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Beauty Boxes

Beauty Boxes

“How to Be a Redhead” Box Rocks the Ginger World

December 15, 2015

Bags and boxes are everywhere. A subscription box with a theme, a cause, a target audience – there’s something for everyone. Subscription boxes are big right now and I wanted them ALL. We know I’m not brand loyal on most products. I want to try everything. So of course a subscription box appeals to me.

Finding the right box that works best for me was not as appealing–or easy.  I love love love the idea of a subscription box. Getting to discover new beauty products is so fun. For people like me who are always looking for that next great item, it’s a dream come true. I tried a couple different boxes.  While there was a product here or there I liked, overall the experience rated no more than an “Eh, it’s alright.”

I kept wondering, “where is that dream box with tons of samples, a full size item or two, and it’s all things I want to keep and use?”  Reviews online mention them. Others have had great luck with them (i.e. Michele and PetitVour).  I wanted MY box.

Enter H2BAR
As I lay in bed one night, I received a message from Michele. “Here’s the box for you.” It had promise. I signed up and fell asleep.

When I woke up the next morning, I had a minor panic attack. I had an email waiting on me from How To Be A Redhead. The email said they appreciated my interest but that I was on a waiting list. Oh crap!  I gave all my important info to some company I didn’t even investigate. What the hell Ambien?

My husband was going to kill me for doing this. Within hours another email arrived saying I was going to receive the November box and gave all the shipping information.  I hadn’t even canceled yet and decided to ride this impulse purchase out. Fingers crossed…

I studied up a bit more on H2BAR while I waited on the box.  I just knew it would be disappointing. But wait!!  Hhhhmmmm, turns out the reviews are really good. Turns out I can cancel anytime, and there is never any pressure. Turns out these boxes are amazing according to reviewers and worth every cent of $19.95. Oh, and best of all, these boxes are curated by and for redheads JUST like the name says. It isn’t a gimmick. It’s just for us.

You may ask why that is such a big deal. Yes, gingers really are different from others. Our skin is sensitive -ultra-sensitive at times. Most colors of makeup look strange on us. Our hair reacts in strange ways to products. We are different. I’m embracing it – after 40 years – but buying the right products can be tough.

Finally, the box
The November box arrived, and by this time I had fully investigated H2BAR.   I was getting excited. Rightly so. Holy moly!  This box was amazing. Seven items were in the box. Three of them were full size. THREE.  It contained a perfect shade of nail polish, a full size perfect shade of eye shadow, a full size moisturizer with spf for sensitive skin, a full size color repair spray for redheads, sample sizes of shampoo and conditioner, a sample size oil-based lotion, and a sample size exfollient.  Retail value was around $200. Geez!

The next question is how many of these were usable products–that I kept. All but one I kept. ALL BUT ONE, people!  (Michele got a sample size.) Best of all, not only were they usable by me, but they were AMAZING products. I began working all of it into my daily beauty routine and loved them all.

My favorite item was the Clearista Retexurizing Gel. It’s an exfollient that does what most exfollients claim but don’t deliver. There will be more written on this one in the future.

Customer Service
Now let’s talk customer service. Since I was immediately in love with the November box, I signed up for the December box with no reservations. Very quickly I got an email saying I was already signed up and there was no need to do so.  I was cool with that.  The email went on to say that since there was confusion on whether I should renew each month a surprise was headed my way. An October box would be sent to me as an apology. Huh?  For real?  I messed up, and YOU are making it right?  I could not love H2BAR more. Or so I thought…

The October box soon arrived. It was equally as wonderful. It also contained seven products, four being full size. I’m keeping all of them. The box contained a full size sunscreen for sensitive skin, a full size box of sunburn alert stickers, a full size reviving red oil for hair, a sheet mask for sensitive skin, shampoo and conditioner samples, a full size lipstick that is the perfect color, and a redness reducing moisturizer for sensitive skin. The moisturizer was my favorite and there’s more to come on that one, too. Retail value for this box was nearly $200 as well. Wowzers!

So H2BAR rocks. Really!  Honest to God, it is the best thing out there in the subscription box world. Yes it is for redheads or want-to-be redheads. I only hope all you other beautiful women find a box you love this much. It is worth it. I have found that dream box. Michele was right. It was the box for me and I should have known to trust her instincts and mine, too – even when half asleep.

Addendum: The December box arrived. I was just as pleased. Not one bad box yet.


Photo Credit: photo care of the H2BAR website

Beauty Boxes Cosmetics Nail care

Another reason to love Julep

October 13, 2015

I like a good surprise. I do. What I like more is picking things I enjoy.

As I continue to receive Julep boxes, I discover that they let you be surprised or pick what you want, and it’s that ability to choose that makes me love them more and more.

My daughter is 12, and we share the box (she currently has orange and black nails for Halloween), so we want to make sure that what we get each month has something for both of us. Each month, Julep sends an email to a link that tells exactly what we’ll receive.

Last month, she really wanted a new green polish. We weren’t scheduled for one, so we picked the color we liked least and hit the ‘Swap It’ button. That brings up a screen full of options we can choose instead. She chose a deep, forest green polish named Anya.


In some lights, it’s a deep green, but in others, it’s almost black. It’s just beautiful. Perfect for fall.

We knew we could swap one product, but we decided to test it and see how many we could customize. We ended up swapping all three of the products in our box for ones we chose ourselves. We got the Anya green polish, a bottle of the Julep polish remover and an eye shadow.

Now, we’re pretty devoted Zoya polish remover users. It’s in a groovy, no-spill pump, and it smells good, which is unheard of for a remover. But if we could try the Julep as part of a box, we decided it was a good deal. Their’s, too, comes in a no-spill pump, and it’s moisturizing, too, for your nail beds. We’ve only used it once, so we’re still deciding. We’ll let you know if we prefer it to the Zoya.

She picked the polish, so I picked an eye shadow. It’s called Feels Like Velvet, and it does glide on really smoothly. I haven’t had any trouble with it coming off or fading during the day. I also find that I can apply it with a dry brush for a sheer look or with a wet brush for a darker, more intense look.



In this box, all subscribers received one free extra product (in both of the boxes I’ve gotten, I’ve gotten an extra product – one their new signature shade & then this). It’s one of their It’s Balm lip colors. I admit I’m loving it, too. It goes on like a nice lip balm but with more than a hint of color.


We loved all of these products. Why wouldn’t we? We picked all of them. The ability to swap out things we don’t like – even if it’s every single product – is a big bonus for Julep and their boxes. Will I do this with every box? Probably not. A surprise here and there is good. And if I get something neither of us like, I can always gift that to someone else.

But to be able to try their beauty products and to know that we’re going to like what we get is a huge deal for me. You can try Julep for as little as $3 for your first box. After that, boxes are $24.99. In addition to having the ability to swap out products, you have the ability to say that you don’t want a box that month or to gift your box to someone else that month.

You’ll fill out a survey to determine your best box – your Maven Style Profile – and you’ll be off and running. You also have the option at various times to purchase additional add-ons and mystery boxes, all at vastly reduced prices (I bought 10 polishes which typically run $14 each for $20. Birthday goodie bags had very nice $2 polishes this year.).

Choice. I’m a fan.


Photo Credit: Julep Maven via Instagram

Beauty Boxes Cruelty Free Nail care

Do I have to choose just one?

August 18, 2015

Nail polish is my guilty pleasure. OPI and Essie are my favorites. I polish my nails easily twice a week with complete color changes. I know the difference between polish and lacquer (polish is thinner, easier to layer… lacquer is thicker and heavier).

How could I resist the lure of a Cruelty Free polish subscription box? Or two.

For the record, there are well more than two such subscription boxes out there. I might have considered just all of them. I settled on Square Hue (partially because it is based in my current home state & I feel some loyalty to buying somewhat local if possible) and on Julep. My theory is that I will get a couple of boxes of each and try the polishes and decide which ones I like the best. Then, I’ll choose which box to keep. It’s the theory at least.


Other than the fact that Square Hue is based in Miami, I also liked that it allowed for you to select from two options. You can select two or three polishes per month, with two pricing tiers. I chose the two polishes, which is priced at $10.99 per month. I thought that was an exceptional deal… right up until I realized that they do not include shipping in that price. The $5 shipping isn’t unreasonable, but all of the other boxes I’ve received in the past have included that in the price, so keep that in mind.

One other great thing about Square Hue is that they give a portion of the proceeds each month to a different charity. The hippie in me likes that.

Each of their boxes are themed, and the first box we got was a 1970s theme. We received a shimmery silver polish that is perfect as a top coat, and a shimmery blue. Both are thinner polishes that go on more like a gel consistency. The blue has a royal color with just one coat but builds to a really nice darker blue color with multiple coats. The shimmer in the blue is subtle, but with the silver on top it’s got a really beautiful pop.

My daughter has pronounced Square Hue her favorite after just the one box.

We’re also trying the Julep Maven box. Julep lets you select options as well. There are options with three polishes and options with two polishes and one beauty product. I received a Welcome Box with three polishes, two little buffers, and their Oxygen Bonding Base Coat. The base coat is said to allow your nails to breathe while serving as something akin to sticky tape for your nails. I’m not sure how it works, but it did seem to help the polish stay on my nails longer than usual.

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The Julep polish is thicker, like an OPI lacquer, with a wider brush. And the shine on these polishes is astounding. This one is, however, more expensive. For the two polish/one product or three polish option, it is $24.99. Shipping is included.

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This is the pretty purple included in the Welcome Box. The initial box after that is curated for you, but by your second box, you have the option of switching out colors. You can also choose to suspend the box for a month or to send the box to a friend.

I know that we’re supposed to narrow it to just one next month. Maybe.

If anyone wants to try one of these boxes, let me know & I’ll get you an invite. And if you already subscribe, leave a comment telling us what you think. If you happen to get one of the other polish boxes – Black Dahlia, in particular – let me know what you think of it.

Polish on.




Beauty Boxes

ipsy… or don’tsy?

July 21, 2015

It’s no secret that Michele and I are fans of subscription boxes. I’ve been getting the Ipsy Glam Bag for several months, and here are some of my thoughts on the bag.


Ipsy is a monthly subscription of cosmetics, skin care, and perfume.
It costs $10 a month.
Cancel at anytime for no charge.
The bag contains 5-6 items each month.
All items are sample size.
Ipsy has a points system to earn free items by rating products and sharing on Facebook and Twitter.
Some products that have been in past bags are available for sale.

It only costs $10 a month to try new beauty products.
Cancellation is simple.
Samples let you try a product before purchasing a potentially pricy item.
Receiving a little goodie in the mail each month is fun.
A profile including your likes and dislikes, favorite products, skin type, and personal style help to customize your bag.
IpsyCare answers emails promptly and politely. Their customer service rocks.

There is no option to choose cruelty-free products.
Most items in the Glam Bag are not cruelty-free (if that kind of thing bothers you).
Even after filling out the profile, products still seem to be very generic.
It takes forever to accumulate enough points to get a free item, unless you want to bombard your friends with Facebook and Twitter posts about your Glam Bag each month.
When you have accumulated enough points for a free item, there are usually only a couple items available.
Items available for points, or to purchase, go fast.

I’m known for being the queen of indecision when it comes to beauty products. I can love and hate a product in a few short hours. You’d think a bag of samples would be right up my alley. No beauty product has made me waffle more than this bag.  While the anticipation was enticing, the let-down was equally disappointing.

I always had high hopes for the next bag, but usually only found one or two products I liked enough to keep and use. The others I passed on to friends. There were also very few products I purchased later because of Ipsy. After the new wore off, it seemed to take forever to collect enough points for a free item. The bottom line is that the anticipation and excitement kept me going, while the desire to collect points for a free item kept me from canceling the subscription all together.

Weigh the pros and cons for yourself. It is a great way to introduce yourself to the subscription game at a low cost. However, I will probably use my money on a cruelty-free box in the future.


Photo Credit: Amber

Beauty Boxes Cosmetics Cruelty Free Skin care

Cruelty Free Subscription Box: PetitVour Review

July 6, 2015

For Christmas last year, I got each of my kids a subscription box as a gift. The teenage boy received Loot Crate, and Little Bit received Boodle Box (she has since switched to iBBeautiful on LeeAnn’s recommendation).

Soon after, LeeAnn said she had begun receiving the ipsy bag. Loads of folks on my Facebook feed were raving about their ipsy hauls, too. I’m rarely a joiner, but if we’re talking beauty bags, I wanted to play. So I looked around at the options, and I bucked the trend and went with Birchbox instead. Birchbox seemed to offer more skincare than cosmetics, and that’s more my style. I got the box for three months, and was pleased with the samples I received on the whole.

For $15 a month, I was introduced to some nice products (one, in particular that I will stick with for a while) and was able to share some products that I didn’t so much like. But I was already a little bored, so I started looking around again and found PetitVour, a box with all Cruelty Free and vegan products. Same price. Products more in line with the way I think and shop. So I dropped Birchbox (but not before cashing in my points and getting a free product) and picked up PetitVour.

The full contents of my first PetitVour box.

The full contents of my first PetitVour box.


While there were only four products in the PetitVour box (and I usually received five in Birchbox), I have loved all of them. With the exception of the 100% Pure cleansing brush, I will most likely purchase either a full size version of each of these products or I will buy another product from the company sampled. And in the case of the brush, they just gave me what I would have needed. And it’s really nice – such soft bristles for massaging cleansers or masks into the skin.

I think that for a sample box, this was a pretty good return. For less than the cost of a lunch out, PetitVour introduced me to four new companies and shown me four really great new products.

The Fior Minerals eye liner is wonderful. I’m not a young woman, and I have a difficult time finding liners that I like. I’m not steady enough to use liquid liners well, but I need a soft liner so it doesn’t tug at my eyelids. This eye liner is super soft and smudges beautifully. But it is also highly pigmented, so the color stays all day. And it arrived in brown. I get so annoyed when sample eye liners are always in purple (maybe just mine?). I cannot tell you how many purple eye liners I have.


It looked like a small, sample sized eye liner, but when I took the lid off, I realized the lid hid half the liner. It appears to be a full size liner. I’ll buy more of these in different colors.

I’m a sucker for fun company names, and Meow Meow Tweet wins this box’s prize for that category. In this month’s box, everyone got to sample either the Facial Cleanser or the Spot Serum. I lucked into the cleanser. I’m not going to lie, it’s odd. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now, and only this week have I decided that I really do like it. And I mean I really like it.


The Meow Meow Tweet cleanser is a liquid that is supposed to be gently massaged onto your face. It has a milky appearance and feels almost as an oil on your skin. But when I rinsed my face, all of my makeup was gone, and my face didn’t feel dry or oily either. It just felt really smooth and soft. Again, it took me a while to decide I liked it, mainly because the whole experience was just so different. But my skin looks good, and it feels good.

I like the fact that you can order the smaller, 1 oz. sample size on the website, too, to try before buying the full size version. Many of their products offer the mini versions for sampling. Given what products cost, in general, this is a big bonus in my book.

The dark horse in this race was the Jacq’s Organics face mask. It looks unassuming in packaging and when opened. But it’s ah-mazing. Truly. I like every, everything about it.


This mask is a dry powder. You add your own water to activate the mask. I adore this. Seriously. Any product that arrives in my possession as a dry powder asking me to add my own water is automatically in my top 20 list. Dry products conserve water in general, which is important for our environment. They also last longer because there is no risk of contamination. You can set that sucker on your shelf forever if you want. Love.

I also like that you can add exactly as much water as you want. Add more if you like a thinner paste, less for a really thick paste. Love.

It smells wonderful. My husband suggested it smelled like pine trees, but all I could smell was the peppermint oil. My pre-teen daughter and I both used it at the same time, and she hated it because it dried on her skin. She hates a drying mask. It’s a shame because her skin honestly glowed when she took the mask off. It sucked up all of the awful pre-teen facial oil and made her skin look lovely. It still looks good days later.

With my dry skin, I was worried it would make it even drier, but I applied a really thick coat of the mask so it didn’t dry out too much, and it was really nice. I applied a good moisturizer right after, and all was well. This is the 1 oz. sample size, and I expect we’ll get six or eight uses out of it.

I’m already excited to see what new products will be in my next PetitVour box. (Let me know if you’d like to try it. I’ll give you my info & I think we both get a little something happy.)

Now, the PetitVour points system isn’t great, from what I can see so far. Best I can tell, Birchbox has the best points system. In three months, I earned enough points to get a $20 product for free. But I think I’ll enjoy the PetitVour products more, so that’s good enough for me.

If I had unlimited disposable income, I’d subscribe to multiple, multiple boxes. Alas, you noticed I mentioned the children.

But I like them, so for now, PetitVour and iBBeautiful are the boxes we’re enjoying around here.



Beauty Boxes

iBBeautiful Reminds Girls of their Unique Beauty

June 9, 2015

My dearest friend and blog partner told me that there was power in knowing who I was. It was a great statement!

Not until I really thought about her comment did I see how right she was. There IS power in being able to walk in a store knowing my body type, skin type, likes and dislikes. Not feeling compelled to buy something because everyone else wears it is a great thing. There is power in declaring that my pale skin and freckles are beautiful. There is power in embracing who I am.

When I was younger, I blindly followed the crowd–especially in fashion. Unfortunately, I’m a slow learner. It took me a long time to learn that trends come and go, and that what is fashionable is an ever-changing concept.  As I’m experiencing my own 40s ReStyle, I’m coming to appreciate that fashion is fickle and that I should embrace what looks best on me. I am becoming more confident in my 40-year-old looks–extra weight, wrinkles, and all.

All that said, I want more for my daughter. I want her to learn sooner than I did that clothes and makeup should enhance her beauty, not make her beautiful. I want her to understand a smile is better than all the expensive lipstick in the world. I want her to understand beauty is not just one look found over and over in magazines. I want her to see beauty in everyone.

My long list of wants for her are easier written about than done. We all know girls today have a difficult time dealing with body issues. It’s common knowledge that girls receive mixed messages about what is beautiful. We know the problem, but rarely find a solution.

We buy lots of beauty products at our house. We like to try new makeup, skin care, and fragrances. Manicures and pedicures are some of our favorite mom/daughter outings. We also talked A LOT about what is beautiful, about being beautiful on the inside, about never letting someone make you feel less, and about how “beautiful” can be described in many ways.

She wanted an Ipsy bag like I receive.  While, I always look forward to my bag each month, I felt it was a bit too grown up for her and wanted to make sure she knew makeup was not required to look attractive. I did some research. I stumbled on iBBeautiful. It’s a subscription box for girls with a wonderful message. While providing a box full of great items, there is also a theme and positive message for girls. Sounded like a win-win for our house.

We’ve received two iBBeautiful boxes so far.  My daughter loves them and is giddy upon getting them in the mail. The first month we subscribed (May), the theme was “Aspire.” She received a tee shirt, scarf, girly earbuds, gentle face wash, cute butterfly hairband, and an equally adorable notepad. There is always a card inside dedicated to the theme of the month.

This month was even better. June’s box contained a compact brush and mirror, refreshing facial spray for girls, facial cleansing clothes for girls, a bracelet, and ring. The shirt is adorable and the theme this month is “Be Yourself.”  We read each card and discuss the theme.  The box is a great starting point for conversations about beauty. She puts the cards on her mirror in her bathroom.

Each box is $20 a month without the t shirt, or $30 with the shirt. I like that you can opt out on the shirt if your child isn’t into tee shirts or if fit is a concern. There is a choice of tween and teen boxes. We got the tween box, but looking at the products on their website, it seems both boxes are fabulous.

Maybe my daughter will be a faster learner than I was when it comes to beauty.  I think that the iBBeautiful boxes will reinforce all our conversations and help her sift through those crazy messages out there about beauty.


Photo Credit: maf04