Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This Week's Sales: Dr. Brandt, Face Atelier, StriVectin & more!

Tuesday May 22nd: Hair Accessories
Thursday: Show-stopping Color Contacts

Ends Tuesday: Sranrom Skincare, Designer Fragrance feat. Juicy Couture, Thierry Mugler, Viktor & Rolf and more

Starts Tuesday: Bellapierre Cosmetics

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

Daily Candy
Ends Wednesday May, 23rd: $25 for $50 or $50 for $100 at HollyBeth's Natural Luxury
Ends Thursday, May 24th: $20 for $40 or $40 for $80 at Hellomellow organic body care
Ends Friday, June 1st: $75 for $150 at PureCeuticals Skincare
Ends Monday, June 4th: $25 for $50 at beautorium.com

Just a few of the many, many websites listed this week:
39%: Proactiv Solution
13%: Beauty.com, Philosophy, Prescriptives
7%: Lancome
5%: Shu Uemura

Monday: Lorac, Mario Badescu
Tuesday: Dr. Brandt, Rain Cosmetics
Wednesday: NEO Hair Tools, FACE atelier
Thursday: NYX, Hairdo by Jessica Simpson, Di Toscana
Ends Wednesday, May 30th: $20 for $40 on BeautyClub.

Lucky Chic
Monday: La Vie Celeste skin care
If you're not a member yet and would like an invitation, click here.
Monday: Bubalina, Nume hair appliances, Actifirm Skincare, Swim & Sun- Summer Skincare, feat. Dermatouch, Suncare Defense, Sonya Dakar & more
Tuesday: StriVectin
Wednesday: Amal Oils, Institut Karité Paris
Thursday: Bremenn Research Labs
Friday: Basq Skincare

If you're not a member yet and would like an invitation, click here.
Tuesday: exhale mind body spa

Monday: Andis Personal Care, Belli body care

Saturday, May 19, 2012

May Birchbox: Instant Reviews

For those of you that aren't familiar with Birchbox, this tiny bundle of love is a subscription service made with beauty junkies in mind. For $10 a month, Birchbox will send you a package filled with 4-5 samples, most of which are deluxe size, with the occasional full-size product thrown in.

This month's box came wrapped in a Gossip Girl band emblazoned with a picturesque night-time image of the New York City skyline. I don't watch Gossip Girl myself, nor do I follow any of the celebs that are on the show, so I can't say that made a difference to me one way or another- just another item for the recycle bin! This month's box also seemed a bit scant to me- only 4 products, and one of them was the "get it for free at the perfume counter" sample vial. Here's what I got:

Arquiste Flor y Canto Eau de Parfum
Sample Size: 1.13 ml (.038 oz)
Retail Size: 55 ml (1.86 oz) for $165
Sample Value: $3.39

Birchbox Says:
Decadent and intense, this cool white perfume will linger on your skin for hours. A rich parade of floral notes—including Mexican tuberose, magnolia, and plumeria—mix and mingle together. As the fragrance blooms, a faint whiff of marigold (a sacred Aztec flower) makes a surprise appearance.

I say:
A very sweet floral, definitely decadent. While it's intense at first, it does soften up a bit as the tuberose and plumeria fade and the slightly musty, earthier notes of the marigold come out. don't take this to mean this scent is at all spicy or musky- it's incredibly feminine and romantic, the kind of fragrance that would be a perfect bridal scent.

Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream
Sample Size: 15 ml (.5 oz)
Retail Size: 75 ml (2.54 oz) for $19
Sample Value: $3.80

Birchbox Says:
We can always rely on this French brand’s anti-aging cream to smooth dry knuckles, moisturize nail beds, and generally keep our hands in top condition. Made with antioxidant-rich grapeseed oil, sweet orange pulp, and avocado, it reduces the look of fine lines on your hands. Pure shea butter and plant-derived glycerin soften skin.

I say:
Caudalie's cream does indeed include a nice network of emollients and anti-oxidants, including shea butter, avocado oil, vitamins C & E and grape seed oil. There is support for the anti-aging claims in the grape extract that Caudalie bases its line on: aside from it's potent anti-oxidant capabilities, it's been shown to promote collagen and elastin production.

Having said that, hands are often the first part of the body to show signs of aging, and since sun damage is the major cause of things like lines, dark spots and elasticity, I think it's a major loss that Caudalie chose not to add an SPF to this product.

The cream has a nice fruity scent that's just enough for me: I can smell it while I'm rubbing it in, but it doesn't linger. It feels emollient and even a bit waxy at first, but absorbs quickly, leaving my skin soft and silky. I'm not entirely sure I'd shell out $19 for a small tube of hand cream, but if I were in the mood for a splurge, this would definitely be a consideration (if it had SPF, it would be a no-brainer!)

Ojon Damage Reverse Restorative Conditioner
Sample Size: 30 ml (1 oz)
Retail Size: 8.5 fl oz for $25.00  
Sample Value: $2.94

Birchbox Says:
This nourishing formula revives dry, damaged hair from the inside out. Unlike traditional conditioners, it contains an exotic mix of rare Ojon oil, Brazillian Buriti Oil, and Murumuru Butter. These antioxidant-rich hydrators penetrate deep into hair follicles to repair brittle locks, while locking in moisture and creating a seal against future damage.

I Say:
Hair is dead. Once ends are split, there's little more aside from a good chop that's going to "repair" it. There is a new technology (polyelectrolyte complex, or PEC for short) that shows some promise, but Ojon's Damage Reverse doesn't have it. A few oils that have been proven to penetrate the hair shaft, which can increase hair flexibility, reducing breakage and protecting the hair from damage. Ojon's Damage Reverse does have some of those: ojon oil (aka. palm oil) is one. However, so is coconut oil, which I get at my local international market for about $5 for a 16oz bottle. Enough said?

FusionBeauty LipFusion Balm Lip Conditioning Stick SPF 15
Sample Size: full size, .17 oz (4.7g)
Retail Size: .17 oz for $22
Sample Value: $22

Birchbox Says:
The lightweight formula is infused with hydrating sunflower seed oil, plus groundbreaking AmpliFat, which boosts collagen production to give you lips that feel and appear fuller. Built-in SPF 15 keeps lips protected from harmful UVA and UVB rays.

I Say:
First, and most importantly, Birchbox says this balm's SPF 15 protects against UVA rays. That does not appear to be the case: according the package, the active sunscreen agents in this formula are Octinoxate and Octisalate. Both sunscreens protect only against burning UVB rays, not aging UVA rays. Also remember, when it comes to SPF in makeup, people almost never put on nearly enough to get the listed SPF, so if you're using this for sun protection, lay it on thick and reapply often!

SPF issues aside, I like this formula. It's loaded with antioxidants to protect against environmental damage and has a great list of emollients to protect the skin's protective barrier; both adding moisture and holding it in once it's there. The texture is nicely balanced with the blend of butters, oils and waxes. It glides on easily and feels cushy and moist, not at all greasy or waxy. While I wouldn't say this is long wearing, I got a couple of hours before I needed to reapply, which is above average for me. I should also mention that the clear color that I received was indeed clear, though the stick itself looks a bit shimmery.

While there is a light peppermint scent (flavor?) I don't notice any sting, burn, tingle or other sign of irritation. Peppermint oil can be a potent irritant (which is why it's popular in plumpers- it causes swelling) but from the ingredient list, it's not really clear if this formula includes natural peppermint or synthetic (it's just listed as flavor/aroma) but either way, I'd have preferred this balm if they had just skipped it.

As far as plumping ability, I can't say I notice any significant plumping, nor was I able to find any research to back up the claims that FusionBeauty makes about AmpliFat (aka: Dictyopteris Membranacea Extract, aka: marine brown algae). Plumping or no, brown algae extract does have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, so I'm happy to have it.

Birchbox Extra: Notecard
Sample Size: one card
Retail Size: 12 cards for $10
Sample Value: $.83

I feel a little bit bad complaining about an "extra" but these are so laughable to me, I had to mention it. My card is a deep brick red with a fuchsia envelope- not a pretty color combo (it actually looks accidental to me!) I'm not sure why anyone would pay $10 for these- the card isn't on luxurious paper, it's not letterpress or thermography, the design isn't even intriguing. I honestly and truly have seen nicer cards at Target. But, yaknow...thanks anyway.


So, what did you think of this month's box? I was underwhelmed at first because the box seemed so scant, but after sitting down to write this I'm a bit more positive on the selection- I'll definitely get use out of everything in this month's set (even the perfume- this is the first time I've liked the scent in my box!) I am a bit jealous after seeing what some other people got- Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo and Dior Extase Mascara? I want those! But hey, there's always next month.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Happy 4th Blogiversary Phyrra!

And there's more!!!
Regular readers know I don't normally go around pimping out other people's blog contests, but I did want to mention this one for two reasons:

  1. Phyrra is an awesome blogger, and one of the very first who welcomed me into the "beauty blogger circle". She's always been an inspiration, ready to help, and I'm happy to call her a friend. 
  2. It's an awesome giveaway! Though she doesn't list a dollar amount, there's got to be $100+ worth of indie cosmetics, designer hair care, Urban Decay goodies...who wouldn't want to win?!?
It's super easy to enter, and you have tons of chances, so there's no reason not to give it a shot! Just skip over to Phyrra.net and follow the directions. FYI, this particular giveaway is for US addresses only, though there will be another for international readers. Good luck, and congrats to Phyrra on 4 great years!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Lancome and Too Faced Friends and Family

With family coming in from out of town, my Lily's first dance recital, a house to get ready, food to make for the after-recital party, and Mother's Day, I just haven't had free time to sit down and write out my usual "This Week's Sales" post. I don't want to leave y'all in the lurch though, and there are a few deals going on that are too good not to share! Here are a few- if I can steal a few minutes tonight, I'll hop on and add in all of the weekend Member's only sales!

Also, you may notice I've added an Ebates featured deals list. There are tons more beauty-related Ebates, these are just a few that stood out to me.  I'm considering making this part of my weekly sales list; let me know if you like this new listing. Is it good to know, or not worth the time?

Too Faced Friends & Family
20% off sitewide with code FFSPRING12. Sale ends Wednesday, May 16th.

Lancome Friends & Family
20% off any order (excludes gift sets and gift cards) now through May, 13th. Use code FRIENDS at checkout.

Ebates featured deals

Murad Skin Care: 11.0% Cash Back

Proactiv Solution: 15.0% cash back

Sephora: 8% cash back (all Ebates orders) and a free Dior Diorshow Mascara deluxe sample with any order over $25 with code DIORLASH.

Friday's Daily Double is 30% Cash back on Yves Rocher Botanical Beauty.

Remember, to get cash back, all you have to do is register for an Ebates account and make sure you shop through the links provided on the Ebates site.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Win Your Illamasqua Skin Base Shade!

One of my favorite companies, Illamasqua, is expanding the range on one of my favorite foundations, Skin Base. The new shades launch next Thursday, May 17th, and to celebrate the 7 new shades (which brings the entire range to an impressive 26 shades) Illamasqua is giving 10 of us the chance to win their perfect shade!

All you have to do to enter is head over to Illamasqua's competition page, fill out your info and answer one little question. If you haven't heard about Skin Base or need to peek at a few swatches, check out my post here- you may even find the answer to the contest question in there :)

The 10 lucky-duckies will be picked at random and announced on Thursday 17th May. Good luck!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Parabens: A Commentary on Safety,
Science and Marketing

Today I ran across this article on Beauty Stat on a familiar topic: parabens. The body of the post expresses the general scientific consensus that parabens are safe. Yet even as Beauty Stat clarifies the virtues of this widely used preservative (it's in everything from shampoo to toothpaste to breakfast cereal), it continues to promote cosmetic lines that have latched on to the attack on parabens.

I found this disquieting, especially after reading the subsequent comments from other readers (many of which seemed more interested in the paraben-free beauty lines the article mentions rather than the actual conclusion of the article). I had to add my point of view on the debate, which mostly started for me 4 years ago when began researching skincare products for my newborn daughter. With this being such a misunderstood "hot button" issue, I wanted to share my thoughts with you here as well. The following is the text from the comment I added to the Beauty Stat discussion, though I have added some supportive details to this post.

I find it a little odd that Beautystat would publish an article whose primary point is that parabens are safe, but then cap it off at the end with mentions of all of the companies that are still pursuing paraben-free formulation. It seems a little contrary to the spirit of the article, and I do think that it's confused some of your readers.

Parabens have been the unjust target of a well-executed smear campaign, at the hands of an alarmist lobbyist group (the Environmental Working Group) and marketing think tanks. Companies have not gone paraben-free because they think it's better skin care, they've gone paraben-free because they know there's a large segment of the market that's looking for paraben-free cosmetics and are willing to pay a premium for them.

This smear campaign has been so well executed that even after reading an article like this, an article that references the consensus of scientifically sound, peer-reviewed research and support of world-wide governing bodies, people are still inclined to ignore the facts (parabens are safe) in favor of the marketing.

In fact, the reason parabens are used as widely as they are is that they have a low incidence of irritation compared to many alternatives. According to Fisher's Contact Dermatitis (Rietschel, Fowler, Fisher. PMPH-USA, 2008) "Considering their volume of use, incidence of allergy to the parabens is relatively low compared to the other common preservatives."

Yes, there are people out there that are allergic to parabens, just as there are people that are allergic to sunlight and water. Such allergies are rare, however, so unless you have been diagnosed by an immunologist, the greater body of knowledge insists that parabens are among the best options for preserving and keeping your cosmetics safe and effective.

Common replacements for parabens, on the other hand, may be unstable and even ineffective in small quantities. Many, like tea-tree and grapefruit seed oils, can be potent skin irritants at the levels needed to be effective as a preservative. I understand that many people avoiding parabens simply prefer to take the "better safe than sorry" route, but I also think it's important that people understand that the idea that paraben-free products are safer or better for your skin is not a foregone conclusion.

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