March Birchbox Review

Monthly unboxing and review

Here are the five samples I received. I had actually requested the Winky Lux Glazed Donut Lip Gloss as my sample choice for the month, but it was not in my box. This is the first time I haven’t received the item I had chosen. Thankfully the Birchbox customer service team is great and sent over a mini of the new Benefit Bad Gal Bang Mascara as an apology since my original choice was out of stock.

I was most excited to try the Ouai Leave in Conditioner because this line gets so many glowing reviews and I liked their hair and body oil. The scent of this is rather strong and I can smell it throughout the day. However, it made my waves a bit more defined which I loved. It’s also a great size for travel and has a nice spray to evenly distribute the product through my hair. I definitely want to try more from the line.

My favorite item ended up being the Smashbox Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer. What a useful and innovative product! It basically doubles your lipstick collection because it really does transform creamy or glossy formulas into a matte finish. Check out these swatches with some of my favorite lip products: the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Petal, Pur Cosmetics Chateau De Vine in Showoff, and the Buxom Full-on Lip Cream in Rose Julep.

You can see that the transformer really takes away the shine. It made the colors slightly less pigmented as well, but the effect wasn’t as bad on my actual lips. The texture basically feels like a very silcone-y primer; it’s a clear gel that feels slightly thicker on the lips, but it’s not dry at all which is my main gripe with matte lipsticks. I love this discovery!

I received a few new skincare items too – the GlamGlow Glowstarter Mega Illuminating Moisturizer and MAC Cleanse Off Oil. I don’t understand the whole glittery moisturizer trend… This one in Nude Glow is not as intense as some of the others I’ve received, but you can still see some golden particles on the skin. I don’t think it looks natural and personally avoid all of the fake glowy products – skincare should provide that glow with the ingredients in my opinion. Besides that, this moisturizer has a pleasant (but strong) creamsicle scent and sinks in very quickly.

The MAC oil cleanser wasn’t for me either, but it’s not a bad product. You apply it to your dry skin to break down makeup and then rinse. I felt that I had to use more product than a traditional gel cleanser and it took a bit longer in my experience. However, if you’re used to balm or oil cleansers, you probably would like this.

Lastly, I received the ModelCo Luxecreme Long Wear Lipstick in Sienna. It’s a pretty burnt orange-red, but it’s not a shade that I would really reach for. I love the ModelCo Lip Laquers though and the formula sounds amazing, so it will be going in my next giveaway!

Box breakdown:

  • Ouai Leave In (.84 oz): $5
  • MAC Cleanser (.20 oz): $1
  • Smashbox Transformer (.16 oz): $11
  • GlamGlow Moisturizer (.24 oz): $7
  • ModelCo Lipstick (1 of 3): $7

For $10, I received $31 worth of product. This isn’t the highest value for a box I’ve received and I didn’t love most of the products, but it’s worth it to me for the Smashbox lip product alone. Plus I got to try another Ouai Haircare item! If you’re interested in trying out Birchbox, you can use my link to subscribe.

What did you receive in your box this month? Did I totally miss out on the Winky Lux Glazed Donut Lip Gloss?


Skincare Roundup: Cleansers

Reviewing ALL of the cleansers


I I’ve been wanting to keep track of my open skincare items and also write notes on other options I have used in the past. I figured it might be helpful to have multiple reviews in one place. At the very least, it will be a reference point for me to remember what worked well and what to avoid. So, here’s my current stash of cleansers. I use different ones to remove makeup, quickly wash my face in the morning, and deep cleanse. I generally use a chemical exfoliant, so I’m including my only physical exfoliant in this post because I mostly use it as a cleanser.

First up is the newest addition to my collection: the Little Seed Farm Activated Charcoal Bar that was very kindly gifted to me. I think solid cleansers are great for travel and I like to bring something detoxifying with me just in case, so this is perfect. I love that it’s handmade, cruelty-free, and paraben-free. It does leave my face feeling a little dry, so I only use this about once a week or after a really sweaty workout.

Next I have the Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser. This doesn’t remove my mascara (which isn’t even waterproof) so I only use this in the morning as a very gentle cleanser. I love the pump, it’s affordable, and you can get it at Whole Foods. It also has lots of great, organic ingredients and hydrating oils, so it doesn’t strip the skin.

This Drunk Elephant duo is one of my very favorite cleansers – I’ve repurchased it about four times!! I love traveling with these bars because they’re effective and convenient. The Pekee Bar is my favorite nighttime cleanser; it removes makeup so efficiently without irritating my eyes. The Juju Bar has tiny exfoliating particles for a very gentle scrub – it’s nice in the morning as well and doesn’t dry my skin out at all. I like the scent of both and these tiny bars last about six months! I’d highly recommend this and think it’s definitely worth $18.

Lastly, I use this Acure Organics Facial Cleansing Gel in the shower as a simple and easy step. It removes makeup as well and I love that it’s natural as far as ingredients. Acure is one of my favorite skincare lines – they just went through a rebranding with new packaging and I can’t wait to try everything.

Here are all of the other cleansers I’ve owned in the past (that I can remember).

Skincare Roundup: Cleansers

Fresh(R) Soy Face Cleanser(R) • $15–38 – This is an amazing daily cleanser that also removes makeup, is gentle, and smells fresh like cucumbers. It’s definitely pricey, but a tiny bit goes a long way. It’s a gel formula that lathers well.

Dr. Jart+ Dermaclear Micro Water • $32 – One of the only micellar water type cleansers I like because it actually removes all makeup without leaving any residue behind. It’s expensive for what it is though.

Lush Let the Good Times Roll • $12.95 – I forgot how much I love this cleanser! It smells amazing and leaves my skin soft. You take a tiny bit and add water to make a paste, so I used it in the shower as a very light physical exfoliant; it doesn’t remove makeup. I’ve repurchased two or three times!

Peter Thomas Roth Anti Aging Cleansing Gel • $38 – This cleanser was great for keeping my skin clear from the occasional breakout. The bottle is gigantic, so the price is actually decent. I liked the gel texture and inclusion of salicylic acid. It has a lot of anti-aging claims that I’m not sure about.

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate® Cleanser Daily Foaming Wash, 4.0 oz. • $38  – I love the glycolic and lactic acids in this cleanser; they help maintain a glow in between peels or masks. I never used it to remove makeup, so I’m not quite sure how effective it would be.

Skin Laundry Gentle Foaming Face Wash • $20  – Great for a nighttime cleanser because it quickly removed my makeup. It’s a slippery liquid that lathers easily. This is the only item I’ve tried from the line and I haven’t heard many people talking about it, but I’m intrigued.

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser, 5.0 oz./ 125 mL • $78  – This is clearly a splurge and I’m really not sure if any cleanser that you wash down the drain is worth this much, but I received it as Gratis when I worked at Birchbox years ago. It’s super luxurious, smells amazing, and the packaging is gorgeous (anything with a pump is also a plus for me).

Origins Checks and Balances(TM) Frothy Face Wash • $23  – This was one of the first cleansers I remember buying at Sephora. I tried it again a year or so ago, but it was super drying. My skin has changed a lot, but I think it’s only good for really oily skin.

Key West Aloe Gentle Aloe Facial Wash – 6 oz • $10.29  – I picked this up with my Birchbox points because the sample smelled amazing. It was effective at removing makeup and had a gel texture. Love the pump and price and that it’s available at Target now.

Tatcha Women’s The Deep Cleanse 150ml • $38  – Here’s a recent launch that I’m not really sure about yet. I love the gel texture with natural luffa fruit bits. However, it says not to use near the eye area, which is off-putting. It’s also for normal to oily skin and I have normal to dry skin. I’ll test it again in the summer when I’m more normal – combo.

Foreo Day Cleanser • $19.95  – I received this cleanser as a gift with my Foreo Luna Play purchase. It works well with or without the device. I found it to be very gentle and creamy. It also smelled delicious, like creamsicles.

Yes to Cucumbers Gentle Milk Cleanser • $8.99  – I remember liking this as a drugstore option and kept a bottle at my parents house for when I stayed overnight. It’s a good, basic cleanser with a smooth consistency.

Burt’s Bees Brightening Daily Facial Cleanser, 6 oz • $10  – Here’s an affordable option that removes makeup and smells nice. I’m not sure how much it brightened alone, but I was also using the Caudalie Radiance serum and my skin looked much less dull through the whole bottle. I’d definitely repurchase.

Derma E Daily Detox Scrub • $15.99  – This is one of the only other physical exfoliants I use. This is gentle but effective for surface flakiness. It has a light, natural charcoal scent that adds to the detox experience in my opinion. Derma E is one of my favorite skincare lines for sure.

Avene Cleanance Gel Soapless Cleanser • $20  – I really liked this a few summers ago when my face was oilier. It never stripped my skin and removed makeup well. I love this brand and want to try more of their products.

I apparently go through a lot of cleanser… which makes sense because I use it twice a day. I’m sure there are even more, but these were the main ones that stuck out to me.
Have you tried any of these cleansers? What’s your go-to cleanser that also removes makeup?

Iceland Recap! Travel Diary

The trip where we got engaged!


Let me start by saying that Iceland is a magical place and I would highly recommend a visit! The terrain is as varied as the weather and there are beautiful sights to be found all over the island. There are rolling green hills, plateaus that seem to pop out of nowhere, snowy mountains, and gorgeous waterfalls all over the place. We loved everywhere we stayed as we traveled from Vogar to Hof over four days. The day we got engaged was truly perfect, which was the sweetest icing on the best cake you could ever imagine.


We started out by exploring Reykjavik – which was an adorable town with winding roads. There was a lot of cool street art, cute shops, and this frozen lake that you could walk on! Reed took this awesome shot of all of the ducks and geese swimming in the frigid water. Check out his Instagram for more – he’s an amazing photographer.


We landed at Cafe Paris where we had a delicious brunch of pancakes with bacon and eggs Benedict. It’s true what they say about the food being expensive in Iceland, so be prepared for $60 breakfasts (without drinks). We actually cooked about half of our meals since we were generally in the middle of nowhere and had a full kitchen for two of the days – shopping in an Icelandic grocery store was fun and affordable.


Then we drove East – for four hours! We stopped plenty of times though because Iceland is seriously picturesque. Our main stop was Reynisfjara – a black sand beach with these cool rock structures. This was the windiest place I have ever been!! The wind was insanely intense to the point where Reed had to hold on to me because it was so strong. The sand was also whipping everywhere, so people were walking backwards and shielding their faces.

We finally ended up at our home for the night – the Magma hotel. The lobby was adorable and we played scrabble and had tea while they prepared our cottage. The cottage itself was quite hard to find at night, but the staff was very helpful and it was worth the trek. The area only has a few little cabins, so it’s quiet and peaceful – I would just recommend ear plugs because the storm that night was so, so windy and loud.

Here’s the inside of the cottage; it was incredibly charming and the golden light in the morning was lovely. While it was quite tiny, it didn’t feel cramped at all and the decor was very cute. I loved reading on this day bed and we made dinner and breakfast in the cute kitchen. There was a full sized bed, closet for all of our winter gear, and nice bathroom as well. I wished we had more time here because it was so nice!

After a relaxing morning, we headed to Vatnajokull National Park to hike to the Skaftafell waterfall. Since it had stormed so badly the night before, the trail was really icy. It started hailing pretty badly about halfway through, but we made it to the lookout point. Then the skies cleared up and we decided to continue to the waterfall. The park ranger didn’t recommend it because we didn’t have crampons, but I’m so glad we went for it, because the view was gorgeous and then this happened…

Reed proposed!! Although we’ve been together for seven years and I knew we would get married eventually, I wasn’t expecting to get engaged on this trip! It was such an amazing surprise and perfect moment that I can hardly even put it into words. I’ll just say that I have the most thoughtful fiancé and I couldn’t be happier – I get to marry my best friend! Telling our families was so fun (even though almost everyone already knew!) and we are so thankful for the amount of love and support in our lives.


If you’re wondering how we got the proposal on camera, a sweet couple was nearby and I asked if they wanted a photo of the two of them. Then they offered to take a picture of us and ended up capturing the whole thing! There are about 6 photos total and I absolutely love that we captured the moment because it was so special. The photos were also a great way to share the best news with our friends and family. We can’t thank you enough, friendly travelers!! And then we have the ring! It’s more beautiful and meaningful than anything I would have imagined. The sapphire is so, so perfect for me.


Somehow the day got even better as we continued on to Hof. We saw an entire double rainbow!! It was so vibrant (my photos don’t do it justice) and I’ve never seen both ends of a rainbow! Here’s Reed at one end and me at the other. Notice how we both have our eyes closed? We’re meant to be 😉 But seriously, it was fantastic and we were both so filled with joy at this point.

Next we drove to the Diamond Beach across from Jökulsárlón which was unlike anything I’d seen. There were small and large icebergs all over the black sand beach and they were the most stunning blue shades. It was incredible! I was starting to get cold at this point, which is honestly not that bad because I’m always freezing and my jacket wasn’t waterproof, but before we headed out…


We saw this!!! As if it couldn’t get any better, we walked down the beach to find three white Icelandic horses running down the beach! It was gorgeous. They were shooting a tourist clip, so this doesn’t ever happen in normal life, but what perfect timing that we were able to catch this!

Then we headed to check in at the Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon. This was such a luxurious retreat after all of the hours of driving and exploring – perfectly planned on Reed’s part! We had the best meal of the entire trip – which my parents treated us to, to celebrate our engagement. The food was so fresh and delicious; I would highly recommend eating at the restaurant even if you’re not staying at the hotel and you want a lovely meal after exploring Skaftafell and Jökulsárlón.

After dinner we were lounging in our room when champagne and dessert arrived from Reed’s parents. It was the perfect ending to a truly fantastic day filled with so much love, thoughtfulness, pure joy, and celebration.


The next day we went on a Glacier Hike and Ice Cave expedition with Extreme Iceland. It was a three hour trek (plus a 30 minute bus each way to/from Vatnajokull). This was pretty pricey, but it was one of the highlights of the trip. I mean look at these ice caves!! They were so beautiful and filled with stunning blue, white, and black colors. Plus we climbed a glacier!! It was really cool and a nice active hike with crampons and ice picks. This cave would only last another three or so weeks before it would be unsafe to explore, so I’m really glad we were able to get this in.


Here’s my cute guy in the cave and a little waterfall that we actually drank from! The water was so cold, refreshing, and delicious that we actually filled our water bottles here.

Then we started heading back toward Reykjavik for dinner. It was another four hour drive plus stops, so it was getting late by the time we arrived. We were starving and still had to drive to Vogar, so we grabbed a quick burger at Hamborgarabúlla Tómasar. This place had a fun vibe and the food was delicious. There were plenty of locals eating there too.

That night we arrived at our Airbnb, Narkafot by the Lighthouse, and were welcomed by Dagmar, who was the sweetest host. I sadly don’t have any pictures here because it was nighttime when we arrived and we didn’t have time the next morning, but it was as charming and picturesque as it looks online. I would definitely stay there again because it was very close to the airport, Blue Lagoon, and Reykjavik, but felt cozy and private.

On our last day, we headed to the Blue Lagoon for a very touristy stop. It was actually much nicer than we had heard and there were no lines when we arrived. The receptionist upgraded us to one of the luxury packages with a free robe and slippers, which was so nice. We also had drinks and smoothies while in the lagoon which was fun.

It was still incredibly windy, so we tucked ourselves into corners and little nooks to stay warm. A lovely employee (who was incredibly bundled in the cold and wind – poor guy!) was there to take photos and email them to guests, which was so helpful because we didn’t want to deal with our phones or running back inside. I would definitely recommend going to the Blue Lagoon as you’re heading out for a bit of relaxation before your long flight home – I was glad we did.

If you couldn’t already tell, Iceland was the best trip ever and getting engaged there made it even more amazing. I couldn’t recommend going there enough and loved all of the sites we visited, places we stayed, and food we ate. If you’re heading there and have any questions, let me know!

Weekend Wear: Stripes (OOTD)

Wearing all blue

I’ve worn this striped sweater several times lately. It’s warm, but still lightweight and I love that the stripes line up at all of the seams. It’s something I look for when buying patterned pieces because it’s a sign of higher quality design and construction. I’m also still obsessed with these earrings… They go with every outfit and make a subtle statement! Can’t get enough. I linked some similar options in this post.

These Gap Girlfriend jeans are my favorite for casual looks. They fit a lot better than your typical boyfriend jeans – which can sometimes look silly or overwhelming on me because I’m so short. I also love the medium blue wash and statement pockets. Here’s a pair with similar distressed details. I cuffed mine to show off these shoes…

I’m finally wearing these booties I bought back in November! My sprain has almost completely healed, so anything with a heel is an option again! Spring starts next week, so velvet is now on the way out… but it’s supposed to snow tomorrow! So I think I can get away with them for a bit longer thankfully. Plus I love everything about these booties from the deep blue color to the floral embossed pattern. Here are some similar options if you’re looking for a fun style while it’s still chilly:

Sam Edelman Case Velvet Booties • Sam Edelman • $150
Vanessa Wu Metallic Booties • $99.95
Sam Edelman Petty Suede Booties • Sam Edelman • $65
Jack Rogers Jr Bailee Suede Booties • Jack Rogers • $64
Marc Fisher LTD. Women’s Cassidey2 Velvet Booties • Marc Fisher • $110.25

Are you guys ready for Spring? What are you most looking forward to wearing? You know I love my jeans, but I’m actually excited about dresses right now.

Demo: Maybelline Master Bronze and City Mini Palettes

I’ve really been loving the Maybellines palettes that I reviewed in a new series last week. The Master Bronze Color + Highlight Kit has been perfect for warming up my complexion and adding a glow, while the City Mini Palette in Downtown Sunset can create so many different looks! I’ll use the cream and peach shades for an everyday eye or add any of the shimmers to jazz things up.

Here’s a first impression and demo featuring both of these palettes:

Have you tried either of these palettes? I’ve heard the Bronze City Mini Palette is also great. What drugstore items should I test out next?