Tuesday, October 29, 2013

September and October 2013 SeasonsBox - Unboxing and Review

My annual SeasonsBox subscription has become a roller coaster ride in terms of consistency of product, packaging, and service. Ever since SeasonsBox changed ownership and started shipping out of the U.S., there has been a decline in both quality and customer service. In this blog post, I review the September and October boxes. I was actually ok about the September box (except for the packaging), but the October box was shockingly bad... and I didn't feel I could review the two separately as the October box has completely tainted my view of this subscription service. I'm no longer excited about receiving this box - instead, I just want my annual subscription to run its course (if the company even lasts that long). The next time I want to prepay annually for a box, please slap me silly. This review is going to be brief - I don't feel this subscription service is worth the time and effort it takes to individually photograph and review each product.

The September box was lackluster, but what really stood out (and not in a good way) was the packaging. The contents of the September box was haphazardly thrown together with only one crumpled up sheet of craft paper. What happened to the beautiful presentation?

To be clear, I don't have an issue with the individual brands included in the SeasonsBox. I will still keep an open mind about the quality of the products, and I will review each one on its own merits.

1. Made From Earth Vitamin Enhanced Moisturizer
2 oz // $74.99
I have no idea why this cream retails for such a high price. The scent is strong and is quite medicinal in nature. I've only used this product once and the scent really bothers me; however, it does fade to a bit of a nutty scent. Similar to the Aloe Vera Skin Treatment from my July SeasonsBox, this product leaves my skin feeling greasy. It's not a big deal because I apply it just before I go to bed, but it's still not the most comfortable.

2. Raaka Virgin Chocolate in Vanilla Rooibos
1.2 oz // $4.95
I just started a mild cleanse (no caffeine, alcohol, chocolate/candy, chips, etc.), so I have not tasted this myself. My hubby tried it and said it tastes funky... he normally does not complain about food unless it's really bad.

3. Deep Steep Body Butter in Brown Sugar & Vanilla
6 oz // $10.95
I liked the Deep Steep product I received in my May SeasonsBox, so this was my favourite product in this month's box. This body butter is very creamy and soft. It is not fast absorbing, but thankfully it is not greasy in the slightest. The scent is stronger than I normally like but it is not unpleasant.

Now let's move on to the disastrous October box. I have not recorded my YouTube review yet, but I will post the video here once it is ready.

While the September box was not too exciting, at least the products were full size and worth the value of the box. The October box was not, and this really irks me for 2 reasons:

A) The October box only included 2 full size products. The other 2 were samples. SeasonsBox promises 3-5 full size products each month.
B) The October box had a value of $18 total. Not only that, but SeasonsBox has increased the prices for Canadian subscribers to $44.90 per month or $49.95 for a one-time purchase. This is the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. I can tolerate late shipping, shoddy packaging, and lackluster products, but I question the ethics of selling a box with <$20 value for nearly $50.

I've e-mailed SeasonsBox about both these issues, but I have not heard back. I will follow up, but I'm not sure I'll receive a response. [Edited to add: SeasonsBox has since provided a response - the e-mails are included in the description box of my YouTube video.] SeasonsBox has been doing a major cleanup of its Facebook page, removing the ability to post and deleting all "negative" comments.

Let's move on to the actual products:

1. Tea Forte Luci Loose Leaf Tea Infuser in Spring Grass
1 Infuser // $12
I was actually very excited about this product, and I do like it for the most part. The build quality is not great, but it does the job. I read reviews that the infuser does not screw tightly enough to the ceramic cone piece so tea leaves come out when steeping. I've used this infuser twice - the first time, it worked perfectly, but I did have some leaves escape into my tea the second time.

2. Dryad Tea in Fall Court
0.3 oz sample // $2
I love tea so I was excited to try one scented with pumpkin, but I could not believe the size of this product! I haven't brewed this tea yet, but I took a whiff of it and there is not much of a scent.

3. Somerville Soap Works Cider Spice Soap
1 oz sample // $1
This soap was not even in its paper wrapper when I opened up the box. I guess it had fallen out in transit. This soap is teeny tiny... and it doesn't smell like much. There's a faint spice scent, but it also smells a little stale.

4. Molly Rose Vegan Pumpkin Cider Lip Balm
4.25 g // $3
This is my favourite item in the October SeasonsBox! I am really enjoying this lip balm - it goes on buttery smooth, and I love the oval shape (it reminds me of my Crawford Street Skin Care and Filthy Farmgirl lip balms). It smells incredible and has no flavour.

Note: I purchased a one year subscription to SeasonsBox with my own money.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

WMCFW Stephan Caras SS2014 Collection

Fashion week is such a fun and exciting time. I see so many tweets, Facebook updates, and Instagram pics that I almost feel like I'm right in the middle of the action. Of course, nothing beats being physically present at an actual show, with your eyes on the runway, seeing models stomp to the beat of loud music, taking in all the incredible designs for the upcoming season. Stephan Caras is a seasoned designer who is based in Toronto. His aesthetic is feminine sensuality and his spring-summer 2014 collection was a perfect marriage of feminine silhouettes with intricate pearl accents.

The styling was perfect. I loved the hair - voluminous, messy braids that I am going to try to replicate as soon as my hair is long enough. :)

This was quite a large collection with a lot of interesting pieces... here are some of my favourites:

Towards the end of the show, there was a roar in the crowd... I believe this is Stephan Caras' daughter. She looked incredible and totally worked the runway... she showed off the dress beautifully!

My friend and I had such an amazing time at the show and also at the after party! I can't believe another fashion week is in the books. Here is what we wore to the event. My friend has such a funky and effortless style. I wanted to borrow her camel coat... and never give it back.

As for me, I'm wearing straight hair, MAC Rebel, Jeffrey Campbell Litas (sky high but oh so comfortable... the leather/wood/glue smells horrible though), Zara dress (which shrank in the wash so now it's more like a top), All Saints leather jacket, and Balenciaga City bag.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

September 2013 Empties

September was foil packet month for me! I was in France for 2 weeks and brought a ton of foil packets to use up. I only used a fraction of what I bought, but it was still quite a lot. :)

* = Disliked the product - would not repurchase
** = Liked the product - might or might not repurchase
*** = Loved the product - would repurchase

1. Tresemme Tres Two Freeze Hold Hairspray
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: This is my favourite hairspray at the moment - it does the job and doesn't weigh my hair down.
Rating: ***

2. Clean & Clear Morning Burst Fruit Infusions Reviving Cleanser
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: I thought this cleanser was ok. I wish there were more exfoliating strawberry seeds. I liked the scent.
Rating: **

3. Clean & Clear Morning Burst Skin Brightening Facial Scrub
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: This cleanser was ok too. More exfoliating bits in this one, but I preferred the scent of the reviving cleanser.
Rating: **

4. Deep Steep Lavender Chamomile Body Wash
Source: May 2013 SeasonsBox
Thoughts: I liked this body wash. The scent was light yet pleasant. The body wash foamed up nicely and did not dry out my skin. That being said, nothing about it really stood out to me so I'm on the fence about whether I'd purchase this product.
Rating: **

5. Moksa Amazon Lemon Exfoliating Bar
Source: June 2013 SeasonsBox
Thoughts: This generous sized body bar was more exfoliating than I thought it would be (I was doubtful at first because the poppy seeds seemed really sparse). It foamed up nicely, and I liked the scent.
Rating: **

6. Mia's Wish Handmade Soap in Beach Breeze
Source: Purchased by me in Chicago
Thoughts: My hubby loves the scent of this soap! I thought it was nice, but I didn't love it like he did. I do love the texture of this soap though.
Rating: **

Here are the foil samples! I don't have too many comments on these because they were so small for the most part that I didn't have enough product to formulate an opinion.

7. Racinne Ultimate Defense Illuminating Cream
8. Racinne Essentialift Supplement Serum
9. Racinne Optimal Fortifying Emulsion
Source: I filled out a form on Racinne's Facebook page to receive these samples
Thoughts: Not sure what the difference is among these three products, but I used them all on my face and enjoyed trying them.
Rating: **

10. Algenist Multi-Perfecting Pore Corrector Concentrate
Source: Sephora sample with purchase (I think)
Thoughts: Again, not too sure what this does - I only had enough for one application, and I didn't notice any difference in my skin.
Rating: **

11. Kiehl's Highly Efficient Skin-Tone Corrector
Source: Sample from Kiehl's
Thoughts: I really liked this cream. This was a generous foil packet at 5 ml so I was able to try it out over three nights. The texture and colour is just like avocado and it felt very nice on the skin. The only thing I didn't like about this was the slightly funky scent. I was considering purchasing the full size, but it looks like this product may have been discontinued.
Rating: **

12. Lancome Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate
Source: Sample from Lancome at The Bay
Thoughts: This product was ok - I was expecting to love it given the good reviews. I think I will give it another try down the road... there wasn't too much product in the foil packet so I only got 2 uses from it.
Rating: **

13. Lancome Visionnaire Advanced Skin Corrector
Source: Sample from Lancome at The Bay
Thoughts: Similar to the Genefique, I don't think there was enough product in the foil packet for me to say whether I like it or not. However, I don't really feel the urge to try this one again in the future.
Rating: **

14. Clarins Body Lift Cellulite Smoother
Source: Can't remember!
Thoughts: This was another generous foil packet (8 ml), so I was able to try it over three days. There was no change to my cellulite, but I did enjoy trying it.
Rating: **

15. Crabtree & Evelyn Rosewater Body Lotion x 3
Source: Included in the gift set from one of my sisters
Thoughts: I love this body lotion! The scent is wonderful (I love the scent of roses), and the texture is creamy yet light. It is fast absorbing and non-greasy.
Rating: ***

16. Coronado Soap Co. Orange Avenue Hand & Body Cream
Source: Swap with Lisa Hatcher
Thoughts: I really like the formulation of this hand and body cream because it is creamy and moisturizing but not greasy. I preferred the scent of the Apricot Freesia cream though.
Rating: **

17. Nivea Firming Q10 Body Lotion
Source: Hubs picked up a bag of samples from the Nivea sample truck :)
Thoughts: This lotion was alright, but I didn't notice any changes to my skin. I only got around 2 uses out of this sample.
Rating: **

18. Julep The Best Pedi Creme Ever!
Source: Julep sample with purchase
Thoughts: This foot cream is nice, but I'm not sure whether it's the best ever!
Rating: **

19. Beauty So Clean Cosmetic Sanitizer Wipes x 3
Source: Glossy Party TO
Thoughts: These wipes have so many uses, and they come in really handy! I used these to spot clean my makeup brushes while we were on vacation.
Rating: ***

20. Julep One-Step Polish Remover Pad
Source: Julep sample with purchase
Thoughts: There are 10 small nail polish remover pads included in each packet. The pads are drenched in nail polish remover (with acetone)... they are literally dripping when you take them out of the packet. These were very effective and even removed my glitter polish. That being said, I think some of the nail polish remover evaporated before I got to my second hand as my glitter polish was extra sticky and I had to use something else to remove the rest.
Rating: **

21. Deborah Lippmann Stripper to Go
Source: Don't recall...
Thoughts: This packet contains one nail mitt that is soaked in nail polish remover (with acetone). The mitt is thick and a little stiff, so it does not fall apart. I think it would have worked great if I had not been wearing glitter polish. It was just ok at removing glitter.
Rating: **

22. Pacifica Purify Coconut Water Cleansing Wipes
Source: Swap with Lisa Hatcher
Thoughts: I really wanted to love these wipes; however, they were too harsh for my skin. The scent was just ok.
Rating: *

23. The Body Shop Camomile Gentle Eye Make-Up Remover
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: Ouch! This product really stings my eyes. The texture is just like water, but it is not gentle whatsoever.
Rating: *

24. Cyberderm Every Morning Sun Whip with SPF 25
Source: October 2012 Glymm Bag
Thoughts: I like this sunscreen and I would consider purchasing the full size. The texture is nice and light (whipped) and there is no scent.
Rating: **

25. Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer with SPF 45
Source: Neutrogena sample pack
Thoughts: I didn't like this moisturizer. It left my skin feeling greasy and I found the scent a little too strong.
Rating: *

26. Neutrogena Invigorating Face Wash
Source: Neutrogena sample pack
Thoughts: This is a product for men but I tried it a couple of times and thought it was ok. My hubby finished this one.
Rating: **

27. Kiehl's Facial Fuel
Source: Sample from Kiehl's
Thoughts: I didn't try this product at all, but my hubby finished it and popped it into my empties bag. He likes this product a lot - in fact, he has already purchased the full size.
Rating: ***

28. Dream Organics Rose Water
Source: February 2013 SeasonsBox
Thoughts: I love this product! I use it as a facial mist, to set my makeup, as aromatherapy, to prep my makeup brush for foundation, etc. It smells very lightly of rose.
Rating: ***

29. Starlooks Lash Boost
Source: April 2013 Starlooks Starbox
Thoughts: I wasn't a huge fan of this product. I didn't find that it did anything for my lashes. The little fibers occasionally got into my eyes and it was very uncomfortable.
Rating: *

30. Nair 3 in 1 Hair Removal Lotion
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: I've been using this product since I was in high school and it does work; however, I want to find a replacement product because I feel this cream is too harsh. Even though this is the "gentle" formulation, I do not recommend this product for anyone with sensitive skin. I like to use this product before I go on vacation to remove the little wispies on my arms. I have another half bottle I need to finish up and then I will be trying some different products. If I can't find anything I like better, I may go back to this one.
Rating: **

31. Wet Ones Sensitive Skin Hand & Face Wipes
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: I've gone through so many of these! I love these wipes - they are a staple in my home and at my workplace.
Rating: ***

32. Tetley Chai Tea
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: This tea is alright, but it's a little weak. I don't mind my tea mild, but when you're loading it up with milk and sugar, it needs to be a tad more flavourful.
Rating: **

33. David's Tea Mango Fruit Punch
Source: Gifted to me by one of my sisters
Thoughts: I drank this tisane with a little honey and it tasted like a decadent dessert! I enjoyed trying this but likely will not purchase it due to the artificial flavours. It also looks like this flavour may be discontinued.
Rating: **

34. Lupicia Melon Oolong
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: I was expecting to love this tea because I looove melon but this tea fell a little flat for me. It was just ok. I much prefer the pineapple oolong.
Rating: **

35. David's Tea Daydreamer
Source: Sample with purchase
Thoughts: Looks like this tea is also no longer available. This was a green tea flavoured with mango and some other ingredients. I thought it was ok but nothing special.
Rating: **

That's it for my September empties! I did better than I thought I would, considering I was on vacation for half the month. :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

September 2013 Beauty Box 5 - Unboxing and Review

Beauty Box 5 has been on a roll lately... I really liked the contents of the September box!

Here are the items I received (in order of appearance in the video):

1. Every Beauty Makeup Remover Pads with Argan Oil

I tried one of these makeup pads for the first time this evening, and I really liked it. The pad itself has a very light soapy scent, and you add water to the pad before using it to remove your makeup. It didn't foam up or anything but still did a decent job at removing all my makeup. The directions for use say you do not have to rinse your skin after using the pad, but I did anyway (as I always do when I use any type of makeup wipe).

Full size // 50 pads // $6.99
Sample size // 5 pads // $0.70

2. Fine Featherheads Fly Ties

I'm not sure when this happened, but I'm currently obsessed with these hair ties. I've only used one (from Julep and I use it every night), but I was happy to receive 4 more. I'd rather have neutral shades, but these are still to my liking. That being said, as much as I like these, I don't think I would pay $7.95 for 4 hair ties.

Full size and sample size // 4 hair ties // $7.95

3. Skiin Shop Skin Smoothing & Soothing Eye Cream

I've only used this cream once so I don't have an opinion on it yet. It's a medium weight (not too heavy and not too light). I like that it is unscented and I really like the packaging. The top of the tube twists off and then you can use the other side as a cap to keep this product fresh.

Full size // 15 ml // $49.95
Sample size // 3 ml // $9.99

4. Bella Pierre Cosmetics Shimmer Powder in Celebration

This shimmer powder is lovely! It's soft and creamy with amazing colour payoff. It is extremely pigmented but blends out nicely too. I think it looks great on the eyes.

Full size and sample size // 2.35 g // $15

5. Body Drench Lip Drench in Coconut Lime

The texture of this lip balm is quite nice. There is a mild flavour to it but nothing bothersome. The scent is light, leaning more towards coconut than lime. I thought the story behind this company was really interesting. It began 30 years ago with one product - a lotion that was developed specifically for a woman who owned a specialty bra store for customers recovering from mastectomies... this lotion made wearing a bra more comfortable.

Full size and sample size // 4.3 g // $4.99

Overall, I really liked the September box... it is my 2nd last box in my annual subscription (October is my last), and part of me wants to re-subscribe because I really enjoy receiving these little surprises every month (and the price is so good). I'll have to give it some thought. One final note is that the product card has changed - the description of the products is still there but the other side of the card now contains a photo, theme, and note from BB5. The September theme was "On the Go."

// Approximate value of the products in the September 2013 Beauty Box 5: $38.63 //

Beauty Box 5 is a monthly subscription service that promises 4-5 beauty samples in each box. It ships out of Austin, Texas. The samples are shipped in relatively small cardboard shipping box. The current dimensions of the box are approximately 6.5 inches x 4 inches x 2 inches and the box fits easily in my tiny condo mailbox.

Note: I paid for this subscription with my own money.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

August 2013 Beauty Box 5 - Unboxing and Review

Another nice Beauty Box 5 in August! I'm really late with this review, so I'm going to try to be brief.

Here are the items I received (in order of appearance in the video):

1. Swissco Nail File

Nothing too exciting, but it's always handy (hehe) to have a bunch of extra nail files. I like that one side is covered in fuchsia glitter.

Full size and sample size // 1 nail file // $1.50

2. Nubar Nail Lacquer in Hot Pink

My first time trying this brand and I really like the shade I received! I'm wearing it in the video. It chips rather quickly, but most of my manicures do (I'm very rough with my hands!).

Full size // 15 mL // $8
Sample size // 7 mL // $3.73

3. Bask Heavenly Silk Daily Skin Nourishing Moisturizer Anti-Aging & Firming Lotion

Another new-to-me brand! I like the scent and the texture of this lotion.

Full size // 22 oz // $19.98
Sample size // 2 oz // $1.82

4. H2O+ Aquafirm+ Micro-Collagen Moisturizer

I still haven't tried this sample yet, but I've liked pretty much all of the H2O+ products I've tried, so I was happy to see this in the BB5.

Full size // 50 mL // $50
Sample size // 8 mL // $8

5. Be a Bombshell Eyeshadow in Always a Bridesmaid

For someone who doesn't wear a lot of pink on her eyes, the shade of this eyeshadow was very scary! It is highly pigmented and a beautiful shade... but these types of shades usually make my eyes look swollen and bloodshot. Fortunately, this eyeshadow works amazingly as a blush! A little goes a long way.

Full size and sample size // 1.5 g // $14

Overall, I thought the August box had a great range of products. What did you think of this month's box?

// Approximate value of the products in the August 2013 Beauty Box 5: $29.05 (updated since the Nubar nail polish is not full size) //

Beauty Box 5 is a monthly subscription service that promises 4-5 beauty samples in each box. It ships out of Austin, Texas. The samples are shipped in relatively small cardboard shipping box. The current dimensions of the box are approximately 6.5 inches x 4 inches x 2 inches and the box fits easily in my tiny condo mailbox.

Note: I paid for this subscription with my own money.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

2013 Goals Update - Q3

This year, I am doing quarterly goals updates because I found it too difficult to keep up with monthly updates last year. Unfortunately, I have fallen off the wagon when it comes to my goals... I missed my second quarter goals update altogether so this is going to be a quasi Q2-slash-Q3 update. I'm thinking, in 2014, I need to refer to my goals on a more regular basis. Perhaps I'll do monthly blog updates and quarterly video updates... or I could incorporate a brief goals update into my monthly vlogs.

1. Reduce contents of home by 25% (Decluttering)
I am still not on track with this goal. I am continuing to donate some unwanted items to Goodwill, and I am planning to sell a few more high end items that don't fit my style, but I am still a long way away from reducing the contents of my home by 25%. We have so much stuff in our tiny condo that I get overwhelmed every time I try to declutter. I am going to try to tackle one section of the condo at a time. So far, I've decluttered my kitchen from top to bottom, which felt really good. I've done half the bathroom and some of my makeup nook. We're planning to tackle the locker next week (that's going to be a long process). Baby steps...

2. Reduce beauty box subscriptions to 3 (Decluttering)
I cancelled Topbox and Ipsy, and Glymm went out of business, so now I'm at 4 subscriptions (Julep, Starbox, Beauty Box 5, and Seasonsbox). They are all prepaid except for Julep... and I've skipped Julep for the last 3 months. I think I will be able to meet this goal by the end of the year.

3. Implement a beauty ban for 9 months (Decluttering)
This goal has been a total fail, so I am officially scrapping it. I am going to try to think of something to replace this goal.

4. Fit into my Browns knee-high black boots (Health & Fitness)
They are still about 2 inches from zipping up all the way. I think that's an improvement from the beginning of the year, so I'm pretty surprised. I have not been working out (unless you count doing this squat video once), so it must be the somewhat healthier eating. Either way, I was pleasantly surprised. :)

5. Eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day (Health & Fitness)
I'm actually doing quite well with this, now that I'm subscribed to Mama Earth Organics! As a bonus, I've also been cooking more again, which makes me so happy.

6. Plan 6 videos around a holiday or occasion (YouTube)
There has been no progress with this goal, so I will be scrapping this one too.

7. Film 2 reviews and/or tutorials per month (YouTube)
I've been doing pretty well with this goal. The only month I missed was April... because I was late uploading my review of the Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick.

NARS Exhibit A Blush
Nume 4 Play Set - Overview
Nume 4 Play Set - 32mm Barrel

Nume 4 Play Set - 25mm Barrel
Nume 4 Play Set - 19mm Barrel
L'Oreal Colour Riche Caresse Wet Shine Stain in Rose On and On

Nume 4 Play Set - 9mm to 18mm Barrel
Belmacz Glow in Cornelian
Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Lovesick

L'Oreal Colour Riche Colour Caresse Lip Products

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Carina
How I Record My Videos - Lighting, Gear, and More
Urban Decay Smoked Palette

Splat Hair Chalk in Dusty Rose
Clarisonic Mia 2 Sonic Skin Cleansing System
Julep DD Cream and DD Concealer
How to Remove Glitter Nail Polish - Foil Method

Rimmel Apocalips (Show Off) Lip Lacquer in Nova
Maybelline Color Whisper Lip Products

Giorgio Armani Beauty
Bella Organics Dead Sea Mineral Mud Mask

8. Savings goal + rewards (Miscellaneous)
As of September 1, 2013, I am at 73.3%, so I am actually ahead now! :)

9. Take a photo a day and post to my Tumblr (Miscellaneous)
I'm not sure why, but I have totally fallen off the wagon with this. Click here to see my photos.

Overall, I am not doing very well, but to be honest, I thought I'd be doing worse. I will continue to work at it... hopefully I'll report back at the end of the year with some progress! If you set goals for the 2013 year, please let me know how you're doing! Are your goals still on your radar? Or are they long forgotten?

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