That Time I Ordered Clothes from China

I know you’ve seen them too – ads for super affordable clothes from China. But are they legit? Do they ever get to you, and when they do would you wear them?

One company I see advertising cute things all the time is SheIn. Now I know these companies have a rep for horrible customer service and a lack of transparency regarding shipping and sizing. So I decided to do some digging. The company offers express shipping in 3-5 business days for US residents. They have also sizing charts for each item. It’s annoying to check each one but by combining the sizing provided and some tips I found for shopping these sites, I thought I could get a decent fit.

So with all of that in mind, I decided to take a chance and order! I chose $159 worth of items and received $30 off using a coupon code on the website home page, 6% cashback with Ebates and free express shipping. I purposefully chose a variety of items from jewelry and shoes to tops for a true picture of the quality of the items. Here is what I ordered:

 

Scallop Tie Top
High Neck Print Top
Lace Overlay Top

 

Flouncey Chiffon Top
Off the Shoulder Top
Scallop Edge Top

 

Black Round Hem Tee
Grey V Neck Tee
White Round Neck Tee

 

Camel Cutout Sandals
Delicate Gold Necklace
Black Leatherette Espadrilles

These were the prices before any coupon codes, cashback, etc. Click the links above to be taken directly to the item on the SheIn site. A couple standouts that I was extra excited for were first off, the shoes! The espadrilles are what look to inspired by the Valentino Rockstud Espadrilles and the camel colored sandals? Yes, those do look an awful lot like the sold out sandal of the season, the Hermes Oran. I was also really happy to get some quality basics and new tops for work into my collection.

The order went smoothly. I paid with PayPal and received an email confirmation right away. The next day I received a shipping confirmation with tracking from DHL.  My package arrived in 6 business days and I was so. excited.

IMG_1254

So I started tearing into these bags and what I found was a huggggge mix of qualities and sizes. It became very clear very fast that these clothes were being sourced from many different warehouses and depending where it came from I was going to have a very different experience. This was gonna be a bumpy ride.

I started with the white blouses. The print one had a lovely pattern but the fabric was downright scratchy and it had two weird seams down the front that just looked wrong. The blouse with the tie was way too short (and I’m only 5’2″). The win in the bunch was the lace top. It was truly gorgeous but entirely too small. I may reorder it about 2 sizes bigger than the size chart recommended to me.

IMG_1256

Moving onto the black tops. The flouncy sleeve chiffon shirt had a very cute gold zip on the back. It reminded me of super similar tops they sell at The Loft more expensively. I would consider reordering this shirt in about 2 sizes larger as well. The black scallop tee is one of the only items I’m keeping! Unlike the photo, it is a cotton blend with some stretch and adorable. But my favorite of the black items by far has to be the off the shoulder shirt and by my favorite I mean it was atrocious. The fabric felt like the raw cotton blend you buy at Joann Fabric and the little arm holes barely fit my wrist. Major eye roll on this one.

Moving into another item that gave me a laugh, the t-shirts. The grey one was super nice and I’d get it in a couple other colors (though I threw it right in with the laundry because it smells of old Pad Thai). But the black and white are that weird, reflective, scuba-esque material they used to sell at Joyce Leslie. Ugh.

And finally, the accessories. They were all good quality, honestly! The espadrilles are too narrow so I’ll be returning them but they all look like shoes you’d pick up at JC Penney or another lower end mall department store so not bad in my book. Frankly, the Hermes dupes are way better quality than the others and I will be getting tons of use out of them. They are my favorite item by far.

IMG_1255.JPG

So what is my overall verdict? You never know what you’re going to get on sites like SheIn. There is no continuity of size or fabric. A lot of the photos make the fabrics look much higher quality than they are. There were some diamonds in the rough that definitely made the experience worthwhile but unless you have the money and time to spend, stick with Forever 21 and H&M for fast fashion, where you know what you’re in for.

All the best,

B

Are there any other sites like SheIn that you’re curious about? Comment below and be my next haul-spiration.

 

Advertisements

MAKE UP FOR EVER Artist Rouge Collection Review

PicPlayPostPhoto

Today I was so lucky to receive three shades from the new Artist Rouge lipstick collection from Make Up For Ever*. The collection has 45 shades total, all cremes and mattes, and will be sold at Sephora. Artist Rouge is meant to be a highly pigmented, long-wearing, comfortable product. Let’s get started!

The three shades I was sent are…

IMG_1396

C502: Creme lilac with grey undertones

C404: Creme true red with blue undertones

C211: Creme mauve pink with purple undertones

IMG_1391

Colors

I really like all three colors for different reasons. The lilac isn’t super weird but is definitely different. For fall, it will be super pretty with neutral and golden eye looks to dress up tights and a baggy sweater. Still, I can’t see myself wearing it daily.

The red is totally classic. The bullet style applicator is easy to use and doesn’t cause a lot of smearing which is super important in reds.

The mauve will probably be a go-to for every day for me. It is pretty neutral on my olive skin tone. It resembles a mauvey nude I used to have from the Balm back in the day.

(Excuse my horribly unlined lips above. I was so excited that I just started slapping them on. )

Formula

Just in the short time I’ve been wearing the product I can definitely tell it’s long wearing. It sticks to your skin so be careful to use liner and concealer for a clean line when applying. The formula is incredibly comfortable on the lips. It doesn’t need a thick coating to look fresh. I forgot I was wearing it because it didn’t come off on my drinking glass or feel sticky. This may be one of the most worry free formulas I’ve tried in a long time, almost having the effect of a liquid lipstick which really stays put. The one-two punch of a comfortable long-wear that doesn’t feel cakey or dry is a real winner.

IMG_1393

Packaging

My favorite section. These lipsticks feel very professional. They are encased in a black, matte, metal tubing with simple branding. They click shut so no worrying about the cap popping off in your bag. The metal is very cool to the touch and feels durable.

Final Thoughts

I will definitely be purchasing more neutral colors of this product when it arrives in my local Sephora! The formula is long wearing, doesn’t fade, crease or smear, and feels like bare lips.

IMG_1390

*All products shown above were freely provided to me through Influenster to test. All opinions are my own.*

Vacations under $500: Knoebels in Elysburg, PA

IMG_1248

This weekend I went on a girls getaway with my high school friends. What a blast from the past it was to spend time together again, reminiscing and reconnecting.

At the persuasion of a friend who vacationed there as a child, and being Philly rats, we decided to head up the PA Turnpike and explore the beautiful hills of Elysburg, PA and its shining gem, Knoebels.

I remember being a kid and my dad talking about the amusement park where “every ride’s a dollar”. Compared to the price gouging at the Jersey Shore, that price was downright foreign. We never did make the 2.5 hour trek from the city up to Elysburg so I jumped at the chance to go as an adult.

Elysburg is nestled in the hills of upstate PA, settled around the major attraction, Knoebels. Knoebels is the self-declared “largest free-admission amusement park” in the country, and perhaps one of the oldest. This charming village feels like a less doctored up version of Busch Gardens, which I actually preferred. For families, this struck me as the spot to plan a memorable, affordable vacation.

Keep on reading for my 8 reasons why Knoebels makes for a great spot for families of all kinds (including your family of friends):

  1. Knoebels has no admission fee! You can buy a ride band or books of tickets, like a carnival. So grandma can totally come along for the memories and avoid paying just to get in. All are welcome to use the luncheon pavilions, watch the live entertainment, and take photos at the historic sites.
  2. The rides are super affordable! They may not all be a dollar a ride anymore but they average less than $2 per attraction. If you have a group, do the math and figure out if you’ll need more than $150 in tickets. You can buy them all together and receive up to 15% off! There are always special deals happening too, like 90 cent Sundays and $12 Fridays so plan your trip around the online calendar.
  3. There are over 2 dozen eateries in the park! From novelties like candy floss and apple cider slushies to pizza, grilled chicken sandwiches and walking tacos, there is something to suit every palette. Even the food was affordable with a generous burger averaging $3.75 and a large pizza at $12.
  4. If eating at the park isn’t for you (saving money, picky eaters, food allergies), that’s ok too! You can bring in a cooler and use the covered lunch pavilions just the same. Since there is no admission fee, there’s no place to check in and no rules on carrying in water, food, or lactation products.
  5. There’s way more than just rides! Live music, magicians, shops, story time and a pool round out this vacation spot. Best yet, the live entertainment is always free and a pool pass can be purchased for less than $10. There are even two free museums on the premises.
  6. Knoebels has a lot of cool, old-fashioned rides. There were so many unique, war-era coasters and attractions. The intensity level is lower than Great Adventure and was more on par with Disney so even scaredy cats like myself could get in on the fun.
  7. Knoebels offers free parking! They also have a tram car that comes around the huge lot to get you right up to the park without having to walk (also free).
  8. You can stay here too! Tent out, rent a cottage or stay in a cabin- it’s up to you! But all accommodations are connected to or within a ten minute shuttle ride of the park (and yes, the shuttle is also free).

So now that I have you all, “Oh my gosh, we need to plan a trip here. How much does this fabulous place cost?!” here is the price breakdown for a four person trip for a weekend (2 days, one night):

Driving

  •  250 miles round trip
  • $20 in gas and tolls

Tickets

  • Average of $1.75 per ride
  • Average 15 rides completed in 2 day period
  • $105 in tickets

Food

  • Pack simple breakfast food, snacks and water
  • Lunch: Adult meals average $9, kids average $7
  • Dinner: Pizza, $12
  • Snack: Ice cream, $4 per cone
  • Total: $92

Accommodations

  • Tent site with water, electric and shared bathhouse: $48 per night
  • Cabin for 6 with water, electric and shared bathhouse: $140 per night
  • Cabin for 6 with water, electric, private bath and kitchenette: $235 per night

Leave money for souvenirs at the gift shop and to take home some fresh fudge or caramel corn and you can make this trip happen for about $450 for a family of 4 (in the highest priced cabin)!

IMG_1250

Happy Glamping,

BGB

PS: Is Knoebels your family vay-kay of choice? Tell me your favorite Knoebels memory in the comments below.

Review: Loreal Extraordinary Oil Haircare

Hi lovelies! I hope you had an amazing weekend. The weather here in the northeast is slowly starting to turn toward spring. I’m using the transition time to get myself warm weather ready! I’m sure a lot of you deal with the same beauty issues in winter as I do, mostly dryness. My nails get thin, skin gets dry and hair and scalp become lifeless and dull. That’s why I was so excited to receive my latest Influenster Voxbox with complimentary products to test and review! This box features the (drumroll please)…

New Loreal Extraordinary Oil Hair Care System!

IMG_6490

Different Influensters received different products based on their hair texture. For my medium thickness, moderately wavy hair, I received three full-sized products:

  • Nourishing Shampoo (12.6 oz) retail: $3.99 (Target)
  • Nourishing Conditioner (12.6 oz) retail: $3.99 (Target)
  • Lustrous Oil Serum (3.4 oz) retail: $5.99 (Target)

The system uses all natural oils and extracts like coconut, sunflower and rose to treat hair and add natural looking volume and shine.

I was excited to try the product but waited a couple days so I had dry, dirty hair to work with. My first impressions were good! I used the products in order. They all have a sweet, natural smell to them that seems authentic. If you’ve used argan oil before, the smell is in that family but better and less strong. Also, you know I love packaging. It would be nice if Loreal stepped out of the box of basic goldish packaging for an oil based shampoo. Still, the packaging is impressively sturdy- I’m certain the bottle will sit straight in a slippery shower and the clasp won’t break the lid off halfway through.

The shampoo lathered thoroughly and quickly with very little product. After rinsing, I set the conditioner for 1-3 minutes per the instructions. Once I washed it out, my hair felt a little tangly but overall, normal.

I dried my hair to damp using my Turbie Twist towel, then brushed and applied the serum. The serum can be used before and after shampooing and after styling as a final polish. It has a really nice texture. It doesn’t feel overly heavy or greasy.

I then heat protected and blew dry. I did feel like my hair dried faster than usual! By the time the hair was dry, there was noticeably less frizz than usual. (I have a lion mane of hair.) My texture seemed wavier than usual and more voluminous. No signs of dry scalp at all. It definitely felt softer to the touch.

FullSizeRender (4)

I curled my hair into loose waves using my 1-inch rounded barrel flat iron. The curls came out looser than usual and as I was ironing, I could tell that the hair definitely was softer. The products had the same effect as when I first get a fresh hair cut and style.

When I finished, I applied another small drop of the serum and that helped contain any small frizzies.

My style held well enough that I didn’t need to reapply heat the next day, just a gentle brush and a little more serum and I was out the door! My mom and coworkers complimented my hair so there was definitely a noticeable difference in look. I did still spot a few dead ends but nothing more than usual.

I generally wash my hair every third day and I was still able to do that. The oil in the formula did not make my hair greasy. However, I generally use a spritz of dry shampoo on my hair the third day to zap up any oil. When I used it, it had no effect whatsoever after using these products.

Overall, I’m really happy with the products and the price is inexpensive. The company also provided a coupon so we can buy again and unless something changes, I will! A lot of times I don’t feel like shampoos and conditioners really make a difference in hair texture but my hair felt noticeably softer, I had no dryness, the pleasant smell prevailed despite hot tools. This one is a winner in my book!

Check out that volume in the before and after pictures below!

Are you an Influenster? Comment below about your experience with the latest Voxbox.

January ipsy Bag

As promised, a January ipsy bag opening and review! This bag just arrived in the mail today and most of my girlfriends haven’t even received theirs yet so hopefully I can give all of you ipsters awaiting your bags a sneak peek.

Screenshot 2016-01-14 at 11.17.48 AM

Let me first take a moment to appreciate this Warholesque bag. It really is a piece of art in itself and makes a real statement. This year’s cosmetic bags have really upped the ante with new textures, shapes, and historical and cultural influences. Score one for ipsy. Now on to the products…

Screenshot 2016-01-14 at 11.16.33 AMThis month’s bag is so on trend! I give it a 4/5 stars.

First up, Ofra Cosmetics with an eyebrow pencil! I have been loving my Elizabeth Mott Queen of Brow since I received that in a bag a few months back. Having naturally full brows, a gel formula is usually enough for me for everyday. But I had been thinking I’d like a pencil for going out to get those enviable sharp lines. And here it is! This shade is a universal brown. We will see how well that goes once blended. If you’re a fellow ash brown girl, feel free to comment below and I can give you a heads up if this will work for you once I try it out. (Ash browns have golden undertones instead of red like most brunettes so root covers, extensions and brow pencils often appear too red and thus unnatural on us.) EDIT: This pencil is a true brown and safe for all my fellow ashes!

Next, another product from theBalm! I was always obsessed with the packing of theBalm and the names and quirkiness of the brand as a preteen aimlessly admiring the shelves of Sephora. It seemed like as soon as I was old enough to afford (and pull off) all the brand’s fabulous mattes, it disappeared! Now it seems that ipsy and theBalm.com (haha thebalm dot com, that’s great) are the only reputable places to find the stuff! I am always so excited to get these products and this is no exception as I have been craving a deep chocolate pencil for easy, daytime looks. (FYI: This one has a plum tonality.)Sometimes black liner is just so severe. This self-sharpening pencil is very fine and should make application a breeze.

Beau Paris, mon cherie! This brush feels EXACTLY like my MAC Enchanted Eve brushes that I got for Christmas and it looks like them too! This smudge brush will be so soft against the eyelid that it will be perfect for day time looks and detail work when your Sephora brush is just pulling too much product. A nice addition to my collection.

Yum! This stuff smells delish. Not just peppermint but peppermint CREME for the win! But is it just me or does this brand, Lasting Smiles, sounds dentisty/teeth whiteny? I don’t know. Someone comment about this brand and give me the 411. I can never have too much lip balm especially this time of year. I keep a tube in every jacket pocket, handbag, work locker, you get the picture.

Finally, a palette. Palettes are a great value in ipsy bags because even a decent drugstore one costs close to $10 and the whole bag is $10 BUT this palette is called Falling Leaves…and rightfully so. Yes, neutrals can be used all year round. Yes, this is an eye-makeup focused bag. And yes, I am happy to have a small palette with taupe, brown and rose-tone because those are my everyday shades and the small package makes for easy carrying. HOWEVER, it’s rightfully a fall name for a fall palette. And I can’t help but feel a teensy bit failed on this particular item because  it seems like something they had chilling in the magical, mythical ipsy warehouse from October. Weird? I know I know.

So that’s this month’s roundup, kids! Have a great rest of your week and share share share those ipsy thoughts and reviews when you get your bags in the comments below.

And if you haven’t joined ipsy yet, skip the waitlist and join now.

xo,

BGB

Influenster Homecoming Voxbox

IMG_4761

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.

IMG_4815

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

11150401_1066581693358243_542955611915266074_n

Product Review: Essie Sleek Sticks

FullSizeRender (2)

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…

IMG_4753IMG_4752

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