The Struggle for the Perfect SPF: A Review of Josie Maran’s SPF 47

have extremely fair skin, and the sun petrifies me for that reason. I still vividly remember that one horrible day during my teenage years I decided it would be a swell idea to visit a water park. Less than halfway through the morning, I ended up burned all over despite my trusty SPF 100. Beet colored skin is not a good look, y’all. Despite this, regular SPF was not a fixture in my daily morning routine… seems absurd, right? So, after reading plenty of horror stories about how even momentary sun exposure can cause the advancing of wrinkles, fine lines – not to mention skin cancer, eek! – I set on a search for the perfect SPF to incorporate in my daily routine. First in line? A trusty sample of Josie Maran’s Argan Daily Moisturizer with SPF 47.

The main reason I’ve avoided daily sunscreen use so long? The greasiness. The stickiness. The white overcast it leaves on the skin. It already takes too long in the AM to put on makeup, and to protect my face from the sun, you’re telling me I have to deal with all of these annoying hassles now too?

Well, the good news is that Josie Maran’s Daily Moisturizer has bypassed two of those unwanted qualities in SPF-rich moisturizers: no greasiness, no stickiness. I do have to wait about 5 minutes for the sunscreen to soak in, but after waiting, then applying my usual foundation primer on top, you’ll see barely any shiny residue left behind on the skin. Later on in the day, I do see the need to blot my T-Zone area more often than I usually do, however. It does leave a white cast if you don’t blend vigorously, so I can see this being a challenge for those with darker skin. (My skin is just so darn white that it’s not too noticeable for me.)

The Argan Moisturizer with SPF also boasts no chemicals, and something called SunBoost ATB, which are supposedly a blend of anti-oxidants, and other hydrating ingredients that work with the SPF to help moisturize the skin while keeping it safe from the harmful UV rays of the sun. This includes green tea leaf extract, argan oil (of course – argan oil is Josie’s trademark ingredient, after all), aloe leaf juice, and jojoba oil.

The .016 ounce sample has already lasted me at least 7 days of application, and I use a nickel-sized amount each day. So while the $32 price tag for a 2 oz bottle might seem shocking at first glance, I can tell that the bottle would last a considerably long time even with daily use.

Recommended for: those who want to combine their morning moisturizing routine with some SPF protection, especially those with fair skin, or dry skin.

Not recommended for: oily skin types (I can definitely see the texture being too greasy for oily-types), and those with darker skin might have a difficult time getting the white overcast blended out.

Giveaway: Luvocracy Spring Beauty & Fashion

My “luv” affair with Luvocracy began last year, when I was browsing gift guides for present ideas. The interface and concept is somewhat similar to Pinterest, but Luvocracy is centered moreso around sharing your favorite products, and curating your own online shopping collections. My favorite part is that if someone purchases one of your recommendations through the website, Luvocracy will credit you with a 2% commission. I’ve already earned a few checks through Luvocracy, so I would definitely recommend it to other bloggers (or non-bloggers, too!) out there who already love creating shopping guides & collections, and want an outlet to earn referral credits. So in today’s blog post, I’m partnering with Luvocracy for a giveaway!

The collection I’ve created on my account to go along with the giveaway is Flower Girls… Spring Beauty and Fashion. I don’t know about you guys, but my favorite part of every spring season is the delicate, feminine and floral pieces that always crop up. I never get tired of soft pastels or tropical flowers. I’ve selected a mix of floral themed spring accessories, beauty items, and clothing; you can check out the details from this collection & past collections on my Luvocracy profile!

Giveaway Prize: $10 Credit to Shop anything on Luvocracy (Plus an automatic $10 when you sign-up, totaling to a $20 Shopping Credit)

To Enter the Giveaway:

  1. Click here to view my Spring Beauty and Fashion Luvocracy Collection.
  2. Important!: Sign up for Luvocracy through the link above (To do so, click the “+” symbol in the upper right corner.)

And that’s it! You’ll automatically be entered to win.

*Giveaway ends March 24, 2014. Winners will be notified on April 1, 2014. All fulfillment of this giveaway will be handled by Luvocracy. You can view the official giveaway rules here.

If you sign up and create a collection, please share! I’d love to see what items you’re currently craving.

What’s Inside October’s Birchbox?

t’s no secret that I love Birchbox. For the uninitiated: Birchbox is a monthly beauty subscription box that sends 4-5 deluxe samples for $10 a pop. There are dozens of box varieties, so you never know exactly which products your box contains until the 10th of each month.  It’s always a fun, surprising moment when you get a glimpse of the pink Birchbox packaging in your mailbox and unveil the contents. Today, my October 2013 Birchbox arrived; I couldn’t wait to share with you all, and give my initial thoughts on the samples!

The shade Flowering Fuschia looks very bright in the tube, but looks much more mellow on the lips after applying. The consistency of the gloss is a bit sticky, and I’m not a fan of the brush. It’s a little flexible plastic slab-like brush, which makes even application difficult.

All skincare requires a good two-three weeks to get a true impression of how well it works with your skin, but I really like this cleanser upon first try. What you do is apply the cleanser directly to your skin as you would a moisturizer, wet your muslin cloth with hot water, and wipe from your skin in circular motions. The exfoliating texture of the cloth managed to slough off some pesky dry skin on the sides of my nose without feeling painful or abrasive.

As you can see, way too dark for my pale skin tone. From the swatches online, it looks like Shade 1 would be best matching for me – unfortunately can’t really give an impression on this since I’d probably look like Snooki with it on!

The Hydration Lock Chapstick is Birchbox’s “Find” this month (which is when they include a full-sized drugstore priced “find” in the box). My thoughts? Eh, it’s Chapstick. The scent is pleasant yet subtle, and my lips don’t feel chappy. Har, har.

Roughly Estimated Box Value: $24.00

Verdict: Overall a decent month for Birchbox! The Liz Earle Cleanser kit is the obvious winner of the box, and I know I’ll end up getting good use of the lip gloss and chapstick. As for the foundation? Well, that’ll just have to go to a friend with a less ghostly complexion.

Accessorize Yourself with March’s Wantable Box!

Subscription boxes – especially beauty boxes – are my new addictive must-haves. From beauty boxes, to snack boxes, to geek and gamer boxes, it seems there’s something out there for every personality type. (Who doesn’t love a surprise delivered to their mailbox every month, after all?) Today I’m reviewing the Wantable subscription box!

Wantable first caught my attention because they offer not only a full-sized makeup subscription box, but also an accessories and intimates box. I haven’t seen any popular or affordable “accessories only” boxes out on the market, so it was easy to decide which of their three boxes I wanted to try first.

What you receive in your monthly box is a surprise, but that doesn’t mean the accessories are left to random selection. Each box is customized based on a style profile quiz you take when you sign up for Wantable. The quiz is fun and easy, yet incredibly detailed; it goes through your likes, dislikes, and (of course) your loves! Once you’ve taken the quiz, you will never receive a style you marked as “dislike” in one of your boxes (for example, if you dislike “Rock n Roll” jewelry and dislike hoop earrings, you’ll never receive those styles). You will often receive styles you marked off as a “like”, but you will be more likely to receive styles you “love”! Sounds good to me.

My loves included Rock n Roll, Bohemian, and Classic styles. I also mentioned I loved necklaces, rings and gold tones. (Wantable nailed their selections based on those specifications – more on that below!)

Packaging highlights: neat, aesthetically pleasing packaging, complete with customized touches like a sticker than reads “Packed especially for Liz” on the inside. The invoice shows styling tips plus the retail value of each accessory in the box; my total retail value came out to $84 (for $36/month subscription). And now, onto the pieces!

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Kesha Gold Cuff Bracelet: First impression was, “Holy cow, this thing is pretty, but I cannot fit it on my wrist.” During the style quiz, you are prompted to select your wrist size, but it was still impossible to slip this cuff over my hand. Thankfully my boyfriend exercised his “man logic” and pulled the cuff wider open a bit without damaging the piece. I’m not 100% sure if it was intended to be an adjustable piece, but c’est la vie.

Zadie Necklace: My favorite piece in the whole box. This chunky, art deco inspired statement necklace is a wonderful accessory for spring, perfect for layering on top of plain tees or dresses. Or even a flowery dress or blouse!

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Digital Sunglasses: Second favorite piece of the box. The red upper frame and the studs would make these sunglasses a great pair to a denim jacket during spring or summertime.

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Accessorize Yourself with March’s Wantable Box!Maxie Ring: Usually, they say to save the best for last, but I’ve unfortunately saved my least favorite for last. One word sums up my feelings toward this ring: “meh.” The quality seems cheap (and at the retail value of $8, the quality probably is cheap). I’ll experiment with it, though, and see what outfits I can pair it with!Other highlights: my shipment arrived within 4 days (!) of ordering. Additionally, you get a total of 3 emails throughout the ordering process: one to confirm the order, one to provide a tracking number, and one that notifies you the package has been delivered. I love little touches like that.Overall, I’m very happy with my Wantable accessory box experience! The best part is the surprise element while still being tailored to your likes. I’ve also heard great things about their customer service from other subscribers. You can sign up for your own accessory, intimates, or make-up box by going to Wantable’s site.

8 Perfect Nail Colors for New Year’s Eve

This New Year’s Eve, it’s already been decided… no parties for me. Nope. No glittery mini dress, no platform heels, no dancing till 4 AM. Feel free to call me the New Year’s Grinch! Instead, I plan on a wonderful and quiet evening with my boyfriend, watching New Year’s Rockin Eve on TV and popping a bottle of champagne at midnight (my bum comfortably planted on my own couch). So in lieu of a sparkly party frock, I intend on making my nails as fantastic as possible for the first moments of 2014. Check out my picks for the perfect nail colors for New Year’s Eve!

 

All That Glitters

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Formula X for Sephora – Hubba Hubble – Silver iridescent glitter, perfect for putting on top of a black or gold base for an appropriately sparkly New Year’s manicure.

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China Glaze Happy HoliGlaze – Be Merry Be Bright – Bright purple/fuschia and blue glitter. If your outfit is a little bit more subdued as you officially ring in 2014, make a glittery statement on your nails instead!

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Julep – Shoshanna – Holographic gold glitter that I have been in love with ever since my December Julep box arrived. It’s beautiful on top of every color I’ve tried, and with a few coats you can make it a full coverage glitter.

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Deborah Lippmann – I Love the Nightlife – For a little more low-key show of sparkle, try this lovely silver glitter from Deborah Lippmann (another obvious favorite brand here at Casual Concern!)

All That Shimmers

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Formula X for Sephora – Grandiose – I wouldn’t call this a traditional “New Year’s Eve” color (since of course we all think of silver, champagne or bright colored sparkles) but I love how this classic red shifts to a bronze. Extra oomph to a basic red mani!

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Zoya Nail Polish – Faye– Another shifting polish! I’ll also file this one under untraditional NYE colors, but there’s something so awesomely flashy about color-changing nail polish.

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Butter London – Champers – Ah champagne,  what millions of people will be guzzling during the first seconds of 2014. Champagne, a classic color for any occasion, but especially perfect this one!

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Ciaté Paint Pots – Twilight – The product photo above does this nail polish no justice. Seriously – check out Fashion Polish’s swatches of it instead! The black and gold shimmers wonderfully in the light.

Love Beauty Boxes? Build Your Own at Birchbox’s First NYC Storefront!

During my recent visit to New York, I knew I should visit Birchbox’s brick and mortar store at some point. During my subscription the past couple years, Birchbox’s beauty samples have clued me into many new brands and products that I would never have known about otherwise. I would never forgive myself if I passed up the opportunity to visit their inaugural storefront! Birchbox’s first location is in the quaint neighborhood of Soho.

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Love Beauty Boxes? Build Your Own at Birchbox’s First NYC Storefront! 13
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When you first stroll in, there is a giant wall of products to your left. Right beside the wall are some adorable displays, with mirrors and all the necessities to try out products in-store (disposable lip brushes, make-up sponges, etc.) As you absorb all the visuals, this is right about when your girlish glee tends to kick in.

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The wall of products is illuminated by a giant lit-up sign above it that reads “Go on girl, give it a whirl.” I LOVE this touch! The phrase completely embraces the spirit of the Birchbox subscription, which is all about experimenting and giving new products a go.

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My favorite part, though? BYOB. No, no, that doesn’t stand for Bring Your Own Booze… it stands for “Build Your Own Birchbox!” *Explosion of confetti!*

The sales associate promptly greeted me with a smile and a compliment on my outfit (oh, you charmer, you!) and explained the process of building your own box. Basically, there are 5 displays, each with its own category and 3-5 sample options within that category; you’re allowed to select one sample from each display. In other words, you choose one Make-Up sample, one Fragrance sample, one Skincare sample, etc. Their options change with each month that passes, as an incentive to get you in there each month! You can also specify which color box you want: pink, white or beige. But is it really a contest? You should always pick pink, people. Always.

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Each BYOB costs $15, which is costlier than the monthly subscription price of $10. I guess that’s the price you must pay for customization! At least everything you purchase in the store earns you Birchbox points, which you can redeem later for discounts on both in-store and online purchases.

My only suggestion for the Build Your Own option – especially since there is a price hike – is being able to either select from a bigger variety of samples, or being able to choose more than one sample per category. I’m not much of a fan for fragrance, so I would’ve loved to swap out my fragrance choice for an additional make-up sample! Otherwise, this is a subscription box lover’s dream come true. I had tons of fun customizing my own Birchbox, and look forward to reviewing the products soon.

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Thanks, Birchbox, for a great in-store experience! I’d be visiting every month if only you’d open a storefront on the West Coast, specifically Los Angeles… wink, wink