Sunday, September 11, 2016

Allure Beauty Thrills - Fall/August 2016 - Unboxing & Review!

When it comes to purchasing beauty products (or anything type of products for that matter...), there are very few people who wouldn't take the opportunity to pay less and get more. Basic economics, really. The Allure Beauty Thrills box, a tri-yearly value bundle of beauty products curated by Allure, was once the prime choice for this type of opportunity, to the point where they would sell out in less than hour and people would actually pay a premium to be able to pre-order them.

I'm a recent purchaser of these boxes (I started buying them last year), and while people who have been getting from the beginning have noticed a decline in quality, even I can see a very drastic difference in product quality and value from last year to this year. I thought about pre-ordering the 2016 boxes because of how happy I was with the ones I got last year, but I am very happy I didn't. The Spring box was a huge let down, and I believe it's one of the first boxes that didn't even sell out, months later (there were so many left over that Allure was selling them as add-ons to the Fall box for $24.99, almost half of the full $49.99 price). The Fall box (or August box, as the info booklet says) was significantly better, but I still debated on whether or not I was going to purchase it. I ended up justifying it by comparing the value of the products I knew I would use to the price of the box, but even then there were some disappointments.

I touched on it before, but the Allure Beauty Thrills boxes come out about three times a year (one for the spring, one for the fall and one for the holidays/winter) and are $49.99 each. You also have to pay shipping and handling of $9.99 for each box; I understand why, these are heavy boxes and probably cost a bit to ship, even with a volume discount, but it would make more sense to me to just say the boxes are $59.99 each with shipping included (I don't think these can be shipped internationally, which would be the only valid reason I can think of why they would separate the shipping instead of it just being a marketing tactic). These boxes have product values of around $250-$350 (the Fall box is supposed to have a value of $320), so you do get your money's worth, but the quality and variety of products has been declining. These boxes also contain mostly drugstore brands, though there are a few higher end products thrown in. Allure doesn't list the sizes of the products in their spoilers, but that hasn't been an issue in the past since all the products were full sizes. In the Fall box, unfortunately, there were some travel sizes; if I had known that some of the products weren't full sized, I might not have purchased this box since the value I calculated for myself (the products I would actually use, versus the ones I would just give to my family) was based on full size prices. Like all things Allure these days, there was some controversy surround these boxes (like people who pre-ordered were understandably very upset that the Spring boxes were being sold for so cheap), so if you're curious to learn more, check out the comments on the spoiler posts on My Subscription Addiction.
Enough with the wall of text! Let's get to the goodies! I don't have an 'overview' picture of all the products since they wouldn't all fit in my light box, but you do get a lot of things and, even though I know what's in it, it's still super fun to unbox. I also did not add-on the Spring box; at the time, I didn't really want to spend $80 on products, but looking back, I regret not doing it since there were some products I was interested in trying. I'm hoping that when the winter/holiday box launches, they will offer a similar deal, though I will be slightly upset if the Fall box has a reduced price as well.
Like in the past, $5 from the purchase price of each box will be donated to Cancer+Careers, up to $25,000 (not sure if that's per release or for the whole year).
The opening blurb in the booklet also references Cancer+Careers; even though this is the 'Fall' box, I don't think there's anything here specifically for Fall, except maybe the color of lipstick I received. I don't think these boxes are really 'curated'; they're more of a collection of new/newer products that brands want to promote so they offer them to people at a reduced price so they'll use them and hopefully encourage others to purchase them. Or I could just be thinking too hard about it...
First up, we got a Truly Radiant Clean &Fresh toothpaste and electric toothbrush from Arm & Hammer.
 While toothpaste isn't considered a traditional beauty product, I like the Allure includes these basics in these boxes since I know I will use them and I tend to be less experimental when it comes to personal hygiene products and probably miss out on a lot of newer/better things (I discovered my favorite deodorant ever through a Beauty Thrills Box and I would never have purchased it on my own). These are both full size; the toothpaste retails for about $3.49 and the toothbrush is about $8.99.
The next products we got are a pair of Aveeno Pure Renewal Shampoo and Conditioner.
I don't use most drugstore shampoos or conditioners since I think you can get better quality for not much more money by purchasing salon brands (Ulta is especially a great place since there are a ton of products, you can use coupons on most of them, and they are almost always on sale), so these will get passed on. I like that these are sulfate-free, but they both contain dimethicone (I have no idea why companies put dimethicone in shampoos...). I do like that Allure included both the shampoo and condition, though, so if you do want to try these products, you can try them together. These are both full sized and retail for $5.99 each ($11.98 total).
Allure sampled one of the newer Chapstick Total Hydration balms in a Beauty Box previously, but I was unable to use it since it had argan oil. The one they included in this box, the Moisture+Tint in Rose Petal, doesn't. Yay! One can never have enough lip balm, and I'm excited to give this a try since it's supposed to be a higher-end version of regular Chapstick.
 My only concern is that it includes rosehip oil, which can smell/taste like roses (at least to me...I really dislike the scent of roses and even the mention of something being 'rose tinted' can put me off of it). This is a full size product and it retails for around $4.99.
This was one of the products that contributed to my decision to purchase this box; this is the GrandeLIPS Hydrating Lip Plumper in Clear.
This is one of the few high-end products in this box and it is sold at Sephora. It is a lip plumper that both promises short-term and long-term plumping benefits Sephora says it takes about three to five minutes for full, instant results, and about 30 days of twice daily application to start seeing the more long-term results.
It has a soft, silicone applicator, which I prefer for these types of lip treatments. I'm kind of iffy about lip plumpers; I don't like the tingling sensation that many of them cause and I don't see enough of a difference to justify buying them, but I figured this was a good opportunity to try a higher-end plumper without having to pay full price. This product comes in a variety of colors, including a clear gloss, which is the one we got in this box. This is a full size product that retails for $27.
Most of the time, I'm at least somewhat familiar with the products/brands included in these boxes, but I had never heard about Ittse before the Fall Beauty Thrills spoilers were released. I was pretty excited to try something new, but I was slightly disappointed in the color we got. This is an Ittse eye shadow pan in the color Obsidian, a deep charcoal with silver sparkle.
I suppose this is a useful color, especially for fall and smokey eye, but I rarely use these darker colors and Ittse has such a wide range of colors that I wish they would have picked something different (then again, if it was a neutral I probably would have complained that it was boring/dupable and if it was a color, other people might have complained that they wouldn't get any use out of it either). The packaging is cute, and like this this is a pan shadow so I can just pop it in my Z-Palette and don't have to worry about depotting a single. I did not swatch this shadow since it got a little beat up during shipping and I didn't want to get black shadow all over my floor and lightbox background (...which I had just had to replace due to a similar situation with a red shadow). This is a full size product and it's worth $7.99.
Next we got a Lumene Bright Now Vitamin C Sleeping Cream. I'm not completely sold yet on sleeping masks; I like the idea of putting one on and just going to bed without having to worry about rinsing it off until the morning, but I worry about getting it all over my pillow or having a bad reaction while sleeping and not being able to wash it off right away.
I'm not sure if this is a newer product in the Bright Now line or if it's on the older side; I couldn't find it on Ulta or Target's website, but it's on the Lumene website, along with other retailers like Walgreens and Dermstore. It doesn't have very good reviews on Lumene, but people on other websites rate it pretty well, which is interesting. This is a full size and it retails for about $14 on Amazon (other retailers sell if for more; Dermstore has it at $19.99).
I'm a big fan of oil cleansers, but I tend to be quite picky about them, especially since there are so many available now. This is the Ultra Light Cleansing Oil from Neutrogena, and, admittedly, I'm probably just going to pass this on to someone else.
The description says that this is a blend of fine oils, but the very first ingredient is mineral oil, and I don't really see any others in the ingredient list. Hmm. It also seems to have a really watery texture, which is kind of off-putting for me. This is a full size product and it retails for about $8.99.
I probably should have mentioned this when talking about the oil cleanser, but I'm actually a bit biased towards Neutrogena. I'm not a fan of their products, nor their marketing, and I feel like there are a lot of other options in the drugstore that are similarly priced but much higher quality. That being said, I'm actually interested in trying this next product, the Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream!
Not sure what's 'Norwegian' about it (the back of the box says it's based on a formula that Norwegian fishermen used), but the ingredient list is small and generally free of fillers; glycerine is the second ingredient after water, followed by cetearyl alcohol in third place. This is also the fragrance-free version, which makes it even better. This is not a full size product, which is unfortunate since it's one that I was particularly interested in; the full size is 3 oz for $5.99, making this 2 oz size worth about $3.99.
When I first saw the spoilers for this box, I was interested in trying the Not Your Mother's Double Take Dry Finish Texture Spray since I was using a texture spray almost daily, but I've come to the conclusion that I don't actually like what texture spray does to my hair (at least right now when it's so damaged; it just makes it feel even more dry and dead) and have been moving away from using it.
I'm going to hang on to this product because Not Your Mother's is a pretty good drugstore brand and I might decide to use dry finish texture spray later on when my hair has grown out and is more healthy. When I was using it, I would go through texture spray quite quickly, so it's nice to see that there are cheaper options available (though I'm not sure how they compare performance-wise to higher-end/salon brands). This is a full size and is worth about $6.19.
I'm sure a lot of people were pretty excited to see that this One N' Only Argan Oil Treatment was included in this box but, as I am allergic to argan oil, this is going to passed on.
I do think One N' Only is a good drugstore brand, especially for people looking for less expensive argan oil options, but I don't have any personal experience with the brand nor their products, so I can't say anything for sure. I will say, though, this is not a pure argan oil; it's actually mostly made up of silicone, but so are a lot of higher-end hair oils. This is a full size product and it retails for $11.99.
Speaking of higher-end hair oils...this is a Redken Diamond Oil Glow Dry and it is literally silicone, alcohol, and fragrance.
This is one of the most valuable products in this box, but it has no personal value for me since I try to avoid hair care products that have silicone and alcohol. all this is. If I could use argan oil, I would gladly use the One N' Only treatment over this product since it includes an actual oil, it doesn't have any alcohol, and it's less than half the price (though it does have added color; the Diamond Oil doesn't, which is like the one positive thing it has going for it). This is the full size of this product and it retails for $32.
Next we have one of the three color cosmetics in this box (the eye shadow was the first one, and there's a nail polish coming up shortly), a Rimmel London The Only 1 Lipstick.
I've seen a few reviews of these lipsticks on Youtube, and people seem to like them overall; I probably wouldn't purchase one of these on my own, so I'm glad I got one in this box to try at a deeply discounted price.
I don't know if everyone got the same color, but I got 820 Oh-So Wicked. This is a great, vampy, deep burgundy/wine color, which will be perfect for fall. It's different from the color pictured in the info book, so again, I don't know if Allure just used a random stock photo, or if there was variation in the color you could get.
I'm not a big fan of this type of lipstick packaging, though it has been growing on me. The outside of the tube seems a cheap and plasticky to me, but the metallic inside looks a lot more sleek and high quality, which is an interesting design choice.
You get a good color payoff, especially for a darker color, but I'm always cautious when to comes to how dark lipsticks perform on the lips (arm/hand swatches don't always translate to lips). It's creamy without feeling too slick, but again, without wearing it on my lips, I won't know for sure if it wears well or not (I didn't wear this because I'm still not 100% sure I'm going to keep it; I don't like to pass on lipsticks that I've already used on my mouth since I think it's kind of gross). This is a full size product and retails for about $6.99.
This is another product that I wanted to try and calculated my personal value using the full size price, but was surprised to find that we got a travel size instead. Again, if I had known that this was not going to be a full size, I might have reconsidered purchasing this box. This is a Rituals Happy Buddha Foaming Shower Gel.
I've sampled Rituals products before (from Allure, actually) and have been on the fence about them; they're not bad, but they're a little pricey for what they are. I've seen the Foaming Shower Gel sampled in other boxes before (I think FabFitFun included it once) and have been curious about it, but I didn't want to pay full price to try it. I'm glad I get to try it but I am disappointed that it's not full sized. This shower gel comes in a few different scents and Happy Buddha is an uplifting combination of sweet orange and cedar. It's not a typical shower-scent, but it smells warm and bright, especially good for a morning shower. The full size of this product is 6.7 fl oz for $15, making this 1.6 fl oz travel size worth about $3.58 (it's like 1/5th the full size, which, again, is disappointing).
Next product we got is an RoC Retinol Correction Deep Wrinkle Night Cream. I've gotten this product as a sample before (in a Target Beauty Box, which was probably like $10, so even though this is a full size product, the value of this product is somewhat lessen for me), but I've never actually used it.
 I believe this was one of the first drugstore brands that offered retinol products, and it's one of the few I can think of off the top of my head. I'm not sure if I will be using this product or passing it on; I have a lot of other skin care products sitting around that I need to get through first, and since this is a full size product, you get a lot of it, which, in a weird turn of events, works against it in my case (but is a positive for normal people!). This product is worth $24.99.
Another product I was interesting in trying, this is the Rusk Styling Collection Elixir Mist. I've gotten quite a few samples of this product before, but I've always passed it on because I assumed it was just a thermal styling product, but I actually read up on it and you can use it as a frizz-fighting hair oil of sorts!
This is an alcohol-free, non-aerosol product, and it's kind of like the happy medium between the One N Only and Redken Oils; it's mostly silicone, but it's alcohol-free, colorant-free, and dye-free. I didn't think about it before, but it is odd that Allure would include three hair oils in one box, especially since a little goes a really long way and you probably wouldn't even get through one in under six months, even if you used it every day. When I first opened this box, I thought that this was another travel-size item because it was smaller than I expected, but it is the full size and it's worth $24.
And here's the third color cosmetic; a Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Duo! I got the color 211 Flower Crown, a decidedly non-Fall dusty pink.
This is another product that I'm not sure if there was a variety of colors or not, but this is the color pictured in the info booklet (unlike the lipstick; the eye shadow color was mentioned by name in the booklet, so I know for sure everyone got the same one, but neither the lipstick nor the polish color is named in the booklet).
We also got a Big Cuticle Oil from Sally Hansen. This is part of the 'Big' line,which includes top coats and other special effect toppers.
I like cuticle oils, and this one does have good ingredients like apricot kernel and coconut oils, but it also has silicone and mineral oil. I have a lot of cuticle care products right now, including a surprising amount of pure jojoba oil, so I might just pass this on. The Miracle Gel Duo retails for $15.99 and the cuticle oil retails for $5.99.
Out of all the micellar waters I've tried, one of my favorites due to a balance of performance versus cost is the Simple one. They also make my favorite brand of readily available drugstore makeup wipes (I prefer the Korean ones from Forever21, but they're a lot harder to get unless you purchase them online). Hopefully, I find this new Dual Effect Eye Make-Up Remover to be equally as good.
I used to use dual-phase makeup removers, but I've moved away from them and now prefer to use oil cleansers to remove my stubborn makeup (I don't wear waterproof mascara because that stuff wreaks havoc on your eyelashes, so my only stubborn makeup is my eyeliner and lipstick). I haven't used a dual-phase remover in a long time, so it will be interesting to try one again and see how it compares to my oil cleansers. This is a full size (surprisingly; this bottle is super tiny) and is worth about $7.99.
Why does it seem like all the products I'm most interested in are the ones that are travel-sized? This is the Skinfix Daily Lotion, and I was really excited to get a full size since I like the other Skinfix products I've used.
This is a good lotion; it absorbs quickly, makes my skin soft and smooth, and it doesn't have any added fragrance so it's good for sensitive skin. Unfortunately, I didn't think it was as good as my C. Booth 4-in-1 Vanilla Butter body lotion, which is both cheaper and makes my skin feel even softer and smoother. The full size of this product is 12 oz for $14.99, so this 4 oz travel size is worth about $4.99.
Oddly enough, this is another product I was interested in trying: the Toppik Hair Building Fibers. As I get older, I've noticed some thinning along my hairline, especially where I part my hair; I actually switched which side I part my hair on because of it. When my hair was platinum blonde, it wasn't too big of an issue, but now that I'm growing out my hair (it's still blonde, but it's a lot darker; it's not quite brown/brunette, but it's close) it's a lot more noticeable.
I've seen this product in Ulta before, but I never felt compelled to purchase it myself since it's pretty expensive. This is a fiber powder that you shake over sparse areas of hair to give an illusion of fullness. These fibers generally stick around until you wash hair due to static cling, but you can make them last longer by using hair spray (or the Toppik FiberHold Spray). I was wondering how Allure would handle the color variety, and it looks like they included one (Medium Brown in my case; not sure if you could have gotten a different color, but they don't specifically name one in the booklet, so it's possible) and offered a discount code for either a free 3g sample size (the full size is 12g) or $7.95 off a color of your choice. I might take advantage and get a free sample size in a better color match, and I appreciate that Allure gives us the option (though I still wish I got a full size in my correct color). This product is worth $24.95.
Lastly, we got a bottle of Wen Spring Gardenia Green Tea Cleansing Conditioner. There's been a bit of controversy surrounding Wen products; some users have reported hair loss. One of the causes of thinning hair/hair loss is over-conditioning; it blocks follicles and has a negative effect on scalp health and it can take a long time to bounce back from it. Depending on your hair/scalp needs, Wen might be too conditioning and actually have a negative effect, especially if used daily.
I've tried co-washing and I much prefer a standard shampoo and conditioner duo when I wash my hair (though I do prefer sulfate-free, gentle cleansing shampoos), so even if this didn't have any negativity surrounding it, I probably still wouldn't use it. It does come sealed and has it's own pump, which is a nice plus. This is another product that I thought was a travel size, but it's actually the full size at 16 fl oz and retails for $32. You can buy Wen from Sephora, but this specific scent doesn't seem to be available.

Overall, I got 23 products (20 full sizes, 3 travel sizes) with a total value of about $292, which is more than what I paid but less than the $320 promised value. My personal value, the value of the products that I know I will use for sure is about $105, which again is more than what I paid but seems to be a lot less than what it was with previous boxes. I'm curious to see what the Winter box brings, but I won't be champing at the bit to purchase it. Again, I am very happy that I didn't pre-order these boxes and, unless the Winter box blows me away, I would recommend waiting until spoilers are released and calculating what your personal value is (keeping in mind that you might not get all full sized items) before deciding to purchase one of these boxes and not pre-ordering (not that you can anymore, but just a heads up for next year).

Thanks for reading! <3

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