Monthly Archives: January 2014

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Revlon Parfumerie Review - Revlon Parfumerie Nail Polish Swatch

Let’s talk about the products in the beauty aisle that make us giddy with excitement and put a big, bright happy smile on our faces. Collect adorable packaging? Yup. Looking for a great bargain? Always. Buy all colors for all occasions? Clearly. Swoon over whimsical scents? Of course. Love nail polish? Check and double check.

Revlon Parfumerie nail polishes are a combination of all the things we love and expect from a beauty favorite - great quality, lots of colors, and the added fun element of scented nail polish. If you’re a skeptic, I highly recommend purchasing at least one Revlon Parfumerie in your favorite scent (the light perfume just makes the whole nail polish experience even better, as if that needed to be improved!). The Revlon Parfumerie Nail Enamel collection has over 20 polishes in three categories: fruits and florals, freshes, and sweets and spices - the color selection is accordingly large, and there’s a shade for everyone.

Revlon Parfumerie in Espresso (c/o PR sample)  is the reason why I more than recommend trying one of these nail enamels.  Revlon Espresso is a rich dark color with gorgeous depth and shine - in the swatch photo above, I only applied two coats and there is no top coat (Revlon’s not messing around with the shine on this one).  The formula is initially thin on first application, but it dries easily and very smooth. Scent wise, this nail polish reminds me of bitter chocolate and coffee beans (in other words, delicious!).  Due to the thinner formula, I experienced no major chipping, and the polish wore beautifully. 

Revlon Parfumerie in Fresh Linen (c/o PR sample) is a frosty white with a metallic and pearl finish. Due to the finish, application was streaky and somewhat difficult to even out.  Unless you actually prefer pearl polishes, I think a creme polish is a better pick out of the Parfumerie collection (a matte top coat could transform this color while preserving the scent). I applied three coats for full opacity but some streaks are still visible. The lovely Fresh Linen scent was definitely present without being overpowering and the perfume lasted a few days before fading. Overall, the Revlon Parfumerie packaging is smaller than the regular Revlon polishes, and the wand is easy to maneuver even with a dome shape.

Revlon Parfumerie nail polishes are available for $4.99 at drugstores, Ulta, and Target. So, I mean it when I say it that these little bottles are giddy worthy - from the adorable perfume inspired packaging to the vibrant colors, you owe it to your nail-polish-loving-self to try Revlon Parfumerie.

Stay Pretty, Miranda M.
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Pastel Roses Nails and Houndstooth Nail Art

With freezing weather in New York City, I’m getting ready for spring - here’s to hoping this pastel nail art beckons some sun and spring blooms. I’ve always wanted to give hounds tooth a try and after watching some Youtube videos online, I decided that a pastel hounds tooth pattern would go lovely with lush pink roses - think of an Old English countryside picnic during the spring months.  A girl can dream during the polar vortex, right?

The polishes I used were Zoya Neely, and Sally Hansen Insta-dri Pink Blink (on sale for only $2), Sally Hansen Silver Sweep and Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure polish in Commander in Chic (also on sale for $2).  The polishes I use for nail art are usually very opaque formulas, since that makes layering and painting the designs much easier.  Imagine adding layers and layers over one rose to get some opacity (what nail art woes are made of)..but thankfully, all of the Sally Hansen polishes and the Zoya featured are extremely opaque, apply beautifully, and dry fast.

I hope you enjoy these pretty nail art designs as much as I do and please let me know in the comments if you’d want to see any specific nail tutorials in the future.  If you always wondered how you could create a pattern or design, I’ll be coming to the rescue with a step-by-step nail art tutorial.

Stay pretty, Mackenzie M.

Jouer Cosmetics Review - Jouer Peach Bouquet Blush Swatches

Let me explain (in a roundabout way) why I love Jouer cosmetics. Some of my favorite stories are from Jane Austen - everything from the characters, the dialogue, the beautiful dresses, and of course, the ever-after happy endings.  I’m always fond of the lovely imagery from the Victorian era, and I’ll randomly daydream about the picturesque English countryside. Now, if Jane Austen heroines wore any brand makeup, it would have to be Jouer.  Jouer Cosmetics carries romantic colors that enhance natural beauty with flattering, lightweight formulas. If you take a look through the Jouer website, you’ll notice that every item is wearable and very natural looking (think timeless beauty!).  My favorite products from Jouer are the blushes and the lip glosses - thanks to the Birchbox store, I was able to try several Jouer products and was instantly in love (notice the romantic theme in this whole post).

Jouer Peach Bouquet is a pink based coral and warm peach mineral blush that refreshes the complexion with a soft touch of color.  Peach Bouquet itself is highly pigmented and long lasting, but somehow this Jouer blush manages to create a fresh, flushed look - the blush also has slight golden shimmer that almost translates as a highlighter.  As with some of my other mineral blushes, I had difficulty blending Jouer Peach Bouquet and experienced slight patching, but after using the Real Techniques angled Blush Brush, application was much smoother.  I also liked that this Jouer blush had no fallout and was fairly long lasting for approximately five to six hours. Aside from the beautiful packaging and a wide range of colors, Jouer blushes (including Peach Bouquet) are paraben free.

The philosophy behind Jouer, which translates as “play” in French, is to create a cosmetic line with key items that can be personalized.  The Jouer website and blog provide more inspiration for different looks and for using other products (next on my list is the Jouer tint for lips and cheeks).  Jouer blushes retail for $24 and are sold online and at the Birchbox store. 

If you want a lovely romantic and yet natural flushed look, try a product from Jouer, it’s Jane Austen approved* (disclaimer, it’s mostly me-approved on behalf of Jane Austen).

Stay Pretty, Miranda M.

Subscription Boxes Review - Birchbox: Is it worth it?

So you want to know which beauty box subscription is the best and the not so best? In the past two years, box subscriptions have become increasingly popular - there’s a box for puppies, accessories, cleaning supplies, makeup, books, artisan cheeses, and whatever else you can think of that fits in a box.  The first beauty box subscription I ever tried was Birchbox (my fiance surprised me with a paid yearly subscription for our nine year anniversary). Birchbox advertises as offering “top brands” deluxe samples that include beauty and lifestyle products every month for 10$ (shipping included). Read below whether Birchbox is worth it or whether you should try a different subscription service.

Customer Service: The Birchbox customer service is very helpful and responsive to any inquiries - if any products are missing or if there is an issue with the shipping, Birchbox always addresses the problem.  Thankfully, I did not have any issues with the boxes but when I tried to resolve an order with the points, a customer service representative answered within 24 hours.

Cost: I’ll address the cost further in the products included, but Birchbox costs $10 a month flat (no other fees).  The price is lower than some other subscription boxes, and I feel more comfortable budgeting for $10 a month over a cost of $20-plus. You can pay for Birchbox every month (but first you have to be on a wait list for a few days) or you can pay yearly for $110 (where you receive one month’s box for free and no wait list).

Packaging and Shipping: Birchbox has become known for its simple yet cute boxes.  Overall, the boxes are safe and sturdy - Birchbox always emails when the box is shipped and provides a tracking number.  The items are packaged in pink tissue paper, and there is always an information card on how to use the various items.

Point Reward System: The best feature of this subscription service is the reward system.  For every item reviewed online, Birchbox awards ten reward points that can be used for cash in the Birchbox store (however, the review must be done in the same month you received the product).  For every dollar you spend in the Birchbox store, you receive a point.  If you do the math, several Birchboxes pay for themselves because you can easily accumulate points - I had a total of $70 to spend on the Birchbox website. Along with Laura Mercier and Jouer makeup, I also purchased a Chambre de Sucre Macaron box because Birchbox offers a variety of lifestyle products and points can be used on any type of item.

Products Included - Sample Size: Overall, the samples are lacking - samples are teeny tiny (definitely not deluxe size as advertized) and most often, I received lotion packets or plastic tubes with perfume. For skincare items, I was surprised at the small amount of product. Sure, skincare takes time to be effective, but I bet a tear-sized drop isn’t doing much either (and I used the word ‘tear’ on purpose, because that’s how sad I was to receive a ridiculous miniature item on more than one occasion). This is one beauty subscription where I can comfortably say you will not receive full sized products - the only full sized item I can recall is a pop beauty lip gloss, a Chella highlighting pen, and a Chapstick balm (…le sigh).  The size of the samples is what ultimately contributed to my decision to not renew Birchbox.

Products Included - Brands: My other gripe with the products that Birchbox carries is the brands that are actually sent out. I received two quarter sized blushes from the Balm, a Dr. Jart BB cream, a Lancome mini mascara, and a small Benefit Sugarbomb lip gloss - everything else was from brands I barely knew or brands I’ve never heard of before (and I’m a beauty blogger for god’s sake!). It used to be that Birchbox carried higher end brands but during the year I subscribed, other subscription services (cough, Ipsy, cough) sent better products. For example, I received two mini Color Club polishes, and my sister received a full sized Zoya and a mini Butter London from Ipsy during the same time period.

Products Included - Type of Items: If you want to receive mostly makeup and are looking for a beauty subscription box, then Birchbox is not for you.  I’ve received hair ties, plastic makeup bags, a pen, candy, food, a tea bag, a nail file, and bobby pins (so that’s eight months where one item was a lifestyle item). Some months, the boxes were more balanced in terms of beauty products but for the most part, there was no thoughtful curation of the products.
Products Included - Conclusion: And we finally get to the main attraction - should you subscribe to Birchbox? What products are really included in a Birchbox? As you can see from the photos, the answer is …”just okay” products - not the best-omg-how-lucky-am-I and not the worst-what-were-they-thinking either.  Birchbox doesn’t pay for the actual samples and companies provide them for free - customers basically pay to try samples.  I would strongly recommend Birchbox for some months, and I would definitely not recommend it for other months - based on this, take a look at what other people received and ask yourself if you need any of the items and are willing to pay to receive those samples.

Let us know in the comments - what has been your experience with Birchbox? Do you plan to subscribe or cancel your subscription? I did not renew and am currently subscribed to Ipsy, but if Birchbox overhauls their product sizes and brand variety, I would definitely return as the Birchbox subscription service has several positive aspects.

Visit Birchbox.com for more information and details about the boxes.

As an update, Birchbox does offer several Limited Edition Boxes that are definitely worth it (details in this blog post!).

Stay Pretty, Miranda M.