Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Rocksbox: My 100% Honest, Unsponsored, and Unedited Thoughts (Part 2)

Caveat: Unlike most blogger reviews of Rocksbox, I was not gifted free service in exchange for this review. I am not an official "It Girl" for Rocksbox, nor do they know that I am a blogger and that I'd be writing this. I'm here to give my 100% honest, unsponsored, and unedited thoughts- or, the good, bad, and ugly. All thoughts and opinions are mine and based 100% on my experience with the service. Any credits I received were because of multiple customer service issues and not in exchange for this post.

And I'm back for Part 2. (Remember- I've got a code and would love you to use it for a free month to try for yourself- laurasbff28) You know that I'm going in deep with my thoughts if I need more than one post.  Here's where we left it: I'd had a run of 3 boxes in a row where I bought all but one piece and I was in love with it. The shipping had gotten so much faster, and I was raving about the service. When we left, I had been talking about warm tones- golds and rose golds for fall with the stylist who had done 3 boxes in a row.

First, a peek at the packaging:

Box #5 (Where the Wheels Came Off the Tracks):

So, I was a bit surprised to see that a different stylist had done this box. OK, no promises of a dedicated stylist, but I was in a groove with my last one. And she apparently had not read one shred of my feedback. I sent this box back all DISLIKED and received an email in response from one of the senior stylists (more on that below- it was a customer service win for Rocksbox)

Kendra Scott Elle Earrings in Black Pearl:

QBB Says: OK, she got the Elles right. But how is this gold or rose gold- or warm? I don't wear silver, and I really dislike Kendra's silver settings.

Kendra Scott Eleanor Necklace in Black Pearl:

QBB Says: Giiirl, the silver. Where did I mention silver, ever? I reiterated "please no silver unless I ask for something specifically!!"

Kendra Scott Etta Necklace in Rose Gold/Granite:

QBB Says: AHEM. This was the necklace I told my prior stylist I bought on my own and already owned twice. This was my tipoff that this new stylist didn't read the feedback (which I did learn is available to any stylist who pulls up the account). This is when I got mad.

Overall, I went off but in a polite way. I believe my feedback started "I hate to be blunt, but this is the most disappointing box I've received to date." I was really frustrated that I got a box of silver (my feedback for the Elles said "I like Elles but not this silver setting" and a necklace that I had told my prior Stylist in two consecutive boxes that I owned already. It felt like a waste of my subscription time and money.

Rocksbox sent me an email from a senior stylist pairing me with a new stylist (now the 4th for 6 boxes) but letting me know she'd be my stylist from here on out. That was a customer service win, and I happily forwarded a boatload of feedback to my new permanent stylist.

Box #6 (Back on the Rails):

So box #6 was a bit of a test for both of us. I specifically mentioned a few things I was interested in, and my new stylist came through. These seem not to match, but it shows that a) she's listening and b) I was able to finish out a few sets I had partials of.

Kendra Scott Rayne Necklace in Variegated Teal:

QBB Says: I love this. I've featured it on my Instagram. I own the full set and wanted to add the Rayne to my collection. Naturally, I purchased it.  I also love this combo so much that I did a whole eye look with it as my inspiration.

Kendra Scott Elle Earrings in Rose Gold/Brown Mother of Pearl:

QBB Says: Another purchase- I bought a larger necklace in this color combo and really wanted earrings to go with it.

Kendra Scott Elisa Necklace in Rose Gold/Brown Mother of Pearl:

QBB Says: An auto purchase, and a nice piece to add to my growing collection.

So for my next box, I mentioned wanting a bracelet (since I hadn't seen one since box #1- and that open cuffs suit me well) and a pop color to break up the neutrals (magenta, cobalt, bright red)...

Box #7 (In the Ditch):

So, there's a way to peek at your upcoming box. I'm no good at waiting, so I excitedly logged in and spotted a Cobalt Rayne and Cobalt Elles. SCORE! Or, so I thought.

Here's a look at what actually arrived- plus, the lovely little card that comes with it. Note the cobalt Rayne on it but white Skylars arriving instead.

Can I get a sad trombone? This isn't a wearable set, and I was headed out of town. So, I contacted customer service for the first of TWO times regarding this box. I'll get back to that shortly. I sent this whole box back- which led to my current unhappiness with customer service.

Kendra Scott Elle Earrings in Cobalt-

QBB Says: I love the style and this color, but without anything to wear them with they had to go back without being worn.

Kendra Scott Skylar Earrings in White-

QBB Says: It's not only an insult that the Rayne didn't come; it's these earrings. They legit hurt my ears, rendering them completely unwearable. Ick.

Robyn Rhodes Scarlett Cuff-

OK, I liked this a lot. It's an adorable little cuff, but way overpriced (insider price is $84!) for what it is. I appreciate that it's handmade and I'd love to see it again. In fact, it paired with pretty much everything well- check it out with a Chalcedony Jana bracelet:

I'll be honest, if the price had been lower or I hadn't bought so much jewelry lately I'd have kept it.

Bottom Line: Rocksbox goofed big time on this box. I'll get to my dealings with customer service shortly, but I was stuck with a box with items that were painful and without a full set for close to 2 weeks.

So, that's where we are in terms of boxes- not by MY doing. I should've had box #8 by now after taking tine out of my trip to make a trip to the post office, but I do not- and was left with a bad customer service experience.

QBB's Bottom Line on the Boxes: There have been ups and downs with the service but I think the good outweighs the bad. I find them a good value, and now that I have a stable stylist I can trust her choices quite a bit (like that Robyn Rhodes cuff). I strongly disliked the rotating stylists and the Russian Roulette feel of it all. It's a great way to try out different styles, and as long as you're willing to be specific you can step outside of your comfort zone. My issues with the boxes are with rotating stylists and a jewelry pulling error. I love the job that my stylist is doing- and she's very easy to work with.  (For a free one-month trial of your own, try code laurasbff28).

OK, now the part where this gets hard. I've had an up-and-down relationship with customer service; we're pretty much at the nadir of our relationship right now.

Customer Service: QBB's Honest Interactions

The Good: 

  • When I rejected box #5, I was immediately contacted by customer service with a remedy. I appreciated this proactive approach to making sure customers felt welcomed and that they remained a part of the service.
  • I was able to proactively reach out more than once with suggestions on possible improvements for the service. I'm sure I'm not the only one who did so, but I really appreciated when one of my suggestions (ditch UPS Sure Post, which takes 7 business days to move a box 400ish miles) was implemented. It made me feel like they were listening- as did the initial response to my suggestion.
  • I had to reach out because of their error with box #7 because they needed to change the contents of my box to match the actual received contents because I didn't want to be charged when a pair of Skylars came back in place of a Rayne. That was handled promptly via chat, and I was given $10 in credit for their screwup. That made me feel heard (most of what CS is based on).

The Bad:

  • I will admit that a second suggestion I made based on my bad experience with the Etta went 100% unanswered and unacknowledged. I understand that they may have a small team and may be overwhelmed with volume. But I got a prompt "hey thanks" to the first suggestion I sent weeks prior; being blown off (in my view) was a bit irritating. Still, an irritation I was willing to overlook.

The Ugly:
  • I've had (and in my view) continue to have an issue with returning the box that Rocksbox themselves messed up. I understand that not every relationship is 100% perfect, but the refusal of Rocksbox to admit there was an issue remains an irritation and I remain without a box. 
    • I made a special trip to the post office while visiting family to send back to the messed up box. Based solely on my prior 7 experiences with the service, it should've immediately triggered a reselection. It was scanned in at Friday 10:03AM at the post office (I sent them the information and tracking). When I hadn't seen it register on Friday afternoon, I sent an email with proof of mailing and tracking so that my account could be updated instead of leaving me without a box for another whole week. No action taken despite sending it with 6 hours left in the business day. (important note re: future interaction). 
      • Based on my prior experience, I should've actually been re-selected on Friday and shipped by Saturday to arrive when I got home Monday. That's based ONLY on prior experience with the service and had been standard since they switched to USPS First Class service.
    • After hearing nothing (and no updates) by 5PM Monday afternoon when I knew they'd received my fail box back at 9:15AM that day, I entered into a chat with  customer service. I was told allegedly that I would've received an email within an hour. I have no way of verifying this, but the implication was that I was annoying the CS rep. I did not appreciate this.
    • I asked what happened and never got an answer from CS. I asked if this was a glitch (not being reselected) or a new policy (no action without a box) and did not get an answer. I am left not knowing what went on.
      • I was also told "well, that's normal processing time."  Actually, it's not, based on my prior experiences with the service. I asked if I should lower my expectations going forward and did not receive an answer.
    • CS actually said "well, you enjoyed it for four days" to me. Seriously?!?!?! I wouldn't call a box with a pair of earrings that I hated and hurt me, a pair that didn't go with anything, and a random bracelet worth much enjoyment. I made sure to note my pain from the earrings.
    • Rocksbox's response, after giving zero information (no box had yet shipped) was to extend me 2 weeks of my billing date. That's nice, but it essentially covers the time I was out a box due to Rocksbox's errors!  I appreciate that they tried to take care of me in their own way, but we were way past that point with the non-answers and implying that I expected too much from the service. So their attempts to make it up to me were severely tainted by the lack of a simple "I'm sorry, we screwed this whole thing up royally."
I stated multiple times that I was re-evaluating my subscription due to the lack of transparency and the lack of acknowledgment from customer service. I then received an email from CS stating that my problems were "resolved."  No, not really.

That's where we stand.

In sum, I love the boxes, my stylist rocks, but my experience with CS has been 50/50. Let's see how long I'm without a box since it still has not shipped despite them HAVING the other box for more than a day. Update 2:38PM: I have a pre-shipment notification for the box but it hasn't actually been shipped yet I'm very disappointed in that regard and hope that this is not the new norm. I also didn't appreciate being brushed off by CS. This is hopefully a short glitch in what I hope will be a long-term relationship. Fingers crossed that things are straightened out.

Despite my current total and utter frustration with customer service, I do recommend the service- and for a free month, why not? I hope my issues are the outliers from the whole. I think it's a great idea, and I hope this is all worked out soon.

There you have it- 100% honest, unsponsored, and unedited thoughts on my 7 boxes and counting with Rocksbox. I do find it to be a value, despite my current frustrations. 

Rocksbox: My Honest, Totally Unsponsored and Unedited Thoughts (Part 1)

Caveat: Unlike most blogger reviews of Rocksbox, I was not gifted free service in exchange for this review. I am not an official "It Girl" for Rocksbox, nor do they know that I am a blogger and that I'd be writing this. I'm here to give my 100% honest, unsponsored, and unedited thoughts- or, the good, bad, and ugly. All thoughts and opinions are mine and based 100% on my experience with the service. Any credits I received were because of multiple customer service issues and not in exchange for this post.

What is it? Rocksbox is a monthly jewelry rental service similar to Netflix, Gwynnie Bee, etc. For $19 per month (first month free with code laurasbff28- I do encourage everyone to at least give this a try for the free month- and if you want to, it would be awesome if you'd use my personal code if you read this post since it would help me get more jewelry and save some money for makeup!), you get a box containing 3 items pulled for you by a stylist. They work with brands like Kendra Scott, Gorjana, House of Harlow, Loren Hope, and others.

Here's what the box looks like:

For a glimpse at the little jewelry box, check out the first few seconds of this video on Instagram.

Inside of each box, you receive a personal note from your stylist as well as the details on your items. You'll get the retail and insider's price (usually 20% off) if you can't bear to send it back. It's designed to work as follows: wear, send back with the prepaid label (under the jewelry- don't throw out your bag!), leave feedback, and your next box will be on its way ASAP. They ship from OH, and changed from UPS SurePost to USPS First Class since I started my subscription (huuuuge upgrade). Notice I said designed. I'll get back to that. You have unlimited exchanges per month for that flat $19 fee (first month free with laurasbff28).

Purchasing Items: You receive a 20%ish discount off the top in your insider price on every single item. You also get $10 in credit each month to apply to a purchase, and there's an additional $10 discount if you buy your whole set.

I have such mixed feelings- at first it was all sunshine, kittens, and running through fields of daisies. I've had a series of less-than-satisfying experiences as of late that center around 2 things: the rotation of stylists and customer service. One of these was solved promptly (yay Rocksbox) and the other is apparently solved by Rocksbox to their satisfaction even though I, as the consumer, remain quite unhappy (and has dramatically changed the tone of this review).

The Jewelry: I've loved (and kept) a sick percentage of my items, but my subscription happened to start around the time that I first discovered Kendra Scott's designs. (Looooove her). These pieces are all in good condition, and I've yet to discover a major flaw in any piece that I've received.

The Styling: Unlike other styled boxes, there's no styling fee. However, you won't necessarily get the same stylist more than once- and they tend to read feedback to varying detail. That was a major issue with one of my boxes- and in response to my unhappiness (and the fact that the stylist blatantly didn't read prior feedback and sent me an item I told them that I owned!) I've been given a permanent stylist. She's awesome, and my subsequent issues with the service are 0% due to her. She's the only one in the chain that's been reliable and 100% responsive to my thoughts and wishes.

QBB tip: Take the initial style survey seriously. Leave loads of detailed feedback. If your stylist is paying attention, they'll get to know you and your style. Don't be afraid to offend someone- be polite but honest. Also, don't be afraid to request specific items. I do it a lot- if you want to try something in particular, do it. And if something doesn't work for you (here's a perfect example- I knew Kendra Scott Danielle earrings would be too big for me so I said nothing Kendra larger than an Alex or Elle; I received a pair of Skylars in a huge screw-up-more later on that- and I made sure to note that they actually hurt me in the feedback so I don't think I'll get anything that large in the future) tell them not only that it didn't work- but why.  Same thing goes in reverse- if something is a favored style, explain why you love it and why it works. It will help your stylist.

I know most people are interested in what actual sets look like, so here's a peek into my prior boxes.

Box #1 (First box- no input from me):

Sophie Harper Pave Circle Bracelet:
QBB Says: I think my actual feedback was something along the lines of "too small for my wrists and generally meh". If you're really into understated pieces, it's a nice, simple bracelet.

Elise M Emily Earrings in Turquoise:

QBB Says: I actually bought these because they were totally out of my comfort zone (I usually like polished stones aside from Kendra Scott's drusy pieces) but they're in my wheelhouse in terms of style and size. I thought they'd make a great piece to liven up a summer outfit in my office, which is quite conservative.

Action Shot:

Kendra Scott Annika Necklace in Ivory Pearl:

QBB Says: I'm a dummy and sent this back because the pendant was flopping around and annoying me. Little did I know that Kendra Scott makes the answer to this problem and it retails for a mere (): necklace extenders. I actually own one of the Variegated Teal Annikas now and love it! I put this back on my wishlist to try to get it in the future.

Action Shot:

My overall take: Good first attempt on a box. Close but not quite right. I requested a Kendra Scott Rayne because I was going on a trip and was looking for a set that was sorta boho but office-appropriate. I also mentioned that I had recently discovered Kendra Scott's designs. Note the impact of the specific feedback.

Box #2 (The Start of a Bad Habit):

My second box was styled by a different stylist, who I came to adore because she nailed this box straight out of the gates. It also showed that being specific is a key to getting a box you love.

Kendra Scott Dee Earrings in Slate:

QBB Says: I purchased these and love them. They're perfect for my office, and worked wonders with the set that my stylist created.

Kendra Scott Kiri Necklace in Slate:

QBB Says: I purchased this one too, and love this little guy. She listened to my needs for work-friendly pieces- and believe it or not these Slate pieces worked amazingly with a dress I got from Gwynnie Bee (ok, it's not mine yet but I'm waiting their crazy prices out!).

Kendra Scott Rayne Necklace in Amethyst:

QBB Says: Ohhhh I almost wish I'd never asked for this, because I fell head over heels for this style (and this light stone) at first wear. So much so that I literally found a different way to wear my work ID just so I could wear my Raynes during the week. Yes, plural. This was the start of a sick, sick obsession. Love. Here are some action shots of it:

My overall take: She crawled into my brain and into my closet. Boom. In LOVE. I decided to take a stab at fall with my next box and mentioned the following colors: grey, blush, rose gold, navy, burgundy, olive.

Box #3 (One possible regret):

I got the same stylist as box #2 and she nailed it yet again. I wish I'd redone my work ID situation because this would've been a total keeper as well. Again, note the way my feedback was used to come up with a box that I loved. The stylists do generally listen- as long as you keep working with the same one!

Kendra Scott Addie Earrings in Gold/Rose Gold:

QBB Says: OK, it was a pair of all-gold Addies that made me a Kendra fan in the first place so these were a no-brainer keep. I think I even purchased them before they arrived!

Kendra Scott Katelyn Earrings in Rose Gold/Granite:

QBB Says: Hello,it's clear that my stylist had my back and was listening to my comments. I purchased these.

Kendra Scott Kimmy Necklace in Gray Granite:

QBB Says: Due to my work ID situation and the fact that I generally don't like large arrowheads, I sent this back.  Having changed the work ID situation, I really regret it since it's such a unique piece.

I told my stylist that I bought the shorter Etta in place of this in the feedback 2x and mentioned I was only looking for the bracelet to match if they had it. I carried this same feedback through the next box.  This becomes a point to which we'll return later.

Overall thoughts: Look what happens when a stylist listens to you. For my next box (still madly in love), I asked for basics to add to a wardrobe. I specifically mentioned Kendra Scott Elisa necklace and iridescent drusy.

Box #4 (The Last Box of my Rocksbox Honeymoon):

Again, my stylist (same as had done the past 2 boxes) nailed it.

Kendra Scott Elisa Necklace in Iridescent Drusy:

QBB Says: Ask and ye shall receive. I purchased this (and everything else in this box- making this a total of 8 of 9 pieces I purchased that this stylist pulled for me). It just works and it's perfect for my needs. I wore this to a high-pressure meeting and loved it.

Kendra Scott Lee Earrings in Iridescent Drusy:

QBB Says: These dainty little guys are perfect for the conservative workplace. I love them.

Kendra Scott Elisa Necklace in Black:

QBB Says: OK, this isn't a full set but this was exactly what I asked for- several basic, staple pieces. My stylist killed it with this box.

Given that this was the end of the awesome run of boxes that I had, I'm going to break here. I will note that here's how I left it with my stylist- I love everything, I've been wearing the Addies that you sent a lot, I'm loving my other goldstone pieces I bought on my own. I'm loving rose gold and warm tones since they suit me, and I'd love to try Elles in a deep shade since I like Alexes.

Due to the length of this, I'll stop here and post part II later today, with a few more pictures.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

MAC Vamplify Lipgloss- Spanking Haute

Any relatively frequent reader to this blog already knows the following things about me:

  • I don't generally like lip gloss. I'm a lipstick girl, and not a liquid lipstick one at that.
  • I'm especially not a lip gloss girl in the middle of hot and sticky summer.
  • I have pigmented lips, so I generally struggle with nudes and avoid them.

So why on Earth am I raving about MAC Vamplify Lipgloss in Spanking Haute, a pinky nude full-coverage lipgloss (and lightest of the recently re-launched Vamplify lipglosses)? I don't know. I just don't know. There's no logical reason why, but this is one of my more random purchases and one of the ones that has brought me an unexpected amount of joy.

I'd like to think I was swayed by a review from one of my favorite bloggers, who noted that this is a totally wearable nude. Add in that I was flush with Plenti points, and suddenly I found myself asking the local MAC counter for "ok, will you be honest with me? I've got pigmented lips. Can I do this without any extra work? I don't want to have to Lip Erase for lipgloss." And when I was told "you can totally do it, they're super pigmented," I had to have this bad boy.

OK, the deets. MAC's Vamplify lipglosses are back, $20 each, and limited edition (again). They're opaque (yay!) and guess what? You can totally have fun with the colors. This is the lightest shade... I've been lemming a good peachy nude color as of late. That's what happens when it's 10934893483 degrees out.

One of the reasons why this gloss just works is the applicator- it's different than the regular MAC glosses with that hard-to-control brush.

OK, I've held out long enough- here's my hand swatch against my NW15 skin of Spanking Haute. It was love at first swatch:

This is by far and away the most true-to-color swatch in this post. Isn't it awesome? I think lots of smokey eyes with this.

I've been complaining about the weather a lot lately, so I was forced to try to take photos inside, where the light is... lacking, to be kind. This photo is meant to demonstrate coverage with one swipe. Everything's washed out, especially my lip pigment.

So maybe the color's off, but hopefully you'll get the idea....

That's really excellent coverage without a liner! Seriously- no liner. Pure Spanking Haute out of the tube on half of my lips, a bit washed out. However, if the lightest shade is this opaque, you know how the darker shades will be.

I had a hard time getting an accurate full-lips shot, so I'll just point you back to the hand swatch since it's accurate. I think it would've melted if I would've gone outside.

In terms of wear time, about 3-4 hours or until I eat/drink. I'm totally in love with the formula and find it a bit moisturizing. I wish these would be permanent. Until then, nab them at your local counter or online for the next month or so. Don't wait though!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

NOTD: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Tawny Travels

Yowsa, it's hot outside lately.

So hot that one of the local meteorologists proclaimed proudly on Monday regarding his 10-day forecast "that's almost 1000 degrees!"

Gee, thanks.

When it's this hot outside, several things happen in my life.

  1. I immediately face plant into a cool bed in the dark when I come home from work, devoid of all ability to function having dealt with the inferno.
  2. I lose my ambition to paint my nails frequently.
  3. Since it's never just hot but always the best combo ever of hot plus humid, I'm always looking for a longwear gel formula for my nails.

Enter this week's nail color, a drugstore gem I picked up at CVS this week (they're on sale- seriously, so cheap you guys) as part of another starter kit. The brush on my original topcoat had a bit of an accident. I haven't spotted this color at Rite Aid, Walmart, Target, or outside of these two-packs.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish 630 Tawny Travels is a muted orangey red that reminds me vaguely of a more intense version of one of my all-time summer favorites- Julep Nan.

When I think of 100 (which was the actual forecast high here yesterday, with a "cool" 99 today), I think orangey red.

I don't think I've featured this formula before, but it's pretty amazing. No base coat needed, just make sure that your nails are freshly cleaned with remover. Each shade is perfect in 1-3 coats, depending on the polish. The most frequent number of coats is 2.  I've got 3 on my nails plus the Miracle Gel topcoat on my nails here.

I've been rotating a number of longwear formulas that can be found at Ulta or your local drugstore as of late- Essie Gel Couture, Sally Hansen Miracle Gel, OPI Infinite Shine, Essie with the Gel Setter Top Coat.... they're all pretty awesome. Right now I'm digging the number of shades and the formula of the Miracle Gel.

I've got Tawny Travels on my nails and Mauve-olous on my toes for a change of pace. Somehow it seems right as hot as it is.

Please send ice cream. And fall!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Foreo Luna Play

I've purposely held off on this post although anyone who has browsed my Instagram has seen a preview of what I might say today. Since we're talking both skincare and a cleansing device, I wanted to put it through its paces before really giving it an honest review. And let me also put this out there: I paid full price for mine and did not get mine through a subscription box.

What is it? It's the Foreo Luna Play ($39, available in 7 colors), a mini version of the Foreo Luna sonic cleansing brush. Each one is non-rechargable and is pre-loaded with 100 uses. It is designed for either travel or for how I used it- a way to honestly take a silicone cleansing tool for a real life trial without committing to a full-sized version ($99 and up, but included in Nordstrom's Anniversary sale).

How does the manufacturer describe it? From Foreo's website,

"Though small in size, the LUNA play facial-cleansing brush is big on innovation. Packing the entire LUNA experience into a macaroon-sized device, the LUNA play is a fun and affordable intro to the amazing skincare benefits that come from T-Sonic cleansing.
Every LUNA play face brush provides up to 100 full cleansing routines and is non rechargeable.

Experience T-Sonic pulsations with the LUNA play.  Soft silicone touch-points gently remove dead skin cells, unclogs pores of makeup residue, and removes up to 99.5% of dirt and oil. Your skin will be left glowing, soft and smooth.

The LUNA play’s 2-zone facial brush features finer touch-points which cleanse sensitive/normal skin on larger areas like the cheeks and forehead, while thicker touch-points provide a deep and precise cleansing on areas like the T-zone."

What type of skin does QBB have? Highly sensitive, mild rosacea in the cheek area, slightly oily just around the nose and chin with a few enlarged pores. QBB is in her early-to-mid 30s, with only the monthly hormonal 1-2 pimples reminding me of my biological clock. Otherwise, QBB has very smooth, mostly unblemished skin without acne scarring or sun damage. During winter, QBB's skin is exceptionally dry; during summer it becomes about normal. In a nutshell, I'm not exceptionally oily or problematic- I mostly just try not to poke the bear and it's pretty happy as long as I throw moisture at it and keep it clean.

What was QBB's cleaning routine before trying this? It depended on whether I was a morning or evening shower. If showering in the AM, a creamy cleanser in the shower (Chanel Mousse Douceur, one of my faves). If showering in the PM, I'd use the same creamy cleanser but then in the AM use a foamy cleanser to wash my face like L'Occitane Precious Cleansing Foam. I used my hands and a soft wash cloth. I rarely exfoliate because of the sensitivity of my skin.

What other cleansing devices has QBB tried, and what was the outcome? HA! I had one and only experience with a Clarisonic, at a Nordstrom Beauty Trend Show. The brand reps were on hand, and I somewhat fearfully stood in line for the "best cleanse of my life". I relayed just how darned sensitive my skin was, they used the cashmere brush head (which works apparently on 99% of the population), and it hurt. I looked like a tomato within 30 seconds and the person wielding the device stopped and said "I'm sorry, honey. Don't ever let anyone use one of these on you again." So you can see why I was a bit leery of even the Foreo Luna Play. (I do have a Clarisonic, by the way- the Pedi. My feet love it.)

Phew, with those important details, let's talk about the Foreo Luna Play. First, it's tiny. This comparison picture to some of my favorite cleansers should give you a size reference:

I thought that it would be difficult to handle, but it took about 20 seconds to figure it out- and I actually like the size for really getting into my trouble areas like the pores on the side of my nose (TMI, I know). Here's the size of the button:

One of the major cons that people have mentioned is that it's not reusable and therefore it's bad for the environment. I don't know what to say other than we all make some choices that are better or worse for the environment than others. Make your own decisions... for me, it's been worth it.

You can use it with any creamy cleanser- I like so many on the market, but used mostly these two Chanels while testing:

Overall, I was stunned with the results. My skin feels smoother and cleaner- and I was shocked at just how much more stuff the Play was able to get off my skin than my regular cleansing routine. It's also gentle enough that my hyper-sensitive skin was never irritated by it. I never tried using it more than once a day, so I can't speak to those who would want to use it morning and night.

I'm hooked. For me, the biggest decision is which model to get- the Sensitive or the regular Mini? I can honestly see a difference in the texture of my skin and it's much healthier. I had my normal hormonal breakouts since starting to use it, but they're less intense. I can't recommend this enough to everyone.

I think the best way to handle this is via the comments- if you have questions, please shoot me a comment. Skincare is such a personalized experience, so I want to try to give the best answer possible.

Bottom line: Try it. JUST DO IT. It's only a $39 investment, but it's so worth it. Your skin will thank you!

Friday, July 22, 2016

LORAC Enchanting Elegance Eye/Cheek Palette

Today I have the other LORAC #Nsale Exclusive palette- the Enchanting Elegance Eye/Cheek Palette($18, currently). I had to have this one shipped, otherwise I probably would've tried this before the Refined Romance Palette (review here). That said, I want to give props to Nordstrom's shipping department. I ordered over the weekend and had it Tuesday afternoon! And given how much I fell in love with the other Lorac palette, I had my face all prepped for immediate swatching and testing Tuesday evening and all-day Wednesday- hence how quickly I got this one turned around for you!

Let's borrow the official description from Nordstrom:

"Inspired by elegant floral prints on the runway, the Enchanting Elegance Eye & Cheek Palette by LORAC features six universally flattering matte and shimmer eyeshadows, a shimmer highlighter and two satin blushes. It's everything you need to create beautiful, sophisticated and captivating looks.
Palette includes:
- 6 Eyeshadows - Cream (Matte), Light Brown (Shimmer), Dark Brown (Matte), Light Grey/Purple (Matte), Light Blue (Shimmer), Black (Matte) (0.22 oz.)
- Light Cream Highlighter (Shimmer) (0.08 oz.)
- 2 Blushes - Light Pink/Purple (Satin) and Fuchsia (Satin) (0.18 oz.)"

OK, let's start with the shallow part: these two palettes are just plain aesthetically pleasing. Here's a shot of these 2 cuties out of the box, together:

This is the cooler of the two options- I think you saw just how deep, warm, and fall the other palette pulled on me (I can't put that berry out of my head, BTW! Just not in 100 degree heat!). Normally I'd shy away from blues, but ironically it was the blue that pulled me in via the stock photo:
In that stock photo, it seemed to be a little bit blue-grey to me. I think I've teased you long enough before showing you what the pans look like:

I didn't mention it before, but there's a Lorac plastic overlay when you first open it up.

It's very pretty.

The pans are really securely in there, even though it's a cardboard palette. In terms of travel ease, it's really awesome.

For the purposes of this review, here's how I numbered the eyeshadows:

Eyeshadow #1 (Cream-Matte): I love these type of colors, and I'm a really tough critic of them. Why? They're workhorses for me, and if a brand can do them right, it's less other products that I have to carry around when traveling. Nailing this type of shade is essential in my mind.

Eyeshadow #2 (Light Brown- Shimmer): Ooh, this is the type of shade that I get lost into for long stretches of time. It's an easy-peasy all-over lid shade right now, and will be a nice accent when it's cooler.

Eyeshadow #3 (Dark Brown- Matte): I really like LORAC's mattes- there's not a ton of fallout here. I could see this as a subtle liner; I tried it as an outer crease shade.

I was playing with flash/no flash, so I included both photos because they showcase different aspects of the shadows.

Eyeshadow #4 (Light Grey/Purple-Matte): I feel like this is one of those shades that have a lot of unexplored depth. It's got a lot of tones in it- grey, purple, taupe... I tried using it as a transition shade since it's a matte when testing the full palette look. I think it'd make a lovely larger base.

Here's a shot of it when I was applying the first testing look:

Eyeshadow #5 (Light Blue-Shimmer): Blue doesn't normally go well with my blue eyes, but something about this one called to me as being more of a silvery blue. I was right. It's breathtaking, and makes an incredible lid color.

Eyeshadow #6 (Black-Matte): It's good to see how LORAC does black shadows; certainly much better than MAC Carbon. It made a nice, subtle liner.

Just like before, swatches both with and without swatches:

Before we move on to the cheek products, let's take a moment to talk specifically about this selection of shadows and compared to the Refined Romance Palette. The first thing that jumps out at me is that this is a mostly (4/6) matte palette, whereas Refined Romance was mostly Shimmer (4/6). I love that LORAC did it this way, making them truly complimentary at a low price.

In terms of performance, these lasted all day on me. I really am loving LORAC's formula and am considering picking up other palettes from the brand.

Now, let's talk cheek products:

Highlighter (Light Cream): This is another high-shine highlighter. It's very color-neutral, and would work on any number of skintones. I tried it with the lighter blush, but didn't photograph it because I had to use such a light hand due to the shimmery blush. I really like it, and think it would work with any number of looks.

Blush #1 (Light Pink/Purple-Satin): OK, I'm in love with this. You don't need a highlighter with this one because it's so shimmery. I was able to blend it nicely and make it work for me. I'll totally wear this in the fall once the shimmer comes back out. Out of all of the cheek products I tested in both Lorac palettes, this is my favorite.

Blush #2 (Fuschsia-Satin): I'm going to be 100% honest, this scares me. I didn't play with it at first simply because there's no way it would work on me the second that my skin flushed in the heat. I look forward to playing with this once it's about 40-50 degrees cooler out. I have swatched it for you though!

In terms of performance, the blush and highlighter performed lovely. My initial application was over L'Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte and Chanel Les Beiges, and it lasted flawlessly until I took it off about 6 hours later. My full-day test lasted a full 8 hours before showing initial signs of fading but did make it a full 12 hours.

The cheek colors read "not summer" to me, but the eyeshadows are more year-around neutrals to me.

Here's a couple photos of the palette in testing.

#1 to browbone, #4 as transition, #3 in outer crease, #2 inner lid, #5 middle to outer lid, #6 liner

That's the lighter blush-no highlighter-in action

Now, let's have some real talk. Yes, that's an eye look with all 6 eye shades on a small eye. Some bloggers might try to pass this off as a normal, everyday look. Unless you're a MUA, I'm not sure who does a look like that every day.

That's what I would call "let's test it all at once jammed on one eye" look. I would probably use 3 or 4 of them, max.

That aside, when I did my initial look, my first thought was "wow, that's really pretty. And soft." So with that in mind, I really recommend this palette. I'd recommend this palette at a much higher price point. At $18, I think you're crazy to pass it up. Bottom line, GO! Get this! You won't regret it.