Birchbox September 2018

This one isn’t so late because I’ve been busy! This one is late because Birchbox is maybe the most boring subscription I’ve ever had. Actually, I’ve had two because I’m a reasonable person. Birchbox is definitely the most boring. Proof: I haven’t even opened my October box yet. It’s here. I have it. I just don’t care enough to open it.

I didn’t select anything special for this month. I think I looked. For October I didn’t even look at the email. November is my last box. I’m really glad that I’m not locked into a full year. I’ll probably take two or three months off from subscriptions to use up some products, then try Sephora play. I might be a masochist.

My birchbox products sitting on top of the September box. This box is dark blue and has some geometric shapes on it.

This month I took my pictures on my art table under my nice drawing lamp. I didn’t need to white balance anything. I think they came out better, considering I’m still using my cell phone for them. Unfortunately, Baker can’t get up on this table. I’ll find a way to sneak you guys some more pictures of him in another post.

What’s in my box?

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish™ Hot Cloth Cleanser

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. It comes in a mint colored bottle. I love mint colored things.

Guys, we’re fancy. This came with it’s own cloth! Your washrags at home are too impure for your face, okay? You need this special 100% pure cotton cloth.

Oh, and the “Hot Cloth” part? It’s not a warming face wash. You use hot water to remove it. I’m glad it’s not warming, because that sounds awful for your face. I think some people were surprised about that, though.

A white cloth with mint trim. Fancy.

The border matches the bottle! It was more crisp when I first got it, but it bunched up after I washed it. You’re getting the reality pictures here.

I actually really like the product. It’s moisturizing and doesn’t feel like it strips my skin. I like the eucalyptus smell. It doesn’t irritate my eyes and removes my scary waterproof mascara very well. And it makes my skin feel so soft!

I don’t like how many times Birchbox used the word “pure” for them. That kind of skeeves me out. Usually excessive claims of purity have a tinge of “chemicals are scary!” or racism. I’m not here for either of those things. And they recommend throwing away each rag I mean, cloth after each bottle of cleanser. That’s wasteful. It’s a cloth. If you wash it, it’s fine.

Purchase or pass: I have to use up my current cleanser stash. Then I think I’ll try Pond’s cold cream. This is a fancy 5x the price version of that. If Pond’s isn’t as good, I would consider buying this.

Chella Eyebrow Pencil in Tantalizing Taupe

Chella eyebrow pencil. It's a little twist up pencil in a plastic tube. This picture is a little blurry, so if you're relying on captions please know that you REALLY aren't missing much.

TANTALIZING TAUPE. Taupe is never tantalizing, but okay. I’ve been using this pencil every day. I think at the beginning it was giving me more crisp lines, but I’ve worn the edge down. It’s hard to get it back because it’s such a small area. Oh well. My usual problem with brow pencils is that black is too dark for my hair, but the browns are orange. This one isn’t! I swatched for you, but don’t have a picture of it it in my brows. I need to shape them. Apparently that’s where my line for dignity is right now.

Chella eyebrow pencil swatched on my wrist. It doesn't quite draw smoothly. There are some darker, grittier parts. I don't have a problem with this because my eyebrows are so thick. If yours are thinner or lighter it may not look great.

Purchase or pass: It has microplastics in it. That’s a pass.

Number 4™ Jour d’automne Smoothing Balm

Number 4 Jour d'automne Smoothing Balm. It's just a white bottle. Minimalism means high quality, right? They've got a little cartoon bird with a snorkel on here. I'm not sure why.

Birchbox sent me a leave in conditioner type thing from Number 4 last month. This is technically a different product and works a little better for my hair. I’m still mad. I didn’t have my husband buy me a subscription (lol) to get repeats.

Purchase or pass: It’s so boring. I use it once a week and can only say that it doesn’t do anything detrimental. Pass.

M·A·C Cosmetics In Extreme Dimension 3D Black Lash Mascara

MAC Extreme Dimension 3D Black Lash. They sent this in a little squeezy tube instead of a normal bottle. It's black (surprise) with white letters.

This is my first MAC product! I was so excited! It’s another mascara that barely shows up on my lashes. Oh well. Here’s a brush picture because I know some of you are Very Into that.

The brush for the MAC mascara. It has A TON of skinny bristles. Maybe the most dense I've used.

I’m assuming it’s the same as the real product even though the sample packaging is that terrible pouch form that I hate.

Purchase or pass: Nah.

[ comfort zone ] Hydramemory Cream Gel

[ comfort zone ] Hydramemory cream gel. Yes, they insist on those awful brackets. This tube boasts 24 hr "double hydration", whatever that is. The color of the tube is great, though. A light purple that isn't lavender. I've been really into the millennial pastels trending lately.

I’ve kept this empty tube around for three weeks so that I could take faux unboxing pictures for you. Please compliment my blogging dedication.

The moisturizer was fine. I needed to use it twice a day, so the 24 hour claim on the bottle is a lie. My favorite part of it was the smell. It’s HEAVILY scented, but I was into it. It reminded me of a lot of k-beauty things I’ve tried.

Purchase or pass: I was fine with this as a mediocre entry level moisturizer, but this is $64. That’s hilarious. I am absolutely never buying it.

I mean..at least Birchbox isn’t making me angry, right? It’s a little weird to have mediocre products sent to your door every month, though. Is anyone else having this experience with Birchbox?

BioRepublic Lost Baggage Eye Mask Review

I noticed when writing my year of ipsy post that I hadn’t reviewed these eye mask from February. I found the pictures that I took for that review! I’m not sure why I didn’t write it up until now. February/March was the peak of finishing my class and looking for a new job, so maybe that’s why it fell through the cracks.

My photo editing app refused to open or save these guys, so read this review knowing that both past me AND my current phone do not want this review to see the light of day. The universe must think this is particularly controversial.

It’s not, really. Eye masks barely work. We’ve established this fact, right? If they do anything its plumping up the area around the edge of your eye bag so there’s a less prominent crease. This is also how current plastic surgery (fillers) options go. They don’t suck things out, they plump the rest up.

Anyway. The product:
Image of the front packaging for BioRepublic's Lost Baggage Under Eye Emergency Repair masks. They show a stylized winking face wearing their masks. Their description: A pair of biocellulose under eye masks with a restorative serum containing Hylaluronic Acid, Rose Water, and Syn-Tacks (Peptide Blend)

I picked it as a points sample because I like masks and The BioRepublic ones I previously got from ipsy didn’t feel like rubbing battery acid on my face.

I looked up Syn-Tacks(TM) because I genuinely love figuring out what these weird proprietary things are. I love that it has the word “tack” in it. Doesn’t the word “tack” just make you want to put this on the delicate area under your eye? Please hire a naming consultant.

The official science word on Syn-Tacks is that after two months of use, skin is 23% more compact. There’s a cool electron microscope image from a study on my link in the above paragraph.

I didn’t wear these eye masks for two months, so they didn’t do anything.

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Weird* that the packaging doesn’t tell you that their star ingredient only works after two months.

*Not weird at all.

Here’s my before face. Note that I’ve clearly slept more since the last time I tried eye masks for the blog.

Picture of my bare face. Groundbreaking.

And wearing the BioRepublic masks:
Selfie of me wearing the BioRepublic Lost Baggage Eye Masks. They're little white fat banana shaped pads.
I’m pulling a face because they’re very slippery. I had to move them back up for this photo.

Or is the face because I’ve just noticed this?
The masks are actually a stack of individual sheets. Here's one.

Each mask is actually a little stack of individual sheets. Maybe this keeps them so moist? If I had known that before I was using them, I would have tried to pull them apart and get more uses out of them. Unfortunately, the thinner eye didn’t do a much better job of staying up.

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I took them off and gave up after this. They wouldn’t stay put for much longer than 30 seconds.

I would only recommend masks like this for the relaxation factor, and these don’t even manage that.

Stuff I Liked: September 2018

This is only a week late! I’d apologize for neglecting my blog, but traffic was actually up in September for the first time since I’ve started my new job.Bar graph of traffic from April to September. There was a steady decrease, but September raised a little bit from August.
I guess I’m doing fine blogging, then. I’ve got a September Birchbox post in the works, as well. I’ve used up some of the samples but am keeping the empty bottles around so that I can take pictures of them in a faux unboxing photo set. Now you know the secret.

We’re moved in, unpacked, and I’ve started to hang up some art. I bought and assembled an office chair. Things haven’t quite calmed down, though. We’re working on getting our heat set up for the winter. The house currently has a decrepit oil system in the basement. It’s converted from COAL. It has little door to shovel the coal into and everything. There’s no way that it’s going to last for as long as we want to live here.

I’ve done a wee bit of painting. You guys like the watercolors, right?
Scan of a watercolor painting of a green sea turtle. This is Myrtle, if you've been to the New England Aquarium. The colors are a little muted.
I’m still working on how to digitize them. I think that photographs (below) look better than scans (above).
The same postcard, but photographed with my phone under bright light. Myrtle is much brighter and contrasts with the ocean water around her. I've put three blue blocks of paint under her and my brushes above her for the aesthetic.
I need to play with my scanner settings some more, but I think that I’ll end up pulling out my good camera going forward. Anyone have any tips?

ICYMI/Blog Stuff

Stuff I liked July 2018/August 2018
Funkless Deodorant Tangerine & Lime Review My holy grail, eco-friendlier deodorant. I’d post this in the summer if I was more savvy about my clicks. What’s up Southern Hemisphere?
Birchbox August 2018
Clinique Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator Review
Rimmel Lasting Finish Colour Rush in Give Me a Cuddle Review
Tomoson Review
Valjean Labs Facial Serum in Hydrate

Grumpy Skin has a facebook page! I’m not being irritating with it, WordPress just wont push to private pages anymore. Give it a like, if that’s your thing.

Books

Heathen by Natasha Alterici and Rachel Deering
I am HERE for some modernized Norse mythology. I’m also very deceived by the library categorizing this as teen. There are a ton of boobs. I tried to read it on my break at work.

I did not get fired, so we’re good.

Ms Marvel Volume 7 by G. Willow Wilson and Takeshi Miyazawa
I’m still SUPER INTO Ms. Marvel. It’s all ages, but somehow more political and current than a lot of the “adult” comics I read.

Fruits Basket Volume 4 by Natsuki Takaya
Getting this from the library has been an ordeal. Someone entered the original volumes and the collected volumes as the same book into the catalog. I’ve been having to request three or four books before I get the right one. Worth it. Furuba is holding up.

Video Games

I’ve been desperately trying to play through my Steam sale haul before Fallout 76 comes out. I haven’t decided if I want to play it or not, but I want to be ready if I do. I’ve opened the pre-order page a few times and keep deciding that I don’t want to spend $60 on maybe liking a multiplayer game yet. We’ll see.

Fallout 4 Another great game with a subpar ending from Bethesda. And bugged, oh man. I’m so glad the internet exists to tell me how to get around game breaking bugs. It was fun, though. I’ll probably do what I did with Skyrim and spend a year replaying it while mostly ignoring the plot.

Final Fantasy 7 I desperately wanted this game in high school. I couldn’t find a copy of it to save my life. I’m glad I’m finally getting the chance to play through it. Though it has aged HORRIBLY. There’s a particularly bad part of the story where you crossdress to save one of your party members from potential sex work. Man. I’m really curious how faithful the remake will be. It needs some updates.

Movies


Guess who ugly cried over the Captain Marvel trailer? I did. She’s my absolute favorite Marvel character. I’m excited and terrified for the movie.

How was your October? More importantly, do you also stan Captain Marvel?

Valjean Labs Facial Serum in Hydrate

I’m reviewing another part of my TJ Maxx impulse buy. The (fake) frosted glass of the Valjean Labs bottles got me, okay? If you missed it, I also picked up a facial mist. I like it despite not wanting to repurchase.

This, on the other hand..
Valjean Labs' Hydrate facial serum with hyaluronic acid and vitamin b5. It's light blue liquid in a frosted dropper bottle.

It seems like it would be straightforward. Hyaluronic acid helps your skin retain moisture and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is supposed to be good for acne. I don’t have issues with acne, but I’m always looking for ways to up my skin’s hydration.

Full disclosure: I thought that vitamin B5 was niacinamide. It’s not. That’s vitamin B3. Maybe that’s why I don’t think this is working as well? I expected to flush like I do with niacinamide and I don’t get that..because that’s not what it is. We’re all learning here.

The back of the bottle. It says that the serum is super concentrated and to think of it as supplements for your face.

Shout out to Valjean labs for saying that their serum is super concentrated without giving ingredients percentages! Those are useless, empty words. The lack of transparency inactive ingredients is actually why I wont shell out for Glossier’s serums despite desperately, desperately wanting to believe in their effortless beauty marketing.

I used this serum correctly the first few times I tried it. A few drops into my hand, rub it on my face, wait and then moisturize. I actually felt like it was drying my skin out. I think it smells like alcohol. I’m not sure where that’s coming from.

All I know is that I now essentially dump it on my face, don’t wait for it to dry, and slather my moisturizer on top of it. I think it works a little better this way. I’m mostly trying to get through it at this point. I don’t think it’s doing much for me. Since it’s not breaking me out I’m having trouble making myself throw it away.

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I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to stand using it, though. The little dropper doesn’t have great suction and will only fill to the product level in the bottle.

Edit: The dropper did give out on me! I ended up pouring it on my face. Since my goal was to get through the bottle as quickly as possible, I was fine with it.

Does anyone have a good serum I should try?

Tomoson Review

We’re going a little meta today. Blogging about blogging.

Tomoson is a platform that many bloggers use to get free stuff. Uh, I mean, it’s a platform that bloggers use to receive items for “testing and review”. I understand why it exists on both sides. Bloggers spend a lot of time, effort and their own money to grow their blog. New businesses have trouble getting the word out about their products. I don’t have a problem with the idea of these kinds of platforms.

I’m on a few of them. I’ve been a member of Influenster since before I had a blog. I’ve received items from Brand Backer. I tried Tomoson.

I’m not above wanting free stuff. The problem with these platforms is that you’re often incentivized to leave positive reviews to keep receiving things. With Tomoson in particular, “influencers”/bloggers are rated by the company they work with, with the more legit companies seeking out people that have done more campaigns and have a higher rating.

What ends up happening is that people request a lot of the easy items to review (ebooks, weird supplements) in hopes that one day they can get nice products. A lot of these campaigns request Amazon reviews. Amazon has a HUGE problem with fake reviews at the moment. I wasn’t planning to be part of the problem.

I did one campaign for a menstrual cup, Cali Cup, which was great. It’s a genuinely good product that I was happy to put the word out about. I did a facebook and instagram post for them. And then nothing. I realized that I needed to play the game and do some ebook reviews.

Now, I like books. I just thought that the ebooks on Tomoson seemed like garbage. I bit the bullet and requested a kind of self-help/time management/personal success book. Right up my alley. I love planning stuff. I thought FOR SURE I could find something nice to say about this book.

Guys. Entire pages were missing from it. Short lists of tips had duplicates. There were weird condescending bits about kids these days. The author photo was a stock photo. This was a clear scam product.

I had no way to report the listing on Amazon for being a sham book. There was no option to contact Tomoson directly about my issues with the product. I emailed the company through the platform and told them about the missing pages and poor editing, asking if I had received a draft. They just emailed me the same book in a different format.

So my options were to give the book a nice Amazon review, or to not submit anything and let my account be shut down for not completing a campaign. I didn’t complete the campaign.

And now I’m SUPER suspicious of any disclaimer that says the item they received was from Tomoson. There’s absolutely no product oversight on that platform. I don’t want free stuff that badly. Neither should you.

(Edit: Side note, pretty sure that leaving Amazon reviews in exchange for products is against their ToS and people are having their accounts shut down for that. Fun and good ethics all around!)

Rimmel Lasting Finish Colour Rush in Give Me a Cuddle Review

I’m still working my way through my lip color collection one week at a time. This week I tried to wear Rimmel’s Lasting Finish Colour Rush lip balm in Give Me A Cuddle for a solid week.

I mean, I succeeded. It just wasn’t the most fun.The tube of Rimmel's Lasting Finish Colour Rush in Give Me a Cuddle. The silver lettering is rubbing off.

This is where I confess to you that I bought this lip balm three years ago. That’s why the label looks so godawful. You can still purchase it, so I could have pretended that I bought it last week.

This blog isn’t about my dignity.

A shot of the opened gloss stick. It's sort of like a lipstick, but is supposed to be more hydrating. It looks like a balm and a lipstick had a baby. It doesn't act that way.

Three years ago I knew that I wanted to wear lipstick, but was having some trouble easing into it. This lip balm looked like a nice tame pink. At least on me. Some reviewers said it was too candy pink for them.

There is no flash in the image on the left. The image on the right has flash.

I can see the candy pink complaints. I do think this balm applies pretty thin, so you can adjust it to be less bright.

On my lips. A thin, baby pink.

It looks fine, right? Barely even there. That’s what I was going for three years ago. The problem is that this balm isn’t particularly hydrating. And while it’s not an in your face color, it does dry my lips out and the resulting flakes are BRIGHT PINK. I don’t have an at the end of the workday picture for you because I wiped this off at lunch every day. It didn’t matter that I used my lip mask the night before. It didn’t matter if I exfoliated and hydrated in the morning before the application.

In the trash it goes. It’s not a good track record for Rimmel’s lip products. I also trashed some of their glosses for drying me out.

Clinique Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator Review

This lotion has a NAME. Surge! Intense! It’s making some claims. And it should for $40.

I didn’t pay $40 for a lotion, don’t worry. I got a sample using ipsy points back in May.

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You might remember that I wasn’t initially impressed with it. I didn’t think that it was moisturizing nearly as well as my CeraVe. A bunch of you yelled at me to really give it a chance because you love it.

And you were right. I just wasn’t using enough.

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I had to hurry to take pictures before I used it all.

A 7 mL sample lasted me for a month of once daily use. I still used my CeraVe at night. Why only once a day? This lotion doesn’t make my sunscreen pill up. I was rationing it. The pill life is real, but I refuse to try new sunscreen when I have so much left of what I’m using.

It hydrates well when you slather it on and dries pretty quickly. It doesn’t have any added fragrance, but does smell faintly of alcohol. Butylene glycol (an alcohol) is the fourth ingredient. My organic chemistry classes didn’t teach me to identify alcohols based on smell, but I think that might be it.

So, am I going to start budgeting for an annual fund of $80 on morning moisturizer alone? I was pretty tempted. It’s good. BUT it contains some of the micro-plastics that I’m trying to avoid in my skincare. Environmentalism has saved my wallet.

I think that the major ingredient my daily CeraVe doesn’t have is squalane. I’m going to try adding a squalane serum to my routine and continue to pray for a sunscreen that doesn’t pill with my current set up.

Any squalane recommendations for me?