Birchbox August Unboxing and Mini Reviews

Monthly unboxing and review

It has been the busiest summer! I can’t believe we’re 2/3 through August already… Does everyone say that? Summer usually flies by for me, but it’s pretty relaxing.  Between traveling more than usual, having friends and family visit, building a bunch of new furniture for the apartment, getting ready to transition into an exciting new role, and working on a new fitness schedule, I’m feeling pretty stretched. All good things thankfully, but I have to say I’m looking forward to things settling down a touch this fall.

Anyway, here’s my August Birchbox! I chose the curated box this month because I knew I would use every single product. I was really excited to see Amika in this month’s edit as I love their hair-care products; I’ve also never tried a dry shampoo foam and was pretty intrigued. The Phantom Hydrating Dry Shampoo Foam is fun to use, effective at removing oil, and actually adds volume to my strands as well. I dispense about a golf-ball size puff, flip my hair down, and massage it into my roots. It feels almost wet, but it doesn’t leave any residue or dampness behind and (as with all Amika products) smells lovely.

The other hair-care item I received is Oribe’s Featherbalm Weightless Styler. I was definitely looking forward to trying this because Oribe products are so luxurious; their Apres Beach Spray is one of my favorites. This balm provides light hold, nourishes, and protects against UV rays and heat. I think it did a surprisingly great job moisturizing as my hair was nowhere near as frizzy as usual, but I could use a bit more hold for my curls.

For skincare, I have yet to try this Borghese Advanced Fango Active Mud Mask because my skin is currently a bit dry and mud masks tend to dehydrate my skin. It’s a decently sized sample though – I think I will be able to get about three uses from this jar – which makes it perfect for travel. I’m heading to Mexico in a couple months and the humidity there might contribute some oiliness/clogged pores that this mask would be perfect for.

I received two makeup products this month, a cute Kabuki Brush from Birchbox and a Cheek Blush from Doucce. The brush is really soft and would be great for travel since it’s so small. It smelled a tiny bit like vinegar at first, but I washed it before using and that disappeared thankfully. The size and shape of this brush makes it great for setting powder or even bronzer. This RSVP blush is such a pretty, subtle shade of pink. The powder itself is very soft and blendable too. However, I don’t love the packaging as it’s meant to go in a Doucce case or z-palette (neither of which I own).

Box Breakdown

  • Dry Shampoo Foam: .75 oz = $3.54
  • Hair Balm: .5 oz = $6.18
  • Mud Mask: .5 oz = $8.8 (this same mini sells for $12 on the Borghese website, but this is the value of actually product based on the full size)
  • Kabuki Brush: full size = $5
  • Pink Blush: .12 oz = $12 (That’s with the packaging, so I’m docking $2)

For $10, I received $33.50 worth of product. I love the Amika Dry Shampoo Foam and was happy to try another Oribe product. I also received a full size brush and got to try two new-to-me brands.

What did you receive this month? Do you like choosing the Curated box or being surprised? If you’re interested in Birchbox, you can sign up with my link!

5 Minute Face for Summer – Minimal Makeup

Easy, fast makeup

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Summer is one the busiest times for me since I’m traveling a bunch. It’s also been incredibly hot and I don’t want to wear a lot of makeup that may melt off. So recently, I’ve paired down my everyday makeup to just a few steps. It has made getting ready in the morning or before a flight a bit faster and I’m into the minimal dewy look.

I totally forgot to include my First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Tinted Moisturizer since it’s in my medicine cabinet, but that’s the first step. I love that product for its lightweight feel and sheer coverage that adds a dewy glow to the skin. I have the shade Fair which matches me nicely now that I have a tiny tan. It has SPF 30, which I appreciate, but is unfortunately not Reef Safe, so I won’t be repurchasing it. Any recommendations for tinted moisturizers with Reef Safe SPF would be so helpful! I’ve tried the Raw Elements one, which is great on its own, but makes my face look super oily at the end of the day when layered with other makeup.

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Next, I apply Vapour’s Illusionist Concealer in 010 under my eyes and brows, down the bridge of my nose, and a little on my cheeks. This brightens, highlights, and covers redness beautifully (full review here!). That quickly blends in with my Real Techniques Mini Expert Face Brush. I have the full size of this too and absolutely love it! This smaller version works just as beautifully and is so travel friendly.

One of my favorite steps is bronzer and my current go-to is the BareMinerals Invisible Bronze in Medium. This works nicely to warm up my complexion and looks very natural on the skin. It’s a bit strange that medium is my shade match in this product because I’m relatively fair, so be careful if you’re looking at the different shades. Sometimes I’ll blend this into the crease of my eyelid as eyeshadow too.

 

I’ve actually been using my Luxie Tapered Highlight Brush from June’s Boxycharm with that bronzer. It seems odd because bronzer brushes are generally quite large, but I don’t have much room in my travel makeup bag and was looking for another alternative. This one worked out because it’s a fluffy brush. If it were dense, it would be hard to lightly sweep product onto the skin.

Since there is a scar in my left brow and my brows can be a bit unruly, even a super minimal look includes some type of brow product for me. I love this Beautaniq Beauty Fill + Tame Brow Gel for how quickly and easily it applies and evens out my brows. It doesn’t leave them crunchy either. The Brunette color matches my dark brown, almost black brow hair really well, which can sometimes be hard with gels.

Lastly, I’ve been trying out the Estée Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Mascara in Black. It’s a very wet formula, so I have to be careful while applying or little specks get all over my lids (which is hard to hid when you’re not wearing any eyeshadow!). However the longer application time is worth it because it gives me serious length and pretty volume too.

So that’s this super simple look. I always have lip balm on and a few gloss options with me too. I love Tom Ford La Piscine and Clinique Pop Splash in Pinot Pop (swatched here).

What’s your favorite look for summer? Are you feeling a minimal vibe or all out glam?

Foundation First Impressions

Testing three formulas

 

I have a confession: I’m a beauty blogger, but I don’t own a single foundation. It may sound crazy, but I have never tried a foundation that I loved. Maybe it’s just that I haven’t discovered the right one or it could be that I don’t like wearing heavy makeup. I generally prefer a bit of concealer where I need it.

I love concealer and I’m sure I’ve tried about 20 different ones; there are currently three in my makeup bag. So, I’ve decided to test out it’s companion and dip my toes into the vast world of foundation. I picked up a few samples from Nordstrom and Sephora when I was in Chicago and have been testing them out for a couple weeks.

The first is the ultra-luxe Guerlain Lingerie de Peau Fluid Foundation which retails for $63 (1 oz). I really don’t know if this is a good foundation or not because I only wore it for three minutes. This stuff reeks. Honestly, the perfumy scent was so strong that I had to wash my face. This has SPF 20 and the shade 02N was a great color match for my fair/light complexion with yellow undertones, but I was worried it was going to irritate my skin.

Next I tried the BareMinerals BarePro Liquid Foundation in Cashmere 06 ($34/oz). The shade matched me very well, but leaned a bit yellow when the label says it has a neutral undertone. This claims to be full coverage with a matte finish. It’s definitely the most coverage I’ve ever worn, but my freckles were still visible. I’m never trying to cover them, so I didn’t mind at all. I’m just not sure if that would make it truly full coverage. It definitely has a matte finish, so I used a hydrating setting spray because my skin is currently dry. It would probably be best for me in the summer, but then I don’t like wearing much makeup. It does have SPF 20 and lasted through the entire day. I also found this pretty comfortable throughout the wear, but it wasn’t weightless.

This last one isn’t exactly foundation, but it’s still a base which I hadn’t tried. I’ve heard great things about the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, so I picked up the shade Nude. This is $45, but the tube is 1.7 ounces like a standard moisturizer versus 1 ounce for foundation. It was slightly dark for me unfortunately, but it’s sheer enough that I still wore it for the whole day. I thought the dewy finish was pretty and that the effect was very natural. I appreciate the skincare ingredients and SPF 20, but I don’t think I would purchase the full size because it didn’t look much different than my every day makeup without a base product.

I hope this was helpful even though I’m a foundation novice! I just received the new BareMinerals custom foundation which may be “the one.” What’s your favorite base?

December Birchbox

Unboxing and first impressions

I received my December Birchbox really early this month which was a happy surprise! I chose the curated box because I really wanted to try the LOC Liquid Shadow, Marcelle Mascara, and Whish Primer. I haven’t been too impressed with the sample choice options recently (mostly because I’ve already tried many of them), so this is the second month in a row I’ve chosen the curated box. I believe everyone received this eyelash curler as well which is a useful gift!

Look at this pigment! I’m newly obsessed with the LOC Liquid Shimmer Shadow in Stardust. It’s a perfect champagne color that’s shimmery without being chunky or glittery. I wore this for almost 10 hours yesterday and it didn’t crease at all, but it easily washed off at the end of the night. I’m definitely looking into the other colors.

Next up is the Marcelle Ultimate Volume Nano Mascara. The brush is teeny tiny with short bristles, so I wasn’t sure how well it would work, but it does give serious volume! Unfortunately, after one coat it’s super clumpy and you can’t comb it out because the bristles are too short. I’ve only tested it once, so I’m going to give it another go. I do love it for the bottom lashes so far though.

I tested out the Whish Botanical Primer this week as well. I love that it feels like a gel moisturizer, but it also blurs pores thanks to dimethicone. If you generally hate that silicone feel, you might want to try this because it doesn’t pill. The rest of the ingredients include natural hydrators like argan oil, which is perfect for the dry weather we’ve been experiencing here in New York. I don’t really wear foundation, so I generally don’t get excited about primers, but this one is great!

I’ve tried the NuFace Prep-N-Glow cloths before and was happy to receive two more in this box. They’re great for quickly removing makeup, light exfoliation, and adding some moisture with hyaluronic acid. I’ll definitely be using them during my trip to Chicago next week.

The only item I haven’t tried is the Aveda Thickening Tonic which is supposed to plump strands without leaving a gritty residue. I love that it’s 97% naturally derived, but the scent is strong and almost minty. Certain scents tend to give me a headache, so I want to try this for the thickening effect, but I’m a little nervous.

I’ve been subscribed to Birchbox for five years and I still look forward to my box every month. I love that there are customizable options and enjoy the discovery aspect as there are always new brands to try. I also haven’t received a repeat sample yet (unless I chose to because I loved it so much!), so I highly recommend this subscription. You can sign up here if you’d like!

What did you get in your December Birchbox? Do you like being surprised or choose the curated box so you know what’s coming?

Ulta Haul Update

Three new affordable favorites

I’m obsessed with this Hask Volumizing Dry Shampoo from my recent Ulta Haul. Being on crutches, my hair is not getting washed too often, so trust me when I say this stuff works. It absorbs oil, smells great, and does add a little volume to my thin hair. The best part is that is doesn’t leave a white cast at all! Even on day four hair, I just massage my roots a tiny bit and nothing is left! It’s seriously impressive and one of my favorite new finds because it was only $4!

I’m also loving this Real Techniques brush duo. The “Base Shadow Brush” is actually perfect for fluffing shadow into the crease. It blends color so nicely and effortlessly. Then the “Deluxe Crease Brush” is actually great for packing on color because it’s so dense. I think the naming is funny because I use them for the opposite purpose, but the brushes themselves are high-quality. The bristles are soft, the handles are a great length, and they feel sturdy. This was also only $5! For two brushes! I need to start shopping at Ulta more often.

Last, but not least, we have the Soap & Glory Smoothie Star Body Milk. This smells delicious – perfectly sweet and warm for the winter months. It is described as Almonds, Oats, and Brown Sugar scented and I definitely get that baked goods vibe. The lotion itself is really moisturizing, but not greasy and it sinks in quickly. I usually transition to a thick body butter around this time of year, but this is working well enough and I absolutely love that it comes in a convenient pump.

I’m so glad I picked up these items as they’re turning out to be staples! Have you hauled anything recently that turned out to be a favorite? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to check it out!