Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wet 'n Wild Color Icon Blushes

I'm not exactly sure why it was that I went on a massive Wet 'n Wild binge. Call it a mixture of watching YouTube, drugstore incentives, and being bored with high end releases. I picked up most of the blushes from Wet 'n Wild, and I've been putting them to the test. Sorry about the flashback on the blushes, but it's the best that I can do right now. #renovationproblems #noplacetophotograph

Between my local Target, Walmart, CVS, RiteAid, and Walgreens, I found five different shades of Wet 'n Wild Color Icon Blushes. MSRP varies, but the average price I found was about $2.99 each for 0.2oz of product.

In all of my photos, I'm wearing the same face products to control for differences in performance. And- it's a good way to test two of these items.  Concealer: L'Oreal True Match Concealer Crayon (I'll be talking about this whole line soon), Foundation: Bobbi Brown Tinted Moisturizer Oil Free- Alabaster Tint (a use it up item), Powder: Maybelline Shine-Free Loose Powder (which I'm testing as an alternative to high-end face powders.

Shade 325B- Pearlescent Pink

When I purchased this shade, I was a little surprised that it's called a pink. It's more of a peachy shade that's nothing but money on me.  It's just gorgeous. It shows up way pinker in photographs than in person.

There's a sheen but it's totally understated and lovely. It's not obnoxious and it feels much more expensive than the price tag. This is another blush that went into my everyday makeup drawer for immediate rotation (more on that later). I do like this a lot.

I do feel that it might be a little more spring/summer than fall, but I do like it.

This is one of my favorite shades of the bunch.

Shade 326B- Rose Champagne

This was the first one that I tried out. It's a really nice, mellow neutral shade. I will admit that upon application, my first thought was "whoa glitter cheeks." I should've known with the gold glitter visible in the pan. I've been using mostly matte or satin blushes as of late, but it did settle down to a rather obvious sheen. Perhaps I just put way too much on.

Throughout the day, it mellowed out a bit and it grew on me. In all fairness, I should've been in the mode of my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes before playing with these because any shimmer was a huge change for me. And in photographs I love the neutral shimmer.

I'm not sure what Rose Champagne the Wet 'n Wild shade namers are drinking, but... It's definitely not a Rose. Still, this is a lovely neutral blush with a bunch of shimmer that would be good on a tamed-down look day- think matte eyes and no highlighter to let this guy shine.

In terms of wear time, I was impressed (especially for the price point). I think this guy could make it through a full work day- but don't push it for Happy Hour!

Shade 327B- Apri-Cot in the Middle

I think this was the second shade that I picked up after Rose Champagne because it seemed like an awesome neutral shade for fall.

It photographs a bit lighter than it appears in the pan. It's the type of peachy neutral color that generally just works for me.

I was right. It's a gorgeous nude shade that's staying in my daily makeup drawer. It has a subtle sheen that's just incredible.

This is my favorite shade of the 5 and exactly the type of item I was hoping to discover when I bought the whole collection (keep in mind that I spent under $20 for the group- score!)

Shade 328B- Mellow Wine

This was actually the second shade that I tested- I needed a break from all teh glitterz. I'm also going to full disclosure- I tested this inside the house only because it's so much more pigmented than I prefer. Then why did I purchase it? I was interested in trying the only shade that appeared to not have any obvious glitter in it. I also didn't know what the color payoff would be.

I used an ancient Sephora Professional Angled Blush Brush #40 (synthetic, tends to diffuse color) in these photos. I really love the formula, but I don't feel comfortable with this bold of a blush since I have rosacea. No highlight or bronzer with this look.

Intellectually, this is a gorgeous shade and perfect for fall that I'd totally recommend to any of you. On me, however, it made me feel like I had a major concealer/foundation fail and my rosacea was showing.

Shade 329B- Fantastic Plastic Pink

Whoa Mama, this one is just... PINK! And GLITTER!  And that's just in the pan. With a bit of trepidation and remembering that it's just makeup, I set out to test the Barbie Pink of the group. I sat and side-eyed it for awhile but then remembered that I adore MAC Pink Swoon that also looks scary.

Just like with Mellow Wine, I went to my old trusty Sephora Professional Angled Blush Brush #40.

On my super-pale skin, it's almost obnoxious pink. And that's ok! I think this would be fun in like January or February with an icy look- like the cold temperatures have kissed your cheeks. It's very cool-toned. Here's the really crazy thing- I love the glitter. It doesn't translate as chunky on the cheeks as it does in the pan.

I like this! I need to play around with application a bit, but this blush is headed over to the spring/summer drawer.

Here's a heavy group swatch, using a large eyeshadow brush:

So, that's it for the five regular Color Icon Blushes that I was able to find! I have three other Ombre blushes to try out at a later date, but I think I'll give my cheeks a swatching break for a bit.

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.