Allergy Season Survival Kit

Allergy Season Survival Tools*Aaaahhhh- CHOO*  

Allergy season is upon us.  My allergies are much better since I went Gluten-Free, but I still get the sneezes during the high point of Spring.

When my nose starts to resemble a certain red-nosed reindeer…. (Red noses might be attractive on reindeer, but not so much on me)…. I have a couple of products that help return my skin to normal.

Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips  – This stuff is INSANE!  I got my first sample in a Birchbox eons ago and have been hooked ever since.  It is made from 100% medical grade Lanolin and can be used on noses, lips, cuticles, nipples (as the name implies)… whatever you’ve got that is dry and ouchie.  It is super thick and lasts…. even when you’re blowing your nose and breathing through your mouth… this stuff lasts! My eyes crossed a little at the idea of spending $15 on a lip balm, but it is so worth it.  Trust me!  Your EOS Lip Balm is great for everyday, but this stuff will get you through a cold or sinus/allergy season without your lips cracking.

Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator – I’ve had other face scrubs that I liked… but never anything like this.  Vasanti WORKS.  The scrubbie things are super fine and gentle… yes, you’re using this to scour off dead/dry skin, but it doesn’t hurt… or leave your face even more red and sore.  It is a gentle scrub that works really well. You can even use it three to five times a week.  When I’m blowing my nose like crazy and scrubbing my face off with tissues, I use this every other day or so.  Yes, my nose is still red, but I don’t have the dry, flaky skin.  Combine it with the Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips for ultra healing. It’s $35… yep…. but it lasts forever… seriously, you only use a tiny bit.  I received the 20g sample size in my Birchbox just before I got a cold this past winter and it lasted through my cold (using it every other day) and for another two weeks (2x weekly use).

I know that neither product is exactly cheap…. but they LAST and they WORK.  Seriously…. anything that can help you get through allergy & sinus season without looking like a certain red-nosed reindeer…. WORTH IT!

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Birchbox Review – March

IMG_2346 2Recently Birchbox has been offering special themed boxes.  If you’re a Birchbox Ace you get an earlier chance to select you box for the month. You can choose the themed box or choose one of the special sample choices.  If you choose the themed box you know what all the samples will be…. if you pick one of the sample choices you will only know what that one sample is and the rest of your box will be a surprise.  Do I want to be surprised,  or do I want to know?  And to make it even more difficult to choose…. now the boxes themselves are coming in different, pretty styles!  So many decisions!

For my March box I decided I wanted to be surprised.  I just chose the Beauty Protector Protect & Oil and let the rest of the box be a surprise.

Number 4™ Reconstructing Masque – I usually love Masques, but this one just didn’t impress me.  To begin with it came in one of those stupid plastic sample pooches… HATE!  How am I supposed to open the damn thing in the shower when my hands are wet?  Those pouches require scissors or teeth!  It worked okay on my hair, but wasn’t anything special.

Number 4™ Clarifying Shampoo – This shampoo was okay…. but not fabulous.  It made my hair feel very ‘fluffy.’  My hair is straight, it should just stay put and not be fluffy.  Combined with a heavier conditioner it was okay, but not with the Masque.

Beauty Protector Protect & Oil – I was excited about this sample.  I’ve been being lazy and washing my hair at night and letting it dry on its own instead of washing and blowdrying in the mornings.  Usually I can run a flat iron over it to iron out any weirdness (my hair is perfectly straight… except when it dries on its own and then it sticks up in weird ways).  I already have the Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle that I absolutely adore.  I spray that in my hair at night while it’s still wet.  In the mornings I put a few drops of the oil in my hands (which is hard because it doesn’t want to come out of this sample bottle in drops, it wants to pour!) and run my hands over the ends of my hair before using the flat iron.  I like it….. its not my favorite hair oil, but it works fine.

Mirenesse iCurl Secret Weapon 24 Hour Mascara – Another mascara…. sigh.  This one is okay.  It will rub off though.  I had a cold when I got this sample and apparently I squeeze my eyes shut really tight when I sneeze… and I looked like a raccoon! The Laura Mercier Full Blown Volume Supreme Mascara from September’s box survived sneezing fits much better.

Harvey Prince Signature – This was a nice scent.  Not exactly my style… I like the Harvey Prince Hello or Ageless much better.

Jelly Pong Pong GLOW GETTER Highlighter – This stuff was just weird.  It came in a nail polish bottle… complete with the little brush and everything.  I thought it was nail polish… I was hesitant to put it on my face because it looked like nail polish. I wish it had been nail polish because I liked the color for my nails… but not my face.  It was thick and too glittery.

If you are considering joining Birchbox, please use my referral code: https://www.birchbox.com/invite/phoenixrize

Tea for Two

I love getting my Birchbox every month.  It’s just nice getting something fun in the mail… I wish people still wrote letters…. It seems silly to write a letter when you could txt or email faster, but….  Of course, Birchbox sends me makeup and other fun treats too.

Tea PigsLast month, along with some makeup and hair care treats, I got two samples of tea from Tea Pigs;  Liquorice & Mint and Dandelion.  I wasn’t at all impressed with Dandelion, but the Liquorice & Mint… OMG!  I’m not normally a fan of liquorice, but with the mint it was just perfect.  More than perfect…. I was hooked!

One of the perks of a Birchbox subscription is that you earn points each time you write a review of one of the items in your box. It’s possible to earn 50-70 points each month.  Ten points for each review and you earn a $10 credit for every 100 points.  You can save up your points and use them for anything in the Birchbox shop.

A box of Tea Pigs tea was only $10 in the Birchbox shop and I just so happened to have a $20 credit saved up… AND it was my Birchbox anniversary so they’d sent me a 25% off code…… and then the tea was OUT OF STOCK!!  I joined the waitlist and I tried to be patient.  I waited and waited WEEKS (maybe days….. but it was a LOT of days) and when I couldn’t take it anymore I headed to Tea Pigs to order direct (AND they offered a 20% off code for anyone that came from Birchbox… yay!).  And then I went a little berserk.   I was only going to order the Liquorice & Mint, but all the teas sounded so good.  Tea Pigs offers a two count sample pack of any of their teas ($2.50) ….. and I if I ordered over $50 I got free shipping…. and… well….. I went just a little berserk.  (Side note: If you’re looking for something cute to put in a gift basket, the samples come in these adorable little boxes!)

I ordered a mega pack of the Liquorice & Mint (it was cheeper that way… yeah… that’s it… cheeper) and a sample pack of each of the following teas.  Mom and I have been having a great time trying the new teas.  So far the Liquorice & Mint is still my favorite, but I would recommend any of the other other teas too.  I’ll add new reviews as we work our way through each tea.

chocolate flake tea – It was a nice, rich tea… there was a slight hint of Tea Pigschocolate flavor, though not nearly as much as I would have liked.

chilli chai – Yum!  A good chai tea flavor with a light taste of chilli.

rooibos crème caramel – I didn’t get any caramel taste.  The tea was very nice, but nothing special.

popcorn tea

spiced winter red tea – A nice hint of orange, cinnamon and cloves.

liquorice and mint – FAVORITE!

lemon and ginger

pure lemongrass tea

super fruit

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June Birchbox

June BirchboxHarvey Prince Hello – 50 ml – Okay,this I LOVED!  “Made with eco-friendly ingredients, this scent has all-day staying power. A top note of Meyer lemon captures the scent of fresh-squeezed lemonade, while Satsuma mandarin adds a double fruity note. Next up, summer forsythia and pink plumeria—traditionally found in Hawaiian leis—give the scent its heady floral layer.”

LAQA & Co. Sheer Lip Lube Pencil – Another odd lip gloss color from Birchbox…. I’m not sure what I said in my profile to make them keep sending me weird colors.  The texture was nice… very smooth and silky with a bit of mint, so it tingles ever so slightly.  Just a weird color again.

Davines OI / All in One Milk – Damn, Birchbox!  I LOVED this leave-in type serum…. It made my hair so soft and smooth without weighing it down in the least… and it smelled so pretty… and it costs $28.  GACK!

Davines Love Smoothing Shampoo – I loved the shampoo and conditioner from Davines too…. and they both cost $25 for 8oz…. evil, evil…. I may pay it though…. It really made my hair feel so nice…. maybe with my Birchbox points?

Davines Love Smoothing Conditioner

The Aloe Source Vitamin C Antioxidant Crème – Another nice face cream.  Birchbox must think I really need hydrating… I get a new cream every other month or so.  I’m not complaining!  I haven’t had to buy one since I signed up for Birchbox.  I haven’t gotten one that was much better or worse than any of the others.  This was nice.  The only reason I wouldn’t buy it is because I figure BB will send me a new one before I run out.

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish™ Hot Cloth Cleanser Starter Kit – I wanted to like this.  It came in a pretty blue box and I’m a pushover for pretty boxes…. It also came with a little muslin polishing cloth which seemed kinda cool… I just didn’t like the cleanser at all.  It felt slimy and seemed to cling to my skin.  Not pleasant at all.

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May Birchbox

Birchbox - May

I wasn’t super crazy about anything in this month’s Birchbox.  I Liked the PIXI Beauty Shea Butter Lip Balm… It smells wonderful.  I got “Pixi Pink.”  It wasn’t the best shade for me… but in another color I would have loved it.

I hated the Nexxus trio.  The primer made my hair feel oily and the shampoo and conditioner just made my hair feel itchy and tangle.  I was also a bit annoyed with Birchbox for calling them three separate items when they came in one package.

I still haven’t tried the SPF… personally I think the SPF stuff is bad for you… I put it in my giveaway box.  I haven’t used the Marcelle Power Serum  yet either, but I’m just waiting until I have used up the last of the other lotion that I got from Birchbox.  The Breath Crystals are in my purse…. I’m waiting until I need em!
May Birchbox CoTZ Face Natural Skin Tone SPF 40

Marcelle New·Age 8 in 1 Power Serum

32 Oral Care Effervescent Breath Crystals with IsoVoxy – 30 Count

PIXI Beauty Shea Butter Lip Balm

Nexxus® Color Assure™ Pre-Wash Primer

Nexxus® Color Assure™ Vibrancy Retention Shampoo

Nexxus® Color Assure™ Vibrancy Retention Conditioner

Not my favorite Box ever, but I got a new lip balm (and heavens knows I can always use another one!)  Even though I didn’t find any favorites, I enjoyed trying out all the new products.

If you would like to sign up for Birchbox, please use my referral link: https://www.birchbox.com/invite/phoenixrize I’ll earn credits to use in the Birchbox store!

 

 

 

 

Birchbox Love

I was just scrolling through my Facebook and paused to read a few of the comments people had posted to Birchbox.  OMG!  People are hateful!  There were so many snotty comments… “I got nail polish last month,” “Another perfume sample?” “Tea?!”  Ummm…. people?

Have you noticed that people just want to be unhappy about something? I really want to ask they why they subscribed in the first place.  If you already know what products you like and hate all things new…. Well, Birchbox isn’t the service for you.  Personally, I think people just like to complain.  Me?  I LOVE Birchbox!  I can’t wait for my box to arrive each month.

If you haven’t heard of Birchbox before, it is a monthly subscription service that helps you find and try new beauty products.  Each month you receive a pink box in the mail filled with 4-5 products from up and coming and well known companies. Usually they are sample sizes (think travel sized…. enough for several uses) and some full sized products.  Lately Birchbox has been including an edible sample… tea, chocolate, granola bar.  The box costs $10 (shipping is included)… If you order a longer subscription the price drops a little.  I’ve been a subscriber for 16 months now…. I recently decided that I might as well get the year long subscription and save a little.  You can also earn points for reviewing the products to buy full sized products from Birchbox.com.

Birchbox

Here is where I differ from the “complainers”…. I don’t get upset when Birchbox sends me a product that I don’t like.   I sorta appreciate it.  I’m one of those people that likes makeup and beauty products, but doesn’t really know a lot about them… I guess I don’t read the right magazines or blogs?  Sometimes I’ll get it in my head to buy a product and then it won’t work like I expected and I’m stuck with a full sized product that I hate…. money and drawer space (’cause I won’t throw it away) wasted.  When Birchbox sends me a silver eyeliner pen I feel no guilt playing around with it…. but when I bought that $20 pot of gold eyeliner and the $10 eyeliner brush and discovered that it was clumpy and I had no skill with the brush…. Yeah, that one I still feel guilty about… every time I see it in the bottom of my make up drawer.  Best part?  I love the silver eyeliner pen!  In the same box I received a sample of KIND granola bars… and learned that I didn’t like them at all…. yay!  Now I don’t have 6 other KIND bars sitting around making me feel guilty.  I also learned that I don’t like Sea Salt Spray or Dry Shampoo…. but I discovered a leave-in conditioner and lip balm that I LOVE.  Sometimes I get a product that I like, but is out of my  price range, but usually the prices are pretty reasonable.  I have a certain perfume that I am saving up my Birchbox points to buy because it more than what I consider “reasonable” but I really like it…. so I’ll save my points for it.

I have several products that Birchbox introduced me to that I’ve since purchased (or will when the sample runs out).

Cynthia Rowley Beauty Eyeliner  Silver!
Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips ( Never would have bought this on my own…. Love it!)
Beauty Protector Protect & Shampoo & Conditioner 
BCBGMAXAZRIA Bon Genre – 3.4oz (This one’s on my wish list) 
Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle 
Eyeko Black Magic Mascara (I’ll buy this when my sample runs out)
ModelCo SHINE Ultra Lip Gloss
Folle de Joie eau de parfum (Wish List!) 

 That is eight products that I’ve bought or will buy…. that’s one item out of every 2 boxes that I liked enough to buy.  And that’s not to say that I didn’t like the other items in my box… but Birchbox will send me another similar item before long (like hand lotion… they send me a ton of hand lotion and one is pretty much the same as another to me).  I have a couple of black/brown eyeliners and several lipstick/gloss that I’ve used and liked, but not enough to buy.  So for me, Birchbox is also keeping me supplied in products that I need, but don’t have a favorite.

If you like beauty products and love trying new things give Birchbox a try, I doubt you will regret it.  Use my referrer link!  (Yes, I’ll earn points for having referred you.)     https://www.birchbox.com/invite/phoenixrize

June Birchbox

June’s Birchbox was pretty much a disappointment all around.  I’d been so excited when I saw the sneak previews on Facebook, but once I got to play with the items in the box I was disappointed.

I discovered Birchbox when I was playing around on Pinterest.  There was this cute hair tie that promised tug-free, dent-free ponytails.  Woo hoo!  Following the pin, I ended up on another blog that was talking about Birchbox and the treasures in her latest box.  I researched Birchbox a bit more and decided to give it a try.  After six months of boxes (more good than bad), I finally got the two items that had originally led me to join Birchbox to begin with: Nail Polish and this hair tie.

twistband Birchbox Nautical Hair Tie Collection – I got one hair tie…. the pink one with the sea horses… um… it’s all twisted up in my ponytail, so the design isn’t a big deal.  The twistband held pretty good and it really didn’t tug my hair.  It stretched out sooner than I’d expected, but I am pretty rough on them. I like them and I am happy I got one… I’m not paying $14 for 5 of them when I can buy 30 of those soft elastic bands for $3?? But I did like them enough that I went to Hobby Lobby and bought the elastic ribbon ($3) and made my own.  – $14

Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk – To be honest… I didn’t even use it.  It went right into the Drawer of Unexpected Presents… If I am going to wash my hair I am going to wash it… dry soap just seems kinda gross and like more work than just washing.  – $18

Furlesse Elevens – At first I thought this might be cool… then I realized it’s just fancy packing tape.  You just stick this thing to your head and… what?  It’s supposed to stop me from scrunching up my forehead for a while?  Not impressed.  My husband wanted to know if I knew I had tape stuck to my face.  – $19

Color Club® Wanderlust Collection – I’d been so excited to get nail polish… Nail Polish!  Can you ever have too many bottles of nail polish?!  No!  Wait… yes you can… if it is this stuff, one bottle is too many.  It was gunky.  One coat wasn’t enough.  It wasn’t just thin, thin is fine, it was streaky.  Two coats was gunky.  And the color!?  I like odd colors… this stuff was radioactive green.  blech! – $8

Youngblood Hi-Definition Hydrating Mineral Perfecting Powder – This stuff could have been nice, but it was so hard to tell.  It came in a ridiculously tiny container and I had to shake it out into another container to use it at all.  It didn’t kill me, but I only got a use or two out of it, so I couldn’t say if it was really any better or any worse than any other powder.  – $40

 

May Birchbox

This was probably my favorite Birchbox so far.  While in the past boxes I had found products that I liked I had yet to find a product that I liked enough to find it/order it.  Of course I liked the product that HAD to be ordered from Birchbox, but fortunately, by the time I ran out of the sample, Birchbox sent me a promo code for 30% off and I got free shipping…. woo hoo!

May Birchbox

Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle (Sample size) – I have used tons of leave in conditioners and smoothing sprays… tons! I have perfectly straight hair that likes to get fuzzies and cause trouble.  Most sprays or serums tend to weight my hair down or give it a slightly oily/sticky feel.  Not this stuff!  I adore it!  I just spritz my wet hair 3-4 times and then blow-dry or air dry as usual… nothing fancy.   Fuzzies and fly-a-ways are gone!  My hair is super soft and it smells really nice too.  Beauty Protector makes a shampoo and conditioner too, but they are about $20 a bottle and I figure it is better not to get hooked on them too. –  $21.95

Sumita Color Contrast Eyeliner (Full Size) – I got the Navy Blue eyeliner.  It is a soft wax pencil, which I like and the color was really nice.  What I didn’t like was that it tended to smudge.  (I normally use a soft eyeliner from Cover-Girl and it doesn’t smudge.)  I really wanted to like it, because the color is great and it goes on super nice… but I go to yoga (not a class where we sweat a lot… just a bit) and I would come out with blue smears.  I tried it a couple of times, wondering if I was rubbing my eyes are something, but my regular eyeliner didn’t smudge, so it had to be this one.  So it might survive better on someone who could stay put in a nice air conditioned space all the time…. but not me.  – $11

Folle de Joie eau de parfum (Sample Size) – Love, love, loved this perfume…. LOVED!  When it ran out I was going to buy it too…. and then I saw that it was $100… I love perfume, but I think it is a silly thing to spend a ton of money on… I try to keep myself in the $50 range, and even that seems silly, but I convince myself that it lasts a long time and it’s for the good of others…. they get to smell me, right?  I have trouble going much over that price range.  If there were a perfume that I would spend $100 on though, it would be this one.   – $98

COOLA Classic SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for Face (Sample size) – I don’t like SPF…. It makes my skin itch and I am just not convinced that it is good for you like they say.  I tossed it in my purse and figured I’d come across someone who would need it.  (I carry the “mommy-purse” even though I don’t have kids).  It wasn’t long before someone was looking for sun block and I gave them my sample.  He didn’t get a sun burn, so I guess it worked okay.  He’s a guy, so he wouldn’t give me much of a review either…. “Its fine.”  – $32

Pilot Corporation of America Acroball PureWhite® – Umm…. its an ink pen…. A nice ink pen…. it’s blue…. I dunno, it’s an ink pen.  I’m not going to complain.  I tossed it in my purse and so far every time I have needed to let someone borrow a pen they have tried to run off with it… So I guess it’s a pretty good pen.  – $6.24

April Birchbox

I am SO behind on reviewing my Birchboxes.  Its certainly not because I’ve fallen out of love with them.  Not by a long shot!  As soon as BirchBox sends me the notification that my box has been shipped I start tracking the shipment…. and checking my mailbox… as if it might have arrived early….. I know! https://www.birchbox.com/shop/birchbox-1/april-2013/april-2013-bb11 A little extreme….. I just get excited!  And for me that’s really the best part about Birchbox… something to look forward to.  Which is why, when I get a box like I did in April with nothing very exciting, it isn’t that big of a disappointment.  Nothing amazing… oh well… I had fun waiting for it to arrive and guessing what might be inside.

Simple Revitalizing Eye Roll-on – Full Size –  Enh… It feels cool (literally) when I apply it under my eyes, which is nice.  I’ve been using it for 5 months now (off and on)… I can’t say it has done anything amazing.  The cool feeling is nice though.  – $10.99

Kérastase Age Premium Bain Substantif – Cleanse – (Sample size) – Not even a good sized sample.  It was just one of those silly packets that you have to gnaw the top off.  Just enough for one wash.  What’s the point?  Okay… it didn’t muck up my hair, but with one little sample how was I supposed to tell if it did any good?  – $38

Joanna Vargas Daily Serum –  (Sample size)  Actually a decent size.  I was able to use it for almost a month.  It was okay? I didn’t notice any big difference, but it didn’t bother my skin at all. –  $85

Mirenesse Glossy Kiss  – Full Size – Loved it!  Nice color, silky feel, long lasting…. great….  And then I used it down to the edge… No problem.  I’ll just sharpen it, right?  Wrong!  I had two different sized sharpeners already… tried both… didn’t fit.  Bought another new sharpener… a third size… still didn’t fit.  For $27, I am sure they mean for you to be able to sharpen it… but I am not boing to buy a third sharpener for it… I just don’t care that much.  – $26.55

LAFCO House & Home Soap – I’m just not a big fan of bar soap.  Somehow my brain believes that the germs stay one the bar (Its soap, I know….  Not rational, but that’s the truth.)  I just tossed it in Drawer of Unexpected Gifts (I keep a collection of random things that can be gifted in an emergency.  Don’t laugh!  I have some interesting things in there that have created some pretty cool gift baskets.) – $17

March Birchbox

Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream (Sample Size) – Not bad… Usually I use whipped coconut oil (homemade) or maybe conditioner when I shave my legs.  My skin is really dry and the store brands just make my skin itch like mad.  This stuff didn’t make my legs itch at all, actually it was pretty moisturizing and soothing.  It was probably my favorite thing out of the box this month.  I would use this again, but I don’t think I like it $20.00 worth.

IMG_2214Marcelle BB Cream Golden Glow (Sample Size) – Maybe I am terribly behind… this is why I signed up for Birchbox… so I can try new things without having to go to the store and shell out bunches of money.  All these commercials have been popping up about BB Creams… I finally Googled it:   “BB cream stands for blemish balm, blemish base, beauty balm or beblesh balm (apparently because of a trademark in Korea on the word “blemish”), and in Western markets, beauty balm. It is a cosmetic item sold mainly in East and Southeast Asia, although larger beauty brands are increasingly introducing BB creams to Western markets.  BB cream is promoted as an all-in-one facial cosmetic product to replace serum, moisturizer, primer, foundation, and sunblock. It can be worn alone as a tinted moisturizer, over serum and moisturizer as a regular foundation, and under powder, depending on the desired amount of coverage.” – Thank you, Wikipedia.

I’m glad Birchbox sent me a sample… I can’t say I am super impressed.  This stuff was super thick and had an odd smell that lasted all day.  I wouldn’t say that it even really covered better than my Clinique foundation.  For $27 I will stick with my $24 Clinique.

Caldrea Body Lotion (3 Sample Sizes) – Nice lotion, nothing amazing, but nice.  It smelled good, nice and thick… again, nothing amazing, but nice.

Madewell for Birchbox Nail Emery Board – Worst thing in the box.  (And I didn’t even use the dry shampoo.)  I’d been pleased when I opened my box this month, Oh! A nail file!  Pretty too!  I tossed it in my purse (nice that it had a little plastic cover so it wouldn’t scratch my sunglasses).  I’m always messing with my nails, and this month was especially rough on them (weeds, building and track days).  The stupid file didn’t even last the whole month!  I wore through the pretty little flowers on one side and tore a chunk out of the other side right away… it bent, peeled and generally fell apart.  Before the month was over I was back to my old grey file (3 pack from Target – $3)… so not impressed.  – $5.00

Serge Normant Meta Revive Dry Shampoo (Sample Size) – This stuff was not meant for me.  I don’t get it.  I wash my hair almost every day… ’cause I do stuff… I work out, I work in the yard, I get messy… I need a bath.  If by some amazing chance I don’t get messy enough (or am too lazy) that I don’t get a bath… I’m not going to bother messing with this stuff in my hair… why not just take a bath?  This might be something my sister would like (now that I think of it, I should give it to her… duh).  She is oiler than I am, (don’t worry, I’m not being mean, she reminds me that while I may not get pimples now, she won’t be wrinkly later…. we’re sweet to each other) and not nearly as messy as I am…  $25.00

I didn’t find anything in this box that I just loved… I did get to try a BB Cream and decided that I didn’t need to buy another one… Not my favorite box so far…..