Monday, May 28, 2012

Sally Hansen Salon Effects nail polish strips

I'm going to mix things up a little bit since I haven't received a package in a few days.  The end of the month is always a little sad for me because the packages don't come as often.  I recently received my complimentary voxbox from Influenster and inside were these little treasures from Sally Hansen. 


This is the newest concept in nail polish.  They are strips of color are made from real nail polish.  The thought is you just peel and stick and don't have to wait for your nails to dry.  They come in 40 colors/designs and the package says they will last up to 10 day.  Getting your nails done at the salon and adding designs to that can be very time consuming and expensive.  The retail cost is $9.99 for a package of 16.  Much less expensive than going to the salon.

It took me a couple of tries to get the application technique down.  You start by making sure your nails are clean.  This will ensure the strips stick better.  Each strip is on a backing and you literally peel it off and stick it on your nail.  I lined up the edges and pressed the strips on.  I had some leftovers on the end and the directions said to file it down.  I didn't find that to work very well so I used the enclosed orange stick and used that to cut the excess off then filing down the little bit left on the ends.  It took me about 10-15 min to apply the strips.   



This is what my nails looked like after I was done.  As you can see  the coverage was pretty good except on the third finger.  That one didn't quite cover the whole nail.  There are various sizes in the box so I could have used a bigger size but it wasn't a big deal to me.  Hardly noticeable unless you look closely.  I noticed some chipping on the tips after about 4 days and by day 7 they were looking pretty chipped so I removed them.  To remove them you just use nail polish and remove as you would with regular liquid polish.  During the time I had them on there were a couple of times I felt like the edges were rough, perhaps the glitter coming through.  I took a soft file and and smoothed it out and it was fine.  I received lots of compliments on my nails and liked looking at a little bling during my blah same ol' same ol' days. 

Verdict: I would buy and use these if I wanted my nails done for a special occasion or vacation.  $9.99 is a little expensive for everyday nails but a total bargain vs. going to a salon. 


***I received this product free from Influenter as part of the Spring Beauty voxbox.  My opinions are my own and in no way influenced by Influenster or Sally Hansen**

Sunday, May 27, 2012

May Beauty Box 5

Beauty Box 5 time!  Beauty Box 5 is a monthly subscription service for beauty products including makeup, skin care, fragrances, nail care, body care, beauty tool and just about anything else beauty related.  They have three ways to subscribe.  You can pay monthly for $12 a month, or quarterly $30 which brings the price down to $10 a month or yearly for $100 which brings the price down to $8.33 a month.  Shipping is included in these prices. 

The good:The brands.  Well known brands including some eco-friendly ones.

The pricing structure.  I like the options they have, monthly, quarterly and yearly.  Even the quarterly gives you a little bit of a discount. 

Like surprises? Boxes ship out on the 15th of every month and you never know what's going to be in it.  I like surprises so this is a positive for me.  Also since this ships out in the middle of the month you get a little treasure towards the end of the month.  Most monthlies ship at the beginning. 

The not so good:
Skip a month. Currently there is no option for this.  If you want to skip you have to cancel.

Don't like surprises?  You may end up with something in your box you might not use



Contents with full size amount and price in parenthesis:
.5 oz. Evie Evan mini purity mask - value $10.00 (they sell this mini size so it's considered a full size item)

13 ml. It's a 10 miracle hair mask - value $1.28 (240 ml. $23.00)

7 ml. It's a 10 miracle styling serum - value $0.71 (120 ml. $12.07) - This was good at taking away the frizzies but I felt like it weighed my hair down and left it flat. 

.05 fl. oz. 2 applications Beauty Flash lifting effect spray - value $0.65 (25 applications $19.99)

2 oz. Tree Hut Shea Body Butter - value $3.08 (7 oz. $10.79)

3 .15 oz. Merlot Natural Grape Seed moonlight radiance night cream - value $0.73/ea (4 oz. $19.00)

The total value of all the samples received is $17.91.  I would like to try the purity mask and shea butter is always nice.  I wish I didn't get 3 night cream packets from Merlot.  It would've been nice to try some of their other items besides night cream.  The lifting effect spray seems gimmicky and is not something I would normally use but I'll give it a try.  That's the whole point to try things you wouldn't normally try, right?       

Verdict: I'm going to continue with this subscription because paid for the year and I like the variety of items received.  

**I pay for these services myself and am not any type of sponsor paid or unpaid for Beauty Box 5

Friday, May 25, 2012

Influenster VoxBox


Question?  Who doesn't love free stuff? 

Influenster is not a montly subscrition service and you don't/can't pay to get boxes from them.  The way it works is you sign up for free on their website and unlock "badges". There are many badges you can unlock depending on your hobbies, lifestyle, where you live, social networking etc.  When the company has a box of items they want tested and reviewed they pick from the Influensters registered and send them goodies.  Once you get the items you are expected to try them out, review them, tell your friends etc.  Doing all of that will ensure that you will remain on the list of influensters that get boxes.  The whole point of the company is to get the word out about the products and what better way than word of mouth.  And yes all of this is free, you don't pay to sign up, you don't pay to get a box and you don't pay for anything period.  I don't know how often the boxes get sent out but I do know this is the second one this year.  The first box was sent in February and was called the Love Box.  This is my first box and I was so excited when I got the email saying "congratulations, you're getting a Spring Beauty Box..." 


This is how the box looked when I opened it.                    This is the contents of my box.  7 items!


SoyJoy Bar strawberry flavor ($0.99-$1.29) - This was just ok.  The strawberry flavor was really good and bar was dense like it had substance but it was dry.  If this was the only healthy option around I would eat it but make sure you have something to drink nearby. 



Dr. Scholl's Ball of Foot Cushion ($6.99) - I tried this with a pair of low healed strappy sandals and it was a fail.  The cushion was nice and thick but that was part of the problem.  It was so much cushion that it made the straps over the top of my foot too tight. 



Aveeno Daily moisturizing body wash (full size $6.99-$8.99) - I like this alot.  It has a soft feeling to it and no scent.  This is great for those who have problems with scents or men who don't want any type of scent in their body wash.  When I got out of the shower I didn't feel any residue left or feel like my skin was dry.  I would purchase this product. 


Sally Hansen Salon Effects polish strips ($9.99) - these are way fun.  I don't know that they take much less time than painting your nails because you have to place them and shape them but there is less room for mistakes.  This allows you to have clean edges and fun nails.  The box says it will last up to 10 days.  I noticed chipping on the tips of my nails after about 3 days.  If you want designed nails quick and don't want to go to the salon then the price is worth it.  For everyday nails the 9.99 is a little pricey.  I would buy this for a special occasion. 


              
ChapStick Lip Shield 365 ($1.89-$2.39) - I like this a lot.  A pleasant surprise is that it had kind of a lemon taste to it.  Not strong but just enough for me go say "hmmm, tasty"  It goes on real smooth and almost turns into an oil when applied.  This makes me feel like it's really getting into my lips as opposed to just sitting on the surface.  



Bath & Body Works Fine Frangrance Mist ($14.00)I like this product but perhaps in a different scent.  This scent is very strong so the first time I used it I was a little overwhelmed.  I've since used it sparingly and while still goes on strong it tones down nicely.  The good part is this bottle should last me a really long time! 


Sheer Cover Duo Concealer (sold in 1 month supply kit of 6 products for $29.95) - I'm not sure why there are two different shades in here and there were no instructions on how to use the product.  I haven't used foundation in years so I may just be behind the times on how this stuff works nowadays.  I ended up using a foundation brush I had and blended the two shades and applied to my face.  I have a small area with hyperpigmentation that I thought I would try and cover up.  It covered it fairway well, I could still see a little bit of dark through the foundation.  The foundation didn't feel heavy but when I looked in the mirror I could tell I had it on.  I don't like foundation being visible which is why I stopped using it.  So although this wasn't cakey it was still visible. 


***These items were provided to me at no cost by Influenster.  My reviews are my own and not influenced by the companies or brands listed.   

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

April Eco-Emi Box

I recently added a new service to my ever growing list of subscription services.  I know, I know another box?  I kept hearing really good things about Eco-Emi so I couldn't resist.  Eco Emi is an monthly subscription company that sends a minimum of 5 eco-friendly products to you every month for a fee of $15 (shipping included).  The products range from beauty, household, food, etc. 

The items arrived in a small USPS flat rate box.  There was no other packaging inside the box.  This goes along with their eco-conscious practices and I appreciate it.  While I do like some of the boxes, bags my other subscriptions come in I'm gathering quite a collection because I can't bring myself to toss them and I've haven't been able to re-purpose them yet.  Inside the box was a note card with information on all the products in the box.   



This is the note card with all the information on the products. 

When I opened the mailing box this is what it looked like.  Some of the products were in a little bag and a couple of them wrapped in tissue paper. 

The orange paper with the elephant is from http://www.mrellipooh.com/.  The are advertising the paper which is called Pachyderm Paper made out of elephant dung.  The back has a whole bunch of information on the elephants in Sri Lanka and the reason they are being killed.  It was very interesting reading.  The other items are all of my treasures.  As you can see there is soap, toothpaste, lotion, body wash, lip shimmer, bronzer, tea, honey and drink enhancers. 


This is a close up of the drink enhancers and chocolate sample. 



Contents: full size amount and price in parenthesis

FULL SIZE Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer in Plum - value $5.00 http://www.burtsbees.com/

.5 oz. Alabu skin care Baby Me Goat Milk Soap - value $0.79 (3.25 oz. $5.15) http://www.alabu.com/

3.5g Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques Bronzer in Golden - value $10.50 (4g $12.00) http://www.laurenbrookecosmetiques.com/

.75 oz. Dr. Collins Natural toothpaste Vanilla mint with Goji Berry - value $1.21 - This is a paste and felt a little grainy which was fine.  I mention it because I normally use gel so it was a little different feeling.  I didn't notice a strong mint flavor but the flavor reminded me of yogurt.  Weird huh? I could definitely taste the berry.  (4.2 oz. $6.75) http://www.drcollins.com/

.75 oz ? The Seaweed Co. Wildly Natural Seaweed Soothing Body Wash -value $1.06 (12 oz. $16.89) - This had a little zing to it.  It was a nice little wake up in the shower.  http://www.seaweedbathco.com/

.5 oz? Shea Radiance Whipped Shea Butter in Kalahari Melon w/20% off coupon using code ECOEMI2012 - value $3.40 (5 oz. $34.00) http://www.shearadiance.com/

1 Mate Factor Tropical Lime teabag w/20% off coupon using code ecoemi - value $0.30 (20 tea bags $5.99) - I didn't like this flavor very much.  http://www.matefactor.com/

1.5 oz. Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Raw Fair Trade Honey and a booklet with information and 17 really tasting looking recipes using the honey - value $0.75 (16 oz $7.99) - I've used this brand before and really enjoyed it.  I'm excited to have a small one to keep at work for my coffee or tea.    http://www.wholesomesweetners.com/

Catalyst Gourmet enchanting chai enhancer w/$5 off $20 using code ECOEMI12  (1.5 oz. $16) - I used this in my coffee and it added a nice little chai flavor. http://www.catalystgourmet.com/

.5 oz. Catalyst Gourmet enchanting chai finishing sugar w/$5 off $20 using code ECOEMI12 - value $1.25 (6 oz. $15) http://www.catalystgourmet.com/

Catalyst Gourmet enchanting chai bites of bliss spiced chocolate bark w/$5 off $20 using code ECOEMI12 - (2.5 oz. $8.50) I like chai a lot so I was looking forward to trying this but it tasted like black licorice to me which I'm not a fan of.   http://www.catalystgourmet.com/

I also received a coupon for Lauren Brooke cosmetiques for 15% off but it expired on May 15th and I didn't receive my box until May 16th.  Hmmmm.
 
A coupon for 15% off $25 or more w/code ECOLBS12 at http://www.ellbees.com/.  I thought this was strange because I didn't receive any samples for this product.  The coupon also had 2 recipes on the back using their products.

What mixture of products huh?  I received $24.26 worth if products for my $15.00.  I am really happy with the assortment of products and it's all products I will use.  The vanilla mint goji berry toothpaste sounds especially interesting.    

Verdict: Keep the eco-emi coming....

***I pay for these subscriptions myself and am not any type of sponsor paid or unpaid for Eco-Emi.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May Little Black Bag

Little Black Bag time!  This is so addicting.  There are people that open several bags a month.  I've really been trying to limit myself to one a month and have so far been successful.  Haven't joined the Little Black Bag club yet?  Want to know more?  Let's me explain.  Little Black Bag is a new subscription service with a twist.  It's sort of confusing to talk about but once you get going it's easy.  

In a nutshell you join the monthly service and pay $49.95 plus $4.95 shipping and tax (CA & NY) which brings the total to roughly $59 or you can do a one time bag purchase for $59.95 plus $4.95 shipping and tax (CA & NY).  You pick out one item to put in your bag from the gallery of 350+ items ranging in price from $105-$12).  The deal on the bag is for $49.95 or $59.95 you will receive at least $100 worth of items.  So once you pick out your one item you click add to bag and the company picks out 1-3 more items to put in your bag so it's value is at least $100.  Now the catch is you don't get to see what those items are until you pay for your bag.  They show you the brand and value so you can look through the gallery to see what the possibilities area.  The items will change depending on the value of the item you pick out.  Once you pick out your item and purchase your bag this is where the twist comes in .  You are not obligated to keep any of the items in your bag you can trade them with other members on the Little Black Bag website for items in their bags.  This goes on for 7 days.  Once the 7 days is over your bag closes and ships. Now if anytime during those 7 days you are happy with your bag and want them to send it to you just click ship my bag and off it goes to your happy little hands. 
The trading part of it sounds more confusing than it actually is.  Say you get a necklace picked out for you that you really don't like.  You can go into the gallery pick something you like and offer to trade it for something in your bag.  You don't actually talk to the people you are trading with it but you just put your trades out there and hope someone else with an open bag accepts.  Tons of trading goes on so don't worry about not being able to trade your items.  I have never kept the item I started with and haven't had any issues trading items I'm not a big fan of.

The good: 

Like to shop? The definitely fills the shopping need.  It feels like you are shopping every time you check the website to look for items to trade with other members. 

The value.  Your bag is guaranteed to be worth at least $100.  My lowest bag was $164 and as high as $300. 

The brands. The brands are well very well known.  Kenneth Cole, Disney, RJ Graziano, R&Em, Gorjana, Sakroots, and many more.  

Multiple treasures.  You can score multiple treasures and use them for gifts at a fraction of the cost. 

Variety. They have handbags, sunglasses, cell phone cases, ipad cases, earrings, wallets, nail polish, home items, etc.  You will find something you like. 

Skip a month? Don't want a bag with month? then skip it.  The company sends and email on the 1st of every month and you have 5 days to decided if you want to skip or open a bag.  If you forget to skip for some reason they will charge you for that month but you will get double the items the following month. 

Need a gift? Send them their own little black bag.  You purchase the bag and the company sends the recipient and email saying they received a gift.  Who wouldn't love picking out their own treasures! and what a unique gift.  

Received your items but didn't like it.  LBB will let you return the item for an exchange or refund.  The refund will be prorated based on the number of items in your bag and price paid.  In an exchange you will receive another mystery item in your bag with a value of within $5 of the exchanged item.  I've done the exchange process and it was fairly painless.  I had to pay for the return shipping but once the company received the items they sent an email confirming receipt and I received items in my next bag of similar value.   
The not so good:

The price.  Yes $50 a month is a little pricey but if you break it down by item it's not so bad.  Also you can use it to find gifts or just skip a month.  

Pictures. The show pictures of the items and list the sizes but I would like to see them on a model (real or fake) to see the scale.  I have received a couple of pairs of earrings that were bigger than I thought they were going to be.   

Want more, more more.  You can only open one bag at a time however there is no limit to the number of bag you can buy
.
Joining.  They company allows you to take the style quiz but to actually open your "bag" right away you have to invite 5 friends or post the link on facebook.  The other option is to wait for an email from them which takes about a day.  I personally don't like the idea of spamming my friends with email or posting stuff on facebook without knowing more about the product so I chose to wait for the email.  Once I did sign up I sent an invite to a friend and they still required her to send emails to friends to see her bag.  I think if someone sends you an invite you should be allowed immediate access. 

Time: In my opinion you need to really be on top of the emails to get the best deals.  I'm fortunate enough to have a job where I can check my email frequently can really stay of top my trading for the 7 day period.   


It's addicting.  Nuff said






This is how my treasures arrived.  As you can see the wrap the items in black tissue so it's like a Little Black Bag. 


Here is all of my jewelry goodies.  I ended up with 3 pair of earrings, one necklace and one bracelet. 


This is my makeup items.  An eye shadow, and eye lighter and  liquid mascara. 

Contents of box with retail price in parenthesis.

Cargo EyeLighter in white ($18.00)

Mineralogie liquid eyeliner ($18.00) - this works great.  I put it on in the morning, went to work, ran some errands then went to spin class and it stayed on. 

Mineralogie fiji eyeshadow ($16.00)

Lydell earrings ($28.00) - these are really cute.  I had them in my bag last month and traded them away.  I was super excited to get them back this month

Lydell necklace ($24.00) - I like this but the beads are bigger in person than they looked online. 

Zad color block bracelet ($24.00)

Lee Angel beaded hoops ($70.00) - these are really cute but I don't know if they are worth $70.  They aren't sterling or gold. 

Zad teardrop shell earrings ($20.00)

I started my bag with a purse and two other items the company picked out.  I ended up trading all the items I started with.  I know a lot of people get the purses, totes, and wallets but I have a ton of purses already and am kind of picky when it comes to those things.  The purse I picked out was cool but I wasn't super attached to it so I traded it on a multiple offer trade.  In the end my 3 items with a value of about $124 grew to 8 items with a value of $218.  Using the cost of the bag (rounding up to $60) each item then cost $8 each.  What a great deal! 

Verdict: I love Little Black Bag and I'm sticking with it. 

**I pay for these subscriptions myself and am not any type of sponsor paid or unpaid for Little Black Bag

Monday, May 21, 2012

May Gotham Box

Gotham Box is quickly becoming one of my favorite monthly food boxes.  This is only my second box but I'm really impressed with the communication and the delicious goodies from this company.  Gotham Box is a monthly food subscription service. For $20 a month (shipping included) they mail you a box of products from the "Gotham" aka city you choose.  Currently the cities available are San Francisco and New York.  This company, like Love with Food also donates a meal for every box purchased, I love this!  The products curated are from local places in the city of your choosing. 

The good:
Small business: The products are from small businesses in the area of your choosing.  I'm a big fan of supporting small and local when possible. 

Price: $20 isn't totally unreasonable considering you get hard to find specialty products. 

The not so good:

Availability: I love receiving these local specialty items but some can't be ordered online and if they can shipping is sometimes expensive.  I would like to see the company have a way to purchase additional items at a discount of be able to combine products and pay one shipping price.   

Multiple boxes: I chose the San Francisco box because that's where I'm from originally but I would like to try the New York box just out of curiosity.  On the website you can change your city but it doesn't appear you can subscribe or order more than one box.  It would be a  nice feature if they had leftover boxes at the end of the month to let subscribers purchase those.  

Skip a month: No can do.  You can change your city or cancel but no skipping the month.   


The contents came in a regular mailing box with packing peanuts.  Inside was a card with information about the companies featured.  There was also a postcard of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and it had a personalized note written to me from Jonathan (co-founder).  This was totally unexpected but a very nice surprise. 

Contents: Retail price in parenthesis. 

1lb box of Jack and Jason's pancakes & waffle mix ($5.32) http://www.jackandjasons.com/ - I made ebelskivers (Scandinavian pancakes) out of this mix.  I didn't find it to have a strong blueberry flavor although I could see lots of blueberries in the mix.  It has somewhat of a healthy wheat flavor to it.  It wasn't bad by any means but different from your normal regular pancake mix.  

2 oz. bag of California Chips creamy chipotle chips.  ($3.00) http://www.californiachips.com/ - I didn't get to try these but I was told by the boyfriend they were pretty good.  He's not into extremely spicy stuff and since he ate the whole bag I'm guessing they weren't too spicy.  

3 awesome bars 2 blueberry almond and 1 coconut pecan ($2.10/ea), I wish I would've received 3 different flavors but I'll survive, they look delicious!  http://www.youcantfakeawesome.com/ - I like the blueberry almond and loved the coconut pecan.  It tasted like a oatmeal cookie and I love oatmeal cookies.  It doesn't have the nutritional information on it but I'm hoping it's not to bad because I would buy these.  Also I was reading the packaging and it says it's compostable.  Another bonus!

1.8oz. Double Dutch Sweets Ramona bar ($6.00).  Listen to this description, layers of buttery caramel and honey nougat with roasted peanuts that are hand dipped in single source Venezuelan dark chocolate, finished with Maldon sea salt flakes.  I know, right?  Can't wait to taste this little treat.  http://www.doubledutchsweets.com/ - oh my gosh.  This was soooo good.  I'm a big fan of salted chocolate and this was perfect.  $6 is a little high for a chocolate bar but if you're going to splurge you won't be disppointed.  

The total value of the box is $20.62 and I paid $20.  I am thrilled with my box this month.  I love oatmeal anything and the awesome bars have big ol oatmeal flakes in them so I can't wait to try those.  The Double Dutch Sweets just feels amazing and has amazing description to match.  The value received is equal to the value paid but I got some really cool goodies.    

Verdict: This is a definite keeper!     

**I purchase these boxes myself and am not any type of sponsor paid or unpaid for Gotham Box.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May My Glam

It's time for the hot pink mailer again.  I just love the mailers that these treasures come it.  When I open my mailbox I know exactly who that package is for and it makes me happy. 
My Glam has been around for awhile and seems to have a steady following.  It's a is a monthly subscription program for beauty products. Each month you will receive 4-5 samples of different beauty products to try out. The cost is $10 a month with free shipping but they they have a yearly subscription rate for $110 which drops the price down to $9.16 a month. In order to get the yearly rate you have to pay the $110 up front.

The good:

The brands. They send out brands like Freeman, Urban Decay, NYX, Philosophy, Murad, etc.

The samples. I have received samples from brands I'm familiar with and have used before and some I've been wanting to try.    

The choice. You don't get to pick your samples which is great if you like surprises.

The packaging. Each month the products come in a cute makeup bag for all your goodies.

You can cancel anytime with no penalties. Yearly subscriptions don't offer a refund but if you cancel they won't renew when the years up.

The not so good:

Skip a month? There is no option to skip a month. If you don't want to receive a bag that month you have to cancel your subscription and re-sign up if you want to start it up again. This could be a problem if there is a wait list to sign-up.

The price: It works out to $2-$3 an item which is reasonable for a couple of the items but a little overpriced for others.  So far in my experience it's all balanced out. 

The choice: You don't get to pick you items so you may end up with things that you might not use




This months theme is Love is in the Air.  The bag arrived in their famous hot pink metallic mailer.  This is great packaging on their part, I mean who wouldn't be curious about a hot pink metallic mailer and who wouldn't love to receive one. click here if you would like to see a better pic of the mailer. 

Contents: retail price for full size product in parenthesis.

Cute blue makeup bag with pink lips on it

0.05 fl. oz. Philosophy love sweet love fragrance sampler - value $1.05 (2 oz. $42.00)

FULL SIZE Studio Gear Lipstick in Warm & Cozy (light brown color) - value $15.00

1 pkg (2 sets) iss Beauty Nail Bling - I couldn't find any info on this so I'm guessing value of $5-$6 - I give these a thumbs down.  I put them on in the morning and by afternoon one was missing from my finger.  By the next day the edges were lifting and another one had ripped. 

My glam pink concealer brush - value $4

My glam pink defining eyeliner brush - value $4

As you can see the full size lipstick is valued at $15 which pays for the bag.  The total value of all items received is about $29.05- $31.05 not including the makeup bag.  I recently tried the peel and stick nail things in another brand so I'm excited to try this.  The makeup brushes complete the collection they have sent in the previous bags.  I'm not much of a lipstick person, I always forget to put it on but I'm trying to make a conscious effort so maybe receiving this in a color I like is a sign.   

That's my May Glam Bag.  I satisfied with the items.  I do the yearly subscription so my cost was $9.16, saving me $17.99-$22.89.

Verdict - I have a yearly subscription to My Glam so I will finish out my year and re-evaluate to see if I'm going to keep it.  So far I'm enjoying the products though.   

**I pay for these kits myself and am not any type of sponsor paid or unpaid for My Glam

Saturday, May 19, 2012

May Gossip Girl Birchbox

This months Birchbox theme is Gossip Girl.  I have never seen the show before so I didn't have any idea what the expect.  
New to the subscription box world?  Let me tell you a little about Birchbox.  It's a monthly subscription service for beauty products like makeup, skincare, fragrance, etc.  Each month you will receive 4-5 generously sized samples and sometimes full size beauty products.  The cost of this service is $10 w/shipping included.  They also have a yearly subscription which is $110 for the year bringing the cost down to $9.16 a month.  You can about my April Natural Wonders themed Birchbox here.

The good:
The brands.  You will receive items from Benefit, Stila, Pur, Essie, Kerastase, Tarte, etc. 

The price.  This month I received 5 items including one full size item.  This worked out to be $2 an item.  I may not have paid $2 for the smaller samples but it all balances out with a full size item included.   

Like surprises?  You don't know what's in your box until you receive it.  When you sign up you take a little quiz and the items in the box are supposed to be customized to you. 

Discounts: They have a system where you earn points for referrals and things you buy.  The points allow you to receive discounts on future full size purchases from their shop.  They offer free shipping on items from the monthly box and a $5 flat shipping rate for items that don't qualify for free shipping.  This is a nice feature because if you want to order several different brands you get free or $5 shipping for everything. 

Need a gift? You can gift a 3, 6 or 12 month subscription or you can purchase a gift card in any amount.  There also have a nice option with the gift subscriptions where you can choose to have the 1st box shipped you for giving and subsequent boxes will be shipped directly to the recipient.  Great holiday gift!

Man in your life that likes surprises?  Birchbox now has boxes for men.  The cost is $20 a month or you can buy a 3 month gift subscription.  I don't know anyone who has received one of these yet but I hear they are going to have some great products in them.

The not so good:
Skip a month?  Currently there is no option to skip a month.  If you don't want a box that month then you have to cancel your subscription.  If you paid for the year you cannot cancel, you will continue to receive boxes until the paid year is up. 

Choice.  You don't get to choose what's in your box so if you don't like surprises or experimenting with different products this may be an issue for you


This is the outside of the box.  It has a Gossip Girl wrap around the actual box. 


Here is the inside.  Two of the products were wrapped in pretty pink tissue and tied with a black ribbon. 


Here are all my goodies. 

Contents of May Gossip Girl Birchbox (Full size amount and price in parenthesis)

.5 fl. oz/15 ml. Algenist Regenerative Anti-again Moisturizer - value $22.50 (60 ml. $90)

.038 fl. oz/1.13 ml. Arquiste Flor y Canto parfume - value $3.40 (55 ml. $165.00) - I like this perfume a lot.  Figures since it's super expensive.  I could smell little hints of it all through the day which was nice and the boyfriend told me I smelled good. 

1 oz. (guesstimate) BeautyBlender beauty sponge and brush cleaner - value $2.99 (6 oz. $17.95) 

Full Size Stila sparkle waterproff liquid eye liner in Rock Candy (brownish) - value $22

2 notecards with 1 envelope - value 0.83 (set of 12 $10)  

The total value of my items are $51.72.  What's funny about Birchbox is every month the items seem so small but there is usually at least one full size item and a high end items which makes the value great.  I've never heard of Arquist parfume but at $165 a bottle I'm willing to try this sample!  I'm also super excited about the sparkly eye liner and I've been wearing a lot of brown so this is perfect.  I've been cleaning my brushes with normal soap and I don't think it's working too well so I was happy to receive this cleanser to try.        

The verdict:  It's still a keeper.  I'm very happy with the full size Stila product which makes the cost totally worth it.

**I pay for these boxes myself and am not any type of sponsor paid or unpaid for Birchbox

Friday, May 18, 2012

May Beauty Army Kit

It's Beauty Army time.  Woot, Woot.  What I like about Beauty Army is they consistently have deluxe size samples from known brands and the value is always way over the amount paid.  You can read and see the contents of my March kit here and April kit here

What's this Beauty Army stuff all about?  Beauty Army is a monthly subscription service where you get to choose up to 6 items to try out. The cost is $12 a month and that includes shipping. They also offer a yearly deal for $132 which means your 12th month is free dropping the price down to $11 a month.

The Good:

The brands: You will get options from Joico, Weleda, LaRocca, Freeman, Barbor, StriVectin, etc. These are well known brands. They also say they use brands from emerging companies which is also fun.

The box/kit: I am very impressed with the little box it comes in. It's a well made sturdy reusable box hat can be used for gifting treasure boxes of your own making, keeping your treasures organized, etc.

The price: $12 Shipping included seems reasonable to me to be able to try a useful amount of product. I know you can get samples at a store for free but this is an actual useful amount. The samples are big enough to use several times to see if you actually like the product not a tiny little smear of something. It works out to $2 an item. Would I buy these items if I saw them in the store for $2 each? Maybe.

Customer Service: I've had to email customer service for an issue and they were very prompt in responding and fixing the issue.  They seem to really care about their customers happiness with their products. 

Skip a month: Not feeling it this month? unexpected bills? now you can skip the month.  Yay! 

The not so Good:

Paying for the year. If you decide to take the plunge and pay for a year be advised there are no refunds for yearly subscriptions. I'm not sure how the skip a month option works for yearly subscribers, there are no details on this in the FAQ section as of yet. 

The Box. The box has the company name on the front along with a bunch of beauty type phrases. This makes your re-gifting options limited and it's too good a box to just toss.  I've re-purposed one of mine to hold all my beauty treasures. 


This is the first layer of goodies. 


This is all of my goodies!

Here is my May box. (full size amount and price in parenthesis)
This month I picked my 6 items from 9 available so everything in here is something I wanted.   

.13 oz. M.A.D skincare moisturizer - value $4.38 (1.7 oz. $57) - The pump was broken on this so I had to open the bottle to get the cream out.  It felt light but had kind of a musk smell that I didn't care for.  

.25 oz. Atopalm intensive moisturizing moisturizing cream - value $2.14 (3.4 oz. $30)

1 fl oz. Institut Karite Rejuvenating Hand cream - value $4.11 (16.91 oz. $69.90)

.24 oz. Cover FX ClearPrep FX matte foundation primer - value $4.45 (1 oz. $39) - I don't use liquid foundation but I used it before applying my mineral powder.  It took the shine off my face but I'm not sure it helped the powder any.  Since it took the shine off though I could see using this on the days where I don't want to wear makeup. 

.34 fl. oz. Weleda Refining Toner - value $1.70 (3.4 fl. oz. $17)  - There was enough in here to use for a few days.  It was nothing earth shattering but I liked it.  

1 Grand Central Beauty Smart Skin Perfecting Mask - value $18.75 (4 masks $75) - This was kind of messy to use.  I mixed the powder and liquids and applied.  It said this was enough for 1 mask but I think you could've got 2 out of it.  When it dried it was fairly easy to peel off and felt like rubber.  I didn't notice any immediate changes but it felt nice.  

The total value of my kit is $35.56.  Not too bad for a $12 investment AND these are items I will use.
Verdict: I'm very happy with all my kits thus far and will keep this subscription going.

**I pay for these kits myself and am not any type of sponsor paid or unpaid for Beauty Army.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May Foodzie Box

Foodzie box time!  What's a Foodzie?  

Foodzie is monthly subscription service that features artisan food products.  The price is $29.95 a month shipping included.  Each month you get to choose from 3 different curated boxes.  I was thrilled with my first box and was happy to pay the $29.95 fee.  The second box I was less than impressed with and considered canceling.  The food items were tasty but the value wasn't there.  This month the choices were Portland Tasting Box, Some Like it Hot Tasting Box and Spring Brunch Cooking Box.  I chose the Portland tasting box and was very anxious to see what was inside and the value of the items received.  My thought was although I like the products if the value wasn't there then I was going to have to cancel.   

The good:

The products: The products are gourmet items.  These are items you would find in a specialty store not an everyday supermarket. 

The sizes: Full size or close to full size products.  This is great!

Choice: There isn't just one box.  It seems there is something for every ones taste. 

Need a gift: Have a foodie friend that is impossible to buy for.  You can gift a 2, 5 or 10 month subscription. 

Commitment issues: You don't have to be a monthly subscriber to buy a box.  Boxes are offered to subscribers first but after the 6th of every month anyone can buy a box.  Subscribers receive benefits like free shipping in the marketplace and first pick at boxes.   

The not so good:

Skip a month:  There is no option to skip the month but they can pause your account for up to 3 months.

Value: Not consistent. The March box was incredible value ($51.75 worth of goods for $29.95), The April box value was $21.03.  Again the food was good but I felt the value needed to be way closer to the $29.95 paid.  I'm hoping April was just an off month. 


The contents of my May box:

4 oz. bag of Freddy Guys Ssalted Roasted Hazelnuts - value $4.00 - I found these to be tasty and boyfriend who normally doesn't like nuts liked them. 

12 oz. bottle Hotlips Raspberry Soda - value $2.75 - I didn't get to try this but the boyfriend said it tasted like underflavored mineral water. 

6 oz. Willamette Valley Confectionary Marionberry Pate de Fruit - value $8.00 - I thought these were very sweet.  The texture is super soft with a sugared outside.  I couldn't eat them plain and had considered spreading them on toast because the marionberry flavor was delicious.  I didn't get a chance to do that though cause the boyfriend ate them all.  He liked them a lot just how they are and said they tasted like candy. 

(1) 3 oz. Sunna Chocolate Coconut Cookie - value $3.00 - we both enjoyed this alot.  It was very soft and I loved the coconut in it.  I would buy these again. 

4 oz Olympic Provisions Nola Italian Style Salumi - value $10
(the description said the box was going to contain 8oz salumi but this is definitely a 4oz size) - I didn't get to try this but the I was told it was hard as a rock and tasted so bad that he threw it out.  Now this is coming from a big salumi and cheese guy who is not incredibly picky.  So I don't know if I got a bad one or if they are all like that. **update** I contacted Foodzie about this and they refunded me $5

The retail value of my box is $27.75.  So it still didn't hit the $29.95 mark but I'm happy with the products and price.  Yes the value is $2.20 less than I paid but these really are specialty items and things I am super excited to try.

The verdict?  The company redeemed themselves with me on this box.  I will continue my subscription and see what goodies await me next month.

** I pay for these boxes myself and am not any type of sponsor paid or unpaid for Foodzie

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May Sindulge bag

**********UPDATE AS OF 6/7/2012 THIS SUBSCRIPTION IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE***

***I received an email saying the company was going through some changes and would be re-launching in the fall with a special celebrity makeup artist on board.  You can sign up to be notified of he launch on their website ****

Sindulge is a monthly subscription service for beauty products with a slight twist.  They are the same as other monthly subscription services except you do a beauty consultation online (chat or video).  They advertise that they hand pick luxury samples specifically for you based on the consultation.  I had signed up on the website on a Wednesday and made an appointment for my consultation for Friday.  The website said the consultation would last about 15 min.  I was a little irritated with the consultation process.  I logged on the computer at the designated time for a text chat and was unable to connect.  I really didn't want to video chat but that seemed to be the only function working and I didn't want to miss my appointment so I clicked on that.  There was no consultant online but there was another customer waiting.  I asked her if anyone had came on and she said no and had been waiting for 10 min or so.  I waited about 7 min but then had to go.  I sent an email to customer service before I left telling them the situation.  I checked my email about 10 min later and there was an email from my consultant apologizing for the issue and she said she was available now.  I was able to log onto the text chat from my cell phone for my consultation.  My consultant was Christina.  She was very apologetic and we got right to the consultation.  She asked what my beauty preferences and needs were and what type of products I liked or used.  I told her I didn't have any interest in liquid foundation and that I used mineral powder and was very happy with it.  She said they had received some mineralized powders and would see if they had any left to put in my box.  The chat lasted about 10-15 min she said she would note all my preferences in my profile and I would have my box in 14 days.  It took about 11 days to receive my box in the mail.

The good:

Packaging: The packaging is fun.  The items come in a little purse like box with a handle.  It's made of cardboard so could probably only be reused a couple of times before wearing out. 

Brands: it seems they have some decent brands (youngblood, ferro, pixi).  the company is new so I'm hoping they will expand in this area as they grow. 

Price: The cost is $12 a month (shipping included) which is right in range with other companies.  The also have a deal where you can pay $132 for the year which brings the price down to $11 a month.  They also allow you to transfer the yearly subscriptions.  So if you decided you don't like it perhaps you could sell or gift the remaining months of your subscription to a friend.  They don't say how many products you will receive each month but I received 4. 

Need a gift: they offer 3, 6 or 12 months gift subscriptions. 

Samples: I don't know if this is typical since this is my first bag but I received 2 full size items. 

The not so good:

New company: they are a new company so they have a few bugs to works out with consultation part of it.  they also seem limited on the brands with only 6 listed on their website.  Again I expect this will grow as they expand. 


Skip a month: No can do.  If you don't want a bag that month you have to cancel. 


   
Here is the little purse like bag my items came in.  The card is a welcome car and talks about one of the brands they send (Pixi).  There is also a promo code for free shipping and 20% off two or more Pixi products. 



Here are my items.  The items were wrapped in red tissue. 

The contents are listed below with the value and retail size & price in parenthesis. 

Full size Pixi Fairy light solo eyeshadow - value $14.00
Full size Pixi nail colour in fresh red #19 - value $12.00
3ml/.01 fl. oz. Youngblood Eye Impact eye cream - value $11.60 (15ml/.5 fl. oz. $58.00)
5ml/.17fl. oz. Youngblood Mineral Primer - value $6.83 (30ml/1 oz. $41.00)

The total value of the 4 items I received is $44.43.  This is well above the $12 monthly fee.  I was really looking forward to getting some mineral powder but I guess they didn't have any left.  I like that she sent mineral primer though.  I've used primer in the past and it helps even out fine lines making your foundation or in my case powder go on smooth.  I also told her I liked a more natural look but wasn't afraid of color.  The eye shadow is a very neutral and would be a great base to add color to.  I have a ton of nail polish already so that is kind of meh for me but they would have no way of knowing that.   

Verdict: I splurged for the yearly subscription so I'll continue to receive my little purses.  If the value continues like this that would be great.  There is nothing in here that I won't use so that's a bonus.  I'll keep you posted on how next month goes. 

***I purchases these subscriptions myself and I am not any type of sponsor paid or unpaid for Sindulge

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May Love with Food box

Love with Food is one my favorite monthly food subscription boxes.  Reason #1 for every box purchased they donate to a worthy cause.  Reason #3 the price (which just got better). Reason #3 the products - everything to date has been delicious!  
Don't know what Love with Food with food is?  Let me explain.  Love with Food is a really cool monthly food/snack subscription.  The best thing about this program is for each box purchased they donate a meal to Share our Strength no Kid Hungry.  The price used to be $14 (shipping included) but I received a notice in my box this month that said the price is changing to $10 plus $2 shipping making it $12 a month.  Really the price is going down??  You're kidding.  I LOVE this company!  I was happy to pay $14 but I'll gladly pay $12.  Each month you will receive a box of 5+ unique gourmet hard to find items.  If your taste buds like what you taste them you can access the members only area and buy the item at Love with Food at a special discount.  Last month I received some amazing chocolate caramel dipped pretzels.  I was tempted to order a case of them but refrained.  The month before however I did order more fig bars from Nature's Bakery.  Each month is a different theme.  For instance March was hikers essentials and April was Bunny Hop into Spring.  This month is all about mom.  I am very excited about my treats this month and can't wait to try everything in the box!


The good:

The price: $12 a month, you get lots of treats AND you are donating a meal.  Can't beat that!

Need a gift: You can send a 3 or 6 month gift subscription to a friend.  Who wouldn't love getting tasty treats in the mail. 

Variety: There is lots of variety in the products and if you are food adventurous you'll like this. 

Discounts: You earn points that you can use towards the purchase of full size products. 

The not so good:

Skip a month: There is currently no option to skip a month.  If you don't want a box them you have to cancel your membership. 

Picky eater? You don't get to pick your items.  I actually don't see this as a problem but picky eaters may. 



The box came in a priority mail envelope


Contents of my May box (retail price listed in parenthesis)

.75 oz bag of Kettlepop organic sea salt popcorn ($2.95) - This wasn't spectacular but was tasty and it's only 110 calories a bag, perfect for a little snack.

1 package (2 cookies) Nikki's Cookies/Confections cinnamon & sugar Butterfly shortbread cookies ($1.50) - these were very tasty, they had a nice cinnamon flavor and the shortbread if buttery and crunchy. 

2 packages .6 oz. ea Barney Butter Almond Butter ($0.42/ea) - I put this on a warm english muffin and it was very good.  I like these little snack sizes for on the go snacking.

2 oz. jar of Fat Toad Farms Vanilla Bean Caramel ($3.95)

1.3 oz. Dillon's handmade pecan divinity ($0.72) - very good, not milky like some divinity can be.  It is light and fluffy while still remaining dense.  It was very sweet so I recommend sharing it. 

I received $9.96 in product for my $14 which means I "overpaid" by $4.04.  I would like to have seen them get closer to the $12 mark but when you factor in the meal donation I just considered the $4 my donation.  Pretty painless way to donate.  I'll be curious to see of the value will be closer to the $10-12 mark with the new pricing.

Verdict: I'm going to keep this subscription.  The samples are fun and good for the snack bowl or in my purse when I'm running errands all day.  $12 a month isn't unreasonable AND you donate to a fantastic cause.   

***I pay for these subscription myself and am not any type of sponsor paid or unpaid for Love with Food.