February Favorite #5: Ulta Beauty


Ulta is one of my favorite stores. Not because I’m super into makeup but because I can buy almost everything beauty related that I want. I can get bar soap for the shower, products for my hair (I use DevaCurl), and face masks all in one place. Then I can use their points program to buy my favorite makeup, Urban Decay. And there are four different stores within driving distance of my home and work, which is helpful when I am looking for something specific.

I mentioned their points program. Do you know about it? Basically, you earn points every time you buy something at an Ulta store. Those points get turned into dollars that you can use to purchase more products. There are ways to earn extra points. If you sign up for the Ulta credit card, you get bonus points when you use it. (I use mine to book hotels/AirBnBs when we travel.) You also get double points during your birthday month. I’ve bought a lot of high end makeup with points. It’s my favorite part of Ulta.

Now, I know that some people prefer Sephora over Ulta. However, there isn’t a Sephora particularly close to my house. There is one near my work but it isn’t convenient to go to the mall it is in. And I don’t think their rewards program is as good as Ulta’s. But that is just my opinion. Where do you buy your favorite beauty products?

Charcoal Masks are INTENSE (Giveaway!)

The folks at ASDM Beverly Hills were awesome enough to send me their new Detox & Renew Charcoal Mask to try out. I've only ever tried one other charcoal mask so I was interested to see if different masks had different effects.

This particular mask comes inside a rather large box. (See the first image above.) Inside the box is the 2 oz jar containing the product and a fan brush for applying it. I have to say that the box seemed unnecessarily large for the two items. The jar takes up about 1/3 of the space and the brush fits flush against the side of the box. Sure, it is taller than the jar but there is still a lot of empty box wasted. The brush could probably be a lot shorter without having any real effect on the usefulness of the tool. Then the box itself could be smaller as well.

Like many masks, the instructions are pretty easy. After washing your face, use the fan brush to brush on a thin layer of the charcoal mask, making sure you avoid the eye and nostril areas. Wait somewhere between 2 and 10 minutes, then rinse off. Easy peasy!

But this is where things went wrong for me. As you can see in the picture, I have a very thin layer on my skin and I thought I avoided the eye and nostril area. However, my eyes started burning the second the mask touched my skin. Shortly thereafter, my skin started feeling very warm as well. It's difficult to tell from this picture but I am having a very hard time keeping my eyes open long enough to snap a shot of the mask actually on my face. Unfortunately, I couldn't even wait two minutes before having to wash it off. For the rest of the night, the skin between my nose and my cheekbones was red and felt very warm, almost like the product actually burned me. Very disappointing.

Have you ever tried a charcoal mask? The first one I tried didn't seem to get nearly as hot as this one did. What are your experiences with charcoal masks?

ASDM Beverly Hills has given me a jar of their charcoal mask to give away to one of my readers. The contest will run from 10/27/15 through 10/31/15 and is open to everyone. The winner will be announced on Facebook and Twitter on 11/1/15 so be sure to follow me on both of those platforms. Good luck!

I received a sample of the charcoal mask for free in exchange for this review. All opinions contained within are my own.

Foxbrim's Natural Refresh Toner

December is always a very difficult month for me. This is the busiest time of year at my "real" job and it drains all of the creativity out of me. I will continue to write blog posts and post YouTube videos but they might not be as frequent as they are the rest of the year. Please bear with me while I slog through the month.

On the plus side, I do have a review for you! I tested Foxbrim's Natural Refresh Toner. I haven't used toner in a really long time. Mostly because it seems to burn my face off every time I use it. (Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit.) A lot of toners have an alcohol base and it burns a bit when it touches my skin. Since there is no alcohol in Foxbrim's toner, there was no burning sensation. It actually felt nice and calming instead. 

As I've said before, I occasionally suffer from facial redness in the cheek area. Thanks to the witch hazel in the toner, the redness has started to fade. It's also helped with the wintry dryness in my T-Zone area. I don't know that the toner will completely solve both of these issues but it's nice to know that I can turn to it if issues arise.

This was probably one of the best toners that I have ever used. I love that it is all natural ingredients and that it helps calm all of my facial skin issues. I'm looking forward to see what will happen in the long term with this. 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

One Direction Makeup Kits - Mascara, Lip Gloss, Nail Polish

Even though my daughter is not a One Direction fan, I had to try their new makeup. I mean, when I was her age, I had the Debbie Gibson perfume (which I would still wear if they still made it!) but I don't remember if any celebrities made actual makeup products. Since there are gobs of One Direction fans out there, I needed to make sure this stuff was at least decent makeup. 

First up is the mascara. It comes in three colors - "Why Don't We Go There?" is blue, "Does He Know?" is pink, and "Story Of My Life" is yellow. Personally, I think yellow is a weird color for mascara but I'm not the one that has to wear it. Back when I was in my early 20s, I used to wear blue mascara. Never tried pink though. The cool thing about these is that they also double as a "hair mascara." If you want to add a stripe of color too your hair, you just swipe the brush through the strands. Since my hair is dyed, I'm not going to try that. I will, however, put this stuff on my eyelashes!

All three of the colors came out spectacularly bright. While the yellow is not  my favorite, it still looked nice. Both the blue and the pink looked fabulous! And it is pretty easy to put the colors together for a new look. Say, do your entire lash blue but then put some pink on the very ends. I love it!

Of course, there is also a lip gloss set. This one also has three colors - "Through The Dark" is red, "Taken" is pink, and "Kiss You" is an orange. These glosses supposedly change colors under UV light. However, I don't have a UV light to test that theory. According to the box, the red turns neon red-orange, the pink turns neon pink-orange, and the orange turns neon yellow. I'm not sure how many teenage girls have UV lights in order to take advantage of this "feature." 

All three of these lip glosses have glitter in them. Quite a bit of glitter, to be honest. Considering the target audience, I don't blame them. I think the teenage girls will love glittery lips. The orange one is probably the worst. It barely shows up on the skin. It's basically a lot of glitter with a little color. The pink one isn't too awful. It does have a nice candy pink color, again, with tons of glitter. My favorite is the red one. (OK, they call it "poppy." It's red.) It has some really nice color to it with just the right amount of glitter to make your lips sparkle without looking like you tried to eat a craft store. 

The last piece of the puzzle is a nail polish kit. This kit has three polish colors and three different colored glitter bottles. "Happily" is the blue nail polish, "Moments" is the pink, and "Diana" is a silver glitter polish. The glitter bottles consist of "Kicks" (blue), "Not Afraid" (pink),  and "Star" (purple?). Supposedly all of these also react to UV light.

These things are just weird. The best of the three is "Diana." Even though it is basically a clear nail polish with glitter, it still looks much better than the other two. "Happily" is so sheer that you can see your nail right through the blue. You would need at least three coats for this to have any real effect. "Moments" isn't terrible but it is a very neon pink. Like 80s neon pink. I'm not sure 2014 girls would even want to wear this color. 

I will admit that I did not try to add-on glitter. One, it looks super messy. They come in these tiny little pots and, in order to use the glitter, you would need to pour it out onto a plate or buy a separate brush or something. Two, there isn't a whole lot there. Since I don't particularly want glitter nails, I decided to save it for someone who would want to use it. You might be able to get one whole hand out of each pot. I'm not sure why they made them so small. The nail polish is definitely my least favorite of the three kits.

As a whole, I am kinda impressed with these kits. I figured that, since they are celebrity endorsed products, that they would be complete crap. Just another product made to drain the teenager's money. However, they aren't half bad. The nail polish sucks a bit but it can be pretty hard to find decent nail polish that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. If I were a younger woman, I would definitely use the mascara and probably the lip gloss. They would be absolutely awesome for costumes though. Very bright colors that can be seen from far away. Good job, One Direction!

Want to win your own set of One Direction makeup? Here you go!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free. Regardless, all opinions contained within are solely my own. 

Majestic Bombay Tweezers

I have a tweezer....thing. While we have multiple sets of tweezers in the house, there is only one that I really like and my husband keeps stealing it to use on his fishtank. So, when the opportunity arose to try these tweezers by Majestic Bombay, I got rather excited. If they were awesome, I would have a new set of amazing tweezers. If they were awful, my husband could use those for his fishtank instead of my good tweezers. 

This set of tweezers arrived in a cute little plastic sleeve. I've never had a holder for my tweezers so I thought this was cool and the tweezers are pink, which is my daughter's favorite color, so that makes these cool times two. The tweezers, themselves, are lightweight and the tip has a really nice sharp edge. Impressive!

Time to try them out! I have these annoying little hairs on my jawline. There are three hairs that stick out like a sore thumb. (At least they do to me. I bet no one else even notices them.) I frequently pluck these hairs so I don't feel like some sort of warty evil witch with chin hairs. (OK, they aren't on my chin, they are on my jaw. Don't judge me!) I need my tweezers to get a firm grip on these hairs to make them easier to remove. Even with my "good" tweezers, I have to attempt the plucking a few times before the hairs actually come out. 

The Majestic Bombay tweezers were amazing. They actually grabbed onto the hair the very first try and pulled it right out. I didn't have to try two or three times! I don't think I have ever had a pair of tweezers that worked like that. The only "downside" is that these tweezers are pretty sharp. You need to be careful that you aren't scraping your skin too hard with them or you'll end up with a little cut. However, that isn't very much of a down side for me. I like that the tweezers are on the sharper side so I can get really close to the base of the hair I am plucking. 

That was probably way too much information about my face, right? Anyway, I love these tweezers. It looks like my "good" tweezers weren't all that good. These will be a great replacement. 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Oleavine Konjac Charcoal Sponge

I have a bit of a fascination with charcoal beauty products. On one hand, they seem to work very well. On the other hand, they tend to be very messy. When I got the chance to review the Konjac Charcoal Sponge by Oleavine, I was super excited. 

Supposedly, you do not need to use any sorts of cleansers with this sponge. You just wet it and wash. When I wet the sponge, I was very surprised that no black charcoal bits came out. Of course, this makes me wonder if there is actually any charcoal in it. I used to use Lush's Dark Angel face cleanser, which has charcoal, and it was a big black mess all over my bathroom sink. This didn't even have any black water, like when you get a new Brita filter. That left me suspicious about their charcoal claims. 

Even if there is no charcoal in the sponge, it is pretty nice. It is rock hard, almost like a pumice stone, when you get it but it gets super soft as soon as it gets wet. Even though I didn't use any cleansers with it, it also somehow managed to make my skin feel smooth. Though I will admit that I did not feel any sort of exfoliation, which is another claim Oleavine makes about their sponge. 

In the end, I am very torn on the sponge. I am rather disappointed about the lack of charcoal in the sponge. I was hoping that this would be something like the Dark Angel cleanser but in a sponge form. In reality, what I got was a nice soft sponge that just did sponge things. Maybe I can find a way to use Dark Angel with this sponge and not make a complete mess of my bathroom. That would be pretty ideal. 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Vitamin C Serum

I am pretty terrible to my skin. I love taking rather hot showers, which makes my face turn bright red. It is a little embarrassing. Thankfully, Sano Naturals sent me some of their Vitamin C Serum to try. 

Here is how I used it: After I got out of the shower and dried off, I would put a dropper full of the serum in my hand. I would rub my palms together then smear the serum all over my face. (I said I was terrible to my skin, didn't I?) As I finished the rest of my morning routine, the redness would disappear. Now, I know the redness didn't just fade by itself. I have spent entire days walking around flushed. So the serum did help it along. I'm not sure that it had any other effects on my skin but I am glad it helps the redness go away.

I also got a sample of their eye gel. I have had problems with eye gels in the past. Most of them are very sticky. It is annoying when your eyelashes stick to your cheeks every time you blink. Instead of using it twice a day, I only used it at night and I only used a very little bit. I didn't notice any changes in the skin around my eyes. It is possible that I need to use a little more or give it a few more days to work. 

The one down side about both of these products is that they do not tell you how much product to use. The containers just say where to put the serum or gel. That makes it a little difficult to know if you are using the correct amount, which may be the issue with the eye gel. However, I do like the containers for both items. The serum is in a bottle with a dropper cap and the eye gel is in a tiny jar. I found the dropper much easier to use over the squirt nozzles that most other companies put on their bottles. I also prefer the eye gel in the jar. It lets me scoop out however much (or little!) I want. 

I'm not sure if I would recommend either product to anyone. The serum did calm the redness but it didn't seem to do anything else. The gel didn't seem to do anything at all. I suppose they are worth a try. After all, it is possible that I have completely screwed them up and you could do a better yourself. 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

InstaNatural Stretch Mark & Scar Cream

I don't try very hard to get rid of my stretch marks. Most of my stretch marks are on my abdomen as a result of my pregnancy oh-so-long ago. They are what they are and I live with them, even though I don't particularly like them. When I had the option of getting a sample of InstaNatural's Stretch Mark & Scar Cream, I figured why not. 

First off, I will admit that I did not use the cream every morning and night, as the bottle suggests. I only used it in the morning after my shower. After I dried off, I would use one or two squirts of cream on the stretch marks on my abdomen. 

While it definitely is not a magic cream, I did notice that my stretch marks faded a bit. They didn't disappear but they were less noticeable. They faded enough that, at first, I thought they were actually gone. It wasn't until I squished my belly around a bit that I could see that they are still there, you just can't see them as easily. 

On top of that, I really liked the scent of the product and the nozzle on the bottle. The cream doesn't have one particular scent to it. Maybe I would classify it as kinda "ocean" scented? I'm not sure. As for the nozzle, it looks like you are going to get a foam out of it instead of a cream. I found that this made it easier to control how much product came out. If you only wanted a little dollop, you could just squeeze the nozzle a tiny bit. It was much nicer than some other nozzles.

InstaNatural also sent me a bottle of their Argan Oil. I have heard wonderful things about argan oil so I have been on the search for a really nice one. This particular oil worked well for me. The first thing I noticed is, once again, the nozzle is completely different from every other bottle of argan oil I have ever tried. Most other bottles use a dropper. This one has a squirt nozzle. While the squirt nozzle doesn't usually work well for creams, I found it worked nicely for the oil. Instead of having to count out drops from a dropper, you could just squeeze out a larger amount of oil at a time. (I really don't think anyone is using ONE DROP of argan oil for anything.)

I used the argan oil on my hair as a leave-on conditioner. In my opinion, it worked very well. It left my hair feeling soft without feeling oily and it didn't dry out my hair like some other "conditioning" products. It could be a little messier than some hair creams but I, personally, did not have any issues with it. 

In the end, I really liked both products. Neither of them had any magical powers to make me a gorgeous model but they did make my hair and skin a little nicer to look at. What more could you ask from a product?

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

MaskerAide facial mask

facemask A couple of days ago, I told you that my Beauty Box 5 arrived on Monday. I also said that I really wanted to try the facial mask that was in said box. After spending my evening at a 6th grade band and chorus concert, I decided to relax a bit and try the mask.

The mask I received was the Detox Diva. It is supposed to help minimize pores, absorb impurities, and exfoliate. Hm. OK. The instructions told me to cleanse and tone my face. I don't use a toner so I just washed my face as I usually do with Lush's Ultrabland, which is already a moisturizing cleanser. After I washed, I opened the packaged, unfolded the mask, and slapped it on my face. I adjusted all the parts to make sure my face was mostly covered and I even rubbed the serum into my neck, since the instructions said to do that too. Then I was supposed to relax for 10 - 20 minutes.

Even though I know this picture makes it look like I have a thousand chins, here I am relaxing on my couch:


After about 15 minutes, I was really bored so I removed the mask. This is really where it gets kinda weird. The instructions say, after discarding the used mask, to pat the moisture into the skin. I tried that. It didn't seem to work very well. So I took option two: give a quick rinse and pat dry. That was much better.

Let me start off by saying that I am used to slop on/wash off masks, not paper masks, for facials. So this felt very weird to me. However, once you get past the fact that you look like a mummy, it isn't too bad. The mask is very moisturizing. You could feel the serum stuff seeping into your skin. I don't know how exfoliating it was though. While my skin felt a lot softer afterwards, I can't say that it ever felt like it was removing dead skin or gunk. Despite that, I did really like the mask. I think I'd like to try some of the other masks, especially the All Nighter. That one claims to de-puff your eyes. My eyes could really use that!

Beauty Box 5 - May

bb5 My Beauty Box 5 box showed up in my mailbox yesterday! I always love when a subscription box shows up. I think I might have an addiction now. That would explain why I am always looking for new ones to subscribe to.

OK. OK. Let's take a look at this month's box. The theme for May is Fresh and Focused. It's all about getting yourself back in the zone instead of daydreaming about the beach. What did they give me to accomplish that?


The first thing I pulled out was a perfume sample. It is Hello by Harvey Prince. It is a very floral scent with a bit of a citrus undertone. Very pretty. I don't usually wear a lot of perfume but I might give this a try.


Next up is the Ban Total Refresh Cooling Body Cloths. The package looks like they are regular wipes. However, it sounds like there is some sort of cooling effect from them. Like, if it is super hot out and you feel gross, wipe yourself down with these and you'll not only feel cleaner, you'll also feel cooler? I'm not sure really. I'll have to figure out a way to try them out.


The next item out of the box was the H20 Plus Aqualibrium Marine Cleansing Gel. My daughter recently got a Clarisonic Mia. It looks like this cleansing gel has sea salt in it to make it exfoliating, which would mean she couldn't use it with the Clarisonic without tearing up her face. I will definitely give this a try though to see how it works. I'm always looking for new cleansers that will clear the gunk out of my pores.


The Cattiva Presicione Eye Liner came out next. Mine came in black. I don't wear makeup on a day-to-day basis. But, much like the cleanser, I'm always on the lookout for eyeliner that doesn't smudge or make me look like a raccoon. I will have to give this a try too!


The final item is one I have been dying to try for awhile. It is a MaskerAid Hydrating Facial Sheet Mask. I love face masks. A lot. I have never had the chance to try out a sheet mask though. I'm always too nervous to spend the money to buy them. What if I hate it? Now I get to try it! Yay!

I am happy with this box. There are a lot of things that I never would have purchased for myself and there isn't anything I wouldn't use at least once. I will try to post some product reviews of the stuff I do try. Keep an eye out!