Bring it on, summer.

Summers in Chicago are not the greatest. We really go from one end of the weather spectrum to the other here! I’m doing everything I can to prepare for the miserable, muggy days that surely lie ahead, so that I can relax and enjoy all that the city has to offer.

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I wanted a matte, tinted sunscreen for beach days {or any other time I don’t want a full face of makeup}. I went with COOLA’s Tinted Matte SPF 30 for Face {find it here}, because I had sampled it in a previous Birchbox and fell in love. It’s got a great, mousse-like texture, and blends like a dream. And it’s super lightweight–I can barely feel it on my face.

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For days I do wear makeup, though {which are most days}, I knew I needed a good base. I’ve been between primers lately, and hadn’t found one that I was crazy about. I’ve been curious about OC8 Professional Mattifying Gel {found here}, so I added it to my cart! So far, I love it. I apply it after moisturizer and sunscreen, and before my foundation. It dries to a matte finish {duh} and helps my face stay shine-free all day. Of course, when the sun is beating down on me, I sweat.. but once that dries or evaporates or whatever, my face is still matte. It’s great! I might even go so far as to say miracle product?

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Last but not least, I grabbed a new setting powder. My NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder was nearly gone, and to be honest–I wasn’t a huge fan of it, anyways. I know, I know…who am I to say anything less than positive about a product created by Francois Nars? But it just didn’t do it for me. I actually ended up using an Exacto knife to pry the pan out of the compact, and it was the perfect space to fit some bobby pins! All about repurposing. But anyways, I digress. I chose Dermablend Professional Loose Setting Powder. It’s wonderful! A super fine texture, and very light. It comes with a fluffball of an applicator, which I used a few times then tossed in favor of a big, fluffy powder brush. I was worried that my face would be too matte {my foundation has a matte finish as well} but I think it looks just fine. The Dermablend is great for touch ups, too. Get it here!

All right, Chicago summer. Bring it on! I’m more than ready for ya.

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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!

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{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 🙂

March Birchbox is here!

Yay! The best day of the month! I am so obsessed with Birchbox. My roommates probably think I’m nuts or something. One of the girls I lived with last year at school, when I first subscribed, made fun of my when my box arrived each month–because I had to open it in private and look at it and touch everything before I could let anyone else see it. I’m happy to say I’ve mellowed out a bit… but I still get extremely excited when I see that pink package in my mailbox.

This month’s box was very satisfying. The samples were huge! Such a joy to try them all out. Here’s what I received!

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{1} English Laundry No. 7 — I love this! I know this is an odd comment, but it smells expensive. I probably won’t buy the full size, but I will enjoy the sample! Also… they sent me two of this one. At least I think they did! The sample comes in a little paper envelope, but when I opened my box, the envelope was open and the samples were floating in the box. Not sure if there were supposed to be two, or if it was an accident.. this has happened one other time. I think it may have been in my first Birchbox. I received two The Balm Mary Lou-Manizers. I gave one to my sister and forgot about it. I gave the spare perfume to my roommate. Enjoy it!!

{2} DDF Ultra Lite Oil Free Moisturizing Dew — This moisturizer is great! The weather has been so up and down lately, and my skin is paying for it. This stuff is super light and soaks in quickly. Not a knock-your-socks-off product, but a good one! Plus, the sample is HUGE. It’s a decent sized jar with a pump, so it’s really easy to use.

{3} Ojon damage reverse Restorative Treatment Plus — Okay. This stuff is weird. I know I’ve had samples from Ojon before, and had mixed results. There were two packets of this; one was a twenty-minute treatment, and the other was more of an overnighter. I used the latter, and applied it before bed. It comes out in a weird, oily, grainy goop, which you rub together in your hands to melt it into an oil. I used the whole packet on my hair, which is getting long. It didn’t saturate all my strands, but I tried to focus on problem areas {i.e. fried ends and the baby hairs around my face}. It smells weird. Like coffee and stale cigarettes. The stale cigarette smell is the one that lingers, unfortunately. I washed my hair twice this morning, making sure I scrubbed it really well. I didn’t want any greasy residue. As I started blowdrying it, I didn’t notice much of a difference. I think next time, I’ll apply the treatment only to my ends {which need it the most} and apply heat before rinsing. As for the smell… I’m just hoping nobody gets too close to me and thinks I’ve been on some weird nicotine bender. Gross.

{4} Gilchrist & Soames London Collection Body Lotion — Just a typical body lotion. Another massive sample! Weird bottle, though. The sample is the exact same shape as the full size, pictured above. The cap screws off and reveals a wide mouth–the same size as the bottle itself! I’m not sure if I’m describing that right. It’s just so awkward and a little difficult to control the flow of lotion into your hand or wherever. It smells pretty good, so there’s that.

{5} Ghirardelli Intense Dark Cherry Tango — Blech. I don’t like dark chocolate to begin with, and I don’t really like cherry flavoring with my chocolate. I was doomed to dislike this from the start, unfortunately. I tried to pass this off on my roommate but she gave up sweets for Lent.

{6} COOLA Tinted Matte SPF 30 for Face — This stuff is wonderful! I’ve started researching SPF formulas for summer, and this had already caught my eye. It’s a mousse-like formula with a light tint. It goes on really smoothly and blends so well. Decent coverage, velvety texture, light scent {it says unscented, but there’s a little sunscreen odor! Nothing too overwhelming}. I wore it all day and then touched it up again in the late afternoon. I love the SPF factor, and also the way that this could replace my foundation. I just purchased Big Easy by Benefit, which takes the place of SPF and foundation; but I could see this COOLA on low key days where I don’t wear any other makeup. Also perfect for a day at the beach–aka, summer in Chicago!

 

Overall, a good Birchbox! Some new finds that I’ll definitely consider repurchasing. I’ve noticed that my samples have begun to tend more towards skincare than makeup products… which is just fine by me!

Thanks for reading! Does anyone else subscribe to Birchbox, or any other beauty subscriptions? How do you like them? Have you discovered any new brands? Tell me about them!

A Year of Samples

Doy! When I posted the reviews for the contents of my February box I think I forgot to mention that it was my one year anniversary of being a Birchbox member! I wanted to do a post of my favorite samples I’ve received in the past twelve months. {For any of you out there wondering how on earth I’ve managed to keep track of a year’s worth of samples–I haven’t. Log into your account on birchbox.com and click on “Box” > “Women’s Box”, then scroll down and click view all to see what samples you received for each month. Easy peasy!}

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{1} Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk {2} Model Co Party Proof Lipstick {3} Paula’s Choice RESIST BHA 9 for Stubborn Imperfections {4} Jasmine Seven Wipes {5} Egyptian Magic Skin Cream {6} Hail Merry Macaroons {7} Evologie Intensive Blemish Serum {8} amika Bombshell Blowout Spray {9} Atelier Cologne Mistral Patchouli {10} COOLA Classic SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for Face

* all images come from birchbox.com, and are of the full-size products. not sample sizes.

Enjoy your weekends, everyone! I’m off to Cincinnati to visit my boyfriend for the weekend. Lots of traveling coming up in the next few months.. yipes!

100 DAYS OF SUMMER

So, I started watching 100 Days of Summer on Bravo last week, and it is so bizarre. I don’t know who these people are or where they are, but that is not the Chicago that I am acquainted with! But like with all trashy TV, I found myself sucked in and watched a couple episodes in a row. They kept talking about how short summer in Chicago is, and everyone works hard and plays hard, and just cuts loose when the weather gets warm. That I can get on board with!

I don’t know about everyone else, but I am so incredibly tired of this winter! It feels like it’s been dragging on for forever. To keep myself from going insane, I’ve been dreaming of a hot, sunny, Chicago summer. I know I’ll be complaining about the ridiculous humidity and heat radiating off the city streets six months from now, but with the thermostat currently hovering at 1 degree I just can’t seem to make myself care. I’m too eager to get the feeling back in my fingers and toes! I already know what I’ll be toting in my bag for those 100 magical days, so scroll on down for some wistful warm weather dreaming.

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Supergoop! Daily Correct CC Cream

I plan on spending my weekends at the beach, but I don’t plan on wearing a full face of makeup to the beach. I received a sample of this SuperGoop CC Cream in a Birchbox last summer, and will be buying the full size come spring! I like a little coverage, and I love a lot of SPF.

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COOLA SPF 35 Sport Spray for Body – Citrus Mimosa

I can’t neglect the rest of my skin–remember, my New Years resolution! I’ve heard good things about this COOLA sunscreen. I love a spray instead of a cream or lotion, so this will be my go-to.

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Jasmine Seven Fresh Feet Wipes

This was another Birchbox discovery, and one that totally saved my feet after moving to Chicago. Schlepping around in sandals can cause some major dirt and grime issues {gross, I know… but it’s true}, so I plan on carrying these wipes in my purse to freshen up my feet and get rid of dirt and sand. Plus, they smell totally delicious and minty and cool your tootsies.

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Whish Coconut Milk Correcting Gel

Just because I’m going to try and take care of my skin doesn’t mean I’ll be totally successful. For those moments when I get too much sun, I’ll turn to Whish Coconut Milk Correcting Gel. According to the description on Birchbox.com: It’s formulated with a blend of hardworking natural oils, essential amino acids, and organic botanical extracts that help turn back the clock and even heals sunburns. How amazing does that sound? And I bet it smells incredible, too. Love Whish.

All images from Birchbox.com