Cosmetics, Impressions

Metamorphosis 123.0 – The Search for the Perfect Brow

Life is busy: we have hectic school schedules, demanding careers, families, pets, possibly even social lives to attend to on any given day. I’d like to think that this blog has always presented makeup and cosmetics as fun and artistic tools of expression, but sometimes they become vital necessities. There are definitely days I can’t be bothered fussing with multicolored eyeshadows in the mirror when I’m rushing out the door before sunrise, but I cannot leave the house without dabbing some concealer until my eyes to fake a full-night’s sleep. As I get older, I find that I’ve taken a lot for granted, and one of the biggest things I battle in the mirror every morning is my brows.

Some people need to test every eyeliner in existence. Others need to own every bronzer on the market. I find myself madly searching for the perfect brow tool. I’ve tried markers, pens, pencils, and powders: some have worked, some have left me with smeared lines and faded arches. One brand practically synonymous with brows is Anastasia of Beverly Hills. In their own words:

Anastasia has long been the definitive eye and brow expert for icons such as Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Oprah as well as hip up-and-comers like Diana Agron, Selena Gomez and Kristen Cavalari and has recently expanded into colors that match their superior standards for skincare based cosmetics.

When I was contacted by the brand’s PR to review the Beauty Express Brow Kit, I was ready and willing. I am restless in my search for the perfect brow, and after seeing this video I’m pretty sure that this kit makes brows completely and entirely foolproof:

“Beauty Express” brow-kit instructional video from Anastasia Beverly Hills on Vimeo.

Anastasia products are available at Sephora as well as their website, I’ll be updating you on the Beauty Express Brow Kit when I’ve had a chance to thoroughly test-drive it, as well as giving you a chance to snag your own.

Have you tried Anastasia of Beverly Hills? What are you favourite brow products?

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

Cosmetics, Impressions

Metamorphosis 70.0 – May Birchbox Impressions

Admit it: everyone loves samples. Whether you get swept up by the miniature packaging, or just love the idea of a non-committal trial of something new, there’s always something to love about samples. Until recently, my samples came as little surprises in orders, or as a reward after dropping several hundreds at Sephora. I never imagined there would be companies out there that delivered nothing but samples!

I had never heard of Birchbox until Amanda posted a glimpse of her April shipment, but I’ve since seen it pop up on quite a few of my favourite beauty blogs and mentioned by several brands who have contributed. The idea is that each month, Birchbox puts together a collection of deluxe samples–no foil packets here!–based on your personal preferences that fits in with whatever theme they’ve decided to work with. In April, it was eco-friendly, natural and non-toxic products in honor of Earth Day. For May, it’s classic, timeless products that come fully mom-approved.

I signed up just shortly after seeing some of the amazing April offerings: it’s $10 a month, but don’t worry. Nothing’s automatic. Each month, you have the option to renew your membership. There is a yearly membership available, but I like to keep my options open.

My shipping notice came around the 5th of May. They did ask I allow 10 days for delivery, but looking at the tracking info makes me think they’re NJ-based, or close to it. The next day, I found the bright-pink box on my front porch. The packaging is pretty neat–the hot-pink shipping box is just a sort of cardboard shell that folds away to reveal the foil-stamped box inside.

What can I say? I really like the minimal packaging.

Inside, smaller samples were bundled in bright pink tissue paper and tied with black ribbon while larger samples were tucked underneath a bed of paper. A printed card with full product details was set on top of it all.

Call me silly, but I liked seeing how this was all packed up. To me, it meant a real human being had wrapped everything up and arranged it in an aesthetically pleasing manner rather than just dumping it all in a box and saying “the mail is gonna mess it all up anyway so why bother making it look pretty?”

The first thing I noticed was a distinct smell from the box. I didn’t really like it, and it sort of reeked of amber (which, you may or may not know, is one of my LEAST favourite scents EVER). Of course, I tore open the little pink bundle to see what it was.

The contents of the bundle

Inside the smaller bundle, I was surprised to find a small bar of soap, a tiny tube of night serum, a full-sized Stila shadow, and a perfume sample. There was the source of the smell! I had actually eyed up this perfume on the Sephora website (jasmine is one of my favourite notes in the entire world) and I was a little surprised to find it so disagreeable to me.

According to the notes, there’s no amber in this, but it’s heavily wooded and very musky. I actually like woody scents, so originally jasmine + woods sounded like a dream, but I guess it’s the musks that put me off. It’s really a shame, this had the potential to be so beautiful!

This lovely little soap is from Archipelago, loaded with rich olive oil and pomegranate-derived anti-oxidants. I haven’t tried this yet, but I really am dying to see how it performs. The ingredients look positively dreamy, and the triple-milled process promises luxurious lather without the harsh chemicals that are often used to produce similar effects. Better yet, the full-sized product (plus a candle and handcreme) are on the Birchbox site for a very affordable $35.

Though I am impressed to see this hailed as Audrey Hepburn’s favourite night cream, I’m a little afraid to try this little serum sample. Why? Mostly because the full-sized product retails at $190. I may be worried about the aging process, but I’m still in my late-early twenties (I’ll be in my early-mid twenties this year). Any “fine lines” I have are mostly imaginary, though I still do my best to beat them away. I’m not sure I need to get hooked on a two-hundred-dollar night creme right now. Or if the results would even be noticeable on my more-or-less young skin.

This was the biggest surprise to me. Stila shadows retail at about $18, and this baby is full-sized. It’s not a colour I would have selected for myself as Jezebel is a sort of tanned nude shimmer, but it looks like it might be a nice colour to blend with. The Stila formula is quite smooth and applies nicely–my one complaint was always that they came without compacts. I understand the concept of saving packaging, but I don’t do the custom-palette thing. I’d like a compact to hold my pan, please. I do see, however, on the Birchbox site they are sold in compacts.

These two were tucked under the paper at the bottom of the box. On the left is a blank card from TinyPrints and on the right are two packets of Oribe Beautiful Color Shampoo and Conditioner. I did think I specified no foil packets, but whatever. I’ll just have to remember to take scissors into the shower with my while I try these. I’ve definitely heard of the Oribe brand, but have not tried before…particularly because I hesitate to spend $36 A PIECE on shampoo and conditioner without knowing if it will really work miracles on my hair or not.

And there you have it. May Birchbox. I think I’ll be renewing my membership for June and seeing what they have to offer again. I like the concept a lot, and I think you get a decent amount of stuff for the $10. I particularly like the fact that it opens me up to things I might not have tried otherwise. Of course, I’ll keep you updated as I try the products.

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine