January 2021 Glossy Box Unboxing

Glossy Box unboxing January

This month I think my January Glossy Box came in record time.  Either that or it just feels that way because I just opened up two Glossy Mystery boxes just last week.  Either way my January Glossy box is here. And it is actually here before the January box sold out. Which means that this particular box is still available for those looking to sign up.

For those that don’t know Glossy Box is $21 per month beauty box. If you sign up for a year membership the price drops to $18 and you are still billed monthly instead of paying in one lump sum.  This is what I do actually.  Thus far, I have enjoyed every box from Glossy Box.  Some months are better than others of course, but on the whole they are a really good box.  If you are not currently a member you can try out the subscription for a discounted price getting your first box for $16 with the code: HAPPY.

But what is in my January box?

First off this box was heavy when it arrived.  Which sort of surprised me.  Then I opened it.  The culprit for the heavy box is the Bioderma Purifying cleansing Micelle Solution.  It is a full size at 16.7 Fl Oz. The full size retails for $9.90. The micelle solution was actually the first spoiler this month, but somehow I thought it was going to be a sample size.  I’m not sure why I thought that, it was a very nice surprise to get a full size though.

Lately, I have really been enjoying using micellar waters as makeup remover.  They are usually very gentle to the skin and an excellent part of a double cleanse. 

I haven’t tried the Bioderma one yet so it will be interesting to try out.  Apparently it is designed to reduce excess sebum so this should be interesting to see how it works.

I have areas (predominantly the areas covered by face masks when I leave the house) that are breaking out due to the moist environs under the mask and I have drier winter spots so my skin is even more combination than usual. I will be curious to see how the product deals with that. I am almost finished with the micellar water I am currently using so this might be next in line for a trial.

But that is for later

The second item I took out of the Glossy box was the Hydra Biome Probiotic Superdose Face mask from Korres. I actually have a full sized jar of this mask and I really like using it when my skin feels a little on the dry side.  Actually it is perfect for switching out with a clay detox mask like the Herbal Dynamics Cacao and Chamomile clay mask I used last week. 

While the clay mask cleared out clogged pores and helped clear out blemishes, it could be a little drying on certain parts of the face.  On those parts I ended up using the Korres Hydra-biome Probiotic mask to provide moisture to the dry areas.  It is a really great mask and, as my jar is almost empty, I am happy to have more in any size.  I will be finishing up the jar before opening this tube, but I am very happy to have it on standby. This winter I have really been enjoying the probiotic masks in general. It just seems to be the time of year for them, at least as far as my skin is concerned.

The third item in this month’s box was from a company I have heard of but never tried. It is Seed Phytonutrients Lightweight Facial Lotion. It retails for $34 which more than pays for the box. Looking at the label, the ingredients list looks pretty good.  It is for normal to oily skin though so I think I might hold off on trying it out for a little while.  My skin tends to be normal leaning towards dry in the winter and normal leaning towards oily in the summer.  I think that the best test of this might be in the spring/summer when my skin is in it’s target zone. I like to give products the best chance of working. So I will be putting it aside until then.  I am thrilled that it is a full size though. while I love trying out the sample sizes of new products, I also like being able to give them a full test.

One item that will probably get a test soon, possibly even this week, is the High Maintenance Peeling mask from High Beauty. I have tried foil packets of a serum and a moisturizer from High Beauty but nothing larger.  I really liked the one use foil packets, as the product seemed really nice, but clearly didn’t see any real results from such a small sample.  This trial sized tube looks like it will have at least a couple of uses.  Peeling masks aren’t usually my favorite, but I have been known to give them a try, and I am pleased to be able to try out more from the brand. As cannabis infused products have been arriving in more and more subscription boxes and in a wider variety of products I’ve stated looking into the benefits of CBD in all its forms of skin and hair care so I may end up doing a post just on CBD soon.

I know that having this mask in here means that technically speaking there are two masks in this box. However I am okay with it as they are two very different sorts of masks. I think if they were both sheet masks or bot probiotic masks or even both peel off masks I would find it a little strange. But having a probiotic mask and a peel off mask in the same box doesn’t bother me. But then again, I really like masks and I know I love the Korres one and am eager to try out the High Beauty one, so that could also account for it. Personally I am pretty happy with both of them.

I am also thrilled by the Afterspa Reusable rounds that came in this month’s box.  While I have limited my cleansing wipes to only occasional things and use my Makeup Eraser in place of a lot of throw away items, I do use cotton rounds. One of the ways I want to reduce my waste this year is to use more reusable cotton rounds.  I just hadn’t gotten around to looking into them yet.  I will happily try out these from Afterspa and decide it I like them enough to stock at least a week’s worth so that I can lower the amount of waste I produce just that much more. 

The final item in my box is the ZOLT Balance CBD Drink Mix It is caffeine free, coconut flavored and designed to raise your performance emotionally and physically. You can mix it into water and have a coconut flavored water of mix it in with a smoothie. 

At least according to the package.  I have to be honest, I’m not a big fan of drink mixes in general.  I tend to drink water (mostly carbonated with my Soda Stream because I find I simply drink more water if it is carbonated.) and if I want flavored water I generally buy a bottle of HINT (Blackberry is my all-time favorite but watermelon is growing on me) or I’ll just make tea or coffee.  I’ll try it, but I can’t say I am terribly excited by the Zolt drink mix. I’ll keep an open mind with it and who knows, I may try it like it and become a devotee.  But as an item in my beauty box, I can’t say it thrills me.

It is actually the only item in this month’s box that doesn’t thill me.  January isn’t the most exciting box, but all of the products are ones I am looking forward to using (with the drink mix exception).  I think the item I am most excited by are the Afterspa Reusable rounds. I also think it might be the least expensive item in the box which actually amuses me. I can’t wait to see how well the rounds perform and how well they last up with repeated washes.  I’ll keep you posted as I use them. All in all this Glossy Box was well worth the price I paid for it and I am very happy to have received this box.

Face Mask Friday: Herbal Dynamics Beauty, A week of masking

This week I have been using the Herbal Dynamics Cacao and Chamomile Clearing Clay Mask.  It was very kindly sent over by Herbal Dynamics Beauty for me to try out and review.  I very much appreciate it. 

the newly opened unused mask

It was also a very good time to try out this mask.

The holiday’s have been full of very rich food for me.  I honestly didn’t think it would be that bad as we weren’t traveling this year and pared things down.  I think the issue is that we have been eating rather healthy for a while now so the traditional favorites wanted at this time of year really threw my body for a loop.

We may have pared down at my house but the difference between the holidays and what we normally eat was very apparent.  And while it did send my weight up (temporarily) it also did a number of my skin.

Tis the season for clogged pores, my darlings. And I was blessed with a truckload.

So bring on the Cacao and Chamomile Clearing Clay mask.

First, let’s look at the specifics.

Brightens and evens skin tone.  Deeply detoxifies and cleanses with clays and blemish-fighting botanicals. Soothes inflammation and redness over time. Supports radiant, smooth complexion.

Indulge without the guilt with this delectable mud mask packed with antioxidants and skin-clearing botanicals. Cacao provides rich antioxidants that target signs of aging and inflammation while chamomile soothes. Gentle clays deep clean pores as botanical extracts and sulfur calm breakouts and blackheads.  Use twice weekly or as needed.

Ingredients: purified water, Bentonite, Montmorillonite, Watercress extract*, Lecithin, Salicylic acid, Kaolin, Sulfur, Extracts of Chamomile*, Lavender*, American ginseng*, Calendula and Honey suckle flower, Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) powder*, Natural chocolate flavor*, Organic kelp powder, L- Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), Essential Oils of Kola nut and Coffee arabica, and Vitis vinifera (Grape) seed extract*.

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

Herbal Dynamics Beauty

So let’s break down the ingredients list. 

Purified water is to be expected as you do need something to turn the clay from powder into a mask. Bentonie is a type of clay that has a fine, soft texture, Montmorillonite is likewise a clay (it is actually named after Montmirillon in France in case you were wondering).  Both clays are frequently used in clay mask.  As this is a clay mask I would expect to see clay in the mask.  I’m rather pleased to find it at the top. Kaolin a little further down is also a type of clay as well and again it is used in a lot of clay based masks.

Mask on

Watercress extract is something I find amusing as I ate a lot of it growing up.  I am somewhat anemic and my family tried to balance as much of my iron level with food as possible. Watercress is high in iron as well as calcium actually and we used to have it in salads and as a water cress soup when I was growing up.  It was very much a part of my childhood.  In skin care it is supposed to boost collagen production which I didn’t know until I looked it up.  I love that something that always helped my insides is also good for the outsides.

Lecithin is an emollient used to soothe the skin and I’m guessing it works well with the extracts of Chamomile which also sooths the skin and calms irritation. Salicylic Acid targets acne-causing bacteria via exfoliation and helps keep pores clean and reduce risk of future breakouts.  In most acne reduction formulas you will find some level of salicylic acid.  One of my favorite blemish fighting cleansers is from Peter Thomas Roth and features a pretty high concentration of it.  I was surprised to find that in this mask the salicylic acid is derived from willow bark.  I find that pretty cool actually. Sulfur is also often used in treating acne and blemishes so I wasn’t terribly surprised to see it on the list of ingredients.

Mask dried down

In skincare Ginseng works as an anti-inflammatory while Lavender not only fights acne but it has been used in the treatment of dry skin and eczema.  Calendula and Honey suckle flower are likewise also used to help treat dry skin and Cacao powder is a powerful anti-oxidant.

I have to say when I opened the container it was the cacao that felt like the dominant ingredient.  As you can see from the picture of the mask it looks like thick chocolate.  You want to know something?  It smells like chocolate too.

It doesn’t taste like chocolate though.  In case you were wondering.  It tastes like clay. Not that I recommend tasting it, I just couldn’t resist.

Given the ingredients I would expect a powerful detox to my skin when I apply it and I was not disappointed.  As I said, I used this mask this week as well as today.  I applied it as a full mask on Monday and Wednesday but did something different today.  I’ll get into that in a moment, first I want to talk about the full masking.

Mask off

I applied the mask in a thin layer over clean dry skin and let sit as directed for fifteen minutes.  I actually used my Cosmedix Masking brush to apply it.  The smooth side not the textured one.  I was actually impressed by how little I actually needed to use to cover my entire face.  While the top photo showing the product in the jar shows it untouched, the photo with the masking brush shows the mask after a week of use. I think that if I were to use this mask every week three times a week it would last at least two months.  It is a lot of product in the jar and not a lot is needed on the face.

Once applied,  I could feel the clay start to dry and tighten.  It felt cool on my skin but not tingly and the longer I used it the cooler my face seemed to feel for some reason.  I can see that eing a big advantage in the summer time.  As with most clay masks once it started drying changes in facial expressions were difficult, hence the stuck in place face I am making in the photos. 

The surfacing of the clogged pores. It may not look the prettiest but it is exactly what needs to happen to get them cleared away.

In fifteen minutes all but the oiliest parts of my face tried down.  If you ever want to find out where the oily parts of your face are, this and most, clay masks will help you out. 

After fifteen minutes I used a soft bristled brush to wet down the mask so it could be rinsed off.  It is a clay mask so it didn’t magically slide off the skin but it wasn’t difficult to remove. I’ve had clay masks that were much more difficult. This was relatively easy.

After my initial use I patted my face dry with a towel.  My skin felt soft, but I’ll admit I didn’t see much difference.  Then about ten minutes after I rinsed the mask off I went back into the bathroom and looked at the sink.  I was amazed by how many of my deeply buried clogged pores were brought to the surface.  It wasn’t a very pretty sight, but it is an effective mask. 

Luckily I didn’t have anywhere I really needed to go, so pulling all of those clogged pores to the surface so they could be cleared away was fine.  It was also the reason I didn’t test the mask when I had a bunch of video calls. 

I was very impressed with the way it worked with my skin.  The second time I used the mask didn’t look much different, but the blemishes that surface dried out faster and the second round brought more of the buried clog pores to the surface. Today I am doing something a little bit different.

Spot treatment

As I put the mask on and get ready for my fifteen minutes of calm, I am spot masking.  Instead of using the mask all over my face – because not all of my face needs a good clear out – I am putting the mask in the areas that need the most help.  For me that is along the lower orbital bone and on my chin.  I have always had issues with the area along my lower orbital bone breaking out.  The chin hadn’t really given me trouble since highschool, however with Face Masks in use when I leave the house, this has become one of my problem areas for clogged pores. 

Sure it looks a little strange to just mask in those places, but for me that is the best benefit. On the parts of my skin that don’t tend to get clogged pores, the second application of the mask was a little drying.   I can see myself using this as a full face mask once a month (or after a series of rich and heavy meals) to give my skin a full deep down cleanse.  I could see myself using this more as a spot treatment about once a week, especially with face masks being part of my daily use for a while.  It is excellent for that sort of use.

I think that while I may use more moisturizing masks to cover my whole face, this will be a once a week spot treatment for those congested areas.  Not only will it keep the non-congested areas of my skin from drying out unnecessarily, it will really help with my areas of clogged pores and it will last a really long time with the once a month full treatment and the once a week spot treatment. It will greatly extend the length of time I can use the Cacao and Chamomile Clearing Clay Mask as well as use it to its best advantage on my skin. Oh and did I tell you one of the best parts?  This large jar of chocolate scented masking is only $24. How cool is that?

So the question as always is would I pick up this mask again? The answer is yes. It is a lot of product for a reasonable price and it does exactly what it says it is going to do in the description. It brought my clogged pores to the surface and helped to treat my blemishes. The Cacao and Chamomile Cleansing Clay mask is definitely a keeper.

I want to send a big thank you to Herbal Dynamics Beauty for sending the mask to me to try out. I really appreciate it, and this will be far from the last time you hear about this mask my darlings.  Me and my boatload of clogged pores agree on that.  Admittedly there are a lot fewer of them than there were at the beginning of the week.  Who knows, I might soon gain the upper hand.

And now me and my clay goatee and under eye patches are going to light some candles, play some tunes and lie back and relax for the next fifteen minutes. I’m thinking today might be another history podcast. It’s been a while since I have checked in on the Soap Opera that is the early Roman Empire.  That sounds like a fun way to relax. If I’m not mistaken I believe I’ve reached the age of Caligula.  Not exactly Zen but it is interesting. And since today’s candle is from the Paddywax Library collection and named after Edgar Allen Poe, perhaps zen isn’t the theme of the masking.  Besides with the under eye and chin masks on I am strangely reminded of Cardinal Richelieu. And that certainly isn’t zen.

But it is kind of fun.

Herbal Dynamics Beauty

The Makeup Bag: January 8th, 2021

The Make Up bag Used January 2nd -January 8th, 2021

Happy Friday my darlings and welcome to the first makeup bag of 2021. I’m trying a little something different with today’s post so let me know how you like the changes.  Instead of just showing a picture of the product, I will add links for each of the products so you can see the product and then in a get ready with me style, show the application of them. If that makes sense. Let me know what you think.

Primer, just a little is needed

So starting off, I applied my primer.  Today’s primer was the Master Prime from Maybelline.  It is a blurring and pore minimizing primer and it does the job well.  It is clear, so there is little to see, but it does blur out the pores. It is however very silicone-y so it does make your face super slick as well.  And remember my darlings, a little goes a long way with this primer.  Add too much and the rest of your makeup will pretty much slide off of your face.  A little dot, spread over the areas you mostly want blurred out of minimized is all you need. I generally cover my nose and cheeks in a broad strip and call it done with this primer.

Just foundation

Once the priming was done I moved on to my foundation.  This week I used the last of my Yensa BC Foundation.  It is a combination of BB and CC cream in a foundation.  It does well eliminating redness and covering up minor blemishes so I didn’t feel the need to have a tinted primer this week. 

This foundation is a little dark for my skin at this time of year, but there wasn’t much left in the sample tube and I wanted to use it up so that it didn’t go bad waiting for the return of the sun.  Now the tube is actually empty and I know that Tan Neutral is more suited to my summer skin and will purchase accordingly.  And I will be picking up a full size of this once my foundation drawer has been cleared out a little more. For now the empty tube journeys to the empties bin.

Because my foundation was a little dark this week, I reached for my Marc Jacobs Hi-Fi Filter.  While I don’t do a lot of contouring these days, I really like the darker shade in this for my bronzer and I find that the lighter contour shade, if applied with a fluffy brush right over the foundation lightens the foundation, but doesn’t make it look as powdery as actual powder. And it sits well under the darker shade I used as my bronzer this week.  As always I loved using the Marc Jacobs compact.  It will be with me until it is nothing but pan, and then I will repurchase in whatever version is then available.  It is one of those products that is definitely worth the price.

Just a dot of blush will do

For blush this week I used the Multi Use Crème Color in Exhibit A from the brand Habit.  This came in a Petit Vour Box last month and this week was the first time I used it.  It is supposed to be usable for lips, eyes and cheeks but quite frankly, I didn’t like it on my lips or eyes. 

two dots proved too much and I had very pink cheeks, one dot would have been more than enough, restraint my darlings, we must all learn it.

The color was off on the lips and it felt sticky on the lips.  It also felt heavy on the eyelids. It wa however very nice on the cheeks.  I dipped a finger into the pot of color, added a dot or two to my cheek and then blended it in with either fingers or a brush, both work.  I actually need to look at  getting more brushes that work for cream based products as at the moment, my fingers are the best blending tools for most of them.

But that is another story.

One thing to remember about this product is that it is highly pigmented.  Even if you think you might want more, start with one dot, blend and then if you want more, dip back into the pot.  It is highly pigmented and while it blends well, it stays fairly pigmented even after blending. You can always layer more on and make it as deep as you want, but tread lightly in the beginning my darlings or you may find yourself starting your day’s makeup look over again.  I was very pleased with how well this stayed on the cheeks throughout the day.  It did not blend into nothing and it did not fade away.  I think I will see a lot of use out of this product.

I can’t really say the same for my highlighter.  This week I used the Jecca Blac Glow drops in Champagne for my highlighter.  I had high hopes as I used the rose gold glow drops and really loved the subtle glow it gave the skin.  Like the champagne this product was listed as highlighting primer for face. The Rose gold worked well as a highlight but not as a primer.  This one I may have to try as a primer.  While I don’t really like the glow-y skin look, this might actually work under a full coverage matte foundation to provide a little more depth.  I will play around with it a bit more, but I can honestly tell you it was not a highlighter.  It blended out and was gone. I’ll save it ti try as a primer and see if I like it any better that way.

I used two powders this week, One was the Pacifica Cherry Blossom Translucent setting powder.  It has a little bit of white to it when used, and can lighten up a look.  It doesn’t make the skin look powdery and I personally like the scent.  I generally like it for a week, then have to set it to the side and use something else before coming back to it though, because of the scent.  It can get to be a bit too much if used too often.  Spaced out, the scent is delightful. And the powder works wonderfully.

a simple eyelook I used for most of the week

Even though it is jumping ahead a bit in product usage as I used the pressed powder to touch up any shine throughout the day, I’ll go ahead and cover it here.  This week I used the Zeesea X British Museum pressed powder.  The compact is gorgeous and I will end up using it as a compact in my purse when the product is used up. The product however is nothing to really write home about.  It is a competent and basic pressed powder. It is not a good pressed powder. It is not awful, but it isn’t great. I bought it for it’s look and I adore the packaging.  It is sturdy enough that it could be reused for a long time after the product is gone and it is a standard enough size that I could probably find something to easily fit into the empty space once I have reached pan.  But I can’t say it is a wonderful product.  It is a wonderful packaging and not terrible expensive. But I will be honest, I bought it for the packaging.

The Trend Edit palette by Ciate London

My Ciate London Palette The Trend Edit was in use this week and I have to say I loved it. You can check out the full review here, but in short there was a lot of pigment, little fall out and it lasted all day.  I would actually repurchase this simply for the shade Burnt.  It is a fantastic everyday shade for me and was great in a one and done look.  I foresee mentioning this palette many times in the future.

My mascara came from Kristofer Buckle this week. It is the Grand Opening Mascara to be specific.  It is a lengthening mascara and while when I first tried it, I wasn’t too enthused, this mascara has grown on me as I’ve used it.  I think I was so used to volumizing mascaras that I wasn’t ready for just a lengthening one.  I have come to appreciate the lengthening ones though and this one did a really good job lengthening my lashes.  It is one that I will repeatedly reach for.  This one is nearing the end of its life, but I already have a second one waiting in the wings to be opened.  Like the Ciate, you will be hearing about this again.

No mascara on the left, mascara on the right

To be honest I didn’t really use eyeliner or a brow product this week.  I just used a spoolie on my brows and called it good. 

For my lips I used two products. One was the Dose of Colors in Stone that I am trying to use up.  It is the perfect pink toned neutral to go with the Ciate Palette.  Its shadows have a slightly reddish undertone that made them work well together.  The other lip product was the Huda Beauty Demi Matte in Bawse.  A bold shade.  While you can read the full review here, the sort of it is that I absolutely oved this liquid lip. It went on well, didn’t dry out my lips and stayed in place (with some fading) throughout the day with no touchups.  All in all a fabulous lip product. I foresee many from this line making their way into my dressing table in the future.  Admittedly I may try out the mattes before committing to the demi-mattes.

To top it all off, although applied before the mascara and lipstick, I used the new Pore Professional Super Setter from Benefit Cosmetics.  This product came to be via Influenster and I am really enjoying it.For the spray alone I would love this product.  The scent is light and fresh and it keeps the makeup in place all day.  When sprayed, even though it is a manual pump, the spray comes out like a mist from an aerosol can. It is super light and there were absolutely no drips to pat off with my trusty Huda Beauty makeup sponge.  I know I do prefer a setting spray with skin care benefits, but when looking for a product to keep everything in place for the entire day, this is a fantastic option.  I think in my normal everyday makeup I will still lean towards the skincare type of setting sprays, but when I want insurance for my makeup for a long day, this is what I am going to be reaching for.  It is one of the best setting sprays I’ve tried in a while.

And with that my darlings, this week’s makeup bag is complete.  Let me know what you think about the slight change I did with the post. Hopefully you liked it. I certainly had fun with it. I have a bunch of new products to try next week so it should be an interesting week as far as products go.  Hopefully there will be some good surprises. I’ll see you then.

Ciate London: The Trend Edit Eyeshadow Palette

This week I used the nine pan The Trend Edit Palette from Ciate London as my eyeshadow palette.  I have to say there is the strong possibility that this may become my everyday go-to palette.

But let’s look at the palette first.

 As I mentioned above it has nine pans.  The color names are listed on the back.  The palette comes in a hard plastic case.  While the catch on mine is a little stiff, otherwise it is a nice case that is sturdy enough to travel well.  It is also small enough that it could easily be used for travel.  The palette itself usually retails for $24. 

When I looked up the link for the palette to find the price, I found that currently Ciate is having a sale and this particular palette is now on sale for $14.40. Most everything on the site is actually 40% off at the moment.  I don’t know how long the sale will last. But if you like Ciate products, now may be the time to stop by the site.

All of the shadows have names on the back, however it is on a very shiny silver back and no picture I took came out able to be read so I will put the colors with the swatches.

Tip row L to R: Burnt, Blushed, Nude

Of the shadows four are mattes and five are shimmers, which is a pretty good mix.  Of the mattes, Burnt (top left hand corner) is my absolute favorite.  I found I could dip into the pan once, lightly tap off the brush and use it as a one and done shade.  It went on smoothly and blended really well.  It is my number one in this entire palette and there were several days where I just used it and called my makeup look done.

The other mattes are all varying shades of neutrals.  Some matched my skin tone and worked well as a base for a more glam look.  I think which matt you end up using the most really is going to depend on your skin tone. 

Middle row swatches L to R: Baby, Love Heart and Caramel

Nude almost exactly matched my skin tone and therefore disappeared, but made a nice base.  Caramel is a little too cool toned for me and I barely touched it this week as cool tones aren’t what I am usually drawn to, while Desert made a slightly lighter and more subtle one and done look than Burnt. All four are simply varying brownish neutral tones for different skin tones.

Bottom Row Swatches L to R: Mink, Desert, and Champagne

The mattes are mostly either for a simple look or as a backdrop to the stunning shimmers in this palette. While Blushed and Baby can be applied with a dry brush for a slight pop of shine over a neutral look Love Heart, Mink and Champagne are a bit brighter.  Blushed especially adds a very subtle shine to an everyday look and wouldn’t be out of place in an office environment. Baby is a little more cool toned and pairs really well with Caramel (matte). 

All of the shimmers are more muted when applied with a dry brush.  They are slightly stronger when applied with a finger but really pop when applied with a wet brush.  I spray my setting spray onto the brush to damp it down and then apply to the lid.  The setting spray helps ensure the shimmer stays where it is supposed to instead of transferring.

Quick swipe of Burnt with a little Blushed to add shimmer to the inner corner

In general I had no issues with either transferring or fall out where this palette is concerned.  I dipped in and tapped off and had no issues fall out on my under eyes.  With Burnt I only needed to dip into the pan once to create an everyday look.  I could dip in more to deepen it, which I did when using a shimmer like Love Heart with it. 

The shadows stayed in place all day for me and quite frankly I was thrilled with this palette.  It is mostly neutral with some pink tones, which is sort of my natural habitat, but the selection is nice.  It can easily go from a work day look to a more night out look and it is small enough to fit well into a purse so a trip to the bathroom to punch up the color before leaving the office is easily achieved. I like the versatility as well as the balance of colors. 

Over all it was well thought out by whoever it was at Ciate who put this palette together. It isn’t super elaborate, but it can create a variety of looks and has both warm and cool tones making it surprisingly versatile for a variety of skin tones.  Not bad for a small nine pan palette.  For me, the trick is going to be remembering to reach for other palettes instead of just automatically picking up this one.

Tool Talk: Cosmedix Skincare Brushes

This summer, I entered the world of masking brushes.  Prior to this I simply used my fingers and thought ‘why would I bother using a masking brush?’

Then I ordered a super cheap one (less than $1) and tried it, just to see why so many people seemed to use them.

my less than a dollar masking brush

Wow, what a difference it made. 

I won’t lie and say I always use the brushes, because I don’t.  I also won’t say you HAVE to have the brushes. Because you don’t.  I also won’t tell you that you need expensive brushes, because you really don’t. But if you are interested in adding brushes to your masking routine, and maybe being a little extra, this might help you out.

First off, there are two main benefits to using the silicone masking brushes.

The first benefit I noticed is that I tend to use less product when I use the masking brushes than when I don’t. While there may be some seasonal swelling or water retention now and again, neither dramatically changes the surface area of my face in a massive way.  Yet when I use the silicone brushes, I use less product than when I don’t.

Part of that is because of benefit number two.

And that is less mess.  When applying masks with fingers, it naturally gets all over the fingers you are using to apply it to your face.  It can also get on the sink and the faucet taps, but mostly on your fingers. The silicon brush has less of a surface area than my fingers.  Even though I use a spoon or spatula to get masks out of the jar and start applying using one finger, I usually end up with three fingers covered in mask which I then have to wash off.  The silicone doesn’t absorb any of the mask so little is left on the masking brush.  In addition, it is easy to rinse off and in the case of peel off masks, you just let it dry, then peel the mask off.  Then of course you wash it, but that is super easy with the mask gone.

Easy Peasy.

Now the less than a $1 masking brush I picked up does the job no problem.  I am quite happy using it. However I recently received a Cosmedix Brush set in a Boxy Charm.  The set is composed of two brushes.

According to the Cosmedix website, the Cosmedix Skincare Brush Set…

Take cleansing to the next level with this embossed brush designed for gentle exfoliation and effective deep pore cleansing. Plus, bring the spa experience home with a dual-sided silicone spatula that effortlessly and evenly distributes product across your face. Use it to apply cream, exfoliator, serum, or masks with ultimate precision and no mess.

The set retails for $25. While you can clearly get brushes for less money, I would say this is not an unreasonable price. There are two brushes so you are paying $14.50 per brush.

Let’s look at the silicone brush first.  The handle is tapered and easy to hold.  The brush head itself is flat, with an angle and has one smooth side and one textured side.

The angle of the brush is really nice.  One of the ways my cheap brush falls down is that the shape of the head is triangular so the points are really hard to get into the crevices around the nose so I end up using my fingers to smooth things over, which sort of defeats the purpose of using the brush.

Not only is the Cosmedics brush angled but the corners are rounded which makes applying masks really easy no matter where on the face you are. The flat side of the brush is perfect for clay based masks.  I have been using it this week for my Herbal Dynamics Cacao and Chamomile Clearing Detox Mask and it has been fantastic.  I can run the brush over the top of the mask in the jar to pick up product and put it on my face with very little waste.

The textured side is not good for clay based masks but I find it is excellent for gel based ones.  Recently I used both the Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber mask and the Kiehl’s Calendula Petal infused Gel mask.  While both of these masks could be applied with either side of the Cosmedix silicone brush, The textured side does have a purpose.  Just before those masks are removed, it is recommended that you massage the mask in a little before rinsing.  The textured side of the brush is perfect for this. Just remember to rinse thoroughly, possibly even soaking the brush a bit especially if it is an exfoliating mask with particles, so that you can be sure to get all of the particles out.

The second brush, I’ll admit, I found a little confusing at first.  I tried it a number of ways, but none of them seemed to be a benefit to my skin care routine. This second brush is not silicone, but an actual fiber brush with densely backed bristles.  The head of the brush is not flat but textured with a circle of round nubbins. The issue I had with it, was that it is very absorbent.  If you dip it into a mask or serum, or even a cleanser, it will soak up the product like a sponge, using far more than you actually need to use in one sitting.

However it is useful.  The first use I found for it was to loosen dried clay masks.  Wet the brush, but remember it will soak up a lot of water so when you first press it to your face be prepared for a release of water unless you squeeze the brush out first, and even then be prepared. It does an admiral job of loosening clay masks without harshly scraping the skin. The texture from the nubbins really helps in its effectiveness.

The second use is for massaging serums into the skin. Do not dip the brush into the serum or you will very quickly lose your serum as it is sucked in.  Apply the serum to the skin and then lightly massage it in with the brush.  The serum stays on your skin and the brush just helps it absorb.

brush with Erno Laszlo Black soap cleansing bar

I have also found that it is very useful if you are using a bar cleanser. While the brush will absorb liquid cleansers just like any other liquid.  If you have a bar cleanser like the Erno Laszlo Black soap (which I personally really like) you can wet the brush (which absorbs a lot of water) rub the water loaded brush on the cleansing bar and then apply it to the face.

Shop the iconic Laszlo-original cleansing bar!

Not only does it work really well, but it helps contain the mess that the Erno Laszlo Black soap can create with drips (although really, the cleansing bar is worth the drips).  If it stays on the dish or other container where you keep your soap then it can’t drip all over your sink.  It also helps keep the bar longer as bar cleansers (or any bar soap really) starts to disintegrate when it is wet.  The secret to keeping a bar of soap (or cleanser) for longer is to make sure it stays dry when you aren’t using it.  Because the brush localizes the water, the bulk of the cleansing bar stays dry. So it lasts longer.

All in all once I figured out the best way to use the second brush in the set, I enjoyed using the brushes and incorporating them into my skincare routines.  They are lightweight, but sturdy.  Not only do they look good but they perform well.

The brushes may not be absolutely necessary to any routine.  There are many other ways to apply product, but they do have benefits. If you are looking to add brushes to your skin care routine, this may be a set you might want to look into.  I am quite pleased to be able to use them. I believe my less than a $1 silicone brush will still be used when I do peel off masks as I don’t want to deal with the textured side of the Cosmedix silicone masking brush, but otherwise I will be using these brushes for quite a while.


The Underclub January Unboxing

I have several weaknesses. A good bottle of wine, a pungent cheese, chunky decorative rings, lots of skincare and most lip products are all on the list. But there is one weakness that has been with me for a long time and sadly it is one that I frequently set aside.

I adore pretty underwear.

Actually, I should expand that to include all lingerie if I am being completely honest.

I love lace and silk.  I love soft cotton and decorative stitching.  Solids and patterns. It is a weakness. And despite my increasing weight over the years, it is one that I frequently indulged in.  If I felt pretty in my undies I felt pretty all the way down, even if the only shirts I could find were made from that stretchy rayon/poly blend I personally refer to as Fat Girl Cloth.

You know the kind where the cloth is woven with threads of elastic so that it can fit multiple sizes, but if you push it too much you get patches (usually on the chest) where the material is showing slightly white from the elastic and is very, very shiny. So in photographs it looks almost like someone is aiming a spotlight at your chest.

I personally hate that cloth.

With a passion that is sometimes unseemly.

As my weight has started to go down any of those pieces in my wardrobe were jettisoned as soon as possible. There are a few lurking towards the back ‘just in case’ because for a long time they made up the bulk of my professional clothing and I might need a quick office outfit. So I kept one pair of pants (very shiny behind) and a couple of shirts for emergency office visitations. I have about ten more pounds to go when I’ll feel comfortable replacing them with others, but that is another story.

However losing that weight also meant adding a lot more sweat to my day.  Most of my pretty undergarments suffered in the beginning. Because the underwear drawer contained the only garments that made me feel pretty, I only had pretty underwear at that point. Some materials were not designed to hold up in the gym. In fact most of the materials were not meant for working out.

I also discovered the fact than when lace is soaked with sweat and pressed against the skin it rubs the skin raw in much the way sandpaper does. Not a pretty fact, but a fact nonetheless, and one of the reasons why my current workout underwear is generally cotton and comes from Hanes (they are currently having a 70% off clearance sale on holiday themed tee shirts anf sleepwear if you are interested, although the lik will take you to my favorite workout undies).  Those garments sit well, wear well and cause no issues.

Not my usual list of wants from my undies but necessary at the moment.

But I still love my pretty undergarments.  So I use them as a daily prize for completing my workouts.  I work out in Hanes cotton and then after my post workout shower, I get to put on something that is not gym appropriate. It is a small, every day sort of reward.

And it makes me happy.

You’d think that with my love of subscription boxes and underwear I would have signed up for an underwear subscription a long time ago.  The truth is, I’ve looked at them.

A lot, actually.

And usually with a tape measure in hand as I study the provided sizing chart.

While I have lost weight, I am still not a small woman. However, when I checked the sizing chart on Underclub, I found that they had a wider array of sizes.  They actually go up to 4X in their sizing.  Although I would double check the size chart with your measurements before picking a size. Mine is currently a 3X on their charts even though I’ve gotten the bulk of my clothing down to 1X.

When I checked my measurements against their chart, I found they had a size fitting me and I decided to give them a go.  The Underclub has different options.  They have two categories: regular and premium and within those categories you can choose to get either a one or two pair option.  The value of the garments in the regular category ranges from  $18 – $28 per pair.  A set of one pair is $15,the set of two is $28 per month.  With the Premium Category the garments are valued between $28 and $55 per pair.  The one set option in this tier is $21 and the set of two is $35.

I chose the regular tier and the one pair of undies option.  I figured one pair that wasn’t premium would let me assess the Underclub and if I wanted to change later I could always upgrade. And for now one set per month is plenty for me.

So first, the details.

For my tier of the Under club it is $15 per month.  I was very happy to see that there wasn’t an adjustment in the price due to my size.  I know I’m larger and my underwear takes more cloth to make, but I really hate when the cost goes up because of sizing. I can understand why some companies feel justified in doing it. I see the logic.  I still absolutely hate it.  It makes me feel bad and if buying your product makes me feel bad, I am going to stop buying your product.

However, here that wasn’t an issue. I was very pleased that Underclub does not do this.  It is the same price for everyone.

The subscription mails out the first of the month and charges on the eleventh of the month for the following month. So I paid for the subscription in December.  January 1st it mailed out. January 5th it arrived and I will be charged January 11th for February’s box.  Pretty simple really.

I have to say that I loved the various questions they asked as I was setting up my subscription.  I could choose styles, and let them know if I liked patterns or preferred solids.  I could tell them if I liked bold colors or pastels.  And at the end of the listed questions there was a space where I could add in any of my own personal concerns they didn’t touch on. I was very impressed with the simple survey. It is a little thing, but it is really important.

So what arrived? And is it worth getting a February box?

The underwear arrived in a simple mailer.  While it does say Underclub on the outside, it is a fairly generic packaging, which I like. Although my postman ins a very stone faced individual so any package I get could be covered in glitter and streamers and the only thing he’d check was if the postage was correct. Which I appreciate.

Inside the mailer is a little card that just tells you that in a few days an e-mail will be sent asking you to review your purchase so they can make the subscription better for you. As this is my first month, I don’t know how much that applies. I can however see that it would be really handy to get feedback as underwear is quite personal and everyone likes different things.

I’ll have to see how that plays out in the following months.

In addition to the card, the underwear is in the bag.  It is in its own separate cellophane bag.  I personally like that. I know the mailer is sealed but making it have its own bag within a bag makes me feel happy.  While I still wash them before wearing them, I just like them as sealed as possible. Call it a personal quirk.

So to the underwear!

This month’s pair is black with decorative patterns on the sides.  It is simple and quite pretty. The back is see through but it is soft instead of a scratchy net that you sometimes get on cheaper panties. The company listed on the tag is MOD by Parfait.

But pretty isn’t everything and I can hear my grandmother’s voice in my head as I start to look them over.

detail from sides

There are no pulled threads or missed stitches.  A slight tug on each of the seams doesn’t pull anything loose. It is a well-made garment.  And yes, I did the test before I washed it, and because I will never get my grandmother’s voice out of my head, I did the same test after washing them for the first time.  Nothing pulled loose in the wash, there are no loose threads it is still a well-constructed set of panties.  It has a simple design and looks good.

So grandmother’s voice temporarily silenced, there is one test left to go. I have to try them on.

They fit perfectly.

The back

I know that shouldn’t be a surprise as I double checked the measurements before deciding on the size, but it is nice to see that they are actually the size that I chose and fit me perfectly.  I’m hoping that once I lose enough weight to go down a size it will be relatively easy to alter the size in my subscription.  As everything else on the page is relatively easy to deal with, I don’t see why that wouldn’t be as well, but it is something that I will have to update you when the time comes. 

I’m sure you’ve already realized this but, yeah, I am keeping this membership. The underwear is of good quality and it fits me. I agree that if I were to purchase the underwear it would be in the $18 – $28 range.  This pair would probably be closer to $18, but still worth the price of the subscription. This design was nice and somewhat understated. While I like them, I hope that there will be a bit of variety a well.  I suppose we will see.  For now I am very happy starting off 2021 with this new subscription. I am also looking forward to seeing what they come up with for February. It is the month I would expect a lot from an underwear subscription. February seems like the month for an underwear subscription to really shine.  It will be interesting to see what arrives then as well as to see what special options they have available in their on-line store.

If you are interested in trying out the Underclub for yourself, here are two codes you might be interested in.

Receive 10% off purchases in the Underclub Shop with coupon code XTRA10 Or Get a Free Thong with a new subscription. Use code EXTRATHONG at check out!

Underclub also has gift subscriptions available if you are buying the subscription for someone else.

Like i said above, this was my first subscription box from the Underclub, but it has been overwhelmingly positive and i can’t wait to see what arrives next.

It’s a mystery to me…Opening two mystery boxes from Glossy Box’s Winter Sale

For those of you who read my The Daily posts, you know that a short while ago I couldn’t resist the temptation to indulge in a mystery box from Glossy Box.  Well technically speaking, two. They had a deal. They had two possible regular mystery boxes, each for $12 and they had two premium mystery boxes, each for $25 or you could get one premium and one regular mystery box bundle for $30.

I went for the two for $30. And actually I used my Glossie credit so I only paid about ten dollars.  For those that don’t know, subscribers to Glossy Box can get Glossie Credit for reviewing the products in the box each month.  The surveys add about $0.40 per survey which doesn’t sound like a lot but it really adds up quickly.  Then you can spend it either on Glossy Box or on their sister site Look Fantastic.

And you can use it on anything in their massive online store, not just a few things.  My cousin who has had this subscription for years saves up all of her points throughout the year and gets the Advent Calendar with them each year. If I were more disciplined I would do the same, but I saw the mystery boxes and couldn’t resist.

I also picked up a Caudalie Beauty Elixir Spray, because I saw it and it is one of those products I have loved for a long time, but tend to forget to restock, so I bought it.  The credit even covered shipping so it was essentially free and then I paid ten extra dollars to finish paying for the boxes.

But that is another story. Don’t worry, I will be sure to tell you all about the fabulous Caudalie Beauty Elixir another time. Promise.

I’m just trying not to get distracted.

I was hoping that I would be able to review the boxes before they sold out, and I half managed it. they had two regular and two premium boxes for sale and you could choose your bundle. Now one set has sold out, but the there is still a set available. I have no clue what the difference is between the sets of boxes, it is after all a mystery. My best guess is that the difference is in the month for the regular box and the limited edition for the premium.

On the site, they let the boxes be an almost complete mystery.  Each box contains at least five items, two are labeled regular and two are labeled premium.  Other than the price, that is all the information you get.

When they arrived they were packaged together and then inside they were each in the very familiar mailer that each monthly box comes in.  Taking them out of the mailer it was easy to see which was the regular and which was the premium. 

We’ll go over the regular first. 

It is quite simply a Glossy Box.  March’s Glossy Box to be exact.  There is a brochure with the box that offers a sneak peek for April’s box.  It was sort of a clue. I didn’t get the March box as I signed up for Glossy box post March so I was thrilled.  Also the items inside were quite nice. 

There was a mini Eyeko Black Magic Mascara. While Eyeko is my go to eyeliner brand, of their mascaras this is the one that I do like the best, so I was happy to see it. This was followed by a full sized Ciate London Stamp and drag eyeliner duo. 

One side of the liner is a pen style liner and the other side is a stamp that lets you stamp on a wing.  I have never used a stamped wing before, and I don’t really wear much of a wing usually, but I am willing to give this a try.  It could be fun.  Or it could be a complete mess.  Either way I will take pictures so that you can be amused and or horrified once I open it.

I seriously need to take stock of my Ciate products because at the moment I really do think I have almost enough to do a full face of just the brand. That could be a fun makeup bag.

Moving on there is a full sized set of tweezers from the brand Basic Beauty.  Basic they may be (although a lovely pink in color) but as my favorite pair of tweezers went walking away to attend splinter duty and my back up pair is rather old and in need of replacement, it is a welcome basic. It is the trouble with limiting my in person shopping these days.  There are things that I know I can pick up quickly when I do go out, but I sometimes forget.  I’ve been meaning to pick up an extra set of tweezers since I found my favorite ones chilling out in a cup of rubbing alcohol, pre splinter removal.

I really need to just make a list and go to an actual drugstore.

But again, that is another matter.

At least now I have a new set of tweezers. Next, there was a full sized Copperplate Highlighter palette from the brand Sleek. I’ve tried a few things from the brand before (remind me to show you the world’s smallest eyeshadow palette.  (I’ll try to remember it for my The Daily post later today) and they have been pretty good. I really like the look of this palette and look forward to trying it out.

The final item, or set of items actually, in this box was from Mane Club.  Yes that’s right, Mane Club.  And if they sound familiar, it’s because yesterday I received a package from them with product for review. 

I actually did my first trial test with the One Hit Wonder 10-in-1 spray last night. So far it has been fantastic. I have a couple of other tests for the week and I’ll post the review on Monday. In this box however the two hair masks were the Cry Baby 5-in-1 deep conditioner and the Bad Attitude Volumizing mask. I will definitely be trying them both out.

This was the first box and I believe it was the regular mystery box offered for $12.  I would have been happy to have gotten this for my regular monthly box, which of course it was originally designed to be.

But if you remember, despite my mental meanderings throughout the post, I got two mystery boxes.

And the second premium box was the Rodial Limited Edition box that they put together a few months ago. I have to say I was super excited by this as I thought about picking it up as a limited edition box but then realized I still hadn’t picked up all of my Christmas presents and that I needed to work on my shopping list before indulging and then I never got back around to the box.

So I did a little happy dance when I opened it and saw what it was.

There is one makeup item in the box, which kind of surprised me.  Not that Glossy Box said it was all skin care.  They didn’t.  It surprised me because I didn’t realize Rodial made any makeup.  I thought they only made skincare.  So I learned something and got a new mascara to try.  The GlamOLash mascara to be precise. I don’t know what the wand looks like as I am not opening it until I am ready to use is so there are more surprises to come. I have a couple of mascaras that are soon to depart so this will hang out with the unopened ones until I have cleared out the old. That way nothing gets wasted.

In the box there were also two sets of Jelly eye patches.  After my extended bout of puffy eyed allergies this autumn I am always happy to see eyepatches and can’t wait to try these out. Especially since Spring will no doubt bring another round of the allergy puffiness.

There were also to Dragon’s Blood Lip masks in the box.  I remember trying one lip mask of this sort before and not being terribly enthused as it was so thick that it had a hard time staying on my lips. These feel a good deal thinner so perhaps they will have better luck.  I will certainly be giving them a try.

There were two items remaining, both bottles.  Both are deluxe minis, but they are quite large.  The first it the Dragon’s Blood Cleansing water.  It is a micellar water infused with hyaluronic acid and vitamin b3.  While I am rapidly falling in love with hyaluronic acid I don’t know much about vitamin b3 in skin care. So that will be something I will look into.

The final item is the Dragon’s Blood Sculpting gel.  And no it isn’t for the hair.  After the mascara I was momentarily confused, but it is a skin plumping gel that you put on before moisturizing. While I look forward to trying it out, I have to admit that I am looking forward to using the dispenser.  It is one of those that you press down and product squirts out of the hole in the top. It is supposed to dispense the right amount and keep the rest of the product safe from the air.  I readily admit that I look forward to playing with it. I’ve seen it on a couple products online, but never played with a dispenser like this in person.

I know sometimes I find the packaging almost as much fun as the product.  I know it sounds like a toddler having more fun with the box the present came in than the present itself, but in many products packaging does affect product use.  I had one serum that I actually loved, but the dropper for the bottle was too narrow and the creamy serum was hard to get out of the bottle.  Because of it I reached for it less and despite liking the formula, haven’t repurchased it.  So even though it sounds frivolous, there is actually a point to the focus. 

Plus this dispenser looks kind of fun.

So those were my two mystery boxes (and inadvertently one of the limited edition boxes).  I haven’t really done any mystery boxes before.  Don’t get me wrong I love surprises and so technically this is right up my alley.  However every time I see reviews of mystery boxes on You Tube, the people opening them always look vaguely disappointed.   I was not disappointed with Glossy Box’s Winter Sale Mystery Boxes.  I was in fact quite pleased by what I received and will be on the lookout for future mystery boxes. I think they only do the mystery boxes once a year, but the limited edition boxes seem to be almost quarterly.

If you are a subscriber, they send out e-mail notifications as soon as the box is available, and often let you preorder before it is available.  Their limited edition boxes tend to go quickly.  I missed the Caudalie Limited edition because I dawdled and even when I remembered I ended up missing the ESPA Limited edition box.  I am glad that despite my postponement I still managed to get the Rodial box.  The regular Glossy Box Subscription is $21 per month, but if you sign up for a year, the price drops to $18 (which is what I do) and they still charge you monthly instead of requiring you to pay the full year in advance.

Right now you can sign up for the Glossy box and get your first box for $16 using the code HAPPY.  It lets you try out the box and decide if it is worth it before committing.  From everything I’ve heard, January is going to be a really nice box.  But then, I’ve pretty much enjoyed all of my Glossy Boxes thus far.  Some are better than others, but they have all been uniformly good.

But there is where I leave you on the mystery box opening.  I enjoyed the mystery, the unboxing and will enjoy the products.  I hope you enjoyed this as well.  Who knows, this might make me want to look into more mystery boxes.  What do you think? Are you pro or con on the whole mystery box thing?

Trying out Go-To’s Exfoliating Swipeys

When teenage breakouts hit, my dressing table always had a stash of the pre-moistened toner pads infused with blemish fighting elixir.  As my blemishes faded back, my reliance on such pads faded and in fact before this year, it had been years since I opened a container. 

This year I tried the Elemis Dynamic Resurfacing pads which I adored and the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads which I was less thrilled by.

Then in a recent Boxy Charm box I received a container of Exfoliating Swipeys from the brand Go-to.  I’ve tried facial oil from the brand before and found it was a pretty nice oil, and I really like their Properly Clean Facial Cleanser, so I was happy to try out another product from their line.  Plus, I I figured, why not try another one since they were here? After all I do love a good exfoliation.

According to the product page…

Single-use exfoliating pads soaked in an all-natural solution that gets rid of dead skin cells and hydrates the skin.

We all know exfoliation is an enormously vital part of any skin care routine, but not all exfoliation is equal. A chemical exfoliator, for example, (which uses naturally-occurring acids to remove dead skin cells, usually AHAs or BHAs) tends to give a far more thorough, even result than scrubbing your face with harsh, jagged particles. Which is why we much prefer it.

So, we combined the well-documented effectiveness of lactic acid, the most gentle of all AHAs, with ultra-hydrating essential oils to create a face exfoliator that thoroughly removes dead skin cells (the cause of dull skin and congestion), refines skin texture, minimises the appearance of fine lines and deeply moisturises. And all in 60 seconds, and using just one sweet, disposable little cotton pad. Exfoliating Swipeys were created to make exfoliation simple and fast, and leave you with skin that’s healthy and happy. Important: When using AHA products, wearing daily SPF becomes even more crucial.

I know that is a larger than normal blurb that I copied out, but I wanted to have the official description there as I went through the product. 

Thicker exfoliating pads

First of all, the scent. It is slightly fruity with an undertone that is slightly chemical in nature.  Neither the fruit or chemical is one I can identify specifically. I tried.  I kept sniffing and trying to identify, but to no avail. It is a pleasant scent and one I don’t mind in my skincare.  It is also light and doesn’t linger. The scent just wafts up as you open the container.

The pads are thicker than any other pre-moistened pads I’ve tried.  I like the fact that their thickness means they are less likely to roll up on you as they move across the face.  with some of the thinner ones it was always a trick not to get them to roll up as you moved them across your face, at least for me anyway.

In the above description, you will notice that the pads are listed as a chemical exfoliate, not a physical one.  When you pull the pad out of the container, it is smooth and covered with liquid.  As you use it however, the pad roughens. It is like the liquid coating wipes off and then the pad starts to feel like very fine grained sandpaper.  It isn’t terribly harsh, but it is certainly not smooth.  It felt as though the pad changed from a chemical exfoliate to a physical one mid swipe.  I don’t know it that is typical for this type of product, but I found it a little strange.

Clean pad looks smooth because of all of the thick liquid

It was however very clear that the pad was getting dead skin cells off of my face.  The pad did a good job exfoliating.  It did so well a job exfoliating that using the pads more than once a week was a bad idea.  Normally with exfoliates I can use them two to three times a week. This was a once a week maximum type of product.

In addition, I tended to use it at night on the one time a week I used it.  The one time I used it during the day, I did go outside and even with sunscreen on I ended up getting quite red in the face. I usually don’t have that big an issue with sun sensitivity, even with AHA’s but with this product I did. 

If I used it at night on the once a week use, I didn’t have this problem. I also do not have overly sensitive skin.  If you are relatively sensitive, I would recommend trying a test patch before using this or skipping it all together.  I think it might have been a combination of the physical pad and the chemical exfoliation that worked overtime one me. 

While clearly removing traces of makeup and dead skin cells, you can see the texture of the pad has also changed and become somewhat rough.

One think that is also an issue to watch out is the fact that once opened pre-moistened pads tend to start drying out, so once you open them you end up being committed to using them until they are gone.  Because I could only use these once a week, it takes longer to make it through the container.  While I still have pads left (there are 50 to a container) I don’t know if I will make it to the bottom of the container without them drying out completely. When I opened the container, there was extra liquid in the bottom, now there is not.

While I like the actual liquid exfoliating formula, I would like to try it on a soft cotton pad rather than on the pre-moistened pads that come in the jar.  I think the combination of the pad’s texture mixed with the AHA’s are a little too much for my skin to handle.  I will not be purchasing this product to add to my skin care line up, however I will be keeping an eye on the brand. 

I enjoyed both their facial oil and their cleanser. In fact I remember their cleanser being quite nice. This was just too much exfoliation for me.  Perhaps, they will come out with an exfoliating serum at some point that would be more in keeping with my skin care needs.  One can only hope.  Well, hope and do some website lurking.

IPSY Ultimate December 2020 Unboxing

It has arrived! Let us all dance and sing.  My final IPSY Ultimate bag has made it to my house and oddly enough it made it safe and sound. Not a single thing was broken.  I’m guessing it just decided it wanted to spend the holidays in Atlanta.  Perhaps it took in the sights.

Regardless of the sightseeing adventures, my final IPSY Ultimate is here. And it isn’t only my final IPSY Ultimate.  IPSY has cancelled the Ultimate Tier.  I have to say it had its ups and downs. It started off poorly, but did get better before shipping issues took over. The last few months I think they have had problems getting product in as well as shipping boxes out. 

Hopefully that will settle down soon.

So let’s take a look at the last IPSY Ultimate bag.

First the bag itself has sort of a faux lamb’s wool exterior.  I kind of like the bag but the interior is that thin parachute type material and while most bags are lines with it because it is easy to clean out if something spills.

For some reason I don’t like it paired with the bags exterior.  I don’t know if it is the rustling sound or what, but somehow the combination  feels somewhat off.  Perhaps filled and in use it will work out.  I’ll have to see.

The first item I pulled out of the ultimate box was one that I chose.  It was the ARTIST COUTURE: Diamond Lights Finisher in Nebula (retail $25).  It is a shimmer shadow that can also be used as a highlighter, body illuminator or lipstick topper. To be honest, I didn’t choose it because I found it exciting, it was just the least blah of the choice items.  It was not a good month for choice. But perhaps once I use it, I will ,love it.  It certainly looks pretty in the little pot.

The CLARITYRX: Glimmer Of Hope™ Shimmering Facial Oil (retail $48) was my second item this month.  It is supposed to deeply nourish skin while also fighting dullness, sun damage, and unwanted texture. It has lots of good things in it.  I don’t know what it smells like yet as I left it sealed for the moment.  I am currently using the Malin + Goetz Recovery oil and want to finish that up before moving on to another product.  And once you open skin care the clock starts ticking on the expiration date. So it remains sealed until I use it.

The COMPLEX CULTURE : Full Time Eye Shadow Palette – The Party Edit (retail $28) was the full sized eyeshadow palette in my box this month. I have to say I am sort of on the fence about it.  I haven’t tried the shadows so I can’t speak to the quality yet but in the pan it doesn’t look like there is a lot of range.  It looks like a lot of brown and silver.  Which is fine, I wear a lot of brown and silver at the moment.  And perhaps it will be a fantastic formula.  Plus the shadows may look different when they apply.  I’ll have to schedule it for a try out soon and see how I feel about it.  The packaging is really nice though.  It is sleek and feels substantial. So fingers crossed the shadows perform well.

My first sample size this month was the CRABTREE & EVELYN :Smooth + Refine Body Lotion. I know it is supposed to be a deluxe sample, but to be honest it seems really small for a body lotion sample.  I think it has enough product for one use so I will take it into the shower with me and after bathing use it up in one go. Perhaps it will be fantastic. We shall see.  I just find really small body lotion samples kind of amusing.

swatch on hand

This month there was a DOSE OF COLORS: Stay Glossy Lip Gloss in the shade Happy Hour (retail $17).  While I love the matte lipstick formula for Dose of Colors (although it is a little drying), I haven’t tried out their gloss formula so I am happy to give it a go.  The shade is not fantastic, but I will at least get to test the formula.  Later I’ll blend it with another color if the formula works out so it won’t go to waste. But that pink with orange tones is not really my shade.

swatched on hand

While it is hard to get excited about a black eyeliner, I have not tried the ESTATE COSMETICS: Precision Liquid Liner (retail $12) before so I will happily give it a try.  I have tried several powder products from Estate before and quite frankly, none of them worked out for me.  Perhaps I will like the liner better.  I swatched it on my hand and it didn’t bleed into the fine lines of my hand so I have hope for it. I just have a lot of black eyeliners and I don’t wear a lot of eyeliner any more.

The FIRST AID BEAUTY: Ultra Repair Oil-Control Moisturizer (retail $32) is I believe supposed to be one of the full sized items in the bag.  It is not the full size from the First Aid Beauty Website.  It is larger than a deluxe sample. I will certainly be able to get a full skin care trial out of it, but it is not the same size as the ones pictured on the website. Either way, I tried a sample of one of the First Aid Beauty moisturizers (although I don’t think it was this one) and I will enjoy trying out a more in depth test of the product.  I am always sort of hit or miss with First Aid Beauty.  Somethings I really, really like, others just aren’t for me.

The FLORENCE BY MILLS :Built to Lash Mascara in Black (retail $14) is supposed to be a lengthening mascara and I do like lengthening mascaras.  I am putting it aside to be opened once I use a couple more of the open products up. It shouldn’t be too long a wait as I have several that are soon to depart my dressing table. It is nice to have a mascara waiting in the wings.  And as I have yet to try anything from Florence By Mills it will be interesting to try the brand out.

One thing I can’t complain about with the KENRA PROFESSIONAL :Platinum Restorative Reconstructor (retail $28) is size.  This is a really large tube of keratin infused hair mask. I have several hair masks I am trying to use up at the moment, but once I clear out a little space, I will be circling in for a long test with this one. Quite frankly I am rather excited about having it arounf to try as I have heard good things about the brand from friends.

I can’t actually say the same for the MURAD: Clarifying Cleanser.  I’ve heard that it can be quite drying.  However I have never tried it before and at the moment I am trying (and really enjoying) a Murad Toner, so perhaps this will work well as a combination. 

Or my skin could be different from the friend who complained of dryness.  We shall see.  Even though Murad has been around a while, it is not a brand I have much experience with.  I think it is because the historian in me sees the name and thinks Ottoman Empire rather than skincare. I’m sure it is just my brain linking them, although I will have to look it up at some point just to prove it to myself. It will be interesting to see how this cleanser performs for me.  And to be honest, subscription boxes don’t send a lot of cleansers or at least they haven’t to me, so I am pleased to have a cleanser appear in my box.

I am also happy to see a Primer, but that is because I love primers. The STUDIOMAKEUP: Silk Hydration Face Primer ($30) was in this month’s Ultimate box and I am looking forward to trying it out.  I did receive an eyeshadow Palette from the brand  but as the colors were all ones I had in my collection and it was a palette that appealed to my mother, I passed it on to her.  She apparently loves the formula. I think it might be her go-to palette at the moment.  Hopefully the primer will perform as well for me.

Another category I am always happy to see represented is powder. While loose powder occasionally appears in subscription boxes, pressed powder is a rarity, at least for me.  I’m not entirely certain why.  For me it is an everyday item and one that I will consistently use up. In my box this month was the Bye Bye Pores Pressed Powder from IT cosmetics.  It is a sample size, but it is a large enough size that I should be able to form an opinion about it before it runs out. And having a new powder to test out may keep me from automatically replacing my No. 7 right away, as it has sadly journeyed to my empties bin.

So that was my last IPSY Ultimate.  The Retail Value was $222 for a $50 bag. Which is fine.  The products are ones I’ll use although some of them weren’t the most exciting items I’ve seen.  I am looking forward to the hair mask most of all.  However good or bad, this subscription is ending.  I have shifted over to the Glam Bag Plus (January will be my first month receiving this) and I signed up for the quarterly Glam Bag X.  At the moment it is making the same grand claims that IPSY Ultimate made when it was first released.  I hope they learned from the Ultimate and will be as fantastic as the claims make it sound.  Because last year I kept seeing really nice samples that I wanted to try out appearing in the regular $12 IPSY bag (but somehow never making it to the Ultimate).

I did sign up for the regular Glam Bag.  I don’t know how long I will try it out. I may keep it a few months and then cancel or it could become a staple.  In January I always feel the need to shake up my subscriptions.  By March I should pretty much have my subscription line up for the year squared away. I just always try new things at the first of the year. Many will fade away before spring.  It will be interesting to see what IPSY stays  now that things have shifted.  At the end though I have to say that even though there was a lot of hatred aimed at the Ultimate Glam bag, over all I did rather like it.  Due to circumstances that were beyond their control they sort of ended on a slightly down note, but it was a subscription that overall was quite positive for me. Hopefully it will remain positive moving forward. Fingers crossed.

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Trying out the Dollar Shave Club

I know it has been a while, but in my quest to find a shaving subscription service, I have once again tried a new one. The reason it took me so long was because I had a drawer full of disposable razors to get through, so I would try a service, see how I thought about it, and then use up a few of the disposables.  Then I’d feel guilty about the waste and try a different service.

Thus far I have felt a bit like Goldilocks.  Each shaving service had highs and lows, but none of them was just right.

This time around I am trying out the Dollar Shave Club.  I’ve whittled down my disposable razor collection and so I decided to take advantage of the $5 starter kit.  I’ve been seeing these advertisements pretty much anytime I have gone on line in the past few weeks. 

They are nothing if not persistent.

And $5 didn’t seem like a bad price to pay to try the subscription out.  Plus, in addition to trying out the razor itself, there is the opportunity to try out other products along with it.   So I ordered the Dollar Shave club starter pack. 

The starter pack comes with one reusable razor handle, two blades in a plastic container and three travel size squeeze tubes: Prep Scrub, Shave Butter and Post Shave Dew.

So let’s break it down.

First, the handle. It is metal with texturized rubber grips.  For me this is fantastic.  I really like the metal handles over the plastic ones as I find them more durable.  The previous metal handle I tried (All Girl Shave Club) was beautiful and sleek of design, bit with no texture to the handle, it easily slid out of my hands.  This fits comfortable in the hand and the texturized rubber bits keep it from sliding out of the hand.

Next, the blades. There are six blades on each razor head.  I really like the multiple blades.  Even the disposable razors I have come with at least two and while six may not be necessary, I like more than one blade so I am fine with the potential excess. And it did give my legs a good shave. As important as the blade itself is the fit of the blade to the handle.  I know this sounds a little strange, but stick with me a moment. 

One advantage reusable razors have over disposable ones (other than the lack of waste) is that the head of the razor is maneuverable.  It isn’t in one fixed position. (I know some disposables bend as well, but then we lean back towards the waste issue). Which as my legs are not one straight line, but bend and twist, I like the maneuverability. 

As I learned with one of the subscription services (Flamingo) there can be too much maneuverability in a razor head.  With those the blade just moved around too much for me to get a good shave.  It was too floppy. While this blade does shift, it doesn’t shift too much and I was able to get a really good shave. 

Normally, as the point of the shave service is to get a razor handle and reusable blades, I would stop there, but they did include three products with the razor for me (or any subscriber) to try. So before I break down the price and the package, I’ll cover them.

The first is the prep scrub.  It is essentially a body scrub to exfoliate dead skin prior to shaving so that a closer shave can be achieved.  I have to say that while I tend to use body scrubs, I don’t tend to use them before I shave.  I’m not sure why that never occurred to me. I will say I like the idea. As long as you get all the exfoliate off of the skin before actually deploying the razor as I’m betting it will end up dinging the blade.

And the Prep scrub included in the box is okay.  It is simply a fine grained body scrub.  It smells a bit like medicinal soap, the kind my grandfather kept around to deal with poison ivy. I don’t know what scent that was officially, but that is what this prep scrub smells like. It isn’t my favorite choice, but the scent fades almost immediately so it isn’t much of a concern.  

I know they have other scents available, but the truth is, I have better body scrubs.  Or at least ones I like using more.  This just seems a bit generic.  Personally, I would use the body scrubs I already have over this one.  I am however pleased to have learned to use a scrub prior to shaving.  While I won’t be purchasing this Prep Scrub, I will be using the method.

Next, is the shave butter. The scent is vaguely rosemary infused. Which is fine.  It is on the medicinal side of herbal, but I don’t mind it.  And again the scent is light enough that it fades once it is applied.  I think they also sell other scents as well.  Butter is not the term I would use with this product.  It is thin and liquid and applies more like a gel moisturizer. It looks like snot to be honest. 

I prefer a thicker formula, partially because I like seeing the path of the razor so that I know I didn’t miss a spot.  I know that isn’t why you use shave gel/cream/butter but it is something I like.  It did an excellent job preventing irritation and razor burn (which is more of its job) but I simply prefer a thicker formula so I will not be purchasing this in the future. That’s more of a personal choice than a critique. It worked well, just isn’t for me. Of the three though, it was my favorite.

The third tube of product was the Post Shave Dew.  I’ll go ahead and confess that I didn’t like it.  Like its compatriots, it has a slightly medicinal scent to it that fades rather quickly.  It is a thin body lotion that again looks like snot. I have plenty of other body lotions that I prefer both in scent, consistency and performance.  I did use this one and it was non-irritating on freshly shaved legs and underarms, however I always use a body lotion when I get out of the shower and I have never had any irritation issues with the creams I routinely use. If you do get skin irritation from using a body lotion right after shaving your legs, then this might be for you. It is not for me.

So while the tubes of products over all weren’t for me, the point is still the razor and quite frankly I loved it.  The subscription basically sends you eight blades each time you renew.  You can add other products to the package (Like the three I tested with the trial box) but those will add on to your cost.  You can renew as little or as often as you like.  They have a monthly, quarterly and six month option to the subscription.  They will also e-mail you three days before they charge you so you can decide if you need the shipment or want to change the date. 

Each shipment of eight blades is $21.95 (that is the total with tax and shipping). Which basically breaks it down into about $2.75 per blade. Which is not a terribly bad price. As a contrast, a three pack of Venus disposable razors (my most consistent disposable razor purchase) is $6.99 which is $2.33 per razor. Clearly if you add more onto the package the price increases, but if I were to keep the subscription, I wouldn’t be adding any of the other items I’ve tried. So I would still end up with the $21.95 (The blades are actually listed as $20 with the $1.95 as the tax with zero S&H if you want the full breakdown).

At the moment, the Dollar Shave Club has provided the best razor handle and blades from any of the subscriptions I’ve tried.  There are still a couple of services that I haven’t tried, but at the moment, this is the one to beat. I really like the maneuverability of the head and the rubberized grips of the metal handle. I did not drop it in the shower even once as I tested it out, despite my hands being somewhat slick. I think the blades are a decent price and I really like the flexibility of the subscription itself.  If I don’t need the blades I can just postpone/reschedule my shipment with one simple click. Which will allow me to eiter clear out the last of the disposables from my drawer or test out the other subscriptions before fully committing. There are still a couple of subscriptions I want to test out so I will postpone any refills sent my way for the time being, but not cancel the subscription. To be honest though, I think I may have actually found a winner.

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