Are you ready to play?

Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I recently was taken off the waitlist for Sephora’s monthly subscription box. Play! by Sephora consists of 5 sample sized products sent monthly along with a fragrance bonus and a cosmetic bag. Oh, and it’s only $10/month.

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I have to say that other boxes have fallen short for me, but Play absolutely exceeded my expectations. Everything included was something I wanted to use, and they were all from brands I was interested in. The May 2016 box was their The Forces of Nature themed box, and included a gift card for 50 extra Beauty Insider Points, a free beauty consultation, and a booklet describing each of the products. They also emailed me a video that ran through all the products so that I knew exactly what I was getting myself into.

So now for the product rundown:

atelier cologne

Up first is Atelier Cologne’s Orange Sanguine perfume. I ended up purchasing this fragrance because it is so damn delicious. With a bursting mix of blood orange and geranium it deserves its own post, so I won’t say too much about it here other than IT’S AMAZING!

tarte

The one dud of a product was Tarte’s Tartiest Lip Crayon in Latergram. I REALLY REALLY wanted to like this lip pencil, as Tarte is one of my favorite brands. Unfortunately, I found that while the color and packaging were beautiful the formula needed some help. It was hard to apply and the crayon kept breaking. Overall this product – with Vitamin E and mineral pigments – was a great idea that unfortunately missed the mark when it came to execution.

bite

There was however a lip product that excelled. Bite Beauty’s Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Kimchi blew me away. With coconut and pomegranate oils this lipstick is every bit as moisturizing as it is bright. It’s a zinger of a pink that made me want to pucker up and take more than a few selfies. My favorite thing is that Bite Beauty uses food grade ingredients in all of its lipsticks, so I never have to worry about ingesting icky chemicals.

origins

One product that I had been curious to try was Origins’ Maskimizer. This innovative priming mist helps to prep skin to absorb the intensive ingredients in face masks. Thankfully, Sephora included samples of my favorite Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask and the delicious smelling Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask. I used these one after the other with the prep mist and my skin was left clear, soft and radiant.

korres facial

Another mask that was included in the mix is Korres’ Wild Rose Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial. I have been wanting to try Korres products for years now, but it’s only been recently that they’ve been back in stock as Sephora. Based in Athens, this brand partners with local farmers to make use of unique natural ingredients native to Greece. This soothing mask is applied after your normal evening skincare routine and then slept in overnight. Rose oil is one of the best ingredients for your skin, and the only oil I allow to touch my face. I definitely noticed happier skin the morning I woke up after using this and its mild scent gave me the sweetest dreams.

briogeo

The final product of the bunch was Briogeo’s Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask. While this brand is most widely known for their co-washes, this treatment was one of the best conditioning masks I’ve ever used. It smells wonderful, and the combination of argan and avocado oils left my hair smooth, shiny, and bouncy – just the way I like it!

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All in all I definitely recommend Play! by Sephora, and will keep you up to date on future boxes. I highly recommend you get on the wait list now if you’re interested in signing up. It took me a few months to be selected, but I’m sure glad I took the plunge.

Have any questions? Know of any other subscription boxes I should check out? Let me know by clicking on the comments link above and writing me a note!

Stowaway

Let’s talk about brand loyalty. There’s a lot out there about whether sticking to one brand of skincare or makeup products is beneficial, or if it’s a marketing ploy aimed at getting you to spend more money. I think the truth falls somewhere in between. Yes, there’s a benefit to knowing that a range of products is specifically formulated to work together – you don’t have to worry about messy and potentially dangerous ingredient reactions, you should have a lower risk of allergic reaction, and all your products will look good when displayed together on your bathroom shelf (it’s a valid reason, I promise.) But there are times when brand loyalty can go too far. You should never settle for less than stellar products simply because you like a particular brand. I personally use a myriad of brands when it comes to styling my hair, but stick to one brand, Glossier, for my skincare. Up until recently, my makeup routine consisted of a blend of multiple brands, and it still does for formal occasions or nights out. However, I’m happy to say that for day-to-day use I’ve finally found a brand that offers a high quality range of products that I can use exclusively to create my perfect daily makeup look.

I’m talking about Stowaway. This niche brand has everything you need to create a complete makeup look, and all of their products are stellar. Plus, everything they make is “right sized” meaning that it’s all designed to be used prior to expiration. Now there’s no excuse for using five year old foundation or potentially hazardous mascara! Now, for the rundown of all their products:

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When it comes to complexion, Stowaway offers a BB Cream foundation and a concealer. The Radiant Complexion Beauty Balm is the only BB Cream I’ve ever liked. It’s got a wonderfully natural dewy finish (that never looks greasy) and covers more than your average balm. Plus, it’s one of the few niche cosmetic foundations that comes in a shade pale enough for me. The Creaseless Concealer is nothing short of miraculous. The teeniest drop can cover my under-eye area and any blemishes or redness I’m dealing with. And it lasts ALL DAY LONG without fading, melting, or creasing. My skin has literally never looked more perfect.

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The next part of Stowaway’s product line is their Cheek & Lip Rouge. This is a cream blush that has a beautiful translucence and blends like a dream. When dabbed into your cheek bones it creates a beautifully natural flush that’s ridiculously pretty. When dabbed onto lips it acts as a stain that’s slightly matte. It’s truly a versatile product. It comes in 3 shades: Cantaloupe – a bright orangey coral that’s great for summer, Peony – the most beautiful popping pink that looks seriously youthful, and Burnt Rose – a deep, dusty red that’s incredibly elegant and perfect for evenings.

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When it comes to eyes, Stowaway offers eyeliner and mascara. This is why I say the brand is perfect for everyday looks, but you might want to switch it up a bit for evenings. Their Effortless Eyeliner is teeny tiny, making it perfect for tightlining. It comes in tow shades: Jet – a deep black, and Spice – a tawny brown. The liner glides on smoothly and dries to waterproof in only thirty seconds (so smudge quickly if you like a bit of smoke) making it perfect for running around in the heat of summer. My only issue with the liner is that it doesn’t apply well to the waterline, but I tend to only line a bit of my lower lashline during the day so it all works out for me.

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In terms of mascara, you have two options. Their Extreme Lash Mascara is really cool. It’s a lengthening mascara that is made without thickening fibers. This means that it defines and lifts your lashes giving you a baby-like look that’s both natural and alluring. Their Defined Lash Mascara uses massive amounts of tiny fibers to build, thicken and define individual lashes so that your lashes look plump and glamorous. It’s perfect for an understated touch of femininity.

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Last is lipstick. Stowaway’s Creme Lipstick is richly pigmented, long lasting, and intensely hydrating. The extra small size ensures that you can fit it into even the smallest even clutch so that you never have to go without a touch up. With seven colors, you’re sure to find one you love:

  • Peony: This popping pink is my absolute favorite shade that Stowaway offers. It’s bright, fresh, and makes me want to smile.
  • Scarlett: A bright orange based red that will make everyone stop and take note.
  • Fig: A deep berry that looks ultra luscious.
  • Cranberry: A vampy, blood red that is perfect for events after dark.
  • Raspberry: A darker, berry pink that’s great for brunches and afternoon shopping runs around town.
  • Muted Plum: Perfect for a natural lip look this flushed shade is my go to for the day-to-day grind.
  • Champagne: This is the only color I didn’t like, because it made me look slightly dead. It’s a true nude skin tone, but was too yellow for my skin tone. Olive toned girls will like this one though!

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So there you have it. If you want to give it a try, click here for a free mascara with your purchase of The Stowaway Kit, which includes the Radiant Complexion BB Cream, Creaseless Concealer, Cheek & Lip Rouge, Creme Lipstick, Effortless Eyeliner, and Defined Lash Mascara. Don’t forget that Stowaway also offers subscription services so you’ll never have to rush to the store for mascara again. Additionally, for those eco-conscious readers, Stowaway offers a Recycling Service that will safely dispose of your finished products AND give you $5 for every 3 products you send back for recycling! What more can you ask for?

Icy White

One of my favorite makeup looks to wear is a bold, bright red lip. It makes me feel beautiful, confident, and bold. There is only one thing that can ruin the look – yellow teeth. That’s why I brush twice a day with the Roles Royce of whitening toothpastes. Marvis’s Whitening Mint Toothpaste is creamy, minty without being overly sweet or strong, and whitens like a dream. As an added bonus, its packaging is beautiful enough to display with pride. The luxury paste is imported from Florence, Italy (which makes you feel fancy while you’re getting ready) and prevents tooth decay, tartar, and plaque while leaving your breath tingling fresh. What more can you want in a toothpaste? Now your teeth will shine every bit as bright as your bold lip color!

Almost Lipstick

With summer months comes heat, humidity, and all the sticky glory that accompanies it. The change in weather is, for me, accompanied by a change in makeup. I like to lighten things up in summer. This means tinted moisturizers instead of foundations, cream instead of powder blushes, and lip tints instead of heavy cream lipsticks. So, what’s my go-to summer product? It’s Clinique’s Almost Lipstick in Pink Honey.

This ultra light lipstick is more of a tinted balm than anything else. It’s highly moisturizing, and adjusts its tone to your natural lip color. This ensures that it’s lightweight and subtle looking. Plus the finish is the most beautiful sheen I’ve ever seen. So kiss your heavy lipsticks goodbye and give Almost Lipstick a try.

A Balm I Borrowed From the Boys

I’m no stranger to borrowing from the boys. There was that time I discovered that men’s razors work better for shaving my legs than the women’s ones (read about it here.) Then there was that time I realized that one particular men’s aftershave product will get rid of bumps around my bikini line (this post has all the life-changing info about that particular discovery.) Oh, and my favorite tee shirts are definitely found in the men’s section – they’re super soft and can be found here. But I never thought I’d ever actually venture into the men’s section of Sephora. That just seemed like it was going a bit too far, even for me.

I received a sample of Jack Black’s Intense Therapy Lip Balm with SPF and it was magical. At first I was a bit put off by the fact that it was a lip balm for men. Do men even use lip balm? I’d never before considered it. It was new territory for me and I approached with caution.

Well, it turns out that men actually know a thing or two when it comes to lip products. This balm is packed with skin conditioners and emollients that seep into your lips quickly without leaving a waxy residue. It also doesn’t make your lips glossy in the way that most women’s lip balms to, but instead leaves them looking nicely plump and healthy. It also amazing at soothing windburned lips (a day out on the boat without chapstick got the better of me) and the fact that it contains SPF makes it perfect for beach days. I personally like to apply it in a thick layer before I go to bed so that I wake up ready for a pop of lip color. It creates the best foundation for lipstick that I’ve ever seen. So, I suppose the boys know a thing or two about beauty after all.

What are your favorite beauty products that you borrow from the boys? Leave a comment and let me know!

Glam It Up

When it comes to iconic beauty brands, Lancôme makes the top of the list. Founded in 1935, it has been synonymous with French elegance in everything from fragrance to lipstick. Their packaging is gorgeous and the products are even better. Today I’m going to be sharing my very favorite pieces of their product line, all of which were included in a recent Sephora exclusive.

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Hypnôse Drama Mascara. I only use travel or sample size mascaras. Anything larger expires before you can use it all. One of my favorite mascaras is this one, it’s the reason I was attracted to the exclusive kit in the first place. It’s blacker than black, curls like a dream, doesn’t run down my face if I cry or get caught in the rain, and gives me a more natural – but just as dense – eyelash look than false lashes. There’s no clumping or flaking, and tons of length.

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Le Stylo Waterproof Eyeliner. If you’re looking for a long-lasting waterproof eyeliner, this is the one. I personally love shade 402 – Sapphire, it’s a bright unapologetic blue that will make anyone want to gaze deeply into your eyes. It glides on easily and looks great tightlined or in a cat eye.

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Advanced Génifique. Want smoother, more radiant skin? This is the serum for you. It’s oil free, lightweight, and provides the clearest, brightest, and best skin ever. Layer it on underneath your moisturizer and you’re good to go. Just a few drops is all you need.

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Lip Lover. Want your lips to pop? This dewy gloss is all you need, particularly if you select the 333 Rose de Nymphes shade. It’s a bright electric pink/red that will draw envious glances from across the room. It’s moisturizing, smoothing, shiny, and perfect for your next selfie. So do ahead and blow a kiss, why dontcha?

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Are you ready to try and glam it up?

Prep Your Pout

Spring and summer are full of bright lips of all types. We’re talking matte, glossy, stained, and satin here. The important thing is the foundation. Even the best lipsticks can look terrible if your lips aren’t in the best possible condition. That’s where Fresh’s intensive treatments come into play.

Step 1, Scrub. Their Sugar Lip Polish should be applied with your fingertip, spread it lightly back and forth over lips to exfoliate and condition. Then rinse with a damp washcloth. Real brown sugar makes the polish tasty for the moments it accidentally hits your tongue. Shea butter and jojoba oils provide deeply intense moisture for plump, soft, and healthy looking lips.

Step 2, Nourish. When you’re fully exfoliated, apply a pump of Sugar Lip Serum Advanced Therapy. With fruit and flower extracts it smooths fine lines, firms lips, and lightly plumps. My suggestion is to apply at the end of the day and sleep on it. You’ll wake up with lips fully prepped for the brightest colors imaginable.

How do you prep your lips? I’d love to hear your tips, tricks, product recommendations, and advice.