So, today’s edition is an amalgamation of two desires, one already expressed, and one found in the course of researching a different week’s.
So, today’s edition is an amalgamation of two desires, one already expressed, and one found in the course of researching a different week’s.
(In case you’re not familiar with it, Birchbox is a monthly subscription service where, for just $10 a month, you receive a box full of deluxe-sized and travel-sized samples. You receive Birchbox points for every purchase you make and every review your write, which can be redeemed in their store. It’s pretty much a cycle of awesome! Get your own here.)
I followed last month’s lead and again avoided all spoilers so that I would not be envious or upset about what I did or did not get. It’s been only mildly successful, because, while I now no longer am upset that I didn’t get something specific, I’ve been underwhelmed by what I did get. (And I had a slight spoiler by texting with Rose who let slip the nature of one of her items, and I wound up figuring it out. And being sad I didn’t get it.)
So, on to this month. I feel like I am nearing 2 decisions:
1. Cancel my Birchbox See, I LOVE getting a little box of goodies in the mail every month, but I’ve really been underwhelmed the past few months. Since I resubscribed back in July in order to get the Davines shampoo and conditioner samples, I’ve really only been thrilled about 3 products: Davines This Is A Sea Salt Spray, the Tocca hand cream, and the Stila Stay All Day in Beso. That’s 3 things in 6 months, and one of them came in a replacement box. It may just not be worth it anymore, or maybe I should try a different service.
2. Quit making videos
I know, I know, learning curve. But this is my 4th video and I’ve done yet another thing wrong. (I forgot that you can’t see what’s in my hands and I didn’t hold everything up for the camera.) I mean, at this point, I may have learned to a. shoot it with my point-and-shoot so that it focuses in on close-ups, b. how to add music, and c. how to add an intro, but my video skills are still severely lacking, it may just look worse for me to keep making them than it would for me to stop them. I mean, come on, admit it—you watch other unboxing videos and they’re way better.
Anyway, the review!
As always, If you have any questions about any of the products mentioned or anything else, please let me know. I’ve listed links to the products on Birchbox in the video information, so you should watch it on YouTube to access that. If you have any suggestions for future videos, let me know!
What did you get in your box? Have you tried any other services? (Beauty Bar? Glossybox?) Do you recommend them?
Soliloquy noun \sə-ˈli-lə-kwē\
: a long, usually serious speech that a character in a play makes to an audience and that reveals the character’s thoughts
I decided to start a series in which I (finally) review the (copious amounts of) samples I’ve procured from Sephora (among other places), so it seemed a fitting title. 🙂
Finding a good use for my empty Birchbox boxes. 😉
(In order to keep track of all my samples, I’ve started to write the names on the top in Sharpie and then using Scotch tape on top to keep it from smearing. I figure if I ever buy the full size, I can refill the sample size and use it for traveling.)
I’m going to use my first entry to discuss the collection of skincare items that, along with the Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil, I credit for helping to clear up my face after the Liz Earle Incident. Which means, yes, I like them, and, yes, I would purchase the full-size items. (And intend to!)
I’ve read about Ren Skincare everywhere, so when I saw that Sephora had the whole line, I grabbed a few items to try. And, boy, am I glad I did.
My first pick was the Ren Hydra Calm Cleansing Milk. I specifically chose this because it’s for sensitive skin and I thought my skin was upset enough as it was. I chose this over the gel since, as I’ve said, everything I’m reading these days is saying that any kind of gel or foaming cleanser is bad for you. So I started using this after taking off my makeup with Bioderma Crealine H2O. It smells nice, it feels gentle on the skin—almost like you’re not even putting anything on your skin, which is good for upset skin—and then using the muslin cloth from the Liz Earle kit and hot water to remove it. I put the hot cloth over my face for a few seconds, and then I gently scrub wipe off.
Once things started to clear up after using the Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil, I introduced the Ren ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser. I didn’t want to overstrip or overdry my skin with the clay, so I only used that at night, and continued with the Hydra Calm in the morning. But I have to say that this feels plenty milky as well. It does smell clay-like, and I also remove it with the muslin cloth and hot water.
After that, I used the Ren Resurfacing AHA Concentrate. This is to help brighten and clear your complexion, with acidic exfoliators. This is especially good for helping to get rid of the marks that zits leave on your face. Which I know firsthand.
Then I use the Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil. On top of that, I’ve been using the Ren ClearCalm 3 Replenishing Night Serum. This helps treat the pimples and also helps with the redness and marks. (You only use the Resurfacing AHA Concentrate for 7 days at a time, so this works in the interim.) It’s amazing to wake up in the morning and literally see that your skin looks better.
(I’ve had a deluxe-sized sample of the Ren Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask for a while, so I’ve thrown that in once a week as well to help fade the red marks and discoloration. [I did not receive this one from Sephora. I don’t even remember where it came from!] Especially since Lisa Eldridge mentioned her love of lactic acid treatments for exfoliation.)
Then, rounding out the sample saviors, is Origins Make A Difference Plus + Rejuvenating Treatment (the oil-free one). I mentioned I was liking the Ole Henriksen Vitamin Plus moisturizer sample I got, but the Origins pulled ahead in the end. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I’ve gotten samples of this about 7 times now, since I can’t be without it. It feels so nice on the skin, it feels perfectly hydrated, and it smells amazing. I don’t get over oily from using it, and my skin has really turned around over the last few weeks. (Although I do find that if I use the acid exfoliators during the day, it does overstimulate the oil production in my skin, and I get oilier, so I don’t use it during the day.)
These are just in place of those things I was previously using. I’m still using the same toners. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just go back to my old cleansing routine after the Liz Earle didn’t work out. I am, too, but I am trying to take to heart the urging not to use foaming/gel cleansers, and both of the ones I was using fell under that category. Also, this stuff has really been working and I haven’t paid for it (yet). :p So…
And now my skin is looking so much better and I’m grateful.
Next time, I’ll discuss some of the makeup samples I’ve gotten.
Have you tried any of these products? Are you sampling anything from Sephora lately?
I know that it’s been a while since I received the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish™ Hot Cloth Cleanser Starter Kit that I won through Birchbloggers. You may or may not have been wondering about my review. Well, it’s finally ready.
Before I go any further, I do need to say that I feel truly thankful (heh, get it?) for having won this to try. It’s very hard writing a blog when you can’t afford new products to review. That’s probably why I took it as far as I did to really be able to give you a fair assessment.
The Liz Earle cleansing system works in two parts. The first step is the cream cleanser. Free from mineral oil, it contains naturally active ingredients, including eucalyptus and cocoa butter. It’s supposed to be a gentle cleanser, suited to all skin types, that still removes even the most stubborn of makeup. The second step is polishing with the muslin cloth. A gentle way to exfoliate your skin, it makes for a really lovely regimen.
Everything I’ve been reading about skin care lately has said to use cream-based cleansers, even if you have oily skin. Any cleanser that foams is supposed to be the devil. So this system definitely fits the bill.
Reviewing a cult product like this, one that has won over 90 beauty awards, one that so many people consider a holy grail product, you feel a certain burden of responsibility.
It’s just such a lovely system. Look at it.
Do you remember how I was saying that I never have any ideas for Halloween costumes? Well, while having insomnia, in the wee early hours right after Halloween, I made a discovery that inspires me for next year. (And it actually came through another discovery I made that I’ll share with you soon.)
I present to you Face Lace.
The Hipstar mask. Photo from FaceLace.com.
How. Effing. Cool?! This take the masquerade mask and elevates it into the stratosphere. And there’s more!
Hello, again, and welcome to another edition of Things Shani Wants But Can’t Afford (Right Now) Because She’s Unemployed. Today changes things up a bit, in that I’m not just going to write about a single item that I’m lusting after, but an entire new makeup line.
I recently read this article about celebrity makeup artist Troy Surratt‘s new makeup line, Surratt, which just debuted at Barneys New York (sadly, not all the items are available online right now).
I think we all love perusing Japanese stores such as Muji for their interesting and ingenious products . Surratt took all that innovation and injected it into his line, and some of the items inspire unnatural amounts of lust in me.
Surratt describes his Autographique liner (liquid liner) pen as being inspired by calligraphy pens, and contains a similar capillary system. The point is fine and made of nylon, not felt. And—get this!—the tip is refillable! So instead of throwing out another whole pen, you can just replace the tip. I think this is a brilliant idea, and I really want to try it. (I have liquid eyeliner dysfunction, so anything that may help me with my eyeliner applying skills…)
Another Japanese influence Surratt drew on for his line was the difference in brow pencils, making his harder and more powdery. This gives the pencil more of a graphite pencil feel, and allows it to fill in between the hairs of the eyebrows more naturally. I’ve been trying to find a good one, and this sounds pretty excellent. (And it’s also refillable!)
Expressioniste Brow Pencil (This is just a link to the refill—the pencil seems to be sold out online.)
The article says that his line has a look-good-on-everyone red, and of course, I, in my search for the perfect red, NEED to try it. It’s the Automatique Lip Crayon in Alluring. The product description says that it has a non-drying, suede-like, matte finish, which sounds just right for a red. And it looks pretty stunning to me!
Automatique Lip Crayon in Alluring
Another great feature of the line is customizable palettes, which, if you’ve ever had a pre-made palette with colors you just don’t use, you know is a godsend.
In general, the line looks amazing (see here, here, and here). And it doesn’t hurt that the man himself replied to my tweet! 🙂 As soon as I have some money, I am hightailing it to Barneys to try all of these out for myself!
Do any of these tempt you? What are you wishing for this week?
Well, then. Here we are.
Since this is the beginning, there are 2 things that you should know about me.
1. La rêve! Only in my dreams do I dream in perfect French. Despite the fact that I’ve been learning for a couple of years now, I’m still even hopeless when I speak! But I like to pretend, and at least j’essaie (I try). And I’m persistent. And a bit obsessed with all things French. Have any of you learned a second language and have any tips? I am all ears, both asleep and awake! And if any of you speak French and I MISuse it, please correct me!
2. I am a failed blogger. I always begin with great intentions, and then somewhere along the way (sometimes after only the first entry), I lose all momentum. Under my belt, I have a music blog (my best attempt to date), a pseudo-knitting blog, a blog about my attempts at learning French, and a blog about what it’s like to be a fan of European football in America (so shameful, this one). It occurred to me that part of the problem might be dividing all my various interests up into different blogs. I fear alienating people who may begin to follow me for specific content with other content they have no interest in, but consider this your fair warning.
So, c’est moi! That’s me.
…okay, I lied. There are more than 2 things.
3. I’m obsessed with makeup and beauty products. When I was a little girl and my friends would come over to visit, we would play with this eyeshadow palette that my mother had. We would always come out of it looking like little clowns, but that was our idea of fun. And it still is mine. I embarrassingly just earned my entry into Sephora’s VIB Rouge program. Which, basically, means that I spent way too much money on makeup this year. Whoops.
4. Ditto for being obsessed with fashion and style. Alas, that was not as easy to do with my mom’s stuff. Although I surely toddled around perilously in her heels well before I could actually fit into them.
5. Strangely, despite my Francophilia, I am also an Anglophile. Hey, the two of you may have a rivalry going on, but as an American, I can remain blissfully unaffected. This means my vocabulary is peppered with French words AND Britishisms. It’s a wonder anyone ever understands me. In particular, I adore Scotland, and it’s so bad, I’ve been 11 times. (I also have dear friends there now, so it’s not quite as bad as it seems!) It also explains how I fell into liking what the British call football (and what I will never call the “s” word), even if I do support a Spanish team. (Although, being American, I also like baseball. You resolve it. I’ve grown to live with it.)
6. I am never so happy as when I’m traveling. So I hope to share my future adventures with you all, as well as some of the things I’ve already learned and places I’ve already been.
7. I have never shot and uploaded a video to YouTube before, but I hope to attempt to for future entries. Please, go easy on me!
8. Oh! And I knit. Slowly, but pretty well.
So, basically, all these numbers add up to tell you that this blog is going to be a hodgepodge of all the varying and contrasting interests that make up me, and I hope you will stick around to see how it turns out! (I especially hope I do, ha.)
Merci, et, à la prochaine! Until next time!