April Birchbox: Rainy Days

Bring on the April showers! The theme for Birchbox’s April box is all about beating the gloomy weather blues, and embracing the opportunity to stay inside and cuddle up! As I write this, it’s pretty rainy and gross outside, and although I couldn’t stay under my covers all day {believe me, I wanted to}, some of the goodies from this month’s box are helping to brighten my day for sure.

april bb

 

{1} Color Club Gala’s Gems Collection nail polish in Breakfast At… — This polish is a really pretty creamy pearly mint color. It goes on smoothly and dries with a beautiful finish. So pretty for spring!

{2} Number 4 Reconstructing Masque — Maybe my hair isn’t as damaged as I think it is. I never have much luck with these types of reconstructing and damage-reversing hair masks, and this was no exception. It smelled really nice, but I didn’t see any major difference in my hair.

{3} Number 4 Clarifying Shampoo — This was also sort of “meh.” Again, smelled nice, but I couldn’t tell a difference in my hair after washing it.

{4} Supergoop! City Sunscreen Serum — This was very disappointing to me 😦 I’ve been anxious to try this serum for months but wanted to sample it before buying. It seemed like the perfect sunscreen for a city-dwelling girl like myself. It’s a serum, so it’s runny, but it doesn’t dry to a matte finish like it said it would {not on my face, anyways} and then when I applied makeup on top of it, it started rubbing off and forming little balls and made it look like my skin was peeling off. No! Maybe I used it wrong? I washed my face, applied light moisturizer and let it dry, then applied this serum and let it dry before putting on my BB cream. I’ll save the sample and use it on makeup-free days, but so far, COOLA’s tinted moisturizer still has my heart.

{5} Sumita Color Contrast Eyeliner — I really liked this! I’m a take it or leave it kinda person when it comes to eyeliner. I have several–all the basic colors, and then some not-so-basic colors. Eyeliner isn’t something I usually am excited to try, and I rarely spend the kind of money on it that I do on other types of makeup. Why is this? I’m not sure. I gave this one a try since it was free and I like to give all my Birchbox samples a fair testing. This liner is a deep plum, and goes on so smoothly! It blends evenly and really gets down into my lashes. I have a feeling the sample won’t last long though, as I really tend to scrub {for lack of a better term} liner way down into my lash line to blend better with my mascara, and it uses a lot of product. Will I repurchase? Stay tuned…

{6} KIND Healthy Grain Bar in Maple Pumpkin Seed with Sea Salt — Yum! I’ve tried KIND bars in the past with little to no success – they just taste icky, and I didn’t like the texture. But I loved this one! I am a major fan of pumpkin seeds. I always carve a pumpkin around Halloween, just to get the seeds out and roast them! So delicious. This bar was sweet and slightly salty, and the texture was good. Crunchy but not too chewy. I haven’t seen these in any drugstores or grocery stores yet, but I’m keeping my eyes peeled!

 

There you have it! Lots of posts in the pipeline, which is good. I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t had time to write any, and all these ideas for new ones keep popping into my head. Thanks for reading! XO

Think Dirty

My roommate just introduced me to this new app, called Think Dirty. You tell it which beauty products you use or are considering purchasing, and it tells you how harmful it potentially is to your body. Products are rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best and 10 being the worst. Pretty cool, if you want to find out just how “organic” and “natural” your products claim to be. According to a helpful little video on their website, women use, on average, 12 products a day. Each of those products contains ~14 “mystery” ingredients, which we can assume are harmful in one way or another. 12 products/day x 14 mystery ingredients = 168 unique chemicals/day–some of which are toxic. That adds up to a whopping 61,320+ chemicals a year–with 20,000+ potentially toxic! That’s a very frightening figure.

I immediately started entering in products I own and use every day. I was unpleasantly surprised. I don’t try to be some all-natural makeup maven, but… you guys… almost all my products I entered were a 9 or 10!

My Dove deodorant? 10. My precious They’re Real! mascara? 10. Benefit High Beam? 10. Both my shampoo and conditioner, as well as my body wash, got 10’s. The only thing I entered that got lower than an 8 was my MAC lipstick–and I don’t even wear it that often!

Cue the panic. What have I been DOING to myself??

I ended up on Birchbox’s shop, because I remembered seeing that their limited edition month is all about natural products. I entered those items into the app, and–uh oh. Not many of them got low ratings. I followed a link to a category entitled “Ingredient-Conscious.” The list boasts 237 products, and I used Think Dirty to view as many of their ratings as possible. I rounded up a couple of low-scored items that I’m adding to my list — check them out below!

think dirty

{1} Acure Organics Body Wash. My current body wash, Caress Evenly Gorgeous Exfoliating Body Wash, has a Think Dirty rating of 10 (omg), and I can only imagine what sort of chemicals are stuffed into it. This Acure body wash is chock full of organic, biodegradable ingredients–good for your skin, and for the environment! Moisturizing agents like Moroccan argan stem cells and antioxidant CoQ10 blend with mint and lilac to exfoliate and soften skin. And I can only imagine how delicious that coconut pumpkin scent must be. $9.99 on Birchbox.com; Think Dirty rating of 0.

{2} Tata Harper All Natural Resurfacing Mask. The word “resurfacing” draws to mind harsh treatments such as microdermabrasion and chemical peels. A peek at the ingredients list of this mask draws the mind away that harshness and invokes feelings of pampering and relaxation. A cocktail of pink clay, beet, white willow, aloe vera, and witch hazel that accomplishes anything and everything you could want from a skin mask–hydration, clear skin, reduced redness, pore shrinkage, etc.–this mask is gentle on the face and on the wallet. At least, when you compare it to the GlamGlow masks that I’m so enamored with. $55 on Birchbox.com; Think Dirty rating of 0.

{3} Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox Pore Penetrator. I’m not prone to blackheads or clogged pores, but I love a product that gets in there and cleans them out anyways! This pore penetrator does just that–uses a mixture of grapefruit extract, willow bark, olive oil, and licorice root to give your face a deep clean and promote overall glowiness {which may be partially attributed to the knowledge that you’re treating your skin right}. $24 on Birchbox.com; Think Dirty rating of 0.

{4} Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox Cleansing Foam. I’ve always loved foaming cleansers because of how squeaky clean they make my face feel! However, I’ve been warned by multiple sources to avoid them due to the overdrying effects they can have on the skin. Not this stuff. Dr. Jart has done it again, producing a foaming cleanser that doesn’t strip your skin. Featuring a whopping three times the oxygen of water, this cleanser promises to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. A few other ingredients that help with that: antioxidants from blueberries and green tea, lycopene, caviar extract, and lemon extract. $24 on Birchbox.com; Think Dirty rating of 0.

{5} Egyptian Magic Skin Cream. Ahh, this stuff. I received a sample in a Birchbox several months ago and was immediately smitten. It has an odd consistency–almost like chunky Vaseline–which made me nervous to put it on my face. I was so glad I did! It’s a cure-all. And the best part? There are only six ingredients: olive oil, beeswax, honey, royal jelly, bee pollen, and propolis {I had to look this one up–it’s another honeybee byproduct, used as a sealant in the honeycombs}. Knowing that you’re putting such natural ingredients on your face has never felt better–especially when you wake up with baby soft skin. $26 for 2 oz, $38 for 4 oz on Birchbox.com; Think Dirty rating of 0.

{6} rms beauty Beauty Oil. I might just be a sucker, but the words “cult status” always draw me in. This lightweight oil, infused with licorice root, rosehip seed oil, buriti fruit, and turmeric promises to hydrate and brighten skin while fighting inflammation and preventing signs of aging. You can’t argue with the flawless faces of Gisele Bündchen, Miranda Kerr, and Zoe Saldana! $74 on Birchbox.com; Think Dirty rating of 0.

{7} COOLA SPF 30 Sport Spray. Sun protection is so important, you guys. I get the feeling that a lot of sunscreens are loaded with chemicals and unsafe ingredients–but we have no choice, we have to use them! Enter COOLA. This line of suncare is healthy and natural! I’ve had a sample of this spray, and it smells amazing. It features lots of natural ingredients–strawberry and cucumber extract, red raspberry oil, aloe vera–but also combines four healthy sunscreens to protect your skin. $32 on Birchbox.com; Think Dirty rating of 4.

{8} 100% Pure Hand Buttercream. This rich hand cream is 100% natural, vegan, and gluten-free! Need I go on? Well, I’m going to anyways. Lots of natural {duh} moisturizers are found in this stuff, including avocado oil and the new cult favorite–coconut oil. An old favorite, shea butter, is also included, as well as plenty of vitamins and antioxidants to keep your hands looking and feeling young. Hands age so fast! This cream helps to keep ’em fresh. $8 on Birchbox.com; Think Dirty rating of 0.

 

I hope this has helped to open your eyes to the dangers lurking in your shower and cabinet shelves! I for one will struggle with giving up a lot of the products I own, but it’s great to know that safe and healthy options are out there if you want them. I don’t think that switching to all-natural products is a perfect fit for everyone–case in point, my skin would erupt without my prescription gel, which is probably stuffed with icky, unpronounceable ingredients–but even a gradual shift towards natural products is better than nothing! I’m going to continue to self-educate myself about the products I use, and will share my journey on Lovely! Stay tuned 🙂

New Goodies

There is no feeling in the world that is as good as having new makeup to play with.*

Some people feel that way about clothes and shoes {I do too, actually}, some feel that way about fresh ingredients in the pantry, and some feel that way about golf clubs or something. It’s whatever, people. All about whatever makes you happy!

What makes me happy are the goodies I scored last week. I returned to the magical Walgreens and purchased Bahama Mama bronzer by TheBalm, and the cashier so kindly added on two free samples with purchase! A beautiful shimmery champagne-colored loose eyeshadow, and a miniature tube of Stainiac! I was so thrilled. Then I casually stopped at Sephora on my way to meet a friend a few days later and scooped up a sample of a new GlamGlow mask I have never tried before. Check out all the details below!

 

bahamamama_productshot_new_1

TheBalm Bahama Mama. This bronzer looks a little scary, I know, but it’s not so intimidating once you know how to use it. It’s extremely pigmented, and has a matte finish–no shimmer here, which means it’s perfect for contouring! I use a BareMinerals brush and veeerrryyy lightly brush it across the surface. Then I tap over the edge of the sink or garbage can to get rid of excess powder, and sweep it in the hollows beneath my cheekbones. When it comes to bronzer application, I seem to have adopted a weird technique combining what I was first told about bronzer {apply where the sun naturally hits your face}, and what makeup artists are saying now {use it on the hollows of your face to contour}. I think it comes out looking natural, and like I have a little more structure to my otherwise unstructured-looking cheeks.

 

overshadow_productshot_nomoney

TheBalm Overshadow – The Sexpot Series in No Money, No Honey. I don’t usually wear eyeshadow, and when I do, it comes from my trusty Urban Decay Naked palette. I love neutral eyeshadow–you won’t ever {probably} see me in purple or blue–but if this particular shadow hadn’t been free, I probably wouldn’t have purchased it. It’s a gorgeous color, but how many champagne-hued eyeshadows does a girl really need? As per usual for theBalm, the packaging is sassy and adorable.

 

stainiac_productshot_1

TheBalm Stainiac. Ooooh, I was so thrilled when the saleslady brought this over for me as part of my free gift! If you recall, Stainiac was on my shopping list in my last post, but I had decided not to purchase. Cheek and lip stains intrigue me {I love a good multitasker}, but I hadn’t had great experiences with them in the past. I’m sorry, but I’m looking at you, Benetint. The product that I hate to dislike, because I love Benefit so much. Maybe liquid-y tints like this are better used on a bare face–but when I applied, I could always see a ring on my cheek where the Benetint had washed away part of my foundation and bronzer. I found it difficult to blend, as well, because it dries so fast. Anyways, I digress. Stainiac is the same color as Benetint, but a different formula. Where Benetint literally looks like a bottle of nail polish {same brush and everything}, Stainiac resembles a tube of lip gloss, down to the applicator. It’s more of a gel, rather than a liquid. It only takes a little bit applied to the apples of my cheeks, and it blends right in without disturbing the makeup already on my face. It provides a natural flush, and it’s so pretty! Great on lips too, for that whole “my lips–only better” color so many girls desire. The little sample will probably last a while, but I might have to purchase the big size!

 

s1582725-main-hero

GlamGlow ThirstyMud Hydrating Treatment. I think that eventually, the girls at Sephora are going to start referring to me as “the girl who comes in and asks for GlamGlow samples and never buys the full size.” It’s true, but before I can justify spending $70 on 1.7 oz of anything, I want to make sure I like it. Not just like it, LOVE it. So I’ve gotten maybe three samples of the SuperMud Clearing Treatment, which I really like, and this time I asked for a sample of the ThirstyMud Hydrating Treatment. I took it for a test run last night, and so far so good! It’s a different texture and consistency than the SuperMud mask {which is an opaque, clay-like gray substance with little bits of leaves and gunk in it}; this stuff is a pale tan color, feels and applies like lotion, and absorbs into your skin–instead of drying on it. It smells AMAZING–I’m a total sucker for anything that smells coconutty or like sunscreen, and this stuff does. It’s cool and refreshing. I applied it all over my face before bed, and then went to sleep. I rinsed it off when I woke up, and my skin was smooth, hydrated, and glowing. The best part is, the sample I was given is going to last a looong time. The SuperMud only ever lasted one to two uses, because you have to use so much. I barely made a dent in the teeny pot of ThirstyMud. I’ll keep requesting samples before I make my decision, but for now–it’s looking like I’ll be purchasing the ThirstyMud treatment before long!

 

It’s almost Birchbox time, you guys–can’t wait to receive it and write my reviews! I hope everyone enjoys their weeks!

 

*probably

Best. Discovery. Ever.

I love Chicago.

Seriously. You never know what you’re going to stumble upon on your Sunday evening walk. There’s a huge new Walgreens near my apartment that just opened up a few months ago, and I finally paid it a visit a couple days ago. My roommate had mentioned that it housed a pretty impressive beauty section featuring some brands we both love–Klorane, for example–so my curiosity was piqued. But I was not expecting to see a beauty emporium rivaling Ulta and Sephora upstairs from a sushi bar, cafe area, extensive wine and liquor section, and a huge cooler with fresh fruit. Mind. Blown.

The beauty section is called the Look Boutique. I did a little research and discovered that not long ago, Walgreens bought Duane Reade (a NY drugstore chain), which had begun to feature a Sephora-like beauty concept in order to elevate their image {which is a totally cool idea}! So, select Walgreens across the country are remodeling and beginning to feature Look Boutiques. Chicago has three, I think–Clark/Diversey {near me, just opened} in Lakeview; Milwaukee in Wicker Park; and State Street in the Loop. The one in Wicker Park sounds gorgeous–check out this article I found about it here!

I just think this is the coolest concept, ever. A couple of the brands I saw when I first walked in–TheBalm, Cargo, Klorane, Pop Beauty, Avene, La Roche Posay–aren’t really extensively carried at Sephora or Ulta. I did a quick search, and Sephora only carries four TheBalm products. Ulta doesn’t carry it at all. I’m super stoked to have found the complete line there! I used to use Bahama Mama bronzer back when it was still sold at Sephora, but it kind of fell off my radar. Birchbox also samples TheBalm pretty frequently; I’ve tried their Mary Lou-Manizer highlighter, as well as In-Stain blush, and loved them both. My roommate got a sample of their How Bout Them Apples cream blush, and it’s the sweetest-looking product I’ve ever seen.

The best part is, this week only–it’s all 20% off. All of it! As long as you have a Walgreens rewards card, and if you don’t, it takes about two seconds to obtain one. I’m planning on going back later this week before the sale ends and stocking up. On my list:

{1} TheBalm Bahama Mama Bronzer
{2} TheBalm Stainiac Lip & Cheek Stain
{3} TheBalm Frat Boy Shadow/Blush
{4} Cargo New Essential Lip Gloss in Fresno
{5} Klorane Dry Shampoo with Nettle {a Birchbox discovery, and my all-time favorite dry shampoo ever. I was so thrilled to discover that the Look Boutique carried it.}

It’s a little difficult to find information on these Look Boutiques, so I’m not certain where they’re popping up at. I know there are several in NYC, the three in Chicago I mentioned, and at least one in LA and Houston. Safe to assume major cities will be getting them first, but keep your eyes peeled!

Gold Medal Bronzers

This is a sad time for me. My precious Benefit Hoola bronzer is almost out. I hit the pan months ago, but I just can’t let go. I’ve been scrubbing my bronzer brush into the corners of the little box trying to get every last bit out like a total barbarian. It’s almost time to replace. BUT. Do I repurchase the same bronzer again? I’ve written about my issues when it comes to stepping into Sephora… I might find a product I totally love, but then I hesitate when it comes time to repurchase because THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER OPTIONS TO CHOOSE FROM AND PLAY WITH! That being said, I have some serious thinking to do. Bronzer is a major part of my makeup routine, and I can’t just grab any old one and hope it works for me! I have a few options in mind… check them out!

bronzer

{1} Benefit Dallas — It’s an outdoor glow for the indoor gal! Benefit’s newest pressed powder is a sun-kissed rose glow for rich, enviable beauty in a box. Sweep Dallas across cheeks, chin, and forehead to lift away signs of dullness and give your complexion a naturally radiant and vibrant glow—so sheer, it’s a wash of color that will benefit just about every skin tone. $28.

{2} NARS Bronzing Powder in Laguna — Nars Bronzing Powder is a true brown-based bronzer with a gold shimmer fusion that’s excellent for creating or enhancing the look of healthy, glowing, tanned skin. $38.

{3} Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil Light/Medium Matte Bronzer — Too Faced has combined the natural detoxifying effects of real cocoa powder with their signature bronzing pigments to create a lighter version of their bestselling Chocolate Soleil original matte bronzer. The Milk Chocolate shade is perfectly suited for pale to medium skintones for a touch of summer warmth all year-long. $30.

{4} BECCA Mineral Bronzing Powder in Duende — Finely spun to a silky finish, this long-wearing powder casts a natural sunkissed glow perfect for contouring and highlighting lackluster areas. The unique formulation includes Nylon-12 for excellent adherence and long-wear, and light-reflecting particles to create a soft, youthful finish with subtle warmth. $40.

{5} Buxom Hot Escapes Bronzer in Tahiti — Decide just how hot you want to be. This bronzer imparts 100% buildable coverage that’s built for your skintone and imparts a subtle, luminous finish. Along with rice lipids for creamy texture and smooth application, it also contains a coconut oil skin emollient that gives off a lightly toasted coconut scent. Adding to the fun, a custom-embossed design evokes sand and waves. $28.

{6} Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Powder Bronzer in Light — This smooth, oil-free powder gives face, shoulders, and décolletage a seductive bronze look. Formulated with a unique oil-control complex, this powder also keeps skin shine-free and comfortable. $36.

{7} Tarte Maracuja Bronzing Serum — Invigorate your complexion as you impart a gradual, subtle radiance with Tarte’s revolutionary Bronzing Serum. This multitasking elixir is powered by maracuja and plant extracts to hydrate, brighten, and even skin tone as it helps fight signs of aging for a firmer, brighter, smoother appearance. The infused self-tanning complex delivers instant radiance as it imparts a gradual, natural-looking bronze for a healthy, glowing complexion over time. The fragrant silky texture is infused with herbal notes—bergamot, gardenia, lily of the valley and jasmine—for a spa-like pampering with every application. $46.

 

I feel like someday I’m going to look back on my life and say to myself, “really? You were willing to spend THAT much on bronzer?”

all images and product descriptions taken from sephora.com.

EDIT: Okay, so I just wrote a post that will be published on Wednesday {check back to read it!} and in it, I mention a bronzer I have decided to purchase. It is none of the ones listed above. But I did enjoy the research that went into this post, and I might end up buying one of these in the future anyways!

Oil Pulling Update

More about oil pulling! I’ve been going strong and pulled almost every day since I started! The only days I skipped were last Saturday and Sunday, because I was out of town for a wedding and had zero desire to bring a whole jar of coconut oil with me. It gets easier and easier every morning! I actually look forward to pulling when I wake up. The taste has grown on me so much, and so has the squeaky clean sensation it causes.

A few things I’ve noticed:

1. My skin is improving. I can’t tell if I can chalk it up entirely to the oil pulling, because I also think I’ve FINALLY found a skincare routine that works for me, but there is a definite improvement. Acne on my forehead has cleared up, and so has the blotchiness. Oil is reduced as well.. I can wear only BB cream without any touchups or need for concealer, which is unheard of for me. My skin feels super soft, as well!

2. I’ve been sleeping pretty well. If you read my post about my new FitBit Flex, you see that you can track your sleep cycles with it. I had heard that oil pulling can help with sleeplessness, and again, I don’t know if the pulling is helping or not… but according to the sleep tracker, I fall asleep quickly and barely toss and turn. It hasn’t made it any easier to wake up in the morning, but it is what it is!

3. It really clears up any oral pain I have. Last Thursday/Friday my gums were SO swollen on the bottom right hand side. It felt exactly like when my wisdom teeth came in a few years ago. I was actually sort of afraid… I had all four wisdom teeth removed, but maybe there was a fifth mutant tooth hidden beneath and now it was breaking through??!? It was super puffy and painful and I couldn’t chew on that side. But the oil pulling really soothed the pain and helped de-puff, and after a few days it was completely back to normal. My tongue also was feeling kind of icky. My favorite favorite favorite snack in the whole wide world is sunflower seeds. They’re so bad for you {all that salt!} but I’m hooked. The salt makes the surface of my tongue feel raw and gross sometimes, like it’s been burned, but oil pulling helps it feel normal much quicker than usual.

The psychology student within me is totally flipping out right now, though. The tenet that is driven into the mind of every psychology {and anything research-related, really} student will not leave my head. I’m talking about CORRELATION ≠ CAUSATION. Just because two things are related doesn’t necessarily mean one is causing the other… for example, global temperature is increasing, and the number of pirates in the world is decreasing, but I don’t think warmer temperatures are making the pirates disappear. {That was my favorite professor’s favorite example.} So who knows… there is definitely a correlation between oil pulling and my improved skin, sleeping habits, and oral health. But in order to find out if the pulling is the cause, I would have to eliminate all outside factors, and it would be really really interesting but also very complicated and since I’m not a student anymore I don’t have any desire to embark on that.

If any more improvements occur, I will definitely write about them, so stay tuned!!