Birchbox October 2015 Review

Birchbox October 2015 Review

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Birchbox, it’s a monthly beauty subscription service.  For $10 a month with free shipping you get 4 to 6 beauty, grooming and/or lifestyle samples.  You fill out a beauty profile when first signing up, letting them know what your preferences are.  Birchbox also has a rewards points system.  You will earn 1 point for every dollar that you spend in the Birchbox shop, 10 points for every review that you write on samples that you have received in your box and 50 points for every person that you invite who purchases a Birchbox subscription.  100 points = $10 in the Birchbox store.  The points can add up fast!

2Here’s what I received in my “Positive Force” box this month:

Avene Thermal Spring Water
Full size, $12.50-$18.  “This hydrating mist is your best bet for curing dryness and irritation in a snap.”

3OK, yes, it’s fancy water in a spray can. I don’t mind this sample, but I will probably not purchase it. Great for refreshing throughout the day or whenever you get hot and need a pick me up.  Also helpful in refreshing makeup later on in the day when your makeup starts to look rundown.  This would have been a nice summer sample.

Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream
Full size, $48.  “This lightweight, ceramide-packed cream calms and deeply hydrates skin.”
6
Eh, I don’t know. It just didn’t do anything for me.  I love moisturizers that are for dry skin, but for some reason, this one just didn’t feel special on my skin at all.  The scent reminds me of some of Origins products, clean/herbal.  Probably not going to run out and buy this cream.  The packaging isn’t fun either.

Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk – Natural Tint
Full size, $20.  “Naturally tinted for brunettes, this formula absorbs grease and revives second-day hair.”

1Unfortunately, I didn’t receive the tinted version in my box.  Bummer.  Mine is white as milk.  You have to go easy with the regular version of this dry shampoo or else you will be left with white hair. The blast from the bottle is pretty intense, so don’t hose a section too much or else you’ll be sorry. The smell is nice though, powdery/floral.  This version is great for blonde hair, not so much for darker hair.

Stila Huge Extreme Lash Mascara
Full size, $23.  “One coat of this jet-black mascara gives you a major boost in volume, curl and length.”

5I have a favorite Cover Girl mascara that I always use, but after trying this one, I was amazed. My lashes looked full and curly with two light coats. I really love the hourglass brush shape which seems to help with the full look to the lashes.  The only thing that I didn’t like was that it did give me minor raccoon eyes after a few hours, which I absolutely hate!

Too Cool for School Dinoplatz Highlighter
Full size, $33.  “This illuminating cream is formulated with tiny light-catching flecks to perfectly contour your face.”

7This liquid highlighter is very pretty on the skin. I applied it with a beauty blender on the top of my cheek bones for a great glow without looking shiny or greasy. The color “Baby Pink Clam” would probably work with most light to medium skin tones.  It can also be used all over the face under foundation or with a little mixed into your foundation.  A small amount goes a long way, so the full size of this highlighter would last a long time. 

 

That’s my Birchbox October 2015 review for you.  My favorite product of the month is the Dinoplatz Highlighter and least favorite is the Klorane dry shampoo, just because it was too white for my hair.  I’ll definitely toss the Avene Thermal Spring Water and the Klorane dry shampoo into my my pro makeup and hair kit.  Maybe the highlighter too, or I’ll keep that for myself!  What did you get in your box?

If you would like to sign up for Birchbox, please use my referral code and I will receive 50 points.  Thanks for helping with my beauty product addiction!

All photo rights:  www.tracysotirakis.com

*I purchased the Birchbox monthly subscription with my own money and did not receive any of these products for free.*

 

Birchbox September 2015 Review

Birchbox September 2015 Review

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Birchbox, it’s a monthly beauty subscription service.  For $10 a month with free shipping you get 4 to 6 beauty, grooming and/or lifestyle samples.  You fill out a beauty profile when first signing up, letting them know what your preferences are.  Birchbox also has a rewards points system.  You will earn 1 point for every dollar that you spend in the Birchbox shop, 10 points for every review that you write on samples that you have received in your box and 50 points for every person that you invite who purchases a Birchbox subscription.  100 points = $10 in the Birchbox store.  The points can add up fast!

Here’s what I received in my “Pssst…You’re Beautiful” box this month:

100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream
Full size, $24.  “An instant pick-me-up that reduces the appearance of fine lines and dark circles.”

When I first tried this eye cream, I looked around my bathroom, wondering who was drinking a sweet smelling coffee near me because the scent is very noticeable. It did de-puff my eyes after only sleeping for 6 hours a night for a few nights, which is not cool in my book.  It works under makeup as well. I just wish it wasn’t as strongly scented, but I will continue to use it as the sample size that I received was very large. I probably won’t throw it in my pro makeup kit because of the scent.  Some clients may not like it.  It is 100% natural and 100% vegan.

Amika Bombshell Blowout Spray
Full size, $24.  “A deluxe sample of lightweight styler that volumizes and smooths for a sleek, yet bouncy ‘do.”

I tried the spray on wet hair and blew it dry. I loved the scent but it left my hair somewhat dry feeling. I’ll try to use it on dry hair as a re-styler or for texture instead. It almost felt like a light hold hairspray, so I’ll use it as I would that type of product.

Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow in Light/Medium
Full size, $26-$55.  “The water-resistant fiber gel adheres to hair while the precision tip lets you shape and blend with ease.”

I have a similar product from another line, but I was still excited to receive this in my box because it’s Benefit. My brows are a medium brown color and I received the light/medium color. It is a very neutral taupe color and works perfectly with my brows. The little mini spoolie brush combs through my brows, fills them in and makes them look thicker. Love it!

Harvey Prince Hello Perfume
Full size, $26.  “Best-selling spritz that mingles cheerful citrus with floral notes.  Well, hello there!”

Usually I like citrus and floral scents, but the Hello scent, I just can’t stand. I don’t know what aspect of the perfume doesn’t appeal to me, but it kind of makes me nauseous. Sorry Harvey Prince!

POP Beauty POP Portfolio Eyeshadow – Sugar Plum
Full size, $27.  “A trifecta of long-wearing, blendable eyeshadows in bold, pigmented purples.”

I received the trio Sugar Plum, an ivory, plum and dark taupe, all shimmery. Unfortunately, plum eye shadow makes me look like I was punched in the eye, so I avoid the color. The other two colors I can deal with. They are very pigmented and have great staying power. May try different colors in the future.

 

That’s my Birchbox September 2015 review for you.  My favorite product of the month is the Benefit Gimme Brow and least favorite is the Harvey Prince Hello perfume, it’s being donated to a friend.  I’ll probably de-pot the eyeshadows and add them to my pro makeup kit.  What did you get in your box?

If you would like to sign up for Birchbox, please use my referral code and I will receive 50 points.  Thanks for helping with my beauty product addiction!

All photo rights:  www.tracysotirakis.com

Birchbox August 2015 Review

Birchbox August 2015 Review

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Birchbox, it’s a monthly beauty subscription service.  For $10 a month with free shipping you get 4 to 6 beauty, grooming and/or lifestyle samples.  You fill out a beauty profile when first signing up, letting them know what your preferences are.  Birchbox also has a rewards points system.  You will earn 1 point for every dollar that you spend in the Birchbox shop, 10 points for every review that you write on samples that you have received in your box and 50 points for every person that you invite who purchases a Birchbox subscription.  100 points = $10 in the Birchbox store.  The points can add up fast!

Here’s what I received in my “Soak it up!” box this month:

Air Repair Complexion Boosting Moisturizer
Full size, $20.  “Packed with antioxidants and humectants, this rich cream hydrates and revitalizes dry or dull skin.”

I wanted to save this sample for an upcoming plane ride so I don’t feel like a lizard during my trip, but I decided to test it out beforehand. It absorbs easily and really sinks into the skin, refreshing and hydrating it.  Very nice for skin that is on the drier side or needs some TLC. 

dr. brandt Microdermabrasion Skin Exfoliant
Full size, $78.  “Breakthrough at-home treatment for a glowing complexion, no pricey derm appointment required.”

I love microdermabrasion scrubs in general and the dr. brant one is no different. It smooths over the face easily and doesn’t fade away quickly like other scrubs. The strong lemony scent is refreshing but a little overwhelming, reminding me a little of lemon floor cleaner.  My skin does look and feel wonderful afterwards. However, there is no way that I can justify paying $78 for a scrub.  I like the Derma E Microdermabrasion scrub better because it has less scent to it.

LAQA & Co. Charm School Kit
Set of 3, $20.  “This creamy crayon delivers a rich, easy-to-apply color for both lips and cheeks.”

I received the color Cray-Cray, a matte peach. First, I tried it on my lips and it was a little scary. Too matte for me, rather chalky looking. After blending a few dots on my cheeks, I was in love. It blended into my skin well, didn’t clump or look patchy and looked awesome all day. Definitely a “love” product for cheeks.

Macadamia Professional Style Extend Dry Shampoo
Full size, $25.  “Weightless, translucent spritz that instantly absorbs product build-up and excess oil to refresh your ‘do.”

I love that this dry shampoo is made with translucent powder. Even though my hair is a light golden brown, I hate the white cast that some dry shampoos can leave. Not this one. My hair was shiny and refreshed after using. The scent was fine, not too strong or overwhelming for me. I will definitely toss this into my pro hair styling kit for work.

R + Co Park Ave Blow Out Balm
Full size, $16-$28.  “This smoothing styling cream adds bounce to your blowout while protecting hair from heat damage.”

BirchBoxAug15-1000268This product is not greasy, slightly on the drier side for blow out balms/creams. I worked a small amount into my hair and did a full blow out with one of my favorite tools of all time, the John Frieda Hot Air Brush. My hair was shiny and bouncy afterwards without the oily feel that other blow out balms can leave.

 

That’s my Birchbox August 2015 review for you.  My personalized box really didn’t reflect the “Soak it up!” theme, but I don’t really care.  I’m not disappointed with my samples this month, I actually really like everything and will use all of them either for myself or my pro makeup and hair kit.  What did you get in your box?

If you would like to sign up for Birchbox, please use my referral code and I will receive 50 points.  Thanks for helping with my beauty product addiction!

All photo rights:  www.tracysotirakis.com

IECSC and IBS Las Vegas 2015

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International Esthetics Cosmetics and Spa Convention & International Beauty Show in Las Vegas, June 2015

My haul of beauty goodies!

One of my favorite things–beauty conventions.  IECSC and IBS come to Las Vegas every summer and are usually co-located at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  Unfortunately, they are only open to industry professionals.  You get to see and buy all sorts of spa, skin, makeup, hair and nail products.  Both shows also offer classes in each category that you can attend for free.  A beauty junkie’s heaven.

With my makeup work schedule, I could only attend the convention one day, so I had to power through both shows.  I got there early so I could attend a hair class by the up-do master, Martin Parsons.  After Martin’s class, armed with my backpack of snacks and water, I embarked on my journey through IECSC.

Beginning in the spa wellness section, I sampled about 6 different vitamin energy drinks, then buzzed my way through the aisles.  A booth advertising eucalyptus oil caught my eye.  Eric, the representative of the EuroSpa Aromatics company, and I chatted about the benefits of eucalyptus oil for a few minutes.  He was very informative and was kind enough to give me a sample of their Pure Eucalyptus Oil Shower Mist.  It smelled amazing.  Eric said that I could also spray the mist into the air conditioning intake in my house to get rid of any bad smells.  That will definitely be happening after frying up some salmon cakes!

Checking items off my shopping list, I stopped by another booth that had tons of cheap spa related items.  I picked up some small spray bottles, dropper bottles and little sample size jars, which I use to give touch-up lipstick and lip gloss to my clients.

Even though I have a gazillion brushes, I couldn’t resist buying a few more.  Mostly small eyeliner and shadow brushes, along with a clear bag that I will use while working on the set for makeup and hair styling jobs.

Needing some new powder foundations after I broke a whole bunch of mine in an attempt to de-pot them (sometimes works well, sometimes a disaster), I stopped by a cosmetics company that sells palettes of powder foundation for professionals.  Since I do makeup on all colors of women and men, I purchased 3 palettes of 6 colors each.  I also picked up an assortment of waterproof eye brow pencils to test out.

Finishing up in IECSC, I had a quick snack and walked over to the other part of the convention hall where the International Beauty Show was going on.  IBS is focused more on nails and hair styling/cutting supplies, along with makeup and gift items.  IBS is a lot more lively than IECSC, with loud upbeat music and energetic instructors on stages doing demonstrations.

Not needing any supplies for nails, I went into the hair and makeup section.  I browsed through the aisles, checking out different companies.  There seemed to be a lot of booths selling glittery/shimmery loose eye shadow.  I don’t use loose eye shadows in my kit because they can be very messy.   I did receive one shimmery light pink sample that I’ll probably make into a glow lotion.

Along my journey, I bumped into my makeup artist friend, Jen, who I have known for at long time.  Always nice to see a friendly face!

Tracy on left, Jen on right.

Coming to the end of my journey, the last booth that I was looking for was nestled in the back of the convention hall.  Lashes!  I’m kind of picky with false eyelashes.  If they are stiff and hard to place naturally on the eye, I won’t use them, even if they are $1.  My favorites are Andrea and Ardelle, but I found a brand that looks suspiciously similar, Sassi.  I’ve purchased them before and really liked the quality and the fact that they come in a 6 pack.  I got a few different natural looking styles for my kit.

Tired and done with my beauty journey, it was time to go home.  IECSC and IBS Las Vegas 2015 were both amazing and I’m glad that I had the chance to go.  Now I have to figure out where to put all this stuff.  I think I am going to need a bigger makeup kit!

All photos by tracysotirakis.com

 

Graveyard Shift Shoot

When your body has adjusted to going to bed at 10:30 to 11pm every night, it kind of freaks out when you have to be at work from 8pm to 7am–two nights in a row.  I just got done doing an overnight shoot for a casino in Las Vegas, NV.  We were shooting at the buffet and needed to hoard the space, so shooting in the middle of the night was the only way to do it.  I was hired to do two jobs, makeup/hair and photography assistant.  We shot still photos of plates of food and video of the buffet and some of the chefs.

It was very strange getting to work at 8pm, but in the casino time has no meaning.  The first night I felt great, even a little loopy.  The second night I was pretty tired and borderline cranky.  Luckily they kept us well fed with lots of goodies at craft services.

Tracy at the Red Rock Feast shoot  photo by J. Sotirakis

This is our setup for shooting the plates of food.  We had to match the current campaign, so the shots were pretty much just overhead, documenting the food.

Photo by Tracy Sotirakis

This poor buffet worker stayed up all night to help us and was used in a few shots.  He was the pizza chef in this set up.  Of course he groaned in agony when I put makeup on him.  His co-workers laughed and told me to use a really nice shade of lip gloss.  I used a little powdered foundation and regular powder.  A few minutes later I went to check the monitor and see how the shot was looking.  The pizza guy’s face was all shiny looking, so I went to check on him.  He was pouring with sweat.  The pizza cooker was on and it was super hot behind the counter.  I had to keep an eye on him and blot his sweaty face repeatedly.

Photo by Tracy Sotirakis

This wide shot is showing the one of the set ups where the camera is moving and panning over the whole BBQ area, showing all the scrumptious food.  You can see the dolly tracks and Alexa camera, members of the crew and the monitor that is showing the bosses the shot.  The lady in the purple shirt was one of the incredibly hard working food stylists.  We had two food stylists and one assistant and they worked their tails off.  If you think the food you see on TV or in magazines just looks like that without any help, you are way wrong.  I have always respected food stylists but after this shoot, I am in awe of them.

Photo by Tracy Sotirakis

The one good thing about working graveyard is catching an incredible sunrise.  It had been raining all night and when I got back to my room at the hotel I was greeted with this beautiful sight.  You can see the Las Vegas Strip back lit by the sun in the distance.  Very pretty.  After that, I shut the curtains and happily slept all day.

Men Need Makeup Too!

Photo by www.jsimagedesign.com

This picture was from a few days ago while shooting a commercial for Flooring America in Las Vegas, NV.  When I heard about the shoot, I was told that puppies were going to be involved, which can be either a nightmare or the cutest thing ever.  These Labradoodles were very well behaved and did not make any messes on the carpet.  They did shed all over the poor man though.  I used a sticky lint roller a few times and then gave up.

Men also need a little makeup, the poor things.  Most of them don’t mind, usually they are used to it if they are actors or models.  If they are just a regular Joe off the street, they hate it and if their friends or co-workers are around they usually take pictures.

For this gentleman, I just used a lightweight foundation and buffed it into his skin with a synthetic dual fiber brush.  I then set the foundation with some matching loose powder on a powder brush.  For men, you have to pay special attention to the hairline, which can get very shiny.  I went into that area with some pressed powder and a powder puff and pressed it into his skin.  I finished off by combing out his eyebrows with a clean mascara spoolie with a little clear brow gel on it.  He probably thought that I was nuts when I put powder in his ears, but they were pretty shiny and that would definitely show up on camera.

That’s it.  No blush, contour, no lip stuff.  Some men need more grooming, some need less.  Regardless, most are super happy when I take the makeup off at the end of the shoot.  Once in a while, they opt keep it on for the rest of the day!  🙂

 

How To Apply Blush

If you don’t wear blush now, you should start immediately.  Blush livens up the whole face.  When you apply foundation and powder you take away all your natural coloring.  What you want to do is apply a blush that is going to mimic your natural flushing color and give you your radiance back.  Blush will also enhance your cheekbones, giving your face more structure.

Blush shades can come in peach, pink, mauve, apricot, bronze, salmon, brown, terracotta, fuchsia, red and orange.  For light skin, choose lighter shades.  Medium skin, medium shades.  For dark skin, clear (not muddy or muted) bright vibrant shades look great.  There are different formulas of blush:  powder, cream and a gel.  If you are very new to blush, don’t go for the gel at first.  It’s the hardest to control and you can look like a clown if it’s not done correctly.  Powders and creams are the easiest to use.

If you are going to use a cream blush or gel, apply it after foundation and before powder.  You don’t want to apply anything creamy over something that has already been powdered, it will not go on right and look blotchy.  I believe the best way to apply cream or gel blush is to use your fingers.  Put the blush on your index and middle finger and rub the fingers of both hands together, getting it even on both sides.

 

 

 

Photo by www.jsimagedesign.com

 

While looking in the mirror, smile to see the “apples” of your cheeks.

Photo by www.jsimagedesign.com

Start rubbing the blush at the outer edge of the “apple” and blend it towards your hairline.  You don’t want any lines or finger marks.  Gel blush needs to be applied very quickly before it dries.  If you applied too much cream blush, use a sponge wedge remove some. If you applied too much using a gel, you’re a little bit screwed.  Face wash or more foundation can fix it.  Apply a light dusting of translucent powder to set the blush.  Lipstick can substitute for cream blush if you don’t have any or if you are in a pinch.

Powder blush can be applied after foundation and powder with a blush brush.

Photo by www.jsimagedesign.com

Use the same placement as the cream blush, starting at the outside of the “apple” and blending out towards the hairline.

Photo by www.jsimagedesign.com

If you applied too much, remove some with a sponge wedge or apply more translucent powder over the blush.

Blush can come in matte or shimmer, it’s up to you which you like better.  Matte will look more natural and is best for photos or harsh lighting situations.  Shimmer will look best under lower light.  Shimmer blush also will be too much if you have shimmery eyeshadow and shimmery lipstick on also.  Shimmer all over will make you will look like a sparkler on the 4th of July.

A few tips: Don’t go too far in by your nose on your “apples”.  Don’t go too far up by your eyes, and don’t go too far down by your jawline.  And for goodness sakes, ditch the horrible stiff brush that comes with a lot of the blushes these days.  If you use it, you risk looking like a lady from the 80’s with her scary unblended stripe.

Photo by www.jsimagedesign.com

Blend, blend, blend!  If you apply your blush like this I will find you and scrub your face clean!  🙂