A shade of the dramatic, where different is all there is.

Archive for February, 2013

A love affair with dandelions

When you are a little girl, dandelions don’t seem like a weed, instead they are simply beautiful little flowers that you can pick and give to your Mom or perhaps put in your hair.  You certainly don’t have the faintest idea as to why adults seem to concern themselves with their removal.  I’ve always thought they were pretty little rays of sunshine, poking their heads up among the grassy forest.  It seems like sort of a needless fight really… yet people spend their hard earned money every year waging war.  Don’t worry, I live in an apartment, so I’m not your neighbour and you don’t have to worry about my lawn being the bane of your existence.

Their sunny little faces always made me happy.  In fact, I should probably use the words “make me happy” given that it was just over a year ago that I found myself picking a small dandelion bouquet on Prince Edward Island, right after my husband asked me to marry him.

PEI dandelions

Yet I digress… this is after all a beauty and travel blog.

What I mean to say, is that I’ve always had a bit of a love affair with dandelions and I now have a new reason to rave about their existence.  

You guys might recall my being stoked about my most recent Topbox that featured samples solely from benefit cosmetics.  I was so excited about it, I really wanted to make time to go into extra detail  for some of the products.  First up on my hit list is (you guessed it) the sample set I received featuring both the dandelion brightening face powder and the corresponding dandelion ultra plush lip gloss.  

"Dandelion" blush and gloss

These two products have quickly raced their way up my list of favourite products.

The brightening face powder is a gorgeous soft pink shade.  It creates a very subtle and natural looking glow.  This “dandelion” powder applies nearly sheer but is easily built-up for a more noticeable look.  And don’t forget the soft shimmery kiss this “everyday” blush leaves behind on your cheeks.

If you’ve been wanting a blush that leaves a nice natural look without being overloaded by shimmer or looking flat with matte, this product might be just what you need.

sephora.com

photo courtesy of http://www.sephora.com

The full size product is .25oz complete with a brush for easy dusting.  It retails for $36.00 CAD or$28.00 US.

Now, as much as I love the blush and think its a very versatile and flattering shade, my favourite of the pair is the gloss.

benefit cosmetics - dandelion lip gloss

photo courtesy of http://www.sephora.com

This “dandelion” Ultra Plus Lip Gloss smells absolutely amazing for starters!  It smells like peaches with a slight touch of mango but isn’t too overpowering, it’s just strong enough to be noticeable.  When I first did my Topbox research and I discovered the full size gloss from Sephora was $18.00 CAD or $16.00 US (for a 0.5oz) I remember thinking to myself, who is going to pay that much for a gloss…gloss is gloss.  But honestly…I’m now one of those people that would be happy paying that for this product.  This lip gloss by benefit is soft, smooth and as far in the opposite direction of “sticky” as you can imagine.  It glides on incredibly smooth with no dragging.

The only draw back with this non-sticky lip gloss in “dandelion” is that the product isn’t really pigmented.  Don’t pick this shade if you are hoping for a soft pink, it is mostly clear, but will do the trick if you just want a pop of shine…and for your lips to feel amazing.  benefit does offer this gloss in a variety of colours, so if you are wanting something with more colour, perhaps check out their darker shades.

Here is a swatch of both of the dandelion products for you.  It really allows you to see how sheer and soft the blusher is (very faint, yet visible on the left) as well as the clear finish of the gloss (on the right):

dandelion ultra plush lip gloss swatch and dandelion blush swatch

I also used them both in the below makeup look.  Whenever I go heavy on the eye makeup I like to keep my cheeks and lips soft and subtle, so both dandelion products worked great for that purpose:

"dandelion" lip gloss and blush

Now if you are wanting to try out these two products, but don’t feel like spending $54 CAD or $44 US, benefit cosmetics actually has a great value set for those interested in rocking these in tandem this Spring.  It is called “feelin’ DANDY” and is available where benefit products are sold.  Sephora carries it for $32.00 CAD or $28.00 US.

benefit value set, "dandelion"

photo courtesy of http://www.sephora.com

You’ll also be able to try out “posie tint” and “high beam” minis as well.  It’s a hard deal to beat and allows you to try multiple products for a very affordable price!

Have you tried the dandelion Ultra Plush Lip Gloss or Brightening Face Powder by benefit?  What did you think?!?

And now for my most important questionhow do you feel about the dandelion weed? 😉

xox,

Shannon


“Red Carpet Ready” the February Glam Bag by ipsy

Red Carpet Ready glam bag

In honour of the Academy Awards, this month ipsy put out a Glam Bag called Red Carpet Ready.  Focusing on the creation of a smoldering smoky eye this glam bag helps you on your way to creating a sexy look for your evenings out.

ipsy February 2013

The little bag this month was very slim, sleek and ultra glossy.

Red Carpet Ready

The items this month were all very small in size, so there was a tonne of room to spare inside this months glam bag.  And honestly, my impression of this glam bag by ipsy was less than impressive.  Let’s take a look at what I received:

February 2013 Glam Bag by Ipsy

It was neat that I received all products from brands that I haven’t tried before and “Coastal Scents” being the only one I’ve ever even heard of.  Please forgive my ignorance.  Unfortunately, that also meant, there wasn’t anything I was super excited to try either.

Flawless & Poreless by Pixi Beauty

Pixi Beauty is a line of cosmetics founded by the very famous beauty blogger Petra.  Started in the UK, the website has a site for the UK as well as their US customers.  They ship internationally and have a shipping calculator in their shopping cart to let you know what charges you can expect.  She also has an entire line of Tinkerbell products on her website due to a collaboration with Disney, for all of you fairydust lovers.

This face primer called Flawless & Poreless is said to “creates a seamless, silky canvas with a beautiful no-shine, cashmere finish. The formula’s skin-loving ingredients clear and unblock pores to allow for utterly flawless, long-lasting makeup application.”

face primer

I’ve never been able to tell much of a difference between high end facial primers.  NARS, benefit, tarte all seem to feel and work the same with my skin…so I really wish that if I was going to try a product from Pixi Beauty that it had been something a little more telling or unique to their line.  Regardless though, I have no doubt this tube of facial primer will get used eventually.

The 30 mL full size version retails on their website for $29.00 US, making this 15 mL deluxe sample a $14.50 value.

primer for your face, by pixi

Black Gel Liner by MICA Beauty Products

The next item I pulled out of my February Glam Bag was a black gel liner by MICA Beauty Products.  Definitely unfamiliar with this brand I had to do some research.  Turns out that MICA started in 2001 and launched their line of 100% natural cosmetics, entirely cruelty free.  They currently have a presence in 15 different countries throughout North America and Europe.  If anyone has used their products before, please let me know what you think below, because they have some really cool items on their website and I’m wondering about overall quality and value.

Micabeauty Ultra Smooth Gel Eyeliners make it easy for anyone to apply eyeliner without dealing with smudges, uneven lines, or fading.”

They come in 6 beautiful colors too: black, brown, bronze, green, blue and purple.  Being a big fan of gel liners already, I already have too large of a collection (2 black, 1 brown, 1 purple and 1 blue), so it will likely be some time before I have to reach for this one.  If only I’d gotten the green one!  😛

gel liner by MICA beauty

I hate that ipsy never includes a card stating the items you are actually receiving, or how much product of each.  I mean, this gel liner looks pretty big, I thought it was full-size, but the packaging on  MICA Beauty’s website looks totally different (with a built-in application brush), so I’m guessing it isn’t full-size.  But I have no way or knowing that for sure.  Even on ipsy’s website where they profile the items you received and show you how to get preferred discounts for the brands, no where does it mention size of the samples received.  If I’m wrong about this and just don’t know where to look, can one of you lovely readers fill me in?  Because it’s driving me nuts.  I can only guess that this product is about 2.5-3g (based on similar products this size).  The full-size version of this product is 5g and retails for $30.00 US, giving this sample a rough estimated value at $15.00 to $18.00.

MICA Beauty - black gel liner sample from ipsy

Coastal Scents Eyeshadow Quad mini

I had heard of Coastal Scents eyeshadows before, but had never tried them.  They aren’t known for being super high quality, but their low price point and decent quality makes them a good value.

The quad I received features 4 monochromatic shades perfect for a sultry, sexy, smoky eye. There is a decent amount of product in each, more than enough for several uses.

eyeshadow sampler from ipsy (Coastal Scents)

Candlelight, Gunmetal, Incognito and Ashen.

Gunmetal, Candlelight, Ashen and Incognito eye shadow samples from ipsy (Coastal Scents)

The two darkest shades were a little too similar for my liking, whereas another mid tone shade would’ve been ideal.  They do feel nice and creamy though, so I’m interested in trying them out in a look.  Here is a swatch of the shades:

Candlelight, Gunmetal, Incognito, Ashen swatches

Ashen is really pretty and a unique addition to my collection, I don’t have something quite like that one.  And what’s cool, is their website does sell the colors individually in pan form, so I can always grab just the one shade if I’m interested.  This mini quad holds 2g of product and is valued at $3.07.

Smoky Lash KAPOW mascara by POP Beauty

Pop Beauty is again, another line I wasn’t familiar with.  Starting out in London, POP beauty has now extended into the US market as well.  “Famous for bright colors and innovative formulas.”  

The mascara mini is Smoky Lash KAPOW, in shade “Smoky Black”.

Smokey Black mascara - KAPOW

Personally I found their website the least user-friendly of the bunch, with no search capabilities and poor product information.  For the life of me, I couldn’t find the size of the full-size mascara.  And if you click on “application” or “ingredients” the window where you can actually purchase that item, disappears making it impossible to purchase from the individual product page…without going out and going back in.

So, in order to calculate this sample’s value I had to do some more estimating.  My other full size mascaras range in size from 7-9mL, so if we call the average full-size mascara 8 mL, I can estimate this samples value at $11.04.

Smoky Lash KAPOW mascara by POP beauty

LashCard

The last item I pulled out of my February Glam Bag was this pack of Lashcards.

lashcard.com

So the idea is, you put the lash card in between your lid and your lashes while you apply your mascara.  To prevent smudging and clumping.

Personally I think the idea of these is okay, but in reality, who is going to spend this much money on lash cards on a regular basis?  They aren’t reusable  and to use them everyday would be an exorbitant expense.  And really, if you  have a nice quality mascara (or even some of the drugstore brands are awesome) you don’t have these problems anyway.

This sample set includes 4 cards.  Normally you can buy packs of 10 for $6.99, making this samples value about $2.80.

lashcard.com, ipsy

Total value of February’s “Red Carpet Ready” was roughly $46.41.

So overall, okay products this month, but nothing that I can’t wait to try out either.  Am I alone in not really liking the “Red Carpet Ready” bag?  Did other people really like this month’s Glam Bag?  Please let me know your thoughts below.

February 2013 Glam Bag by ipsy "Red Carpet Ready"

Thanks for reading!

xox,
Shannon

For a look at last month’s Glam Bag, click here.  If you are interested in subscribing, click here.


February Topbox featuring benefit!

Benefit Cosmetics Prive Box - February 2013 Topbox

Topbox won my heart over for a good long while with their February Prive Box featuring all products by benefit cosmetics!

benefit Cosmetics Topbox

As I mentioned in my January Topbox post, I opted in to receive a benefit Prive box instead of this months standard mystery box.  I knew they had limited quantities and wasn’t sure if I would get one.  But when I ripped open the brown paper and saw a bright fuscia wrapped Topbox and the words “benefit” written along the top, I actually let out  an excited victory yelp “eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

February Topbox review and photos

My excitement continued as I pulled out item after item.  This month was by far my favourite Topbox and I’m sure anyone who unsubscribed a couple of months ago due to a bad box (December), are kicking themselves now!

February Topbox Review, Haul and Photos

benetint

The first item I found at the top of my Topbox was “benetint”.  It is a rose-tinted lip and cheek stain.  One of my best friends Rachel actually turned me onto this product a few years ago, and like her, I fell in love with it immediately.  I have two mini’s of this product already from different Sephora value packs and I know I can put this sample to good use as well.  This is one product that I will definitely repurchase when my samples run dry.  The full-size version of this product is 12.5 mL and retails for $36 CAD making this samples value $7.20.

benetint sample - Rose

lip and cheek stain

rose-tinted lip and cheek stain

Total Moisture Facial Cream

Then out came benefit’s “Total Moisture Facial Cream” in the exact same packaging as the full size, an adorable small glass pot.  Said to “provide concentrated immediate & long-term hydration” this face cream may be just what one’s skin needs during the dry winter months.  Formulated specifically for normal to dry skin, this cream “contains exclusive tri-radiance complex to help develop the skin’s reserves of water.”  I’m personally looking forward to trying this out against my new favourite moisturiser from Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration line.  The full size version of this cream is 48.2g and retails for $42 CAD.  This sample is 8.9g making this samples value $7.75.

benefit face cream "total moisture"

normal to dry skin face cream

the POREfessional

Next up was “the POREfessional” face primer which I’ve been curious about trying for a long time.  This PRO balm is said to minimize the appearance of pores and can be used either under or over your makeup.  The full size version of this product is 22mL and retails for $34 CAD.  This sample is 7.5mL in size which makes its value $4.85.

"POREfessional" face primer by benefit cosmetics

"the POREfessional" face primer

Dandelion Wishes Powder and Lip Gloss

The largest of the samples was actually one of the last to come out of my Topbox.  This sample set featured a matching lipgloss and luminizing powder in one of benefit’s best selling shades “Dandelion”.  I was super stoked about receiving these as I’ve never actually tried any of their powder or lip products (excluding the lip/cheek stain) before.  The brightening face powder has a full size version that is 7g and sells for $36 CAD.  This 3g sample is an absolute steal valued at $15.43.  The corresponding lip gloss can also be purchased as a 15mL full size version for $18 CAD.  This 6.5mL sample has a value of $7.80.

Dandelion sample from Benefit

"Dandelion" face powder and lip gloss set

"Dandelion" blush and gloss

Fine-One-One

“Fine-One-One” is something I was also excited to receive a small bonus sample of.  This is a brand new product from benefit Cosmetics and is receiving some mixed reviews in relation to its value and its wear time.  So I’m stoked to be able to try it out for myself.  This sheer  brightening cheek and lip trio has a full size 8g version (seems small for a full size product) that retails for $36 CAD.  This sample is very small, only good enough for one use (maybe two if I stretch it out) and a value can’t be calculated.  I guess that is why they call it a bonus!  It came in a Chinese New Year envelope with a shout out to the Year of the Snake.  “Happy Gorgeous Year!” was labelled on the box wrapping as well as the flip side to this envelope.  Very cute touch!

February Topbox Review

Topbox February

"Fine-One-One" Sample

The Verdict:

Benefit Cosmetics Topbox Review, Pictures and Haul

I am absolutely ecstatic with my February Topbox and ALL of my new products from benefit Cosmetics.  This Prive Box struck a much better balance between makeup and skin care products than last months Clinique Prive Box did.  With two skin care products and 4 makeup related samples in my February Topbox, I couldn’t be happier.  All of the packaging this month is super pretty and all of the samples are in easy to use containers.  Total value of this month’s Topbox $43.03.  Not bad for the $12 my subscription.

There are so many great products in this February Topbox that I will do swatches and reviews in upcoming posts (seeing as this post is already long and super pic heavy).

If you are wanting to sign up so you can try a variety of deluxe samples every month too, you can do so here, online via their website.

I’d love to hear what you think of this month’s Topbox!  Did you receive a benefit box too?  If so, was it the same?

xox,
Shannon

Benefit Cosmetics


I won a Giveaway!

Proper Sweetie's Beauty

So just before my husband and I went to Europe, I was lucky enough to win a giveaway from Brooke over at Proper Sweetie’s Beauty and I wanted to share with you all what I was lucky enough to win.

It was so much fun to come home and find a package waiting for me in our mail box!

Proper Sweetie's Beauty Blog

She had personalized stickers and even included a cute little personalized card, how awesome is that!?

I received 2 Maybelline New York Color Tattoo 24 hr gel-cream shadows.  One in “Eternal Gold” and one in “Turquoise Forever”.  I was especially pumped about these, because I’m actually a huge fan of this product and didn’t happen to have these two shades.  They are one of the absolute best drug store products around, so you really need to check them out if you haven’t already.  I actually did a full 24 hour test of these a few months ago and have some other shades swatched here.

24 hr Color Tattoo cream eye shadows

These two shades are absolutely beautiful,  I’m looking forward to trying them in a look together!

"Eternal Gold" and "Turquoise Forever" swatches (Color Tattoo 24 hr)

The other two items I won in this giveaway were nail polishes by “e.l.f.”.  I’ve actually never used elf nail lacquer before, so I’m excited to give them a go too and see how they wear.  “Purple Pleaser” is on the left and “Metal Madness” is on the right.

"Purple Pleaser" and "Metal Madness" nail polishes by e.l.f.

I just wanted to say a big “THANK YOU” to Brooke for putting on such a fun giveaway and opening it up internationally so I had a chance to win!!  🙂

She has a really great blog and she is an absolute sweet heart to boot, so please head on over there and check it out!

Proper Sweetie's Beauty

xox,

Shannon


My First Glam Bag by ipsy

ipsy glam bag review

So I know I’m a little late posting this,  I should’ve got this up last week when I received it, but I wanted to make sure I shared it with you all anyway.

As you can see, I subscribed to another beauty box, widely due to my love/hate relationship with Topbox.  I wanted to give ipsy a try and see how the value compared.

“ipsy” was started by Michelle Phan, one of the most widely followed YouTube Beauty Gurus in the world.  She has nearly 3 million subscribers to her YouTube channel and currently has over 727 MILLION total video views.  So she created ipsy to select and share some of her favourite beauty products for people to try.

If you are living in the US of A, you can subscribe to Ipsy for just $10/month, shipping included.  For those of us north of the border in Canada, we have to pay $14.95/month.  But given that I currently pay $12.00/month for Topbox, I figured if the value was there, I wouldn’t be upset about the extra $3.

My first Glam Bag (January 2013) from ipsy was shipped in bright pink bubble wrap packaging, so it got my attention right away.  It was small enough to fit in my small apartment sized mail slot too, so that is always a bonus!

my first "glam bag" by Ipsy (January 2013)

Inside, I found a small black cosmetic bag and a full-size make-up brush.

January ipsy glam bag

You get a different cosmetic bag each month with ipsy.  I was actually impressed that they took the time to brand them too.

ipsy Glam Bag review

It was amazing how much fit in this little bag.  Here are the complete contents of my January ipsy Glam Bag:

ipsy glam bag for January 2013

SOHO Eyeliner Brush

The first item being the full-size eye liner brush from SOHO with an ergonomic design.  This brush has very short, dense bristles and is designed for applying dry or wet eyeliners or can also be used to fill in eyebrows with shadow.  It retails for about $5-$8 depending on where you snatch it up.

ergonomic eyeliner brush by SOHO

Bloody Mary Nailtini

The “Tiny Beauty Lounge” features cocktail inspired cosmetics.  So they have nail lacquers, eye shadows and lip glosses that are all inspired by your favourite cocktails.  You’ve got to check out their website, its pretty cool!  This is a totally new brand for me too, so it is fun being exposed to new things.  That is what beauty box subscriptions are all about!  This full-size “triple free” nail polish from their line of “Straight up Color Nail Lacquer” retails for $13.00.

Nailtini straight up nail lacquer "Bloody Mary"

"Bloody Mary" nailtini

Big Sexy Hair Spray & Play

Big Sexy Hair products are available for sale at Canada in salons but in the US I see they are available for sale at Wal-Mart as well.  The full-size 10 oz version of this hair spray retails for $33.00, which makes this 1.5 oz sample valued at $4.95.

Spray and Play by Big Sexy Hair Products

Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange Body Butter

Described as “Sparkling, juicy blood orange with notes of red raspberry and spicy sweet Italian mandarins.  The scent of Mediterranean beach.”  This body butter is 100% vegan and cruelty free.  It has a very refreshing and fruity scent, but isn’t overpowering.  The cream itself is thick and rich the way a body butter should be.  I see myself getting a lot of use out of this body butter over the remaining winter months.  This body butter by Pacifica is available for sale in two sizes, the smallest being the 2.5 oz version I received in my Glam Bag, for $7.00.

Body Butter by Pacifica in "Tuscan Blood Orange"

Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil

This product is a huge cult favourite in the beauty industry and I was really excited to receive it in my Glam Bag.  I’ve had Argan Oil before, but only ever used it on my hair.  This one is promoting multiple uses:

  • Daily Moisturizer (apply on clean face)
  • Hair Treatment (apply to split ends)
  • Body Moisturizer (apply to skin)
  • Nail Treatment (apply to cuticles)
  • Bath Oil (add to your bath)

I really love the eye dropper applicator too.  Whenever I’ve used Argan oil in the past, it seems to get everywhere, but this dropper is great!

Josie Maran’s highly sought after Argan Oil is available for retail in 3 different sizes at Sephora, allowing me to calculate the value of this sample to be about $6.12.

Argan Oil Sample by Josie Maran

eye dropper argan oil (Josie Maran)

So there it is – my January Glam Bag by ipsy!  Total value of $36.07.  I paid $14.95 and got a lot of cool items I’m excited to try from brands I’ve never tried before.  I’m especially excited about the Argan Oil by Josie Maran and the Nailtini nail lacquer.  The hair spray and body butter are less “exciting” and are mainly just useful additions that will get used regularly until they are gone.  🙂  So I have no doubt I will get my money’s worth out of this Glam Bag by ipsy!

ipsy glam bag review

ipsy vs. Topbox

Topbox seems to do a better job of customizing their boxes to the individual.  The box variety from ipsy is very small (usually just a different color/model of one item, with all other items identical).  For this month, I believe the only variation was what type of SOHO makeup brush you received.  But, ipsy mainly gears themselves towards makeup, with less skin care offerings.  So depending on what type of samples you are wanting to receive, ipsy may be the better choice for you.

Topbox only ships once a month, so if your subscription starts mid month, you will be waiting until the following month to have your Topbox shipped.  Whereas ipsy ships at different times of the month.  I signed up on January 13th and still received a January glam bag.

On that same vein though, about mid-month ipsy actually shows what was in their glam bags that month directly on their website.  So by the time I subscribed, I knew EXACTLY what items I was going to receive (kind of takes the fun out of it).  But now of course, February will be a surprise.  🙂  And I can’t wait!

ipsy supplies coupons online for each of the items featured in the glam bag, so if you want to go out and buy the full-size products, you shouldn’t have to pay full price.

For a packaging stand point, I’ve always thought the Topbox tubes were really cool, but for me I actually think the ipsy cosmetic cases are going to get more use in my house, than the Topbox tubes will.

And lastly, I wish ipsy featured the item list card with their glam bags.  Topbox features an itemized listing of what you received (telling you a little bit about each product and brand) as well as the value of the full size products.  I find that very helpful when calculating the total value of my Topbox each month.  If I want to do the same with ipsy (like I did above) I have to go on-line and search for each individual product to find the costs first.

Overall, I need a couple more months of ipsy glam bags before I can tell you whether I like them better than Topbox.  But so far, they are off to a great start.  I love the items I received and I really believe it was worth the $15 this month.  So if you live south of the border and only have to pay $10…WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?!?

And if you are already an ipsy subscriber, I’d love to hear how long you’ve been a subscriber and what your experience has been like!

Thanks for reading!

xox,

Shannon