Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ipsy December 2014 Review

Better late than never on this review I guess.  At least it's still December (my December Wantable review is still upcoming - sorry!).  With all my meme-madness, I just didn't find my Ipsy bag that exciting this month in comparison - even though the bag itself is my favourite thus far.

For those who don't know Ipsy, it is a monthly subscription service which sends you 5 make-up, skin care or hair care items per month in a cute make-up bag.  The products are often deluxe sample sizes but there are usually a few full-size items as well.  The cost is $10 per month with free shipping if you happen to live in the states but for those of us in Canada, add $4.95 shipping as well as exchange.  There are savings to be had if you subscribe to a longer period, though.  I paid for a year up front which worked out to $184.33 Canadian funds, or $15.36 per month.

If this review piques your interest in Ipsy, please consider using my referral link :)  I'd appreciate it!  There is a waiting list but they often offer ways to skip the line.

Here is what came in my Ipsy bag this month:


Ipsy's theme this month was "Thinking of You" and the bags included one of a few different sayings.  Mine was "You are a Brave Soul". . . I guess? Maybe they were thinking of someone else?


Beauty Without Cruelty Facial Cleanser (2oz - $2.82 value; 8.5oz costs approx. $11.99)

I have about a zillion cleansers but I do like that this one is vegan / vegetarian friendly and has an AHA complex in it.  AHAs can be used to combat acne and acne scarring (both of which I have - although less of the former than I used to) as well as signs of aging (yep, getting those too).  It's also a nice travel size which was useful on my trip a few weeks ago.  This is a nice inclusion.

Infinity Shadow / Crease Duet Crown Brush ($17.50 retail according to their website but currently selling for $6.99 plus shipping, although a minimum order of $25 is required. . . lets go with $6.99 anyway)

Whatever the price, I love this brush.  It's soft and does its job plus I love that I only needed to pack one brush on my trip.  I needed new brushes too.  More like this please, Ipsy!


Pixi by Petra Fairy Dust in Brightening Bare FULL SIZE (10 pounds on their website = $18.06 Canadian right now)

Whatever the price, I hate this product.  The colour is just a little darker than my skin tone which makes it look like a weird, slightly shimmery concealer on my eyelids.  And don't get me started on the packaging / applicator.  Okay, do get me started because this is driving me crazy.  The weird spongy-tipped applicator gets more product where I don't want it than where I do want it.  This sucks and for that value. . . it makes me a little sad.

Nyx Butter Lip Balm in Red Velvet ($4 value)

This, I like.  The texture is good and the colour is just enough - like, it makes me look like I was eating a cherry popsicle but I like it.  Sometimes I just can't do a lip stick when my lips are in rough shape.  This will live in my purse.

Tarte deluxe lights, camera, lashes 4-in-1 Mascara (0.10oz = $8.33; 0.24oz costs $20 on their website)

This is also a win.  I love a black mascara with a nice texture (not like the Avon one I got a few months ago that made my lashes fall out).  The only thing that could make this better is if it happened to be full size :)

Overall Verdict:

My math is putting this bag at an approximate value of $40.20 (although the Pixi product is almost half of that value).  I love the mascara, lip balm and brush.  I liked the cleanser a lot as well and have found it very useful in a travel size.  The bag itself is probably my favourite to date and I used it on my trip.  I don't usually assign a value to that, though, since I consider it more of a perk than a product.  I hate the Pixi "fairy dust".  I can't stress that enough.  I might throw it away - that's how much I dislike this product.  Still, for what I paid for this bag, I am still pretty happy.  

Again, please consider using my referral link if this review makes you want to try Ipsy :)

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Memebox #62 Tea Tree Cosmetics Review

**FYI - Memebox no longer ships to Canada.  I'll leave these reviews for posterity but any links or recommendations are sadly no longer for us :( Many of the products can be found elsewhere - check out my post on where else to shop for k-beauty products!


Memebox is a Korean Beauty Box company with a different model than most beauty boxes.  Instead of subscribing to a monthly box, they periodically release new boxes and you can purchase as many or as few as you like.  Boxes usually range from $23 - $29 plus $6.99 for shipping to Canada (shipping can take 10-20 business days so be prepared).  Express shipping is available for an extra cost or with bundles (more than one box purchased and shipping at the same time).  Memebox also offers many of the items from their boxes in their shop - a warning to Canadian shoppers, some of the shop items are for US customers only so don't get your heart set on anything until you check the tag under it!

This box is not currently available for sale, although restocks do happen from time to time.  Current boxes can be found here.

As a 30-something year old mom, I am thrilled to now be dealing with the dual challenges of adult acne and wrinkles (sarcasm, obvi).  At the time I ordered this (long, long ago - sorry), Memebox had many boxes on offer which were geared toward dry skin or aging skin.  As soon as I saw this one, I had to have it! I first became aware of the wonders of tea tree oil in gently combating acne during my first pregnancy when all of my usual products became too harsh for skin.  Seriously good stuff.


Here's the first look:  6 products - all full size! Since this isn't a Superbox (in which all products are always full-size), this is a pleasant surprise.  That said, one of them is a one-time use product and a few are pretty low value.  This box, in general, has a lower value than many Memeboxes and thus arrived to mixed reviews from many bloggers.  For me, the monetary value is less important than the value I can get out of it in terms of use.  So let's see what's in here. . .


Memebox includes these product cards which indicate what each item is, what it is valued at (sometimes these are a little inflated but since I can't get most of these products where I live, I'll cope with that) and how to use it.  I can't stress how valuable the "how to use it" aspect is since I haven't heard of many of these items before and would have no idea what to do with them!



Shara Shara Bee Tox Spot Cream 15ml ($18 value)

This cream includes bee toxin and is intended for use on blemishes to reduce redness, relieve pain, and help control excess oils.  This is the most expensive spot cream I have ever used. . . and it totally works.  I tried it on a few lingering blemishes and it cleared them up within a few days.  Way better than what I had been using, that's for sure.

DD'ell Moisture Facial Mask 03 Tea Tree 23g ($7 value)

This is the one-time use product:  a sheet mask.  I had never used a sheet mask before and just about gave my husband a heart attack when I did! It's a cottony mask with eye and mouth holes which is soaked in essence (in this case, tea tree essence).  You smooth it over your clean face and leave on for 15-20 minutes, then remove and pat in the remaining essence.  My husband thought I looked like Hannibal Lecter.  I thought it was very soothing and pleasant.  My skin definitely felt softer afterward and it didn't cause a breakout.  I don't think I would spend $7 on it but I enjoyed the experience and would happily use more, cheaper, sheet masks in the future.

Purederm Tea Tree Pore Freshner (spelling error on card?) 170ml ($24 value)

This is a toner with an interesting pump top that it took me way too long to figure out.  Korean toners tend to be less astringent and drying than those we are used to in this country so I was excited to try it out.  I started with twice a day use and found that a little too drying for my skin so I have been using it in the morning before my regular daytime Tea Tree Moisturizer (not from this box) and it's been okay.  It has a pleasant scent but it's not as great as I was hoping for.


Tosowoong Tea Tree AC-Control Soothing Lotion 100ml ($19 value)

This gentle, lightweight lotion is supposed to help with oil control and acne-prevention.  To be honest, I haven't had a chance to use this yet as I've been trying other products which excited me more.  Tosowoong is a respected brand and I'll give this a shot when I'm finished my current daytime moisturizer.

ProYou Tea Tree Oil 10ml ($24 value)

Seeing as how I purchase 50ml of this stuff for $15 at well.ca (albeit from a different brand), I'm finding this valuation a little (okay, a lot) high.  This isn't super exciting but I will use it.  I'm out of my favourite Tea Tree Oil Cleanser and I found some DIY versions online that I'm going to try.  Oil cleansers are a great first step that dissolve makeup better than most cleansers, but I always follow up with another cleanser - no reason to leave excess oil on my face.

Purederm Tea Tree Make-Up Remover Cleansing Towelettes 30ea ($7 value)

These cleansing towelettes are intended for all-over face use (including eye make-up) and have a light tea tree scent. I am not usually a fan of this type of product as I have preferred methods of make-up removal that feel less wasteful to me.  That said, I brought these on a recent trip and they were incredibly useful - especially considering our hotel was having a water issue the first day and I was not going to be washing my face with brown, rusty looking water!  I wouldn't buy them but I will use them.

Overall Verdict:

This may not be the most exciting box ever but it is full of useful products.  I love the Bee Tox - it's an awesome find for me.  The mask was fun and the toner (and lotion, when I try it) is useful.  I will find uses for the Tea Tree Oil although I do find it overvalued.  I was pleasantly surprised by the cleansing towelettes - they haven't totally changed my mind about this type of product but I am finding them useful.  Memebox valued this box at $99 but I feel that the Tea Tree Oil is worth about 1/5 of what they said (even if it's a fancy, organic brand, if I can buy it for much cheaper, it's not worth that to me) so I would probably put this closer to the $80 mark.  Considering I only paid $33.99 including shipping from Korea, I am still happy with the value of this box and the overall quality of the products.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Memebox Superbox #74 Memebox Empties Review

**FYI - Memebox no longer ships to Canada.  I'll leave these reviews for posterity but any links or recommendations are sadly no longer for us :( Many of the products can be found elsewhere - check out my post on where else to shop for k-beauty products!


Memebox is a Korean Beauty Box company with a different model than most beauty boxes.  Instead of subscribing to a monthly box, they periodically release new boxes and you can purchase as many or as few as you like.  Boxes usually range from $23 - $29 plus $6.99 for shipping to Canada (shipping can take 10-20 business days so be prepared).  Express shipping is available for an extra cost or with bundles (more than one box purchased and shipping at the same time).  Memebox also offers many of the items from their boxes in their shop - a warning to Canadian shoppers, some of the shop items are for US customers only so don't get your heart set on anything until you check the tag under it!

This box is not currently available for sale, although restocks do happen from time to time.  Current boxes can be found here.  At the moment, Memebox is running a 12 days of Christmas promotion with daily specials found here.

This was one of the first boxes I ordered from Memebox, as part of a bundle with Memebox Special #64 Green Food Cosmetics.  While there are no bundles currently, when they are available they include both boxes and an upgrade to express shipping (much appreciated).


The first look - lots of products! As a Superbox, these will all be full-sized items so I was also quite happy to see so many of them (and such a variety of products as well).  Memebox Empties was billed as a collection of favourites from previous boxes - the kind of favourite items that memeboxers used until they were empty! While this might be less exciting to someone else, as a Memebox noob, this sounded like the perfect way to get into k-beauty products.


Memebox includes these product cards which indicate what each item is, what it is valued at (sometimes these are a little inflated but since I can't get most of these products where I live, I'll cope with that) and how to use it.  I can't stress how valuable the "how to use it" aspect is since I haven't heard of many of these items before and would have no idea what to do with them!



Ernesti Rice & Milk Foaming Cleanser 120g ($15 value)

This is billed as a gentle foaming cleanser, intended for use after make-up removal.  I have been using it after my go-to Tea Tree Oil Cleanser or my new (courtesy of the Tea Tree Memebox - review upcoming) Tea Tree Make-up Removing Towelettes.  This is definitely gentle and creamy and I find that a little goes a long way.  The scent is delicate and milky.  Love this :)  I can totally understand how this is an "empty" for many people.

Boutique Bebe Hair Salon Argan Oil Essence 60ml ($31 value)

This is a hair treatment for use at the end of your morning hair routine or whenever your hair could use a little moisture and shine.  I like it.  It is creamier than most hair oil products I have used and it does a nice job at softening my hair.  It doesn't do a terrific job at calming my frizz or flyaways when those happen - at least not as well as my usual hair oil.  Overall, this is okay.  I will use it but not every day. 

Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence 60ml ($18 value)

And a more controversial item. . . This is a product that many people have had issues with in the past (Google it if you like) and also a product that many people elevate to holy grail status.  So this was, of course, the product I was most excited to try immediately (and it's the essence I was referring to in my Green Foods Review when I mentioned that I needed to wait on using the essence from that box).  While I was nervous about potential issues, but more nervous about smearing snail mucin and bee venom all over my face, I have to say that I am really enjoying this product.  I have had fewer, less severe breakouts since I started using it - whether that is because of this product, another new product, or just taking the time to care for my skin, who knows? It has a light, easily absorbed texture that goes well under my day or night cream.  This makes the box for me!


Secret Nature From Jeju Peeling Gel 150ml ($29 value)

This product is intended to be used once or twice a week and is similar in purpose to an exfoliator.  Instead of using microbeads or harsh, abrasive ingredients, this is a smooth gel that helps to remove dead skin cells and impurities through more gentle means.  As you massage it over your skin, it will pill (like a sweater) and remove impurities, then you wash it off.  It reminds me of a similar product I got from Aloette years ago and quite liked.  This makes my face feel softer and appear brighter.  I can see this as an "empty" for sure.

Purederm Nose Pore Strips Cacoa (box of 6, $6 value)

These are chocolatey nose strips - kind of like the Biore ones only brown and smelling like chocolate.  And they do the same thing:  you apply them to a clean nose, let sit and then pull off and cringe at all the gunk they pulled out of your pores.  I don't really have a blackhead problem, and have always found these products a little harsh for my skin (and a little strange, to be honest) so I have gifted them to someone who will use them.

Evas Rose Mine Perfumed Hand Cream 60ml ($12 value)

There were a variety of scent options for this one and I received Gleaming Bijou.  It is a nice scent which is not too strong (and I appreciate that).  The hand cream is good quality and absorbs quickly without leaving behind greasy residue - a necessary quality in a hand cream as far as I'm concerned.  This isn't the best hand cream I have ever used but it is probably top 3 and a great size to throw in my purse.  I go through a lot of hand cream so this will be used, and quickly too.

Purebess Galactomyces 80 Eye Cream 50ml ($20 value)

I had to look this up. I like this explanation so I'm going to use it:

As a natural enzyme used in a brewery to make liquor, it was discovered that the hands of masters brewing yeast were distinctively more transparent and elastic than their actual ages that Galactomyces was found to be the best enzyme for skin texture among the numerous enzymes. There are many kinds of enzymes used in fermentation such as yeast and leaven. Enzymes used as cosmetic ingredients amount to over 200 types and among them, Galactomyces is very rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that it is recognized as the best ingredient as a beauty care enzyme. Galactomyces turns the skin bright, transparent and more elastic for the perfect intrinsic skin rhythm and balance. (source)

So this is super-exciting as an eye-cream and I can seriously say that it has brightened the skin around my eyes.  I might need to try this in a few other spots that could use brightening, actually.  It's a really large tube of eye cream - especially since I use so little at a time.  This is an awesome product.

Overall Verdict:

This box rocks my world.  I love the essence, eye cream and face wash.  The hand cream and peeling gel are a little less exciting but are also seriously good products.  I'm not as in love with the hair essence but I will use it.  The only miss for me is the box of nose strips but I have sent them on to a loving home.  The Memebox value of this box is just over $131, with the value pretty evenly distributed among most of the products (instead of having one big ticket item and a lot of lower value ones).  While I am not sure it is really worth quite that much, I paid $67.99 for this box and Green Food Cosmetics, including shipping - so, let's say, about $34 for this one.  I can say with confidence that the essence, eye-cream and face wash are worth more than that and are game-changing products for my skin.  This box was worth every penny.  Here's hoping for more quality, well-curated boxes like this one in the new year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Memebox Special #64 Green Food Cosmetics

**FYI - Memebox no longer ships to Canada.  I'll leave these reviews for posterity but any links or recommendations are sadly no longer for us :( Many of the products can be found elsewhere - check out my post on where else to shop for k-beauty products!


Memebox is a Korean Beauty Box company with a different model than most beauty boxes.  Instead of subscribing to a monthly box, they periodically release new boxes and you can purchase as many or as few as you like.  Boxes usually range from $23 - $29 plus $6.99 for shipping to Canada (shipping can take 10-20 business days so be prepared).  Express shipping is available for an extra cost or with bundles (more than one box purchased and shipping at the same time).  Memebox also offers many of the items from their boxes in their shop - a warning to Canadian shoppers, some of the shop items are for US customers only so don't get your heart set on anything until you check the tag under it!

This box is not currently available for sale, although restocks do happen from time to time.  Current boxes can be found here.  At the moment, Memebox is running a 12 days of Christmas promotion with daily specials found here.

This was one of the first boxes I ordered from Memebox, as part of a bundle with Superbox #74 Memebox Empties (review is coming).  While there are no bundles currently, when they are available they include both boxes and an upgrade to express shipping (much appreciated).


The first look indicated a fair number of full-size products! "Special" boxes are organized by theme and may not contain many full-size products but as you can see here, and on the product cards below, this box had 4 out of 5 items at full size :)


Memebox includes these product cards which indicate what each item is, what it is valued at (sometimes these are a little inflated but since I can't get most of these products where I live, I'll cope with that) and how to use it.  I can't stress how valuable the "how to use it" aspect is since I haven't heard of many of these items before and would have no idea what to do with them!



Primary Raw Seoul, Do You Original Soy Milk Facial Cream (Full Size 100g, Value $40)

I am working on better skincare.  That is part of what this whole meme-experiment is all about.  With my combination / sensitive / acne prone skin, I have been at a loss as to what the heck to put on my face.  Which usually resulted in nothing.  The idea of moisturizing would terrify old me.  Except when my skin got really dry and I would reach for my trusty Tea Tree Moisturizer.  All this is to say that this a totally new product for me and I am excited by it!
Firstly, the packaging is awesome - you can see the box this came in above and then it has the cutest little (well, not so little) glass jar with this fabric tied on top.  Seriously impressive presentation.  It also came with a nice, high-quality plastic spatula to scoop the cream out with.  Secondly, the product is really nice too.  This is a soy milk cream with a delicate scent (nothing too intense next to my nose, please!) and nice absorption.  I have been using it as a night cream since I find it a little rich for twice daily use on my often-oily skin but I like it a lot on my face and my skin seems pretty happy in the morning.

Solucion 9 Aztec Therapy Shampoo (Full Size 250 ml, Value $68)

No, that valuation is not a typo.  That is legitimately what the card says.  *Googles* Yeah, I can't find any entries besides reviews of this box. . . who knows? I do know that this is the most expensive shampoo I have ever used and will ever use.  This is an herbal shampoo intended to "alleviate scalp blemishes, soften and strengthen damaged hair, and deliver a refreshing therapeutic effect."  I have never noticed a lot of scalp blemishes and my hair tends to be pretty healthy anyway.  I can affirm that if by "therapeutic effect" they mean "fresh, herby scent", they pretty much nailed it.  It's a shampoo and it does its job.  I honestly can't say it does that job better or worse than my (much, much) cheaper shampoos but I'll use it.



DermaB Fresh Moisture Body Lotion, 50ml (Value: 400ml is $19 so this size is about $2.38)

I have a ton of body lotions so I haven't used this one yet.  It seems pretty standard and doesn't really stand out much.  I will use it. . . eventually. . . but it won't last long since this isn't much product for something you use all over your body.

WillSpa Touch Aroma Therapy Roll-on Oil (Full Size 12ml, Value $18)

This roll-on scented oil came in two varieties:  Chill Out and Breath Easy (maybe a typo on the card? should it be "Breathe Easy"?).  I got Chill Out which is definitely something I should do more often.  The product card says to "roll it over wrists, temples, behind the neck or between the upper lip and the nose."  I have tried it on my wrists and back of my neck but I am not rolling a oil product, certainly not one with such a strong (yet pleasant) scent on my face.  That could spell disaster for my skin.  I am not sure how calming this is but I do like the scent and at least the process of putting on a de-stressing product gets me to consciously think about de-stressing.  I'll use this as more of a perfume most likely.

Tosowoong Aloe Whitening Essence (Full Size 60ml, Value $16)

An essence is intended to be used after cleansing and toning, before moisturizing (look at me with all the new skincare knowledge and lingo!).  Korean whitening products are not really like how they sound - the "whitening" is more about evening out skin tone and minimizing scarring, etc.  I have some acne scarring and a fair bit of redness that I would love to bid farewell to but I opted to try out the essence that arrived in the Memebox Empties box that was bundled with this one first.  This essence is next on my list.

Overall Verdict:

This is more like what I was hoping for in my Memebox experience.  As much as I loved the Foot Therapy Box (my review here), I really got into this for the skincare.  This box offered two really exciting products for me.  I am using and enjoying the Soy Milk Facial Cream and will use the Tosowoong Essence at a later date.  While I am not over the moon about the shampoo (good thing too - I could never afford another bottle), it is nice and I will use it.  The same is true for the body lotion.  The only item I am a bit disappointed in is the Aroma Therapy Roll-on.  I will use it when I think of it but it feels kind of gimmicky to me.  The Memebox value of this box is just over $144, with almost half of that value being the shampoo.  While I am not sure it is really worth quite that much, I paid $67.99 for this box and Memebox Empties, including shipping - so, let's say, about $34 for this one.  I do think it is definitely worth more than that (the face cream alone is probably worth the $40 Memebox values it at) so I'm happy about that.  I'm not 100% sure how some of these products fit the "Green Food" theme unless you count ingredients like tea tree, peppermint, aloe and soy milk as green foods but I do like the products and the variety.

So, are you into scented oils and aromatherapy? And do you find that they do anything? Do you think soy milk is a green food? How about tea tree - food? Or not food?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Memebox Superbox #77 Foot Therapy Review

**FYI - Memebox no longer ships to Canada.  I'll leave these reviews for posterity but any links or recommendations are sadly no longer for us :( Many of the products can be found elsewhere - check out my post on where else to shop for k-beauty products!


Memebox is a Korean Beauty Box company with a different model than most beauty boxes.  Instead of subscribing to a monthly box, they periodically release new boxes and you can purchase as many or as few as you like.  Boxes usually range from $23 - $29 plus $6.99 for shipping to Canada (shipping can take 10-20 business days so be prepared).  Express shipping is available for an extra cost or with bundles (more than one box purchased and shipping at the same time).  Memebox also offers many of the items from their boxes in their shop - and seems to be focusing most of their attention lately into shop sales, not boxes :(  And a warning to Canadian shoppers, some of the shop items are for US customers only so don't get your heart set on anything until you check the tag under it!

This box is not currently available for sale, although restocks do happen from time to time.  Current boxes can be found here.

This was not the first box I ordered from Memebox but since it was a restocked item, it shipped out almost immediately and was the first box I received.  As soon as I saw that Foot Therapy was available, I had to order it.  My husband is a fan of nice-looking feet and I am a fan of getting foot rubs so keeping things neat and soft is key in my house :)


My first look was awesome - this is one full-looking box! It helps that it is a "Superbox" as well which indicates it will contain all full-sized products.


Memebox includes these product cards which indicate what each item is, what it is valued at (sometimes these are a little inflated but since I can't get most of these products where I live, I'll cope with that) and how to use it.  I can't stress how valuable the "how to use it" aspect is since I haven't heard of many of these items before and would have no idea what to do with them!


Again, sorry about the reflections on these - if Santa doesn't bring a camera, I may have to buy one with some Christmas cash.  Mine currently thinks it's 2008 and doesn't switch modes anymore :(


Lassha New Cool Foot V2.0 (150ml) - $18 value
This is a spray that can be used on feet, socks and shoes to combat odours and refresh your feet.  It does smell pleasant (kind of minty?) and feels cooling and soothing.  I think if I worked a job that kept me on my feet all day, this would be great.  As it is, I use it when I'm wearing the shoes that always make my feet smell (do other people have this problem? my feet don't smell and my shoes don't smell. . . but a few pairs end up making things smell by the end of the day?).  I put it where my husband can't miss it when he gets home and so far, nothing.  I suggested this is more of a product for his needs. . . nothing.  I may need to be less subtle?

Purederm Callus Reducer Heel Patches Jojoba (4 patches) - $14 value
I haven't used these yet but they are like bandages which go over your heels.  You wear them overnight and wake up with soft, non-callused heels.  I tried the peeling foot product (see below) first, and have been using the foot file included, so haven't needed to reduce calluses on my heels just yet.  But I'm sure I will.  And I have heard good things about these.

with shyan Professional Foot File Remover - $9
Love this! I have had many versions of this in the past with the same terrible issue - uncomfortable handles.  This one is plastic, not wood, so it just seems a little easier for me to grip for whatever reason.  Plus, the knobby-part on the end prevents it from slipping out of my hand in the tub.  You can't tell from the picture but this is actually a double-sided file with one side having more "grit" for serious scrubbing and the other, a bit more gentle.


Mizon Magic Peeling Foot - $11 value
This is definitely weird and so what I was hoping for in a Korean foot care box.  I have never seen anything like this.  So I had to try it immediately! This is a foot mask contained in little booties.  You wear them on your feet for 1 1/2 hours and then wash off the excess.  At first, it seems as though nothing has happened besides the product making your feet smell weird.  And then, in 4-5 days, something magic happens:  your feet start peeling.  Seriously.  It had been 4 days and I was getting a little disappointed.  I had a bath and noticed my feet started peeling.  Within 3 days, it was like I had new feet - soft, smooth feet.  I'm not kidding.  There was not a part of my foot that didn't peel off.  Totally gross but really satisfying! I would love to get my hands on more of these!

Holika Holika Baby Silky Foot Mask - $3 Value
This is another foot mask, although this one is just for moisturizing.  Again, the product is contained in little booties.  In this case, they are worn for 15-20 minutes and then the remaining essence can be patted into the skin.  I'm going to try this one tonight.  It doesn't sound as exciting as the Magic Peeling Foot but then, what does?


Holika Holika Healing Nails Cuticle Oil - $2 Value
Not the most exciting item. . . and not usually something I would use on my feet for that matter.  I have a cuticle oil open at the moment that I'm working through so I'll save this one for sometime in 2-3 years time when I finally finish that one up (lol. . . maybe I should take better care of my cuticles?).

Calmia Silky Soft Foot Cream - $18 value
This is a nice foot cream.  Pleasant smell.  Good absorption.  My husband says it doesn't leave his hands feeling slimy so that's good.

Tonymoly Shiny Foot Scrub Wash - $7 value
This is a pleasant foot scrub.  I've been using it with the foot file in the tub when I think of it.  That's my problem with foot scrubs, really.  I never remember that I have them or think to use them.  But I do like this.  It'll just take me a really long time to get through a whole 100ml tube of it.

Overall Verdict:
This box cost me $23 + $6.99 shipping for a total of $29.99.  Memebox's suggested value on these items is $82 and while I could quibble with their pricing, I believe it is mostly fair and that this box was definitely worth more than I paid for it.  I love the foot file and the peeling mask.  I will gladly use the callus reducers, the other foot mask and the foot cream. . . and continue pestering my husband to use the foot spray when he gets home from work! The foot scrub and cuticle oil are useful items but I won't use them as often as I could.  Overall, this box was exactly what it billed itself as and has a good range of products.  I wish it included more than one of each mask since a one-time use product is always a little disappointing when it's such a good product!

So, do you use cuticle oil on your feet? Do you have shoes that make your feet smell? Does the idea of having all your skin peel off excite or terrify you? Have at it in the comments!




Saturday, December 06, 2014

November 2014 Wantable Intimates Review

Wantable is a box company that I've been wanting to try for a long time.  They offer four different types of boxes at the same price point ($36 monthly or $40 for a one-time purchase):  Intimates, Makeup, Accessories and Fitness.  They also have a relatively in-depth survey that you complete to help them customize your box to you and, if your box doesn't suit you, apparently they have an excellent return policy.

I decided to splurge on the Intimates box this month because, frankly, this month sucked and I thought some pretty panties might help remedy that situation.  Also, I came upon an opportunity to get my first box for half price (and I simply cannot resist a good deal!).  This box ended up costing me $32.57 ($18 + added fees for Canadians + exchange).  Since I'm going to try another month, we'll see how much the regular subscription price will be in December but I'm guessing about $45.

Each intimates box includes 3-4 items selected for you based on your quiz.  You can also add personal comments and your stylist can write a personal response to you as well.  I couldn't really get a clear pic of my preferences (since my camera sucks - Santa? are you listening?) so I'll list them here for you:

Loves (you are most likely to get those items you say you love):
  • loungewear
  • lingerie (I wanted something pretty but now that I have it, I changed that to a like for next month - love that I can change up my likes / loves / dislikes every month!)
  • panties
Likes:
  • leggings (I specified that I like footless leggings instead of tights. . . am I the only one who can't stand having my feet feel constricted, even in winter?)
  • socks (I specified ankle socks, see above re:  constriction)
  • bras (I included a note that I was not interested in sleep bras - I just don't understand them - and that I need support!)
Dislikes (you will never get items you dislike):
  • tights / hosiery
  • shapewear (I guess it's not just my feet that can't handle feeling constricted!)
Here's what I got (I will include both Wantable's pricing and my own comparison pricing since Wantable has a bit of a reputation for overvaluing items - they use the recommended retail price but often these items are on sale elsewhere):


Muk Luks Aloe Socks (Wantable price:  $8)

These are really cute.  Not sure if you can see from the pic but they have little elastics to hold them on your feet, kind of like ballet slippers.  They are warm and super soft.  I have a few other pairs of aloe or shea socks and love them for winter (I wear them like slippers).  These are true to size and fit well.  Target has a three-pack including this exact pattern listed at $25 on their website (Amazon has a four-pack with different colours at the same price, though) so I think the pricing is fair.

Verdict:  I am happy with these.  They aren't the most exciting item but I will definitely wear them.  I would have preferred a different colour / pattern but for around-the-house, this is fine.


Muk Luks Fleece-Lined Leggings (Wantable pricing:  $12.50)

These are brown, fleece-lined leggings, also by Muk Luks which is a brand I had never heard of until I received these two items.  I am also happy with the quality of this item.  They are soft, warm and true to size.  Amazon sells a two-pack for $25.45 so the price is accurate.  I just wish they weren't brown :(

Verdict:  If these were gray or black, I'd say I love them.  As is, I don't really wear fall / brown colours at all.  I have exactly one outfit these will go with.  I will totally wear them with that outfit but I'm not over-the-moon about them.


Miel Luna Thong (Wantable price:  $20)

This is a nude, seamless thong.  You can totally request not to receive thongs on the survey but I love them so, obviously, I didn't do that :)  These are also really soft (sensing a pattern here?) and fit true to size.  They are seriously some of the most comfortable panties I own.  I have never owned a pair of $20 panties before but these are seriously awesome.  And that price? Accurate! Amazon has them currently on sale for $18 but the regular price is $20.

Verdict:  Probably my favourite item in the box.  Nude isn't a colour I would go for regularly but sometimes there is value in not only avoiding panty lines but also having something to wear that won't show through a lighter pant / skirt.  I would never spend $20 on a pair of panties (my husband would have a heart attack, I think) but I would be happy to see these again in another box.


Icy Hot (Plejue Intimates??) Baby Doll (Wantable price:  $34)

This seriously confuses me on so many levels.  The tag says Plejue Intimates but the product card says it's from Icy Hot.  No idea what that's about.  Maybe one's a product line? Maybe they changed the name of their company? Whatever.  It makes comparison pricing difficult to say the least.  The only comparable Plejue Intimates baby dolls I can find are on resellers like ebay, listed at a $9.99 starting point (not exactly the same item though).  When I searched for Icy Hot, at first I couldn't find anything.  Today, however, there is a listing at Beyond the Rack, sold out, for $16.99 with a regular price of $30.  I'll use that value ($16.99) in my valuation since I feel like that's more accurate for the quality of this piece.

The other confusion is with the sizing.  This is sized on the S-M-L-XL scale even though it has a bra top.  In my mind, if I state that I usually wear an XL or a S or a M but also provide my bra size, the bra size is the more valuable measure for an item like this.  It's not how Icy Hot / Plejue have listed the sizing, or how Wantable has interpreted it, but it is more logical and accurate, no? Therefore, this doesn't fit properly.  The cups are a little spilly and the band is too tight (like too tight to close) which is disappointing.  The teeny-tiny G-string / thong that comes with it does fit though.  That said, I won't go to the effort of checking out Wantable's return policy due to the nature of the item. . . it's not the kind of thing one wears for an extended period of time, you know what I mean? So I can cope.  But I did totally mention the issue in my review of the month's items on their website.

Verdict:  A little disappointing.  Sizing issue, and branding issue aside, this is a totally serviceable item.  But it's not super exciting.  The colour isn't thrilling and the quality is just so-so.  Considering this was the big ticket item in the box, I'm not full of joy.

Overall Verdict:

According to Wantable, this box has a value of $74.50.  My valuation puts it at $57.49 which is significantly lower.  While it is still more than I paid for the box, if I had paid full price, it wouldn't be much more.  I loved one item, liked two (colours aside) and was disappointed in one.  I have adjusted my quiz answers for next month especially regarding style and colour and am going to give Wantable another shot to impress me.  

If you are interested in trying this, or any, Wantable box, please consider using my link.  I would appreciate it!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Struggling today

I've been a little quieter this week.  I've smiled a little less, slept a little more.  I've let the laundry pile up, the groceries go unpurchased, the boxes I've received go unblogged about (for now - I'll get to them).  I have been struggling.

Two weeks ago, I was pregnant.  I was trying to figure out how we were going to afford me going off on mat leave again.  I was planning another nursery.  I was worried that D would never potty train and I'd have two in diapers.  I was terrified by unexplained spotting but hopeful that it could be normal.  I was relieved that there was a heartbeat on the ultrasound.

And then I wasn't.  Any of those things.  Not any more.

And I'm doing okay.  Step by step.  Day by day.  And my son and my husband are being awesome and sweet and supportive.  D is actually using the potty a few times a day and waking up dry from naps.  G is cooking dinners voluntarily.  And I'm getting by.

It's enough for now.  I need more time.  I need my body to get back to normal.  So I can go on - not move on, not forget, not get on with it - just, go on.  Today I am struggling.  Tomorrow I will, hopefully, struggle less.  At least it's the weekend :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Bespoke Post "Aged" Review

I actually received this box a few weeks ago but then life happened and I didn't get around to reviewing it.  I think it's time to get back into the swing of things so, here it is.

Bespoke Post is one of the more expensive subscription services out there ($45 US per month plus tax and an additional $10 - 20 in shipping costs to Canada!) but also one with very well-curated boxes full of quality products.  You also can see what you're getting in each box so it's not a surprise and choose your box from a variety of options - or skip that month if there's nothing that interests you (or if it's not in the budget).  The boxes tend to be geared more towards men with an interest in quality goods although many of them would be appreciated by men and women alike.

I elected to make a one-time box purchase at a $55 cost instead of joining the subscription.  I probably have more subscriptions right now than our budget likes and, while this one is skippable, it is also really pricey and I can't see the three of us needing such fancy items on a regular basis.  With shipping, taxes and exchange, this worked out to $83.80 in Canadian funds which I feel comfortable spending on a Christmas gift.

I chose the "Aged" box which was a restock of an old favourite from last year.  It is not currently available on the Bespoke Post website but they do tend to bring back retired boxes from time to time if you're interested in this one (you can see it in the Box Archive and sign up for email notification in case it becomes available again).  You can also check out the boxes that they do have available at the moment - a lot of variety in these options.


Please excuse the terrible pic - I took this but not one of how everything was packaged within the box.  Ridiculous!  Bespoke Post describes "Aged" as follows:

It’s simple: choose an unaged liquor or a cocktail, pour into the aging kit, wait 10 days, then taste the transformation. The aging process changes the character and flavor, mellowing the taste and letting new flavors shine just like with aged beer, whiskeys, and wines. And unlike traditional barreling techniques, the shape and size of this kit brings the wait down from months. Patience was never our virtue.

The information sheet which came with the box includes instructions and also some cocktail recipes that can be created using this kit.  My dad will love that!

The kit includes the aging kit itself, pictured below:


This kit comes with everything you need to age some alcohol or a premixed cocktail:  A sturdy glass bottle (375ml) with stopper, two wooden barrel staves carved into a honeycomb pattern to increase surface area, and a cheesecloth for straining.  Only one stave needs to be used in each batch and they can be reused 4-6 times according to Bespoke Post - although, personally, I would probably not use this single piece of cheesecloth that many times.  That means this kit could make up to 12 batches of aged alcohol! 

Value:  It is difficult to put a value on this kit since it's such a unique item.  There are many aging kits available online but so many are much larger or include the alcohol or are simply very different from this one.  This one is the closest I can find and it is priced at $12.50 US but I couldn't find any shipping information on the site and the "estimate shipping" feature in their shopping cart wasn't working for me for some reason.  So I'm going to make a random guess at value here and go with about $20-25?


"Aged" also includes two gorgeous Sempli cocktail glasses.  As you can see in the picture, they come nicely packaged in a gift box with an additional info card from the company.  The base of these glasses is really nice - it's more like the bottom of a top than a flat glass so they swirl your drink when you put it down.  They are really nice, fancy glasses that would be perfect for any bar.  

Value:  The Sempli website prices a set of two of these glasses at $50 and shipping them to Canada would add an additional $55!! (Seriously - I put one set of two glasses in the shopping bag, selected my country and the price jumped up to over double! Once I picked my jaw up off the floor, I checked shipping to the US - $10.50.  I can drive to the US in about an hour.  Sometimes I am astounded by how much we get ripped off in this country!)  

Overall, I think my parents are going to love opening this up on Christmas Day.  They entertain a lot and my father is a bit of a martini aficionado.  While they do have a lot of cocktail glasses, they don't have any like these - they are really, really nice despite the insanity of the price (even without shipping, I would never spend $25 a glass).  The aging kit itself may not be the highest value item but it is unique and it is what makes this box.  I am hugely impressed with the curation of this box, okay with the value, and was very happy with the shipping (it took a reasonable amount of time and there were no issues).  I would definitely check out Bespoke Post again for gift shopping in the future, although I might consider joining the subscription to save a little cash next time.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lost and found

"Loss" is such a simple word that can apply to so many things - small and large.  You lose your car keys.  Your child loses his teddy bear (and occasionally his mind).  You lose your baby weight (or you don't).  You lose a child.

We lost our little one this weekend.  I'd rather say that than "miscarried".  "Miscarried" sounds so medical and cold.  It wasn't medical and it wasn't cold.  It was emotional.  It was not just the physical action.  It was the feeling of emptiness, of the little heartbeat on the ultrasound disappearing forever.  That is true loss - not the missing-keys kind but the hollow-in-your-heart kind.

We will have another child.  Just not this one, at this time.  And we will be okay.

But part of getting to "okay" is acknowledging the loss.  So today, I will hold my son a little closer and we might play in the snow or paint a picture or bake cookies.  And I will honour the sibling that he doesn't get to have right now by holding him or her in my heart - that way, he or she is not really "lost" at all.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sometimes I hate the internets

Oh, the internet.  Sometimes I love you so much, I wonder how I survived the early years of my life without you.  I love that I can look up the name of that actor who looks so familiar in the show I'm watching right now.  I love that I can easily figure out what the heck to do with half a bunch of swiss chard and two hot peppers without having to get too creative in the kitchen myself.  I love that I can connect with other moms and teachers and women who feel and think and experience what I do. . . or who don't but are willing to listen anyway and share their feelings / thoughts / experiences too.

And internet shopping.  And subscription box shopping.  And makeup and box reviews.  And celebrity gossip.

But I don't love Dr. Google.  No, I don't like him (her? let's not be gender-biased, here) at all.  I don't like that whenever my son's not feeling quite himself, or has a weird looking poop, that I feel drawn to search it out, diagnose it, and solve it.  I don't like that I hesitate to call Telehealth or my own freaking doctor because it might not be a big deal. . . but then everything I read makes it seem like a big deal and makes me feel like a crazy person until my husband talks me down.  And, of course, until my son starts acting like his usual self and has a totally normal poop.

I don't love that even though I've done this whole pregnancy thing before, I feel the need to second-guess myself, to question what I know in my bones (and in my logical mind).  Can I have a warm bath? Is 5-free nail polish really safe? I don't remember feeling this way last time, is it a sign of impending doom?

I guess acknowledging you have a problem is the first step to solving it.  So no more googling signs and symptoms.  No more searching out problems where there are none.  No more self-diagnosis - I am not a doctor and Google certainly isn't one either.  Now, to find the serenity to accept the small things that are probably not indicators of terrible illness, the courage to seek real help for the big things that could be signs of a larger problem, and the wisdom to know the difference.

And, Google?  We can still do some Christmas shopping and gab about who we think is getting away with murder behind Viola Davis' back, k?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ipsy November 2014 Review

I was so excited today when I arrived home to a bright pink mailer in my mailbox! I hadn't received a shipping email or had a chance to check out my glam room so the reveal was that much sweeter.

For those who don't know Ipsy, it is a monthly subscription service which sends you 5 make-up, skin care or hair care items per month in a cute make-up bag.  The products are often deluxe sample sizes but there are usually a few full-size items as well.  The cost is $10 per month with free shipping if you happen to live in the states but for those of us in Canada, add $4.95 shipping as well as exchange.  There are savings to be had if you subscribe to a longer period, though.  I paid for a year up front which worked out to $184.33 Canadian funds, or $15.36 per month.

If this review piques your interest in Ipsy, please consider using my referral link :)  I'd appreciate it!  There is a waiting list but they often offer ways to skip the line.

Here is what came in my Ipsy bag this month:


Okay, so I'm not the greatest photographer (especially not when D is insistent that everything is his and trying to get in the shot!) but you can see that the bag is a pretty cute silver sparkly number with a pink zipper.  Not so sure about the zipper but at least the silvery sparkle feels like it has a plasticky layer over top so it won't shed sparkles everywhere.  I know the theme this month is "Girl Meets Glitter" but I don't need a trail of it following everywhere I go.  The bag will probably be gifted this time around.


Item #1:  Marc Anthony Oil of Morocco Argan Oil Volume Shine Hairspray

Value:  9oz of this is selling for $8.29-$8.99 depending where you look, so this 1.5oz sample would worth approx. $1.38-$1.50.  I like round numbers so I'll go with $1.50.

Value to me:  I love Argan Oil products for my hair.  They seem to tame the occasional frizz and make it feel really soft.  That said, I haven't used an Argan Oil hairspray, and don't use hairspray often in general, so I'm not sure how this will work for me.  I like the brand and the idea and the fact that it doesn't smell terrible so I'll try it.  This isn't my favourite item this month but it isn't the worst either.


Item #2:  J. Cat Beauty Wonder Lip Paint in Red Potion

Value:  This full-size item is sold for $4.99 on J. Cat's website.

Value to me:  Yes, this really that dark.  At first, I thought this looked like the colour of fake blood and it does - in the tube.  When I put it on, it's actually a really pretty shade of red that is, well, less dark and a bit brighter.  It's exactly the kind of lip shade I usually wear since it goes with the whole "Snow White" colouring I have going on :)  I have never used a lip paint before and can say with certainty that, while I like the idea, I wish it came with a lip brush to apply it.  I have one, and will be using it from now on, but I tried this with my finger first and it took a lot of effort to remove the staining.  I suppose that is an encouraging sign of how it will wear.  This is a hit!


Item #3:  Starlooks Gem Eye Pencil in Ultra Orchid

Value:  This full-size item sells for $16 on Starlooks' website.

Value to me:  Speaking of my Snow White colouring. . . here is a swatch of this gorgeous sparkly purple on my winter white (even though it's only fall) arm.  I am loving the colour - purple is a go-to for me and this is a lovely shade.  I am not so sure about the sparkle.  While there is an appropriate amount of sparkle in what is billed as a sparkly eye liner, I'm not sure how this will wear.  Will I end up with glitter all over my face? Will I look like I'm on my way to a rave? This will definitely be in my plans for holiday partying but I will have to experiment with it to test its suitability for more everyday looks.  I do like it a lot though!


Item #4:  Temptu S/B Highlighter in Pink Pearl

Value:  Temptu sells 1oz highlighters for $27.50 on their website.  This is a 0.1oz sample size, so a $2.75 value.

Value to me:  This is another new product for me.  I have never tried a highlighter and wasn't really sure how to use one until I read the helpful suggestions on Ipsy's website.  I'm not sure how much "contouring" and "body highlighting" I'm up for but this is a soft shimmery pink, not far off from my skin tone so I could see myself using it to liven up my brow line or add some extra glow over blush.  Not my favourite but I'm excited to play around with this one.


Item #5:  Be a Bombshell Cosmetics Eye Base in Submissive

Value:  This appears to be full-size, so a $14 value according to BaB's website.

Value to me:  Not a big fan of this one.  It's supposed to be used either as a base upon which to build eyeshadow or a stand-alone shadow but this colour is just not for me.  While it's not as dark as it looks (it actually goes on pretty sheer and is a nice bronze/copper colour), it doesn't go with any eye makeup I own.  Remember the white, white arm above with the pinky undertones.  I swatched this and it looked yellow against my skin tone.  I'll pass this one along to my sister :)  To be honest, this is the first item in 3 months of Ipsy bags that has been unusable for me and I'm okay with that.

Total Bag Value:  approximately $39.24 (I won't assign a value to the bag, itself, since I feel like that's more of a perk than a product, although other reviewers might do so)

Total Bag Value to Me:  I loved 2 products, am interested in trying out 2 more and will send the 5th to a loving home.  Even without the value of the eye base, I feel this bag was worth what I paid for it.

Thanks for reading my first subscription box (bag?) review ever! I hope it was useful and entertaining.  Feel free to drop my a line in the comments if you have any questions or suggestions.  Do you want to know how I ended up getting the lip paint off my fingers? Have an idea to distract my toddler when I'm taking photos in the kitchen? Have at it in the comments section!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Writing again

So I used to write. . . a lot actually.  Writing was like breathing:  something so natural I hardly realized I was doing it until I had filled the page with my thoughts and ideas, hopes and dreams.  Then I stopped.  This blog is an experiment, something to get me writing again.  And that is both exciting and terrifying.  What will I say? Will anyone care to read it?

The answer to the first is whatever I need to say.  I’m a mom (to a rambunctious 2 1/2 year old boy), an expectant mom (coming in July!) and a full-time English and Drama teacher so expect some posts about mommydom, some posts about work-life balance and maybe some posts about what I’m loving in books, TV and film.  I’m also an online shopping and subscription box addict so there will definitely be some posts about what’s in my mailbox and what I think of it.  Mostly this blog will serve as a kick in the pants – to me, to take some time to do something that’s just for me - "me, with kids" instead of "me-with-kids".

As for the second question, we'll see.  If you've found yourself here, welcome! I hope you like what you read and find something that speaks to you.  I'd love to hear what you're thinking too!