Winter Manicure Snowflake Nail Art

December 31, 2020

Such a fun and festive manicure!
Mackenzie's Notes

My sister and I decided to get our nails done together since we are both in vacation, and since I was feeling 'rebellious' I decided to go for it and get some accent nail art.  This was my chance because I knew I wouldn't be at work, and why not have a little fun? I was so excited and happy with how it turned out, and I wanted to share it with you all!  I got lots of compliments on the nail art and this is a great thing to try if you have short nails (like me!).

I wish I had a tutorial but instead I included a little diagram of all the polishes used to get this look.  You can substitute any colors you have on hand, but if you want a similar manicure stick to: a light neutral (whitish/pinkish jelly), a blue toned red on the ring finger, some small silver sparkles and a white nail art pen or small brush for the details. 

A snowflake design fits perfectly on a short nail

This held up for over a week, perfectly..hmm I have to ask what top coat they used!
My mom's snowflake ornament made for the best accessory
I love how this turned out, I will try more nail art in the future for sure!
Reader's Recommendations: Leave me some links for your own winter inspired nails, would love to see some pictures! Also, my sister and I wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR and a wonderful 2013!

Stay Pretty, Mackenzie M. 

Skinfive.5 Luxury Skincare - Skinfive5. Skincare

December 28, 2020

SKINFIVE.5 Review 

A few weeks ago, I was lucky to win a wonderful giveaway from Skinfive.5 and Beauty 101 Blog (which you should visit here, since Casey puts so much care in her pictures and gives lovely advice to all her readers!).

I entered the giveaway because I'm always looking to improve my skincare and looking at the Skinfive.5 website, the company obviously puts a lot of thought into the packaging, the ingredients, and the person using the products.  Skinfive.5 products are meant to help with rejuvenation, radiance, and overall flawlessness of the skin, and there are specific serums to achieve these great results.  The serums are highly concentrated, yet meant for sensitive skin, are light weight, non-greasy, nourishing, and have no strong scent (the items are made in Switzerland which is always a plus).
Skinfive.5 Rejuvenate Hydrating Serum, Radiance Brightening Serum, Flawless Renewal Serum 
Miranda's Notes: 

Pros:  The products are truly effective and feel luxurious on the face.  I usually find that with drugstore brands, there is a rubbery fallout after applying too much lotion but I definitely did not have this problem with Skinfive.5.  I have been using the serums for a while and have noticed my skin is brighter, softer, and radiant.  Most importantly, these products have not caused my skin to break out because the serum absorbs fast into the skin.  The products come with instructions and descriptions, but I tend to apply the serums at night and in the morning on a bare face after which I apply my SPF, daily moisturizer, and BB cream. 

Because I have sensitive skin, I am always wary of anti-aging creams because of harshness and chemicals.  Happily, the Skinfive.5 products are very gentle on the skin and the test for this was whether my eyes became watery.   I applied the strongest serums under and around my eyes and there was absolutely no irritation.  So, for the ladies looking for an anti-aging regimen, these products are highly effective and work wonders on any kind of skin.  Even if you find that the serums are not effective on your skin type, the creams/serums still provide a ton of moisture and are wonderful for the colder weather.  

As a quick side note, I completely appreciated the sleek packaging and the personal touches of gift wrapping the products.  Beauty is also about the company behind the products and customer service - in dealing with Skinfive.5, I was impressed with their friendliness, openness to suggestions, and receptiveness to customer needs.

Cons: The only thing I could fault is not really with the products, but with the price. The price is in the higher range and you must save up to purchase, but because skincare is so important and after all, it's your face, it would be wise to save and try the Skinfive.5 products. 

Grade: 4.5/5

I recommend visiting the Skinfive.5 website for more detailed information about the products and availability for various skin types - the serums and creams offered work for a wide variety of issues so you may only need to purchase/focus on one type of benefit. 
Serums should be applied first to improve effectiveness - that goes for all skincare 
Bottles are sanitary, sealed, and easy to carry 
Skinfive.5 Hydrating Serum works great at improving moisture 

Tokyo Milk 'Let Them Eat Cake' Lip Balm Review

December 26, 2020

Tokyo Milk Lip Balm - Tokyo Milk 'Let Them Eat Cake' Review

My sister was lucky enough to have a makeup friendly Secret Santa that surprised her with this Tokyo Milk lip balm in the flavor 'Let Them Eat Cake'.  My sister was also lovely enough to pass this on to me since she knows how much I love lip balms! I've heard lots of good things about Tokyo Milk company, especially about their unique fragrances which Sephora has started carrying very recently.  This specific Tokyo Milk flavor 'Let Them Eat Cake' has traces of French vanilla, shredded coconut and a hint of cocoa and ingredients include sunflower seed oil, beeswax, Vitamin E, Aloe Vera and shea butter - can you say yummy (but just in case, don't eat this hehe). There is 0.22 oz of product and you can find these balms and more products from Tokyo Milk online at or on Sephora's website.

We both reviewed the product below, so what did we think - prepare for the battle of the sister balms everyone!
Tokyo Milk Balm (with a French theme, how adorable)
Small and beautiful packaging (dreaming of being a French queen ahem)
 Miranda's Notes

First, the packaging of the Tokyo Milk lip balm feels very luxe and has a ton of glitter on the box (and who doesn't love glitter).  The French theme is throughout with quotes from Coco Chanel, Marie Antoinette, and French kissing tips.  Second, the lip balm feels soft on the lips and is highly effective.  Lips feel smooth with just a touch of glossy, and the balm has a subtle smell of vanilla and rice krispie treats.  If you are sensitive to scents, keep in mind that the scent lasts for a longer time unlike other lip balms.  For the low price of the balm, combined with the luxurious packaging and French accents, I am happy I discovered this Tokyo Milk product and would definitely recommend it as a gift for someone or treat for yourself. 

The only issue with the Let Them Eat Cake Tokyo Milk product is that you have to dip your hands in the pot and this can be unsanitary if you do not wash your hands.  Despite this problem, I am giving this item a high grade because I keep it on my nightstand and apply right before bed - I get that French boudoir feel when I sit down and apply (which is a stark difference to my running around town and one handedly applying lip balm from a tube in a hurry while balancing my purse and heavy casebooks).  In fact, the little glass holder and the detailed cap are quite perfect for treating your lips to a vanilla treat. 
Balm is soft, moisturizing, and vanilla scented
The size is on the smaller side, making it a bit cumbersome to pick up product with your fingers
Mackenzie's Notes

I received this little balm as a Secret Santa gift and I was so enamored by its lovely packaging! So the packaging is definitely a great bonus to this product. The kissing 'tips' were very cute (throwback to high school anyone?) and the pamphlet included with the separate ingredients was a nice touch. I enjoyed the light, non waxy formula of the balm; I also like lighter balms that don't sit on the lips, but go deeper to moisturize.  The balm smells nice, I could definitely pick up a vanilla and coconut scent. This Tokyo Milk balm moisturized my lips for about 3 hours or so, but it didn't dry them out further when it went away.

The light formula was nice once applied, but it was unhygienic and difficult picking it up from the container; you kind of had to smooth and melt it with your fingertips first.  Again, this was a hygiene concern and just simply not a very efficient way for me to apply lip balm on the go.  Also the little pot is made of glass, kind of heavy and I'm afraid it might break in my purse. The Tokyo Milk balm tastes a little strange too, and there is no SPF protection included.  Aside the pretty packaging and the yummy smell, for $10 dollars, this balm was kind of average in my opinion.
Cute quote on the package
Tokyo Milk Balm Ingredients...and tips on kissing, because why not? 
Bon Bon Lip Balm - Tokyo Milk with glitter packaging 
Reader's Recommendations: Have you tried anything else from the Tokyo Milk brand? Have you tried this specific lip balm and what were your thoughts on it? Let us know, we've been eyeing their fragrances!

Stay Pretty, Miranda and Mackenzie M. 

Kat Von D True Romance 'Saint' Palette: Review and Swatches

December 20, 2020

Mackenzie's Notes

I've been wanting to invest in a good, natural eyeshadow palette for everyday, and despite all the raves about  Urban Decay's Naked palettes, I wanted an array of eyeshadows with more versatile finishes. I settled upon this eyeshadow palette since I liked the colors as I swatched them and their quality, and Kat Von D's makeup line has had great reviews and success.  The company describes the eye shadow formulation as being infused with rose extract for excellent hydrating properties and to help eyelids stay soft and moisturized; I definitely agree with this since the formulation is great, light to the touch but pigmented. This particular palette is part of her newer True Romance series which in addition to the 'Saint' palette includes 'Poetica' (neutrals and purples) and 'Sinner' (dramatic silvers and purples).  This palette includes 8 eyeshadows (.05 oz each) and a black eyeliner pencil (.028 oz).  You can purchase this palette in store at Sephora or online for $36. 

I will have an overall review on the product, a description of each eyeshadow included and a sample look I created using this palette. Hope you enjoy and find it useful!

The palette is made out of metal, embossed with a pretty tattoo like rose pattern on the top cover
'Saint' includes 8 nicely curated shadows and a great quality mini 'Autograph' Pencil
Pros:  The colors swatch beautifully and I love the versatile array of colors.  I usually go for a matte crease color and 'Caravaggio' is great, while the light pink shade is one my favorite colors in the palette.  The formulation is great, you don't need a lot of product, very smooth and light texture instead of buttery, and there is no fall out; they really do feel moisturizing due to the rose water ingredient.  They also blend out great and you can achieve beautiful looks by using only this palette (my biggest gripe with the Naked palette is how many metallic shades they included). If you are fair, you can use a lot of the lighter colors (first 6 of this palette) as medium shades for lots of looks, versus having many dark browns and greys that you'll seldom wear.  The Autograph eyeliner pencil included is great, it was a lovely surprise! It's very dark black and pigmented, shows up on the eyelid in one swipe without pressing it on.  It's also great for smudging and smokey eye looks; I think the eyeliner became a favorite and I might purchase it full size soon!  I enjoy the fact that this palette is on the smaller size and fits easily in the palm of my hand, compared to the Naked which is pretty large in comparison.  The original paper envelope and the idea and vision for the packaging is lovely and cohesive and since I am a fan of Kat Von D, I enjoy that aspect very much.

Cons:  While the colors are great, they don't really show up on my light/medium warm skin tone; this is probably my biggest issue when it comes to this palette.  The colors swatched beautifully but they don't show up the same intensity on my eyelids.  This palette array would look great on someone with a fairer skin tone.  The packaging feels a bit flimsy because of the metal case and I find myself being very careful with it. Also the fact that the spring opens the case so suddenly and completely flat is unfortunate.  The price is relatively fair to what you get in this palette, but if you won't use this a lot I recommend investing in Urban Decay's Naked palette which gets you a better deal for your money (once you consider ounces, shade options and price).

Grade: 3.9 / 5

(L) Beautiful and interesting envelope packaging (R) The palette to scale, about a palm's length; great for travel and everyday use
A spring system opens the palette quickly and lays it out flat; you can keep it open halfway with your hands to use the mirror

 One Swatch on primer: (L) Heavens, Enjoy the Silence, <3, Downtown, Sunny, Pray for Me, Bookworm, Caravaggio (R)
(L) Heavens, Enjoy the Silence, <3, Downtown (R)
1.  Heavens - Described as a 'pearlized/metallic vanilla', good for inner eye corner since it is a bright and shimmery warm white.
2.  Enjoy the Silence - Described as a 'pearlized/metallic buttercream' this is another highlight color. I was hoping for it to be a medium tone champagne, but it isn't that.
3.  <3 (Heart) - Described as 'soft pink with sparkle', this shade caught my eye and I think it's so pretty! It's a matte light pink with lovely silver sparkle; the pink barely shows up on my eyes but the sparkle shows up well.  I wish this color would show up more because I think it's great for winter.
4.  Downtown - This is a pearlized/metallic copper penny color leaning towards red, and it's a medium darkness shade.

(L) Sunny, Pray for Me, Bookworm, Caravaggio (R)

5.  Sunny - Described as a 'pearlized/metallic gold', good for inner eye corner or pop of color on the lid.  It doesn't necessarily read or show up as a true bold gold on my skin tone, it's a bit washed out on.
6.  Pray for Me - Described as a 'pearlized/metallic taupe', a good medium/dark shade for crease color or lid color depending on how dramatic your look is.
7.  Bookworm - This is a warmer brown than 'Caravaggio' and it's mostly a matte base with some gold shimmer specks sprinkled in. Good as a crease color.
8. Caravaggio -Described as a 'dark matte brown', this is a cooler brown than 'Bookworm' leaning towards grey than red. Used this color a lot as a crease color too.
9.  Autograph Eyeliner Pencil - Dark black color, very pigmented and smooth formulation.

'Autograph' Eyeliner Pencil: straight line and blended out; the pencil is very black, great for smudging and smokey eye looks

I used Heavens, Enjoy the Silence, Pray for Me, Caravaggio and Autograph pencil to line my eyes for an everyday  look
Beautiful and versatile arrangement of colors and finishes in the 'Saint' palette

Reader's Recommendations: 
Have you tried this palette and what did you think of it? Would love to see some looks you came up, leave some links! Do you recommend I try anything else from the Kat Von D line, I always stop by her section in Sephora!

Pretty Random - Lifestyle Beauty: Guy Gift Guide for the Holidays -Gifts for Your Boyfriend

December 12, 2020

Pretty Random - Lifestyle Beauty Post 

We all know beauty is more than makeup.  Our Pretty Random posts focus on lifestyle topics that are still related to beauty and make for a lovely (and informative!) read. 

Gift Guide for Men - Holiday Gift Ideas for Guys 

As we were preparing for some wonderful holiday shopping extravaganza online, we decided to ask our boyfriends what they would want for Christmas.  With an assignment on hand, my sister and I both made sure A. and L. picked gifts for the guys and gave us the links.  Everything you read about below was picked by our boyfriends - behold, the holiday gift ideas for guys from guys. 

Mackenzie's Boyfriend Gift Picks:

Here are a few things my boyfriend would like to have under the Christmas tree! He is an athletic, mid 20's old guy with an interest in engineering (and all things techy) with a classic and casual sense of fashion.  His choices range from affordable gifts to more pricey indulgences, so you can get a wide array of ideas on what guys are into these days and what they would love to receive.  I guess socks as a gift never really go out of style!

1.  Socks are a great gift since they are very useful for everyday and also a great little way for guys to accessorize and spruce up their look.  Think indigo sweater, black jeans and maybe a maroon sock, or an all black outfit with a slight contrast in neutrals and texture in a peppered warm beige sock.  Uniqlo has a great selection at an affordable price, 4 for $9.90, available on their website or in their stores.

2. Reading up on this thermos, I understand why he chose it: vacuum insulation for maxium temperature retention (24 hours), unbreakable stainless steel interior keeps bottle cool to the touch for hot liquids and sweat proof for cold, and has a lid that can double up as a cup.  This is a sleek and very useful thermos for the working man; a great thing to invest in.  Purchase it online for approximately $20.

3.   I was surprised by this choice, but I guess even guys can't resist a gourmet marshmallow! These are great gifts since they are special and a nice little luxurious treat.  With flavors ranging from Honey Pear to Bourbon and Guinness and affordable at 16 pieces for $7.50, these are a lovely and surprising treat instead of chocolate. You can purchase them on their website.

4. The Roku is a new technology that allows you to stream movies and shows via internet connection. What's best, is that this model is also a projector at the same time, allowing you to view your entertainment on a large scale, anywhere you want (yes even in the car).  You can find it online for $299.99.

5.  J Crew teamed up with Timex to design this cool, vintage 1940's military watch which melds traditional elements and modern materials.  At $140.00, your beloved would get effortless style and a great quality product that will last a long time and would be a great accessory to any outfit. You can purchase this online  or in a J Crew store.

6.  For an athletic guy, any sort of active experience is going to be an enjoyable one, and a gift card to an athletic club is a great idea.  My boyfriend loves rock climbing at an indoor gym since he can go with his friends, and get a great workout in while having fun and being competitive with his friends. Brooklyn Boulders (a rock climbing gym in Brooklyn, New York) offers a three month membership, that can be purchased online or in store.

Miranda's Boyfriend Gift Picks: 

My boyfriend is a big fan of sleek gadgets, clean lines, and handmade products.  He is a big supporter of smaller businesses and entrepreneurs, so for this gift guide, he chose all American-made products.  He included a wide range of prices but for the higher end products, the materials are high quality and the high craftsmanship is guaranteed.

1. His first pick was the Classic Pomade by Imperial Barber which can be purchased through the online store.  The pomade works on all hair styles and the customer service has been great - in fact, the purchase comes with a hand signed card from the owners and a free comb.  This is my boyfriend's go to product every morning, and although I may not know a lot about manly products, my boyfriend looks  quite good (if I say so myself) and that gets my approval.

2. Ties are a classic gift for a reason - a good tie goes well with a suit as well as on a night out.  My boyfriend picked the Misty Blue Wool Donegal Necktie - General Knot & Co., sold here, because of the texture and donegal flecks range. While this tie is more expensive, it is a long lasting, always in style item (putting in girl terms, think, red lip classic that looks great on everyone and with every occasion). 

3. The third pick I am not surprised by because we absolutely love coffee.  Coffee is the first thing we do in the morning and we focus on buying local grown beans as well as all types of coffee accessories.  The Camano Coffee Mill from Red Rooster is a family made fully adjustable conical burr coffee grinder that makes approximately 4 to 5 cups of coffee.   I used to think that no one would use something like a coffee grinder, but after buying one and seeing how easy and fast it is to use, I realize the difference it makes in quality of the brew.  The beans smell wonderful, are fresh, and are refined unlike the burnt taste of stale coffee from coffee shops.  I could go on forever (since I love coffee!) but if you or your loved one are coffee addicts, this is a great investment. 

4. The fourth pick is a bit more puzzling because I don't understand carrying a knife but at the same time, who am I to speak, I carry about 5 lip balms and 4 lip glosses in my purse.  There are a ton of pocket knives on the market, but my boyfriend picked the Barlow Knife from Best Made Company, sold here, for its clean lines, sturdy materials, and simple design. You should check out the description of this item...the moral of this story is, yes, every guy wants a pocket knife.  

5. The last item is the Everyday-Carry Kit, sold by Kaufmann Mercantile - this online store is a favorite of my boyfriend's because of the durability of the items and the classic design.  The EDC Kit weighs very little and comes with a pry bar, screwdrivers, precision tweezers, waterproof lighter, and a titanium key ring.  Why would a guy want all these items? Well, I'm not exactly sure but my boyfriend picked it so it must have an appeal for everyday tasks. 

So there you have it, our boyfriends' picks for the Holiday Gift Ideas for Guys.  There are definitely some surprises on the list for both of us, but holiday shopping just got easier.

Reader Recommendations: Any other ideas you have for presents for your manly loved ones? Let us know, we always need inspiration for guy gift ideas. 

OMG Nail Strips 'Plaid' Nail Foils Art

December 8, 2020

Mackenzie's Notes

OMG Nail Strips - Nail Foil in 'Red Plaid' pattern

" has one simple goal, bringing the latest styles and trends in nail art and making them into an easy to apply nail strip. Inspired by larger companies that charge customers $8-$20 per set and have a limited selection of designs, the creators of OMG Nail Polish Strips decided to create an affordable alternative to expensive these nail polish strips."

I've been wanting to incorporate some more nail art in my daily manicures and I was so happy to receive these plaid nail foils to try out from OMG Nails whose tag line is "Extend fashion to your fingernails".  These plaid foils were just that, and I've always loved red plaid, perfect for the holidays and a big edgy at the same time.  Since I've been wearing so much polish on my hands, such a manicure is a nice way of 'detoxing' your nails while still having a fabulous manicure.  Also, it was amazing doing a manicure and using my hands immediately without fear of smudging or ruining them.  I decided to try out the plaid foils but they also have carry nail polish strips and other many cute patterns (over 40 designs).  There are other Christmassy patterns, such as snowflake and elaborate festive patterns, as well as other floral designs, animal print patterns, American and British flags and other decorative patterns such as stars, hearts, etc. Each set retails for $4.29 on their website.

I've never tried nail foil stickers before using these but I'm so glad I got the opportunity to create a fun manicure with the ones I received. I hope you enjoy the look I came up with and that you try it with other stickers or your own nail art! I will include a tutorial on how to apply the stickers and an overall product review. 

Such a fun pattern
Finished look - festive and perfect for the Holidays
Close up of nail foils. Very shiny and great resolution pattern aka no visible pixels!
Pros:  Great quality sticker image! Even though this was a very detailed pattern there were no visible pixels and the image was perfectly clear.  The selection of their patterns is extensive and versatile spanning more elegant to more fun looks.  I love simple packaging (ahem look at Nars) and it was refreshing to see a nail sticker company and packaging that kept their design simple and classy; the paper used for the packing was good quality, felt luxe to the touch and wasn't wasteful in its elaborateness.  Don't know if this packaging is the final version, but I really hope they keep their design nice and clean like the package I've received; I think girls and ladies are steered away from nail foils by tacky packaging, even though nail foils are a lovely alternative to salon manicures! The price is great, and you can really use the stickers for several manicures. I enjoy that there are extras included since I needed to redo one nail.  The foils fit my nail beds very well, but I do wish they included on more extra set for the smallest nail foil (there's only 2 very small foils while there are lots of medium sized extra foils).  The foils are very shiny and you don't even need a top coat.  The glue was very strong and the sticker stayed adhered on for a three days before I removed it; it removed pretty easy with no damage to the nail or any residue left over. With these retailing at around 4 dollars, the price is pretty unbeatable, compared to other companies such as Sally Hansen (which are around $11 yikes).  While the Sally Hansen ones come with a nail file and an orange stick, these OMGNails don't, and I appreciate that instead of including two 50 cent things and hiking up the price, they kept them out and kept them affordable.

Cons: I wish they would have included some more information on the application of the nails, such as a flyer with further instructions and images in the package.  I also wish they would have lasted longer on me, since they claim to last up to 10 days and they only lasted 3 days; the tip wore off from wear pretty badly from wear.  Since one of the smallest stickers got stuck to some paper and got ruined, I think having an additional pair of extras for the smallest size would be helpful.
Grade: 4/5

Nail Foils/Stickers Application Tutorial

1.  Select the correct size for the finger you will be working on; I placed my finger under the clear plastic to see which foil fits best.  Make sure your nails are clean, prepped and shaped to your liking; I put nail polish remover on my nails right before application to make sure there were no residual oils on the nails, so the stickers and glue would adhere better!
2.  Carefully peel the nail sticker and gently place it on top of your nail.  Don't press it down yet! Make sure the sticker is centered and straight (not crooked).
3.  Using scissors, cut off the excess of foil about 1/8 in from the tip of your nail.  Don't trim it too close to the the nail because you will need to hold on to it to stretch the nail.  I saved this excess and used it to cut myself tips!

4.  Using an orange stick (or another flat tool) press down the sticker in one bottom corner only (I started on the left corner).
5.  Using your fingers, stretch your sticker up and under to ensure that there are no air bubbles or wrinkles. If you pressed down the Left corner, stretch the foil by picking up the Right top corner; so you're working diagonally and across the nail (left, right and bottom, top).
6. It should be nice and taught.

7.  Repeat on the other side. Here I am pressing down the Right bottom corner.
6.  I am pulling the Left top corner and stretching the sticker up and over.
8.  Using an orange stick or a flat tool, press down your nail foil and remove any wrinkles you might have. You can also use hot air from a hair dryer to relax the vinyl sticker and then press out any stubborn wrinkles.

10.  After you've pressed the foil on the nail, try to pull back the excess at the top.
11.  Using a nail file, remove that excess.  Be careful to use the file perpendicular to the top of the nail and not slanted because you will ruin the pattern at the tips.
12.  Voila! Finished plaid nail foil.  I applied topcoat over the nails with the foil tips to create a more seamless look in the nail. 

The two fingers with the tips make this manicure not too busy, while still incorporating the plaid on all nails
A successful nail art look, wore this to work and got many compliments!
Reader's Recommendations:  Have you tried any nail foil stickers, and what was your opinion on them (were they easy to apply and how long did they last on you)? Do you incorporate them in your manicures often? Have you tried this specific brand and what did you think? As always, curious, curious, curious!

Disclosure: product sent for consideration, opinions are all our own.  

Birchbox Review - Welcome Birchbox

December 4, 2020

Birchbox Review - Welcome Birchbox Review and Products

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I celebrated our nine-year anniversary (how the time passes).  We ended up going to the Jose Andres Zaytinya restaurant that serves Mediterranean inspired tapas.  The food was delicious, the drinks were fancy and colorful, and we had an awesome time, even if we were both busy and had to work the next day.

Halfway through dinner, my boyfriend handed me an adorable card and said that was my present - to my surprise  there was a folded paper that said "Congratulations, you just received Birchbox as a gift." And...that's how I started my Birchbox subscription.  My boyfriend overhead my discussions with my sister (shout out here for Mackenzie!), and decided to gift me a year Birchbox subscription. You can find out more about the specifics of the program on the main site, but Birchbox is a monthly subscription where for 10$ USD, you receive four to five deluxe and mini beauty samples as well as other lifestyle goodies like chocolate bars, hair ties, and makeup bags.

I always enjoy reading posts that review boxes so am excited to finally try more products and let you know what I receive.  Keep in mind, this was my introductory Birchbox, the Welcome Birchbox, so my products may differ from others.
Welcome Birchbox: Color Club Polish, Mox Botanicals Lip Butter, Hair Tie, Nick Chavez Advanced Volume Shampoo, Harvey Club Perfume, and Tili bag (see the card for description below)
Color Club: Put a Pin in It 
The Color Club polish in the "Put a Pin in It" is a rose gold metallic color that applies easily and becomes opaque in two applications.  I am not really a fan of metallic polishes because it looks strange with my skin tone, but this Color Club polish is pretty enough for the holidays with all the golden glitter speckles.  Plus, the adorable mini size swayed me.

Mox Botanicals: Pomegranate and Fig Lip Butter 
This Mox Botanicals lip butter was my favorite out of the box.  I love lip balm, and especially love natural, chemicals-free lip balm.  As a side note, my boyfriend and I were looking at Christmas gift ideas and we decided to focus on buying United States made products and smaller business products.  When I saw that this was a Portland, Oregon item I was more than happy - in fact, I may consider buying some stocking stuffers for my mom and sister from Mox Botanicals.  The balm is very rich, not waxy at all, absorbs into the lips, and lasts approximately 2 to 3 hours - so far, I am a happy camper and have been carrying this in my purse these past days.  My only concern with the product is that to apply, you have to dip your fingers in the pot and may not be sanitary, but keep in mind to always wash your hands (it's a good idea all around).
Twistband hair tie, Nick Chavez Volume Shampoo, and Tili Bag 
The other products included in my Welcome Birchbox were a twisband hair tie, a volumizing shampoo, and a Tili makeup bag.  I like the twist band hair tie because I always lose mine in the abyss but wish it was a more...normal color.  I haven't tried the Nick Chavez Volume Shampoo yet but this larger sized product smelled fresh and it had a thick texture - I am excited to try it because I can never have too much volume.  The lifestyle extra product included in my Birchbox was a Ziploc type makeup bag - I am currently using it to store some of the packaged samples.

Overall, I enjoyed my Welcome Birchbox and thought that the introductory Birchbox was well balanced with beauty and non-beauty items.  As a note, things I'd love to receive through the Birchbox subscription include some mascaras (need more!), beneficial skin/hair oils, and Essies (as many Essies as there can be!).

Grade: 4.5/5

Julep Subscription Box - Julep Pippa, Julep Lynn, Julep Drew

December 1, 2020

Julep Box - Julep Pippa
Julep Box - Julep Lynn
Julep Box - Julep Drew
Julep Box: (L) Julep Pippa, Julep Drew, Julep Lynn (R)
Let's talk subscription boxes, and specifically the Julep Maven boxes.  I've heard some positive and some negative comments in the blog-sphere about the Julep box subscription and I wanted to actually see for myself what the "deal" was.  I had a code for the penny box where the first introduction Julep box costs a cent and I only had to pay shipping charges.  So... what did I think of the Julep Box and program, and should you sign up as a Julep Maven?
Julep additional item: Julep glitter 
Prior to becoming a Julep Maven, you take a short quiz with cute little pictures and you are emailed a profile - you are not stuck with this profile and can actually see the other profiles and included items.    With the exception of "It Girl" which comes with three polishes for an intro box, the rest come with two polishes and a nail care related item.  I was an "American Beauty" and the introductory box for this month was with cuticle oil which worked out great because I ran out of my old one.

Due to the holiday sales, I was able to add another polish for free and I did do some switcharoos.  No matter what Maven you pick or are assigned, you are able to customize your box and add items often at a much lower cost - the extra polish was free because of Thanksgiving sales and Julep is very good about having freebies and deals.

My box included the Julep Pippa (pink undertone nude), Julep Drew (bright reddish pink, almost neon), and Julep Lynn (a frosty pink peach). The additional item, the Julep cuticle oil, came in a similar bottle with a roller-ball application.  The cuticle oil is very soft, applies easily, absorbs into the skin quickly so it is not runny, and smells fresh.  Julep always includes some cute extras and I was lucky to receive two tiny pots of white and silver glitter.  Again, not only do you get to customize the box, but you also receive some freebies and if as adorable as these pots, the box is even more worth it.  Can you sense where I'm going with this?
Julep Pippa, Julep Drew, Julep Lynn
Because I've heard and read several negative reviews, I wanted to be the one beacon of hope and let the readers know that I actually loved this box and if you can afford the 20$, or are considering a subscription, this Julep Maven box is more than worth it.  You get nail polishes from a large selection of colors, the packaging is beautiful, the quality of the polish is great, you can add items for a large discount, and you may get additional products.  I'll review the polishes individually in upcoming posts, but so far, they have not chipped, became opaque in two coats, and are still shiny (Julep swatches below have no top coat).  When I ordered the Julep Maven introductory box, I had it set in mind to cancel but after seeing the thoughtful packaging and the quality of the actual full sized products, I reconsidered and am saving up for future months.  Yes, the box is expensive at 20$ USD, but for nail polish addicts, this is a wonderful subscription and worth the value.

Reader Recommendations: Have you tried the Julep Maven box subscription, and if so, what were your impressions?

Julep swatches - Julep Lynn is a bit frosty/metallic so consider if it's the best choice for you 
Julep cuticle oil with roller ball application 
Julep swatches - polish is true to color and matches the bottle color 
Julep Swatches: Lynn swatch (top), Drew swatch (middle), Pippa swatch (bottom)