Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Wonderful Christmas & A Happy New Year!

I had a truly wonderful Christmas season!  


Fantastic Christmas Party with great friends!


Plane flights to the east coast and back!


Spent a wonderful Christmas with my mother-in-law and sweet hubby on the Isle of Palms in SC!  

We took a little beach side excursion on Christmas Eve!  

After finally recovering from jet lag, I discovered that a hot cup of coffee in the warm sun on the back porch was magical!  I watched turtles and birds hang out in the pond behind the condo. :-)

We ate so much good food, rested, and had a fantastic visit!


Sweet hubby and I had a lovely walk on the beach!  I've really missed the Atlantic Ocean!

Celebrated in the end of 2014 and the start of the New Year with fantastic BBQ dinner with friends!  

Rang in the new year with some sparkling wine in our champagne glasses from our wedding!

Then we celebrated New Year's Day in classic Southern style with a tasty ham, black-eyed peas, and corn bread! (sorry y'all, there aren't any pics because the food was just too good!)

I hope that all of my lovely readers in the blog-o-sphere had a fantastic holiday season and a very Happy New Year!

Vitamin C isn't just for Cold & Flu Season!

This time of year, we usually associate Vitamin C with drinking lots of orange juice to fight off colds.  Well, this snazzy little vitamin is good for a lot more than just the sniffles.  Its good for your skin, too!  According to howstuffworks, vitamin C can help encourage collagen production and fight skin damage caused by free radicals.   

Given the skin-loving goodness that Vitamin C has to offer, InstaNatural's Vitamin C Moisturizer is composed of 20% Vitamin C!  This advanced restorative blend also contains Jojoba Oil, Plant Stem Cells, Hyaluronic Acid, and Niacinamide.

This product is a fantastic moisturizer for evening skin care routine as well as daytime use during the winter.  The moisturizer has a rich and creamy texture that is ideal for nighttime and winter, but I think its a little greasy to perform well during the warm/ hot days of summertime.  After a week of use, I noticed that my skin tone appeared brighter and more even.

You can find InstaNatural's Vitamin C Cream Moisturizer  (affiliate link) for $19.97 for a 3.4 fl oz bottle on  Given this price, and its ability to perform, I definitely give this product a thumbs up.

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. 

Lovely L'Occitane En Provence Holiday Box!

I have been wanting to try L'Occitane products for the longest time!  I always felt like they were a bit pricey for my grad student budget.  When they launched their Holiday L'OcciBox with a discount code that made it $15.00, I knew that it would make an easy Christmas present from hubby to me!

I refused to peak at all the goodies, so I made him order it.  Here are my thoughts on this delightful little box of treats!

Here's a picture of all the goodies!

Verdict: Yay! 

I would definitely recommend keeping your eyes open for another box of delights from L'Occitane!  It arrived in a beautiful box with products that every woman would love and actually use.  For $15.00 this box rocks!!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Sparkle and Glam for your Holiday Season!

Target knows what women love, and right now, women love beauty boxes; am I right, ladies?  So, over Black Friday weekend, Target launched not one, but two Holiday Beauty Boxes!

This is the $10 Holiday Box with an advertised value of $50.  I am a sucker for surprises, so I didn't look too long at the items that would be coming before I hit "add to cart."  You can see my excitement in the unboxing video below:

But you all know that I can't just leave it at that!  I wanna share my thoughts about these products, and let you all know if I think they're worth buying as full-size products!

Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen .03 oz ($8.70)
Verdict: Yay!
 This eyeliner is seriously amazing!  It is soft, super pigmented, and extremely easy to control.  After loving two lip balm by Pixi that I got from Birchbox and now this item, Pixi is next on my list of makeup companies to know better!

CoverGirl Eye Enhancers full size ($4.50)
Verdict: Yay!
This color palette is wonderful for just about every eye color.  I love how it complements my green eyes.  Most of the eyeshadows are soft and well pigmented, except for the white eyeshadow.  It was the weirdest thing; all the other colors were very easily picked up by my makeup brush, but not that lightest color!

L'Oreal Butterfly Intenza Mascara full size ($8)
Verdict: Meh.
 This is a fun mascara.  The "winged-out" look is definitely subtle, but its kinda there (see pictures below).  I think if I was going to invest in this line I'd go with the regular butterfly mascara by L'Oreal.

Revlon HD Lacquer full size ($8)
Verdict: Yay!
 This is a fantastic lipgloss!  The brush is very soft.  The product itself is glossy and shiny.  To top it all off, there is a lovely crystal on top of the lid!

Thoughts on Target's Makeup Picks
I really enjoy the way these items work together to create a complete look!  What do you think? 

Chapstick Total Hydration full size ($3)
Verdict: Meh
This 3-in-1 lip care total hydration product from Chapstick is wonderful.  I got the scent/ flavor of sweet peach.  This is not a tinted balm.  Its a really good lip moisturizer, but it had difficulty healing/ preventing some extreme chapped lips while I was traveling for the holidays.

Boots No7 Protect & Perfect Serum .01 oz ($3)
Verdict: Yay!
 I got several uses out of this little blister pack!  The serum itself felt as smooth as silk and made my skin feel so good!  A little bit goes a long way, so this item would last a long time.  I would definitely recommend checking out this serum.

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask .6 fl oz ($5.75)
Verdict: Meh
This product smells good and feels very smooth.  However, I think there are some much better intensive moisturizers out there that I'd invest in personally.  I'll definitely enjoy this little jar, but won't be running out the buy the full size.

Hair Food Thickening Serum full size ($12)
Verdict: Yay!
This item definitely delivers a bouncy look without frizz.  I have a hard time with my hair flattening near the roots, and this lifts it right up.  Plus, it smells amazing!  I love that it is paraben, mineral oil, and preservative free.

Overall Thoughts
Well, Target's $5 Holiday Box came up short, while their $10 Holiday Box exceeds their estimated value of $50; it comes it at $52.95 by my calculations.  This is a truly fantastic box, and definitely the better deal of the two!  You get an entire eye and lip look, plus skin and hair care items for $10!  If you missed out this time, make sure you are on the look-out for future beauty box deals from Target!  They are definitely worth it!

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.