Saturday, January 23, 2016

January 2016 Allure Beauty Box - Beauty and Brains - Unboxing and Review!

I tried to think of a different way of opening this post besides my normal "Hello!" greeting, but I wasn't happy with anything I came up with. I do like formulaic posts that, while not original, are consistent, but I know it can get irritating to read the same thing over and over again, kind of like when you're binge-watching a TV show and are totally over the opening/ending credits by like the third episode. There were going to be witticisms about subscription boxes, self-deprecating comments about my addiction to said subscription boxes, and so on and so forth, but nothing felt organic and so you get this. My apologies. Now let's look at the January 2016 Allure Beauty Box!
Allure really stepped up their game this month and gave us a box that is more in line with what I expect from this subscription service, both based an price and from the "beauty experts" at Allure.
As always, a quick rundown of the Allure Beauty Box: $15 a month subscription service (I pay closer to $16.50 due to taxes, but shipping is included); no standard number of samples from what I can tell, but you get between 5-7 products; contains the most information about the products in the special mini-mag that's included each month, including how to use it, why Allure picked the product, where to buy it, and the size and price of the full size; no rewards program, but Allure has started to send out other random samples outside of the subscription box itself.
Every month, you get a red box like this contained in another box to protect it during shipping. These boxes are very sturdy (like Glossyboxes or the Target Beauty Boxes) and I like to keep them to use for storage.
Also every month, you get a little information booklet (Allure likes to call it a "mini-mag"). The picture on the front changes, but it's always an editorial picture of a model. From what I've seen, the picture on the cover has no correlation to anything you get in the box. It would be nice if they had photos where they created looks using the products in the box, but since there's usually only one or two color cosmetic products, that would be difficult. These mini-mags are super informative and are one of the high points of this subscription service.
There is also a "Letter From the Editor" in the mini-mag; these letters discuss the "theme" of the box (as with other boxes, the "theme" is adhered to very loosely) and why the products were included based on the theme.
On to the products! While I normally prefer surprises, I try and find spoilers for this box before the 1st of the month to see if I want to stay subscribed (the last few months have been rough). This first product was one that was spoiled and one that convinced me to get this box (and I'm glad I did!). This is a travel size of the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil.
This is a made-in-Japan cleansing oil, and it was the first cleansing oil I used way back when (I think I got a sample of it in a Glossybox a few years ago). It is also the best oil cleanser I have ever used. I tried this before the whole oil cleansing thing took off, so it was a completely new (and amazing!) concept to me at the time. While I enjoy trying new things, and have found other oil cleansers that I like, this one is always in the back of my mind; it's the cleanser I compare all the other oil cleansers I try to. If you're looking for the best of the best in oil cleansers, make sure you give this one a try. The full size is 6.7fl oz for $28, which makes this 1fl oz travel size worth about $4.18. You can purchase this size from DHC, but it costs $5.50 (you can also get it at Urban Outfitters, but it's $6 there).
I normally think it's kind of lame to include regular toiletries like deodorant and toothpaste in sample boxes (except for the ones where you know what you're going to get before you buy it, like the Target Beauty Boxes), but this natural deodorant is so intriguing that I'm glad it was included. This is Schmidt's Natural Deodorant in Lavender + Sage.
I've used natural deodorants in the past (never the weird crystal ones, mostly just the LaVanila ones), but nothing like this one. This is a powder/cream product that includes baking soda, arrowroot, and shea butter. Like other natural deodorants, this one doesn't promise any wetness protection since it's not an antiperspirant, but I find that I don't mind a little sweat as long as I don't smell weird. The arrowroot powder will help absorb some wetness, but it probably won't absorb all of it. I was also worried that I wouldn't like the scent since I don't generally like lavender, but it's grassy enough that I don't find it off-putting. The full size is $8.99 for 2oz, making this 0.5oz sample worth about $2.25.
I get Mally products in my sample boxes quite often and while they are generally good products, I just have such a hard time shaking off my bias towards the brand itself. There's nothing wrong with it, and Mally herself seems like a very nice person, but aesthetically, the brand just seems a little outdated (and not in a retro way but in a way that screams forced, faux youthfulness, if that makes sense).
This is an Evercolor Starlight Waterproof Liner in the color Black Navy. I've gotten these Evercolor Starlight liners before, but never in packaging like this.
The tip is a standard, sharpen-able liner pencil; the thickness makes it easy to apply, but difficult to be precise.
On the other end, however, there is a flat, medium length brush. I assume this is used for smudging, which goes well with this type of liner (in the description, Allure says you have about 30 seconds to smudge it out before it sets), but I've only ever seen foam smudgers on the end of liners. I think the brush, if it does smudge the product effectively, is a great idea; it's washable (the foam probably is, too, but you have to be careful not to tear them), it seems like it will be gentler than a sponge, and, since it's thin and flat, you have better control when smudging.
The product applies well; it's creamy and it's pigmented, but it's not crazy dark. It really is a blue-tinted black and I can see this being very easy to wear, even for people who don't like a lot of color. This is the full size of this product and it retails for $20.
Next up, we have another color cosmetic! This is the Skinn Cosmetics Caviar Lip Cream in the color Ruby.
I've heard of Skinn Cosmetics in passing, but I've never tried any of their products. As with everyone else, I've been into the trend of liquid/cream lipsticks; I find that they are often times easier to apply and you can find ones that provide a very opaque color and/or a non-drying matte finish that can be hard to find in a traditional lipstick.
This lip cream has a standard doe-foot applicator, which Allure talks up for some reason (I don't think there's anything special about it; it's just a normal, flocked doe-foot). This is one of the big reasons why I prefer liquid/cream lip colors; it's much easier to apply precisely without having to get a lip brush, which means it's a lot easier to reapply on the go (especially with darker/more unique colors).
 Sorry about all the white dust on everything; the white worms that Allure uses to pad the boxes have a tendency to shed. I try to wipe it off, but since it's so dry and static-prone here in the winter, it's pretty difficult to get it all. This is not a matte finish formula, but it is very opaque and it stains (at least it stained my hand after I swatched it). Allure does say it wears off easily and needs to be reapplied often, so I'm not sure if this is a product I will reach for over the other red lip products I own; but since it is one of the only reds I own in a liquid/cream form, I will definitely try it out before writing it off completely. As far as I can tell (Allure didn't list a size for the full size product) this is a full size and it retails for $22 from Skinn Cosmetics directly, though I have seen it for $18 on other sites.
This was another product that was a spoiler and, while I'm sad to see it ended up being a very small sample, it was another product that piqued my interest. This is the Erno Laszlo Transphuse Eye Refiner.
Since my eyes are my skincare weakness - hollow, dark under-eye circles, fine lines, dehydrated most of the time - I'm always game for trying an eye cream. This eye cream promises to decrease the appearance of fine lines and to moisturize; keeping your under-eye area hydrated is enough to help combat most issues, including dark circles, plus you can layer products if you need additional help (like I do). It has standard hydrating ingredients like glycerine, shea butter, and olive oil, but it also has something called Pullulan, which Allure says is a "water-binding agent that plumps and tightens skin" (I really like that Allure describes what an ingredient is since a lot of times, they have copyrighted names that don't have any relation to what they actually are). The full size is $105 for 0.5oz (so unless this is magical, I won't be buying the full size any time soon...), which makes this 0.03oz sample worth about $6.30.
I'm finding more and more that there are products out there that I've either heard a lot about or that I've just been curious to try but that I never go out and actually purchase; I think it's because of all the sample boxes I get and that I'm less likely now to purchase items to try since I have so many samples already sitting around unused. Which is kind of sad, but it probably saves me money in the long run. This is an example of a product/brand that I've been interested in trying, but never purchased: this is the DermaE Hydrating Night Cream.
DermaE is a drugstore skincare line that uses good ingredients for a reasonable price. It's one of those brands that I feel focuses more effort and money on the products themselves instead of on packaging and/or marketing (Mario Badescu has a similar approach, though it's considered a mid-range brand, not drugstore). People speak highly of the DermaE line, and, based on the ingredients and the price, I can see why. I also really like that they stamp a "best buy" date on the bottom of the pot, even on this sample size; it can be hard to tell how long a product has been sitting on a shelf or in a warehouse and, especially with skin care, some products become less effective over time. The full size is 2oz for $29.50, so this 0.5oz sample is worth about $7.38.
Finally, we got a nail polish from Trust Fund Beauty called Champagne Problems!
I'm really excited to get another Trust Fund Beauty nail polish; I already have one from my Ipsy bag and I was quite pleased with the formulation and wear time. These are five-free polishes (though in the case of Trust Fund Beauty, "five-free" means free of toluene, formaldehyde, lead, nickle, and phthalates, which is a bit different from other five-free claims. Zoya's "five-free" claim means their polishes are free of toluene, camphor, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and DBP (dibutyl phthalate), and traditional "three-free" polishes are free of toluene, formaldehyde resin, and DBP. The Trust Fund Beauty website also states that they are "seven-free", which I think was also an issue when I got it in my Ipsy bag.) that are also vegan and cruelty-free. They are a little expensive at $15 each, so I would probably only purchase them if I found them on sale, but the colors and formulation are comparable to more main stream brands like OPI and Zoya. Champagne Problems is described as a metallic gold foil and, since it is a full size polish, it is worth $15.

Overall, I got three full size products, one travel size, and three deluxe sample size products, with a total value of about $77.11. Allure promised us seven samples this month with a value of over $75 in the spoilers, and I am happy to say they delivered! This was a great box, especially compared to how dismal the last couple months have been. I hope this subscription maintains this level of quality, but based on past experiences, I'm not 100% confident in recommending this box yet. If Allure continues to put out boxes of this caliber, however, then I will wholeheartedly recommend this subscription service.

Thanks for reading! <3

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