Saturday Review: YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara


Yves Saint Laurent Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara
Retail: $32

I received this mascara for free through Influenster and have been using it for a couple of months now.

Pro: Great black color and very long-lasting. The sparkly gold tube doesn’t hurt either – I love that prestige cosmetics like to take the packaging up a non-tacky notch.

Neutral: The brush appears clumpy. Although I haven’t had this translate to my eyelashes, I have accidentally touched a hidden clump to my eyelid and had to perform spur-of-the-moment makeup reconstructive surgery. And it tends to get clumps around the top that will stick out the sides when you put the lid on if not careful. This isn’t really a big deal, but is disappointing when you are talking about $32 mascara.

Here is a photo of the clumps at their worst. I don’t know about you, but I’m not thrilled with a mascara that requires extra maintenance.
Con: It takes way too long to dry. Now, it isn’t unusual for high-end brands to take longer to dry than your typical drugstore variety, but this one just takes a really long time. I feel like I have to walk around not blinking for an eternity and I’ve often arrived at work and found a bit of a mess. One time in particular, I forgot about the mascara and used my setting spray a couple of minutes after putting the mascara on. Whoa. Raccoon disaster.

Verdict: No, not at this price point.

Birchbox, June 2015

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Marcelle Waterproof Eyeliner in Blue Lagoon ($7.30)
Yeah, it’s blue. Now, I like color and I’ve worn blue eyeliner before, but I can’t really say that I need more than one. I’ll add it to the stash or pass it on to someone who needs a little more blue in their life.

TOCCA Eau de Parfum, Bianca ($0)
You know I’m not thrilled with perfume samples in my boxes. Didn’t like the smell of this one either, so I tossed it.

Dr. Jart+ Dermaclear Micro Water ($2.55)
This is the sample I picked. If you’ve read any of my past beauty-related posts, you know I love Dr. Jart+. I’ve never used a water-based cleanser, so I’m excited to try this one out.

Pura Vida Lace Headband ($2.25)
This doesn’t work with my pixie cut, so it went straight to my daughter’s stash. It is really high quality though and can double as a ponytail holder. The price might turn some people off – I would not have purchased them when I had longer hair – but if you have super thick and long hair (like my kid), the quality if really important.

Temple Spa Good Hair Day Shampoo ($1.75)
Temple Spa In Good Condition Conditioner ($1.75)
Always good to have travel-sized hair products in the stash. I haven’t used these yet, but the don’t seen to be anything special.


Very low-value this month, but I’m not disappointed in the products. As always, if you want to sign up for your own Birchbox please be a dear and use my referral link. Use coupon code SUBSCRIBENOW50 when you subscribe to get $5 (50 points) to spend in the shop.

Saturday Review: 3B, May 2015

The Products:
Skinfood False Lashes ($5.50)
TonyMoly LovelyEyebrow Pencil ($5)
Etude House Baking Powder BB Deep Cleansing Foam ($1.50)
TonyMoly Tangerine Whitening Hand Cream ($12)

Total Cost: $12
Total Value: $24

I’ve been on the waiting list for the 3b Beauty Beyond Borders monthly box for a few months now and was thrilled to finally get my first bag of goodies. I was particularly interested in 3b to replace the whole left in my life by Memebox (since they changed up their style, the boxes just aren’t made for me anymore).

From the 3b website: “Each box contains a collection of deluxe samples that are new or popular in Asia but hard to get your hands on. The products will change each month, and you’ll get to try new skincare, haircare, nailcare, and cosmetic products. Sample products range from go-to brands such as Lioele, Etude House and Skinfood to high-end premium brands like SK-II, Kanebo, and Sulwhasoo. Don’t worry about not being able to read Japanese or Korean – we’ve got you covered with English translations of descriptions in each box.”

Verdict: I love the products, although I don’t agree they are particularly hard to get your hands on. I couldn’t walk into a store locally and pick up one of these, but could easily get them online. In English and everything. That being said, this is a perfect monthly sub for me and it will be hanging around for sure. Yay!

Saturday Review: Birchbox, May 2015

Benefit Total Moisture Facial Cream ($7.50)
This one has been showing up in Birchboxes for a while now and I guess it was my turn. I’m always happy to see moisturizers and always happy to see Benefit products, so this in a win-win for me. Plus, the little jar is cute. I like my skincare to be cute.

Jurlique Herbal Recovery Advanced Serum ($9)
I do not like the way this smells. It is that grandma-rose-kind-of-scent that only works well in small doses in a hand cream. Not on my face, for sure. So, I would never buy this, but I do intend to finish the sample. It goes on smooth and I like the texture.

Macadamia Professional Nourishing Moisture Oil Treatment ($10)
This is the sample I picked. I don’t think I’ve ever received a Macadamia product in any of my boxes before and I am a fan of the brand.

Coastal Scents Revealed 3 Palette ($1.50)
These little Coastal Scents sample palettes are just so-so for me. I don’t really get excited about them, but they are great to travel with. The four colors can make all sorts of looks and cut down on what I have to pack. This particular sample is actually with me in Dallas right now.

Harvey Prince Sea Salt Texturizing Mist ($1.50)
This was another one of the products you could pick this month. Unfortunately, my hair + sea salt texturizing anything = disaster. This will be going up for trade. I was thrilled that this wasn’t another Harvey Prince perfume though. So there is that.

Total Cost: $10
Total Worth: $29.50

Overall – a solid box, but nothing to brag about. As always, if you want to sign up for your own Birchbox please be a dear and use my referral link. Signing up for the first time? Subscribe today with the coupon code BB50OFF and save 50% (Hurry! This one expires May 24).

Saturday Review: Briogeo Hair Mask

Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair!™ Deep Conditioning Mask
5.25 oz, $26

I received a sample of this from Birchbox or Ipsy sometime last year or the end of the year before. Since then, I’ve swapped other beauty box goods for three more samples. It is a great product.

The 1 oz. sample tub is a great size to try out. For someone like me with a short cut, it is practically a bucket, but even long-haired ladies (and gentleman!) will get enough for a few uses since you will likely just be treating the ends of your hair.

When my hair was longer, I used the Briogeo once a week on my ends to combat damage from blow-drying and it worked wonderfully. I stopped using it for a while, as my short cut rarely needs deep conditioning (or conditioning of any kind), but started up again lately. You see, I dyed a swoop of hair on the front of my head an Elsa-blonde. It was lovely, but every difficult to maintain and now I’m going through the long process of building color back up on the hair.

Now, I didn’t do all of this dying at home. Oh no, this was professionally done so my hair isn’t damaged, but it is very. . .confused and dry with a tendency to frizz. A few minutes with the Briogeo brought back the softness. A second round the next day brought back the shine. I’ll continue with weekly treatments until my hair returns to normal. Briogeo is excellent.

And I’m not the only one in the house that uses it. My husband used to use it on his hipster beard (now shaved). He liked it too.

Saturday Review: Birchbox, March 2015

IMG_0648Eh, the box value is good, but the products are a miss for me this month.

I can’t complain too much though; I got a BeautyBlender last month and traded it for a full-size bottle of the Redken conditioner my daughter uses (must protect the natural blonde!).

And I still argue that a huge portion of Birchbox’s worth is the fun of getting a box of goodies in the mail and trading with other box-enthusiasts.
Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré ($1.87)
The reviews on this product are pretty good and it does feel pretty nice when it goes on your face. I’ll gladly add it to my moisturizer stash for use when my Dear by Enprani Bounce Cheese Cream (morning) and Benton Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream (night) run out. [You’ll have to pry my Korean skincare products out of my cold, dead hands.]

It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product ($9)
I’m happy to see this product, but not surprised as I picked it during the sample choice time. It’s a 10 is great and usually pretty easy to come by free. This is my third free bottle from somewhere-or-other, I think. I recommend trying this one if you can get your hands on a sample.

Fekkai PrX Reparatives Shampoo ($5)
I was happy to try Fekkai, but the damn thing has sulfates. I’m still undecided about the actual effect of sulfates on my hair, but I’d rather just cut them out to be safe. Bummer.

Jelly Pong Pong GLOW GETTER Highlighter ($12.75)
While I will occasionally break out a highlighter (usually Benefit’s Watt’s Up), this one looks like a glitter bomb and won’t be coming anywhere near my face. It’s a shame though, as it is a full-size product. No, it is not unusual for highlighters to come that small. I didn’t even swatch this product as I know it will be added to my trade board, so I can’t comment on the color.

Temple Spa Peace Be Still Calming Face & Body Balm ($4.83)
Two lotions in one box, really? Okay, the Embryolisse is a moisturizer . . . but I’d still rather not see two cream-type products in one box. This does smell wonderful, so I’ll add it to our travel supply. Still a bit of a let-down though.

Total Cost: $10
Total Value: $33.45

A good, solid box; I’m pleased. As always, if you want to sign up for your own Birchbox please be a dear and use my referral link. Signing up for the first time? Use the coupon code JILLIAN to get 100 points when you subscribe (that is equal to $10 in the shop!)

**Whoa. I need a photo editor intervention. Too much, Stephanie. Too much.

Special Tacky Husband Saturday Review: Phillips hue Lights

For Christmas, we treated ourselves to a Phillips hue starter kit. For those who have never seen them, the hue system allows you to connect multiple LED lights to a central bridge and control the lights on your home network. The lights themselves can produce 16 million colors and are controlled through your smartphone, tablet, or the Internet.

Image from
A starter kit. Image from

What’s included?

There are a few flavors of the starter kit, but they’re all basically the same. The kit comes with two or three lights and a bridge that connects to your home network and controls the lights themselves. You can then buy multiple lights in any combination you’d like and connect them to your bridge (up to 50 bulbs).

The light options include:

  • A19 – a standard light bulb that produces light in a full 360-degrees, like a standard light bulb.
  • BR30 – a spotlight bulb. Works best for recessed lights, I’d assume.
  • Bloom – A small lamp that projects light straight onto the wall.
  • Light strip – an LED light strip. Think of lights behind the bed, under the kitchen counter, etc.
  • Iris – An overpriced lamp.
  • Lux – White light only (cheaper)

Setup and Configuration

We started with the A19 starter kit. It came with three bulbs and the bridge.

Setup was incredibly easy. You just replace your existing light bulbs with the Hue lights and power on the bridge. The bridge connects to your existing home network via Ethernet connection. You then download the app on your iPhone or Android device and finish the setup.

By default, the Philips app is easy to use and set up. You create an account (optional) and it walks you through the entire process to set up the device and add additional lights if you’ve purchased them. The app itself is a bit of good and bad.

We’ve since purchased multiple lights, a light strip, a bloom lamp, and a tap switch. So far, we’ve set up the living room, master bedroom, and our daughter’s room.

The Good

Let me be the first to say: this is an unnecessary purchase. A $0.50 light bulb works just fine. A $50 bulb that dims and makes pretty colors. Well. . .?

Now that that’s out of the way: I LOVE these lights! The lights themselves are beautiful. You can make an amazing amount of colors, including black-light. The lights are controlled independently, so I can have a nice shade of blue behind our couch and a standard yellow light in the lamp. Then once my wife goes to bed and it’s time for video games, I can lower all the lights and make them any color I want. (Playing Saints Row 4? Purple all the way!)

Since Philips uses an open standard for the lights, anyone can develop apps that can control your lights. Some are better than others, but I prefer some of the third-party apps to Philips’s app a lot of the time. The Philips app isn’t bad, but it doesn’t play as nicely with multiple rooms, which I’ll get to later. My favorite app is one called On Switch. It let me set up groups of lights based on room, then provides preset colors to imitate different lighting types (standard, halogen, fluorescent, etc.). It also allows for dynamic lighting. For instance, if I select my living room, I can select Moving Clouds and the lights will imitate the light fading in and out as clouds pass overhead. Another is Candlelight, which dims all of the bulbs and flickers them slightly to imitate candlelight.

The downside to this app is that it doesn’t allow me to select custom colors. I have to reopen the Philips app for that.

Another cool feature that we haven’t used yet is an app called Hue Disco. It will take your smartphone and use the microphone to produce a multi-colored strobe effect to the beat of your music. It’s really awesome and if we ever hosted parties, we’d use it. (but we don’t.)

The bloom lights in action. Image from
The bloom lights in action. Image from

The Bad

Have you ever tried to show a guest, or worse, your Grandma, how to use your TV with 3 different remotes? Think that’s tough? Try a light that requires an app!

There are a few ways around this: the lamp or lights can be turned off and on via the standard wall switch or switch on the lamp. When they’re turned back on, the lights are standard yellow light that must be changed via an app.

If I’ve forgotten to turn off the lamp in the bedroom and my phone is charging in the kitchen, I can turn off the lamp the old-fashioned way, but I have to remember to turn it back on for the app to control it later.

One way around this is the hue tap switch. It lets you set up three different color combinations on your lights, as well as an off switch that turns off any combination of lights you choose.

Lastly: the price. The starter kit is $300. Each bulb is $50. The tap switch is $50. It really adds up quickly. The cost of outfitting an entire house, or a large room with recessed lighting alone could be very high.

Image from
App image from

Other Stuff – Cool and Weird

Since our daughter has some Hue lights in her room, sometimes she’ll accidentally turn the lights off in the living room.

Geofencing! I still haven’t played with this, but you can program your lights to turn on or off when you reach a certain location.

Want your lights to come on when you get home? Easy peasy.

Schedules and Alarms! My lights can fade up to full strength in the morning as Vivaldi plays from my phone. Cool way to wake up!


Overall, there’s a steep investment, but I like these lights. They’re pointless and pretty and just plain cool. The things that are weird aren’t really a problem for me. I’m used to technology quirks and I’m comfortable with adjusting to them. If you don’t mind a little adjustment period yourself, these lights are awesome. Maybe some day we can afford to outfit the whole house.

You must have a home network. Got high-speed internet? Then you’ve got one, even if it is provided by Comcast.

Birchbox! February 2015

IMG_0028Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Cleanser ($1.60)
Love, love, love Juice Beauty. Their green apple sensitive peel is one of my favorite products. I will try this one for sure.

theBalm Cosmetics Read My Lips Lip Gloss ($4)
Another gloss. Nice size, nice color. Nothing special.

Gilchrist & Soames Spa Therapy Body Wash ($2.50)
Between recent awesome hotel stays and beauty boxes, I have way too many tubes of body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. This smells nice, but it will be probably be included in a batch headed to the local shelter. I need to clear things out.

Beautyblender and Mini Solid Cleanser ($20)
A very nice item to find in a monthly box. I have a Beauty Blend and I like it. I so rarely use foundation though and it doesn’t get much use (it seems a little overkill for my bb cream). I might put this one up for trade.

BeeKind Conditioner ($2)
This sample didn’t list the ounces it contains, so I’m guessing on the value.

Total Cost: ($10)
Total Value: $30.10

A good, solid box; I’m pleased. As always, if you want to sign up for your own Birchbox please be a dear and use my referral link. Signing up for the first time? Use the coupon code RUNWAY15 to get the Rent the Runway “Its All In The Details” guest editor box as your first month.

Saturday Review: Miraflex Glasses

When we found out the little man needed glasses, everyone – and I do mean everyone – recommended Miraflex, as they are known to be very durable.

And I believed them.

When we ordered the glasses, I was sure we were getting a pair that could stand up to being tossed across the room, snatched off a face, or maybe even smashed under a wheelchair wheel.

Well . . . this week we ran over them with the car. RAN OVER THEM WITH THE CAR!

And let me tell you, those damn things are fine. A little scratch on one side is all that remains from being on the wrong end of a Toyota. It is absolutely unbelievable. They may even fit a little better than they did before.
Miraflex New Baby1_Dark Gray

Saturday Review: Serum Round-Up, Part 2

PicMonkey CollageSerums, I love ’em. See the first round-up here.

Lancome Rénergie Lift Multi-Action Reviva-Concentrate
I received a sample of this in a gift with purchase. This stuff is regular $122 for 1.7 ounces, but damn it, it is all kinds of awesome. My sample only lasted a week (although I think I was a little heavy handed. After only a couple of days though I noticed an unexpected difference in my skin. I mean, more than my regular serum skin improvement; I just looked brighter. If you can get your hands on a sample of this I highly recommend trying it out. I’ve started calling it youth in a bottle.
Would I use it again? Yes, Yes, Yes. I need more samples.
Would I buy it? Sadly, no. I can’t afford it.

Supergoop! City Sunscreen Serum SPF 30
I like the thought of having sunscreen in the very first thing that touches my face. This is a bit thicker than a typical serum and smells slightly of sunscreen if you put it right up to your nose. The smell dissipates almost instantly though. Unfortunately, this product broke me out and I stopped using it after three days.
Would I use it again? No.
Would I buy it? No.

Boots No7 Lift & Luminate Day Serum
This smelled gross. The smell dissipated on my face fairly fast, but it took soap to get it off my hands. It was off-putting; I only used my sample once and never tried the corresponding night serum.
Would I use it again? No.
Would I buy it? No.

Murad T-Zone Pore Refining Serum
This one was a little watery when it came out of the bottle, but not too unruly. It didn’t have the best smell – more of a this-isn’t-scented-kind-of-chemically smell than anything too bad. It went on smooth, but felt a little drying and stayed a bit tacky for longer than I would have liked.
Would I use it again? Yes.
Would I buy it? No, it is just okay.