January 2014 Ipsy Glam Bag and Birchbox reviews

This was an interesting month. Both my Ipsy and Birchbox were pretty good, but I think I may actually like BB better this time around! Both included some hits and misses, but I think I got my money’s worth from each. Here’s what happened:


january 2014 ipsy glam bag

The zipper on my bag this month was totally destroyed! What’s up with that? ūüė•

Elizabeth Mott Smooth Shadow $14.99 in Pearl

Elizabeth Mott Smooth Shadow in Pearl swatch

This was very pigmented liner (not shadow, I have no idea why they labeled it that way) and will make a great highlight color to brighten eyes.¬†Perfect for inner corners and lower lashlines.¬†It didn’t photograph as dense as it really is, but I was definitely impressed. It lasted forever, too! So far I’ve gotten this liner and a mascara from Elizabeth Mott and have been hugely impressed with both.
Free black eyeliner at www.elizabethmott.com with code ipsysmooth through 3/1/14.

Apothederm¬ģ¬†Bright Skin Serum ($67.50)
This went on well at first and absorbed quickly, but it left some residue that felt filmy on my skin. I think it may have helped with brightness, though? Hard to tell after only a few uses.
30% off plus a purse mirror at www.apothederm.com with code ipsy30 through 2/28/14.

MicaBeauty Tinted Lip Balm ($30) in Natural

MicaBeauty Tinted Lip Balm in Natural swatch

Nice color, more pigment than expected but it doesn’t feel creamy at all. It has a very thin, stain-like feel which was a little confusing in a balm product. I think it would also work as a cream blush, although it may not be blendable enough. Normally it comes packaged with a brush, which is nice (although my sample didn’t have that).¬†I’ve gotten basically this exact same product from Cailyn in red, which makes me think their products are made by the same people.
45% off at www.micabeauty.com with code ipsy45 through 2/28/14.

Absolute! Makeup Cleansing Tissue ($2.50-$$7.99)
These are always useful! I don’t know what else to say.
30% off *any purchase* at www.nicka.com (who have their own cosmetics + nail polishes and not just cleansing cloths) with code ipsy through 2/10/14.

Sexy Hair Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Tri-Wheat Leave In Conditioner ($17.95)
I keep forgetting to use this, but I love the idea of spray in conditioner.
$5 off $25 Sexy Hair purchase at ulta.com with code 108723 through 2/15/14.




january 2014 birchbox

Burt‚Äôs Bees¬ģ Intense Hydration Day Lotion¬†($17.99).
This felt great and absorbed quickly and cleanly. Go Burt! The box also included a coupon for $3 off a Burt’s product.

Serge Normant Meta Revive Dry Conditioner ($25).
I haven’t tried this yet, but I love the idea. I’m already a dry shampoo fan since I am a lazy person, so this just takes my last minute morning prep to the next level.

Harvey Prince Journey ($55).
It’s nice, but a little powdery for my tastes. Perfume is so individual, I don’t know why they even bother with fragrance samples.

INIKA Mineral Eyeshadow ($20) in Eternal Marine.

INIKA Mineral Eyeshadow Eternal Marine swatch

This ended up looking a little more gray than I expected, but I’m ok with that. Really pretty color that works equally well as an intense pigment or a sheer wash. Plus, INIKA is known for being vegan and cruelty-free, so I really like that!

Nail Rock Nail Velvet ($7) in Velvet Navy.

rock beauty london nail rock velvet navy

Nail art is kind of old news at this point, so this felt a little gimmicky to me (I would have been way more excited about this a year ago). While it would be too much to wear this on every nail, I ended up kind of liking the effect as an accent nail. Unfortunately, it was pretty hard to get the velvet flocking even, so my accent nail is a bit patchy. I think a wider mouth container on the velvet jar would have made it easier to properly roll my nail in the fuzzy stuff.

Gwen Stefani Nail Polish Collection for OPI – 4 in the Morning Swatch

I’ve posted a few times about how I love, love, love the 90’s, so I was definitely excited about a collaboration between Gwen Stefani and OPI!

The full Gwen Stefani x OPI nail collection is pretty, but I was a little disappointed by how generic and dupeable some of the shades were. Fortunately, there were still a few unique shades in the collection. I was especially excited about the two matte satin shades.¬†I was planning to buy both, plus the holo glitter topcoat, but I’m still on a LOW BUY (obviously the NO BUY didn’t fully take). I ended up only getting the black shade,¬†OPI¬†Gwen Stefani Nail Lacquer Collection ($9) in 4 in the Morning. Hey, that shows some restraint, right?

I just love the unique finish on this one. Now that black nail polish has gone mainstream, this unusual smooth, satiny matte texture gives black its edge back. It reminds me of black leather.

opi x gwen stefani nail laquer 4 in the morning

I was even inspired to do some Gwen-esque makeup for the occasion! Of course I look nothing like her (wouldn’t that be nice?), but her classic look is always fun to do.

gwen stefani inspired makeup

Battle of the Drugstore Lip Butters

In order to get free shipping on my latest order, I had to fill up my cart with a few more products. The extreme Chicago winter winds have really been destroying my skin lately, so I decided to stock up on some budget-priced buttery nude lippies and see who hydrated best.

1. NYX Butter Lipstick ($5.99) in Snow Cap.

This one was the most moisturizing of all four lip butters, but the coverage was kind of uneven. It really settled into the lines on my lips, so I was kind of disappointed there. That’s also a common issue for nude lipsticks (which I am slowly becoming obsessed with), so a darker color might have better application. It did feel really great on my lips, so I’m willing to try this formula again in a different shade.

nyx butter lipstick snow capnyx butter lipstick snow cap swatch

2. NYX Butter Lip Balm ($3.99) in Brownie.

This was sheerer than I expected, but it felt comfortable and nicely balmy. It has a bit more of a creamy feel than some balms instead of being more slippery. This shade would probably be invisible on most skintones if it barely shows up on someone as pale as me, so anyone with medium-dark skin would probably be better off with one of the bolder shades.

nyx lip butter balm brownienyx lip butter balm brownie swatch

3. Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter ($7.00) in Red Velvet.

This is actually my second Red Velvet Lip Butter. I loved it the first time around but it went missing, so I liked it enough to try again. This is the most opaque of all of the balms. It’s more of a sheer lipstick than a balm, but it actually has more impressive, even pigment than you would think. While it is the most opaque of the four lip butters, it is also the least emollient. It doesn’t feel as much like a chapstick, but it’s still more moisturizing than a typical lipstick. This is a good in-between mix of pigment and hydration. It applies like a much more expensive lipstick, even though it doesn’t feel quite as smooth as say, a Lipstick Queen Saint Lipstick¬†($22). It is also about $14 cheaper than Lipstick Queen, so it’s a good option if you’re budget conscious.

revlon color burst lip butter red velvetrevlon color burst lip butter red velvet swatch

4. Revlon ColorBurst Lacquer Balm ($8.99) in Ingenue.

While not labelled as a “butter,” it’s still marketed as a balm, so it made the list. This turned out sheerer and less glittery than I expected, but I really liked the sheer color. While not particularly creamy,¬†it did feel smoother than a typical matte lip-stain-balm-stick thing. I like this a lot because it gives me the look of a gloss without the stickiness. Yay!

revlon color burst laquer balm ingenuerevlon color burst laquer balm ingenue swatch

L-R Swatches:

Revlon ColorBurst Lacquer Balm in Ingenue, NYX Butter Lip Balm in Brownie, NYX Butter Lipstick in Snow Cap and Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in Red Velvet.
nyx and revlon lip butter balm review swatches

Finding your Perfect Foundation Shade with Sephora’s Color IQ

Have you guys done this yet? I have really been trying to figure out this foundation thing lately, and I love the concept behind Sephora’s Color IQ system. I bought that Meow Cosmetics foundation last month that I like a lot, however the brutal Chicago winter winds have messed up my skin in a crazy way, so the powder foundation isn’t working as well as it did in better weather.

So I want a creamier, more moisturizing product, but I have so much trouble finding something that matches my skintone (much like every other person who has skin). The idea with Color IQ is that every foundation shade corresponds to a Pantone-identified skintone, so once you know your number you just pick products that match the exact same shade. Brilliant!

The only problem is pinning down the right number. There are two ways to do this: either go in to the store and have an employee use a special device that measures your skintone, or go online and search for the number that matches a foundation you already like.

My attempts with the website have been mixed. foundations that seem pretty good have been coming in as 1Y05, 1Y02, 3Y04, and 2Y04. The shade numbers all start with a number (level of blend between yellow and pink undertones), then and R or a Y (which indicates if you are more on the red or yellow side of the blend) and a two digit number that signifies the color depth (paleness/darkness).


Image courtesy of Sephora

So obviously, I’m yellow-y, but I’m not sure by how much. Am I a 1 or a 3? and how pale am I really? I decided to stop by the store and leave the matching to the professionals.

I went to the store, where the makeup artist used a little handheld device to take a series of pictures that would serve to sample the color from different parts of my face. After taking a picture of my jawline, cheek and forehead, I got her recommendation… 3R06.

Absolutely not! That is way too red and way too dark for me! Unfortunately, my cheeks are pretty red, so I am convinced that my reading was skewed because of that being included in the tone. I want to COVER that redness on my cheeks and even my skintone, not blend the redness into the rest of my face so it clashes with the rest of my skin. Even the MUA didn’t seem to like the system’s pick, because she ended up recommending an entirely different product that didn’t match that profile at all (it’s a 1Y05).

Now I’m kind of back to square one on figuring out my exact, perfect shade. I’m definitely a Y, and I’m just going to split the difference between some of the various shades I picked on my own (after all, those are all shades that have worked for me, so a blend of them should be great). I guess that means 3Y04-ish? Something like that.

So the bottom line is: I really like having all of these foundations mapped by shade and think this is a great idea, but beware to the in-store matching process if you have an uneven skintone.

Simple Grey Eyeshadow

This one is from almost a month ago (I still had blonde in my hair!), but I’m posting it anyway. My vacation posting schedule tends to get pretty wonky. But this was a clean, simple look I wore for a friend’s dinner party where I didn’t want to worry about looking over or under-done.

I’m wearing the two shimmery greys from the¬†Buxom Color Choreography Eyeshadow Palette¬†in Tango ($36), lined tightly with Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner Stingray¬†($20). I’m also wearing¬†Saint Pinky Nude lipstick¬†($22) on lips, which is my go-to MLBB (my lips but better) lip shade and sooooo buttery smooth.

gunmetal grey eyeshadow buxom color choreography buxom color choreography palette tango dark grey shimmer eyeshadow stila smudge stick charcoal gunmetal eyeshadow buxom color choreography palette tango

December Ipsy vs Birchbox Review

Sorry, I know, I’m the worst. I haven’t posted these and I’m sorry. What’s worse, I’ve been traveling and haven’t even fully tested all of this stuff! But better late than never, so here’s a brief review of the products I got in my boxes almost a month ago!


december 2013 ipsy glam bag products

POP Beauty Bright Up Your Life Eye Shadow Trio in Smokin Hot ($24 for a 10-pan palette). This is a sampler from a larger palette. I have mixed feelings about the shades I got: the two lighter shades work well (the gunmetal is particularly nice), but the black was cheap, chalky and under-pigmented. Not sure how the rest of the full palette compares.  Ipsy deal code is for 25% off at www.popbeauty.com with code eyeluvpop through 1/15/14.

pop beauty bright up your life palette smokin hot trio swatch pop beauty bright up your life palette smokin hot trio swatches

Be a Bombshell¬†The One Stick in Girl Crush ($16). This was nice, it’s basically like a skinnier version of NARS the multiple. The color is kind of unusual, it’s a pale, frosty pink. It makes a good blush on my light complexion, but I think it would make a really lovely highlight color on someone with medium to dark skin. Ipsy discount is¬†40% off and free blush at www.beabombshellcosmetics.com¬†with code ipsy40 through 1/15/14.

Be a Bombshell The One Stick in Girl Crush

Ardell¬†Natural Lash in 120 Demi ($3.99). These are pretty standard false lashes. I’ve used this brand before and like them. Ipsy didn’t provide a sale code for Ardell, sorry. ūüė¶

NYX¬†Extra Creamy Round Lipstick¬†Celene ($3.99). You guys already know that I love this stuff! NYX round lipstick forever! This color is a little light for me, though, so it’s going into the giveaway bag (I promise that will be coming up soon, I had to delay my latest prize drawing due to out of town holiday craziness). Discount is¬†35% off the slim lip pencil at www.nyxcosmetics.com¬†with code ipsyslim through 1/15/14.

Nicka K New York Nail Color in Classic Taupe ($4.99). This was a nice greige color. The first coat was a little streaky, but the second coat was smooth and fully opaque. Holy hell was this one glossy, and it lasted well. I was very impressed, I thought the formula was very similar to my OCC Nail Lacquer but at half the price. Get 30% off  at www.nicka.com with code IPSY through 1/10/14.

nicka k new york nail laquer classic taupe greige polish

Bonus offers for brands that weren’t in my bag:
J.Cat Beauty- 30% off any purchase at www.jcatbeauty.com with code jcatlips through 1/15/14.
Jesse’s Girl- 30% off any purchase at www.jessesgirlcosmetics.com¬†with code ipsydec2013 through 1/15/14.
Starrily- 20% off at www.starrily.com with code ipsy (no listed exp. date).
Demeter Fragrances- 20% off any purchase at  www.demeterfragrance.com with discount code ipsy20dfl through 1/13/14.

Next up, Birchbox:

december 2013 birchbox products

TONI&GUY Casual Sea Salt Texturising Spray ($16.99). I haven’t used this yet, but I’m a big fan of salt spray. I spritz it on damp hair, scrunch and go for a more controlled version of my natural, frizzy waves.

Manna Kadar Cosmetics sheer glo shimmer lotion ($29). This was a nice, light luminizing liquid. It’s like a thicker version of Benefit’s High Beam.

Camille Beckman Glycerine Hand Therapy‚ĄĘ ($14). This was really hydrating and absorbed well!

Supersmile Ultimate Lip Treatment ($24). This product claims to “hydrate, exfoliate, and heal tired skin.” The idea of exfoliating and moisturize in one step seems odd, but it is somehow simultaneously smooth and every so slightly gritty (like impossibly finely milled liquid sand). It made my lips feel great, but it is also $24. I just can’t justify that price for what is essentially a luxurious chapstick.

Ahmad Teas ($7 for 40 bags). Yum! I love tea, and it was nice that they included 3 flavors to try.

I also want to throw in a quick fabkids¬†shoutout. Look at how cute my December outfits were! $39.95 for one 3-piece outfit, $20 for the second and they’re so fun and well-made! I feel like the fabkids clothes have a lot of personality.

striped shirt plaid punk pants fabkids boy clothes
Ska-punk 90’s throwback!!!

yellow buffalo check plaid shirt goldenrod colored jeans fabkids boys outfits
Craft beer snob in training!