Sephora Play: The Beauty Remedy Edition.

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A few days ago, when I was taking the train into work on day three of yet another six day stretch, I checked my email, and had gotten one from Sephora announcing a new luxe Play box.  I jumped on it becuase I liked the last one so well.  Do I need this?  Strictly speaking, no.  Does it make me feel better about the fact that I am working like a crazy person and have no time off and am utterly exhausted and cranky?  Oh, hell yes.  I have one more six-day week ahead, and then a friend of mine arrives in town and I am taking some much-needed time off to hang out with her.

The theme of this box is “The Remedy Edition,” so it is filled with products that purport to be good for your skin.  There were two variations of this box, and four of the six products were in each of them, so it’s of no real benefit to purchase both, and Sephora was kind enough to list the brands contained in each box on their website.  I ordered the second edition variation because I knew the first edition box contined something from SK-II and was worried it would be their skin essence again.  I’m currently going through a terrible time testing it out already, and I loathe the way that it smells.  I think it smells like sweaty feet and I find it to be generally vile and revolting, and I’m getting a few tiny breakouts in places I don’t usually get breakouts.  I wasn’t going to take a chance on getting another bottle of it.  The second box variation that I ordered contained a YSL primer and an AmorePacific essence, so I figured that box would be the safer bet.

As you can tell from the photo above, Sephora messed up.  They sent me the other box.  When I first opened it, I saw figuratively saw red for a couple of minutes because it wasn’t the one that I wanted, and by this time both box variations were sold out.  I resolved to call and complain, and likely will still do that after I finish this blog post, but I eventually settled down and have grown to like this one.  SK-II essence is nowhere to be seen, and, truth be told, I’m still on the hunt for a good eye cream, so I guess this is an okay screw up on Sephora’s part.  I could have done without two jars of moisturizer, but that’s a strange complaint.  Can one ever really have too much moisturizer around?

I also bought this as much for the container it comes in as I did for the products inside.  This is an almost perfect travel case for a light packer.  It’s a hard shell square container that looks like a CD case that people about my age will remember carting around in junior high and high school.  There’s a pouch to tuck things into on one side and open real estate on the other.  This box is actually sturdy, and I can’t wait to use it.

But anyway, people are here for product descriptions, so here we go!

Giorgio Armani Beauty Ecstasy Shine 400 Lipstick:  This is a super moisturizing lipstick in a bright red (good thing I just got rid of a bunch of red shades since I got new one to add to the collection) that really impressed me with its staying power.  This box was delivered yesterday while I was at work, so I swatched everything after I got home last night.  While I wiped most of the color off before I went to bed, there was still a red stain on the back of my hand when I woke up nine hours later.  There’s still a small bit left as I type this, and I’ve taken a shower.  I’ll cop to being quite stunned by that.  I needed three coats to achieve an opaque look when I swatched this, and a single coat is pretty sheer, which I happen to like.  There’s some versitility in it, and it can take me from day to night.  It is considerably more shiny than a traditional cream lipstick but not as much as a gloss.  A 0.10 ounce tube retails for $38.00.  There’s 0.05 ounces in the sample, so that’s $14.00 of product.

Tatcha The Silk Cream:  I’ve only ever tried the enzyme powder from this brand, and I absolutely love it, so I’m looking forward to this one.  It’s going to be hard to top my newfound love for AmorePacific’s Rejunvenating Creme, though.  This bills itself as a firming moisturizer.  I tried it out last night, and it feels really nice and absorbs quickly enough.  A little goes a very long way.  I had to have used less than a quarter-size amount for my entire face.  This retails for $120.00 for 1.7 ounces (The sample size is 0.34 ounces, so that translates to a $24.00 value), which is a much less bitter pill to swallow when compared to the price of the AmorePacific cream I so dearly love, so I’m kind of hoping this one blows me out of the water with its effectiveness.  I’m also impressed with the sturdiness of the packaging on this sample.  It’s got some real heft to it.

Givenchy Le Rouge Perfecto Beautifying Lip Balm:  They’re not kidding when they describe this as a translucent pink balm.  It’s basically Chap Stick, but I’m not complaining about that.  I’m going to throw it in my purse and use it as such.  In fact, I’m wearing it now.  It feels like a nice, moisturizing lip balm, and it sort of enhances the natural pink color of my lips.  It looks very natural.  This is the kind of balm that is supposed to react with your body chemistry to create a perfect color just for you.  As best I can tell, it works as described.  It also claims to plump, but, that’s a total lie.  It doesn’t tingle, and my lips look the exact same as they did before I put this on.  This stuff retails for $36.00 for 0.07 ounces.  The sample is 0.04 ounces, so that’s $20.57 of product.  I don’t care how well this works, there’s no lip balm in the world worth that much money.  Not with the way that I go through lip balm.  This is a nice one, though.

SK-II R.N.A. Power Eye Cream Radical New Age: I know this brand has a cult-like devotion from people because of its essence, but I just don’t get it.  I mean, I hate that stuff.  I’m always on the lookout for a good eye cream, though, so I’m not angry (anymore) that Sephora messed up and sent me the wrong box.  This lacks the offensive smell of the SK-II Essence.  It contains Pitera–a byproduct of the fermentation of a special kind of yeast–like everything else in the line.  It’s also wildly expensive like everything else in the line.  It’s expensive to the tune of $135.00 for 0.4 ounces.  There’s 0.08 ounces of product here, so that works out to $27.00 of product.  I can’t imagine it blowing my mind enough for me to buy a full-size of this, but I did use it last night, and it feels lovely going on.  I’m adding it to the routine until the sample is gone, so here’s hoping it works.  I’ve been working like a madman and getting nowhere near enough sleep, so my dark circles are a little worse than usual, and I actually have a little bit in the way of bags under my eyes right now, so this stuff has something to work on.  Let’s hope it’s the miracle worker it claims to be.

La Mer The Moisturizing Soft Cream:  People swear by La Mer products, but I’ve never tried them.  I’ve never thought my skin needed something that intensive.  I’m still relatively young, and my skin looks great.  There’s no wrinkles and only the smallest of fine lines are just beginning.  This will be my first experience with La Mer.  It feels very creamy, and it absorbed faster than the Tatcha Silk Cream when I tried it out, so I’m hopeful it is something I end up liking.  It’s only slightly more expensive than the AmorePacific’s Rejuvenating Cream, so if I find it works better, I’ll be a La Mer convert.  In all honesty, I do hope this works well.  This brand has been around for so long, and people love it so much that I would hate to not like it.  Skin care is very personal, though, so we shall see.  A full-size jar is 1.7 ounces and retails for $170.00, so that means there’s $24.00 of product in this 0.24 ounce sample.

Atelier Cologne Santal Carmin Pure Perfume:  I seriously think I like every single perfume in this line.  At least, I like every single one that I’ve smelled, and that’s most of them.  Sud Magnolia is my favorite, but these are all long lasting on my skin and smell so fresh that it’s impossible for me to wear any of these and not find myself smelling my wrist throughout the day.  This one is no different.  It smells like bergamont at first and then dries down to smell mostly of cedar with hints of sandalwood and vailla on me.  It’s sweet and woody, and I am in love.  This is $250.00 for 3.3 ounces.  Yeah, that’s crazy expensive, but I strongly believe that you get what you pay for with perfume.  There’s 0.14 ounces in this sample, so that amounts to $10.61 of product.

Sephora has been doing these special boxes for about a year now, and I passed on the first one.  I’m not sure why I did that.  Overall, I now think that they are a great value and give me a chance to try out a ton of high-end products I would never try otherwise.  I mean, I’m not going to go out and drop $170.00 on La Mer cream without ever trying it out, but I will shell out the dough if I already know it works.  I know Sephora gets all kind of heat from people in the review section for items like this, but I really believe that if you just sit down and do the math, you are getting a fair deal.  If you have no intention of buying any of these, that’s fine.  You still get a good opportunity to try out some obscenely expensive makeup and skincare items.  If you’re like me, and could actually see yourself using some of these in a full-size, it’s the best opportunity you have to try them in a size that will allow you to determine if they actually work for you or not.  I can’t recommend these boxes enough.

I hope this was helpful for anyone who has been on the fence about trying out these luxury boxes from Sephora.  Like I just said, I can’t recommend them enough, and really do believe they are a perfectly fair deal.  That’s why I bought it even though I don’t need it.  This set me back $21.78 with tax, so that brings my yearly Sephora spending total to $1,033.01.

–Jackie

Sephora Play October 2017.

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Hey there, everyone.  I’m first going to start with a bit of a programming note.  Work has been crazy for the last few weeks, and shows no sign of slowing down for, at least, another two weeks, so posting may become a bit infrequent.  I’m working somewhere in the neighborhood of sixty hours per week, and what little downtime I have that isn’t spent sleeping is divided equally between trying to keep my apartment clean and sitting on the sofa doing nothing.  I generally spend one of my weekend days typing and saving all of my posts for the coming week.  Given that I’ve been working six day weeks and will be for the forseeable future, my lone day of free time will likely go to blankly staring at the television from my sofa and doing things that require as little of my cognitive ability as possible.  I’m a weird type of person, and I keep hand-written notes on all of the products I try out, and I really don’t feel like plowing through them until I get a chance to rest and restore for a few days.

Now, onto this month’s box!

I think all of the box variations for October were centered around products for your complexion, so (thankfully) mine was void of any hair products.  I love all of the products that came in mine.  A couple of them, I have tried before, and  the others I had been eyeing for a long time but had never committed to purchasing.  I’ve not done any serious wear tests on any of the products in this box, but I have formed a few first impressions.  Here it goes.

Urban Decay Optical Illusion Complexion Primer:  I was really excited when Urban Decay rolled out face primers because their shadow primer is the best I’ve ever used.  That excitement dissipated, however, when the reviews for them started to roll in, and most said they were okay, at best.  I never bought any to try out, so I’m really excited to get some.  This stuff feels really thick, and it does fill in pores and smooth things out a little.  In truth, it feels like it may be a little bit too heavy for me, and I hope it doesn’t clog my pores and make me breakout, but I’m going to use it because I love trying out different primers.  I can’t speak for how long it will make my makeup last, but I’m curious to find out if it really does work.

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation:  I wish this box had arrived a week earlier because I bought the Hourglass Foundation stick.  I’ve always wanted to try out this foundation, but was hesitant to do so because SO MANY foundations break me out, so I’ve sort of always stuck to my go to from Dior.  I know people rave about this product from MUFE, but I’ve just never committed.  Sephora sample sizes don’t last long enough to determine if I will get breakouts from a foundation, and by the time I know if I will get a breakout, it’s usually too late or I’m too unmotivated to return the product.  This is a great sample size that will probably last me close to a month if not more.  I’m wearing it today, and I a nice medium coverage that builds up, looks natural, and feels lightweight on my face.  In truth, if this doesn’t cause breakouts, this appears to be a great foundation.  Thanks, Sephora, for sending this one to everyone.

Tarte Fainforest of the sea 4-in-1 Setting Mist:  This says it’s a primer, setting spray, hydrating mist, and skin refresher.  I’ve used it before, and, for me at least, it does two of those four things.  I had pretty poor luck using it as a primer.  It was just okay as a setting spray.  I did love it as a skin refresher and mist when my skin just felt tired and tight.  I kept it in the fridge, and a quick spritz left my skin feeling calm and moisturized.  I loved using it when my skin felt out of sorts, but not enough to buy it again.  I’ll use this spritzer, but it’s probably not going to change my mind on purchasing this.

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Skin Booster:  I’m a little unsure how to use this, so I’m being unusually dependent on instructions from the company on this guy.  Sephora says it’s a “skin-perfecting serum that plumps, smooths, and hydrates your skin for flawless makeup application.”  I like the feel of serums, but typically use them at night before I go to bed, so the use issue just stems from my accepting that I put it on before makeup application and not before I crawl in bed at night.  It’s got hyaluronic acid and argan oil in it, so I fully expect it to do what it claims and plump up skin and make me look like I might have actually gotten some sleep the night before.

Dr. Brandt PoreDermabrasion Pore Perfecting Scrub:  I’ve used this before, and I feel like it could almost be used interchangeably with ExfoliKate.  They work the same way, and both work well.  With this one, you rub it on your face for minute or so to physically exfoliate then let it sit for another few minutes for a chemical exfoliation.  I feel like you need the slightest bit more of the Dr. Brandt than ExfoliKate, but it’s still a pretty negligible amount to achieve results.  It works well, I like it, and I’m almost out of ExfoliKate.  This one will go in the shower when I do finally run out of the Somerville stuff.

Tory Burch Bel Azur:  This is my favorite of the Tory Burch perfumes, but I feel toward it the same way that I feel like other Tory Burch perfumes.  They smell nice, but a bit generic.  This one is citrusy, and there’s vetiver and bergamont in it, and really does remind me of the South of France and the Mediterranean.  This one doesn’t smell bad, and I’ll keep it around for a handy purse spray, but, for my money, there are better options out there.

This brings my yearly total to Sephora to $1,011.23.

Anyway, I’m off to eat cheese balls and Swedish meatballs at the seventies-themed cocktail bar up the street from my apartment before going home to binge on The Wire.  Speaking of that show, I realize I’m fifteen years late, but where have I been?  It is so well done, and I can’t recommend it enough!  Have a great day, lovelies!

–Jackie

Sephora Play September 2017.

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This day has been a complete and utter bust, so allow me to wallow for just a bit before I start talking about this month’s Play box.  More than likely, I mean yesterday was a bust, since I’m probably finishing this up, putting it away, and editing it when I wake up in the morning.  Right now, all I really care for is a beer and doughnuts.  If you don’t want to read this part, skip down a ways.  I promise I won’t be offended.  How can I possibly be offended when I’m sitting above a doughnut shop?

I’m sitting down to type this about seven or eight hours after I planned on typing it, and I’m neither at my house nor my friendly neighborhood coffee shop on my day off work, so let’s talk about how I arrived at a tea shop across from the Time Warner Center on a rainy day instead of sitting at home doing the periodic lip product purge I had planned on undertaking today.

A couple of days ago, my husband had a stitch break in his eye.  You see, he had a cornea transplant about ten years ago, and the stitches are permanent.  Every few years, one will go, and he has to go to an eye surgeon and have it removed.  Sunday he woke up with a red, scratchy eye and immediately knew what was going on.  He had to work yesterday as he was the only chef in the restaurant, so he sat in the office during his down time with his scratchy eye and looked for a surgeon to go to who would take our insurance and would allow him in today and not some time in October (Thanks, Columbia Presbyterian), and ended up at the outpatient eye clinic at Mt. Sinai this morning.  They weren’t taking new patients until February, but they did allow walk-ins.  He got there around 10:00 a.m.  I abandoned my day-off plans to take him a phone charger (sometimes I’m a nice person) around 4:00 p.m. because he still hadn’t seen a doctor, and ended up sitting there until around 6:00 p.m. with him until they finally took him back to dilate his pupils and check everything out.  When he came back out to wait for the eye drops to start working, I said goodbye and went to the Sephora at Union Square.  He sent me a text later to say that it actually wasn’t a blown stitch, and the doctors don’t know if the irritation was just from some extremely dry eyes he had or if it’s an early sign of rejection of the cornea.  They sent him on his way and told him to come back if he has anymore problems.  By this time I was feeling really jittery and kind of manic, and I just really needed to buy things at this point.  I get this way sometimes and ANYTHING looks appealing to me.  Tools for the KitchenAid?  You got it!  Four hundred dollar toaster oven?  Sure!  If Jared really wants a RoboCoupe, he should know by now to ask me when I get the way that I was this afternoon.  (For those unfamiliar with kitchen lingo, a RoboCoupe is a food processor that has enough power to run a boat, and will outlast the apocalypse and will set you back about a grand.  Basically, it’s not really something you need outside of a professional environment, but my husband really wants one because they’re cool.)

Sephora didn’t have the Smashbox holiday set that I want in stock, which, in retrospect, is probably a good thing, but I was annoyed and hungry, and it was windy and rainy, and I just wanted to buy things.  I decided to swing by the Columbus Circle Sephora on my way home because they usually get the new releases pretty early, but first I HAD to eat.  Fried chicken is my go-to when I’m stressed and feeling kind of manic, and that was in the cards today–calories be damned.  I stopped for chicken strips and gravy on the way to the train, and they were over-fried and gross, and they were out of gravy.  Fail on all counts, but I was starving, so I ate it and got on the train.  At least the rain had stopped.

I took an M to the 57 Street and 6 Avenue stop and was greeted by rain when I got aboveground.  The wind had picked up again, too.  Fun fact about living on an island as small as Manhattan that is made of concrete and steel canyons set up in an orderly grid system:  umbrellas are useless most of the time.  The wind manages to somehow come from all directions.  By the time I got to Seventh Avenue, I had given up and put the umbrella away.  At last I made it to my second Sephora only to be told that they didn’t have what I wanted either.  I went to the restrooms in the Time Warner Center and looked in the mirror.  I had never planned on being out this long, and I didn’t have on that much makeup.  My mascara was runny, my hair was frizzy, and I looked like I would just rather be home.  At least with the Sex Pistols shirt I have on today, the look seems like it may have been planned, but, I assure you, it wasn’t.  When I walked back outside, it was still raining, and the wind was having a go at my hair again.

At this point, I gave up on buying makeup.  I forgot all about instant gratification.  If I decide that I still want this thing in the morning, I’ll buy it online.  I walked across the street to the Argo Tea, bought a cup, and planted myself in a chair by the window.  I’m watching it rain as I type this and hoping it stops before I’m done with my tea and have to leave because I am OVER THIS DAY.  I feel exhausted, and I haven’t even really done anything.

I connected to the Internet here and decided to give blogging a try.  Between it and this delicious tea I’m drinking, this is the first time my nerves haven’t been on edge for hours.

This month’s Play box arrived a few days ago, so I’ll give Sephora credit where credit is due:  they did well with the shipping time this month.  I’ve tinkered around with the contents of the box over the last day or two, and I’m going to say I think they did a good job choosing the products this month, as well.  The idea of this box is to get you ready for a makeup revamp with the onset of fall, and the product selection is a decently wide range of things.  Let’s get started:

Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel in Medium:  This is the slightest bit dark for me, but not so much that I can’t overlook the color discrepancy.  It’s designed to tint your brows, make them look fuller, and hold them in place.  I’m wearing it right now, and can attest it has performed quite well in the water-resistant category.  My brows still look as dark as they were when I left the house today, and I’ve been rained on three times.  It doesn’t look quite as natural as my go-to–ABH Brow Wiz, but it still doesn’t look like my brows are painted on.  It doesn’t feel crunchy once it sets, either.  I think I may like this.

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in Black:  I love Stila’s Stay All Day line of liquid lipsticks, and this liner seems like it has been around forever, so I was kind of excited to see this in my box.  After swatching it, though, I’m a bit less excited.  I prefer actual brushes for my liquid eyeliner application, and this comes with a felt tip applicator.  I still seemed to get good control, though, and I like that this makes it pretty easy to vary the thickness of the line.  I’m not about to call this waterproof, however.  The marks I made on the back of my hand came off with soap and water and very little effort on my part.  Will I use it?  Yeah, it’s black eyeliner, duh.  Will it replace my Kat Von D Tattoo Liner?  Not likely.  When they call that stuff waterproof, they mean it.

DevaCurl Melt Into Moisture Matcha Butter Conditioning Mask:  My initial reaction when I pulled this out of the bag was, “Oh great, another hair mask that I’ll never use.”  When I started reading the instructions, though, I discovered you could do a three-minute quick application of it, so I got really excited.  I used it in the shower last night, and up until I got rained on today, my hair looked great.  It felt really soft and smooth and manageable.  This stuff smells amazing to boot–exactly like matcha tea, which the tea drinker in me enjoys.  I may have found the first hair mask that I actually like.

Laura Mercier Velour Lovers Lip Colour in Happy:  Every subscriber received a lip color this month to help them find a new shade for fall, according to Sephora.  I put this on today before I left the apartment, and I wouldn’t call it a “highly-pigmented” pink.  The pigment is decent enough, but I had to work at it to get the color to build up.  What I do love about it, strangely enough, is the GLITTER in it!  It’s a uniquely fun color, and the glitter particles are fine enough that I don’t feel like I’m walking around town with a sign around my neck that says, “Stare at my lips, EVERYONE.  If I turn my head just so, you can see them from space!”  It feels nice–more like a lip balm than a lipstick.  For my taste, this shade is a little too pink for a something I would wear late into fall, but I’m going to keep it in rotation for the next month or two.  It’s lovely.

Belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb:  I love, love, LOVE The Aqua Bomb.  It’s been my go-to for the last year or so.  I always keep a jar on hand.  This cream seems more suited to dry skin than the Aqua Bomb, but I’m curious to see how I will take to it.  It doesn’t absorb quite as readily as the Aqua Bomb but still feels nice.

Stella McCartney Pop:  I know this has been out for a year or two, but I confess that I’ve never smelled it.  I can’t believe I’ve avoided it for so long, since I read the scent notes on this one and fell in love when I spritzed some on last night.  It’s right up my alley.  One of my favorite scents is Fracas by Robert Piguet, and I’ve been obsessed with tuberose since I discovered that one many, many years ago.  It’s one of my favorite scents in a perfume.  It’s almost guaranteed that if a perfume contains tuberose, I will love it.  This one has middle notes of violet, tuberose, and plumeria, and believe me when I say you can smell the tuberose.  It is divine.  The top notes are tomato leaves, violet leaves, and green mandarin, and the base is sandalwood, cedarwood, and musk.  The problem with tuberose is that it can get overwhelming if it isn’t done properly (and one might argue that Fracas is overwhelming), but that’s not the case here.  This is a bright floral, and it is beautiful.  I would consider buying a bottle of this if I didn’t already have so much perfume lying around.  It’s glorious.

Well, there you have it.  There’s the recap of my terrible day and the low-down on this month’s Play box.  I’ve been quite happy with what I’ve received the past few months.  Earlier in the year, I was so unhappy with the offerings that I was considering canceling my subscription.  Now, I’m glad that I stuck it out.  I feel like Sephora has worked the kinks out, and they have consistently been knocking it out of the park.  Even if I end up not liking some of the products they send from month to month, I no longer feel like the choices were phoned in.  If you haven’t already signed up for Play, I would suggest giving it a shot.  Like I just said, they’ve gotten pretty good with their product selections now.

Well, I’m about to venture back into the wilds of Manhattan.  The rains seems to have stopped for now even if the wind hasn’t, so maybe I can make it home without getting rained on for a fourth time, and the urge for beer and doughnuts seems to have passed.  The makeup purge will have to wait for another day.  I think I’m just going to call for pizza delivery and call it a night.  I sort of fell off watching Game of Thrones a couple of years ago, so I have been binge watching the old seasons so I can have some clue what’s been happening before I finally watch the latest season that everyone keeps talking about, and tonight seems like a good time to blaze through another half season.

Goodnight to all, and may your tomorrow be wonderful (and may you not get rained on…three times or even once)!

Total spent at Sephora this year: $781.49

–Jackie

Edit:  It’s the next day, and I’ve had time to think about the Smashbox gift set that I trooped all over town in the rain yesterday to acquire.  If I buy it, and that is an IF now that I’ve had time to cool off, I’m going to do an eyeshadow declutter.  There’s no reason for me to buy more when I have a dozen Z-palettes around here full of shadows I don’t use.  There will be a blog post to accompany this, and maybe a (gasp) video of me looking panicked that I’m forcing myself to get rid of pieces of my security blanket and making swatches and trying to justify keeping things I never use.  This is a big step for me.  Lipsticks and liners and other things I can toss without much thought to it, but shadows are harder than hard for me to get rid of.  They really are like pieces of a colorful security blanket that has taken a ton of time and thousands of dollars to stitch together. Anyway, that’s for another time, but considering the Smashbox set is a holiday item, I had best make a decision soon.  Where are my friends?  They could be getting a ton of unused makeup quite soon.

Sephora Play All-Star Edition.

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Allow me to briefly recap the last week and a half of my life.  At the start of things I was super pumped because I ran nine full miles.  I was so stoked because I agreed to run a half marathon in a little over a month, and for the first time, I felt like I might actually be able to complete said task.  So, anyway, that was on a Thursday.  The next day I woke up with a monster of a sore throat that just wouldn’t go away.  Then came the fever, and I’ve been under the weather ever since.  I’m stubborn by my very nature, so I decided to still try running through most of this.  I resigned myself to give it up until I got better when, last Wednesday, I went out and couldn’t even go three miles without stopping to hack up my lungs.

Jared let me buy this after that failed run because he knows I’m a sucker for packaging (Hello, iridescent bag!), and he hoped it would make me feel a little better about being sick.  He was correct about both of those things.  This was a $20.00 box that Sephora offered to showcase some of their more high-end brands.  I was quite happy when it arrived in the mail, so I ripped open the box and have been playing around with it for the last few days.  I had already tried half of the items in there, but there was nothing in it that I wouldn’t mind receiving again (save for one, but we’ll get to that).

Here’s a play-by-play of the contents:

Diorshow Mascara in Black:  This stuff has been in rotation in my makeup stash for years, and for good reason–it’s really good.  The brush is massive, and it builds volume like few other mascaras I’ve tried.  You can apply quite a few layers before you start to get the spider-lash look, and I can get pretty good length from this.  The wear time will get me through most of the day, and when it finally does start to smudge, it doesn’t do it badly.  I don’t end up looking like a raccoon, but it does look like I spent most of a long night partying with a rock band–a look I don’t happen to mind.  I don’t buy it much anymore, since I tend to favor travel size mascaras these days, and this stuff is expensive if I’m just going to throw half the tube away at the end of six months (and I am madly in love with Blinc’s mascara at this point in time).  I love that I have a pint-size tube of this around the house again.

Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Rejuvenating Creme:  I admit that I’m not familiar with this stuff, so, to me, at least, it just seems like another facial moisturizer, which I’m not complaining about.  It seems light enough, and doesn’t feel greasy, so I’ll certainly use it.  It doesn’t have much of a smell, but that could also just be because my nose is still super stuffy, and I’m not one to rely on if you want to know about smells right about now.  My favorite moisturizer is the Aqua Bomb from Belief, and given the price tag on a full-size of this, and my total devotion to Belief, there’s not much of a chance I could be swayed into buying this in the future.  I see similarities between the two moisturizers, specifically, they both feel light and absorb quickly, but I’ll have to use the Amore Pacific longer to form a better opinion on that.

Tom Ford Lip Color in Indian Rose:  I’m not one to buy Tom Ford lipsticks.  I did one time, brought it home, and took it back two days later without ever opening it.  Tom Ford lipstick is $54.00, and, yes, they are amazing.  Seriously, genuinely, amazing.  They’re creamy and pigmented.  They don’t dry out my lips.  The way they glide across my lips as I put them on is hard to describe, and I’ve not found another lipstick that quite performs the same.  They almost live up to the hype.  I’m not going to buy it because I have NEVER found a lipstick that is honestly worth that much money.  My go-to brands are (in order) Bite Amuse Bouche lipsticks, Marc Jacobs Lip Creme, and Urban Decay Vice lipsticks.  Yes, the Tom Ford ones are good, but if price is taken into account, they are not twice as good as the Bite or the Marc Jacobs ones.  For that reason I just won’t spend my money on them.  Now, if someone wants to give me a Tom Ford lipstick, great!  Indian Rose is a lovely, rosy, pinky neutral color that I’m going to use the hell out of until it is gone.  Then I’m going to go back to my Amuse Bouche lipsticks.  There’s nothing that could persuade me to pony up for a full-size of this.

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence:  I’ve never quite understood how essences work, so I’ve never bought one, so I’m happy to finally have one in my possession, and this one seems to have a cult-like following.  I’m not sure if that’s because it actually works or because it’s SO EXPENSIVE that your mind is willing it to work.  This touts itself as a miracle skin cure-all.  It’s good for dullness.  It’s good for uneven skin tone.  It’s good for wrinkles.  It’s supposed to do it all.  Their miracle ingredient is Pitera–a by-product of a special kind of fermented yeast.  I’m actually really excited to try this out.  If it is the miracle worker they claim, I’ll cheerfully pay for this and get rid of most of the rest of my skin care routine, but, needless to say, I’m not about to get my hopes up.

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer:  I’ve tried this before, and the first few times I used it I hated it.  I hated the way it slipped over my skin, and I thought it didn’t do much to make my makeup last longer.  The more I played around with it, though, the more I realized that it was the user who had the problem and not the product.  This is actually a pretty good primer.  I still prefer the Smashbox Photo Finish primer and the Ambient Lighting Primer from Hourglass to this one, but I’ll definitely use it.  It doesn’t extend the life of my foundation like the Smashbox one, but I can get eight hours or so of wear time with this one on.  It never caused breakouts on my face, and I’ve gotten used to the feel of it on my face, so I don’t mind it.  I don’t know that it would ever replace my favorite primers, but I’m not going to throw it away.

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb:  I’ve gone over this before.  I love the way this smells in the bottle, but it is terrible on my skin.  I sort of hate that Sephora loves it so much since I have so many samples of it lying around.  This one is a generous size, and so I’m just going to pass it on to a lady that I work with.  She’s a sweetheart and who doesn’t usually treat herself, and I hope it works out for her.

In addition to the Play box, I got the following:

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Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Verbena:  This was a freebie with purchase, and, as I said earlier, I love these lipsticks, so I always get more when I can even though I probably own half the line.  They’re just so good.  Super creamy, moisturizing and pigmented–they’re lovely.  Verbena is described as a rose terracotta.  It’s a rosy neutral with a bit of a brown undertone to it.  I’m pretty sure I have a full-size of this around the house somewhere and am now inspired to use it again. (Side note:  If that sentence isn’t an indication that I need to stop buying makeup, I don’t know what it.  I, literally, have no idea what is in my collection anymore.)

Sephora Blue Clay Mask:  Again with the packaging!  I love masks, and this was too cute to pass up.  I used it last night and it did make my skin feel very smooth and moisturized, and based on how much I used last night, I’m going to get more than four uses out of the package.

This purchase brings my yearly Sephora total to $770.60.

–Jackie

 

Sephora Play August 2017.

20170816_174630I suppose I should start this post with a bit on an explanation as to why I have been AWOL for most of the previous month.  The vacation bit was obvious, but vacations don’t last forever, and upon my return to New York, I was basically thrown back into work full-force.  I worked for almost two weeks straight, and by the time I got around to a day off, I didn’t feel like doing anything aside from reading a book.  All of this was coupled with a nagging suspicion that a depressive episode was coming on, and I really wasn’t one to talk about makeup or anything to anyone.  I started running more and eating better in an attempt to stave off the flood of negative emotions I knew was inevitable, and that helped to a point, but still.  The last couple of weeks have been pretty rough.

I managed to land three days off this week, and that’s gone a long way to help.  I vowed to do whatever I wanted to in an attempt to feel better, as I know this, too shall pass.  Yesterday, I ran six miles, ate a giant salad, went shopping, swung by a protest in the city, and caught up on some television.  Today, I laid in bed until 2:30 in the afternoon, made myself shower, and trooped over to my coffee shop.  The intent was to just read a book and binge on lattes, but I broke out my keyboard and am making a stab at this whole typing thing again.  The knowledge that there is ‘nduja pizza within walking distance is tucked safely in the back of my brain, and the promise that I’ll have some if I can make it through one blog post is at the forefront of my gray matter.

I actually got this month’s box three days ago, so I must commend Sephora on not taking forever to get the latest Play box to me.  This one seems to be a great one, too.  I played around with a couple of the products while I did my makeup today, and, on first impressions, they hit this one out of the park.  Without further ado, let’s get to it.  There’s pizza waiting for me.

Beauty Blender Micro Mini:  I like Beauty Blenders, but I’ll be honest.  I like the Sephora Perfectionist better.  The density of the sponge is roughly the same, and I like that it is pointy on both ends of the sponge.  This makes it easy to do foundation and concealer with one end and highlight and contour with the other.  It’s also half the price of the beauty blender, and if you check the sale section of Sephora.com right now, you’ll find that they are on sale for five bucks.  Those are amazing.  I also like the one from Real Techniques.  I find it to also be roughly the same density as the Beauty Blender.  Why do I bother bringing those two up when Sephora sent a Beauty Blender?  Easy.  I will never pay $20.00 for a sponge that I have to replace every three months when there are options on the market that are cheaper and just as good, if not better.  With that being said, I’m going to use this for concealer and highlighting, and I’m going to love it because Beauty Blenders are as good as everyone makes them out to be.

Clinique Dual-Ended High Impact Mascara and Primer Duo:  I’m wearing this on my lashes now, and I’ll say that I like the primer, but I’m on the fence about the mascara.  The primer does a good job of adding length to my lashes, but I’m not so sure about the mascara wand.  It’s pulling my lashes together and making them look a little spider leg-like.  There’s not much volume to speak of.  Granted, I’ve only used it once, so I’ll keep at it and see if the problem lies with the operator and not the tool.  The black color of the mascara is VERY black, so I’ll give it that plus.

Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick:  I’m so glad I finally got my hands on some of this without having to pay for an entire tube.  I do not say this lightly.  If this stuff doesn’t break me out (that’s a big IF…everything seems to break me out sometimes), it will replace the Diorskin Nude foundation that I have used since 2008.  Yes, I realize that this stuff is expensive, but it is nothing short of amazing.  It is EXTREMELY pigmented, so it requires very little product to get coverage.  It feels like a liquid going on, and not some thick, greasy mess that some sticks can feel like on me.  The best part is that it blends out to look like skin.  Not skin covered by makeup.  Skin.  I have no idea how something this full coverage can look this natural.  I find the use of concealer isn’t necessary with this product.  If I want extra coverage, I just add an extra dot of foundation on places like acne scars or under eye circles and blend.  It hides EVERYTHING.

KORRES Golden Krocus Ageless Saffron Elixier Serum:  I find KORRES to be a bit of a mixed bag.  I love their body lotions and washes, but their skin care usually winds up in a disaster on my face, meaning most of it breaks me out.  This is an anti-aging serum that purports to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.  I’ll give it a try, but I confess to being a bit nervous about it.  It is much thinner in consistency than most of the skincare products that I’ve tried, so I’m hopeful.  Plus, it smells amazing and is a lovely golden, shimmery color in the bottle.

Alterna Haircare Caviar Anti-Aging Miracle Multiplying Volume Mist:  This is supposed to be moisturizing and volumizing, but I could care less.  As I’ve said before, for as much as I love makeup, I really could not care less about my hair.  As long as the frizz is under control, I’m good.  I keep it in a ponytail at work, and don’t really do much heat styling on my days off.  I also have a ton of hair, so, thankfully, I don’t really have much need for a volumizer.  My hair is pretty voluminous if I do say so.  This stuff smells really good, so, of course, I’ll use it, but most hair styling products don’t really do much for me.  I’m not super excited about this one, and if I’m being totally honest, I would really like to make it a month without some kind of hair styling product showing up in my Play box.

Burberry My Burberry Black:  I’ve not given this a spritz yet, but I generally like Burberry scents.  This is a floral, so points there.  Top notes of jasmine, which I like.  Middle notes of candied rose and peach nectar.  I like one of those.  Base notes of amber and patchouli.  I HATE patchouli.  That’s mostly why I haven’t tried this one out yet.  I’m a little scared.

So there’s the breakdown of this month’s box and also the explanation of why I have been so scarce.  Hopefully, I’ll get back to regularly posting sometime soon.  I have quite the back log of products I’ve used up and need to talk about.

Total spent at Sephora this year: $637.77.

–Jackie

Sephora Play July 2017.

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This last week has been crazy, guys.  I’m in Louisiana visiting my parents right now, and haven’t had a chance to even think about blogging.  Jared and I were waking up early trying to get laundry done and clean the apartment up because we have a friend staying with our cat while we are gone.  Between that and work, there was zero free time to speak of.  When we finally did arrive in Louisiana, we celebrated by going to sleep on the car ride home.  My latest Sephora Play box arrived the night before we left, so I just threw a couple of things in my suitcase and told myself to type about it when I got the first bit of free time.

I finally have a second to type about it, and I’m doing it sitting from my parents’ living room while using a  Bluetooth keyboard attached to my cell phone.  I left my computer in New York because I hate having to add another step to get through TSA security.  This keyboard is now my new favorite purchase.  It’s got a little cradle in it to hold my phone or tablet or whatever I want to put in there.  The keys make noise, but not too much, and it’s got a knob on it that allows me to switch between multiple connected devices.  It’s a really cool gadget.

Anyway, I have decided that my next blog post will be on the makeup I pack with me when I travel.  Even Jared was impressed with just how little I brought with me on this current trip that is bringing us from New York to Louisiana to Chicago and back again.

But anyway, on to the reason why everyone is here–this month’s Play box:

It Cosmetics Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumising Mascara:  This claims that is has collagen and peptides to condition your lashes as it lengthens and volumizes.  The formula looks super black, and the brush is a bit on the smaller side of what I like, but the reviews of it are pretty good.  It Cosmetics has a cult-like following, but I’ll confess I haven’t tried the first thing from the brand.  I did entertain the notion of buying some of their brushes, as they are seriously soft, but never have.  I’m excited to give It a try.  I’m a loyalist when it comes to my Blinc mascara, but who knows.  Maybe this stuff will be awesome.

Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm in Woppin’ Watermelon:  I packed this with me and have been using it since we left New York.  I like it but it’s nothing to write home about.  It’s another in a line of glorified lip balms.  The color is a VERY light pink.  I loved using it on airplanes and in airports when I was just kind of running around trying to make my connection and suck down some coffee to keep me awake, but I honestly can’t see myself buying this.  Maybe in a darker color.  This one is basically the color of my lips but slightly pinker.  I like it because it’s easy, but it’s nothing special.  I’ll use the rest of the tube, for sure, but that’ll likely be the end of it.

Ren Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask: I love everything I have tried from Ren.  From night time facial creams to scrubs to masks, this line hasn’t really let me down.  I haven’t tried this specific mask, and I really wish that I had brought it with me.  The water at my parents’ house is full of chlorine, and it is killing my skin.  Between that and the flying and travel, a mask that says it will erase redness and calm irritation would have been welcome on this trip.  The first thing I’m going to do when I return to NYC is try this out.  I can’t wait.

Perricone MD Face Finishing Moisturizer:  I’m a little scared to try this out.  It has a smell that can only be described as “old lady” to me.  It’s not too strong, but I hope that it doesn’t linger.  It felt nice on the back of my hand–light weight and fast absorbing.  For me at least, the Perricone products that I have tried have been pretty hit or miss, so I’ll reserve judgement on this until I can give it a proper go.

Madame C.J. Walker Dream Come True Wonderful Deep Conditioning Masque:  Another hair mask???  There was one in my box two or three months ago, and it sucked.  The blurb in the Play box says this moisturizes dry, damaged, and color-treater hair and adds shine.  I’ve been over this before.  My hair is crazy oily, so this has the potential to be a nightmare if it says the mask is moisturizing.  I could end up with stringy hair.  Also, I don’t really use hair masks because I HAVE to wash my hair every single day.  Results from a hair mask that would last a week on normal hair will get me, at best, four days.  I’m also not generally one to shampoo, put on a hair mask, and then sit around for fifteen minutes waiting for it to go to work.  I’ll use this eventually, but, needless to say, I am not excited.

Viktor & Rolf Bon Bon: I LOVE Flowerbomb, but Flowerbomb does not love me.  I’ve had this conversation with a best friend before.  That’s almost all she wears, and it smells amazing on her.  There is just something about it that doesn’t go well with my body chemistry, and it ends up smelling like chemically created flowers.  It’s genuinely awful to the nostrils.  We both think it’s weird, but perfume is a very personal thing.  Even though it smells awful on me, I love to smell it on other people and straight from the bottle, so I’m looking forward to trying their newest offering, especially since the top notes are of mandarin and neroli.  There’s also orange blossom, vanilla, and caramel in there.  It’s in the floral family, so odds are good I will love it as long as it doesn’t morph into something that smells like a weird lab experiment on me.

That completes our cruise through this month’s Play box.  I’m pretty optimistic about this one and can’t wait to get back to New York to try out some of the products.  Last month’s box ended up being pretty good, too, so I feel like Sephora is kind of stepping it up after a few months of less than stellar boxes.

Total spent at Sephora this year: $626.88

–Jackie

Sephora Play June 2017.

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I got this a few days ago and, for whatever reason, didn’t really feel like sitting down and typing out the box breakdown.  This blogging thing takes up a good bit of time on my days off, and sometimes I just don’t feel like sitting down and putting my mind to it.  I have to tell myself that there is actually a purpose to all of this, namely, breaking myself of the habit of buying random crap that I don’t really need.

The weather in New York is also kind of nice today, so I didn’t feel like sitting inside part of the day and typing on my computer.  I decided to grab my handy, dandy Bluetooth keyboard and tablet and head to my local coffee shop.  Copious quantities of iced lattes always lift my spirits.

To be quite honest, I wasn’t excited about this box when I opened it.  This, no doubt, contributed to my lapse in blogging, but it has given me a few days to play with some of the products and develop some first impressions, so let’s do this:

Tarte Tarteguard 20 Tinted Moisturizer:  I have this on my face as I sit in the coffee shop, and I think I like it.  I thought it was going to be entirely too light for me to actually wear out in public when I first opened the package.  I mean, it looks LIGHT, and I’m a pale kid.  Really pale.  Much to my surprise it was a perfect match.  The blemish coverage is pretty much nil, but it evens out any redness I have quite well.  I’m new to the tinted moisturizer game.  Until just a few months ago, the number of blemishes on my face warranted at least a medium coverage foundation if I planned on leaving the house, so I’ve only really tried out this one and Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer.  I quite like that one, but I find that it starts to break down quickly even with a primer.  After just a few hours, I’m left with practically nothing on my face.  We shall see how this one goes.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Glow Pad Gradual Glow:  I can almost guarantee that I won’t actually use these.  They’re a version of the Alpha Beta Peels that I enjoy, but they impart a gradual tan on your face.  You know what I don’t do?  Tan.  I don’t care to tan.  I don’t really go out in the sun, and when I do, I wear sunscreen like my life depended on it because it probably does.  I’m a red head with green eyes and skin that’s pale beyond pale.  I burn.  Roast.  Look like a boiled lobster.  Even when I was a teenager, I never had any real inclination to have a tan.  This has served me well as I’ve gone into my thirties.  My skin damage is minimal, and my wrinkles are virtually naught.  I’ve never even cared to use self-tanners.  I’m genuinely whatever about the whole experience.  I mean, sure, I’ve tried them out before, but it’s effort I’m not willing to take.  So I’m going to use this on my face while the rest of my body remains the same pale shade?  No.  They say the transition is gradual, but I’m really not interested.  My best friend is coming into town for a visit next week, and I’m passing these off to him.  Moving on.

Bumble and Bumble Don’t Blow It:  Part of the reason why I wasn’t very excited about this box was because it came with two different hair care products.  I don’t do much with my hair.  I wear it in a ponytail at work, and can’t be bothered to actually dry it on most of my days off.  I keep the styling to a minimum.  This basically claims to tame the frizz of wavy tresses and give you that just left the beach look.  I have naturally wavy hair that tends to get really frizzy, and the best thing I’ve found to help it on days I don’t dry it but want to wear it down is Ouai’s Wave Spray.  I honestly expected this to do absolutely nothing when I put it in my hair after my shower this morning.  Boy, was I ever wrong.  This may be the answer to all of my prayers, but I’m going to use it a few more times before I commit to an entire tube of the stuff.  It was easy to use.  I just squirted some in my hand, raked it through my hair, twisted my hair in large sections, and scrunched each one toward my scalp.  Then I just sat around the house waiting for my hair to dry.  Once it had dried, all I did was rake my fingers through my hair to break apart the sections.  I was amazed.  My hair looks so good.  It’s got textured waves with zero frizz.  It’s not crispy and crunchy from some spray.  I can’t get over how much potential this has.  I’m going to keep using it, and I may commit to a tube.  For someone who hates dealing with her hair, this was a godsend today.

Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in K-Dub:  I have nine of these liquid lipsticks.  I think Kat Von D makes the best liquid lipsticks on the market for my money, and I love the shade range.  Once you put them on, they don’t budge.  Period.  Well, they don’t budge unless you eat something really oily.  I’ve worn these for upwards of sixteen hours before, and they’ve still been on at the end of the day.  If my lips start to feel dry–let’s face it, liquid lipsticks are good at drying out your lips, and this one is no different–I just put lip balm over the top of whatever color I happen to have on.  It doesn’t move.  K-Dub is a really bright raspberry shady that is perfect for the summer, and I love a bright lip.  I can’t wait to play with this one.

Brigeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Leave in Defining Creme:  This is the second hair product in the June box.  It says that it will create defined natural-looking curls and is super hydrating.  I’ve given this one a try, too, and while it smells AMAZING, I think it’s just a little bit too much for my hair type.  You know the type: super oily that demands a daily washing.  It did define my waves really well, but it also made my hair stringy.  I’ve only used it once, but I’m going to keep trying with it.  I’m hoping that I just used too much even though I thought I was using the smallest amount.  There has to be a balance somewhere between defined and stringy and defined and beachy.  I’m still calling this one promising because anything that could potentially keep me from brushing my hair will be promising until clearly proven otherwise.

Derek Lam 10 Crosby Blackout: I, like everyone else in America, was excited when these launched. I booked it to Sephora to try out all of them. There were a few I hated, a few I loved, and nothing I found memorable enough to commit to an entire bottle. And let’s talk about the bottles for a bit. Heaven help you if you ever want to travel with one. It would take up a sizeable portion of your suitcase, but if you’re looking to club a home intruder, these bottles would be a good thing to reach for.  They’re massive and bulky and contain a ton of wasted space. But anyway, back to the perfume. Blackout is described as a woody scent with notes of osmanthus and chai tea essence, two things I happen to enjoy but come together in this to evoke a “meh” reaction from me. It doesn’t smell bad, but it’s not something that’s memorable enough to buy.

So there’s the breakdown of this month’s box. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed typing it in the big, comfy chair in my favorite coffee shop. As always, I’ll keep you posted on how products work as I finish them. Now I’m off to finish my iced latte and plow through the fourth book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.  I have to finish all of the books before the movie comes out, you know.

Total spent at Sephora this year: $488.40

–Jackie