What Subscription Box Should I Try Next?

June marks my last ipsy bag. Freedom!!

I wont be renewing the subscription, but I do really enjoy the idea of getting something in the mail every month. What do you guys think should be next for me? I’m leaning towards Birchbox. I’m going to pass on the sheet masks because of the waste. They’re in the poll because I acknowledge these boxes exist.

Descriptions of the options I’ve mapped out are below.

Birchbox – $10/month. Subscribers get a monthly box of makeup, skincare, and hair products. I’m leaning most towards this one.

Sephora Play – $10/month. Subscribers get a monthly box of makeup, skincare, and hair products. Reviews indicate that repeat items happen fairly often.

Facetory – $5.95/month + shipping for four masks or $15.95/month for seven. I think the price is a little steep for what it is, but sheet masks.

Glossybox – $17.50/month if you buy the year upfront. I don’t learn from my subscription mistakes, so I would. Subscribers get beauty products.

Mask Time – $51.85/month for 8-10 masks. A nice idea at a ridiculous price. Probably a better option for people in the UK.

Boxycharm – $19.25/month if you buy the year upfront. The draw of Boxycharm is that they do full sized beauty products. This is my current second choice.

BeautyFIX – $24.95/month. I don’t know as much about BeautyFIX. Is anyone getting them?

Feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments!

The Ordinary Granactive 2% Retinoid Emulsion Review

Are you guys ready for the only thing that I’ve liked from The Ordinary so far? ( To refresh your memory, I haven’t been a huge fan of their Glycolic Acid or Caffeine Solution.)

You’ve read the title, so you know that we’re talking about their retinoid today.

 

Retinols/retinoids are typically used for anti-aging and acne. I don’t have much trouble with acne, so I’m using this product for it’s anti-aging benefits. Real talk: it’s basically impossible to evaluate how well an anti-aging product is working for me personally. I’m in my 20s. Maybe I’ll look like an unwrinkled toddler when I’m 70. It could be because I used this for 50 years, or my genetics. We’ll never know.

Having said that, I like this product. My skin has become so much softer since I’ve started using it. It’s easy to use, not sticky, and absorbs well. There was a very short adjustment period where I noticed the smallest clogged pores as my skin adjusted, but no crazy “purge” or irritation. I’m also a huge fan of The Ordinary reminding people to use sun protection when they use this. Do you know why my skin feels so soft since using a retinoid? It’s because I’m dissolving the top layer off of it. Wear your sunscreen.

I do have one complaint.

 

It’s runny and just ever so slightly yellow tinged, which means it looks exactly like pus to me. There’s a faint yeast smell to it. I had trouble identifying the smell until I found a pizza that smelled just like it. The yeast smell could mean that there’s some GMO technology at work here. I’m fine with GMOs. Or my nose is off. We’ll never know.

30 mL for $10 is great, so I’m planning on repurchasing when I run out. Maybe the color or consistency will be better by then. I wrote this a little while ago. Until The Ordinary gets themselves sorted out, I’m in the market for a new retinoid. Do you have any suggestions?

 

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution Review

Bottle of The Ordinary's Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution.

Another day, another product from The Ordinary that I’m disappointed in. This toner isn’t as bad as the caffeine solution, but I still wont be repurchasing it. Partly because of the drama, partly because it hurts my face.

I’m a reformed physical exfoliator. Scrubbing your skin within an inch of its life to reveal a new layer is satisfying. I get it. It’s also terrible for you. This is where chemical exfoliants come in. The idea is that they also remove that first (dead) layer of skin, but less traumatically, clearing up skin texture and imperfections.

I’ve been alternating this a few times a week with my retinoid. I haven’t noticed a difference in my skin quality. I do think it’s doing something because it stings and dries my skin out. It also leaves a film that doesn’t go away until I wash my face the next morning. Yum.
Photo of the directions. Tells you to use it once a day, preferably at night & to not rinse it off or get it in your eyes.
The instructions explicitly tell you not to rinse your face, so I might not be alone. Though that reminder could also be there because products aren’t magic and don’t work perfectly with 0.1 seconds of exposure to your skin. Don’t rush your routine!

Props to The Ordinary for reminding everyone to wear sunscreen, though. I appreciate that. You especially need it when you’re exfoliating/using actives.

I think that I would benefit from a toner that has a lower acid content or more moisturizing factors to balance out the acid. Some people have success with using this on their arms or legs, so this may be demoted to a body care product.

I’m considering trying Pixi’s Glow Tonic instead. It has a slightly lower glycolic acid percentage, and most people think this is a dupe for that product. What do you guys think? What’s your favorite chemical exfoliant?

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution + 5% EGCG Review

Alright guys, I’m finally getting around to reviewing my mini haul from The Ordinary (via Sephora, because TO can’t figure out how to take my money directly) that I made in January. I gave myself enough time to properly integrate the products and use them enough to see what they are (or aren’t) doing for me.

If you’ve read my post about The Ordinary drama, you’ll know I wont repurchase anything. Uh. Spoilers.

 

 

First up is the Caffeine Solution. People lose their minds for this stuff. It’s supposed to help with under eye bags and discoloration. We’ve seen my eye bags on the blog before. Now, this solution isn’t supposed to be magic for my situation. Most of my puffiness comes from how my fat deposits sit, but I do have some discoloration and get some sleepy puffiness on top of that.

I gave it a solid three months of twice daily use. Nothing.

Actually, okay, nothing is a lie. My under eye situation got worse. This product has a weird formula. A little goes a very, very, very long way. It’s hard to use a small enough amount of this product. It leaves a weird film as it dries. Any concealer that you put on above it balls up and doesn’t blend properly. It burns if you get it too close to your eyes. And what really takes the cake is that I think it’s drying my skin out. I didn’t have issues with crepe-y skin before, and I do after using this on my eyes for two months. That’s unforgivable.

And to add injury to it all, check out this lid:

Image of The Ordinary's Caffeine Solution bottle. The threading is jacked up so it doesn't completely close.

It won’t close. The threading is all jacked up.
The only upside is that this was only $7, so I don’t feel too bad about throwing it away.

Have you tried anything from The Ordinary? Did it work how you expected?

Sephora Collection Sleeping Mask in Pearl

I was so mad at myself for buying this when it arrived with the rest of my order. I had read reviews talking about what a great value it was at $4. And yes, Sephora is expensive, but I had something larger in mind.

Image of me holding the Sephora pearl sleeping mask in its packaging. It's a tiny foil topped plastic container inside of a cardboard box. The box makes it look like there's more product than there is.  Side view of the Sephora Pearl sleeping mask. The box is maybe two centimeters tall.

Image of the Sephora Pearl sleeping mask's tiny tub. It's got a large pocket of air in it and I haven't even opened it.

I work in milliliters, and am still not sure how this is 8mL.

Now that I’ve complained, guess how many uses I got out of this? Five. That brings us down to 80 cents a use. I think that’s an acceptable value for a treat. I was wrong, Sephora. A little goes a long way with this sleeping mask.

I also genuinely enjoyed using it. It reminded me a lot like a sheet mask, but I didn’t feel like I was creating as much trash. I was able to goop enough on that I got a nice, cooling sensation for a few minutes. I do recommend giving yourself some buffer time between putting this on and going to bed. I didn’t have to wipe it off my face, but it did take a little while (10-15 minutes) to absorb enough that I didn’t feel like it would just disappear into my pillow.

The pearl “flavor” advertises that it “evens and helps minimize irregularities for skin tone that is even, fresher, and brighter”. I don’t really have skin irregularities (?) or worry about uneven skin tone, but I did think my skin felt moisturized in the morning. After five uses I’m also tempted to say that my skin looked “brighter”, but I am also in the middle of updating my skincare routine. Nicer skin could be due to a number of things at the moment.

Oh no, I guess that means I have to try this again when my routine settles down so that I can scientifically say if it actually works or not.

The next time I order from Sephora I’m going to buy every “flavor” of these. They may be replacing my sheet mask habit.

My Current Skincare Routine — March 2018

I posted about my basic routine back in November, before I bought some new products to try from The Ordinary. I’ve also started wearing sunscreen on my face every day. Even in the winter. Even when it snows.

It’s important to note that it took me two months to integrate these three products into my routine. People that are posting about how they starting using all these new products on their face one week are either lying to you and getting their sponsorship money, or have skin of steel that they don’t actually need to put thought into taking care of.

The Routine:

As always, go see a dermatologist, even if it’s just for a skin check and you don’t have anything that you’re concerned about.

Image of my current morning skincare products. I've got a konjac sponge, CeraVe foaming facial cleanser, CeraVe moisturizing cream, Eucerin SPF lotion, and Dickinson's witch hazel toner.
AM
– Cleanse with konjac sponge and CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
– Dickinson’s Hydrating Toner
I still want to try a different daily toner. I’m almost done with this one and am taking suggestions!
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
I’ve been using the same tub of this for a year and a half. It’s bottomless.
– Wait at least ten minutes.
My sunscreen doesn’t play well with my moisturizer. It goes streaky and gross if I don’t wait long enough to let it soak in.
– Eucerin Daily Hydration 30 SPF
It’s drying and leaves a white cast on my skin. I want to switch it out so badly, but I should wait until I settle on a new toner.

Image of my current night time skincare products. I've got the konjac sponge, CeraVe foaming facial cleanser, and CeraVe moisturizing cream again. I've also added The Ordinary's Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution and Granactive Retinoid 2% emulsion.
PM

– Cleanse with konjac sponge and CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
The Ordinary’s Granactive 2% Retinoid Emulsion every three days, at least 20 minutes after I’ve washed my face to allow my skin’s pH to return to normal.
The Ordinary’s Glycolic Acid Toner also every three days, typically the day after I’ve used the retinoid.
– A mask once or twice a week. The bubble clay and these sheet masks are my current favorites. Clay or otherwise drying masks are used on my third day of the three day retinoid/glycolic acid cycle.
The Ordinary’s Caffeine Solution
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

Further Tweaking:
I’d like to add some more hydration to my routine. I’ve been eyeing The Ordinary’s Buffet and Rose Hip Seed Oil.
I want to try new toners, even though the one I have now is totally fine.
I also desperately want a sunscreen that isn’t so dry and white.

I think I’m definitely on my way to having a scary intricate routine.
It’s a journey. Where are you on yours?

 

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel

First things first: I did not buy this $50 moisturizer. I got a sample with my Sephora order.

Having said that, I was super excited to try some Drunk Elephant. Skincare nerds love Drunk Elephant.

This moisturizer is terrible.

The first thing I noticed was that it smells pretty strongly of alcohol, which I was not expecting from something that is supposed to moisturize my skin. I looked up the ingredients and they’re mostly the ‘good alcohols‘. That’s nice. I have no idea why it’s such a bad product now.

It’s a gel. Usually gel moisturizers work well with my skin, which tends to be oily. Gels tend to absorb fairly quickly and matte on me. This one left me shiny, and instantly sticky.

I stuck it out for about an hour. Drunk Elephant is a supposedly good brand. Some things need time to sink in. My poor winter skin started feeling drier and drier. I finally gave up on this being a nice experience and slathered my face in my normal Cerave.

And no, I didn’t notice that layering Cerave over this made it work any better. Save your money.