Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December's Free Haul!

Okay, Lovelies, I really love free stuff!  I know I've posted about my favorite spots to score freebies (here,here,& here), but in case you still aren't convinced, check out everything that arrived in my mail FOR FREE just this month!

Personal Care Items:
derma-e psorzema creme through Facebook Ad

Garnier Fructis Hair Oil from Veo

Dove Shampoo, Conditioner and Hair Oil, and Gucci Samples for Him & Her through Hip2Save

Sample Box with Pantyliners, Razor, Advil, Advil PM, Caltrate Chews, and Coupon Book from Target

Sample of Shisheido Ultimate from my Allure Magazine!

Style Magazines through Hip2Save

Life Style Magazines through Hip2Save

Food Items:
Coupon for a Free "I Can't Believe Its Not Butter!" from Smiley360

Southern Breeze Tea Samples through GetItFree

Hemp Hearts from Swaggable

Olay Moisturizing Body Wash, Gevalia Coffee & Wine Voucher from PinchMe

Water Testing Strip from Hip2Save

Me & Freebies/ Freebie Sites: All of these items I received for free by completing request forms.  I do not advocate using 'freebie' sites that require you to purchase anything.  The sites I recommend are legitimate freebie-finders. I have been freebie-hunting for about six months, and these are the most reliable sites on the internet I have found.  In all that time, I have found a few links to more questionable 'freebie' sites on GetItFree, but this is extremely rare.  

Gorgeous & Natural Beauty Picks!

I think that Target's Beauty Boxes are truly wonderful scores!  Their Fall Box was packed with so many fun items, that I couldn't resist either of their two Holiday Boxes.  This is the $5 Naturally Festive Beauty Box.

I am still new to the unboxing scene, so I decided to do an unboxing video! (below)

But, as all of you lovelies know, an unboxing is only half of the story!  Are these products any good?

Skinfix Hand Repair Cream 1 oz. ($7.50)
Product Description: Infused with oatmeal, botanicals, and emollient oils, this intensive moisturizers soothes and protects, dry irritated skin.
Verdict: This hand cream is rich, creamy, and very thick.  It will be great for me who suffers from chronic dry hands, especially during the winter months.  The cream has a light, natural scent.  But for $14.99 for a full size bottle (2 oz.), I'll just enjoy my 1 oz. sample for a while! 

Acure Brightening Facial Scrub 1 oz. ($2.50)
Product Description: Experience a feel-good clean that uses natural exfoliators, organic sea kelp with French green clay and organic lemon peel to purify skin.
Verdict: The instructions are joking when they tell you to apply this product to a wet face.  My face was just damp, which wasn't quite wet enough for applying the product without feeling like I was ripping off my skin.  This is definitely not a cleansing scrub.  It is a scrub.  With the disclaimer about this product out of the way, it is a very nice scrub.  It has a pleasantly refreshing scent.  The product itself is a shocking shade of green; so there's definitely kelp in it!  A little bit goes a very long way, so this little bottle will be in your bathroom for a while.  My skin felt silky smooth after application.  I don't know that I'll go running out for the large size, but I'll certainly enjoy this travel size over the holidays!

Burt's Bees Cleansing Towelettes 10 ct.($3.00)
Product Description: Pamper yourself with vitamin-rich white tea, calming cucumber and soothing aloe wipes that clean, remove makeup and tone skin.
Verdict: Perfect for travel since they don't count as liquids!  Perfect for those nights you are too tired for your nightly skin routine.  They smell fantastic!  They literally melt the makeup right off; no rubbing!  I wouldn't use any towelettes instead of a normal skincare routine regularly, but these will definitely be my go-to towelettes!

SoapBox Argan Shampoo 2 oz. ($2.00)
Product Description: Packed with precious Moroccan Argan oil, this natural wonder simultaneously cleanses while restoring hair's vibrant shine. *This item can be purchased as part of a SoapBox Travel Set for $8 at Target.
Verdict: This product smells wonderful!  I know that Argan Oil has been making a big splash in the beauty scene, so I'm looking forward to trying this product.

Shea Moisture Curl Smoothie 3.2 oz ($2.60)
Product Description: Empower your curls with a lush conditioning cream that restores moisture, fights breakage, and add brilliant shine.
Verdict: At first I was unsure if I could even use this product; I have wavy hair, but when I style it that way, my hair is really picky about what I use.  But reading information at states that this smoothie can also be used as a (deep) conditioner.  I was quite pleased with the results, but I won't be running out to purchase this item separately.
Borghese Exfoliate Facial Scrub 1 oz ($3.80)
Product Description: Restore your skin's radiant glow with a clarifying scrub that refines uneven texture and tone while gently removing dirt and debris.
Verdict: I LOVE THIS SCRUB!  It is a cleanser and a scrub.  The product itself is a lovely gold hue that creates a rich, moisturizing, and exfoliating lather.  I recently took this on a trip with me to help fight dry skin from flying.  Definitely worth the separate purchase!

Overall Thoughts
According to my calculations, this box comes up a $3.60 short of its advertised value of $25.  But overall, the value for price is really, really good.  I think duplicating facial scrubs is a bit disappointing; this box would have been better served by a matching conditioner for the shampoo or a facial lotion for one of the scrubs.  I would certainly make this purchase again, but I'm glad that I was able to get both holiday boxes.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

InstaNatural Retinol Serum

A wonderful complimentary product to InstaNatural's Retinol Moisturizer Cream is their Retinol Serum.  This serum contains 2.5% Retinol, 20% Vitamin C, 10% Hyaluronic Acid, as well as Fruit and Plant Acids.  Overall, this serum is a perfect way to prep your skin before applying a Retinol Moisturizer Cream.

Although this serum has a thin consistency, it is quite potent.  The product itself has a pleasantly natural scent and feels very good when applied to the skin.

  I saw a noticeable change in my skin tone and complexion during the week that I tested this product.  My skin tone became more even, which is a big deal for my highly rosy cheeks.  My skin tone also appeared healthier overall. 

In addition to using this product at night along with the retinol moisturizing cream, I wore it during the day under my makeup.  I think this is why it was able to so notably impact my skin tone and complexion.  Please remember that if you're wearing this during the day to use SPF since retinol can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. 

Once again, InstaNatural delivers a high quality product!   InstaNatural's Retinol Serum is not tested on animals, made in the USA, and has a shelf life of 12 months. You can find this wonderful Retinol Serum  (affiliate link) on Amazon for $23.75 for a 1 oz bottle.

Verdict: Yay! 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Brandbacker and made possible by InstaNatural.  Products were provided in exchange for my time in assessing their quality and writing an honest review about them. All product information is gleaned from the manufacturer's product description.  All opinions are my own based on my experiences with the product.  All photos are my own. 

InstaNatural's Retinol Moisturizer

InstaNatural continues to be one of my very favorite skin care brands!  This retinol moisturizer is so much lighter and less greasy than other all natural moisturizers on the market right now.  It also has a much more pleasant scent than other all natural moisturizers.  For me, InstaNatural's Retinol Moisturizer Cream definitely delivered on its promises!

Retinol is associated with diminishing the signs of sun damage and aging.  The 2.5% concentration of retinol in this moisturizer smoothed and tightened even my young skin! 

What I was most excited about was how it much more even my skin tone became after about a week of using this product.  Plus, with Jojoba Oil, Shea Butter and Hyaluronic Acid, my skin was very happy and moisturized even in the drought conditions of N. CA!

This Retinol Moisturizer Cream from InstaNatural is never tested on animals, made in the USA, and has a shelf life of 24 months.  I highly recommend using it in conjunction with InstaNatural's Retinol Serum.  It is available for $23.75 for 3.4 oz from Amazon (affiliate link).

Verdict: Yay!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Brandbacker and made possible by InstaNatural.  Products were provided in exchange for my time in assessing their quality and writing an honest review about them. All product information is gleaned from the manufacturer's product description.  All opinions are my own based on my experiences with the product.  All photos are my own. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Let's Play a Game! "This or That!"

So, I got tagged to play this lovely little game called, "this or that?" by the beautiful and knowledgeable, Sammi.  So, my challenge is to answer all questions Sammi gave me and add one of my own

1. Cheeks: Bronzer or Blush?
With these rosy cheeks I rarely wear either.  I tend to wear bronzer in the summertime and blush in fall/winter/spring.

2. Eyes: Mascara or Eyeliner? 

  Definitely Mascara!  I love my eyeliners, but without mascara, my eyelashes are invisible!

3. Lips: Lipstick or Lipgloss?

  I hate having to choose just one!  I'll cheat and say L'Oreal Colour Riche Lipsticks!  They're both! :-)

4.  Eyeshadow: Neutrals or Colors?

  Based simply on number of palettes I own, I'm gonna have to go with color!  Neutrals are fun, especially with a dramatic cat eye, but I love my purples, pinks, and blues!

5.  Makeup Application: Sponges or Brushes?

  BRUSHES!!  (Although Hubby is getting me a Beauty Blender for Christmas - no he doesn't understand what it is, just that I really want it!)

6.  Makeup: Foundation or Concealer? 


7. Body Moisturizer: Body Lotion or Body Butter?

Body Butter is my go-to for my feet, hands and legs before I crawl into bed every night!

8.  Getting Clean: Bar Soap or Body Wash?

 I was a body wash only kinda girl until I tried out Burt's Bees body bar!  But bar soap is only for bath-time!

9.  Smelling Good: Body Splash or Perfume?

I've been a broke graduate student for almost eight years now, so I have tons of body splash.  But I've always preferred perfume.  Thankfully, ScentBird has helped me fall in love with new scents affordably!  

10. Nail Polish: China Glaze or Opi?

I own one bottle of Opi, which is in "I'm not Really a Waitress."  Wore it for my Senior Prom in 2001.  But at my heart, I'm a fan of Julep.  I'm not a maven anymore, but I'm looking forward to resub-ing when I can!

11. Nail Length: Long or Short?

I prefer short.  My nail polish lasts longer, and my nails don't make that annoying sound on my keyboard!

12. Nail Color: Brights, Darks, or Neutrals?

  I have recently fallen in love with more muted tones in polish such as these three from Julep, which are my current favs.

13. Nail Type: Acrylic or Natural?


14.  Strutting your Stuff: Stilettos or Boots?

  This is the one pair of each that I own.  Haven't worn the stilettos since my wedding.  So, I'm gonna go with BOOTS!  (Besides, I got these beautiful boots at a steep discount when I still lived in Chicagoland!)

15.  Patterns: Stripes or Checkers?

  Um, stripes.   Definitely, stripes

16. Your go-to for putting up your hair: Bun or Ponytail?

 While I love wearing my hair in a bun, hair ties have helped me fall in love all over again with the ponytail!

17.  Cover Your Legs: Sweats or Jeans?

 Jeans.  Unless I'm just rolling out of bed to walk the dog on a Saturday morning.

18.  Looking Lovely:  Skirts or Dresses?

  Skirts!  I have two skirts with which I can make up to 9 different outfits for different occasions!  I just don't have the same luck with dresses.

19.  Remove that unwanted Hair: Waxing or Shaving?

  I have had really bad experiences with waxers wanting to put aloe vera on my freshly waxed skin, which leads to a red puffy mess in about .0001 seconds.  So, I stick with shaving!

20. Kicking it Summer Time: Flip Flops or Sandals?

  I love my sandals.  High heels, flats, even Birkenstocks and Chacos.  But my feet really don't like flip flops.

21.  Hold that Hair: Gel or Spray?

  I don't even own hair gel!  Mousse - check!  No hair gel. With three bottles of hair spray, spray is definitely my go-to.  And this bottle of Mizani my mom left at my apartment is FANTASTIC!

22.  Best Hair Day: Curly or Straight?

Curly and wavy is fun, but soft and straight is my go-to look.

23.  Lovely Locks: Long or Short?

I've had both.  I prefer it "just right."  As in, where it currently sits, which is kinda in between long and short (for me).

24. Favorite Locks: Light or Dark?
Natural.  I'm embracing the fact that my blonde has gone dark.  

25. Weather: Rain or Sunshine?

I love listening to the rain.  Its magical.  

26.  Season: Summer or Winter? 

    Call me crazy, but I miss winters in Chicagoland.  I miss the insane cold, the snow flurries, and even the ice on the sidewalk.  Summer is lovely, but winter is magical!
27.  Season: Autumn or Spring?

In CA, springtime is definitely much more exciting than autumn.  So, for now, springtime wins. 

28.  Flavor: Chocolate or Vanilla?
This is a hard one.  Truly good vanilla trumps most chocolates any day of the week, especially when ice cream is involved.  However, mediocre chocolate is better than mediocre vanilla always.

29. From Laughing Scholar: Cake or Pie?

I love cake, but hubby loves pie.  So we tend to have a little of everything baking around the holidays!

If you're one of my readers, pick one question to answer and share it in the comments below!  If you're a fellow blogger, I challenge you to complete this "This or That" activity on your own blog! :-)