Wednesday, February 29, 2012

my i-fell-off-the-wagon beauty haul

i have totally fallen off the wagon! i didn't spend a whole lot of money so that was good but it's really the principle. i guess i'll have to cry about my failed goal over my 7 fun new nail polishes. ;)

here is my recent haul from the toronto barber & beauty supply:

- styling clips
- black hair nets
- the do-up hair styling kit
- queen helene mint julep & mud pack masques
- nail buffing block
- opi nail lacquer in wooden shoe like to know
- essie nail lacquer in orange, it's obvious
- essie nail lacquer in a cut above
- china glaze nail lacquer in techno
- china glaze nail lacquer in sun worshiper

next up are the contents of my first julep box. i was very very hesitant to become a julep maven because (a) i didn't want to subscribe to yet another beauty box, (b) even though i love nail polishes, i wasn't sure how well i'd like a dedicated box for them (c) this "offer" on the website really put me off.

what finally tipped the scales for me was the penny offer. i could get my first maven box for one penny including shipping. i would cancel my subscription right after my box shipped. sounds good in theory, right? except i wasn't expecting to love the julep polishes. and i wasn't expecting to covet the next box. so i kept the subscription.

the good thing about the julep box is that you know exactly what will be in the box each month and, more importantly, you can skip as many months as you want. julep is quite a brilliant company - a seattle based nail parlour is now essentially international (u.s. & canada) because of this brilliantly devised subscription service. julep also has more control over the products, timing of shipments, and customer service remedies since the box contains its own products. i am very happy with this subscription service!

from my february boho glam julep box:

- dark chocolate
- julep nail vernis in marisa
- julep nail vernis in oscar
- julep essential cuticle oil

if you wish to sign up to be a julep maven, you can use the promo code COLOR2012 to get your first box for $0.01 including shipping. if that code has expired, you can use SHAREONFEB to get your first box for $1.00 including shipping. note: if you use my referral link, i will earn one credit towards receiving a free julep box. plus i will send lots of good karma your way.


- pari eye shadow in #35 (this was a replacement for the broken eye shadow in my february topbox)
- shiseido facial cotton
- life brand rubbing alcohol

hope you enjoyed this haul! :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

glymm box // february 2012

UPDATE (April 2013): Please read my most recent post on Glymm before ordering from this company.

when i opened my february glymm box, i was very happy and excited about the contents. no, the items are not super high end. and yes, at least one of the items is on the tiny side in terms of size. but after watching months and months of unboxings, i've realized that all the beauty boxes have fallen short on the promise of both "luxury" brands and "deluxe" sample sizes. overall, i was still pleased with the samples i received.

so you can imagine my surprise when the overwhelming majority of subscribers was overwhelmingly unhappy with the box. i can see where the subscribers coming from... non-luxury brands for two of the items, non-deluxe size for at least one other item, brand repeats, only 4 samples, no replacement for the jelly beans, no valentine extra, shipping delay... the list goes on.

maybe i have a soft spot for glymm. maybe i have an unusual affinity to lip balm and sula products. whatever the reason, i really love my february glymm box and i could see myself using every single product.

here is what i received (in order of appearance in the video):

1. sula natural creme shadow in he loves me

let me preface this by saying i am not a huge fan of cream shadow, shimmer shadow, or pink shadow... and this product is all three of the above. but, oddly enough, i was unusually thrilled to receive this! the formulation is not soft but is decently creamy. the colour payoff is relatively weak and my swatch showed mostly shimmer. the reason i'm excited to try this product is because i see myself using this as a highlighter. we'll see how that turns out. plus i love love love my sula lip gloss so i was happy to try another sula product.

verdict: unfortunately, this cream shadow is not very pigmented at all... it's basically all shimmer. it does work as a highlighter if you like all shimmer highlights. i'd probably use it going out at night but it's too flashy for day wear. i would not repurchase this.

full size and sample size // 4.5 g // $8

2. glamglow tingling & exfoliating mud mask

i had never heard of this brand but i was excited to receive this sample because i enjoy trying new masks. or rather, i enjoy accumulating them and forgetting to use them, hehe. anyway, i'm actually looking for a good mask to add to my regular skincare regimen so please leave me a comment if you have any recommendations.

since receiving this product in my glymm box, i've done a little research on the brand and i'm so glad we received this sample. it is on the small size (good for 1 or 2 uses) but i do consider the brand to be a luxury item so i'm happy about the opportunity to try it. the ingredients include volcanic rock, french sea clay, and green tea leaf pieces. according to the website, it is 99% paraben free.

along with this sample, we also received a promotion code to purchase the full size product from the glymm boutique for $50.

verdict: the sample had enough product for both my hubby and me to get masked! the mask does exactly what it advertises. it tingles, tightens, and lightens (i.e. the mud gets lighter in colour when it dries) in under 15 minutes... with the added bonus that you look hilarious during the process! hubby noted that "it hurts" and "it smells nice" but i think he approves. i wouldn't say the tingling is severe to the point of hurting but i do agree that the scent is wonderful. i am really really loving this mask so i am considering purchasing the full size product but, at over $5 per mask based on the regular price, i will likely try a few alternatives before i place my order.

i just washed off the mask and, holy moly, my skin feels so super soft! there was absolutely no irritation or redness despite it feeling rather rough when i was using the mask to exfoliate. i don't think my skin has been this soft since i was a baby. seriously, i was amazed by the results. i think i may have to purchase the full size product.

full size // 50mL // $78
sample size // 7mL // approximately $10.92

3. burt's bees tinted lip balm in tiger lily

yay for lip balms! if i received a decent lip balm in every single box, i'd still never tire of them. i currently carry 3 lip balms on my person and i have another 3 within reach when i'm on the computer at home. i simply cannot stand the feeling of dry lips. even though we received burt's bees lotion samples last month (which i could not stand due to the smell), i was still excited to receive the tinted lip balm. especially when i saw the cute (albeit unnecessary) packaging and when i read that the new formulation is an award winning product. i'm a sucker for marketing.

verdict: i am loving this lip balm! i don't get much colour payoff from it but i have to admit that i don't normally gravitate towards tinted lip balm anyway. i have a very nice nude lip when i wear this lip balm. i like that it has a barely there scent and no detectable flavour. it feels great on my lips, which is the most important thing for me when it comes to a lip balm. i would repurchase this but i would wait for it to go on sale as the regular price is a little steep.

full size and sample size // 4.25 g // $7.99

4. mai couture blot & bronze papier

i may be a little biased because i was hoping to try these pigmented sheets ever since seeing them included in the myglam bags. so i was ecstatic when i saw them in my glymm box, even though i got the bronzing sheets rather than the blush sheets. i agree with other subscribers that the sample is rather small.

verdict: i cut one of my blot & bronze papier in half so i could get 4 uses out of my sample. when i handled the papier, i was taken aback by the amount of shimmer on the sheet. i thought i would look like a clown after blotting it on my face. i did it anyway and the glitter is so fine that it is hardly noticeable under most lighting. the blot sheet also took away all my oil! i had a lovely bronze glow after blotting so i am really happy with the product. i would still be wary about using this at work though - in case the lighting somehow picks up the shimmer, which would be essentially all over my face (and hands). i may or may not repurchase this product.

full size // 100 sheets // $24
sample size // 2 sheets // approximately $0.48

while the total value of the february box was less than previous months, i am still happy with this box for a couple of reasons: (1) everything in my box was very useable and right up my alley and (2) i loved that this box was more of a make-up theme versus receiving multiple lotions and serums. i know i am in the minority this month and i certainly hope all the beauty boxes will take subscriber feedback into account regarding the promised luxury (high end brands) and deluxe (size) samples.

// approximate value of the products in the february 2012 glymm box: $27.39 //

what did you think of the glymm box this month?

ftc: i paid for this box and nothing was sent to me for free.

Monday, February 20, 2012

topbox // february 2012

topbox was the 2nd beauty subscription box i received this month. i subscribed to this service in late 2011 but it was sold out until february so i have been watching with rapt interest the previous month's unboxings. i was super excited to finally receive topbox because the brands and samples in my opinion have been top notch.

without further ado, here is my video unboxing of my very first topbox!

and here is what i received (in order of appearance in the video):

1. china glaze crackle polish in cracked medallion

i was super excited to receive this because i love nail polish and i have not tried the china glaze line nor have i tried a good crackle polish. i do have the sally hansen crackle overcoat in snow blast but this was a hideous look on my nails - it turned out like streaky white-out that sometimes cracked and sometimes didn't. i must have been on crack when i bought it.

this metallic crackle polish was much more my style and i love the colour against my skin tone. it's kind of like a goldish-bronzish but sometimes it looks almost copper. really lovely. i didn't feel like having super contrasty nails for family day weekend so i used my revlon sheer pink (old) underneath and layered over the china glaze crackle polish in bronzed medallion. the crackle effect was very nice.

i have to admit that i was a little surprised that topbox sampled the china glaze brand as it is not exactly luxury and topbox has been adamant about including only luxury brands. i can buy this exact polish on sally beauty supply for $2.99; however, that does not factor in shipping to canada of course.

verdict: even though i was happy with this particular polish, i have to say that i am not a huge fan of the look of crackle polish. i think i am going to give this trend a pass. i will repurchase china glaze though. i am particularly interested in the hunger games collection because (a) i love neutral colours and i've been looking for a nice orange tone (riveting & electrify are striking my fancy) and (b) i loved the books and absolutely cannot wait for the movie. :)

full size and sample size // 14mL // approximately $8

2. shu uemura full shimmer illuminating shampoo

i have been interested in trying this brand (more on the make-up side but hair is ok too) so i was pleased to have received this generous sized sample even though i think it was a leftover from previous topboxes. the shampoo is for colour-treated hair but i was happy to try it anyway (apparently shampoo for colour-treated hair is supposed to be more gentle).

the formulation is extremely thin though and i almost spilled half of what i had in my palm as i tried to put the cap back on the shampoo tube. egad, imagine spilling your $45 shampoo. i went through my regular hair washing routine... i washed my hair once and gave myself a pretty good scalp massage... then i used my regular conditioner on the shaft & ends of my hair. my hair felt squeaky clean but when my hair dried, i was surprised to feel residue on my greasy roots. we had to go out so i just left my hair as is... when we got home, the residue was no longer noticeable. erg?

verdict: i have only used this shampoo once so i will continue to use this sample but i probably will not repurchase this shampoo as my perceived value of this product does not justify the price.

update: i have now used this shampoo for over 2 weeks but only after i wash my hair with my regular shampoo. admittedly, i've been afraid to use it alone because, the first time i tried it, my hair became frightfully greasy frightfully fast. i would not repurchase this product.

full size // 300mL // $45
sample size // 75mL // approximately $11.25

3. lilly pilly natural kakadu plum hand & body creme

these samples are teeny tiny and probably represents the first disappointing sample size i've seen in a topbox. i am not sure how these could be even remotely classified as deluxe size. lilly pilly is an australian made brand and the scent is very very nice... but one of the little sample packets was not even enough for my legs. to be fair, i am pear shaped so my legs are on the thicker side... but still.

verdict: i am really loving this lotion! it smells great and the formulation leaves my hands feeling smooth and silky with no greasy residue. i wish there was information in the card on where to purchase this. if you know where i can buy the lilly pilly line of products, please leave me a comment to let me know!

full size // 150mL // $22
sample size // 6mL // approximately $0.88

4. pari beauty eye shadow in #74

i was excited to receive this eye shadow in a bright vibrant purple hue but mine was completely shattered. upon visiting topbox's facebook page, i noticed that a number of people received shattered eye shadows, likely a function of not enough crinkle / tissue paper in the tube. :( i e-mailed topbox and they kindly agreed to send me a replacement so i will provide a further update when i've tried the eye shadow.

the card that comes with the topbox indicates that this is a personalized shade. i have brown eyes so i can see this colour working on me. yay! :)

update: i received the replacement shadow in #35, which is a very neutral shade - i guess i would describe it as a bronze-y peach tone? i am enjoying this eye shadow; however, since i rarely wear eye shadow these days, i am not sure how much use i will get out of it.

full size and sample size // 2 g // $11

5. ysl touche éclat complexion highlighter in #2 luminous ivory

this sample is so tiny, i did not even realize it was a sample! i thought it was an info card. haha, joke's on me. that being said, topbox promises 4 samples and we actually received 5 this month... i'm assuming to make up for the teeny tiny lilly pilly and touche éclat. i received colour number 2, which is luminous ivory. it blended nicely with my skin tone even though i was worried it would be too light.

verdict: i'm not sure i'd notice a difference between this product and less expensive alternatives so i don't think i will be repurchasing this.

full size // 0.1 oz // $50
sample size // teeny tiny // $0

overall, while i am glad to have received the nail polish, shampoo, and eye shadow, i was disappointed at the size of the samples for the lilly pilly hand & body creme and the ysl touche éclat complexion highlighter. i am very happy with topbox customer service though... i had previously e-mailed them to request no mascara due to my eyelash extensions and they were happy to accommodate... which is why i received the china glaze nail polish this month. they also shipped out the replacement eye shadow really quickly!

// approximate value of the products in the february 2012 topbox: $31.13 //

did you receive the february topbox? if so, what did you think of the samples this month?

ftc: i paid for this box and nothing was sent to me for free.

Friday, February 17, 2012

my trip to the galapagos!

in this video, i share a bunch of clips from my hubby and my recent trip to quito and the galapagos islands. i had originally intended to do ootds of my casual vacation outfits but I took so many videos that it morphed into a combination of OOTDs, vlogs, and random animal clips. Plus, the Galapagos Islands were so interesting and different from anywhere I've been that I felt like I wanted to include videos of the unique landscape and very special animals.

Just a heads up that the outfits are super casual (as the cruise had a casual dress code) so they are not very interesting... also this is my first time trying vlog type videos and the sound is kinda wonky... but I hope you enjoy the video anyway!

As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. :)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

glossybox canada // february 2012

in february, i am expecting to receive a whopping three beauty boxes. previously, i was subscribed to two boxes: glymm (since december) and topbox (february will be my first box). however, a few weeks ago, i bit the bullet and also subscribed to the new kid on the block, glossybox. i figured the first ever glossybox in canada would be stellar and i did not want to miss out.

since glossybox is new, it was not included in my beauty box comparison post. glossybox is $15 including shipping and tax, so just a few dollars more than glymm and topbox. it promises a minimum of 5 luxury samples and will throw in a 6th sample from time to time.

here is my video unboxing of the inaugural february glossybox!

here is what i received (in order of appearance in the video):

1. ahava mineral body lotion

i have a sample of the ahava mineral hand cream as it was part of my december glymm box and i love it. the body lotion is very similar to the hand cream... the scent is still a little strong for me but the formulation makes up for it. i applied this lotion to my legs last night after my shower and they are still super feeling smooth and silky!

verdict: while i love the ahava dead sea water line of products, i have been starting to get scent headaches again (likely in part due to caffeine withdrawal but more on that later)... based on this, i'm not sure if i would repurchase these products. i wish there were a lighter scent or scent-free option.

full size // 250mL // $28
sample size // 40mL // approximate value of $4.48

2. beauty so clean cosmetic sanitizer wipes

this was a bonus 6th sample that was included in my glossybox. i also received the beauty so clean cosmetic sanitizer spray (item #4) so please scroll down to that product to see my full commentary.

full size // 48 wipes // $12.50
sample size // 4 wipes // approximate value of $1.04

3. elizabeth arden prevage day intensive anti-aging moisture cream with spf 30

i am not good at following directions so i did not test the product on my arm and wait for three days to see if i would get a reaction. instead, i put it on my face the very next morning before work. :) i am really enjoying this cream but it is rather heavy compared to my current face moisturizer. i noticed i did have to reapply my pressed powder at work today - i was greasier than normal but i'm not sure if it was due to the cream or if it was an after-effect from my scary vacation skin.

aside: my skin was horrible when i was on vacation - breakouts, whiteheads, and little bumps. it was frightening. thankfully, it is slowing getting back to normal. i think the culprit was a combination of the humidity and me not having my usual regimen of products.

love that this product has spf as i was just contemplating purchasing a daily sunscreen for my face. i know it is important but it's just not something i was concerned about until i started noticing more sun spots and fine lines on my face. anyway, i will continue using this product and provide an update soon.

full size // 50mL // $160
sample size // 7mL // approximate value of $22.40

4. beauty so clean cosmetic sanitizer mist

the mist was the second part of my bonus 6th sample.

full size // 125mL // $15.99
sample size // 8mL // approximate value of $1.02

the beauty so clean leaflet highlights the following products:

- cosmetic sanitizer spray is for powder-based products such as eyeshadow, blush, bronzer, pressed powder, etc.
- cosmetic sanitizer wipes is for products such as lip gloss, lipstick, lip balm, cosmetic pencils, and mascara wands.
- conditioning brush cleanser (not included in the glossybox).

verdict: i was curious about how the sanitizer products would work so i tried them on a pressed powder, some eye pencils, and a lipstick. i can't tell if it did the trick but it didn't ruin my make-up or anything like that. i don't think i'll be repurchasing these products, mainly because i am not overly germaphobic nor am i a strong proponent of hand sanitizer... i was kind of put off when i read the leaflet describing these products as follows: "it's like hand sanitizer for your makeup!"

5. oscar de la renta live in love eau de parfum

when i first sniffed the fragrance, i really liked it because it smelled very fresh and clean. i tried it on the same night and got a whopping scent headache. i also started sneezing. sigh.

top notes... hyacinth - galbanum - bergamot - lily of the valley - orchid
middle notes... jasmine - african orange - rose
base notes... sandalwood - virginia cedar
woodsy notes... amber - musk


verdict: i've since changed my glossybox profile to exclude fragrance samples. i love the little bottles but they're not worth the headaches and allergies.

full size // 30mL // $62
sample size // 4mL // approximate value of $8.27

6. essie nail lacquer in neo whimsical

not really a luxury brand but i've been meaning to try the essie nail lacquers so i'm happy i received one in my glossybox! based on the reviews i've read since recording my unboxing video, it looks like everyone who received the essie nail lacquer also received this shade. i am happy with this colour - it reminds me of spring and i can't wait to wear it.

verdict: i've swatched it on one nail and it's a very flattering and pretty colour. i would definitely repurchase essie nail lacquers as i find a lot of the colours highly appealing. :)

update: i decided to give myself a little manicure so i changed my polish to neo whimsical. the polish went on very streaky so i needed three coats rather than my usual two to get the coverage i wanted. it is a very pretty colour though!

full size and sample size // 13.5mL (card shows 13.8mL) // $9.99

7. elizabeth grant moisturizing stick

i absolutely love all lip products and lip balms are no exception. as you may know, i tuck away lip balms everywhere at home and at work... i get very disturbed and fixated when my lips are dry and uncomfortable. i've probably amassed 50+ different lip balms but i have certain favourites - namely maybelline baby lips and plain old vaseline.

in fact, when my hubby and i went out last night for his birthday dinner, i forgot to put a lip balm into my purse. i asked him if he had one but of course he did not. i contemplated popping into a drug store to pick one up but we were running late. so as soon as we were seated, i scanned our surroundings to figure out what i could substitute as lip balm... in the past, i've tried water, oil, peanut butter, and duck fat. this time, i settled on butter. i put a bit on my butter knife and dabbed at it gently like i was using potted lip balm. it provided temporary relief so i was able to focus on dinner. how ridiculous am i? seriously.

verdict: i am enjoying this lip balm... it smells sooooooo good! that being said, i am not sure i would repurchase this because my favourite lip balms are a fraction of the price.

full size // 5g // $12
sample size // 3.5g // approximate value of $8.40

the one thing that stood out right away is that the glossybox packaging is excellent. i love the colour combination of blush pink and black, the box is extremely sturdy (better than the glymm box), and there is a simple yet classy pink grosgrain ribbon that can be reused (i like the glymm ribbon but the logo limits its usefulness). there is also a personalized envelope, which i really love, that contained three items: a welcome note & description of the products, labels for your glossybox, and an information leaflet about beauty so clean.

overall, i have to admit that i was expecting a little more from the inaugural box; however, i am still pleased with the samples included in my first glossybox. while i don't really consider essie to be a luxury brand, i am still very happy i received the nail lacquer. i've been meaning to try this brand and the colour included in my glossybox is lovely.

// approximate value of the products in the february 2012 glossybox: $55.60 //

did you receive a glossybox and, if so, what were your thoughts?

if you wish to join glossybox through my invitation, i will earn glossydots and send heaps of good karma your way.

ftc: i paid for this box and nothing was sent to me for free.

Friday, February 10, 2012

{what i wore} thrift blouse & classic flap

for my hubby's birthday, we celebrated with a lovely dinner at bymark during winterlicious. three words: duck confit poutine. gaaaaaaahhhh!

here is what i wore:

- pale yellow blouse (talize)
- black pencil skirt (braemar)
- black tights
- black suede wedge booties (adrienne vittadini)
- chanel m/l classic flap in beige caviar
- oversized "crystal" stud earrings (h&m)
- gold ring with crystal detailing (the bay)
- revlon sheer translucide nail enamel in sheer blossom
- l'oreal paris pro manicure in smell the roses

after recording the video, i added a black belt for a more polished look and to further cinch my waist (see middle photo).

{what's on my face}

- nyx nude on nude palette
- annabelle blush in pronto
- revlon lip butter in candy apple

for the month of february, i learned to create loose beachy waves with my flat iron. i really love waves (i used to braid my hair to achieve the look) and this is probably one of my favourite styles so far.

hope you enjoyed the look! :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

2012 goals // january update

this year, i decided to do monthly update videos on how i'm doing on my annual goals. these are mainly for myself to watch back to determine if, when, and why i fall off track during the year so the video will probably be rather boring for you... but feel free to watch anyway! :)

1. photo-a-day project of hubby and me.
- i'm doing very well with this project - no cheat photos.
- 100%!

2. 100 day thrifting challenge.
- i'm doing excellent with this challenge because i haven't been shopping at all!
- i've also been wearing my thrifted items every day.
- i did "cheat" a little bit though because i redeemed some of my air miles for a new watch... but it was so worth it! can't wait to show you guys. :)
- 99% because of the tiny cheat.

3. savings goal + rewards!
- i think i'm on the right track based on my expenditures but not entirely sure because i haven't transferred any funds to my savings account yet.
- oh, and i upped my savings goal due to a massive fail on goal #4.
- 50%.

4. one new beauty product per month.
- i bought 3 nail polishes plus a rms lip2cheek but i don't get my first topbox until february so i rationalized my purchases to be in lieu of my january topbox.
- i also signed up for glossybox without cancelling glymm or topbox... boo on me.
- i decided to modify this goal slightly - i'm allowed 3 beauty box subscriptions plus 1 new beauty product each month.
- in exchange for this indulgence, i upped my savings goal to make it harder to achieve the rewards in goal #3.
- 25%.

5. one litre of water per day.
- i cut out coffee!!!
- 85% because sometimes i forget to finish my water.

6. figure out the mess that is my hair.
- i modified this goal because it was too vague - i will try to learn one style per month.
- in january, i learned to do big bouncy waves (curls) - see my black & blush ootd video.
- 95% because the style isn't as polished as i would like.

7. decorate, de-clutter & re-organize.
- i also modified this goal to be more specific - i will focus on one area of our condo each month.
- after recording my update video, i actually re-organized my (1) make-up, (2) some of my jewellery, and (3) the stuff under the bathroom sink.
- 100% because i'm proud of what i've done so far. :)

8. keep a better record of events.
- this is going very well... i love using a hard copy planner again!
- 100%!

i'm happy to report that i've been doing quite well on my goals. much better than previous years, likely in part due to my commitment to recording these little update videos. stay tuned for my february update!

{favourites} january 2012

hi everyone!!! hope you all had a wonderful 2 weeks! i'm back from my trip and procrastinating with editing the thousands of photos and videos that we took... so here is a little video of my january favourites that i posted to youtube before our holiday. more to come soon! :)

my january favourites (in order of appearance):

1. body shop vitamin c skin boost
2. butter london 3 free nail lacquer in yummy mummy
3. sally hansen hard as nails xtreme wear nail polish in strobe light
4. aveeno energizing body wash
5. ecotools kabuki brush
6. rms beauty lip shine in bloom
7. makeup: the ultimate guide by rae morris

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