Saturday, December 28, 2013

Things I won recently!

I'm a compulsive enterer. When I find something that I want, I'll randomly search for contests and/or giveaways where I can win it. Often, nothing happens except I waste twenty or thirty minutes (and lets face it, I wasn't going to do anything productive with that time anyway), other times I find bloggers and sites that I like (but don't actually win anything) and other times still, I actually win what I wanted!

 I got a sample of Evologie's Stay Clear Cream in my Birchbox a couple of months ago. It's one of my favorite things that I've gotten in any subscription box, but the full-size is out of my price range ($69 for a 1 oz bottle). Thus, as my little tube started to run out, I started searching for Evologie deals and contests. I came across Certified F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S.'s contest for it, entered, and ACTUALLY WON!

Here's what I got! A full-size of the Cleanser, Stay Clear Cream and the Intensive Blemish Serum

Earlier this month, Ipsy did a Twitter contest called 12 Shades of Ipsy. They posted a picture that included a specific color every hour, and you had until the next hour to post a picture of whatever makeup you have in that color. My purple picture was one of the winners!

The winners were totally random, but I still felt really cool for winning. 

Here's what I won! I love NYX Shadows, so I was really excited to win the little palette. The lip elixir was a little too pink for me, so I swapped it and I'm not sure what I'll do with the China Glaze yet. We will see.
Anywho, I was really excited to win these, so I figured I'd post about it.

Here are some contests I'm entered in now: (wish me luck, and enter if you want to)

Enter to win a Bath Path Mineral Sea Salt Soak here

Enter to win a Healthy Star(t) gift set here

Enter to win a beauty box worth $500 here

Enter to win a year's worth of all natural makeup from Birchbox here

Enter to win a year of free samples here

Enter to win a Lashem Get the Look Gift Set here

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My first New Beauty Test Tube! (November/December 2013)

I just got my first New Beauty Test Tube and I'm pretty excited about it!
In case you haven't heard about Test Tube, it's a beauty subscription service (just like Birchbox and Ipsy) it's $30 and comes every other month. I'd heard good things about Test Tube, and if you use someone's referral code you get $5 off your first box (if anyone wants a referral, just leave your email here and I'll send you one, that way we both get $5 off our box).
Anyway, here's what I got:

At first glance, I wasn't enormously impressed. There was nothing that I was super excited about trying and there were lots of things that I have no interest in. Once I read the booklet, there were a few things I became excited about.
Here's an item by item breakdown of what I got.

Glo-therapeutics Refresh Facial Polish - $24
I always love skin products, especially exfoliants. I love the Dr. Brandt that I'm currently using, but I'm always up to try something else. This is a good sized product, so I'm really excited to try this!
Dove Nutritive Solutions Daily Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner - <$1
At first, I really wasn't excited at all to see this in my Test Tube. I like beauty subscriptions because they let me try things that I wouldn't try otherwise (and I usually use Dove), but then I remembered how much I liked the Pantene Pro-V Keratin Repair and now I'm excited to try this. Plus, it's probably in my price range, which is nice.
Votivo Candle Icy Blue Pine - $12.50
Honestly this isn't something I'm likely to use. The smell is really pleasant though and the tin is cute, so it'll make a great gift for someone!
Molton Brown Pink Pepperpod Nourishing Body Lotion 3.3oz - $14
This will probably also be a gift. I don't really like scented body lotions. The smell isn't all that strong and it's not particularly exciting to me but it's not bad. It's a nice size, so it'll make a good gift.
Vaseline lip therapy rosy lips .25oz - $3.00
This container is TINY but I have a feeling that a little goes a long way, so it's something I might buy. There isn't much color to it, but I really like the smell and I've always loved Vaseline.
StriVectin-EV Get Even Brightening Serum 1oz - $53
I've never head of this, but after reading the booklet, I'm excited to try it! This product is a good size (over half of full-size) and I'm impressed that I got this in a $30 box.
Midnight Monarch 1.35oz - $2.81
I haven't smelled this yet, but my hands are ridiculously dry this time of year (they tend to crack and bleed) so I definitely need a good hand lotion.
John Frieda Frizz-Ease Straight Fixation Smoothing Cream 1.25oz - $1.50
I don't straighten my hair often, but I've always liked John Frieda products and I'm excited to try this! I'm surprised at how cheap this is too. The full size is only $6.
Lumene Time Freeze Anti-Age CC in Light - $14.99
I'm not sure that light is going to work for me (I usually go with light-medium or medium) but I'm interested to try this. I'm looking for the perfect BB/CC Cream, so maybe this will be the one.
Kneipp Pure Bliss Mineral Bath Salt 2.5oz - $2.11
I never really take baths, but I'm going to be house sitting for my parents soon and they've got a giant and amazing tub so maybe I'll give this a try while I'm there.
Rodial Stemcell super-food facial oil - ?
This sample is so tiny that I have no way to estimate price. If I can figure out the volume later, I'll update it.

Total value = $127.91
I paid $33.90 for this box ($29.99 + $8.95 shipping - the $5.00 discount that I got for using a friend's referral code) and got almost $100 more than that worth of stuff (without even including the Dove or Rodial). I'm not sure about the products yet, but that's a pretty amazing value! There were three items that I'm excited about trying, a couple of items that will make great gifts, and maybe some of the items I don't really care about will surprise me. Who knows. Either way, I'm pretty happy with this box!

Random contests etc:
You can win 5 Joy to the Girls Palettes from Too Faced here

If you're still shopping for the holidays join Ebates. You can make purchases from Amazon, Wal Mart,  Sephora and hundreds of other retailers through their site and get cash back for your purchases. So far, doing my Christmas Shopping I'm getting $20 back.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ipsy vs. Birchbox December 2013

For anyone who doesn't know Ipsy and Birchbox are both subscription services where you pay $10 a month and get 5 different products to try.  Ipsy is more make-up based and sends full sized products or deluxe samples of pretty good brands. They have a lot of brand repetition, but since everything is deluxe or full-size things that you don't like are generally giftable. Birchbox has more variety and higher end brands, but they tend to have smaller samples (I don't think I've gotten any full-sized items from Birchbox, whereas most of my Ipsy items are full-sized). They have less repetition though and your survey answers actually seem to impact what you get. The best ting about Birchbox is their point system. Every time you review one of the items you receive in your box, you get 10 points, and every 100 points is $10 to spend in the store. If you review all of the items in your boxes, you get $10 worth of points to spend in the shop every other month! I think that both subscriptions are great (especially for only $10 a month or $110 a year), and it just depends on what you're looking for.

Both of my subs were kind of disappointing this month. That said, I'm still glad that I get them. They each had one or two item that i'm excited to try (even if they had some dud items too) and the items I wanted to try paid for the subscriptions on their own. I also think that last month would've been hard to top, so this month was extra disappointing coming after that.
This month's Ipsy came first, so I'll start with that.
Honestly, for the most part, this month was a miss for me. Out of five products there are only one or two that I'm going to use and none that I'm suuuper excited about. When I looked online my favorite part this month was actually the bag everything came in. It's pretty thick and it's one I'll definitely use! Unfortunately one of my perfume samples leaked all over it, and I might have to throw it away (most perfume gives me a headache and this one is no exception). I'm hoping Ipsy will send me a replacement.

Be a Bombshell One Stick in Girl Crush - $16
 The first item I got is the Be a Bombshell One Stick (which can theoretically be used as lip color, cheek color, and eye shadow) in Girl Crush. I like the color but I'm not sure it'll work on me, so we'll see. The reviews of this are generally really good, so we'll see. Plus, this item alone paid for my bag!

Pop Beauty Bright Up Your Life Eyeshadow Trio in Naturally Bare - $7.20
This trio isn't actually available retail, but the 10 shadow palette is $24, so that's the approximate value. I like the brand Pop Beauty, and browns are what I use the most often so I'm glad I got this. I already have a lot of browns, but I like these three together so this'll be a perfect purse set!

Ardell Natural Lashes in Black 120 - $3.99
I never use fake lashes (and don't plan to start) so this'll be something that I swap or gift. 

J Cat Beauty Big Lip Pencil in Caramel Mocha - $3.99
This is a brown color that I will never use (I don't have the skin tone to pull off brown lip color), The one thing I don't like about Ipsy is that I don't think they really take your surveys into consideration that much. 

English Laundry Signature Collection - $3
The value is mostly a guess, I don't know the original volume of the perfumes and one of them wasn't all the way full because it leaked all over my bag, which makes it even more difficult to guess the volume.

Total value - approximately $34.18
This wasn't a great bag for me, but even if you just include the products that I'll use, it pays for itself twice (three times if you include the things I won't use)! My only issue with this bag is that the perfume sample leaked, so it'll be a while before I use anything. I'm airing the products out in the garage (even after washing the outsides, they still smell like perfume) and I think I'm going to have to throw away the bag. I emailed IpsyCare though, and I'm hoping they'll send me a new bag (this one is so cute, I wish it had been a different one that was ruined. Then I wouldn't care. )

Birchbox came the next day. I was way more excited about Birchbox, but there were still a couple of misses in this box. Still, I feel like it evens out. The great boxes more than make up for the mediocre ones.

This was my box this month:

Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle - 1oz Sample $2.75
This is something that I'm really excited to try! It's a good sized sample, plenty in there to figure out whether or not I like it. I've heard great things about Beauty Protector, which makes me more excited to try it
Honest Co. Honest Healing Balm .75oz - $3.24
I'm really excited to try this. As a preschool teacher, I wash my hands a lot and winter is especially hard on them. I wish the sample size was larger but I'm hoping that a little goes a long way!
 LAQA & Co Fat Lip Pencil in Ring of Fire 0.07oz (around half size) - $9.69
I got a red lip crayon in my Ipsy last month, so I'm not sure I'll use this. That said, this red looks like it might be a little more flattering and I've heard good things about LAQA & Co.
 Silver Twistband - $2
These never really work for me. They're too loose to wear around my hair once and too tight to go around twice. That said, I'll throw it into someone's gift as a little extra because I know a few people that like them.
 LA FRESH Travel Lite Makeup Remover Wipes (2, individually wrapped) - $1.66
This isn't something that I was excited to receive, but it's something that I can throw into my purse, and it'll come in handy at some point.

Total value of my Birchbox $19.34
This wasn't a great box for me, but it still paid for itself.

 The first pairing is easy. I got two different lip crayons this month.
J Cat Beauty Big Lip Pencil in Caramel Mocha vs. LAQA and co. Fat Lip Pencil in Ring of Fire

Size-wise, the J Cat is an obvious winner, but I've heard better things about LAQA, plus I wouldn't buy an $18 lip crayon without trying it whereas I wouldn't have a problem spending $3.99 without trying, so the LAQA is something I wouldn't have tried on my own, while the J Cat is something I might've. The point of subscription boxes (to me at least) is trying things that I wouldn't try otherwise. Plus, color-wise I'll never use the Caramel Mocha, whereas the Ring of Fire is a nice red. One for Birchbox.

The rest of the pairings I'll pair based on my level of excitement to receive them.
Each bag had two main products that I was excited about.

Be a Bombshell One-Stick in Girl Crush vs. Beauty Protect - Protect and Detangle
I'm excited to try both of these items. I'm actually more excited to try the Beauty Protector. I was hoping for the One-Stick in a different color, but I'm still excited to try it and it's full-size so that's a plus. This one goes to Ipsy.
Pop Beauty Bright Up Your Life Eyeshadow Trip in Naturally Bare vs. Honest Healing Balm
Neutrals are my favorite, these are great colors and this palette will be perfect to throw in my purse, but I really need a new winter healing balm, whereas I already have a lot of brown shadows. This one goes to Birchbox.
 Ardell Natural Lash Demi 120 vs. LA FRESH Travel Lite Makeup Remover Wipes (2)
I'll use the wipes but not the lashes. That said, fake lashes are giftable/swappable and two individually wrapped makeup wipes probably aren't. This one could go either way, I'm not excited about either but I'll give this one to Ipsy.
English Laundry Signature Collection vs. Twistband 
I never like perfume samples (most of them give me really bad headaches), and I like this one less than normal because it leaked all over everything, so I'm going to have to wait to use everything and probably going to have to throw the bag away. I'm not excited about the twistband, but I'm even less excited about the perfume sample. This one goes to Birchbox.

End results:
Birchbox = 3
Ipsy = 2
Neither of my bags were great this month, but both of them paid for themselves and both had at least a couple of items that I'm excited to try. I'll post reviews soon to let you know what I think of everything!

So far, Ipsy has won twice (September and November) and Birchbox has won twice (October and December).

Random note: even though I wasn't super excited about my Ipsy bag this month, their customer service is amazing! I emailed them because I was bummed about having to throw the bag away, and they sent me a new one! I'm glad because I think this is the cutest bag so far!

Do you get Ipsy or Birchbox? How did yours compare!

Random contests etc:
You can win 5 Joy to the Girls Palettes from Too Faced here

Enter to win a three month supply of Nocciolata and a $100 Whole Foods gift card here.

Enter to win an 8 piece mini set from Perlier USA (a $280 value) here

Enter to win a year of free samples here

If you're still shopping for the holidays join Ebates. You can make purchases from Amazon, Wal Mart,  Sephora and hundreds of other retailers through their site and get cash back for your purchases. So far, doing my Christmas Shopping I'm getting $20 back.

Monday, December 9, 2013


If you haven't heard about PINCHme, it's a word of mouth marketing company that sends out free samples to members every two weeks. This time around this is what I got:

It's hard to be unhappy with free samples, but the Olay sample is exceptionally tiny, so I was a little disappointed by that. I probably should've gone with the Suave lotion instead. It was a much better sample size. Here were some of the other samples available to people:

Unfortunately different samples are available to different people, so the Mekar eye cream and the Wild Ophelia Chocolate (which was what I really wanted) weren't available tome. Some items are available multiple months though, so I'm hoping I'll get a chance to choose the chocolate.

I haven't tried the Olay yet, but I tried the other two. 

The Snap Peas were okay, but they weren't something I'd reach for for myself. However, I gave one to my two-year old and told him it was a chip and he ate it happily (he doesn't get chips very often, so apparently he doesn't know the difference all that well.) I may have to pick some of these up as a snack for him. 

I was surprised by how much I liked the Lady Gaga scent, it's very warm and a little vanilla-y. It's pretty strong though and I'm really sensitive to fragrances, so it's not something I'm likely to use. After about twenty minutes it started to make my nose tingle and gave me a bit of a headache. It's a normal fragrance sample size, so I'll probably give it to a friend who likes fragrances. 

No exciting discoveries this time (though I still might buy the Snap Peas as a snack for my son and a way to sneak more vegetables into his diet, so that's exciting) but it's a free box, and there should be new samples available tomorrow or the next day!

If you haven't already signed up to try PINCHme, I would sign up today or tomorrow, so you get first crack at the new samples.  

If you like free stuff, you can enter to win 5 Too Faced "Joy to the Girls" palettes (one each for you and four friends) here

Also, don't forget to sign up for ebates if you shop online a lot. If you join today, ebags has 20% cash back, so you can get name brand bags at a discount, plus 20% cashback. I love ebates!

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Sunday, December 8, 2013

My Sephora Haul!

So, I always love a good deal (and samples) and a lot of my friends like makeup, so I did some Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping at Sephora this year! They had tons of good deals on things I wanted to try so I figured, why not?

In the end, I bought mostly big sets that I could split up into gifts for people. I bought myself a palette and the Boscia kit, and the mascara set is mostly for me. I spent $220 total (don't tell my husband) but a good portion of that was on stuff I'll give as gifts, so I don't feel too bad about it. Along with my order I got three sample bags, and 9 additional samples (theoretically 3 free with each order, and an extra one free with one order but one of my samples was missing. Oh well, they're free samples.)

The first sample bag I got was the Tinsel Twinkle Sample Perfection bag. It came with 8 samples, some of which are a pretty decent size. The mascara is a deluxe sample, as was the lip color, and the CC Cream and highlighter are both nice little tubes, so I was pretty excited about this! I'm not really into perfume samples, but other than that I'm excited to try everything! I wish I could've gotten one of these with every order. 
The second sample bag I got was the fixit sample bag. I love skincare so it sounded pretty exciting to me, but there were several perfume samples (which I never use) and overall I felt pretty meh about it. It's free, so I can't complain too much, but I'm still much less excited about this than the first sample bag. 
The third sample bag I got was the Mystery Sample bag. The sample sizes are decent and I always love mascara, but I'm not super excited about this one either. I really should've opened the first one last. 
I'm super excited to go through all the stuff I bought for myself, and all the samples and try stuff out. Be looking for reviews for many of these products in the near future. The only thing I've tried so far is the Buxom mascara and I'm loving it! 

Also, Sephora had 12% cash back on ebates, so I'm getting some cash back from my purchases just for going through the ebates site to get to Sephora. (If you don't use ebates, you should definitely check it out, especially if you make a lot of online purchases). Plus, if you use my link, I'll love you forever because I get a $5 bonus for every person I refer!

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


So, I'm a sucker for free stuff and I blog anyway so having to blog/tweet/talk about stuff that I get for free is perfectly fine with me. I signed up for BzzAgent about a month ago, did all the surveys and waited. The first campaign they offered me was for cottonelle flushable wipes. At first I wasn't going to do it, I figured I'd hold out for something more interesting. Then I figured, I've got a two year old, I'm still buying wet wipes (because even though he's potty trained, I feel like toilet paper doesn't always do as well as wet wipes) and I'd actually rather have something that I can flush. So I figured I'll give it a try. I haven't actually tried it yet, but my box came today and I was really excited so I thought I'd share.
In my bzzagent box I got: the little card telling me what to do, one pack of Cottonelle FreshCare flushable wipes (which had a $1.00 off coupon on the outside and a $0.50 coupon inside), a $3.00 coupon for Cottonelle toilet paper (because they recommend using the wipes and toilet paper in congruence), and five $3.00 coupons for when you buy the toilet paper and wipes. I haven't gone out to buy the toilet paper yet (my package just came today and I had class this evening) but I'll be going out to get it tomorrow and I'll see how they work. I'm pretty excited to try them!

Have any of you guys tried them? What did you think?
Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

More Random(ish) Product Reviews

So, I'd heard all sorts of great things about Dr. Brandt, so I bought the Take the Doctor Home With You kit on Gilt.
I really mostly wanted to try the dr.brandt Microdermabrasion, but I figured since the whole kit cost less than that one product, I'd buy the kit. The whole kit was $55, but I had a $25 off coupon, so I paid $35 including shipping. Right now they've got a holiday deal where if you use someone's referral link, you get $30 off. The kit I bought isn't available right now, but some other dr. brandt products are. On to the reviews.

dr. brandt microdermabrasion - 2oz $78
The price tag would normally be a deterrent for me, but there seem to be deals on it pretty often and a little goes a long way. That was the first thing I noticed. I used slightly more than a pea-sized quantity and that was all I needed. My skin felt AMAZING after I used it. Honestly, the results were equal to the professional microdermabrasion I've gotten in the past (which were upwards of $100 per treatment). In the two weeks I've been using this product my skin has cleared up so much! This is by far my favorite recent product!

dr. brandt dark circles away - full size $55
Honestly, I haven't been impressed so far. I've only been using it for about two weeks (maybe three), but I'll post an update if I'm more impressed later on. I like the roller ball application method, except that it's hard to control the amount that comes out when you press down on the push part. I also noticed that when I use it during the day, it peels off weirdly when I rub my eyes. If you have allergies and rub your eyes regularly, I'd recommend only using it at night.

dr. brandt crease release - 0.5oz $78 (I got a much smaller size)
I loved the smell of this, and I loved the way it felt when I put it on, but so far I haven't noticed much in the way of results. I don't have many wrinkles, just a couple of small ones on my forehead, but this didn't seem to effect them much. Maybe if I had deeper wrinkles it would've worked better? I don't know. I'm not really looking for a wrinkle product so I'm not too worried about this not working.

dr. brandt glow ruby crystal retinol hydracreme - full size $65 (I got a little tube)
It's hard for me to tell if I'm getting results from this. I used the dr. brandt microdermabrasion by itself before using this, and my skin was already clearing up, which makes it hard to know if this was helping once I added it. That said, it definitely didn't hurt, and might've helped. Sorry I can't give a more definitive review on this one.

I also got the dr. brandt collagen booster, but I got a foil packet and I honestly don't feel like the sample size is large enough for me to review it. So I'm not going to.

Don't forget, if you want to get $30 off at, use my link!

The next three products I tried are products I got from PinchME!

The first, was Rimmel London Scandaleyes Lycra Flex Mascara - $5.50
Overall, I really liked this mascara. The only problem I had was clumping. Not every time, but one or two times that I've applied it I've had to remove most of it and reapply it. The other thing that I found is that it's really hard to remove completely. Even when I removed it, or thought I'd removed it, my lashes were still black on the ends (the ends are usually light brown). I'd actually consider that a perk more than a negative, but it's still something to note. I'm planning on doing a comparison of the three mascaras I've gotten in the last couple of months, so I'll post that when I do it.

The second thing I got was a foil pouch of Pantene Expert Collection Keratin Repair Shampoo - $8.79
I wasn't impressed with this at all. I found it pretty drying and didn't see any benefits. I did like the smell (a kind of cocoa buttery smell) but that was the only thing I really liked about it. This is definitely not something I'm likely to buy.

Pantene Expert Collection Keratin Repair Split End Fuser - $13.97
I wasn't sure about this when I was applying it. I loved the scent but it didn't seem as creamy as I expected it to be. I applied it more to one side of my hair than the other (figuring that the results wouldn't be that noticeable and that would make it easier to compare). Now I look like a crazy person, because one side of my hair is GORGEOUS and the other is frizzy. Even my husband (who is generally completely oblivious to any sort of hair or beauty-related changes) noticed. I'm buying this the next time I go to Wal Mart. If my first use was any indication, this'll be my go to product from now on. The side of my hair I applied this to is soft and touchable, and mostly frizz free. The product has a chocolate-y scent when you're applying it and the scent remains a little bit once it's dried, but is very light.
The side on the left is the side that I put the product into, the right is my hair with no product. Please ignore the random pajamas. I'm off work today (which never happens on a random weekday) and made a promise to myself not to get dressed until AT LEAST noon.

My hair with Pantene Keratin Repair

My hair with no product in it.

Of all the products I've used on my dry, frizzy hair. This is probably the best results I've seen. Usually, if it looks great, it feels sticky, or crunchy or just generally producty, but that isn't the case with this. I'm really surprised to be getting this kind of results from Pantene (nothing against Pantene, but it's not a high end product, and I'd come to expect insane pricetags with any product that works well). If you've got frizz-prone hair, I strongly recommend this!

Let me know if you've tried any of these products, and if you got the same results!

Random notes/contests:
PinchME products are going to be updated today, so it's a good day to sign up if you haven't already.
Also, Birchbox has a contest to win a $3000 Joie Gift Card!
Gilt is doing a Give $30, Get $30 so if you sign up using my link you get $30 off your first order (I think it has to be a $60 order, but I'm not certain, still it's half price on already reduced-price stuff) and I get $30 too (so I'll love you forever).
You can enter to win a Rebecca Taylor Makeup case here:

Reviews to come:
I just started doing Influenster, so I'll have a review of that soon
I plan to review each of the three mascaras I got in the last couple of months (I want to do a side by side comparison). Follow my blog with Bloglovin Ebates Coupons and Cash Back