Monthly Archives: January 2015

Nails Featuring Polish Julep Nancy

See recent Julep articles.

If you read my last nail polish installment, you may remember that I entered a nail polish challenge to keep me motivated to paint regularly and use some of the polishes I have collecting dust. My goal is not to repeat any (not counting base and top coats) until I have tried them all.  I’d also like to paint at least once a week.  As Julep makes it so easy to collect quality polishes at incredible prices, I own more Julep than any other brand.  I asked the readers to pick the polish color for this week, and I was happy to start with a Julep color. Continue reading


Julep January 2015 Birthstone and a Nail Polish Challenge

See recent Julep articles.

My hands are not the best, so I have a love/hate relationship with nail polish. On the one hand (sorry that I could not help the pun), unkempt hands get ignored. That way, no one notices them. At the same time, all hands look better with a nice manicure and a little polish. Yes, more people will notice them, but at least they will look as good as they can. So, I invite all of you on my journey to keep my rough, man-hands polished as much as possible. I’ve joined a nail polish challenge and plan to paint my nails at least once a week for the remainder of 2015.

Nail polish Saturday will be my new “thing.” I started collecting nail polish in May 2013. Prior to that, I only owned a couple of older bottles that I tossed when my new collection started. That means my current collection is all less than two years old with some being very near the two year mark and others that just arrived today. My newest haul from Julep just came in with two polishes and a plush pout. Of course, I will always swatch new items for you.

Continue reading

Swatches and Looks January 2015

Welcome to the January edition of Swatches and Looks.  I want to catalog the items that did not make it into another article, so I will post these when applicable.  If they’ve made it into another article, they will not appear here.

Dior Addict Fluid Stick in Wonderland.  The color is a pinkish/coral with a touch of red.  I love this color.  These lippies fall between a gloss and a lipstick.  This particular one is a little less sticky than other colors I’ve tried from the same line.  It leaves a slightly sticky mess as it fades, so the formula is not my favorite.

Dior Addict Fluid Stick Wonderland

Dior Addict Fluid Stick Wonderland

Urban Decay Liar.  I find the color and the formula okay.  There is nothing overly special or terrible about either.

Urban Decay Liar

Urban Decay Liar

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask.  It goes on clear and hardens on the skin.  I did leave it on for about 25 minutes (it suggests 20-30).  From a single foil, I did not get a full feeling of how well it worked. My skin did look slightly nicer afterward, but I would need to experiment longer to give a true opinion on this.

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask

Have you tried any of these items?  What do you think of them?

View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.

Get Free Beauty Samples Volume One

See recent Free Sample articles.

I can only think of one person who claims not to like samples.  Said person gladly accepts ones I give him that he wants to try though.  He will not accept any he’s never heard of or is not interested in trying, so a better way to word it is, he does not want to sample anything he has not first researched.  There are people who feel the same way.  What would you think if I told you not only can you research an item, but you can contact the company for a completely free sample.  I am not referring to a gift with purchase, but I actually mean a free sample.  You do not even pay for shipping.

People will tell you that there is no such thing as free, but that is not always true.  My Free Samples Page provides more information on sample opportunities.  Sometimes companies want test subjects to sample products and review them.  It helps with product studies as well as free word of mouth advertising based on how many people see the review.  Some of you may have already seen the article I wrote on the free Dr. Dennis Gross item I received for review purposes.   Continue reading

Birchbox January 2015 Geared Up for Winter

See recent Birchbox articles.

You all know I love Birchbox. It is my favorite subscription, because at $10 a month for 5 samples, they’re only $2 each. Of the $2 per item boxes, this is the best I’ve tried. Most months, I get at least three samples I am excited to try. This month, I have my usual three and one that surprised me a bit.

Every month, Birchbox allows you to pick one sample from a choice of 3-4, pick an entire box where you know what all five will be from a 1-2 custom curated boxes or be surprised by all 5. I have yet to pick the custom curated box, because none have appealed to me yet. That could change in a few days. Birchbox sends an email to peek in on the upcoming items via a video they’ve put together. Every time I watch a video, I am in awe by how much fun they look like they’re having. It must be a really fun place to work. Being able to choose a sample is my favorite aspect of Birchbox, which is the best addition to the subscription.

Birchbox January 2015

The problem for me is I always want more than one of the sample items, so I have a hard time choosing. This month was no different. I love moisturizers, so I was amped that we got to choose one for our sample. Most boxes give you facial moisturizers, so I have way too many.  My body on the other hand is a lot bigger than my face.  I can never have too many of those. Plus, my skin is very dry. Although body moisturizers are a lot cheaper meaning lower value than facial moisturizers, I tend to use those samples more giving me better value on the item. I’ve joked about slathering my body in facial moisturizers to use them before they expire, but I never actually would. I’d gift them before “wasting” them.

Birchbox January 2015

The body moisturizer that appealed to me most is the Essential Elements Wake up Rosemary. At 1.5 ounces, this adorable bottle is worth $3.56. It smells like the kind of aromatherapy lotion that will clear your sinuses. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but the smell does last a while. I find the lotion itself a little thin, so I will not use it for winter. The irony of having to put it away for winter is that my sinuses need more assistance in the winter than they do in the summer. My dry skin wins this battle though, so away it goes. If anyone wants to know more about it, ask me in July.

The cutest little bar of soap I’ve ever seen that was not carved into some special shape is next. It is Sumbody Soap in Tuscan Orange. I am obsessed with anything having an orange scent, so it came as no surprise that I love the scent. This is a natural handmade soap designed to clean without stripping the body of natural oils. This is the point where I will remind everyone that Birchbox is the best subscription box at listening to profiles. They hear me when I say I have dry skin. This slice of heaven in rectangular form is worth $1.98. It is not likely I will get to sample it, because my husband who has been complaining about his soap is eyeballing it. He pays for all of my pretties, so I will not fight him if he wants it. I love him so much that I offered it willingly.

The third item that excites me is the Manna Kadar Lip Locked in the shade All of You. My lips are cracked right now, thanks Winter. This matte, lip stain with the gorgeous color is designed to keep lips smooth. That is something I plan on testing when my lips mend. The sample is worth $1.99, but it is something I plan on using if it works, which equals great value to me.

Manna Liplocked

The next sample actually bummed me out a little. It is Curl Keeper Ultimate Hold with Frizz Control. Why do sample curl products frequently come in one ounce foils or cardboards? I have received numerous samples like this and have yet to finish one before the product dries out. For one, I do not have curly hair. It is slightly curly on the underside and wavy at best on top. No amount of product can help me fake a natural looking curl. After trying to fake curls, it takes me a while to work up the desire to try it again. Also, I am not a giant. Despite having long hair, I cannot even come close to using one of these in a single use. Foils and cardboards should be single use, right? For those thinking, why doesn’t she put the unused product in a Ziploc? I do, but sadly even Ziplocs cannot help the poor design of these packages keep the product fresh.

The other thing that bummed me out was it is the second time in six months I got a one ounce curly hair foil/cardboard from Birchbox. I started doubting if my profile was being read after all, because I certainly never told Birchbox that I have curly hair. People tend to blow dry more often in winter, so this product made sense in that way. Someone reminded me that I do have frizzy hair and frizz is listed right in the product title. Mystery solved. Birchbox is off the hook, but I feel it needs to be mentioned that not all frizzy haired people have curly hair. Anyway, this sample comes in at $2.19. It was hard not to deduct value for cheap packaging, but I didn’t.

My final sample, the one I was the least excited about, is Miracle Skin Transformer Treat and Conceal. I am never excited to see items like this, because it is rarely a color match. Thus, it is a wasted sample on me making it a zero value item. Knowing the rest of the items would have low value, that put the idea of this box falling below $10 very possible. When I opened it and saw that it was medium, I was even more sure it would be a disaster. Usually, I would just set it aside for someone else. I prefer to give people new samples rather than used ones. However, I remember the face sample in medium while not the perfect match, thus nothing I would ever consider buying, was not hideous. As such, I swatched it. The verdict is it is a close match. Now, I just have to see if it works well to conceal. With my added winter redness, this fits right in with the winter theme of the whole box.  The value on this is $11.52

Miracle Skin Transformer Medium Concealer

The overall value of my winterized Birchbox is $21.24. Without the Miracle Skin Transformer, the value is $9.72, so I am glad I can use it. While this is one of my lower valued Birchboxes, I am happy with it. The item I was most worried about surprised me, so I will be happy if the Curl Keeper surprises me as well. If it does not, my value will still be $19.05. I will add this box to the victory column. As I’ve never had a defeat, it will join my other 11 boxes there.

My favorite thing about this membership is the site gives you 10 points for each review. With 5-7 samples a month, you can earn up to 70 points. At 100 points, you can cash them in and spend $10 on anything you want in the Birchbox shop. Even if you have 2 months in a row with only five items, you should be earning $10 every 2 months just for reviews. You get 1 point for every $1 you spend in the shop as well, so it is very easy to earn points.

Birchbox Women

If you want to subscribe, remember to look at start-up offers and all available offers. When you’re ready to spend your rewards points, remember to add your free two piece sample pack when spending $35 from the Bonus Shop. See other Birchbox Subscription articles. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.

Disclosure: Affiliate links

Sample Society December 2014 and January 2015 Boxes. Should I Subscribe?

Sample Society closed in 2015. The Allure Beauty Box launched the same year. When these boxes were released Beautybar handled management.

I originally joined Sample Society just before the April 2014 box.  Allure collaborates with Beautybar on Sample Society.  The subscription costs $15 plus tax a month.  For me, the cost is $16.22.  I always include the tax in the price, so you will rarely see me write it costs $15 a month.  Why do I include the tax?  As it is the only beauty box (other than Target, which is not a subscription box) I have received to charge tax, it adds to the cost of the box compared to its competitors.  I feel the same about the boxes that add shipping when so many ship for free.  Whenever I consider the value of a box, I ask myself how many of the items will I use.  Do they exceed the amount I paid?  Of course, the value of all items will always exceed what I paid, but do I find all of the items valuable?

I felt the first month was off to a decent start.  It easily contained over $16.22 worth of value for me.  The Tatcha papers and Butter eyeliner were full sized and each alone were valued higher than what I paid.  My only complaint with the Butter Liner was I was told (as you can see in my dashboard) that I was getting pink.  When it arrived, it was black.  Black is one of my least favorite eyeliner colors, because it is just too dark for me.  Not only do I have more black eyeliner than I can use, but I already had that exact black eyeliner.  Thus, I traded the black eyeliner away.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 11.50.32 AM

It is neat to reflect back on old boxes to see what I have tried, what I liked, what I still have not used or what I gave away.  When you pick up as many samples as I do, you do not always have the opportunity to use them all.  I liked the Dr. Hauschka cleansing cream.  It left my skin soft even though it did not smell great.  The verdict is I would not buy it, because I have others I prefer.  I find the eyeliner (which I picked up elsewhere) good quality.  If I could get a color other than black, I would be interested in another one.  The H2o+ item is still unsampled, but I hope to get to it before it expires.  I’ve used the candle once, and thought it smelled nice.  I have not used the Tatcha papers yet, because my skin runs dry in most placed.  While my T zone does run oily, it is rarely bothersome enough to have me reach for these.  I did get another package of these after this box and gifted them to a fellow beauty lover.

I liked my May box a little less than April.  The item I was most looking forward to trying was the Dermalogica.  Sadly, it was missing from my box.  Sample Society customer service was very friendly about the missing sample.  Rather than sending me the missing sample, it sent me a second box full of samples.  Apparently, they cannot send individual samples.  All of the samples were included that time, so I had 2 of some of them and 1 of the Dermalogica.  Unfortunately, I opened a different moisturizer while I was waiting for the Dermalogica to finally ship, so I still have not used it to this date.  I actually have not used any of the samples, which I did not realize until just now.  The Juice Beauty CC cream is something I love and use the full size of at least a few times a week.  I have received so many samples of this over the past year that I always seem to have more to give away.  The most recent one I received came from a bag and is about to be shipped to a lucky recipient of a free box of samples I am sending tomorrow. The other three items do interest me as well, so I will try them soon.  Hopefully, I get to them before they expire.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 12.10.14 PM

The June box was a huge disappointment.  On top of the fact that I received four moisturizers and two perfumes, which was upsetting, Sample Society forgot a sample again.  This time, the Karin Herzog sample was the missing item.  I had never even heard of the brand, so I did not want to miss my chance to try it.  I called customer service.  She was very nice even though she mentioned that I was missing a sample last month, too.  While I am sure there are people who say they are missing things they’re not, I was already upset to be missing a sample two months in a row.  Thus, I wish she had not mentioned it.  Since she mentioned it, I told her that I thought about canceling due to it.  However, I generally believe in the three strikes you’re out rule, so I would stay subscribed for now.  If they forgot a sample a third time though, I would cancel.  Once again, Sample Society shipped me a box full of samples rather than just the one I was missing.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 12.19.12 PM

When it comes to perfumes, I have yet to find one I love.  Most make me lightheaded, so I rarely wear them.  I did try each scent once.  I found the Juliette one decent, and the Nicole one was okay at best.  The H2o+ is one I really like.  I’ve picked this sample up again since then as well.  The other three are still untried.  Pur-lisse is a popular sample with subscription boxes, so I have given away a bit and still have more of my own to try when I am ready.

Sample Society knew its June box was a huge miss with subscribers.  There were a lot like me who were very unhappy with getting similar items within the same box.  It promised a revamp.  The revamp meant that we would get a mix of products, the way my beloved Birchbox mixes everything up.  I was excited to see what would come.  After the huge disappointment in June, I was ready to cancel if July was another disappointment.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 12.31.03 PM

I actually liked the July box a lot, and unlike the previous two boxes, all of my samples were inside.  The Fekkai hair mask did explode in the box, but there was still plenty left to sample.  It was exciting that I did not have to place a call to customer service.  Feeling that way is pretty sad, but I was dreading a missing product before the box arrived.  The Loreal lipcolour was surprisingly wonderful.  I liked the formula and the color.  I did not own any Loreal products at the time either, so it was nice to try a new brand.  Granted, Loreal owns my beloved Lancome, so I am certainly familiar with the parent brand.  Although I have not yet used the Butter London polish, I was happy that it was full size.  I already know and love this brand, so it was nice to receive this.  A friend of mine had her eye on the Laura Mercier highlighting powder, because I already owned this.  When it comes to backups, I just do not usually need them for most makeup.  I sent her this with a bonus beauty spatula in exchange for a Too Faced item.  The exploded Fekkai mask was lovely.  I will consider buying this once I’ve used up some of my current hair mask stash.  The perfume is nice, but it is nothing I love and need to buy.  This was a good month.

The August box looked nice in theory.  I was very pleased again that all of my samples were inside the box.  Facebook posts showed me that a lot of other people were still plagued with missing samples after the revamp.  It took me a few months, but I finally got around to trying the Melted lipstick in peony.  I found it very pretty.  None of the other samples, although they look amazing, have tempted me enough to try them yet.  I just have way too many mascaras, so I have to be super amped to try one before I open it.  I love Ciate, but I surprisingly (consider my very large nail polish collection) do not paint my nails often.  The Oribe and Kate Sommerville samples will be used at some point.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 12.44.54 PM

Between still being upset about the two months with the missing samples, all the Facebook posts from people stating they were missing samples since the revamp and just feeling my stash was out of control and would never be used, I canceled after my August box.

Fast forward to this month.  I started seeing pictures of Sample Society’s January 2015 box.  It looked amazing, so I decided to resubscribe.  Unfortunately, I missed the cutoff for the month of January, so February will be my first month.  Once again, customer service was amazing.  This time, I emailed rather than calling.  The agent suggested I order the box from the Beautybar website when it went live.  I got an email stating it was up and off I went to order my box.  While I was there, I thought the December 2014 box looked nice, so I picked it up as well.

After I ordered the January box, I saw a post on Facebook that the Strivectin sample (the 6th sample everyone received) was a subscriber benefit and would not be included in boxes purchased from the website.  I was disappointed and logged into the website to see how I missed the notification.  It was listed on the website, although I cannot be sure if it was added after I placed my order or before and I just missed it.  Either way, I was still happy, because there were other items in the box that interested me.  Yesterday, I saw a Facebook update that including the Strivectin sample in the January box was a mistake, so it will be the 5th sample in the February box.  That is awesome, so I will be receiving it after all.  Mini celebration over here.  I love Strivectin samples.  It’s a great brand.

When you order online, you still have no clue what specific colors or scents you will get when options are offered.  Thus, you’re still in for a surprise when you open your box.  The Estee Lauder Advanced Night Eye Repair sample was in every box, so I expected that.  It will take me a while to try this, since I have so many others waiting to be used.  The value on it is $19.72.  Lotions and hand creams are one of my favorite items to sample.  My skin is so dry.  I got Crabtree & Evelyn La Source, which I look forward to trying.  It is sold in this size for $8.

Sample Society December 2014

The Burberry Fresh Glow has an $8.16 value and is very pretty.  It has a subtle shimmer.  I like the way it swatched, but it looks even more subtle on.

Burberry Fresh Glow

In this picture, I am using the luminizer as a highlighter.

Julep Pink

This is my first Butter tinted lip balm.  It is full size and retails for $20.  I am happy with the way the color, Apricot Sunshine, swatched, so I look forward to seeing how it looks on.  Hopefully, it wears as nicely as I’ve heard.

Butter London Apricot Sunray

I’ve never owned any products from RGB.  This is full sized with an $18 value.  This Oxblood color is gorgeous. If it wears as nicely as it looks, I am in for a treat. Compare this to my other salmon and wine polishes.

RGB Oxblood

This box seems like it was worth the purchase so far.  I paid $16.22, and I received $73.88 worth of product.  At some point, I hope to use all of the products, so I hope to receive $73.88 in value.  Three of the five are full size items, which is an added bonus.

The whole reason I went to the Beautybar site was to buy the January box, so I hope to get a nice value.  Please keep in mind that I was not subscribed, so my value will be lower than those subscribed.  As I later learned the Strivectin was a mistake, subscribers should have received the value I received anyway.  Some of you may already know that while the bonus Strivectin would have been nice, I was after the Erno Laszlo Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar.

Sample Society January 2015

I cannot find the size listed on this sample soap anywhere.  It is extremely small, so I will venture a guess that it is 10x smaller than the full sized bar making it worth around $4.50.  The renewed Hope in a Jar sample (relaunched of Hope in a Jar) is worth $5.88.  Whenever an item is sold in multiple sizes, I use the smallest size to calculate sample value.  It is the lowest price you can get the item for without getting a free sample or a paid sample in a subscription box.  Thus, I calculate the Phillip B Lightweight Deep Conditioning Creme Rinse at $2.50

I had not owned anything from the Revlon brand prior to opening this box.  The Revlon Photoready Eye Art in Cobalt Crystal does look interesting.  Blue eyeshadows can be a lot of fun, although cream eyeshadows do not usually go with my greasy eyelids.  Glitter is also a hard look for me to pull off as well, so I have yet to determine whether I will get use out of this.  I’ve swatched it for you, so it is no longer new.  Thus, I will not be giving it away (only give away new items).  It does swatch beautifully, but I wonder if I can wear it without creasing.  This is a full sized item valued at $8.99 (currently on sale for $7.19 at if you loved your sample and want more.

Revlon PhotoReady Eye Art Cristal Cobalt

Although I own a Zoya polish, I have not tried it yet.  The full sized Zoya polish in Rayne retails for $9.  I am in love with the way it swatches, so I hope the brand lives up to its hype.  Compare this to my other blue polishes.

Zoya Raine

This box is another winner.  Then again, it is easy to pick winners after the fact.  It has $30.87 in product.  I paid $16.22.  Even if the Revlon item misses, I hope to get $21.88 in value.  Thus, I will still come out on top.

Anyone still reading may notice this article posed a question.  My honest answer at this point is I cannot say yes or no right now.  Although I am happy with these two new boxes, I need to see what is in store.  The November and October boxes did not pique my interest.  No matter how good customer service is, I am still nervous a future box may have a missing sample.  If that happens, I promise you now I am canceling forever.  I do not believe a company should mess up three times and keep me as a customer.  While I can overlook two, I am not a saint.

If you want to subscribe based on what you read, visit the Sample Society site.  I will post updates along my journey if you need more time to decide.  See all Sample Society articles. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.

Disclosure: Affiliate Links

Beautytalk and How It Pays to be a Member

We’ve been in the information age for some time now. In this time, I have joined a number of different online communities. My favorite by far is Beautytalk. It is Sephora’s advice community. Yes, Sephora has an online place for discussion. People can ask questions, discuss beauty, get advice on products, start threads for a number of different reasons, and hang out. The vast majority of users are beauty enthusiasts who love it as much or more than I do. Their wealth of knowledge and helpfulness is impressive. Most are so incredibly friendly and will take as much time as you need to explain things in full detail.

There are many communities like this, and I like everything they stand for. For nearly two years, I’ve been hanging out on Beautytalk far more than any other site. For those familiar with BT, you may know me as notcreative. I try to help when I can, but I mostly like to share deals. Getting the best deal on my purchases is something I strive for. I created this thread to share my passion with other people. The result was that I found a lot of like minded people. It quickly became one of my favorite hangouts, and I have spent a lot (and saved a lot) thanks to everyone who contributes to the thread. After six months on that thread, I realized I loved it more every day. That inspired me to create this site.

The most obvious reason I love Beautytalk is because of all the real life and online friends I’ve met. If you’re reading this and we have a relationship thanks to Beautytalk, you know what I am referring to. It is so amazing to discuss beauty with friends who share the passion with me. I found I like helping people, too. Many people were kind enough to help me when I first got started, and I enjoy returning the favor. Plus, I still get occasional help from users, because no one person knows everything.  We all lean on each other for advice.

It pays in a number of different ways to be a Beautytalk member as well. Active Beautytalk members usually have first access to point perks, promotions and advance notification of Sephora’s sales. There are fantastic regular threads for Sephora perks and promos that you need join BT and be a VIB to view. A special sale thread is created with each new one. Sephora staggers its emails, so I usually see the information on BT long before I receive my email. Sometimes, fantastic offers are gone before I get my email, so I have taken advantage of these offers thanks only to BT.

Beautytalk also runs occasional giveaways for members only. In the most recent giveaway, ten lucky members won the new Clarisonic Smart Profile systems. I love my Plus, so it was awesome that I had a chance to win that. Seven of the ladies who won are people I know, so I was very happy for them. Of course, I wanted one myself, so I was 1% jealous.

Beautytalk frequently asks users to trial full sized new products before they hit the market. The most recent batch of recipients tested the Sephora Pantone Color of the Year items. It seems like most were gifted the eyeshadow palette and lipstick. All Beautytalk members whether new or a long time member, a beauty insider or a VIB Rouge are eligible for these tests. Every product has a different selection criterion. Members who were selected for the CotY gifts have actively shared looks and reviews in one of the many threads where users upload pictures.

Most of the time, different people are selected to receive trial items, so there is a good chance you will be picked to try something at some point if you’re active. In August 2014, I got my turn. The Moderator sent a private message asking if I was interested in trying the Dr Dennis Gross Alpa Beta Medi-Spa Peel. The message said I was selected due to my contribution on the skincare boards. I just had to respond with my address, and Sephora shipped me the full size product to trial. This product retails for $110, so it was quite a gift. The only thing I like more than a deal is getting something for free. Sephora and Dr Dennis Gross only asked that I review the item on Beautytalk and the Sephora review page explaining that I got the product free of charge (in the interest of full discretion).

Sephora Dr Gross Haul Sephora Dr Gross Haul 2

I started this thread on Beautytalk to document my journey. My journey ended yesterday as I used the final of 16 weekly treatments. It took me a little longer than 16 weeks to complete the product. Due to sickness and vacation, I took some weeks off. That proved to be a mistake.  There are 16 individual peels inside the jar.  They’re pre soaked circular pads that are extremely thick. Another user and I (as you can follow along on the thread I attached) noticed that the pads started drying out right when the jar was opened. She decided to transfer her pads to a more secure container. Although, I considered it, I ultimately decided to keep the item in the original container, because it was better for the review.

As my journey took closer to five months than four, the last 3 pads were pretty dry. After the third to last barley gave me any liquid, and I felt it was a wasted peel. With the last 2 pads, I decided to wet them slightly with water to re-activate the liquids.  Although, I am sure it reduced the effectiveness slightly, I know it was better than the nearly dry pad. You can feel these pads working, especially if you have an open cut or acne on your face. The pads cause the area to sting a little. It is not a sting I cannot handle, but it is definitely noticeable. Despite having an open wound the day I used the almost dry pad, I felt nothing meaning the active ingredients were not as effective as they usually are. When I used the last two pads activated with additional water, I felt the usual burning. You will feel no burning at all if you have no cuts or acne, which I was fortunate enough to experience a few times.

Each package contains 16 peel pads (step 1), a 0.5oz firming peptide milk (step 2) and a headband. I only ever used the peptide milk and nothing else on my skin immediately following treatment. I have extremely dry skin, but I found it held enough moisture to hold me over until the next face wash. Nervous, my skin would feel dry, I used three pumps with every treatment. Surprisingly, I still have peptide milk left now that the peel pads are gone. Thus, I recommend 3 pumps with each pad. The combination of these two products can leave your face feeling sticky. Through trial and error, I discovered the stickiness was reduced when I waited five minutes between the finish of the peel pad to the application of the milk. That is two minutes over the recommendation of the product.

I want to share some before and after pictures here, because the improvement in skin just from right before to right after treatment is drastic. The product continues to work after application as well.

Before                                                     After

DDG Before week 5DDG After week 5

Dr Gross peel week 1 Before Dr Gross peel Week 1 after

DDG Before 100214 DDG After 100214

DDG Before 091814 DDG After 091814

Even with the five minute technique, your skin will probably still feel slightly sticky. Thus, I suggest this treatment be applied at night before bed. Sticky skin when you’re going about your morning is not ideal. This product creates an incredible glow that seems to linger on average of about 4-5 days with the glow being the most beautiful immediately after application and fading over time. If you want a nice glow for your day, it may be worth enduring the slightly sticky skin. I did that a couple of times and found it worthwhile.

My skin improved greatly with this product. The ingredients definitely work hard. I love the glow, and that the glowing effects stay on your face after many washes. When your skin is normally dull, you will definitely notice the difference of glowing skin. The verdict is this is an excellent product if used within 16 weeks or transferred to more secure container. Skin will glow and improve in overall texture. I recommend it highly. It is expensive at $110, but a single treatment only costs $6.88. That is not too bad. For an even better deal, this can be purchased during chic week for 15% off or the fall sale for 20% off. My plan is to pick up my next one in the fall if I have made my way through most of my mask stash by then. If I have not, I will pick it up during chic week next year. I will definitely purchase this again (even if I must pay $110).

Beauty Deals 2.0

Sephora does not inform a single Beauty Insider of all deal details. Certain offers are targeted and others have different purchase minimums based on the code. Remember to check New Offers and/or Recycled Offers before placing an online order. If you’re spending over $25, you can add a promo code to any order. See all Beautytalk and Sephora articles. Read Tips For Getting the Best Deal When Shopping Sephora. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.

Disclosure: Affiliate Links


Julep January 2015 and Why all Julep Lovers Should Become Mavens

See recent Julep articles.

Subscription Boxes are a great way to try new products with little cost. While I do discover some nice Julep branded items, this subscription is mostly about the nail polish with the other great finds considered added bonuses. I love Julep’s five free, vegan-friendly nail polish. It is not too thick or too thin. With proper care, making sure nails are clean and using a base coat as well as a top coat, the polish can last anywhere from 3-7 days. When I am doing heavy-duty stuff, I usually get closer to 3. I have gotten up to 7 on lighter weeks.  Glitter polishes tend to fall closer to 3, while opaque tends to fall closer to 7. This is decent quality polish. At $14 each, they fall in what I would call midrange polish. There are drugstore ones that retail for as low as $1, and Christian Louboutin and some of his friends can reach up to $50. Most of the higher end polishes range from $25 to $35.

The best thing about becoming a Julep Maven (which is what the brand calls its members) is you can buy the polish for a lot less than $14. The Maven price, if a Maven were to pay full price, is $11.20. That is because Mavens get 20% off everything. Mavens also get free shipping, and do not pay sales tax (at least in the state of Nevada) on orders. Those three savings alone can already help build a collection faster. Discounts are combinable with the Maven 20% off, and the discounts are free-flowing. There is always an offer of some sort inside your monthly box when it arrives.

This month’s offer is for 30% off with the code THIRTYOFF, valid through 01/31/15. Yes, it takes 30% off the $11.20 Maven price, not 30% off the full $14 price as some companies do. Last month’s box came with an offer for a free polish when you spend over $15 (after the free polish amount is removed), COLORFUN. It is also valid through 01/31/15. Julep codes tend to be double use, so if you place an order and decide a couple days later that you need more, you can use the same code once more. Some of the percentage off coupons cannot be combined with sales items. The free items usually can, so if you have a GWP code or a free polish code, you can use those offers with sales items.

I have wanted the color Emerson for some time. It has been out of stock, so I was very excited when I saw it back in stock just now. I tried to place a lightning fast order, but it despite showing availability, it is out of stock. As you can see though, it was going for $4.99. That means the 30% offer would not touch it, but it would count to meet the $15 minimum on the other code. If you’re ever uncertain how a code works, play around with it. Add and remove items from your cart until it works. The best part about the promo codes is they work even if you did not get a box that month. Just find someone willing to tell you what the code is.  It will work.

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Julep subscriptions are $24.99 a month with free shipping if you pay a month at a time or $19.99 a month with free shipping if you prepay 3 months at a time. Saving the $5 a month is worth the advance payment to me, so I pay 3 months at a time. What do you get for $19.99? Boxes come with either two full-sized beauty products, three full-sized polishes or two full-sized polishes and one beauty product. I usually opt for the third option, because it lets the polish be the star with the 2 to 1 ratio, but I also get to try the beauty products. Julep’s eyeliner is amazing, so I am glad I try the beauty products as well. The best part about the membership is you get to pick your items. It has you fill out a beauty profile like all other boxes and assigns you to a default box. If you do not like your box, you can select the swap button under each item and see different selection possibilities. There are a lot, so you will usually be able to find something you like even if you have to swap out all of your items.

You can also upgrade your box with up to 6 discounted items. These discounts usually run deep, so it is a great way to get a deal and try some other items or get extra polishes. If you pick up at least 3 of the 6 items, they send you a bonus surprise item. I like selecting at least 3 items, because I look forward to that surprise each month. It is nice picking and choosing my items, but I still get a bit of the mystery that comes with subscription boxes when I order 3 upgrades. There are usually at least a couple of very cheap options in the upgrades section, so you really do not need to spend much.

My default profile is Bombshell, and I usually swap out at least one item a month. For January 2015, I chose to stick with what they picked out for me. I liked the polish color, I want to try the new lip balm, and I love their eyeliner. It is not often that you get to combine two beauty products with a polish either.

Julep January 2015 Bombshell

The items if one were to pay full price would cost $24 for the Luxe Lip Treatment in Sheer Fig, $16 for the Navy Smoke Gel Eye Glider and $14 for the Sandi nail polish.

Julep Luxe Lip Sheer Fig

That means I paid $19.99 for $54 worth of product, but I also got free shipping and paid no tax.

Julep Gel Eye Glider Navy Smoke

Most of the beauty products are more expensive than the polishes, so I thought this was a nice way to get more value for the $19.99 I paid for the box. Julep Sandi is a deep gray-purple. Compare this to my other purple polishes.

Julep Sandi

The box I received this month was huge, because I picked larger upgrades than usual. You can see a normal sized box inside my huge box to give perspective on how big the box was. This is what it looked like when I opened it.

Julep January 2015 Big Box

The regular sized box was packed pretty tightly as well.

Julep January 2015 small box

This is what everything looked like laid out side by side. For the first time since I subscribed in May of 2014, Julep offered a bonus item just for selecting the box. I am hoping this becomes a normal bonus offered at least a couple of times a year.

Julep Tilda

The bonus item was a top coat called Tilda, which will likely retail for $14 when it hits the site.  In the picture below, it is the whitish colored polish with the green tint next to the eyeliner.  Compare this to my other treatments, base coats, and top coats.

Julep January 2015

Julep usually sends candies with every box for when we need a sugar boost. This month, we got Junior Mints. The Glycolic hand scrub, which retails for $23, was the free item for selecting three upgrades. I tried this for the first time a while after receiving it here. it is a nice hand scrub. While it is not the best I’ve ever tried, it exfoliates and leaves my hands feeling soft. That is all I need, so I will happily keep this freebie.

The three polishes to the left of the scrub are all top coats Silk Effect, Freedom Polymer and Oxygen, which was upgrade one (a trio of topcoats). Individually, the upgrades would have cost, $14, $18 and $18, so $50. I only paid $11.99 for them though.

Silk Effect is matte with a whitish tint. Compare this to my other treatments, base coats, and top coats.

Julep Silk Effect Top Coat

Freedom Polymer is pictured below, because I received it twice in this box.

The Oxygen Top Coat is mostly clear and semi matte. Compare this to my other treatments, base coats, and top coats.

Julep Oxygen Top Coat

The second upgrade was for this Dashing Mini Lipstick Kit in the shades Belle, Jinx and Wink. They cost me $9.99, but they retail for $40. I like all three colors, so I am looking forward to trying these.

Julep Lipstick Trio

I’ve tried the Plush Pouts in the past (which is a moisturizing lip pencil). Those are awesome, so I have high hopes for these as well.

Julep Wink, Jinx, and Belle

The last upgrade was for this set of mini polishes called The Royals. Inside, I received January, Gretchen, Zora, Lena, a Freedom Polymer topcoat and Ally. It retails for $42, but I got it as an upgrade for $9.99.

Julep The Royals Box

I have over 100 Julep polishes and these are my first minis. I’ve wanted to order some minis, because they looked cute. I held out for colors I wanted, and these fit the bill. With the 3 topcoats I added on the first upgrade, the one included here and the one I received for free, I got a total of 5 topcoats this month. Adding those to the ones I already own, and I am set for a while.

This is January. Compare this to my other red polishes.

Julep January

This is Gretchen. Compare this to my other salmon and wine polishes.

Julep Gretchen

This is Zora. Compare this to my other pink polishes.

Julep Zara

This is Lena. Compare this to my other green polishes.

Julep Lena

This is Ally. Compare this to my other blue polishes.

Julep Ally

Julep Freedom Polymer is clear and glossy. Compare this to my other treatments, base coats, and top coats.

Julep Freedom Polymer Top Coat

The best part about this haul is that all the items in the biggest Julep box I’ve seen only cost me $51.96. That was $19.99 for the box, two free items and $31.97 for the upgrades. Now, you see why I think Julep lovers should subscribe. It is really easy and relatively cheap to add items to your collection when you’ve subscribed.  All of the items in this box would retail at $223. That means my subscriber benefits saved me $171.04 on this box. There’s more though.

Every month you accept a box, Julep awards Jules. They also award 200 Jules for your birthday and 500 on your membership anniversary. The amount of Jules awarded can fluctuate anywhere between 350 to 800. It is almost always 350 (unless Julep awards a delayed shipping bonus). They awarded 1900 in August 2014 for shipping so late. That is extremely rare though, so just consider that a bonus should it happen. You can also earn 2000 Jules each month for spending over $50 on secret store items.  The secret store is only open a few days a month, but it usually has great deals even without the Jules. You can use the Jules to buy upgrades or even to cover your next box once you have 2000 available. That means you can theoretically get your box for free every month if you spend $50 at every secret store.

On the off-chance that you cannot find anything to swap out or just want to take a month off to save some money, Julep allows you to skip any month you want. What does that mean? You will not be charged for a box and nothing will be sent if you select the skip option.  If you want to gift someone a Julep box, you can even ask them to send your box to someone else any month you want. The possibilities are endless with this subscription. It is by far the most versatile subscription on the market. It is very easy to spend a lot with all the amazing deals Julep offers, but you do not need to spend much at all thanks to the skip option. This subscription really works with a number of budgets.

New members can really benefit from mystery boxes, which Julep offers frequently. It sends you items valued much higher than the charge. The catch is you will not know what the items are.  For anyone with a vast Julep collection, there is a great chance of getting duplicate surprises. Thus, I usually pass on these. Currently, Julep is offering a box worth over $100 for only $24.99. Items in the picture may or may not appear in your specific box. If you miss this one, don’t fret. These mystery boxes are offered frequently.

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Julep Beauty Box Subscription

You can cancel, swap items, send your box to a friend or skip months whenever you want. If you want to join Julep, visit my Julep Maven page to see all start-up offers. Visit my regular Julep page to see more offers for shopping. All polishes above are swatched once. They get darker with more swatches. See all Julep Subscription articlesTips For Getting the Best Deal lays out every way I can think of to save money at Julep. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.

Disclosure: Affiliate Links 29 Piece GWP Haul

When it comes to drugstore makeup, I do not really buy it.  I am not naive enough to think there are no quality items of the drugstore variety, but I find it harder to sample or swatch these items.  Many of the items I buy are the direct result of sampling or swatching.  If I really trust a brand, I will buy something without sampling or swatching it.  My product research must yield excellent results, because I very rarely make impulse purchases. As I never return products to the stores unless they arrive damaged, I try to only purchase things I know I will like.  Someone in my life can take items that failed with me off my hands, so I never feel compelled to return anything.  A failed product for one person can be an HG product to another one.  Who knows how many hidden gems I am missing out on by refusing to buy things I have not researched, swatched or sampled?

Whenever I get a chance to sample a drugstore product through a subscription box, foil or GWP, I try to accept the opportunity with arms wide open. Sample Society sent me a Loreal Extraordinaire ColourRiche Lipcolour in my July 2014 box, which I loved.  When Target released its Beauty box containing that item, I ordered it on 10-20-14.  The Target Beauty Box is not a subscription box.  It is a one time box that ranges in cost from $5-$10 with free shipping.  This one was $7.  The value of the items always exceed the cost you pay, so it is a good deal if the items interest you.  I like that you get to see the items before making a purchase decision.

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Sadly, I received the exact same color I had already received in the Sample Society box.  Considering how many color possibilities there were, I thought receiving the same color was funny.  I sent the duplicate one onto a friend (and I need to follow up for the sake of this article to see if she liked it).  Due to the fact that I have never finished a lipstick or gloss, I had no desire to hang onto a backup.  All of the Target Beauty Boxes are out of stock, but I will let you know when they come back and what will be inside. Birchbox sent me an amazing sample of a product called Egyptian Magic in my June 2014 box.  This is an oil based cream that works wonders on my boys’ eczema patches.  After one application, the patches start improving.  By the third application, the dry patches are gone.  This product heals their eczema better than their prescription.  The ingredients are eczema friendly without the chemicals in the prescription.  It is without a doubt one of the favorite items I have ever found in one of my subscription boxes and something I plan on repurchasing often.  I was going to order this product anyway, when I saw the following offer from

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With a $75 purchase from, all of the items listed and pictured below are free.  Other than the Strivectin, Sally Hansen and the Nicole by OPI, I own zero of these brands.  I love trying new things, so I knew this would be a great GWP for me.  Luckily for me, carries Egyptian Magic.  I just needed to find a few more things to buy.  It is winter, and my skin is extremely dry.  Thus, I can never have too many skin moisturizers. Offer Offer Details

With my boys having eczema, they use moisturizers after each shower as well.  Rather than buying our usual Aveeno or Eurcerin, I decided to try some brands that would be new to us. Cetaphil and CeraVe are highly rated.  I’ve done my research and know they will be safe for my boys.  The other lotion is vanilla scented, so I will not allow the boys to use that one.  It was pretty cheap, so I will have no problem tossing it or giving it to someone else if I hate it. Purchase 011415 GWP 011415

The GWP was supposed to include 29 items, including the tote bag.  Sadly, mine was missing the Boots No 7 Protect & Perfect Advanced Serum, so I only received 28 items.  Luckily, according to the picture and the Boots No 7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum (which I received), it was just a foil.  If I had to be missing a foil, I am glad it was one that is probably very similar to another.  Thus, I do not feel like I am missing much. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the Real Techniques makeup brushes, so I am the most excited to try that.  This year, I would like to do my nails more regularly, so the nail pen could be a very awesome treat.  Strivectin is a product I already know and love.  I thought I was getting a sample elsewhere and just found out I am not.

The items I received were: Iman Deja Vu Lip Kit, L.A. Girl Glazed Lip Paint in Pin-Up, Elnglish Laundry Arrogant, Real Techniques Shading Brush, Boots No 7 Protect Intense Advanced Serum, Hydroxatone Anti-Aging BB Cream in Medium, MDSolarSciences Mineral Beauty Balm, Lumene Bright Now Vitamin C Night Cream, Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser Foaming Fomula, Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick Bright Berry 40, Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Cloths, Prestige Primed & Ready Eye Primer, StriVectin SD Advanced Intensive Concentrate for wrinkles and strech marks, Nexxus Color Assure 3-Step Regimen, Toni & Guy Casual Sea Salt Texturising Spray, Toni & Guy Classic Shine Gloss Serum, Toni & Guy Cleanse Shampoo for Damaged Hair, Toni & Guy Nourish Conditioner for Damaged Hair, Tresemme Keratin Smooth 7 Day System, Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes, Nicole by OPI Cinna Man of My Dreams, Rimmel Stay Glossy 6 Hour Lipgloss All Night Long, Rimmel ScandalEyes Retroglam Mascara, Sally Hansen Big Matte Top Coat, Sally Hansen Nail Art Pen, Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure Punch Drunk, and Tom’s of Maine Lip Shimmer.

I am not swatching the lip products, because I am unsure how many items I plan to keep. If I end up using them, I will add swatches and looks.

The Nicole by OPI Cinna Man of my dreams is a beautiful cinnamon color. Compare this to my other salmon and wine polishes.

Nicole By OPI Cinna Man of My Dreams

The Sally Hansen Big Matte Top Coat is very matte with a whitish tint. Compare it to my other nail treatments, base coats, and top coats.

Sally Hansen Big Matte Top Coat

Sally Hansen Punch Drunk is a purplish-pink. Compare it to my other pink polishes.

Sally Hansen Punch Drunk, inc.

I am pretty excited about receiving that one here as well. This offer is available through the 23rd and only works with beauty items, so you cannot load non beauty items or items into your cart.  If you are unsure what items qualify, just play around with your cart.  I tried loading vitamins and an electric toothbrush, which did not work.

Remember to check all and/or offers before placing an online order. You can only use one promo link per order, but banner offers (they pop-up at times when you’re browsing on the site), and promo codes (uncommon) usually combine with one another. There are some exceptions. See other articles. Read Tips For Getting the Best Deal at or my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.

Disclosure: Affiliate Links


Vegas Style

They say everything is bigger in Texas.  I lived in Texas for nearly four years and can attest to the fact that it is big.  Texas has nothing on Vegas though.  Women dress to the nines to enjoy a night on the town.  Glitter, big hair, fancy clothes, makeup, high heels, lots of hair spray and more beauty products than you can imagine help these beautiful women get ready.  I’ve travelled to many places but only have to drive about 30 minutes if I want to see some of the most beautiful women in the world.  They come from everywhere and look so amazing when they hit the town.

When it comes to beauty and style, my husband is not your typical male.  He has a great sense of fashion, and he knows what looks good.  After I lost contact with my longtime stylist, who was amazing and tried a few duds in my search to replace her, my husband told me who I needed to see.  Long time native, Andeen Rose-Clark knows Vegas.  This smart and beautiful woman lives to make other women look as great she does.  You’ll never guess her age, because she looks amazing.  With her fiery red hair and matching bright red lipstick, she is hard to miss.  Vegas has already learned she is a force, and the rest of the world is catching on.  She knows what women hitting the town want and started a business to cater to them.

Andeen Rose

The business is called The Style Lounge.  It’s located at the LINQ, which is the newest venture by Caesars Entertainment.  I am in love with the vibe at the LINQ, so I think Caesars really created a gem.  It has a fun, party feel.  The High Roller, which is now the largest ferris wheel in the world at 550 feet is the centerpiece for this destination.  My older son loves the attraction and would ride it everyday if we let him.  It takes riders on a 30 minute trip where the sights of the city and strip make a beautiful background.  The surrounding shops and businesses compliment the vibe Caesars was looking for.  There are great restaurants, entertainment spots, casinos and of course, this incredibly wonderful business called The Style Lounge.

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This is a full service salon where people can enjoy many beautifying practices: including hairstyles, haircuts, hair color, hair extensions, manicures, pedicures, makeup application, spray tans, waxing and more.  One could spend an entire day here getting the different services, which sounds like a great gift to anyone wanting to gift such a thing to someone.  If you’re thinking this is the perfect place for your event, you’re right.  It is open most of the day.  This is Vegas after all, so they get that events run all day long.  If your event is in the morning for a wedding, conference, or convention, they’re open.  Should you need evening hours because your event starts at midnight and you do not want to get fully dressed hours before other salons close, they’ve got you covered.  One of the most different aspects of the salon is it has a bar.  You can enjoy cocktails while they make you beautiful.

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The whole location is very beautiful.  It’s decorated in white and purple, which is my second favorite color.  I love the designs and accents.  Relaxing here is very easy, because the environment is laid back with soft music pumping through the room.  At one point, they even had a change in music.  That makes me think they are very accommodating to requests.  One of my favorite design elements was the blow dryers that come out of a contraption above the chairs.  Just be careful when standing and sitting, so you do not run into it.

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Although I have only partaken in the hair services thus far, I enjoyed seeing their setup for everything else.  The manicure stations have a tv over them.  That is convenient.

Style Lounge 25

I found the pedicure stations stunning (although I should have walked around the sound system to get a better picture).

Style Lounge 18

The makeup application table is beautiful.  I met the new makeup artist, Heidi Marie, yesterday.  She was wearing the most beautiful shade of purple MAC lipstick, so I can tell she has great style.  Their other makeup artist, Didi, is really good at what she does.  Her creations sometimes hit my feed, and I am always impressed.  I’ve had her wax my eyebrows in the past, and she did a great job.

Style Lounge 8

I love the entire hair section from the blow dryer placement I already mentioned to the art deco purple mirrors on the clean white countertops.  The black chairs are stylish and comfortable, which are two words that usually do not go together.

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Even the display for items available for purchase looked lavish.

Style Lounge 9

After I scoped out the new location, I was ready to start my appointment.  Andeen has cut my hair for a few years, but this was my first time seeing her here.  On top of being personable, she is very talented.  People come from places far and wide to seek her services.  Her clientele include many high-powered women and celebrities who seek her out when they come to town.  Anyone looking for a new stylist or any of the technicians available here would be in great hands.  This is my before picture, and you can see that I was in need of Andeen’s services.

Style Lounge 21

I took more pictures throughout the process while Andeen and I discussed what was new in our lives.  She’s had a lot going on over the past few months, so I was happy to catch up.  Yes, she makes every client feel like a friend, so you can count on the same friendly service I receive.  Andeen is also a perfectionist, so she takes the time to do everything perfectly.  When training Heidi (her new makeup artist) on how to blowout my hair, she explained so perfectly that I am going to try it myself.  Whenever I try to blow out my hair, the round brush gets stuck.  It is not pretty.

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In no time at all, my hair was ready.  It looked so much better than it did before I arrived.  I am always happy with my outcome and yesterday was no different.  This was a makeup free day, so please excuse the friend who popped up on my chin.

Style Lounge Hair 011315

Andeen knows I like free samples and trying new things, so she sent me home with a trial sized bottle of leave in conditioner to try.  This Unite 7Seconds Condition looks fabulous.  It smells great and detangles very well.  My fine hair tangles easily, so I love a nice leave in conditioner.

Unite Sample

Considering she is a celebrity hairstylist and her location is on the strip, her prices are very reasonable.  The cut is $95, and the highlights are $125.  The $27 charge was a mistake, so Andeen reversed it.  I hate tipping change and usually round-up to the nearest dollar, but the payment system automatically calculated a 20% tip for me.  Once the refund is processed, my total will be $280.92.  That is a decent value for the caliber of stylist she is.

Style Lounge Receipt

For locals who have not yet seen Andeen, she is running a current special for 30% off.  That deal is too good to pass up.  Yes, that is me in her ad.  I was honored when my husband spotted the picture on her site.

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While you’re there for a service, check out some of the amazing shops nearby.  There is a Sprinkles Cupcakes location right across the walkway.  I picked up some!

Sprinkles Cupcakes

View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.

“I owe 50% of my beauty to my mother and the other 50% to Erno Laszlo”

My fascination with Erno Laszlo began when I read that Audrey Hepburn (one of the most beautiful women of all time) claimed she owed 50% of her beauty to the brand.  While I seriously doubt the figure was actually 50%, I do know that some of the most beautiful women in the world have invested in their skin and treated it right.  Many say that treating your skin right is as important as genetically gifted skin.  If you are 25 or older and have not started investing in your skin, now is the time.

Right now, there are two places to try some Erno Laszlo products before investing in the expensive full sizes.  Sample Society by Beautybar just released the January box for people who want it outside of a subscription.  In addition to the lovely Erno Laszlo soap, there are some other nice items in the box as well.  It retails for $15 plus tax.  The best part is shipping is free on these boxes.  If you purchase over $300 from Beautybar, use the code BBJAN15 to get $75 off.

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The other opportunity to test the brand comes from  Spend $10 on the Beauty side, and you will get this three piece Erno Laszlo gift.  Shipping is free with a $35 pretax purchase.  You can spend all $35 on the beauty side or split your order between the beauty and drugstore side, because the sites share one cart.  It will require at least $10 to be spent on the Beauty side to qualify for the offer.  Do not forget to add three free samples into your cart that are eligible with every beauty purchase.  There is no coupon code for this offer, but you can receive the offer by following this link.  It will automatically load into your cart as long as there are no other offers in your cart or the link allows the other offer to be overwritten.  The retailer does not allow more than one promo code. Erno Laszlo Offer.

Do not forget to use ebates!  Both sites accept it, and ebates sends you free money just for shopping with their links.  It is my favorite way to shop.  I like getting paid for what I love to do. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.

Disclosure: Referral and Affiliate Links

Influentser Really Gives Free Trial Products

See recent Influenster articles.

There are a lot of companies that get you to join by luring you in with false promises of free trial products with no catch.  For every one that is legit, there are probably two more that are not.  I was lucky enough to find a great one that has sent me products to try with no cost to me.  The only thing that Influenster asks is that you check in and review the products.  It prefers you connect the reviews to as many social media accounts as possible to increase your reach, which it calls an impact score.

Since joining a year and a half ago, I have sampled some great free products. Most of the products it asks you to sample are beauty related, but occasionally it asks you to sample lifestyle or food products.  If Influenster thinks a program may be a nice fit for you, it sends a survey.  Upon completion of the survey, you will either be excluded from receiving a Vox Box (filled with free goodies to sample, then review) or you will be placed in the running.  An email will follow shortly thereafter if you will receive a box.  Another email will go out when the box ships.  It will send another email to remind you to check in the box.

The box I received today was right up my alley.  My favorite candy bar is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  When I found out I was selected to try the new Reese’s Spread, I was ecstatic.  Peanut butter and chocolate go together so well.  I opened up my VoxBox (sent courtesy of Influenster), which contained a free 13oz jar of spread.  The boxes are normally themed.  This one looked like this.

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I like the box so much that I will likely reuse it for something.  Once you open the box, you will find a product card that tells you a little about the product(s).  This was one of the more detailed cards I’ve seen.

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The product(s) are under the card.  In this case, I was very happy to see that it was a very nice 13oz size.  It is not uncommon to receive full sized items, but I have seen some smaller items in the box.  Until it arrives, you will not usually know the size.

Influensters Reese 3

I already sampled this on nothing but a spoon, and it was incredibly delicious.  Oddly enough, I found it creamier than my beloved peanut butter cups, so I think this will go great on so many things.  My brain is already thinking of all the different things I can try this on.  Tomorrow, I think I am going to try it with apples and bananas.  Yesterday, my family made cookies.  I am definitely going to top one of those cookies with this spread tomorrow. Putting the candy bar in spread version was pure genius.  Every moment of said genius was savored.  Have you joined the Influenster Nation?  If not, check Influenster out here.  Completely free trial products await you!  I cannot think of a better deal than free.

See all Influenster articles. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.

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Birchbox is Easily One of the Best Deals Around

See recent Birchbox articles.

One of my favorite deals is through Birchbox. For $10 a month, it sends a minimum of five beauty samples. The brand revamped over the summer of 2014. Now, it allows you to choose one of your samples from a selection of 3-4 items. You can also choose a specially curated box and know all of your items in advance if the box appeals to you. The selection is usually near the end of the month. Aces (people who earn over 500 points a year) and people who refer friends get to select their items a day earlier than everyone else. Select as early as you can, because Birchbox does run out of choices.

Birchbox will usually do a sneak peek video ahead of selections, and it is a good idea to watch the videos. There are usually 2-4 upgrade options each month. The items are offered at a slight discount. They ship with your regular box and will be charged when they ship. These items sell out quickly, so reserve them as soon as you see the sneak peek video. If you wait to upgrade your box until you do your sample selection, there will probably be no upgrade options left.

For those who love to be surprised, you can let them pick all of the items for you. If you fill out a detailed beauty profile about yourself, you have a better chance of getting items suited toward you. Of all the different boxes I’ve subscribed to, this box utilizes your beauty profile to send items most closely matched to your desires. Most months, I find at least 3 of the 5 items excite me. Thus, this is a great deal for me. Ever since the revamp, food items, lifestyle items and foils are bonuses and do not deduct a beauty item from your box. Added bonus! As you can see from my last year of boxes, they send quality items. The newer boxes keep getting better, too. My first was my least favorite.

       December 2014

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My favorite thing about this membership is the site gives you 10 points for each review. With 5-7 samples a month, you can earn up to 70 points. At 100 points, you can cash them in and spend $10 on anything you want in the Birchbox shop. Even if you have 2 months in a row with only five items, you should be earning $10 every 2 months just for reviews. You also get 1 point for every $1 you spend in the shop. They even run occasional bonus point promos, so it is very easy to earn points. New subscribers can usually find codes to get 50-100 bonus points added to their account.

Birchbox Women

If you want to subscribe, remember to look at start-up offers and all available offers. When you’re ready to spend your rewards points, remember to add your free two piece sample pack when spending $35 from the Bonus ShopTips For Getting the Best Deal lays out all the ways I know to save money at Birchbox. See other Birchbox Subscription articles. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.

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