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BeautyCon BFF Box, beauty & accessories for teens, $37/quarterly
Promo: sign up for their mailing list using this link, and get $10 off your first box
I paid: swapped for item with RV $35
Box Retail value: $65-$87
Enjoyment factor:will see

The BeautyCon BFF box is a relatively new quarterly box (this is only their second box) that includes a mixture of low-end beauty items and accessories. It’s aimed to teens and young adults.  It costs $37 per box, including shipping, or $32 if you subscribe and pay for a year in advance.

BeautyCon itself seems to be an online platform that aggregates the beauty social media world. Each box is curated by an beauty social media personality.  This is a review of the fall box, which was curated by Lolocat, a BeautyCon employee.


After reading a review of the first Beauty BFF box, I wasn’t particularly impressed with its offerings. While I thought my kids would like the offerings, they didn’t seem like a particularly good value.  Still, my daughter learned about it through social media and expressed interest in getting it, so when I came across a whole box available or swapping, I went for it.

I gave my two daughters the choice of opening the box now and splitting up the items between them, or of having one of them get the whole thing for Christmas (and the other one get another box).  They decided on the latter option, so I will have to update this review when my oldest daughter actually sees and evaluates the items.

IMG_1325While my 13-yo hasn’t seem what’s inside the box yet, she did see the box and instantly fell in love with it. “I don’t care what’s inside the box,” she said, “I just want the boxes!”.  Apparently BeautyCon knows what will attract the interest of young teens, at the very least.

The box I got was filled to the brim, but did not have all the same items pictured at the BeautyCon site. I’m not sure if this is because there are variations of the box, or if the swapper who sent it just kept a few of the items for herself, in either case the box was actually a pretty good value.   The total value of the items I got was around $65.  The value of the box others have gotten is around $87.

This is what came in the box we got:

Boho Scarf, $4?

This is a colorful, thin scarf. I didn’t open it all up, but it’s in the colors my daughter likes. While she doesn’t wear scarfs, I’m sure she can ind some use for it.

IMG_1334Glam Grooves Headphones, 3?

These are heap, no-name headphones, made in China, but they are cute and who can’t use an extra pair of headphones?


Statement Necklace, $4?

As far as boho statement necklaces go, this one is rather measured. Still, I think it’s going to be too much – and too old – for my 13 yo.  She might still choose to rock it, though.

IMG_1329Stacked Ring Set,$ 2?

This is a set of four gold tone stacked rings.  Gold is not my daughter’s favorite color and these rings are very cheap looking (and given how nice are super cheap rings at Ali Express, I don’t quite get why they didn’t send something nicer).

IMG_1340Conair colorgripz Tourmaline Ionic hair brush, $5

I haven’t been able to find much about this hair brush.  It appears in a few Canadian discount sites but Conair doesn’t list it. The copyright on the label is from 2010, so it’s an old brush anyway. It’s made in China


ColourPop Lippie Pencil and ColourPop Lippie Stix in LLB (burgundy), 1 g each, $5 each

The color seems too dark for my daughter, but we’ll have to see how much she likes them.  I do like they are made in the USA.

IMG_1518Baby Lips moisturizing lip gloss in Taupe with Me, 5.5 ml $4

My daughter likes the Baby Lips brand and I like that it’s made in the USA, but she is not a fond of nude lipglosses.  It’s a pretty moisturizing product, though, so she can just use it as a lip balm. 

Pop Beauty Kajal Pen in inky purple, .9 g, $10

This is the single item in the box that is made in China. I removed it from my daughter’s box as I don’t let them wear Chinese makeup.


e.l.f. small stipple brush $3

This brush is not that little and it gets surprisingly good reviews. I’m sure my daughter will like getting it.

Real Techniques Fine Liner Brush
Real Techniques Fine Liner Brush, $5

This brush is apparently for applying liquid eyeliner.  My daughter doesn’t use it, but perhaps she’ll find another use for it. It gets mixed reviews.

IMG_1508Skinfix Hand Repair Cream, 1 oz, $9

This seems like a strange product to include in a teen’s box, but I guess teens can have dried, damaged hands as well.  This is a heavy-duty cream with 1% oatmeal – it’s going to be good for eczema, itchiness and for healing.  I’m sure you can apply it to places other than your hands. It’s made in Canada.

Items that I didn’t get.

Other reviewers report getting several items that I didn’t get in my box. I don’t know if that’s because the person who received this box originally kept them, or whether they didn’t receive them at all.  These include:

  • makeup bag ($2?)
  • Beauty Fades, Pizza is forever sticker
  • Benefit- They’re Real Mascara ($24?)
  • Box of Altoids.

Other Items I did get:

There were two additional items that I got in this box that weren’t in the regular box, which may have been added by the person who sent this to me.  These were:

IMG_1510Naked Lips Organic Lip Balm in Peppermint, 4.25 g, $6

This seems like a basic but potentially nice lip balm, and I like that it’s 99% organic. It’s not clear where it’s made, but the company that makes it is based in Scandinavia. (Note, this item does not appear in the photo

Tootsie Caramel Apple Pops, 2, 50-c

My youngest daughter loves these and they are made in the USA.


Birchbox: beauty samples, $10/month
Promo: 5BOXGIFT to get your first box for $5
I paid: $0
Box retail value: $57, My value: $7.5

Enjoyment factor:
Canceling: painless, through website

Birchbox is a monthly subscription which sends you five beauty samples every month,  generally a mixture of skin/haircare and makeup.  It comes in a cute little box that you can reuse.  You can review each sample and receive 10 points and exchange 100 points for $10 off products sold in their online store, including gift subscriptions to their box. When you subscribe, you can fill out a questionnaire telling Birchbox which type of products interest you, though you may still get products you don’t care for.  Lately, Birchbox has allowed subscribers to choose between a curated box that has known samples and a mystery box, with a choice of selecting one sample from a limited array, while supplies last.


This month I got two Birchbox boxes. I already reviewed the curated box.  While I paid for the other box, I bought this one with points I’d accumulated.  This is a review of the regular box.

I was quite happy because four of the five samples in this box were new to me.  This was a pretty high value box as well, with a total value of $57 and it seemed at first I’d be able to use all the items.  Once I started considering them more carefully, I realized that there was only one that I really wanted to try.  I put the other ones for swap, though I’ll probably end up using them eventually if someone doesn’t request them first.  So far, my value for this box is just $7.50.

This is what I got:


MAKE Skin Illuminator in llós (medium), .15 oz, ~$20

I had to look up what a skin illuminator was, and I’m still not too clear, but the Birchbox contouring video looked interesting.  Meanwhile I found out that my daughter already uses illuminator when she puts on makeup.  I’ve asked her to try hers on me to see if this is something worth putting on my beauty bag.  Still, meanwhile I have this up for swap.

Pricing this is  bit difficult. The full size costs $34 at Birchbox and only has 25% more product than the sample – tiny as the sample is – but it comes in a cool container with a brush which makes application easier. So I think a $20 price for this sample seems adequate.  It’s made in the USA.

IMG_1461Dr. Jart+ Water Replenishment cotton sheet mask, $7.50

I don’t suffer from dry skin, so I’m pretty sure I don’t need a hydration mask, but as I have it, I will try it and I’ll report on it later.  It’s made in Korea.


Liz Earle Superskin Moisturizer, 15 ml, $21.5

This little moisturizer jar is adorable and I thought about keeping it.  But I just got another sample cream I can use on trips, and this one had a high enough value that I thought it worth getting swapping (I’m getting a pendant and some spices in exchange).  The ingredients for the cream were interesting (bitter orange leaf twig and bitter orange flower oils, lavandin oil, Roman chamonile extract and cranberry seed oil among them), but there was nothing in them that made the cream seem particularly compelling.

Made in Great Britain.

IMG_1459Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle, 1 oz?, ~$3

I’ve received this detangler a couple of times before. It works well enough, though not as well as the $8 drugstore detangler my daughter used to get.  Still, this is a great size sample for when you travel. My daughter’s hair no longer gets tangled, though, so we don’t really need it.
IMG_1465Love of Color lipstick in first kiss (nude), mini, $6

I don’t quite get the point of nude lipstick, neither do my daughters.  On the plus side, this is made in Germany.



Beauty Fix, $25+tax/month, beauty products
Promo: First box, $12.50+tax, no promo needed
I paid $12.50+tax
Box retail value: $1
02, My value: $40
Enjoyment Factor:
Cancelling subscription: by calling or doing online chat with customer service, no explanation needed

Beauty Fix is a monthly beauty subscription box from DermStore, an online beauty store and offshoot of Target which specializes in upscale brands. Their monthly boxes include an assortment of beauty products, though there is an emphasis on skin care. Boxes have up to 10 products, a mixture of full size, deluxe samples and foils/tiny samples.  One thing I appreciate about Beauty Fix is that they seldom include products made in China.

Until July 2015 Beauty Fix was my favorite subscription, as it included 2-3 expensive full size products and had box values approaching $150.  However, once they started offering the first box of the subscription at $12.50, they downgraded the boxes significantly.  The full size products included now are cheap, small and not very popular.  I unsubscribed from Beauty Fix after the August box, but re-subscribed again after seeing the spoilers for the November box.  I unsubscribed again after getting the box.  I think from now on I’ll subscribe only when I see a box that I know I will like.

beauty fix november 2015

This box included 8 items. There were three full size items, though they were all relatively small, two travel size, and three deluxe samples.  Five of the items were skin care, one was a makeup tool, and the remaining two included a nail polish and a hair item.  The total value of the box was right over $100, while my value is around $40.

This is what I got:

oscar biandi teasing powder

Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Teasing Dust, full size: 11 g, $18-$23

This powder is supposed to add volume and texture to your hair as well as absorb oil.  Interestingly the main ingredient is water, followed by silica.  I may just have to ask a chemical engineer friend how that works.  In any case, I have tons of volume adding hair products and no intention of using any, so I swapped this for a jump rope and some pencils for my daughter.  Made in USA.

dermelectDermelect ME Nail Polish in Moon Kissed (off white), full size: 11 ml, $14

I have so many nail polishes it’s not even funny.  This color does look lovely, but so do the other billion I’ve swapped for. I’ll probably try to swap it for something else.

tocca hand creamTOCCA Crema da Mano – Hand Cream in Cleopatra, full size: 2 oz, $10

Subscribers got this cream in a variety of scents.  I’ve tried this hand cream before and while I was initially not a huge fan of it, it really grew on me and I ended up loving it.  Part of the reason, I think, is that one you tart using hand cream your hands become naturally dryer so they start absorbing hand cream quicker.  In any case, I’ll definitely use it after I’m done with my current hand cream.  Made in Canada.

eminence mistEminence Stone Crop Hydrating Mist, travel size: 2 oz, $18

Last summer I really learned to appreciate facial mists and I’m very glad to get this one.  It’s mixture of sempervivum juice (similar to aloe) with water and salicylic acid.  I’m a bit concerned about how it’ll keep without preservatives, but it does say to store it in a dark and cold place (aka, a box in the fridge).  I’ll definitely do so as I doubt I’ll have much use for this until it gets hot again (which around here is often in February).  It’s made in Hungary.

dermstore brushes

DermStore Eye Love You Brush Set, 3 travel size makeup brushes, $19 ($10)

I actually decided to buy this box to get this set, as my makeup brushes are always disappearing.  I didn’t realize how small the brushes would be.  They also feel rather cheap.  I can’t imagine paying $19 for them. I think $10 is a MUCH more reasonable price for it, though I wouldn’t even pay that much.

glytone and ren

Glytone Antioxidant Anti-Aging Night Cream, sample: 5 ml, $15

Another incredibly small sample of an overpriced night cream. Fortunately, I was able to swap it for a bunch of samples I think I’ll actually enjoy.  Made in the USA.

REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, sample: 15 ml, $16.5

I got this mask before in a Beauty Fix box. I still haven’t tried it because it takes me a long time to go though masks.  I’ll probably try to swap it.

skinclinical cream

SkinClinical Extreme Healing Daily Treatment, sample: 10 ml, $1.5

This is a light, easy to absorb lotion.  I’ll definitely use it on elbows and other rough patches of skin.


Glossybox: beauty products, $21/month
Promo: save 30% your first box by clicking on link above (limited time promo) or get a pre-paid 6 or 12 months subscription at Gilt City for $99 or $150.
I paid: $9
Box retail value: $61, My value: $39

Enjoyment factor:

Glossybox is a monthly subscription which sends you five beauty items every month,  generally a mixture full size and travel sizes. They started in Europe so they often send out European brands that are new in America.  While this is my first Glossybox, I’ve swapped items from this box before.

Glossybox’s regular price is $21 a month, but it’s a good idea to be in the look for special offers, specially around Black Friday.  I subscribed to Glossybox with a Gilt City offer which allowed me to get a year worth of boxes for $105 (normally $222) or about $9 per box. To get the $105 price I used the promo WELCOME30. If that doesn’t work, use this link to go to Gilt City and you’ll get a code for $25 off (and so will I).


Items come in a very pretty, sturdy box that can be easily reused (just put a sticker to cover the brand name).  This is my first Glossybox, so I’ve taken several photos of the unboxing.




Glossybox had received criticism for sending different boxes to bloggers than to regular subscribers (and while I’m a blogger, I don’t think I count as nobody actually reads this :-).  For my first box, I’m happy to say that I (and many other new subscriber) got the “blogger” box.   The box had a total value of around $61, though over a third of that was the cost of a very small eyeshadow.  I won’t be using it and the value of the items in the box I’ll use is closer to $39.  Of course, chances are I wouldn’t have bought any of these items, but the fun of getting the box and writing about it (plus the actual box) is definitely worth $9.

Each box comes with a card listing the products and describing them.


This box came with three full size products (makeup and a mask), a travel size one and a deluxe sample.  I liked that most of the items came in their own boxes.  Wasteful, yes, but nice.


Florapy facial sheet mask in Arnica Rose, Strength + Energy Mask,  1 full-size man mask, $8

This is an aromatherapy sheet mask. I’ve never used one before but I think it’s about time.  I now need to give myself 20 minutes to relax while wearing this.  It’s made in Korea.


Marsk Mineral Eyeshadow in You’re Toast (a light shimmery copper color), full size: 1.2 g, $22.5

This is a beautiful color, but I’m too old for shimmer and my teen doesn’t do loose eyeshadows so it’ll be swapped.  Unfortunately it also doesn’t say where it’s made.

Beauty For Real D-Fine Universal Definition Lip Pencil, full size: .35 g , $14

My daughter saw this and claimed it for herself.  The lip pencil is extremely thin and my daughter liked the color, which is supposed to go with anything.  It’s made in the USA.


Crabtree & Evelyn La Source Ultra-Moisturizing Hand Therapy, travel size: 25 g, $9

I love the scent of this hand cream and it left my hands feeling very silky.  It’s a great item to come given how dry my hands got last winter.  I appreciate that it’s made in the USA, though I was dismayed to find out through the Crabtree & Evelyn website that they do cannot assure that its suppliers do not use slave labor.  I probably wouldn’t buy their products knowing this, but I’ll use the cream.


Estée Lauder Revitalizing Supreme Global Anti-Aging Creme, sample size: 5 ml, $8

This seems to be yet another night cream.  I’m a little concerned that the packaging doesn’t say where it was manufactured, but at least they have third party audits to assure their suppliers don’t use slave labor.  I’m planning to keep it and use it in an upcoming trip.



Horror Block, horror-themed paraphernalia, $30/month
I paid: $30

Retail/Market Value: $63, my value: $36
Cancelling subscription: easy, on website

Horror Block is a Canadian subscription box which sends out toys and gear with a horror-entertainment theme.   It’s part of the Nerd Block universe of geek boxes.  The box is $20 a month, but it ships from Canada so it charges $10 in shipping.  All boxes contain a custom t-shirt, which is often the highlight of the box, and a copy of Rue Morgue magazine, a Canadian publication on the horror entertainment field (not on horror itself). When I subscribed to this box they had a promo offering a “free” Welcome Box, which includes leftover items from any of the Nerd Block boxes.

You can easily unsubscribe from Horror Block or switch between boxes every month.


I have been getting Horror Block from time to time for my 10-yo daughter.  It’s too expensive a subscription to get every month, but it’s a nice treat once in a while.  I figured October, being Halloween month and all, would be a particular good month for Horror Block but I thought wrong. As usual, we liked about half the stuff in the box. I was able to swap one of the items in the box with some difficulty, but I think I’m stuck with another one.

Horror Block is not a particularly great value, specially if you cannot swap the items you don’t want.  For me that always includes the Rue Morgue magazine.  This month the value of the box is around $63 – I had to guess at the value of some items.  The retail value of the items we enjoy is just $36, however, and I definitely would not have paid even $30 for the lot.  Still, as this was the first box in a new subscription, I got a welcome block for free, so it wasn’t a bad deal.  I don’t think I’ll continue to buy Horror Blocks without some additional discount, however.


This month we got four items in addition to the t-shirt and Rue Morgue magazine.  All in all it was a good variation. This is what we got:

IMG_1392Friday the 13th t-shirt, $10

Horror Block usually has very cool t-shirts, and this one is no exception.  Indeed, I’d be tempted to subscribe to a different geek box altogether and then swap for Horror Block items, but then we’d miss the t-shirts.  My daughter wasn’t a huge fan of this shirt, but only because she hasn’t watched Friday the 13th yet.  I think she’ll love it once she gets it. The one thing strange about it is that the shirt is not really black, more like a very dark gray/brown.

chucky plushChild’s Play 8″ Chucky Plush, $18

Mezco seems to have released these dolls in England, as I mostly found them at English online stores.  The plush is fairly well made with attention to detail and my daughter liked it well enough.  Unfortunately the fabric gets dirty easily and it attracts pet hair.  Still, this is not really a play plush or even much of a snug plush, but a hide among all the other stuffed animals plush. It’s also a “scare the life out of your kids” sort of plush.  I tried snuggling with it, and I just couldn’t.  We’re happy to have it.
zombie print“They are coming to get you” print, $5?

This print by artist Paul Hanley was originally made in a run of 60 signed and number prints for the Guzu Gallery. They sold out.  This particular print must have been made in a much, much, much greater run, it’s obviously not signed and it’s about 7″ x 10″ (according to my daughter’s measurements).  Clearly its value is much lower.

Still, my daughter liked it and she put it on her wall.  I wish it had been one of those canvass prints like the Hellraiser one from the March box.
draculaArgento’s Dracula, $12

This 2012 “sexy” version of Dracula was panned by critics and I have very little interest in seeing it.  Obviously, it’s not appropriate for my 10-yo.  I finally swapped this for a pop vinyl figure (adding perhaps $6 value to the box, after paying $2+ to ship the movie). 
ouija board mouse pad

Ouija Board Mouse Pad, $3?

This is not actually a Ouija board mouse pad, probably because Horror Block did not license the name from whoever owns it, but it’s close enough.  I have to say that, despite the Horror Block logo, this was my favorite item in the box – probably because it’s the one item I got to keep.  I haven’t really played with it, but I’m tempted to.

CRYPTIC COLLECTIBLES: A Concise Compendium of Creepy Keepsakes, $15

This is a catalog of pretty much every thing that you can collect related to the horror genre, including cereal boxes! Are you surprised nobody has wanted to swap for this? As you can guess, it’s published by the Rue Morgue folks.


Birchbox: beauty samples, $10/month
Promo: 5BOXGIFT to get your first box for $5
I paid: $10
Box retail value: $53, My value: $20

Enjoyment factor:
Canceling: painless, through website

Birchbox is a monthly subscription which sends you five beauty samples every month,  generally a mixture of skin/haircare and makeup.  It comes in a cute little box that you can reuse.  You can review each sample and receive 10 points and exchange 100 points for $10 off their online store, including gift subscriptions to their box. When you subscribe, you can fill out a questionnaire telling Birchbox which type of products interest you, though you may still get products you don’t care for.  Lately, Birchbox has allowed subscribers to choose between a curated box that has known samples and a mystery box, with a choice of selecting one sample from a limited array, while supplies last.


This month I’m getting two Birchbox boxes. I signed up for this one with a now expired promo that gave you a free beauty blender with any new subscription.  As I was getting two boxes, I opted to get the curated box in this account.  This box is curated by Tati, who appears to be someone who posts beauty/makeup videos in YouTube.  Birchbox has collaborated with her to issue a new line of makeup products called Love of Color or LOC.  The items are made in Germany or the USA, and everyone all subscribers were supposed to get a LOC product sampler this month.  One, of course, was included in the curated box.


The Tati curated box had five samples and I was rather happy with all of them, except for the particularly tiny Avéne one.  The box had a total value of $53, however two of the products are incredibly overpriced and are of little or no worth, so the value of this box for me is around $20, not counting the beauty blender which has not yet arrived.

This is what I got:
IMG_1308Shiseido ULTIMUNE EYE Power Infusing Eye Concentrate, 5 ml, $22

I like the concept of an eye serum, but I’m not sure that I want to try this one. The first three ingredients are water, dimethicone and denatured alcohol (aka ethanol), the latter is known to be toxic to skin cells.  Why anyone would want to put this on their eyes is beyond me, but I’ll put it up for swap. It’s made in the USA.

IMG_1292Living proof Perfect hair Day dry shampoo, 1.8 oz, $10

I always like getting dry shampoo because I know that I’ll eventually use it. Alas, until I do I can’t really review it.  It’s made in the USA.

Avène Hydrance Optimale Hydrating Serum, 5 ml, $6

This serum seems to be an overpriced moisturizer.  It’s main ingredient is water, followed by a bunch of chemicals. I’m sure there is nothing wrong with it, but I’m not sure what justifies the price.  I’ll just use this tiny sample as a moisturizer. It’s made in France.

Jouer Lip Enhancer, 4.5 ml, $7

This is supposed to minimize lines, increase fullness and add moisture. I think it does it as well as any other lip product.  Lip balms are useful to have and I’ll use this one or gift it.  Made in Canada

LOC One & Done Shadow Stick in day trip (metallic bronze), .05 oz, $8

This is Birchbox new eyeshadow and I loved it.  I got it in a color that I’d describe as shimmery bronze. It applied very easily and smoothly, without being overly greasy as eye crayons can be, and it had a great shimmery color. It’s way too young for me, but it was a lot of fun to try.  I’m sure one of the kids will use it.

petit vour

Petit Vour: vegan beauty samples, $15/month
I paid: ~$15 in kind
Box value:$42.5  My value: $42.5
Enjoyment factor:

Petit Vour is a monthly subscription box which sends out four cruelty-free and vegan beauty products.  They are generally either full size or deluxe samples.  This was the first subscription box that I tried, back last December, and while I liked it, I wasn’t crazy enough about it to keep subscribed. I had only really liked two of the four products I got.

I haven’t resubscribed to Petit Vour, but I was able to swap for the September ’15 box, knowing what was in it.  I think this is a pretty good box for people who are into natural/vegan beauty products.

petit vour

September Petit Vour box came with one full size item and 3 deluxe samples. I loved that two of them came in wood container – I’m just a sucker for wood.  The total value of the box was around $43, and I plan to either use or gift all items.  Beauty samples make great stocking stuffers.

This is what I got:

MSC Skin Care Exfoliating Body Scrub in grapefruit & spearmint, 1 oz, $3

This scrub has raw sugar, shea butter, sunflower oil and rice bran oil.  It smells very nice.  I’m not crazy that it comes in a wide-mouth jar, as that makes it easily contaminated, but it’s a small jar so it shouldn’t last very long.  My daughter has been asking for body scrub, so this is going into her stocking.

mahalo mask

Mahalo Pele Mask, 5 ml, $6.5

This mask is a mixture of clays, ashes and ground dried barks, roots, flowers and other natural ingredients.  You mix it with one to two times as much water or yogurt, and apply to your face for 20 minutes.

I like clay masks, though I’m not sure my pipes do.  I do love the little bamboo container.  I am thinking I’m going to put this in my own stocking this Christmas.

lipstickElate Lipstick in lively, 5 g, $17

This is a vegan lipstick in a “sheer pinkish” shade.  I haven’t opened it or swapped it because I think it’d be a lovely gift. I’m not sure if to myself or someone else.  I do love the wood container. It’s made in Canada.

hairBlissoma Cleanser, 2 oz, $16

This is an all natural cleanser that’s supposed to be great for oil, acne-prone and sensitive skin.  I don’t really have any such problems, my skin actually does well being washed with soap, so I would definitely not buy it.  But I am tempted to keep it, even though I have enough facial cleanser to last me a couple of years.

Who is Dayani Crystal?

dyaniMovie recommendations: Who is Dayani Crystal? A documentary that tries to find out who one of the many men found dead in the Arizona desert was. It’s available on Netflix streaming now.

I tend to make light of Donald Trump, I’m amused at how he has repackaged the far-right’s talking points into plain talk.  He has scared the hell out of the Republican establishment which figured they could use the rhetoric of xenophobia to command the votes of that part of the electorate whose feelings of financial insecurity – as Hitler described in Mein Kampf – make them easy targets for any sort of chauvinistic messaging.

There is some sordid pleasure in seeing the Republican establishment being bit on the butt by the monster they created.  And I honestly don’t think that Trump means anything he says. I think he’d just as likely to say exactly the opposite if it’d got him the same adulation – but liberals are not as easily fooled (or at least I hope we are not, Hillary Clinton notwithstanding).

But then I go back and think about the men and women who have died in the desert because the US government spends so many resources trying to keep desperate people looking for jobs out. I don’t think Donald Trump is Hitler nor do I believe most Americans would condone a genocide. And yet, isn’t this how it starts? By saying – through our votes – that it’s OK to establish policies that will kill people?  Indeed, by tacitly determining that there are people whose life does not matter?

Watch the documentary, then come back.

Now that you’ve watched it, did you find it a little discomforting to have Gael García Bernal standing for the dead man? I love García Bernal, I think he is one of the best and most revolutionary actors of his generation.  But he also has such an upper class Mexican accent, speaks so eloquently (he’s an actor after all) and is so good looking and famous, that it makes me wonder if the impact of the documentary is that I cannot possibly imagine a man looking and sounding like García Bernal, dying in the desert. That tragedy has greater impact because it’s unexpected, but it is not “Dayani Cristal”‘s tragedy.  As much as I appreciate the fact that García Bernal got this movie made, his presence in the film ultimately looks as misery tourism.

Glossybox: The Swaps

Glossybox is a monthly subscription box which sends you a mixture of five skincare and makeup items, both samples and full size.  It costs $21 a month and is actually available in the US as well as various European countries.  Glossybox often offers promos as well as deals on discount sites, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for them.  It’s a very popular box but, until now,  I had been dissuaded from subscribing for a couple of reasons (beyond the fact that I don’t need any more beauty products). One is that they seem to send out different boxes to different people.  In particular, the boxes sent to bloggers seem to be better than those sent to many subscribers.  This leads to “box envy” and unhappiness all around.  The other is that Glossybox has a reputation for making it difficult to cancel subscriptions.

However, *today* Glossybox offered a deal on Guilt City that I could not pass up. You can buy a 6-month subscription for $70 and a 12-month subscription for $105 (to get those prices, use promo code WELCOME30 at checkout). The 12-month deal has you paying under $9 per box.  Even though I have too many products, to me this is worth it just for the fun of reviewing the boxes (which is really what I enjoy).  You can check my future Glossybox reviews here.

Meanwhile, I have swapped several products from Glossybox.  This is what I’ve gotten.

From the October ’15 box


De Bruyere Paris Lipgloss, .17 oz, $17.50

This lip gloss came in the “French” themed October Glossybox.  The brand is, indeed, French, though the lipgloss itself is “made in EEU”.  It turns out that the EEU is the Eurasian Economic Union, a free market zone which includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.  Belarus seems to be the most eager country to use the EEU designation, so I’m going to guess that’s where it’s made, but who knows where the ingredients come from.  I’m going to guess that manufacturers are hoping that customers will confuse the EEU with the European Union, and think that these products are made in western Europe.

In any case, I’m a little worried that this lipgloss does not look like the lipglosses in the De Bruyere site, but perhaps it’s because they were specially made for Glossybox.  The bottle doesn’t actually say what color it is, though it looks red in the bottle. Once you apply it, however, it looks more like a  fuchsia.  It actually looks very good on my oldest daughter.  I swapped the pennant and cardboard coasters from Nerd Block welcome block for this.

From September 2015 box


Julep Luxe Lip Conditioning Treatment in sheer coral, $24

I thought this would be a colored lip gloss, but it goes on pretty sheer. It’s not flavored, so it has a vasseline-like taste. It’s very moisturizing, but I don’t see what justifies the price. I swapped the Medicell peel from the DermStore Forever Young grab bag for this and the  eyelash conditioner below. Made in USA.

From August 2015 box


Manna Kadar conditioning lash primer, $24

This is an interesting product. You put it on before your mascara, being careful to not have it clump too much.  It makes your eyelashes look fuller.  It works pretty well.  I exchanged this and the Julep lip conditioner for the Medicell peel from the DermStore Forever Young grab bag. Made in Italy, assembled in China.

Lollipops Paris Lip Balm, $5.50

I also was hoping this was a pink lip gloss, instead is a clear lip balm.  This one was very tasty, though, and one of my daughters claimed it. I swapped a bliss face wash from the August Beauty Fix box for this.

From June ’15 box

entre belle aloeEtre Belle Cosmetics Aloe Vera Ultra Moisturizing Gel, 40 ml, $25

I swapped for this lotion because the “aloe” in the name and the green color made me think it’d be a good after-sun lotion.  As I didn’t end up getting burnt, I can’t really tell if it is or not.  It works well enough as a moisturizer, but then again so do $1 lotions.  The ingredients are rather ordinary – water, glycerin, aloe vera – and it does contain parabens.  Indeed, there is nothing whatsoever on the ingredient list that provides a hint as to why this lotion is so expensive.  It’s made in Germany, at least.

Note, I took the photo after using the lotion.  It was full when it arrived.  I swapped the Medicell Labs Instant Brightening Peel from the DermStore Forever Young Grab Bag for this lotion and the Estée Lauder dark spot serum below.

From April ’15 box

estee lauder spot correctorEstée Lauder Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum, 7 ml, $15

My biggest skin problem is age and sun related discoloration.  The top of my forehead is permanently sunstained and I have brown spots starting to appear on my face.  I did some research as to how to get rid of them, and there isn’t a simple affordable solution.  I didn’t have much hope for this serum, which was good as it was a complete failure. It did nothing to lighten any of my dark spots.  On the plus side, it’s great to be able to try it as a sample to find out it doesn’t work.  It’s made in the UK

I swapped the Medicell Labs Instant Brightening Peel from the DermStore Forever Young Grab Bag for this serum and the Etre Belle moisturizing gel above.

From June 2013 box


e. Boooth Honey Almond Nourishing Dry Oil Mist, 2 oz, $4

I’m not particularly sure what the purpose of this mist is (adding moisture?), but it makes me smell like an almond croissant.  I rather like it. It’s made in the USA. I swapped the purple tassel from the fall ’15 FabFitFun box for this.

target beauty box

Target Beauty Boxes $5-10, one time boxes
This box’s cost: $10, paid: $8 + tax, after a $2 refund
Retail/Market value $43, My value: $43
Enjoyment Factor: 

Target does not have a subscription box per se.  Rather, it produces beauty boxes filled with full size and sample beauty products every so often.  It used to be that these boxes would come out every season, then they seemed to become monthly, but this month alone two boxes came out at different times.  Sometimes more than one version of a box is offered. You have to order every box individually – you can’t subscribe – which means that you need to be alert for when they come out for sale as they usually sell out within hours. Your best bet, if you want to grab one, is to subscribe to the My Subscription Addiction blog alerts.


Target lists the contents of the box and includes a photo, so you know exactly what you are getting when you order it.  Some boxes seem to have a generic assembly of beauty products, while others are directed to specific audiences: college students, men, women with curly hair, etc.  Though Target often exaggerate the value of the items, the boxes are usually a great deal.  Moreover, because these are mostly drugstore-quality products, they are most often big-brand products made in the US or European countries – so I can use most of them.


Contents come in a sturdy, reusable box and include a card listing the contents and a $3 off a $15 or more beauty purchase at Target or Target.com (this one had an expiration date of 11/29/15). You can even use the coupons in your next Target beauty box, if it comes out before the coupon expires.


This box included 9 or 10 products (depending on whether you count the shampoo and conditioner samples as one product or two. There were three full size items and two foils, the rest were “deluxe” samples.  The total value of the box was around $43.  For once I’m planning to use all the products, so my value is the same!

Originally, the box had been advertised as including one more item, a travel size mascara.  However, this mascara was neither listed in the card nor included in the box.  I contacted Target customer service about it and they refunded me $2, so I only paid $8.80 (after tax) for the box. It’s a pretty good deal.

roc wrinkle creamRoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream, 1 oz (full size), $20.5

This wrinkle cream gets fairly good reviews on Target’s website. It contains both glycolic acid and retinol, which are two ingredients proven to help your skin.  Some people report dryness, so it’s probably best to use before your regular moisturizer – as long as it doesn’t contain those same ingredients.   Needless to say, I’m thrilled to get this. It’s made in France by Johnson & Johnson.

covergirl eyeliner

CoverGirl Intensify Me Eye Liner in intense black, 1 ml (full size), $7

This arrived at just the right time as my daughters need liquid eyeliner for their Halloween makeup.  One of them tried it already, and she was very happy with how easy it was to apply.

Made in Germany

revlon lipstick

Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Suede Lipstick in flashing lights (light coral), .09 oz (full size), $8.5

This color looked absolutely beautiful on my tween daughter; it went perfect with her turquoise hair.  I guess the old maxim about matching colors that appear together in nature holds true.

Made in the US of domestic and foreign ingredients.

body butter

Skinfix Ultra Rich Body Butter, 1 oz, $2.5

This is a pretty thick lotion and it has a weird smell.  Putting it on made me appreciate the all natural ellovi body butter I got in the Ecocentric Mom box all the more. The main ingredient of this one is water, and it’s full of chemicals and fillers. Of course, is less than 1/4th of the price of the ellovi one. I’ll use it for knees and feet, though.  It’s made in Canada

acure shampoo

Acure Organics Moroccan Argan Oil + Argan Stem Cell Triple Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner, 1 oz each, $2.5 for both

We got these in the Whole Foods bag this summer and my daughter has found them to be the most effective shampoo and conditioner for dealing with her bleach-damaged hair.  Unfortunately we haven’t been able to find it in our actual Target.  I’ll probably use the $3 off coupon to buy full size versions of both of these online.  They’re made in the USA.


Hello Fluoride Toothpaste in Supermint, .75 oz, 50c

I’ll save this for when we run out of toothpaste or we go in a trip. It’s sealed so I’m not going to try it yet, but the “supermint” flavor scares me. Made in the USA

Olly Undeniable Beauty Vitamin Gummies in Grapefruit Glam, 2 gummies in foil package, 50c

These vitamins contain a mega-dosis of biotin (aka vitamin H) as well as borage oil.  Both seem to help improve your skin.  The gummies were delicious and I’d definitely would get more of this, though I’m not sure if I actually need them.

Made in the USA.

S.W. Basics Exfoliant, foil package

This is a mixture of organic oat flour, organic almond flour and sea salt. You can mix it in with water, yogurt or honey and use it as a scrub or even a mask.  Or you can just add it to your face cleaner.  It retails for $24 for 3 oz.  It should cost about $4, including the jar, to make this myself.  I’ll give it a try – if it’s nice, maybe I’ll make these as Christmas presents.

Goody SlideProof 4MM Flat Elastics, 3-count, 85c

I’m glad we got to try these, but I can’t say I’m a fan. I have pretty fine hair, and these held my hair very well, though too tightly for comfort.

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