Tuesday, July 31, 2012

REVIEW: Sephora Collection Hot Hues Neon Lip Balm in "Crazy Coral"

before making my first online Sephora order recently (it's on its way to me!), i visited a Sephora store and a coral item in the sale section caught my eye.
i hadn't seen or heard of Sephora's Hot Hues line before. Hot Hues is a Spring 2012 collection including eyeshadows, eyeliners and lip balms. the words "Neon" along with "Coral" intrigued me and at $3, i could not resist the temptation.

the Sephora Hot Hues Neon Lip Balm in "Crazy Coral" (2.8 g) comes in a sleek round black tube with the letters "Sephora" around the bottom and a semi-transparent coral top. what's most interesting is the lip balm itself which is like jelly! it is orange but also transparent. and it smells very yummy. mine in particular smells like oranges. all in all, it sort of makes you want to eat it.

i find that when i apply one layer of "Crazy Coral", it looks sheer with a hint of coral.
artificial light; natural light

it would not be considered "neon" so i tried to build on the color. however, when i layer it a couple of times, it becomes pinkish red on my lips.
artificial light; natural light


although this is labelled as a lip balm, the effects that it should have (i.e. moisturizing) does not last long. i felt the need to reapply the product constantly. my lips were dry within half an hour.
there were a couple of other colors available (Paradisso Purple, Hot Pink, Funky Fuchsia). i was disappointed by the color on my lips since it did not live up to its name and it was not really hydrating. i wouldn't recommend this to people with pigmented lips or dry lips.

my quest for corals continue with my recent trip to London Drugs where i bought FOUR lip products. i am crossing my fingers one of them is my perfect coral shade...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

REVIEW: Ultraflesh Perfect Pinks 6-Piece Set

helloooooo!
so continuing on my journey to overflow my current lipstick container, i did not think twice when i saw this box at - you guessed it - Winners. in fact, i saw a set for "Perfect Reds" first and then "Perfect Pinks" but to my horror, both boxes were missing one lipstick! who would do such a thing??
so it became my ultimate goal to track down a set. i found my "Perfect Pinks" set at my third Winners and on my fourth trip, i also secured a "Perfect Reds" set (to be reviewed separately).
considering that i did find this at Winners, the box was a bit bunged up but the lipsticks were untouched. thank goodness!!

the lipsticks in the Ultraflesh Perfect Pinks set are itty bitty (1.2 g each) but i loved the idea of finding a perfect shade of pink. each box contained 6 lipsticks - there are 3 shades and each shade has a matte version as well as a sheer one.

this is the first time i've tried Ultraflesh and i've only seen their products at Winners. i purchased this set for $8.99. after searching online, Sephora also carries Ultraflesh but has a very very limited selection (in fact, only 3 items). they used to have the 6-piece set for $29 so i paid about a third of the original price! nice one Winners! Ultraflesh is actually owned by Fusion Brands Inc, the same company who does Fusion Beauty and CLEAN.

i apologize for the different lighting in the following photos - i don't like swatching multiple lipsticks in one go since it will be quite drying on my lips. as a result, some swatches were done in direct sunlight and some during cloudier days. top right are shots in artificial lighting and bottom right are natural lighting.

starting with "Tender":
matte
the matte version appears to be a matte pink with the slightest bend towards mauve-purple. i tried this color first and it was especially drying on my lips. even in the swatches of all the colors on my arm, i could tell that this color had the most drying formula. it tugged at my lips when i was applying it and it seems to accentuate every line in my lips. the color does not look particularly good on me either. it looks like i was trying to pull a Nicki Minaj.
sheer
i really like sheer Tender. it looks like a pink nude in the tube but actually appears quite pigmented on my lips (and a tad purple), rather than sheer. it glides on much easier than the matte Tender.

"Ethereal":
i didn't expect such coral-ly colors to be in a pink set! and what's also odd is that the matte and sheer versions are quite similar. both are very shimmery which defeats the purpose of calling one a 'matte'. the matte Ethereal is slightly more coral/orange-based while the sheer is more red/brown.
the matte does not feel super drying but is drier than the sheer formula. i like both of these colors since coral is just awesome but would've preferred if they weren't so shimmery.
matte
sheer

and lastly, "Fragile":
matte
matte Fragile is the definition of a hot pink. it is on the cooler side of the spectrum and is quite pigmented. i don't normally wear flashy colors so i only put on one layer with a soft hand but i'm sure the color can be much brighter (it was also a cloudy day!). this particular color left a nice berry stain hours afterwards. i quite enjoyed this color!
five hours after:
sheer
Fragile in sheer form looks like a slightly toned down version in the tube but is sheerer than all the other colors. it's something you can wear comfortably without thinking about it. on my arm, it looks like sheer Ethereal without the shimmer.

arm swatches:
top to bottom: artificial light, natural light
left to right: "Tender" Matte, Sheer; "Ethereal" M, S; "Fragile" M, S

these lipsticks tend to be on the drier side (especially the mattes) so i would recommend wearing lip balm or lip gloss. the sheer versions have a shiny finish to them. i think the color payoff is pretty good and the sizes are small but enough to try all of them many times.the scent of cheap lipstick is a bit strong when you are applying it but that's the only time you notice it. i expect to wear the majority of these colors so i am glad i picked this one up! it was also fun trying on different variations of pink even if they didn't work on my skin tone. i am sure Tender (matte) would look great on other people :)

a comparison of the size with a NYX and a MUFE lipstick:

how much product is actually in the tube:


NOTE:
i reached 10,000 views overnight. thank you very much for all the loveeee <3

Friday, July 27, 2012

POLISHED: NYX Nail Polish

i bought these two NYX polishes back in February on my trip to Fernie. they were on sale at Overwaitea (i am pretty sure that was the name of the grocery store there). they were probably on sale because they were discontinued since this particular NYX Nails (14 mL) line is no longer available on the NYX website. or the company could have just updated the formula: the ones i have say "Professional Salon Formula" and the new ones are "Advanced Salon Formula".
i used one of the colors the same night i bought them but since they are more summery colors, i thought it was high time i reviewed them for my blog.

i picked up "NP 49 Mango Cafe" first because i love all things coral.

i used 3 coats. i feel that i needed more coats with NYX polishes because they seem to be on the watery side. it lasted a few days before chipping. removing the polish was a breeze.
in artificial light, it looks super orange. the natural light shot is a better representative of the color.
artificial light; natural light

i also picked up "NP 125 Cancun Pink" since it is a lovely bright pink color with a blue shimmery undertone. the names of the polishes alone makes me happy inside.

again, i applied 3 coats. be careful with this one because when you think the polish is dried, it is probably not. i smudged it three times before taking these pictures.
artificial light; natural light 

holy reflective! "Cancun Pink" is super shiny. here's a closeup to show you the blue behind the pink.

so have you tried NYX polishes before? did anyone notice a difference between the old formula and the new one?

NOTE:
a number of Revlon lip products and nail polishes are on sale this weekend at London Drugs for $3.99 including those infamous Lip Butters!! i am heading back there tomorrow to analyze it more carefully since i was there today with my dad and he was not as patient as i hoped he would be as i was swatching 9 lipsticks on my hand. i can't make such important decisions while under pressure!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

LOVE: Forever 21 - Spiked Peep-Toe Heels

it's been too long since i've done a shoe post but don't worry, you will not be disappointed with this one!
my lovely lovely sister bought me this pair of black spiked peep-toe heels for my birthday:

i remember seeing them for the first time - these shoes just scream "killer" to me. killer heels in that they have these sharp golden studs on the back but also killer since they are a whopping 6" heel.
i am not a short person - somewhere around 5' 5" to 5' 6". i often get the "you're tall... for an Asian". 
i also like dressing up and wearing heels (even though it makes me look like Ariel from The Little Mermaid who has just discovered legs). when i do wear them, i feel like i am towering over people.
there are a number of photos where you can find me hunched over with my knees bent in an awkward position just so that i can be on the same eye level as everyone else. 
still, i can't help but keep on buying high heels and i love love these ones my sister bought me.

they are faux suede and have a ~2" hidden platform. there is a textured outsole but i'll still have to be super careful. they feel true to size and are not overly tight in the toe area even though my experience with most peep-toe shoes are. i haven't taken them for a night out yet so i can't tell you how much time passed before i started wincing from pain. i'll also have to remember to use my hands to take these off - i usually take one foot out and use that foot to knock the other shoe off,  but i found out the hard way that this is not the right way to take this shoe off! those studs are indeed sharp. the heels cost $43.80 and is sold out on the website, so if you want to run to your nearest Forever 21, do so fast!

i've always wanted the Sam Edelman Roza (closed-toe) or Lorissa (peep-toe) so this is a great substitute for now :) 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

REPORT CARD: 5 Beauty Box Companies // Jan - Jun 2012

it is time for the semiannual "report card" on five of the beauty box subscription services available in Canada: Topbox, Glymm, Loose Button, Glossybox and Beauty Box 5.
i took a look back on the previous 6 months (from January to June). i know that this overlaps a bit with my previous report card but i thought i'd make it easier if i started counting from the beginning of the year rather than from the first boxes i received (December 2011).
be warned that this is quite the lengthy post!
there is some missing data since i did not sign up for Glossybox until March, BB5 until May and i did not receive Loose Button's last monthly box for June.
i only included Loose Button for those of you that are curious about their past performance. since LB decided to no longer send out monthly boxes (and switch over to seasonal boxes), the following data on the company is probably not relevant anymore. 

i've tried my best to make the following Excel tables as easy to understand but here's a

LEGEND:
  • purple font = these are "bonus" products. note that all totals DO NOT include bonus products. 
  • (number) = if there are brackets with a number beside a product, it means i have gotten that number of samples 
  • number with a circle around it = the number represents the number of samples i received of the same product while the circle indicates that this is a one-use sample 
  • i.e. in January's Luxe Box, i received 6 vials of perfume; in April's Glossybox, the BB cream sample i received was a bonus product that's intended for only one-use.
click on the pictures to get a better view!
note: makeup remover is listed under "Cosmetics" while cleansing cloths are considered "Skin Care". some of these items were really really hard to classify!! for instance, Benefit's POREfessional is a "primer/gel", but i had no idea what to classify Lise Watier's Flash Lift Radiance Vial (i just called it "flash lift radiance vial"). gift certificates are not included. even if there are different sizes of a product available for purchase, a mini sized sample is still regarded as a "full size".

TOPBOX:
* Sold out - waiting list is currently a few months long (~ Fall)
* Website? www.topbox.ca 
* Cost? $10/month; $10.50 including tax (AB)
* Number of samples? 4 "deluxe"
* Beauty profile? Yes
* Feedback surveys? Yes - allows you to customize your preferences for next month including type of packaging (normal vs. eco-friendly since April)
* Referral program? Yes - for each friend who joins, get 1 box free (limit of 6; invite through email via Topbox's website only)
* Other info? Topbox holds tons of giveaways of Facebook; also has a "Review & Win " section






Topbox has been really consistent in sending out 4 samples - and more often than not, they are deluxe-sized. for the month of February, where they sent out 5, 2 of the 5 were one-use samples.
the company also tends to have a full-sized and/or customized product in each box. 

GLYMM:
* Website? www.glymm.com or click my referral link please (i'll greatly appreciate it if you do!)
* Cost? $12/month since May; for active members prior to the change, price remains at $10/month ($10.50 for Albertans); can also purchase semiannual, annual or gift memberships
* Number of samples? 4-5 "deluxe"
* Beauty profile? Yes
* Feedback surveys? Yes - get 10 points for each one completed
* Referral program? Yes - earn 50 points for each referral; redeem 100 points for $10 off next purchase
* Other info? can shop online; GlymmMan also available; switched to using makeup bags instead of boxes since May; product cards discontinued since June



Glymm seems to send out a number of full-sized products but never anything personalized according to the consumer. 4 is the common number of samples in one box. one-use samples are also common.

GLOSSYBOX: 
* Website? www.glossybox.ca or perhaps click on my referral link? :)
* Cost? $15/month 
* Number of samples? 5 "high-end"
* Beauty profile? Yes
* Feedback surveys? Yes - receive 20 points for each one completed
* Referral program? Yes - earn 200 points for each referral; redeem 1000 points for a free box
* Other info? there are apparently 4 different variations of the Glossybox each month, depending on your skin type


Glossybox always sends at least 5 products in their boxes (not including bonuses). when they do send bonuses,  they are samples that are intended for one-use only but you can expect at least 3 other full-sized items.

BEAUTY BOX 5:
* Website? www.beautybox5.com or many thanks if you join through my referral link :)
* Cost? $12 USD/month which translated to $12.28 CDN in April; can also purchase quarterly or yearly subscriptions
* Number of samples? 4-5
* Beauty profile? Yes
* Feedback surveys? No
* Referral program? Yes - invite 5 friends, get 1 box free
* Other info? no tracking information available for Canadians



there has been no consistency yet since i've only received two boxes from BB5 and one seemed to be filled with one-use samples while the other had more full sized items. also, in May there were hardly any cosmetic-related item while the June box was filled with them. so based on this, i cannot draw a conclusion.

LOOSE BUTTON / LUXE BOX:
* Requires an invitation to join
* Website? www.loosebutton.com
* Cost? $26 + tax/quarter; can also purchase semiannual or annual memberships
* Number of samples? 7-8
* Beauty profile? N/A
* Feedback surveys? N/A
* Referral program? N/A
* Other info? most of the information is currently not available since the switch over from monthly boxes to quarterly boxes recently occurred (June 13); new quarterly boxes to ship in the months of February, May, August and November; there will also be "exclusive content" and "member-only" perks
* Curious about the previous version of LB? $12/month for 4-5 "deluxe" samples; had beauty profiles, feedback surveys, referral programs; also had a "First in Line" program which they used this year in January, March and April



Loose Button loved to send out shampoo and conditioner samples - and 4/5 times, they were one-use samples (in the horrible packaging). check out how many times "shampoo & conditioner" shows up!
LB is the only company that sent out any food bonuses this year (people still miss the jellybeans from Glymm).
even though the company had beauty profiles set up, no products were customized.


comparing across the board (with a number of limitations due to different subscription times):



some quick analysis:
* Topbox is the only company making use of your beauty profiles and feedback surveys to customize your box (well, Glossybox has done it once).
* Glossybox has sent out 13 full-sized items. Glymm gets second place with 7, which is a far cry from first place.
* i've received the most cosmetic-related samples from Topbox this year.
* Topbox seems to focus on 3 main areas: Cosmetics, Skin Care and Hair Care. they have not sent any perfume samples or anything bath-related (so far, BB5 is similar).
* Loose Button sent the most perfume samples.
* the majority of samples received from each company (except Glossybox) are cosmetics. most of Glossybox's samples have been skin care.
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BRANDS:
i decided to list the different brands of products from each company and found that Topbox, Glymm and Loose Button has sent out products from about 25 different brands. so there is quite the variety! however, it is common that a company sends out more than one product from a particular brand. for instance, i have received 3 different Wella products from Glossybox but most have only sent two or less products from each brand. 
the most prevalent brand among beauty boxes seems to be Cargo - i have received a total of 5 samples. other contenders include Simple and Paco Rabanne, both of which i have 4 samples each.
almost all the brands in my BB5 boxes were completely new to me - which is fine since i want to be introduced to new ones anyway - and since BB5 is more focused on natural products than other companies, this will benefit me even more :)

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SHIPPING:
in regards to shipping, here are the locations the companies are shipping from:
* Topbox: Scarborough (Toronto), ON
* Glymm: Montreal, QC
* Glossybox: Mississauga, ON
* Beauty Box 5: Greenville, TX 
* Loose Button: Mississauga, ON
all companies except BB5 uses Canada Post Expedited Parcel service to deliver their box. BB5 uses UPS.

date the companies stated that they will ship boxes:
* Topbox: on the 10th of each month
* Glymm: week of the 10th
* Glossybox: varies
* Beauty Box 5: mid-month (15th)
* Loose Button: mid-month

LEGEND: 
  • shipped = when the item was processed
  • expected = estimated date it will be delivered; arrows indicate an estimate change because Canada Post received the item after cut-off time
  • delivered =  when it arrives in my mailbox/front porch
note: all the dates are taken from the Canada Post tracking info. for BB5 however, there is no tracking info, so it was based on the day i actually received it as well as the date on the postal sticker on the box.



there is the least amount of variance between Topbox's stated date of shipping and the date they actually did. sometimes, they even shipped earlier. i always always get Topbox first for each month.
lately, Glymm has slightly improved their shipping and i usually receive it shortly after Topbox.
Loose Button was pretty slow in delivery. hopefully this improves with the new changes!
Glossybox has had plenty of issues with CP. they have experienced delays in customs or have blamed CP for not sending out shipping notifications. in March, they only sent out reference numbers rather than individual tracking info. for May, i did not receive any tracking info at all. i always receive Glossybox very late in the month (29th was the earliest!) or in the beginning of the next month.
Beauty Box 5 takes 2-3 weeks to get to Canada, so i often get it at the beginning of the next month (around the same time i get Glossybox). 

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CONCLUSION(-ish):
hmm so last time i typed this, i was unsure of which one to unsubscribe to since i did not have the funds to continue to subscribing to all of them. at that time, i was only subscribed to 3. now i have 5. and i have not unsubscribed to any yet. what to do what to do! the excitement of getting a box every month has died down a bit but i'm still very eager to try new products or new brands. Loose Button is becoming only a seasonal thing and i am hoping that they change for the better: in terms of samples as well as customer service.
what i do know is that i will not be unsubscribing from Topbox anytime soon. i enjoy the ability to customize my boxes and from this, i find that i am making use of most of my samples from Topbox. i can't say the same for the other boxes. Glossybox has very good value but like i mentioned previously, they focus slightly more on skin care. they send out a lot of full-sized items but whether it is a drugstore brand or a higher-end brand is about 50/50.
BB5 has a brand list that is almost completely unknown to me but that helps broaden my knowledge on companies focused on natural products.
i've never been really wowed by Glymm - they've always been mediocre. but then there are those great moments when i get something like a brow gel or a duo lipstick/lip balm. it's just so hard to step away!

if you are interested in my reviews of ALL the boxes mentioned in this post, please feel free to either search it in the top right bar or scroll all the way down and selecting a label (i.e. "Glossybox" for all Glossybox entries).
i've included pictures of what i received in each box here if you wanted a quick glimpse:

Topbox (January to June 2012):




Glymm (January to June 2012):



Loose Button (January to May 2012):





Glossybox (March to June 2012):




Beauty Box 5 (May to June 2012):



phewww, thank you soooo much for reading!! i put a lot of time and effort into this so i hope you find it useful in making any decisions!

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