September Birchbox Review

I’m a little bit slow writing this post this month, as I received this box over two weeks ago, but it’s been a very crazy couple of weeks! I did get a chance to try all my September samples (finally, I know..), so here’s my review of each:

ModelCo Ultra Long-Lasting Lipstick in Smitten
Smitten is described as a “deep cranberry red” and while it’s not a color that I would wear to the office, it is a great color for evening makeup. It’s a nice brand of lipstick that goes on creamy, not flaky, and the color definitely has staying power. I would be very inclined to buy it again as I have trouble finding lipsticks that don’t wear off quickly (I am constantly guzzling water!). I would love it if ModelCo expanded the line to include more day-friendly hues.

Wilma Schumann Skincare Hydrating Collagen Eye Pads
These gel pads are pretty fantastic. I washed my face and immediately applied them, then left them on (probably longer than the twenty-minute recommendation as I was enjoying a bubble bath while I let them do their thing). I normally get dark circles under my eyes easily, and was pleased with how bright my skin looked after using the pads. I would have ordered more if the website hadn’t been out of stock (I’m currently wait-listed to purchase, hopefully it won’t take too long!).

The Organic Pharmacy Blemish Gel
This could not have shown up at a more perfect time, because the week I received my Birchbox coincided with the week that my skin decided that it hated me and was going to let me know how angry it was by transforming itself into a red, blotchy mess. Luckily this blemish gel came to my rescue, and by the second day of using it my face looked noticeably better. The tube was pretty large for a sample size, and I will be keeping it around to use until the very last drop (although I’m hoping I don’t need it again anytime soon!).

Klorane Shampoo/Conditioner with Flax Fiber
Before saying anything else I would caution that this is not safe for color-treated hair. Luckily it didn’t really impact my color, just took some of the brassiness out of my blonde (which I definitely don’t hate). It did leave my hair soft, and the light scent is nice. However, the fact that it’s hard on colored hair makes it a product I wouldn’t purchase, as I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have some kind of color treatment.

Rituals Foaming Shower Gel in Happy Buddha 
This was my absolute favorite sample from September’s box. I admit that when I opened it, I thought, “Eh, shower gel, I don’t really need this but ah well.” I had no idea how amazing it was going to be! The fresh citrus scent really helps wake me up and energize me during my morning shower, and the product feels great! A definite would-buy.

Recommitment

Happy First Day of Fall! Another glorious summer is now over and in the books. And while summer is by far my favorite season, I do enjoy autumn in Washington. The morning air is cool and crisp, the leaves on the trees are turning to vibrant oranges and reds, and I can start adding back some of my favorite sweaters to my wardrobe.

A lot of people take a break from their normal routines in summertime, whether they’re on a vacation or just spending as much time outside as possible to take advantage of the nice weather. Then once fall comes, it’s back to the grind. School is back in session, the days are shorter, temperatures are cooler. With more of the year gone than remaining, it’s a great time to reflect on where we started, and where we want to be by the time we bid 2015 goodbye.

Since the start of the year, I’ve been struggling with the extra ten pounds I gained in 2014. I started off January strong by going on a diet, but gave up by mid-February and lost all progress I’d made. Over the summer I spent a lot of time outside, and not a lot of time whatsoever in the gym. I indulged a lot. I had fun. Then after Labor Day, I thought to myself, okay, time to reign it in a bit. Time to get back on track. Honestly though, what was I trying to get back on track to accomplish? Yes, I’d like to drop those pesky ten pounds, but was that really the extent of my end game? I know I didn’t do myself any favors by trying to lose weight through dieting. It just doesn’t work for me. I had my greatest successes in the past when I gave up on diets and just focused on being fit and healthy.

I’ve ultimately decided that I do need to recommit, but to my goal from years ago of taking care of myself and living a balanced life. No diets. No extreme workouts. No restrictions and nothing off-limits. Maybe now that I’m in my thirties, what I weigh and look like right now is what the new normal will be for me. I’m not sure if that thinking falls into the category of self-acceptance or if I’m simply giving up and saying I can’t get back to where I was, but either way I am at peace with it.

I’ve spent the month so far packing myself healthy lunches, enjoying my Zumba classes, walks outside, and Body Combat classes at my gym (if you have access to a 24 Hour Fitness,check these classes out, they’re awesome!). I’ve been determined to make more home-cooked meals for dinner and have really enjoyed trying out easy, healthy recipes. Every time I try something new and Bill goes back for seconds, I practically radiate with pride that I made dinner and it was good. I’m balancing these healthy habits with some not-so-healthy, but fun ones: I still play trivia with my friends every Wednesday night at American Brewing Co., and I’m not going to go to my favorite brewery and not enjoy one of their delicious beers! I still eat a slice of birthday cake when someone is celebrating at the office. I still enjoy nice dinners out with Bill. I feel that these indulgences are absolutely okay if I’m eating healthily the rest of the time. And I am no longer going to force myself through workouts that I don’t enjoy. There are so many options for exercise that I love doing, so it seems silly to make myself miserable doing things (like running on treadmills!) that I just don’t like. I’ve exercised much more consistently and felt much more satisfied with my workouts since making this promise to myself.

In keeping with the be-healthy theme, I went to see my doctor this week for a wellness visit. She assured me that my weight and BMI are within the normal range and that she is pleased with where I’m at, and also said that my exercise frequency and levels were exactly where she likes to see them. So, there you have it. I’m healthy, I’m not overweight, I don’t NEED to lose ten pounds. What I do need to do is live a healthy lifestyle and take care of myself.

When I was younger, what I weighed was very much tied into my self-worth and how I felt about myself. This, thankfully, is no longer the case at all. I love my life, just as it is. It’s filled with love and happiness. A number on a scale does not define me and it does not determine my value. I refuse to let it. And anyone who likes me less because I weigh a bit more is not worth my time or energy.

Recommitting to living a healthy life – and giving up on weight loss goals – has been incredibly freeing to me. I am peaceful, calm, happy. And those things are greater than anything a number on a scale could ever say about me.

August Birchbox Review

I have a confession to make: I’m something of a goo hoarder. By “goo” I mean various beauty products such as hair styling aids, face wash, makeup, things like that. I absolutely love trying out new things, looking for the latest and greatest product. But since buying full-size items can get pricey (and take up far too much space in my bathroom!) I recently subscribed to Birchbox Beauty Box, which for $10/month sends me samples of beauty products based on a profile I created with my hair color, skin type, and preferences. I recently received the August box in the mail and have had a blast trying out all the treats I received. Here’s a look at the August box and links to get the products:

dr. brandt microdermabrasion skin exfoliant
In short: love love love this! It smells great, and although it does exfoliate your face, it’s not a harsh product. I felt more like I was rejuvenating my skin when I used it, not scrubbing my face with a liquid sandpaper like some exfoliants do. It also smells great! I really love this product, but with a pricetag of $78/tube, it’s probably not going to become one of my beauty staples.

theBalm cosmetics Balm Desert bronzer/blush
I only added a bronzer to my makeup routine within the last couple of years, so I really haven’t experimented much with different brands. The Balm Desert is a lighter hue which works great with my fair skin, but overall I didn’t find it better or worse than anything else I’ve tried. While I do like it, at $21 I think I may just stick to a drugstore bronzer.

Oribe Bright Blonde Shampoo and Conditioner 
I took these sample packs with me on a recent trip to California, and they were the highlight of my morning shower. Not only do they smell and feel amazing, but the scent is subtle enough that I don’t smell like a beauty salon later while still detectable if I move my bangs around. This shampoo and conditioner is enriched with violet pigments to help bring out the pretty blonde color of my hair without it looking brassy. The price for these is reasonable and I would definitely order them – that is, if I decide to stay blonde through fall (because who knows, it might be time to go back to red hair!).

derma e Hydrating Night Creme with Hyaluronic Acid
I’ve been using this nightly since I got my Birchbox and I’m loving the way my skin feels in the morning. Up until I discovered this night cream, I’ve just been using my regular moisturizer before bed at night, and I’m pleasantly surprised with how much I prefer to use a night cream. The product is gentle, very lightly scented so that I don’t really notice it when I’m falling asleep, and doesn’t leave my skin feeling oily or greasy. Of everything in my August box, this is by far my favorite product, and I will definitely be buying more once my sample runs out!

Supergoop! Forever Young Hand Cream with Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF40
I admit, I am terrible about using a hand cream or hand lotion during the day! Because of this, I have tons of little free samples and castoffs that my friends have gifted me, and I’ve tried a lot of different tubes and brands. To be honest, while I like this one, it didn’t really stand out in the crowd to me. Would I buy it again? Sure, if I ever run out of the stock of hand creams I already have, but it doesn’t make me eager to toss out all my existing goop and switch exclusively to it.

Juicy Couture I am Juicy Couture Fragrance
When it comes to my perfume, I’ve been exclusively a Dior J’adore girl for years, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. That being said, it was really nice to have a sample size of perfume to take with me on my recent weekend trip. This particular fragrance is a bit sweeter-smelling than I’m used to, but I did like it and will pack it in my overnight bag for trips rather than taking along a bigger bottle of my J’adore.

I’m really enjoying the samples in my August Birchbox, and am already excited for my September samples!