Monthly Archives: February 2016

Leap Day Deals

Happy Leap Day. It will be four years before this day repeats. Many retailers take note of this special day and put on special deals. Here are my favorite Leap Day Deals that are only valid today.

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Ulta 21 Days of Beauty Spring 2016 03/13/16 through 04/02/16

The Fall 2016 Event

All calendars (online, in-store, and Ulta brand) are available below. All steals are shipping free for Platinum members. The minimum for everyone else is back to the $50 minimum. I love the Ulta 21 Days of Beauty. Twice a year, usually starting in March and September, Ulta has a 21 day sale where select brands or items are deeply discounted for one day only. The spring event (which is usually more impressive that the fall event) will run from 03/13/16 through 04/02/16. The second 20% prestige coupon should arrive shortly after this sale wraps, which would be on 04/03/16 if it followed the same pattern as last year. The January 2016 20% off prestige offer did not follow the 2014 and 2015 pattern though. These deals come from the upcoming catalog, and the special event page online that is updated now.

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PINCHme Volume Five

PINCHme is a free sampling service. Complete your profile where you answer questions about your household and shopping habits. On select Tuesdays at 9amPST when new samples release, you can order any available that match up to your profile. The better samples tend to run out quickly, so log in as early as possible. Once you’ve tried the samples, you complete a short survey. As long as you complete your surveys in a timely manner, you are eligible to receive future samples.

I ordered this package on 01/12/16. It arrived on 02/18/16. Shipping usually takes 4-6 weeks, so this 5 week shipping is pretty standard. The survey deadline is 03/28/16. I completed them all, because the people I gave the products to (sadly I was unable to use any of these) already reported their results.

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Get Free Samples Volume Nine

Nothing beats completely free offers. Sometimes, there really is no catch to obtaining free items. You just have to know where to look and how to find them. Welcome to the ninth installment of items I’ve received for free. Past free sample articles feature different freebies. The offers at times come in emails. Sometimes, you will see them on a blog or the direct brand’s website. Other times, you can find free offers on social media or even through snail mail. My Free Samples Page provides more information on sample opportunities. Offers can at times come by phone, but I never answer numbers I do not recognize. I will miss out on any that come that way.

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Nail Polish Swatches Pinks

My nail polish collection is large. Polishes kept in good condition (away from heat or light) can last a long time, longer than the two years many people quote. A good thinner (I use Seche Vite) can also revive them. I have tossed polishes when thinner cannot save them or they have obviously gone bad, but it is rare. When I started collecting polishes again, I tossed all polishes older than the summer of 2013. To avoid ordering duplicates, I created a spreadsheet. Swatching them with these spoons I purchased from Amazon will help me compare the colors, finishes, and overall quality. All polishes only have one coat, because I wanted to spot the difference between my sheer and opaque polishes. We’ve all seen polishes that look dark in the bottle only to need 3-4 coats for opaqueness. No polishes have base or top coats either, because that can change the way the polish looks.

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Nail Polish Swatches Beiges and Nudes

My nail polish collection is large. Polishes kept in good condition (away from heat or light) can last a long time, longer than the two years many people quote. A good thinner (I use Seche Vite) can also revive them. I have tossed polishes when thinner cannot save them or they have obviously gone bad, but it is rare. When I started collecting polishes again, I tossed all polishes older than the summer of 2013. To avoid ordering duplicates, I created a spreadsheet. Swatching them with these spoons I purchased from Amazon will help me compare the colors, finishes, and overall quality. All polishes only have one coat, because I wanted to spot the difference between my sheer and opaque polishes. We’ve all seen polishes that look dark in the bottle only to need 3-4 coats for opaqueness. No polishes have base or top coats either, because that can change the way the polish looks.

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Nail Polish Swatches Purples

My nail polish collection is large. Polishes kept in good condition (away from heat or light) can last a long time, longer than the two years many people quote. A good thinner (I use Seche Vite) can also revive them. I have tossed polishes when thinner cannot save them or they have obviously gone bad, but it is rare. When I started collecting polishes again, I tossed all polishes older than the summer of 2013. To avoid ordering duplicates, I created a spreadsheet. Swatching them with these spoons I purchased from Amazon will help me compare the colors, finishes, and overall quality. All polishes only have one coat, because I wanted to spot the difference between my sheer and opaque polishes. We’ve all seen polishes that look dark in the bottle only to need 3-4 coats for opaqueness. No polishes have base or top coats either, because that can change the way the polish looks.

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Nail Polish Swatches Browns and Blacks

My nail polish collection is large. Polishes kept in good condition (away from heat or light) can last a long time, longer than the two years many people quote. A good thinner (I use Seche Vite) can also revive them. I have tossed polishes when thinner cannot save them or they have obviously gone bad, but it is rare. When I started collecting polishes again, I tossed all polishes older than the summer of 2013. To avoid ordering duplicates, I created a spreadsheet. Swatching them with these spoons I purchased from Amazon will help me compare the colors, finishes, and overall quality. All polishes only have one coat, because I wanted to spot the difference between my sheer and opaque polishes. We’ve all seen polishes that look dark in the bottle only to need 3-4 coats for opaqueness. No polishes have base or top coats either, because that can change the way the polish looks.

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Nail Polish Swatches Coppers and Bronzes

My nail polish collection is large. Polishes kept in good condition (away from heat or light) can last a long time, longer than the two years many people quote. A good thinner (I use Seche Vite) can also revive them. I have tossed polishes when thinner cannot save them or they have obviously gone bad, but it is rare. When I started collecting polishes again, I tossed all polishes older than the summer of 2013. To avoid ordering duplicates, I created a spreadsheet. Swatching them with these spoons I purchased from Amazon will help me compare the colors, finishes, and overall quality. All polishes only have one coat, because I wanted to spot the difference between my sheer and opaque polishes. We’ve all seen polishes that look dark in the bottle only to need 3-4 coats for opaqueness. No polishes have base or top coats either, because that can change the way the polish looks.

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Nail Polish Swatches Grays and Silvers

My nail polish collection is large. Polishes kept in good condition (away from heat or light) can last a long time, longer than the two years many people quote. A good thinner (I use Seche Vite) can also revive them. I have tossed polishes when thinner cannot save them or they have obviously gone bad, but it is rare. When I started collecting polishes again, I tossed all polishes older than the summer of 2013. To avoid ordering duplicates, I created a spreadsheet. Swatching them with these spoons I purchased from Amazon will help me compare the colors, finishes, and overall quality. All polishes only have one coat, because I wanted to spot the difference between my sheer and opaque polishes. We’ve all seen polishes that look dark in the bottle only to need 3-4 coats for opaqueness. No polishes have base or top coats either, because that can change the way the polish looks.

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Nerd Block Jr For Boys Aged 6-11 February 2016 Box Review

This Nerd Block Jr For Boys subscription is for my 9-year-old son, Xander. It costs $13.99 plus shipping ($6) per month and is for boys aged 6-11. All plans auto-renew. You get a discount paying up front for a set number of boxes. Save 10% at 3 months ($12.59 each plus shipping), save 15% at 6 months ($11.89 each plus shipping), and save 20% at 12 months ($11.19 each plus shipping). Each box has at least $40 in value and gives 4-6 toys. We are on the six-month subscription. You pay for all boxes and shipping on all boxes up front. Nerd Block has a variety of subscription offers including: Classic, Arcade, Horror, SciFi, Comic, Jr For Boys, and Jr For Girls. For details on all boxes, visit my Nerd Block Page.

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A Year of Loss

When 2015 started, I had a great feeling. I decided to finally start the blog I thought about. At this point, I was not really working, and everyone seemed fine. It made sense to start spending time doing something I’d certainly enjoy. There were so many ideas and tips I wanted to write about. While there are bloggers who give some of the information I do, my goal was to get all the things I’ve learned and will continue learn in one place. We all learn from each other, and I hoped I could contribute something meaningful.

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Lush Refresher Shower Jelly

My boys enjoyed their last Lush Haul so much they asked to go back to the store and scope out some new items. I really enjoyed it, too. Rainbow Fun and Unicorn Horn (which was out of stock today) are items I would also use again. The sales associate showed them the shower jelly when I asked for something that was fun for kids. She set them up with a demonstration. Visiting a Lush store is fun, because they urge you to play with the testers. While my younger son is a little more hesitant to play and lets the employees lead the demonstrations, my older son takes over. He wants to entertain. Continue reading

PEOPLEshop Limited Edition The Voice Gift Box

I got an email on 07/05/16 stating there is a 25% sale. A lot of cute items are on sale. The box below is still out of stock, but a smaller version of the box, which has the sunglasses, the lip pencil, and the nail polish are still in stock. It is considered the “Best of” the original box. My favorite part of the original box and the best value is the sunglasses. This one is $16.99. Code PS10 gives another 10% off. There may be a better discount code available. I do not have any affiliation, so I do not have access to a better code. The 20NOW code I used in January is expired.


I had never even heard of PEOPLEshop before even though I know a lot of magazines sell items. A BTer (member of Sephora’s Beauty Forum) told me about this Limited Edition The Voice Gift Box for $19.99. It has a $150 value. At first, I almost passed, because I do not drink coffee, rarely wear jewelry, already own Myriam, purchased replacement konjac sponges the day before she shared this deal, and already have a few LAQA pencils meaning the unspecified color that arrives in the box could be one I already own. As I looked over the contents of the box, it hit me that it would make a great gift for the Mother-in-Law. Her birthday is just around the corner, too. The glasses alone are worth the cost of the box as long as they work with your face shape, so I decided to get one for myself as well. Who cannot use another pair of glasses?

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Birchbox February 2016 Box Review

See recent Birchbox articles.

Birchbox gives at least five beauty samples each month for $10. For every review I give, I get 10 points, which is equal to $1 in the shop. A five sample box like this one got me $5 back. I also shared my box on Facebook for an extra 10 points (which is only available on the mobile app now). That gave me a total of $6 back to redeem toward future purchases. You can read my detailed overview of the program for more information. Each month, you get a sample choice or you can select the guest editor box. For this box, I selected the ARROW BOOST Color Enhancing Lip Balm.

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Valentine’s Day Nails 2016 Featuring Polish Julep Hartleigh

Happy Valentine’s Day! Yes, I know. I featured Julep Hartleigh for my Valentine’s Day Nails in 2015 as well. After all, Julep sent a free bottle of Hartleigh in February 2015 and February 2016. It is as if Julep thinks Hartleigh makes the perfect Valentine’s polish, and that assumption is probably correct. The odds of me finishing any bottle of nail polish are slim, so I will gift or trade the duplicate bottle. For this look and the swatch, I used my 2015 freebie. My look from last year to this year is actually quite different even using Hartleigh as the main accent polish. This look also uses Julep Oxygen base and top coats and Formula X X ♥ Rouge.

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Shop Luxury Beauty Store, Formerly The Company Outlet, For Discontinued and Discounted Items

See 2019 Luxury Beauty Store Offers.

I adore the Lancome Taupe Craze Color Design 5 Shadow & Liner Palette. Of every palette I own (and I own a lot), it is my all-time favorite. When someone told me Lancome discontinued it, my heart broke a little. Yes, I know it is silly to get attached to makeup, but certain makeup products are incredible. This is one I’ve received several times when purchasing Lancome items during a GWP offer. Thinking I could easily buy or get another GWP mini once my palette was gone, I gave my extra palettes to fellow beauty lovers. By the time I learned it could not be replaced, it had sold out everywhere. After sulking and searching frantically for a few days, I stopped looking. My dream of buying a backup (and I do not keep backups of color products) seemed dashed.

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Nordstrom Lunar New Year Gift With Purchase and Renew Mask Sample Gift

2016 marks the Year of the Monkey. As a Monkey, I wanted to collect some pieces. This is the first time I’ve been interested in makeup during my year. Nordstrom carries a couple of pieces I want, but I traded for one of them. The item I purchased here, while technically for The Year of The Monkey, does not have an actual monkey on it. I love the beautiful, limited edition gold packaging though. My desire to purchase something that represents the Chinese Zodiac happened to coincide with the Lunar New Year. To celebrate the switch, Nordstrom offered a special gift with purchase I was able to partake in as well.

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Giorgio Armani Chinese New Year Highlighting Palette Limited Edition The Year of the Monkey

2016 marks the Year of the Monkey. As a Monkey, I wanted to collect some pieces. This is the first time I’ve been interested in makeup during my year. When I mentioned I was considering the Giorgio Armani Chinese New Year Highlighting Palette Limited Edition, someone was kind enough to offer it up for a trade. I almost declined her trade, because she was way too generous (wanting mostly samples and items I paid very little for). After sweetening it (literally) with some chocolate only sold in Vegas and getting her assurance she was more interested in my trade items than this highlighter, I agreed. The palette itself is stunning. It is glitter heavy, which is why it went up for trade. If you do not like glitter, avoid this!

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Essence Showdown Volume One Review SK II

What is an essence and why do I need it? It depends on who you ask. The description I like most is: a lighter, more watery serum. Adding this step is a great idea for anyone, but it is especially wonderful for someone with dry skin. Products absorb better when moisture is present in the skin. An essence not only adds nutrients to the skin, but the watery consistency assists in letting all the products applied after penetrate more deeply. A moisturizing toner also assists in providing that moisture base to help other products absorb, but it lacks the powerful ingredients available in most essences.

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Ulta GWP Benefit Dew The Hoola and a Clearance Section Deal

See Targeted GWP Offers for 2018.

Benefit Dew The Hoola releases 02/26/16. As a fan of Hoola Bronzer (especially in the summer when I have more color), I really wanted to try this. Ulta emailed an offer for a Sneak Peek of the product to select UltaMate members. This offer ties to your account, so the amount of the sample ($10) will only drop off online when you’re logged in. Members who are celebrating their UltaMate Rewards anniversary have 5x points offers. My anniversary is not until next month, so the only 5x points offer I have is for fragrance. That is an offer I will probably never redeem. If you do not have a 5x points on everything offer and do not want to spend $50 online, you can pick this up in person.

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PurMinerals (Pur The Complexion Authority) Mystery Grab Bag $15

PurMinerals (Pur The Complexion Authority) offers Mystery Bags for $15 every year. There was less variety this year from last, but I’ve noticed while three pieces are the same in the every bag I’ve seen, two items do fluctuate. Of the two that vary, I am happy with the ones I received. I sat on the decision to order for a while, so these sets are not even in stock any more. If I order a bag next year (and I probably will based on my satisfaction with this bag), I will order and thus share sooner. Every mystery bag includes five full-size items making each item $3. That is a fantastic value and allows room for disappointment.

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Julep Aquarius and a Secret Store Haul

I spent all of 2014 and 2015 collecting the Julep birthstones. My plan was to collect every birthstone in 2016 as well. Julep decided to forgo the Birthstone Collection this year to focus on the Zodiac Collection. Each sign releases prior to the introduction to the new period. That means we can expect each sign to release before the secret store opens. Generally, I suggest purchasing special polishes outside of the secret store, because you usually cannot apply a discount code to secret store purchases. February marks the second month in a row where Julep released a secret store code. That means waiting to purchase your Zodiac polish until the secret store opens will probably save you a lot of money this year.

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Target $3 off a $15 Beauty Purchase From the January 2016 Beauty Box

When you purchase a Target Beauty Box, you get a coupon for $3 off a $15 beauty purchase. They usually expire within a month of receiving the box. The ones received in the 01/04/16 beauty boxes expire on 02/14/16, so this is your official reminder to use them if you have not already. While the intent is to use the coupon to get a discount off the item(s) you enjoyed from the box, you can usually use it on anything in the beauty department. There are not many exclusions other than beauty items purchased from the baby or personal care departments. My nine-year-old loves CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser (thanks to a Facebook freebie he sampled), so I always go into Target looking for that.

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Ulta 20% off Prestige Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Blush Palette

See the 2019 20% off Prestige Coupon Offers.


Ulta releases 20% off prestige coupons to UltaMate members five times a year: late January, early April, Platinum members in late June 2016, early July for UltaMate, late July for Platinum members (this is the normal time but members who received them in June did not receive the July offer), late October, and Mid December. The July offer was reduced to 10% for non Platinum members in 2015 and 2016. In 2016, the early April offer was also reduced to 10% for non Platinum members. During this promotion, select UltaMate members receive a coupon for $15 off a $50 purchase if they have not shopped in a long time. Each unique coupon is eligible for one online purchase AND one in-store purchase. Coupons emailed have a different code than coupons mailed. If you receive a coupon from both methods, you will have two different online codes and two different in-store bar codes.

Prestige offers have a few exclusions, so these coupons are not 20% off everything as the ad that comes with coupon states. They exclude: CliniqueLancome, Dermalogica, Dyson, Beauty Steals, and Benefit Brow Bar. Additional exclusions including fragrance and select new releases will be added at times. There are other times throughout the year to get general offers for 20% off non-prestige or 20% off a single item, but those are general, multi-use codes. If you have more questions about this or any Ulta Coupon, I go over all types.

This is typically the first big promotion of the year. With the 2016 launch of the Glowing Skin Event, I wondered what other changes we would see to the program. That event is to skincare what The 21 Days of Beauty is to makeup and Love Your Hair is to hair products. Surely, it stood to reason, this change could result in changes to other promotions. After all, 2015 saw a couple of changes, most notably the 10x points event for Platinum members in August had a lot of exclusions. We also saw the minimum to achieve Platinum status raised from $400 to $450 in 2016.

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Julep February 2016 Box Review Featuring Freebie Hartleigh

When it comes to nail polish, I am a huge fan of Julep’s five free formula. These polishes chip less than most, and the polishes themselves are a good deal when you have a Maven membership. They are quality polishes, so I would probably purchase them at $14 each if I did not have my Maven membership. Luckily, I do not have to pay that much. The color selections and polish finishes are more vast than almost any other nail polish line. Every month, they release nine new colors (unless they re-release one or two from the vault). I have not skipped a box since I first subscribed in May 2014, because I find something I want every month. More often than not, the nail polishes are what draw me in, but I like to try Julep’s beauty products as well.

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PINCHme Volume Four

PINCHme is a free sampling service. Complete your profile where you answer questions about your household and shopping habits. On select Tuesdays at 9amPST when new samples release, you can order any available that match up to your profile. The better samples tend to run out quickly, so log in as early as possible. Once you’ve tried the samples, you complete a short survey. As long as you complete your surveys in a timely manner, you are eligible to receive future samples.

I ordered these packages on 12/04/15 and 12/15/15. They arrived together on 01/20/16. Shipping usually takes 4-6 weeks, but I did not expect them to arrive together (as I ordered them 11 days apart). The survey deadline is 02/29/16. I completed them all.

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Lush Unicorn Horn and Rainbow Fun

Today, I am taking a little break from deal reviews to share a fun haul. While there are deals at Lush on occasion, they tend to disappear fast. They do not offer promo codes or free shipping, so I have never shopped there online. If you have a local store and want to take advantage of the sales, they run out of inventory even faster in store than they do online. I asked about the buy one, get one sale in January. This is the sale the releases on the 26th of December. The rep told me they sold out within a few hours of opening on the 26th. Maybe, I can make plans to shop in person the day after Christmas next year if I want to avoid the online shipping fees.

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FabuFinds January 2016

Every month, I review my empty products. Some products are not worth thinking about once the month is over. Others are wonderful and seem like they’re made for me. Those are FabuFinds, and I generally devote a little more time to discussing them. They are items I have repurchased and will continue to repurchase even at full price if I could not find a good promo code.

To eventually spotlight all of my FabuFinds, I will never repeat items already mentioned in a past article. That does not mean they lost their magic. It is also possible an item not spotlighted in a past Empties article may get promoted as I try it more and fall deeper in love. Other times, it is because I had a lot of FabuFinds in a previous month and had to condense the article. There were two products I consider FabuFinds in my January Empties that I have not discussed yet.

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January 2016 Finished Product Reviews

When the new month starts, I toss everything I finished the previous month. I give a mini review of each item. Items I love are usually repurchased, so some of them appear in the Empties Series a lot. If I like or am indifferent to an item, I will not rush out to repurchase, but I would be willing to use or try it again. Items that are not for me may not always be empty. Generally, I finish them but do not use them again in the future. If they’re really awful and new samples find their way to me, I give them to someone else unopened. For items I really love, I do a separate product spotlight to discuss them in more detail.

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