My first Glam VoxBox!

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I’m excited to have been chosen for my first ever VoxBox from Influenster! If you’re not familiar with Influenster, it is a website/app where you can review and find reviews on everyday products, and based upon your social media influence, you can become eligible to test products for free. I’ve become eligible for two campaigns now, and one of those involved me receiving the Glam VoxBox which contained six products. All products I received are available at local drugstores, Target and Walmart. I thought I would share my thoughts on VoxBox and the products I received, so please keep reading!

Disclaimer: I received each of these products for free based on my social media influence. I do not receive any monetary compensation for this review; anything I say only influences my account on Influenster in regards to my eligibility to receive more products. Everything seen here reflects solely my own opinions.

Gillette Venus Swirl Razor and Venus with a Touch of Olay Violet Swirl Shave Gel
MSRP $8.49-$13.59, $2.99-$3.99
Rating: 8.5/10 for razor, 9/10 for shave gel

Each box came with a different Venus razor and a travel size can of the shave gel. I received the Venus Swirl razor, which was super exciting as I had been wanting to try this particular razor for a while! I honestly almost bought the men’s version for myself. As someone with quite a bit of muscular definition on my legs these days due to strength training, the swivel head is really nice for getting around the contours of my muscles and doing a good job around my knees. I was able to use it on my legs and armpits, but didn’t have as much luck with the bikini area, which is not a big deal. My biggest qualm is I wish that I could have this razor in sturdier material instead of standard disposable plastic, but I’m very happy to have finally tried this. I’ve tried the shave gel before and liked it; it is a really nice, creamy formula, good if you’re worried about a moisturizing shaving product. The Violet Swirl scent is nice but very potent, so if you’re not big on heavy fragrances (or fragrances as all), I would steer clear of this particular scent.

Cutex Advanced Revival Nail Polish Remover Pads
MSRP: $1.49-$3.99
Rating: 10/10

I really loved this little travel-sized pack of nail pads. The box claims that one pad can clean off 10 nails, and it lived up to that claim when I used them the other evening. I had a basic nude nail polish on (one of the new Wet n Wild gel polishes) and it all came clear off. Perhaps you’d have to work a little harder to get more heavy-duty/glitter polish off, but I think these are great to have on hand. They also didn’t leave my nails feeling dry, which of course I worry about with using acetone-based removers, so they live up to their “Advanced Revival” name as well. I’m definitely considering purchasing these to have around!

Not Your Mother’s Dry Shampoo, Unscented
MSRP: $3 travel-size ($7 full-size)
Rating: 6/10

This was honestly the most disappointing product of the bunch. I swear by Batiste dry shampoo, but I know a lot of people swear by this brand, so I was interested to see if it could unseat Batiste as my favorite. Not even close. For starters, I was not a fan of this Unscented variety; to me, it had a very weird smell, which was probably a general compressed-product smell but I did not enjoy it. The product claims to give you volume, which I can see, but for someone like me with thicker hair, it wasn’t anything extraordinary. I also had to use a lot of product to notice any difference in oiliness, and even when I did, I was again disappointed. It didn’t really look like it made much difference, and even if it had, again, I had to use a lot of product to get to that point. For just a dollar or so more, I can buy my Batiste and get the results this product claims with less product.

Q-Tips Cotton Swabs, 30ct
MSRP: $1.29
Rating: 10/10

This may seem like a pointless review because, well, these are just normal Q-Tips in a travel-size container. So why a perfect rating? Because I love these little containers! Easy to refill for on the go, but there are other uses for them besides holding your cotton swabs. My best friend showed me that she uses these empty containers for her bobby pins and hair ties for travel or just to throw in her purse. Something so simple, and yet I was honestly mind-blown. No more losing loose bobby pins and hair ties in my bag!

SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Facial Skin Care Collection (Face Wash & Scrub, Moisturizer, Face Mask) sample trio
MSRP: $9.99-$11.99
Rating: Face Wash & Scrub: 9/10; Moisturizer: 9/10; Face Mask: 8.5/10

I’ve always been interested by the SheaMoisture line and was happy to receive some samples in this box. The particular samples I received were the anti-aging samples, shea butter based with frankincense and myrrh extracts. Each item is very moisturizing and all feel very calming to the skin as well as creamy. I would definitely recommend the moisturizer for those in drier climates and/or for the winter time, and perhaps more for the night time, as it may be a bit heavy for the day. I did enjoy the face wash & scrub in comparison to most scrubs I’ve used. It likely won’t be a repurchase as I don’t use scrubs on a daily basis because I own a Clarisonic and use scrub masks. The face mask was comfortable, and did leave my skin feeling softer after, but I don’t think it impressed me enough to replace my First Aid Beauty Oatmeal Mask anytime soon. However, if you’re looking for an affordable line that’s good for dry skin, I would definitely recommended considering the SheaMoisture line!

Overall Box Rating: 8.75/10

This Glam VoxBox was definitely the perfect exposure to products I’d seen at the drugstore but had never picked up! I would love to keep receiving these boxes and testing out products, as I think they’re of great value. As long as you’re comfortable posting reviews on social media, signing up for Influenster is definitely a worthwhile venture for those who love testing out products.

Have you ever received a VoxBox? What did you receive?

Until next time, stay well, stay beautiful xx

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PSA: Free shipping today on ANY Ulta order!

Good morning beauties and foodies and Happy Friday! We’ve made it through another exciting week, and as we dive on in to the holiday season, I know I’m going to have plenty to report on! Today is absolutely no exception.

Source: Ulta.com

Today only, Ulta has free shipping on any order. That’s right, any order! No code, no minimum, just place your order and away you go! As an added bonus, there’s currently a $5 off of any $10 purchase coupon*. Have an item that’s ~$10 that you’ve been wanting to try? Use the coupon, enjoy the free shipping, and then just worry about tax! This is a great deal for picking up some stocking stuffers and other gifts, or something for yourself.

And Ebates users can enjoy 8% cash back from their order!

This is a great deal, especially for lovers of NYX. I know how hard it can be to find certain items in store sometimes from the brand, or how terribly picked-over the display gets. It’s also a great deal if you’re looking to pick up from the drugstore-brand side of things, or for any orders you’ve had in your queue that you were waiting to be large enough for free shipping.

I’ll keep updating you with my choice holiday picks and deals on top of the other things I’m working on. If you’re looking to stay completely up to date on deals at Ulta, Sephora, Target, etc., I would definitely recommend following Nouveau Cheap. Gianna is always on her game finding deals, and I found out about this deal through her Instagram. Her mission is saving you (and herself haha) money on the products you love, and if you’re a drugstore product super fan, you definitely cannot live without her.

Until next time, stay well, stay beautiful! xx

* Exclusions do apply. Please see the coupon for more details.

Edit: I almost forgot one last added bonus – through tomorrow, ULTAmate Rewards members get 2X points on purchases, and Platinum members get 3X points. Make sure you have this offer activated if you decide to order today! To check if you already have it activated, log into your rewards account on Ulta’s website, click on My Rewards and at the bottom of that page will be your Bonus Offers. Happy shopping!

Update: Walmart Beauty Box

The Packers vs Seahawks game is on (GO PACK GO!) but I have to take a quick moment to post a follow-up to the post I made about the Walmart Beauty Box this morning.

Concerns have been expressed that the beauty box sign-up page is not noticeably encrypted/the URL is not an “https” URL. This can raise a red flag when you’re asked to give away something like your credit card info, as you do for payment for this. Nouveau Cheap has put out this great post regarding her phone correspondence and the email correspondence of one of her readers with the Walmart BrandShare* Sample Box Team.

*BrandShare is the third party company that is handling the distribution and fulfillment of Walmart’s beauty boxes, as well as their baby boxes.

I went a little further and Googled BrandShare for myself and discovered their website. I grabbed this bit from their Company page:

BrandShare™ is an integrated solution for national brands seeking to share their brand sample, premium, digital content, offer, literature or invitation to try with a very precise target consumer in order to reach mass-scale trial, drive immediate purchase conversion and create authentic word of mouth conversations online and offline.

Led by CPG, direct marketing, and internet industry veterans, BrandShare™ offers the most efficient and highest ROI campaigns for your brands — an industry leading cost-per-sample-tried by target consumers.

Founded in 1984, BrandShare™ is headquartered in New York, NYC and has offices in New York City, Philadelphia and Chicago.

They also list their clients on the website, which includes many major brand names.

Based on this quick search, I am personally going to proceed with my Walmart beauty box subscription. I’ve also checked my bank statement and only see the $5 charge, which comes from BrandShare. However, I will be sure to keep a closer eye on it in the next few days to see if I experience any fraudulent charges, and will be sure to follow-up with another update if that is the case. From what I can tell, though, this is a reputable, trusted third-party company and we should have nothing to fear.

Any other questions or concerns should be directed to Walmart either by phone or email.

Now if you excuse me, I’ve taken a long enough break from football. Until next time, stay well, stay beautiful! xx

Walmart Beauty Box

Source: beautybox.walmart.com

Thanks to MUA, I was tipped off on another beauty box to hit the market. Walmart isn’t the first superstore to release its own beauty box. Target releases boxes a couple times of year, and it’s not a subscription; sales are first come, first serve, and once it’s sold out, it’s gone.

Source: beautybox.walmart.com

While the boxes will be similar in that they both contain products that can be found at the respective stores, Walmart will work on a subscription basis.

Source: beautybox.walmart.com

Every three months, or every “season” (living in the Midwest, we have endless winter, 5 minutes of spring, construction season aka. summer, and then 30 seconds of fall before we’re plunged back into winter), you will be charged $5 for a box that contains products suited for the appropriate season. Based on the picture above, these samples will be of cosmetics, skincare, hair care and personal care (there’s deodorant, and also looks like there might be a fragrance?). The box itself is free and the $5 fee covers the shipping and handling, much like the Target beauty box that costs $5 + tax and ships free. You won’t be charged the $5 until your box ships. I know in the Target beauty box I received, they included coupons either for the specific products found in the box or just a general $5 off of however much of a beauty purchase. I would expect Walmart will do the same, and I’ll be sure to let you know once I receive mine! My order is currently being processed, and I should receive it in a week or less once it ships out, so expect a review soon.

As a fan of Target’s beauty box and drugstore products in general, I’m excited for this. And $20 for the entire year? I could easily drop $20 or more in one shopping trip to a superstore!

The signup process is straight forward and simple, doesn’t take long at all. Like any subscription service, you set up an account, that way you can change any information such as address or payment info later if needed. If you’d like to signup, click here to be sent to the signup page. The Target beauty boxes always sell out quickly, and it’s yet unclear when Walmart will close their signup, so if you’re interested I suggest going to their site ASAP!

What do you think of stores like Target and Walmart creating their own beauty boxes? Do you like this? Will you signup for this? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time, stay well, stay beautiful! xx

Review: PocketDerm

If you saw my “Take Two” post, you saw that I’ve been struggling with acne issues lately that have gotten in the way of any makeup attempts in my life. Specifically, once I got deeper into my half-marathon training about a month and a half ago (I finally ran the race this past Saturday, I’M FREEEEEE), I noticed that my pores were appearing more clogged than normal, particularly on my forehead, until it seemed as though every. single. pore. on my face was clogged.

Now, I have health insurance thanks to my job, but over on /r/SkincareAddiction, I’ve heard some horror stories of derm office visits, and I was hesitant about the possibility of having to shell out some serious cash for a potential prescription treatment.

Enter PocketDerm. The service has caught on like wildfire over on the subreddit in the past couple months. PocketDerm is a form of telemedicine (medical practice performed via electronic communication) founded by Dr. Nancy Satur and Dr. David Lortscher, both board-certified dermatologists based in San Diego, CA. For $19.95 a month, you will communicate with either Dr. Satur or Dr. Lortscher regarding your acne issues. Included in the $19.95/month fee are the consultations with your dermatologist and the shipment of your personalized prescription product.

Considering PocketDerm has a referral program where you can use someone’s referral code to get your first month free, and how desperate I was to find a solution to my acne woes, I took the plunge and signed out.

The registration process is very simple. After creating your account, part of which involves identifying your state of residency (PocketDerm is sadly not available in all 50 states and is not available outside of the US), you are matched with your dermatologist–Dr. Lortscher is mine–and, after giving them your credit card info, are asked to fill out a simple questionnaire that asks questions about your skin, any medications you’re taking, allergies, etc., the standard medical questionnaire. You are also asked to upload photos of the affected areas. This includes three shots of your face–front, left side and right side–as well as back or chest shots if you have acne in those areas. Once completed, the information and photos are sent to your selected dermatologist who will review the information before giving you your prescription.

I finished my profile around noon on a Thursday and heard back from Dr. Lortscher roughly two to two and a half hours later at which time I received my prescription as well as information on the active ingredients in my prescription. He also discussed the role my birth control plays in my acne (mine doesn’t really do anything to help, sadly) and gave me positive feedback on my current skincare routine that I decided to provide when asked for other information that wasn’t addressed directly in the questionnaire.

My prescription was shipped out that same day and arrived two days later on Saturday.

The adorably wrapped package.

The bag within with all the goodies.

The packaging is nice, neat, simplistic. I really enjoy the PocketDerm logo. 10/10 for presentation.

Inside the little goodie bag are your prescription and some recommended samples.

Itty bitty samples!

What I like most about the samples is that they are drugstore products, not anything obscure you would be unable to get without further assistance. My samples were from the Eucerin brand, which can easily be found at Target, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, any other drugstore.

The prescription bottle.

Again, very simplistic and neat package with their logo. This is your actual prescription.

Thou shalt (not) say my name

The active ingredients in my prescription are treitinoin, clindamycin and azelaic acid. All three ingredients require a prescription, and would normally each require their own separate prescription. Treitinoin is a retinoid that is used for treating acne, and clindamycin is an antibiotic as is azelaic acid, with the later helping to reduce inflammation. Your PocketDerm dermatologist can also suggest an oral medication in addition to this topical treatment, and will send a prescription to your pharmacy if you decide you’d like it as well. However, the amount for the oral medication is not covered by the $19.95/month fee, and you will have to pay an additional fee for it at your pharmacy. If you have insurance, you can use this to help pay for the medication. Dr. Lortscher recommended spironolactone for me but I declined for the time being due to potential side effects that I was worried would interfere with my training.

The topical is meant to be applied after cleansing and can then be followed by moisturizer after waiting a few minutes. If applying the topical soon after cleansing proves to be irritating, they recommend waiting 20 minutes in between cleansing and applying the topical, but I have had no issues with it. The topical applies really smoothly to the skin and has a nice, matte-like finish. My skin actually feels pretty soft after applying it.

Overall, I am very satisfied with my PocketDerm experience so far. The consultation with Dr. Lortscher was quick, easy and painless, and my prescription shipped to me very quickly. For getting the first month free, this has been a great deal! If I do continue with PocketDerm, I will have to pay the $19.95/month fee, but the nice thing about the referral code is that it not only gives someone else a free month but it gives me a $10 credit in return when someone uses my referral code.

As I stated above, the $19.95/month fee covers your scheduled consultations and product shipments. After your first consultation and shipment, your next of each is scheduled three months later. However, if you need to schedule a consultation sooner, or need your prescription sent to you sooner because you finished it before the three months are up, you can request either – for free. That’s right, extra consultations and earlier shipments are covered in that $19.95/month fee. No extra charges. You will also get plenty of follow-up emails from them filled with tips regarding your new prescription.

If you currently have a dermatologist and have an established relationship with them, I would not jump to recommend this service to you. There are just some things telemedicine cannot cover that an in-person interaction can. However, if you live in a rural area where access to a dermatologist means driving over an hour, or you do not have insurance and dermatologist visits would normally run you over a hundred dollars even before prescriptions, I would highly suggest looking into this service if it is available in your state. (Important note: Currently, PocketDerm is only for treating acne, not other skin conditions. Also, depending on the severity of your acne, they may still advise you to see a local dermatologist. YMMV).

Interested in trying PocketDerm and would like your first month free? Click this handy dandy link to the /r/SkincareAddiction megathread of referral codes!

What are your initial impressions of PocketDerm? Have you tried it yourself, and if so, what has your experience been like? What do you think of these moves towards teledermatology/telemedicine? Will this be the way of the future? Leave your responses in the comments below, as well as any questions you may have about PocketDerm. Hopefully I can answer from my experience so far!

Until next time dearies, stay well, stay beautiful! xx

The importance of rituals

My original plan was to post this yesterday, but in light of the death of Robin Williams, I’m glad that I pushed it off for another 24 hours. Before we begin, I’d like you to take a moment to give your loved ones a hug, whether that be your parent, your significant other, your children, your roommate, your friend, your pet, any or as many of the above as is close by. If no one is around, give them a call or send them a text, reminding them how much you love and care about them.

Life is hard, plain and simple. Each and every day, there are many challenges we face. You, my dear readers, are probably in school, or work a fulltime job, or are a stay-at-home parent (which should also fall under the “fulltime job” category), or are a mix that draws from all three categories. On top of the daily challenge that comes from having a set schedule of waking up, proceeding to do [insert occupation here] for how many hours out of the day, and then attempting to find a reasonable time to get to bed and regenerate before doing it all again, we get those curveballs thrown at us: unexpected bills, our car breaking down, something breaking in our residence, someone or ourselves getting ill, etc. Even during the weeks when we experience relatively smooth sailing, going through a more or less stagnant routine can be draining enough.

I’ve made the transition from fulltime student to fulltime employee and I still feel this. I feel the dread of the weekday life every Sunday evening, and this past Sunday was no exception. Made worse by the fact that my long distance boyfriend had to return home 150 miles away after being with me for the weekend, I couldn’t escape my tanked mood until I remembered, “Wait, it’s Sunday night! That means it’s masque night!” And that was the moment I realized how important my rituals are in carrying me through the monotony and helping me be ready to tackle another day.

For me, it involves setting aside time to pamper myself. As I’ve shared recently, I’ve been struggling with the condition of my skin on my face (updates on this to come soon), and one of things I’ve incorporated into my skin regimen thanks to /r/SkincareAddiciton is the Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque every Sunday and Wednesday evening. I chose these two days because I view Sunday as the end of a long week, which for me at the moment includes a lot of physical training for my half marathon that definitely grimes up my face, and Wednesday is the perfect middle of the week day where I can do this, get over the hump and see myself through to the weekend. In addition, while the masque hardens, then once I follow it up with a mineral (baby) oil massage to help get out more gunk, I catch up on videos from my favorite beauty gurus on YouTube. The 15 minutes it takes the masque to harden is the perfect time to watch a tutorial or a product review.

You might think, “Jaimie, if you do this every Wednesday and Sunday, doesn’t that make it a routine, not a ritual?” While I do it routinely, the reason it is a ritual is because the focus is not on getting it done but about making it something for myself. My consistent focus every day is to treat my skin well by sticking with a beauty regimen that works, and technically I don’t need to do the masque and oil massage to keep my skin healthy, but it is a good added step and, more importantly, it is a way to pamper myself. I make sure to put this time aside on Wednesday and Sunday evenings to focus on things that I enjoy, which is learn more about beauty and makeup, while also taking care of myself. Not only am I doing something good for myself physically, but also mentally and emotionally by allowing myself to unwind, shut out everything else, focus on my interests, and do something that makes me happy.

It really is the little things in life that mean the most. Taking an hour two days out of the week to do this may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but trust me, it makes a world of difference. It’s not my only ritual. Another of my top rituals is, when I’m having an especially rough day, I will put aside my phone and computer, take a bubble bath if I can (which I unfortunately can’t do right now because of the state of the bathroom in this new house…you know, let’s just not talk about it), grab some sort of comforting snack and throw in one of my favorite movies before I reconnect to the world. Last night, after hearing the news of Robin Williams’ death, that was dark chocolate covered strawberries and Mrs. Doubtfire. It gave me time to unwind, process, and reflect on the wonderful career of an actor who was a huge part of my childhood.

What are rituals that are part of your life? They can be beauty related, food/cooking related, or anything you’d like to share. I’d love to hear about the things in your life that you do specially for you! If nothing comes to mind, I highly suggest adding some you-time to your schedule. It doesn’t have to be much, maybe only a half an hour once a week. The important thing is that it’s about you and only you, and can help give you just the right boost you need to make it past all the chaos and the bullshit that plagues our lives every day.

Until next time, dear readers, stay well, stay beautiful! xx

While the main focus of this blog is beauty and food, the constant focuses of my life that tie in very well with these two topics are wellness, positivity, and above all self love and maintaining personal health. The recent loss of Robin Williams has given us another opportunity to recognize the importance of these topics and the reality of mental illness. Please know there is absolutely no weakness to be found in seeking help, only the strength within you to fight for yourself and your right to exist. Always remember that you are not alone. If you are in the US and would like to talk to someone, or know someone who could use this service, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For international readers, please visit this link to be connected with someone in your home country.