Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Change...(aka: Where the Heck Have I Been?)

I'm sure I don't have to tell you: life changes. Even when that change is a good thing, it can be a challenge. I can't say it's a surprise that my almost-five-year old is growing up; she has been doing it since she was born, after all. Yet, somehow in the course of the last year I've gone from the "mommy" of a toddler to the "mom" of a kid- a very active, smart, inquisitive kid. At the same time, my incredibly career-driven (read: workaholic) partner Brad has been promoted at work, affording him less time at home and making the time he does have with us all the more precious.

Both of those life events mirror what has happened to this very site; it has grown continually since it's inception, and in a way, has been "promoted" from a hobby to a job. I realized this a while ago, and along with that realization came the stress of knowing that this wasn't something I was just doing for fun anymore.

Now, don't get me wrong. This site, and my work as a makeup artist and skincare enthusiast, is a passion for me. Writing is something I truly need to do to remain sane; I've been a story-teller my entire life. At age 9 I got a typewriter for Christmas and, like I'm sure any pre-teen would, immediately started writing my first novel. The time I spent on my high school newspaper was some of the most fulfilling of my school years; I even considered majoring in journalism in college. Life intervened though, and I went off in another direction (or so I thought). When it dawned on me, somewhat recently, that I actually am a writer, it was like finding a path in the woods that I'd long thought lost. As it turns out, it was just overgrown. So, yes, Out In A Pout has shifted from a pastime to a responsibility, but it's a responsibility I welcome. With that acceptance came the realization that I need to reorganize.

My lovely fiancé told me the other day that I'm like a butterfly. No, he wasn't speaking of my beauty and fragility- it was his way of pointing out that I can be a bit chaotic. I flutter around from one flower to the next, sometimes without heed to where I'm going, how long it might take, or even what I'll do when I get there. The man knows me well, and I can't say he's the only person to observe this over the years. Ask my mother how many times as a kid I was sent in to clean my room, only to be found an hour later meticulously organizing my sock drawer in an otherwise only mildly-improved room. Those of you who have been visiting for a while will have noticed this pattern in my writing. For me, the details are my adventure, and I have no problem taking my time to reach my end point.

And what is that end-point? Well, I have several that I know of already, and no doubt several more that have yet to occur to me. I created this website to share my years of experience, as a creative outlet and a mental exercise. I'm incredibly proud of what it has become over the last few years- the partnerships I've made and the trust instilled in me by you: my dear readers and friends.

Earlier, I mentioned reorganizing. This is something that I've been wanting to do on every level of my life for a long time, and over the coming months, I hope to get my brain centered to a place that lets me nurture and enjoy my family and home, while continuing to grow this site and give you all more of what you've come to expect when you stop by. The change won't happen overnight, and since most of it will be behind-the-scenes, it might not look like much at all at first, so I ask for your patience. Thanks to everyone out there reading this, for your friendship and support, and here's to change!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Product Review: Boots No. 7 Beautiful Skin
Cleansing Balm and Night Cream

Boots No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm for Dry/Very Dry skin ($8.49 for 5oz) and Night Cream for Normal/Dry skin ($13.99 for 1.6oz) are relatively new additions to the Boots line, having just launched in August. I'm always looking for solutions to combat winter dryness, so when I got the chance to try them as part of Influenster's Beauty Blogger VoxBox, I was psyched.

The first thing I do when considering skin care is- you guessed it- look at the ingredient list. Proof is in the pudding, folks! Unfortunately, there was no ingredient listing included on the sample packaging or on the Influenster insert, so of course, I had to look them up!

Boots No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm:
Aqua (Water), Caprylic/capric triglyceride, Glycerin, Cetearyl alcohol, Myristyl myristate, Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) seed butter, Tribehenin, Butylene glycol, Cetearyl olivate, Sorbitan olivate, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopheryl acetate, Methylparaben, Parfum (Fragrance), Ethylparaben, Sodium PCA, Sodium lauroyl lactylate, Acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, Tetrasodium EDTA, Ascorbyl glucoside, Potassium hydroxide, Dipropylene glycol, Magnesium PCA, Zinc PCA, Biosaccharide gum-1, Ceramide 3, Cholesterol, Ceramide 6 II, Phytosphingosine, Carbomer, Manganese PCA, Xanthan gum, Propylparaben, Potassium sorbate, Ceramide 1 

Boots No. 7 Beautiful Skin Night Cream Normal/Dry Skin:
Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Butyrospermum parkii (Shea butter), Isostearyl isostearate, Sorbitan stearate, Cetearyl alcohol, Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) seed butter, Dimethicone, Ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP copolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopheryl acetate, Rosa moschata seed oil, Methylparaben, Sucrose cocoate, Parfum (Fragrance), Dimethiconol, Sodium PCA, Xanthan gum, Potassium cetyl phosphate, Ethylparaben, Ascorbyl glucoside, Tetrasodium EDTA, Magnesium PCA, T-butyl alcohol, Citric acid, Dipropylene glycol, Zinc PCA, Biosaccharide gum-1, Potassium hydroxide, Manganese PCA, Potassium sorbate, Ascorbyl palmitate 

So, now that we've got that out of the way, here's my analysis. Ingredient wise, these are pretty good, albeit basic, choices. The cleanser has a good amount of fragrance in it, which isn't great, but since it's not on skin for a long time, it doesn't concern me too much. On the other hand, the moisturizer also lists fragrance. While it seems much more lightly scented to me than the cleansing balm, I prefer to forgo fragrance completely in a leave-on product (fragrance is one of the most common irritants found in cosmetics).

After trying the products, I can say that both products seemed well-suited to my dry skin. The cleansing balm felt more like a lotion than a balm (the word makes me expect a greasier, more petroleum-like texture). It did a decent job removing makeup, though I do feel like it left my eyes a little "spotty" (a term, which to me, means I had to blink the residue out of my eyes a bit after rinsing). One surprise is how comfortable the cleansing balm left my skin. 99.9% of cleansers leave my skin feeling tight once I've dried, so it is truly saying something that I felt almost as if I could have skipped my moisturizer after rinsing the balm away.

The Night Cream was nice as well- rich, but not at all greasy. Though it did a good job of moistuzing, it's probably only something I'd turn to when my skin is irritated and only "basic" will do; otherwise I prefer moisturizers that boast more impressive antioxidant and wrinkle-fighting ingredients.

While Boots No. 7 Beautiful Skin isn't the most technologically advanced line out there (it's not going to help to reduce fine lines, or even out skin tone) I will say I find it refreshing that Boots doesn't claim that it is. There are plenty of decent skin care lines out there that get a big fat FAIL in my book because the over-promise. Beautful Skin doesn't- it claims to treat dry skin by soothing and hydrating, and that it does.

The product featured in this review was submitted for promotional consideration by a representative of the company. What does this mean? I didn't pay for it. My commitment is to you- my readers- and to myself (it's called integrity, I like to have it). The opinions expressed on Outinapout.com are my own, based on my own research and experience; I am not paid in any way nor is the final outcome of the post influenced by any outside party.

Product Review: Bath and Body Works Mini Candle
in Pumpkin Cupcake

Though it's almost a week past, I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween; sweet, spooky and everything in between! I also want to send my thoughts to everyone who was in the path of Sandy- I hope you're all safe, dry and...electrified (?) as you read this. For those of you that have the means to help, I hope you'll consider making a donation to the American Red Cross or another worthy organization. 

This review is a little different for me, but in my mind, it fits... I adore fragrance, in all forms. Though home fragrance isn't exactly beauty, it does go a long way toward creating a warm, peaceful environment- and to me, it's essential to creating a beautiful home. When I saw the Bath and Body Works mini candle in my Influenster Beauty Blogger VoxBox, I was psyched. I've been a fan of BBW candles (also sold under the White Barn and Slatkin labels) for a long time, and this box is giving me a good excuse to share my experience.

For those of you who haven't tried BBW candles, here are my general thoughts. I typically find the scents very vivid and realistic- you don't smell the wax burning, only a clear, realistic representation of the fragrance. The amount of fragrance is also very well balanced; it'll fill the room without giving me a headache. Now, on to the scent I received in my box: Pumpkin Cupcake. Smelling the cold wax, it smells pretty much as you'd expect: pumpkin-friendly spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice blended with a bit of a creamy accord. It's not the most unique scent, but it's well done.

I was, however, rather disappointed in the throw (how well the scent fills the room). I lit this in my kitchen, and even standing right next to it, could barely smell it. As I mentioned before, I have been buying candles from Bath and Body Works for years and have never had this issue. Though I was bummed, I decided that perhaps the candle would fare better in a small room, so I put it on my bathroom windowsill and lit it up. Sure enough, that did the trick. Within minutes, the smell had permeated my powder-room, and was even seeping out into the hall. Though the limited throw seems like a limitation, It's hard to complain when I consider the price point- these babies retail for only $3.50, though every time I've been in to the store they've been on a 2 for $5 special. I can imagine a few instances where minis would be a benefit: the smaller candles would be great for those that like to create custom scents by burning a few different fragrances in the same room, and they're also a good way to try new scents without committing to a larger version.

So, what's your favorite home fragrance type & scent? I adore the Coven scented wax tarts made by One Hand Washes the Other, but my new current favorite is another Bath & Body Works scent- French Baguette! It smells amazingly like the real thing and fills my kitchen with the scent of baking bread without all of the mixing and clean-up!

The product featured in this review was submitted for promotional consideration by a representative of the company. What does this mean? I didn't pay for it. My commitment is to you- my readers- and to myself (it's called integrity, I like to have it). The opinions expressed on Outinapout.com are my own, based on my own research and experience; I am not paid in any way nor is the final outcome of the post influenced by any outside party.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012 Fall Beauty Blogger VoxBox

First off, if you're not feeling the "reading" thing today (or you just want to show some love) you can check out my first ever "box opening" video! Let me know what you guys think- I have to say it takes a lot less time to talking it out than it does to write this stuff here, so if you like it, maybe you'll see more of those in the future! Of course, there's always more info to be had, and anything whose performance warrants additional mention will inevitably end up here for a full review or swatch post.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Influenster, let me quickly get you up to speed. In Influentser's own words, they are "a free-to-join community of invited trendsetters who live to give opinions of products and experiences. Influenster creates links between brands and members to reward participation and influence future products".

Basically, you visit the site and request an invite, and then share your thoughts on a multitude of products. It's not just for beauty bloggers either; other categories of interest include Pop Culture, Chowhound, Gamer & more. Influester then partners with brands periodically to create themed "VoxBoxes" that they in turn send out to chosen partners, in this case, I was one. So now, here are my thoughts on the 2012 Fall Beauty Blogger VoxBox!

  • EBoost: $28 for 20 packets
Not my favorite energy beverage, the taste is slightly chalky and the energy boost is pretty non-existent for me, but then, I'm used to the 120-170mg I get out of a packet of Crystal Light Energy or Monster Rehab. I'll drink this packet one night when I'm running on empty later in the day, but don't want to be up until 4am.
  • Not Your Mother's Kinky Moves 1.5oz: $6 for 4oz full-size
I adore Not Your Mother's Beach Babe spray, so I'm excited to try this product. Not Your Mother's looks high-end to me, but at a really reasonable price point!
  • Goody Simple Styles Spin Pin: $7.29 for 2 pins
After using these, I can confirm that they work best on longer or thicker hair. They did hold my hair in place, but since my shoulder-length hair only rolls into a golf-ball sized bun, the pins were visible sticking out on the ends. I would have adored these when my hair was longer though- they're very easy to use, don't pull or snag hair, and hold very securely.
  • NYC New York Color IndividualEyes Compact in Dark Shadows: $4.99
This was my first go with NYC color. At $4.99, it's hard to go wrong. I do think it would have been nice if the compact would have included a matte black rather than the off-black glitter shade that stands as the deepest color in the palette. I also found the two deeper shades in the compact were very similar, and while I liked the pearl-white as a highlighter, the cream illuminator had too much visible sparkle for me to use it as a facial highlighter, if that's the intent. The primer was very similar to NYX's, which is to say it's a good budget option and definitely gave the shades some oomph and staying power. The shadows themselves were pretty soft (lots of fall out) and as such, applied better when pressed on with a fingertip than with a brush. 
  • Bath & Body Works Mini Candle in Pumpkin Cupcake: $3.50 (also included, coupon for $10 3-Wick candle, valid only until October 28, 2012).
Like I said, the scent is a nice, creamy blend of pumpkin spice scents- vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, maybe a little clove. The mini candles themselves are best burned in smaller spaces, like a bathroom, because they don't throw much of their fragrance. I do plan on using the coupon for the 3-Wick, and had I not smelled the French Baguette scent on my last trip, I would definitely consider picking up Pumpkin Cupcake (though this was a limited edition scent, and I'm not sure it's still available in-store anyway!) 
  • Kiss Ever Pro Lashes Starter Kit: $5.99
These are huge, thick caterpillar lashes, almost costume-y and definitely not something I'd wear on a daily basis. Though the shape's not for me, they do feel well put together and seem like they'd hold up well. I'm not a huge fan of any lash applicator aside from my fingers, but this one has an advantage to many in the off-set design. I'll likely stick to my fingers, but those who like applicators may enjoy the clearer view this one provides. Though I love the idea of the wand applicator in the glue, this one just didn't seem to hold as well as my current favorite, Duo.
  • Boots No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm ($8.49 for 5oz full-size) and Night Cream ($13.99 for 1.6oz full-size). 
As I mentioned in my video, there were no ingredients on the packaging or the insert, so of course, I had to look them up! If any one's curious, you can check them out, along with my full review, here.

My initial impressions are that, while basic, both products seemed well-suited to my dry skin. The cleansing balm did a decent job removing makeup, and left my skin very comfortable, which is saying something- 99.9% of cleansers leave my skin feeling tight once I've dried.

The Night Cream was nice as well- not at all greasy, though it did a good job of moistuzing. I think it would be a good choice for someone who wants a well-priced, bare bones moisturizer with a slightly more posh feel than some other drug-store options.

So, have you ever tried any of these products? Did you get an Influenster box this time around? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

The product featured in this review was submitted for promotional consideration by a representative of the company. What does this mean? I didn't pay for it. My commitment is to you- my readers- and to myself (it's called integrity, I like to have it). The opinions expressed on Outinapout.com are my own, based on my own research and experience; I am not paid in any way nor is the final outcome of the post influenced by any outside party.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Care, Share & Win for Your Hair!
Review and GIVEAWAY:
Keranique for Breast Cancer Awareness

As I'm sure most of you know, October is breast cancer awareness month. What you may not know is that every year, 200,000 women are diagnosed with the disease, and almost 40,000 will die.

This October, Keranique is helping to spread the word, and unlike so many Facebook campaigns (how exactly does secretly posting your bra color to your status help to cure cancer?) they're putting some money where their mouth is. For every new "like" they receive on their Facebook page, they'll donate one dollar. The goal is $10,000, so here's one case where the click of a button can really help!

To help get the word out, I'm giving away a full sized Keranique Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner duo to one lucky reader- just read on past my review to enter!

Keranique is a sulfate-free hair care system designed to volumize and treat thinning hair. It's important to note that the only product in the Keranique system that will treat hair loss head-on is the Keranique Hair Regrowth Treatment with 2% Minoxidil. Minoxidil (originally only sold under the brand name Rogaine) is the only over-the-counter ingredient that's FDA approved to help regrow hair.

The truth is, shampoos and conditioners for thin or fine hair just temporarily make the hair shaft look fuller, using ingredients like salts or clay to essentially rough up the cuticle and make hair...fluffier. While this approach may do the trick for some, it's got its downfalls. First, a rough hair shaft reflects less light, so you may be trading shine for volume. Second, ingredients like this may be damaging over time. Luckily, Keranique uses a polymer (polyquaternium-7) that coats the hair shaft, giving the hair a fuller appearance. This ingredient also functions as an anti-static and conditioning additive, so it's a triple treat!

While I can't say that I noticed any permanent change from using the Keranique shampoo and conditioner, I did like how my hair felt after using it. I do feel like I noticed some increase in volume, shine and softness, and my hair never felt weighed down. I was a bit concerned about the use of menthol and peppermint oils in the system, considering both are known skin irritants, but my normally dry, itchy scalp actually seemed soothed after using Keranique. This is probably due to the inclusion of several skin-friendly ingredients like soy protein, arginine, niacinamide, and burdock root. In fact, despite my concerns, I enjoyed the scent and cooling effect the peppermint and menthol had on my scalp.

I think the Keranique system is a good choice for anyone looking to combat the appearance of fine or thin hair, but like I mentioned, it's important to realize that unless you're also using the Minoxidil treatment, you shouldn't be looking for regrowth. Because of the addition of the aforementioned skin care ingredients, I also think Keranique is a good option for those who have irritated, dry scalps (though it would be even better without the peppermint & menthol oils).

If you'd like to give Keranique a try, enter using the widget below. You must be a follower of this site to win, so make sure you click the little button to your right! Also, if you didn't already know, Outinapout is now on Facebook with exclusive content, swatches, contests & more, so you can earn quite a few bonus entries by "liking" us there! Of course, I hope you'll also give a click to support Breast Cancer awareness by helping Keranique make their $10,000 goal, so you can earn a few extra entries that way too! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The products featured in this review and contest were submitted for promotional consideration by a representative of the company. What does this mean? I didn't pay for them. My commitment is to you- my readers- and to myself (it's called integrity, I like to have it). The opinions expressed on Outinapout.com are my own, based on my own research and experience; I am not paid in any way nor is the final outcome of the post influenced by any outside party.

Contest winner will be contacted via the email submitted to Rafflecopter, and will have 48 hours to claim the prize offered. If no response is received within the specified time period, another winner will be chosen. Contest is open internationally, pursuant to the rules & regulations of your individual place of residence. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Urban Decay 2012 Friends & Family Sale!

It's here, it's on everything (yes, even sale stuff and Naked palettes!) and it only lasts until Saturday, October 13th. Just use code FFHOLIDAY12 at checkout. I'd be lying if I said the Vice Palette wasn't tempting me, but I'm hesitant because of my history with the brand. But everyone deserves a second chance, right?

What's on your list?

Monday, October 8, 2012

This Week's Sales: Illamasqua, Korres,
FACE atelier, M Lab...and More!

Free UK and international shipping on ALL orders, from now until Monday 15th October 9AM BST (that's 4am EDT). No minimum order, no codes!

Beyond the Rack
Monday, October 8th: Trend Tweeze
Tuesday: Korres Beauty
Tuesday: Tweezerman

If you're not a member yet, click here for an invite and we can both earn a £10 voucher!

Daily Candy
Ends Monday at 11 pm: Modicure nail wraps
Ends Wednesday: Lifetherapy fragrances and body care
Ends Friday, October 12th: Pomega 5 skincare products
Ends Monday, October 22nd: Sonya Dakar

Gilt Groupe
Tuesday: Jose Eber Hair Tools
Thursday: Mario Badescu

Monday: Korres
Tuesday: Conair Personal Electronics, Layla Nails, Apothederm
Wednesday: FACE atelier

Monday: M Lab

My Habit
Ends Wednesday:  M.A. Dermaceuticals, Philip B. Haircare
Starts Monday: Dead Sea Spa Skincare

If you're not a member yet and would like an invitation, click here.

Tuesday: Bluum

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Birthday Giveaway!
Limited Edition Disney Villains Beauty Treats!

It's my birthday, and much as I'd like, geography makes it all but impossible for me to throw a huge soiree for us to all celebrate- but that doesn't mean I can't hand out a few party favors!

I've got 3 limited edition e.l.f. Disney Villainous Villains Makeup Books to giveaway to three lucky readers! As luck would have it, I also happen to have an extra pack of my favorite Disney Villains imPress Manicure (the green-purple "Evil Queen" duochrome) for another ducky to make their own.

Each Villains Makeup Book contains 8 shadows, 2 lip and cheek pencils, an eyeshadow primer, a liquid eyeliner and even a set of wicked false eyelashes with glue to complete your transformation! As if that (and the incredible artwork covering the book) weren't enough, each palette also has an incredible fold-out face chart that explains how to vamp out like your favorite villain.

Enter below, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Disney Villains Collection by ImPress Nails:
How Did I NOT Know About These???

Disney is everywhere in the grown-up beauty world this season. Of course, e.l.f.'s Villains palettes have gotten tons of attention, and chances are you're also aware of the Cinderella by Sephora line, but whilst on a midnight drugstore creep the other night, I spied something that, until now, had completely slipped under my radar:

Disney Villains collection by imPress

This, my friends, is the Disney Villains imPress Press-on Manicure collection by Broadway Nails. Based on 3 of Disney's most infamous villains, this collection of 6 instant manicures is a Walgreens exclusive. The suggested retail is $7.99, but as you can see, some stores may have them on sale. You can also visit the imPress website for a $1 off coupon, which means you can have a perfectly wicked manicure for little more than the cost of a venti latte. Not too shabby!

Here's a peek at the full line- the photos get quite large if you click on them, so feel free if you'd like to see the nails in more detail!

Disney Villains imPress Manicure, 6 styles

Cruella: Cream finish true red.

Cruella: Mixed black-on-white and white-on-black spotted, with gold glitter accents.
The glitter is much more visible in the black cracks on the mostly white nails.

Evil Queen: Purple to green shifting duochrome. Think oil slick or a beetle's wing.

Evil Queen: Lilac to lavender ombré with black lace print overlay.

Maleficent: Vampy oxblood with subtle shimmer

Maleficent: Deep, mottled purple and black french tips on a
natural nail,topped with white and silver glitter flourishes.

If you've never tried imPress nails, don't be frightened. These aren't your mom's Lee Press-on nails! I first tried imPress when I received a pack from Influenster in the 2012 Mom VoxBox, and though there are a couple of caveats (I'll be posting a full review very shortly to explain) I'm totally a convert.

Suffice it to say, I couldn't resist grabbing a few pairs of these for myself: I picked up the duochrome Evil Queen manicure and Maleficent's vampy scarlet. Have you tried imPress nails? Which are your favorite?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Beauty Buzz Word: Silica

Silica (silicon dioxide) is a naturally occurring mineral- you're digging your toes into it when you walk down the beach, as it's the primary component of sand. It's also the sole ingredient of Make Up For Ever's coveted HD Microfinish Powder, and many other cosmetic and skin care products besides. Silica is added to beauty products to aid in oil absorption, improve slip (gives a silky feel and helps product smooth on more easily), add opacity and more.

The type of silica used in cosmetics is called amorphous silica. There has been some confusion in the last few years over the safety of silica in cosmetics. Links between silica and the lung condition silicosis, cancer, and more recently, chronic kidney disease, are often referenced. What such articles, and those spreading this info, fail to realize is that the silica connected to such conditions is crystalline silica- completely different in chemical structure from the type used in cosmetics.

What's the difference? Well, simply put: in occupational environments where workers are regularly exposed to crystalline silica (such as mining, construction or sand blasting) the jagged structure of crystalline silica can embed itself in the lungs, creating scar tissue.

Since amorphous silica does not have the same jagged configuration, it does not cause this type of injurynor is it known to cause cancer or accumulate in the body. The ingredient considered safe by all of the major governing bodies of the world, including the US Food & Drug AdministrationHealth Canada, the European Commission, and Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Color of the Moment: Blackberry
(and Quick Tips On How to Pull it Off!)

Call it what you want: mulberry, eggplant, aubergine, wine or maroon. From juicy to vampy-deep,  purple is popping this fall, from tips to lips!

Left: OPI Every Month Is Oktoberfest Right: Zoya Katherine
Thanks to Jen of The PolishAholic for sharing her amazing photos!
Illamasqua Complement Pallette

MAC Yung Rapunxel
Now, I'm all for this trend- it actually makes me long for cooler weather! But don't be fooled. While these shades are neutral enough for anyone to wear, that doesn't mean they're always easy to pull off. Rich berry hues on the nails are a great way to ease in, and shadows like the ones above can be smudged along the lash line for an easy but eye-catching pop (if you're feeling bolder, apply them to the entire lid & smoke out the edges just above the crease).

If you're planning to rock a plum lip, however, you have to be a bit savvy to put your best pout forward. See, purple sits in a cozy place on the color wheel right across from yellow, and that means it will intensify any yellow put up against it. So if you worry that your pearlies could be a bit whiter, get a jump on this trend and grab an at-home tooth whitening kit. Even over-the-counter versions can lighten teeth several shades; my past favorite, Crest Whitestrips has a new version that guarantees laser-like results. Kits can be a bit pricey, but rebates and coupons take some of the sting out, and luckily, they're pretty easy to find (check your Sunday paper). And, after all, it's a relatively small price to pay for head-turning fierceness :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

e.l.f Studio: Picks and Skips!

One of my favorite "budget" lines, e.l.f. is pretty much always running some type of sale. Most of the e.l.f. Studio line tops out at $3.00, so you can bring in a pretty good haul for less than the price of dinner for two (or one!) But, like most lines, the brand certainly has it's hits and misses. Here are my top choices for those that haven't jumped on the e.l.f. wagon yet.

1. Studio Lip Lock Pencil: I've already done a review, posted pics and even included one in my Blogiversary Giveaway (which may as well serve as my "best hits of 2010" list) so it should go without saying. Get one. Or two.

2. Brushes
  • Powder Brush: I reach past my MAC 109, 187 and 190 and grab this every single day to apply my cream foundation. It works great with liquids and powders too- the synthetic bristles are perfect for buffing or stippling, and the large size and flat top make quick work of the job. Fair warning: e.l.f. brushes are totally worth the money, but they're not exactly top shelf. I've had to super glue a ferrule or two back in place, but for the price, I didn't mind a bit.
  • Eyeshadow C Brush: Wide and dense with mid-length bristles, use the paddle shape flat on the lid to apply color, or make it vertical and use it to buff down and blend out crease colors.
  • Small Angled Brush: I didn't love this for the purpose for which I intended- applying gel liner. I found it too thick to get the clean, thin line I like with my eyeliner. However, where it failed on my eyes, it succeeded on my lips: the angled shape is definitely more precise than a traditional lip brush, though if you like to use your lip brush to smudge and blend your lip liner, the angled cut may make that difficult.
3. Eye Transformer: If you don't already have a set of basic white duo-chromes, this is a good starter for the price. The four shades (green, yellow, pink and blue-violet) apply as a translucent wash of color on bare skin, but over deeper colored liners and shadows the underlying tone takes top billing. Transform a plain black liner to a glowing emerald, or turn your drabbest blue shadow into a pearly periwinkle. I will say that there's something about the base or opacity in e.l.f.'s transformers that gives them a little less glow that other duochromes that I've tried, but if you've never tried and are wondering what the duochrome fuss is all about, this is a good way to see if the effect is your style.

4. High Definition Powder: A $6.00 dupe of the famous Make Up For Ever High Def powder...what more can I say? Oh, there's a nice pale yellow version too, which is great for toning down redness. I guess there's that.

5. Lotion Wipes: How has everybody not latched on to this idea? Lotion in a wipe? Genius! Easy to travel with, mess free, non-greasy, and they actually do a nice job of keeping my skin hydrated. I will say the two scents I tried (Sweet Mango and Milk and Honey) left something to be desired. Neither was bad, they just didn't particularly smell like...what they were supposed to smell like. Still, just for the ease of use and a nice skin-loving formula, I say grab a few packs!

6. Mascara Wands: I use these primarily to brush, blend and soften my brows after I fill them, but as regular readers know, these little buggers have tons of unexpected uses. I have seen bulk wholesale prices online a little lower, but $3 for a dozen wands is totally fair and probably a bit cheaper than what you're likely find at your local Sally's or Ulta.

The e.l.f. that I like, I like a lot, but some of my previous purchases fell into the "you get what you pay for (and this was three bucks)" category. Here are a couple meh's and skip-it's:

  • Eye Shadows: The only incarnation of e.l.f. shadows that I've tried have been the Duo Eyeshadows from their basic $1 line, so maybe I shouldn't even mention them, but I will. They didn't thrill me, though they weren't the worst either. Worth a buck? If there's a color you're dying to try, then sure. Maybe. The limited color options kept me from being too interested, and that carried over into the Studio line since the Studio shadow singles only come in a handful of shades. Having said that, the 100-color Endless Eyes Palette does have me wondering. It is a big ticket item for e.l.f., ringing in at $10, and alas, it is exempt from the sale. Still...
  • Daily Brush Cleaner: I'm honestly surprised that I bought this, given the fact that the concentration of Alcohol Denat. is so high (it's the second ingredient). Generally I would be worried that the alcohol would dry out my natural bristles, but for some reason I took the chance. I haven't used it enough to notice if there are any ill effects from the alcohol, but this spray can't hold a candle to my HG instant cleaner, Brush Off. If you're not interested in hunting down that wonder product, want something in a lower price point, and aren't concerned about the alcohol drying out & breaking your bristles (some people use straight-up rubbing alcohol) then this might be an option for you. It lifted enough color from the brush to keep shade changes from muddling, and dried quickly enough with a few passes on a tissue.

Skip It:
  • Complete Coverage Concealer: While the shades were nicer than I expected and the light palette actually had a color just about fair enough for me (big shocker, since even MAC can't seem to figure that one out!) the light cream-gel texture of this concealer just didn't pack enough pigment to do task #1: covering imperfections! Complete coverage my booty- this did virtually nothing for blemishes, though since I don't have much in the way of under-eye darkness, I can't really speak to its effects in that area. If you do decide to give these a try, know that all four shades in the Light palette run in a warm yellow undertone.
  • Small Precision and Smudge Brushes: I have both of these, and I wouldn't bet money that I can tell the difference between the two. The texture of the bristles on these brushes is closer to a lip than an eye brush- slicker and springier. This gives the brushes the tendency to grab color with out re-depositing it, so they were more "erase" and less "smudge" than I care for.
Well, I think that's about it for me! What about you- if I wanted to try some new goodies, what would your picks be?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fashion's Night Out Deals

Poised to kick off the week-long New York Fashion week, tonight marks the fourth annual Fashion's Night Out. For those of you who have been caught unaware, Fashion's Night Out (FNO, donchaknow?) is a collaboration between American Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, NYC & Company, and the City of New York, and is meant to be a night to celebrate fashion, design and...well...shopping. As if we need a special day!

If you happen to be lucky enough to be in NYC (or one of many other fashion-forward cities out there) you may be taking part in the festivities in person. If not, you can still celebrate with one of these today-only deals!

Visit Beauty Bar and get $20 off any order over $100 with code BBFNO.

Tarte Cosmetics' Paint the Town Tarte Flash Sale features a handful of sets discounted up to 50% off, until midnight EST tonight.

Mally Beauty celebrates with 20% off 9 runway must-haves

Missha's also getting into the act: tonight only, buy M Signature BB Cream and get a full-sized BB Boomer (illuminating primer- think MAC Strobe Cream) for free!

There are bound to be deals cropping up all over tonight- feel free to share them in the comments! If you have special plans for FNO this year, I'd love to hear about those too!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Return of The Skinny!

Those of you who are fans of my Weekly Sales posts (which has been on hiatus, I apologize!) no doubt noticed several months ago when beauty-only site The Skinny disappeared from my list. The good news is, now they're back. The even better news is that they've extended a special 10% off offer to Out In A Pout readers! Simply use the code OutInAPout10 at checkout. The code is valid now through September 10th, (sorry, it can't be combined with The Skinny credits). If you haven't signed up yet, and feel like giving me credit for referring you, just click here to sign up for your free membership. Today's featured brands are pūr~lisse (ends Monday, August 27th) and Olivella (ends Thursday). Have fun shopping!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Flash Swatch: L'Oreal Youth Code BB Cream

I'm a big fan of BB Creams, and as they begin to penetrate the US market, I'm naturally curious about what the western brands have to offer. I've tested one or two brands in store, and the results have been less than encouraging. Most on-line reviews I've run across have reinforced my first impressions: US BB creams seem to be nothing more than a marketing gimmick; re-branded tinted moisturizers that lack the coverage, finish and benefits of their Asian counterparts.

Today, I flipped open my newly arrived issue of Allure to find a partially exploded blister pack sample of one of the new state-side offerings: L'Oreal Youth Code BB Cream. Though there wasn't enough left in the pack to get a full face application, there was enough to do a little quicky hand swatch, so I thought I'd share my impression.

L'Oreal Youth Code BB Cream in Medium
Unblended Swatch with blended portion underneath
The shade pictured here is medium, so it's no surprise to me that it's too dark for my sub-MAC paleness, but the real issue is the tone. The cream is a bright peachy-orange, and I have a hard time believing it would look natural on any skin tone, though it could perhaps bring a little balance to olive skin tones that lean blue or medium tones that have issues with ashiness.

Another disappointment is the utter lack of coverage. To me the magic of a true BB cream (like my favorite, Missha Perfect Cover) is that they can provide flawless coverage while looking and feeling totally natural. This covered nothing and I wouldn't even say it evened out my skin tone, it really just added a bit of tint.

The final mark of distinction of a true BB cream is it's infusion of skin care benefits. Now, I should say, I don't rely on any BB cream or foundation for my moisture or repair- and in the case of Youth Code, that would be a good thing. Though I spied a couple of antioxidants and one of my favorite multifaceted wonder ingredients, niacinamide, on the label, they appeared very low on the
ingredient list, appearing after preservatives and irritating by-products. To me, this is a red flag that the product is simply "dusted" with beneficial ingredients but that it likely doesn't contain them in concentrations high enough to be effective. Even the sun protection in this cream is wanting- though advertised as a broad spectrum SPF 15, the combination of octinoxate and titanium dioxide is lacking in strong UVA (aging) protection.

What do you think? Have you tried BB Creams, and if so, do you prefer the newer domestic versions, or their original Asian predecessors?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Beauty Goes Wild!
Japonesque Safari Chic Brush Collection

Safari is big this fall; animal prints are springing up everywhere, and the beauty world is taking its cue!

China Glaze takes your mani On Safari

Tarte gives a shout out with their Call Of The Wild eyeshadow palette

Even Dior is headed to the jungle, with Savannah inspired shades and leopard spotted shadows

But perhaps the most unique (and adorable!) offering I've seen so far is the Safari Chic collection from Japonesque.

Launched exclusively at Ulta, the Safari Chic collection consists of 4 super-soft, completely synthetic brushes with bristles that are actually arranged in a leopard spot pattern! How has nobody thought of this before?! 

The brushes themselves- a kabuki ($22) and a trio set including a plush powder brush, and two shadow brushes ($29.95) are travel sized with shorter handles, but are the perfect working size. The bristles are firm enough to stand up to cream makeup, but fluffy enough to make blending and buffing a breeze. The ferrules are tight, and I've seen not one bristle shed since I started using these almost a month ago. 

My only complaint about the collection is that I did find the two shadow brushes very similar in function; while one brush is larger and slightly more dense, the shape is virtually identical. While both brushes worked well for lid and all-over application, and as blenders, even the smaller crease brush was simply too long and fluffy to provide much precision on a smaller lid like mine. Though I liked each brush individually, I'd simply would have liked to see more variation in the set (perhaps a pencil brush or more compact, shorter bristled lid brush). 

All things considered, I think the Safari Chic collection is a worthy temptation for any animal (or makeup brush) lover! I'm not a mineral makeup fan, but love the kabuki for buffing in my BB and cream foundation, and I've taken to using the larger shadow brush with concealer for an airbrushed finish. Maybe best of all? These babies sure do stand out on a vanity! 

The products featured in this review were submitted for promotional consideration by a representative of the company. What does this mean? I didn't pay for them. My commitment is to you- my readers- and to myself (it's called integrity, I like to have it). The opinions expressed on Outinapout.com are my own, based on my own research and experience; I am not paid in any way nor is the final outcome of the post influenced by any outside party.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Win a Complete Skin Care System from Jurlique!

Congrats to Clista Canton, Olivia Frescura & Kristina Linn, who have all won the complete Jurlique Rose Moisture Plus collection though your entry here! Winners should email Jessica@Outinpout.com with their complete shipping address to claim their prizes!

For those of you that love a giveaway (and who doesn't) here's another fabulous one for you, this time courtesy of Jurlique! Follow the links in the side bar and you could the win the entire Jurlique Rose Moisture Plus Collection (my review coming shortly!) The coolest part? Since this is a co-branded contest, running across several blogs, there will be 20 winners chosen!!!

Each prize will include 3 full size products with a retail value of almost $90!
  • Rose Moisture Plus With Antioxidant Complex Moisturising Cleanser (100ml)
  • Rose Moisture Plus With Antioxidant Complex Moisturising Cream (40ml) 
  • Rosewater Balancing Mist (50ml)
To enter, make sure you're following this blog by clicking the little button to your right, then follow the links in the graphic! The contest runs now through July 27th, 2012, and is open to legal residents of the United States of America aged 18 or older.

I am aware that a few people have had issues entering the contest through the widget. The folks at Jurlique tell me that readers might not be able to "like" through the widget if they have already liked Jurlique previously. Easy fix- in order to enter, simply "unlike" Jurlique from Facebook, and like it again through the widget.

Keep in mind, this widget works through a facebook application, so before you hit "LIKE" you MUST sign into Facebook and authorize the app by hitting the button after the number one on the entry form. At this point, you'll notice that the "LIKE" button on the entry form will go from fuzzy to in-focus. Click it and you're done!

Good Luck!!!

The giveaway is administrated and sponsored by Jurlique Skin Care. Prize winner will be selected in a random drawing to be conducted by sponsor from among all eligible entries received from all participating bloggers. Odds of being selected depend upon the number of entries. I am not paid in any way to co-host this contest, though samples of the featured line were submitted for review consideration. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Would You Ever...Wear Pedicure Polish Strips?

I spied these at the store the other day and I just had to grab them. While I'm dead set against press-on toenails and french pedis (toe nails should not have a free edge!) I think the idea of wildly patterned toenails is right down my alley! If it's super easy to apply with no dry time, even better.

What do you think? Would you try polish strips on your toe nails? I'll be popping these babies on this weekend- I'll be sure to let you know how they work!

Where do we stand on the issue of pedi pics? Yay or Nay? Would you rather see my tootsies, or just take my word for it?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Happy Summer Giveaway! Winner Announced!!!

Finally, summer is here (though I'm not sure 103° in the first week was exactly what I was envisioning!) But, what better way to celebrate than with a summer must-have giveaway? I gave my Facebook followers a chance to chime in on what kind of prize they wanted, and makeup was the clear winner, so here are a few things you simply can't live without this summer:
  • Bronzer. This NYX Bronzer & Blusher Combo in Marbella is a great choice: use the shades separately to add a sunny glow or contour, or swirl both colors together for a luminous burst of color for your cheeks.
  • Shimmering Dry Oil by Nuxe Paris is a powerhouse product that's great for face, body and even hair! Skin-friendly oils and vitamin E nourish skin after-sun while the gold tint gives you a beachy gleam! You can even smooth a drop or two through the ends of your salt-water and chlorine ravaged hair to smooth, soften and boost shine (we won't tell!) 
  • Great summer colors like coral and marine blue are stand-bys for me. I adore pigments like these from Dark Heart Designs for their versatility- dust Coral Fang on cheeks or mix it into clear gloss for a goes-with-everything summer shade. Use a wet brush to line eyes in Starstruck, or add to clear nail polish for a perfect pool-side pedicure. Of course, they're both great on the lids too!
  • SPF SPF SPF. Need I say more? I couldn't do a summer must-haves giveaway without sunscreen. This one by Origins uses antioxidant super-star White Tea to protect skin from environmental damage while broad-spectrum sunscreens protects against the aging, burning, cancer-causing rays of our nearest star. 
I've made entering as simple as possible, just use the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the directions carefully. You must be a follower of this site to win, so make sure you click the little button to your right! Also, if you didn't already know, Outinapout is now on Facebook with exclusive content, swatches, contests & more, so you can earn quite a few bonus entries by "Liking" us there! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Contest is open internationally, pursuant to your local rules and regulations.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fab Fourth Sales!

I know how much ya'll love a good deal, and so does Luna of Toxid Lotus! She's putting together a list of fab 4th of July sales, and I thought I'd share. Luna lists reliable, tried-and-true indie businesses, if you haven't tried them, now's a great time! If you know of any other sales, or have a business yourself that you'd like Luna to consider adding to her list, let us know!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Parabens Continued...A Reply & Response.

Recently I posted an editorial on parabens, and in the resulting discussion one of my readers, Lulubelle of Bon Vivant Beauty, brought up a good point that I want to address. Since my commentary was more on the marketing aspect of the paraben controversy, I glossed over some of the concerns about this common family of preservatives. I am not a chemist or dermatologist, and being that the science on parabens is still emerging, I have generally left the issue to those who have greater access to the current literature on the subject. Still, my commentary has opened up some discussion (which I love) and I definitely don't want to ignore such a vital topic.

Though I discussed paraben sensitivities in my article, one of the prevalent concerns about parabens is the possible link to estrogenic activities. In her comment, Lulubelle mentions having looked at several studies, and though there is a mountain of research on the issue, the majority of the scientific literature I've seen doesn't exactly point to a direct cause and effect situation. One thing I've learned in my years of cosmetic research is how important it is to look at the parameters of a study and whether they realistically apply to humans.

One of the studies I found used to implicate parabens was done in fish (yes, fish) using a dose of 100-300 mg/kg. In case you didn't know (I didn't, luckily FutureDerm's Nicki Zovolo did the math for us!) that's about 24 times higher than a reasonable estimate of human exposure. Oh, and the fish were injected with the parabens; not exactly the same as slathering night cream on their... scales. This and other such studies contain information that sounds alarming when taken out of context, but so far have failed to concern me. But you don't have to take my word for it- this study published in Critical Reviews in Toxicology states: "it is biologically implausible that parabens could increase the risk of any estrogen-mediated endpoint". Couldn't have said it better myself.

The most eye-catching headline of late concerning parabens has been the discovery of parabens in breast cancer tissue. While that certainly sounds like a cause for concern, it's important to note that the authors of the study don't conclude that parabens are harmful in any way, only that further research is warranted. To date, In fact, the current scientific consensus is that parabens are safe for use in cosmetics in concentrations up to 25%, though typically they're only used at levels of 0.01 to 0.3%.

Here is some more interesting information on parabens:
  • Despite internet rumors to the contrary, parabens are used legally in cosmetics in the EU, though some types of parabens (those that were not used in cosmetics) have been banned. Methylparaben and Ethylparaben can be used at a maximum concentration of 0.4% Butylparaben and Propylparaben are allowed at a use level of 0.19%.
  • Evidence has shown that parabens do not accumulate in the system beyond 36 hours, meaning there is no logical risk of "build up" for the life time user.
  • Parabens are 10,000 to 100,000 times weaker than natural estrogen in the body.
  • We eat 10 times the amount of parabens in our food than what we're exposed to in our cosmetics.
  • Parabens occur naturally in many plants, such as honeysuckle and cocoa. They are also found in fruits and veggies like carrots, coconuts, blueberries, olives, raspberries, and strawberries. According to cosmetic chemist Dene Godfrey, "If natural substances are extracted from plants that contain parabens, it follows that parabens may be present in the final cosmetic product". Using that logic, popular "paraben-free" brands like Burt's Bees, Dr. Hauschka, Korres, and Yes To (among many, many others) may not be telling the whole truth with their paraben-free claims.
Of course, I don't mean this (or really any of my posts) to be taken as a compendium of all available data; I simply wanted to present you with information on why I personally am not concerned about parabens in my cosmetics. Take this post as a bit more insight into what has informed the opinion I expressed in my previous post- that many companies are perpetuating a perhaps un-earned negative perception for profit. Of course, science is constantly evolving, and since parabens are a hot-button issue right now, I have no doubt that study in the area will be ongoing. As always, I'll keep an ear to the ground, and you know I'll let you know if I hear any rumbles!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Product Review: Anastasia Beverly Hills
See and Be Seen Kit

Anastasia Beverly Hills' Limited edition See and Be Seen kit is a one-stop-shop that includes everything you need to add a little sizzle to your summer makeup routine. Available exclusively though Anastasia and Sephora, this four-piece set includes:

2 Hydrafull Glosses (0.07 oz each) in Heiress and Plastic
Hydrafull Glosses in Heiress (left) and Plastic (right)

Both Heiress (a cool, vivid coral) and Plastic (bright, blue-based Barbie pink) shades are available exclusively in the See and Bee Seen kit. I'd call both shades "jelly" finishes- well pigmented but still somewhat sheer, with no noticeable shimmer or milkiness. These are my absolute favorite kind of colors for summer- they look juicy and fresh, like you just ate a Popsicle!

Hydrafull glosses are smooth and non-sticky, though the thicker formula provides tons of moisture and longer wear. I also found that these two shades left a stain behind as they faded, something I consider a plus. Also, If you're in the market for a lip-plumper, Hydrafull pulls double duty with the addition of a collagen-stimulating peptide. Most plumpers out there only temporarily inflate lips, and they do it by using a ton of irritating botanicals (peppermint, clove and hot pepper extract are common choices) to create temporary inflammation. Peptides work with your skin's natural processes to stimulate the production of collagen- reducing fine lines and potentially creating fuller lips over time.

These glosses retail at $18 each, which is a little steep if you compare them to, say, MAC Lipglass, but the more comfortable formula and added plumping benefits make Hydrafull a must-try!

Tinted Brow Gel in Caramel (0.32 oz)

Brows are an essential step to looking well-put together, especially if a beachy no-makeup makeup look is your goal. Don't let this tinted gel's shade fool you: the golden taupe is a great option for almost all hair colors. Platinum bombshells will get natural looking fullness and definition, whereas non-blondes will benefit from perfectly placed brows and a subtle highlighting effect from the gel's golden sheen.

Illumin8 Eyeshadow Duo in On Set (each shade is 0.04 oz)

This duo includes two summer standbys: a sandy, pale copper and a warm luminous bronze. Both shades are smooth and well-pigmented with a bright, metallic finish. Use them separately or side-by-side for a simple daytime look, but if you're feeling bold, pair them up with a vibrant teal liner for the perfect summertime color burst.

And now...swatches!

Top: Illumin8 Eyeshadow Duo in On Set
Middle: Hydrafull Gloss in Plastic
Bottom: Hydrafull Gloss in Heiress

Retailing at $44, there's no doubt See and Be Seen is a great value (with $80 worth of product, it's basically like getting two full-size products for free). It's a no-brainer way to revamp your makeup bag for summer. If you haven't checked out Anastasia Beverly Hills, you really can't lose- unless you wait: this kit will only be available for another few weeks, so hurry!

The products featured in this post were submitted for review consideration by a representative of the company. What does this mean? I didn't pay for it. My commitment is to you, my readers, and myself (it's called integrity, I like to have it). The opinions expressed in my product reviews are my own, based on my own research and experience; I am not paid in any way nor is the final outcome of the review influenced by the featured company.

Friday, June 15, 2012

June Birchbox: Instant Reviews

Birchbox is a tiny bundle of monthly love made with beauty junkies in mind. For $10 a month you receive a package filled with 4-5 samples, many of which are deluxe size, with the occasional full-size product thrown in. These instant reviews are just that- my first impressions based on my initial testing, swatching and, of course (you know me) a peek at the ingredients. 

This month's theme is Jet Set, with selections to "indulge your inner jetsetter, from hardy formulas that can last throughout a long-haul flight to imported finds that we've picked up on our global adventures". Sounds promising, right? I don't know that I'll be doing many of those long-haul flights this summer, but imported beauty finds is music to my ears!

Sample Size: full box, 20 bandages
Retail Size: 20 bandages for $5.00
Sample Value: $5.00

Birchbox Says:
Klutzy fashionistas, we feel your pain and so does designer Cynthia Rowley. The fashion visionary teamed up with BAND-AID® Brand to create these haute band aids, which cover up life’s little boo boos and look good doing it.

I say:
These were the first thing I saw when I opened my box, and I was more excited than anyone has a right to be over Band-Aids! But, when's the last time you saw something this sexy in a package marked "sterile"? And, as accident-prone as I am, I will definitely get use out of these!

One quick mention, for anyone comparing notes: The Birchbox insert seems to have a typo where it lists the value of these at $15. The $5 retail value I used above is the price listed on Cynthia Rowley's official website. FYI, in my search to verify the price on these, I happened to notice Target has them available on-line for under $3 a box!

Sample Size: 0.04 oz/1.2ml
Retail Size: .3oz for $17.00
Sample Value: $2.27

Birchbox Says:
Why use two products when you can get the same effect with one? This two-in-one lip and cheek stain gives us a natural, understated flush...Use a single coat for a subtle look or layer it on for a more visible (yet still discreet) hue.

I say:
Right on! I love the idea of a multi-use stain, especially for summertime, and this gel-based formula is as easy to use as it gets. Beauty Queen, a slightly blue-based berry shade, went on my lips sheer and streak-free, and built up noticeably with just one additional coat. On cheeks, a little dab gave a nice flush, and blended evenly (and without settling into pores or grabbing on to any dry spots).

Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner
Sample Size: Full size, 0.07oz/.2g
Retail Size: .2g for $15
Sample Value: $15

Birchbox Says:
Twiggy fans, rejoice: this London-based brand’s liquid liners let you create mod looks in a flash. The precision pen tip allows you to control the thickness of the line you create and vary the intensity of your look. Plus, the fade-proof formula will hold up all day and night.

I say:
Woohoo! I have been hearing raves about this brand for ages, so I was thrilled to see this liner in my box. The sturdy felt-tip applies the inky black liquid effortlessly- no skips, tugs or bald-spots. The line I drew on my hand dried almost instantly, and then stood up to a pretty brisk rub. My next test was dishes, and while this liner doesn't purport to be waterproof, it certainly lives up to the "fade-proof" claims (as a matter of fact, the line I drew is still visible now, about 12 hours- and countless hand washings- later). Also, this little baby is half the price and almost twice the size of my current favorite, Lancome Artliner, so this could well be a new staple in my personal arsenal!

John Varvatos Star U.S.A
Sample Size: .04oz/1.2ml
Retail Size: 1.7oz for $55
Sample Value: $1.29

Birchbox Says:
The manly scent combines red ginger essence from Laos, juniper berries and cedrat from Sicily, blue spruce, green cardamom, osmanthus, vetyvert, belambre, and tonka bean from Venezuela.

I say:
My nose for women's fragrances is actually pretty sharp, but somehow, almost all men's scents smell the same to me, and this one isn't any different. I'd call it clean, almost sporty, even a little green. It comes across more citrusy than herbal or spicy/woody to me, which is surprising given the notes listed. Not a bad scent, but not something I'd search out.

This extra was a "sneak peak" at Birchbox's new men's service- it was a cute little addition to the box, though I do have to say that for the higher price point of Birchbox Man ($20/month) I'd need to see something more than a vial sample (let's be honest, you can walk into most department stores and get these for free) to get me to sign up.

Melvita Floral Water in Rose
Sample Size: .95oz/28ml
Retail Size: 6.76oz for $22
Sample Value: $3.09

Birchbox Says:
Powered by organic ingredients like rose petals...each spray soothes, firms, and heals delicate skin. Each of Melvita’s Floral Waters uses healing natural extracts to refresh and soothe skin...Rose is ideal for sensitive or prematurely aging complexions.

I say:
I'm not sure where I stand on the issue of floral waters. One one hand, floral compounds are chock-full of skin irritants (they're even listed in the ingredient list as "natural components") and that's not beneficial for anyone. Rose, however, has a very storied history: it's touted as a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, and is said to treat everything from sun-damage to depression. Now, it's easy for me to dismiss folk-remedies- I mean, women used to use lead to whiten their skin- but in the case of rose, science is pitching in to back up some of those claims.

This formula is pretty simple, it's basically just rose water, some citric acid (probably to adjust the pH and maybe as a preservative) and some lysine, which I was happy to see- it's an amino acid that helps to moisturize and repair the skin's protective barrier. The addition of this natural moisturizing factor tips the scales to the plus side for me: I'll be keeping this little bottle in the cooler this summer!

Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream
Sample Size: .1oz (3g)
Retail Size: 1.25oz for $16
Sample Value: $1.28

Birchbox Says:
Invented by a pharmacist back in the 1950’s, Yu-Be has been Japan’s top-selling skin cream for over fifty years. Great for head-to-toe hydration, it helps with all forms of stubborn dryness, including flaky red skin, chapped lips, and callused feet. High concentrations of glycerin and sodium hyaluronate seal in moisture and protect skin from the elements. Finally, vitamins B, C, and E infuse skin with antioxidants and boost firmness. It’s so gentle that even infants and kids can safely use it.

I say:
Another wildly popular import whose reputation precedes it, I was excited to see this tiny tube in my box- if only to see what all of the hype was about. One peek at the ingredients, however, reminded me why I never tried this "wonder cream".

Remember, this cream was formulated over 50 years ago, so it comes as no surprise that the ingredients add up to what is really a pretty out-dated moisturizer. Yu-Be is, at it's core, a blend of basic emollients with a few antioxidants thrown in the mix. The form of vitamin C used, ascorbic acid, is one of the more unstable, and in such a low concentration (it's the second to last ingredient) who knows if it would even have an effect on the skin? Vitamin B2 is also listed, but is a know photosensitizer, something I'd definitely stay away from.

The final nail in the coffin? Camphor. In my opinion, camphor is one of the very worst ingredients used in skincare- it's extremely irritating, so though it can temporarily relieve pain or itching, it actually damages skin in the long-run. Camphor can actually be toxic and enters the blood stream easily, so it should never be applied to mucous membranes or broken skin- yet it's a common ingredient in lip balms! Infuriating! Most alarming is the statement that it's gentle enough to use on kids and infants: according to the International Programme on Chemical Safety, "Even in small doses, camphor consumption can cause fatal poisoning in children and infants." It's also not recommended for pregnant or nursing women. So explain to me again why I want this on my cracked heels or chapped lips? No thanks!


Camphor rant aside, I really thought this box hit it out of the park. In fact, I'd go so far as to say this is my favorite box yet! It's almost as if Birchbox read my wishlist and made it a box just for me. Aside from the Yu-be (which I'll be keeping far away from my lip-balm eating toddler) I will use every single thing in this box, and feel fancy while I'm doing it!

What did you get in your box? Was it as big of a success for you this month?

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