Valjean Labs Facial Mist in Clarify

The beauty aisle at TJ Maxx got me. TJ Maxx is such a dangerous place. You can get amazing deals, but you’ll never be able to repurchase the products ever again. This is where brands go to die. I was just going to go in for a silly mask as a treat, but I came out with this replacement for the witch hazel toner that I had run out of.

Valjean Labs facial mist in Clarify. Contains Vitamin A and witch hazel. Comes in a spray bottle.

It’s not strictly marketed as a toner, but it has witch hazel. I figured I could use it for the same purpose. I didn’t realize at the time that vitamin A is retinol so it might not be great for morning use. Wear your sunscreen and don’t impulse buy, kids.

Back of the Valjean labs facial mist bottle. It was it soothes, refreshes, and hydrates the skin. It also tells you that Vitamin A helps balance oil production and that witch hazel reduces redness and inflammation. Use instructions are to use it after cleansing before moisturizing, or throughout the day over makeup.

The instructions seem super weird to me knowing that vitamin A is retinol. Use it to balance oil production? Spray it over your makeup? No. Don’t do that. Use it at night and wear sunscreen the next day because it sensitizes your skin.

Having said that, I love it. It has a light, generic smell that I’m a fan of. I get a sweet glow in my skin from using it regularly. Bare skin photo below for evidence:

Frumpy hoodie selfie after washing my face and giving it a spray.
I also really love that it’s a spray. Misting your face is surprisingly soothing.

So I’m going to buy this again and live the glow life forever now, right? Well, no. I think this spray is only sold at Urban Outfitters. We’re overdue for another Urban Outfitters controversy so I’m preemptively not a fan.

And then there are the ingredients. I don’t mind that there’s added color and fragrance. My skin doesn’t get irritated easily, so it’s just silly that the extra ingredients are there instead of harmful. Instead, I’m bummed that the second ingredient is glycereth-26. Also known as polyethylene glycol 26. You might recognize the word polyethylene from microbeads. If not, let me point you in the direction of my handy microplastic reference sheet.

Yep. The second ingredient is plastic. So the product isn’t tested on animals, it’s just terrible for anything that comes in contact with the ocean. Cool.

I’m going to finish using it and then banish it from my memory.
You bet that I’m putting my next toner into a spray bottle, though.

 

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Birchbox July 2018

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My first Birchbox is here! Birchbox is a subscription box a lot like ipsy. For $10 a month they send you an assortment of makeup, skincare, and hair products. Birchbox is a little different from ipsy in that you get more choices for the box that you receive each month. You can choose a curated box, where you know all of the products ahead of time, or you can choose a product from a short list and have the rest of the box remain a mystery. I think you can also choose nothing and let the algorithm gods decide your box. There’s a lot of options here.

I chose the curated box. It had things that I wanted to try.

What’s in my box
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Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser
People really like Kiehl’s. My skin generally likes clay. There’s one weird thing. This smells exactly like coleslaw. I like coleslaw, so I’m going to use the whole tube. But it doesn’t scream “CLEAN FACE” to me. The combination of clay and salicylic acid is a bit too drying for my tastes, AND it’s inexplicably got microplastics in it. So I wont be buying it. Also..that cole slaw smell.

Purchase or pass: Nope. I can only use it two or so times a week before my skin starts crying for moisture.

MakeupDrop Original
I thought I’d get on the silicone applicator train. I do love reusable items.

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It’s hilariously small. I thought for sure this was a baby size that they were sending out as samples, but it looks like this is their full $20 applicator. Um. Okay. You could buy a silicone cooking mat and cut it into fun shapes for less money.

It also, uh, doesn’t work. You can’t blend with it. Maybe you could use it for certain highlighters, but I’ll just keep using my fingers. It’s not worth the hassle. I also happened to drop it down the sink the first time I used it and had to get Mr. Grumpyskin to pull out a pipe to retrieve it. It’s that small.

I was going to ask if anyone wants it, but I don’t expect any bites now that you know it’s been down my sink drain. (Silicone is easy to sterilize!)

Purchase or pass: I will literally give this to you for free. Someone out there has to straight up spackle their face.

Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Face Primer

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I got a sample of Benefit’s Watts Up highlighter a while back and LOVED it. This, not so much.

So let’s take a close up look of my foundation over this primer. It looks like it definitely filled in my pores. It’s somehow making the foundation settle into my pores in a very not cute look. It did have staying power, because I had to bust out the face wash to get it to wash off.

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Purchase or pass: Some people swear by this. I am not those people. Nope.

W3LL PEOPLE Expressionist Mascara
Do you KNOW how hard it is to find mascara without microplastics in it? I’m surprised that this exists. It works..okay. I don’t know. My eyelashes are pretty intense. This doesn’t clump or flake, but it also doesn’t add much of anything. It is probably nice for people who have light lashes who want to go for a natural look. For $21 on my eyelashes..I probably just wouldn’t wear mascara.

Seriously, I’m not negative just to be negative. I’ve curled both eyelashes and am wearing THREE COATS of this mascara on only one eye. I even wiggled the brush during application. I tried. Tell me which eye in the comments.

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Sometimes I forget that I put this on in the morning and when I wash my face at night am momentarily terrified because something black is coming off my face.

Purchase or pass: This is $20. No.

Bumble and bumble. Don’t Blow It (H)air Styler
Is this a sign that not using a blow dryer is finally going to become cool? I feel like hairdressers give me shit all of the time for hating them. I haven’t personally used a blow dryer in actual years.

This just makes my thick and straight hair very fluffy. I spend most of my hair effort trying to make it more sleek. This is going into the giveaway pile.

Purchase or pass: Pass.

All in all, this wasn’t a great first box. The mascara is the only truly usable item, and that might be because I literally cannot tell that I’m wearing it. I think a lot of people were disappointed by this month’s box. I’m not angry yet, so I’ll toss in my referral code: I get $5 to use in their store if you sign up with my link.

My Birchbox Free Gift

Mr. Grumpyskin reads the blog. That’s not really news. What was is that he reads the blog enough to know that I was thinking about getting Birchbox next.

I mean, we also talk. But this showed up on my birthday shortly after I posted the poll for which subscription I should try next.

Picture of my free gift Birchbox + contents (listed below).

My first official Birchbox didn’t arrive until a few days ago. In the interim they sent me a box of their fan-favorite items, along with a sample of micellar water as a free gift.

What’s in my box

Davine’s OI All in One Milk, Shampoo, and Conditioner
We’ll talk about the milk first, because it’s a multi use item. I like it a lot. It has a nice spray cap, doesn’t require half the bottle for my thick hair, and smooths my hair without making it feel greasy. I feel like I have to wash my hair less when I use this. I’m not sure how it’s doing that, but I wont complain. The fragrance is REALLY strong, though. Like, it’s the third ingredient strong.

I do have a request. Can we stop calling things “milk” that aren’t milk? I don’t like thinking about what nipple created this. I have a biology degree so that is exactly what I go to. And I don’t mean like “let’s make the FDA regulate it” because they have more important things to do. I want a cultural milk shift.

Purchase or pass: I’m considering it. I need to see how long it lasts first. Buying a $32 bottle of hair milk every month isn’t in the budget, money or plastic bottle-wise. The sample is still going strong a month later, though it’s hard to tell exactly how much I have left because the bottle is so dark.

The shampoo and conditioner are also both good, though they have the same strong smell and the shampoo has microplastics in it.

Jouer Cosmetics Lip Enhancer
This is okay? I’m not sure that it’s performing any better than Chapstick would. Birchbox says that its tinted pink, but it’s definitely not. It’s more milky. I know, I used the “m” word. It was descriptive!

Purchase or pass: Pass. It’s got polyethylene in it. Boo, microplastics.

NUFace Prep-N-Glow Cloths
Confession time: I’ve never used a proper makeup remover wipe. I haven’t been missing out. It takes your makeup off, sure. I don’t think its a good substitute for washing your face.

Purchase or pass: I don’t buy single use items. My apartment is so small that I can handle walking over to the bathroom.

Stila Cosmetics Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner
Birchbox insists that this does not budge. They’re right. I wore this on my oily eyelids with no primer on the sweatiest day in recent memory. This is after about 10 hours, and twenty solid minutes of soaking sweat:

Close up of my eyes with little baby winged eyeliner. It's crispt and hasn't smudged at all.

Purchase or pass: Does anyone with a beauty subscription actually buy black eyeliner anymore? It’s also got microplastics in it, surprise. I think microplastics might be a component of most long wearing makeup.

Sunday Riley CEO Rapid Flash Brightening Serum
Every vitamin C cream smells EXACTLY the same. Apparently costing nearly $100 (full sized is $85) means that it still smells like a CVS vitamin C supplement. I don’t mind it, but I expected money to smell differently. It’s a decent lotion, if a little greasy. I definitely felt like it gave me a little glow that I’ve started to associate with skincare items that contain microplastics. I’m not sure if my theory is correct, but I do wonder if the plastics are added as a thickener because they can sort of sit on top of your skin and hold shine there.

I know they say it’s a serum, but it’s a creamy lotion consistency.
After about a week of use it started to break me out.

Purchase or pass: lol no.

Bioderma Sensibio H2O
I’m not sold on micellar water yet. It’s a cool idea. In theory it works exactly like, you know, soap. I can’t use this with my konjac sponge and refuse to buy cotton rounds. It’s not super impressive with a rag. Doesn’t touch the eyeliner that’s close to my eyelashes, but scrubbing my eyes with my sponge does.

Purchase or pass: Eh.

Malin + Goetz Vitamin E Face Moisturizer
This stuff is my Cerave on steroids. It was awesome. Moisturizing but not greasy, didn’t pill with my sunscreen. I’m glad it has microplastics in it, because I was trying to figure out how to budget for a $50 lotion.

Purchase or pass: My wallet has been saved by my commitment to the ocean.

I’m considering buying something on the first box! Birchbox is looking like a better decision. I have a referral link if you’re looking to join. I get $5 to use in their store if you do.

Aritaum Ginger Sugar Overnight Lip Mask

One of those “Beauty Products You NEED” Buzzfeed articles convinced me to buy this. It was winter. My lips were too dry for lipstick. I had been considering buying the Laneige overnight lip mask, then Buzzfeed showed up with this alternative for $9.99.

Top view of the container. It says "Ginger Sugar Overnight Lip Mask. An overnight lip mask with ginger and sugar that moisturizes your dry chapped lips to create a smooth lip."

The bottom of the tin. It's all in Korean, so I don't know what it says.

The product page (not an affiliate link) touts that it contains shea butter, beeswax, and murumuru butter. Sounds moisturizing. Great. The main ingredient is polybutene, which from my limited research seems a lot like petroleum jelly. I think the goal here is that the main ingredient is locking in the moisture that the rest of the ingredients provide. It, uh, kind of works.

Image of the Aritaum Ginger Sugar Overnight Lip Mask. It looks a lot like Vaseline.

The product has a very light ginger scent. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to smell the sugar, or if there is supposed to be a flavor here. I have no idea where the sugar comes in. It’s not textured. It doesn’t taste like much of anything. 0/10 do not recommend eating.

Image of the Aritaum Ginger Sugar Overnight Lip Mask. It looks a lot like Vaseline. This is a side view, showing that I've used quite a bit of the product.

I had been using this nightly for five months when this picture was taken. You can see that I haven’t hit the bottom yet. One container could easily last a year. It’s very thick, so you don’t need much. It also stays all night. I’ll wake up in the morning and have to wipe it off to avoid getting it all over cups.

It definitely helped over the winter. My lips didn’t crack once. But it’s not a miracle worker. I expected more moisturizing properties. It is a mask, after all. I don’t feel that my lips have any added moisture from using this mask, just that it prevents moisture loss. I wasn’t able to wear lipstick every day, which I understand is asking a lot during blizzard season. The heart wants what the heart wants, okay?

I’ve tried layering with Glossier’s Balm Dotcom, but I haven’t noticed a difference in moisture.

I’ll use this up, then probably buy the Laneige mask for fun, and then settle on using Vaseline at night. The Amazon reviews are still all screaming about how this is Holy Grail status, so you may have better luck. I think it’s good enough to use up, but not good enough for a repurchase.

Ipsy, A Year In Review

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Look at all these bags! Yes, I know there are 11. I gave one away with some products that I didn’t want. I can’t remember what month’s bag it was or what it looked like. That’s how useless these are.

I considered selling them on Ebay for a minute, but after shipping and post office time costs it’s definitely not worth it. If you like one and are an IRL friend, please lay claim to it. Otherwise they’re being offered up for Allston Christmas. I’m probably keeping the Gudetama (egg) one. It’s hilarious.

The Final Verdict

Is ipsy worth it? You know that I hated it. I still feel like I should give an official statement. I read SO MANY reviews before I paid for a year of this subscription. Technically, I got my money’s worth. I used at least $110 of product. Monetarily, it was worth it. Would I have had more fun if I had just spent $110 on products I had selected myself? Absolutely. The things that I used were not all necessarily things that I enjoyed. Sometimes they were things that burned my face. Sometimes they broke me out. Because it was a subscription box, I couldn’t ask for my money back for those items.

Did I discover any new brands to try? Not nearly at the rate that I expected to. I think there’s one item I’m planning on repurchasing. It was that food-smelling hand cream. Not exactly a discovery that was worth $110.

We all had fun with it, but guys, don’t do ipsy. They mostly send you trash. Things arrive broken. They are clearly mailing out colors that don’t sell well for the brands. Like, yes, I got to try Colourpop. Except it was yellow eye shadow, so no I didn’t. I got lipstick that was the color of my concealer. My skin is a universally unflattering lip shade.

I’m happy to be done with them and 100% do not recommend.

Memory Lane

If you have some time and want to look back on the lols, here are all of my ipsy posts. I’ve gone through and added links to products that I wrote full reviews for. There are a few more in the queue. I love the queue. The ipsy fun is still going for at least two months in the queue.

July 2017 I had no idea what I was getting into.

August 2017 Ohh, this was the bag that I got rid of. That makes sense. I ended up giving the concealer away, but use the Crown brush almost daily. This post marks my first use of “infuriated” in regards to an ipsy product. TWO MONTHS IN I WAS INFURIATED.

September 2017 I do wear the blush as a highlight and have come around on the primer. It makes me look less shiny now that I’ve gotten my skincare under control.

October 2017 I haven’t worn the pencil eyeliner once. I should go see if I’ve thrown it away yet. I never reviewed the sheet masks. I think I remember them being fine.

November 2017 I still haven’t thrown out the yellow eye shadow or the glitter lipstick. Someone tell me to. I need to.

December 2017 All I wanted from ipsy was red lipstick. They sent me exactly one. I threw it away.

January 2018 My first concealer colored lipstick, aww. This is the month that they sent me that weird pumice mask, which is why I ended up buying a domain name. There was a brief period in time when my review of that product was more highly ranked than the Amazon page for it. I bet the company was thrilled.

February 2018 Probably my favorite bad ipsy bag + review. I know that I took pictures for the eye masks, but don’t think I wrote anything up. I’ll try to find them and do a post. If not: They slid all over the place and were unusable. Spoiler alert.

March 2018 This bag wasn’t terrible. Weird.

April 2018 I sorted out the lipstick application for the NYX stuff that you all raved about. I think mine had just settled weird. Other than the nail polish, I think this was the most usable bag that ipsy ever sent me.

May 2018 The leave in conditioner had three uses in it, so we’ll never know how good it is long term. I’ve already forgotten about the lipstick. I’ll have to go see if I still have it.

June 2018 And my final month.

Again: fun but not worth it.
I’ve got another subscription lined up for July. We’ll see if it’s any better.

Meg Cosmetics Good Night PM Mask

Ipsy sent me this sheet mask in March. I used to think that you couldn’t mess up a sheet mask, but they’ve proven me wrong in the past. Let’s take a look at the claims and packaging first.

Meg Cosmetics PM Mask, front packaging.

There is 27 mL of serum in this mask. I’m not sure if that’s comparatively a lot because that’s not a number I’ve paid attention to in the past, but this mask is JUICY. Like be careful opening it, juicy. I nearly shot some in my eye.

Meg Cosmetics PM mask, back packaging. I listed the interesting ingredients below.

The ingredients

  • Eco-friendly lyocell sheet certified by OEKO-TEX
    I did some googling, and as best as I can tell, this certification just means that there weren’t crazy chemicals used in the production process. I was hoping for the sheet to be extra biodegradable or to use less water in the production process, but nah. It’s just a regular woodpulp fabric. I assumed that they’re Standard 100 certified instead of Made In Green. The Made In Green certification is supposed to give me a tracking code with my product that lets me look into the production process. There isn’t one. I’d be into that.
  • Camellia sinesis leaf water
    It’s tea. It’s just tea. Can you imagine being this pretentious?

The other ingredients are pretty normal: some botanical extracts, some typical skin stuff. I did learn that people use arginine for erectile dysfunction. So that’s now in my brain forever.

  • Glucose
    This is normal for skincare, I’m just mad there’s not more of it in the mask because I got some in my mouth. It tastes AWFUL.

How did I get it in my mouth, you ask? This is the worst fitting mask I have ever used.

Just LOOK at how tiny the mouth hole is. It’s really hard to not accidentally eat some of the serum.
Image of the mouth hole for the Meg Cosmetics PM mask. It overlaps with my top lip, which means I eat some of this mask.

As far as the serum formulation, it was a pretty okay mask. I would have preferred that it didn’t smell like lavender, but my skin felt hydrated after I used it. The packaging and actual sheet are just awful, though.

I’m also really cranky that they want to tout an eco-friendly process when there’s an entire extra plastic sheet in there.
A whole extra plastic sheet! With eyes/nose/mouth cutouts.

I’ll just throw that directly into the ocean.

We can do better than this.

Beyond Intensive Ampoule Hyaluronic Acid

It’s time for another sheet mask from my friend in South Korea! And in her defense, she warned me about this one. She told me it was too much and doesn’t absorb well for her, so it might not for me. Did I listen? Nope. I don’t have anywhere to go tonight. I can be a slug.

Eco Beyond Intensive Ampoule Hyaluronic Acid, front of package

I couldn’t find this sheet mask anywhere. I think it might be marketed differently depending on where it is sold. Beauty Box Korea has it minus the word “eco”, but they left the typo in “friendly”.

I particularly love that the mask is made to fit skin and is skin friendly. Bare minimum requirements, there.

Eco Beyond Intensive Ampoule Hyaluronic Acid, back of package. It's all in Korean.

The instructions tell you to remove a liner that doesn’t exist, and also point out that this mask is made by LG. You know, like the phones.

What you’re really here for are the unflattering pictures of me wearing it, though. I know.

 

The mask itself is thin and super saturated. Both of those things are pluses for me. It’s large, but the thin fabric easily wrinkles to form to your face. It didn’t slide around for me. It did smell heavily perfumed, which wasn’t the most fun, but I got used to it.

And now that sweet, sweet k-glow.
My face after the sheet mask. Do I have a little glow? Or just a sticky layer of serum on my face? Both.
I mean, almost. Mostly I’m sticky. I’m sticky an hour later with my moisturizer on over it. I’ll still be a little tacky in the morning.

It was fun, but not something that I’m going to buy.