Review: Birchbox June 2014 “Away We Go!”

It is quite late I know for me to be doing this review but I’m hoping it still might help others who are just now starting to search for their ultimate beauty box subscription. I have only started to subscribe to Birchbox in the U.S. last 23rd of June after my April 2014 Glossybox was re-routed accidentally (?) which I mentioned in my post here. Due to this mishap I was searching for other boxes that I can subscribe to in case something goes amiss again thus my finding Birchbox this late.

Anyway, as they say in MMA, “let’s get it on!” Presenting to you my June 2014 Birchbox:

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This box held 7 (yes, seven!) items because of the 2 extra items enclosed. I shall tell you more later.

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June’s edition has the theme “Away We Go!” Mighty fitting for the summer as most of us are going on trips to other places or even just off to a beach somewhere. It included 5 must haves for when you go out this summer. And of course, the items they sent me were based on the profile I filled.

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LAQA&Co. Lip Lube is the first item I tried on. The photo on the left is when I swatched it on my inner skin on my forearm. The first swatch was a triple strike while the next swatch was one stroke only. It has an orange-y tint to it which I like because as you can see it brightened up my skin here. Moving along, on the upper right photo are the swatches I made on my hand. As you can see my complexion here is darker and more yellowish. I think if one has a yellow undertone to their skin this Laqa&Co. Lip Lube will bring it more into focus so I’d advice against this lip lube tint. Furthermore, on the last photo, I tried it on my lips. I like how it looks against my unmade face. It felt good as well as it glides smoothly during application. And it smelled minty which is totally cool for the summer!

The downside for this Laqa&Co. Lip Lube is I had to apply it many times over my lips to achieve the color on the photo. Unlike on the hand swatches I can already see its color right away but on my lips I had to reapply it many times. Perhaps many will not like the added time for application. As for me, I hope they could make it that the lip lube already colors the lip in one or two strokes only. Although I’m thinking it may be because of its hue? Or perhaps it should be applied together with a lipstick or lip gloss? I’m really not sure as I did not read its online description this time. Nevertheless, I tried it and liked it and whether I’ll buy it only time can tell for now. But I shall be using it when I go out to run errands this summer for sure. [Size received: 2gm]

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The second item I tried on was the Harvey Prince Hello perfume. It came in a tiny transparent bottle spray as shown in the photo above. I’m grateful that it did not leak or spill. So kudos! for that Harvey Prince. When sprayed, the scent is not defined. But after several seconds the flowery scent can be smelled. I like the scent. It is fresh smelling and cheerful. You know what I mean? I think this is great for when you’re lounging by a pool or beach. I haven’t tried it that much yet but I think it will also do very well when I go out under the heat of the desert sun to run my never ending errands.

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Thirdly, this time I tried Davines Love Smoothing Shampoo. As shown, it is not full but I guess it helped in not spilling the contents all over the box which would be most unfortunate, right? As per its sticker, it is meant for dry and frizzy hair which is just right for me as I have noticed I now have due to being under the desert sun most days. I have used this shampoo for three times now and I’ll say it’s a must have. Opening the bottle, its fragrance reminded my sister and I of the fruit Soursop or Guyabano as what we Filipinos call it. Reading the sticker further it says it has Indian Fig extract. Maybe it is the fig extract but it really smelled like I have soursop on my hair. I’m still not sure if I like the smell although it’s not a turn off.

On application, Davines Love Smoothing Shampoo is foamy and refreshing to the scalp. I have long hair so I had to use I’d estimate about 3-4 teaspoons of the shampoo to cover all of my hair. I left it for several minutes and rinsed it after which helped in keeping the fragrance stay for more than a day. It made my hair silkier and more manageable. Frizzy less? I’m not sure as I used it with the accompanying conditioner. Anyway, I’m really thinking of buying its full size. That’s how much I like it. [Size received: 75ml]

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I mentioned in my first few lines that I got 7 items in this box. This is because I got the Davines Love Smoothing Conditioner [Size received: 12ml] and the Davines All in One Milk [Size received: 4ml] as well. These two items came in sample foil packs as shown above. I believe this was included to enhance the effect of Davines Love Smoothing Shampoo which was definitely a plus in my opinion.

The conditioner has a very subtle smell so the shampoo’s fragrance stays. It has to be applied after the shampoo has been rinsed off and the hair has been towel dried. After leaving Davines Love Smoothing Conditioner on the hair for a few minutes, it should be rinsed off properly. I’d say it adds more time to my morning routine as I am more used to conditioners being applied to wet hair after shampooing. Regardless it is well worth it. It clearly smoothens my hair and when my hair is set and styled, it is silkier than ever which I really, really like. It also tamed the frizziness after going out under the sun. Which is another plus. I cannot say if it is the shampoo or the conditioner that made my hair less frizzy because I used both together. All I can say is it worked on my hair! I am also not sure if it will work that well if you’re in a cool climate area. My review is how it worked for me. [Note: My hair is straight, thin, dry and dyed and I live in the desert.]

As for the Davines All in One Milk Beauty Treatment, it added shine to my hair and it helped in making it manageable to style. Just a plus I’d say but unnecessary if you already have the shampoo and conditioner. But it is still up to you.

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The next item I tried in this box was the Egyptian Magic All Purpose Skin Cream. It contains honey, beeswax, royal jelly, olive oil to name some. It smells more of the olive oil and when applied it gives an oily look to the skin. Even after several hours, it stays on the skin and moisturizes it most definitely. What I didn’t like about this cream is its texture. It is quite greasy feeling and greasy looking as well. I used it once only on my hands which are my problematic areas and it was moisturized most definitely. But I will only be using it before going to sleep for hydration of my skin. Sadly, I don’t think I shall be buying its full size anytime in the future. [Size received: 7.5ml]

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Last but not the least, the last item I tried in this box is the Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser. It came in a cute little jar as pictured above. Its texture reminded me of the home concocted scrub I’m currently using to reduce my pores. This cleanser smells lemony which I so like because I love lemons. 🙂 And although it felt rough on my finger pads, it was not rough when applied on my face. It really is foamy and leaves the face fresh afterwards. I don’t know how the exfoliation works as I only used it once as I don’t want to break out. I’m not saying I will but only this time I have to avoid the risk as I have somewhere special to go to this weekend and cannot afford to be looking nightmarish. Anyway, I’ll reserve my opinion on how it exfoliates in the next few weeks.[Size received: 6gm]

All in all, I really love my Birchbox June 2014. I got my money’s worth back and much, much more. My July 2014 Birchbox has arrived as well and I will unbox it this weekend with a review, of course.

So, if you still are not subscribed and interested to do so, here is my referral link: https://www.birchbox.com/invite/f41k2. Or if you are not sure you’d want me to receive rewards points, you can visit Birchbox here. For $10 every month, you get to sample lovely products from companies that sometimes you have not heard of yet.

Until next beauty box. Thank you for reading.

 

*Disclaimer: I may have used links that are affiliated.

 

 

Review: Birchbox UK June 2014

So, the next beauty box that I subscribed to was Birchbox UK.  For £10 monthly plus £2.95 P&P, I should expect to receive 5 luxury beauty products in the mail. What more, you get to earn 12 reward points just by subscribing. Of course, there are the 6-month and yearly subscription options you can also choose from with several perks to it. If you’re interested, subscribe to Birchbox now using my referral link.

Without further ado, here is my June 2014 Birchbox. Many of you must be aware that the football fever is very high in most countries right now, thus, this month’s Birchbox came with the cute football theme namely Global Strikers.

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As you can see in the photo above, the small pouch came with Brazil’s colors because the FIFA World Cup is being held there. Like my other previous review of a different subscription box, Birchbox came in a sturdy small box that held my five items. The cute pouch and the box itself are reusable so really there is no waste here.

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I received five items in the box with a welcome card, description card detailing the products and a very cute keychain following this month’s theme as well.

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The first item I tried out on my box is theBalm How ‘Bout Them Apples? cheek and lip cream. I had the PIE color for my sample. [Original size: £26.00 / 20g]

In my opinion: This cute cheek and lip cream is great to use. My sample although small (0.57g only) was enough for a few times’ use. It was easy to apply with a brush and the color sent to me was just the right tint for my skin color. It also has a lasting effect after application which is what I’m always looking for in such a product as I am not one to fuss about redoing or reapplying. I was very happy with this product and will definitely buy one in its full size. I just wish my sample was a bit bigger. Haha.

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I know of OPI Nail Lacquer even before I received this sample in my Birchbox. So, it came as no surprise that I was happy to receive it in my box. My sample of 3.75ml is part of the OPI Brazil Beach Sandies Mini Pack. Mine was in the shade of a fun, bright yellow with the cute name of You’re So Flippy Floppy. [Mini Pack of Four Shades: £14.50 / 4×3.75ml]

In my opinion: OPI Nail Lacquer never fails to make me smile with the names they come up with for their shades. I loved my yellow nail polish and have definitely used it more than once this summer. It brought a cheerful look to my hands and well, the polish itself was easy to apply with the brush it came with. However, I had to remove it right away because I am not allowed to have nail polish while on duty at the hospital. Just a friendly tip also, once you finish applying the polish make sure to apply a coat of transparent varnish to seal in the yellow polish.

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The third item in my Birchbox was Caudalie Vinoperfect SPF15 Day Perfecting Fluid. It came at the sample size of 0.33 fl oz. It’s supposed to be applied in the morning and can be used when going out under the sun this summer! [Original size: £38.00 / 40ml]

In my opinion: This is a perfect product to use during the daytime. It has a matte finish and prevents face and neck to be oily. I loved using Caudalie Vinoperfect SPF15 because it isn’t oily and I can see that my pores were minimized after applying. Sadly, the sample was very small and it looked like the content was a fifth of the package. Tsk tsk. Anyway, I’ll use it until I can buy it in its original size. Then I can splurge in my use!

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The next item I tried on was Naobay Body Radiance Lotion which came at its 30ml sample size. [Original size: £14.00 / 250ml]

In my opinion: This product didn’t do well to make my skin ‘super soft’ as advertised. I applied it on my hands which are the most problematic areas of my skin and the results were okay. It moisturized it for a little while, but didn’t seem to have seeped into the next layer. Although I love the feel of it on the skin – certainly brought something fresh. And the smell was lovely if you like that organic-fruity kind of scent.

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Last but not the least, inside my June 2014 Birchbox is the much talked about BeautyBlender + Cleanser. [Price: £ 26.00]

In my opinion: This BeautyBlender certainly made me rethink about how makeup is done these days. As I confessed in my other post here, I am a neophyte when it comes to make up and beauty trends. Certainly this BeautyBlender did not disappoint. I tried it once and my foundation was spread evenly that my fingers or some of my brush fail to do. Additionally, my pores were not made to stand out. In fact, with this cute li’l sponge I was able to hide away my pores and some dark spots nicely. I’d definitely order more of this product to have on hand in case one gets lost (gasp!) or gets mangled by something. And if my sister is not using a BeautyBlender at present I will introduce it to her most certainly.

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By the way, the photo of the flip flop keychain is shown above. I have attached it to my flat’s main door keys. It’s a keeper for it brightens up my key ring. Hehe.

Overall my first Birchbox UK was not a disappointment. I think I got back my money’s worth.I hope my next box brings about more inspiration to my quest of learning about makeup and beauty trends.

Finally, a note to self: stop looking at Instagram posts of not-received-yet boxes so that there will be more of the surprise element. I can’t wait for my next box!

Thank you for reading.

 

 

Review: Glossybox May 2014

Glossybox is the first subscription box I subscribed to after I came across beauty subscription boxes on YouTube. With permission from hubby, of course. Wink! I talked about it here. I decided to do my reviews in the order I receive them to properly try out the sample-sized products in the box. Just fair, right? So if you’d like to discover it yourself, check it out with this referral link.

Before I go into each products of the May edition box, I’d like to commend Glossybox’s customer care. I complained to them via email that my box was missing (April 2014) and within a few hours they replied and tried their best to come up with a solution. Sadly, nothing could be done of the missing box because it was my own courier who messed up. As of this writing, I am still waiting for the refund.

So, without further ado let’s go dissect my May 2014 Special Edition Glossybox.

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This is the box I received in the mail especially featuring one of the most exclusive department stores in the world – Bergdorf Goodman. It’s in a cute purple color that contained 6 luxury products chosen for me by the Glossybox’s staff. The box is made of sturdy material and you can re-use it to store your beauty products or other knick-knacks that you might think of or use it as gift boxes to friends and family members. Using this box as a gift box is what I had in mind when I received it. Let me know of other ways how you’ll use it, will you?

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And because I was excited (it was my first subscription box, after all), I tried out 2 products that night. The first one I tried is the Lancer Lift Serum Intense. It boasts of a stem cell recovery formula that will immediately lift the skin where it is applied. As per instruction, the serum should be applied every night on the face, neck and décolletage. Due to its small size, 0.17 fl oz., I was only able to use a small quantity at a time but I tried to apply on my face full-on and my neck. I wish it could’ve been more, but it was better than none. [Full size: $275 / 0.84 fl oz]

In my opinion: The stem cell recovery formula is a great discovery because in two days’ time I saw my skin near the eyes and nose firming. Imagine how it would look if I continue using this serum with a full size one, right? Sadly, I cannot afford to spend right now for the full size product. However, I definitely recommend to you out there who has money to spare. The product works nicely. I’m just not sure if you have to use it continuously to maintain the effectiveness it brings.

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The second one I tried that night was the RéVive Intensité Volumizing Eye Serum. I think I got this product because in my beauty profile I specifically wanted something for my under eye problems such as little crow’s feet, bagginess, etc. I used this cream after cleansing and toning my face for the night. Just a pinch size of this cream is more than enough to apply around the eyes. So the sample size of 0.17 fl oz will go a long way. [Orginal size: $350 / 0.50 fl oz]

In my opinion: RéVive Intensité Volumizing Eye Serum is a quality product that is not only talk. It works, actually. It is cool and soothing to the eyes and it has no overwhelming smell that I’m allergic to. After two weeks of using it, I feel the teeny-weeny wrinkles on my eyes’ corners have visibly reduced. I feel my eyes are finally coming out of its shadows, so to speak. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be buying this product in the near future as it is a bit out of my spending range at the moment.

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The next day of receiving my May Glossybox, I used Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot Pre-Foundation Skin Primer. My sample was 15ml/ 0.50 fl oz. The primer is best used after toner and before foundation or BB cream application. [Original size: $45 / 1.7 oz.]

In my opinion: Honestly, I never knew what’s a primer supposed to do. My sister, Jocelyn, always ask me to apply one on everytime we get ready to go somewhere special when she is visiting. Otherwise, after toner I apply some pressed powder only. How clueless was I? Of course, the first time I tried Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot Pre-Foundation Skin Primer, I knew what a primer is supposed to be doing that time. This primer glides over the skin easily. It does not give an oily finish. And it even smells wonderful. Not overpowering or anything. Of all the products in this box, this primer is the one I’m ready to buy for myself.

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The fourth product I tried was Aerin Rose Hand & Body Cream. It’s supposed to soothen, moisturize and invigorate the skin. This sample comes at 0.50 fl oz. It has a “delicate rose scent” to it. [Original size: $40 / 4.2 fl oz.]

In my opinion: This cream is soothing when I applied it on my hands. It moisturized  my skin for a while but the moisture didn’t last. Perhaps my hands are way too leathery due to frequent handwashing in the hospital. However, it didn’t do wonders to my hands. And I really like my hand cream to be penetrating my very dry hands. Another thing the scent was lovely but it wasn’t for me. After using it on my hands, the scent kept on overpowering the other smells around me and I hate it when my skin care products do that because I have difficulty to breath. Weird, I know. But that’s just me.

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The next item on the May Glossybox that I tried was Alterna Caviar CC Cream 10-in-1 Complete Correction (for hair). It comes at the sample size of 0.85 fl oz. It is gluten free. It boasts to perfect hair in not one but ten ways. Thus, the 10-in-1 highlight to its name. It is suggested to be applied to towel-dried hair, but it can also be used on dry hair. [Original size: $25 / 2.5 fl oz.]

In my opinion: I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular with this product. But I was amazed at how it gave my hair the sudden smoothness and manageability it almost always lacks. And this hair cream smells terrific especially after shampooing. This product is definitely a must have to anyone’s hair care regimen.

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Last but not the least, I was able to try Sulwhasoo Time Treasure Renovating Cream. I know it was included in my box because I wanted something to reduce my wrinkles and aging signs. I applied it at night but it can also be used in the morning.[Original size: $400 / 2 fl oz.]

In my opinion: By far, this is the most expensive in my May Glossybox at $400. It easily glides on application, but it is somehow thick looking on the face after. Although it moisturizes the skin, it leaves it a bit on the oily side after. It is too visible and you have to use it when you’re not going somewhere soon. Anyhow, I liked its smell and how it somehow penetrates the deeper layers of my skin. It has a soothing effect after application as well. Sadly, it is way too expensive for me.

Finally, the May Glossybox didn’t disappoint. I got to try out some never heard before luxury products that I may never get the chance to use otherwise. Included also in the box is a $25 gift card that can be used at Bergdorf Goodman in New York or on their online store. The products plus the gift card was more than what I paid for.

Until my June Glossybox. Thanks for reading.

[For further information on Glossybox, please refer to their website: www.glossybox.com.]

Review: Burning Sky by Lori Benton

Title:     Burning Sky

Author:     Lori Benton

Publisher:     WaterBrook Press

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If you have to choose between a life you’ve been born in but lost twelve years ago and the life you were forced in but learned to live and cherish in that same twelve years, which would you choose?

This is the dilemma that presses upon Burning Sky of the Wolf clan as she rediscovers her lost homestead.  Burning Sky, so named after a Mohawk Indian adopted her as her own daughter some twelve years ago, journeys back to the land where she was born and taken.  What she will find when she reaches the cabin her father built, she is not sure.  She is not even sure whether her parents and grandmother are still alive, then how can she foresee what lies in store for her?  As she reaches her journey’s end, she finds herself trying to overcome challenges after challenges to regain the land she once called home compounded by her personal turmoils.  For how long can she fight the struggles?  Is she willing to risk everything just to gain back her family’s land even at the expense of losing herself in the process?  Does she even know who she wants to be from thereon?

I started to read this novel a week ago, but had to unwillingly put it aside to catch up on my much-needed sleep until yesterday evening.  If I knew what I knew now, I should have picked a better timing like a day when I don’t have to wake up early for another day’s duty, maybe?  Because even if I could’ve put it down and continue on another day, I just wasn’t willing.  Burning Sky, the debut novel of Lori Benton, starts by grabbing your undivided attention then has the ability to make you curiouser and curiouser as to what will happen to the characters.  The story is very engaging.  Really.  Set in New York in 1784, it clearly describes the landscape after years of war, the people who survived the war and their determination to start over.  The way Lori Benton told Burning Sky‘s story and incorporated these other factors make you rethink whether this is really just a debut novel.  Lori Benton writes like a pro.  I mean her prose is that of someone with years and years and years of experience in what makes a novel a great novel.

The other thing I liked about Burning Sky were the characters that make up the entire novel.  For instance, the male protagonist, Neil MacGregor, a botanist.  He is not the typical male hero.  What I mean is he comes out like a genuine person during the days of the frontier – determined, willful but a bit scared as to the unknown.  He does not put a false front of being strong when he knows he is not, but will let you know he will do everything in his power to protect the people he cares for.  What he lacks in physical strength (because he was injured) he makes up with his strong mind and good sense of humor.  He may not be the stuff of wishful dreams but he sure is someone any woman would want to be by her side in the long run.

Then there is Burning Sky herself.  Born as Wilhelmina Obenchain, you’ll see that she is a sensible woman but with a vulnerability that will make the reader quite sympathetic to her plight.  Her self-reliance can be attributed to her living for twelve years with the Indians, but her innate finesse stems out from her upbringing before that.  I liked her because she is not the so-called damsel in distress.  She faces her challenges head on.  Although her being pragmatic almost cost her her happiness.  Nevertheless, you can be sure that whatever decisions she makes she will stand firm on it.

The other characters I liked in the book are Joseph Tames-his-Horse, Burning Sky‘s clan brother; Anni Keppler, the childhood friend torn between loyalties; and Francis, Anni’s brother who despite his being a special child rises when called upon to see justice prevails.  Without doubt, Lori Benton created characters the readers will like and love.  Characters with both strengths and weaknesses combined that make them truly genuine.

Lastly, the pace of the story is just right.  Not so fast and not so slow.  I hope, dear readers, you’ll get a copy of this novel just to see whether I am right in my review.  Hehe.  I assure you, you won’t be disappointed.  It has all the elements that make up a great read – good story with likeable characters and enough doses of suspense, adventure, and romance.  I highly recommend this novel, Burning Sky.  And I can’t wait for Lori Benton’s next novel.

[Thank you for reading my very first book review after quite a number of years.  I won the autographed copy of Burning Sky from a giveaway hosted by Mona Hodgson.  This review is my personal opinion and I did not receive a request from the author or the author’s affiliations. ]