Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Ipsy January 2015 Review


Box: Ipsy (Referral link)
Price: $10/month, $110/year; $4.95 shipping to Canada
Ships to: North America
What’s inside: Various beauty product samples and full size products, very roughly personalized

This tropical bag couldn't contain all the goodies I got in this month's Ipsy. Immediately I spotted at least two things I couldn't wait to try, so let's jump right in now that I've properly tested every single one of these items!



NYX Cosmetics Butter Lipstick in Hunk Full size || Value: $6.00
I know NYX is a drugstore brand that most Ipsters hate to get, but I love it! It's such a pain to find in Canada now that Target is gone -- the Rexall near me just doesn't have the best selection nor prices. I especially have been lusting after more of NYX's lip products, and getting this purple colour was super exciting, since I'm always on the lookout for more purple. Except... it wasn't purple, but rather a pink toned berry. It was still super pretty but not at all what it looked like in the tube. I found it to glide on easily (like butter, I suppose) and was pretty pigmented, but the formula was a bit slippery (...like butter, I suppose). I'm not a huge fan of the curved pointed tips some NYX lipsticks have, they make it more difficult for me to apply. But after a few uses, that won't be an issue. I've actually used my saved up points to get the other two available colours (a nude and a pink) from this month's Ipsy, so you'll be seeing that next month!

Mary Kay At Play Eye Crayon in Teal Me More Full size || Value: $10
Speaking of colours I love, teal is my second favourite colour. And again this colour... was not teal, but more of an icy blue with hardly any green tone to it. It swatched wonderfully and I thought it would be really nice for a frosty sort of winter eye, but was simply patchy on my oily lids regardless of how much I applied or whether it was over primer. It also barely set and moved around on my lid, though I will say it didn't fade if I didn't touch it. Overall I would not recommend this at all and felt it was very poor quality compared to other shadow sticks.









Coolway Glow Oil Treatment 10mL/0.34oz || Value: $3.00
Beneficial ingredients of note: cyclopentasiloxane (conditioner) (first ingredient), seaweed, vitamin E
Detrimental ingredients of note: parfum (last ingredient)
I'm usually happy to recieve hair treatment samples, because at the rate I get them I'll never have to buy one in my life. But I wasn't happy with this. It's a semi-liquid gel that smells sort of plant-like (because of the seaweed, I think) and didn't noticeably improve my post-shower hair at all. Instead I felt like it weighed my hair down unnecessarily. It's such a small size that I'll use it up for the sake of using it up, but I think I'll cut it with another conditioner or an oil of some kind.

skyn ICELAND Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels Full size x 2 || Value: $7.5
Beneficial ingredients of note: olive oil (third ingredient), jojoba oil, some plant extracts which may perform as antioxidants
Detrimental ingredients of note: plant extracts may irritate some
I was expecting pure hydrogels, but these are pretty strange to me. They're like hydrogel masks, but less sticky, and with a fabric backing. They didn't get cool in the fridge, which saddened me because there's nothing like a nice, cold mask after a long day, especially under the eyes. I put them on for twice the amount of time suggested and they stuck very well and left my undereyes feeling soft. But wow, $3.75 per pair? Heck no! Super not worth the price, especially because the ingredients list leaves much to be desired. Did no one think to put in something to brighten up the undereyes? A tiny bit of niacinamide would have done the job. Frankly, I think skyn's products are really overpriced for what they are.



LANEIGE BB Cushion Sampler 6mL/0.21oz || Value: $14.28
BB cushions are relatively new to Western cosmetics. Essentially, they're a compact with a sponge inside soaked in BB cream (or sometimes a CC cream). They help one use less product and bring their foundation around with them in a convenient, easy to reapply way. Laneige is a Korean brand but is one of the more popular ones in Western industries. You can find their cushions and other products (I hear the sleeping pack is great!) at Target in the US.

This pack came with a cute mini applicator that looks just like their regular puffs. I found it to be very smooth and soft against my skin, and picked up foundation well -- it's far too small to use for my entire face, though. It was very easy to clean and cleaning didn't damage it, so I think if I had a bigger size I might actually use it instead of my trusty sponge or brush.

The other three sections of the package were each of the three shades available for the American market: the frustratingly named light, medium, and dark. Three shades does not a full line up make, cosmetics companies. Anyway, I am lucky enough to be a more mainstream shade (NC20-25ish) so I found that the medium shade fit my face almost perfectly. In the swatch the light shade matches my underarm perfectly, but my face is a bit darker than that. I do have some weird undertones I'm trying to figure out (maybe neutral? pink undertones but yellow skin?) but I didn't have any issues with the medium shade. The formula went on smoothly and felt nice on my skin. I did need to powder it down but for those starting off with drier skin than me, it may leave a nice dewy look. I was able to use the other two shades as a very subtle highlight and contour.

The sponges had quite a bit of product in them. I used these samples for 3 days, keeping them sealed in a ziploc bag. I threw them out more for possibility of contamination than because they ran out of product -- I easily could have used them another two days at least. I'm really pleased I got the chance to try this, because I've really wanted to but didn't want to spend the $34 for a full size in medium only to find it wasn't the right colour. The next time I'm in America I'll definitely be picking one of these cushions up.

I received about $40 of product this month from Ipsy, and paid nearly $19 thanks to the poor Canadian dollar. Getting twice what I paid ain't bad, though. I'm really happy with the lipstick and BB samples, the hair oil will be used as well as the eye masks, and the shadow stick, while poor quality, isn't unusable. I think I'm pleased enough with this month!

Amoda Tea March 2015 Review


Box: Amoda Tea
Price: $18/month, including shipping
Ships to: North America
What’s inside: 4 different teas (~3 cups each), tea filters

I can't help but feel a little disappointed in the declining quality of the overall Amoda Tea experience. The tea is still great, don't get me wrong -- but I've noticed the small changes Amoda has made to save on some money, and while I understand that things are difficult for a small company, some changes can really be obvious. In this instance, it's receiving this really tiny piece of printed-on paper with a blank back instead of the usual full-colour printed greeting card. Opening up my box to see this was just a bit underwhelming, in my experience.

But let's get on to the teas, which are the important part.

Organic Black Gold Tips by Treasure Green Tea || Black
Ingredients: Organic Chinese black tea

Black tea is my favourite kind of tea, and these did not disappoint. This tea can be steeped two or three times and is a light, smooth tea that I think would be perfect for anyone getting used to the strength of black teas. It's almost sweet, even. This would probably go well with milk, as Amoda suggests, but I've yet to try it thanks to lactose intolerance. 

Pineapple Sencha by Den's Tea || Green
Ingredients: Sencha green tea, dried pineapple, natural oil
A really cool looking, grassy green tea with pineapple pieces. This smells absolutely amazing and is super strong, almost like sticking your face into a pile of fruity tropical candy. When steeped it retains its scent. The taste is definitely grassier than your typical bagged tea, with a fruity twist. Very smooth and easy to drink, I think this would be great cold and my only regret is that I don't have more of it. I know what I'm ordering from Amoda Tea next time!
Jasmine Mist by Sloane Tea || Jasmine green
Ingredients: Chinese green tea scented with jasmine blossom
This smells precisely like jasmine and tastes like it, too. An understated, simple tea that brings me back to eating phở with the family. I really enjoy this as well. According to the info card I can steep this multiple times, but the bag itself didn't say so. I'm kind of sad I missed the opportunity for more of this!
Ginger Twist by Sloane Tea || Herbal
Ingredients: lemongrass, mint, ginger, ginseng, licorice root, apple, papaya, citrus peel, cornflower petals, natural flavour
Can't win 'em all, right? I hate lemongrass. I was hoping the mint and ginger in this tea would overpower it, but they did not. To me, this is just the epitome of herbal medicine drink. I don't think I will even be able to finish this, unfortunately. I'm not sure if I know anyone who likes lemongrass enough for this, either.








This month was a pretty decent month for me and Amoda, with three teas I really enjoy and one I hate. But the three I do like I legitimately would like to order again, so there was a net gain here. I can see that there are corners being cut for costs and though I can understand them, as a consumer it's a bit sad to see. I definitely hope that Amoda does not have to shut down again like they did last year, because they still have great product, and that's the majority of what matters. I will continue to subscribe to them for as long as I can!