Friday, January 27, 2012

WIN IT! Follow Friday Good Karma Giveaway:
Limited Edition Crème Brûlée
Vaseline Lip Therapy!

What you're looking at is a tin of Vaseline Lip Therapy in the limited edition Crème Brûlée flavor. Not only was it limited edition, but it was only available in the UK. But I have one (actually I have two, but one is mine!) Wanna win it? It's super easy to enter.

You must be a follower here on my blog (click that little blue button on the right that says "Join This Site") and on Twitter.

Then tweet this:

It's a @outinapout #ff giveaway! Win a limited edition Crème Brûlée lipbalm:"

Don't worry, if you don't have a Twitter account, you can still enter- just leave a comment on this post (you still have to be a follower of the blog). 

That's it.

Needless to say, the contest starts today, Friday, January 27th and I'll choose a winner at random at midnight, January 29th.

You can tweet as often as you like, but only one will count as an entry. The contest is open to everybody, pursuant to your local laws & regulations.

Good luck, have a great weekend, and thanks for following!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quick Tip: Starting a Retinol Treatment

Photo: Brennan Vargas

I've used prescription retinol  for a couple of years now, and recently discovered an important factor in starting a new retinol regime that my dermatologist failed to mention. Sure, he told me to ease in by using it only every few days at first, and of course he reminded me to use sunscreen daily. What he did not tell me is that the difference between starting a course of retinol in January vs. starting in April? Freddy Kreuger skin!

Retinol generally has a 2-3 week break in period, so when I first began using it, I was quite surprised at how well my sensitive skin reacted. I had just a little peeling, and basically no irritation or redness to speak of. Fast forward to a week ago, when I finally renewed my prescription after being off for around 6 months. One week (2 treatments) later and my skin is peeling in fine sheets all over my face, complimented by lovely red splotches from forehead to chin. Mind you, I'm using the same exact form and concentration of retinol, so what gives? Well, apparently, the weather. Blame it on El Niño, climate change, or just ol' man Winter, but it seems January is not the best time to start a course of treatment.

Skin in temperate climates naturally has less moisture in the winter time- there's simply less moisture in the air for your skin to drink in. Thing is, you may not necessarily notice this shift if you have naturally oilier skin, or if, like me, you're using skin care products that address your dryness. But add some retinol into the mix and that lack of moisture will become more than apparent. My trial-and-error advice? If you're looking to start a retinol treatment program, wait until Spring hits. The increase in humidity will boost your skin's natural defenses (more moisture in the skin=healthier skin barrier) and you'll probably see less irritation as a result.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January 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. Deluxe size samples are plenty big enough get a good feel for the instant effects, but maybe not quite enough to judge long-term results. Instant reviews are just that- my instant impressions on the products. These installments will be based on my initial testing, swatching and, of course (you know me) a peek at the ingredients.

Archipelago Pomegranate Body Soap
Sample Size: 1.8oz
Retail Size: 6.8oz for $12.50
Sample Value: $3.31

It's a little bar of soap, what can I say? I like the crisp, slightly citrusy, pomegranate scent, and the pretty etching on the soap itself. I also think the concave shape on the other side is rather ingenious as it keeps the bar from sitting in a puddle of water, but I have no idea if this shape is featured in the full-size or not.

The lather was nice and rich, though the scent didn't seem to carry into the bubbles. It rinsed away without leaving a film behind, but did leave my skin dry and noticeably rough across the knuckles. As far as the claims that this is better than drug-store bars, or that the botanicals in the soap can provide an anti-oxidant boost, I'm skeptical. I've never found a bar soap that wasn't drying, and though things like white tea, cranberry and pomegranate do have antioxidant properties, I suspect they'd do very little in the short amount of time it takes to wash your hands (or body).

Juicy Couture Eau de Parfum Spray
Sample Size: .05oz
Retail Size: 3.4oz for $89
Sample Value: $1.31

First, I have to say, I think Birchbox needs to lay-off the fragrance samples. Sure, trying new scents is great, but I can walk into any department store or Sephora and get these for free- it seems kind of shady to even say they have monetary value!

I'd call this a fruity floral, leaning heavily toward the floral side. The rose, lily and tuberose undertones all but dominate the fruity top notes of watermelon, mandarin and passion fruit. Even with a trained nose, I can barely pull out the green apple accord that's supposed to lighten up the scent, which just stops short of being cloying. Not a bad scent, especially if your style is "sweetly romantic" but it seems a bit...familiar- especially for such a high price tag!

LÄRABAR Mini Bar in Carrot Cake
Sample Size: .78 oz (1 mini bar)
Retail Size: $14.95 for 12 (Carrot Cake not available in mini)
Sample Value: $1.25

In short: $1.25 for a two-bite, 100 calorie nugget? No thanks. It didn't even taste all that good- definitely an "energy bar" flavor & texture. Having said that, I do like the little nommy treats that Birchbox includes from time to time, so even though this wouldn't be a "repurchase" for me, it still gets a thumbs-up!

Origins Checks And Balances Frothy Face Wash
Sample Size: 1oz
Retail Size: 5oz for $19.50
Sample Value: $3.90

Smells like Origins! Which is to say, lightly pepperminty with an ever-so-subtle herbal undertone. I love the scent, but knowing that mint extracts are skin irritants gives me pause- a peek at the ingredient list shows more worrisome ingredients (bergamot, lavender, and linalool). According to Origins, these additives "add pleasure to the process" but irritation isn't exactly my idea of pleasing.

Upon using it, I found the foamy cream very concentrated- a pea sized dollop will do your entire face. It rinses away well, with maybe a tiny bit of a filmy feel. Despite Origins' claims, I did feel some tightness after toweling off, but I have dry skin so that's normal for me with any sudsing or foaming cleanser. Origins says this is for all skin-types, though I think oily and normal skin-types would find it most comfortable. Having said that, the potential irritants in the formula would probably keep me from recommending it to anyone.

Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner in Lionfish
Sample Size: Full Size (.01oz/28g)
Sample Value: $20

This liner is right down my alley- as the name suggests, it's smudgeable, which is a must for me with any pencil liner. My preferred method for applying pencil is to line the outer 1/2 of my upper lid, then use a smudger brush to soften the line & pull color closer to the inside corner. Ideally, I can then use the "leftover" pigment on the brush to smudge a soft line under my bottom lashes. The problem I run into is often liners that are soft enough to smudge either wipe right away or never set. Smudge Stick blends well as long as you work relatively quickly. The liner does set pretty quickly, so I'd suggest doing one eye at a time if smudging is your preference.

Lionfish is a chocolatety-bronze shade with shimmer, and while browns aren't my choice for every-day use (I prefer a reddish-plum to highlight my green eyes) I'm sure I'll get plenty of use out of this.


Though there was nothing in my box this month that I was unconditionally in love with, I still consider this box a win. The samples were items I was happy to try, all good sizes, and of course the inclusion of a full-sized product goes a long way to sway my favor. As I mentioned, I also like it when I get an "eat me now" treat in my box- even if I do have to share it with a curious little 4-year-old!

How about you guys? Are any of this month's samples on your favorites lists?
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