Thursday, 30 April 2015

Aromaleigh Ephemera January to April 2015 Review

Box: Ephemera by Aromaleigh
Price: $15/month, plus shipping
Ships to: North America & others, see here
What’s inside: Various cosmetics centered around a theme, plus samples and a treat

Ephemera is a rather new indie subscription box that started in January of this year. Aromaleigh is well known for their eyeshadows and other products. I quickly jumped in on the chance to subscribe to my first indie box, especially as I had never ordered from Aromaleigh before.

To make a long story short: this is a lovely subscription box. The packaging is phenomenal, the quality of the products is good, and the themes are solid. I highly recommend trying this box out if you can snag a coveted slot, if you are vying for some more loose eyeshadows, rouges, and the like in your life.

However, I have ended my subscription as of receiving my April box for two reasons. Firstly, the exchange rate in Canada along with the $8 shipping fee brought the monthly cost of this subscription to nearly $30 a month. That is what most would call a mid-to-high cost for a cosmetics subscription, and ends up being almost equal the value of the box contents without the luxury of choosing what I'd like. Secondly, I realize that I simply cannot finish a full size or even a halfling of loose eyeshadow. What I've gotten from this box in four months is more than I'll be able to use in a few years, I'd bet.

Without further adieu, on to the swatches for this 4-month review! This will be photo heavy, so click the cut below! I'll let the swatches do the talking, for the most part. As always, eyeshadow swatches are half Urban Decay Primer Potion, half bare skin.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Amoda Tea April 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

As always, Amoda Tea is a lovely Canadian company that provides tea each month! Packaging has improved since last month, where I got a sad little 2x2 paper intro card on what appeared to be printer paper. This card is made of a nicer feeling paper (not quite card stock, but perfectly acceptable) and explains that this month, all teas are from Camellia Sinensis -- no, not the tea plant, the teahouse. Another Canadian tea company? Count me in.

Perlses of Antilles || Green rooibos
Ingredients: green rooibos, apple pieces, banana pieces, pineapple pieces, grated coconut; all organic
Super fragrant in the bag, this tea unfortunately loses (in my opinion) to its green rooibos, which is far too mild in flavour to enhance the interesting addition of banana pieces. It doesn't taste grassy, nor like tannins -- just vaguely tea-like and apple-ish. I'd skip this.

Nilgiri Coonoor || Black
Ingredients: Indian black tea
This was grown in Southern India, and produces a smooth, soft, and floral tea that would be great for anyone looking for a lighter black tea. I like this (let's face it, I like most black teas) -- but it wasn't quite as good for me, you know? I think this would be perfect for someone else but something about it just doesn't make it the greatest black tea in my life.

Choco Shou || Pu-erh
Ingredients: pu-erh tea, natural chocolate, vanilla flavour
Pu'er, pu-er, pu-erh, or any other spelling thereof, is an interesting sort of tea that is supposed to get better as it ages. I still have my 2013 pu-erh from my Amoda Tea box last year, in January 2014. I'll be opening that up soon! This tea I've already tried, because I figure the chocolate really shouldn't be stored for too long. It was super aromatic -- like a turkish coffee, or a baked chocolate good. This smell didn't come across as much in the taste, but it was still nice. It tasted like a hint of chocolate and a hint of vanilla in a tea that didn't quite taste black, but was unique all on its own. I wouldn't buy this again but it was a treat to try.

One Night in Rio || Black
Ingredients: Indian black tea, grated coconut, pineapple chunks
I'm really loving all the tropical-type teas Amoda has been sending out. I've learned that I have a real hankering for pineapple in tea, as evidenced by how much I loved the Pineapple Sencha from last month. This tea is very fragrant and has resemblance to a pina colada, for obvious reasons. Unfortunately the taste doesn't quite come through as the smell does. I'm so-so on this and I wouldn't personally purchase again.

All in all this month's box was a miss for me. I'll finish all of these teas but I didn't fall in love with any of them. My favourite was the Choco Shou and my least was the Perlses of Antilles.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Meow Cosmetics Review: Foundation, Primer, & Two Eyeshadows + Comparison to Other Foundations!

UPDATE: To read about my interaction with Meow Cosmetics' customer service, click here to see my post on Indie Makeup and More on Reddit.

Meow Cosmetics is a longtime indie business specializing in mineral makeup, especially well-known for their huge range of foundation shades. They have just about anything you could think of -- hundreds of eyeshadows, blushes, bronzers, primers, and powders. They even sell containers and brushes, although those are made by another company.

Some time ago I went ahead and got a ton of samples from Meow to figure out what shade of their foundation fit me best. I settled on Naughty Mau (did I mention that most of their product names are cat-based?), a medium warm shade. I umm-ed and ah-ed and finally broke down to order said shade in their "Munchkin" size -- an impressive 25g (0.88oz) jar (6-8g/0.2-0.3oz net weight). Their full size is a whopping 85g/3oz (22-30g/0.8-1.06oz net weight)! I picked the medium coverage option, Pampered Puss. I also got two samples of the same shade in their high-coverage formula, Flawless Feline. For the sake of trying something new, I also got their mineral primer, the long-winded "Primp & Preen Premiere Puss Primer Powder" -- say that five times fast! It's in the combination skin formula.

The Munchkin foundation is $14.75 for this formula; the low coverage and high coverage formulas are two dollars less and more, respectively. Sample sizes are $1.00 across the board. The full size primer was $14.25.

All the products came in a cute leopard print bag and two free eyeshadow samples were thrown in.

This review will be picture heavy, so click below if you'd like to read more!

Ipsy April 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 month's bag is sort of a woven fabric, with a lined inside. It's bigger than most bags Ipsy sent out and I really thank them for it, since the past few days I've had to do my entire face outside of my home and I needed a bigger bag to hold my essentials. 

Fit eyeshadow, Carnation Pink blush (pigmented swipe, then blended out)
Pandora's Makeup Box Carnation Pink Blush Full size || Value: $14
I know a lot of people are going to hate getting this single pan, but I kind of like it! I don't have a magnetic palette yet, but one is on my list. I can't wait to depot a bunch of my things into it, including this. It's a very sizable amount of blush, especially considering that it's super pigmented. Seriously, I can't believe how intense the colour comes through with the lightest tap of my brush. This makes it difficult because I found it a bit harder to blend than other blushes I own. Not something I'd buy but nothing I won't use, either.

theBalm Cosmetics NUDE Dude Eyeshadow Single in Fit 1g/0.035oz || Value: ~$3
theBalm is a brand I've heard about a lot but I've never been able to find it easily where I am. I think the packaging just edges over the line between tacky and clever, though the whole sexualization of it really creeps me out sometimes. What's with all these PG13 names for makeup, these days (I'm especially looking at you, Urban Decay)? Anyway, this shadow is a "shimmering copper". I have a huge fondness for anything in the metallic brown/bronze/gold/copper spectrum so of course I'm glad to get this. Yet I found the quality "meh" for such a hyped brand. This 100% needs a primer (here, I used UDPP). The colour is pretty but not super unique, either. It was, however, easy to apply and blend. 

Essence Lash Princess Volume Mascara Full size || Value: $4.99
Mascara is something I refuse to open unless I need it, because of how quickly it goes dry. From the pictures I've seen online, it looks like this has some major lengthening properties, but... in my opinion, it looks pretty clumpy. Some pictures are just bordering the line of "spider lash". Maybe paired with another mascara (or a really good spooling through), this will be good!

Ziaja Goat's Milk Day Cream 10.35ml/0.35fl oz || Value: $2.67
Beneficial ingredients of note: shea butter, soybean oil ferment, olive oil, goat milk extract
Detrimental ingredients of note: fragrance, limonene (second last ingredient)
I have so many face creams now! This little sample is perfect for small trips away. I'm fairly impressed with the ingredients list but it is pretty long and therefore this cream has a higher likelihood of irritating or breaking someone out. I've not used goat's milk on my face before (though I have used snail, bird's nest, and donkey's milk!), so I wonder if this will make much of a difference.

Jor'el Parker Femina Fragrance 8.8ml/1.7oz || Value: $9.68
Notes: Meyer Lemon, White Grapefruit, Satsuma Mandarin, Summer Forsythia, Pink Plumeria, Wild Verbena, Tahitian Vanilla, Sensual Musk.
As soon as I tried this rollerball on my wrist, I immediately noted it's similarity to another fragrance I own (and enjoy), Hello by Harvey Prince, which I received from my (now cancelled) Beauty Box 5, in May. And what do you know... the notes are exactly the same. Oh, and if you want to purchase Femina, you'll be directed to this page on Harvey Prince's website. I can't complain about getting a scent I enjoy (and I'm almost done with my last sample, and can't wait to use an easier rollerball container), but wow, Harvey Prince. That's sneaky. I'd hate to be the one who accidentally purchases both.

Top: Pops 1 swipe, Pops 3 swipes, Little Susie 1 swipe, Little Susie 3 swipes
NYX Cosmetics Butter Lipsticks in Pops and Little Susie Full size
I enjoyed the lipstick I recieved in the shade Hunk from last month, so with some extra points I nabbed these! Unfortunately, my lip infection (since confirmed to be a fungal infection! Cause unknown) has returned and I've not been able to use these on my lips. I would assume they work as well as or better than Hunk, which is a more saturated and darker colour. Pops is a nice nude colour which might be MLBB (my lips but better) on me, whereas Little Susie is a bright, cheery pink.

I got just about $35 worth of product here, but the vast majority was made up by the full sized blush, so I would say I didn't get as much value as I'd like. Recently I've had some really spectacular months with Ipsy but this wasn't really one of them. Oh well, can't win them all.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Baroque Cosmetics Review: Art Nouveau Blushes, Part 1

Baroque Cosmetics is probably my favourite indie brand. I've ordered twice so far with a third order coming up, and a ton of shadows ready for swatching and review! Andi, the owner, has been nothing but helpful with any concerns I have. She has recently released a new line of blushes, adding to her original five. A perfect time, I thought, to put up this review of the original five!

The blushes are $1.50 for a sample baggie, $8.00 full size, $6.00 for the sample set of the new collection, $35.00 for full sizes of the new collection, $12.00 for the sample set of all ten, and $70 for the full size set of ten.

The original line up of blushes include, in this order from top to bottom: Sonrel Not Sonrel, Such Galle, Mucha Ado About Nothing, I'd Hate Toulouse You, and Klimt Eastwood.

Here's another angle of all five blushes, all in sunlight from my window. The small swatches are packed, small swipes with my finger, whereas underneath I've blended them out to try and imitate what they would look like when worn. As you can see, even when blended out they're still very pigmented. 

Sonrel Not Sonrel: A lovely cool toned pale fuschia.
I got this as a sample in my last review, talking about how much I enjoyed this blush. I thought the cool tones would clash with my semi-warm undertones, but that wasn't the case. It gives me a nice, natural looking flush. It's super blendable and I really like it!

Such Galle: A midtone pink with slight shimmer.
I'm glad this is actually shimmery and not glittery. This is a cute pink, perfect for spring. Again, super easy to blend. I wear this when I want something less flushed than Sonrel Not Sonrel, especially when I'm pairing my blush with lighter colors.

Mucha Ado About Nothing: A soft rose blush with some shimmer.
This blush turns a bit orange on me, but not hugely so. You can see the shimmer in this, but on the face it's not nearly as apparent, giving more of a glow than anything.

I'd Hate Toulouse You: A midtone red with slight shimmer.
Again, this pulls orange on me, but I don't mind too much. I rarely wear red blush to begin with, so this midtone colour works perfectly for me.

Klimt Eastwood: A yellow orange with slight shimmer.
Definitely more yellow than orange, this blush was the only one I found to be a bit patchy during application. It also makes me look sickly thanks to my yellow tones. However, someone on the /r/Indiemakeupandmore subreddit mentioned that Klimt Eastwood works wonderfully as a layer on top of other blushes to change their hue, including the other blushes in Baroque's line. The results were really amazing -- almost like getting twice the amount of blush. I wouldn't personally purchase this one again, but it won't be put to waste, either.

Below are some more pictures at various angles/lighting, to give a better idea of the colours!

Top: Sonrel Not Sonrel; Bottom: Such Galle
Top: Mucha Ado About Nothing; Bottom: I'd Hate Toulouse You
Top: I'd Hate Toulouse You; Bottom: Klimt Eastwood
All in all, I found Baroque's blushes to be super high quality and easy to blend for the most part. They're incredibly pigmented and don't go overboard on the shimmer. The new colours to her line include a true orange, a coral, a magenta pink, and both a cool and warm (!!!) purple. I'm definitely picking them up soon!