Thursday, March 27, 2014

March Birchbox Product Reviews and Google Drive

Hi everyone, so great news - I have discovered Google Drive. Hahahaha, I know, right?!

I went to download the iOS update for my phone, and of course there wasn't enough room on my phone for it, so I had to delete like half my photos (but I definitely uploaded them into iPhoto first...). Then, after uploading to my computer, my computer needed to be updated also, and then it started really screwing up and telling me there wasn't enough room on my startup disk and that it's running out of room to run things from and all of that - so I needed someplace to store all my photos that I don't have hard copies of yet...which is, like, almost all of them, haha. Lots of my photos I can delete after I use them, like the ones I take for the blog, and I obviously make CDs of the catalogues of photos from huge life events like graduation and wedding candids and stuff like that, but I had about a gazillion other photos that I couldn't bear to delete forever but also haven't found a "home" for yet. So I asked some friends what they recommend, and ended up trying out Google Drive. I installed in on my computer, and on my phone, so hopefully when I move photos into those folders they are stored someplace that's NOT my computer disk or my phone...right? Please, someone techy and smart out there, please please confirm this for me? I know I'm not tech savvy, but seriously I should at least be able to figure out if they're still taking up a bunch of disk space on my computer...right?

Anyway, I'm excited to have some form of cloud storage for all my photos because they sure do take up a LOT of memory on these new fangled tech gadgets we all have. Holy cannoli.

I'm assuming you probably didn't come here to read about my adventures with Google Drive, so I'll get to the reviews of my March Birchbox products. Below is a photo of my March Bb:

1. Air Repair Rescue Balm
2. COOLA Tinted Matte SPF 30 for Face
3. Curly Hair Solutions Curl Keeper
4. Vasanti Cosmetics BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator
5. Mighty Leaf Tea Pouches (Organic Earl Grey, Green Tea Tropical, Chamomile Citrus)
BONUS! A treat from Ghirardelli: Cherry Tango Intense Dark Chocolate square

1. Air Repair Rescue Balm: "Balms away! This all-natural salve repairs dry, cracked skin anywhere on the body. Dab onto chapped lips, cuticles, hands, elbows, and knees."


This product feels really smooth and moisturizing, not too heavy although does feel like it can heal super dry areas. I used it on my cuticles and a couple areas on my face that had some dry patches forming. I did not use it on my lips because it's kind of funny smelling and I didn't want to have it right under my nose to have to smell it. I have only used it before going to bed because it doesn't really soak in like a lotion would, it's definitely a healing balm similar to Vaseline or something like that. I do like how it works, but I don't think it necessarily works BETTER than other similar products. I think I prefer Mary Kay's Extra Emollient Night Cream, it smells nicer and does the same thing.

2. COOLA Tinted Matte SPF 30 for Face: "Organic tinted moisturizer with lasting sun protection that evens tone and masks flaws. Smooth a thin layer onto clean skin."

When this first came, I totally thought it would be a horrible color because I'm SO fair. I don't use sunscreen a whole lot anymore because I really need the vitamin D for my mood and mental health (more on that in another post on stress management), so I kind of wish this was SPF 15 instead of 30 because I will more than likely be using up this whole thing in the next couple of weeks. It's super super light, has just enough tint to even my skin tone so it's not so pink-splotchy, and it doesn't smell funny like a lot of sunscreens do. It's touted as organic, and sure it has some organic ingredients, but let's be clear - chemical sunscreens are not exactly good for our bodies - there is evidence that these chemicals easily travel transdermally and can affect our endocrine systems (think: hormones...not something I want to screw with anymore). So, whether "organic" or not, I'm not a fan of sunscreens in general anymore. I do, however, need some sort of protection from long periods in the sun, because I am so fair and a bad sunburn is worse than the bad things about sunscreen, in my opinion. Anyway, I was pretty surprised this product doesn't feel greasy at all and it feels like it just soaks into the skin, leaving a very-well-blended, more even tone. It doesn't smear funny or anything either, which is great - it spreads out really nicely.

3. Curly Hair Solutions Curl Keeper: "This water-based, weightless styling lotion keeps curls shiny, defined, and frizz-free. Comb through wet hair from roots to ends."

This sample was HUGE...a tiny tiny bit of this serum goes a LONG way. I'll probably get at least 6 uses out of it, I've only used it twice so far and it still feels almost full. That said, I don't think this is like a super awesome product. It's just sort of...meh. Maybe it's meant for super curly hair that is frizzy, to help hold tighter curls in place without reacting to humidity; my hair isn't super curly but has some significant waves. It does tend to frizz a little bit, but maybe not enough to notice the effects of this product? I dunno, I'm not that impressed. Today I used it in combination with my Beauty Protect spray in conditioner (from my December Birchbox), and I'm pretty sure my hair only really feels the effects of the conditioner. Curly Hair Solutions: not for me.

4. Vasanti Cosmetics BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator: "This powerful exfoliator mimics the results of professional microdermabrasion, minus the potential for redness and sensitivity. Three to five times a week, wet your face and massage a pea-sized amount into skin; rinse off."

I used to use the Mary Kay TimeWise Microdermabrasion set that had two steps: the microderm scrub, followed by the replenishing moisturizer designed to help skin heal from the microderm. Let's be real here, microdermabrasion is designed to remove the top layer of the skin, which is dead skin cells anyway, BUT they are protective. When we remove them, skin can be easily irritated. Yes, it makes your skin look new and fresh, but the potential for irritation is high. The Vasanti BrightenUp! is pretty great in my opinion. It's not as harsh as the Mary Kay MDA, but it also didn't come with a post-MDA moisturizer like MK does, so I still need to apply my normal moisturizer after using it. (They may make a moisturizer to use afterwards, I just don't have it since it didn't come in my Birchbox.) I use it in the shower so I'm not tempted to scrub harder by using a washcloth over the sink. My skin doesn't get as irritated with this as it used to with too-frequent of use of the Mary Kay kind. The Vasanti also smells pretty good. For a MDA product, I like this quite a bit.

5. Mighty Leaf Tea Pouches (Organic Earl Grey, Green Tea Tropical, Chamomile Citrus)

Mighty Leaf is pretty much whole leaf tea in separate bags so you don't need your own tea-steeping filter thing. I have only tried the Earl Grey so far, but it was pretty darn good. I like tea quite a bit, but I'm usually not a fan of Earl Grey. I prefer Irish Breakfast, Chai, or other black breakfast teas - normally Earl Grey doesn't brew strong enough for me. Mighty Leaf, though, was really delicious. I used a single teabag to brew my entire normal tea pot worth of tea, and I enjoyed it all morning with my half-almond-milk-half-heavy-cream mixture (I know, I'm weird about that, but it's how I like it). I'm looking forward to trying the energizing Green Tea Tropical and relaxing Chamomile Citrus flavors, given that I know they will brew nice and strong and flavorful. I may enjoy Mighty Leaf quite a bit, but on the Birchbox website this tea is $9.95 for only 15 teabags...!!! For those of you who know me, that's much too expensive when I can enjoy my standard Trader Joe's Irish Breakfast Tea for the discount price of $3 for 80 teabags...just saying. My other fave Irish Breakfast Tea is Barry's (actually an Irish company, makes it all that much better, too), which I believe is about $10 for 80 teabags on Amazon...? Also not a bad price considering it's ACTUALLY IRISH!

BONUS! A treat from Ghirardelli: Cherry Tango Intense Dark Chocolate square

This little morsel was delicious! The "intense dark" was the best part, I think, because it made it not too sweet, so it was definitely enjoyable with wine - those of you who have been to wine tastings or dinners with my mom, you'll know she LOVES to bring up the fact that wine and chocolate don't actually go together unless you've got either a SUPER sweet wine (generally not all that great...) or a VERY dark (and therefore, bitter) chocolate. This chocolate flavor was just the right amount of bitter to pair with the wine I happened to have open, and the sweetness I felt really just came from the bits of cherry, so it still went well with the wine. Pretty fantastic. The ingredients list was short and not full of chemicals, too, so yes, I might be inclined to purchase a box of these sometime in the future for a party or hostess gift. Probably not from Birchbox because let's face it, Target carries Ghirardelli and who can resist a trip to Target? NOT THIS GIRL!

Alright, so there you have it: my March Birchbox products and a little blurb about computer troubles, haha! Next up will be a discussion of some other products that I acquired via Sephora samplers and some other products I have used in the past. Also coming up: new job, less stress, managing stress, etc etc etc. Wow, so many changes have occurred in the last month or so, and they have been GREAT. So, my stress level has fallen SHARPLY. Always good. More on that in future posts!

Until then, friends, be well and take care! Oh, and feel free to share any info on your own Birchbox products, and check out my girl over at I'm Better In Real Life for some additional product reviews and general life banter that is fun to read!

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