Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ipsy April 2015 Review

Ipsy, is a monthly subscription service which sends you 5 make-up, skin care or hair care items per month packaged in a 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 - of course that was also at a time when our dollar was stronger.

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

Here is what came in my Ipsy bag this month:

Before I get to the samples (I know, I know. . .), a word on the bag:  this month's bag is pretty awesome.  While the idea of a "bohemian" theme didn't (and doesn't) thrill me, and I think that's reflected in how I feel about some of the items I received, I actually quite like the bag.  It's not my usual style but I like that it's not plastic like many of my Ipsy bags and love that it's a little bit larger so it can actually hold what I need it to (well, make-up wise anyhow).

Hey Honey Good Morning Honey Silk Facial Serum ($11.50 value for 10ml - $41 for 1.2oz)

I'm really enjoying this sample. . . probably not enough to buy a full size at that price but I do love my skin care products.  Samples like this are an excellent size for travel which is what I used this one for :) It has a delicate scent and leaves my skin feeling smooth and moisturized.

The Balm Nude Dude Eyeshadow in Fit ($3 value - a palette of 12 sells for $36)

This, I don't like.  Ipsy insists on sending me beige/tan/bronze/copper eyeshadows and I don't get it.  I am pale with pink-toned skin.  These look ridiculous on me and I now have about 3 or 4 of them? The pigmentation of this is lovely but I wish it was in another colour - any other colour! That's it on the left in the swatch shot below.

Starlooks Satin Finish Lip Gloss in Cuddle ($3.50 value? - full size is $13 but doesn't state how large that is; this sample is 0.3oz)

And this is a complete waste of time.  See the swatch below on the right.  This doesn't give me any colour, just a little sparkle and is sticky.  About the only thing it has going for it is that it smells nice (kind of like caramel).  I don't even like lip glosses but I do have far superior ones in my stash that I would reach for over this one.  It could be layered over something else but I can't be bothered.  I will never use this and it's too small to justify gifting it to anyone :(

Julie G Nail Colour in Damsel (FULL SIZE $3.99 value)

While Julie G describes this nail polish as a "mid tone pink creme", I would lean more towards "hot pink."  I will totally use this as I'm a big fan of bright colours in spring and summer.  I haven't tried it out yet (didn't seem appropriate for the wedding I was attending, lol) so I can't comment on the formula.  Sorry!

Aromachology Sophisticated and Sensual Floral Eau de Parfum ($20 value for this 0.17 fl. oz. sample - 10ml sells for $40)

Ipsy has never sent me perfume before and I wasn't sure what to expect.  I love this! It works really well with my body chemistry, it is a pleasant size for a sample (it will last for a while) and I also really like the rollerball method of delivery.  I had thought that rollerball perfumes were kind of gimmicky but I am finding this a pleasant surprise :)

Overall Verdict:

Oddly, for a mostly make-up sub, I found myself much preferring the non-make-up items this month.  The bag is a good one.  I love the perfume and will also enjoy using the serum and the nail polish.  I am so over the "neutral" lip and eyeshadows I have been receiving - while they might be neutral if you have a warm skin-tone, they are not neutral for me; they look ridiculous.  Ipsy should add a "cool, warm or neutral" option to their Ipsy Match quiz. . . that said, I'm not sure how much value they actually place on that quiz anyway given how far off some items have been for me.  Overall value this month comes in around $42 which is a decent value and about average as far as my bags have been.  Thankfully, I actually liked the most highly valued items this month and the duds represent very little of that valuation, which isn't always the case.  I knew that "boho" would likely be more miss than hit for me as it's so far from my personal style but I am pleasantly surprised to find one really fantastic item in this bag, two decent ones and two duds.  That seems to be about par for the course with me and Ipsy as well.  

As always, if my review has helped you decide to give Ipsy a shot, I'd appreciate the referral - the link is at the top :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

SquareHue April 2015 Review

Wow! Two months of nail mail in a row? What was I thinking? I was thinking a) just paid off my credit card - hooray! b) last month's was nice and c) can't do much on bed rest. . . lots of manis!

For those unfamiliar with SquareHue, they make and sell 5-free polishes through a monthly subscription service.  They do not, at this time, sell the polishes outside of this monthly service.  Unlike some monthly nail polish subs, SquareHue does not offer choices or previews, instead promising 3 full-size colours and finishes according to a particular theme - truly a mystery box! This year, each month is inspired by a different decade and April's is the 1930s.  Let's see what SquareHue came up with for this decade:

From left to right, we have:  Boardgame 1934, WPA 1935 and Tomorrowland 1939
(all High Gloss Creme finishes).

First impressions:  

Wow! These are bright and springy! I also don't have colours like this at all as I tend to purchase glossy pale shades or dark vampy ones.  These could be really fun to play with.  That said, I'm a little bummed that after SquareHue ventured away from the high gloss cremes last month, they're back with a vengeance this month.  Don't get me wrong - I don't have anything against a creme, but SquareHue tends to do a lot of them.  A lot.

Boardgame 1934:

Boardgame is a bright (and I do mean bright) orange-red shade that is probably my least favourite in this box.  Don't get me wrong - it's a great-looking colour but it doesn't go well with my colouring.  I will probably reserve this for toes and nail art.  I haven't tried it yet so I can't comment on the formula but I will post an update when I do.

WPA 1935:

This is a bright turquoise shade that I actually quite like.  Unfortunately I'm not as big of a fan of the formula.  It isn't particularly glossy for a "high gloss creme" and, after two coats, feels a little chalky on my nails.  I decided to remedy this with a shiny top coat and, despite having almost 24 hours to cure, this still dragged a little when I applied the top coat.  I'm going to reserve judgement - maybe I need to mix this a bit more and that will help things? But first impressions of this formula are not great despite the nice shade :(

*Update:  The issues I had with this polish continue.  It actually settles bizarrely - the colour all sinks to the bottom leaving chalky white polish up top.  It requires a lot of mixing to make it at all usable. . . so I don't use it as much as I'd like to (it's really pretty though).

Tomorrowland 1939:

This one, I love.  The shade is a bright grape-y purple but a little bit greyed (?) - it's kind of hard to describe.  The swatch above isn't that true to what I'm actually seeing on my nails. . . the shade is more like the colour of these:
"Thrills" gum, apparently a Canadian thing. . . and, yes, it totally tastes like soap.

Anyway, connection to soapy-tasting gum notwithstanding, this shade is gorgeous and will get a lot of use in my house.  This doesn't have the formulation issues I noted with WPA (at least with my bottle of WPA) and looks great in two coats.

Overall Verdict:

This month was a hit for me.  I love the bright shades - they just say "spring" to me :) Tomorrowland is a definite new fave and I really like the colour of WPA and am hoping the formula will be better next time I use it.  Otherwise, I'll just have to fiddle with it a bit more to get an even coat and be extra cautious when applying a shiny top coat.  I think Boardgame will be great for pedicures (and would suit others much better than me) but I still quite like the shade.  I also like how all of these colours seem to work together well.  They truly do look like part of a collection.  That said, I'm taking a break from SquareHue for the next few months.  There's only so much polish one person needs (and my husband keeps telling me it's a "want" not a "need" - what does he know?).  That said, I'll keep an eye on the boxes as they are released - apparently they are sometimes able/willing to sell the box after the fact if they have leftovers so if there's a must-have shade or two, I'm in! And, of course, I'll be back for the 80s and 90s at least!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Fabletics April 2015 Review

Since I'm now off work and living in sweats, sundresses and maternity stuff, it seemed like a good time to pick up some more casual outfits.  I wanted to get some things that I could wear now (at least for the next few weeks, lol) and after the baby joins us - especially nice-looking workout wear for when I get my butt back to spin and yoga classes! It'll happen! I promise :)

I decided to try out Fabletics after hearing great things about them and I have to say, I was really impressed.  I love sub companies that make it easy to put your sub on hold or skip months if you want to and this one does that so while I got an outfit this month, I could skip next month or the next 4 months if I please.  All I have to do is log on to their site at the beginning of the month to make my selection or skip the month.

Fabletics outfits start at $49.95 US (for 2-3 pieces depending on the outfit) for VIPs but some are a little more expensive.  Shipping to Canada is an additional $4.95 and, while they say it takes 6-10 business days, I found it to be really fast - like maybe 3-4 business days :)  To tempt you further, Fabletics offers your first outfit at half price!

This month I chose the Belonia outfit ($99.90 regular price, $49.95 VIP - but really half that because it was my first month).  My pics turned out terribly so here's the stock photo (no that's not me, lol):


This outfit is two pieces:  the Aruba Wrap Top II in Inkwell  ($34.95 regular, $19.95 VIP) and the Salar Capri Fold-Over in Mosaic Print/Inkwell ($64.95 regular, $44.95 VIP)

Here's the one shot of mine that turned out so you can see what it looks like in natural light, larger sizes:
(Is it just me or do my pants look darker than the ones in the stock photo? I expected a bit of white. . . but I like them!)

So what do I think?

Aruba Wrap Top:

I love this top.  It is a gorgeous shade and the draping is just beautiful.  It is lightweight and a good relaxed fit which really works for me.  Part of the reason I chose it is that I can see it working really well as a nursing top in a few months and it totally will.  If you're not pregnant/nursing, however, and don't have the bust enhancement that goes along with that, you might be better served to size this down and plan on wearing a tank or cute sports bra under it just in case! I want one in every colour :)

Salar Capri Fold-Over:

These are mid-rise capris which I like.  Right now, I love that I can pull them right up over my preggo tummy and in the future, I might like that I can fold them over.  They are also maximum compression which isn't my favourite thing right now and does mean that I soon won't be able to wear these until after the baby comes - they are a little tight, lol.  Afterwards, however, I like having something to hold in my tummy until it gets back into shape.


I am really happy with both of my items and find the value to be reasonable for the quality of these clothes.  They might be the nicest workout clothes I own! I especially love the top and can see myself wearing it out, not just to work out.  I also really like that I get to decide whether or not to purchase another outfit next month and that it seems easy to skip.  I like the company so far and have also heard good things about their kids' line (Fabkids) but unfortunately that one doesn't ship to Canada. . . yet.  Please Fabkids, come to Canada!

If this makes you want to try out Fabletics yourself, please consider using my link :)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Tester Korea Mask Haul

After a successful RoseRose haul, I found myself needing more masks. . . and more varieties of them! I had a fair number of sheet masks but I wanted more options and thought another wash-off, some more sleeping packs. . . why not? After shopping around, I decided to try out Tester Korea for this haul.  They do charge for shipping as well but I find their pricing to be reasonable.  They don't seem to have the crazy deals or crazy selection that RoseRose has but they definitely stock a few things that I really wanted to try that either RoseRose didn't have or that were cheaper through TK.

Shipping:  I placed this order on February 15 and it was delivered March 13.  There was a delay in processing the order due to the Korean New Year so that accounts for some of that time. . . but really, under one month in shipping is not bad in my k-shopping experience.  Further, this was held by customs for a few days although there were no customs charges :)

Please note:  for these reviews, the pricing is in Korean Won.  For your reference 1000 won = approximately $1 US.  Tester Korea is awesome because they keep the current exchange rate at the top of their page. . . if only they also converted to Canadian dollars!

Here's a first look:

In this shot, you can see a few of the main reasons for this haul:  my Etude House Blending Sleeping Spoons (2 each in Green Tea, Seaweed and Rosehip).  I also picked up Laneige's Water Sleeping Pack since I'm suddenly into sleeping packs and a 4-pack of Honey Wash-Off Packs from Etude House.

Etude House Blending Sleeping Spoons (1050 won each at the time - 1500 won now)

I had tried the Green Tea version of this product in a Memebox and loved it.  For those who don't know, sleeping packs or sleeping masks are used over top of your nighttime skincare.  They are thicker and help to seal in moisture as well as the benefits of your skin creams, etc.  That's in addition to the benefits that they promise as well.  At first, I was concerned that a product like this would break me out like nobody's business but after that first spoon (which lasted through 3 applications - I find I can stretch them to 4 if I want since there's a surprising amount of product in them), I was convinced.  I picked up two of the Green Tea (clear and moist) spoons and they are still my faves.  I also tried two of the Seaweed (smooth and moist) and, while I like the results, wasn't as crazy about the scent.  The Rosehip (bright and moist) was probably my least favourite.  While the scent was a little perfumy, I didn't hate it. . . but I didn't find they made my skin as happy as the other two.  I've already ordered more spoons!

Laneige Water Sleeping Pack (25000 won at the time - 20000 won now)

This sleeping pack promises moisture and a soothing, relaxing scent.  They actually suggest massaging this over your skin to calm yourself before bed.  I'm not sure how much I find the scent to be soothing - this is pretty lightly scented which works for me.  I also enjoy the light texture in contrast to the creaminess of the spoons.  I don't need heavy creams often with my combo-skin so this is just right.  I wake up with fresh-looking, dewy skin and I love that :)  This wasn't a cheap purchase but a little bit of this goes a long way so it should last for a while.

Etude House Honey Wash-Off Pack (2450 won)

This is a 4-pack of wash-off masks made with honey.  I liked trying out the yogurt wash-off masks I had gotten in the Winter Masks Memebox and also have heard great things about honey products so I thought these sounded neat.  I will preface this by saying I use these in the bath. . . and wouldn't use them any other way since they are a pain to wash off! They are sticky and require some effort to rinse completely clean (I guess that's the honey).  This includes 4 different varieties:  ginseng, red ginseng, ginger and cactus.  Thus far, I have tried two:  the red ginseng had a pretty strong scent that I didn't love, and the ginger was lovely (but I love ginger!).  Again, these hold quite a bit of product and I can make each last two uses (three if I really wanted to).  My skin feels smoother after using these and a bit moisturized but I don't find that they are a miracle or anything. . . at least not enough of one to make washing them off worth it.  I probably wouldn't buy these again but I'm glad I tried them.

Clockwise from top:  Skinfood's Black Sugar Wash-Off Mask (the other main reason for this haul), Innisfree's Jeju Sudachi Soothing Mask, Etude House's Skin Note Deep Moisturizing Hydrogel Mask in Brightening Up! and Calming and Relaxing, Skinfood Peach Sake Pore Essence Mask Sheet (x2), Innisfree It's Real Squeeze Mask in Bija (x3), and Etude House I Need You Mask Sheets in Aloe (x2), Pearl (x2) and Lemon (x2)

Skinfood Black Sugar Wash-Off Mask (5390 won)

This is awesome! I had heard good reviews about this one and needed to try it out.  It's a sugar scrub mask which means that it exfoliates well.  It also smells absolutely delicious - lemony and sweet.  This gets rubbed over clean skin and then can sit on it for a while before rinsing clean.  It rinses pretty easily too and doesn't leave my skin sticky like the honey masks.  I would totally buy this again or try out some of their other flavours.  It leaves my skin smooth, soft and bright.

Innisfree Jeju Sudachi Soothing Mask (7000 won at the time - 8000 won now)

So I got into Jeju products after researching and trying out the products in my From Jeju Memebox Value Set.  Check out that review if you like - or just google Jeju Island.  Can I go there? So pretty! Anyway, I liked the idea of a soothing mask to cool and calm fatigued skin.  That's the kind of mask I can really get behind.  This one smells so good - citrusy and lovely.  It also has a texture a bit like runny jell-o and really does feel soothing and cooling on my face.

Etude House Skin Note Deep Moisturizing Hydrogel Mask (1750 won each at the time - 2500 won now)

I had never tried a hydrogel mask before so thought I'd give these a shot as they're pretty reasonable for this type of mask.  So far I have used the "Calming and Relaxing" version which is made with aloe and glacier water.  The hydrogel is definitely an odd texture to get used to - kind of like plastering thicker jell-o on your face - but it did soothe and calm my skin.  It felt fresh and cool.  That said, the hydrogel mask itself is in two pieces and I had to keep adjusting them as they slid around on my face a little.  I'm saving the other one for a special pampering session :)

Skinfood Peach Sake Pore Essence Sheet (1400 won each at the time - 2000 won now)

Skinfood's Peach Sake products are recommended for oily and acne-prone skin (which I sometimes have) so I picked these up to have an alternative to my Benton Snail-Bee Masks.  OMG these smell so good.  Like so much better than the snail bee ones! I'm not sure they're quite as fantastic as the Bentons in terms of effect but I do like them and want to try more from this line.

Innisfree It's Real Squeeze Mask in Bija (665 won each at the time - 950 won now)

On the other hand, the It's Real Squeeze mask in "Bija" is also supposed to be great for acne-prone skin.  While it also smells pleasant and is generally moisturizing and fine, I didn't see a whole lot of results in comparison to either the Benton Snail-Bee mask or the Skinfood Peach Sake version.  It's a fine mask with lots of essence but I'm not sure this particular version lives up to its promises.  There are a lot of other flavours to try though, promising a variety of other effects.

Etude House I Need You, Mask Sheets (700 won each at the time - 1000 won now)

I keep thinking I really like Etude House masks and then not being as impressed by them as I want to be.  They are, again, a fine mask with a suitable amount of essence and available in a variety of types but I always find them somewhat underwhelming.  Maybe I hype them up too much in my mind, thinking that they're the best, before I use them? I do like the variety and the price is good so I will keep purchasing them, I'm sure.   I should just try to remember that they're a regular mask - not an HG product for me.  Anyway, I picked up two of the Aloe masks for Soothing Relief and liked them - but I always like a good Aloe mask.  I also got two Pearl masks for Bright Complexion and they were okay but I'm not sure that they brightened much.  After quite liking the lemon brightening mask from Velieve, I picked up two of these Lemon masks for Tone Brightening. . . and they were also okay.  In short, meh. . . but nice enough.

Tester Korea also sent me a bunch of samples:  Holika Holika Skin and Good Cera Cream, Nature Republic Super Origin Waterproof BB Cream, Nature Republic Snail Solution Foam Cleanser, Holika Holika Make-up Starter, Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Combination Watery Cream, and Skinfood Watery Berry Serum (clockwise from left)

I won't review these in detail but here are some general thoughts:
  • The Skin and Good Cera Cream has the strangest name! It was also a little thick for me but someone with dryer skin (or combo-dry) might like it more.
  • The Nature Republic BB Cream was a nice surprise and a decent colour for me.
  • I also really liked their Snail Foam Cleanser and have ordered some :)
  • The Make-up Starter was. . . um. . . strange? I don't really get why I need a special pad to smooth over my face prior to make-up when I have enough products to prep my skin.  It felt wasteful.
  • The Watery Cream was my least fave Nature Republic product out of these samples but it was still pretty nice.  I should try more of their products.
  • The Watery Berry Serum was disappointing.  It smelled nice and I usually like Skinfood but it was wholly inappropriate for my skin type and gave me a little break out (thankfully I had some sheet masks for troubled skin to solve the problem!).
Overall, I was really happy with most of my purchases from TK and had a great first shopping experience with them.  I've already placed a second order :)