Beauty Boxes- which is best?

This is a first impression, at a glance comparison of several of the popular monthly beauty subscriptions. None of the links below are referral links, I get nothing if you click on them. Cost of subscriptions were out of pocket, I did not receive any compensation for the products or this post. I just wanted  to provide a one page comparison of some of the popular beauty subs out there.

Play! by Sephora $10 mo for 5 samples + a fragrance sample

There is a beauty profile for you to fill out, but no customization of your box (you don’t get to pick a product or have a color choice).

MAY 2017 BOX #306
TRÈSTIQUE Highlight & Perfect Multipurpose Stick
MILK Makeup Blur Stick
GRANDE COSMETICS GrandeLIPS Hydrating Lip Plumper
TATA HARPER Resurfacing Mask
RAHUA Omega 9 Hair Mask
CLEAN Reserve Sel Santal
I am thrilled that 3 of 5 products were makeup and each one a different type. I appreciate that fragrance samples do not count towards your samples. I am happy with my first bag and look forward to next month.
Pros-
  • fun bonuses like Play! Pass and Play! Date
  • value
  • low cost
  • quality

Cons-

  • long wait list that “opens” periodically
  • no customization choices

Thus far, I would recommend Play! by Sephora

LipMonthly– $12.95 mo, 3-4  full sized lip products + 1 full size beauty product

I used the first month for $5 offer (it was actually $6.45 I inquired about the discrepency and was refunded $1.45). LipMonthly used to (prior to July 2015) offer 4-5 products for $10 a month. They have since raised the price and reduced the number of products you get, as well as countries they ship to, in order to provide higher quality products. For some reason several articles in the Support Center does not reflect this change. I have emailed them regarding this and will update the post when I receive a response. Still, at the cost of $3.24 or less per product, I expect it to be a good value.

As of right now, my first bag has not yet arrived. It has an estimated delivery date of 5/30.  I have no idea what is coming. All I could find from LipMonthly is that subscribers might receive a lip gloss from Bang Beauty, a dual lip wand from City Color Cosmetics, a lip liner from Starlooks Cosmetics and an eyeshadow pencil from Luna by Luna Cosmetics. Saying I may get something doesn’t really mean anything, though. I will update when I receive my bag.

I have already cancelled my subscription, but had I stayed on I would be able to choose the colors for 2 of the products in the June bag (both lip gloss, unknown brand) but the choices were unappealing to me.  I really wish I could choose what colors or finishes I absolutely do not want to receive, because I have very pink skin that clashes with many colors.  My decision to unsubscribe was not because of the company at all, just that my unique skin tone makes this subscription a bad fit for me personally.

Pros-

  • Low Cost
  • Full size
  • Some customization
  • Monthly giveaway, reward points, & refer a friend links

Cons-

  • delayed shipping
  • Tracking info not updated on website
  • Outdated information on website

I am hesitant to recommend LipMonthly.  I haven’t had enough experience with the company to know if shipping is usually reliable or what the product colors are typically like.

 

Ipsy– $10 mo, 5 beauty products

There is a beauty profile for you to fill out and reviewing products you get somehow affects what you will receive. I’m not sure how much either of those are actually taken into consideration, though.
I was less than impressed with my first and only bag, which contained a laughably small mascara sample, a cheap eye shadow brush, under eye gel pads, face wash sample, and a highlighter stick. All were small sample sizes except the brush, which retails for under $3. However, as disappointing the bag was, ultimately it was the poor customer service that caused me to cancel.  Sadly, of every sub on this list I was most excited for this one.

 Pros-

  • low cost
  • referral links and points

Cons-

Because of my experience, I cannot recommend Ipsy.

 

Birchbox– $10 mo, 5 beauty products

I really liked BB and stayed with them for 3 months. I did not receive any full size samples in that time and the samples tend to be small.

 

December 2016
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray
Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Peel
Wilma Schumann Skincare Hydrating Collagen Eye Pads
IPKN Radiant Cream Primer SPF 15
Milk Makeup Dew You

November 2016
Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish™ Hot Cloth Cleanser Starter Kit
jane iredale Just Kissed Lip and Cheek Stain
amika Silken Up Dry Conditioner – 5.1 oz.
ARDENCY INN MODSTER Smooth Ride Supercharged Eyeliner Travel-Size Duo
Marcelle New-Age LumiPOWER 3-in-1 Moisturizer

October 2016
Mally Beauty Volumizing Mascara
dr. brandt microdermabrasion skin exfoliant
Air Repair Super-Hydrating Eye Cream
Prescriptives False Eyelashes Plush Mascara
Oribe Gold Lust Dry Shampoo

Pros-

  • Low cost
  • Great customer service
  • quality samples
  • Your history continues to be available after you end your subscription
  • Value
  • Customization (sample choice and beauty preferences)

Cons-

  • Repetitive
  • Samples tend to be on the smaller side

 

I really loved the  overall quality and customer service Birchbox offers. If I were in the market for skin and hair care products, I would resubscribe.

 

I’m still searching for a subscription box that is affordable and mainly focused on makeup. Taking recommendations! I’ll even use your referral link ;)kin or hair care products, I would probably resubscribe.

 

Which subscription box is your favorite?

Disco!

Spriak LED Party Disco Ball  review

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Pros:

  • Compact size- doesn’t take up much room and is easy to store
  • Lightweight plastic
  • Rotating
  • Bright lights that throw pretty patterns
  • Multiple settings for different lighting effects
  • The cutest little remote ever
  • Fun for parties
  • Affordable

Get yours here.

Cons:

  • Your kids are going to beg you to turn the disco lights on ALL. THE. TIME.

Joking (kinda) aside, this little light is great. I didn’t expect such a big impact from such a small item. I love it, the kids love it, everyone loves it. Def helps get my kids off of the tv/computer & up moving around! I look forward to using the Spriak Led Projection Party Disco Ball at all our parties and holidays! 100% would recommend.

I received this product free or at discount in order to facilitate an unbiased review

CHoPstick STYLER

Lee Stafford The Original Chopstick Styler™ Hair Wand review

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Just look at that pretty pink handle!

Pros-

Heats in seconds (450 F)

Clipless wand

Built in safety stand to protect surfaces

Ceramic-coated, rectangular barrel 1/4″ x 3/8″

Cool touch tip

Swivel Cord

Includes heat protective glove

On/Off switch with LED indicator light (steady red when on)

Plug is compatible with US outlet

Value

My only complaints are really not complaints at all. I just wish it had multiple heat settings, I’d prefer a lower temp for doing such small sections of hair. I’d also really like the cool touch tip to be tapered, instead of having the slight flair it does. It’s not a big deal and doesn’t negatively affect my experience with the CHoPstick STYLER.

I love the pink handle, it’s almost metallic. Super cute! I didn’t know what to think about the unique, rectangular barrel at first. I wasn’t sure how it would affect the shape of the curls. Turns out, it’s a total non-issue. The shape of the curls were perfect!

I have medium length, wavy, thick hair that is somewhat coarse and super duper frizzy. This was my first time to ever use a clipless wand, but it was so easy. You can see in my first try there was a little bit of user error, I accidentally twisted my hair as I was wrapping it, leading to a strange kink.  I also had let my hair dry naturally and had quite a bit of frizz. Next time I will definitely make sure to smooth my hair before curling it. I think I’ll get the hang of the CHoPstick Styler after another try or two. This picture was after an attempt to finger comb the curls to break them up just a little bit.

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My hair is legit always a dazzling halo of frizz, radiating out from my glorious face like the rays of the sun. I *really* should have smoothed it first.

The corkscrew curls are tight, so they take length off your locks- my hair appeared 4 or 5 inches shorter than it actually is. They also last a long time. I didn’t use any product for hold, but the curls held strong over THREE days! My hair was bouncy, which was a lot of fun to play with! I think these curls would be perfect for wearing down, a variety of lovely updos, a fun fauxhawk, or whatever! I’m thrilled with the performance of the Lee Stafford The Original Chopstick Styler™ Hair Wand.

 

I would recommend the CHoPstick STYLER to women seeking tight, corkscrew curls. I do think it would work well for most, if not all, hair textures.

#curlingwand #getchopsticked #productreview
I received this product in exchange for my unbiased review.

Earth Day

Tomorrow is Earth Day!

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                                                                                                                                                                                Image by Moini

Earth Day is seriously one of my favorite holidays. No pressure to exchange the perfect gift, no congested traffic or standing in lines for hours, no obligation to spend time with your mean aunt. Best of all, it’s the day when everyone is just a little more eco-conscious.

Here are 7 easy ideas for celebrating Earth Day:

  • Go for a walk, picking up litter while appreciating the beauty of nature around you
  • Plant a tree or native plants (just Google your state + native plants), or get rid of the invasive species you may have on your property
  • Make reusable versions  of kitchen staples such as sandwich bags, coffee filters, & food wraps
  • Make an upcycled birdfeeder
  • Watch The Lorax or read a book with your children
  • Make an adorable salt dough Earth Day keepsake
  • Make small changes in your life that will have a big impact in reducing your carbon footprint

You can find more great ideas HERE

Lost Puppies

The neighborhood puppies have wandered away from home & now they need your help!

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  Lost Puppies by Canadian company Family Pastimes is a board game unlike any I’ve played before. The emphasis is on cooperation, instead of competition. Strategy & teamwork are essential to success.

A very welcome alternative to traditional competitive games, children can easily play without needing Mom to step in to referee any disagreements. It brings a smile to my face hearing the kids work out how to solve the problem before them, and warms my heart knowing they are bonding in a friendly, fun manner.  It has quickly become my daughter’s favorite game & she loves to share it with all her little friends.

The cute that appears to be hand-illustrated. It is 12 x 12″, folding neatly into a smaller than typical box,  making it perfect for carrying along to a friend’s house or while camping. img_0918

Cardboard tokens are easy to punch out & have held up well. The instructions are very detailed as to the purpose of each piece, which made explaining to our youngest painless.

Small details, like the shape of the tags on the puppies’ collars, strengthen my preschooler’s shape, color, & number recognition.img_0921

The basic gameplay is fairly simple & well suited for young children, but variations are provided that increase difficulty. I had to read the directions twice to understand them, but it’s pretty straightforward. My children love the “all colors” variation, which is a little too tricky for the youngest when playing solo, but with the help of her older brother they get along just fine.

The games are safety tested & made using all eco-friendly materials; 100% recycled pasteboard, water based glues, non-toxic paints on wooden pieces, soy-based and latex inks on recycled papers, corrugated containers from recycled papers, and recyclable shrink film. Eco-consciousness is something I highly value in a company, as well as the product.

I am glad to have Lost Puppies to occupy the children while I prepare dinner this upcoming Thanksgiving.

Recommended ages 5-7, but we played with a 4 & 8 year old & they both enjoyed it.

Players 1-8  I love that this is a game the kids can easily play with several of their friends! Great for play dates, holiday gatherings, & sleepovers!

Lost Puppies would be a great gift for a family with young children this holiday season!

 

 

I received this product to facilitate an honest review. All thoughts & opinions expressed are my own.

Are you raising kind kids?

Bullying- it’s a huge problem in our schools. An epidemic. Many schools have implemented anti-bullying policies, but to what avail? These policies are reactive, after the fact, and do nothing to address the cause of the behavior, nor do they equip children with the tools they need to handle these situations. These reactive ‘solutions’ are ineffective, but what’s a parent to do?

My kids fall into both categories, the bullied & the bully.  My boy, with his coke-bottle glasses & caring, sensitive disposition would be an easy target for bullies, and he indeed had one. He wouldn’t harm a fly, but my daughter? She could be the Queen of Mean. Lemme tell you how we turned that around.

  Cool Kind Kid– is an educational curricula that can be used by schools or at home. Cool Kind Kid is a proactive solution to bullying. The program teaches kids the social skills they need to combat bullying in a fun & easy way. It’s great for young children, recommended ages 4-9. My children, 4 & 8, really enjoyed and benefitted from it. Books, music, flash cards- no matter your child’s learning style there is a solution for you! Progress charts motivate your children, placemats serve as a gentle reminder to mind your manners at the table,  & bracelets are a fun visual cue that can go everywhere with them.

The kids love the book  Tanner Wants to be COOL! [Book 1]The style is reminiscent of a comic. Bright colors grab their attention, and large print makes it easy for them to read. The kids love Tanner, and I love that as Tanner navigates what it is to be “cool,” my kids learn right along with him that kind, caring, & respectful behavior is cool, while bullying is the ultimate in uncool.

The Bullying Prevention Cool Kind Kid Handbook [Book 1] & Bullying Prevention Tips- Raising a Cool Kind Kid book are invaluable. I like to go over it a little each day. Of course the bookmarks come in handy here! The solutions are delivered in a way children understand & are easy for them to implement into their everyday lives. My kids loved the pages for brainstorming in Bullying Prevention Tips. They really liked the idea of making a plan & putting it into action. Here’s my youngest doing an activity out of the Handbook. We all appreciated the inclusion of fun little activities that didn’t require a ton of time or special equipment & cute.

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The Flashcards are a fun & convenient alternative to the handbook activities. They are large, sturdy, & brightly colored. I like to use them as redirection when the kids are getting antsy (it’s been raining here in the PNW. A lot).

The  award-winning Cool Kind Kid CD gets my kids moving & grooving, while reinforcing positive social behaviors. The songs are relatively short & serve as the perfect “wiggle break” in class. The songs cute, catchy, & upbeat. The lyrics are provided, making it easy to sing along. We enjoy all of the songs, but I am particularly fond of Dan’s Disastrous Dining Dilemma.

I’ve got to say, I love the laminated placemats. The kids enjoy coloring them while waiting for dinner to be served (we use washable markers), so no more asking every 13 seconds whether dinner is done. Best Part? So less mess for Mom (me) to clean after dinner! Before, my kids were much more sloppy eaters, but now that they are being more mindful of their manners, they are also more mindful of where that spaghetti-laden fork is hovering & are eager to help me wipe the table or rinse the dishes. It has been a very pleasant surprise!

Barbara Gilmore, the CEO, is clearly passionate & knowledgable about manners and bullying. She was an absolute pleasure to talk with & very helpful!

My children are able to resolve conflicts that before would have resulted in a squabble & whining. They just remind each other of what a Cool Kind Kid does. That’s it, that simple! My mind is kind of blown.

I have seen a remarkable improvement in my children’s behavior, and they were already well behaved (for the most part)! They  know that “The KIND kid is the COOL kid, not the bully.”™

I highly recommend  the Bullying Prevention Parent /Child Resource Kit which has everything you need to get started. The bundle is a great value. All young children should be taught these skills & tools!

 

Follow Cool Kind Kid on TwitterFacebook, & Instagram

 

I received Cool Kind Kid’s Bullying Prevention Parent/Child Resource Kit free of charge in order to facilitate a review. As always all thoughts expressed are my true opinion.

 

Aromatherapy Shower Melts

Well, the cold & rainy weather has arrived in Oregon, and with it came some kind of virus. Both the guys in my house are sick with a cold, so I get to play nursemaid.

Thankfully, I was prepared! I had everything I needed to make a batch of chicken soup and some  congestion-busting aromatherapy tablets.

These tablets are so quick, easy, cheap, and work so well. They’re nothing more than a baking soda disc with a few drops of essential oil that you place on the floor of your shower, but they work! As the hot water dissolves the tablet the scent of the essential oil is released, adding a boost to the steam for loosening & clearing your airways (with the bonus of helping deodorize your drains, lol). I used this recipe by Patricia Pan on PopSugar, with a little variation (I used Breathe Again Essential Oils Blend by Aviano Botanicals). If you use essential oils for anything, you should do some research to ensure you’re using them in a safe manner. Not all essential oils are safe for use on children or around cats. For instance, this blend contains eucalyptus & rosemary, so it would not be appropriate to use for my children.

Now, you can find many recipes online, including the one I used, that say you can use a normal baking pan & paper cupcake liners. While yes, you can make the tablets that way, I cannot EVER get the paper liner off the discs using that method. Ever. I have used the foil liners with more luck, but even then they stick like mad. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to pick soggy shreds of cupcake liner out of my drain. I also find that allowing the tablets to air dry for 24-48 hours, as opposed to baking them, results in a firmer, much less crumbly disc. I prefer that method, myself. If you do it that way, add the essential oils after the drying time. I baked the melts because the boys are already ill & I finally got a silicone cupcake pan, so now there aren’t any cupcake liners to mess with!

I used this Keliwa 12 Cup Silicone Muffin & Cupcake Baking Pan. It says it’s dishwasher & microwave safe, but I don’t have either of those appliances to put that to the test. It also says it can be used up to 450 degrees, but the recipe above only goes to 350. I was worried about fumes & odors while baking, but I didn’t smell anything from the pan- not even when I pulled it out of the oven & leaned in to sniff the silicone itself. The pan is very flexible, you do need to use a baking sheet under it. It was very easy to remove the tablets (which did not crumble). I think if I were to bake muffins or eggs in it, it would be easy to push them out from the bottom. It certainly beats my little 6 cup metal muffin pan as far as convenience goes, but the cups are a tad more shallow. The entire shower melt recipe fit perfectly in the cups, with no empty cups or leftover mix.

 

I received both the baking sheet & essential oil blend free of charge/discounted in order to facilitate a review. The opinions expressed on my blog are based on my own thoughts, knowledge, and experiences. Please remember that I am not a health professional. Always consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet, health, or other applicable areas.