Monday, September 26, 2016

Play! by Sephora | September 2016

If you saw last week's post, you know I canceled Ipsy. There's a number of reasons I made that choice, but one of them is Play! by Sephora. I've really been loving this subscription. It's the same exact price ($10/month) but the items are from higher end brands - a.k.a. the brands Sephora carries - and it's packed with things I actually want to use. 

There is a waitlist for this subscription, but from what I've seen and heard from people, it only takes about a month until you're in. If you're interested in putting your name on the list, you can sign up here. Not an affiliate link, just passing along the goods! 

Here's what fun stuff came in September's bag...

  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel - This is good stuff. It's just a clear brow gel you can use to set your brows in place. I've used this before and really like it, but I don't often purchase it because it is rather pricey ($22 for a full size). This came just in time as I'm getting low on brow gel! 
  • Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper - I know I ranted against this liner in the past, but I actually like the Trooper version. Unlike the one I talked about in that other blog post, this one has a brush tip. It does dry with a bit of a sheen, so if you prefer a very matte finish, you might not be a fan. 
  • Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation - This is an oil-free moisturizer with AHA to even skin tone. I've used it in the past and didn't think it was anything special, but it's pretty expensive (in my book), so I don't mind giving it another go to see if I change my mind. 
  • Atelier Cologne in Sud Magnolia - Atelier Colognes make fancy and high quality scents. This one is described as floral and fresh, with notes of magnolia, blackcurrant, bitter orange, musk and cedarwood. 
  • Sephora Rouge Shine Lipstick in Love Spell - Simply put, this is described as a moisturizing lipstick with a rich, glossy shine. I've never put Sephora's house brand lipsticks to the test, so I'm looking forward to it! 

Are you a Play! by Sephora subscriber? What sample are you most excited to try?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Ipsy Glam Bag | September 2016

Welp people, this is my last Ipsy Glam Bag. I've been thinking about cancelling my subscription, even though there have been many great bags recently, I just wasn't loving or needing all of the samples I received. Plus, I want to scope out some other beauty bags, and heck - I want to save $10 a month while I decide what's next for me. I will still be receiving the Play! by Sephora subscription, so I'll continue to post about that each month (I'm liking it more than Ipsy, which was just another reason I decided to cancel).

Without further ado... my last Ipsy Glam Bag...

  • Dr.G Daily Safe BB in Fair - This is a Korean BB cream that claims to provide coverage, smooth, hydrate and protect skin from the sun.The grammar freak in me can't stand that they spelled "sensitive" stupidly on top. I'm not a big BB cream fan, to be honest, and most don't actually match my skin tone, but we'll see how this performs.
  • Avene Hydrating Serum - This serum says it provides moisture for a full 24 hours, it feels like a primer and relieves tightness and irritation. Avene is a wildly popular French brand and I'm looking forward to trying this out since my skin has been on the dry side lately. 
  • Pixi Matteluster Lipstick in Rose Naturelle - This matte lipstick is formulated with peptides, hyaluronic acid, and Vitamins C and E for a smoothing sensation. The color is gorgeous and would look good on virtually anyone.
  • Living Proof Perfect Hair Day - This product does five things: smooths, conditions, volumizes, strengthens, and polishes hair. I have a few of samples of this stuff and it's not bad. It does weigh my hair down a little bit, but it definitely keeps me frizz-free and conditioned, but I wouldn't say it's super volumizing. Overall though, it's a good product to get your hands on.
  • It Cosmetics Superhero Mascara in Super Black - A mascara made with peptides and proteins for a punch of volume and length. I've never tried anything from It Cosmetics, but I'm looking forward to putting this to the test!

I'm not gonna lie... I think this month's bag is one of the weakest Ipsy bags I've ever received. It made parting ways that much easier. Ipsy has been good to me, but it's time to move on. Maybe I'll be back, maybe I won't. Only time will tell. 

What are your thoughts on Ipsy? Do you think it's worth $10/month? Let me know in the comments. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Elizabeth & James | Nirvana Bourbon & Rose

I am such a fan of the original Elizabeth & James Black & White fragrances - they're easily in my list of top perfumes. You may recall I did a review on them back in the day. This fall, two new versions were added to the line - Bourbon (the brown bottle) and Rose (the red bottle). Without even a single whiff, I ordered them on the Sephora website as fast as I could, knowing I wouldn't regret it for a second.

Spoiler alert - I was right about how awesome these are. These perfumes are simply amazing. I think if you like the first two iterations of this perfume, you will easily love these next two. 

Nirvana Bourbon is the perfect fall/winter scent, or sexy date night aroma. Sephora's website describes it as a mix of oakwood, vanilla bourbon, and a hint of tuberose. I get a whiff of musk in there, even though it doesn't say anything about musk. This is definitely the heavier of the two fragrances, and if you're not a fan of amber, sultry, smoky scents, this is not for you. Furthermore, I think if Nirvana Black was your favorite of the original scents, you're going to be a big fan of Nirvana Bourbon, as the two are similar (although different!). A full size 1.7 oz bottle retails for $85 on the Sephora website. I picked up the rollerball which was only $25.

Nirvana Rose on the other hand, is something that can be worn any time of year, and is maybe more suited for summer, unlike Nirvana Bourbon. Nirvana Rose is described as a blend of rose de mai, geranium and vetiver. It's certainly rosy, but I think even those who aren't over the top about rose-scented products will enjoy this take on the floral note. This is easily the lighter of the two fragrances, and will probably be favored more by the general public than the darker, more unique Bourbon scent. If you're a fan of Nirvana White, Nirvana Rose is your obvious next purchase. Much like I said with the other fragrance, White and Rose are very similar, but have their obvious differences, too. Pricing for Nirvana Rose is the same as listed above for Nirvana Bourbon. 

The cool thing about both of these fragrances is that they mix together easily, so you can create a unique scent of your own by layering them as you choose. If you own both Nirvana Black & White, you have a handful of combinations to test out and find which you prefer. (I almost never wear White or Black alone, but typically some sort of combination of the two each time).

Very few perfume releases excite me these days, as it seems many scents are just so predictable or rip offs of something else, but that is untrue for the Nirvana line. It's in a league of it's own, and unlike any other perfumes I've smelled or owned in the past. These four perfumes are exclusively sold at Sephora, so make sure next time you're in the store you give them a whiff! I can't recommend them enough! 

What Nirvana perfume is your favorite? Let me know in the comments - I'm always curious which iteration people prefer most. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Ark Skincare

I consider myself pretty well-versed in the language of beauty and skincare brands, but Ark Skincare is completely new to me. I'd never heard of it before I got the opportunity to try some products out, but boy am I glad they are now on my radar.

Ark Skincare is an English brand that segments its line of skincare products by age: 20s, 30s-40s, and 50+. By doing so, they can help target general concerns a given age group most likely has. 

I was sent two products to try: the SkinEssential Pro Remove Pre Cleanse and the Age Protect Skin Vitality Moisturizer.

L to R: Moisturizer, PreCleanse 
The Pre Cleanse is essentially an oil cleanser that works to strip off any makeup or dirt clinging to your face. Not only does it remove any and all makeup, but it has ingredients that help protect against dryness, it banishes existing bacteria and protects from new bacteria forming, and soothes sensitive skin. UH-mazing.

I put this to the test and it did a fantastic job of removing my makeup, even mascara (I didn't give it a go on waterproof mascara -- I just don't ever wear it) and a full eyeshadow look! It feels so light when you massage it in, and when you rinse away all the grime and dirt, there isn't any residue left behind like many facial oils tend to do. My only gripe is this is realllllly pricey - like $60 for a 5.1 oz bottle kind of pricey. If you have that kind of money, girl, get you some! 

The Skin Vitality Moisturizer is part of the line for 20-somethings. The formula is filled with antioxidants and anti-pollutants that help defend against environmental factors. Other nourishing ingredients include Vitamin B to soothe, avocado and peach lipids for softness and hydration and lots of other good stuff! 

I really enjoy this moisturizer - it has a cool top that you just pump down to disperse the perfect amount. It goes on light and doesn't make my skin feel greasy or look too shiny. It can be used morning and night and it offers light hydration. I think this is good for people with combination to normal skin. If you have dry skin, this might not be nourishing enough for you. This moisturizer can be purchased for $60 for 1.7 fl. oz.

While Ark Skincare is an English brand, they do have a website for US residents to order. Check out to make your order or learn more. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Herbal Choice Mari Organic Facial Scrub

Exfoliation is so important for your face (and skin, too, but that's a post for a different time!). It helps your skin turn over and regenerate new cells, and it helps clear up clogged pores. I choose to exfoliate my face a few times a week and I love how soft, smooth, and healthy it makes my skin feel. Recently, I've been putting the Herbal Choice Marie Organic Facial Scrub to the test.

This scrub is a very intense, rough sugar scrub. This is not for the faint of heart. If you like a really deep, gritty scrub that needs to be used with care - look no further. If you prefer soft exfoliation, this isn't for you. Personally, I like an intense exfoliation, even when it's borderline bad for my skin. 

The ingredients for the Herbal Choice Mari scrub can't be beat - organic brown sugar, organic vegetable glycerin, natural sea salt, organic grape seed powder, organic olive oil, organic shea butter, kaolin clay, organic geranium oil, organic sweet orange oil. If you like to keep it natural, look no further than this!

This scrub is vegan and free of chemicals, gluten, surfactants, SLS, detergent, soy and corn. It's also cruelty-free. The packaging is gorgeous, high-quality bio-energy glass packaging. Be careful not to shatter this all over your shower floor if you like to exfoliate in the shower!

The scent of this scrub is very herbal. I don't mind it at all, and if you're a fan of the scent of essential oils, chances are you'll love this. 

To use, take just a dime sized amount and rub it gently on your face. Don't massage it in too hard, this could easily scratch your face or create micro-lacerations if not used with care. Rinse when complete. I can feel the soothing oils in this scrub when I rinse it away and my skin feels clear of any dead skin or product build up. 

Overall, I enjoy this scrub. It might be better used as a body scrub because of how intense it is, but I'll continue to use it. It's affordable, natural, and effective and I'd definitely recommend checking it out. 

You can purchase your own Herbal Choice Mari Organic Facial Scrub for $15.95 (4.4 oz) from Nature's Brands.

Friday, September 2, 2016

August Empties | #29

Happy September, ya'll! Can you even believe the summer is drawing to an end? I have no idea where the time has gone. While I'm sad to see summer go, I absolutely love fall and I'm excited for pumpkins, apple cider and cozy sweaters. The end of August also means it's empties time and I used up a bunch of different products. Keep reading for mini reviews on each item and recommendations on what to purchase.

  • Shea Moisture Replenish & Rejuvenate Body Polish (would not repurchase) - This smelled great and the ingredients are good but it was a pretty weak scrub. There are mini beads in a creamy base and they just don't exfoliate my skin enough. I ended up using this as a body wash with a loofah and that worked fine. I'll stick to Tree Hut sugar scrubs in the future though.
  • NKD SKN Tinted Tan Liquid (would repurchase) - This is a good self tanner. It's fool proof and easy to use. See full review here. 
  • Waxelene (would repurchase) - This lip balm is a nice alternative to petroleum products if you don't want to use them. This is very basic, unscented, nothing very special, but it'll hydrate your lips and the ingredients are good!
  • Rimmel ScandalEyes eyeliner (would repurchase) - This was a good creamy nude eyeliner that I used in my waterline to make my eyes look bigger and more awake, but it's old and I don't want to use anything old on my eyes. 
  • Honeybee Gardens Pressed Mineral Powder (would repurchase) - I really liked this setting powder. It doesn't have gross ingredients and it's affordable. I purchase mine on Vitacost where it's a little bit cheaper. (click here for a $10 coupon to Vitacost, affiliate link)
  • Algenist Lip Renewal Balm (would repurchase) - This balm came in a Christmas set and it was fine -- nothing special. I used it at night (even though it has SPF in it) and it nourished my lips. It doesn't have a scent so if you avoid fruity or fragranced lip balms, you might like this. 
  • Aveeno Nourish + Shine Conditioner (would repurchase) - I liked this conditioner. It made my hair soft and easy to brush.
  • Proganix Coconut H2O + Electrolytes Quench Shampoo (would repurchase) - I really like the Proganix shampoos and conditioners. This one smelled great; even though I don't typically like coconut scents, this is one I really enjoyed. See full review here.
  • St. Tropez Gradual Tan Anti-Ageing Multi-Action Face lotion (would not repurchase) - This was just an OK tanner for the face. It smelled like tanner, which is gross, and it never really did much for me
  • L'Occitane 5 Essential Oils Shampoo (would not repurchase) - This worked fine and got my hair really clean, but the smell wasn't my favorite and it costs more than I prefer to spend on a shampoo. 
  • Laura Mercier Almond Coconut Milk Souffle Body Creme (would not repurchase) - This little body lotion was part of a set I got at Christmas. The lotion itself is very moisturizing and makes my skin feel soft and smooth, but this is highly scented, so much that you definitely can't wear a perfume with it. I wasn't a big fan of this particular scent, so I wouldn't repurchase, especially because a full size is ridiculously expensive.
  • Korres Body Butter in Guava (would repurchase) - This was part of a mini sample pack, and of all the lotions, this was my favorite scent. It didn't really smell like guava, but it didn't smell bad either. Korres products have good ingredients and these lotions are hydrating without being greasy. I liked it!
  • Devita Essential Control for Blemishes (would repurchase) - This wasn't a miracle for blemishes, but the ingredients are A+ and I do think it helped prevent further breakouts from forming. This is a great option if you're pregnant and need to avoid traditional acne-fighting ingredients. See full review here.
  • Humphrey's Witch Hazel in Citrus (would repurchase) - I used this witch hazel as a toner and I enjoyed it. It smells amazing and I like that it has natural antiseptic properties that help fight acne. 
  • Rodan + Fields Daily Cleansing Mask (would not repurchase) - This cleanser is meant to be used like a mask. You apply it to your face, then let it sit, then wash it off. I don't have time to cleanse my face like that most days. I didn't completely use this up, but it's old, so it's got to go. This would not be something I'd purchase, especially because it's quite expensive and I didn't think it did a good job of cleaning my face. See full review here.
  • Aquaphor (would repurchase) - I love Aquaphor for healing dry skin. If ever my nose is dry, or I have a patch of dry skin, I slather aquaphor on it before bed and it's healed by morning.
  • Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste (would not repurchase) - I don't know, I just don't really care for this toothpaste. It's not natural enough and it wasn't very refreshing.
  • Listerine Mint Floss (w0uld repurchase) - This is my favorite floss. It's braided so it's thick enough to get everything out from between my teeth. I've purchased this many times and I already have a backup.
  • Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Gel (would repurchase) - I love this teeth whitening system because it really does get my teeth sparkly white. See full review here
  • Nivea In-Shower Body Lotion (would repurchase) - I've purchased a full size of this before, just in a different formula (there's a few kinds), and I like it! I wasn't a huge fan of the smell of this kind, but it's a good product to have if you're in a pinch but still want to have hydrated skin without applying lotion after a shower.
  • Garnier Blackhead Eliminating Scrub (would repurchase) - I really liked this cleanser. It had the perfect amount of scrubbiness to it and my face felt really clean after using it. I don't have any blackheads so I can't speak to how well it removes them, but I liked how it made my skin feel and I'd like to get this in a full size. 
  • Pur-Lisse SPF 30 Sunscreen (would not repurchase) - As much as I liked using this SPF moisturizer for my face, I think it made me break out so I wouldn't buy it in a full size.
  • Earth Mama Angel Baby Postpartum Bath Herbs (would repurchase) - New mamas, you need these. I went through a box last month, and I used up one more, and I definitely think it helped speed along my healing. In general, this makes a nice herbal bath soak that's good for your lady parts even if you haven't had a baby recently.
  • AuraCacia Lavender essential oil (would repurchase) - I diffuse lavender at bed time at least three nights a week. It's a great way to naturally make a room smell fantastic and it helps promote calm and relaxation. 
  • Yankee Candle in Summer Wish (would repurchase) - This used to be one of my favorite YC scents (until I just got sick of it). It has great scent throw and is obviously a great summer scent. Fresh and a bit fruity.
  • B&BW Sundrenched Vineyard Candle (would repurchase) - This smelled great and had awesome throw. This fruity wine scent was perfect for  the end of summer. This was a scent that came out a couple years ago, but I have seen it brought back before.
  • B&BW Villa Bergamot Candle (would repurchase) - Another oldie but goodie from B&BW that's been hanging out in my backstock. It has a strong bergamot scent with notes of lavender and geranium. This was nice, and definitely something worth picking up if they bring it back again. 

That's all my empties! Have you tried any of these products? Let me know your thoughts!
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