My First Birchbox: February, 2016

Before I begin, please remember that I am not paid for these reviews, nor am I given any free products/boxes! These are my opinions, based on my experiences, and I pledge to tell you the truth – be it good, bad, or beautiful!

At $10.00 a month, Birchbox is one of the more economical options in the Beauty Box subscription world, so when I became obsessed with the idea of these boxes, I decided they’d be the second one I’d try (Ipsy was the first). It took a little bit of time before my first Birchbox arrived, though I was billed weeks prior to shipment. FYI, subscriptions are billed on the first of each month, and since I’m on disability benefits, this challenges me to make sure I’ve got enough in my account to cover my Birchbox (and other subscriptions). 

The February box arrived around the 17th, and I was delighted when I opened it up. I noticed it had a light scent to it, which I initially thought was a nice little touch that Birchbox added, until I realized it was because one of the products was slightly warped and had leaked a little bit. I never contacted customer service about it, but perhaps I ought to, seeing as I have no qualms about doing that kind of thing in general. Plus, it will give me a chance to review their customer service as well. I’ll let you know what happens if and when I do interact with their representatives.

I initially intended to take pictures of the box, as I’d done with the Ipsy glam bag I posted about, but I was apathetic and unmotivated to do so by the time I got it, and I just wanted to tear into it and see what it was I’d waited to patiently to get! The pink box contained a card about the theme, and I noticed right away that the word “occasion” was misspelled as “ocassion” which is something that was hard for me to overlook. When I went on their site, they had the same message as the one printed on the card, only this time, it was spelled correctly. I’m a stickler when it comes to grammatical errors, especially when it is a business making those mistakes! Who does your proof-reading anyway? Moving on to the review…

I was impressed with what they sent me, and the box was also cute and worth keeping, so hooray for that!

The contents of the box I received were as follows:
  • Not Soap, Radio – Body Wash, Sample Size – I got the “Liquid Freud” version, which is lightly scented with coconut milk and a splash of mango. It had the following message printed on the front: “Liquid Freud: When you need to turn up the volume on your inner voice of reason” which of course, I got a kick out of. ESTIMATED VALUE: $2.50
  • Marcelle New Age 8 in 1 Power Serum, Sample Size –  This is a really nice serum, with a consistency that’s thicker than your average serum. I really appreciate that, as it works a lot better for my skin needs than serums with a more runny formula. It didn’t irritate my very sensitive skin either. ESTIMATED VALUE: $10.00
  • Coola SPF 30 Unscented Matte Tint, Sample Size – Let me preface by saying that I hate tinted moisturizers, as well as foundations and BB creams, because I have yet to find one that works well with my skin tone. This stuff, however, was AMAZING! The product formula is lightweight and smooth (hence the “matte”) and it blended so well with my skin tone, that I couldn’t help but be seriously impressed. So much so that I am probably going to purchase a full-sized version of this product, with my Birchbox points, of course! ESTIMATED VALUE: $5.00
  • POP Beauty Matte Velvet Lipstick, Satin Rose, Full Size – I didn’t try this product because I debated on whether or not to put it up for sale on ebay or amazon, but I held on to it and ultimately decided to give it to my sister-in-law as a gift, because I know she is obsessed with lip color and lip products. She was, of course, delighted when I gave her it, and the shade looks really good on her. ESTIMATED VALUE: $16.00
  • Beauty Protector, Protect and Detangle, Leave-in-Conditioner Spray, Sample Size – This is the product that leaked slightly and gave my box a nice, light scent. I nearly sold this sample as well, but decided against it because of the fact that it leaked. I have yet to try it, but I plan on doing so shortly, maybe even tonight! ESTIMATED VALUE: $10.00
THE TOTAL ESTIMATED VALUE OF MY FIRST BIRCHBOX IS $43.50! 

Not bad, consider it was only $10.00.

Being a budget beauty, I honesty wouldn’t pay full-price for any of these products EVER. They’re simply out of my price range! Not to mention, there are times when I like to sell the products I get from these boxes, because if there are items with pretty decent retail value, I can make back the money I paid for the subscription and then some! The real reason why I subscribe to services like Birchbox and Ipsy is because I can’t afford to buy these kinds of products in the first place, but I deserve a little bit of luxury in my life, don’t you think? Everybody does, in my humble opinion!

For those who are curious about trying a subscription beauty box, I’d recommend trying either Birchbox or Ipsy. I will say that I think Birchbox caters to a slightly older demographic and they seem to offer mainly higher-end items. Ipsy seems to market towards a younger crowd, based on my observations, and their product offerings are a mixed bag, but generally contain a retail value ranging anywhere from $40 – $60 retail value!!

In addition to being generally awesome so far, Birchbox offers bonuses to subscribers. You’ll earn 10 points for each product you provide a review for (must be products you received in your box). 10 points gives you a buck to spend in their shop. Not bad for taking a minute of your time to give your feedback! When you reach 500 points, you become an “ACE” which gives you access to even more exclusive offers and discounts. If you refer a friend who then becomes a subscriber, you get another 50 points to spend in their shop. And for each dollar you spend in their shop, you get another point, which is pretty cool, considering I couldn’t ever afford to place an order on their site without points.

THE VERDICT: Birchbox is totally worth the $10.00, especially if you like to try new, high-end products. So why not treat yourself to a little something special and subscribe!? Click on my referral link and I’ll get 50 points – which is 5 bucks to spend in their shop! You can count on both Birchbox and Ipsy to send you plenty of bang for your ten bucks, so go ahead, what are you waiting for? TREAT YOURSELF, BECAUSE YOU DESERVE IT, MY BEAUTY! 

Do you subscribe to any beauty boxes, and if so, which ones? Are you a Birchbox subscriber? What’s your experience been like? Are you a fan of Ipsy instead, and if so, why? Or are there other boxes you really love? Share your feedback in the comments section, and as always, thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more reviews of subscription beauty boxes!

*Since I’m not compensated, nor given any free boxes to review, you can be sure I’m giving you my honest-to-goodness, unbiased, real opinion! 

 

Beautiful Behavioral Moderation

Hello Beauties – I hope everyone is doing well and taking good care of themselves. I’ve been busy with self-care, and I want to discuss my beauty routine with you all today. I have a specific regimen that addresses the needs of my skin, which changes with the seasons. During the winter, I have lots of dry patches, particularly around my eyebrows, forehead, cheeks, and nose. The eyebrows have become the hardest to keep moisturized and I’ve tried a ton of different products, from straight coconut oil, to an expensive Mary Kay cream, to serums and glycolic acid treatments. Right now, I’m using a combination of things, trying to figure out what works the best. I’ve got a dry scalp as well, and I use t-gel and denorex to help keep that under control, followed by a coconut oil condition that I apply heavily at the ends and very lightly at the roots. That works well most of the time, but I’ve found that other factors affect my skin’s moisture level. Drinking water is very important for skin health, so that’s a beauty tip I want all of my readers to take away – DRINKING WATER IS A FREE WAY TO KEEP YOUR SKIN AND BODY HEALTHY! I cannot stress enough how important it is to stay hydrated, because it makes you feel good inside and out!

I have a confession to make – I have dealt with issues around my appearance. It’s somewhat complicated, and has to do with how I look. I’m much like a lot of other women in our culture who’ve been sold on the idea that there is a certain standard that defines beautiful. It is impossible for anybody to live up to that unrealistic ideal, because it is something that doesn’t exist, in real life. Rarely do we see diversity represented in the media, which makes the majority of us feel as though we’re just not good enough, and that leads to eating disorders and self-hatred, among other things. It also encourages us to buy products (which, hey, I’m guilty of) and makes us scared of aging, because in Hollywood, once a woman is of a certain age, she’s discarded as though she doesn’t matter, when the truth is, we should be revering our elders rather than casting them away.

Anyway, on to the topic at hand: my own self-image issues. Being that it is currently winter, and I’m stuck inside, it is crucial for me to find ways to occupy my restless mind. If I don’t, I will start to think about certain parts of my body that I think are very flawed, and revert to the self-destructive behavior that I’ve worked so hard to let go of, especially behaviors of the obsessive compulsive variety. I’ve spent a lot of time denying, concealing and hiding the kind of OCD I have, which is known as trichotillomania – a hair-pulling disorder.

It all began around 2003 when I got my eyebrows and upper lip waxed – I discovered a few stray dark hairs on my chin and began tweezing them. But the more I tweezed, the more hairs I discovered. This pattern continued, and when I dealt with stress, I felt relief when I picked and plucked. Aside from that, there’s a deep connection between the way I feel about myself, and my outward appearance that also tends to usher in an OCD episode. Either way, I end up in a trance-like state, plucking and tweezing, losing hours at a time. I have blown things completely out of proportion, and it has taken me time to see my chin hairs in a realistic light. I’m naturally fair-skinned and most of my body hair is blonde, but when I look in the mirror, I’m seeing a magnified close-up, and I’ve got a biased view. I used to think the hairs were way more visible than they actually appear, which is known as a cognitive distortion.

Before I even think of grabbing the tweezers, I touch my chin to feel for course hairs, something that I’ve done for hours on end in the past, which, at times, makes the urge to tweeze that much stronger. To a stranger it might appear as though I’m merely touching my chin, but this is, in reality, a part of the ritual I can do out in the open without others noticing. Those who know me well are able to recognize when I’m entranced by my own OCD behavior, and they’ll call me out on it. Due to the shame I feel, I like to tweeze in private; when I get caught, I try to pretend I’m doing something else, but I’ve had to surrender many a pair of tweezers to my loved ones in order to keep me from harming myself with them. Who would have thought such a small item could have such a terrible effect?

For the longest time, I wanted to stop this madness, but still, I couldn’t. It was almost comforting for me to pluck and pick and tweeze during hard times, but it didn’t have a positive end-result, though I was convinced it was going to make my skin look and feel smooth and hairless. What’s worse than all of that though, is that I have caused myself scabs, scars, and infected ingrown hairs. Quite honestly, that looked way worse than the hair I was trying so desperately to eliminate.

Fast forward to the beginning of this year, when I decided I was going to conquer this little OCD demon, no matter what. I started by challenging myself to be mindful of these behaviors, and when I recognized the signs or felt the urge to pluck, I’d divert my attention to something else. I asked my sister do the tweezing for me, because she’s able to see what hairs are dark and long enough to be pulled out – she’s got the objective perspective, and that has been a huge help.

I went even further with this goal and thought about how I’d reinforce things. Last year, I wrote on a piece of paper, “skin care, not skin destruction” and I decided that when I had urges to touch or pluck my facial hair, I’d do something to make me feel beautiful instead, like putting on moisturizer or doing my makeup. It really started began to work, so I thought I’d take it even further. I’ve been rewarding myself with little things – such as subscriptions to beauty boxes, so that I can try a variety of products to see what works best. I’ve implemented a skin care routine that now takes the place of the time I used to spend in front of the mirror examining the tiniest details of my body that I once loathed because I thought they made me look hideous.

These days, I’m washing my face morning and night, and applying various products while massaging my face and concentrating on healing the scars I’ve got from plucking and picking. I’ve become more comfortable with letting the hairs growing out, and I’ve realized that when they get a little longer, they’re easier to tweeze and far less likely to become ingrown and infected. There are 6 pair of tweezers in my apartment, all located in places I’m aware of and they’re not hidden from me now because I can be trust with them.

I’ve found that taking time for myself is essential, so I’ve been setting aside 5 minutes each morning and evening to take care of my skin. It helps me feel pampered, and buying/sampling products is a way in which I reward myself for abstaining from those old patterns. I’m taking care of my skin now, because, let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger, and as I inch up toward the big 40, I’m seeing my past catch up with me. Case in point – I didn’t always wear sunscreen when I was younger, and now I’ve got dark spots and moles in places where I once had blisters from gnarly sunburns. Moral of that story: wear your sunscreen!

I don’t expect that this journey of overcoming my OCD to be easy, I may in fact find myself obsessing over those tiny hairs once again. What’s different is that I know my triggers, and I’ve learned what to do just in case I find myself in front of a mirror with tweezers. I’ve realized I can stop and figure out something healthy to do in place of that destructive behavior which is rooted in negative feelings about my self-image. It’s such a powerful thing to begin to overcome something that’s brought me so much pain and caused me to feel humiliated and ashamed for far too long. I have wasted far too many hours and have put too much effort into something that accomplishes absolutely nothing, and I’m reclaiming that time to give some loving care to my face, my body, and ultimately, to myself.

For anybody who suffers from crappy self-image, and/or OCD, know that you’re not alone and that it is entirely possible to change behaviors that you’ve held on to for too long. Even the most confident person has insecurities about their self-perceived flaws. These kinds of thoughts and feelings can be hard to shake off, but it can be done. The moral of the story is: be gentle with yourself, and reach out if you need help!

Also, drink lots of water, and wear sunscreen! Those are two easy ways to look and feel more beautiful, and they don’t cost much (and water is free too!). Until next time, take good care of yourselves, because if you don’t, nobody else will!

My chin doesn't look bearded at all, does it?

My chin doesn’t look bearded at all, does it?

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Update!

Hello Beauties! I’ve been neglecting my blog, plus I haven’t been keeping up with my own very small goal of writing something every day (whether related to this blog or not). I had initially intended to update more frequently than I have been, but I’ve been sick and in severe pain recently.

Since the last time I posted anything, I’ve received quite a few boxes, some of which have been amazing! All of them are well-worth the price I paid for them. Anything I don’t like has or will be either sold amazon or ebay; some I’ve given away or will give away as gifts!

Here are the boxes I got:
*WalMart’s Beauty Box, as well as their Baby Box (which I ordered for my sister and n niece), each of which are quarterly subscriptions that cost $5.00 to cover the cost of shipping.

*BirchBox, the original beauty subscription box, which at $10.00 a month is a great deal!
*Allure’s Beauty Box, which is $15.00 a month, though I paid $10.00 for the first month.
* Glossybox, which normally runs $21.oo a month, but I paid $15.00 because they had a special where they were selling past boxes, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity for me to try them out and see what they were about without making a commitment that I wasn’t exactly sure about.

Today I was able to get the limited edition Target Beauty Box, which comes out once a month, and sells out FAST! I have been waiting patiently to get in on it, so thank god I woke up this morning and checked my email. I’m on the My Subscription Addiction email list, so they alerted me to the availability of the Target Beauty Box!

I also want to share a few other tips and tricks that have helped me acquire some beauty products FOR FREE! I’m on sites like Crowdtap, which I highly recommend, because they give away Amazon gift cards as well as products for you to sample and review. I got both a sample of Secret Clinical Strength deodorant and an Amope Pedi Perfect foot file the other day, and needless to say, I was pretty excited about that! And with all of the amazon gift cards I’ve earned, I was able to buy a new Kindle Fire, which my niece is enjoying just about as much as I am!

Remember, if you are looking to sign up for any subscription services, please use my referral links so I can get some bonus points to score some beautiful freebies! I’ll of course post reviews of the products I receive, and I’ll be so grateful if you do so!
Ipsy Referral Link
BirchBox Referral Link
GlossyBox Referral Link

*Please Note: I am not compensated in any way, shape or form for these reviews, nor have I received any free boxes, so you can be sure I’m giving an honest, unbiased opinion! 

Ipsy February Glam Bag

Hello beauties! How’s the weather where you are? Here in Bennington, Vermont it is below zero, which is not my cup of tea! I have no plans to leave my apartment for a couple of days, unless I absolutely have to!

Finally, a little prezzie came today, and I couldn’t wait to tear into the bright pink envelope with my February Ipsy Glam Bag  which had a Valentine’s Day theme.

Let’s break down the contents and take a peek inside the cute faux beadwork bag. This is my fourth month with Ipsy, and I’ve been consistently impressed with the bags themselves. They’re really cute and good quality, just one more reason why Ipsy is worth the ten bucks! These items are what I found in MY glam bag, which they tailored to my specific preferences, based on a survey I filled out. This isn’t reflective of what products were included  in other people’s glam bags!

WP_20160213_15_42_06_Pro

This month’s Ipsy Glam Bag

 

INSIDE THIS MONTH’S BAG:

The contents of this months glam bag total NEARLY $67.00! I am once again impressed, my friends! If you aren’t a subscriber and you’re sitting on the fence as to whether or not you should get a glam bag, SIGN UP NOW!!

I’m not sure about you, but I could never afford a single one of these products with my budget! Ipsy consistently delivers a variety of high quality products, and I have no plans to cancel my subscription, like EVER! This month’s glam bag gets a grade of A+!

What are your thoughts about Ipsy? Got any feedback for me? Leave your comments below, and STAY BEAUTIFUL!

 

In the Name of Science: Upcoming Beauty Box Review Series

When I originally started this blog, I knew I wanted to feature reviews of beauty subscription boxes, because they’ve become my newest obsession – one that I am hoping will eventually pay off. A good number of these services send luxury products that I would never find in my small town. And even if I did have access to such high-end stuff, I wouldn’t be able to justify spending the kind of money required to take these products home. To me, that’s the real beauty of these boxes – I have the ability to enjoy a little bit of the fancy products that I’d otherwise have no idea were even in existence.

I have a hard time parting with my money, because I have so little of it to work with each month. I am more than just broke, I’m living well below the poverty line. If you’ve been where I am, you know very well that ten dollars can often mean the difference between eating and going hungry when it’s the end of the month.  Because ten bucks could very easily be a make-or-break amount of money for me, I keep a very close eye on my funds. While I’m currently subscribed to four different beauty box services, continued membership is entirely contingent upon the value of what they send, and whether or not I’m able to sell the most valuable goods I get within a relatively short period of time.

I’m taking a huge chance right now, but I’m willing to do so in the name of…art? Of course I do this in the name of art, because I’m a performer and an entertainer, and visual aesthetics are an important part of the music and art I create. The way I express myself is an extension of my art. Art is beauty, so art is a great excuse reason for me to be doing this little beauty box project.

Most importantly, I’m doing this in the name of SCIENCE! Yes, I said science! This is, after all, an experiment, one in which I compare and contrast different aspects of these services, breaking them down to their fundamental elements and submitting a report based on whatever evidence I find during the course of my research. See? Very scientific! There’s a method to my madness, I assure you! Stay with me, because it will all, eventually make sense.

This is also, quite clearly, a selfish pursuit, but I’ve already profited from being an Ipsy subscriber by selling a select few of the high-quality goodies contained in their glam bags. For that reason, I decided research any and all similar services I could find, and after a lot of consideration, subscribed to the ones that were most reasonably priced. If they had a deal or a coupon code, that sweetened the deal. I also based my decision on the reviews of others.

Now that I’ve gotten all of THAT out of the way, I’m ready to tell you what you can expect to find in each review. I’ll be breaking it down into sections, each one providing different information that might be useful in making a decision as to whether or not the service is a match for you.

THE DETAILS:

  • The name of the company and where to find them online
  • What they offer and how much it’s going to cost you
  • The terms and fine print
  • Basic background information on the company, if available and relevant to the review
  • Customer service, returns, shipping, and other policies

THE DELIVERY:

  • How long of a wait you can expect between the time your subscription is initiated to the time the first box arrives
  • Whether or not tracking information is sent, and what shipping service is used by the company.
  • If the company charges you upon shipment, or immediately after you place your order.
  • Finally, I’ll talk about the box itself and most importantly, the contents of said box.
  • I’ll talk a little about each item, which I will rate and review. I’ll also share how much each of these items goes for and what the total value of the box/bag is estimated at!

THE PERKS:

  • I’ll tell you about their referral program (if they have one in the first place) and how it works
  • I’ll discuss the benefits of membership, including giveaways, bonuses and discounts

THE LOW-DOWN

  • Here, I’ll let you in on what others are saying, including the good, bad, and indifferent
  • If there are any drawbacks, I’ll tell you about them
  • I’ll also briefly answer the question “how do they stack up against the competition?”

THE VERDICT

  • Here, you’ll get my honest opinion, and I’ll let you know if I intend on continuing or cancelling the service, and the reasons behind that.
  • You’ll find out whether or not I think YOU might like the service, and the reasons why it may or may not be a good fit
  • And finally, I’ll let you know if it is worth it or not.

And that, my friends, is how I plan on organizing my reviews. Here’s hoping I continue to be disciplined enough to practice writing each and every day, because the more I do it, the better I get!

A Pleasant Surprise!

Thanks to everyone who read, liked, and commented on my initial post on the Big, Broke ‘N Beauty(Full) Blog. I am grateful for those who took the time to show me love, because it made my day. More than that, it motivated me to start working on new stuff that I can’t wait to share.

I plan on doing some reviews over the next few days, the first of which will be about Ipsy’s glam bag subscription service, which is a steal at just $10.00 a month (that price includes shipping). Click on my referral link here to find out more, and if you decide to subscribe, I’ll get credit!

My beauty tip for the day: Stay hydrated. Water is free, and it’s got numerous health benefits. It also makes your skin look better!

 

I’m Trying a Few Subscription Boxes

Every so often, I become obsessed with one thing or another, especially when it comes to shopping for beauty products. One example is when I wanted to buy an eyeliner I had a chance to try – Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil. For weeks, I clicked around the internet in an attempt to find it at a price that was reasonable enough for me to splurge. I eventually bought it for my birthday, but not before I got that discounted price!

My current obsession is Beauty Subscription Boxes, which have been around for a few years, and are growing in popularity. I got turned on to these boxes by a friend who sent me a link to the well-known site Ipsy, founded by Michelle Phan, who got her start as a youtube make-up artist who shared her “how-to” videos. Those videos opened up many doors for her, and Ipsy is a business I feel great about supporting. I’ll be posting a full-review, subscription info, and periodic updates about their “glam bags”. At $10.00 a month, it is a steal, and I’ll break down all of the reasons why very soon.

After having a really positive experience with Ipsy, I decided to look into other boxes, cuz, why not!? I don’t have enough money in my budget to subscribe to more than one service every month, however, I am finding ways to make this whole obsession pay off for me, which is a motivating factor in my decisions.

Soooo…I signed up for Birchbox, which is again, a reasonable $10.00 a month. Of course I found and used a coupon code for a freebie, and upon signing up, I got another code for 20% off. I’m currently awaiting the first shipment, and I’ve heard that when a customer initially subscribes, it takes a little longer to get their first box together. Their service has a lot of positive reviews, so I’ll be patient, for now!

I also subscribed to the Allure Beauty box, because they’ve been getting some rave reviews of late. The first month is a bargain at $10.00 a month, and beyond that it is $15.00. I’ll let you all know whether or not it lives up to its reputation as soon as I get my first box.

In addition to these, I ordered a WalMart beauty box for just $5.00 to cover the cost of shipping. Apparently, it is well-worth the money, so I’ll share what I got when it arrives. The subscription is quarterly, and they also offer a Baby Box. Go here to get your beauty box, or here for your baby box.

Glossybox is another service that I found out about, so I looked into it, and instead of subscribing, I ordered a box from a previous month in order to check them out. That pretty little pink box arrived yesterday, and at $15.00 with free shipping, it was a great deal, considering I got over $40.00 retail value in products. Whether or not I will subscribe to their service in the future remains to be seen.

I have no intention of cancelling my subscription to Ipsy at this point, because in the three months I’ve been with them, I have had a very very positive experience. I wish they had more to offer, like an upgraded subscription or something of that nature.

As for the other boxes, that all depends on what they contain, how much the items are worth, and whether or not I like their company in general. Come back to my blog, and subscribe to learn more about whether or not subscription boxes are a thing for you!

Stay beautiful, my dear readers, and let me know about your experiences with subscription boxes!

CONSIDERING A SUBSCRIPTION TO ONE OF THESE SITES? CLICK ON ONE OF THE FOLLOWING LINKS, WHICH WILL GET ME POINTS TO USE FOR FREE STUFF! THANKS SO MUCH! 

Ipsy Referral Link

Birchbox Referral Link

Glossybox Referral Link