Margarita's Blog

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Little Lace Box, $50/every other month, theme-based lifestyle box
Promo: Use LLB10 for $10 off your first box
I paid: $40

Little Lace Box (LLB) is a themed-based subscription box curated by three style-loving 20-something sisters from Florida.  Boxes usually follow a whimsical theme and are best suited for women with a sense of fun.  While the boxes are usually a very good value money wise, their true value is on the curation and the fun you can have with the items included if you use your imagination.  These boxes also make great gifts.

Little Lace Box restructured a few months back in order to improve the quality and curation of their boxes. Boxes now come every other month and cost $60 if purchased individually, less if you subscribe.  Existing customers at the time of the change were grandfathered in at the $40 price. LLB now offers Serendipity, a mystery pouch, on the off months.

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Every box contains a letter giving the thought process behind the theme and the curation, as well as information on the specific items included.  These letters are a must, not only are they good-humored and nicely written, but they put you in the right frame of mind for understanding the items.

This month’s theme was “A girl should be two things, classy & fabulous”, a quote by Coco Chanel.  The theme’s inspiration was the casual-chic style of movie stars in the 1960’s.  Their goal was to help us bring out our inner Audrey Hepburn or Doris Day.  I can’t say I have one, but as I approach my 50’s, I realize that if I want to experience something, I better get on with it.  I might not look like Audrey Hepburn nor Doris Day, but I think it’ll be fun to style like one during my next trip to Vegas, where you can wear anything and not be out of place.

August’s theme is “Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy”, so you know what I’ll be reading by the pool in Vegas.

Little Lace Boxes are usually a good value as well, this one was about $120.

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This box included five items:

 

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Women’s Ultrabraid Large Brim Visor by San Diego Hat company, $18

I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of foldable visors before getting this one.  I love the style and the convenience of being able to keep it in my bag for when I need it.  The hat itself reminds me of the handmade capelinas we used to wear when I was a little girl. My husband likes how it looks as well.  My daughters, on the other hand, are horrified by it.  Apparently visors are utterly uncool with the tween set.  I never thought that the idea of embarrassing my daughters would hold much appeal to me, but surprisingly it does.

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IMG_0349Watercolor print silk scarf, $46

This scarf is an exclusive to LLB.  It’s 100% silk and nobody can deny that it’s bright colors are very summery.  I enjoyed getting the scar because it also reminded me of my childhood in the 1970’s.  My mother had all these beautiful silk scarves which my grandfather had brought her from his trips to Europe, and she wore them daily.  I remember how grown up I felt when I turned 11 and started wearing one, but soon the fashion went away.  Indeed, my daughter didn’t even realize there were square scarves and had no idea what to do with it.

Still, she loved the colors and has quickly claimed it. I’m sure we’ll have fun figuring out how she can best wear it.  LLB also suggests to wear it tied to your favorite handbag, which is a great idea as it gives me something to do with it after Camila takes it off (let’s be realistic, there is no way she’ll stand having a scarf for long, no matter how much she likes it).  of course, you can also wear it on the hat, in a very Aubrey Hepburn look.

IMG_0361 Beyond the Stars ring by Kitsch, $25

Kitsch sells this ring with a raw crystal, but produced it in turquoise and amethyst colors for LLB. I got it on turquoise, which nicely compliments the scarf.

I’m happy that the ring is adjustable and I love the look.   My ring came scratched up, however, but I wrote to LLB and they will be replacing it.

 

IMG_0344 (1)Lucy B’s Nail Lacquer in Premier, $13

LLB color coordinated the rings to go with the nail polishes. Women who got the turquoise ring also got this mauve nail polish, while those that got the amethyst ring got a nude shade.  Personally, I don’t see how the ring and the nail polish go together, but color matching is not really my thing.  I do like the nail polish quite a bit. It’s very easy to apply (i.e., I didn’t paint my whole finger when I applied it) and it dries very, very quickly.

I used to hate mauve, but it’s a good color for someone my age – my daughters approved.

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Pour Some Sugar Scrube on Me“, 8 oz, $20

Little Lace Box has gotten on the business of making their own natural bath products.  And really, why shouldn’t they?  If people are willing to pay through the roof for things they could make at home, why not let them?  At least LLB’s scrub is not as outrageously priced as the one recently included in the Kloverbox+MSA box ($48 for 6 oz!).

Still, while I wasn’t thrilled to get this scrub, I was going to make the best of it and use it.  But my daughter demanded that I keep it so she could gift in the future, so I’m going to have to make some of my own.

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Summer Bonus Goodebox, one-time natural cosmetic samples, $20
I paid $20

Goodebox is a monthly subscription box that includes natural/organic cosmetics and related products.  Once a season or so they have boxes with assorted leftovers. Prices vary from season to season, and not all boxes have the same stuff.  This is my first Goodebox grab bag, and I was happy enough with it.  It’s definitely a good way of trying new stuff.  This box shipped rather quickly, I had it on my hands a week after I ordered it.

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The box included 12 products, though one came used and/or broken.  The value of the box excluding the broken item was about $53, though $17 of that was for a nail polish. 

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The box included little cards describing each of the products. Goodebox says you should keep them to remember what items you liked. It’s a good idea, but that’s what I use this blog for (really, is anyone  other than future-me reading this?). This is what I got:


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Shea Butter Extreme Crème by Shea Terra in Bourbon Vanilla, 1 oz, $2 value

This is a very nice lotion, it’s not too thick, absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy. It has a very nice smell, which my daughter loved.  She’s claimed it.

Evenly Radiant Brightening Day Crème by derma e, .5 oz, $6 value

I got this same cream in my March Birchbox and I had just ran out of it. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It’s pretty light and easy to apply. It does leave my face feeling greasy, but that may just be the moisturizing effect. I also appreciate that it uses zinc oxide as a sunblock. After doing some internet research, it appears to me that zinc oxide is the least harmful and most effective ingredient in sunscreens. This lotion is ridiculously expensive, so I’m glad to get more of it – though my jar was half full, so I’m not sure I got the full 1/2 oz. Made in USA.

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Wild Honey Apothecary Pumpkin Cocoa Honey Mask , ~4 ml, ~$2 value

This is your stereotypical homemade face mask. It contains “Raw Organic Active Honey, Organic raw cacao powder, organic pumpkin powder, organic raw aloe, pumpkin seed oil and organic cocao absolute.” I’ve made honey masks before and they are not my favorite as they are too sticky, but I guess I can always put it on toast as well.  The little jar didn’t say how much it had, but it seemed to be about half as much as the polish below. The amount would be enough for just one application.


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Gressa Renewing Polish, 7.5 ml, ~$5 value

This is an all natural face scrub with an overwhelming scent of lavender.  Like the mask above its main ingredient is honey and it operates as a combo scrub and mask.   My daughter finds the smell of lavender very soothing  – probably because of all those calming lavender baths we gave her as a baby – so she’s already laid claim to it.


healthy hoohoo gentle femine wipesIMG_0309, 2 wipes, $1 value

These get fairly good reviews at Amazon.com, though there are complaints that they are too expensive and too small.  Still, it’s a useful item to carry in your purse.


IMG_0312 Aila Nail Color in #likeaboss (rose gold), .5 oz, $17 value

This nail polish is supposed to be vegan, gluten free, 5-free, paraben free, etc. The ingredients are written in such small letters on the bottom of the bottle, however, that for all I know they might have nail dissolving acid. I’m going to assume they don’t, but it’d be nice if they also included them on their website.

I like the color, though my kids think I’m too old for shiny nail polish (they’re probably right, but who cares?). I loved that it’s very easy to apply. I don’t have the motor skills to apply sunscreen without smudging it all over my fingers, but I made less of a mess with this one than with others. It’s also super fast drying, which is important to me as I always smudge my nails before they have an opportunity to dry. Plus it’s made in the USA.


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Scent 002 alcohol free perfume by MSC Skin Care + Home, 3 ml, $3 value

This is a very interesting perfume oil. While I could list the notes, they are so integrated with one another that I can’t tell them apart. It reminds me of perfume soaps, but it doesn’t have that sharp edge these usually have. My husband described it as floral and pleasant. After a while it just left my skin feeling perfumed, which is not a bad thing.
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Elegant Rose Boutique Bath Bombs, 2 mini bombs, value $2

Bath Bombs are probably the easiest DIY beauty product after scrubs and masks.  Still, I haven’t made any in a long time so I’m looking forward to using these.  They have a lavender/orange/patchouli scent, heavy on the patchouli.


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Real Beauty for a Cause Lotion Bar, value $9?

I like making lotion bars more than I like using them, they always leave my hands greasy.  I still have some left from March’s Out of the Box sampler.  I’ll probably try to swap it.  I’m intrigued, however, that it’s made with kokum butter.  I had never heard of the kokum fruit (at least by that  name) until I made a Bene Israel Fish Molee a couple of months ago.  The lotion is scented with lavender oil, so I can’t swap it I’ll just give it to my daughter.

I can’t tell whether this lotion is the full size or a sample.  There is no information either on this box or on the website as to the weight of either.


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Plantlife Cassia Clove Soap, sample, $1.25

This is a cold processed Castile-style soap that includes a variety of oils, essential oils and organic spices.  This particular one smells of cinnamon and cloves.  I HATE the smell of cinnamon and cloves on anything but apple pie or apple cider.  So I pretty much hate this soap.  I will try to swap it just to get rid of it.

For some reason, this soap came in a little bag. Cute.


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Ecojot Pen on Wood mini journal, $5

This is by far my favorite item in the box.  Indeed, I had to fight my daughters for it.  And hide it, lest one of them steal it.  The covers are actually wood, the pen motif is beautiful and it’s a great size to keep in a purse to jot the occasional note.  It’s made by a Canadian company.

 

IMG_0333IMG_0338Naturale organic eyeshadow stick in palma, sample size

The sample tube of eyeshadow that I got was either used or somehow defective.  I removed the small blond hair that was attached to the top, but you can see the eyeshadow smudge it came with.  The photo on the left shows the eyeshadow as it came, rolled most of the way up.  The one on the right shows the eyeshadow when rolled all the way up, it looks like it’s missing quite a bit.

I think I would like the color, but given the likelihood that someone (with blond eyelashes?) used this before me, I’m unwilling to even swatch it.  I’ve written to GoodeBox asking for a replacement and I will update when I hear back from them.

Free Shipping Promo

I had 100 points (which equal $10)  in one of my Birchbox accounts that I wanted to redeem for something, but I didn’t want to have to pay shipping (which is $5 or $6 for most orders!).  Paying shipping would pretty much do away with any savings.  So I scoured the web for a free shipping promo and I found one, BBSHOP  It’s supposed to be for new users, but it worked for me.

On Points & Taxes

Several months ago, Birchbox started charging sales taxes on its boxes and products, which made me wonder how they’d work this out as far as points go. What they do with products is to first assess the tax, and then determine how many points they’ll take from you.  So let’s say you have 500 points and you want to buy a $29 cream.  In the past, you’d be able to use 300 of your points and get the cream for free.  Now, however, they’ll assess the tax (10% in my case), making the cream cost $31.90.  If you want to pay with points that same cream will now cost you 400 points.  Unfortunately, if you have 500 points, you don’t have the choice of using 300 and paying $1.90 out of pocket.  So this is something to keep in mind when you are figuring out how to spend your points.

Fortunately, tax doesn’t seem to apply when buy a gift subscription, either with cash or points.  That makes sense as you don’t need to submit a shipping address when you buy a gift subscription.   So if you have 500 points and you want to buy a 3-month gift subscription, which costs $30, you will only be charged 300 points.

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Birchbox: beauty samples, $10/month
Promo: BBJETBLUE10 for 100 extra points when you subscribe.
I paid: $1.10, including tax

Birchbox sends you five beauty samples a month, generally a mixture of skin/haircare and makeup.  It comes in a cute little box that you can re-use.  You can review each sample you receive for 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 chose between a curated box, that lists what samples are included, and a mystery box.

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This month I got 3 Birchboxes by subscribing from three different e-mail addresses (see my reviews of box 1 and box 2).  Birchbox was running a promotion that you could get your first box for $1, and I couldn’t pass it up!  This is the third box I got and I am excited because 4 of the 6 products that came in the box are new to me. This is also the most valuable box I got of the three, with a value of $24 – not great, but it looks to me like Birchbox values are going down. This will be my last month with multiple boxes, though. From next month on it’ll be just one box a month.

This is what I got:

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COOLA SPF 50 Sport in mango, .5 oz, (sample value $3)

I like getting sunscreens in my boxes. This is a large  enough sample that should work for a full-day application – perfect for a trip to the county fair.  It has a pretty strong mango scent; it’s not my favorite but a great improvement over regular coconut sunscreens.  It applied pretty smoothly though my daughter said it made her skin feel tight.  Made in the USA.


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Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream, 5 ml, (sample value $6.5)

This cream is supposed to help repair your skin and it gets great reviews on Amazon. While my skin is not particularly dry right now, I could tell it is really moisturizing.  I’m planning to use it on my face after spending time on the sun.  The smell reminds me of sandalwood, not really a favorite but it’s light enough that I don’t mind.  Made in Korea.

IMG_0290Vasanti Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator, 20 g, (sample value $5.5)

This is yet another product that I had to look up just to know what it is. It turns out that it’s an exfoliating cleanser and it gets great reviews on Amazon. It’s made in Canada, so what’s not to like?


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Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanilla Extreme Perfume, 1.2 ml, (sample value $1.25)

I’m always happy to get perfumes in my boxes. I don’t usually like vanilla in my boxes, so I didn’t think I would like this perfume.  But it doesn’t smell as much of vanilla as of toasted marshmallows.  I applied it on my wrist and now I want to eat it.  My oldest daughter smelled the vanilla first, and all the way from the next room! My husband thought it smelled of sugar cookies, and that was yummy enough to eat.  I’m not sure when I’ll wear this sample, but it’s fun to have it. Made in France
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Marcelle Mini Waterproof Eyeliner in mulberry, .8 grams, value $4

I’m happy to get a different color of this eyeliner in this box.  I usually only wear black eyeliner, but I think this one looks well enough on me.  It’s pretty much purple  It wouldn’t apply on my water line, however, which is where I usually wear eyeliner. Instead I tried it on my lash-lines.  Made in Germany.

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SARAHPOTEMPA Darby Clip, 1 piece, value $4

I also got this clip in my first June birchbox.  My youngest daughter, who loves to play with hair, is happy to have a pair.

I wrote the entry below on July 16, 2011.  Four years later most of the daily deal sites have disappeared; sometimes their domains have been bought by others.  The deals are no longer daily either, they now remain for days, weeks or months at a time.  Still, a couple of other sites have been added to the survivors, and there are some good deals to be had. Here are the ones I use:

Amazon Local

Similar variety of offerings than Groupon, but fewer offers.

Groupon

The site that started it all

Travel Zoo

It often has flash listings for nice restaurants.

Still Around but Barely

Living Social: It’s still going but seems to specialize in getaway and shares many of its local listings with Groupon.

Gilt City: barely any listings for San Francisco

Plumdistrict: few for San Francisco, even fewer for the East Bay

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I have to admit that I was a very late adopter of Groupon and other Daily Deal sites. I had checked out Groupon early, but as most of their deals were in San Francisco I had paid it no mind. But a little while ago I came across these sort of sites again and realized that many now have offering for the East Bay and even San Leandro. It’s also amazing just how many daily deal sites there are out there that cover the Bay Area, though East Bay deals are less common, there are still quite a few of them. Here are the sites I’ve found. If you know of others, let me know. And if you know of a service that aggregates all the deals into one daily e-mail, please let me know as well. You can see many (but not all) daily deals at Savvy Cities.

Groupon

Got Daily Deals

SFGate Daily Deals

Google Offers

Living Social

Buy With Me (now Gilt City)

Mamasource – children & mom oriented stuff

Bloomspot – travel, food & relaxation

Juice in the City

Plumdistrict

Goldstar – Event tickets

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Birchbox: beauty samples, $10/month
Promo: BBJETBLUE10 for 100 extra points when you sign up
I paid: $1.10 with tax and promo, box value: $16
Unsubscribe on website

Birchbox sends you five beauty samples a month, generally a mixture of skin/haircare and makeup. It comes in a cute little box that you can re-use. You can review each sample you receive for 10 points and exchange 100 points for $10 off orders in their online store (no minimum purchase), 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 chose between a curated box that lists what samples are included, and a mystery box. You can create multiple accounts to subscribe to Birchbox and use the same address and credit card, but you have to have a separate e-mail address for each account.

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I’m getting three Birchboxes in June (see my reviews of box #1 and box #3).  Birchbox had a great (now expired) deal where you could get your first box in a new subscription for $1, so I opened (and then cancelled) multiple subscriptions. That said, the value of the boxes has been quite low lately; this one’s was just $16, had I paid $11 (including tax) I would not be happy.

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Marcelle Mini Waterproof Eyeliner in indigo, .8 grams, value $4

I got the exact same shade of eye pencil in two of my June Birchboxes. Fortunately, while the color is indigo, it looks more grayish when you apply it.  Still, I don’t need two so I’ll be trying to swap this one.  Made in Germany.
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L. Erickson Grab & Go Pony Tail Holder, 1 count, $ (1.2 each)

This month Birchbox seems to be promoting hair accessories, I got one in each of my boxes.  These pony tail holders came in colors exclusive to Birchbox. My daughter has been using it and she likes it, though she feels that the only difference between this and the other ones she wears is that this might last longer because it’s thicker.

Catherine Malandrino Style de Paris perfume, 1.2 ml sample (sample value $2)

I’m happy to report that I got a perfume in each of my Birchboxes. Unfortunately, one of them was this one. I got it in my second February Birchbox and disliked it then. It’s a sweet, ordinary and forgettable perfume. I’ll try to swap it.

IMG_0214Marcelle BB Cream Golden Glow, 7 ml, value $4

I got this in another June box as well. I like getting BB creams as my facial skin is not as smooth as it once was, and they are easy to apply. This is generally the only makeup I use. Unfortunately this BB cream does not include sunscreen, which to me is one of the best things about BB creams, so I guess I’ll have to only use it at night. It’s supposed to work with all skin types, I tested it both on my tanned face and my white underarm and it was sheer on both of them with a very subtle shine. It did improve my complexion. Made in Canada.


IMG_0207Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen with Cellular Response Technology SPF 50, .34 0z (sample value $1)

It’s summer, so it’s time for sunscreen samples in subscription boxes.  I got two these in my Birchboxes, as well as another of a different brand.  I’m not complaining, they will get used.  Plus the samples are so tiny that they are only good for an application or two at the most.  The sunscreen is very light, applies very smoothly and it absorbs very quickly.  It smells like sunscreen. It will go into my kids bags for “emergencies”. Made in USA

IMG_0263 (1)Number 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect 1 oz (sample value $4.5)

I received this in my February Birchbox.  At the time I wasn’t sure what it was, but it turns out that it’s mostly a detangler. I’ve used it when traveling and it’s worked OK.  This item also provides UV protection, I’ve given it to my daughters who have colored hair to help keep it bright, I’m not sure how well it works.  It does have a pretty horrible smell, however. Made in USA.

 

My one comment in the Rachel Dolezal debacle. This hitherto unknown woman is revealed as passing for African American and it creates a media scandal.

But thousands of people identify themselves as Native Americans, because they’ve heard that they have a drop of Native American blood, and it’s not a big deal, we just accept it.

I think both that racial identity is significant and that it’s complicated.  Being “black” cannot be about physical traits, otherwise blond, blue eyed, fair civil rights leader Walter Francis White, head of the NAACP for a quarter of a century, would not black. Nor would have been his blond, blue-eyed mother, despite having been born a slave.

And surely, African Americans who are not identified as black by others, don’t experience the same degree of institutionalized racism than those that look black do.  So being black also cannot be about feeling racism.

And being black cannot be about the cultural African American experience.  President Obama, after all, grew up within a white family in Hawaii and Indonesia.  While perhaps he did experience some racism as a child, the same cannot be said of the thousands of African and Caribbean immigrants to the United States. Having gone to Africa a couple of times and knowing Africans who live in the US, it’s easy to see the differences between people who grew up experiencing racism and those who did not. It is not unlike the difference between being a Latino immigrant and one born in this country.

Perhaps being black is about genetics. The old “one drop of blood” theory might apply.  Genetically, Walter White was 15% black, after all.  That, of course, is significantly greater than the 1-2% of African blood carried by about 10% of white southerners.  It may yet turn out that Ms Dolezal has that drop of African blood after all.

I don’t mean to speak for a community of which I’m not part. As an fair-skin Argentinian, albeit one with a thick accent that identifies me as non-American, I both embrace my Latino heritage but I’m conscious to understand that my experience does not equate with that of millions of other Latinos who live in the US.  And truth be told, whatever I have to say about the African American or Chicano experience in the US will lack authority – even if I had majored in ethnic studies.  Living is different than studying.

And here, perhaps, lies the answer to the question of why an African-American studies professor and a civil rights activist in lily-white Spokane, would want to live as an African-American woman, with the loss of privilege that that entails.

Perfume Reviews

I have A LOT of perfumes. Fifty five, if I counted right.  Until a few years ago I never wore perfume at all. But then I got one perfume and I got the perfume bug. My obsession with subscription boxes has also allowed me to get quite a few samples, which is great as I like to change perfume frequently. But exactly because I have so much perfume, I don’t always remember which ones I like and which ones I don’t. So I’ve decided to keep a record here which includes both bottles and samples.  My favorite scents are citrus, followed by greens and flowers, specially white flowers.

1extraordinaryAvon: Extraordinary (discontinued) F

I have rarely hated a perfume as much as this one.  It’s really just awful.  I only call it a perfume because it’s overwhelmingly sweet in the way perfumes are.  It actually smells like a wooden cigar box that had whiskey or cognac spilled on it.  Just horrible. The only use I can think of for this perfume, is to wear it around someone you really dislike.

avonfarawayAvon: Far Away D-

The first spray is rough and alcoholic, but it quickly becomes soft and subtly, powdery and feminine yet grown up. Unfortunately, it quickly develops a harsh vanilla overtone which actually disturbs me. I so hate it. Others don’t seem to smell the vanilla, though, and think it’s just flowery and light. It’s not.


1femmeAvon Femme B

On my skin, this perfume smells to me like very sweet white grape juice. It’s floral and very feminine. It’s also very young, it has an air of innocence. I gave it to my daughter because, in my 40’s, I don’t think I can get away with wearing this – unless, maybe, I’m going to tea in a garden and wearing a hat. I do like the smell, though it’s a tad too sweet.

1foreverAvon: Forever B

This is a very well balanced soft floral. It smell clean, slightly sweet, and springy. It feels like a young perfume, but is balanced enough that anyone can get away with wearing it. It’s a daytime perfume and I’m sure I’ll finish my sample.

1alegriaAvon: Flor Alegría C+

There is nothing complicated about this soft floral, but it’s very pleasant when you first spray it. It’s light, springy and perhaps too young for me, but it’s subtle enough that I doubt anyone else will smell it. After a while, it unfortunately becomes harsher and more chemical, it just smells cheaper.
1imaryAvon: Imari: C+

On me and to me, Imari smells very musky with sharp notes of vanilla and amber.  To me, it smells like something in between an oriental and a chypre. As the musk soften the spiciness I actually wear this from time to time.

1florlAvon: Flor Violeta B

This is a happy, lighthearted bouquet of flowers scent. It just screams “spring” to me. It is perhaps a tad too sweet, but it smells less “old lady” than most of the other Avon scents I like.


1playAvon: Just Play (discontinued) A

This is a lovely, simple and fun citrus/tangerine scent. It’s the smell of summer, or rather, what you want to spray yourself with in summer to feel refreshed. Another of my favorites.

1moonwindAvon: Moonwind (vintage) C

I’m not sure how to describe this perfume other than by saying it’s one of those strong, overpowering 70’s scents. It starts big, very big: “I am woman and I kick ass”. It becomes gentler as it calms, somewhat powdery but still in an imposing way. I don’t personally like this type of perfumes, they smell too much like old lady to me, but once in a while it’s nice to have something that makes a statement.

1nightmagicAvon: Night Magic C

Night Magic is a simple, powdery, not too sweet fragrance that neither asks or offers much.  It’s subtle, but not interesting.

1odysseyAvon: Odyssey B

Odyssey is a floral musky scent, a very musky scent.  I wouldn’t necessarily like it but for the fact that it reminds me of my grandmother.  Now, I know for a fact that my granny didn’t wear this, as it didn’t come out until a couple of years after she passed away, but she might have worn similar scents. Or maybe the powdery scent reminds me of her bathroom. I wear this from time to time just for nostalgic reasons.
1rarediaAvon: Rare Diamonds (discontinued) C+

This is a rather soft powdery floral with some sharp amber undertones.  It’s too harsh at first, though eventually it settles.  I think it’s a perfume for cooler weather. It’s not offensive, but not interesting.
1patchAvon: Sheer Essences – Patchouli (vintage) C

Patchouli is by no means my favorite fragrance.  But once in a while I don’t mind wearing.  Rarely, though.

1sweethonestyAvon: Sweet Honesty B-

Sweet Honesty is a sweet (but not too sweet), floral, musky perfume (emphasis on the musk).  It smells very much like baby powder.   Though I didn’t actually use baby powder on my kids (the great thing about disposable diapers is that they keep kids dry), this is a scent that brings me back to my childhood. I don’t really wear this perfume, but I do find it sweet.

1glowAvon: True Glow
(discontinued) A+

This is probably my favorite scent. It’s a warm citrus scent, tempered with some apple. It smells sophisticated and grown up but still citrusy (did I mention I love citrus?). I’d wear it all the time but it’s been discontinued so I’m hoarding it.


1cherryBath & Body Works Japanese Cherry Blossom perfume (discontinued) B-

This perfume is true to its name, it’s a sweet cherry blossom scent.  Despite the fact that it’s a perfume, rather than the usual fragrance mists you get at Bath & Body Works, it doesn’t have very much sillage.  It’s a little bit too sweet for me, but a pleasant scent for spring or fall.

1malaCatherine Malandrino: Style de Paris D

This perfume is utterly ordinary and forgettable. It’s heavy, sweet and one-noted. It almost smells like a syrupy cough drop tastes.

1cocoChanel: Coco Noir C

This is a very mundane perfume, that smells like a thousand others. I can’t really detect any notes. It’s well balanced but it’s boring. You can wear it and smell nice, but not distinctive.


1inspirationCharles Jourdan: Inspiration B-

This fragrance is an uncomplicated, but heavier, floral.  It’s pleasant enough and I really should wear more often, at least in summer nights.

Chloé 2chloeEau de Parfum B+

This is a very interesting perfume. It’s a basically a floral, and in that sense a bit sweet, but it’s tempered by fruit and cedar. Apparently the fruit is lychee, but I was still thinking white grapes. It smells both sophisticated and feminine, a professional scent that can still make you feel sexy. It’s bold enough to suggest confidence and authority. I do like it.

1chloeChloé: Love Story B

This floral is light and feminine, a fresh, springy, non-challenging scent. I like it but it’s one of those scents that doesn’t stay on my skin.

1happyClinique: Happy Heart A+

This perfume is very aptly named. It makes me happy to wear it. It’s a lovely scent, a mixture of florals and citrus but stronger on the florals. It’s not sweet, however, which I love. It’s airy and deceivingly simple, a morning uplift.

1sudComptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille Extreme B-

I don’t regularly like vanilla perfumes, but this one tastes edible. I smell toasted marshmallows, my husband, sugar cookies. My daughter vanilla and cotton candy, you get the drift.  It’s pretty strong and pretty yummy. Not sure when I’ll wear it, though.

1navyDana: Navy
C

When my dear aunt Gladys would visit America, she would always buy multi-packs of drugstore perfumes to take back home.  Somehow I ended up with one of such.  I got rid of a couple of the mini-perfumes, but I still have the Navy.  It’s not at all a perfume that calls to me. It’s an oriental, and has the harshness of amber and vanilla I so dislike.  It does mutate into a musky floral, but without shedding the other notes.  It’s not unpleasant, but it’s not me.


1nirvanaElizabeth and James: Nirvana Black D-

Yikes! This is almost as bad as Avon Extraordinary (see above), though a bit more bearable. It’s also disgustingly sweet and smells like a sweaty man wearing the scent of brandy spilled on an old cigar box.  It does smell masculine, but not in a good way.  PS: Went I went to sleep last night, after putting on Nirvana Black in order to test it, my husband says to me: “you smell weird”.  When I told him what I thought I smelled like (the sweaty man part), he had to agree.
1divaEmanuel Ungaro: Fleur De Diva (discontinued) B

This is a nice, well balanced white floral.  It starts a bit on the sweet side, but quickly gets tamed.  It’s a little heavier than other florals, so I think it’s more appropriate for afternoon and summer evenings.
1engEnglish Laundry: Notting Hill Femme Eau de Parfum for women C

I found this perfume to be pretty generic. It started by smelling of, well, perfume and then it moved on to smelling like candy. It’s not my style.

1exceptExceptional Because You Are
for Women B-

This is a simple, light floral. Smells perfectly nice, it’s not too sweet, but otherwise it’s pretty conventional. It doesn’t last too long on me.

1belleExceptional Parfums: Simply Belle
B+

This is a light, soft floral that on me smells like old-fashioned scented soap, the type my grandmother would buy and keep around the fancy guest towels in the closet. It’s a very nice, soft, clean smell. Unfortunately it’s very, very light and I think it dissipates too quickly. But I’ll use the whole sample because it makes me feel clean and happy.

1redGiorgio Beverly Hills: Red
C-

This is yet another 80’s Oriental perfume that my sister, for some reason, passed on to me.  As with others, I’m not fond of it. It’s a powerful scent, though.


1dahliaGivenchy: Dahlia Noir
B

This starts as an overwhelming, heavy 80’s perfume, but quickly develops into a soft, powdery floral. It still has some intensity, so it’s probably best suited for cooler weather. It’s not particularly distinctive, just the sort of fragrance you wear when you want to smell nice but not draw attention for what you smell like.

1envyGucci: Envy Me 2 (discontinued) D

This perfume was supposed to be a “green floral fragrance with notes of orange, violet leaf, magnolia, rose, purple heliotrope, patchouli, vanilla and sandalwood.” It turns out that the patchouli, vanilla and sandalwood overtakes all the other notes so it ends up smelling like a stereotypical oriental. My daughter described it as smelling “like old lady” and she’s right. In other words, I hate it. Still, it won’t offend anyone so it doesn’t deserve an F.

ihelloHarvey Prince Hello
C

This scent is supposed to be a citrusy floral, though to me it smell a lot like a fruit hard candy – though not necessarily a citrus one. Unfortunately, it has that same undertone of vanilla that I hate so much. My husband found the perfume pleasant, however. I will probably wear this from time to time, but I wouldn’t buy it.


1sinceHarvey Prince: Sincerely D+

When I first smelled this perfume, I liked it quite a bit. It smelled fresh, light, flowery but not too sweet. But there was something discomforting about it, and I finally realized what it was: it reminds me of Avon’s Far Away. Indeed, Sincerely was originally named Journey, so I wonder if the similarities were noticed by the perfumer who created it. In any case, there is something in Far Away that makes me hate it, and Sincerely is close enough that I’ve come to hate it by association. Still, it’s a perfume that you can wear without offending anyone but me.


1yoginiHarvey Prince: Yogini B

I like this perfume. It smells like citrus tempered by other scents, refreshing and grown up.


1jardinlHermes: Un Jardin Sur Le Nil A-

On me, this perfume smells just like grapefruit. I love the smell of grapefruit, specially in summer. It’s incredibly refreshing. Unfortunately the perfume does not stay on me at all. I spray it several times a day and nobody can ever tell I’m wearing perfume. I’ll use up what I have, but don’t plan on buying more.

1falling Imaginary Authors: Falling into the Sea A+

I love this perfume because of just how weird it is. To me it smells exactly like an oakey chardonnay tastes. As soon as I smell it, I can taste the chardonnay. And yet, the smell is also somewhat disturbing. It smells of what you smell like after you’ve been to the beach for a while: sweat and sunscreen, sand and sea water, and orange peels starting to rot. Indeed, what I find so interesting about this perfume is how I almost find it revolting, and yet I want to smell it. I keep 20 perfume sample vials in a little box and when I open it, all I can smell is this perfume. It’s like it’s fighting a battle with the other ones and winning. And yet, on me, it’s not that strong.

1diandraInternational Cosmetics and Fragrances: Diandra (vintage) A

This is a lovely perfume. I’m not sure how to describe it. It’s a morning scent, sweetly dewy, delicate but strong. It’s what a vacation in the countryside smells like in a summer morning, before the heat of the midday sun. Just lovely.


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Joie: Folle de Joie A

This is a really lovely perfume. It’s a great mixture of citrus and soft flours with aquatic notes.  It smells like you’ve come out of a good, relaxing shower.  It’s happy and summerly.

1jovanJovan Musk for Women C

I don’t know how to describe this other than by saying it smells musky. It’s a powdery sweet scent, old lady soft. I don’t really like it on me, but it’s not offensive.

1juliJuliette Has A Gun: Not A Perfume A

I got a sample of this perfume and fell in love. It’s accurately named, it’s not really a perfume. More like a note of something like fresh laundry, which appears and disappears throughout the day. The non-perfume itself has only one aroma compound, Ambroxan. This molecule is usually used as a base for other perfume notes, but here it is the only note and I love it! Unfortunately, a bottle of Not a Perfume costs $90, which I can’t make myself spend. So instead, I bought some ambroxan planning to make it myself. What I didn’t count on was how hard it was to find perfumers alcohol to mix it with. It’s been a year. But it’s summer again, and this seems like a fun project to do with the girls.


1ladyLady Gaga Fame C-

This perfume starts strong, with a scent reminiscent to a hard, syrupy, concentrated hard candy. It’s very sweet but with it smells almost burnt. I’m trying to remember what specific smell this reminds me of, but so far all I can think of is the caramel made by melting sugar until it becomes brown that you use with flan. It becomes less caramel like as it settles, but still impossibly sweet. Not my thing.

1earthMark: Earth
(discontinued) A+

This is one of my favorite scents. It’s very green and, to me, it smells like a peach orchard. It’s a summery scent but I still wear it year round. Fortunately it lasts a long time on me.



1daisyMarc Jacobs: Daisy A+

I positively adore this perfume, and not just because it bears my name. It’s actually perfectly named. Daisies are humble, yet strong, somewhere between a flower and a weed. They have a very green scent, which is not at all sweet. This perfume adds the sweetness. I absolutely love this perfume but it doesn’t last long on me, and nobody else can smell it either.

1journeyMary Kay: Journey A

This is another lovely perfume. It starts with a strong brandy smell, but it quickly dissipates leaving behind a soft floral with notes of citrus. It smells fresh and springy.


4711Muelhens: 4711 A

What can I say about 4711? It was my mother’s favorite cologne when I was growing up. Slightly masculine, with harsh citrus? tones and ridiculously cheap, it’s perhaps nostalgia that draws me to it. It’s not something that I wear, but it’s something that I would wear when I want to be rebellious and nostalgic at the same time. Ultimately, it makes me smile.
1peonyNote: Pink Peony Eau de Parfum A-

I absolutely love this perfume. It’s a sweet, flirty, uncomplicated floral. It smells like sweetened iced flower garden fruit tea. You should wear this perfume with a flowy cotton dress while walking on an esplanade. It’s a very young scent and yet something in it, the bergamot no doubt, makes it appropriate for someone much older. I’m giving it an A- because while I absolutely love it, my daughter thinks it smell horrible, like garbage.

 

1darcyParfums de Marly: Darcy A

This perfume is a puzzle. It’s both humble and sophisticated. To me it smells like a mixture of citrus and jasmine, two scents that I love. This perfume has an interesting development. It starts very sweet and feminine and then it develops into a very masculine scent. Somehow it goes back and forth between these two scents for a while, before turning into a comforting, motherly, clean scent that it’s easy to confuse with your real skin. I’ll definitely use up this sample.



1PortfolioPerry Ellis For Women: Portfolio C+

This perfume starts rough, with an overwhelming amber scent.  On me, it mellows into a very sweet honey rose/floral. It’s supposed to have citrusy/green notes, but it’s hard to smell something over the sweetness.  It’s not bad, but I prefer fresher scents.

1fireRevlon: Fire & Ice
D

Nope, just nope.  This scent doesn’t quite smell like rum, but it makes me think that rum could smell like it if it became even sweeter. The harsh alcohol notes do dissipate after a while, but then you are left with flowers ruled by amber. There is vanilla there too. Basically an oriental and I dislike orientals. My daughter, on the other hand, thought I smelled good when I had it on.

1promiseSusan G. Komen for the Cure: Promise Me (discontinued) C-

This perfume, produced by TPR Holdings, caused controversy became it actually contains potential cancer-inducing ingredients. The perfume which was originally sold for $59 but only $1.50 from each bottle sold went for cancer research. There is a reason why Susan G. Komen for the Cure has been embroiled in so much controversy. That said, I’m not too fond of the perfume itself.  On my skin, it’s impossibly sweet.  It’s supposed to be a combination of florals and fruits, but I can only smell the former – perhaps because the sweetness covers up anything else.  It’s not an unpleasant perfume if smelled from far away, though.

1angelThierry Mugler: Violette Angel (discontinued) C

On me, this perfume mostly smells like patchouli. It’s powdery and contained, but it’s not my favorite scent by far. I used to like this, so I wonder if it has changed now that I’m at the bottom of the bottle.

1toryTory Burch B

This is another lovely summer scent, heavy enough to wear in the evening. I’m not sure how to describe it other than sweet and flowery and well balanced. It isn’t, however, exceptional. It smells nice but not interestingly so.
1valentinoValentino: Very Valentino eau de toilette (discontinued) C-

This is another “old lady scent”. It’s a heavy floral, which a sharp vanilla undertone. It’s very adult, sophisticated even, but not my thing at all.

1erosVert Mont Perfumery: Eros B+

I’m not incredibly fond of perfume oils to wear as fragrances, but I enjoy the occasional one. This is one of them. I starts smelling mostly herbal and blunt, more like a body or medicinal oil than anything. Later, it develops into a pretty nice, soft, soapy, clean fragrance, sweet enough to smell feminine. It’s very much an after bath scent that leaves you feeling clean, feminine and you. Beware, while the oil starts very subtle, it grows to envelop you, so don’t put too much.

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Birchbox: beauty samples, $10/month
Promo: BBJETBLUE10 for $100 extra points when you sign up
I paid: $1.10 with tax and promo, box value: $14

Birchbox sends you five beauty samples a month, generally a mixture of skin/haircare and makeup.  It comes in a cute little box that you can re-use.  You can review each sample you receive for 10 points and exchange 100 points for $10 off orders in their online store (no minimum purchase), 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 chose between a curated box that lists what samples are included, and a mystery box. You can create multiple accounts to subscribe to Birchbox and use the same address and credit card, but you have to have a separate e-mail address for each.

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I’m getting three Birchboxes June. Birchbox had a great deal of your first box for $1, so I opened (and then cancelled) multiple subscriptions.  That said, the value of the boxes has been quite low lately; this one’s was just $14 (I don’t count the value of Chinese beauty products, as they cannot be used).  This is the first one to arrive. This is what I got:

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Folle de Joie eau de parfum, 1.2 ml, value $1

This is a really lovely perfume. It’s a great mixture of citrus and soft flours with aquatic notes.  It smells like you’ve come out of a good, relaxing shower.  It’s happy and summerly.


IMG_0214Marcelle BB Cream Golden Glow, 7 ml, value $4

I’m getting this item in two boxes.  I like getting BB creams as my facial skin is not as smooth as it once was, and they are easy to apply.  This is generally the only makeup I use.  Unfortunately this BB cream does not include sunscreen, which to me is one of the best things about BB creams, so I guess I’ll have to only use it at night. It’s supposed to work with all skin types,  I tested it both on my tanned face and my white underarm and it was sheer on both of them with a very subtle shine.  It did improve my complexion. Made in Canada.


IMG_0207Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen with Cellular Response Technology SPF 50, .34 0z (sample value $1)

Samples of sunscreen are always so small that you can’t really get enough for one application.  This one is a little larger so it might work.  The sunscreen is very light, applies very smoothly and it absorbs very quickly.  It smells like sunscreen.  Made in the USA.


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Marcelle Mini Waterproof Eyeliner in indigo, .8 grams, value $4

I have brown eyes, brown hair and tan skin and I use black eyeliner almost exclusively (I may go for brown once in a while).  So I was not in the least excited to get this indigo eyeliner.  Fortunately, it tilts towards a gray color so it’s not too bad. Unfortunately, it doesn’t apply very smoothly and didn’t work at all on my lower water line, which is where I usually apply eyeliner.  It did show up on my lower eyelash line and it looked OK but not great. I won’t be buying this. Made in Germany.


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SARAHPOTEMPA Darby Clip, 1 piece, value $4

I don’t often have an occasion to use hair clips, though now that my kids are getting more adventurous with their hair colors I may need to.  In any case, I don’t know how to evaluate it.  This one is quite tacky in appearance, but it seems to do a relatively good job of holding hair.


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Real Chemistry® Luminous 3 Minute Peel, 5ml, value $0

I got this in my April Birchbox as well.  Unfortunately it’s made in China and I don’t use any Chinese products given the  corruption and contamination in the country.  For some reason many of the masks and peels that Birchbox sends seem to be made in China, so it’s a good thing to check when you get one.

 

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Ipsy, $10 a month, beauty samples
I paid $11, including tax
Read subscriptionista’s hilarious Ipsy review

Ipsy is the main competitor to Birchbox, offering five beauty samples a month, also for $10.  While they both cost the same in theory, Ipsy lacks Birchbox’ generous point system, so it’s ultimately a worse deal. It’s supposed to be more makeup-oriented, however.  I got this Ipsy subscription for my 13-yo daughter who is looking to experiment more with makeup. While she loved the first bag, she wasn’t that happy with this one.

Ipsy samples come in a mini-makeup bag which changes every month.

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The bag included a full size eyeliner, and sample size body butter, nail polish, eye shadow crayon and primer. The full value of the bag was around $35.


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OFRA Cosmetics Eyeliner in Turquoise, full size, $13

While this eyeliner was pretty hard and difficult to apply, my daughter loved the color: it matches her hair!

Here is how it looks on:

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IMG_0198Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer, .25 oz, $8 value

We tried it today under BB cream.  It did a marvelous job of keeping the BB cream on my face despite profuse sweating. Made in the USA

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Formula X Nail Color in Relentless, 4 ml, $3 value

My oldest didn’t like the color but my youngest did. It’s actually a great color for summer.  It’s very easy to apply without smudging and looks great after just one coat.  Unfortunately both my children agreed that I’m too old for this bubblegum pink.  Made in the USA.

IMG_0199tre’StiQue Mini Shadow Crayon in kona koffee, .02 oz, $10 value

My daughter doesn’t like shadow crayons, so we’ll probably swap this. Made in the USA.

Update: I decided to keep it for myself, and I really like it. It’s a great color for my eye crease, it goes on very smoothly



IMG_0193Lavanila The Healthy Body Butter, .85 oz, $1 value

This body butter came almost empty, which is too bad because I like it.  It has a very intense sweet vanilla/caramel scent, it’s a little on the heavy side but it spreads and absorbs well enough.  It’s made in the USA.

Update: Ipsy sent us a replacement, my daughter is happy.

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