October Ipsy: Alter Ego

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I have been so busy with work and school that I didn’t get to open my Ipsy bag until last night! It arrived earlier this week and that metallic mailer was calling my name. As usual, I am so excited with the products chosen for me this month and cannot wait to share with you. Enjoy!

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Let’s start with the bag itself. This month’s theme is alter ego, providing products that are within your category (mascara) but not necessarily your line (green mascara versus your normal black). In keeping with the theme, the cosmetic bag this month has two different sides. One is gold metallic and the other is black patent leather.

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The first product I received is a hair mask from Eva NYC. It is supposed to be therapeutic and help hair become nourished and grow. In the fall and through winter, my hair, skin and nails tend to become dry so this is a perfect product for me for this time of year. Clearly, Ipsy has recognized that I love argan oil because this is another month incorporating it into my bag.

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Just in time for the season, I was sent a pumpkin facial scrub! I like this one because it uses sugar for its exfoliant instead of those little plastic beads that are seriously hurting the environment. Plus, I’m big enough to admit that I’m basic. Pumpkin. Is. Everything. And can we take a moment to appreciate this gorgeous, elegant packaging?

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I’m really excited for this third product because I’ve never used a product from the Balm before but people on YouTube and Pinterest are crazy for its face products (ie Mary Lou Manizer). So when I saw that this product was from the Balm and it’s a pinky-nude matte lipstick? I was set. I have been working the Kylie lip with nude, matte liner but it can make lips a little dry. This will be a great addition to my makeup collection.

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This fourth product is one I’ve heard of for a while and always wanted to try but couldn’t validate the price to myself for a brand I’d never tried. This is the It Cosmetics 5-in-1 mascara. Again, this product is a cult fave and I am so excited to try it because mascara is one of my favorite makeup products, period.

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The last product is unexpectedly a tool! Every Ipster knows that we don’t get tools (brushes, sponges, tweezers) often so when we do, it’s a big deal. These are the only products that you’ll never run out of and they tend to be some of the priciest. I received a new gigantic tweezer from Emite! It is their $35 full-size professional slanted tweezer and I’m kind of freaking out because the entire bag is only $10! I have a Tweezerman but it is the smaller one which can be hard to handle for stubborn hairs so this was such a nice surprise.

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All told, accounting for the amount of product received, this bag is worth approximately $60 plus the cosmetic bag.

If you haven’t already, join Ipsy now!

Share links to your Alter Ego bag or looks in the comments below.

Happy friday, gorgeous!

-BGB

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Influenster Homecoming Voxbox

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Hey guys! I think I’ve mentioned it before but I am a member of Influenster. Influenster is a members-only community of the social media savvy. There, you link up all of your social media accounts to show your networking potential. You fill out various quizzes called “snaps” so the company can learn about you and your lifestyle. Then every few months, you receive a box with complimentary products for you to test and review. It is absolutely free and there are no fees to join. I have been a member for years and have never paid a cent.

First you will get an email confirming your box with a tracking code. The products will arrive. They will vary based on your demographic. I usually always get college-themed boxes, rightfully so. I have received products such as snacks, nail polishes, face and body washes, chapstick, shampoo and conditioner, and coupons. The coupons are always fun extras because you think you saw everything in the box but then there will be a coupon for a free smoothie from Jamba Juice, Olay face wash, etc.

I just received my latest box this week so I wanted to give you a rundown of what was inside and do some product reviews. Every box comes with a card explaining the contents of the box and the retail value of each item.

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Kettle Brand Jalapeno Chips ($2.99)

Now I’ll be honest, I am not one for overly spicy things. Mild hot wings make my eyes tear up. But these are really good! They aren’t overly hot but have a nice underlying flavor.

Olay Active Botanicals Gel Cleanser ($5.99)

These are my favorite types of products to receive. I am a beauty junky and this item just came out. I haven’t tried it yet so stay tuned.

Red Vines Candy ($1.59)

These are like a vintage, lightweight version of Twizzlers. Despite their neon redness and plasticy-ness they seem a lot less artificial than Twizzlers because they aren’t shiny. They also taste a little like cinnamon which is pleasant.

Luden’s Watermelon Throat Drops ($2.49)

I have seasonal allergies and always end up with a dry throat because of it. I love throat lozenges but they usually taste too minty or like honey. These are watermelon! They also smell great and do a good job. These were super practical.

SinfulColors SinfulShine Nail Polish ($2.99 a bottle)

I was so excited to receive this product! I was sent a true white polish called Wisp and the GelTech top coat. This product is supposed to be like Sally Hansen’s MiracleGel: an at home, two step gel system with no light. I’ve never had much luck with these systems. They never come close to competing with my Sensationail at-home gel system or with gel manis from the salon. Regardless, I was excited to try the product. It is inexpensive compared to the competition and comes in 27 shades.

First off, the color was horrific. I love a white polish but this lacked any pearlescence which made it look like Witeout. I followed the instructions and shook the bottles well but the polish still came out clumpy in spots. I applied two coats of the polish, same with the gel top coat. I let my nails dry fully and they looked decent. Again, didn’t love the color and there was some unevenness but not terrible.

The big issue with this product is longevity. If I am paying more for this product than the line’s regular polishes and the product claims to have some type of gel technology, I am not only expecting higher shine (which this did have as SinfulColors are notoriously dull) but also longer lasting results and this product chipped away in about two days. Thankfully, it came off as easily as standard polish with remover.

I will continue to use the products throughout the next month. Then I will receive an online survey to tell Influenster what I think of each product, brutally honestly. In the meantime, I can complete sharing challenges to spread the word on these products and increase my likeliness to receive boxes. If you are really dedicated and complete all the challenges, you can receive extra product. For instance, if you open your box on a Youtube video, do a review and tutorial of the nail polish on your channel, and leave feedback on the company Facebook page, you can receive a voucher for another polish.

For anyone who likes to do product reviews, this is definitely the place for you! I am including my referral link below so if you want to join, now you have an “in”. Just click or type the link into your browser.

Referral Link

Have a great day, beauties!

-BGB

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Product Review: Essie Sleek Sticks

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Hey guys! So if you haven’t already read the blog on my latest drugstore beauty haul, head over here to read that so you know a little background on how I obtained this product.

Basically, Essie Sleek Sticks are nail stickers similar to the ones made by Sally Hansen, Jamberry, etc. They are marketed as an all-in-one nail solution which provides nails which are instantly dry with little mess and no topcoat necessary. Essie takes this one step further and even embellishes its stickers. Packages include 18 stickers of various sizes, enough for one full manicure (or two if you’re thrifty and willing to cut stickers to size). I prefer to use these products for one full mani and then use the extras to accent solid, polished manicures on my ring fingers. A package retails for about $10 and can be found in most big box stores and pharmacies.

But boy am I glad I didn’t spend $10. Or I would be in line, receipt in hand, at Walgreens/Target right about now. Because I rarely say this but this product stinks. Badly. Of old cheddar left out to dry.

First off, the stickers feel like straight up scotch tape. What didn’t set off any alarms when inside the packaging quickly had me saying eww as I pulled the actual stickers out of the wrapping. They feel thin and chinsy and have an unpleasant residue. The shine seems highly unnatural and the embellishments look like they are from the $0.99 aisle of the children’s craft section (right next to the pom poms and pipe cleaners).

Putting the product on was way too difficult, especially since I was fully focused, used a flat surface, and have put on nail stickers before. The stickers had the embellishment on the top. They were impossible to cut while sticky so I decided to reverse them so I could actually see the design since my nails aren’t 3 inches long like the stickers. The stickers would not smooth out. I continued to smooth the nails, warming them with the heat of my fingers but they only continued to wrinkle up, refusing to lay down and be still. I read online that top coat would only cause the stickers to shrivel up so I did not attempt to add that.

When I was finally done and somewhat satisfied with my handy work, I went to sleep. The next morning I woke up to this…

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And promptly turned into Hades.

Now why was I so upset? If you read my blog you know I only paid a dollar for each package. But it’s the point. It’s the point that these are Essie, a reputable brand that we all know and love. And these are still on the market for full retail. And the consensus across multiple media sources is pretty much unanimously that they stink. The edges are rough, they chip within days, and they lift like there’s no tomorrow. My nails haven’t looked this wonky since the first time I tried a marble manicure.

My message to Essie is a simple one: do better.

-BGB

Dollar Tree Drugstore Beauty Haul

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Hey guys! So I was around town today and happened to stop into my favorite hidden treasure: Dollar Tree. Now I know what you’re thinking but this Dollar Tree is in an affluent neighborhood and is the size of a small supermarket. It tends to have some really high-end brands, albeit in small quantities, so I encourage you to shop frequently.

Today was my day off so I just went to the store out of convenience, not for anything in particular. Shocker: I ended up finding some serious deals in the beauty aisle! I picked out three packages of Essie Sleek Sticks. These are nail wraps or stickers, similar to Jamberry. They are a whole manicure in one. I didn’t know how much they retailed for but being Essie, I knew it was definitely more than a dollar.

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(From L to R: stickers and stones, over the moon, glam it on)

Next big deal were the Maybelline Color Tattoo 24hr shadows. I actually picked these up because I recently saw in a magazine (which one, I can’t remember) that these were a top makeup artist pick for fall or something along those lines. They are apparently really pigmented and blendable and come in a range of colors. I stuck with neutrals but there were gorgeous goldenrods, pinks, and blues as well. Again, these were in small quantities. There were maybe a dozen total shadows in the store.

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(buff & tuff, downtown brown)

I also picked up a Milani Shadow Eyez pencil in brown deluxe. I love shadow pencils in golden brown colors to use on my lower lash line to make my eye shape really pop. The shadow sticks are as easy to use as liners but smudge a lot more easily.

Finally, my last find was a package of tribal Hot Jewels, the As-Seen-On-TV variety of flash tats. Those are the metallic temporary tattoos that kind of look like jewelry and have been popular all summer. I’ve been wanting to try them but hadn’t been able to validate the cost. For $1, I figured they were worth a try. (Plus, tonight is Roglow, a huge paint/glow party you will hear more about soon.)

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Some of you are probably thinking: B, why not just pull out your trusty smartphone and see exactly how much these items retail for as you go? Well you see dear readers, I am a deal-catching fanatic. When I’m done deal hopping, I run directly home so I can look up the retail cost of each item and marvel at the glory of how much I saved (even though I usually didn’t need anything I bought). So for me, the chase is the best part. I love using my own knowledge-base to estimate how much I’ve saved. So here’s the roundup…

Essie Sleek Sticks: $9.99 (Target)

Maybelline Color Tattoo: $6.79 (Walgreens)

Milani Shadow Eyez: $6.49 (Walgreens)

Hot Jewels: $9.99 (Target)

That means I spent $7 for $60 worth of product! That’s a savings of over $50!

So check out your local discount spots; you never know what you’ll find.

-BGB

*everyone runs to Dollar Tree*

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September Ipsy Bag (and a note on Ipsy customer service)

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Calling all makeup mavens!

I have been receiving ipsy bags throughout the summer. My parents bought me a one-year subscription for my birthday which is an awesome gift idea for the woman in your life. It’s a present every month!

Basically, ipsy is a cosmetic subscription service. You can pay for ipsy each month or for a year (in which case you’d get a month free). Each month, you receive a bag with five high-end cosmetic products ranging from skincare to hair products, makeup and nail polish, and beauty tools like brushes. This all comes in a makeup bag designed exclusively by ipsy and it all arrives in one of those metallic pink bubble mailers that probably took over your Instagram at some point. Before receiving your first bag, you fill out a detailed, online quiz to choose which types of products you prefer, as well as your skin, hair, and eye colors.

I have been so happy with the products I have received and this month is no exception. I particularly love the lux material and color of this month’s bag. Below are the products I knew I was receiving through my sneak peek email.

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My bag arrived yesterday and I opened it so excited and major bummer- there were a couple of problems. First off, I received two lipsticks and no lotion. Second, the amazingly smelling, high quality argan oil should probably have been individually wrapped because it spilled out and saturated my bag’s liner with oil.

The rest of the products were fine but I contacted ipsy customer service about the lotion and oil/bag. Their primary mode of contact is email. A few hours later I received a thoughtful email back apologizing and issuing me an entirely new bag! I will let you know how it pans out when it arrives but the customer service experience was great. Prompt, thoughtful, apologetic, and willing to make things right. No wonder people love ipsy.

If you’re interested in subscribing, ipsy costs $10 a month or $110 for a year. There is often a waiting list so feel free to use my referral code below to start getting your bags and earning points toward bonus products!

Referral Code

Stay tuned for reviews and have a wonderful day, gorgeouses!

-BGB

Photos courtesy of ipsy.com