January 2017 Boxycharm Unboxing

I never thought I would be a fan of subscription boxes. Frankly, I used to think they were pretty useless (a lot of them I still do). That was until I stumbled upon Boxycharm. Boxycharm is a makeup subscription box that ships to residents of the US and Canada for $21 a month. This little black makeup box’s main appeal is that it contains 4-5 full size products. Yep, you read that right: FULL SIZE. Almost always the amount of the box adds up to be over $100, so you get some bang for your buck. Most of the brands I’ve never heard of (and they actually turn out to be quite decent), but ever so often they throw in a well-known brand as well.

This marks my third month of receiving a Boxycharm box. I love the idea of getting surprised every month, and they always have a variety of products to offer. For example, this month I received a highlighter duo, a fan brush to go with said highlighter duo, a cheek stain, a nail polish mattifier, and a hand lotion. In the three months I’ve gotten Boxycharm, I’ve only been disappointed by one product.

Every “Charmer” (how they refer to their subscribers) receives a different variation of the month’s box. While two or three of the items will be things everyone gets, the rest is left up to chance. I find this aspect rather fun!

Now, enough chit chat. Let’s get into what I got this month!

  1. Anderson Lilley Manhattan Beach Hand Cream ($24) – This lovely number is the beach in a bottle. It almost smells a bit like a fragrant sunscreen, but it is simply just a hand lotion. At $24, it’s already over the price of the box. The application feels nice and it’s not greasy. It is a much needed addition to my night routine! Smelling the beach in the midst of yucky winter weather is a plus, too.
  2. Crown Soft Fan Brush ($12.99) – Before this box, I didn’t have a fan brush in my collection. I usually use a medium sized fluffy brush to apply my highlighter, but now I can use this instead! The bristles are very soft and lightweight. It may be just a simple fan brush, but it gets the job done.
  3. Vintage Highlighter Double ($35) – I had never heard of this brand before prior to subscribing to Boxycharm. I received a highlighter from them back in November, and now they’ve sent us a duo. All of them are different, of course, and I am so impressed with how bright of a highlight they create! Seriously, these things will make you shine. They each have gold undertones, which I find is a nice change from the white undertones of a typical highlighter.
  4. PÜR Cosmetics Chateau Cheek Stain in “Prosecco” ($26) – Cheek stains are a completely new concept to me. Obviously I knew they existed, but I never tried one for myself. This was such a pleasant surprise! The product almost looks like a giant Chapstick with a brush on the other end. It looks obnoxiously bright, but once applied it blends into your skin very nicely. I love the color of this as well. The brush does shed, however. I noticed several tiny hairs on my cheeks, but it wasn’t much to just swipe them away with my fingers. I’m very excited to keep using this one!
  5. Adesse Ultra Suede Matte Top Coat ($18) – This little guy is magic in a bottle. It mattifies any shiny nail polish with a suede finish (so a hint of sheen, but no gloss!) It works almost instantly as well; it dried very fast. The description says “May apply every day to maintain the matte suede effect,” so I’m guessing that means it wears off (I didn’t keep my nail polish on long enough to test it out, unfortunately).  This is probably my favorite item that I got this month because it just doubled my nail polish collection. Thanks Boxycharm!

This month’s total adds up to be $114. As always, I’m looking forward to seeing what I receive in future boxes. It’s like Christmas every month when I see it in my mailbox! If you’d like to see me test out the products in real time, take a peek at my latest YouTube video:

Do you subscribe to Boxycharm? What did you get in your box? Anything you absolutely loved? Anything you absolutely hated? Let me know in the comments!

Lately I’ve been having the itch to read more. Now that I have been out of college for almost two years and required reading and various projects aren’t looming over me constantly, I want to spend some of my usual TV-time with a book instead. Along with trying to read more, I also wanted to start a book series on my blog so that I can a) stay motivated to read, b) look back on all of the books I’ve read that year, and c) share my thoughts with fellow readers who are looking for something to add to their “to-read” lists!

To kick off this “Cover to Cover” book series, I am going to be sharing my thoughts on #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso.

The first I heard of the book was when Sophia sat for a Q&A at a marketing conference I attended in 2015. I was immediately struck by her personality. Of course she looked absolutely amazing and fashionable, but she also looked rather uncomfortable at first. Whoa, she is actually human! was the first thought that ran through my head. It was a such a relief to hear her speak after all of the robotic and rehearsed marketing talks I had to sit through that day. She spoke about how she awkwardly stands in the corner at big parties, her dogs, how she started her company, and her favorite vintage piece that she ever sold. She was funny and relatable. Naturally after this I was dying to read her book. Luckily the hubz got it for me as a Christmas gift last month!

#GIRLBOSS is not your typical “rags to riches” story. It’s true, Sophia has truly achieved the textbook definition of the “American Dream.” Not the outdated white picket fence, two kids, and dog kind, but the more modern version: the owning a multi-million dollar business before the age of 30 kind. Her story for how she got to that point, however, is entirely unconventional. For example, the first thing she ever sold online was something she stole.

What I love most about the book is that Sophia is genuinely giving advice. Even if you never plan on starting your own business, she gives very helpful tips about financial planning, honing your creativity, and even interviewing for a job. She points out qualities about herself that made her successful, but she also critiques herself. There are times when she reflects on her past and admits there were things she did that she isn’t proud of, but that they helped shape her into the person she is today.

One of my favorite passages from the book is when she talks about luck:

“I hate the concept of luck, especially when people try to apply it to me. Yes, it’s true: Hundreds of thousands of businesses fail. Mine succeeded. Was that all just because I ‘got lucky’? I don’t really think so.

What I hate about luck is that it implies being devoid of responsibility. It implies that you can do nothing and then step into success as easily as stepping into a pile of dog poop on the sidewalk. It implies that success is something given to a knighted and often undeserving few. Luck tells us that we don’t control our own fate, and that our path to success or failure is written by someone, or something, entirely outside ourselves. Luck lets us believe that whatever happens, whether good or bad, it’s not to our credit or our fault. That is why I don’t buy luck.”

– Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS

If you’re looking for something to light your fire, this book is a great place to start. It’s an easy read and it comes from an authentic place: she truly wants to inspire girls to be successful, and that is evident with the amount and variety of advice she has to give. I personally loved when she talked about finances; we could all use a little help in that department!

Have you read #GIRLBOSS? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

Studio Makeup On the Go Cool Down Palette

As of late, I’ve been obsessed with cranberry-colored eyeshadow. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s just so beautiful to me! I received this Studio Makeup On the Go Cool Down palette in my November Boxycharm subscription box, and I am obsessed! I can’t seem to find it on their website, but here is its counterpart.

These eyeshadows are highly pigmented, especially the shimmery shades. They’re very powdery, however, so I do experience some fallout. This is mostly noticeable in the shimmery shades because they have glitter in them, so you will probably get a little glitter on your face if you use them. I personally don’t see the harm, but I know a lot of people don’t like glitter! They blend really well, and the assortment of colors allows you to create both day and nighttime looks.

The packaging is great. It has a magnetic closure and it feels like a solid, sturdy palette. There is no mirror included, so you will have find one elsewhere. The eyeshadow pans themselves are pretty big so I see this lasting for a long time. You can see just by looking at the swatches that all the colors complement one another, so it’s a really fun palette to play with.

This palette was by far the best part of the November Boxycharm because these cranberry shades are perfect for the holidays! I’ve been incorporating them into my makeup routine ever since I got it. I already received my December Boxycharm so I will be making a post about that soon.

What palette/colors have you been reaching for lately? Let me know in the comments!

Pale Skin Beauty Tips

Ahh, I can hear it clear as day. “Why don’t you just get a tan?” was a question I was asked by my friends all too often growing up. When I responded, “I physically can’t…no, seriously. I can’t,” they would look at me like I had two heads. If you have pale skin like me, this probably sounds all too familiar.

I grew up and still live in a very warm, sunshine-y area where everyone around me has beautiful tan-to-dark skin. I stick out like a sore thumb (well, more like flourescent lightbulb), and it took me until recently to finally accept that this skin is who I am and there’s nothing that can be done to change that. It seems like a wider diversity of skin tones is being accepted in the media now than they were several years ago (thank goodness!), but it’s still easy to feel insecure from time to time when you feel like you’re the odd one out. Luckily, I’ve learned that instead of trying to hide your pale skin, you should be accentuating it. Here are some beauty tips I’ve picked up over the years about pale skin:

  1. Blush will always be your best friend. I went to a Catholic school for 9 years, and the nuns would always tell me that I looked sick and pale. They also liked to call me Laura (my name is Alison…), so I didn’t really take it to heart. I knew they meant well; it’s just a side effect of having pale skin! Simply applying some blush will add life to your face, so hopefully people will stop asking you if you’re feeling okay.
  2. Pick the right shade of foundation. One of the hardest things to find for pale skin is a foundation that matches your skin tone straight out of the bottle! The last thing you want is a face that’s darker than your body. I’ve done some grunt work and found 5 drugstore foundations that are pretty much an exact match for pale skin. You can read about them here.
  3. Find a high coverage concealer. If there’s one area where pale skin falls short (aside from getting some serious sunburn), it’s having a natural “imperfection” camoflauge. Tan skin hides dark circles, scars, and acne much better than pale skin, so it’s good to invest in a decent concealer. Personally, I like the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind concealer in ‘Fair’, but there are tons of great options out there.
  4. Calm reddness. If I could go back in time and tell my high school self anything, it would be to stop using such harsh acne products (and to stop sleeping with makeup on…sheesh!) I used to use benzoyl peroxide like it was no one’s business, and I’m convinced I tried every acne product under the sun. The consequence of this was that my face was constantly red and irritated. My skin did not like being washed, smothered in toner/alcohol, and then being doused in a benzoyl peroxide lotion. As soon as I simplified my skin care routine and stuck to more natural products, my reddness calmed down immensely. I just stick to washing my face with a gentle cleanser and applying a moisturizer, and I can feel my skin thanking me!
  5. Use SPF. This is a no brainer, but you should be using SPF everyday. We are very much the most prone to skin cancer! To make things easier, just make sure you have a day moisturizer that has SPF in it. I apply moisturizer morning and night so it’s a good way to make SPF a part of your routine!
  6. Apply colorful makeup. A lot of beauty experts will tell you to avoid neutral makeup, especially beige, because it will make you look washed out. Though I personally don’t see anything wrong with beautiful chocolatey browns, you could try adding a dash of color to your eyes to really make your features pop. Reds and oranges are a good place to start if you’re weary about colorful makeup since they’re similar to brown, but do try a purple, blue, or green someday and you may be pleasantly surprised with how it turns out!
  7. EMBRACE IT. Out of all of these tips, this is probably the most important. There are so many times I have applied self tanner to try to ‘fit in,’ and it never looks natural on my stark-white skin. I’ve tried gradual self tanner, instant self tanner, drugstore, high-end, etc. and they all leave the same uneven color, especially on the feet and wrists. It becomes a tedious chore and I’m never happy with the results. I’ve learned my natural skin tone is perfectly fine the way it is; it only causes frustration to try to change it. All skin tones are beautiful, pale skin included.

What are some of your pale skin beauty tips? Let me know in the comments!

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December has arrived, and that means it’s time to break out the bright red lips and gold eyeshadows and put together some fun holiday makeup looks! I love a look that only takes one eyeshadow palette to complete, and that’s exactly what I’m sharing with you today: something super simple, neutral, and festive.

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The Too Faced Natural Eyes palette is totally underrated. It’s a handy little makeup tin that holds nine beautiful neutral eyeshadows. Its small size is deceiving; you can totally create several different looks with this palette for both day and night. It’s one of my OG high-end eyeshadow palettes, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Here is how I created this look:

Eye Primer
First I primed my eyes with the Prestige Primed & Ready Eye Primer ($9). I originally bought this primer at Ulta, but it seems they have stopped selling it. You can still get it on Amazon. It’s a trusty, affordable primer that I’ve been using for years.

Eye Shadow
From the Too Faced Natural Eyes palette ($36), I first applied the shades “Nudie” and “Cashmere Bunny” to my crease. “Nudie” went on first as a transition shade, and I used “Cashmere Bunny” to add a little more depth to my crease.

I then took the shade “Honey Pot” and applied it all over the lid. I also used this color generously along my lower lash line. I really wanted this shade to be the most prominent because I love the color gold.

For the outer corners, I used “Chocolate Martini.” This creates an elongating effect to the eye. I also took a small amount of this color and applied it to the outer corners of my lower lash lines to tie everything together.

Lastly, – a step I regrettably forget to include sometimes – I applied the shade “Silk Teddy” to my brow bone and inner corners to highlight.

Liner
I’ve been loving brown eyeliner in place of black for the waterline. I use the L’Oreal Paris Infallible Never Fail eyeliner in Brown ($9). For the top lash line (to add a guide for the falsies), I used the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper ($20).

Lashes
For lashes (and this is totally optional by the way), I used the Ardell Demi Wispies ($4). These are great lashes. Since my eyebrows are set close to my eyes, it’s real easy for me to look like Snuffaluffagus if I wear eyelashes that are too thick and/or too long. These are the perfect amount of thickness and length to add a little volume to your lashes without being too dramatic.

Lips
Now it’s time for the red lipstick. I used ColourPop’s Lippie Stix in “Frenchie” ($5). It is the perfect holiday red. Not to mention I absolutely adore the Lippie Stix formula from ColourPop! It’s very pigmented and comfortable to wear. Even though it says matte finish, you can see that it’s not %100 matte. There is a tiny bit of shine, but I personally like that.

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And that’s all there is to it! See? So simple. I may try to come up with a more dramatic/colorful holiday look later on in the month, but for now I’m enjoying keeping things simple.

What are your favorite holiday looks to rock? Do you like going more simple or more dramatic? Let me know in the comments!