Beauty Boxes

Birchbox June 2015 Review


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“Adventure is a State of Mind”

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Who doesn’t like adventure?  I sure do!   Is there a kayak in the box along with the beauty goodies?  Nope, just beauty products. (Rats, I really need a kayak!)

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 box this month:

Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo  .75 oz.

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 Birchbox description: “Weightless spray that refreshes sans residue, in the brand’s signature obliphica scent.”  Full size:  $21

I first encountered this brand at a beauty convention in Las Vegas where my friend made me go back to the booth several times to get their free trade show bags because they were so cute.  Over the years, I have sampled Amika’s products and they all work and smell great.  I hadn’t tried the dry shampoo and was really excited to receive one in the June box.  Yes, a small bottle of dry shampoo excites me.  The smell is really nice, not too perfumy or fruity.  Unlike some brands of dry shampoo, this one does not leave a white cast to your hair that you have to really scrub to make it go away.  Definitely a keeper and getting put into my pro hair styling kit for work.

Dr Jart+ BB Night Beauty Balm  .17 fl oz

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 Birchbox description From the Korean skincare pros, this BB cream delivers sheer coverage and fights signs of aging.”  Full size:  $38

When I got the sample, I thought “Oh cool, a night BB cream.”  I immediately put a little blob of it on the back of my hand to see what the deal was.  It was clear with little white beads, which looks kind of fun.  Then I spread it on my hand.  To my surprise, the white beads turned into a light beige color.  Maybe I looked at the product wrong.  Why would a “night” BB have color in it?  The product description says that “the color self adjusts when applied.  It’s even gentle enough to sleep in!”  Yeah, I’m not one of those women that doesn’t let anyone ever see her without makeup, even while sleeping, so I will not be using this sample at night.  Maybe I’ll mix it with some sunscreen for daytime use.  I really don’t see buying this product and using it as a night BB cream.  Color in a night product is just weird and wrong.  My pillow cases thank me in advance.

Marcelle Waterproof Eyeliner in Electric Blue  .028 oz

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 Birchbox description “This blendable waterproof eyeliner goes on smoothly and stays put all day.”  Full size:  $11

Yes, I have a ton of eyeliners, but I am always looking for a new great long lasting one that I can use on myself or throw in my pro makeup kit or set bag.  Of course I received the one color that would look a little too crazy on me, Electric Blue.  I tested it anyway, the 80’s are back right?  The Marcelle eyeliner is very creamy and easy to apply with no tugging on the eyelids.  I found that it was pretty long lasting and there was even a little leftover after washing my face.  It had a lot of staying power in my waterline also.  The color was very pretty (not necessarily on me) and would look awesome on someone with medium or darker skin tones.  I’m pretty impressed with the liner because of the creaminess and would be interested in buying some more basic colors for my kit.

Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Peel  .17 fl oz

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 Birchbox description“This acid-free peel gently exfoliates for instantly softer, smoother, brighter skin.”  Full size:  $48

I read and re-read the instructions before using the peel, making sure I would do it right.  The bottle said to apply it in the shower, so that was my plan.  You are supposed to start with slightly damp skin, apply it, then massage it in.  The peel will activate and solids will form with your dead skin. Massage next for 2-3 minutes until all the gel has combined with the dead skin.

When I first spread it on my face it started to ball up almost immediately.  I kept massaging for a minute or so and then noticed that a lot of it had attached to the peach fuzz on my jawline.  No amount of scrubbing would get it off.  I had to resort to yanking the little balls of peel and peach fuzz off with my nails.  This was quite unpleasant so I will not be purchasing this product in the future.  A fail in my beauty book.  Sad face.  Sad face with less peach fuzz!

Supergoop! Everyday SPF 50 with Cellular Response Technology  .34 fl oz 

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 Birchbox description“This lightweight sunscreen provides water-resistant, SPF 50+ protection anywhere you need it.”  Full size:  $19-$48.

Many sunscreens are greasy and give off a white cast.  Not this one, it is oil free and rubs in easily.  Wonderful for everyday wear.  I did find that I really didn’t need much moisturizer under it, especially now in the summer.  If you are a little on the oily side, you could probably skip your moisturizer as well.  It also comes in a giant 18oz bottle with a pump for easy and convenient daily application.  This sunscreen will definitely go on my shopping list after I use up all the other sunscreens that I have now.  (My favorite face sunscreen is still CoTZ.)

L. Erickson Narrow Grab & Go Ponytail Holder  
Blonde/taupe color, 1 hair band

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 Birchbox description “We’ve added in this ponytail holder from L. Erickson for a chic pop of color.”  Full size:  $12

Socks, bobby pins and hair ties seem to fall into the same black hole, never to appear again.  Where do they go?  Another dimension?  Is there some other planet out there in another galaxy that is simply littered with single socks,bobby pins and hair ties?  I think so.  On this planet though, the L. Erickson hair band is cute and will make your pony tail look like you actually care about your hair style.  It even looks nice as a bracelet because of the bead.  My long hair held well during a furious kickboxing workout, which is the ultimate test.  I will definitely keep using it until it gets transported through the black hole to the “sock, bobby pin, hair tie” world.

So that’s my Birchbox June 2015 review.  I’m pretty happy with my samples this month.  Let’s face it, you’re not going to love every single product, every single month.  It is definitely fun trying out new beauty goodies though.  Looking forward to next month’s treasures!

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

Tracy’s Makeup


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CoTZ Face Natural Skin Tone Sunscreen SPF 40 Review


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Looking for a new face sunscreen?  Try my favorite!


I discovered this gem about a year ago on my quest to find a sunscreen for daily wear that would:

  1. Not make me look like a pasty white ghost, I’m pale enough, thanks.
  2. Give me a matte finish.
  3. Work well under full makeup, as I usually like to stay away from the “melted face” look.

What CoTZ Face Natural Skin Tone Sunscreen SPF 40 is all about:

  • It’s a 100% natural mineral sunscreen.
  • 100% free of oils, chemical sunscreens, preservatives, fragrances, parabens, PABA, gluten, phythalates.
  • Silky, sheer matte formula.  Glides on smoothly and does not look oily or greasy.
  • Lightly tinted, no white cast.  Good for most skin tones but they do have an un-tinted version if your skin is very fair.
  • Works well under makeup, feels similar to a makeup primer.
  • Does not sting the eyes or skin.  Great for sensitive skin.
  • Provides broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection.
  • Water and sweat resistant. 
  • No heavy sunscreen scent.

Ingredients:  titanium dioxide (8%), zinc oxide (3.8%) ,
Alumina, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Dimethicone Crosspolymer,
Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethiconol, Lauryl
PEG/PPG-18/18 Methicone, Methicone, PEG-10 Dimethicone

I purchased it at ULTA for $19.99 and probably used a coupon because they always have coupons.  ULTA puts it on sale sometimes or will do a buy one, get one 50% off promotion as well.  Amazon also carries it for about $25.50.  The CoTZ website also sells it.  You may freak out at the price, but it’s totally worth it to save your face from the damaging rays of the sun.  The tube is 1.5 oz and may seem small but you don’t really need a ton of it to cover your face.  It spreads very easily.

The color outside in sunlight
The color outside in the shade


Fully rubbed in outside in sunlight
Fully rubbed in outside in the shade

As you can see, right out of the tube the color appears to be to dark for my fair/light skin tone, but when rubbed in, the color blends nicely.

I like to wear the CoTZ Face Sunscreen by itself for activities not requiring makeup (the horror!) or under makeup when I have to look presentable.  Because of the tint, you may not even need foundation, depending on how much coverage you like.  It helps to let it set for a few minutes before applying foundation over it.  At the end of the day, even with full makeup on top of the sunscreen, my skin looks great and I don’t look greasy and melted, even in the Las Vegas summer heat.  Hooray!


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Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream Review

Yeah, sometimes I cart this much around.

We have all been hammered by the beauty and fashion magazines lately about BB Creams.  BB stands for Blemish Balm, as they are sold in Asian markets, or Beauty Balm as sold in Western markets.  They are supposed to multitask and be a primer, foundation, sunscreen, moisturizer and serum.  You can wear them alone or with your other favorite moisturizer, foundation or powder.

Are they really worth the hype or are they just another sales pitch for one more product that we can’t possibly live without.  I have so much makeup it’s frightening (or drool inducing), but that’s my job.  See picture to the right and you’ll see what I mean.  Is a BB Cream really going to change my life?  Probably not, but I had to try one anyway.  Those magazine ads really do work.  I had received samples of different brands and I liked them but they always made my skin look a little shiny after a few hours.  For my personal use, I usually like more of a matte look to my skin.  I don’t wear a full coverage foundation, maybe just a tinted moisturizer or a very light coverage foundation.  Too many freckles to cover up and then I just look weird.   BB Creams seem to be marketed to gals like me.

In a beauty magazine recently, they had an ad for Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream for Combination to Oily Skin.  My interest sparked.  The ad came with a coupon and a handy color chart.  Most of us know what color spectrum we fall in when the cosmetic companies group us into only 3 different skin tones.  Although, light may not be light enough for you or deep is not deep enough.  Trial and error is sometimes the only way to figure out which color is appropriate for your skin tone.  I went with the Light/Medium for combination to oily skin.  I purchased it at my local gigantic one stop shop for $11.97 and used my $1.00 coupon.

Garnier’s BB Cream Skin Renew for combination to oily skin is supposed to control shine, minimize pores, even skin tone, and hydrate.  It also has SPF 20, which in my opinion is not enough for daily wear (SPF 30 is recommended), but at least it’s something.  It also has “Mineral Perlite + Mineral Pigments”.

I have been wearing it for a few days now and here’s my opinion:  OK, not a life changing “miracle”, but I kind of like it.  The color is a tad dark and a little too beige for me, so I have to use it sparingly and blend well down my neck.  Most BB Creams are supposed to be used very sparingly anyway.  I do really like the fact that it is not dewy like other BB Creams.  It does feel like more of a light coverage foundation.  My skin looks very pretty with it on and I did set it lightly with a loose translucent powder.  I wore it out one day and got caught in a rainstorm and it seemed to hold up pretty well, my hair was another story.  My only note of caution is that some users with very sensitive skin have reported that this product was irritating to them.  I haven’t experienced any blemishes or itchiness.

The texture is not thick at all, not what I would call a “cream” but more of a liquid.   You have to be careful when dispensing it from the bottle, a lot can come out at once.  The smell is alright, it doesn’t really bother me.  After it sets on the skin I can’t smell it.

While this product may not be technically a true BB Cream like the real ones sold in Korea, I will continue to use this bottle of Garnier Skin Renew BB Cream for combination/oily skin.  Are you going to be sucked in also and try a BB Cream for yourself?

** Update:  I have been using this product now for a while and I have come to completely love it.  I even put one in my professional makeup kit and intend on purchasing the darker colors as well.