15 June 2019

the elusive Tarte custom beauty kit

Tarte does this promotion 1-2 times each year, where you can customize a makeup bag with products and shades of your choosing, and it's always a super great deal. I have found many "holy grail" products this way where I otherwise would never have looked to the brand for something specific. It's usually 1 makeup bag + 6 items for $84CAD. I bought one in November of 2017, discovering the Amazonian Clay loose powder foundation is my absolute favourite non-liquid base and I use the bag I received for travel ALL THE TIME. I also use the duo brush every single day. For those items alone, it's worth it.

This is the one I received a couple years ago, so you can get an idea. Each item usually is vaguely grouped into categories when you're selecting your products, so most people end up with a mascara, a face product, a brush, etc.

This time when the promotion came around again, I fell for it! I didn't need anything, but it's such a good price for what you get.

Here are my June 2019 choices:

The hard-to-identify items are a setting powder and a white gel liner pot. 
The first thing I noticed is that .. yeah, I'm missing an item. I chose a colour splash lipstick and it wasn't there at all. But here's the good news - I sent an email at 0700 this morning and got an answer within a couple hours. They didn't ask any questions and immediately sent me a new tracking link and said they sent out a replacement lipstick. I'm floored! My original package also came to Canada in exactly 1 week from ordering it.

Keep your eyes peeled for these deals, they usually have one in the spring and one in the fall. It's a great way to try a new brand or stock up on old favourites.

05 December 2018

Brand highlight: Too Faced

I've decided to do a couple of brand highlights, to mention my favourite products that I have in my collection. I wanted to start with Too Faced because it's a brand I actually haven't used very much and my Chocolate Bar palette is one of my oldest and first mid-range brands besides Urban Decay. I want to focus on a "panning" project now and into 2019, focusing on this palette and a couple of others!

Chocolate Bar - purchased November 2014. I bought this prior to the brand adding the names of the shades directly on the palette, as you can see from the photo! I had a few regrets with this purchase. It was so highly recommended as THE staple neutral palette that is SO versatile, and I just didn't care for it. I love the scent and formula and some of the colours, but others are muddy or look the same once applied. There isn't a lot of variation in the tones of each brown. The highlights of this palette are the most basic shades, in my opinion. I can use Marzipan, Salted Caramel, Milk Chocolate, and Semi-Sweet for a really simple and neutral look. I have to get a bit more creative to feel motivated to use the rest of the shades. I want to pan the shades I listed, as well as the two larger shades (White Chocolate as a primer setter, and Champagne Truffle as a highlight). We'll see how it goes!

Sweet Peach - purchased December 2016. I had by-passed this product release completely earlier in 2016, and it was regarded quite highly and always sought after! I decided when they released it again with the other Peach collection items that I would try it. It has a peach candy scent and I think the shades have a greater variety than the Chocolate Bar palette. I appreciate the warm and cool matte browns, and the shade Luscious is CREAMY AS HELL and looks wet and gorgeous with any look. I will probably hit pan on the lighter shades first, like White Peach, Peaches n' Cream, Nectar, Georgia, and Luscious.

Chocolate Bon Bons - purchased THIS WEEK at Winners! I remember having this on a wishlist a few years ago and always looking up swatches and reviews. I always managed to convince myself I didn't need it, and I probably still didn't. I always thought to myself it would be a waste because I didn't love my original Chocolate palette. but I've been using this all week and I'm so deeply in love with it. It was another one where they had a good mix of warm and cool matte transition shades. Cafe au Lait is my "Luscious" of this palette, a gorgeous silver/taupe creamy shimmer shade! The pinks are a nice touch. I'm glad I decided to finally give this one a try and I'm going to focus on using it for a while with my other TF palettes.

Natural Matte - purchased summer 2018 at Winners. It was a huge impulse purchase and it was not a necessity for me, as I already own the KVD Shade and Light eye palette which has me covered for all the matte shades I could ever ask for. I know a lot of people like this one, and I figured I could take it for travel/touch-ups because the tin is fairly sturdy and its easy to make neutral and simple looks. The palette was re-released this year with an updated look, and I think the shades are slightly different, too.

Melted - I have a mini size Nude from the original line of Melted lip products, which is great for work/every day. I picked up Metallic Candy Bar from the Chocolate line, which isn't very opaque and really doesn't change the colour of my lips. It's more like a shimmery gloss. I like these products with the squeeze tube and fuzzy slanted applicator. The scents are nice, they fade gracefully, they're easy to apply.

Cocoa Powder Foundation - I think this product is discontinued now, which is really unfortunate, as I like it quite a lot. I'm going to use it up and continue to use my Tarte Amazonian Airbrush powder foundation after. Like so many of Too Faced's products, this one has a chocolatey scent.

What's your favourite Too Faced product?

11 October 2018

A CANADIAN'S BOXYCHARM REVIEW. What is Boxycharm and what's it like to be subscribed?

I always thought subscription boxes were REALLY NEAT. I think the first one I ever heard of was Topbox or Birchbox, several years ago. There was a time when being Canadian meant you didn't really have a lot of options when you wanted to be a part of something or buy something. Many places didn't ship to you or offer alternative payment options, such as Paypal. But since I've discovered Boxycharm in October of last year, I wanted to share a bit of my experience with it.

Boxycharm is $21 each month USD, which turns out to be roughly $34-36 CAD. They require a credit card on file to bill you, and you have an option of prepaying for 3, 6, or 12 months, or on a month to month basis. Boxycharm bills subscribers around the 1st-5th of each month as long as the credit card on your account is valid, and send you shipping confirmation several days after. The boxes typically contain 4-6 "full-size" beauty products, which range from mascaras, face and eye palettes, eye and face masks, primers, lip products, false lashes, and some other bits and bobs from time to time. Some brands that I have seen in the last 10 months are PUR Cosmetics, Smashbox, Tarte, CoverFX, Luxie, Colourpop, Becca, Pretty Vulgar, Butter London, Kat Von D Beauty, OFRA, MakeUp Geek, and Girlactik. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but they are popular and trendy brands that many subscribers like to see and can receive.

I put full-size in quotations because one thing I really don't always like about Boxycharm is that they have a few brands they routinely partner with or are "sister" brands of, and sometimes they release products in sizes other than the amount you can buy at beauty retailers. This is something that frequently comes up as a con and complaint from subscribers, and it can be the kind of thing that makes a person decide to stop being subscribed.

Another common issue is that not everyone receives the same products. There are usually at least 2, sometimes 3 items that are "core" to each month's themed box, so all subscribers will have it. But the other products can be variants, and sometimes one variant is much more valuable, popular, or is perceived to be of better quality or value. Many people will get a month or two with a "bad variation" and unsubscribe due to the unfairness of it all.

Boxycharm does not implement profiles or preferences at the current time. It may be something they do with an inventory or survey in the future, so that subscribers may only receive items that suit them and their preferences. Ipsy glam bag is another subscription service that has a beauty quiz that takes the subscriber's preferences into account, from skintone and type and hair colour to favourite colours they like to wear to products they want and don't want to receive. It is a more custom experience. Boxycharm sometimes says they would like to implement this type of personalized experience with their box, but since they don't, it is another deal-breaker for many.

I am Canadian, so my experience has typically been that my boxes are billed on the 1st of the month, the shipping link/confirmation is sent to me by maybe the 10th-15th, and I'll have my box at my address by the 25th-28th of the month. Most US subscribers I see posting are receiving their boxes quite quickly, usually between the 8th-12th of the month. Occasionally, I will get a box very early. For example, October 2018 (this month), I received my box on the 10th. But it isn't consistent, and sometimes this bothers people.

One thing I will note about subscriber complaints that are really a pet peeve of mine - Boxycharm has in plain view on their website:

Boxes normally ship out within 5-10 business days from the date your payment was received for US customers and tracking information is sent via email within 48-72 business hours from the ship date. Prepaid boxes are shipped out within 5-10 business days from the 1st of each month. You will receive your BOXYCHARM approximately 5-10 business days from the time it ships.

Boxes normally ship out within 5-10 business days from the date your payment was received for Canadian customers and tracking information is sent via email within 48-72 business hours from the ship date. You will receive your BOXYCHARM approximately 10-20 business days from the time it ships.

I find it extremely unfair for subscribers to complain about not getting their box when it's only been a day or two since billing or shipping confirmation. You see it very often on their Instagram and on the BeautyBoxes subreddit. 

I haven't seen it happen very often in the past year, but sometimes Boxycharm will have a waiting list. I technically "joined" as a subscriber in October 2017, but I was waitlisted until December 5th 2017. I was not billed and I did not receive a box, I guess I was just waiting for there to be enough "spots" or boxes available. 

Boxycharm has very recently started a "luxury" experience, a quarterly box that is larger and has more products. Their first box was in September, and honestly, it was a disaster. The website crashed, it sold out, people didn't get invited to try and be on a list to receive it.. it was kind of crazy. I am currently on the list to have it for December of this year, so we'll see how it goes this time around. From what I have gathered, it will have most of the core items of the regular box, but will have other exclusive products in addition

I have not saved photos of every single box I have received between December 2017 and October 2018, but here are a few. They are not in order, but see captions to acknowledge which month the items were sent. 

August 2018

December 2017

February 2018

July 2018

April 2018

May 2018
NOTE: The palette is not from Boxycharm. I received two packages in the mail together and took photos of them.

October 2018

September 2018
What do I think of Boxycharm? 

I don't really feel like I need it, as someone who owns a lot of beauty products and can afford to buy what I want at pretty much any time. I have only given away one item that I just knew I wouldn't like. I do like the mystery, the little gift/treat that I look forward to each month. I like the variety and the chance to try new brands or colours I might not choose on my own. I am becoming exhausted by eyeshadow palettes, so I think after Decemeber's BoxyLuxe, I will unsubscribe. I have destashed palettes from Janauary 2018 (Crown Cosmetics' Heavy Metal) and March 2018 (PUR and Boxycharm collaboration). You can get overwhelmed pretty quickly, a peek on any beauty subscription community will give you an idea on how annoyed people can be about certain brands or categories of product. But I think it's a lovely choice for a gift or someone who is building a collection!