Friday, May 3, 2013

Influenster Sugar and Spice Vox Box

Several weeks ago I received another AMAZING VoxBox from the Influenster program.  All of the products that I show in this blog entry were sent to me to sample test and review free of charge from the companies that produce the products through Influenster.  Although the items were free, the opinions are my own and even though I don't always love all of the products I adore trying new things and finding new "must-haves" for myself and my family.

This box was a little hit and miss for me.  Although there were some really fabulous finds and I did try everything out there were a few items I didn't care for.  I'm going to start with the things I thought were a bit of a dud and move through to my favorites - I'll save the best for last!  Here is a photo of the insert card that explains all of the goodies the box contained:

First up - the Nectresse sweetener packets.  Honestly I have tried this before and simply don't care for the taste.  I have spoken about it with other women and know that this is a widely liked product, but for me the monk fruit derived sugar substitute has an odd aftertaste that I can't get around.  I have tried other similar "naturally derived" sweeteners that were sourced from stevia and other plants like this one is but I don't enjoy them the way I do Splenda.  I often have a reaction to products containing saccharine which is another sugar substitute so I have to be extra careful when I am trying new sweeteners, but this one isn't my favorite.

Next - The Colgate Optic White family of products.  How wonderful to receive a whole tooth care regimen in the VoxBox!  I wanted to give this a shot although I normally use a natural toothpaste (Tom's of Maine) due to the fact that as I stated above I don't always do well with products containing saccharine and toothpaste and mouthwash seem to nearly always have it as a listed ingredient.  It has been a very long time since I have used a toothpaste that wasn't naturally derived and I forgot how incredibly sweet these toothpastes taste to me.  The mint flavor was super refreshing and tasted incredible, but after my first use I gave it to my husband to use.  I love the tingle of the mouthwash and I LOVED the toothpaste packaging.  Instead of a standard tube with a twist off cap it has a very neat and tidy flip cap.  I would love it if every toothpaste had this unique design.  I even loved how smooth and white my teeth looked, but I know that the ingredients tend to give me allergy related sinus headaches and sore throats so I'll let my husband enjoy these products.  The toothbrush is all mine though - it feels incredible.  I normally use a medium hard brush because I feel like they do a better job of cleaning my teeth, but this Colgate 360 brush has something called "whitening cups" which are curved silicone shapes that really felt good.  I also liked the textured back of the brush which you can use as a tongue scraper.  I will definitely repurchase this brush for myself and for my husband too.

I also received a package of Belvita breakfast biscuits in a new flavor I have never had before - Cinnamon Brown Sugar.  Yumm-o!  I regularly purchase these and take them to work as a snack.  I've had the Oats and Honey and Blueberry varieties but so far this is my favorite.  They are crunchy and not too sweet and they are very satisfying as a snack or as breakfast on the go.  I am happy to see that they have also added another new flavor - Chocolate!  I can't wait to try them!  They are pictured above with the Nectresse sweetener.

Last but not least there were two smashingly good beauty products in this box, the first I already owned and loved so I was thrilled to get some more and I am going to share them with a friend.  Those were the Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel Oil Controlling Towelettes.  I am prone to breakouts even though I have dry skin and these are wonderfully refreshing and help to clean and tighten pores without over drying and stripping moisture from my skin.  I also use Dickinson's Witch Hazel Toner (both Dickinson's products are pictured in my tote above).  I had won it as a free product from their line last year and after trying it once I was sold and have since repurchased it and picked up these wipes to try on that same trip.  I love to stash the wipes in the fridge to cool down after coming in from a hot summer day - they help to remove sunblock, sweat and makeup and cool sunburn too.  I love their products and I'm looking forward to using one of the enclosed $2 off coupons towards one of their cleansers.

The hands down best product in the box was the Vaseline Spray and Go Moisturizer.  I had been seeing the commercials for this where the girl sprays her body and then hops into jeans and I was like "yeah, sure!"  It just didn't seem possible but it made me want to try it.  I hadn't picked it up yet because I was skeptical and thought it was a little bit expensive for something that I couldn't imagine working the way they claimed it did.  When I saw I had the chance to try it for free I cracked it open immediately!  It REALLY DOES sink in that fast.  I sprayed it on my arm to show you the texture of the lotion.  All you have to do is rub it in for a second and it feels heavenly and dries super fast and without a trace of greasy residue or the filminess that many moisturizers leave behind.  Jumping into clothes quickly is definitely possible and I do it when I get ready for work in the mornings (since I wake up at 4 am to be at work by 5, anything that cuts time is precious to me).  The scent of the Total Moisture Pure Oat Extract variety I received is
super fresh and dissipates quickly so it won't clash with any perfume or cologne you have on.  I will repurchase this certainly - I would really like to try the cocoa butter variety and I have a feeling that it will be my go-to product for the rest of the spring and summer.

There you have it - My fab Influenster Sugar and Spice VoxBox for Spring 2013!  If you want to get in on the Influenster fun and try new products while engaging in a fun community of like minded girls click here and discover what this great program has to offer -  Thanks Influenster!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Little Black Bag - Pixi makeup swatches

So if you aren't in the know about Little Black Bag, it is a shopping website where you fill out a style profile and then shop from a gallery of handbags, jewelry, accessories and home goods that are for sale at bargain prices.  You choose an item and you can either buy it outright or choose to "bundle" it with stylist picks that remain a mystery to you until purchase your selection.  They give you an indication of what your picks might be by letting you know the category (jewelry or beauty etc) and the retail price of the mystery item that is added to your bag.  The items range in retail value from $12 to $200 or more but the price you pay is always at least 40% off.  When you make your purchase the real fun begins - trying to trade your stylist pick items (or even the item you chose to initially open your bag with but often think you want to keep) with other members to create a "bag" of selections that you love.  After 7 days of trading the "bag" of items (your first choice and the stylist picks or the items that you eventually swapped with other members for) is shipped to you.

Lots of times there are "extras" that the folks at LBB with throw in for free that add to the fun.  Most times you can trade those items as well - they might throw in a free chocolate bar with your order or a sample size beauty product.  Sometimes they have great promos like the one that's going on right now where you get full size products that are tradeable as part of your "bag" of goodies.  This month their free gift with purchase for their VIP members is a full size makeup product from the Pixi beauty line.

I have used Pixi makeup before - I have a Tinkerbell pallette that I picked up when it was on sale and also a primer that I got from a beauty subscription box.  I have two bags open right now (because the jewelry was super cute in this selection window and I needed a new wallet desperately) and the free Pixi item was a great attraction for me since I normally think their makeup items are a little too pricey.  The one thing about the Little Black Bag site that I think you really have to look out for is the fact that the pictures don't always look like the merchandise you receive in terms of color.  They seem to have REEEEALLY bright lighting in their photography studio and nearly everything looks lighter than I think it will look when it shows up in real life.  They have pretty good descriptions of the colors in the text below the images, but the items themselves have deceiving photographed depictions on occasion.

I started thinking about that in terms of the makeup pictures and then I realized that swatches of the makeup on someone would be super helpful in picking something that works with your skin tone.  I am very fair but I figure that you could at least get a sense of the colors if I swatched them for you.  So... I went to Target where they have testers of Pixi products and did just that.  There are three shots of each of the swatched products - the lighting in the store (florescent), the lighting in my house (incandescent) and in bright sunlight.  Not all of the products were available to swatch - there wasn't an eye bright primer or either of the lip and line pencils there, and one of the eyeliner pencils wasn't available - I ended up swatching several because I didn't remember seeing many as a choice on the site - I knew there wasn't a basic black or teal option so I skipped those but did the other six - only two were offered on LBB though.

 I hope that this helps you make some good choices as you swap and switch the items in your bags!

First up:  the Fairy Lights solo eye shadows: these are very sheer and the first two colors (French Lace and Champagne Glow) barely show up on me.  The center color (Cocoa Haze) is more of a matte finish but all of the others are very shimmery - best pictured in the bright sunshine shot.


I swatched all the colors they had available - On the bottom shot of the pans in the store the bottom row right are the Fairy Lights eye shadow singles in French Lace (the middle is just a white plastic disc) and the right is Sunshine Ray.  Top row left to right is Champagne Glow, Cocoa Haze and Boho Bronze.  They didn't have pans of Antique Gold, Alluring Apricot, Glided Olive or Bronze Beam.  I looked at the packages to match up the color swatches.  The shelf also said "Nude Nouveau" but I didn't see any boxed product in that color - I think it might have gone where the white disc is.

On my hand left to right is French Lace, Champagne Glow, Cocoa Haze, Boho Bronze and Sunshine Ray.

In all cases the top photos are in the store, next is at home, bottom is in bright sunlight.

Next are the Endless Silky eye pens, the Lid Last eye pens and the Lip Blushes.  All of the Lip Blushes are pictured, I swatched several eye liners but they didn't have the Cafe Gold in a tester and they did not have the Lip and Line products in testers at all, but they did have all the Lid Last eye shadow pens that LBB offers.

Top left is the Oyster glow Endless Silky Eye Pen and the far left is Deep Plum.  The others were Copper Glow, Black Cocoa, Sage Gold and Black Blue but they are not offered on LBB, and the Cafe Gold eyeliner that is offered wasn't available as a tester.

Middle left to right are the Lid Last Eye Pens in Peach Pave', Mocha Mauve, Bronze Brilliance, Brun Beam and Graphite Glint.  That is the way they are lying top to bottom in the above shot of the pans in the store.

Finally the lip blushes were the biggest surprise - I got Purity in my bag and I'm glad I didn't switch it for Youth because I wanted a shade that was more of a berry color.  From left to right is Youth (a very pale pink), Energy (a coral or salmon pink), Luck (a mauve with a bit of a brown or orchid hue) and Purity (a nice berry).  I love lip stains and I am thinking about trading my Lip and Line in Orchid Rose for another shade of lip blush but I'm on the fence about it!  What do you think?

If you're interested in opening a Little Black Bag this month (it is a monthly service - you can buy as much or as little as you like, but there is a 9.95 monthly fee which turns into a $10 credit on the site if you don't skip the month or cancel outright) you can use my referral link to give it a shot.  I know when I first tried it I couldn't decide which item I wanted to open with and I got a pop up box after I registered and completed my profile that offered me a free extra item to start.  They run promos all the time and there might be one for new members soon - check your email after you register for a special offer on your first bag.

Try Little Black Bag!

Here are a couple quick photo of some of the adorable bags and jewelry I've purchased and received as trades over the past several months on the site - I have scored some amazing deals, made some great swaps and made some friends along the way - (I'm talkin' about you All Things Tashia!)

Brown and burgundy doctor bag: Mellie Bianco. Pink "Kaley"quilted bag: Lionel.  Blue and white spectator satchel: Elise Hope. Silver and gold studded flap over satchel: Pink Cosmo.  Berry Sedona Satchel: Big Buddah.  Jewelry from 'ZAD, Vince Camuto, Catherine Stein, 1928, Mocha, CZ by Kenneth Jay Lane, R.J.  Graziano, Ben Amun, BCBGeneration, Flea Market Girl and probably others.

My favorite pieces are the Vince Camuto choker and bracelet (heavy silver and black mirrored squares), the BCBGeneration chain bangles (I got them in both gold and silver through trading although I never had them in my bag to begin with) the 'ZAD birds (pheasant necklace and owl stud earrings on the red box top) and the fab CZ by Kenneth Jay Lane earrings in the center - they look like they are on fire with sparkles.  I am so excited that I got the CZ by KJL bow earrings coming soon.  I had a very lucky and wildly popular (to everyone but me) necklace in my bag that I traded for them!  Yay!

I hope this helps the folks who are already LBB addicted and that the quality and value of lots of the things they offer is apparent.  I am going to do a more detailed entry later on with lots more pictures - even my husband loves the website.  He opened a bag so he could buy his Mom a birthday present of an Elise Hope purse and did all his trading himself.  The Mellie Bianco bag and the Vince Camuto bracelet were actually his choices/gifts to me - what a sweetheart!

Much love to y'all - happy trading!